Learning Spheres

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This article contains everything you ever wanted to know about learning more Spheres in World of Darkness: Gotham.

Contents

Gaining Ranks in Spheres

Gaining a deepening understanding of a Sphere is a bit more straightforward than undergoing a Seeking. There are four main ways to do it:

  1. On your own.
  2. With a Mentor.
  3. With a Library.
  4. With a PC.

Gaining Ranks in Spheres by Self-Tutoring

This is by far the hardest way to learn. It takes the longest as your character beats its head against the wall experimenting and experimenting and scrounges around in his brain for any shred information and pleads with his Avatar for any scrap of guidance. Also, it will only take you so far. Once you’ve reached Disciple level (Rank 3) in a Sphere, you cannot progress further without a Library, Mentor, or PC Tutor. See the chart below for training times:

Gaining Ranks in Spheres With a Mentor or a Library

Having some training tools is always helpful. So regardless of your level of Mentor or Library, you will gain some benefit. However, the rule of thumb is that the rating for either Mentor or Library indicates the maximum level of Sphere that Mentor or Library can effectively teach. So how do you benefit from a Mentor or Library at ratings 1 or 2 if you need to learn Spheres at level 3 or above? Well a couple of ways.

Firstly, your character is probably surpassing his Mentor in skill and understanding if your character’s Mentor Rating is 2 or less. That might necessitate an upgrade, but not always. It’s perfectly fine for the student to surpass the teacher. They can probably still learn from each other just by bouncing ideas off each other.

This goes for Library as well. Just because it’s a n00bish Library, doesn’t mean that there’s not some value in reviewing texts from when your character was just starting out. The review might trigger some insight that was lost on your mage before.

So what does that mean? It means that as long as you have one dot in Mentor or Library you can theoretically teach yourself Sphere Levels 4 and 5. However, this is at an unadjusted rate and that’s a long time (See chart below.).

Secondly, anyone who has the Mentor or Library backgrounds has the chance to shave a bit off their experience point cost when purchasing the Sphere. It’s not much, but every bit helps. We’ll go over how that’s done in a moment.

Now say that you have Library or Mentor and the rank of the Sphere you want to learn matches your background rating, then what? Well you use the chart below.

Magickal Training Times
Background Rating - Mentor or Library
Sphere Rank 0 1 2 3 4 5
1 1 month 2 weeks 2 weeks 2 weeks 2 weeks 2 weeks
2 2 months 5 weeks 1 month 1 month 1 month 1 month
3 3 months 11 weeks 9 weeks 2 months 2 months 2 months
4 not available 9 months 9 months 6 months 4 months 4 months
5 not available 1 year 1 year 10 months 8 months 6 months


So what about the EXP savings thing? That sounded pretty good, right? Well here is what happens: When you put in your EXP request for your Spheres, you get to make a roll to see if you gain any special benefit from the lessons or the research. Perhaps your character really related to the lesson or the Mentor was especially effective at articulating his instruction. Maybe something in your reading really resonated particularly well with your character.

Your character rolls his background Rating ONLY vs. a difficulty of the rank in the Sphere he’s trying to learn + 3. So if he’s trying to learn a Sphere at rank 3 the difficulty would be 6. For each success he gets, he can take off a week of training time.

However, the minimum training time for a Sphere is 1 week. Besides that, each success gives him a 1 point savings in experience cost to purchase the new dot in the Sphere being learned.

If your character has both Mentor and Library Backgrounds AND they both are at the appropriate level for the Sphere being learned, then you can roll both and pool your successes. If they are not both at the appropriate level, then there is no special benefit gained.

A simple failure of this roll naturally gives no time savings or additional EXP bonus. A botch will drive the character’s learning time into the Self-Tutoring learning schedule.


Gaining Ranks in Spheres by Learning from Another Player Character

A great way to learn is from each other. We totally encourage this type of initiative and exchange among players. But they must be roleplayed. Does that mean that you have to RP an entire lesson that takes 2 weeks? No. However, one or two sessions won’t kill you and it’s a great basis for beginning a working relationship with another player character. Who knows? You might be able to kick off a Storyline for yourselves from here.

However, there’s a big barrier to learning from some player characters. The main issue is paradigm. If your character and the PC teacher are from two totally different paradigms and have no real way to relate to one another, then the prospect of one learning anything from the other is remote. It’s just a fundamental barrier that has hampered mages for ages, so it will hamper your characters.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t try!

Some great RP can be had just from the frustration of trying to relate to one another across vastly different paradigms. Even if you’re not successful, you might gain some greater insight into your character that you can possibly use to help further develop your character’s paradigm (HINT! Help justify a Seeking). So it may be a good idea to Journal about this sort of thing.

You might surprise yourselves and actually find that your RP does lead to a successful lesson and you both achieve a breakthrough. That’s also Journal worthy for the same reasons!

In any case, learning from another player also nets you some cookies.

First off, your character gets to learn at the rate of a player who has Mentor or Library (though you don’t get to roll for additional time knocked off). This frees up some downtime for your character to do other things.

Secondly, you both can use the RP session for an EXP activity bonus.

Finally, for the tutor there is a bit of a gain in Status. The amount depends on how lengthy and deep a commitment this tutoring is. Are you just sharing knowledge informally or is this a full blown mentorship that’s forming? If it’s a mentorship that is forming, then realize that your character’s reputation is affected in the conduct of your new student and vice versa. Both the mentor and the student become linked by association.

Anyhow, if your characters are of the same Tradition, then there is no roll needed to see if the teaching was successful. The paradigms of the student and the teacher are closely related enough where a roll is just plain silly. RP alone is sufficient.

If the two are of different Traditions, things start to get complicated.

To determine the outcome of a lesson, we start with a roll of Intelligence + Enigmas as a base with a target diff of Sphere Level + 3. If the student and the teacher are of aligned Traditions, and their paradigm have some commonalities, use this difficulty. This roll is done by the student.

Three successes are needed for a complete breakthrough. One or two successes will yield one week off the Self-Tutoring training times. A failure means no progress is made. A botch means that the student and the teacher likely argue and butt heads over some particular point – feel free to RP that out.

Success, failure, or botch, you both still get the EXP reward for making the effort and reaching out to one another for some cool RP. Now if the student and the teacher are of completely unaligned Traditions AND their paradigms are wildly different, then the base difficulty gets adjusted to Sphere Level + 5.

If the student and the teacher are of aligned Traditions, but their paradigms are wildly different OR if the student and the teacher are of unaligned Traditions, but their paradigms have some commonalities that difficulty gets adjusted to Sphere Level + 4.

What do we mean by “aligned” Traditions? We mean Traditions that have something in common with another. For example, Virtual Adepts and Sons of Ether are both scientifically based Traditions whose paradigms are scientifically based. It could also be factions within Traditions that are somehow relate well to another Tradition. For example, Virtual Adept Chaoticians might find it not so difficult to relate to some Euthanatos mages.

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