Sunday, April 1, 2018

Mechanics Talk: Explain to Me How to Sage

Welcome back to our Aspects of Awesomeness series, where it's time for the Sage! Sages are the smartypantses, of course, and it's easy to sometimes discount them as being "support staff" for the people who actually get things done. But that would be a mistake - Sages do plenty of heroic things on their own and are more than capable of being the movers and shakers, and are all about finding and leveraging knowledge, affecting the structure of the greater Saga, and being wizardly. They are the embodiements of the concept of knowledge as power.

What do you do on your adventures and for your group when you have Hunter?

Noticing the Details: Sages are great at noticing things, which means that it's hard for things to slip past them. They notice clues that are lying around when they enter a room, hiding places and details about what's happening when they arrive, and exactly what small yet crucial changes have occurred since the last time they were here. They even notice things that they have no business noticing - sometimes Sages see or hear or just instinctively recognize thing that human beings normally can't, leading to them being considered psychic by their fellows. The veils are thin to Sages, and while anybody can tell a house is haunted when blood runs down the walls, the Sage is sometimes about to point directly at the offending spirit, not to mention notice what's upsetting it and exactly which creepy doll they probably need to break to slow it down.

Finding Information: Sages are the best combination tech-guru/librarians there are; when the group needs information about something, not only do they know where to go to get it, but they know how to navigate indexes, figure out organization schemes, and find exactly where the crucial facts are buried in whatever database, shelf, or vault full of disorganized paper they need to dig through. They're also often databases in and of themselves, and can retrieve information that seemed unimportant at the time they learned it at just the right moment.

Interacting with the Magical: Sages are great at figuring out and manipulating things that aren't strictly mundane - spiritual energies, magic spells, enchantments and runes, you name it. They don't always figure it all out at once, but they stand a better chance than the average person of noticing magic afoot and then figuring out where it's coming from and what it's trying to do. Many of their Blessings allow them to specialize in certain types of magic, just as their Warrior friends might specialize in certain types of combat; and other Blessings may let them cast spells of their own, although there's always more in the big bad magical world than they (at least as Mortals) can quite manage.

Structuring the Story: Because they have a mystical attunement to the greater world of magic, fate, and other things normal people aren't usually privy to, Sages can also mess with the Saga a little on their own - just tweaks, here and there, to the hem of the garment Destiny is weaving. Some of their Blessings let them discover the roles in the story people are meant to play, or even help nudge them toward ones that are especially beneficial; others let them recognize events to come at least in some small part, forearming them and their allies for the moments when they will be tested most critically. Of course, they can't really redirect the entire story, but they can certainly learn enough to try to make things turn out a little more in their favor within the confines Destiny has set out!

Figuring Out Puzzles: Lots of heroic stories hang on a puzzle: a lock, a riddle, a code, things left behind to guard places or just beyond the understanding of Heroes who really need to find out what's going on right now and don't have centuries to marshal a team to slowly churn through all the possibilities. Sages are the go-to people for puzzle-solving, capable of turning their big beautiful brains into code-cracking supercenters with a much better shot at putting things together than the average person. Anyone can take a shot at solving a riddle, but the Sage is always the one you want to try first (especially if there are, for example, Sphinx-related consequences to getting it wrong!).

What are Sages Effortless At? It is incredibly hard to pull the wool over a Sage's eyes - whether you're trying to lie to them, disguise yourself from them, hoodwink them with an illusion, or in any other way hide what's really going on from them, they're by far the most likely to see through you. Sages are automatically better at seeing the truth than everyone else, sometimes without even really noticing it - where everyone else can invest in the webs to do their best, the Sage just does it. The world is full of information, and they may not even understand why so many other people seem to be so darn blind to it.

What are the Drawbacks of Sages? Sages are awesome at finding things out... but they're not always great rhetoricians or persuaders if they don't have other Aspects to help them, which means that sometimes they have the worst time just getting everyone else, who can't see what they see or understand what they understand, to believe them when they explain what's going on and how they only have nine minutes to handle it before the building explodes. Many Sages have figured out exactly what to do hours in advance, only to spend half of their limited time on desperately trying to get their (perhaps, gently put, not too bright) friends to take them seriously and actually do it. Sages are also sometimes afflicted with the regret of knowing about things they can't actually affect; while figuring out where they stand in the Saga, what role they're meant to play, or exactly what hideous power their enemies have are all extremely useful pieces of information to have, sometimes they can make someone who understands exactly how bad the odds are despair (or even cause their friends to blame them, as if it's the Sage's fault they just happened to notice that the omens say bad things are coming!).

In recent playtesting, Sages have distinguished themselves by inventing a ritual that was able to interfere with an enemy's magical support spell; cracking a security code to let their group break into a building that otherwise couldn't be beaten by the best heisters among them; discovering the last lost scroll of a dead civilization in a library vault that contained the key to finding a royal descendant; and not only recognizing a companion's role as an action hero in the greater story, but mystically supporting them so that they became even better at it when they needed to most.

The Talents under the Sage umbrella are Enlightenment, Knowledge, Mysticism, and Sight; they know, they see, they experience, and then they use those tools to kick the Saga's butt. Stay tuned for Tricksters next!

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