(caution, work in progress)
Magical Groups form when a group of Awakened decide that it is in their best interest to cooperate toward the end of developing their art. Sometimes, this overlaps with another purpose that the group may share, othertimes it is simply beause some things are easier done with help.
Below are the general and specific guidelines governing Magic Groups in ShadowlandSL.
The core components to a Magical Group are the Awakened themselves and the magic bond forged between them. The magic bond is a link between the group members and their Avatar. Mundanes cannot be a part of a Magic Group, though one may be formed in service of any entity or individual, as the group chooses at the time of it's founding.
These guidelines also follow for characters wishing to initiate alone, except where noted.
Concept is a defining trait of a Magical Group, as will be further explained below. Why a group has come together and what the group hopes to accomplish. This is an important first step toward establishing a group.
Common purposes include:
- Initiation: A group formed for the purpose of helping it's members advance.
- Religion: A religious or spiritual code will bring people together to initiate as a means of further enlightenment or toward the purpose of pursuing the core belief of the religion or code, from altruistic goals to help people to even sinister ideals of forcefully converting the world. These groups view magic as an insturment of their faith and pursue further advancement toward that end.
- Conspiratorial: A group dedicated to a specific, defined goal. More power, more wealth, service to a patron, world domination, saving the masses (from themselves even), and so on. These groups tend to simply view magic as a tool and a means to further their own ends. This can range from a group of 'freedom fighters', to a corporate sponsored group, to political measures, to even people that just simply want to take over the world.
- The three above are general guidelines. A group's purpose might include all or part of the above qualities. What is important that the purpose be direct and clear.
Strictures are rules or taboos that govern the actions and uses of magic within a group. A stricter or 'narrower' focus allows for an easier attempt to form the magic bond. Just as with the purpose, these also help to form the concept of the group. Individual strictures govern the actions of each member seperately, while group strictures do the same collectively. Every individual initiate or group of initiates must select a minimum of 3 strictures to define their concept. Groups can mix between individual and group strictures, explained below.
As the magic link is defined by the group concept, radically different views on the nature of magic add a level of difficulty to forging the link. For every different tradition represented in the group (Hermetic, Shaman, and Adept), increase the number of strictures required by 1. This can be spent as in an individual or a group stricture.
- Common Strictures
- Attendance: The group has regular meetings for group rituals (or what have you) and attendance is mandatory. Most groups with this stricture tend to have important events that occur at significant times (lunar rituals, changing seasons, etc) that require the presence of the assembled group.
- Belief: All members must adhere to a specific religious, moral, or philosophical belief. Any activity in knowing and blatant violation of such belief will break the stricture.
- Deed: All members must periodically perform a deed for benefit of the group or to show loyalty. This can range from public service functions, to astral quests for knowledge to share with the group, to shadowruns to retrieve specific items, to simply gathering a regular supply raw materials.
- Exclusive Membership: Members of the group may not become members of another group. Period. If a member undergoes initiation with another magic group, this stricture will be broken. If both groups in question have this stricture, then it will be broken for both of them.
- Exclusive Ritual: Members of the group will only perform ritual sorcery with other members of the group. If they include anyone else, it is violation of the stricture.
- Fraternity: Members are expected to do what they can to assist other groups upon request. Any member that refuses to provide assistance to the best of their ability (convenience or not) is in violation of this stricture.
- Gaesa: Upon Losing Magic, members are required to take on a Gaesa (additional if necessary) in order to retain their magic affinity. Some magic groups look upon losing magic as a failure and see anything but a desperate measure to retain it as the first step on the road to burnout.
- Obedience: For groups that have a formal structure (militaristic or otherwise) in which members are expected to obey those of higher rank. Members are obligated to obey ranking members and the orders of the group. Failure to obey a superior (not necessarily failure to complete a task) is a violation of this stricture.
- Sacrifice: Members are expected to spend much of their free time working on group-related matters. Whether it be managing affairs of a related group (manning a chapel or station) or a formal job with a patron (working for a corporation, etc.). For some, this may be an obligation to pay a significant % of income in dues. Gross negligance of this obligation (or failure to pay) will violate this stricture.
- Secrecy: The group never admits it's existence in public. This is not related to whether other people know of the group, but wholly related to whether members admit anything regarding their connection to it. The group may decide and establish a means of approaching individuals for recruitment, but any member otherwise admitting to being a member or otherwise revealing any information about the group (already known or unknown) will violate this stricture.
- The above are examples and guidelines for strictures. Groups may use the above, any variation of the above, or forge entirely new strictures. These strictures are meant to be restrictions for both the ideals and the moderation of a Magic Group.
- Group Strictures
- Limited membership. The group can also permit members of a particular gender, religion, race, and/or so on. Counts as one stricture, even if it contains multiple limitations (ex. A Dianic coven is limited only to women who practice Wicca (i.e. witchcraft) as a religion).
- Material Link: All members must give the group a Material Link. This can be a small cell sample (blood, lock of hair, etc), or a thesis. Depending on the philosophy of the group, it may or may not be returned when a member leaves. Even worse it can be used as a threat of ritual sorcery for anyone that steps 'out of line'.
- Oath: All members must undergo the Oath ordeal for their first initiation with the group. Even if they have undergone an Oath before, it must be undertaken again for the new group.
- The above are examples and guidelines for group strictures. Unlike the individual, the group strictures govern the activity of the entire group and, as such, can only be broken collectively should the group decide to change it's ideals. Group strictures may be taken in place of individual strictures toward the minimum. These options are available for Magic Groups consisting of 3 or more people.
Breaking stricture is a very serious offense. Strictures are part of the defining parameters of the magical link, and violation of the stricture will 'resonate' through it. When a stricture is broken, a member generates a sort of 'bad vibe' that other members of the group can see. It cannot be hidden when a stricture is broken. A group member that has broken a stricture will have to reconcile with the Avatar (possibly to perform a deed or sacrifice) before they are allowed to initiate further (or at all, if they have not yet) within the group.
The Purpose and Strictures are the 'components' of the magical group. They literally define how the magical link between members does and does not function. However, nothing prevents groups from having customs, proceedures, and routines outside of this. They may be obligated to a patron (someone who sponsors the group, such as a government or corporations, entities who are known for having such groups ) or may be simply a magical component to a larger group for fraternity. Purpose and Stricture are what define the magical link in your group, but by no means does a group have to be defined solely by it's magical link.
An Avatar is a spirit guide that embodies the concept of the magical group and forms the substance of the group's magical link. It is the link between the initiate and the higher mysteries of magic that they aspire to. It is a being that is beyond the comprehension of even learned and experienced mages, and some even debate whether or not it even exists as much more than a fabrication of the group's magical link.
Every Avatar is different. It acts different and appears different between any two individuals and groups. For an individual, it represents a figure that defines their hopes and aspirations, a reflection of their resolve. For a group, the Avatar appears as a manifestation of the concept behind the group, tempered by the outlooks and perceptions of every individual in the group. For shamans, it may be indistinguishable from their totem. For the religious, it may appear as an icon or idol of their god, a messenger angel even. The only defining limits to how an avatar would appear are those set upon the people it has responded to.
Avatars rarely appear outside of specific circumstances. They are most commonly seen as an occasional guide or muse along the various tasks and quests following an initiation, and even then interation is limited and brief. They are powerful free spirits that lay beyond the very fringe of Awakened comprehension. What -is- known is that these entities form the very core of a magic group. Initiates rarely speak openly of an Avatar, even amongst each other, for fear of what might happen should some force, any force somehow manage to bring it harm.
- For sake of flavor and roleplay, members of a group can collaborate to build a concept of their Avatar to display to both each other and possibly share with the OOC community for fun. A good exercise is to have each member draft an individual perception of what the Avatar would look like to them, then have the 'leader' (if your group even has one) compile each description into a mish-mash compilation of everyone's views.
- Quests and interactions with the Avatar are very personal and unique to each group and player. This is a part where players can simply be creative, silly or serious, and have fun. There is no concept too 'serious' or 'ridiculous' for an Avatar.