I have a Mage: the Ascension 20th Anniversary Edition game running and one of the players played a game of Mage the Ascension Second Edition before that with a different Storyteller.

In that chronicle they used the prime sphere as a universal detection spell for the use of magick (however that player is unsure if that was just a houserule).

The rulebook of M20 states inside the description of what you can do with the first dot of the Prime Sphere on page 520 (highlights added by the asker):

She may spot energetic ebbs and flows, can sense and at least try to read Resonance and Synergy signatures, and could also absorb Quintessence into her personal Pattern.

One wiki states for a 1 dot rote of the prime sphere:

Etheric Senses: The mage can perceive Quintessential energy, and is alerted when someone uses magic in their vicinity. source

They state Mage: The Ascension Revised Edition Pg. 179-180 as the source for this rote together with page 520 in the M20 core rulebook.

Is that a correct application of rules as written in Mage the Ascension Second Edition and would the rules of Mage: the Ascension 20th Anniversary Edition allow for a similar reading?


1 Answer 1


From just before the part you quoted in M20:

A beginning study of Prime allows the mage to perceive and channel Quintessence from Nodes, Tass, Wonders, and magickal Effects.

So there's a "perceive magickal Effects" there, but the sentence is more than a little awkward to parse. For more detail, here's an excerpt from the M20 "How do you do that?" book, with irrelevant parts snipped out.

Sensing Magick

Given their affinity to magick, mages can usually sense it when it’s been used in their vicinity. ... Depending on the mages and the magick involved, those impressions might possess a distinct smell, leave a tingling sensation in the air, or perhaps even smear the area with a greasy metaphysical residue.

In game terms, a Perception + Awareness roll can help a mage spot magickal energies within roughly 100 feet of her. Generally, the difficulty is 6...

A Prime 1 Effect can help that mage sense the residue of magick that has been used within the area. The “afterglow” of small spells fades quickly – within five minutes or so. ...

So the official answer seems to be "You don't need even need Prime 1 to sense magic, but if you've got it you can even sense recent magic and not just ongoing effects.


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