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theironjef
Aug 11, 2009

The archmage of unexpected stinks.



That Old Tree posted:

So, there are 120 unique cards just in the expansion? I'd just as soon have a complete set and everyone be guaranteed unique powers, rather than cobbling together however many hundreds of cards I bought into a deck that's maddeningly only 90% complete.

Also, while the cards are a fine tactile game aid, you could just turn out a rolled table if you couldn't or didn't want to use cards, right? The key thing is having wacky random Frankenstein's characters after all.

Someone tell me whether linking a list of all the card texts organized with a rarity-driven rolling guide attached counts as files.

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LatwPIAT
Jun 6, 2011

Do I need a title?



Chapter 5: Ascension Warriors

M20 doesn't assume that you're going to be playing Tradition mages, so it apparently has a less Traditions-centric POV. Brucato explains what this means:

M20 posted:

In a way, knowing that everyone is both right and wrong throws the Ascension War… or, more properly, its wars, plural… into greater relief. Every faction holds both wisdom and corruption. The Traditions fight a good romantic fight while ignoring the potential horrors of their victory. The Technocracy oppresses everyone else in the name of order, often crushing its own people in the process. The scattered groups known by other factions as the Disparates or Crafts tend their own turf but lack the power or cohesiveness of the larger groups. And the Marauders and Nephandi celebrate nightmarish goals of mass insanity and damnation. For the so-called “orphans,” life’s a constant struggle in the wake of greater forces.

"Not being cohesive" is not a wrong, and it is not a sign of corruption. If the worst thing you can come up with for the Disparate Alliance is that they're not big enough to win, that's just doing exactly what has been a small-if-persistent complaint against the Traditions; that they're pointlessly good, like back in MTAs 1e when Woodstock and civil rights and feminism and rock and roll were all Tradition plots. All this does is to move the "author's baby" label from one alliance of disparate magickal crafts to another alliance of disparate magickal crafts, and these are even more of an underdog than the Traditions are.

We also get this bottom-bar:


I'd respect it more if Brucato wasn't so damned un-economical with words you could actually fit an entire sourcebook on Sorcerers in there just by cutting out a few of his rants.

This chapter is divided into several sub-sections; Part I describing the history of the setting (oh gods more :words:), Parts II through V describing the various factions, and Part ?*! describing the Marauders. Post-modern effects like swapping the numbering out for random signs can work, but personally I think it looks kind of silly here. What, is the madness of the Marauders supposed to have bled onto the pages and relabelled their headings? It's not particularly cute, and it doesn't convey any interesting information about the Marauders, like a HP: ∞ bar or Level: N/A does in a video game. It's just this cute little post-modern element that tells you less than Part VI. At least I know Part VI comes after Part V; if you want to refer someone to Part ?*!, you have to tell them that it comes after V, so they know in which direction to flip if they open the book on Part III.

Part I: An Awakened History



Nah. Though back in the day Exalted was the backstory of the World of Darkness (but the WoD was not the future history of Exalted), M20 seems to silently drop that, though some elements common to both are still there, like calling the early world Creation and having Meru be the name of the city on top of Mount Qaf at the centre of the world. This goes through a whole lot of ages, the Primordial Age, the Edenic Age, the Predatory Age, the Cataclysm Age, the Tribal Age (the second time humanity formed tribes, after the Predatory Age), the Heroic Age... I complain about the lengthy worldbuilding, but now it annoys me just how little detail all these ages are given - does it really matter that there were a bunch of ages, if each of them only gets a sentence of description that doesn't even relate to MTAs? The entire thing could easily have been dropped, saving half a page, and we could get to the parts of history where mages actually do stuff.

The Thanatoics, Ecstatics, and Akashics trace their history to the Classical period. The Thanatoics and Akashics have a war break out in the Himalayas in 900 BCE, which apparently lasts for 600 years and is mostly fought in Lower Asia and Upper Africa. I'm not entirely sure why the Himalayan Wars were fought in Upper Africa; were there some well-established trade routes between China and Egypt in this period? Magick is also developed and discovered in this period, with Greece and China being the origins of technomagick. In addition to a bunch of nobodies that have a line of descriptions each, further groups emerging from this period would be the Hermetic Orders, the Ahl-i-Batin, the Ngo-Ami, the Wu-Lung, the Messanic Voices, the Taftani, and... Buddhism and the Abrahamic religions? I'm serious, "Buddhist sages" and "Abrahamic Prophets" are listed in the same breath as the Taftani and the Wu-Lung. What I gather from this is that Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed were all mages. I'm... hmm... Not entirely sure how to feel about that? Like, yeah, there were other prophets, like Josiah, but on the other hand it's basically stating that these religions were created by or formed by mages.

Well at least these religions are treated respectfully elsewhere in the book.

Also, a lot of those groups I had to kind of guess at. The Taftani are the Taftani, obviously, but the Ngo-Ami being precursors to the Ngoma was a guess. All of this also comes before the individual member-groups of the Traditions and Alliance are explained, so as a first-time reader you don't have the context to know that the Taftani are kind of important, while Mithraics aren't going to be mentioned again. Have fun remembering a dozen groups with just a sentence of characterization.

Then comes the High Mythic Ages, which is basically the period known as the Dark Ages (and Brucato calling this a misnomer is amusing in light of the gameline Dark Ages) which was a Golden Age of Wizardry. Lots of historical stuff happens here, usually matching real-world history. The Taftani and Ahl-i-Batin are properly born and end the 600-year Devil-King Age that's mentioned nowhere else, and the Order of Hermes is formed. Then some stuff in China happens (at least China and the Arab/Persian world is not totally forgotten, which is a plus given how those places usually fare in RPG books...) and the Wu Lung and Dalou-laoshi form the Five Metal Dragons. I'm throwing a lot of names at you, because the book throws even more names at me, and just remember, there's no context for any of this.

I'm also amused by this description of the American continent's mages:

M20 posted:

The future Americas saw various sects rise and prosper. Sadly, the coming storm from the distant east will wipe away almost every trace of their achievements.

That's all there is.

Now, the Sorcerer's Crusade. OK, so the Gabrielite Knights (never before mentioned) and the Enlightened Craftmasons (never before mentioned) and the Cabal of Pure Thought (never before mentioned) join together and form an alliance that doesn't do anything yet. OK, so, now we turn to the Order of Hermes, where the House Tremere and the House Flambeau nearly tear the OoH apart and the Crusades cause the rise of House Golo which will one day become the Sons of Ether and the Knights Templar are namedropped, and House Golo form the Natural Philosophers Guild and the Ecstatics and Thanatoics form the Ananda Dikesham and Robin Hood uses his reward from King Richard Lionheart to form the Hanseatic League ... then 1210 happens and the Craftmason Convention is formed and destroy the Hermetic Convention of Mistridge while the Messanic Voices are shattered by the Mercy Schism because of the Inquisition, and the Golden Guild Alliance is formed and I have no loving context for this.

Then the Order of Reason is formed by the Gabrielite Knights and the High Guild and the Cosian Circle and the Void Seekers and the Celestial Masters and the Craftmasons and the Artificers and the Solifcati, only after a century the Solifcati are replaced by the Ksifari and these guys turn into the Technocratic Union? Finally some context!

Then the Screaming Ghost Purge had the Wu-Lung and Dalou-laoishi drive the Akshaics into the mountains and the War of the Dust Witch make the Ngo-Agi reform into the Ngoma which join with the Madzimbabwe to defeat the Dust-Witches, but their alliance is broken by the Years of Great Sickness and the Wolf Guild attack the Germanic Romani and Pagans and the Alchemists, Masons (who turn up everywhere there's a conspiracy) and Hermetics fight the Lodge Wars. Then Appa Bloodaxe make a pact with demons which is taken over by his son Tezghul the Insane, and while all these other descriptions have included a location that I've cut out to make it seem more frantic, I have no loving clue where Appa the Bloodaxe is supposed to be leading his demon army. General Wyndgarde of the True Cross (a pretty badass name, actually) purges the British Isles but is stopped by Nightshade who'll found the Verbena. Sh'zar the Seer of the Ecstatics and Nightshade and the Messanics and Hermetics meet to form the beginnings of the Nine Mystic Traditions and finally there is a group I can recognize!

Then the Akashics fight Hindus of the Left Hand Path and then there's a fight with airships and dragons and vampires and Daedalans that sounds like it could be a fun romp this book doesn't devote nearly enough time to and we get the Nine Mystic Traditions: the Ahl-i-Batin, the Akashic Brotherhood, the Chakravanti, the Chæur Céleste, the Dream-Speakers, the Order of Hermes, the Sahajiya, the Solifikati, and the Verbenae. And still there are new groups here I know nothing about, even as someone whose been interested in MTAs for a while.

What happens on the American continent during this period you ask? Nothing. It's described, but it's just about the Aztec empire's historical, entirely mundane actions.

Oh, then there's this:

M20 posted:

Isabella – by 1490 one of the most powerful members of the Cabal of Pure Thought – installed her “confessor,” Tomás de Torquemada, as the Throne’s personal scourge. The Order of Reason, riding a combination of victories and mostly freed from the interference of the Nine Traditions, initiated a program of exploration, achievement, and conquest from Spain and Portugal. This program, in turn, initiated three of the bloodiest atrocities in human history: the Conquest of the Americas, the Spanish Inquisition, and the Triangle Trade. With the “helpful” rivalry of neighboring Portugal, Spain expanded the Ascension War into Africa and the soon-to-be Americas.

Yup, that's right. The conquest of the American continent by Europe, the Spanish Inquisition, and the trans-Atlantic slave trade were all Order of Reason's fault.

One thing I actually think is a very good piece of worldbuilding is the mention of and explanation that tensions between the Traditions almost tore it apart; it is very realistic and a good, humanising element, that the Traditions have internal tensions based on some of them being really big jerks. The victories and conquests of the Order of Reason-backed Europe into Asia and the Middle East benefit the Europe-based Hermetics and Celestial Chorus, while the Dreamspeakers, Chakrivanti, and and Verbena suffered. The classist and racist attitudes of the Hermetics alienate the Verbena further, and Hermetic and Choister participation in the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the rise of modern-day racism and the white identity cause them to antagonize the Ahl-i-Batin and Seers of Chronos and all the already mentioned groups.

And then there are more groups! The Nephandi and Maraduers rise to prominence during this period as a result of colonialism, and the Bata'a grow from the fusion of cultures in the trans-Atlantic slave trade, and the age of Enlightenment that followed the Renaissance sees the rise of secret societies and sects like the Rosicrucians and the Freemasons and the Poro Society and Sisters of Hyppolyta and honestly I don't know if some of these are mentioned because they're magickal, or just because of the historical relevancy.

M20 posted:

There was opposition, of course. The Zulu, the Cherokee, the Iroquois Confederacy (inspired, in part, by the First Cabal’s Dream-Speaker, Walking Hawk), and the Hindu Maratha Empire that finally displaced the Indian Mughal dynasties…
I'm not sure I like the implication that the Iroquois Confederacy was created by a mage, given the whole history of European racism all about how non-white people couldn't have managed their accomplishments without supernatural help, because they were stupid...

(Apparently the American Revolution, the French Revolution, and the Haitian Revolution were all Order of Reason plots?)

Oh and did I mention that the Artificers became the Mechanicians and the High Guild became the Proctor Houses and the Voltarians and the Ivory Tower were formed. And then there's the Fellowship of the Oath and the Lion Masters and the Seers of Chronos become the Cult of Ecstasy and there's the Grand Tiger Society and the Kalika Rajas and the Aghoris. :gonk:

Oh, and the British Empire rises to greatness because Queen Vicky was a Daedalean master; a part of the Order of Reason. The Victorian period has the OoR Electrodyne Engineers spawn the Difference Engineers and the Skeleton Keys join the Ivory Tower and the Order of Reason becomes the Technocratic Union by merging with the Five Elemental Dragons and technocratic sects in America. There's also the Court of Sacred Sciences, a Middle Eastern group I was going to mention at some point since they've been around since the Middle Ages, but they're honestly so unimportant to even this rant about how unimportant things are that it's only now, when world-wide groups are joining, that there's a point in mentioning they didn't join because of European meddling. Instead they break up and join anyway. Oh and the Mechanicans become Iteration X and there's the Progenitors and the Explorators and the Celestial Masters become the Void Engineers, and there's the New World Order and the High Guild becomes the Syndicate. If you're a new reader, you have no context to know these guys are big deals.

Oh, and if you should wonder how a bunch of European colonialists managed to turn the powerful Muslim and Chinese mages to their cause, the book just kind of shrugs and goes "magick".

Thanks book. Not a cop out at all.

Then the Ahl-i-Batin leave the Traditions and the Electrodyne Engineers leave the Technocracy and join the Traditions as the Sons of Ether, WWI causes the rise of the Hollow Ones.

M20 posted:

Was the American dust bowl a legacy of magickal war? Were the many strikes and riots instigated by Awakened factions? Who was really running the organized crime families sweeping across the USA… and what was the truth behind those rumors about the KKK hunting Dreamspeakers and Bata’a?
These questions leave me uncomfortable in the wrong way...

WWII happens. Different editions of MTAs have told different stories of exactly who sided with whom. The version I remember the best is that the Technocratic Union initially sided with Hitler but left somewhere between 1940 and 1944 when they realized that Hitler was evil Nazi Germany was powered by the Nephandi, and by 1944 the Traditions and Technocracy were both fully devoted to fighting Germany. The group that stayed with Hitler the longest was the Sons of Ether, who have kind of serious issues with Nazis still hanging around. So let's see what M20 has to say about this:

M20 posted:

World War II split the Traditions and Technocracy; mages on both sides joined the Axis or the Allies. Although a few mystics ran and hid, most folks understood just how high the stakes were. As atrocities came to light and proud, supposedly Enlightened Axis leaders were revealed as monsters, the truth became obvious: the Nephandi had gone for all the marbles, and they very well might have won.

Yup, WWII is still caused by the Nephandi. I don't think I need to elaborate on all the reasons for why this is wrong.

M20 posted:

German mystics of the Thule Gesellschaft clashed with Doc Eon’s Terrific Trio. The Japanese Bloody Pillar and Fiery Wind Brigade battled the Thanatoic/ Dreamspeaker/ Ecstatic sect called the Ghost Tigers and the Akashic Whispering Fists. The Difference Engineers – by this time called the Virtual Adepts – broke Technocratic ranks and helped the British High Command crack mystic German codes. A different sort of code came from the American Wind Talkers, whose ties to the Dreamspeakers were obvious from their name.
More names! Only some of these are important. Can you guess which?

OK, so Alan Turing was a really cool historical person and his work is frankly amazing, but I'll let that pass. It's been a thing in MTAs since 1e or so that he was a Virtual Adept master, and all in all it's not that disrespectful to say "well, he was actually a wizard". What is disrespectful, however, is diminishing over the Navajo code talkers, and the historical lack of recognition of their work, by going "magick!".

M20 posted:

In retrospect, the detonations at Hiroshima and Nagasaki could be seen as titanic Paradox backlashes. But perhaps they were the opening volleys of a terrifying endgame…
Oh Brucato... :allears:

Part II: the Nine Mystic Traditions
Finally I can talk about things that actually matter to the game. The Nine Mystic Traditions were the protagonists of the previous three editions of MTAs, and stand in opposition to the Technocratic Union.

M20 posted:

Despite their many mistakes, the Traditions have plenty to be proud of. For over half a millennium, the Council has championed diversity, cooperation, and mutual respect across cultural divides.
They sure championed diversity and mutual respect back when they participated in the trans-Atlantic slave trade!

M20 posted:

A smart, ambitious mage could do great things with his Arts – call storms, conjure spirits, raise castles out of stony ground, and shatter opposing armies with a wave of his mighty hand! That’s the vision of the Nine Tradition mages
The Traditions basically don't want that pesky 'reality' to stop them from doing exactly as they please with their magic. They're like the ultimate Ayn Rand.

M20 posted:

So are the Traditions brave saviors of a bygone wonder-age…or a misbegotten experiment led by throwbacks with selfish agendas and careless behavior? Honestly, both are true. Though it’s accurate to say that Tradition mages fight the good fight against the Technocracy’s stifling imperialism, it’s just as accurate to call them reckless nutjobs who prefer candles to halogen lamps.

Let's talk a little about fans. Fans of MTAs generally fall into two groups; those who like the Traditions and think the Technocracy are evil for wanting to destroy magic and destroy people's ability to have dreams and live to their full potential, and those who like the Technocracy and think the Traditions are dangerous lunatics because they'd reduce the world to a chaotic hell-hole without medicine or indoor plumbing. (Fans of MTAs also fall into two other groups; 2e or Revised, but that's a story for another time.) There's a lot of good arguments on both sides; the Technocracy, as written, really is quite bad. Brainwashing, torture, giant mecha powered by Imperial Japanese Army war-criminals, World War II, the trans-Atlantic slave trade, genocides, colonialism... all very bad. However, at the same time, despite having the authors on their side, the Traditions have a very questionable end-goal; accomplishing their goals is almost always dependent on destroying the scientific Consensus, and by some interpretations this will also remove all the benefits of science and replace them with a a reliance of mages for all your medicine and indoor plumbing needs. Exactly what the consequences of defeating the Technocracy are, and whether there was a moral imperative to do so because of its evils, and so forth, are pretty complex debates that are - and I have to actually give credit to Brucato here - pretty interesting and reveal a lot about the way modern Western society engages with the world. At least if people are capable of arguing their points properly, which is not always.

But still, the Traditions were undeniably the protagonists of the setting. The heroes, even, written to be good and in the right, and fighting the good fight. They're the diverse ones full of love and fun, behind Woodstock and the Civil Rights Movement and Rock and Roll and everything 20-somethings in the 90's loved.

So when a book just goes out and says "no, they're wrong, they're misguided and reckless and hate the conveniences of the modern world" (like Brucato and his hatred of TV and BigMacs) it really just shits on existing fans and their desire to play heroic Tradition mages. The people who prefer the Technocracy already preferred the Technocracy that was painted as cartoonishly evil, and characterized the Traditions as reckless, mad terrorists already. Me and EarthScorpion and MJ12 were already reading MTAs as the Devil reads the Bible - we don't need M20 to tell us we were right all along. Perhaps sometimes adding a little dimension to a protagonist-faction can be a good thing (Lethe knows I want this for Eclipse Phase), but this is just straight-up invalidating the core segment of MTAs fans: people who like the setting.

Want to play a Kung Fu-mage who punches The Man in the face? Sure, you can, but ultimately your quest is misguided because your inherently belong to a reactionary extremist group.

Like if D&D 6th Edition came out, and suddenly the book says that killing goblins and orcs is evil because they're just impoverished minorities struggling to stay alive, Alignment is arbitrary because objective morality doesn't exist, and adventuring and dungeons aren't a thing because that's not realistic.

I think I'll break it off there, and continue later.

LatwPIAT fucked around with this message at 09:30 on Jan 17, 2016

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

To witness titanic events is always dangerous, usually painful, and often fatal.





The take that I always preferred is that the Technocracy had gotten wicked but individual Technocrats were typically motivated by idealistic crusades, and probably saw themselves as embattled defenders of the Masses. Which is really perhaps the one big heroic beat in their favor: as much as they fluoridate their water and program them with TV, they are at least attempting to do good and protect from the bad. You could pretty easily do a Men in Black-style campaign with Technocrats.

However, this may require advanced levels of thought beyond that present in the pint of blue mush in Phil Brucato's noggin.

Comrade Koba
Jul 2, 2007



Count Chocula posted:

Paths of the Wick should be the name of the thread.

Once you start down the path of the Wick, forever will it dominate your destiny. :shepicide:

Count Chocula
Dec 25, 2011

WE HAVE TO CONTROL OUR ENVIRONMENT
IF YOU SEE ME POSTING OUTSIDE OF THE AUSPOL THREAD PLEASE TELL ME THAT I'M MISSED AND TO START POSTING AGAIN


There's also this weird thing where the Order of Reason were responsible for the Inquisition and other religious horrors, while religious fanatics so dedicated they forced their view of reality on the world were embattled underdogs and worked easily with the other Traditions? And there were good Mad Scientists and bad Normal Scientists?

I liked the Void Engineers book.

They should have made the Technocracy just another Tradition. They and the Celestial Choir would have an outsized influence in mortal affairs, but that could be countered by arguing that members of EVERY Tradition had some mortal influence, like Cult of Ectasy rockstars:

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?
ALL PART OF MY BRILLIANT STRATEGY!


LatwPIAT posted:

But still, the Traditions were undeniably the protagonists of the setting. The heroes, even, written to be good and in the right, and fighting the good fight. They're the diverse ones full of love and fun, behind Woodstock and the Civil Rights Movement and Rock and Roll and everything 20-somethings in the 90's loved.

See, as much as I dislike Brucato, I can't really find fault with that paragraph you quoted. He's basically just saying that you can treat them as heroes or villains depending on your perspective, which, to me, is at least a breath of fresh air compared to what felt like the pro-Tradition chanting in the older books. I mean, I don't have an issue with unambiguous heroes and good guys in a setting, but when said setting is basically "the real world with wizards added in," it feels like the proper approach is in fact this one: "The good guys depend on who you are and what your ideals are, though there are some obvious bad guys(Nephandi, etc.) to all sides."

And the Technocracy books were just pure comedy, really. On the one hand they tried to present Technocrats as playable and potentially heroic, on the other hand, they had stuff like "when you're above this rank in a particular Technocrat group, they replace your brain with a computer and you stop being a PC, also a demon in charge of a mechanical planet is their boss" and "this particular faction of the Technocrats have canonically thrown in their lot with Cthulhu. lol"

Jarvisi
Apr 17, 2001

Green is still best.


PurpleXVI posted:


And the Technocracy books were just pure comedy, really. On the one hand they tried to present Technocrats as playable and potentially heroic, on the other hand, they had stuff like "when you're above this rank in a particular Technocrat group, they replace your brain with a computer and you stop being a PC, also a demon in charge of a mechanical planet is their boss" and "this particular faction of the Technocrats have canonically thrown in their lot with Cthulhu. lol"


I kinda legit want to read these books now because this sounds hilarious.

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

Most of the stuff about how the Traditions long to abolish toilets and replace medicine with homeopathy is fanon, anyway... or it was until this book. Now I guess it's canon.

This is the worst part about M20 to me, because there was already a large part of the fandom that had turned against the game's premise and were happy to read against the text to make their interpretation the right one. I thought this was a problem for the 20th Anniversary edition to solve, but apparently M20 thought it was something to be encouraged and to go even farther with.

kaynorr
Dec 31, 2003



Rand Brittain posted:

This is the worst part about M20 to me, because there was already a large part of the fandom that had turned against the game's premise and were happy to read against the text to make their interpretation the right one. I thought this was a problem for the 20th Anniversary edition to solve, but apparently M20 thought it was something to be encouraged and to go even farther with.

That fundamental tension has been a part of the line since possibly the very beginning, and certainly since 2nd edition. Solving it would make the book Mage: the Ascension 4th edition and I don't think that's what they were going for. They tried to make the bug a feature and I can appreciate that - at some level Mage fans are notorious for a reason and changing that isn't what they wanted to do.

LatwPIAT
Jun 6, 2011

Do I need a title?



Chapter 5: Ascension Warriors, Part II: the Nine Mystic Traditions
Punch-witches, neo-pagans, Abrahamic syncretism, serial killers, animist, hermetics, cyberpunks, sex drugs and rock & roll, and pulp scientists. I also forgot to mention last time that the Traditions are headquartered in a movie studio in the southern Alps of New Zealand... :rolleyes:

As a product of the 90s, MTAs was full of appropriation and marginalization of minority groups under the banner of celebrating diversity. There were Nine (actually Ten or even Eleven) Mystic Traditions, and six of them were European or American. All of East-Asia are Kung Fu mages, vast swathes of aboriginal beliefs were folded into simply the "Dreamspeakers", and the only tradition representing the Indian subcontinent were a Thuggee death cult with a Greek name deliberately written to be the evil splat. The European magical traditions, meanwhile, are finely divided into six to eight different practices. It's 90's Euro-Americentrism at its finest. So how does Brucato address this real instance of bigotry?

M20 posted:

The Akashayana: Renouncing the innate chauvinism of its westernized name, the Akashic Brotherhood formally adopts its insider name as the default form of address.

M20 posted:

The Kha’vadi: Abandoning its “slave name,” the Dreamspeaker Tradition assumes its longtime “spirit title” as the group’s official honorific.

M20 posted:

The Chakravanti: Striking the entire notion of death from their name, this revitalized Tradition returns to its Sanskrit roots.

This is a spineless cop-out. Brucato is an author with the limitless godlike power of authors. If he wanted to use less patronizing western names for the Traditions, he could have simply retconned it all out and said "the Akashayana were always named the Akashayana". This, claiming that the name chosen by White Wolf in 1993, was somehow in-universe racism, places the blame for real-world racism at the feet of a fictional group, effectively washing White Wolf's hands of the entire matter.

I'd also have completely forgiven all this if there'd been, like, a sidebar going "well back in 1993 we were kind of ignorant and did some stupid and ignorant things, so a lot of the original Tradition names reflect our Eurocentricism - we've chosen to change them". But, nah, just blame it all on a bunch of fictional dudes.

Akashic Brotherhood
Oh but they're still labelled the Akashic Brotherhood. That's going to be confusing if you're a first-time reader...


Pictured: A 20-something person with tattoos in trendy clothing

These people are Kung Fu mages from East Asia. They believe that magick is mastered through inner peace, asceticism, and martial arts, which allows them to channel chi. They practice the martial art Do, which lets them punch people extra good. Their magick practices are all kinds of East Asian stuff bundled together.

Spheres: Mind, Life
Foci: Asian alchemy, craftwork, faith, yoga, social dominion, and martial arts training

:catholic: Celestial Chorus :catholic:


Pictured: A 20-something person with tattoos in trendy clothing

The Celestial Chorus were originally a syncretic religion that preached that all religions were actually facets of the same religion, which they preach. This meta-religion was, of course, mono-theistic and largely Abrahamic in general and Christian in particular, as befitting of 90's middle-class ideas of all religions just being shadow-copies of the platonic ideal of "religion". They were also zealots and extremist and, as befitting of their pre-Millennial roots, apocalyptic.

In M20 they're... *points to above picture* that. And this:

M20 posted:

Even so, Choristers still preach that message. More to the point, they live it. Among the Traditions, the Chorus is perhaps the most compassionate… and it certainly speaks loudest, as a whole, for the welfare of the Masses. Although certain members can be fanatical, not even the primitivist Singers are religious fundamentalists in the way Sleepers understand that term. To hear more than the simplest notes of the Song – and then survive within the Council – a Chorister must transcend dogma and embrace faith. With regards to stickier theological nuances (the gender of Divinity, the limits of tolerance, the roles of Christ and the Prophet in the Divine plan, that sort of thing), modern Choristers deliberately avoid taking an official stance. There’s plenty of tension in the ranks as a result, but at least no one’s getting burned alive over it anymore!

It's so... liberal western and whitewashed. They literally incapable of being religious fundamentalists? Despite believing that religion can literally alter the world? They're fighting the Ascension war, a war for the fate of reality itself... but there's not a single one of them who's a religious fundamentalist, because of some divine selection process? And it just so happens to conveniently sidestep the issue of a fanatical religious organization being on the side of the 'good guys' in 2015, when religious fundamentalism has entered the public consciousness as not all that good?

Sphere: Prime, Forces, Spirit
Foci: Faith, religious rituals, and singing hymns

:catdrugs: Cult of Ecstasy :catdrugs:
Actually named the Sahajiya now


Pictured: a 20-something

The CoX/Sahajiya are the "sex, drugs, and rock & roll"-mages. Imagine an entire Tradition of :rznv: They expand their consciousness through experiences and drugs and use this to do magick. They like parties and sex and drugs and music. They hang around in Hippie communes, bohemian groves, neotribal groups and other 20-somethings who feel dissatisfied with the crushing weight of having to become a part of boring, adult society, like the cast of Reality Bites. They're also somewhat reckless, because they constantly try to expand their capabilities. They also do a lot of drugs.

Spheres: Time (:lsd:), Life, Mind
Foci: "Crazy wisdom is the core of this group’s many practices, which include everything from gutter magick, yoga, and martial arts to cybernetic hypertech." Also drugs. They have to do all kinds of drugs because using just one drug means they get complacent.

To address the comments made about LSD being in-paradigm for the Virtual Adepts because lots of famous computer people have used drugs to expand their mind, the reason I don't like this is because there's already a tradition for that; it's called the Cult of Ecstasy. A lot of the sub/counter-cultures that MTAs draws inspiration from are related in various ways, but the beliefs under which computer hackers do drugs are CoX ones, not the VA ones. You could, of course, have a VA/CoX who believes in both... but that's a VA/CoX, not a VA.

Dreamspeakers
The book is using their slave name! :gonk:


Pictured: A 20-something person with tattoos in trendy clothing

The Dreamspeakers are African, Native American, and Asian shamans and spirit-warriors who fight to heal the world from its sickness. In the modern times they now also includes technoshamanic practicies on the Digital Web, so Brucato can force another subculture into the fold of MTAs. I can't find much to say about the Dreamspeakers. They're shamans. They deal with spirits. They're basically all animistic practices folded into one non-white Tradition.

Spheres: Spirit, Force, Life, Matter
Foci: Spirits, duh. Also: "medicine-work, craftwork, shamanism, crazy wisdom, and faith. A few pursue cybernetics, yoga, Voudoun, and witchcraft"

Euthanatos
Actually the Chakravanti


Pictured: a 20-something person with tattoos in trendy clothing

Back in the earliest editions of MTAs, the Euthanatos were expert assassin mages who dealt in death, not as necromancers, but simply in killing. They were basically a nod to Thuggee death-cults (they were even headquartered in Calcutta) and according to Stephen Lea Shepard, they were supposed to showcase that the Traditions weren't all good. They're the token evil Tradition, and they murder people because death must happen and decay and entropy and blah blah blah.

They... uh... I've never really been able to get a good grip on these guys. They tend the wheel of death and ensure things die when they are killed? :confused:

Spheres: Death! (Entropy, Life, Spirit)
Foci: "a Chakravat uses practices and instruments like crazy wisdom, faith, High Ritual, medicine-work, reality hacking, martial arts, shamanism, and occasionally Voudoun". Also yoga. Is there anything yoga can't be used for?

The Khaos Magykk of Brucato's M20 really becomes apparent with the Foci; instead of having their way of casting determined by their Paradigm, each splat just seems to use a bunch of very arbitrary tools to cast with. Are you a Kung Fu mage? Cast magick using alchemy. Are you a death-mage? Use faith and yoga to cast magick. Is your entire paradigm about expanding your mind using sex, :catdrugs: and rock & roll? Use gutter magick, martial arts, and cybernetics!

Order of Hermes


Pictured: a 20-something

Traditional European magical practises are represented by the Order of Hermes. These guys are haughty, arrogant bastards with a long history and is one of the foundational elements of the Traditions, which just makes them extra arrogant. They're a collection of various Houses, in European tradition, and one of their Houses, House Tremere, broke of the 1300s to become vampires. Since vampires are total chumps compared to mages in the WoD, why they would want to do this is not explained. They say "immortality", but that's, like, Life 3 or something. Other houses include the Solificati and the Ngoma, which is an hilarious oversight in editing that hasn't caught up to M20's metaplot. They do, however, also have one of the most consistent portrayals; their Foci are not muddled with uncharacteristic ways to cast magick, and it's very clear what they are. Earlier MTAs editions had each Tradition have a single Affinity Sphere that was the one Sphere that was important to that Tradition. M20 is more open, often listing three or four; the OoH are still Forces first and foremost.

Sphere: Forces
Foci: Hermetic magic, basically.

:pseudo: Sons of Ether :pseudo:
Now the Society of Ether! Because they're no longer sexist!


Pictured: a 20-something in Steampunk fetish gear.

No longer sexist!

(Also her legs are just mirrors of each other, and it's a lazy trace.)

The Etherites are basically the mad scientist splat of the Traditions. If you want to play a 30's pulp-fiction scientist, play one of these guys. You get to make science thingies and shoot rayguns. :science: They broke off from the Technocracy in 1904 because they were sore the Technocracy was tired of having to do fluid-dynamics calculations for space-travel and wanted to replace Ether with vacuum. In earlier MTAs editions they were heavily on the side of pseudoscience, being all about homeopathy, acupuncture, lysenkoism, and other discredited scientific theories like Ether. They were basically khaos magykk applied to science; all that matters is that you will yourself to believe in the process behind it, then it'll totally work. As such they were the single most anti-science of the Traditions, since they didn't believe in things like falsification or reproducible results, instead just kind of engaging in a process of pseudoscientific masturbation where they make up elaborate "theories" for how their magick actually works.

In MTAs their paradigm isn't described as much, so they're simply "steampunk science mages who like ether" who want to spread Science to the masses. I like them a lot better this way; they're basically "good, reckless Technocracy" this way. They also occasionally blow up cities, because they're mad scientists.

Spheres: Matter, Forces, Prime
Foci: :science:

Verbena
Sorry, Verbenae


Pictured: a 20-something viking

Pagan and neo-pagan witches with a creepy love of blood and blood-sacrifices.They're archaic and prefer the "Old Ways"; according to the book they like "Cold iron, worked wood, fires kindled with your bare hands, natural clothing, organic foods…" They "have no time or patience for weakness. To them, the comforts of a technological world breed sickness and laziness.". So they're basically a bunch of condescending primitivists who are also pagans. They organize in covens and there are more women than men. This means that women gravitate towards this Tradition, because when your Tradition is determined by your strongly held personal beliefs about how the world and magick works, how women-friendly they are heavily factors into this. And, of course, this gem:

M20 posted:

Two leaders (taking priest and priestess roles although both might be male, female, or transgender) govern the larger covens

Yay. Transwomen aren't actually women, transmen aren't actually men. Brucato writes loftily about inclusitivity and gender and non-traditional roles, but displays supreme ignorance about the transgender community. It makes it all seem so cynical; why should I believe the message of inclusitivity when trans people are just shoehorned in with no respect in order to fulfil some western-liberal-guilt-quota? gently caress you Brucato. gently caress you and your wishy-washy appropriation of trans identities to sell a gaming product. gently caress you. There are so many other ways to phrase this. "Taking priest and priestess roles, no matter their gender identities." "Taking priest and priestess roles, although both might be male or female, cis or trans", "Taking priest or priestess roles, though there is no actual gender requirement." "Two leaders of any gender (even if one is formally titled priest, and the other priestess)"...

Spheres: Life, Forces (loving everyone gets Forces - what about poor Entropy?)
Foci: "Witchcraft is the group’s core practice, with certain individuals favoring Voudoun, dominion, weird science, chaos magick, yoga, martial arts, High Ritual, cybernetics, the Art of Desire, craftwork, medicine-work, and even organic hypertech."

Yes. Archaic primitivists who believe that the old ways are best, modernism breeds weakness, and the simpler something is the better it is cast magick with cybernetics and organic hypertech.

Virtual Adepts
Now called The Mercurian Elite - that really should be The Mercurian 31337


Pictured: A 20-something in trendy clothing

Ex-Technocracy hacker mages! (Back in MTAs 1e they were actually still with the Technocracy.) These guys are my favourite of the Traditions. Their central belief is that the entire universe is actually a great big computer simulation, and magick is hacks, exploits, bugs, and having access to the console. They cast magick by doing calculations and running simulations to determine how they can make the simulation do what they want. Beyond that, they're on-so-nineties anarchic hackers, all about freedom of information and stopping government surveillance and fighting corruption and all that. Though, ironically, I think perhaps they're one of the Traditions that have aged the best. The anarchic hacker stereotype and the surrounding hacker culture was born in the 80/90, and with the proliferation of computers their skills are far less "magical", but at the same time the expansion of government surveillance onto the Internet, meta-data collection, Manning, wikileaks, and Edward Snowden makes them the single most relevant Tradition.

Sphere: Corresponence/Data, Forces
Foci "Such tools range from the obvious computer gear (generations ahead of conventionally available tech), clouds, holograms, implants, nanotech, energy drinks, and sense-altering stimuli to the understated chic of dark hoodies, manga-influenced haircuts, fashionable androgyny, and provocative masks."

Their practice of magick includes dark hoodies? Manga-influenced haircuts? Fashionable asymmetry? Guy Fawkes masks? That's not a magical practice, that's a fashion choice. Way to ruin the thematic coherency of the Virtual Adepts, Jesse Heinig.

End Notes
Let me just say, with a few exceptions, the splat-iconics used in the art are gorgeously drawn. That said, they're surprisingly heterogeneous for a Tradition that supposedly favours diversity. To find someone who looks like they're older than 40, I have to skip all the way down to the Iteration X iconic in the Technocracy chapter. Style-wise they're almost all trendy-alternative-looking 20-somethings with tattoos. Five of the nine Tradition iconics are white. It's so... uncreative? Blatantly pandering?

In true tradition of White Wolf books, each Tradition also has a bunch of stereotypes about everyone else. Most of them are dull and bad, but some of them are funny-bad or egregious-bad, so let's have a look:

Akashics about the Disparates: "Lost children and broken relations… yet there’s more to them than there might seem."
Dreamspeakers about the Disparates: "I sense a trick here, and I think I like it…"
Euthanatos about the Disparates: "Conventional wisdom says they’re dead… but dead things have a way of coming back around."
Sons of Ether about the Disparates: "Footdraggers. Mysterious footdraggers, though. Certainly worthy of further study…"
:jerkbag:

Brucato's new baby are the Disparates, so the Traditions go out of the way to tell you how cool they are.

This sub-chapter is characterized by two, maybe three really glaring faults. One is the constant and confusing misuse of the various Tradition's names. They're renamed, their old names were bad and racist and slave names, but the book still insists on using the old names primarily, while also switching to the new names at times. It's confusing and dumb. If "Dreamspeakers" is so bad, they really should be constantly using "Kha’vadi" instead. It'd also be a lot easier to read, if the book used just one term for each separate group, to avoid confusion.

Then there's the Foci, which feel arbitrary and often don't fit the Traditions at all - in the worst case being literally just a clothing style - and often contradicting what the group actually believes in; if you believe that the Old Ways are best, why would you use cybernetics to do magick? Other times they overlap; the Akashic's entire schtick is expanding their consciousness through martial arts so they can do magick... and then the Cult of Ecstasy can also do that in addition to :catdrugs:-magic.

The uneven distribution of Spheres; almost everyone seem to do Forces and Matter. Very few do Prime and Entropy. Perhaps they could have been divided more evenly, to give people more options if they want to play Entropy-mages? You're not locked to the Euthanatos if you want to use Entropy-magick, but they could still have made the game more permissive of such concepts.

Next: The Technocratic Union! :science: :commissar:

LatwPIAT fucked around with this message at 09:36 on Jan 17, 2016

Doresh
Jan 7, 2015


LatwPIAT posted:

Foci "Such tools range from the obvious computer gear (generations ahead of conventionally available tech), clouds, holograms, implants, nanotech, energy drinks, and sense-altering stimuli to the understated chic of dark hoodies, manga-influenced haircuts, fashionable androgyny, and provocative masks."

You see, if Samson gained super-strength through his hair, it is only natural that spiky hair and yelling a lot can make you turn Super Saiyan.

LatwPIAT posted:

Foci: "Crazy wisdom is the core of this group’s many practices, which include everything from gutter magick, yoga, and martial arts to cybernetic hypertech." Also drugs. They have to do all kinds of drugs because using just one drug means they get complacent.

Why are cybernetics even a thing? I thought modern society and technology is evil? Sure, it's futuristic stuff, but futuristic stuff getting more feasible each year.

LatwPIAT posted:

Akashics about the Disparates: "Lost children and broken relations… yet there’s more to them than there might seem."
Dreamspeakers about the Disparates: "I sense a trick here, and I think I like it…"
Euthanatos about the Disparates: "Conventional wisdom says they’re dead… but dead things have a way of coming back around."
Sons of Ether about the Disparates: "Footdraggers. Mysterious footdraggers, though. Certainly worthy of further study…"
:jerkbag:

Laaaaame~.

And dear lord, is was fun and all back in Changing Breeds, but this nonsense and bad writing is supposed to be part of WoD's Holy Tri-Force. I think I'm gazing too deep into the abyss :frogsiren:

RocknRollaAyatollah
Nov 26, 2008



Lipstick Apathy

Not that it's important but if anyone was wondering why the Tremere left the Order of Hermes it was because they saw which way the consensus of reality was going. Magic was becoming less powerful around the time of the Dark Ages line, hence why it wasn't exactly a golden age like it says in M20.

Tremere was also a megalomaniac and knew that no existing magic could allow him to live forever. He wanted to become a vampire and then become an antediluvian so he could both live forever and have the power of a god. He was pretty much a D&D BBEG.

Awakened magic is pretty powerful but it's not powerful enough to make someone immortal.* The Order of Hermes flipped their poo poo at this because they threw away possible enlightenment for longer lasting temporal power.

It apparently can according to Ascension but that's all after the fact.

unseenlibrarian
Jun 4, 2012

There's only one thing in the mountains that leaves a track like this. The creature of legend that roams the Timberline. My people named him Sasquatch. You call him... Bigfoot.

I would almost guarantee that they're using cybernetics in the looser "Study of how humans and machines interact" way instead of "Bionic limbs"

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

I dunno. Between Brucato in general and the existence of both cyborg werewolves and cyborg wizards in previous iterations of the fluff, I'll be surprised if he's using 'cybernetic' in that kind of scholarly way.

PurpleXVI
Oct 30, 2011

Spewing insults, pissing off all your neighbors, betraying your allies, backing out of treaties and accords, and generally screwing over the global environment?
ALL PART OF MY BRILLIANT STRATEGY!


Sgt. Anime Pederast posted:

I kinda legit want to read these books now because this sounds hilarious.

The Technocracy books are largely pretty alright, the Void Engineer one in particular is quite solid. It's just that it's already an extremely schizophrenic game. On the one hand the technocrats are evil... on the other hand they make medicine, computers and microwave ovens work. On the one hand the technocrats have to be playable... on the other hand the Technocracy itself has to be irredeemably corrupt so the Tradition books aren't wrong. And so on. Ultimately their solution was to go "The Technocracy itself is utterly evil and 99% of the people involved are bad, even when their technology is doing good things, it was developed with immoral means. So you can either play a villain or you can be the lone voice of logic while most of the Technocracy is either subsumed by outside entities(PS they basically fund Pentex for ?????? reasons) or their own madness."

It honestly feels like the whole thing would've worked better if there was no word-of-god on who was the good guys and the whole thing was just filled full of unreliable narrators like the oVamp clanbooks were, so people could make up their own minds and grab the plot hooks they liked the most. :v:

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

RIP Lutri: 5/19/20-4/2/20
:blizz::gamefreak:


PurpleXVI posted:

It honestly feels like the whole thing would've worked better if there was no word-of-god on who was the good guys and the whole thing was just filled full of unreliable narrators like the oVamp clanbooks were, so people could make up their own minds and grab the plot hooks they liked the most. :v:

They couldn't do that because enough of the Mage Writers were fully onboard the "Technology has gone too far" Train. That said I love that one of the progenitor archetypes is a guy who desparately wants to 'discover' new creatures because his master's thesis was making an honest to god gryphon and no one will ever know about it.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



And then you get the fanmade splat I did in the last thread, Genius: The Transgression. Which isn't at all about playing mad scientists like it says and is instead a whole lot of masturbation over the Sons of Ether.

Quinn2win
Nov 9, 2011

Foolish child of man...
After reading all this,
do you still not understand?




CHARACTERS

Chargen is broken down into four steps:

  • Pick Backgrounds, get Cover and Network
  • Pick Investigative Abilities
  • Pick General Abilities
  • Dossier

Backgrounds are the closest thing Gumshoe has to character classes/archetypes/templates. They're theoretically optional - each one is just a bit of backstory attached to 6 points of Investigative Abilities and 18 points of General Abilities. For example!



Cobbler is British spy lingo for someone who assembles fake passports, visas, and other bits of image manipulation and document forgery. If an agent picks the Cobbler background, they get:
Investigative Abilities: Forgery 4, Bureaucracy 1, Photography 1
General Abilities: Cover 6, Digital Intrusion 4, Infiltration 4, Disguise 2, Mechanics 2

You can take as many as you want, but you buy them with your general character building points, so they're not free - they're just an easier way to springboard into picking skills off of big lists.

Investigative Abilities are the meat of GUMSHOE. Unlike skill contests in most games, Investigative Ability checks always succeed. If you have points in Accounting, you'll always find the clue you need from searching through a company's financial records. There's some rolling and uncertainty involved, but it's only for getting extra spicy benefits from the investigation; you're guaranteed to get the minimum you need as long as you have the skill written down. Your final rating in each investigative ability is actuall a pool of points - if you have Traffic Analysis 3, then you have 3 points you can spend during an operation to gain extra benefit from using the ability, which refresh under certain circumstances. More on that later.

Each agent gets a pile of investigative build points which can be spent 1-for-1 to increase Investigative Abilities. One point in an ability means you're already a badass expert in that field, two or three mean you're one of the top agents in the world in that field. The number of points you get varies based on the size of the party from 32 points at 2 players to 20 points at 5+ players - this is so that the party will generally have most or all investigative abilities covered between them, meaning that a key clue is seldom locked behind a skill that nobody has.

Non-comprehensive notes on a few of the investigative abilities:

Bullshit Detector
You can tell not only when someone is lying, but also when someone is projecting a false impression or hiding information. Works best on the nervous or the guilty, may not be as much of a guarantee against lifelong con men or the undead.

Data Recovery
Most of what people do with computers in modern crime shows. There's a specific usage listed for being the implausible "Stop! Zoom! Enhance!" guy, with an attached note that you can't do that in a Dust game.

Forgery
What it says on the tin - mainly used as an investigative version of Disguise. You don't need to stop and create your forgeries in advance; you can use the ability to reveal in the heat of the moment that you had a stash of Romanian Foreign Ministry stationery handy all along. In addition to forging things and spotting forgeries, for each point you put into the skill, you can declare yourself 'untouchable' in one narrow field - American passports, Turkish entry visas, et cetera. When making those, your forgeries are absolutely perfect, and can't be seen thruogh by any means short of your own confession.

Languages
If you have Languages 1, you can speak and write fluently in two languages other than your native tongue. A second point gives you three more languages, and each point after that gives you four more languages - so, if you have Langauges 4, you could be fluent in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Italian, Turkish, Romanian, Russian, Arabic, Japanese, Mandarin, and Hindi. You can also use individual language slots for lip-reading, ASL + other common sign languages, or multiple related languages in one slot (for example, Norwegian and Swedish). Everyone gets English With A Bad Accent for free if they don't speak English, to ensure the party has a common language.

Vampirology
Knowing about both fictional vampires and real vampires, and being able to tell the differences between the two. Depending on the game, this ability may not be allowed at chargen.

General Abilities are everything other than investigation - fighting, driving, anything you need to be good at that doesn't relate directly to uncovering clues. Unlike investigative abilities, you DO roll to succeed on general abilities, and they can fail completely. When you use a general ability, you roll a six-sided die and may add points to the roll from that skill's point pool. The higher the number, the better you do.

The scale is different for general abilities - everyone gets 70 points (65 in Mirror, 55 in Dust) to buy general abilities. Unlike investigative abilities, there's no real upper limit to how many points you can shove into something before it stops being useful, so it might be a good idea to focus more on a smaller number of general abilities instead of dropping 1-2 points onto everything. The only capping rule is that the highest ability on your sheet can't be more than double the rating of the second-highest ability - So, if you want to have 20 Health, you must have 10 in something else. As a new agent, you get four skills for free - Health 4, Stablity 4, Cover 10, Network 15. These don't count towards the second-highest ability rule.

When picking your general abilities, you can designate one as your MOS - Military Occupational Specialty. The name is just a cooler way of saying Schtick, it doesn't require an actual military background. Once per session, you can invoke your MOS to automatically succeed at using a general ability. Invoke MOS Driving to automatically intercept another car. Invoke MOS Shooting to automatically shoot and kill a human target. It can only fail if your task is actually impossible or if you're up against a major supernatural threat - even in the case of the latter, you could use an MOS to guarantee a direct hit on a vampire, just not also guarantee that it dies. You don't get an MOS in Dust.

Most general abilities have a cherry - a special ability that kicks in once you reach a rating of 8 or higher in it. A Director who wants a slightly less ridiculous game can push the cherry perimeter up to 12. You don't get these at all in Dust, with a few exceptions.



Some general abilities:

Athletics
Any physical activity not covered by another skill. At 8+, you get the cherry Hard to Hit, which raises the difficulty of rolls to hit you in combat by 1, and also gain access to a few extra rules and options in combat, like Parkour (more on that later). The first half of that is available even in Dust games.

Cover
Your stash of false identities. Everyone gets this skill for free at 10. At any time during play, you can reveal the existence of another cover identity - to do so, you split a number of points off of your Cover pool into a new pool of points specifically for that identity. Those are the points you spend when you want to lean on that identity to get things done or stay incognito - when it runs out of points, that identity has been compromised and won't protect you any more. Unlike most skills, the Cover pool can't be refreshed after or during operations.

Disguise
What it says on the tin. At 8+, you get the cherry Connected Cover, which lets you spend your Cover points to create a more targeted identity - instead of your identiy being "Joe the Generic Engineer", your cover identity can now be "Suslov, who did the Trieste Job with Arpad 5 years ago", well enough to help you get close to Arpad.

Hand-to-Hand
Fighting unarmed, be it martial arts or bar brawling. Can also be used as an Investigative ability to determine where a fighter trained, et cetera. At 8+, you get the cherry Eye of the Tiger, which lets you spend a point of Hand-to-Hand to measure up the skill of an opponent - the Director will tell you whether his Hand-to-Hand rating is within 1 point of yours, higher, or lower. This cherry is available evenin Dust games.

Health
Ability to not die - your Health pool is functionally your HP. It's different from other ability pools in that it can go negative. You get 4 points for free, and it caps at 10 in Dust games.

Network
Your web of contacts. This ability works like Cover - when you declare a new contact, you split off points from your Network pool to be that contact's pool of points. Once the run out of points, they are found by your enemies, and probably either killed or turned against you. In Mirror games, once per session, the Director picks one of the party's contacts, and secretly rolls a die. If the result is higher than the number of points in that contact's pool, he flips the contact - either they've been recruited by the enemy, or they were a double agent all along. In Burn games, your starting Network is reduced - from 12 for 2 players, down to 4 for 5+ players - and you lose 1 Stability every time you lose a contact.

Stability
Health, but for your brain. It can also go negative. You get 4 for free, and in Burn games it caps out at 12.

There's a lot more general abilities - Filch, Mechanics, Piloting, Sense Trouble, Weapons, etc - but you get the idea, probably.

Personality and Dossier

For the most part, this is fluff, but not all of it. At the top of this section is Sources of Stability, a special rule for Burn, Mirror or Stakes games. What keeps your agent sane? Why do they keep struggling against the darkness? This is why - an agent's source of strength, but also a potentialy vulnerability.

Symbol
A crucifix, your father's dog tag, something physical you can carry with you that reminds you why you fight. Once per session, you can use it for a few minutes of quiet meditation or reverence, and refresh 1 point of Stability. However, if you permanently lose it, your Stability rating drops by 1.

Solace
A person, unconnected to your ongoing battles, who you turn to for quiet human contact. Could be a romantic partner, could be something else. Once per session, if you can spend six hours off the job with your Solace, you refresh 2 points of Stability. If you spend a full day with your Solace between operations, you refresh all Stability. In a Burn or Mirror game, betrayal by your Solace drops your Stability rating by 2. If your Solace is killed or turned into a vampire in a Burn game, you lose 3 Stability rating.

Safety
The one place where you feel truly safe, a personal refuge against the world. If you reach it and rest there, you can refresh three General ability pools, and you can make Preparedness tests at lower difficulties. If you get there unobserved by enemies, you can refresh your whole Stability pool. If your place of Safety has an owner or caretaker, you can activate them once, in your character's lifetime, as a free contact with rating 6. They cannot be rebuilt with points from Network or character advancement, period. In a Mirror game, your Stability drops by 3 points if your place of Safety turns you out or its owner betrays you. In a Burn game, the same thing happens if your place of Safety is destroyed.

Next, Drives are the core of any Stakes game. A character's chosen Drive is their motivation, the reason they keep going. They function sort of like Aspects in Fate - they don't force you to do things, but the reward behaviors in line with your character. If you act dramatically and at great risk because your Drive compels it, you can refresh 1-2 points to one of your general ability pools. If you stubbornly work against your Drive, you become stressed, raising the cost of all Investigative Ability spends by 1 point and the difficulty of all General Ability tests by 1 until you return to form.

There's a long list of Drives - Altruism, Atonement, Nowhere Else to Go, Revenge, et cetera. Some have extra details suggested for different game modes, but they're mostly self-explanatory.

As another optional step, Mirror games require an extra section on your sheet: Trust. You get 5 points of Trust to start, spread between your other party members: 3 with the one you trust the most, 0 with the one you trust the least, and 1 trust each for up to two others. For extra hardcore Mirror play, record these values in secret.

Trust, like all other ratings, is a point pool. You can spend points of your Trust pool for another agent to help them out, effectively acting as if they spend that point themselves on one of their own abilities. On the flip side, if you betray another agent, you can spend their trust against them - each point spent blocks one use of an investigative ability, or redues a general ability roll by 3. You can also do this to gain +2 per point on a roll of your own, but only if that roll hampers the agent who trusts you. The more you trust someone, the easier it is for them to hurt you.

Everything past that is the fluff of backstory. When did you become an agent? Where did you learn your skillset? What kinds of missions have you gone on in your vampir-free past? Why did you retire from that life? Sort out the details, and the character is done.

Next: The actual rules.

Evil Mastermind
Apr 28, 2008



The storm has a name... - Let's Read TORG


Part 12g: Coffee is for closers.

So there's one question I'm sure many of you have asked: "so what the hell are you supposed to do in Nippon Tech?"

It turns out that one of the answers is "run a megacorp".

quote:

Along with the battles in the streets and alleys of Nippon Tech - ronin versus ninja, ronin versus gospog - there is another kind of war being fought in the realm. It is a quiet struggle, one fought not with guns and knives, but an even more devastating weapon - money.

To the victors in such conflicts go wealth and power; to the losers, financial destruction and complete absorption by the conquering entity. The corporate duelling which takes place between the Business arm of the Rauru Block and 3327's mega-corporations is quite different from any other type of combat in Torg, and thus requires some special rules. Refer to these rules if one of your players chooses the role of a Mega-Corporation CEO, or a Storm Knight obtains control of a megacorporation at some point in your campaign.
Yes, "Mega-Corporation CEO" is one of the available character templates. And if you pick it (or the GM feels like giving you one), you can start the game in control of your very own mega-corp and fight 3327 at his own game!

So yeah, Nippon Tech has its own "domain" rules.

To start, the CEO needs to set up a corporate structure diagram for his company, while the GM does the same for the competition (or just uses the one provided for Kanawa Corporation).

quote:

In the diagram, represent each corporation with a rectangle and write the name of the corporation inside that rectangle. Then write the name of the holding company at the top of the page, and beneath it, list all the company's direct subsidiaries and draw a line between the subsidiaries and the holding company. Then put down all of the under-subsidiaries and lines connecting them to the subsidiaries that own them.

The recommended size for a starting mega-corp is a holding company and two subsidiaries, and the book also recommends that the first target in 3327's setup should be Windigo Inc. (a marketing/PR firm) since it's the smallest of 3327's holdings with only three subidiary holdings.

Once you have your corporate structure in place (and have named it), now you have to figure out the starting "stats" for each company. There are four: stock price, assets, income, and debt. In keeping with 90's game design, this is handled via random rolls. There are two tables to start with, one of which is a flat d20 roll because the CEO's skill doesn't matter yet.

For each company in your structure, you have to determine the base stock value because everything else derives from this. You roll an unmodified d20 to see how much each stock is worth in yen, which can range from ¥7,000 to ¥20,000 per share. Every company starts with one million available shares, 20% of which are owned by the CEO. The rest of the shares are assumed to by held by generic stockholders and/or other PCs.

Now that you know how much each stock is worth, you determine the overall value of the corporation's assets. This is done by taking the rolled stock value and multiplying it by the number of shares available. But since you always start with one million shares, you're just multiplying the stock value by a million so I don't know why they didn't just say "multiply by 1,000,000". Fortunately, Torg realizes that we might not be good enough at math to add six zeros to the end of a number, and provides us with a handy table to do the math for us.


Thanks, guys.

Assets don't represent flat cash, of course. Assets include factories, land, resources, that kind of thing. Not that it matters what your assets actually are, because the mechanics only care about the value.

Next we determine the company's starting income. To do this, we roll another flat d20 and cross-reference the result with your assets on the Income Table to see how much they earn each month.

Your starting debt is figured out the same way; cross-referencing your assets with a different d20 roll. This gives you two values: the starting amount of debt you owe, and what your minimum payment per month is. Things like payroll and such are considered part of your debt.


EVE Online: the RPG

I like to think that Torg was the first RPG to make serious use of scientific notation.

Oh, wait, there's one more thing we need to calculate for each company. Each firm has an amount of liquid cash, which is your monthly income after your monthly debt has been paid and you dealt with all the corporate warfare stuff.

Once you've done that for all the companies you control, you can finally participate in Corporate Duels.

Like most stronghold/domain management stuff, you deal with it on a month-by-month basis. You can still run around and shoot dudes and fight bad guys all you want, but at the start of each game month you have to go through a whole sequence of steps.

The first thing you have to do is determine stock fluxuation. As we all know, stocks go up and stocks go down, and in the most realistic economic model ever made this is determined by a roll of a die.

The GM rolls a d20; on a 1-5 it's a "bear market" (bad), and on a 16-20 it's a "bull market" (good). Then the CEO on each side rolls their business skill, and looks up their total on a table to determine what percentage your stock value changes. And there's a pretty wide swing here, from -30%/share to +30%/share depending on how well (or badly) you roll and the current state of the market.

The next step is asset/income adjustment, where you just multiply stock value by total shares, then apply the percentage change to the company's income.

Now you can transfer funds between corporations, which just means shifting cash around.

Next each company has to make its minimum debt payment. The minimum payment is 1% of its total debt, and interestingly in this stage you can only pay the minimum amount. If a subsidiary company can't make the payment, its stock value drops by 5% regardless of how well you rolled back in the stock fluxuation step. If a holding company can't make the payment, then it has to put up a subsidiary for sale in the next step. If the core holding coproration can't make the payment, then the whole shebang folds and everybody is out of a job.

After that, the GM has to set up potential corporate sales. He rolls a flat d20 to see how many outside companies are available for sale (zero, one, or two), and if there some available he rolls up their starting values and company type. Note that you can't buy these until later. Each side can also put their own subsidiaries up for sale at this point if they need the cash or were forced to in the last part.

Now you get to engage in corporate espionage. This just a d20 table the GM rolls on to set up an adventure hook for the players to go on and disrupt the other company's standings. Unfortunately, as near as I can tell it doesn't tell you exactly how your actions can affect the competition. I mean, I guess that blowing up a warehouse would cost the owner X amount of yen, but is that just subtracted from their assets? And how do you determine how much an office building is worth? Or a valuable piece of data? What if you learn about and stop a bribe; how does that affect the numbers?

Anyway, the next step is to allocate funds. You take your liquid funds available, and then allocate some or all of that money to various "corporate maneuvers", which happen next.


Exciting board room action!

Corporate maneuvers are the "actions" of corporate warfare. This is where your CEO finally gets to use his business skill because everything before this point was all flat rolls. Each month, you can perform as many as you want and can afford. Obviously, both sides of the conflict get to do this stuff.

quote:

This means that the gamemaster should decide on the allocations for the Kanawa-controlled firm involved, while the players decide upon what actions the Storm Knight-controlled corporation will take.
Boy, they're really busting out the quality advice here, aren't they?

So what are our options?

Well, for starters we can invest in capital; for every ¥100 million you invest your assets go up by 10%. This will also cause your stock price and income to go up at the end of the "business turn".

You can purchase stock in any company on the board, even ones controlled by your enemy. You can only buy available stocks this way; trying to buy more is a hostile takeover, and is done differently. A company's available stocks is a percentage of the total number of shares not held by the CEO, and the percentage is based on the current state of the market. Buying the stock requires a business roll, with the difficulty being based on the number of shares you're trying to buy. Exceeding the target number doesn't get you more shares than you wanted, but fortunately if you don't roll high enough to get the number of shares you wanted you can still buy shares based on your final total. The purchaser's assets increase by the total value of the purchased shares. It's also worth noting that when someone buys stock in a company, the company's owner does not get that cash; it's assumed to go to the shareholders.

You can also sell stock. The CEO can only sell the stock he owns (the starting 20% of the shares) at cost, and that money goes right into liquid funds. This works like purchasing, where you have to make a business roll to see how many shares you actually manage to sell. This means that it's harder to sell off large amounts of shares at once, which makes sense because nobody wants to buy into a company when the CEO is selling off all his shares.

You have the option of purchasing bonds, either in the "blue chip" or "junk" varieties. Money used for blue chip bonds is put aside for six months, at which point (assuming you're still in business) it returns with 10% interest with no roll required. Junk bonds, however, require a business roll against a difficulty of 14. Success means you get a 20% return on your investment, if you fail then you default and lose all that money.

Any company can issue bonds, again as blue chip or junk. You can issue bonds for up to your minimum monthly debt payment as blue chip, but more than that and they're junk bonds. The cost of the bond plus the 10%/20% is added to the corporation's debt total, but from what I can see there's no reason to do this because all it does is put you further into debt with no benefits whatsoever.

This is the point where you can pay off debts by just paying out of your liquid assets.

Now we start getting to the stuff where you're actively loving with the other company's stock.

A stock assault is when you attempt to forcably reduce the value of another company's stock. To do this, you spend money in ¥100 million increments, each payout letting you make a difficulty 8 business roll. The better you roll the bigger a hit the target's stock value takes, from ¥100/per share up to ¥1000/share for a "spectacular" success.

You can perform a stock defense to prevent this from happening by spending ¥100 million to cancel an attacker's payout one-for-one. So if one person spends ¥500 million on a stock assault, and the defender spends ¥300 million, then the attacker only gets to roll twice.

You can attempt a hostile takeover, which is when you attempt to buy more stock in a company than is actually available for sale. Once you allocate funds for this, you make a business roll with a target number of the opposing CEO's base business skill. If you succeed, you buy the stock as normal. If you own more than half the stock in a company, you sieze it and add it to your corporate structure.

And again, you can perform a takeover defense by just allocating money, which cancels out the attack's allocated money one-for-one.

Lastly, you can perform corporate restructuring for ¥100 million, which just lets you rearrange your corporation's structure.

Technically after you take all your corporate maneuvers, you move to the final phase. But since Torg is one of the worst organized RPGs ever written, afer all the maneuver descriptions we're informed about something you're supposed to do before you do your maneuvers. At least, I think you are...it says you're supposed to do this before the "corporate operations phase", but there's no phase with that name. I'm assuming they mean maneuvers here.

Regardless, you can try to purchase new companies that were offered by the GM by bidding on them. Each CEO rolls their business, with the higher roll being able to bid on a company first. This is just a basic back-and-forth auction that goes until one person backs out. The winner places the corpotation in their structure and pays the cost. Any companies not purchased in this phase are discared, as it's assumed they're bought out by other megacorps.

The end of the corporate management sequence is stock and asset adjustment, which just means you calculate all your new values based on all the goings on. Oh, and now they talk about how the GM should take the PCs blowing up competitor's assets into account, and it's just "give it a value in yen, deduct it from the owner's assets". I mean, I figured that was the case, but again there's no info or guidelines for things that are a little beyond "we blew up X yen worth of stuff".

At this point you're done with the monthly management. One thing to bear in mind too (and again, they don't mention this until the end, and in what seems like an unrelated section) is that every quarter you have to pay out to your shareholders. This means that every company in your structure has to pay out 1% of its income. Failure to pay this means that the company gets +10 to its stock fluxuation roll until it can pay out.


So now I'm sure you're all wondering what the hell the point of all this is.

The answer, believe it or not, is that it's a way to kick 3327 out of the High Lord's seat.

It's important to remember that despite the power of the Darkness Device, 3327 is still subject to the Laws of his world. Not only does he have his responisibilities as the CEO of Kanawa and everything back in Marketplace, Daikoku (his Darkness Device) is also attuned to the nature of Marketplace and has become as addicted to "profit" as 3327. Yeah, it only cares about profit in terms of how much possibility energy its fed, but still.

If the war on Core Earth ever became unprofitable, if the Kanawa Corproration ever dipped into the red, 3327 would be hosed. According to the laws he himself set up in his culture, he would immediately be stripped of his position, have all his possessions siezed, locked in a room, given 24 hours to recoup the losses, and either commit suicide or get shot in the back of the head, his choice.

And Daikoku wouldn't help him at all. In fact, it'd sever the bond with him and vanish, possibly saying "I guess you've lost it, kid" on the way out, and seek out a new person to empower as High Lord of Marketplace. It's doubtful Kanawa's new CEO would want to hold onto an unprofitable venture, so it's pretty likely Kanawa would be out of business for good.

Corprorate warfare is intended to allow the PCs to do that. Obviously it'd take a while, and the book suggests that you start with the PCs taking out a few smaller megacorps before tackling Kanawa itself, but still it's a potential win condition.

---
You know, I'm kind of torn on this. On the one hand it's a lot of math and it's pretty dry for the most part. On the other, it's modern-day domain management and that's pretty cool. The whole corporate warfare thing is an interesting way to allow players to fight against 3327 more-or-less directly.

Still, I can't imagine this was something that saw a ton of use.


NEXT TIME: Remote offices, miracles, gear, and character templates

Asimo
Sep 23, 2007




Honestly, no matter how hard the writers tried push the traditions in oMage it's really really hard to cheer for the regressive luddite protagonist faction when you're literally only alive due to the continued intervention of modern medical science. :v: To the point where that anti-science stance in both oMage and oWerewolf almost feels hateful, if in an unintentional way. I have no idea how much similar experiences colored the Mage fandom, but I imagine at least some small but significant fraction felt similarly.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Asimo posted:

Honestly, no matter how hard the writers tried push the traditions in oMage it's really really hard to cheer for the regressive luddite protagonist faction when you're literally only alive due to the continued intervention of modern medical science. :v: To the point where that anti-science stance in both oMage and oWerewolf almost feels hateful, if in an unintentional way. I have no idea how much similar experiences colored the Mage fandom, but I imagine at least some small but significant fraction felt similarly.

It was the 90s. That's the best defense I can give it.

Then again, I stand by my comment in the last thread that I always view the oWoD as having the central premise of you're playing as the monsters. No matter how much of a good guy you think you are, and no matter how much worse the people you're opposing are by comparison, you are playing as a bad guy.

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

The Traditions aren't a Luddite faction, though, or they weren't until now.

Robindaybird
Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.



Rand Brittain posted:

The Traditions aren't a Luddite faction, though, or they weren't until now.

It's just how most of them ended up being played, same with how Changeling is Anti-Personal Responsibility under Brucato's hands

Thesaurasaurus
Feb 15, 2010

"Send in Boxbot!"



PurpleXVI posted:

The Technocracy books are largely pretty alright, the Void Engineer one in particular is quite solid. It's just that it's already an extremely schizophrenic game. On the one hand the technocrats are evil... on the other hand they make medicine, computers and microwave ovens work. On the one hand the technocrats have to be playable... on the other hand the Technocracy itself has to be irredeemably corrupt so the Tradition books aren't wrong. And so on. Ultimately their solution was to go "The Technocracy itself is utterly evil and 99% of the people involved are bad, even when their technology is doing good things, it was developed with immoral means. So you can either play a villain or you can be the lone voice of logic while most of the Technocracy is either subsumed by outside entities(PS they basically fund Pentex for ?????? reasons) or their own madness."

It honestly feels like the whole thing would've worked better if there was no word-of-god on who was the good guys and the whole thing was just filled full of unreliable narrators like the oVamp clanbooks were, so people could make up their own minds and grab the plot hooks they liked the most. :v:

I think the idea was that the Technocracy is why you need medicine to recover from illness or injury, instead of moxibustion or leeching or just plain prayer, but if that's the case then wow, did they ever do a bad job of communicating it. Unless the writers actually thought this was plainly and self-evidently true and bought into the 90s alt-medicine craze themselves, which, Brucato, so v:v:v

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

RIP Lutri: 5/19/20-4/2/20
:blizz::gamefreak:


Asimo posted:

Honestly, no matter how hard the writers tried push the traditions in oMage it's really really hard to cheer for the regressive luddite protagonist faction when you're literally only alive due to the continued intervention of modern medical science. :v: To the point where that anti-science stance in both oMage and oWerewolf almost feels hateful, if in an unintentional way. I have no idea how much similar experiences colored the Mage fandom, but I imagine at least some small but significant fraction felt similarly.

1st edition Glasswalkers were basically the italian mafia because technology was bad and they still hadn't figured out that giving the Vampire Factions fur coats wasn't the way to differentiate themselves. It wasn't until 2nd ed and the GW Tribebook where they actually started to put some credence to the whole "Use the weavers tools against her" thing and technofetishes showed up.

Remember Rage Across Australia has that bit where the White Man is being divinely punished for planting Cereal Grains rather than subsisting at a hunter/gatherer level.

Robindaybird
Aug 21, 2007

Neat. Sweet. Petite.



Kurieg posted:


Remember Rage Across Australia has that bit where the White Man is being divinely punished for planting Cereal Grains rather than subsisting at a hunter/gatherer level.

Must've overlooked it for that guy who had a footstool/drum made with aboriginal skin.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Thesaurasaurus posted:

I think the idea was that the Technocracy is why you need medicine to recover from illness or injury, instead of moxibustion or leeching or just plain prayer, but if that's the case then wow, did they ever do a bad job of communicating it. Unless the writers actually thought this was plainly and self-evidently true and bought into the 90s alt-medicine craze themselves, which, Brucato, so v:v:v

And yet, isn't the point of the Traditions that if they won, you'd need leeching or prayer in some specific way or the like to recover from illness or injury? Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

Rand Brittain
Mar 24, 2013

"Go on until you're stopped."

Cythereal posted:

And yet, isn't the point of the Traditions that if they won, you'd need leeching or prayer in some specific way or the like to recover from illness or injury? Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

No, no it isn't. Note that the Traditions have Hermetics, Choristers, and Etherites all in the same group.

The Traditions endgame is "everyone can use whatever paradigm they want," not "leeches are mandatory."

Thesaurasaurus
Feb 15, 2010

"Send in Boxbot!"



Kurieg posted:

1st edition Glasswalkers were basically the italian mafia because technology was bad and they still hadn't figured out that giving the Vampire Factions fur coats wasn't the way to differentiate themselves. It wasn't until 2nd ed and the GW Tribebook where they actually started to put some credence to the whole "Use the weavers tools against her" thing and technofetishes showed up.

Remember Rage Across Australia has that bit where the White Man is being divinely punished for planting Cereal Grains rather than subsisting at a hunter/gatherer level.

I wonder how they'd respond to the revelation that paleolithic hunter-gatherers practiced horticulture (protecting useful plants from exposure or pests, cutting away undergrowth that choked trees), while neolithics had tree farming.

Cythereal posted:

And yet, isn't the point of the Traditions that if they won, you'd need leeching or prayer in some specific way or the like to recover from illness or injury? Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

I think the idea is that if anyone were sick, they'd be free to reject that reality and substitute their own, like an even more batshit version of Armstrong's philosophy in Metal Gear Rising.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

To witness titanic events is always dangerous, usually painful, and often fatal.





I think the idea is supposed to be that the Technocracy has made people dependent on their system (which also happens to gently caress you, Johnny Trad, because your system is at best slightly compatible and more likely wholly incompatible with theirs) and that this bloats the Technocracy with power, which they are using unjustly, both in terms of various diseases of modernity and the fact that they're after You, Johnny Trad.

The issue is where belief and consensus reality (which is taken of course as a literal thing rather than a cultural thing) start to get weird. Of course that weirdness is probably why it keeps getting talked about.

Rand Brittain posted:

No, no it isn't. Note that the Traditions have Hermetics, Choristers, and Etherites all in the same group.

The Traditions endgame is "everyone can use whatever paradigm they want," not "leeches are mandatory."
Oh, no, I doubt that'd be the endgame. But that's just human nature talking. My understanding is that the Traditions' cooperation is in large part (though of course not the whole part) because they have a powerful common enemy.

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Rand Brittain posted:

No, no it isn't. Note that the Traditions have Hermetics, Choristers, and Etherites all in the same group.

The Traditions endgame is "everyone can use whatever paradigm they want," not "leeches are mandatory."

Yet the fact that not everyone's a mage suggests to me that not everyone can use a paradigm, making them dependent on someone else's. I don't know much about Mage, though, so they probably did address this at some point.

Kurieg
Jul 19, 2012

RIP Lutri: 5/19/20-4/2/20
:blizz::gamefreak:


Robindaybird posted:

Must've overlooked it for that guy who had a footstool/drum made with aboriginal skin.

No that was there too.

But

quote:

Australia's native vegetation has suffered greatly from European settlement. Even prior to the invasion, the Aboriginals had done much to reshape the face of the continent through their use of fire. Guided by the Bunyip, Aboriginals ensured that grain-bearing grasses never flourished in Australia. This was achieved by way of large-scale grass fires, inhibiting agriculture and instead encouraging the spread of plants requiring periodic fire to trigger seeds into growth, such as eucalyptuses and acacias.

quote:

On the surface, the Squattocracy wanted wealth, property, and prestige. Of course they were manipulated by the servants of the Wyrm "including at least one Leech and several formori" who sat on the Squattor's Council. THE DESTRUCTION OF THE AUSTRALIAN ENVIRONMENT! Their logic was that if they made the land of Australia suffer, the spirit world would suffer, and since the Bunyip live in the spirit world, they might just up and die. The most effective method (the book says) was the introduction of European agriculture. The clearing away of the brushland and the planting of cereal grains to destroy the native vegetation(?). The servants of the Wyrm also introduced Rabbits, horses, sheep, cattle, foxes, pigs, cats, and dogs to further harm the Australian spirit world. At this point I'm getting the feeling that the author is just going down the list of things that could be even remotely construed as "harmful" to Australia and attributing them all to the Wyrm.

It was terrible.

Cythereal posted:

Yet the fact that not everyone's a mage suggests to me that not everyone can use a paradigm, making them dependent on someone else's. I don't know much about Mage, though, so they probably did address this at some point.

Yeah, the end-goal of "Awakening everyone" would probably get rid of consensus, but it would also be roughly equivalent of giving everyone rocket launchers and flamethrowers with hair triggers and no instruction manuals.

Kurieg fucked around with this message at 22:26 on Jan 8, 2016

unseenlibrarian
Jun 4, 2012

There's only one thing in the mountains that leaves a track like this. The creature of legend that roams the Timberline. My people named him Sasquatch. You call him... Bigfoot.

The traditions -generally- don't want to abandon modern technology and conveniences. I mean, even discounting the Etherites and the VA, a lot of them have a sub-faction that depends on it.( House Thig, the Ghost Wheel society, etc.) What their win condition is varies depending on who you ask, but it could be "Just stop loving killing us for being wizards, goddamn." to "After the revolution folks'll be able to pick and choose what sort of paradigm they'd like to live under and hey, maybe my friends who are bygones won't -die just from being around humans-", "EVERYONE'S A WIZARD, GLOBAL ASCENSION!" to, yeah, the sort of folks who espouse bullshit survival of the fittest nonsense (But if you think the technocracy doesn't have people like that, a reminder that they include the Syndicate, aka "Just the sort of assholes who'd sit around high-fiving each other over Citizens United.")

OvermanXAN
Nov 14, 2014


My very cursory reading of oMage, and admittedly this is probably me being willfully blind and inserting a lot of how I feel it SHOULD be done, is that it's less that the Traditions are anti-technology or anti-modern-science, but that they're against the Technocratic paradigm of "these things should work but only these things because they are the safest possible option."

The basic conflict as I read it, and again, I may be being willfully blind, is that the Traditions want a world that allows magic and things beyond the consensus that the Technocracy allows because it allows for the possibility of ascension and reshaping the world. The Technocracy, on the other hand, would argue that doing so is dangerous because it would make it possible for supernatural entities to exist, or be more powerful. In other words, it's a conflict between a risky but potentially more rewarding world and a safer but more secure one. Of course, the fact that they then go on to paint the Technocracy as colossal hypocrites ruins it, but as a basic concept this isn't terrible. The Sons of Ether tradition book from Revised is pretty explicit that it's not specifically the removal of the concept of ether that was their problem but a fundamental disagreement on what the purpose of science should be, essentially.

Moreover, if you look at how Exalted was originally supposed to be "backstory" for oWoD and look at what the closest map onto Mages are in Exalted, the Traditions vs. Technocracy issue maps onto the Gold Faction vs. Bronze Faction debate, which is over the exact same issue. It's a question of risk vs. reward, or at least it should be.

shades of eternity
Nov 9, 2013

Where kitties raise dragons in the world's largest mall.

GURPS: Reign of Steel...hot diggity.

I look forward to the review. :)

Cythereal
Nov 8, 2009



Kurieg posted:

Yeah, the end-goal of "Awakening everyone" would probably get rid of consensus, but it would also be roughly equivalent of giving everyone rocket launchers and flamethrowers with hair triggers and no instruction manuals.

That sounds horrifying to me. Then again, in general I come down on the side of thinking that magic that isn't basically a science (with predictable and empirical rules governing it) is a bad, bad thing. I've thought about the implications of, say, the Harry Potter universe and it's a nightmare if you think about it.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

My very largely ignorant take on things is that the Technocracy became necessary because the assorted other Traditions were happily screwing around, playing Ars Magica in their chantries, and leaving average people at the mercy of wandering Bygone critters like dragons and unicorns. The Technocracy (or rather, Order of Reason) took the opportunity and standardized reality. No more dragons, they aren't real. Want fire? There's an assortment of thoroughly understood chemical reactions available to you-- no conjuring and placating elementals, no hoping for a thunder god to crack one out nearby.

Now, while they may have had the best of intentions at heart, we all know what the road to Hell is paved with. Call it becoming hidebound, or too big to fail, overspecialization or simple hubris all over again, but they've gone far beyond their original mandate and poo poo is starting to get weird in a bad way. Sure, they're systematically digging up hells in the Deep Umbra and redefining the devils that live there as bug-eyed monsters, but they're still bug-eyed monsters that could sell gasoline to a burning man.

Zereth
Jul 8, 2003




Evil Mastermind posted:


EVE Online: the RPG
Is it just me or if you have 19 billion in assets and roll a 16, is your minimum mostly payment really, really small?

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

To witness titanic events is always dangerous, usually painful, and often fatal.





unseenlibrarian posted:

(But if you think the technocracy doesn't have people like that, a reminder that they include the Syndicate, aka "Just the sort of assholes who'd sit around high-fiving each other over Citizens United.")
I have it on good authority that an Iteration X/Akashic swordsman can end these memes.

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Asimo
Sep 23, 2007




Thesaurasaurus posted:

I think the idea was that the Technocracy is why you need medicine to recover from illness or injury, instead of moxibustion or leeching or just plain prayer, but if that's the case then wow, did they ever do a bad job of communicating it. Unless the writers actually thought this was plainly and self-evidently true and bought into the 90s alt-medicine craze themselves, which, Brucato, so v:v:v
Yeah, I mean I know it isn't a totally rational response from my end. But when there's constant goings on about the HORRORS OF GENETIC ALTERATION and CRUELTY OF ANIMAL TESTING and whatever, and there's very little thought put into how the Traditions would replicate or remove those things, and it's just really hard not to sympathize more with the antagonist faction who like has no problem with insulin existing. :v: It's a long running pet peeve with that sort of New Age thing, and it really screams of only looking at society from the perspective of a healthy person. I admit I missed a fair portion of the line so there's probably some bits somewhere about how you could use magic crystals or purely natural herbs or whatever the gently caress to do the same thing in the assorted tradition paradigms, but that's really the sort of thing you'd want to make clear from the outset.

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