Chronicles of the Lost Pantheon
Excerpt from the Mage: The Awakening Quickstart Rules.
The sea of time grows murky as one approaches the distant past. Ruins, artifacts, cave paintings—all this evidence of history tells an incomplete tale. Most people never realize that they don’t know the whole truth, but some can see that there is more to learn. Those who do, and who know where to look, eventually discover a legend of a fallen civilization and a war for the throne of reality. The names for that civilization are many, most of them lost over the years, but even patchwork recorded history remembers one of them: Atlantis.
Humanity found that mythical place eons ago, led by dreams more real than their waking sight. There they learned to see beyond this world to the Supernal Realms, and what they discovered in those places set their very souls aglow. By the power of their thoughts, they learned how to make what was real in the Supernal Realms real in this world—to make the impossible possible. What once could be done only in dreams was now achievable in the waking world. Indeed, it seemed only those most enlightened souls were truly Awake, while everyone else was but a Sleeper, sharing the same dream.
The Awakened built a glorious civilization on their sacred island, dividing themselves into specialized orders of governance and working together to unravel the Mysteries of the higher realms. Yet the power they uncovered in unravelling these mysteries soon outstripped their wisdom, and they committed a great crime of hubris. Seeking to abandon the dreaming world altogether, they constructed a grand celestial ladder to carry them to the Supernal Realms, where they overturned the thrones of the gods and usurped their places. They sought to control all reality with their thoughts alone, yet Creation trembled at their every unwise whim. There was no choice but to cast them down, lest all of reality be corrupted and sundered. Those Awakened still left in our world climbed the celestial ladder themselves and made wizard-war on their erstwhile brethren, shaking all of Creation. In the end, the very ladder itself was shattered and our world fell away from the Supernal Realms, leaving only an impassable gulf of unreality known as the Abyss between them.
Yet though the Fallen World was cursed to fall deeper into Sleep, there are those still who Awaken. Deep in the Supernal Realms stand cyclopean watchtowers that even today call brave, enlightened souls across the treacherous Abyss. Should a soul survive this journey and carve its name on one of these watchtowers, that Sleeper Awakens and inherits humanity’s forgotten legacy: magic. When he does, it’s up to him to find those others like himself who have broken free from humanity’s shared dream and try once again to find the truths behind the Mysteries of Creation. And should they uncover the lingering fragments of lore about lost, fabled Atlantis, mages must decide whether to re-create the enlightened civilization those earliest dreamers forged or build something even better, founded on the highest ideals of this Fallen World. You’ve had the sense at some point in your life that there is more to this world than you can see.
You’ve always known that sinister truths hide behind a façade of normality, veiled by the rational, orderly “natural laws” we call science. When night falls, as the shadows grow long and the wind whistles through the trees, you shudder and remember the truths of your ancestors, who were right to fear the dark. In those times, you realize just how alone and ignorant you’ve always been. You feel this way because you’ve just entered the World of Darkness, where the shadows hide unimaginable secrets.
In Mage: The Awakening, the third World of Darkness Storytelling game, you and your friends tell stories set in this world, in which you reveal these secrets and unravel the Mysteries of Creation. Those who do so successfully Awaken to the greatest mystery of all—that the rules of reality are not as hard and fast as everyone thinks. By forging mystical paths to realms beyond the material world, the Awakened (known as wizards, sorcerers, and mages) can impose the laws of those higher realms on this world. Doing so, they can shed light on what hides in the World of Darkness and work great wonders tempered only by their wisdom.
Yet for all their power and insight, the Awakened are still human, subject to the same failings and shortsightedness all humanity suffers. They must temper their wonders with wisdom, lest the friction between opposing laws of disparate realities cause an uncontrollable Paradox. Nor can they cavalierly expose the secrets their Awakenings reveal to them. Some secrets are hidden from Sleeping humanity for good reasons, and it is only the proud, foolish mage who casts into the light those things best exiled to shadow. What’s more, a mage does well to keep his pride in check, as pride goeth before a fall. There’s always another mage out there with just a bit more power or who knows just a little more about what’s hidden in the darkness…