Mage Against the Machine

Tonight, we tried out a new game from Jordan Palmer, Mage Against the Machine for the first time. We struggled a bit with setup and seeing how to connect the two components, but we powered through to create an interesting story of time-traveling wizards determined to prevent the robot apocalypse through magical and mundane interventions in their personal histories.

An insectoid robot towers over three wizards in a circle casting a spell with Mage Against the Machine emblazoned overhead.
Mage Against the Machine cover art by Matthew Warwick courtesy of

After our various interventions, the robot apocalypse was no more, but our memories had been sacrificed to save the world. Claire’s fond memory of eating spaghetti one night at her aunt’s house, defining the love felt before, became a memory filled with acrimony as we successfully turned her aunt against the unreliable AI appliances but also caused a falling out between Claire and her aunt. Next, Burt’s joyful memory of rowing a boat on vacation with his uncle becomes a memory of grief as his uncle blamed him for watching too much social media after we disrupted the impact social media exerted on the world. Later, Burt’s pride at having built a functioning autonomous car for his child neighbor is transformed into shame after we cure the child of his learning challenges so he no longer relies so heavily upon AI mental health providers.

The next memory we tackle is Marcus’s gratitude when his parents move the family to a small apartment so they can afford to send him to Mage Middle School. His gratitude becomes bitterness for having been forced to move after we reset the mover robots that had previously driven them around town making him think they were moving far away. Next, Randall lovingly remembers the robot he built with his father that provided him with a surrogate while his father was busy working, but that becomes hatred of the robot that can never replace his father after we make the robot emotionally stunted. Later, Claire’s pride at graduating from college becomes shame after we invert the logic circuits of the school’s bots result in her being 1 credit short and never graduating.

Jeremy loses entirely the memory of when his robot saved him from bullies on the soccer field entirely after we reprogram the robot so it wants to please and will obey whatever orders it is given, including the bullies order to stand down. Finally, Marcus always felt great pride in his robot-free workplace as a magical shipping clerk at his first job, but that pride turns to shame when he loses his job after we magically incinerate the contents of a particular secretive box prior to it shipping out, preventing the military’s loss of their drone forces.