There are four Orders in Invisible Sun: the vances, the makers, the weavers, and the Goetics. So why are we back with another post about magic users in the game? Well, not everyone plays by the rules and today I’m here to tell you about the bad boys and girls of Satyrine: the apostates
Apostates are a “fifth Order” outside the hierarchy of vislae in the Invisible Sun setting. They are still vislae, wielding magic that flows from the Invisible Sun itself, but they don’t operate under the auspices of the “Invisible Church” which binds the four official Orders into certain agreements. They follow their own path which means they can try things that other vislae can’t or won’t, but also that they don’t gain access to the special training of the Orders.
Basically, if you’re an apostate you have general spells only and none of the vance spells or other proprietary Order magic. On the other hand, you start with two general spells whereas Goetics and makers start with just one and vances and weavers start with none. As you can imagine, the general spells aren’t exactly where the game’s biggest bangs are but they’re still good and having your pick of two is freeing.
You can hold up to three ephemera at a time (standard) and gain a skill in magical lore and +3 bene in Sorcery which is nice. The biggest things, though, are the abilities that let you bend the game rules. First off, apostates have the ability to counterspell the magic of others, spending the same Sorcery that someone paid to start a spell in order to unravel their work (only level 1 or 2 spells, though). This is the only example of this that I’ve been able to find in the game so it’s definitely a signature apostate move.
They also start with the ability to reject the Testament of the Suns which is a fun meta-ability. You’ve probably seen the Testament if you’ve seen any images of Invisible Sun’s props: an upraised hand that holds cards. In the game world it represents the orthodox view of magic held by vislae, so that’s something that apostates reject in character. In game terms, though, the Testament holds a Sooth card that has game effects which can alter gameplay for everyone at the table. Apostate characters can just ignore those effects if they want to.
The other two abilities for a beginning apostate are up to the player. There’s a list of abilities to choose from ranging from boosting your magical defenses or damage to increasing the level you can counterspell. Weirder options can also be found like making one of your physical ephemera into spoken incantations or changing your active counterspelling into a passive defense that can fizzle spells directed at you. You can also pick them multiple times as you level up (though generally not in a row) to keep boosting your damage or counterspell level or whatever. It’s a big menu to pick from and, though none of the options (in my opinion) are as cool as being able to contract with demons or use the maker flow chart, there are endless combinations of customizability.
I like that Invisible Sun has a big tent approach to gameplay. Personally, I don’t see myself ever playing an apostate but that’s because I love driving myself nuts with the mini-games of the other Orders. Apostates are… well not the fighters of the game but more like the rogues of the game. You have relatively few fiddly bits and you can add boosts to really encourage the parts of gameplay that you enjoy. You don’t have to master complex subsystems in order to succeed with an apostate and that means you can focus on appreciating the setting and manipulating the story in other ways.
Given that no one is getting into Invisible Sun without an up-front investment (monetary, mental, or both), I think if you pick an apostate you aren’t trying out a “simple option” to skip over the mechanics of the game. I think apostates are the best choice for someone who wants to focus on other parts of their character. There are many ways to explore the other four Orders, trying this and that to better use the Order’s type of magic, and so in a campaign situation Order vislae are likely to have advanced somewhat in their forte and also in their Order with maybe some secrets and improvements to their house. For apostates, their “Order” drops way down the list of Interesting Things so they’re more likely to have advanced considerably with their forte, improved their house, and gathered some magical secrets. It’s an inversion that a lot of players might really enjoy, and which others won’t so much. That just means more folks at the table!