New Deal: the Spheres

Just as a side note to my comment on cat throwing, when I was setting up the campaign, I indulged myself in sorting out some things that bothered me about the standard allocation of Spheres to Traditions.

  • It never quite made sense to me that the Sons of Ether had matter, when ether was the hypothetical medium for the transmission of electromagnetic radiation, which ought to be Forces, I thought. So I gave Matter to the Order of Hermes. The traditional (with a small t) earth, water, air, and fire seemed like a good fit to Hermetic magic. (My players haven’t asked about the Solificati, but I think maybe what happened is that after their expulsion, the Order of Hermes spread out to cover both Forces and Matter. Of course they may be unhappy that the Sons of Ether got their original sphere!)

  • Having the Cult of Ecstacy get Time just seemed like a case of one leftover Sphere and one leftover Tradition; I didn’t see much affinity there. (It would make better sense for them to get Correspondence, but it was too good a fit to the Ahl-i-Batin.) On the other hand, I could easily see them as working with Mind, as ecstacy is practically defined as a state of mind. And moving the Akashic Brotherhood over to Time actually made really good sense; mastery of time was exactly right for the practitioners of do.

Leaving the Euthanatos with Entropy, the Verbena with Life, the Celestial Chorus with Prime, and the Dreamspeakers with Spirit seemed to work fine, so I didn’t change any of them.

The associationn of the Cult of Ecstasy and Time seems to me to be based on the way that subjective time has discontinuities during ecstatic experiences. Such experiences would be a route to learning the sphere.

While I can see the virtues from a gameplay point of view of saying “this Tradition has this Sphere”, it seems rather too convenient that there should be a one to one mapping.

Well, it’s a feature of M:tA, and I believe it has been since the first edition (I’m running the original second edition, which I consider the high point of the game’s evolution, but with my own tweaks). I accept it as a convention, the same way I accept building GURPS characters with N points as a convention, and in the spirit in which, if I wrote a sonnet, I would have fourteen iambic pentameter lines and one of the traditional rhyme schemes.