Having read and realized the importance of an article titled "The Improbable is the New Normal" (which, briefly, says that today's modern man, thanks to the net, is increasingly exposed to the improbable, which becomes the new norm) I started wondering about how this phenomenon would affect the Paradox (both in-game and rules-wise) in Mage: The Awakening. Obviously, both its significance and frequency should be waning (in modern societies), as people become more open to the improbable and the impossible (what we thought impossible, that is), thinking what we're witnessing is either random luck (or misfortune) or that there's some as yet unknown, rare technology behind the occurence.

How and what house rules would you introduce to reflect that "the improbable is becoming the new norm"? (Mage: The Awakening was released in 2005, barely half a year after the launch of YouTube, afaik. Sure, there's been a net and other services before, yet the past seven years could/may have brought more serious changes about in how Paradox works.)

  • 4
    \$\begingroup\$ In mage-awakening, Paradox is a result of drawing certain kinds of magic across the Abyss, rather than the result of disbelief -- although witnesses can exacerbate its effects. Maybe this question would be better as an Ascension question? \$\endgroup\$
    – Jadasc
    Commented Jan 13, 2013 at 14:31
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Sure, it would be even more relevant for Ascension. However, the phenomenon is crucial for Awakening as well. See MtAw p.264+ "The mage's Path realms says something is possible, common reality says it's impossible (...)", + Disbelief, + Unraveling etc. The growing acceptability of the improbable by Sleepers seems to indicate that the Supernal and Fallen realities, separated by the theoretically growing Abyss, are, in fact, getting closer, in a way and in certain aspects. At least that's how I see it, atm. :) (And I'm way more like to play MtAw than MtAsc, so I'll keep the Q as it is now.) \$\endgroup\$
    – OpaCitiZen
    Commented Jan 13, 2013 at 14:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ @OpaCitiZen (I'm late but wanted to mention) - in Awakening there is no consensual reality. The entire world is a Lie. Unawakened mortals have no influence on it other than enforcing the Lie. This is not a question of "I saw this in a YouTube clip once, so it's possible" because Supernal magick is absolutely and literally outside the realm of (what we consider) the possible. The Abyss separates the world from the Supernal laws and any mage doing a spell has to draw it through the Abyss which inherently rejects it. A mortal onlooker can only strengthen this effect, not ease it. \$\endgroup\$
    – VLAZ
    Commented Jan 21, 2019 at 7:50

2 Answers 2


I saw that article, and this thought never occurred to me. Thanks for bringing it up.

It's not totally clear that the Consensual Reality argument holds up so well in Awakening, but it is trivial enough to make the common reality a consensual one as you've done. The rest of this answer will discuss the metaphysics of consensuality, rather than rules.

The most important point is that this process of convincing people of how reality works is exactly what the Technocracy did back in the Order of Reason days. They slowly worked people in baby-steps from their current beliefs to a belief in physics.

How this helps the Mages of today is that they can expand coincidental magic in small ways. For instance, the combination of Diet Coke and Mentos. Everybody knows they create fizzing fountains. People are going to be less surprised and more accepting of you shaking up a steampunk-styled drinking bottle with extra bits and spurting out a fountain of corrosive acid.

BTW, one important step on this journey to re-consensualising is to silence Adam and Jamie. The MythBusters are working for the Technocracy. They could even be Void Engineers themselves.

Running over a lake is another example. It's just on the wrong side of possible but still within the plausible window. You could easily use Forces or Matter to keep you on the top of the water so long as you got a good run up.

The biggest problem facing the Ascension Traditions is that their paradigm forces them to do things that trip on-lookers weirdness sensor. Why did that guy draw a big chalk circle and talk in tongues before he did a trick off YouTube? This is probably less of a problem for Awakening mages, depending on their choice of focus.

Bottom line. If it's something an exceptional human could do, or could be done with a little trickery and camera-work, and you don't look like a crazy person who believes in magic - you can count that effect as coincidental.

  • \$\begingroup\$ +1 for "Silence Adam and Jamie." I may have to make a mage game called "Adam and Jamie must die." \$\endgroup\$
    – qoonpooka
    Commented Nov 14, 2013 at 17:19

Using the example listed about the internet, we can always subscribe to the thought that just because it's on the internet doesn't make it true. We see all sorts of whacky things online and even the most realistic can be edited graphically especially with the technology out there (take that video of the eagle picking off the toddler for example).

Seeing something in person tends to call directly on an individuals belief that something extraordinary (nay impossible) has happened. Watching a video of a guy turning into a werewolf is just going to give more props to a presumed makeup artist. Seeing a Life Mage change in front of you lets you know that reality has been torn a new one on a fundamental level.

Now if you want to introduce the element, all you would need to do is fudge the difficulty of gaining paradox to slide against its accumulation because the average person either A: Doesn't care about what they're seeing or B: Doesn't think that it's such a big deal.


You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .