Mages made monstrous

Maybe not *literally*. But I'm looking for a way to en-mystify mages in my setting - to make them appear more like the inhuman or barely human sorcerers that you'd find pulling levers in the background of a Conan story.

The idea of a happy-go-lucky, fresh-faced adventuring magic-user doesn't really fit in my world.  Magic of the sort that you'd find in the Arcane spell list is wielded by the ancient and terrible Memory Eaters of Ordan and their acolytes, the enigmatic Counting Men of the Salt Cities, or the exiled and hounded Heretics of Probability. 

To add some social stigma to the Mage class, I have been toying with the idea of adding the "Inhumanity" ability that the Thrassians have.  Inhumanity invokes a penalty (of -1 to -4) to reaction, loyalty, and morale rolls involving humans/demihumans, but provides an equal sized bonus to such rolls involving lizardfolk. 

So how to tweak this for the Mage?  Should these penalties involve a balancing benefit?  (The PC says this ability counts as 0 custom powers.) 

I was considering, for example, that it might be interesting to use "Inhumanity" as a sort of scale that would reflect the potential power of the mage.  A player who chooses a higher Inhumanity penalty might be eligible for some kind of magical bonus - reflecting the corruption of magic, and the fearful aura it provides. 

What bonuses - if any - would be appropriate to offset such penalties? 

A relatively straightforward option would be to make the Inhumanity act as a penalty to interactions rolls with people who cannot cast arcane spells and act as a bonus to interaction rolls with people who can. This could mean that, in the setting, mages tend to be aloof and only deal with their own kind. And as applied to adventuring parties, it will mean that the only characters with mage henchmen will probably be mages themselves.

You could also add a rule along the lines of "All mages count as being Chaotic for effects based on character's alignment". (E.g., in Sinister Stone of Sakkara, there is a shrine that can remove one of your Tampering With Mortality effects, but only if you are Lawful.) That would further emphasize that arcane magic is inherently damaging to reality, even when used for noble purposes.

inhumanity could be renamed corruption, and each point of it you take could give you one mutation (find or create a positive random mutation table, like the one in -"other dust")

i will also sugest the next:

replace the mage with the warlock

use the zaharan race and create one or more mage classes and declare that they are the only magic users in the setting


In regards to the corruption line of thought. One idea would be to acquire Axioms Issue 1 that they released recently and look over the "Shades of Magic" part. That offers an optional rule where all magic is considered chaotic and that whenever you learn (and cast) a spells you acumulate corruption that lead to all kind of fun things.

For the inhumanity idea, one proposal would be to either increase their grimoire size based on the level of inhumanity chosen, or the amount of spells they can cast per day. Where the former would be a relatively small buff that simply gives them much larger variety in their spells, and the latter being a buff that can easily get out of hand depending on the scaling.