By Anders Sandberg - email@example.com
To be a mage is not a profession but a way of life. After awakening, life will never be the same again. Mages understand the world around them far better than sleepers and thus gain power over it, but this is just one side of the coin. The other side is the fact that they see the strange events which normal people rationalize away or simply ignore. Or perhaps the mages cause them by their own presence. Or they exist only in their own minds, as results of Quiet or incipient insanity. Most of it is neither good or bad, its just plain weird.
Many mages believe the weirdness in their lives are due to that they apply magic subconsciously. Others scoff at this notion, but the fact remains that many mages influence reality without thinking. In most cases this is minor coincidental effects, usually practical and nothing anybody would comment on, if they didn't appear so often.
Correspondence mages always seems to find the things they search for, opening a book at random they find relevant information and when looking for a certain street they find signs pointing the way. More powerful mages always seems to have things they need within reach all the time. Not to mention the fact that they always seems to find the quickest and safest way to any destination.
Entropy mages usually have an inordinate amount of luck, at least when they don't rely on it. They also have a knack for walking through dangerous situations without thinking or barely avoiding accidents. That is the up-side, the downside is that chance and randomness often makes their lives more absurd than most (see the section about Randomness below).
Forces mages often have good relations with electronic machines. When they turn on the television, it will be on the right channel, microwave ovens heat their food evenly and disk errors just vanish when they pass. More nature oriented mages often get weather suited to their moods, beams of sunlight hitting them on cloudy days, the fog thickening when they try to hide or have small breezes around them when its hot.
Life mages are proverbially healthy, and this often extends to their pets and plants. Often their moods spread to other living beings, plants wither and die when they are depressed and songbirds sing when they wake up in a good mood. They also tend to attract other living beings, especially animals they have affinity for. A look at the garden of a mage can reveal many secrets.
Matter mages are practically always good at making things work. It doesn't matter what it is, a kick or some jury-rigging and its almost as new. Their possessions seems to be well cared for, and their homes often look neat and tidy without them ever trying to clean up. Of course, some mages have homes and labs which are eternally chaotic, resisting any attempts of order them.
Mind mages are more variable than most mages, and often have many odd quirks. Most notable is that they always seems to know things, or happen to remember something they have read somewhere. Most have extensive social lives, and seem to attract friends and confederates around them.
Prime mages attract strangeness as magnets. They are usually more than real, often gaining unwanted attention from all sorts of things. On the positive side, they have that certain something which makes people remember them. And often they can make others memorable too just by talking to them.
Spirit mages are of course even more exposed to this. In their daily life, almost everything seems to have a personality. If you talk to things, you can often get your point across. It is not uncommon for mages to absentmindedly remind their possessions of what to do or encourage them on.
Time mages are either always on time or hopeless at keeping time, there doesn't seem to be any in between. However, their sense of timing is often perfect; they often appear at exactly the right moment regardless of the situation. They never have to wait for an elevator, when they are late their trains are also late and at parties they are experts at making grand entrances. They are never in the shower when the phone rings. Not to mention that they often behave as they are familiar with anything, seemingly floating through life without any disruptions.
Arcane is one of the most prevalent factors of a mages life. They seem to somehow drift apart from the everyday world and enter another, safer but weirder world in the shadows. Generally, the stronger the Arcane gets, the weirder everyday life will become. Forces and events which normal people hardly ever experience will become more common. At the same time, it hides the mage from prying eyes.
Usually mages which high Arcane become very anonymous, at least to people who don't know them or just meet them on a professional basis. This extends to organizations and machines too. Sometimes their newspaper subscriptions will end unexpectedly, or the tax- computers forget them. This is usually beneficial, but also creates numerous irritations. Mundane affairs seems to slip away, and although the mage seldom suffers from it, his ties to the normal world are often severed.
Common problems for mages with Arcane is that documents about them disappear; computers will crash when their name is fed into them, files get lost or accidentally shredded. Officials handling their cases get relocated, go on holiday or make administrative duties. Bureaucracies become even more kafkaesque than normal for mages, and while they eventually get proper treatment most of the time, hardly any transaction is done without some small problem.
Another depressing effect of Arcane is that most people don't remember the mage, or will not be able to interact with him very well. There seems to be a wide gulf between him and the sleepers, almost impossible to bridge. Causal acquaintances will forget him, nobody remembers his name, girlfriends will often find another partner and forget the mage and his tailor will never be able to remember his size.
Coincidental magic works by synchronicity, but there is more of that in the lives of mages than their magic can account for. Strange coincidences abound, and somehow they often make sense (at least to the mage). There is seldom an obvious interpretation, and most just seems to be pointless. The fact that the Danube happens to be 1776 kilometers long, exactly the same year Adam Weishaupt started the Illuminati may or may not be relevant.
Mages report that they see their phone numbers revealed on winning lottery tickets. The patterns of reflected light from the windows of an office building form secret magical symbols. When they turn on the radio, the speaker just finishes a sentence which may be interpreted as a direct comment to their current discussions. All cars in front of the traffic light outside happens to be placed so their colors form a nice spectrum. When the mage draws a tarot card in the morning, he will be followed by symbols or images from the card all day.
Every morning the mage takes a walk, he will meet somebody asking him what time it is. A discarded paper blows into his face, revealing an article about another person with his name. A street preacher will start to rant, somehow managing to sound just like he was addressing the mage. A figure looking just like his Avatar or somebody the mage thinks of will appear in the background of a film. A mage may suddenly find that he has the same birthday as the President and his arch-enemy. Tabloids report events from his daily life and adventures, each morsel attributed to a celebrity.
The Dreams of mages are no less strange than their daily lives, and sometimes seems to cross over into it. Some mages experience scenes or meet people from their dreams in the real world, or even have actual precognitive dreams. Most such crossovers are rather mundane, despite the disturbing implications. Some mages are not so fortunate, and sometimes meet beings and things from their dreams which definitely don't fit in static reality, or even a nightmare. For them the line between dreaming and wakefulness become more and more blurred, both melding together into a surreal world where anything is possible. They are filled with fear that their nightmares will come true, and sometimes other people accidentally walk into their dreams. Fortunately most sleepers are extremely good at rationalizing things away or simply not notice strange events. Or perhaps its just the mind of the mage which is playing tricks?
It is not uncommon for mages to have revelations in their dreams, both from their own Avatar or from other sources. Ancient gods or spirits talk to him through dreams, or perhaps its the universal subconscious. This is equally true for the drug-visions of the Cult of Ecstasy, the shamanic trances of the Dream speakers or the meditations of the Akashic Brothers.
Mages studying Entropy have a close relation to random events, both for good and ill. They can control them, but a mage who accepts randomness into his life (say by earning a living on gambling) will also suffer from the effects of it. Random events and unlikely coincidences will appear quite often, and his life will often suffer strange random turns.
On the other hand, some mages learn Entropy to prevent decay and randomness (this is especially true among technomancers). In their denial of chance, they suppress it around themselves. Almost nothing happens by chance, and their lives are exact and predictable.
Randomness can take many forms. The most dangerous are random accidents. Some mages are haunted by car crashes; each day they witness more accidents than most city-dwellers do in a year, and all accidents seem to have some link to them: the colors of the involved cars correspond exactly to the colors of their clothes, the car plates spell out his name or phone number.
The patterns of nature are sometimes influenced by randomness. Plants grow in odd patterns around the mages home, exactly half of the bushes in a hedge dies, insects appear in huge numbers and swarm in almost-recognizable patterns. Fruit trees give fruit on one half and not the other, and the patterns of falling rain or snow seems to form arcane symbols.
Some mages are plagued by having entropy, decay and randomness attacking people close to them. Their loved ones die in cancer or heart attacks, or are hit by unusual accidents. Their children get into all sorts of weird problems just because their names happen to be identical to the names of the sociopaths of the school. Their homes are hit by lightening. Twice.
Other random events are phone calls from radio stations or constant mistaken numbers (apparently the mage has had the misfortune to have a number just one off from the local mortuary). Letters from signs fall off when they pass and the new text seems to be messages to them. Numbers sometimes follows mages, appearing everywhere they look.
Mages studying Correspondence, Spirit and Time are prone to see visions of remote events, other planes or future and past sights. They are usually related to current emotional or personal stresses, or perhaps future problems.
The most classic type of vision is a vision of somebody the mage loves in trouble. If the emotional bond is strong enough, the mage will suddenly get a distinct feeling that the other part is in danger, has got in an accident or suffers in some way. Sometimes the mage sees what happens or get a vivid impression what is going on. In rare cases they see visions of people planning to harm them or their loved ones, or people who will become important to them one day.
Time mages often have flashes of pre- and post cognition. Old memories suddenly leap back very vividly, sometimes revealing facts they never suspected. If something awful is going to happen, they often feel it a long time before as a growing feeling of unease. Some mages get intense impressions when they touch something from its past or future, often the most important events. Sometimes these visions seems to form patters, pointing at something in the future or past the mage must do something about.
Spirit mages often feel the presence of the Other Side. They are usually very sensitive to the aura of places. They also notice things, usually in the corner of their eyes or heard among background noise. Sometimes they suddenly see scenes or beings from the spirit world, often superimposed with the everyday world. They can see the angels in the playgrounds or the loitering horrors which dwells near bus-stops at night. They see doorways which ordinary people doesn't see and definitely wouldn't open if they knew where they led. They notice the extra button in an elevator leading to a floor above the top floor, or the strange graffiti in the subway.
But mages not specializing in these spheres also sometimes have strange visions, especially (of course) when they are very tired or drunk.
Some things seems to haunt the mage, symbolizing events they might not want to think of, both future and past. Often the mage is not aware of the symbols or their meaning, and if they do they are often very uncomfortable around the symbols. Sometimes the symbols can be warnings from the Avatar of the mage or his subconscious, but they can also be misleading.
In _Angel Heart_, each time the protagonist is close to death and evil, a fan in the background will slow down and then start to spin in the opposite direction.
Each time a certain mage is about to learn something depressing, a person wearing a t-shirt with Kafka will walk by. Another mage will always find roses on the table when his love-affairs are about to break up. A certain corporate logo will always appear to the mage in tense situations or when he is close to the spirit of his dead mentor. Each time the mage is depressed and lonely, a phone will be heard ringing in the background.
Much strange events just happen with no explanation at all and no obvious interpretation. Many mages just shrug and ignore them, while others become paranoid and constantly watch their environment for new surprises.
A small girl walks up to the mage, exclaims "Reality is fire!" and runs away. A woman looking exactly like the Princess of Swords in the mages favorite tarot deck sits on a park bench feeding the pigeons. A book with unintelligible handwriting is found in his bookshelf, despite that he knows that it wasn't there yesterday. At exactly the same moment the headlights of all the cars in the cabal start to flicker, only to end when one of them breaks down.
When the refrigerator is opened, all food is found to be moldy and rotten, despite that it was refilled yesterday. The people on television appears to follow the viewer with their eyes or even talk to him. The color of his pencil suddenly changes. The number of wardrobes in his home is suddenly different, although nothing else has changed. Somebody has crucified a flower on the door of the mage.
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