I had a nWoD Mage game a while back with a time mage who had selected Postcognition as a rote. In the book, the spell is a covert, and so provides no paradox. The mages quickly discovered that as long as they had their focus, and sealed the room from sleepers, they could continue to use Postcognition indefinitely until the determined the time of the event. Regardless of how small the die pool is, or how brief a window they gained, they could continue repeatedly until they achieved the information they needed.

I could not find a good rule within the system that would prevent this from working, and caused all crime scene investigations very troublesome as the players could look back and watch enough fragments from the scene to piece it together.

Was I missing something? I don't like telling players "you can't do that because I don't want you to". I feel that a better answer is needed.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't know how compatible it would be with the nWoD system, but you might try implementing the "Let it ride" rule from Burning Wheel - in a nutshell, if they fail their task when trying to achieve a specific intent, they don't get the intent and can't try again (and likewise when they succeed, they succeed; no need for multiple sneaking tests in a row, etc). \$\endgroup\$
    – Daenyth
    Jan 30, 2012 at 21:14
  • \$\begingroup\$ Their is a rule for failing making subsequent attempts increasingly difficult or having a limited number of attempts. The problem is they often succeed but with one or two successes, which should give them 5 second windows or so. The problem comes when they get 150 5 second windows... \$\endgroup\$
    – Ashterothi
    Jan 30, 2012 at 21:18
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Daenyth this is a good advice "in general", but I think it totally wouldn't solve the OP's problem, since he's attempting to solve it by the rules, as opposite to instituting new rules just to prevent something from happening. \$\endgroup\$
    – o0'.
    Jun 24, 2014 at 16:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ I think the rule for either retrying actions (-1 pentilty cumulative) and/or the extend actions (can not roll more times than skill+attribute) should come into effect. But I am not familiar enough with Mage. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 25, 2014 at 6:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ The issue is they are not failing, they are succeeding, but not finding the exact time of the event. So they try another set of time. \$\endgroup\$
    – Ashterothi
    Jun 30, 2014 at 17:33

1 Answer 1


That rote is working as intended. If you can secure the room, maintain your focus, get the proper amount of "temporal sympathy" — the modifiers for sympathy are in effect, as detailed under the Space arcanum and made explicit in the rote — and penetrate any magical protections placed on the time of the event, then yes. They can search through time until they find the event they want to see, and watch it in real time.

The moral: in Mage, the challenge is almost never about finding the information. The most basic levels of the Arcana see to that. The difficulty is knowing how to use the information. So you can see the crime in progress: that's hardly what you'd call evidence, and even if you could show it off to people and have them believe you without attracting the Guardians' attention, it still won't stand up in mundane court.

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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 for The moral: in Mage, the challenge is almost never about finding the information. The most basic levels of the Arcana see to that. The difficulty is knowing how to use the information. \$\endgroup\$
    – Chuck Dee
    Feb 1, 2012 at 19:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ One could draw parallels to the Ace Attorney series of video games. They're standard murder plots, for the most part, but instead of playing the detective, you play the defense attorney for someone who has been accused of the crime. Occasionally you're told right from the outset who actually committed the murder, and sometimes you receive assistance from sources that aren't even remotely admissible in court (real-life or in-game). But none of it means an automatic win, because the goal isn't to solve the mystery: the goal is to protect people from the fallout. The solution is only Step 1. \$\endgroup\$ Jun 24, 2014 at 18:08

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