Specialties: Chaos, Dissolution, Fate, Fortune, Order
Luck, fate, chance and chaos are the prime components of the study of Entropy. From this Sphere comes the study of order and randomness, and thus, the study of totally random creation and destruction. All things dissolve eventually into haphazard components, and similarly events form from disjointed, unconnected patterns. Whether in thermodynamic theory or metaphysical metaphor, Entropy describes the simple fact that all things break down, but that new states come from disorder.
For mages interested in coincidence and chance, Entropy affords great possibilities. Mages can sense the flow of probability itself. Determinism and chaos are equal partners, to the student. The mage can spot chance on the move, recognizing points where probability quirks in odd directions. With enough mastery, the mage can even influence probability to cause changes and accidents to happen according to her desires. The mage may not be able to specify the exact outcome, but she can at least cause fair or foul fortune to fall as she wishes.
In practical physical terms, Entropy also relates an understanding of the breakdown, of systems. Although the mage can't affect Patterns directly until he achieves a great mastery of the Sphere, the final steps on the Entropic path allow the mage to literally tear apart Creation by encouraging the natural — or unnatural — spread of chaos. Matter crumbles. Forces fade. Creatures die. This is the lesson of Entropy: Everything falls apart.
Mages who study Entropy often choose the path of either order or chaos. Students of order look into patterns, into the ways that events flow from one to the next and into the means by which new things build on the old. Students of chaos study the dissolution of patterns, the destruction of matter and the random elements that infect happenstance and probability. Either sort of mage has an intuitive understanding of the forces that build and destroy.
By itself, Entropy cannot be used to attack Life Patterns directly until the fourth level (that is, only an Adept or better can inflict damage directly with the Entropy Sphere). However, indirect Entropy — bad luck, collapsing buildings and just rotten strings of happenstance — can inflict damage normally. Unsurprisingly, Entropic masters often have a great deal of Entropy Resonance. Such individuals have a nigh-tangible aura that gives an impression of being in exactly the right place and important — or of being completely out of place. Such mages seem to show up in just the right places at the right (or wrong) times. Sensitives and mages with high Awareness note that Entropy mages have a sort of dark, primordial air that belies a swirling, entropic core.
• Sense Fate and FortuneEdit
The rudimentary ability to sense entropy allows a mage to discern the current of destiny. The mage can look into the waves of probability, see places where chance has been altered or nudged, notice nexuses of unlikely events and sense the weaknesses of objects. The mage can determine if something has a particularly lucky characteristic and see if something is on the verge of breaking. Though these senses are far from perfect, they do make the mage a mean gambler and a give him insight into a little bit of luck.
Combined with various Pattern Spheres, the mage can look for weaknesses in a Pattern or see where it will fracture naturally. The mage can also determine if a particular object or creature is lucky. Correspondence with Entropy lets the mage find a place where an unusual event may happen, and Time could let the mage isolate exactly when a manifestation of destiny will appear.
• Locate Disorder and WeaknessEdit
By using Entropy senses, the mage can locate areas of chaos, disorder and decay. A simple sensory Effect determines roughly where an object may break, where an occurrence may happen randomly or how a sequence of events may fall out. With more successes, the mage gets more detailed and accurat e information.
By concentrating on an organizational structure, the mage can find the most disorganized and chaotic point. Doing so can be useful in determining areas that may be difficult to understand, or places where a few more little changes may go unnoticed. Focusing on a Pattern, the mage can sense the weakest areas and make a devastating attack in those places. Applying the magical senses lets the mage use his Entropy magic to augment his damage roll (see "Magic Enhancing Abilities," p. 121).
• Ring of TruthEdit
For those who believe in such things, destiny has a way of coming to the fore. Prophets speak the words of destiny, and events come to pass; people make simple statements that turn out to hold profound truths. Attention to destiny (or just to the patterns that indicate when someone is most likely to lie or to be right about something) can tell a mage whether someone's words hold accuracy.
The Ring of Truth relies on some tie to destiny to determine veracity. Although this powerful Effect can help a mage determine if someone is lying or if the individual's words are somehow important, it has limits. The mage can only analyze something that has meaning to her — a question that has no relevance to the mage or the subject cannot be analyzed. That is, the mage cannot simply query a random person on the street, or even a cabal-mate, about sundry details of the Technocracy and expect an objective assessment of truth if the questions are without connection or context to the subject. Furthermore, the Effect is not infallible, and it often leaves the mage with cryptic hunches or incomplete answers. Fate is fickle. "Reply hazy. Try again later".
• • Control ProbabilityEdit
After determining the threads of the Tapestry and how they pull on one another, the mage can tug subtly at Fate's loom. Although this ability doesn't necessarily change Patterns directly, it does let the mage alter probability just enough to influence the direction in which the Tapestry unfolds. The Disciple can grab the gross threads of probability where they collect and alter them to suit his whims. Though fine manipulation is still out of reach, the mage can exert a level of control that allows him to determine the outcome of simple events.
By spotting random occurrences, the mage can distinguish predetermined or set patterns from totally chaotic ones. In any pattern where chance and chaos plays a part, the mage can make minor alterations, forcing the randomness to play out as he wishes. Thus, the mage can pull out a good poker hand from a shuffled deck of cards, influence a dice roll subtly or pull out the one odd sock in the sock drawer. The more complex or the more patterned the event, the harder it is to affect, so the mage is best off dealing with fairly simple and subtle changes. The mage doesn't lay a hand on the Patterns around him directly. Instead, he influences the chance of specific things happening.
In conjunction with Pattern Spheres, the mage can sometimes determine how multiple objects, creatures or forces will interact with one another, and which ones will meet. With ephemeral Spheres, the mage can sense patterns in seemingly random fluctuations of the Gauntlet, notice who's likely to come up with a particular idea first or influence an event to happen at a specific time.
• • Beginner's LuckEdit
There is a statistical possibility that any random attempt to do anything will actually succeed. You can get a hole-in¬one the first time you pick up a golf club or hit the bull's eye at a rifle range on the first try. The trouble is doing it the second time, as the chance gets exceedingly improbable. One lucky shot is in the realm of possibility, but five holes-in-one from a rank amateur is beyond belief.
Most mages agree that skill and practice will beat blind luck any day. When faced with any feat that she has never attempted before (or at least succeeded in), however, a mystic may use the Effect to call on the force of beginner's luck and do the impossible.
For each success with this Effect, the Storyteller may add one success to any non-magical Skill roll that a mage's player has two dice or less to attempt, in addition to any successes that the mage makes on her own. The "automatic successes" from this Effect last until they are used in some spectacular success, at which point the magic expends itself.
Each future attempt to use this same magic for the same feat adds one to the difficulty, reflecting diminishing returns. Mages who wish to continue to make spectacular successes should learn additional levels of the Skill in question. No one stays a beginner for long.
• • Games of LuckEdit
By controlling localized probability, the mage can influence the outcome of nearly any game of chance. He can tell which horse will come in, who'll get the winning poker hand and how the dice will fall. As with all Effects of this sort, the mage's successes get increasingly improbable as they continue. At low levels of success, the mage might influence the events but not completely get the desired result. At high levels, the mage can exert a fine (but not exact or total) control over the outcome of such random games. Although it may seem that a mage could make large quantities of cash this way, chance has a way of catching up. Besides, the bookies probably won't let your Virtual Adept run the numbers on his laptop while he's playing poker!
• • • Affect Predictable PatternsEdit
The more predictable a Pattern, the more easily a mage can determine how it functions — and how it breaks. Finally able to touch other Patterns with Entropic control directly, the mage can cause chaos in static Patterns, or arrest the onset of decay. Of course, the natural course of things always wins out in the end. It's impossible to dodge Fate and erase chance completely. However, the mage can exercise a great deal of control over random events, forcing them to delay, making them happen much sooner than they would and causing a Pattern to undergo its natural end sooner or later than usual.
At this level of skill, the mage can affect only set, predictable Patterns such as Matter and Forces. Life Patterns, with their constant ebb and flow, are too difficult for the mage to hamper directly. Since the mage can alter set Patterns, he can cause machines and systems to break down or prevent such damage. He can cause a device to fail, to suffer a quirky malfunction or to continue working long after it should've given out. Such blessings and curses do eventually wear off (and the entropy often "catches up" in the end), but they can be a boon in the interim.
With Pattern Spheres, the mage can not only affect a Pattern with Entropy directly, but he can control how it will react with other Patterns. Thus, the mage could make a computer that won't break down for years or get overloaded by an electrical surge.
• • • Like ClockworkEdit
Patterns that rely on precision can be improved and shielded with this simple Effect. By insulating a Pattern against the forces of Entropy, a device can be not only protected from decay and rust, but made to run perfectly for years, never failing and never allowing errors to creep in. Obviously, time catches up with all things so this Effect can't be made permanent. However, it can stretch the life and accuracy of all sorts of machines if it's maintained regularly (especially clocks, computers and other such precision devices). The Technocracy uses this Effect extensively, simply through regular maintenance of its machinery. Tradition mages might work small charms and blessings into a device to give it similar benefits. This Effect's successes establish a duration and size for the subject, keeping it shielded from running down naturally. The successes also defend against Entropy attacks levied against the object in question: An Entropy attack deducts from this Effect's protective successes first before hampering the object's functionality.
• • • Slay MachineEdit
Just as Entropy can protect a delicate Pattern from failure or decay, so too can chaos induce just such occurrences. By accelerating the process of inaccuracy and failure, the student of Entropy can render a modern technological device a heap of rubble — or at least cause it to fail badly enough that its compounded errors make it worthless.
The number of successes scored on the Effect determines how much chaos the mage manages to inject into a given system. For complex machines, the mage can cause gears to break, belts to snap, axles to bend and rods to slip. Electronic components suffer surges or failures. Computers and calculators get random errors and crashes along with computational problems. Simple material Patterns disperse in an accelerated rate of decay: Water evaporates, steel rusts, wood rots and copper corrodes. Use the table on page 162 for guidelines on how badly the target is damaged. A couple of successes would be sufficient to interrupt a personal computer, but 10 or more successes would be necessary to crumble a large engine to broken pieces.
• • • • Affect LifeEdit
Living Patterns grow, change and adapt. Because of their constant motion, such Patterns are unpredictable, and they are difficult to read or affect with Entropy. However, the Adept of Entropy has reached a level where he can finally sort out such massively complex developments and make a good guess at influencing the growth, and change of life. The Adept learns how things grow, mature, change, adapt and die, how they decay, how they feed into the cycle of life and death. By changing the natural course of multiple points in the life cycle, the Adept can guide it subtly in new directions, whereas simpler changes would merely be corrected.
A mage can use Entropy magic of this level to influence Life Patterns and their successive lineages, bestowing long life, good luck and health, or a quick demise and a blighted family line. Although the Life Pattern is not directly touched, the events around it all quietly bent to force it into directions and circumstances of the mage's choice.
With the Pattern Spheres, the mage can exert direct effects on living beings, causing them to decay or to recover from injury or illness rapidly. Good fortune may result in the healing of diseases, while a curse could cause the subject to suffer complications.
• • • • Blight of AgingEdit
Infusing a Life Pattern with excess Entropy can have all manner of negative effects, primarily by accelerating the process of decrepitude. The caster doesn't necessarily specify any sort of particular physical problem. Rather, the mage simply curses the creature, afflicting the being with a rapid aging and disease. Though Life Patterns are normally self-correcting, the right combination of Entropic factors can drive a Pattern haywire, eventually causing it to fall apart and destroy itself. Rapid aging, cancer, system failure and multiple infections can all result.
A significantly strong curse can reduce the creature to a decaying corpse in a matter of days. More subtle curses may cause the victim to suffer a relapse of an old wound, the of a nasty disease or a slow slide into a coma. The mage doesn't choose the result. Instead, she simply levies the curse and watches as the individual suffers the results (like in Steven King's Thinner). Medical attention might slow the onset of such a curse, but normal science can do nothing to prevent the deterioration. Victims wither and die slowly, or they just suffer some sort of debilitating disfigurement, and only an enlightened magician or scientist can find a way to battle the curse (with sufficient command of countermagic).
Life-destroying curses are a common (if powerful) staple of most magical styles, but they are usually relegated to the status of dire and dangerous magic. Dabbling in such magic is a quick path to Jhor.
• • • • Midwife's BlessingEdit
Remember all those stories about fairy godmothers and blessed children? Such blessings are possible with the right command of Entropy. The mage's blessing doesn't ensure specific qualities, but it does help to ensure that the child will grow with health and strength. The usual Verbena form of the Effect is a laying of hands on the belly of the mother-to-be, with the blessing, "Grow tall, straight of limb and well favored." Hermetic mages have been known to enchant for specific qualities in their children, instilling specific forms of vis (Quintessence) with Resonance designed to protect against negative qualities. Progenitors are more straightforward, deliberately engineering genetic qualities to remove negative traits and disease susceptibility.
Obviously, ensuring that a child is completely bereft of mischance is too difficult to perform, but a well-cast ritual can at least prevent birth defects or fatal diseases. Protecting a child all through childhood would require an extremely strong ritual (as noted on the Damage and Duration table). The mage also can't specify any specific gifts for the child; all she can do is ensure that harm or misfortune just won't come the child's way.
• • • • • Affect ThoughtEdit
Just as more physical Patterns are subject to change, so too are the vagaries of thought, space and time itself The Master of Entropy learns to impact the very changes of universal concepts.
At this level the mage can influence the interaction of many other Spheres of magic. Though the mage might not have extensive knowledge of the other Spheres, she can let random chance take its course to bring elements together or apart as desired, to tear down old concepts or structures and replace them.
Over time, ideas change, new beliefs take hold; places fall away from public use or grow in prominence; even rime itself goes through long patches of unassuming emptiness followed by periods of extreme change. The Master can see and affect all of these events. Ideas can be changed, evolved, brought to prominence or discarded. Large strings of coincidence can be moved into a single nexus in time or pushed away to leave a period of absolute normalcy. The mage can cause a place nearby to change in importance and nature to people, taking on certain qualities.
This intellectual entropy creates a true "meme," an idea so strong and pervasive that it creates change through its very existence. By spreading that idea, the Master can make others change their views and alter their perception of reality. The Master does not grossly recast Patterns into new forms. Rather, he opens the floodgates of possibility and, like a gardener, guides and prunes events to grow into a desirable direction.
Naturally, such sublime control of Entropy can be combined with the many Spheres for a multitude of Effects. The mage might always be in the right place at the right time. He can not only change someone's mind, but he can wipe away any previous thoughts, consigning them to the oblivion of Lethe. He can hasten the evolution of living things or the maturity of ideas, or delay them to a later time.
• • • • • Binding OathEdit
The most powerful Fate magicians can call destiny itself to witness the oaths and pacts that they oversee. The skein of Fate takes chart of the subject and marks him. Such an oath brings the weight of fortune to bear on any who break it. Even without any additional compulsions or bindings, the oath has power due to the simple weight of destiny hanging over the subject.
A Binding Oath doesn't necessarily lay actual prohibitions on the subject. The individual retains his free will. However, should he choose to break the oath willingly, he reaps the full weight of consequence. Fate's tapestry bends to ensure that disaster befalls the oathbreaker, and he's clearly marked to any who can sense the weight of destiny.
Laying a binding oath is a difficult task, since it must be made to last long enough to have any meaning — typical oaths last for a cycle of the moon, a year and a day, even an age or an eternity. Placing a prohibition on an unwilling subject is even more difficult, especially if the victim is already marked for a great destiny. Thus, such oaths are usually saved for situations of the greatest weight and consequence, like ceremonial initiation into the mysteries of a Tradition or the foundation of a new Chantry.