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Which Mage: The Awakening (and perhaps nWoD) sourcebooks do you consider essential for running a Mage campaign (besides the core rulebook, of course), and why?

Edit: Please refrain from recommending non-game books here. I'm sure many of us could list whole libraries of mainstream and obscure occult and esoteric literature here as possible inspiration for the game, but that is simply not what I'm asking for here. Thanks. :)

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

The ones I'd put forward are Intruders: Encounters With The Abyss and Secrets of the Ruined Temple, as they give more depth to the adversaries of the game and further flesh out possibilities for the game's two big unexplored areas: the dangerous parts of magic and the secret history of the world. (Plus, magical monsters and a detailed write-up of the Seers of the Throne.) These two books are great for giving a Storyteller tools to challenge a group of mages.

If you're interested in tinkering with the magic mechanics, add in Magical Traditions and Summoners — and perhaps World of Darkness: Second Sight. If you're interested in tinkering with all the mechanics, Mage Chronicler's Guide. (Although, frankly, World of Darkness: Mirrors is a better book.)

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this is a great answer, thank you. (to tell the truth, I'd have loved to see more opinions, but apparently MtAw is not a very popular game round here. :)) – OpaCitiZen Jul 7 '11 at 8:33
It suffers from having a core book that doesn't display its best qualities. I ran it for about two years when it came out. – Jadasc Jul 7 '11 at 12:55
I would add Tome of the Mysteries before tinkering with mechanics. It adds quite a bit of flavor and clarification to Spellcasting itself. – Frogg Dec 24 '15 at 6:32

Mage: the Ascension. (aka oWod mage)

Now hear me out. Seeing where ideas in the system and setting originated, and how they were modified, can be a great way to understand what really makes it tick. For example the old concept of "paradigm" now pretty much dropped could really help to understand what "sphere based magic" really is.

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I would read up on the Gnostic literature (or/and Cathar) as well as this would give you thousands of ideas.

Edited out: Lila and Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance by R Prisig.

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Lila and Zen are more the inspirations for Mage: The Ascension, rather than Awakening. (Similar starting points, but quite different games in the end.) – Jadasc Jul 1 '11 at 11:17
@Jadasc: Good point. My mistake. I shall edit the post. – Sardathrion Jul 1 '11 at 15:53

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