Entropy is the study of the progress of Patterns towards a conclusion, whether destiny or death. It is a Sphere of dynamic change, bringing things to their inevitable conclusion – or even changing their conclusion, giving them a new destiny.
Entropy is neither truly the study of decay, nor is it the study of probability. Entropy is the study of chaos – literally, order and the breakdown of order. Over time, a Mage can learn to predict the patterns of chaos, speed them up or slow them down, and finally see order where there was none before. Entropy is about understanding the patterns and cycles of the world, and learning how to alter their progress.
Entropy is the most commonly misunderstood Sphere, because players think it's all about chance and probability. It's not – it's about fate. A low-level Entropy Mage can only control the fate of things which do not have a 'fate' – random events, such as a die roll or a well-shuffled deck of cards. These events do not have a conclusion to progress toward, so it is relatively simple to give them one.
He then learns to tweak the fate of predictable events and simple machines, which only have a minor fate of slowly decaying into scrap. Next, he learns to control the fate of more complex patterns – life, complex machinery, or wild forces, which can have a more complicated fate than simply to live and die. Entropy becomes most interesting at level 5, where the Mage can affect the fate of thought – making it so that an idea will be forgotten, or will become unforgettable. Such an effect on someone's mind is often called a geas, and can be a life-altering event. A Mage should be careful when toying with fate.
Entropy cannot affect living things directly or do harm to them until the fourth level. Entropy is not the most efficient way of affecting something in the short term – you can weave an elaborate Entropy ritual, increasing subtly the chances that an opponent's car will malfunction, or you can just use Forces to create a spark in their gas tank.
- Apprentice Entropy (Sense Fate and Fortune)
- The Mage has just opened their eyes to chance and fate, and has learned to see the various aspects of entropy in action. They might use the Sphere to determine which slot machine is ready to hit the jackpot, or which disgruntled employee is slowing down the company. A Mage with nothing but this Sphere could make himself rich in Vegas (although he'd attract some unwanted attention). They can see very strong blessings or curses on people when using Entropy with Life, or find the weak point in a brick wall with Entropy and Matter. Correspondence and Time might help them find the time and place that something significant will happen – maybe a miracle, maybe a murder.
- Initiate Entropy (Nudge Fate)
- The Mage can now subtly and gently tug at Fate. Although fine control over advanced Entropy patterns is out of his reach, the Mage can manipulate events where random chance or pure probability plays a part. He can pull a good poker hand from a shuffled deck of cards, or pull out the one odd sock in the sock drawer. The more complex the event, the harder it is to make it happen. The Mage at this level does not affect any of the Patterns around him directly – he just increases the chance that a likely thing will happen.
- Disciple Entropy (Affect Predictable Patterns)
- The Mage has now learned to touch other Patterns directly. He can increase the order or disorder in predictable patterns, such as those of Matter or Forces, and cause them either to become immune to entropy's effects, or to fall apart rapidly. With Time, he might use this power on random events, causing them to happen sooner or delay them as he wishes. Although Patterns such as Life, Spirit, and Time are too complicated for this level of Entropy, there are advantages to having equipment that you know will never break, as well as making sure your opponent's equipment will.
- Adept Entropy (Affect Life)
- Finally, the Mage has overcome a great hurdle, and can affect the very flow of chaos and fate in Life Patterns. Life still remains complex, but the Mage has found where he can affect it – causing sudden aging or protection from harm, and blessing or cursing an entire family line for generations. Many uses will involve Life as well, whenever the Mage is not only affecting the fate of the target, but the target himself (such as in the above aging example). The Mage can be a great destroyer, bringing disease and bad luck, but also a great healer, by removing such curses.
- Master Entropy (Affect Thought)
- The Master of Entropy has learned to take the Sphere beyond mere physical Patterns to the bounds of thought, space, and time itself. He can now impact the very changes of universal concepts. Over time, new things come to a person's attention, and old things are forgotten – the Master can affect these changes. Ideas can be changed, evolved, or discarded. With Mind, he might create an idea so strong that it creates change in any who think about it. By spreading that idea, reality itself might be altered. Nearly any aspect of change is under the Mage's control at this point, and it may be combined with other Spheres for incredible effect.
Alternate Names Among the TraditionsEdit
- Akashic Brotherhood: Karma, Sunyata
- Celestial Chorus: The Path of Destiny
- Cult of Ecstasy: Karmic Cycle
- Dreamspeakers: The Spirits' Laughter
- Euthanatos: Tamas
- Order of Hermes: Ars Fati
- Sons of Ether: Ether Dynamics
- Verbena: The Art of the Fates
- Virtual Adepts: Law of Nature
- Dim Mak
- Akashic Brothers who study Entropy learn the insidious martial arts technique of Dim Mak, the art of striking vital points. While many mundane martial arts pursue Dim Mak (called Atemi in Japanese), only the Akashic Brothers learn the technique in its true form, which requires the use of magick.
- Using his knowledge of Entropy, an Akashic mage identifies the weakest parts of an inanimate structure or living body. By identifying these pressure points and then physically striking them, he inflicts one extra Health Level of damage for each success scored when evoking the magickal Effect (this requires a normal combat success as well). By combining this with a conjunctional Time 4 Effect, the Dim Mak Entropy damage may surface long after the blow itself has been forgotten.
- Every structure or living being has different weaknesses; the mage must apply his magickal senses to each individual object he attacks in order to identify its particular pressure points. Also, the pressure points of living things slowly change depending on the time of day, season and other more esoteric factors, so the mage must re-examine living targets at each meeting.
- Other Traditions use similar Entropy Effects.
- Locate Disorder
- The mage can identify the area of greatest disorder in an institution or organized sequence of events. The more successes scored, the more precise the information gained. This is a sensory Effect.
- Say a mage wants to infiltrate the staff of a hotel. She scores one success and thereby detects that the restaurant operation is the most disorganized element. She disguises herself as a chef and infiltrates the kitchen, guessing that other employees won't notice a new recruit. With more successes, she might discover that the greatest point of disorder in the hotel's business operation lies in the pantry manager's personnel files, which are totally disorganized.
- The mystick must be somewhat familiar with the organization she studies to gain much benefit, though the ability does facilitate extraordinary deductive abilities. In the example above, the mage would need to spend some time walking around the hotel and talking to a few of the employees before she could pinpoint the business' chaos point.
- Ring of Truth
- Certain words resound with destiny. Sometimes people can speak prophecy or truth without even knowing it. A mage can recognize this; this Effect grants the ability to discern higher truth and greater significance in spoken or written words, and to detect lies with some accuracy. This gives the mage a sixth sense; he may roll Perception + Insight to discover the greater truth - or falsehood - in anything he hears or reads. He may not know why something is important, but he can tell when a fact is a fact. A mage who uses this to discover a lie can subtract successes of Subterfuge rolls like countermagick against a spell (one for one). A liar may continue to lie with opposed rolls.
- This sixth sense does not deal with the future specifically (that form of precognition comes with Time 2). The Ring of Truth generally deals with the present, though it can be combined with Time 2 for predictions of startling accuracy.
- Beginner's Luck
- 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 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 which she has never attempted before (or at least succeeded in), however, a mystick may use this Effect to call upon the force of beginner's luck and make an impossible shot.
- For each success with this Effect, the GM may add one success to any non-magickal skill roll which a mage has two dice or less to attempt, in addition to any successes which 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 magick expends itself.
- Each future attempt to use this same magick for the same feat adds +1 to the difficulty. This reflects diminishing returns. Mages who wish to continue to make spectacular successes should purchase additional levels of the skill in question. No one stays a beginner for long.
- Games of Luck
- Using her power to control localized random events, the mage can virtually determine the outcome of any game of luck. She may control the throw of dice, the shuffle of cards, the fall of a roulette ball and other such events. The more successes scored, the more precise the control she exerts.
- Slay Machine
- Entropy students can turn technological marvels into ruined heaps. At this level, the mage uses his knowledge of Entropy to infuse technological systems with raw chaos. Any modern machinery or electronic device can be caused to malfunction or even self-destruct.
- Computer systems corrupt all of their stored data, rendering it unintelligible. Electrical currents within electronic equipment surge so radically that components melt. Phone networks randomly scatter their calls, routing them to wrong numbers. Power distribution equipment, like circuit breaker boxes, go haywire - some breakers trip for no reason, while others fail to trip, causing power surges, blown light bulbs and overheated power lines.
- The more successes scored, the greater the magnitude of disorder caused. Several successes may be required to cause large machinery to glitch once or twice, while small systems will run amok with the same number of successes.
- A similar Effect, Erode Matter, causes gases to diffuse into the air, liquids to evaporate and solids to disintegrate. The number of successes rolled for the Effect determines how quickly the matter dissolves and how much of it can be affected. Three successes rot away a wooden door within a minute, while file successes corrode the steel body of a truck in under five minutes.
- Like Clockwork
- The Technocracy is most famous for this Effect, though all mages make use of it. After this enchantment, a machine, typically a clock, will run error-free and as precisely as it was designed to do. Both the device and the spell must be maintained occasionally (otherwise probability gets stretched too far), but clocks (and other devices) can run "like clockwork" for centuries.
- This Effect can insulate the device from Slay Machine attempts. The magick used to maintain perfect operation will foil most attempts to cause something to go wrong by way of Entropy. This magick, however, does not insulate the machine against Spheres like Matter, which sabotage the device magickally (though similar Matter Effects can prevent this as well).
- Blight of Aging
- Commonly focused through brews, poisons, effigies or curses, this Effect infuses primal entropy directly into a targeted life form, causing its body to quickly deteriorate and decay. This resembles advanced aging; the target effectively ages five years for each success scored on the magickal Effect roll.
- Life forms aged past their normal life spans will quickly die and turn to dust. Victims prematurely advanced to old age should be assigned penalties to their Physical Attributes.
- Many Traditions use similar life-destroying Entropy Effects, but the Verbena are best known for it. Because they normally relish the vibrancy of life, Verbena see the removal of that vigor as the worst sort of punishment.
- Midwife's Blessing
- The Verbena claim to have originated this ancient magick. The mage lays her hands on the belly of a pregnant woman and blesses the child, typically, "To grow tall, straight of limb and well favored." Anything more is considered superfluous, though the Progenitors often design the child's entire look and body.
- Each success rolled reduces the probability of disease or deformity. Three successes or more will usually insulate a child from any sort of disease, short of a massive plague, for life. Again, this affects probability, not the body itself, though it may be combined with Life 4 to grant the child vitality or beauty.
- Destroy Thought
- A favorite tactics of the NWO, this Effect causes any rational thought or feeling to dissolve away in the chosen subject's mind. A gunman facing the mage can have his resolve to shoot quickly broken down - "I'll kill you... No, I won't kill you, I'll hurt you, though... but if I shoot you, I'll go to jail... Even if I get away, he's got friends... Ah, hell with it!" (Gunman flees.)
- Once the Effect has taken hold, the victim usually begins to rationalize away the affected though. As in the example above, the victim finds the weaknesses and illogic inherent in the idea or feeling and so abandons it. The thought is destroyed.
- The GM must decide how many successes are necessary for the Effect, depending on the complexity of the thought and the passion of the victim. One to three successes can dissuade a person from a whim, while five or more would be needed to reject a deeply-held passion or conviction.
- Binding Oath
- One of the most ancient rites of magecraft. When someone enters into a pact, agreement or service, the mage administering or giving that oath may call the force of destiny to witness the proceedings and to punish anyone who breaks the spirit of the oath.
- A binding oath is a powerful magick, with dire consequences for those who break it. A mage who swore to "Protect the most ancient Order of Hermes," then defected to the Technocracy, would have some horrible doom fall upon him. He would also be psychically marked as an oathbreaker, a dire stigma easily detected by mages sensitive to destiny (i.e., Entropy 1). If the mage breaks an oath due to some outside compulsion - he's sworn to protect someone, but kills her while mentally enslaved by another - this does not count as being forsworn unless the mage willingly submitted to the mental enslavement. Circumstances do apply.