Collecting classic World of Darkness, part 7: Mage: the Ascension

Mage: the Ascension is the third World of Darkness game, both in terms of time and general popularity.  (However, while its fans aren’t as numerous, they often make up for it in terms of devotion.) It’s the third of the games that continued publication until the line stopped, and had an equivalent as a core game in nWoD.

Core books

As with VtM and WtA, there are three core versions: paperback 1st, hardcover 2nd and Revised. (Note: Amazon has a listing for a paperback edition of Revised, which is actually the original Tarot deck.  This led to me receiving the wrong product once, so read listings carefully.)

The usual age/price inverse relationship applies: 1st edition is generally cheap, Revised more expensive.  The Revised core book can run to more than the other ones, especially on Amazon; $30 isn’t an uncommon price to see, but with a bit of patience it can be found between $10 and $20.

Note that, while it’s not as vulnerable as the WtA cover, the gold effect on the covers (particularly 1st ed) is prone to wearing off, so that’s something to watch for if you care about condition.

Limited editions

The Revised Limited edition comes with a slipcase and limited art book, the same as VtM and WtA.  This generally runs third in cost, behind Vampire and Werewolf but ahead of Dark Ages.

As I write this, the Kickstarter for the Mage 20th Anniversary Edition (Mage20) is running and doing quite well; if you want the Deluxe version of that, pledge now because you’ll never see it for this price again.

Core supplements

Unusually, Mage didn’t have Players or Storytellers Guides for the first two editions (except Hidden Lore, the book that came with the 2nd edition Storytellers Screen) until the Guide to the Technocracy, a late 2nd edition supplement.  Although it’s not quite in line with the Revised version of the Technocracy and still has a bias toward treating them as villains, it’s still an important supplement and often starts at around $20-25.

Revised had a Storytellers Companion (with the screen, under $10) and Storytellers Handbook, which is less common and can run between $20-30.  In lieu of a Players Guide they had the Guide to the Traditions, which usually starts at $10-15.

Splatbooks

There are two sets of splatbooks, original and Revised.  The original had books for the 9 Traditions and 5 Conventions, which were gathered into compilations (3 and 2 volumes, respectively).  None of these run to very much, but the Tradition books had shiny metallic covers that show wear like a beacon, so they can be hard to find in good condition.

There are 10 Revised Tradition books (the Hollow Ones, originally treated as an unaffiliated catchall, got its own book this time around).  Only one Revised Convention Book (Iteration X) was published before the line stopped, but the remainder have been published as PDF/POD.  The Revised Tradition books generally follow the alphabetic/price correlation, with Akashic Brotherhood and Dreamspeakers running closer to $10 and the Verbena and Virtual Adepts closer to $20 or more.  The exception is the Order of Hermes book: for whatever reason, this one seems to be particularly expensive and sought after. (One reason may be that they’re one of the more complex Traditions, so having a book collecting all their Houses is more important than it is with a looser group.)

Other supplements

A general note on Mage supplements: Some but not all of the first two editions’ supplements were numbered in approximate chronological order (generally the purple-covered non-corebooks; the Convention books were numbered but the Tradition books weren’t).  According to the Mage FAQ, this was dropped because it wasn’t being applied consistently (numbers followed when books were assigned, not necessarily when they were released).  The FAQ also says that the number 21 was put on some copies of Digital Web 2.0, which should have been number 22.  My copy has 21; I haven’t been able to confirm the existence of both numbers or their relative frequency, but that’s a variant to watch out for.

As usual, Revised has most of the books that are sought after/hard to find/expensive.  Noteworthy examples:

  • Infinite Tapestry, the Umbral guide.  The price on this one can vary a lot but it’s generally above $20.
  • Sorcerer Revised.  The original version was a collection of hedge magics, but the Revised version collects all the Numina (mortal psychic powers) from various supplements as well, which makes it very useful as a resource for hunters and the like. (Ignore the clueless 1-star review on Amazon.)
  • The Fallen Tower: Las Vegas. A setting book/adventure.  To be honest, I got this one at a store for a reasonable price so I hadn’t realized it had gone up in value, but at the moment it’s running around $60 on both Amazon and eBay.
  • Forged by Dragons Fire. A collection of and guide to magical items; runs around $30.

In-character books and other items

There is one in-character text, Fragile Path: Testament of the First Cabal. For those who are interested, there are two distinct versions of this; the original printing had a purplish cover, while the later printings were red.

The other collectible items of note were the two editions of the Mage Tarot.  These were full-color decks using the cards that appeared in the frontispieces of the booksl  There are two versions; the original has a box with a horizontal orientation and the word “Tarot” most prominent, while the Revised version’s box has a vertical orientation and the “Mage” logo in Revised style as the prominent word. (I don’t know how the interiors differ, because my Revised deck is still in the shrinkwrap and I’m not opening it, thank you.) These run to serious money: expect to pay $50 for the original and $70 or more for the Revised.

Sorcerers Crusade

This was the historical game for Mage, set during the Renaissance.  It doesn’t seem to have been terribly popular, but was more successful than Werewolf: The Wild West, with eight supplements total.  The core book and most of the supplements can be found for $10 or so; the exception is Infernalism: The Path of Screams, which can run around $60.  The Witches and Pagans book was listed on White Wolf’s checklist but not released; it turned up as a PDF on DriveThruRPG, but (annoyingly) hasn’t had a POD version yet.

I also found the Storyteller’s Screen surprisingly hard to locate.  The Companion that came with it is relatively common, but finding a reasonably priced copy that definitely had the screen with it was harder (one Amazon seller was surprised that I’d even care about the screen).  There are a couple on eBay right now, but they’re not the cheapest.

That’s it for Mage!  I’ll be doing a short article on merchandise, and after this the articles will get shorter; I may cover more than one game in one article, and will probably make the merchandise part of the article (since it doesn’t take long to say “dice, a pin, and a few novels”).  Until next time, the Woggle-Bug says “FIRE BAD!”

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One thought on “Collecting classic World of Darkness, part 7: Mage: the Ascension

  1. I love Mage, but surprisingly didn’t get into the Sorcerers Crusade stuff at the time it was being published. I wish I had now.

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