GURPS Mage: The Ascension (1994)

Man, I don’t know what the hell is going on here. GURPS Mage: The Ascension (1994) attempts to covert Mage: The Ascension, a barely comprehensible game, into the GURPS system. The result is, well, I can’t comprehend it! It is such a swerve, considering the other GURPS conversions are so defined by their comprehensibility.

This was a tall order in the best of times, but the truth is that the relationship between White Wolf and Steve Jackson Games went pretty sour early on, resulting in difficulties developing the Vampire Companion and many delays and rewrites on Mage. There’s lots of angry posts from both the Jackson camp and the White Wolf camp in the 1994 usenet archives, if you fancy a deep dive. I’m not super interested in calling balls and strikes on the drama, but I do think it is fair that the drama made it impossible to really deliver something that was already a tall order of an RPG supplement. The layering of powers and traditions and spheres and all the other bits and bobs seems to create endless opportunities to become lost in bookkeeping and the result no longer feels like GURPS (which is a feat in itself, making something so sturdy as GURPS buckle under its own weight). There is a section toward the back for converting existing World of Darkness Mage characters into GURPS that promises it will result in characters that still play and feel the same despite the different system — that sounds absolutely nightmarish to me.

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