Can we please, for the love of God and all that is holy, get an ARST Mage that knows the system? How about one who understands the most basic concepts of the game?

So, I’ve got my custom Legacy in the system and it’s being held up at High because James Nail doesn’t understand that you can’t use the Death Arcanum in the Shadow. He actually said that he really liked the idea, but the dealbreaker is, “The primary arcanum for this legacy needs to be Death, not Spirit.Shaping and/or manipulating epherma is the purview of Death (note it is listed first in “Otherworldly Instrument”.)”

OK, let’s break down this statement into itty bitty pieces. First, where on Earth did he get the idea that Death is the Arcanum for shaping “epherma”? Ephemera is a catch-all term for otherworldly stuff. I make it clear from context and the fact that it does use the Spirit Arcanum that I’m talking about ephemera from the Shadow. How does he think to use Death in the Shadow? It’s like trying to perform surgery over a webcam with a plastic knife. Not only is it the wrong tool, it’s impossible. And it’s not like it hasn’t been made clear in every damn Mage book that Spirit deals with Spirits and the Shadow, and Death deals with Ghosts and Twilight. There’s no ambiguity about that. The point of Otherworldly Instrument (Tome of the Mysteries p. 18 if you were wondering) is that it makes stuff out of material from either other world that can be used by beings from both. I’m seriously paring the fucking power down by only having it affect one side.

Now, this ludicrous idea that Death is somehow more important in the spell because it’s listed first is really driving me up the wall. “Death” is listed first because in every multi-Arcanum spell in every Mage book that is not specifically listed as an “[Arcanum] rote”, the Arcana are listed in alphabetical order. This is not hard to figure out. We’re not talking about deciphering the Enigma code. He doesn’t need the White Wolf Rosetta Stone to break this semaphore. It’s not like somebody gave him a Vernam cipher and a pencil and said “have at.” It’s really, really obvious. More importantly, we can look at this from the other way and say that there is nothing, not a thing, not one single instance in any of the books, that indicates that anything other than level of mastery makes any Arcanum in any creative thaumaturgy more important than any other. I mean, what are the odds that it’s entirely arbitrary? That maybe they don’t actually expect anyone to be so ridiculously anal as to assume that the order in which the Arcanum are listed in any way affects which is “more important”? That perhaps they had to put one of the two first, so they went with that one considering both required the same level of mastery?

Now, I don’t think James is a bad guy. I don’t think he’s particularly stupid. In fact, he was very polite and encouraging about the whole thing and willing to work with me. But I still shouldn’t have to explain such a basic concept as “Spirit works in the Shadow, Death works in Twilight, and never the twain shall meet” to the ARST Awakening. I admit that I don’t know the details of every Contract, and I have a lot less to work with, but you don’t have to explain to me that the Spring Court isn’t better than the Summer Court because it comes first in the book, or that you can’t shape the real world the same way you can the Hedge. I feel like I should take James aside and give him the same speech I give IC to new Mages, explain the Watchtowers, the Arcana, basic magical theory, etc.

And that’s another thing, ICly that’s just bad magical theory. No part of a spell is more important than another. That’s like me trying to build a swing set and wondering, “So, is this screw or this nut more important? Think I can do without the screw because it’s really the nut that does the attaching?” And, again, it’s not like I’m making a swing set for all the little ghosts and spirits to play together on. I’m making a desk for the little spirits to do their homework on and the little ghosts can find their own goddamn desk. Yes, I’m really stretching that metaphor, but I’m so irritated at the moment.


Further, and this isn’t anyone’s fault, but both Christian and James informed me that national and global won’t approve optional 1st Attainments. Yet, taking a random sample of Attainments on the Wiki I found several with them. Granted, some were shields and sights, but some were just adaptations of the Attainment, which is what mine is. So, why wouldn’t mine get approved when several others already have?


James’s response:

“Actually, if you read through the fluff, the actuall spells, and the implied portforlios for both Spirit and Death, you will note the following:
1) Death is the only arcanum with spells that affect the sculpting of ephemera, whether in twighlite or Shadow. The one sole exception is Spirit 5 “Shape Spirit” which only works on Spirits, not ephemera. Note Death cannot alter Spirits, just ephemera.
2) Death is the Matter arcanum for the ephemeral world, while Spirit is the Life arcanum for the ephemeral world. Hence why Moros have Matter and Death (being complementary) and Thyrsus having Spirit and Life (also complementary).
3) Spell citations in Death to support my claim: “Destroy Ephemera” and “Sculpt Ephemera”, I can find no similiar spell solely within the Spirit arcanum.

If you can cite me some canon examples where Spirit can alter inanimate ephemera, then I will happily reconsider. Otherwise, there is nothing stopping your character from realizing the need for Death in the developement of this Legacy and working toward it.

My response to him:

1. To begin with, there are two rotes in Death dealing directly with effecting ephemera, and one in Spirit, so that’s not a huge difference between them. Keep in mind also that “Destroy Ephemera” is not that different from “Harm Spirit,” so really the have roughly the same number of rotes dealing with it. The difference between Spirit and Death is not inanimate/animate, but rather that Death deals with things that originated in the Material Realm and Spirit deals with things that originated in the Shadow Realm.

2. Now, the definition of “ephemera” at the beginning of the Core book says that it is “Spiritual substance, the thing of which spirits are made.” Therefore, if Spirits are made of it, then Shape Spirit applies to inanimate ephemera as much as animate. Basically, everything in the Shadow is alive and potentially a spirit, therefore the ability exists within the Arcanum.

3. The Shadow Realm is referred to as the “spiritual or emphemeral portion of the Fallen World,” again implying that everything there is ephemera and, hence, there is the ability to work with it with the Spirit Arcanum.

4. In the definitions, “Spirit” is described as “The Arcanum that governs…the Shadow Realm…” Therefore, by definition, anything in the Shadow Realm is under the auspice of Spirit. Death, on the other hand, has nothing similar that implies that it should be able to affect ephemera in the Shadow Realm.

5. Keep in mind, also, that if sculpting ephemera is strictly the province of the Death Arcanum, then there’s no need in “Otherworldly Instrument” to have a Spirit component at all. They would just need Death 3.

6. The Shadow Realm, on page 60 of the Core book, is described as being “of pure ephemera.” If Spirit governs the Shadow Realm, then it controls ephemera.

7. The Mind Arcanum can also be used to sculpt ephemera, even in Twilight. The wording for Twilight Temple says that,” This spell enables a willworker to sculpt the ephemeral stuff of Twilight to create an immaterial abode for himself that can be accessed and used by his psychic form.” Therefore, Death is not the only Arcanum that can sculpt ephemera, so why should Spirit which can directly affect it in the Shadow be excluded from this?

8. Ephemeral Shield takes emphera and shapes it into a shield using the Spirit Arcanum.

9. The rote Rouse Spirit (which is my second Attainment) says that any item can have the Spirit inside of it awakened, making it a rank 1 spirit and putting it under the purview of the Spirit Arcanum. If we’re running under the idea that Death sculpts ephemera that isn’t a Spirit (which, according to the definition at the beginning of the book and the Rouse Spirit rote is none of it), then does that mean that since I can see in Twilight I can rouse anything there and control it with Spirit? Can I Rouse somebody’s Twilight Temple and take it over with Spirit? If a Death mage uses “Ghostly Object” to put something into Twilight, can I Rouse it and put it under my control? This is why the animate/inanimate dichotomy isn’t feasible: all things are potentially Spirits except for human beings.

10. Most importantly, you mentioned “Shape Spirit,” but said that it only works on Spirits. To respond to that, I only want it to work on Spirits, specifically things in the Shadow. Secondly, it says in the description that a willworker “can generate a spirit out of free-floating ephemera,” meaning that they can, in fact, affect ephemera that is not technically “alive.” The way this Legacy is written it creates a slumbering Spirit (which all ephmera is, according to the Core book) that simply doesn’t have the stats of a Spirit unless it’s Roused.

Basically, it doesn’t mention specifically that Spirit can alter “inanimate” ephemera because there is no such thing in the Shadow. In Twilight you can have the reflection of things that used to be, but in the Shadow Realm all things are potentially Spirits and can be shaped into Spirits. Basically, what I’m looking for is the ability to make unawakened spirits based on the Otherworldly Instrument rote, which is what the Spirit component of that rote does.