All Quiet in Music City
If The Consensus is the general reality that everyone perceives, then Paradox is its enforcer. It is cold, just, and swift. If you consistently use vulgar magic, then you will undoubtedly suffer its consequences, but you can even incur paradox by invoking a series of dubiously coincidental effects (the “nobody’s that lucky” rule). Paradox will continue to gather around you until it finally discharges, often in some violent fashion and sometimes injuring the offending Awakened. Paradox can dissipate gradually over time, so long as you interact with the world according to the Consensus.
In game terms, you gain Paradox points every time a Sleeper observes you performing vulgar magic, every time you botch any magic effect, or when you perform a coincidental effect too many times. The number of Paradox points differs in each instance, and is decided by the Storyteller.
Generally, you gain 1 point of Paradox for each level of the highest sphere used for vulgar effects without any Sleeper witnesses. If a Sleeper witnesses this effect, then you gain an additional point of Paradox. If you botch a coincidental effect, you gain 1 point of Paradox per level of the highest sphere used, and an additional one if a Sleeper witnesses it. If you botch a vulgar effect, you gain 2 points of Paradox per level of the highest sphere used, and an additional one point if a Sleeper witnesses it.
Paradox is cumulative, but nothing happens until you have at least 5 points of Paradox. At this lowest level, a minor backlash occurs. The Awakened might suddenly experience intense vertigo, his laptop might fry, or his lighter could suddenly explode. Additionally, a minor Paradox flaw may manifest: the Awakened’s watch runs backwards for a few minutes or some other minor effect. The more Paradox an Awakened has, the greater the backlash and the greater the accompanying flaw(s). At 20 points or more, the Awakened is instantly transported out of this plane and put in a Paradox Realm, a personal Purgatory in which the mage will be trapped until Paradox determines that he has atoned for his offenses.