RPG Magick 101

By Xi O'Teaz | January 5, 2003

Subject: Resend: RPG Magick–101 (long)
Date: Sun, 5 Jan 2003 15:53:21 -0800 (PST)
From: “Xi O’Teaz” < xi_o_teaz[AT]yahoo[dot]com >
To: zee-list

What follows was originally sent in April of last year, both the original “RPG Magick–101 (long)” and the addendum (which immediately follows):

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Okay, here is the best that I could recall of my experiences with role-playing (e.g., D&D; vs. a video game).

To begin with, I want to say that I tried to write this for “everymage”, not just for those familiar with rpg’s–hopefully I was successful. I should add that my role-playing experiences over the past 12+ years have been primarily in magick-rich worlds, such as in Dungeons & Dragons or Mage: The Ascension (cf. Battletech)–so many of these ideas may not be applicable to all rpg’s. I also think that many of the following Magickal exercises are equally applicable to Acting, and therefore also very important in Invoking.

As always happens, I will forget many things until after I send this post (especially since I haven’t played for almost a year), but this post should be a good sampling of ways I use role-playing games, tools, and related ideas for “Magickal” means:

As stated above, role-playing is basically a form of Acting or Invocation to me. The main differences between acting and role-playing are that role-playing doesn’t have a (physical) stage, and you get to Create the character’s Destiny as you go along.

Unless you are playing Live-Action-Role-Playing (LARP), you are generally seated around a table, with a bunch of dice, papers, and pens. So the entire Reality of the game is dependent upon group creation–similar to writing a novel, with the Storyteller (i.e., Game Master–GM) being the main writer, and the players all representing/writing differing primary characters (i.e, a Player Character–PC).

This is very similar to Path-Working, or what could be called the Active Imagination, with the GM performing the part of the Guide to this Imaginal Realm. Merely *playing* rpg’s is a great exercise for the Imagination and all relevant extra-sensory-perceptions (e.g., “astral sight”, etc.)

Playing rpg’s is also good for conditioning you to understand the comprehensive rules for a complete Paradigm/Reality (e.g., the rpg’s rules). Because the games are much more simplistic than real life, but still attempt to re-create it on a certain level (even if Fantastic), it is easier to see loopholes (i.e., “ways to cheat”) in the system and exploit them. Or to paraphrase Morpheous from the Matrix:

“In the Matrix, as in real life, there are rules that can be *bent*, and those that can be *broken*.”

Such critical thinking is great mental exercise, and improves problem-solving skills and Creativity. I think that understanding Reality’s rules (however you choose to see them) is required before being able to “sidestep” them, as chaos mages are wont to do.

In addition, when you’ve played enough of a certain game (paradigm), you find out that there are many things that the game in question didn’t cover, but should have (not really loopholes as much as *gaps* in the rules–i.e., a game “design flaw”). Seeing what parts of a paradigmatic Reality must be covered to properly feel “realistic” (to you) is also a great exercise in not only “knowing thy selves”, but useful in the development of comprehensive personal paradigms. This could include Magickal and/or Divinatory paradigms, a la Runes or Tarot.

I think my favourite part of playing rpg’s is actually *Creating my PC* (Evocation), which is obviously done before any true “playing” commences.

I usually have a few “character concepts” floating around my head, of different characters that I want to play. So, understanding the game’s rules, you have various ways that you can Create your character (Evoke a Self?), with different abilities, powers, character flaws, etc. These character statistics and role-playing notes basically become the genetic code for the character. I.e., the character sheet becomes both the Statement of Intent and Magickal Link to the PC. Miniatures can also be used as adjuncts for Contacting your character, although I personally prefer to use a small Stone (that resonates with the character) or Sigil to act as a Magickal Link to the PC.

The way you begin with a character concept, and then assign attributes/statistics to the PC is truly to “flesh out” your character–especially when you consider the time and mental Energy spent thinking about the character and all of hir details. Obviously, the more Energy you spend on the PC’s Creation, the more powerful and Real your Creation becomes.

I should note here that the steps used for Creation of a PC can also be used for Creation of Servitors. I.e., by taking a blank character sheet and filling in all of the stats of a serfie you desire to Create–assigning powers and traits, etc.–you can also Evoke any type of sentient entity you wish. Of course, the entity will have some of the resonance of the game system used, but this is true of any and all paradigms–not just game systems.

To get back to the actual playing of the game (post-character creation), playing different personalities than your normal one(s) also helps to better Know Thy Selves. Ask any Actor. This exercise alone can be very powerful and broad-ranging in effects upon one’s perceptions of one’s selves, and how we truly *do* have an infinite number of ways that we can perceive and react to life’s varied situations.

I often Create a character that has a particular personality trait (or many traits) that I am lacking. By playing/Invoking the character, I release the aforementioned suppressed parts of myself, proving to myself that I *can* Act in such a way, etc. This is pretty basic deprogramming via Invocation, and should be familiar to all chaos mages. This is not to diminish its impact, however, for it is a very Powerful tool for releasing repressed Selves.

I have also used this technique for refining/acting-out ideas that I wish to explore further. A great personal example is the character named “Why?” that I created about the same time I started experimenting with the chaos current (3 years ago). This was also the game that had another (real-life) mage playing as a fellow player (not GM, dammit). Why? was a member of the Cult of Ecstacy (kinda like a cross between chaos mages and hippies) in the game Mage: The Ascension, and one of the most Poweful and Fun characters I have ever Created:

other players: “Hey Why?!”

me: “Because it is in accordance with my prophecy.”

op: “No, I mean–hey, Why?, will you help us out?”

me: “Because you need it, but I didn’t say I would.” etc. (gotta love those verbal games–thanks Abbott and Costello)

His personality was such that he not only questioned everything (a previous sig line for me was “…or maybe not. Question Everything!!!”), but he Created Doubt in Sleepers’ minds as to the stability of their Realities (e.g., “Magick doesn’t really exist”) via Memes, Ericksonian Hypnosis, the Socratic Method, and other Tools. During the time I played/Invoked him, we both opened many many minds to a great many things (and we both learned a lot in the process, as well).

One of the most intriguing side-effects of playing Why? was that he had a “supernatural flaw” called “Echoes”. Echoes are basically ripples in Reality (glitches in the Matrix) caused by the Mage’s very Existence. In the case of Why?, he had an aura extending to his immediate surroundings (e.g., a room) that caused people to “mildly hallucinate” via various senses. E.g., people often thought they were walking through spiderwebs when there were none, they thought they saw something in the corner of their eye, they would more readily notice Synchronicities normally psychically censored, or some other similar odd occurrence (to them). When they acknowledged the Echoes, Why? would use the occurrence to go off about the subjective nature of reality (or something else to expand the Sleepers’ Realities/wake the Sleepers up).

After Invoking Why? a great many times (and not just while playing the rpg), I noticed that I, too, had developed Echoes. This had a very Powerful impact upon me for a variety of reasons that you can probably guess–I thought it was pretty cool, too ;-)

Another way that I use the actual playing of the game is to program myself with various NLP anchors (e.g., mantras, mudras, sigils, etc). To give an example, if I have a character that can become invisible by reciting a specific mantra, then by actually *repeating* the mantra over the course of game play, I have associated/anchored the mudra with invisibility. It is then a small mental step for *me* to use this mudra in real life to invoke invisibility.

Weiser Books - Vampires Are Us

The character I just made for our new Thursday night game uses singing and drumming to access his magickal “bard songs”. The effects of these spells can translate quite easily into real life Magick, so i Intend on Creating a mantra, rhythm, or similar anchor to access the spells/effects that I myself would like to use in the “really real world”.

As an aside, often when programming anchors (e.g., martial arts sparring), you must “pull the punch” when practicing. IME, this can create anchors that program you to *fail* at the Intended result. Programming an anchor via an rpg, however, often has the opposite problem–being “overly dramatic”. But being overly dramatic is *good* for NLP purposes, and the differences between effects rendered in the game environment and the real world work themselves out quite naturally, whilst still stimulating the Imagination in the same manner as when it was played out in the game.

Another way that I have used rpg’s in my Magick is by actually treating a particular game’s magickal paradigm as I would any other magickal paradigm. IME, the only rpg particularly useful in this regard is the magickal system of Mage: The Ascension, with it’s 9 spheres of magick and the subtlety necessary for avoiding Paradox. I.e., I used this system for Magickal Workings. Why? had good control over the magickal spheres of Time, Space/Correspondence, and Probability/Entropy, which I naturally found much easier to manipulate than the other 6 spheres (although we were also pretty good at the sphere of Mind, too).

I eventually integrated/permanently-Invoked Why? into my Selves, even adapting and modifying his Sigil into the Sigil for 3 Coyotes Dancing.

Finally, it should be noted that the standard rpg dice are all made of regular polyhedra, with the exception of the d10. Somewhere long ago I posted a Magickal Paradigm using these, but I find merely Gazing at them while enTranced with the rpg is very stimulating:

  • d4-tetrahedra (the element Fire to the ancient Greeks)
  • d6-cube (Earth)
  • d8-octahedron (Air)
  • d12-dodecahedron (Spirit)
  • d20-icosahedron (Water)

In addition, it is a good Magickal exercise to not only communicate with the dice themselves but to practice Probability Manipulation whilst rolling/Casting the dice, pushing the Probability patterns in your favor. Why? helped me a lot in this matter, as well.

I hope this post gives some insight as to how rpg’s can be used for personal evolution/Magickal purposes, and will be of use to at least a few of you.

I’d be interested to hear any other things you’d wish to add, or questions you have…

Play Well…
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This was originally from Thee Shadowmage/Omega Psi Cult HQ, and was dated 02 May, 2001. We were talking specifically about the game Mage: The Ascension, and his post, unedited by me, was the following (after the post are some additional comments by me):

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in my view, Mage is not good as a starting paradigm, because in essence it makes more sense to use as a META-paradigm (just like the chaos magick theory) By virtue of it’s metaphysical theories, you have to be one of the awakened to work magick, hence it stands to reason that you need to have had at least SOME “magickal” experiences (though not neccisarily PLANNED ones)

interestingly, one could use Mage as a meta-paradigm withing a chaos paradigm, and following suit, the chaos magick would again become the paradigm used by the mage in his “Mage the Ascension” persona…meaning that you can adopt YET ANOTHER paradigm withing that purview. confusing, no?

and THAT is EXACTLY what makes it work, (IMHO) you use SO MANY (meta) pardigma to filter reality through, that your psychic sensor (or whatever you like to call it) hasn’t A CHANCE to resist (insert evil cackle)

Also; the neccesity to work through coincidental pathways (a good idea ANYWAY) only helps to teach one to enchant smartly instead of tac-nukeing everything (which is notoriously unreliable anyway)

it is worth noting that PARADOX WILL OCCUR if you push to hard, far, or even work too much subtle magic (domino effectg) this can be an interesting experience, if somewhat painful/dangerous.

I’m also quite interested in what effects Resonance will have after I’ve done more work in this way…

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I would have to agree with this post, and Why? did just what you were talking about in the second paragraph.

I think the 3d paragraph would also apply to me, at least while I was playing Why?.

If I haven’t already mentioned the “necessity to work through coIncidental pathways” (4th paragraph) as being an *excellent* Magickal exercise, then add it to the list of things I should have posted, but didn’t, in my first essay in this thread. Such an exercise not only helps to teach one to “Enchant smartly”, but also trains the conscious mind to be Aware of more subtle Paths to Manifesting one’s Intent:

A simple example would be a “teleport” spell. Instead of simply disappearing from one place and re-appearing in another (like in D&D), perhaps a taxi “just happened” to pull up, just as we needed to “disappear”.

Or instead of throwing lightning bolts at our opponents, a loose power line could come tumbling down upon our foes.

One of Why’s favorite offensive Effects was called “Christine”. He would manipulate Time, Correspondence, and Entropy/Probability to insure that a drunk/reckless driver went hurtling into his opponents. Obviously, this can only be done once or twice within a given area, or the “domino effect” would invoke Paradox. But imagine the damage done to the opponents that just got ran over by a sleeping driver behind the wheel of an 18 wheeler! Who needs a fireball when you’ve got this?

ETC…
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Play Well

“Know Thy Selves”

~~~3 Coyotes Dancing~~~

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