The chapter breakdown is modelled on Victorian Age: Vampire, so go check that out if you have any questions.
Fiction, around 4,000 words. I'd like to see a dark seeping horror vignette about a mage's quest for knowledge and the dark places it takes him. It doesn't have to end on a good note.
2,000 - 3,000
We're going to introduce our concepts to the audience at this point. We'll retread some of the material from VA:Vampire, since some of our readers may not have read that yet, but it'll mostly be in a recap format. Themes and moods, appropriateness, and how our mages are different (or not so different) from modern mages. Do some coverage of suitable historical fiction. Why do we need a Victorian Age setting book for Mage, anyhow?
Chapter One: Shadows of the Empire Edit
10,000 - 15,000
Title's a bit twee, I know, although most of the kids these days probably wouldn't remember Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire. But it's appropriate here.
This chapter covers the World of Darkness between 1880 and 1897, just as VA:Vampire did. It introduces the reader to the broad strokes of the setting, explaining what the world is like. But, as with VA:V, don't expressly compare the Victorian Age with the modern day. Justin said in VA:V's outline: "Don't compare them expressly. That is, no 'Unlike the modern nights, all princes have shoes with buckles.' Don't reference the modern nights at all; build these pieces of the set anew."
The focus is, of course, on Europe, with the delineation of the educated and civilized Western Europe vs. the dark and barbaric Eastern Europe. Most of our Lodges will be in the cities near the centres of learning, but there will always be a few Lodges who prefer the solitude for their Dark Arts. Remember, the West has colleges and lodges, the East has chantries and consors. It's practically the Dark Ages! If you want to throw in a few well-placed DA-related references, more power to you.
Also discuss the Americas. Same division, reversed: the East is where the cities are, the West is wild and untamed. I would not be displeased at all if you created a miniature primer for a theoretical Mage: The Wild West.
Or, y'know, they just like it better out there, e.g. the Verbena and Dreamspeakers. :D
Chapter Two: Magical Societies Edit
The Lodges, as broken down previously. Many readers may not necessarily be familiar with these splats compared to the larger Traditions. So describe them in relation to both the modern era and their parent Traditions without referred to the modern era and without referring very much to the Traditions. If that makes any sense.
There are 11 Traditional Lodges and 8 Scientific Lodges. The Trad Lodges should get about 3,500-4,000 words apiece, while the Scientific Lodges should about 2,000 to 3,000 apiece, spread out over the following topics:
Overview: The general "shtick" of the Lodge. Most of these will be very similar to their modern incarnations.
Interests: What do these mages do? What do they research, and why does it interest them? What do they need it for? Inform us of some of the trends, ideals and schemes of various factions of the Lodge and even influential individuals.
== Lodge Name ==
A quote from a character of that Lodge
- Quote attribution
A few words of introduction to the Lodge's Victorian archetype.
=== Overview ===
Blah blah blah.
=== Interests ===
Blah blah blah.
Opening for the groupings of Lodges will be the societal overviews. These should run to between 500 and 1,000 words each and not be broken up with any subheaders - just discuss each one in a broad perspective.
The break out is like this.
= Society Name =
Quote from a guy in the sect.
- Quote attribution
Blah blah blah.
Refer to Victorian Age: Mage Rulebook/Outline for the groupings and the Lodges which compose them.
Chapter Three: Characters Edit
Roughly 10,000 words. A little less, 'cause we can't include some information, but a little more as we try and dance around this limitation. This is a sticky chapter. We're laying out the specific character-creation process here, but we can't do it in too much detail without dealing with White Wolf's copyright ninjas. So exactly how you want to go about this is your choice, but I must make clear that we are to avoid describing the process of creating a character in such a way that readers won't need another White Wolf book.
Probably owning the Mage core book will be our touchstone. We'll refer to the character creation processes in the Revised rulebook where we need to, and describe all the new stuff that's going on in this book.
- Please provide a few more period-specific examples of concepts and Nature/Demeanor archetypes.
- Academics 1 is a requirement for literacy; anyone without it can't read.
- Computer goes away, replaced with Enigmas. Focus on the "puzzle" nature of Enigmas over the supernatural - Enigmas is puzzling out an algorithm as much as it is deciphering the Golden Dawn's secret alphabet.
- Discuss Backgrounds, noting how many of them will change in the environment. Stuff like Status and Fame travel only as fast as the rest of communications do at the time.
- We'll need some new Merits & Flaws. Refer to VA:Vampire in the text where appropriate, or make up a few new ones if needed. Stay away from Social Merits & Flaws because they're bullshit. You may wish to work with some of the existing ones, adapting, for example, Medium, to represent communication with spirits and ghosts instead of just seeing them. I don't want too many of these, but use them to build the setting if we don't have some other suitable Trait that covers the idea.
- I discussed Spheres and Paradox already. You can decide that the Scientific Lodges have a Superego (or Superid?) instead of an Avatar, but as far as game terms go, we'll stick with the defaults. If people want a more Science-oriented VA:Mage sheet, I'm sure Mr. Gone would be happy to oblige.
Chapter Four: A Secret World Edit
This chapter covers the geography of our World of Darkness, in much the same way as Chapter Four of VA:Vampire did. While they combine the physical geography with factoids about which clan is in power where and what Prince Whatshisface knows about Primogen Jane Doe, we'll be doing similar things with the Awakened population.
Everything is, as always, from a British perspective, even if you're talking about other parts of the world. Nods, winks, and other internal references are all well and good here. Let me know what the mages in the rest of the world are up to, or at least offer some juicy hints. I note, as example, that the Etherites' Victoria Station is constructed in the 1800s. This chapter will be divided into four sections.
England is the first and most important section, since that's where most games will take place. (Remember proper usage of England, Britain, British Isles, and United Kingdom.) It's our default assumption. Tell me what's going on in London, who quiet business transpires in the basement of the newly-constructed Natural History building of the British Museum? What sails the Thames at night?
Next is the rest of Europe, with the East/West divide mentioned back on the first page. A reference to Maison Liban would not be out of line if you cover France at all.
Third section is America, with its own East/West divide. American Gothic in the towering cities of the East, barely-restrained wilderness West of the Mississippi. Dreamspeakers fighting black-hats. As mentioned, I don't have a problem with a mini-Mage: The Wild West primer, but keep it nicely Gothic/Victorian.
Final section is everything else, including India, Africa, Asia, Australia, and whatever else tickles your fancy. Wonderful opportunity to throw in all sorts of craziness from around the world, obscure Mage references, Dead Magic, whatever you like. Just don't forget that the Lodges are the important people here. Don't be afraid to make references to Lodges other than the ones we've got in London, or hints as to what the Traditions may be up to.
Chapter Five: Storytelling Edit
We're going to want to discuss the gothic literary tradition here, like in VA:Vampire, but instead of focusing on vampires (duh) I want to cover the typical hubris-horror, the Lovecraftian cthonic monstrosity, and so forth. This is the root of modern monster/horror movies, where someone investigates something which they really shouldn't and end up paying the price, often dragging others with them.
That's not to say that this is always bad, but it often is. The prize is enlightenment and power, and to many it's worth the risk to peer into the dark corners of the world. Give some direction on how to make genre conventions work for a game, and how to work VA:Mage's themes into a chronicle. What should an aspiring Storyteller do if they want to run a VA: Mage game?
Chapter Six: Antagonists Edit
Our Victorian nemeses. We'll try not to overlap with VA:Vampire too much.
The Nosferatu (not the clan)! As VA:V paints mages and werewolves with a very broad brush, show me a few different Victorian vampire archetypes as possible antagonists.
The Arcanum Edit
VA:V covered 'em, but what do they do with Mages? They were originally introduced as a mage antagonist during the Year of the Hunter, remember.
The Ministry of Swords Edit
As I mentioned on page one, these guys are cool as all get out. I want more detail on them and what they're doing, and why they're dangerous to our Lodges.
Secret Societies Edit
There are doubtless many secret societies that would love to get their hands on our Lodges for one reason or another. Why are they antagonists? Delve into that a bit. The Weeping Moon has already had good coverage in VA:Vampire and Werewolf: The Wild West, so we'll leave that alone for now.
Not an actual title. VA:V did neat stuff with doppelgangers, madness incarnate, and the like. Let's do our own funky weirdness. Maybe base them off poorly-understood Paradox phenomena. I like the idea of murderous fog, for example.
If you have any questions, comments or other thoughts on any of this, we can discuss it on the talk page.