Thread: M:tA chantries
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Old 09-27-2017, 09:39 AM   #1
Join Date: Jun 2005
Default M:tA chantries

As I move toward the first session of my Mage campaign, I find one other area where I'm not quite sure how to proceed: Nearly all the player characters have put at least one dot in Chantry—the current total is 6 dots for 5 PCs. I'm not sure how to apply that.

I have Mage 2nd, which doesn't discuss this at all; the Book of Shadows, which mainly refers the reader to a design system in the Book of Chantries, which I no longer have; and the 20th anniversary edition, which explicitly allows PCs to pool their Chantry points, but doesn't give a detailed construction system. However, both the latter two specify that a bare minimal Chantry costs 10-20 points, which is really a huge expense for a single cabal with half a dozen members.

So what does a Chantry provide?

A starting step is to eliminate things that are bought as other backgrounds. You don't get a collection of books; that's bought separately as Library. You don't get a resident instructor; that's bought separately as Mentor. You don't get a source of Quintessence; that's bought separately as Node. You don't get magical concealment; that's bought separately as Sanctum. You don't get magical supplies; that's also bought separately as Sanctum. And Sanctum also includes reality being adjusted so that your particular style of magic is coincidental, so you don't get that—nor would it be easy to make sense of with adherents of at least three different Traditions in residence.

It does seem as if a Chantry ought to give you access to a physical space where you can meet, and do magic. It might also be a place to live, though not all of the examples support this. I don't think it should give you actual Resources, as that's also a separate background, but how much of a space you get might be proportionate to what you get for Resources: space comparable (in this case) to one upper middle class household plus lodgings for three working class people—but without investments, savings, or a steady source of income.

Most of the PCs also have one or more points in Node. In particular, a couple of them have skill in raising plants, which suggests that there may be a garden, and that would be appropriate if their Chantry were a house in a modestly pleasant neighborhood—not in the slums, and not in the intensely urbanized heart of the city, but someplace with space enough for at least a modest yard. I don't think all the Nodes have to be attached to the Chantry, but it makes some sense for at least one of them to be.

There's a separate Allies advantage, so I don't think that having a Chantry ought to include full on allies: people (or other beings) who are intensely loyal, who may be awakened or otherwise gifted, or who in any case may have high-level abilities. On the other hand, in 1905, running a house of any size at all assumed the labor of servants—at least, a maid of all work to do the general cleaning and help in the kitchen. So it might make sense to say that a Chantry can include some staff (a) of modest abilities who (b) have the ordinary loyalty of employees to their employers. The PCs could choose to keep them out of magical work areas, in the Bluebeard style; I don't know if it would make sense to say that they could claim the servants have seen enough magic so they don't count as witnesses for purposes of Paradox.

It makes better sense for the one Mentor in this group not to be in London, but to be back in the shires; as I've written her up, she's coming up on her century birthday, and has served as a local midwife for as long as anyone can remember, though no one tends to think about how long that's been or look her up in official records—in any case, in proper Verbena style, she has roots in her local community and isn't moving off to the big city. However, she has two dots in Correspondence and can keep up with the PC whose Mentor she is.

In this era, the house could very well not have a telephone, and may not have electricity; some areas of London had gaslight rather than electric light. It would be unusual for it not to have either, and I think it would need to have water and sewer connections. So there's at least a hint of Technocratic ties.

Does all of this seem to make sense in narrative terms, and to be balanced in game terms? Am I on a track that makes any sense, or does it need a different approach?
Bill Stoddard

A human being should know how to live fast, die young, and leave a beautiful corpse. Specialization is for insects.
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