From WoD Gotham
Paradox Accumulation and Flaws
When your character fails or botches a magickal effect, he accumulates Paradox and scores it on his wheel. It will then accumulate and REMAIN in your character’s Paradox Pool UNTIL it is released by taking a Paradox Flaw.
When and how that release takes place is up to the player. They may wish to expel the Paradox right away and not tempt fate by allowing it to accumulate in their Paradox Pool. On the other hand, depending on their circumstances, the nuisance or disruptive force of a Paradox Flaw might be a luxury they can ill afford.
The player wants to have their character expel all or part of their Paradox Pool, he notifies the ST that they wish to take a Paradox Flaw. Then both the player and the ST decide on an appropriate Paradox Flaw for the character. The Flaw can be from the list of any of the MtA books, or the player and the ST might like to get creative make one up together. They will also decide how long the Paradox Flaw lasts. At the end of the Flaw all the Paradox associated with it, will be marked from your character’s Paradox Pool. Players and STs can also elect to take multiple Paradox Flaws if that’s more appropriate for the character. Again this is a painful process for the mage, but still a creative one to role-play.
So if your character had 8 Paradox points and then took two three-point Paradox Flaws, then after the Paradox Flaws expired, your character would only be left with 2 points of Paradox in his Paradox Pool.
Paradox Flaw Examples:
Trivial Flaws (1 Point): A trivial Paradox Flaw could be barely noticeable or slightly inconvenient. It probably lasts only a short time. The mage's watch might start running backward at high speed for a few turns, or his hair could stand on end for a minute. Mystical mages get struck with echoes from legend: Flowers might wilt or a swarm of insects could briefly gather near the mage.
Minor Flaws (2 Points): A minor Flaw is inconvenient and troublesome, and it may stick around for a while, but it's not likely to be dangerous. These Flaws might include such things as the mage's feet sticking to the ground for a turn, an article of clothing falling to ash, or an uncontrollable sneezing attack. Such Effects typically grant a difficulty penalty of one to certain actions that might be hindered, and they could be noticeably odd to others.
Moderate Flaws (3 Points): A "moderate" Flaw is a relative term, since these Flaws do hamper the mage significantly, tend to last for a while, and can be dangerous. Moderate Flaws might include such problems as suddenly exuding waves of heat or cold, suffering from strange shifts to the senses, or losing the ability to speak coherently. These Effects usually cause the mage to suffer difficulty increases on a variety of tasks.
Severe Flaws (4 Points): Severe Paradox Flaws should give even the most rash mages pause. The mage could discover that his facial features have vanished (yet left him his senses), or perhaps all cloth items that come within five feet of him start writhing uncontrollably. These Flaws can be somewhat harmful, even to others, and they're definitely strange, noticeable, and problematic. Such Flaws usually cause the mage to suffer a difficulty penalty of two or three on most tasks for as long as they last, which can be up to several days.
Drastic Flaws (5 Point): The nastiest forms of backfires cause major changes, injuries, and even permanent problems. The mage might have his skin suddenly turn to wood and start sprouting, he could find everyone over the age of 40 irresistibly attracted to him, or he could accidentally and uncontrollably fire off magical attacks at his friends and allies. A minor Flaw might show up as a permanent problem, rendering the mage's eyes a new color, wiping away a memory, removing an Ability or Attribute point, or causing similar mayhem. If out of control, these Flaws can wreak havoc on the mage and on the people around him. Some things may become downright impossible for the mage to accomplish, depending on the nature of the Flaw.
|Paradox Backlash Guide|
|Up to five points:||Roll for the Backlash diff 6. Each success is an Aggravated Wound level. The mage probably gains a minor Paradox Flaw of some sort, but it's mostly a short -term nuisance.|
|Six to 10 points:||Roll for the Backlash diff 6. Each success is an Aggravated Wound level. The mage suffers one negative side effect like a Moderate Paradox Flaw or generally adding between one and three to the difficulty of all actions for a number of turns equal to the Paradox accumulated.|
|11 to 15 points:||Roll for the Backlash diff 6. Each success is an Aggravated Wound level. Plus, the mage suffers a negative Paradox Flaw that averages four to six points in difficulty penalties, just hits the mage with something bizarre like a Severe Paradox Flaw and/or Quiet.|
|16 to 20 points:||Roll for the Backlash diff 6. Each success is an Aggravated Wound level. If he survives it, he still suffers an incapacitating side effect – Quiet, and/or Drastic Paradox Flaw. Perhaps minor Paradox Flaws are made permanent.|
|21 or more:||Kiss your ass goodbye! Seriously start thinking of new character concepts. Roll for the Backlash diff 6. Each success is an Aggravated Wound level. If the character survives, the negative effect gained can be a permanent. The mage probably gets permanent Paradox Points from this Backlash as well. The mage may attract the attentions of a Paradox Spirit or be catapulted into a Paradox Realm. Achieving this level of Paradox is a sure way to be shunted into the tender, loving graces of your ST's most malicious nightmares – like perhaps Paradox decides to shunt all the mages present into a horrible Paradox Realm and a new chapter in the story begins.|
Whenever a character botches a Vulgar effect, or accumulates more than 5 Paradox on a single magickal effect – a roll is made to determine the severity of a Paradox Backlash. A Paradox Backlash is the explosion of Paradox out of your mage’s pattern. Other mages can sense it and being a mage in the presence of a Backlash is often frightening and uncertain as one never knows what Paradox will do to return reality back to its consensus. It could very well affect those around the mage!
The ST then rolls the character’s ENTIRE Paradox Pool including the latest accumulation caused by the current effect’s failure or botch against a difficulty of 6. This is where it gets fun…
The good news is that each success gained on that roll expels one point of Paradox off your character’s Paradox Pool. The bad news is that each success on that roll is AGGRAVATED DAMAGE. The effects of this damage appear as wide, striated burns randomly scattered all over the character’s skin. They cannot be healed by any other way besides time and rest then the burn marks fade. They are extremely painful and they visible marks of your mage’s pride, hubris, shame, embarrassment, madness, etc.
Additionally, the ST will assign any appropriate Paradox Flaws as the result of a Backlash. In extreme cases, the character might be ripped from reality itself and cast off into a Paradox Realm or they might cause a Paradox Spirit to manifest, or slip into Quiet. Below is a guide of some possibilities. However, the ultimate severity is determined by the ST so as to make certain that it is both appropriate to the character and the story.
In WoDG, Resonance is a quasi-optional or secondary system. As such, we don’t codify Quiet into three different categories that you see in revised (pg. 199-200). We prefer to allow more flexibility to the ST in determining the manifestation of a Quiet so that it fits more with the characters involved and the story. For the ST running the Quiet, any combination of the three types of Quiet might be appropriate or none at all. The ST may decide to go in an entirely new direction. Coping with Quiet is done using the same mechanics except that the disbelief roll is Perception + Enigmas (Diff 7). Degrees of success and the results of the roll thereafter apply as usual.
Paradox and the Mage's Sanctum
A mage's Sanctum is akin to a laboratory. You do experiments in your lab. They are essentially designed for such purposes. It's the mage's own little bubble of reality in which to let their imaginations run rampant.
When experiments go out of the lab setting, they are no longer experiments but field tests. These little field tests are now not confined to the happy ideal conditions of the mage's own reality anymore. They are part of the consensus.
Therefore, if you cast a vulgar spell inside your sanctum and that spell touches static reality it will garner the paradox it should have garnered with or without witness as the conditions apply.
Example: Vince Verbena goes ahead and gives himself Dexterity 7 which is normally vulgar in his sanctum. He's allocated his successes to efficacy and duration as expected. He decides that the spell should last three months. So while in his sanctum he experiments having super speed and agility and all is well - his magick works and he's got plenty of ideas on how to make the spell even better. No paradox grabs him and slaps him around for having Dex above 5 because paradox is his bitch while in sanctum.
Then Vince gets cocky or forgets he has that active magick going and takes his little party outside. Well humans just don't have super speed in the real world and the consensus recognizes that. Vince comes out of his sanctum and goes for a stroll all graceful and speedy and the paradox that didn't hit him in sanctum, hits him now.