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megane
Jun 20, 2008





Demon forms can also have guns built into them, which is kickin' rad.

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Tuxedo Catfish
Mar 17, 2007

You've got guts! Come to my village, I'll buy you lunch.


JcDent posted:

God-Machine keeps the Mercers going, Musk popular and Zucherberg rich (and plausibly humanesque). That's why you want to gently caress it up.

Why do these writeups keep mentioning firearm ability or, like, Wednesday's spear skill? When is that ever going to come up? Like, I got that using human weaponry against Woofs is pointless, but it doesn't seem like demons are less robust or in need of a 9mm boost to their terrible warforms.

Demons are more likely than woofs to fight in their Cover, for one.

Also in Wednesday's case it's because they're coyly hinting that he's Odin. Same reason he's named Wednesday and one of his Covers is a talking raven.

Gerund
Sep 12, 2007

He push a man




Night10194 posted:

The lack of interest in that is the bigger problem, yes. It's something I notice in a lot of games, not just CoD: There's not much consideration of what victory would look like or what people could be working towards.

The God Machine suffers in the same way that most RPG setting antagonist suffers: there is no writing out of the arcs and themes of what a campaign should look like by publishers. Those books only sell to a fraction of the consumer base and risk being prescriptive enough to be metaplot.

e: quote for new page

Gerund fucked around with this message at 19:01 on Oct 2, 2019

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder
2014-2018



Night Horrors: Enemy Action
Part 7: American Gothic


Timothy! Timothy, you get out here!

The Appalachian Trail is a popular one - millions use it each year, all the way up and down the Eastern seaboard. A few thousand each year walk the entire thing, sleeping in shelters or friendly homes when possible and camping out when not. It is a point of pride to bring as little as possible and still make the trip - people still tell stories of Grandma Gatewood, an old woman who walked the full 2000 mile trail with nothing but a small backpack and an extra pair of sneakers. That's dangerous, however. There's wildlife to be wary of - snakes, moose, mosquitos. Thunderstorms can appear out of nowhere, and sinkholes aren't rare near old mines. There's any number of problems that might strike the poorly prepared. The worst danger is getting lost, though. The trail is barely there in parts, and stepping off can mean being unable to find it again. Some people just disappear. Most, however, do not. The Appalachian Trail's important Infrastructure, a huge occult matrix designed to pacify the thing at the heart of the mountains. The labor and pain of the hikers keeps it working. Stigmatic cults exist in certain Trail towns to feed and care for hikers and giving useful advice (and cryptic advice, at times). And for the lost, Mountain Maggie exists.

The angel's cabin appears just over the next ridge when you're lost, desperate and exhausted. Maggie sits outside it on her rickety porch - early 40s, braided dirty blonde hair, freckles, stub nose and thick shoulders. She's sensibly dressed, always, but also always a bit outdated. Her chimney pours smoke, and she has a basket of wild vegetables. She never calls out to a hiker first - she must be addressed. She takes the trust the hikers have in her very seriously and takes great pains to be kind to them. She always responds in a comforting voice, offering food and a place to sit. If asked her name, 'Mountain Maggie' is all she's got. No others. If pressed, she just offers more food. She always offers food after a while, anyway. Few hikers turn her down, lost as they are. If they accept, they awaken a few miles from a Trail town, safe and intact but for a missing compass, lucky charm or waterskin. Maggie takes these as the price of hospitality.

Mountain Maggie is not an altruist. She's here to care for the Appalachian Trail Infrastructure, which serves two purposes. First, it gets hikers to places the Machine needs them to be. Second, the foot travel fuels the potent Concealment Infrastructure put in place to keep the dead thing in the heart of the mountains quiet. Maggie has been there since the thing was sealed in the mountain fault line, has seen the birth and erosion of the entire range. It's her job to care for that Infrastructure and ensure that the dead thing never comes out. To do that, she has to make sure travelers keep using the trail - and so she cares for them and makes sure they're safe to do so.

Maggie will watch hikers for hours, gathering data on their condition and intentions, before she appears to them. She sets herself up to meet their path, but never seeks anyone out that isn't lost and looking for her - which she defines as 'looking for help in the mountains,' as well as 'anyone looking for the dead thing.' That latter is, after all, also something she has to deal with. She appears to be a stereotypical mountain woman, solid and tough. She wears hardy clothes, denim or cotton, and well-worn leather boots. Her skin is slightly dark, her sleeves rolled up, and her voice shifts to be whatever the listener finds most soothing. The freckles on her arms move slowly - they are actually representations of all the hikers on the Trail, using her body as the map. In her angelic form, she is a giant black bear made out of anthracite coal and sandstone. She is more than willing to attack anyone that seeks to awaken the dead thing or anyone that mines too near its seal. In this form, her voice is the roar of wildfire, and she accepts no bargain, no threat and no surrender except one: agree to cease all offending behavior and leave, immediately.

Maggie always knows if someone is actively seeking her out. It's her job. She almost always appears to them, and a few people do actively seek her out each year. Even if they intend to harm her, she meets with them. If asked a favor within her power, she typically complies, but only in exchange for something meaningful to the asker. If she is refused three times, she disappears. You must leave the mountain range and return to be able to find her again. She doesn't appreciate those who breach her hospitality. The locals of the Trail towns refuse to believe she exists at all. They've heard the stories of her kindness, her amazing food - but she's not real. Maybe a mountain woman out there helps people, but not the same one each time. Ha'ints don't help people, after all. And if she's real, she never comes to town for supplies or work. The Stigmatics know otherwise, but often actively deny her existence. Others try to assist her, spreading her legend with cheap kitsch and telling people how to find her. Often their families have been doing so for generations, and their shops even become part of the Appalachian Infrastructure.

Coal miners used to tell stories about Maggie, when there were more of them. The few left still talk about her. She appears as a huge bear, smashes up mining equipment and terrorizes mines, they say, until they're no longer usable. It is random, and there's no way to predict when she'll strike. That part's not true. Maggie's attacks may seem random, but there's a pattern. She knows that the dead thing has ways of calling out to people, that it wants to be found. It has powers of its own. She has decided the only way to prevent its grave-prison from opening is to destroy and scatter its servant-thralls, and their presence is what draws her wrath if you're not too close to the seal already. So far, her methods have worked, so she sees no reason to change.

Maggie is a Rank 3 angel, but an extremely strong and tough one. She has Influences of Appalachian Trail 2 and Thing Under the Mountains 1. She's strong-willed as hell and can soak a lot of damage up, plus she radiates calm, can disguise herself as human easily, can track anything she wants, and can fire blasts. She can also enter the Underworld if she feels like. Her Ban, however, is that she can't leave the Appalachians. Her Bane is being rebuked by her true name, Nazzara.


Hi, Alita.

The God-Machine's plans do not all succeed. And even when they do succeed, they're sometimes super messy. Inconvenient deaths, talkative witnesses, a mass of inconvenient cryptids...they have to be dealt with. That's what Ms. Morgue is for. When something needs to be...cleaned, she awakens in the back of her van, surrounded by tools and chemicals. She puts on her clean suit and heads to the scene. When she is done, the problem is gone. She can render a scene utterly sterile, no matter how bad it got. She dismembers bodies and dissolves them in her van's barrels. She makes witnesses recant or forget. Victims get healed and memory-wiped if possible, or if they're not cooperative, killed and dissolved. She even destroys records, paper or electronic. Charges are unfiled, calls unmade. When she is done, she drives her van back into an alley, removes the suit and lies down amidst the guns, bonesaws and chemical vats and returns to stasis, satisfied at another job well done. Ms. Morgue very much enjoys her work.

Ms. Morgue takes on a new cover identity each time, and it's always something entirely disposable. She can pull out whatever ID and accessories she needs from her van to get access to a scene, since tha van supplies it with the God-Machine's power. Any uniform she needs, she has. She knows the top 40 hits, she puts on any casual mannerism she needs to fit in, and she knows the name and personal details of any human she meets. She always wakes with exactly the information required to get in, clean the site and get out unnoticed. In her true form, she is roughly humanoid and vaguely resembles whatever identity she's wearing. She glows, buzzing like a flourescent bulb, and floats just over the ground. She wears a white robe with circuit patterning, and her open chest cavity holds a moving gear assemblage. Her feet are copper and discharge electricty when she speaks. Her eyes are filled with static, and have neither iris nor pupil. Two fist-sized silver spheres float behind her, each with a pair of owl wings.

Ms. Morgue's van is Infrastructure. It provides her all the tools and gear she needs for her assignment. The doors have no locks, and there is no motor in the engine compartment. The windshield is always clear, regardless of weather or mud. The gas tank is permanently stuck at three-quarters full, and is the Linchpin of the whole assembly. If the gas were ever siphoned out or burned off, the whole vehicle implodes and Ms. Morgue is left unable to return to the Machine. When traveling to a site, she is all business. She does nothing unnecessary - no speech, no movement not needed, no blinking. When she talks to humans, she's easygoing, confident and slightly witty. When cleaning, she talks to her victims, even if they're dead. She explains, always in a cheery, caring tone, what she is going to do to them. She explains exactly what her procedure will be. She wants everyone involved to know how good she is at her job and how much care she puts in, even if they're going to die or already did.

Ms. Morgue finds her Ban extremely frustrating. She wants everyone to know how good she is at her job, how much she loves the God-Machine and how happy she is to work on her missions. She has therefore devised a workaround. She knows all the details of her cleanup sites, including the identity of any criminals involved. If she finds someone who is not involved in the mission, she tells the people she's allowed to talk to everything she possibly can. Even if it throws her off-schedule, she will sit down and talk to a corpse, explaining to it who killed it and why. Often, this leads to whatever demon, angel or other being intruded on her scene to go out and investigate, causing more trouble for the Machine which then needs to be cleaned up. More cleanup scenes mean more missions mean more work for Ms. Morgue. She also feels a sense of maternal caring towards the living and dead people she cares for. She's either hugely altering their lives or serving as their final caretaker, after all. It's a huge responsibility. Her job is not to tell them her desires or goals, so she instead tells them the reason she's here and why she was sent. That's enough. It makes her feel like she's being nice.

Demons are rarely Ms. Morgue's targets, but she's super curious about them. Whenever she has free time, which is rarely, she investigates local demons and their Agencies if she's aware of any. She feels justified in doing so, as many of her cleanup sites are due to their actions. She likes to take notes on them in the margins of her fake paperwork. It's best to know as much as possible about them in case she ever has to kill one, right? Sadly, her notes never actually carry over to her next mission - the van gets rid of all the old, used materials. She can't answer the questions of the demons she runs into at her sites, so she tends to find them frustrating, because they tend to ask plenty. She wants to thank them, tell them to go kill more people or blow more stuff up so she has more work to do. She wants to yell at them and ask how they could possibly give up the perfect boss and the perfect job. She wants to hug and comfort them and she wants to kill them, because those are what she's good at and likes doing, and they should enjoy it too! Everyone should enjoy being killed at the command of the God-Machine, right?

Ms. Morgue never worries about random mortal witnesses to her work. The God-Machine gives her everything she needs, including routes that avoid witnesses. However, demons know the Machine is imperfect. Ms. Morgue has a growing group of obsessive fans online. They call her La Llorona, after the Mexican stories of weeping women in white, and trade pictures of her in action on the darkweb. Some have even become Stigmatic thanks to what they see in those pictures. There's another guy who seems to know about her, too - a homeless drunkard named Luscious Louis. He sings jingles when he's drunk, and can't remember doing so when sober. He only ever seems to sing the jingle about Ms. Morgue when she's active - but he's not Stigmatic. It is unclear how he knows. The jingle includes a phone number. A very similar phone number reaches an answering machine for "Ms. Morgue's Cleaning Service." Rumor has it that back in the 90s, an Agency managed to suborn some Infrastructure and could call Ms. Morgue to clean whatever they wanted her to clean. The Agency vanished in the mid-90s, though. It is unclear if the rumors are true or if the God-Machine caught them in a trap or something similar.

Once, some kids siphoned off part of Ms. Morgue's gas tank. Not all of it - the van survived the encounter - but what they got lasted ten thousand miles. Oh, and everyone in the car had to go to the hospital for radiation exposure. Whatever is in that gas tank, it's not gas. Ms. Morgue does not seem to have any idea about this, or indeed any care about how the van works. There's one other way to summon her, too. Write all the details about a crime on a piece of paper. Take it to a certain storm drain and drop it in. She will always show up to clean that scene, without fail. On the other hand, the God-Machine knows everything you just wrote down now. This can be very useful to demons that need to deal with mundane investigators...but is the risk worth it? It's not clear how much detail is required, or what's in the storm drain.

Ms. Morgue is a rank 2 angel. She's extremely fast and good at fine details, but she's only strong enough to do her job - which mostly means killing unaware witnesses or wounded people, combat-wise. She has Influence (Crime Scenes) 2. She can start fires, hide things, make people feel empty bliss to distract them or remove memories, and can hide as a human being easily. Her Ban is that she is unable to communicate with anyone not directly part of her current mission, and she may not talk about anything unrelated to her mission. Her Bane is an intact copy of any document she has already destroyed.

Next time: The Basilisk, the Gardener

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!


JcDent posted:

God-Machine keeps the Mercers going, Musk popular and Zucherberg rich (and plausibly humanesque). That's why you want to gently caress it up.

See part of the problem I have with this approach to Modern Occult stuff is that it requires rewriting human nature. Because by this reading, a lot of what we consider to be ills that are simply the consequence of normal human behavior and idiocy, are suddenly the works of an extra-human conspiracy or force. This means that, in theory, WoD humanity is considerably nicer and more sensible than real world humanity, because the world would be less lovely if they were just left to do things on their own, apparently. Giving the responsibility for real-world ills to supernaturals or their conspiracies just... doesn't work.

Josef bugman
Nov 17, 2011

I AM A DEEPLY DECENT PERSON, WITH THE LOVE OF HUMANITY IN MY HEART


PurpleXVI posted:

See part of the problem I have with this approach to Modern Occult stuff is that it requires rewriting human nature. Because by this reading, a lot of what we consider to be ills that are simply the consequence of normal human behavior and idiocy, are suddenly the works of an extra-human conspiracy or force. This means that, in theory, WoD humanity is considerably nicer and more sensible than real world humanity, because the world would be less lovely if they were just left to do things on their own, apparently. Giving the responsibility for real-world ills to supernaturals or their conspiracies just... doesn't work.

Whyever not? There probably isn't a unified "human nature" response to stuff, merely cultural things that set us up to behave in certain ways. Of course this is speaking in the "big scale" view as opposed to "individual people can be shits" view, but humanity as a whole can be kinder and better, it's simply that the current butt load of systems that we have actually disincentivise not being a poo poo.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

I really, really like Mountain Maggie and Ms. Morgue. Something horrible sleeping under the Appalachians, with a big 'ol legend to go with? The God Machine's very own cleaner, who can be summoned with an adorable little urban legend ritual? Yes, please.

Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements





PurpleXVI posted:

See part of the problem I have with this approach to Modern Occult stuff is that it requires rewriting human nature. Because by this reading, a lot of what we consider to be ills that are simply the consequence of normal human behavior and idiocy, are suddenly the works of an extra-human conspiracy or force. This means that, in theory, WoD humanity is considerably nicer and more sensible than real world humanity, because the world would be less lovely if they were just left to do things on their own, apparently. Giving the responsibility for real-world ills to supernaturals or their conspiracies just... doesn't work.

In the case of the GM and the Exarchs, it's more that they reinforce human failings. They're the social and economic systems that reinforce our bad behavior, metaphorized into literal engines and esoteric gods. Why is it so hard to change things for the better? Well, partly people, and partly the secret gods. This is also necessary as a counterbalance to the magic powers the players have, because otherwise you'd be secretly saying something really grim that 'our world but some people have magic powers' leads to 'exactly the same as our world, people would never try to improve things.'

It's just how allegory works, and it works well for telling a story about using monster powers or magic to punch the system. It's cathartic.

e: Josef bugman's not wrong

Joe Slowboat fucked around with this message at 20:06 on Oct 2, 2019

Freaking Crumbum
Apr 17, 2003

Too fuck to drunk




i think the issue is more obvious with demon because the entire reason your character exists is because the GM exists and made you for some specific task until you jumped the rails. but demons can't really do any of their schticks without constantly interacting with the GM, one of the possible core motivations for demon characters is "find a way to reintegrate myself with the GM" etc. and it's like this extremely central component of the setting, but the most the books seem to give in terms of direction is "it can't even acknowledge that individual beings exist, it doesn't have feelings or emotions that drive it, nobody even knows why it's there or what it intends to do, it's existed for millions of years and as far as anyone can tell you can't meaningfully interrupt its plans or purpose, even though we also aren't going to come up with a plan or purpose for it"

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Night10194 posted:

The lack of interest in that is the bigger problem, yes. It's something I notice in a lot of games, not just CoD: There's not much consideration of what victory would look like or what people could be working towards.
A lot of nWoD games don't seem to be much for "succeeding," although it is certainly notable that they have moved away from oWoD, even if Vampire in both cases is still kind of "uh, survive, eat people i guess. become the new ruling body"

PurpleXVI posted:

See part of the problem I have with this approach to Modern Occult stuff is that it requires rewriting human nature. Because by this reading, a lot of what we consider to be ills that are simply the consequence of normal human behavior and idiocy, are suddenly the works of an extra-human conspiracy or force. This means that, in theory, WoD humanity is considerably nicer and more sensible than real world humanity, because the world would be less lovely if they were just left to do things on their own, apparently. Giving the responsibility for real-world ills to supernaturals or their conspiracies just... doesn't work.
Why not?

Like, it's completely fair if you want to say "I don't enjoy it," but why not? Why can't the fantasy world have humans who are basically dorks, and would still be dorks if the frankenstein computer gods were removed... but who would not be having their natural tendencies and flawed towards making blood slurries to fuel the engines of oppression?

"Humanity is intrinsically wicked" is not an objective fact, it is an aesthetic and moral interpretation of observed events. (And, even as an optimist, I will say that it sure as hell isn't a position without a lot of basis.)

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder
2014-2018



Bieeanshee posted:

I really, really like Mountain Maggie and Ms. Morgue. Something horrible sleeping under the Appalachians, with a big 'ol legend to go with? The God Machine's very own cleaner, who can be summoned with an adorable little urban legend ritual? Yes, please.

I think my favorite thing about Ms. Morgue is her extreme frustration with the limitations of her own nature. She loves her job! She wants to tell you about it! But she is physically unable to do so, so she cheats by basically handing out entire plot rundowns to a nearby corpse where you can happen to overhear, and then stands there looking pleased with herself.

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!


Joe Slowboat posted:

In the case of the GM and the Exarchs, it's more that they reinforce human failings. They're the social and economic systems that reinforce our bad behavior, metaphorized into literal engines and esoteric gods. Why is it so hard to change things for the better? Well, partly people, and partly the secret gods. This is also necessary as a counterbalance to the magic powers the players have, because otherwise you'd be secretly saying something really grim that 'our world but some people have magic powers' leads to 'exactly the same as our world, people would never try to improve things.'

It's just how allegory works, and it works well for telling a story about using monster powers or magic to punch the system. It's cathartic.

But the fact that humanity needed outside interference to set up those systems rather than setting them up for themselves, as part of their own failings... you can't claim this doesn't distinctly change the character of humanity. Because if it doesn't, we'll arrange the exact same structures with the God Machine gone, and the whole battle is somewhat pointless. Humanity isn't necessarily intrinsically wicked or bad or evil, but definitely capable of some horrendously lovely things, which I think is kind of part of what makes it exceptional and wonderful when humans don't do those things, and stand up, and say "gently caress you" to evil things, because being a selfish rear end in a top hat is often an easier path to start down.

I just don't like the idea of trying to shuffle perfectly human fuckups off on to supernatural agencies rather than owning up to them. I think it's fine to have a game where supernatural abilities can in part be used to cause wide-ranging real-world change, but frankly I kind of prefer the games like oVamp for that very reason, because generally the supernaturals have their own slapfights and aren't particularly engaged with mortal society except to get more money or avoid getting hunted down by FBI agents with stakes. And in general it's indicated that human history would likely have turned out very much the same with or without vampires around(at least from how I remember reading the books).

Like changing the nature of a society being boiled down to rolling a single magical power might be cathartic but... it just doesn't sit well with me. Call it infantilizing or simplifying a genuinely complex issue that deserves a more mature and considered treatment if you want, it's the best kind of words I can put to it.

Part of it's also the kind of oMage-esque issue where all the ills of modern society are conflated with all the goods of modern society. Where the same agency that gives us microwave ovens, vaccines and public education is also inextricably interwoven with the forces that give us all of the corporate and governmental excesses you can think of. Like it feels like there's some weird-rear end noble savage/anarcho primitivist/"banality is the TRUE evil!" poo poo in there that I just loving hate.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

"Okay. We go in, kill her, and--"

"She's monologuing at that corpse."

"...are we getting this on tape?"

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder
2014-2018



It should be noted: the World of Darkness is not our world. It's way weirder. It's full of random mystery cults with magic powers. It's full of ritual murders. It's full of hotels where a dude with a fly's head can order pizza. Blue Book nWoD, the one where you play rando mortals who aren't even Hunters, posits a world in which every human being has run into the supernatural and forgotten or suppressed the event at least once. Like, it's core to defining the sort of things that cause a person to have to check for Integrity breaking points - one of the questions you ask to establish those boundaries is 'what supernatural thing have you forgotten?'

The God-Machine is doing magic to make more magic to make more magic, and while it enforces the status quo, that may well just be a holding pattern until it trips whatever trigger to move onto the next phase of its program. Which need not resemble anything we know. And, for that matter, the status quo of nWoD includes stuff like 'and this graveyard is tended by a small robotic man who kidnaps ghosts of the dead buried there and stuffs them into a furnace, and if the furnace breaks down, people stop dreaming of blood spirals and serial killers stop being generated by those dreams.'

e: like, the running thing through the line is that monsters think they're hidden, and they're really only hidden on sufferance. Humans pretend they don't exist because it's way easier if you do that than if you recognize that this city has a vampire problem, as long as they aren't targeting you. But then, like, a band of hunters show up, and suddenly the old lady opens her door as the local hunters walk by, tosses them a handgun and then goes back to pretending monsters aren't real and didn't nearly kill her when she was a kid, because they're going to go make monsters not real for her.

Mors Rattus fucked around with this message at 20:30 on Oct 2, 2019

Gerund
Sep 12, 2007

He push a man




But Purple, you're suggesting a universal Humanity as being 'good' or 'evil' versus a mix of different cultural norms wherein one can become dominant over others because of material circumstances.

God Machine is a metaphor for the underlying culture of Capitalism.

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!


Gerund posted:

But Purple, you're suggesting a universal Humanity as being 'good' or 'evil' versus a mix of different cultural norms wherein one can become dominant over others because of material circumstances.

God Machine is a metaphor for the underlying culture of Capitalism.

I am positing a humanity that is universally capable of being both assholes and not assholes. I'm not sure what's so staggering about that.

Josef bugman
Nov 17, 2011

I AM A DEEPLY DECENT PERSON, WITH THE LOVE OF HUMANITY IN MY HEART


PurpleXVI posted:

I just don't like the idea of trying to shuffle perfectly human fuckups off on to supernatural agencies rather than owning up to them. I think it's fine to have a game where supernatural abilities can in part be used to cause wide-ranging real-world change, but frankly I kind of prefer the games like oVamp for that very reason, because generally the supernaturals have their own slapfights and aren't particularly engaged with mortal society except to get more money or avoid getting hunted down by FBI agents with stakes. And in general it's indicated that human history would likely have turned out very much the same with or without vampires around(at least from how I remember reading the books).

Like changing the nature of a society being boiled down to rolling a single magical power might be cathartic but... it just doesn't sit well with me. Call it infantilizing or simplifying a genuinely complex issue that deserves a more mature and considered treatment if you want, it's the best kind of words I can put to it.

Part of it's also the kind of oMage-esque issue where all the ills of modern society are conflated with all the goods of modern society. Where the same agency that gives us microwave ovens, vaccines and public education is also inextricably interwoven with the forces that give us all of the corporate and governmental excesses you can think of. Like it feels like there's some weird-rear end noble savage/anarcho primitivist/"banality is the TRUE evil!" poo poo in there that I just loving hate.

Then you probably won't like any occult set up that has "real world" parallels in that case. Also, holy poo poo is that some whitewashing of oVamp which had multiple instances of vampires in shady rooms running vast corporate decisions and various vampires being important historical figures (c.f. All of Nazi Germany).

It's not a "single magical power" though is it, in demon at least everyone is trying to work out which bits and pieces of the God Machine are bits that do the thinking, create and control various different bits of Occult weirdness etc. Why is it too much to imagine people wanting to fight that system using the tools they have available to them? At no point is the God Machine ever said to have created or built up humanity in certain respects, in a lot of ways it doesn't actually give that much of a drat about humanity, it's a machine that uses what components it has to grow itself even larger and if that helps people great, if that kills people "oh well".

It's a living embodiment of late stage Capitalism.

Freaking Crumbum posted:

"it can't even acknowledge that individual beings exist, it doesn't have feelings or emotions that drive it, nobody even knows why it's there or what it intends to do, it's existed for millions of years and as far as anyone can tell you can't meaningfully interrupt its plans or purpose, even though we also aren't going to come up with a plan or purpose for it"

Again, thus making it a rather good metaphor for Capitalism. Without the "millions of years" part.

Josef bugman fucked around with this message at 20:34 on Oct 2, 2019

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





PurpleXVI posted:

But the fact that humanity needed outside interference to set up those systems rather than setting them up for themselves, as part of their own failings... you can't claim this doesn't distinctly change the character of humanity. Because if it doesn't, we'll arrange the exact same structures with the God Machine gone, and the whole battle is somewhat pointless. Humanity isn't necessarily intrinsically wicked or bad or evil, but definitely capable of some horrendously lovely things, which I think is kind of part of what makes it exceptional and wonderful when humans don't do those things, and stand up, and say "gently caress you" to evil things, because being a selfish rear end in a top hat is often an easier path to start down.
I don't know all the fine details of these games but I was re-reading Werewolf 20th which I imagine is contemporary with a lot of this.

In WW20, if you wolf out and take down one of the Wyrm commanders, you don't remove the problem they represent, but you do de-escalate that problem a lot. For instance if you took down the Paranoia one, people would still be paranoids, but there would be fewer, and paranoid thinking would fade as a major motivator for human society. I presume that if you did not fundamentally reorder reality to the point where you are just playing a totally different ball game, something similar would happen if you torpedoed an Exarch.

For the God-Machine though it's more about "this would mean that nobody's sacrificing abused cheerleaders to the oil pit in the woods any more." Which even if it does not objectively change the nature of humanity, improves society somewhat

PurpleXVI posted:

I am positing a humanity that is universally capable of being both assholes and not assholes. I'm not sure what's so staggering about that.
Fair enough, I at least read the original thing more as "humanity is not really capable of not being assholes," probably due to being marinated in grotesque internet cynicism 24/7

Josef bugman
Nov 17, 2011

I AM A DEEPLY DECENT PERSON, WITH THE LOVE OF HUMANITY IN MY HEART


PurpleXVI posted:

I am positing a humanity that is universally capable of being both assholes and not assholes. I'm not sure what's so staggering about that.

Because, for the most part, that first bit you said

PurpleXVI posted:

rewriting human nature. Because by this reading, a lot of what we consider to be ills that are simply the consequence of normal human behavior

Which usually translates into "Humans are inherently [X]" which I disagree with, there is no "one" human nature, there are cultural ideals and they are multifaceted and subject to change due to exterior systems. Sure we might build up crappy things too, but in the WoD we built crappy things partially due to GM and other entities making it easier for that to succeed.

Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements





Exarchs going down means the things they represent still exist, the game's just not rigged in their favor. It's much more 'fixing what historical contingency broke' than 'changing the basic nature of humanity.'

Plus the most commonly attested origin of the Exarchs is 'some human mages broke into Heaven and redecorated the place in iron chains' - so all the tendencies they represent, all the forms of rule, humans probably invented first. Then certain humans took over the world and made those things the most potent organizing structures for human civilization.

So, y'know. Patriarchy, capitalism, the divine right of kings, surveillance states, etc etc... basically how they arose in human history, but with a magical gloss.

Tuxedo Catfish
Mar 17, 2007

You've got guts! Come to my village, I'll buy you lunch.


Mors Rattus posted:

e: like, the running thing through the line is that monsters think they're hidden, and they're really only hidden on sufferance. Humans pretend they don't exist because it's way easier if you do that than if you recognize that this city has a vampire problem, as long as they aren't targeting you. But then, like, a band of hunters show up, and suddenly the old lady opens her door as the local hunters walk by, tosses them a handgun and then goes back to pretending monsters aren't real and didn't nearly kill her when she was a kid, because they're going to go make monsters not real for her.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uxigS-AZUps

Tuxedo Catfish
Mar 17, 2007

You've got guts! Come to my village, I'll buy you lunch.


also I strongly favor the interpretation of Mage wherein the Exarchs were originally human, and still to some extent think like human beings instead of being 100% subsumed into the eternal mindless essence of oppression or whatever

because then they're just the current elite riding a (very large, supernaturally rienforced) cultural trend, rather than some kind of statement about what anything or anyone is inherently

e: it also sets the most optimistic stage for "if they could do it once, we could do it again"

Dave Brookshaw
Jun 27, 2012

No Regrets


The Exarchs don't create the human evils they represent - they represent them, because they're platonic symbols. If there were a lot fewer fascists, then the Unity - who is fascism - would be a lot less relevant. If the common assumption of the Exarchs' origins is to be believed, at some point in a now-retconned prehistory some rear end in a top hat Ascended and merged with the Supernal symbol of "those people are different from my people so I don't like them", creating the Unity.

The Pentacle's main game plan for opposing the Exarchs is to eliminate what they represent in human society. They argue about what that looks like, and how to go about it, but when they're winning against the Seers the Pentacle tries to gouge them in the ideology.

As a game setting element, the Exarchs are meant to be as Horde Prime is to Skeletor - the boss of the guy the bad guy reluctantly takes orders from when he can't get out of it (Hordak in this analogy is a Minister). They're the booming voice and shadowy outline offscreen who tells the villain what needs to be done and lets them figure out how by themselves. Actual direct confrontations with the Exarchs themselves are chronicle-finale climax affairs, because the Exarchs simply don't see individual mages as threats. Until they do, where their avatar-forms make for suitable boss monsters for Awakening characters that have been played for years and are on the far end of the nWoD's character advancement system curve.

A reactive nMage plot dealing with the Exarchs usually involves getting wind of something the Seers (or their many servitors, or one of the other Exarch-worshipping weirdos out there) are up to, and foiling their cunning scheme.
A proactive nMage plot dealing with them involves making regular humans' lives better, with the Seers trying to stop you if they get wind of it.

Depends who's playing defence this week, y'know?

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!


Nessus posted:

For the God-Machine though it's more about "this would mean that nobody's sacrificing abused cheerleaders to the oil pit in the woods any more." Which even if it does not objectively change the nature of humanity, improves society somewhat.

See that I'm pretty much fine with, though the implication seems to be, or at least what people are reading into the implication, is that every cheerleader tossed into the pit allows Wall Street another line of coke and another year of the union membership not being resurgent. I'd be more fine with the God Machine, rather than just maintaining a generic societal status quo, being more or less completely unconcerned with human society and what humans get up to(as long as it doesn't threaten Infrastructure) and instead being aimed at some sort of long-term metaphysical goal, and every single piece of Infrastructure in existence is aimed towards accomplishing that goal(the end state of which is probably hugely deleterious to both humans and their various supernatural offshoots).

Nessus posted:

Fair enough, I at least read the original thing more as "humanity is not really capable of not being assholes," probably due to being marinated in grotesque internet cynicism 24/7

And no, I believe humanity by and large is perfectly capable of not being assholes. But clearly we've got some learning to do along those lines, so we're less assholes. And boiling all that learning and growing up and changing our society into "punch an evil machine a lot" just grates on me.

I mean, yeah, you can have the God Machine represent end-stage capitalism, but... externalizing capitalism as just something we can punch and it'll go away is again just... it's a satisfying fiction, and I know we all need satisfying fiction, but this one is a bit too wish-fulfillment for me.

Like... okay...

Joe Slowboat posted:

So, y'know. Patriarchy, capitalism, the divine right of kings, surveillance states, etc etc... basically how they arose in human history, but with a magical gloss.

If patriarchal traditions are caused by evil magic, then I, as a person, do not need to engage in any personal growth or change to counter them.

Halloween Jack
Sep 11, 2003

Let your word be "Yes, Yes" or "No, No"; anything more than this comes from the evil one.

PurpleXVI posted:

See part of the problem I have with this approach to Modern Occult stuff is that it requires rewriting human nature. Because by this reading, a lot of what we consider to be ills that are simply the consequence of normal human behavior and idiocy, are suddenly the works of an extra-human conspiracy or force.

Nessus posted:

Like, it's completely fair if you want to say "I don't enjoy it," but why not?
Modern occult fantasy has at times been very bad about centering some hidden evil as the source of all human ills, to the point of echoing right-wing conspiracy theories. (And I think we're all in agreement that ascribing the Holocaust to vampires is just tasteless.)

At the same time, blaming social problems on "human nature" has become a monolithic cultural trend. "War...war never changes." If war is an outgrowth of human nature, it's a mystery we can forever contemplate but never resolve. It's a lame attempt to garner praise for discussing serious issues without the risk of taking a real position. That's why you see it in every Disney franchise movie.

But the God Machine doesn't really have this problem. We can't say for sure that any person or group of people built it. Most of it is emergent. It exists in a feedback loop with the people who support it (most unknowingly) without exactly controlling or being controlled. It causes chaos in some places while preventing it in others, so there are consequences to loving around with it. It isn't really a person, but we can talk about its goals, and yet those goals appear irrational beyond expanding itself and its sphere of influence. It's late capitalism, in other words. I'm satisfied that it doesn't invalidate the agency of the masses like saying that all world-historical events were masterminded by vampires, or a wizard cabal, or a hell dragon ghost.

Josef bugman posted:

Then you probably won't like any occult set up that has "real world" parallels in that case. Also, holy poo poo is that some whitewashing of oVamp which had multiple instances of vampires in shady rooms running vast corporate decisions and various vampires being important historical figures (c.f. All of Nazi Germany).
Not true. I believe there was an editorial stance against ascribing major historical turns to supernaturals, and against saying "Vampires did the Holocaust" specifically.

They only broke that rule like two or three times! And anyway Himmler didn't get Embraced until after the war

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

FATAL & Friends
Walls of Text
#1 Builder
2014-2018



Generally speaking, the God-Machine functions more as a metaphor rather than literally being capitalism. On the level of the characters in game...yeah, it is mostly just grabbing what seems useful to it in human societyís as tools and ignoring it when it is not useful. There is not a direct relation. Itís just, people like talking about the metaphor.

But it isnít an Exarch - it isnít the metaphor made literal or the symbol made real. Itís just written with the idea of negative, apparently mindless and autonomous systems as an inspiration.

Joe Slowboat
Nov 9, 2016

Higgledy-Piggledy Whale Statements





PurpleXVI posted:

If patriarchal traditions are caused by evil magic, then I, as a person, do not need to engage in any personal growth or change to counter them.

It's that 'Patriarchy,' the cultural force, grabbed hold of one of the cosmic positions from which tyranny can rain down, because humans went 'let's use this on other people!' It is precisely that humanity as a whole needs to recognize that even without humans choosing to serve patriarchy, it continues to exist in the absence of that intention (not to mention there IS that intention from plenty of people, which are represented in the magical arena by the Seers).

The Father, Exarch of Patriarchical Religion, is just the platonic symbol of what's going on on Earth. You could play the game as if the solution to that is to run up and cast Power Word: Liberation on him until he goes down, but that's not what the game expects you to do. It just says that there's a mystical representation of the power of Patriarchy, which itself seeks to reinforce its own position, which is fundamentally identical to the cultural and historical influence of patriarchy except that we've written in 'also there's wizards involved, and magic is the process of power, because this is a game about wizards.'

And if you want to fight patriarchy by running around using magic to oppose it, the Exarchs are going to send goons after you. Which makes for a better game than 'and then we used magic to fix things, the end.'

e: Also part of the point is, Patriarchy is bigger than you. You can hang out on your own being non-patriarchal, helping your community, being a decent person. And that's like chipping at the toenail of a giant. Change that doesn't shake the throne isn't going to cut it, and the Exarchs embody the cultural/historical system of power (metaphorically) that reinforces oppression. Mage is about playing someone with the analytical framework (wizard eyes) to see the systems of power that underly society, and how those systems are arranged around certain bad things, and then choose to either serve the powers that be or fight them. Or, and this is a major option in Mage, just focus on your own personal growth and development to become a better wizard, wiser and kinder to those around you... which will do nothing to change the world unless you also go out and get organized.

Joe Slowboat fucked around with this message at 21:25 on Oct 2, 2019

Big Mad Drongo
Nov 10, 2006







Halloween Jack posted:

Modern occult fantasy has at times been very bad about centering some hidden evil as the source of all human ills, to the point of echoing right-wing conspiracy theories. (And I think we're all in agreement that ascribing the Holocaust to vampires is just tasteless.)

At the same time, blaming social problems on "human nature" has become a monolithic cultural trend. "War...war never changes." If war is an outgrowth of human nature, it's a mystery we can forever contemplate but never resolve. It's a lame attempt to garner praise for discussing serious issues without the risk of taking a real position. That's why you see it in every Disney franchise movie.

But the God Machine doesn't really have this problem. We can't say for sure that any person or group of people built it. Most of it is emergent. It exists in a feedback loop with the people who support it (most unknowingly) without exactly controlling or being controlled. It causes chaos in some places while preventing it in others, so there are consequences to loving around with it. It isn't really a person, but we can talk about its goals, and yet those goals appear irrational beyond expanding itself and its sphere of influence. It's late capitalism, in other words. I'm satisfied that it doesn't invalidate the agency of the masses like saying that all world-historical events were masterminded by vampires, or a wizard cabal, or a hell dragon ghost.

Not true. I believe there was an editorial stance against ascribing major historical turns to supernaturals, and against saying "Vampires did the Holocaust" specifically.

They only broke that rule like two or three times! And anyway Himmler didn't get Embraced until after the war

FATAL & Friends 2020: anyway Himmler didn't get Embraced until after the war

Mr. Prokosch
Feb 14, 2012

Behold My Magnificence!


Is the God Machine supposed to be literally everywhere? Like if I head down to Maleolap or Yap and my only contact with the outside world is a monthly Copra boat does the GM have a tentacle eye in my coconut tree?

Tuxedo Catfish
Mar 17, 2007

You've got guts! Come to my village, I'll buy you lunch.


Mr. Prokosch posted:

Is the God Machine supposed to be literally everywhere? Like if I head down to Maleolap or Yap and my only contact with the outside world is a monthly Copra boat does the GM have a tentacle eye in my coconut tree?

It's extremely widespread, but there are places where (due to Demonic activity or just because of something about the place itself) it has less or no real presence. It doesn't require modern technology or urban sprawl to function, but there's some evidence that the God-Machine has gently shaped our technological development to go in ways that help it or are more compatible with its functioning.

I Am Just a Box
Jul 20, 2011
I belong here. I contain only inanimate objects. Nothing is amiss.



Mr. Prokosch posted:

Is the God Machine supposed to be literally everywhere? Like if I head down to Maleolap or Yap and my only contact with the outside world is a monthly Copra boat does the GM have a tentacle eye in my coconut tree?

It could be anywhere, but that doesn't mean it is everywhere. It would not be unusual for you to dig a deep hole on one of Maleolap's uninhabited islands and find a little colony of artificially engineered ants whose job is to keep the top of a clockwork construction of underground gears reoiled to prevent a volcano from erupting or maintain stasis chambers for captured demons. It would also not be unusual to find a town in the south of France where the God-Machine isn't integrated into any local power structures and can't reestablish facilities there because demons moved in locally and keep thwarting its attempts to infiltrate.

Mors Rattus posted:

Demons are rarely Ms. Morgue's targets, but she's super curious about them. Whenever she has free time, which is rarely, she investigates local demons and their Agencies if she's aware of any. She feels justified in doing so, as many of her cleanup sites are due to their actions. She likes to take notes on them in the margins of her fake paperwork. It's best to know as much as possible about them in case she ever has to kill one, right? Sadly, her notes never actually carry over to her next mission - the van gets rid of all the old, used materials. She can't answer the questions of the demons she runs into at her sites, so she tends to find them frustrating, because they tend to ask plenty. She wants to thank them, tell them to go kill more people or blow more stuff up so she has more work to do. She wants to yell at them and ask how they could possibly give up the perfect boss and the perfect job. She wants to hug and comfort them and she wants to kill them, because those are what she's good at and likes doing, and they should enjoy it too! Everyone should enjoy being killed at the command of the God-Machine, right?

This is delightful. I love Ms. Morgue and I absolutely want to play a demon who runs into her. She doesn't really create a conflict to deal with as a PC, but she can certainly throw a curveball into it, keep the conflict moving, and perhaps act as a bit of a red herring.

I Am Just a Box fucked around with this message at 22:04 on Oct 2, 2019

OvermanXAN
Nov 14, 2014


I Am Just a Box posted:

This is delightful. I love Ms. Morgue and I absolutely want to play a demon who runs into her. She doesn't really create a conflict to deal with as a PC, but she can certainly throw a curveball into it, keep the conflict moving, and perhaps act as a bit of a red herring.

It also feels like it'd be a fun little side goal to try to make her Fall or be Exiled just so she can chat. Or just in general be sociable with her.

e: like, it feels like she's just kinda teetering on the edge of falling. She's clearly got enough personality to want to be more than what she currently is, but at the same time has such love of what she exists to do that without the right push she'll not quite make the right step.

OvermanXAN fucked around with this message at 23:00 on Oct 2, 2019

Dawgstar
Jul 15, 2017



OvermanXAN posted:

It also feels like it'd be a fun little side goal to try to make her Fall or be Exiled just so she can chat. Or just in general be sociable with her.

I wonder how hard it would be to give her that push. Here, you can be good at your job AND talk about it to people who would be impressed!

Just Dan Again
Dec 16, 2012

Adventure!


Dawgstar posted:

I wonder how hard it would be to give her that push. Here, you can be good at your job AND talk about it to people who would be impressed!

That would make for a good basis for a PC character as well- someone who really loved their job and was very good at it as an angel, but after losing their access to Influences and the God-Machine's information network they suddenly had to work much, much harder at it. The character could learn to love the difficulty of the work, or rage against the loss of their powers and go in a different direction entirely, or wish desperately for reintegration so that everything could go back the way it was.

...I have got to figure out a way to get some other folks in my gaming crew interested in this thing.

Rubix Squid
Apr 17, 2014


PurpleXVI posted:

Here's a good question, though, what can the players accomplish by "beating" the God Machine in an area if we assume they're not acting to counter a specific project and just decide to be "pro-active"? Like what is the nature of a section of the Earth without the God Machine's interference?

All of that is going to depend on what the ST wants to do with the God-Machine in the long run, which is something that anyone running demon should totally figure out. This doesn't mean it has to be some cosmic or even global tier grand plan but when setting up the game that is absolutely something that should be kept in mind; even if beating the God-Machine locally isn't in the cards. It also depends on the tone you're aiming for and how extensive it's presence within the setting is. It's a toolbox so coming up with a web of conspiracies is mandatory and as far as I'm concerned, a good third of the fun for running Demon.

U.T. Raptor
May 11, 2010

Are you a pack of imbeciles!?



Mors Rattus posted:


helo, it me, normal bird
Well, I know who the author's favorite Animorphs character was...

JcDent
May 13, 2013

Give me a rifle, one round, and point me at Berlin!


The GM doesn't have to be behind every human vice; it's just adaptable (for an overgrown Pentium I) and when it sees a good (read: bad) thing going, it latches onto it. Like how it created the assless wonder to influence TV, as TV is a great way to influence people/do infrastructure.

On an unrelated matter, I find the bolded part hilarious:

Ms. Morgue posted:

In her true form, she is roughly humanoid and vaguely resembles whatever identity she's wearing. She glows, buzzing like a flourescent bulb, and floats just over the ground. She wears a white robe with circuit patterning, and her open chest cavity holds a moving gear assemblage. Her feet are copper and discharge electricty when she speaks. Her eyes are filled with static, and have neither iris nor pupil. Two fist-sized silver spheres float behind her, each with a pair of owl wings.

You know why? Because Ms. Morgue, who looks hella human, is only "roughly humanoid" while some of the earlier fellows have been really stretching the definition:

quote:

In her demonic form, Ms. Thermal is about two stories tall, appearing as a dark, crystalline humanoid whose head and torso end in points. She has neither arms nor legs, and her shape is more bird than human. Arcs of electricity connect her body to at least three sets of wings, which merge and split with each other irregularly. One set, feathered, keeps her flying. Another, of bone, shields her core. A third, of brass, functions as manipulator appendages. A mass of clouded ephemera floats beneath her crystal body, like a semi-real shadow.

No legs, no arms, pointy head and torso, six pairs of wings... humanoid!

Ronwayne
Nov 20, 2007

That warm and fuzzy feeling.


Someone said it better up thread, but I think its how people irl are trained to be less empathetic and less cooperative than they naturally can be, the god-machine just uses spooky machine magic to do it instead of fox news meme magic.

Ronwayne fucked around with this message at 07:24 on Oct 3, 2019

A GODDAMN TYPO
Oct 22, 2008



U.T. Raptor posted:

Well, I know who the author's favorite Animorphs character was...

That's pretty much what I thought immediately, too.

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Zereth
Jul 8, 2003




Just Dan Again posted:

That would make for a good basis for a PC character as well- someone who really loved their job and was very good at it as an angel, but after losing their access to Influences and the God-Machine's information network they suddenly had to work much, much harder at it. The character could learn to love the difficulty of the work, or rage against the loss of their powers and go in a different direction entirely, or wish desperately for reintegration so that everything could go back the way it was.

...I have got to figure out a way to get some other folks in my gaming crew interested in this thing.

I wish my schedule accommodated meeting at a regular time, I kinda wanna play a Cleaner demon now.

"Y'know sometimes I miss when I just woke up with exactly what I needed in my van. gently caress it, let's start piling body parts into these bags, we're on the clock here. Uno, go get the jug marked 'Forumla Four' out of the van."

Ronwayne posted:

Someone said it better up thread, but I think its how people irl are trained to be less empathetic and less cooperative than they naturally can be, the god-machine just uses spooky machine magic to do it instead of fox news meme magic.
Pretty sure it also uses fox news meme magic.

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