White Wolf Wiki

A magical effect caused by "True Magick", the Enlightened effect of will on reality, that fits within the local Consensus and could be dismissed as coincidence. Coincidental magic does not incur paradox.

Examples of coincidental magic:

  • A ricochet off of a nearby pipe happens to hit the target
  • A jet of flame shooting out from a nearby gas pipe
  • An old man has an unexpected heart attack.

Each of these effects could be coincidental, or could be the work of a will worker. By design and definition, coincidental magic can't be distinguished from coincidence.

Vulgar magic, by contrast, is obviously not coincidence. Stopping a bullet in mid air, hurling a fireball from an open palm, or draining the life from a healthy person with a touch, are all vulgar effects.

Vulgar and coincidental are subjective, and often depend on the perspective of the Consensus of the local area. A Verbena's health potion might be incredulous in a modern city, but might go uncontested in a rural farming village, and could even be mundane in a Verbena shard realm.


There are multiple standards a Chronicle can use when determining if an effect is coincidental.  M20 makes mention of two: Hypothetical Average Bystander and Hypothetical Omniscient Observer.

Hypothetical Average Bystander (HAB)

Under this standard, an effect is considered coincidental if an average bystander for the area would not think something beyond possibility happened while observing the effect.  Under this standard, using Matter and Prime to create a business card in one's pocket, or teleporting it from elsewhere, would be coincidental, as the business card could have been there all along. In other words, there is a kind of plausible deniability. By contrast, pulling a sniper rifle out of one's jorts would be vulgar (in multiple senses) since no bystander would believe that a weapon of that size was somehow concealed by the garment all along. HAB is the default assumption in the M20 rule set.

Hypothetical Omniscient Observer (HOO)

Reality is everywhere and observing everything, so nearly all magic is noticed and considered vulgar. In the business card example, while actual bystanders would not see anything unusual about pulling a business card out of one's pocket, the universe somehow "knows" the card was conjured there by magic, and paradox ensues. As in the example of the healing potion above, this effect is dependent on the local Consensus.

A third standard is sometimes mentioned, Harass Yonder Passerby, which is often listed as a joke, although, in fairness, Mages have a tendency to do this.

Notes on First Edition

First edition Mage often had a much looser consideration of coincidental and was based on the results of the effect.  If a mage used a Matter effect to turn bullets into air, this effect could be considered coincidental, as observers might conclude the gun wasn't actually loaded.  This standard is less common in contemporary play, or at least not as flexible.


Mage: The Ascension 20th Anniversary Edition, p. 533-534 (Axis of Coincidence, HAB/HOO/HYP and RBD/PBD)