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Background difference between Mage: The Ascension and Mage: The Awakening include:

  • The concept of Paradigm has largely been eliminated. It still crops up in asides, though - fantastic creatures are at a smaller risk of being dispelled through Disbelief if they live in areas where they are considered possible by the populace.
  • There is no conflict between mages over technology versus mysticism. Instead, the loftiest goal of mage society is ascension to a Realms Supernal, where they can either join forces with the Exarchs or the Oracles (if they exist). The former are ancient, power-mad mages who would eliminate the possibility of Awakening so that nobody will ever gain the power to topple them from their thrones, while the latter are their more altruistic adversaries who wish for a place for magic in the world.
  • Mages now have a common culture, because all magic was first studied in Atlantis. After the fall of the city of mages, the practitioners of the Art have scattered over the globe. Because the awakening process includes similar experiences, mages share some essential similarities - but the practices they use to evoke magic still differ (and this may be a source of conflict, when mages argue over the "best" way to do things). A rather neat trick in this respect is the use of High Speech in magic: because Sleepers cannot understand it, they may mistake it for "mystic" languages like Latin, even though it is something completely different.
  • As a corollary the above point, while Atlantean society may have represented the largest and most organized society of mages, it was far from the only example of willworkers on the planet. The mages of Atlantis and their allies/rivals left uncountable artifacts, outposts, and other remnants all over the globe, even in areas not considered known to the 'ancient' (i.e.: Pre-Columbian) world. The opening fiction of Secrets of the Ruined Temple refers to some sort of mystic site in an uncharted section of South America.
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