I was away from RPGs and story telling for some time. I used to run Mage: The Ascension scenarios before, but I had to take a break, and now I want to get back on my feet. I struggled with some concepts back then, and I want to get them right this time.

How can I encourage my players to integrate more RP into their spells? Basically, many Mage games that I've run and participated in had the tendency to get simpler over time. On the first few sessions, players elaborated on their foci, what they do to achieve euphoria, their casting ritual... This then gradually declines to the point where players just say "I cast fireball!" What can I do to prevent this?

I came to conclusion that this behavior is partly due to the fact that the party uses different paradigms. So for instance the virtual adept needs his computer or smartphone to hack into the tapestry, sometimes taking long time to write programs when the rote for a specific effect do not exist whereas the Hermetic would shoot fire, ice, or thunder (assuming no rotes) using forces effects from her wand being used as a focus. What do you suggest on balancing these issues and encourage my players to play more descriptive, other than tangible rewards such as XP? Do you think I should allow long casting times, rituals etc. at the player's discretion, and in that case how do you think casting should be handled, especially in a combat situation of the said virtual adept. Should I limit him to rotes?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Your Mages are casting fireballs? The Universe would like to have a word with them... In the form of a lot of Paradox. \$\endgroup\$
    – DvdZee
    Commented Apr 1 at 18:26

1 Answer 1


A technique that I have seen used in this kind of situation, is to effectively give the player the camera- use a question like "alright, in the movie of this, what would we see?" Then build on what they offer you, so you can lead them into more description:

Player: She reaches out her hand and you see a tiny spark appear in the air just above her hand and start to grow.

GM: Right! And the camera turns around the growing fireball so it is facing her and you see the reflection of the fireball in her eyes...

Player: Actually I think her eyes are glowing with a fire of their own at this point.

Make sure you reward the play you want to see at the table. So you when you start to get these descriptions encourage them and be careful to avoid shutting them down even if they do run into conflict with the rules - you can usually find a way to adjust things so the descriptions play out and the spirit of the rules is honoured. To a degree having these awesome visual scenes is its own reward, but if the player describes something excellent and then gets a bad roll, make sure that something dramatic happens - a valid ( and interesting ) failure condition can arise out of something working too well rather than not at all. The rules might say "nothing happens" but if nothing happening is less fun than something unexpected happening, the player's action having far more effect than expected or some sinister information about their opponents being revealed, that is a lot more fun for everyone at the table.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I loved the "camera" analogy, though I would not use the word camera, as to not to break the fourth wall. However, asking "what would your target see" or using words such as "if you turn to her, you would see this and that" is a good idea. \$\endgroup\$
    – Yamuk
    Commented Mar 12, 2018 at 19:23
  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ @YamaçKurtuluş Camera is important, because here you're trying to draw the player out of the fourth wall, into the role of their character's director, instead of the character themselves. \$\endgroup\$
    – Pingcode
    Commented Mar 13, 2018 at 23:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ If using film terminology doesn’t suit your group, ask what bystanders or NPCs see - also useful for thinking about paradox. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 1 at 21:39

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