Scent and Memory and Mage

Just got a whiff of something — someone’s hand cream, maybe, or a perfume, I’m not really sure, can’t quite identify what I’m smelling.  Vaguely floral, maybe, I think.

Whatever it was, it sent me reeling back more than ten years, to the late spring/early summer days when I first started gaming, flipping through the pages of Mage: The Ascension (2nd edition 4-eva!), and trying to wrap my head around the rules of this incredible new world, the anticipation of what kind of character I’d play, who she’d be.**

I can’t even identify why that particular smell makes me flash back to it — maybe there was some kind of shampoo or lotion or soap I used to use, or… I dunno.  Something, from the where and when of those days.

But yeah, I’m sitting here, on a February day suddenly feeling like it’s May or June, like I’m at my parents’ kitchen table trying to explain the whole concept of table top gaming to my mother, insisting that no, I’m not going to end up in a ditch in six months’ time, sacrificed to some dark D&D gods.

I’m cramming the concepts of avatar and sphere and gilgul and Tradition into my head, hoping I get the idea of quintessence right, and don’t fuck up so badly on my first night that I accrue enough paradox to be sent into Quiet.

Turns out, I didn’t need to worry about any of those things, really, though they were all important in different ways.  Those first few sessions were vastly different than what I’d imagined they’d be, and thank god, really.  If we’d started out by diving into a world filled with Tradition politics and intrigue, I’d have been in way over my head.  Instead, we started small, just the PCs getting themselves in trouble, chased by the bad guys and getting away, getting into more trouble the next time, the world slowly expanding as I figured it out.

In later years, we’d get into the bigger picture — not just affected by Tradition politics but eventually affecting them ourselves, sometimes with those same characters, but mostly with others (though those original ones had cameos in other games, long after those first adventures were finished.  We could never quite let them go).

Anyway, whoever it was that smelled all flowery has walked away.  Scent’s gone, memory remains.

**And, to be honest, I look back at her concept and /facepalm a bit, amazed that the gents didn’t take one look at the character sheet and backstory and declare me unfit for their troupe.  She had a lot of potential to be a Mary Sue.  I think I managed to keep her from being one entirely, but eek.

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3 Responses to Scent and Memory and Mage

  1. Marty says:

    Werewolf 2nd (Hell yes, Fianna!) will always be one of my favorite systems (and memories). I will not put the mary sue filter on my Padraic. He deserves better than that.

  2. Anna says:

    It’s interesting – scientific studies show that when you smell something, it’s not just the olfactory regions of your brain that light up, but also the parts of your brain responsible for long-term memory (the same happens to some people with music). Scent-recall is extremely powerful, and it’s pretty cool to see that memory – which is obviously a good one – so clearly attached to something and easily recalled.

    Oh – and I think everyone’s first character is a Mary Sue, or at least Mary Sue-ish. >.>

  3. falconesse says:

    Well, like I said, I don’t think I played her as a Sue, but man, if you’d seen where her dots were…

    If I can get a good picture of the character sheet later, I’ll post it. But we’re talking, oh, Appearance 4, Secondary Skill – Seduction 4, something else that was probably ridiculous. She was an Orphan, played guitar and sang in clubs (Music 4? Was that an Ability?) Her father was some kind of big evil Nephandi Adsinistrati muckety-muck, and she herself had once been to a Labyrinth. Came close to going through the Caul but hadn’t and somehow, (likely GM mercy on his fucking nubtart of a girlfriend (hi, Greg)) hadn’t been killed for deciding not to go through with that whole having your soul turned inside-out thing.

    She had Qlippotic Entropy of 1, but with the understanding of if you use this, you’re doing the evil bad thing and it will not go well for you. Though, at the very least, that got through — in all the years she was around, she only used it twice, both times to detect whether or not there was other Qlippotic magic going on. (The second time, she was one of my NPCs, making a cameo, and nearly got pasted across the wall when the angel standing next to her sensed it. Oh, T.C. Garrett, how I miss you.)

    Oh, and her name was Raven.

    But she was awesome to play, and the little cabal of which she was a part kept her pretty well grounded.

    Still. Seduction 4? I cringe.

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