Whenever a mage tries to use the powers of the Realms Supernal, they have to draw it across the Abyss and into the Fallen World. Because of this, the Awakened are always at risk of pulling some of the void's essence into their spells by confusing the Imago and giving the spell errors that the Abyss can exploit, thereby ushering in what mages call "Paradox". Pre-Hellenic traditions also referred to "Nemesis", while other Cults attributed it to a disbalance of Ma'at, the influence of druj or the inherent flaws of tamas. These traditions believed that Paradoxes were reflections of inner failures of the mage in question and reflected his sins against the gods to the outside world.
Paradox is the way the Abyss reacts to any blatant use of supernal magic in front of sleepers, or others who still believe in the Lie. It also appears when a mage exceeds his Reach, trying to achieve feats beyond his powers out of Hubris. Strangely enough, other supernaturals who are still caught in the Lie, such as vampires, werewolves, or changelings, do not count as sleepers. Awakened scholars theorize this is in part because these creatures, semi-aware that magic is possible, are thereby free of the Lie's influence. Another theory pertaining to Paradox is that every time a mage creates one the Abyss widens to engulf reality.
Types of Paradox
Depending on the power, wisdom, and external elements surrounding a mage, a paradox can appear in a number of ways.
- Backlash -- Rather than allow a "true paradox" to occur, a mage can endure the pain of what is called backlash, sacrificing their health to mitigate the potential hazards a paradox can induce while still allowing their spell to go into effect.
- Havoc -- The spell changes from its intended target to something similar but different; e.g. if the target was a human, then another nearby human may be at risk of taking the effects of the spell.
- Bedlam -- Instead of affecting the area around the willworker, the mage suffers a derangement which increases in severity depending on their rank in the arcanum they were using.
- Anomaly -- Reality tears itself apart to allow the unbelievable and unpredictable to occur. Each anomaly is relevant to elements found on the mage's path. Thus, an anomaly summoned by a warlock would have aspects of Pandemonium.
- Branding -- The mage gains attributes that depend on their sin, ranging from nimbus mutation to bestial disfigurement to Abyssal aura.
- Manifestation -- Worst of all possibilities, the Paradox cracks the world open and allows a Gulmoth to invade through the warped Imago, with power equal to and rivaling that of the mage who summoned it, ranging from mindless gremlins to unbelievable horrors beyond time and space. To get rid of such entities usually requires intense research or the death of the mage who called it in the first place. Red Worms are an example of a Manifestation Paradox.