Gamers' Corner


Mage: The Awakening

Written by Sherm

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Foreword: First, I have been gamemastering Mage: The Awakening for the last 3 months or so and my review, opinions are based on that experience. Second, I am not affiliated with White Wolf Studios in any way.

With that said, here's my review of the new World of Darkness (WOD) game of high magic - Mage: The Awakening.

Mage: The Awakening is the fifth iteration of the game (Mage: The Ascension 1, 2 and Revised, Mage: The Sorcerer's Crusade and Dark Ages: Mage) originally created by Stewart Wieck and White Wolf Game Studio(WW).

In general Mage is a pleasant looking product. A 400 page hardcover book with a full color cover, gold metallic ink type and a nice coated varnish presentation of the Path Pentacle.

The interior is two-color, black and gold metallic inks. The pages are solidly stitch square bound and I have not experienced any problem with loose pages or the books spine breaking. I do have two issues with the interior production of the book though. One, that the black ink smeared at the touch in my book when I first purchased it. Two, that the gold ink makes reading sometimes difficult depending on the light. But even with these problems, the new World of Darkness Books are far better in appearance and production value than most of their predecessors.

Art & Design
The interior art is hit and miss. Michael W. Kaluta produced all of the illustrations in the book. There has been much debate as to whether having one person do all the art was a wise decision. Let me simply state that I like Kaluta and always have. But I think the game, in terms of aesthetic appeal and also presentation of the setting, would have been stronger with a mix of artists. Mr. Kaluta is superb in creating the runes of the Arcana and I personally loved his illustrations of the Watchtowers and Path Pentacle but he sometimes falls short in his illustration of characters.

The book is designed to look like a sorcerer's diary complete with handwritten pieces and a stitched spine look. Sections of the book look rushed and the typography can make some parts difficult to read. As an example - the idea of making the Rote section three column - like a certain game publishers Player's Handbook - is cute, but it makes the text hard to follow when combined with art and the large script used in the spell titles. Many times it just plain looks bad. Overall it's a nice piece, though I think it falls short of the Vampire and Werewolf core books in terms of visual vitality.

The book is divided as so: A prologue of setting fiction. An introductory chapter. Four chapters detailing the game. Two appendixes. An epilogue of setting fiction. An index, and finally a character sheet at the end.

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