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Wushu Mage

Wushu Mage

This brief conversion of the most excellent Wushu game system for White Wolf's most excellent game of modern magic users engaged in a war for reality is partially mind experiment and partially just me showing off. But the two systems seem to complement each other very well- rather like Wushu and Exalted.

I haven't looked at the new edition of made (the last one I played with was 2nd) so I'll not touch any of the concepts or rule mods found in the revised edition- but this quick and dirty conversion should function about as well in the updated setting as in the old one.

It struck me that WUSHU's core descriptive mechanics would make a great basis for the kind of coincidental magical mayhem you get from Mage... so, without further delay, here you go.

Creating a Mage

  1. Choose Identity: Name, Concept, etc.
  2. Assign Attributes: Place a 3 in one, a 2 in another, and a 1 in the third. They are Physical, Social, and Mental and cover everything you might imagine they cover.
  3. Pick a Tradition: this works just like in Mage, including tradition Sphere, foci, and whatnot.
  4. Pick 7 Abilities: these are essentially the skills and whatnot right off the Mage character sheet. Each one adds 1 to the relevant Attribute score when you roll dice against it. You can pick an ability twice, and it adds +2, but you can't take an ability a third time.
  5. Pick 5 Backgrounds: I'll describe these later in more detail, but 1 background pick will give you a useful resource, while 2 will be an exceptional resource.
  6. Take 1 dot in your tradition Sphere and place 5 others where you wish.
  7. Set your Quintessence at 3: This takes the place of erate, quintessence, and to a certain extent, health levels. It maps to Chi in WUSHU. No sphere can be higher than your Quintessence at the start of play.
  8. Set your Paradox to 0: More on how this works later.

Rolling Dice

Just like in WUSHU you describe details on your actions, then roll that many dice under your Attribute+Ability score. Dice are divided into Hard and Soft. Hard dice are active- think attack. Soft dice are passive and resist hard dice- think defense. Any roll under you Ability total is a success. In combat 1 success costs your foe a point of Quintessence.

Mortals have only 1 point of Quintessence- the minimum needed to be alive. Mages have more. In all ways this works just like Chi in WUSHU save for one key difference. Quintessence caps the number of dice you are permitted to generate from details. A mortal can throw no more than 2 dice, but a mage who uses his magic to coincidentally boost his actions can roll more. The first die you get for free, the second you get from mundane description, and any other dice you get from coincidental magic. Such details must equate to one of your Spheres, and you can use one sphere for no more details than its score in a given round.

For example:

Li Wan, an Akashic Brother, is fighting off a bunch of genetically-debased gang members who serve his technocratic enemy. They are a fairly tough bunch, and throw 4 dice with their Brawl of 3. Li Wan realizes purely mundane expertise will not be enough, so he decides to use his magic. He gets 1 die for free, and for his mundane action sweeps the legs of the first mutant gang banger (+1). He then employs his magic- and powerful magic he wields with his Quintessence of 5. He uses entropy 1 to perceive the weaknesses in their group (+1), life 3 to eliminate his sense of pain and pour adrenaline into his body (+1), life 4 to make sure his blows break bones (+1), and finally mind 2 to divide his attention evenly between his foes (+1). He has 6 dice, and splits them evenly between Hard and Soft dice before rolling them against his Martial Arts ability total of 5.


Coincidental Magic

As described above, this magic allows you to add dice to your mundane actions beyond the 2 dice all mortals can manage. You roll these dice against the normal ability total you would otherwise use.

Vulgar Magic

Vulgar magic is more overtly powerful than Coincidental, but not overwhelmingly so in combat. If you use Vulgar magic in combat (or any other personal-scale action), you just generate dice with overt magical descriptions and roll them under your Sphere score. You are limited by your Quintessence plus the lowest sphere needed for your effect. However, see Paradox below for a reason this isn't wise most of the time.

Greater Works of Magic

Outside of combat or other timed action scenes, you can work some major mojo with your magic. First, build the desired effect using the following Elements. Any given element can't have a rank higher than your current Quintessence.

Spheres: the number of spheres used in the effect (as per Mage normal)

Power: the dice you roll for the effect if needed (trying to roll under your Quintessence). Also how easy or hard the spell is to break.

Scope: How large and area or number of targets affected

Room / 5 targets
House / 20 targets
Block / 100 targets
Town / 1,000 targets
City / 10,000 targets

Duration: how long it lasts


Total the levels of the above elements, and this is the effect's Difficulty. You generate dice to make the roll with appropriate magical preparation- your Foci and tradition come in handy here- and you roll them under either your Quintessence for coincidental magic, or under the highest sphere used for Vulgar magic. The number of successes you need to work the effect is its Difficulty. If you wish to sacrifice your vital energies, you can lower the difficulty before you roll. Reduce the difficulty by as much as you wish, but after you make your roll, success or fail, subtract 1 from your Quintessence for each 2 points you reduce the difficulty on Coincidental magic or each 3 points on vulgar magic. If this takes you below 0, the magic kills you.


Eddie Samba is a Verbena blood mage and he whishes to conjure a blood demon from his cauldron to serve his will. The demon will look just like him- being summoned from his blood and all. He has a quintessence of 4, and so he builds the spell as follows:

  • Name: Bloodkin Demon
  • Spheres: 3 (life 4, Spirit 3, and Prime 2)
  • Power: 4 (the demon will have a threat rating of 4)
  • Scope: 1
  • Duration: 4 (a whole story)
  • Difficulty: 12

Clearly this is a vulgar spell- this is why Eddie is casting it within his chantry. He decides to reduce the difficulty by 9 points, but after the effect is cast (success or fail) he will loose 3 points of Quintessence which will leave him severely depleted and weakened until he recovers. This puts the difficulty at only 3 however. He cuts his palm, letting his blood flow into the cauldron (+1), while incanting the Seven Names of the Blood Goddess (+1). He then stirs the cauldron with a twisted oaken wand and adds seven secret herbs and spices (+1), finally he dips his hands into the cauldron and physically hauls forth the newly spawned demon (+1). He rolls these four dice, plus the one basic die, against his Life sphere (4) hoping at least 3 roll lower.


You knew it couldn't be all happy gumdrops and roses and puppies. You get paradox from doing vulgar magic. You get paradox as follows:

Vulgar Magic w/o witnesses - get a point of paradox if you either fail and throw all 6's or succeed and throw all 1's.

Vulgar Magic w/ witnesses - get a point automatically, plus one for either failing completely or succeeding completely as described in the w/o witnessed section.

What it Does: You roll a paradox die for every point of paradox you have every time you make a magical roll. If the paradox die rolls over your relevant ability or sphere score, it cancels out one of your successes- reality is preventing you from screwing with it. If it rolls under, there is no effect.

If you roll 2 paradox die, and they both come up over your trait score you immediately loose a point of Quintessence. If this takes you below 0, the backlash ends you. Otherwise, the GM describes reality's revenge. Each die beyond the first which comes up over your trait score costs you an additional point of Quintessence.

You can get rid of Paradox by sacrificing Quintessence- 1 per point- or by accepting a temporary paradox flaw which will last for the duration of the current story. Such flaws cause you to roll against a trait score of 1 in some circumstances. For example, a paradox flaw which causes you to discharge painful static shocks on anyone you touch will make any attempt at seduction very difficult (unless your partner is into that sort of thing) and you would roll any dice you generate from details against a 1 rather than your normal Social+Seduction trait score. On the upside, such flaws eliminate a point of paradox.

If you ever have more Paradox than Quintessence, you can't work magic at all and must get rid of at least one point before you can do anything. If you want to think about like this, mortal sleepers have 1 point of quintessence and 1 point of paradox permanently, and only those with strong enough avatars can shed this inertial drag reality imposes on everyone.

RPGnet Thread

By: Bailywolf

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Page last modified on June 30, 2006, at 04:45 PM