I only have the basic rulebook and the How do you do that sourcebook, and I'm playing Mage the Ascension 20th Anniversary Edition.

Yesterday I had a player hit with a Life/Correspondence effect that tracked him, and he wished to unweave said effect (and had the required spheres). At the moment I winged it, but later when reviewing the rules I found that I'm not sure how one rolls for unweaving. In the case of countermagic, you simply employ an action, and that's it. But for unweaving it seems, from the rules, that it can't be that simple. The main reason being that it's mentioned the need to get 10-20 successes and a static difficulty of 8 in an Arete roll. I'm aware of the expanded rules in How do you do that, but though they limit the successes needed for temporary effects, wards and so still need more successes than dies an archmage can roll.

So I want to understand how the unweaving mechanic is supposed to work. I can see four options:

  • You roll once using an action, like regular countermagic. This means unweaving wards or bigger spells is pretty much impossible, which seems unlikely since they are explicitly mentioned as a possible target for unweaving.

  • You roll as many times as you like, and each time you add your successes until you have enough. This means that given a couple minutes pretty much anyone can unweave anything, since it costs nothing and there is no limit to how many times you roll or any penalties for failure. It seems weird that spells and workings from archmages can be unwoven by complete rookies given a bit of time, and does not really fit with the other things we know from the universe.

  • You make an extended roll. The problem with this is we have no information on how many times you can roll, which penalties you can get from failure, how much time you need...

  • You cast a spell. This spell would not follow at all the normal conventions of spells, since it's difficulty would be fixed and independent of it being vulgar or coincidental and it's not clear whether quintessence or tools can be used to reduce said difficulty. While the "begin a ritual" line in the description of unweaving seems to support this interpretation, it still leaves too many of the rules unexplained, and it would have countermagic accruing paradox, which seems counterintuitive.

I can't find any answers in the books I have, or searching the internet. In case they don't exist a house rule, either invented or adapted from previous editions, or an alternative method to get a similar effect would be welcome as an answer.


1 Answer 1


Keeping in mind that M20 considers Unweaving an optional rule (p545), the answer I've used in my games is closest to your third selection.

To unweave an effect — as opposed to stopping it as it's being cast with other kinds of Countermagick — requires the mage to cast a spell, with the prerequisites being Prime and a dot at least of the spell to be unwoven. (As a spell, your extended rolls are limited to a number equal to Arete + Willpower — p540). You must garner a number of successes equal to those used to accomplish the effect, and you must beat any magical countermeasures. Master-level magicks are usually produced by mages acting in concert, and so get a boatload of successes. Technocratic effects are often reinforced by paradigm or countermeasures like Primium.

Caveat: In Mage: the Ascension, if one is 'performing a ritual' that involves the rolling of the Arete score and has spheres as prerequisites, magick is what you're doing." The term "ritual" is defined on page 539 and allows you to turn effect castings into extended rolls. However, it's true that nowhere is it explicitly stated that this effect counts as a spell. I assert that this is how I've done the practice of unweaving in my games, and it's worked just fine — the players that have chosen to unweave effects seem happy with it.

  • \$\begingroup\$ So by "begins a ritual" in the uneweaving explanation you assume it's a magic effect? That's what I'm not clear about. Having a fixed difficulty (unrelated to being vulgar or coincidental and the spheres levels used) and the other particularities of the case seem to contradict this. If you find a strong argument in favour of "unweaving is casting magick" then plase state so. \$\endgroup\$
    – LordHieros
    Commented Mar 30, 2019 at 11:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ @LordHieros My argument is "In Mage: the Ascension, if one is 'performing a ritual' that involves the rolling of the Arete score and has spheres as prerequisites, magick is what you're doing." The term "ritual" is defined on page 539 and allows you to turn effect castings into extended rolls. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jadasc
    Commented Mar 30, 2019 at 14:36
  • \$\begingroup\$ Then what about paradox, are unweavings always coincidental or they have the same difficulty no matter if vulgar or not? \$\endgroup\$
    – LordHieros
    Commented Mar 30, 2019 at 14:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ @LordHieros Page 103 in "How Do You Do That?" uses an example that sets the difficulty at 7, explaining why it was written as 8 in the M20 core. There's no mention of paradox there, so it appears the effect garners none. \$\endgroup\$
    – Jadasc
    Commented Mar 30, 2019 at 14:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ I still can't find any place where they explicitly state that you have to cast a spell at a fixed difficulty, ignoring both paradox and vulgar/coincidental changes to difficulty. It's most likely how I'll houserule it, but I can't find confirmation within the books that that's the way it's done. If you are proposing this as a houserule, which I would support, please state so explicitly and gives us info on how it's worked for you. \$\endgroup\$
    – LordHieros
    Commented Mar 30, 2019 at 15:03

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