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MadScientistWorking
Jun 23, 2010

"I was going through a time period where I was looking up weird stories involving necrophilia..."


Bieeardo posted:

In a lot of ways, EP is Shadowrun meets Call of Cthulhu.
Honestly I wish they weren't so heavy handed with it as it becomes kind of dumb when they basically wrote space cthulhu into the setting. Its weird too because you don't loose anything at all just dumping him by the wayside.

WhitemageofDOOM posted:

If you get amnesia are you still you?
It depends on the amnesia as some of the more severe cases of it tends actually point to the ability process and consume information being completely so out of whack that you no longer are the same person as before. Its why brain injuries freak me the hell out because of the freakishly weird stuff that can occur.

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Wapole Languray
Jul 4, 2012



MadScientistWorking posted:

Honestly I wish they weren't so heavy handed with it as it becomes kind of dumb when they basically wrote space cthulhu into the setting. Its weird too because you don't loose anything at all just dumping him by the wayside.

Okay, I have no idea what you mean. The ETI/Exsurgency thing could be played tons of different ways, because all that's known is that Exsurgency was made by something that isn't human or TITAN. Heck, you could argue the Fall was a side-effect of a war between Exsurgency infected TITANs and "clean" ones, with the "clean" winning, which is why they didn't just keep trying to wipe out humankind. The entire cause of the Fall and the nature of Exsurgency is totally up in the air, all we know is that the thing is totally alien and wants us extinct. Exsurgency is obviously a combination of the Thing from the John Carpenter version and the Snow Crash Ashura virus, and can work similar ways. If you want it played for horror, make it more a paranoia/zombie movie type vibe of distrust and panic than lovecraftian mind-shattering Shoggoths. Or you could just go Aliens and play it as a bughunt, EP is pretty flexible like that.

My point is that I can't think of anything like a "space Cthulhu" in the setting.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

I don't mind the ETI as a concept, personally. Unfathomably advanced intelligences aren't uncommon in the sub-genre that EP is built on, nor are ones that basically kick Humanity out of the nest as a side-effect of their plans. Eclipse Phase's execution, on the other hand... no. Though, to be honest, Eclipse Phase does everything heavy-handedly, from starter adventures where PCs get blown up in order to introduce backups and resleeving, to adventures with cannibal mutants that gently caress and gently caress and gently caress and gently caress and gently caress and gently caress and try to turn the PCs into more cannibal mutants, to the one-eyed giant penis shock jock in one of the sourcebooks. Subtlety is not a strong point.

The tone can be inconsistent as well. I love the Gatecrashing sourcebook, but some of the described locales like the Valley of Alien Chatroulette Clients, or the vast, engineered super-planet feel more like something from a space opera or hypertech milieu like the Culture novels. I get the feeling that they painted themselves into a corner with the horror angle.

Lemon-Lime
Aug 6, 2009


Bieeardo posted:

I get the feeling that they painted themselves into a corner with the horror angle.

They really didn't, though, because you can play EP just fine without ever having the exsurgent virus. There's enough going on between resleeving, forking, restoring from backup, memory editing, having your cyberbrain hacked, mindhacks, TITAN nanoplagues and possible alien artefacts without ever actually needing Dead Space necrophages or fuckzombies in the game.

Also, you forget that in the outer system, they have a hypertech society (minus AIs running the show), because replicators are available to all and the economy runs on rep, not credits.

Cardiovorax
Jun 5, 2011

I mean, if you're a successful actress and you go out of the house in a skirt and without underwear, knowing that paparazzi are just waiting for opportunities like this and that it has happened many times before, then there's really nobody you can blame for it but yourself.

I liked Eclipse Phase better before they came up with the whole alien crap. The TITANs are plenty scary enough, considering that they're basically machine gods who can do pretty much anything. The Exsurgent virus works well in that context and as their own creation, because going by the core book it's completely ambiguous what the motivations of the TITANs were and whether they're ultimately trying to help or harm humanity. All the ETI crap is extraneous and does nothing to really add to the mood of the setting.

MadScientistWorking
Jun 23, 2010

"I was going through a time period where I was looking up weird stories involving necrophilia..."


Lemon Curdistan posted:

They really didn't, though, because you can play EP just fine without ever having the exsurgent virus.
You either have to completely ban an entire chapter or have to drastically rewrite the setting because its a part of character creation. That isn't the definition of just fine by any stretch of the imagination and is more in the realm of drastic houserule.

Pussy Cartel
Jun 26, 2011





Lipstick Apathy

MadScientistWorking posted:

Honestly I wish they weren't so heavy handed with it as it becomes kind of dumb when they basically wrote space cthulhu into the setting. Its weird too because you don't loose anything at all just dumping him by the wayside.

The ETI doesn't really strike me as being particular Cthuluesque, because the idea of unfathomable and possibly hostile posthuman intelligences is pretty standard for transhumanist scifi. It's just one way of implementing the idea of the Great Filter as an explanation for the relative lack of intelligent species in the galaxy. The fact that the writers get heavy-handed with exsurgent threats in adventures doesn't make the idea of the ETI and its effect on seed AIs innately bad, you just need to find more subtle ways to incorporate exsurgent threats in your campaign if the sample viruses and all are too much for you.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Ars Magica 5th Edition: Houses of Hermes: Societates

The Donatores Requietis Aeternae, the Givers of Eternal Rest, are a young tradition of religious magi who exist to send the dead to their final rest. They are most commonly found in the Normandy and Stonehenge Tribunals, or the Tribunals adjacent to those. Their history begins with the 11th century, when many authors noted a disturbing trend of restless dead rising from their graves as ghosts or revenants, despite the fact that such rising was often unknown in past ages. The writers blamed some "cult of the dead," theorizing that perhaps they caused the dead to walk or even actively controlled them. They were unable to identify the cult, and it may not even exist, but they had all kinds of suspects - diabolists, magicians trying to see the future, laymen trying to learn what became of their dead relatives. Some believed it was a sign of impending Apocalypse.

In the early 12th century, many others noticed the problem and tried to protect their communities. Priests, hedge wizards and others who met the restless dead were often met with little success. They seemed unstoppable...until some of those who opposed them received saintly visitations, gaining knowledge of a powerful ritual to fight the dead. This ritual used Divine power to expel the creatures, and the tide began to turn. After several years of individual struggle, each of these people received a second visitation commanding them to travel to Normandy, where the dead were terrorizing a town, spreading disease and killing any who were out after sunset. The priests had fallen to an Infernal plot and were using the dead to drive the last honest people from the town. The men and women who would become the Donatores converged on the French town and destroyed the restless dead there, but not before several of them were killed. Most of them had never met before, but they swore together to prevent such a tragedy from ever happening again. They agreed to collaborate in fighting the dead, taking the name Donatores Requietis Aeternae.



While the Donatores were fighting, some of the Order was also investigating. Several magi had learned of the Normandy problem and moved to investigate the town. By the time they found the hedge wizards who would be the Donatores, the dead had been defeated. Muirgheal, a Quaesitor leading the investigation, invited the Gifted members of the Donatores to join the Order en masse. Most happily swore the Hermetic Oath and joined, but severally initially resisted due to their desire to remain part of the Church. Others refused because they believed the magi were part of the cult of the dead and the source of the ghosts and revenants. Muirgheal brought several of these resisters to her covenant, convincing them that the Order was not the problem and explaining its prohibitions on Infernalism and the punishment leveled against the corrupt leaders of House Tytalus so long ago.

After swearing the Oath, the Donatores accompanied Muirgheal to Tribunal to be introduced to the Order. This led to debate in which some magi suggested they should be Marched to prevent the Church from discovering the Order's secrets. Others argued that this hysterical fear was utterly unwarranted. The debate served as a proxy for how magi felt about the March of House Diedne without forcing them to comment on it directly. Ultimately, the Donatores were allowed to join the Order on the condition that House Guernicus closely monitor their relations with the Church.

The primary goal of the Donatores is to assist the dead to pass from this world. They often come into conflict with evil dead, ghosts in purgatory and those who were not buried under Divine protection, as well as those who died in unfortunate circumstances. They have learned that when people die with important tasks undone, especially when highly emotional or as the victims of violence, they are likely to return as spirits. In addition, the dead can return if they died in other unfortunate circumstances - dying in childbirth, suicide, stillbirth, and so on. The restless dead often seek something - vengeance, righting a wrong, participating in the family life denied them. Donatores investigate the causes of hauntings, and they are unlikely to simply destroy spirits with good cause. They consider that the equivalent of murder. However, where ghosts or the restless dead are killing wantonly and destroying, they are likely Infernal, and the Donatores are far less concerned with the ethics of their destruction. However, that is not always the case - some ghosts kill to right a wrong that they could not in life. Regardless of their source of power, however, the Donatores combat the destructive dead, and they are always careful to confirm the origin of the dead before interacting with them. Not all Infernal spirits are reckless destroyers, after all, and many pretend to be benign in order to corrupt the living into sin.

The Donatores are barely a century old, making it very young, and most of its members are either the founders of the Tradition or their filii. Those who are dead are still in memory. They aren't venerated, really, but some do make an effort to collect their work to preserve their memory for the future. Not all founders were Churchmen, but they and their filii often take apprentices with religious backgrounds. Most who encounter the restless dead call for priests, but most priests are unequipped to handle them. Some, though, develop a talent for communicating with the dead or have supernatural powers, and it is these the Donatores watch for and attempt to recruit. Their religious background is reflected by their dress - typically the brown or black robes of the lay orders or a monk's habit. Highwaymen and officials tend to ignore them that way.

The Donatores Requitis Aeternae are one of the largest "necromantic" groups in Ex Miscellanea. They're loosely organized by Order standards, but by House standards they cooperate closely, working together to deal with odd situations or powerful threats. They are led by the eldest of their tradition, who determines how Donatores allocate their resources in fighting the dead. They are a rather secretive tradition, and many were Churchmen who dabbled in necromancy before their visitations. The potential persecution of the Church or discovery by the theoretical cult of the dead led most Donatores, even before joining the Order, to guard their secrecy to the level of paranoia. However, they remain in contact with their unGifted brethren in the Church, often gaining valuable information that way.

In addition to the belief that the Donatores were little more than spies for the Church, the secrecy of their work and their necromantic techniques have made House Guernicus pay them even more attention. Because Donatores do not typically summon any kind of spirit and generally focus on making them go away, there has never been any evidence of diabolism among them. This has not stopped House Guernicus from monitoring them anyway. Much of the tradition believes this monitoring is maintained at request of House Tremere, who were initially against allowing the Donatores in. After all, as the Order's premier necromancers, they often want to control powerful spirits the Donatores would lay to rest or destroy.

The Donatores use their magic to communicate with spirits in order to tell if they must be destroyed or helped to rest, focusing on Mentem for incorporeal spirits or Corpus for the walking dead. Their great power is Banishing, the ability to force any creature with Might to avoid a location on pain of intense pain. Banishing requires calling on the assistance of the power that granted it (usually God) and a forceful command of all creatures of a specific realm to leave the area. It is highly tiring, and it does mean that everyone present will immediately know the source of your power. And yes, if you guess what kind of Might the target has wrong or don't declare it, the attempt fails, automatically. If you manage to pull it off, the difficulty is based on how far you want to banish them and whether you can break their magic resistance. The only way to target a specific creature is to use its True Name. The banished must flee as quickly as possible, and attempting to return is very painful. All Donatores also possess a magical focus either in spirits or animated dead. However, no Donatore can perform magic on consecrated land, perhaps from an extension of the inability to do magic on those buried there or perhaps out of respect for the sanctity of holy ground.



Donatores often study penetration in order to better overcome the resistance of the restless dead, and most tend to avoid using Banishing except on the obviously hostile, due to the pain and suffering it causes.

Next time: The Cult of Orpheus

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Ars Magica 5th Edition: Houses of Hermes: Societates

The Cult of Orpheus recalls the beloved poet Orpheus of Thrace, an augur who sailed with Jason. He was a musician and magicians, perhaps taught both arts by Hermes himself. The Cult is based primarily out of the Theban, Transylvanian and Roman Tribunals. Their lore speaks of Orpheus founding a society of wizard-priests of Hermes and Dionysus, though after his death, Dionysus fell from favor. They continued to worship Hermes and believed that Zeus' raising or Orpheus' lyre meant he had apotheosized, so they worshipped him, too. In their attempts to become closer to their hero-god, they developed a sort of magic that could connect the user to anyone with whom they had a strong and personal emotional tie, as Orpheus did with Eurydice. It is said that in those days, those who knew hin in life used their magic to commune with Orpheus himself. After the fall of the Cult of Mercury, the Orphic cult absorbed some of their members and rituals. Mecurian magic was more advanced than theirs, and after a time they adopted it fully. Any remaining musical focus was lost, and when they were found by the Order, their magic was inferior to Hermetic magic but easily adapted. Among themselves, Orphic magi prefer the greek 'magos' and 'magoi' to magus and magi.



The Cult of Orpheus is like a Mystery Cult, and its members are initiated into it. However, they tend to seek out potential magoi who already have the powers that define them. Some members believe their teaching methods are flawed and that it would be possible to learn their magic in a simpler way, without their virtues and flaws, but such a method is counter to Orphic philosophy and no one has ever attempted it. The Initiates swear oaths to the Cult, and are asked to perform tasks based on visions had in their initiation rituals. Often, they are required to avoid the opposite sex, scourge the flesh and eat no meat. No two Orphic magoi have the same taboos, however, and no follower of Orpheus is ever asked to break their taboos. However, all initiations require that the information of what was done be hidden from outsiders. The Orphics demand this and conceal their deep personal connections for fear of being accused of Code breaking by interfering with mundanes. It may be unfounded, but the Cult is a fringe group and is unwilling to take that risk. They also hide their beliefs in the legend of Orpheus and that he attempted to restore life to the dead. Many Christians, magus or otherwise, would consider that blasphemy and they would be tainted by association, let alone by rumors of making their own attempts into the Underworld.



Orphic cultists largely use Hermetic magic, but with a few of their own twists. All have the power of the Sanguine Humor's Blessing. Of the four humors, blood is said to govern passion and heat. The power of its blessing gives the Orphic a strong connection to those who support them, which they may draw on for skill in certain tasks. They receive a benefit to protect and support those dependent on them, to attack or defend against those who hate them, to impress or persuade those who love them, to deal with the natural world involving those animals that befriend them, to empathize with and understand close family or to understand the tutelage of a mentor. Indeed, these benefits can even apply when those people aren't involved, so potent is their passion. Further, they have Orphic Magic, giving them access to the Adelphixis Range, which may target anyone tied to the magos by true, passionate feeling. It is, in essence, a form of Arcane Connection purely based on emotion. However, the Orphics do have one flaw: if they have no strong emotional tie to someone at all times, they cannot use their magic at all until they regain such feelings. Orphics also often possess the power of enchanting music, hard-earned by study, to become closer to Orpheus.

The Pharmacopoeians trace their lineage back to Crateuas, the author of the first pharmacopoeia, illustrator of the first herbal and the original Root-Cutter. They rely heavily on the curative magic of plants, which makes them some of the best healers in the Order. They can be found anywhere. Crateuas is known well as the finest herbalist of antiquity, with an incredible knowledge of the inherent magic of natural things, which could be used to cure diseases. His herbal may be lost to the world, but his knowledge was passed down to his students. He was sought out by Mithridates VI, King of Pontus and enemy of Rome, who worried constantly about assassination and wanted Crateuas as an herbalist. Crateuas gladly accepted and did his best to protect the king, using the rarest and most expensive ingredients to make his concoctions...to the detriment of his other patients. The potions did, however, work even better than imagined. When Mithridates' army was finally conquered and the Romans surrounded him, he tried to take poison so he might die a king, but it only weakened him. He fell on his own sword, yet he did not die. He could not evade capture, and eventually, he did die, but the potions of Crateuas allowed him to survive weeks of agonizing torture first. After the king's death, Crateuas realized he'd wasted his powers protecting Mithridates when he could have comforted hundreds of common people.



Crateuas' lesson was passed on to his students, and the Pharmacpoeians, commonly called Root-Cutters, have a strong sense of responsibility for the masses. They often train as healers and apothecaries, as well as teaching anyone else who seeks that knowledge. They are more selective in teaching their knowledge of mystic herbs, generally giving that only to apprentices or those truly dedicated to healing. (Still, the art has long since passed into many more hands than theirs.) They take as apprentice only those dedicated to preserving life, a hard path for many, especially many with the Gift. Their Gauntlet involves being sent into the world to test their healing skills, while the master secretly provokes confrontations to judge their dedication to pacifism. Success comes only to those willing to protect others while avoiding violence. Failure means rejection by the tradition and a need to find a new tradition or House. When the Pharmacopoeians were told to join the Order or die, they reluctantly joined after the Criamon convinced them it was possible to be nonviolent within the Order. Their dedication to healing and pacifism means they often have little role in politics, generally just voting against proposals by Flambeau, Tremere or Tytalus magi, whom they tend to view as little more than bloodthirsty animals, or to support House Criamon, whom they like.

All Pharmacopoeians have the power of Mythic Herbalism, as was described long ago in Hedge Magic, helping them to produce potions and poisons. They also all possess a magical focus in healing, and the Root-Cutter virtue, which allows them to use plant, animal and mineral ingredients to reduce the vis cost of healing rituals by up to half. Very handy indeed. The price for this is twofold: first, all possess a deficiency in Perdo, for they are not trained to destroy, and all either are softhearted, noncombatants or take a vow of pacifism. They tend to specialize in Creo and Corpus, naturally.

The Lineage of Pralix is the closest in the House to standard Hermetic magi. They seek not practice a hedge tradition, but to preserve and induct traditions into the Order. Their power is one of analysis and study, and they are experts on exotic magic. They appear to tirelessly support House Ex Miscellanea without ever seeking special privileges or honors. This altruism (and their loyalty to the teachings of the traitor Pralix) makes them suspicious to many magi. They are typically found on the fringes of the Order, where they can best find new hedge wizards.

Back after the defeat of Damhan-Allaidh, Pralix vanished for the better part of a year, when it is said she cloistered herself with an ancient wizard to learn his secrets. This man may have been a priest of Mercury, a druid or even Merlin himself. When Pralix returned to Cad Gadu, she sought among her army a Gifted child to be her apprentice, to whom she taught the secrets she had learned, and her line still uses that secret to this day. Not long after taking this apprentice, she agreed that the Ordo Miscellanea would join the Order of Hermes and set about teaching her new House Hermetic magic. Pralix never officially joined the House she founded, and since she had foresworn the Order, she remained outside of Hermetic circles until her eventual disappearance. The deal she struck to integrate the Ordo Miscellanea granted her immunity from the Order during her lifetime. Nevertheless, she founded a Hermetic lineage that has served the House since its birth, never seeking leadership or fame, and working behind the scenes to ease the adopting of exotic magic into the Order.

Pralician magi, who name themselves the Filii Pralicis, or Children of Pralix, are fascinated by exotic magic. Some study it in hopes of integrating it into Hermetic theory, and they are the most likely of any non-Bonisagus to engage in original research. They are also interested in the lost magic of the past. Besides this theoretical interest, they seek out new hedge traditions and try to assist them into joining the Order and the House, and are often instrumental in training them in the Hermetic arts while preserving their original power. Some suspect the Lineage of Pralix of sinister motives - of trying to rid the world of all non-Hermetic magic by assimilating all threats, say. They have also been accused of trying to flood the Order with hedge magicians and weaken the pure Hermetic theory with barbarians - not least by Prima Murion of Bonisagus. Pralicians travel widely in search of magic, for there are few non-Hermetics left in the heartlands of the Order.

When a hedge wizard seeks to join the Order, they are often directed to the Pralicians, if they have the Gift and are thus eligible. Those magi of other Houses, such as Flambeau, that recruit on their own recognize the service provided by the Lineage of Pralix, and it is not rare for a Tribunal to reimburse a Pralician for the time spent tutoring a hedge wizard. Hedge wizards in training are legally apprentices, regardless of age or skill, and the Pralician is considered the parens. The apprenticeship is much shorter than normal, though, typically less than five years. In that time, they teach magic theory, Latin, the artes liberales and so on. This is all done before opening the Arts, which is optional, but encouraged. It is important to the Order that the Pralicians also analyze the powers of their new apprentice and the threat they pose, which is passed on to other Houses such as Guernicus or Flambeau.

Many who seek to join the Order do so to learn its magic, and the Pralicians always make clear that this may destroy their old arts. Some prefer not to take that risk and just take the Oath and learn the Parma. However, those that are willing will have their Arts opened, learning Hermetic magic at the cost of flawed power due to imperfect mixing of magics. If the opening was succesful, the Pralician usually then offers some training in the Hermetic Arts for a small fee. The Parma MAgica is always taught, Arts or no Arts, and the new 'magus' is then presented to a Quaesitor to swear the Oath. These new members are often not classic Ex Miscellanea magi, and usually know more non-Hermetic powers, but their apprentices are trained in the normal way, as the master is forced to compromise between their Hermetic and non-Hermetic magic. Those who do not adopt Hermetic magic are encouraged by the Lineage of Pralix to consider training apprentices in both Hermetic and non-Hermetic traditions, and usually a Pralician volunteers to help with this joint training in exchange for use of the apprentice in the lab for two seasons per season spent teaching them Hermetic magic. This tends to result in apprentice similar to other Ex Miscellanea magi.

The Lineage does not descend by blood from Pralix, though they consider themselves to do so, and their great power is Comprehend Magic. This allows them to see and understand the nature of active magic, scrutinizing people and objects to detect their magical power, its type, the function of any ongoing spells or powers in terms of the Hermetic arts, and its nature and magnitude. Determining the presence of magic requires a mere moment, but any further information takes concentration, and must pierce magic resistance. After a full three rounds of observation, the Pralician may use their insight to gain a bonus to magic against the specific person or creature being analyzed (and no one else). Further, they are amazing at understanding the nature of enchantments. They all have a magical focus in exotic magic, making them great at countering hedge wizard magic or altering it...and the all suffer from weak magic resistance against those they have not analyzed. They have developed a number of specific counterspells for various types of magic, such as curses or shapeshifting.

Next time: Rustic Magi

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Ars Magica 5th Edition: Houses of Hermes: Societates

The Rustic Magi, formally the Mechanicals or Rusticani, are perhaps the most obscure tradition in House Ex Miscellanea. They avoid interaction with other magi, living in rural areas around the common people, whom they consider their covenfolk. They've developed magical craft allowing them to build spells and enchanted devices out of mundane objects, which they share freely. They are disparaged by most who know of them for their peasant ways, and beyond following the Oath, few acknowledge they belong to the Order at all. They are most common in the Rhine and Provencal Tribunals. Their practice appears to descend from Jewish folk magic, as demonstrated in the arts used to construct the Temple of Solomon and the pillars named Jakin ('he establishes') and Boaz ('great strength'). They are said to have been hollowed out to hold many great treasures of the Hebrews, including the shamir, magical stones used to cut other stones. In deference to this legend, many rituals of the rustic magi are based on folk sayings of the Old Testament, usually based on counting generations from David or the dimensions of the Temple, though they need not learn Hebrew or anything about Judaism.

The founder of the tradition, such as it is, is probably the man called Reismann Ex Miscellanea, a hedge wizard who joined the Order to protect himself and his vis sources from the magi of Rudaria, a covenant in central Germany, and who formally swore the Oath of Hermes in 963. He is believed to have lived without a covenant on the outskirts of Frankfurt, and was well known for his writings on masonry and the symbolism and legendry of his tradition, which can now be found in Durenmar. He was never granted the rank of master, but he taught two apprentices and is believed to have died in the Schism War.

It is believed that the hedge wizard Robert Wood, an outlaw in Yorkshire in the late 1100s, was a rustic magus. Private journals kept by House Mercere and sworn to by Julia of Jerbiton attest that the members of the covenant Voluntas registered him and his men as a vis source, as a result of a bargain made in 1192. The details were brought forward to contest a vis dealing of the Blackthorn covenant in 1201. All Julia would say is that Robert was no magus, but an exceptional archer, bowyer and fletcher with magic in his craft, and that he had a way with woods that made finding vis easy for him.

In 1214, a rustic magus named Tres Ex Miscellanea was brought to trial in the Provencal Tribunal for interfering with mundanes. He'd declared Wizard's War against the magi of another covenant, and had gathered more than a hundred armed men to their tower, destroying it and killing most within. It was argued that hiring an army violated the Code, since their services were bought with magical devices, and therefore he was criminally invested in mundane politics. Tres argued that all of the men belonged to his covenant, which had been duly registered with the Tribunal, and that he had the right to support his covenfolk with magic as he liked. The Tribunal eventually found in favor of Tres, though the presiding Quaesitor also noted with disapproval that all of those covenfolk had since left his service.

There are so few Rusticani in the Order that it cannot be truly said that they have established traditions or hierarchy, and really only hold their magic in common. And most of them reach it independently. Their simple lifestyle does tend to make them interested in common people, and they tend to drift away from Hermetic society, usually taking the roles of cunning-men or wise women. They dress roughly and practically, much as other craftsmen might. Since they tend to develop among uneducated people and with little knowledge of Hermetic magic, many come into the Order late in life after years as hedge wizards. Their ties to family, community and craft guild are usually much stronger than their ties to magi, and they often join the Order just for legal protection against magi, primarily considering themselves folk wizards. While they may join covenants, they seem to prefer to live apart and are very prone to friction when they interact with other Rusticani. It is practically impossible for two Rusticani to work together outside a master-apprentice relationship, and so new rustic magi usually leave their parentes right after their Gauntlets, and journeymen of the tradition tend to travel far before settling down.

Their magic is suited to share with those who have none, and their simple ways tend to make other wizards see them as inferior. They have something in common with Houses Jerbiton, Mercere and Verditius. However, unlike Jerbiton, they don't care about beauty and prefer practical craft in their magic. Unlike Mercere, they have no interest in the tradition or structure of the Order or its maintenance. Unlike Verditius, their works are mere tools, not masterpieces. Oddly, their work is useless in and of itself without some other means of producing supernatural effects - it just modifies how their magic is used. Craft Magic, as they use it, has four applications, all reliant on craft or professional skill and on other magic abilities. They do not require labs to do it, but do need workshops.

The first trick is that the rustic magus can forgo any words and gestures when casting, without penalty, to instead build the spell into a physical object, which must then be brought into range of the target to cast the spell. This object takes the normal amount of time to make, and always at least as long as a similarly powerful Ritual spell. During the craft, you must maintain concentration, as if casting a spell, so you can only work on one thing at a time. You can still botch, too. Once the casting is done, the object is not magical - the magic is fully in the craft, not the object. The spell is cast when you bring the object into range of its target, as if cast by the object.

The second trick takes advantage of the shape and material of a crafted object, utilizing it to empower a spell or supernatural power. They may use inscriptions or designs to further improve the magic with the object.



The third trick is the power to make charged items, much as a Hermetic magus could, without spending an entire season at work - just the time it'd take to craft the spell, multipled by the number of items made. Exceptional skill at the crafting may produce far more charges than is normally possible. This also allows the item to bear supernatural but non-spell powers that can be handed off to other people for temporary use, but only if the item is needed for the effect.

Finally, the rustic magus may take any item containing raw vis and craft it directly into a magical device. The vis must be part of the enchanted object, but it is far faster than normal ehchantment, as above, and may invest supernatural powers that are not spells into the enchanted device. However, the amount of vis in the object does limit the magic that can be instilled within. It is easier but in practice more costly than normal enchantment.

Further, all rustic magi possess the power of spell foci, making them extremely good at harnessing the magical properties of objects. Thus, they can incorporate a casting tool called a spell focus into their spells, empowering them based on the shape and material of the focus. Only one spell focus can be associated with a spell, and only one of its properties can be harnessed, but it's quite handy. It is essentially the same bonus received when using craft magic to craft an object into a spell, but in such a manner that in theory, other Hermetic magi could learn the trick. The spell focus must also be appropriate to your craft skill if you use it with a crafted spell. Rustic magi typically carry many small tools to use as spell foci for spontaneous spells, as well as for the formulaic spells they know. Because all Rusticani suffer from weak spontaneous magic, they rely on these tools heavily to overcome both their weakness and the power of the Dominion. They still depend heavily on formulaic spells and advanced preparation, even more than other magi.

Next time: Hermetic Sahirs

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


quote:

The primary goal of the Donatores is to assist the dead to pass from this world. They often come into conflict with evil dead, ghosts in purgatory and those who were not buried under Divine protection, as well as those who died in unfortunate circumstances.

Wizard Ghostbusters meets Army of Darkness. Sign me up.
Mors, are you going to discuss the old links between Ars Magica and World of Darkness?

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Count Chocula posted:

Wizard Ghostbusters meets Army of Darkness. Sign me up.
Mors, are you going to discuss the old links between Ars Magica and World of Darkness?

Beyond that they existed? Not really. 3rd Edition was done by White Wolf, it had some really stupid bits ('Reason' as a fifth realm that made magic not work because logic says it shouldn't even though it demonstrably does, House Tremere as vampires) and fourth and fifth edition aggressively purged them.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Ars Magica 5th Edition: Houses of Hermes: Societates

The Hermetic Sahirs practice sihr, the art of magic taught to man (or so the Qur'an teached) by the fallen angels Harut and Marut, to tempt them from the path of Islam. Those they taught taught others. In some cases, the magic was corrupted or lost, but the sahirs claim to practice it in its pure form. Legend among the Order speaks of an Order of Suleiman, an organization of Islamic magi that rivals the Order of Hermes in power. Whether it actually exists and what it would want are matters of some debate. The Hermetic Sahirs are almost exclusively found in the Iberian Tribunal, under the Almohads. They are rarely found in the Levant, where the Abbasids hold power.

See, back in the Umayyad Emirate of Iberia, the sahirs who had killed Flambeau's master were mistakenly persecuted in the belief they were diabolists. House Flambeau continued this witch hunt after his death as revenge, even though Flambeau's death may have had nothing to do with them. When the Iberian sahirs learned they could join the Order via Ex Miscellanea, they saw a chance for protection from Flambeau and formally joined in 925. House Flambeau was, of course, incensed and promised a campaign of Wizard's Wars to exterminate the Muslim wizards, but the sahirs were few in number and able to successfully hide in the Umayyad Emirate and its successor, the Almohad Caliphate of Cordoba until the rage subsided a bit. Though largely forgotten by the Order, the sahirs still exist and are still persecuted, albeit by legal means, by Iberian Flambeau. They hope to one day broker a peace between their native tradition and the Order, perhaps healing the rift between Christian and Muslim.

The tradition is very firmly rooted in southern Iberia and is only rarely found elsewhere. Ancient pacts allow them to summon the spirits of natural features, which they call jinn, that inhabit the lands of Muslims, from Cordoba and North Africa to the Holy Land. Sahirs beyond thosel ands can still use their power to summon spirits, but the genii loci who answer in Christian lands are foreign to them and harder to make deals with. All Hermetic Sahirs are nominally Muslim, which doesn't earn them many friends, especially among House Flambeau. They try to stick with other Muslims. They are very united as a tradition thanks to the Flambeau aggression against them, and often help each other in times of need. However, due to their demand for the limited resources of jinn and vis, they often do not live very close to each other.

Sahirs often get good relationships with the jinn around their homes, and powerful jinn are allies and friends, not tools. Weaker jinn are treated as respected servants. It is a fool who treats a jinn harshly if they ever want to work with the jinn again and not have their words twisted on them. Bound jinn typically travel with the sahir in spirit form, though they may be able to take on human or animal form. Summoning is complex and vis-costly, but spirits can remain for some time and may be summoned repeatedly. With enough planning, a sahir can prove a terrible foe, though they'll want to train in Hermetic magic as well, in case they get caught without a jinn. Often, they perform duties for the jinn in return for service, and failure ends the pact and makes an enemy of the jinn. Most jinn that sahirs deal with are Magic jinn, though some specialize in Faerie jinn. However, most Faerie jinn claim to be Muslims, and it is forbidden by Islamic law for a Muslim to enslave Muslims. More worrying are the jinn who are actually demons, though fortunately, Infernal jinn are often clearly bloodthirsty and brutal, and so easily identified.

The Hermetic sahirs have had nearly no contact with the Middle Eastern sahirs for nearly three centuries. There are almost non-Hermetic sahirs left in Iberia. It is believed that non-Hermetic sahirs are under the protection of the Order of Suleiman, but that group is largely in the Levant and the rest of the Middle East. They have greater control over their jinn, and may compel rather than deal with them. It has been claimed that such sahirs can gain immortality, healing powers, teleportation, scrying, shapeshifting and even magic resistance from their jinn. Whether this is true or not is unknown, but the Iberian sahirs would love to find out. However, every attempt to contact the Levantine sahirs has been met with hostility.

Sahirs practice Sihr, the power to summon jinn. They must find a way to perceive the jinn first, and many possess Second Sight, allowing them observe the jinn in their natural habitat. Without that aid, they must gather information on the jinn to discover where it lives, its form and its powers. It takes around an hour to figure that sort of thing out. Once either is done, the sahir can attempt to reason out the jinn's Might based on its appearance, home and knowledge about it. The sahir must correctly guess what realm the jinn is from, of course. Once a sahir knows what power level to aim for, they can try to summon the jinn. This must happen physically at the jinn's home or in its presence. The former is more common because it provides an Arcane Connection. The jinn may try to stop the summons, but most do not. Even so, it's wise to put up a ward first. The summons forces the spirit into material form and takes at least fifteen minutes. It also requires vis. Plenty of it, for powerful jinn. The vis isn't necessary for the summoning, but for the bargaining after. Spending extra time is tiring, but helps penetrate magic resistance. Once the jinn is summoned, it must be bargained with. It cannot leave or attack until a bargain is made or it is agreed that no bargain can happen. Sahir that refuse to bargain release the pact. The bargain is magically enforced, and the jinn cannot break it unless the sahir does first. Most obey the spirit of the bargain if treated well, too. A sahir can try to bargain with any jinn, not just summoned ones, but summoning tends to give an advantage. Once a bargain is made, the jinn will be bound for the duration of the bargain and will do any task in its power according to the bargain, until it runs out or the duration does - in either case, it is released. The jinn may not break any solemn oaths it has made before the summons, including its religion's tenets, if it has a religion. They may not swear new oaths without the sahir's permission. Those in service for a season or more can be studied as a source of magical knowledge.

All Hermetic sahirs also possess a magical focus in jinn, but are prone to entering Twilight far more easily than normal magi, due to the powerful spirits they associate with. Most specialize in elemental magic or Vim, and they tend to learn spells that can protect them from jinn whom they fail to bargain with. They also often learn powers to strip magical beings of Might, for the same reason.

The Seirenes are a group of musical magi who practice magic descended from the legendary sirens, allowing them to influence thoughts and actions, especially when performed as trios. They are primarily found in the Theban, Roman and Provencal Tribunals, favoring land near the MEditerranean Sea, but they travel extensively. They say that long ago, a woman named Thelxiope was born and raised in a Greek port city. She fell in love with a sailor, begging him to return from the sea, and while he promised to marry her, he never intended to and only made the promise to entertain himself between voyages. Eventually, he told her that he would be leaving forever on the eve of their wedding. The naive Thelxiope was unwilling to live without him and stowed away on his ship. Before she could be discovered, the ship drew near the isle of the sirens, and their song drew the sailors onto the rocks. As the ship began to sink, the sirens watched the men drown and laughed, until they heard the unfamiliar noise of a woman crying for help. PErhaps moved by their guilt at failing to save Persephone from Hades, they flew to Thelxiope and pulled her from the waters.

Thelxiope told them her story, and they took pity on the foolish girl, caring for her and even teaching her their magic. They preached the hatred of men to her, but she did not initially adopt it. Now, we jump to the voyage of the Golden Fleece. Chiron had warned Jason that without Orpheus, the Argo would be lost at sea. This was fulfilled when the Argo approached the isle of the sirens, and as the sirens sang, Orpheus began to play his lyre, overcoming their song with its beauty. The sirens were filled with jealous rage, throwing themselves into the sea and turning to stone, for they could not suffer losing to a mortal man. To this day, the Seirenes are hostile to the Cult of Orpheus. Thelxiope bitterly left the isle, swearing to exact revenge on the world of men. She traveled Europe, using her magic to punish the unfaithful and cruel, but these petty acts left her unfulfilled. It was only when she found an orphan girl and adopted her that her life gained meaning. The girl had been cast out for her Gift, and Thelxiope trained her, beginning to travel in search of other Gifted girls to save.

Thelxiope found and trained many women, and her pupils continued her search. The Seirenes continue to emphasize recruiting apprentices. Because they often identify Gifted women before they are able to train them adequately, the Seirenes have a custom of sending apprentices to learn music and the Siren Song with their own parentes. After their Gauntlet and before the joining of a covenant, a Seirene usually begins travelling with two others, and this combined with their early training makes the Seirenes very tight-knit. They do not only seek Gifted women, but any woman with supernatural powers, who might be able to learn the Siren Song. They treat their unGifted members as equals, but the Order refused to acknowledge them. The search for these women defines the Seirene tradition. They believe that conditions for women, especially Gifted women, are intolerable in Europe's male-dominated society. They know change is slow, but they take what steps they can. When a Seirene finds a woman ruling her own lands or doing any role traditionally that of men alone, they secretly assist the woman and hurt her rivals.

The Seirenes do their best to encourage egalitarian covenants, ensuring that exceptional women are recruited and encouraging female grogs and covenfolk to do traditionally male roles when they have the skill. Seirenes aren't violently anti-male, just very pro-female. They joined the Order relatively early, and while their magic was potent against mundane men, any magus of moderate power or anyone familiar with the Odyssey could easily defeat it. The Seirenes realized this and accepted the offer to join in exchange for access to Hermetic magic and the Parma. They also realized that the Order's meritocracy gave all members an equal voice. At Tribunal, they tend to vote as directed by the leading Seirene, though not so rigidly as House Tremere. The leadership of the Seirenes is determined every twelve years by competition for the posts of First Singer, First Lyrist and First Flautist. Winners are chosen by vote of the tradition, and the competition is held at the covenant of the reigning First Singer. Other than this, the three Firsts are all of equal rank and authority. Someone without the Gift has never won so far, but the possibility does exist.

Seirenes practice the Siren Song, a power that allows their music to control others, to a far greater degree than normal enchanting music. They can issue commands which will be obeyed for as long as the music lasts, and may change their commands with effort. The command need not be articulated in lyrics, and the targets need not know why they're obeying - just that it has something to do with the song. They perform even better in groups, capped at three musicians. It can be used in combination with enchanting music to not just cause obedience but emotion - the two do different things. All Seirenes also possess a magical focus in some specific emotion they excel at causing, stopping and manipulating. However, all Seirenes suffer from a necessary condition for their magic: it must be sung. All of their spells require a vocal component, and they may never, ever cast silently.

Next time: The End!

Choose: Choices are: academic life (Art and Academe), Germany (Guardians of the Forests: The Rhine Tribunal), more depth on grogs (Grogs) or Hungary and Bulgaria (Against the Dark: The Transylvanian Tribunal).

Kellsterik
Mar 30, 2012


Grogs! Minions! Rude mechanicals! Carousing and pratfalls!

MadScientistWorking
Jun 23, 2010

"I was going through a time period where I was looking up weird stories involving necrophilia..."


Pussy Cartel posted:

The ETI doesn't really strike me as being particular Cthuluesque, because the idea of unfathomable and possibly hostile posthuman intelligences is pretty standard for transhumanist scifi.
Actually, its a staple of scifi and horror flat out as I've been slowly reading through Roadside Picnic to do the Stalker RPG which massively spoils the book. Its really incredibly odd because its contains nontranshumanist analogs of the same exact elements as Eclipse Phase like the exsurgency. Also, I remember why the Cthulu aspect stuck in my mind. Their Appendix N references it four different times as far as I could tell and it stuck in my mind as to why Cthulutech got a nod.
EDIT:
And mind you the confusion comes in as nothing in Eclipse Phase at all resembles Cthulutech as far as I've found.

MadScientistWorking fucked around with this message at 03:20 on Jun 24, 2013

Erebro
Apr 28, 2013


MadScientistWorking posted:

Actually, its a staple of scifi and horror flat out as I've been slowly reading through Roadside Picnic to do the Stalker RPG which massively spoils the book. Its really incredibly odd because its contains nontranshumanist analogs of the same exact elements as Eclipse Phase like the exsurgency. Also, I remember why the Cthulu aspect stuck in my mind. Their Appendix N references it four different times as far as I could tell and it stuck in my mind as to why Cthulutech got a nod.
EDIT:
And mind you the confusion comes in as nothing in Eclipse Phase at all resembles Cthulutech as far as I've found.

That's the thing. Exsurgency isn't anti-transhumanity at all. The problem with psi-omegas and Exsurgent mutants lies in the virus itself, not anything to do with their new state of being.

It turns people into guns, pure and simple. It doesn't promise freedom from ethics, it promises slavery and destruction of the mind. It doesn't make you like the Great Old Ones, laughing and shouting and killing with joy, it makes you into a husk to house itself. Stop thinking of it like cosmic horror and see it as it is: The self-aware weapon of a culture that likely forgot it existed, assuming that culture even exists anymore.

Assuming it isn't something stranger. My favorite theory is that there is no difference at all between the ETI and the virus: Each "strain" is actually an alien colonist, and their hostility towards humanity is the same hostility the conquistadors felt towards the native Aztecs-they see us ignorant savages in need of extermination or education on our proper place in the universe: Kissing their metaphorical feet. Not all of them are like this, no-the playable asyncs play host to one who realized what they were doing was wrong, and sacrificed its sapience to help elevate us to their level (when one is so far past the singularity you've had another one, sapience becomes like sweets-the ETI likes it, but it can live without it and still get along in life). Just the ones the PCs know, since their culture tells them humanity is an inferior race to be treated with smug contempt.

The horror isn't the virus, it's what you will do to stop it.

Bieeanshee
Aug 21, 2000

Not keen on keening.




Grimey Drawer

They are thematically similar, in that humanity is struggling to survive in an explicitly hostile universe populated by deeply alien entities. The stars are right, and humanity is on the cusp of becoming like the Great Old Ones-- some have already gone that way, in the form of Exsurgents and Exhuman factions.

On the other hand, I've always kind of wondered if the EP developers actually read Cthulhutech beyond the elevator pitch. Even at its 'edgiest', EP is head, shoulders, knees and toes above CT at its most visionary.

Nessus
Dec 22, 2003

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





Bieeardo posted:

They are thematically similar, in that humanity is struggling to survive in an explicitly hostile universe populated by deeply alien entities. The stars are right, and humanity is on the cusp of becoming like the Great Old Ones-- some have already gone that way, in the form of Exsurgents and Exhuman factions.

On the other hand, I've always kind of wondered if the EP developers actually read Cthulhutech beyond the elevator pitch. Even at its 'edgiest', EP is head, shoulders, knees and toes above CT at its most visionary.
Maybe they only read the core book? The core book wasn't quite as drenched in filth, and if you don't have a background in the finer Japanese animes many of the concepts likely appeared novel.

Pussy Cartel
Jun 26, 2011





Lipstick Apathy

Nessus posted:

Maybe they only read the core book? The core book wasn't quite as drenched in filth, and if you don't have a background in the finer Japanese animes many of the concepts likely appeared novel.

The developers of Cthulhutech and Eclipse Phase are actually friends, from at least as far back as when both games were being published by Catalyst. Why the creators of a genuinely good game like EP are so chummy with the guys behind Cthulhutech of all things is beyond me. Indie solidarity?

Kai Tave
Jul 2, 2012


Fallen Rib

Bieeardo posted:

On the other hand, I've always kind of wondered if the EP developers actually read Cthulhutech beyond the elevator pitch.

This is actually the best way to read Cthulhutech.

Speaking of which, where's my update Ettin? These Nazi rape machines aren't gonna write about themselves.

Nostalgia4ColdWar
May 7, 2007

Good people deserve good things.

Till someone lets the winter in and the dying begins, because Old Dark Places attract Old Dark Things.


Pussy Cartel posted:

The developers of Cthulhutech and Eclipse Phase are actually friends, from at least as far back as when both games were being published by Catalyst. Why the creators of a genuinely good game like EP are so chummy with the guys behind Cthulhutech of all things is beyond me. Indie solidarity?

Sometimes there's a huge disconnect between what people write and who they really are. That and you can be friends with people but not exactly want them banging your sister, you know?

I can understand how you can be friends with people who write terrible stuff. Thinking that people who write terrible things are terrible people is the same kind of thinking that actors who play terrible people are actually terrible people.

RPG writing is all about writing fiction, except you aren't writing a tight plot, deep characterization, there's no heroes journey. It's just world building, background characters, setting, and metaplot.

I don't know the guys from Cthullutech, and I won't claim to know what kind of people they are.

I will admit that the stuff in Cthullutech I've seen in here isn't my thing and I find it kind of revolting, but that stuff does have a market, and there are people who will play it just because of the shock value stuff.

Cardiovorax
Jun 5, 2011

I mean, if you're a successful actress and you go out of the house in a skirt and without underwear, knowing that paparazzi are just waiting for opportunities like this and that it has happened many times before, then there's really nobody you can blame for it but yourself.

Erebro posted:

It turns people into guns, pure and simple. It doesn't promise freedom from ethics, it promises slavery and destruction of the mind. It doesn't make you like the Great Old Ones, laughing and shouting and killing with joy, it makes you into a husk to house itself. Stop thinking of it like cosmic horror and see it as it is: The self-aware weapon of a culture that likely forgot it existed, assuming that culture even exists anymore.
I think I'd like it better if it did work like that. That's my favourite Lovecraft quote and I think it encapsulated the feel of the mythos perfectly.

For everyone who doesn't know it:

quote:

The time would be easy to know, for then mankind would have become as the Great Old Ones; free and wild and beyond good and evil, with laws and morals thrown aside and all men shouting and killing and revelling in joy. Then the liberated Old Ones would teach them new ways to shout and kill and revel and enjoy themselves, and all the earth would flame with a holocaust of ecstasy and freedom.

MadScientistWorking
Jun 23, 2010

"I was going through a time period where I was looking up weird stories involving necrophilia..."


Erebro posted:


It turns people into guns, pure and simple. It doesn't promise freedom from ethics, it promises slavery and destruction of the mind. It doesn't make you like the Great Old Ones, laughing and shouting and killing with joy, it makes you into a husk to house itself. Stop thinking of it like cosmic horror and see it as it is: The self-aware weapon of a culture that likely forgot it existed, assuming that culture even exists anymore.

There is nothing in the setting that actually says that. The problem is that with the way most of the ETI and Titan stuff is written you can't prescribe any behavior to them namely because the heavy handedness was them drastically emphasizing the freakishly bizarre abilities the ETI have. Its supposed to become self evident that you are dealing with something beyond any semblance of human comprehension.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Ars Magica 5th Edition: Grogs



The word 'grog' seems to have been coined by the Order. The most common opinion hold that it was born at Arae Flaviae, the first multi-House covenant. The covenfolk who joined were known as viri gregis, men of the band, and this became corrupted by, the story goes, a captain who was hard of hearing and non-Latin speaking covenfolk into 'grog'. The term was spread through the Order by the Liber Gregis, along with the terms 'turb', 'custos' and 'consors'. The turb refers to the fighting force of the covenant - all the warriors. Some give the origin of the name to the same captain who coined grog, as a shortening of 'contubernium' - a square of eight legionnaires who shared a tent and cooking fire. The wod has been conflated with turba, mob, and that is the most common word to describe the Order's soldiers. 'Grex', meaning troop or company, is occasionally used contemptuously by magi, since it also means herd or flock. It is used to describe a group of grogs accompanying magi on expeditions, and means a small unit or squad. A grex typically contains up to six people, and a turb might be slit into several greges as permanent units, or assemble each grex anew each time. The custos ('watchman' or 'keeper') is a favored grog, generally with skills that set them apart or some great loyalty. Custodes are set apart from the others and rewarded with higher rank or better provisions. In some covenants, custos can be raised on a magus' whim, while others have formal procedures. The consors is literally a companion to magi, for the magi have long associated with mundane friends. Lastly, the autocrat is a mundane appointed in some covenants to oversee the smooth running of the covenant, generally the leader of the covenfolk and most important person in the place save the magi. Some even allow the autocrat to attend the wizard's council.

There are all kinds of grogs - personal servants, staff, chamberlains...the chamberlain is important, as they lead the serving staff. Every covenant has at least an unofficial chamberlain, and without one, day to day life would be impossible. In large covenants, they even need assistants. Most chamberlains are literate and basically numerate, in order to keep accounts. There are also the specialists, those who do not handle day-to-day life or defense. They may be scouts, craftsmen, animal trainers or other, more exotic things. They are kept around for their skills, which are not in constant need but are quite useful to have. Then you have the steward, who oversees their needs. The steward differs from the chamberlain in that they generally are not in charge of the specialists, just responsible for them and their needs. Rivalry between steward and chamberlain is not uncommon.



And then you have the soldiers, the turb. They are not usually considered to be equal to consortes who know how to fight - those men and women are more likely to act as champions on the field, while the turb fight together and try to maintain equal levels of skill, fighting as a trained unit with constant drills. The turb captain is the leader of the soldiers, and almost all covenants have one. An army cannot be led by committee, after all. Beneath them are generally unit sergeants, commanders of smaller sections of the turb. This is most important if the turb is split into several specialized groups, like cavalry, archers and infantry. In addition, most covenants have a drill sergeant, whose job is to to train the turb to fight as a unit and to maintain order, perhaps even handling punishments. Most are older, experienced fighters. Most turbs are not large enough to need other ranks, though heroes in battle often get rewarded by being made a rank equivalent to corporal, called 'decurion' after the leader of ten men in the Roman army.

There are several ways to organize grogs. The most common is the hierarchy, since that's easiest on the magi. The two most common models are the noble household and the military. The noble household has the steward or seneschal in command of the land, and under him the bailiff and reeve for towns, the verderer for forests and huntsmen, the chief buyer for goods, the auditor for accounting, the cook, baker, saucier and poulterer for cooking and the butler, pantrymen and brewers for wine. The chamberlain oversees clerical duties and is sometimes under the steward. Under the chamberlain is the clerk of the offices, the chaplain, the almoner and the usher, who has the porter, chambermaids, laundresses and barber under them. The marshal oversees the soldiery, and under him are the mesnie (or bodyguards), the men-at-arms, the smith, farriers and ostlers for the horses, the carters and the messengers. Then you have the great mass of scullions, grooms, attendants and so on. In a military hierarchy, the covenfolk are divided by squad, not role, with leaders and lieutenants to oversee things.

Another method of dividing grogs is by nation. A nation consists of servants, specialists and soldiers, and perhaps even consortes and magi. The nation cuts across roles, and one's nation can be determined by several methods. Sometimes it is randomly assigned, or based on who recruited you. Sometimes the nations decide who joins which nation, by auction or contest. Sometimes, you're born into a nation, by parentage or ethnicity. Nations are common in covenants in which magi are relatively independent of each other, and each nation might serve one magus. The most natural nations are based on family bonds, and especially in old covenants, covenfolk may have been there since birth, sometimes for generations. Others might hire entire families due to the local customs. Family-based nations usually have a clear leader, often the eldest member or a council of elders, though sometimes an elected head.

Another form of nation is based on the student groups of university, which divide largely along ethnic lines. Some covenants, especially on borders, follow this method when they have two groups of grogs with very different ethnic backgrounds. Others divide into nations based on being at different geographic sites, because they have large and sprawling covenants. This may be functional - an offshore covenant might have a nation of sailors and fishermen and a nation of normal servants.

One alternative to nations is guilds, organizing grogs by function. Many divide their covenants into soldiers, specialists and servants, considering these three sufficient. Larger covenants might subdivide further, especially if they have multiple sources of income that need to be cared for. Grogs may also self-organize covenants, especially if there are large groups of craftsmen or multiple forms of soldier that wish to remain distinct. This does not need to mean literal guilds, mind. Still, craft and professional guilds provide a good model for the most common form of this organization, led by a dean and supported by aldermen, senior masters and masters, who train journeymen and apprentices. The big thing is that a guild exists because its members want it to, and expect advancement in the ranks. Social mobility is more common in guild structures. An alternative 'guild' structure is that of the monastery, with the abbot leading and appointing officials to the jobs of terrar (for care of the estate), cellarer (food) and bursar (money), as well as others. Rather than a staff assigned to each, they may request the assistance of the 'monks' as needed.

Some covenants do not have a formal structure at all, usually only because they are small enough not to need one. Covenfolk left without structure usually end up forming one themselves, though - it's natural for humans to seek order. Still, a strong and cohesive group can work together without a formal structure. Sure, people know who's in charge, but there are few rank differences or role differences. Everyone helps with everything.

A grog's life is usually more pleasant than that of a peasant or townsfolk. They have a job for life, so long as they're useful, food is provided, and the buildings are maintained at the covenant's expense. The soldiers and magi will protect them from peril, and it's likely that any children will have a job set for them, too, if they want it, and often there is a pension. The biggest downside is living near magi, between their poor reputation and the strangeness that they often attract.

The soldiers of a covenant spend their time on three things: duty, off-duty and free time. When on duty, the soldier stands guard. When off-duty, they work around the covenant. When on free time, they can do as they like. Turbs usually have a day and night patrol. Both pull duty in day and night, but the day is off-duty during the day and sleeps at night, while the night patrol is the other way. They periodically swap duties, usually once every one to three months. Patrols may be further split by location, and the Liber Gregis suggests sub-patrols never hav less than two grogs. The tub captain tracks duties and patrols, but a sergeant usually handles orders. The mess hall usually has a peg board letting each grog know when they're on duty and where.

One of the hardest and most onerous duties is sentry duty, since it involves standing out in the rain and cold, trying to stay alert while absolutely nothing happens. The tedium is very occasionally broken by brief periods of violence every few years. Sentries are assigned an area and must be aware of anything unusual in it. Unusual in a covenant could mean anything, really. They are not permitted food, or to drink undiluted alcohol. A small fire is usually allowed. Their armor must remain on, and one hand always on the weapon. If they hear or see anything suspicious, they must alert the others.

When off duty, a grog is not necessarily free. They just don't have to patrol. It is usually a relief from the tedium of the watch, however. Off-duty grogs may remove their armor, though they're encouraged to wear the underarmor padding if possible, and on some tasks armor is required, like drilling. Two hot meals are provided each day, and the off-duty grogs take it to those on duty if they can. A daily ration is also provided. Generally, soldiers spend their off-duty time drilling for combat, maintaining their kit and helping with work crews and manual labor. Sometimes magi use them as test subjects. Those off-duty at night have an easier time of it. They often have a chance to nap or take some leisure.

Free time, naturally, is precious: it's when you sleep. The grog's daily routine is physically and mentally demanding, and sleep is vital. They don't have to sleep in free time, and may choose to do as they like, and grogs often spend some time drinking or gambling. Those assigned punishment duties must do them during free time, too.

Next time: Rewards and Punishments

Erebro
Apr 28, 2013


MadScientistWorking posted:

There is nothing in the setting that actually says that. The problem is that with the way most of the ETI and Titan stuff is written you can't prescribe any behavior to them namely because the heavy handedness was them drastically emphasizing the freakishly bizarre abilities the ETI have. Its supposed to become self evident that you are dealing with something beyond any semblance of human comprehension.

Apart from the giant sidebar plopped right on page 353 that chapter where it explains that they aren't going to explain what the ETI's motive is, so the GM can make one himself, and several suggestions are offered? The idea that Exsurgency is just a relic of a long-ago war among them? And all the other motives are fairly understandable (fear of other godlike intelligences, weeding out any species that will not listen to diplomatic overtures, conquest and curiosity, and uplifting the TITANs, who turned evil on their own)? And the crazed affect it has on humans may be an unplanned for side effect?

....Okay, I can see how trying to tie alien behavior to a motive may be a lot of work, probably more work than should be required of the GM. You got me there.

But still, they had some pretty understandable logic behind it, even if they did take it to a rather silly extreme.

Although, "humanity is collateral damage" is by far a better Lovecraftian conceit than the vast majority of would be cosmicist horror writers; The entire death of our species was the unfortunate accident of someone else's own problems. Really shows just how uncaring the universe is, that all of human achievement is undone as the byproduct of another species' achievement. We were the causalities of poor environmental policies. Cue Nyarlathotep laughing his rear end off.

Erebro fucked around with this message at 18:09 on Jun 24, 2013

Pussy Cartel
Jun 26, 2011





Lipstick Apathy

Erebro posted:

Apart from the giant sidebar plopped right on page 353 that chapter where it explains that they aren't going to explain what the ETI's motive is, so the GM can make one himself, and several suggestions are offered? The idea that Exsurgency is just a relic of a long-ago war among them? And all the other motives are fairly understandable (fear of other godlike intelligences, weeding out any species that will not listen to diplomatic overtures, conquest and curiosity, and uplifting the TITANs, who turned evil on their own)? And the crazed affect it has on humans may be an unplanned for side effect?

Not to mention the possibility that maybe the TITANs were actually trying to help humanity out in their own bizarre, inexplicable way that makes sense only to they themselves. Bootstrapping humanity, clearing away the chaff, hell there's even mention in the core that the gates may have been created/distributed by the TITANs and left in place as an invitation to transhumanity.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Ars Magica 5th Edition: Grogs

Grogs may seem to have a hard life, but they get room, board, pay and possibly a pension. Compared to a serf, they have it easy. Still, it's good for morale to reward good work and bravery. A magus who commends a grog to the turb leader, steward or chamberlain rarely concerns themselves with how the reward is handled, and rarely gives it out personally. Instead, the official handles it from there. However, magi do not always understand the importance of chain of command, and sometimes do personally reward grogs. A common reward is improved rations - the normal food is pretty plain, so a private salt cellar, high quality bread, fresh meat or double rations of ale are great rewards. They can last for anywhere from a day to a year. A grog who spends a year on improved rations has a resistance to aging, if not much of one, too.

Monetary rewards aren't that useful - what's a grog going to buy? Still, some grogs hoard coin for some purpose, perhaps to find a spouse or to get a superior weapon. Pay and a half can last for a season or more - even be permanent. Improved equipment is also a good reward. Covenants often scavenge or receive superior arms and armor, or superior tools. This often gets handed out as rewards - perhaps a bit backhanded, rewarding someone by making them better at their job, but few grogs complain. Rarely, a grog may even receive enchanted equipment, though that often requires great heroism to earn. All gifts are permanent, but those who are demoted as punishment must often given them back. The highest reward, of course, is promotion. A grog might be promoted to custos, a custos to sergeant and so on. They might even aspire one day to become chamberlain, steward or commander. Increased rank comes with privilege - better food, better pay, usually a better pension.

The Liber Gregis also devotes a chapter to punishments, though it advises their use only when needed. They are vital to discipline, and the covenant must know they are used, so they should be public. Often, it is the drill sergeant's job to punish covenfolk. Corporal punishment is usually reserved for poor discipline - insolence, disobedience, insubordination. These punishments are short and sharp, but soon over and soon healed. Punishments involving withholding of privileges usually come from failing in a duty, with degree of failure determining severity. This does not mean punishment for failed missions - only punishment when failure is because of a grog's action or inaction. These tend to be longterm, or even permanent. The two can be combined, such as when insubordination causes failure. Punishment is usually not applied directly by a magus, and it is advised strongly in the Liber Gregis that magic never be used to punish, because it risks alienating the covenfolk.

The weakest punishment is castigation - a single blow to the face, hand or thigh with a rod. The drill sergeant typically carries a rod for this purpose specifically, traditionally made from a bull's dick. Above that is relegation to inferior duties. Every covenant has a worst job - typically, emptying the latrines, feeding recalcitrant familiars, removing corpses from a necromantic lab or so on. Above that is reduction of rations. Grogs receive basic but nutritious fare, with occasional meat and a daily ration of alcohol. The threat of being reduced to barley from wheat, losing the meat ration or having the ale exchanged for small beer or milk for a month is a good punishment. Those who spend at least a full season on reduced rations have a harder time with age. Above that is flogging, usually public, for one, five or ten blows to the back with a strap. Above that is reduction in rank, complete with loss of the privileges of rank. This is permanent and any rank lost must be re-earned, which is often hard.

More brutal than flogging is whipping - a number of lashes, usually ten, thirty of fifty, with a short or long whip. The short whip is worse. Typically, a week of paid recovery is given, or a day for a light whipping. After that, any time you can't work is docked from your pay. Above whipping is dismissal, a rare punishment indeed. Covenants value their property, and dismissing a grog is likely to make them resent the covenant and be useful to foes. Certainly, magi have ways of securing silence, but...well. The worst punishment listed within the Liber Gregis, however, is fustuarium: the beating to death of the malefactor with clubs or stones, often by the whole turb, who are blindfolded, so that no one grog can be responsible for the death. Very few covenants actually have the legal right to order death, so that can be important if the death becomes known outside the covenant. However, since many grogs are misfits or outcasts, their deaths often go unnoticed. Beorhtric wrote that he'd only ever heard of the punishment being used once, and never by his orders.

Grogs typically live in a dedicated section of the covenant, typically divided into soldiers', servants' and specialists' quarters, more for practicality than anything else. Soldiers can easily disturb the others with their irregular watch schedules, after all. Custodes and higher ranks may have private rooms, or at least bunks further from the others, and married covenfolk are often given a seperate room. All grogs typically eat in a communal mess hall.

Most covenants actively encourage marriage among grogs. It is the duty, after all, of all Christian men to marry and have children, and it's useful to raise new covenfolk. Early exposure to the Gift tends to help deal with its social problems, after all. Because of a reluctance to recruit outsiders, matches between covenfolk are encouraged, and matchmaking is a common hobby for magi who have spare time. As grogs grow older and age starts to bear them down, they may decide to retire. Old grogs are valued for the skill and their tendency to be used to the Gift, but the decision to retire is often sudden, after some aging crisis leaves them weak and crippled. If a covenant cares for the retired, they are still considered members and are supported. Some covenants maintain retirement homes for their grogs, while others keep them around as babysitters, trainers or tradesmen. The pension is one of the enticements that keeps a grog going - few jobs pay a wage after retirement, but since Rome, it has been the right of all professional soldiers, and many covenants extend it to all of their grogs. Pensions are usually half to three quarters former pay. Sometimes rent is charged from the retired, to avoid paying the pension, but food is usually still free. Widows are paid the pension owed their dead husbands, and even if they are not, the other grogs usually tend to care for them.

The book talks about playing grog-only adventures, and I'm skipping over most of this, except for my favorite adventure seed:

quote:

A group of grogs are transformed into animals by an unknown agency, and they must make their way back to the covenant to have the enchantment undone. On the way, they experience the communities and social structures of other animals, and come to realize that they are a parody of human society as a whole.
Homeward Bound: Medieval Edition!

Now, what makes a good team of grogs? A good commander knows that it's not just enough to pick the best fighters for an expedition with magi. You need a full complement of skills. The Liber Gregis identifies five main roles that should be filled in any group leaving the covenant. That's not to say all grog teams should have five members - one grog might easily fill two roles or mroe, and the team can be supplemented by others with no special role. The only limit is the skill of the designated leader, since a leader is limited in the size of a group they can lead in combat. It is also important to choose the correct vanguard, since they may be too skilled for the others of the group if you simply choose the best warrior, and so it is common for drill sergeants to ensure everyone is on the same level. The five roles are each named by the Liber Gregis, though different covenants may use different titles. Some magi never bother to learn the names of the grogs, and just use the titles.

Dux, the Leader, is the one trained to coordinate a band of soldiers in battle, and leadership ability is essential. They are often selected for intelligence, loyalty and ability to speak Latin, or at least some language in common with the magi. They are often in charge not just of combat but day to day problems on the trip, purchasing food, route planning and so on. Perhaps their most important role is liaison with the magi, and all orders for a grex come through the dux.

The Optio, the Second-in-Command, is the dux's right hand. Their job is to become dux if the dux dies, and to ensure that the dux's orders are carried out. They also need to be good leaders, and are often chosen to complement the skills and demeanor of the dux. A dux who is a superlative fencer may have a scout or archer as his optio, while a disciplinarian dux may have a charming and well-loved optio as her second, and vice versa. The optio is almost never the vanguard except in very small teams, but commonly the optio is also the signifer.

The Antesignanus, the Vanguard, is named for literally standing before (ante) the standard (signum). Another name for it is duplicarius, as they are traditionally given double pay due to the danger of the job. Vanguards are often not the best fighters but the toughest, able to take a lot of punishment. It is considered a bad idea to have the vanguard hold a leadership role, since they are the most likely person in the group to die or be wounded, and you don't want the team dissolving immediately when that happens.

The Immune, the Specialist, was named for a Roman class of legionary with specialized skills of some kind that exempted them from normal patrol and labor. The Liber Gregis recognizes the usefulness of the immune and suggests they be chosen according to the nature of each expedition. The most common immune is the chirurgeon, as a turb without first aid is in trouble. However, there is also a place for all kinds of skills - architects, artillerymen, weapons trainers, carpenters, hunters. Grogs with supernatural abilities are usually immunes, and if an immune lacks basic combat skills, they cannot be part of the trained combat group.

The Signifier, the Legate, was named in the Roman legions as the one who carried the signum, the standard bearing the commendations and medals of the legion. Most covenants do not use standards, but the signifer has other jobs. They hand out pay and keep the accounts, as well as maintain morale. They are often chosen for social skills, and typically act as spokesman to mundanes if no consors has that job. Often, they are literate, so that one member of the team can receive written signals and signs. They are usually still a warrior and soldier.



Next time: Grog jobs.

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


quote:

Because of a reluctance to recruit outsiders, matches between covenfolk are encouraged, and matchmaking is a common hobby for magi who have spare time.

This sounds like the setup to one of Shakespere's comedies, like Midsummer Night's Dream.

Kellsterik
Mar 30, 2012


Or Fiddler on the Roof!

hyphz
Aug 5, 2003




Ah, also delighted that we're seeing Return To The Tomb Of Horrors. I'm pretty sure that was the moment when D&D 2e adventures finally admitted they had jumped the shark. I believe it includes, amongst other weirdness, a magic CT scanner, and a specific note to the GM that a player must actually state "I'm searching the trap for traps" to avoid a particular sub-trap.

I have, actually, played this thing. My character got teleported into the Negative Energy Plane and destroyed forever because he touched an interesting looking thing in a cupboard. We'd checked for traps, of course, but it wasn't considered a trap for some reason. We'd also detected it as magic, but that was part of the reason it was interesting.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Ars Magica 5th Edition: Grogs

When on a trip, grogs often serve as the sentries and guards, with dux determining watch duties. Sentries are typically only used when the party has camped - on the road, all grogs are expected to be alert. On horseback or with wagons, though, watch duties are maintained to give people a chance to nap a bit. As guards, grogs work to get the magi to safety before fighting back, which can mean forcibly picking up magi and getting them past obstacles, since many magi are simply physically incapable. This is one of the reasons the Liber Gregis instructs all grogs to carry rope. Grogs also handle making camp and cooking, as well as knowledge of geography and message-sending, since most grogs are far better acquainted with local geography than their masters are. They also often handle purchasing and negotiation with merchants for supplies, getting rooms at inns and so on.

Given that many magi do not speak local languages or dialects, and have little time to learn new languages, grogs also often serve as translators for those who do not speak Latin. Grogs that travel a lot often pick up many foreign languages, and some covenants employ grogs who are good at languages exclusively for this purpose. We then get rules for group combat and expanded first aid stuff. And death. See, grogs do die. Lucky grogs don't die a lot, but they are easily the most endangered of any covenant inhabitants. After a battle, those deaths must be mourned. Christian thought of the period holds that a good death comes at the end of a long life and the receipt of the Extreme Unction - that is, the Last Rites. Soldiers hardly ever die having completed all penances or having received the last rites. Christians fear a quick death, for it robs them of the chance to enter a state of grace before dying.

Since cleanliness of the body is important as a symbol of spiritual cleanliness, dead grogs will usually be washed by their friends and wrapped in a clean sheet. The magi will often be asked to perform the Last Rites in the absence of a priest, for they speak Latin, after all. (And it's true that in dire need, any baptised person may perform the Last Rites.) However, it is only when done by an ordained priest that the dead person is spiritually purified and thus protected from necromantic magic for three days - generally enough time to reach consecrated ground. Grogs usually want to bring the dead home, and tradition holds that a person should be buried in the parish of their birth, though some covenants use their own graveyards for far-flung grogs. The inability to return a body home is a hard thing, and any magus suggesting that a body should be left behind may face open rebellion. If a body must be left, it should be buried whole, neither burned nor dismembered, and the grave must be marked. The grogs may desire to return for it later, to ensure it gets a correct burial rite. This reverence is shown even for those disliked in life.

Grogs often institute some ritual to revere the dead. The Liber Gregis says this should be tolerated or even encouraged by magi. A roll of the fallen in some prominent place that is ceremonially inscribed with the names of new dead is a good method. Even those who cannot read know which names correspond to which people, and know that they will never be forgotten after death. The Liber Gregis suggests also that on All Souls' Day, November 1, the magi should lead a ceremony in remembrance of the fallen, and asks that any covenant should find the money to have the grogs' names added to the obituary of a local monastery, so prayers can be said to speed their time in purgatory. Any wife or children left by the dead will often be cared for by the grogs, and any pension devolves to them, as well. It isn't unusual for a close friend of the dead to offer to marry a widow to ensure her good treatment and protection of the family from poverty.

Let's see...skipping over the section on statting grogs and using packaged skillsets to make it easier...some new tricks! Mythic Farrier is a variant, weaker form of the Touched by the (Realm) power, allowing the user to create magical horseshoes - and only horseshoes. Such horseshoes can only affect the horse or its immediate environment. In theory, any craftsman could have a variant of this limited to a specific sort of craft, not just farriers.

On the flaw side of things, there's the Bound to the (Role) flaw, which is for grogs who are physically locked into a certain task - a locksmith with picks and files for fingers, say, or a watchman who cannot leave his tower. Those seperated from their bonded device or place are treated as if they were starving to death, but need not sleep or breathe if physically bonded to a device. There are also rules for epilepsy, in case that ever comes up. It's called the Falling Evil, and is usually caused by temporary demonic possession in most people that suffer from it. Also, the Viaticarus - a flaw someone who received Extreme Unction but did not die. This leaves them in a spiritual no-man's-land, not dead but not truly one of the living. Viaticari are immune to demonic temptation, as they do not register as souls in need of corruption, but they suffer from corpselike pallor and stench, especially as they age. Further, they have trouble crossing traditional folk wards or magical warding against Corpus or Mentem unless invited by the person who established either kind of ward.

The book has grog character ideas, but I'm only going to go into the most...unique of them: the Time-Lost Witness. See, many medieval stories talk about those whisked off by faeries who return years later, thinking only hours passed. MAny of them die as their age hits them, but not all stories end that way. Some do not have their age catch up to them, and live out their lives in this new, strange world. They have no special powers - they're just from the past, and don't understand the world they've been thrust into. You might, very rarely, find lost centurions or early Christians, or Greek pagans lost in time. Magi interested in history keep an eye out for such faerie victims, to learn firsthand what their time was like, perhaps to find some lost ancient secrets.

But that's it - this one's a fairly short book, much of which is mechanical and not that interesting to share.

The End!

Choose: Choices are: academic life (Art and Academe), Germany (Guardians of the Forests: The Rhine Tribunal) or Hungary and Bulgaria (Against the Dark: The Transylvanian Tribunal).

Dammit Who?
Aug 30, 2002

may microbes, bacilli their tissues infest
and tapeworms securely their bowels digest



Academic life! Let's hear it for dusty musty tomes!

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Ars Magica 5th Edition: Art and Academe

Okay, let's start with background. Thirteenth-century scholasticism is based on antiquity, and medieval philosophy as a whole (which...can be considered to cover basically of academia) begins with Plato. Unlike his fellows, Plato persistently followed a set framework of philosophy, reaching conclusions from logic based on experience, thought and observation. Most Greek philosophers talked about life and self-awareness, discussing, for example, virtue as a goal and how to be virtuous. Plato talked about Virtue as an external thing, a real entity outside the universe. Plato stated that for a thing to be true, it must exist. Its existence must be eternal, without beginning or end, universal, unchanging and known through the mind rather than the senses. Thus, before determining if someone has virtue, we must know what true Virtue is.

Plato referred to these external truths as 'forms' or 'ideas', which together are referred to as Plato's universals. Of all universals, Plato described the highest form as the form of Good. The Good was the guiding principle of all other forms, setting up three tiers of reality: The Good, which creates and defines all other universals, known collectively as the Intellect, for they are perceived by reason, and all the universals together create reality, which Plato named the Soul, since it is perceived by the senses. This tripartite theory of Good/Intellect/Soul is generally accepted by later thinkers, and universals are a cornerstone of medieval thought and theology. All of these ideas appear in Plato's Timaeus, the only work of his that is known in the Middle Ages. By explaining the nature of the universe, he reversed the standard Greek argument for a creator's existence. Rather than looking at the world and reasoning that since it is beautiful and good, it must have a creator, he argued for a beautiful and good creator, which justly necessitated the formation of reality through universal truths. Being pagan, Plato did not name this creator, whom he claimed predated the universe. He calls the creator simply 'the Divine Craftsman,' who made the world as an entity with intelligence and a soul. This creation is called the World-Soul.

This theory fits into the tripartite theory by having the Good as the Divine Craftsman, the Intellect, and reality as the World-Soul. Plato argued for the human soul as immortal, able to return to the Divine Craftsman by ascending through the World-Soul via the Intellect, back to the Divine Craftsman. Christian writers would find many themes resonant with Christian cosmology in Plato's work. There are also differences, which are largely ignored or synthesized. For example, Plato holds that once returned to the Divine Craftsman, the soul comes back to reality. However, mass reincarnation is not part of the Christian paradigm.

Aristotle, the greatest student of Plato, disagreed on several points. Where Plato looked upward with rationalism and mysticism, Aristotle focused on the world around him, teaching a system of direct observation and logical analysis. Instead of believing in external universals, he proposed internal properties of reality, ten categories which cover the ten characteristics of all things: quantity, quality, relation, time, place, posture, possessions, action, passion and substance. Aristotle also developed a system of logical syllogism - that is, the form of 'if all A are B, and all B are C, then all A are C.' Aristotelian logic and categories are vital to medieval thought.

So, back in the third century, the writer Plotinus reworked Plato's ideas into a single, systematic and spiritual philosophy. Plato's Divine Craftsman was limited to working with the elements that existed in the Chaos before creation, but Plotinus' 'the One' was a true creator, making the world from nothing. In his Enneads, Plotinus explained Plato's tripartite cosmology as the One/Intelligence/Soul. The One emanates downward to the Soul, which may transcend via transmigration to the One. Universals are thoughts in the mind of the One. Plotinus still drew a hard line between external and internal reality, claiming that the One existed outside reality, like Plato's universals and Divine Craftsman. This Neoplatonism provided the basis for early Christian theology. Early Christianity was not uniform, and many sects had different theologies. Because Christianity was the legal religion of the Roman Empire, these ideas were also tied to political factions. Where the emperors desired to unite the empire, theologies desired to unite the faith. Not every early Christian writer wrote to unite the faith, but many did, especially the most influential writers.

In the early fifth century, the rhetorician Saint Augustine used Neoplatonism in his intellectual arguments with other sects to logically prove his own interpretation. His work, plus that of other western Church Fathers is the foundation of 13th-century Christian theology. God exists externally, beyond the senses, but is not removed from His flock - a major difference with either Plato or Plotinus. Neither the Divine Craftsman nor the One could cross into our internal reality, while God can and does via miracles. It is impossible overstate the influence of Augustine. Besides Plato and to a lesser degree Aristotle, Augustine relied on scriptures, using them in his logical arguments as truth revealed from God. His reliance on the Bible and his logic based on the great thinkers of the past set the benchmark for intellectualism.

Boethius continued this treatment by combining Christianity and Neoplatonism. He was a prolific author and translator of the Greek, cemmentating extensively on all seven liberal arts. His greatest work, written while imprisoned for treason, is The Consolation of Philosophy, in which philosophy (personified by the feminine Philosophia) visits him and tells him not to fret either over his luck or upcoming execution. Philosophia extols the virtues of knowledge and praises the seekers of intelligence. The work is shocking nonreligious, making later writers wonder if Boethius was really Christian. He was, but The Consolation was written as a poetic masterpiece in the vein of Virgil and Ovid, rather than a declaration of faith.

Through the eighth century, the trends of Augustine and Boethius continued, with philosophy serving theology and logic being used to prove religious and metaphysical theories. Students learned from individual masters (though not universally), and philosophers would never name themselves teacher or philosopher - they were Churchmen, debating theological issues such as predestination and free will or whether the Eucharist was literally or just symbolically changed into the blood and body of Christ. In the late eighth century, Charlemagne met the scholar Alcuin of York, asking him to join the royal entourage. Alcuin accepted, and was charged to create Charlemagne's Palace School at Aachen. Before, noble children were taught etiquette and tactics, but under Alcuin, they learned literacy and how to think academically. Alcuin became Charlemagne's counselor on education, helping to create schools throughout the empire. Though never literate himself, Charlemagne placed great emphasis on learning, and his empire ran on the 'missi' system, with messages and royal edicts delivered to the far reaches. Eventually, the messengers themselves were known as missi. This model of messengers collapsed with his empire, but the educational model of Alcuin began spreading in Frankish and Germanic lands and later Spain and England.

The next great change came in the 10th century, with Gerbert of Aurillac, later Pope Sylvester II. He was a French scholar who studied in Barcelona, Cordova and Seville, where he was introduced to several Arabic texts on science and academia, which he translated into Latin. Using this 'foreign' knowledge, he wrote groundbreaking works on logic and math and introduced the abacus, though he retained the use of Roman numerals and did not use the concept of 'zero'. He taught at Rheims, invigorating a new interest in the theoretical work of philosophy and starting a wave of cathedral schools across France. Western scholars began to appreciate the work of their non-Christian neighbors. With the twelfth century and the retreat of the Muslims from some parts of Spain as well as the utter defeat of Sicily, the Christian West came into ownership of several great centers of Muslim learning. These libraries included Arabic translations of works lost until now to Christians, and the basic physical works of Aristotle, Ptolemy, Euclid, Plato and Galen, as well as original Arabic works by Averroes, Avempace and Rhazes, among others, became available. Translators of the twelfth century such as Gerard of Cremona and Adelard of Bath earned fame by creating Latin versions of these works, and Gerard is credited with no less than 70 translations, making available works that had been lost for over twleve centuries.

With more schools and teachers, the concept of the single master and his students passed from fashion - why stay at Chartres when a famous intellectual is teaching in Laon? Students wandered from master to masterm satisfying their drive to learn. Perhaps the most famous of these wandering scholars was Peter Abelard, whose intellect and often horrible temperament drove him from one master to another. He never refused the chance to argue with his masters, and became famous for revealing their errors in persuasive and genius works. However, his academic work is sometimes forgotten and his good name besmirched by heresy and his scandalous affair with his student Heloise. In any case, a heightened interest in the trivium led medieval schoolmen to closely read ancient and patristic texts, discovering contradictions. This led them to combine their thoughts and observations to reach innovative solutions to questions of man, God and nature. Recent ingenuity based on classical wisdom led Bernard of Chartres to famously write: "we are dwarfs perched on the shoulders of giants." The analogy is that they may see further, for though they are not equals to the philosophers of antiquity in intellect, they have greater knowledge by basing their work on the past to find new understanding.

The method by which intellectuals think, teach and argue is known as scholasticism, a contemporary term used to differentiate them from the Greeks of antiquity and their intellectualism. The term comes from the Latin scholasticus, the head teacher, and the scholastic method stresses the dialectic of the early Middle Ages. It is shaped by two factors: rational and logical argument based on reason and a clear distinction between philosophy and theology. Scholasticism continues to attempt to express reality in reasonable, Christian terms. Reason itself is laudable and God's truth may be understood rationally to augment faith. Philosophical subjects are always subservient to theological subjects, and it's kind of hard to talk philosophy without at least teaching on theology. Scholastics regard Plato, Aristotle and the Church Fathers highly, as well as other writers of the past, and form arguments based on theirs. They believe God has one truth, and that by thought, argument and undestanding theology logically, they can understand that truth.

Mystics of the twelfth century condemned the scholastics, preferring to write on spiritual contemplation of God and claiming that the scholastics elevated philosophy over theology and reason over revelation. Some Hermetic critics claim that scholastics put adherence to authority over individual reasoning, and have confused pure philosophy with theology. These criticisms do have a grain of truth, but overall they're too harsh. By using logic and dialectic, the scholastics aim to find philosophical proof explaining reality within the Christian theological framework, without refuting the truths already expressed in the authorities.

Before the 12th century, the only surviving works of Aristotle in Latin were the Categories and On Interpretations, both works on logic commentated by Boethius. They were sufficient to convey Aristotle's logic and syllogisms, but so complex that only the best minds could use them. As of 1150 or so, some of his other works, filtered from the minds of Arabic and Jewish scholars, were translated and quickly disseminated over western Europe, such as Prior Analytics, Posterior Analytics (and isn't that a fun name?), Topics, On Sophistical Refutations, Physics, Metaphysics and De anima ('On the Soul'), which together are known as the New Aristotle. They have made the logic and syllogisms much clearer.

Aristotle claims that a scholar knows something only if they know the beginning of that thing and its reason for existence. He also offers a new approach to verifying knowledge of a thing. You must discover accurate truths about a specific thing, which also apply to the general group, then make sure those truths are accurate when applied from the group back to the specific. Though Aristotle focused on it, personal observation does not guarantee truth - it must be supported by reasonable argument based on antiquity and extrapolated by contemporaries. All agree that the senses are merely too susceptible to misinformation and illusion to be perfectly reliable. They do not reject the senses, just demand they be supported by rational argument incorporating the ideas of the great thinkers of the past.

The New Aristotle has had a profound effect on the seven liberal arts, with the most profound change being the logica nova ('new logic') and the attempt to replace the logica veta ('old logic') with it in schools, though each liberal art has been affected to some degree. Some schools are conservative and reluctant to change curriculum, and the New Aristotle is not universally accepted. In 1220, the University of Paris has banned teaching any of it, though they have copies of the works.

Next time: Hermetic Intellectualism.

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Ars Magica 5th Edition: Art and Academe

When developing Hermetic magic, Bonisagus made no attempt to synthesize magic's nature or causes with academic philosophies explaining reality. However, it is very rooted in the academic tradition in the way it systematically approaches theory and focuses on study, research, experimentation and recording knowledge. This is a great contrast with pre-Hermetic days, when magic was treated as a religious or mystical experience based on personal revelation and oral transmission. Bonisagus was fascinated by language, analyzing and deconstructing the dialectical formulas of the rituals of the Cult of Mercury and synthesizing them with those of other pagan cults. Bonisagus' original treatise makes it clear that he read the Timaeus and understood Aristotle's system of logic. He didn't emphasize either, just pulling bits from each to explain his theory. He wrote circuitously, using Gnostic and allegorical examples to explain the finer points of theory. Some passages suggest he felt that Plato had perfectly explained the world and that better understanding of Platonic creation would lead to better understanding of magic. Others seem to point to the opposite, Aristotelian viewpoint, treating the categories as a better way to understand magic. The tenth-century scholastic debates over categories versus universals migrated to the Order, where a handful of magi argued the same distinctions regarding magic theory.

The Platonic theory was championed by a societas called the Collegium, founded by Xenophon of Bonisagus, who felt the Founder had done an injustice to the Order by stripping Hermetic theory down to its bare essentials, focusing too heavily on practice and not investigating or explaining the nature or origins of magic. The Collegium sought explanation in the works of Boethius and Plotinus as well as their own experiments. The magus Venatus of Trianoma's lineage found the New Aristotle while attending university at Bologna before his Gentle Gift was discovered. However, he found the Collegium unwilling to consider pure thought a route to understanding and was openly ridiculed for his Aristotelian position that experience was no substitute for reason. They were unwilling to take up rationalism at the cost of their philosophy. Venatus and a few likeminded magi bitterly split from the Collegium, forming the Lyceum, a societas named for the school of Aristotle.



The debate between the rationalist Lyceum and empirical Collegium was at first intriguing for many magi. However, fundamentalists of both camps took the debate far more personally and became very invested in being right and proving the others wrong. This passion made the debates rather unsavory for the Order in general, and many ignored the abusive arguments of the two groups. As of 1220, both factions still exist, each attempting to augment Hermetic magic by academic research while disparaging the other.



It is left up to the GM whether Hermetic theory as designed by Bonisagus is ultimately Aristotelian, Platonic or neither. Or, paradoxically, both, with Aristotelian Magic Theory and Platonic Magic Theory being potential breakthroughs. Aristotelian Magic Theory would be the easier to discover, based on the New Aristotle and research with Intellego magic, as Aristotle is so keen on knowing things. Platonic Magic Theory would be harder, as most of Plato's works will remain undiscovered for two centuries yet (according to history, anyway), and would rely on the four elemental Forms, as Plato is about the building blocks of reality. Once incorporated into Hermetic theory, both would do the same thing, however: allow the magus to use their understanding of the liberal arts to boost spellcasting and labwork in such a way that a simple book would be able to teach anyone the trick.

Anyway, on to the liberal arts! The medieval tradition of dividing formal education into seven liberal arts is a carryover from the Roman method. Traditional divisions by both Boethius and Martianus Capella cemented this setup in the minds of scholars, and the primary divisions are the trivium (grammar, rhetoric and logic) and the quadrivium (arithmetic, geometry, music and astronomy). The trivium deals essentially with words and the quadrivium with math. The trivium is taught first, and the last century saw a strong focus on grammar and rhetoric, giving the scholars of 1220 a solid literary foundation.

Grammar is the first subject taught, usually to youths. Besides basic literacy, it is also the study and appreciation of classic literature, the foundation of academic instruction. Teachers always include examples of proper Christian life in the curriculum, and the two authorities used to teach grammar, Donatus and Priscian, use the Latin classics as examples. This taste for classical authorities is waning some these days, with anthologies replacing the original texts. Anthologies use sections of the text combined with paraphrasing and summaries. Even further away, Eberhard of Bethune and Alexander of Ville-Dei independently wrote grammars using a metrical grammar based on Latin poetry. They are very recent, and easier than the older grammars. Others follow this trend, and the new grammar is just entering universities as of 1220. By mid-century, it will replace classical texts in many northern institutions. Grammarians are constantly hunting for suitable reading material, and fables, folklore and Biblical stories are collected into "readers," simple texts for use in practicing reading. Teachers have found that local tales tend to gain more interest with students, and often do their own research to find such stories. Besides the basic grammars and readers, grammarians write vocabularies and dictionaries for their students - books that explain complex Latin terms in easier ways. Some even translate the Latin into the vernacular. The New Aristotle has led to a new form grammar, speculative grammar, which is heavily influenced by logic and dialectic. According to speculative grammarians, grammar is a mirror of universal structures that, if properly studied, bring understanding of the nature of thought and being. Speculative grammar claims to mimic the Divine structure placed by the Creator in all of His works.

Rhetoric is the intelligent arrangement of sentences and facts in persuasive argument. The Greek philosophers and Roman senators loved it, and it has much prestige. It has lost the political function it once held in Rome, and is now used to write formal documents and help with verbal debates between scholars. Cicero is the authority on rhetoric in his De inventione, which focuses on politics and political rhetoric, and Ad Herennium, which focuses on styles and elocution of arguments. (Ad Herennium is, in the real world, known to not be Cicero's work, but because the 1220 academic community accepted it as his, in Ars Magica, it's his.) The demand for written documents, wills, letters, land grants, decrees and so on has led to the creation of the ars dictaminis, the art of letter-writing, and the ars dictandi, the art of document-writing. Both use formalized styles of composition, and with the increasing use of secular documents for law, exact wording is very important, as are the rules of cultural etiquette in correspondence. Some rhetoricians are asked not just to pen letters but deliver them, because their academic or ecclesiastical status as clerics gives them some protection. Rhetoric is used for preaching, as the Church Fathers used it as a guide on argumentative style and influecing audiences, but preaching requires special study outside that of the liberal arts in order to be practically used.

Logic, also known as dialectic, is a method of reasoning and building truthful statements based on prior truths, as well as telling true from false reasoning. There are two main types of logic: formal and theoretical. The medieval teachers deconstruct logical arguments much as they do parts of speech, teaching not just syllogism and causality but also about definitions, divisions, homonyms, moods, figures of speech and probably reasoning. Formal logic is the application of syllogisms and logical reasoning, while theoretical logic is the use of reasonable deliberations on physics and metaphysics. The liberal arts cover formal logic as a formal distinction, leaving theoretical logic the theologians and philosophers. Prior to the New Aristotle, Boethius and Porphyry were the authorities on logic, but Aristotle has replaced them. He does not, as they do, make a distinction between formal and theoretical logic, but still views logic primarily as a tool for metaphysical speculation. Despite this, his works on logic are far superior, and the logica nova provides a more complete understanding of syllogisms and causality than the logica veta, whose incomplete nature led to misunderstanding. Aristotle's logical metaphysics are unorthodox and disputed by the Church, but his treatment of formal logic is readily accepted. Not every teacher in 1220 agrees with the New Aristotle, but most agree that he is the authority on logic.

Arithmetic, according to the scholastics, is superior to the other fields of the quadrivium because they depend on it for their foundation. Academic arithmetic is only slightly related to computational math, leaving that to accountants and merchants. Rather, they focus on number theory - the division between even and odd, perfect and prime, plane and solid. It is highly theoretical, yet not so completely involved in numerical mysticism as practiced by Jewish kabbalists and some mystery cults, though the distinction is often quite fine. Arithmetic is based on Boethius' De Arithmetica, as well as the Heptateuchon of the last century, a compilation by Thierry of Chartres composed of Ptolemy, Aristotle, Euclid and the works of Isidore of Seville and Cassiodorus. Numbers are ordered, definable and concrete, serving as an example to the other liberal arts, which should be just as regular. Many numbers are superior - 6, for example, because it is divisible by 1, 2 and 3, whose sum is six. Other perfect numbers include 28, 496 and 8128. Even and odd numbers can be further classified into even even or even odd. (An even even number is one whose factors are all even, and an even odd has factors containing both odd and even numbers.) Arithmetic is unaffected by the New Aristotle, but the translations of last century have started to introduce Hindu-Arabic numerals, which are much less cumbersome for calculations. They also include the zero, and allow for swift calculation of even large numbers. They are more popular with merchants than scholars, but are slowly being introduced academically. One of the most influential proponents of Hindu-Arabic numerals is Leonardo of Pisa.


We know him as Fibonacci.

Music is studied theoretically, with mathematical analysis of ratios and intervals of sound via harmony and rhythm. The authority is Boethius' De intitutione musica, which classifies music in three ways. Musica mundana is the harmony of the world, the sounds emmitted by the heavenly spheres in their orbits and unheard by human ears due to man's imperfect nature. Musica humana is the harmony of the body, the relation between body and soul (which takes into account the humors and other medical theories). Musica instrumentalist is the harmony of instruments and song. The primary instrument for studying music is the monochord, a single string across a hollow chamber with a bridge along its length. Sliding the bridge lengthens or shortens the notes, which are studied as ratios to each other. An octave, for example, is 2:1, while a fourth note is 4:3. Ratios between scales are also studied, and the analysis of ratios is thought to mirror reality and influence emotion. Musicians are divided by class. Servants play instruments, but are seperated from intellectual study of music by lack of reason. Inventors create songs by speculation rather than rationality. Judges understand the value of mood, rhythm and melody, which can be gained only via academia. These elitist divisions are hazy, due to the interwoven nature of academia and religion. Ecclesiastics use music theory to create hymns and antiphons for services and feasts, and these are performed, crossing the division between performance music and theoretical music. Various styles of notation are popular, allowing religious songs to be recorded in song books, which are shipped throughout Christendom.



Next time: Geometry and Astronomy

Wapole Languray
Jul 4, 2012





Panopticon: Of Uplifts, Habitats, and Surveillance

Welcome to Panopticon, and Eclipse Phase sourcebook. I'm doing this one first, because it's the most “expansion pack”-y of the four released. I'm skipping the corebook because it's been done, and honestly the expansions provide better insight into the lore of the setting than the corebook does, except for technology and some minor things like Asyncs. If any corebook knowledge is relevant, I'll also cover it here.

Destino Verde

This is the intro fiction for this book. I won't cover what happens in the actual story, as it's pretty much just mediocre sci-fi, nothing particularly interesting. Instead I'll pull any interesting ideas from these that a GM might be interested in.

In this case, we learn that the Yakuza on Mars are kidnapping Uplifts to chop up for parts used in traditional Chinese medicine, which are used to lessen the symptoms of Genetic Service Packs, which I'll cover in the Uplift section. This is obviously a good story hook, especially if you have a party member or NPC friend to get snatched by the Yakuza. We also learn that the Yakuza are expirementing with exsurgents, capturing them and taking samples of their parts to transport to an unknown party. Now, this is a drat good hook for a Firewall party especially, and can get real interesting if you combine them.

A History of Surveillance

This chapter opens with a history of surveillance, walking us up to the “current” day. The beginning of the path to the current state of surveillance began with the widespread use of the internet, particularly social networking. As the use of the internet grew, so did the ability for governments and corporations to monitor and catalog people's lives. At first this was resisted, but as time went on people became more and more accustomed to a lack of privacy. The definition of what most people considered “private” information began to get smaller and smaller, as people began to share more and more of their lives online.

This, combined with expanding surveillance technology, spelled the death of personal privacy. At first this was decidedly in favor of the governments and corporations. With the ability to effectively datamine, scan, monitor, and even throw up massive surveillance networks of cameras, microphones, and biometrics, most people had every single even of their lives on record somewhere, and often everywhere due to increasing gov/corporate cooperation. If things continued like this, a Big Brother-esque situation was inevitable, as privacy was pared down to only what is inside your head. But technology kept evolving. Technologies previously only available to the rich and powerful became available to normal consumers. Personal electronics began to transform into personal security centers, using technology meant to chronicle your own life to chronicle everyone else's. As this continued, we began to see a drastic switch. Suddenly those in power were being watched more carefully than they were watching us. They began to discover that the common man outnumbered them, and with the technology gap closing, they were beginning to lose their monopoly on information. Suddenly, surveillance was dead. Now, sousveillance was the rule.



Sousveillance

Meaning “watch from below” sousveillance is the opposite of surveillance, where the many watch the few, and the weak monitor the strong. It started with whistleblowers and leakers. People within the power structure publishing compromising information on the web. This started an “information” war. Hypocrisies and scandals were brought to light, embarrassing those in power, and in response they attempted to censor the information and prosecute or silence the leakers. Firewalls and blacklists cut of entire sections of the internet, it was even made criminal to make unauthorized recordings of police and politicians. Except, they couldn't stop the numbers. What were leaks became floods, as the sheer volume of controversial information began to overwhelm the censorship efforts. A compromising video was copied and spread across half the globe within minutes, hacktivists ripped through firewalls and blacklists to inject illegal information. Layers of secrecy were being stripped away every day, and Big Brother got put under the spotlight.

    The New Journalism

    A sidebar, but one that could give a good basis for a character! Turns out that traditional news is dead. Instead, they act as content aggregators, distributing submissions from hordes of freelance journalists, both amateur and professional. This is both a good career/ concept for a character, or a good way to get some extra cash/rep if you happen to record something juicy.

The response to this was... interesting. Instead of closing up tighter, corporations and governments opened the floodgates. They made everything they did available to the public. Everything. The sheer amount of data they began to put out made it near impossible to find anything important between the floods of irrelevant and uninteresting info. This birthed an entire industry of professional researchers, companies dedicated to sifting through data for anything interesting or relevant to their clients. Some of the more... unscrupulous specialize in “creative” correlation which can make a defense of damned near anything.

The development of AI changed the game even more. Now, no amount of data was an obstacle. Now there were programs capable of pattern recognition, of understanding the significance of what they were looking at, and they operated far faster than the human brain could. With Muses, even individuals could filter through reams of information, and no amount of white noise would reach them. When AGIs and the ability to become infomorphs appeared, this got even worse. With human thought freed from the constraints of biology, even the best security programs were useless. Now the only truly secure systems left are under constant guard by AGI or infomorph oversight, with computer security transformed into an active defense situation.

And it all went mad with resleeving and forking technology. Now all the traditional ways of identifying a person were useless! How could you track someone who could look like anyone? Who could hide inside any hard drive? Could make a perfect copy of themselves at will? The only method was brainprinting, tracking their unique Ego throughout their various morphs. As for forks, which also came with masses of legal issues, such as whether forking was slavery, did the forks have legal rights, which was the “original” person, etc. Even after the fall these questions haven't been answered, and as a result making alpha forks (perfect ego copies) is illegal in most habs and governments.

Dataclysm

Really dumb word, but an interesting phenomenon. When the Fall happened, once consequence was the total loss of the past. While human knowledge, in a general sense, and technology survived just fine, people lost their personal connection to the past. We knew what the Pyramids were, and who Abraham Lincoln was, and that the Queen of England lived in Buckingham Palace, but nobody would ever see them again. Entire cultures found themselves totally cut off from what they held important. Muslims who could never see Mecca again, the Jews lost Israel, Americans could no longer stand in “America”, and culture and religion took one hell of a bashing.

Even worse was the personal losses. Most refugees from Earth had to leave behind everything, even their bodies. No more photos of family and friends, your movie and music collections gone forever, your house, your dog, your entire country, gone. Robbed of everything but their minds, many just started over, creating entirely new personas post-Fall, instead of trying to hold on to an identity that now only existed inside their minds.

But of course, not everyone took the opportunity to get a fresh start for purely altruistic reasons. More than a few war criminals, crimelords, and terrorists use the Fall as a way to disappear, hoping to avoid the punishments coming their ways. This has created a need for “Ego-Hunters”, people who hunt down a specific Ego, regardless of who or what they are now. While Pre-Fall criminals are common, they also take more personal assignments, such as finding lost family members and friends for clients.

The biggest shakeup from the Fall in surveillance was actually from the massive influx of immigrants and the lack of central authority. Luna and Mars especially saw their populations grow far beyond their ability to support, let along catalog and track. This led to a sort of “voluntary” surveillance, where individuals were responsible for reporting census data to the government. People also began obsessively self-documenting because of property claims, and the new mass use fabbers led to usage records of everything manufactured by them. Sousveillance also skyrocketed, as the new post-Fall communities sought to prevent the oppressive censorship and surveillance of pre-Fall governments from ever arising.

The result was the founding of the participatory panopticon. Outside of the more repressive governments, most people lead their lives totally open to observation, and in turn observing others. Everyone knows what everyone else is doing, thinking, feeling, seeing, eating, and everything else. The enire world has transformed into an all-inclusive social media, where networking and reputation drive the need to see and be seen by as many people as possible. Every action in the participatory panopticon leaves a public trail of data and records a mile long, no matter who you are. While some feel this is wrong, many take security in this existence, where quite literally everybody is watching your back.

This isn't to say that privacy isn't alive anymore, obviously. Private quarters are often sealed behind privacy filters and data encryption. Crypto-cred makes financial transactions untraceable, generic morphs and encrypted communications and networks disguise those who wish to go incognito, and obviously spies, criminals, and other underground groups have their fair share of effective, if likely illegal, ways to stay unobserved.


Next Time: Identity and Identification

Mors Rattus
Oct 25, 2007

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Ars Magica 5th Edition: Art and Academe

Geometry is the study of immovable magnitude - that is, lines, angles, figures, volume and area. Study is split into three subcategories. Theoretical geometry covers geometric proofs and measures distances via speculative reasoning. Practical geometry calculates surfaces, areas and volume. Constructive geometry is that used by artisans and craftsmen, and is not taught academically. Because Boethius' authoritative commentaries on Euclid's Elements doesn't contain geometrical proofs, practical geometry is considered more important than theoretical geometry in most universities. Theoretical geometry is used to measure the earth and stars, among other things, and since no one can touch the stars, it remains largely speculative. Practical geometry has actual uses, and can be determined by measuring sticks and astrolabes. For example, you could calculate the height of a wall by comparing the length of its shadow to the length of the shadow cast by a stick of known height, and then calculating ratios. As of 1220, Euclid's Elements has been completely translated, as have several of the works of Archimedes. They have yet to make any real impact, being only 50 years old, and the few men who have incorporated these more elaborate theories into geometry, such as Jordanus Nemorarius and Leonardo of Pisa, have gone largely unnoticed.



Astronomy is the study of movable magnitude - the orbits of the planets and the fixed stars. The authorities are Ptolemy's Almagest as translated by Gerard of Cremona last century and Plato's Timaeus, particularly in the treatment of Macrobius' Commentary on the Dream of Scipio. Both accurately describe the physical heavens, but disagree on the order of Mercury and Venus in the hierarchy. The heavens are a sphere, as is easily observable. The outermost sphere is the celestial sphere, home of the fixed stars and girdled by the Milky Circle, a stream of stellar heat. This sphere is banded by ten circles that are incorporeal and can only be comprehended by the mind. The first of these bands is the zodiac, which is the only band to possess breadth, while the others have only length. The Zodiac possesses breadth that the planets might move through or linger in it. Five of these bands are called parallels, bisecting the zodiac obliquely. The middle parallel is the equinoctial, while the two closer to the north and south poles are the septentrional and austral, and between them and the equinoctial are the two tropics. Two other bands, the colors, cross the upper half of the celestial sphere at the north pole, running perpendicular to divide the five greater parallels into four equal quadrants. The remaining three bands have no fixed location. These are the meridian (the point at which the sun is directly over the head of an individual), the visible horizon (which is personal to any viewer) and the celestial horizon.


Fly me to the moon, and let me play mong the stars...

The celestial sphere is unchangeable, and moves from east to west. The five errant planets and two brilliant planets move opposite this, from west to east, at immense speed. Below the celestial sphere is Saturn, which completes a revolution once every thirty years. Second is Jupiter, with an orbit of twelve years. Next is Mars, with two, and below that are Mercury and Venus. Plato states that Mercury is first, then Venus, while Ptolemy reverses that. In Ars Magica, Ptolemy is correct, which disturbs many Neoplatonists, who refuse to accept it. Both have an orbit of about one year. Below Mercury is the sun, the heart of the errant planets if you believe poets. The sun is twice the diameter of the earth and some 523,230 miles away. It has light, as do the planets above it, which generate their own light to a lesser degree. The sun is the demarcation between the lunar sphere below and celestial sphere above. Above, all is fixed, unchanging and immutable. Below, all is impermanent and changeable. The lowest planet, the moon, orbits the earth every 28 days, so 13 times per year. It does not have its own light, sharing in the sun's.

The cosmos may also be divided into the ethereal and elemental regions, with the moon being the marker between. Beneath the moon are the elements of fire, air, water and earth, as defined by Plato's theory of the simplest, atomic elements. Fire, the lightest, resides just beneath the moon's sphere, followed by air, water and earth in that order. The earth does not move, being the center of the spheres, and its diameter is 8720 miles. As it is the heaviest, physical things are naturally attracted to it, which is why they fall. Heavy things fall to the center, while lighter things "fall" to the edges. Flames rise because fire is lighter than earth, water and air, and "falls" towards the sphere of fire, its natural home.

Astronomy is used by priests because only the stars may determine the date of Easter, and disagreements over dates can cause huge arguments or even schisms. Roger Bacon will, in the coming century, write to the Pope and convince him to reform the Julian calendar to resolve such arguments. In 1220, priests use computi, books containing astrological calculations to determine Easter's date. Speaking of books - the Almagest is the hardest to understand of all astronomical texts, yet contains the most correct theories and patterns. The New Aristotle makes understanding astronomy easier, but conflicts with Ptolemy's theories. Aristotelian theory prefers rational philosophy to observable data, and any intelligent scholar can see that the stars do not move exactly as Ptolemy predicts. Scholastics have many solutions to this apparent problem, but it is much less of one in the north, where the New Aristotle's teaching is restricted. The current best source of information is the work of the Arab scholar Mashal al-lal, though it has yet to be translated, though the Arabic can be found in Spain and the Levant. Along with the Arabic texts, the astrolabe has recently been reintroduced to Europe, along with the quadrant and portable sundial, which are of great use to astronomers and surveyors.



Now, let's talk philosophy. It is divided into three branches: Metaphysics, the study of the nature of existence. Natural philosophy, the study of the world, both its nonliving components (geography and meteorology) and its living ones (botany and zoology). Moral philosophy, the study of good and evil, and of right and wrong. Prior to the New Aristotle, philosophical works revolved around theology as based on Plotinus, Prophyry and other Platonists as interprted by St. Augustine and Boethius, which still today constitute much of moral philosophy. Cosmology and natural philosophy were seen as the product of a single school, that of Chartres, which produced writers such as Thierry the Breton, William of Conches and Bernard Silvestris. Collectively, the school of Chartres produced a body of thought on the universe's nature that was used before the New Aristotle, and even today they are among the primary works in those fields.

Despite the New Aristotle's central focus in teaching, his scientific and philosophical works are viewed with suspicion and hostility by theologians, as his works contain judgements and opinions contrary to Chistian dogma, especially his claim, accompanied with proofs, that the world is eternal and without beginning or end. Under the Aristotelian view, the soul does not survive the body, and the transubstantiation of the Eucharist is denied since the substance cannot change while retaining its properties, though both of these assertions are challenged by some interpretations of Aristotle. (In the coming decades, these interpretations will become dominant, making the New Aristotle doctrinally acceptable.) Further, he presents a view of the world as regular and unalterable, denying miracles. As of 1210, a special synod at Sens decreed that the philosophy of the New Aristotle was banned in Paris, either publically or secretly, under threat of excommunication. This was repeated in 1215 for the University of Paris, and rumor has it that the pope is planning a commission to expurgate the doctrinal errors from Aristotle. This edict applies only to Paris, but the influence of Paris is such that the New Aristotle is being discouraged throughout Europe.



So. Metaphysics. Metaphysics is that part of philosophy which attempts to explain existence, causality and change. The primary author remains Aristotle, who devoted a lot of work to it, not least the Metaphysica. God, at the moment of creation, brought forth all possible forms and all possible matter. This created all things, and no new creation has ever been needed. Matter is the formless raw material of the universe, originally contained in the single body called Chaos which occupied the entire world. The Chaos was made of particles that are now the minimal components of all things, occasionally known as atoms ('uncuttable'). Some are moist, some dry. Some are hot, some cold. These are the formless building blocks of matter, unable to be sensed in any way. Without form, matter is merely the potentiality for existence. The form is the outline and design, the template. The form of a dog is that which makes a dog recognizably a dog regardless of size, color and so on. All things that exist, have existed or can exist have a form, even if they have no physicality, such as Justice or Truth. Some say the human soul is the form of the individual, though this is hardly universally accepted. The forms are nonmaterial, just as matter is formless.

A thing comes into being only when a form informs matter. Informed matter has ten categories. First and most important, it has substance, which determines its properties. This is the degree to which a thing is hot, moist, cold or dry. Things that have a lot of hot particles, for example, have little mass, while cold things tend to be heavier. Those that are more moist are flexible, those that are more dry are breakable. All substances contain some particles of all four combinations of matter, but the most basic, the elements, are overwhelmingly of one type. Fire is hot and dry, and takes the form of tetrahedral corpuscles ('tiny bodies'). Air is hot and moist and octahedral. Water is cold and moist and icosahedral. Earth is cold and dry and cubic. It is common to refer to the hot and dry particle, for example, as a particle of fire, but it should be remembered that the substance of fire has all four types of particle, even if it is principally hot and dry.

The other nine categories give the substance its nonmaterial traits. Quality describes its appearance, sound, taste, flavor and texture. Quantity describes size in terms of number, mass, length and so on. Relation describes association with another substance, such as 'part of' or 'next to' or 'descended from.' Place describes actual physical location. Time indicates when a subject did, does or will exist. Posture describes the relationship of a thing's parts to the thing, such as 'sitting' or 'standing'. Possession indicates what a thing holds or is adorned with. Action is that which a thing is doing, and passion is that which is being done to a thing.





Next time: Cosmology and Causality

Tasoth
Dec 12, 2011


Holy Christ, EP society sounds like a maddening place to live if you don't want everyone to following your unconscious twitter feed.

Wapole Languray
Jul 4, 2012



Tasoth posted:

Holy Christ, EP society sounds like a maddening place to live if you don't want everyone to following your unconscious twitter feed.

That's just it though, it isn't unconscious. People like it. It's even considered rude in some places to be in "private" mode. Mind, this is mainly in the more... liberal habitats. Some people do feel that way though. It's why the Jovian Republic exists.

Dammit Who?
Aug 30, 2002

may microbes, bacilli their tissues infest
and tapeworms securely their bowels digest



Tasoth posted:

Holy Christ, EP society sounds like a maddening place to live if you don't want everyone to following your unconscious twitter feed.

That's one of the things I like about EP. It takes the consumerization and isolation these technologies promote to the same extreme conclusion all the other techs get. People have news stories rewritten on the fly to suit their biases (sometimes to the point that the story no longer bears much resemblance to what actually happened), movies have multiple plots to suit people who prefer happy endings, etc.

e: Isolation is a theme of the whole game, really. The common ground we share as humans is being erased by technology, everyone's physically as well as socially isolated in hermetically sealed habitabts surrounded by a million kilometers of howling void, and a Jovian has more in common with the actual space aliens than with the Ultimates.

Dammit Who? fucked around with this message at 01:34 on Jun 26, 2013

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Oct 25, 2007

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Ars Magica 5th Edition: Art and Academe

We're still on metaphysics. Specifically, cosmology. At the center of the world is the sphere of earth, on whose surface all material life is found. Surrounding it on all sides is the sphere of water which makes the seas, though in places it goes inside the earth and runs beneath its surface, leaving dry land. Surrounding that is the sphere of air, and around that is the sphere of fire. This is the purest sort of fire, not the smoky fire of earth, and when illuminated by the sun it burns blue, which is why the sky is blue. These are the sublunar world, above which is the Lunar Sphere described by the moon's orbit. Each of the other six planets has its own sphere, each wholly enclosing the preceding one, until the twelfth and final sphere, that of the stars. The supralunar spheres and the heavenly orbs are made of something, but exactly what is a mystery. The primary opinion, in accordance with Aristotle, is that earth, water, fire and air exist only below the Lunar Sphere, and that above there is a fifth element, known as aether, which is neither hot nor cold nor dry nor moist, and has dodecahedral corpuscles. Aristotle claims that aether exists only beyond the Lunar Sphere and is all that exists there, being the constituent matter of the planetary spheres and planets. Some deny the existence of aether, preferring to believe the sphere of fire extends out as far as the fixed stars, and in such a cosmology, the planetary spheres are not actual entities but simply the orbits of the wandering stars. The Order of Hermes tends to support Aristotle, and many believe the Limit of the Lunar Sphere and the sphere of the Moon to be the same thing: the boundary between the laws of the mundane world, which magic can manipulate, and the laws of the celestial realm, which are exclusively the purview of the Divine.

Anyway, let's talk causality. Causality deals in change, and there several kinds of changes. Substantial change is the generation or dissipation of substance, resulting in either a new thing or a thing exiting the world. Quantitative change is change in amount, either increase or reduction. Qualitative change is the change of a thing's nature, transforming it from one substance to another. Lastly, locative change is change of a thing's physical location. All changes have some things in common: an initial point and an end point must exist, and these states must be distinct from each other, or no change has happened. The thing that is changed must persist through the change - change can neither create something from nothing nor completely destroy a thing.

All changes have causes that give the things they affect reasons - why they exist and what it is. It is vitally important to philosophy to understand the causation of change. The material cause of a thing is the matter of which it is made. For example, the material cause of a statue is stone. The formal cause of a thing is the form that gives it definite being as one thing and not another, so the formal cause of a statue is a statue. The efficient cause of a thing is that which makes the chance - the agent, living or nonliving, which is the source of change. In a statue, the sculptor. In a dog, other dogs. Natural objects almost always have an efficient cause of others of their species, because dogs beget dogs and trees beget trees. The final cause of a thing is the purpose of it - the sake for which it exists or the reason for the change. For all natural things, the final cause is to realize the form as perfectly as possible - ie, a dog's final cause is to be as good a dog as possible. Manufactured objects are different. The final cause of a statue is, perhaps, to commemorate someone or win their favor.



Change in substance is either generation or destruction. When a person is born, they come into being. When they die, they are destroyed. Likewise when a statue is made or smashed. The form and matter of a thing survive change in substance, satisfying the need for all change to have something persist. It is the substance, the combination of form and matter, which is created or destroyed. The act of generation is rarely the creation of substance de novo, where nothing was previously, but instead takes a pre-existing substance and gives it new form. Thus, a statue begins as marble but at the end of its generation, it has the form of a statue, while also possessing the form of marble. When an act of destruction occurs, it removes from from the substance - the smashed statue loses the form of a statue, but is left with the form of marble rather than losing all form.

Only supernatural powers, such as Creo magic, may create something from nothing. The ambient matter from which things are magically generated is ubiquitous, but has neither mass nor dimensions, and generates no species. It is impossible to use Creo to make something that cannot exist, such as a four-sided triangle, for such things are not natural, pre-existing forms. A green dog is possible, however, for 'green' is a quality of the dog, not part of its form. However, a cat cannot be given wings by Creo, for wings are not part of the form of a cat, but a lost leg can be restored. When Creo is used to heal or repair, it reasserts the original form of the substance, banishing any changes in categories, such as wounds. Perdo magic, likewise, dissolves substance rather than matter. When the form is separated from the matter, the substance no longer exists, but both form and matter do exist. However, since the form is non-material and the matter is formless, the destroyed object is gone. Because Perdo damages categories and substance, it cannot improve an object, since it moves the target further from its ideal state.

Change in quality is alteration, the change of properties. A wax candle alters when warmed, becoming softer, and harder when cold. This comes through alterations in relative amounts of hot, cold, moist and dry particles. Natural philosophy holds that all substances possess the digestive capacity (the propensity to change) and the retentive capacity (the tendency to remain the same). Digestion is caused by hot and moist particles, which is why the hot and moist air so readily condenses into rain or rarefies into lightning. Moistness in particular gives fluidity and flexibility. Moist things also tend to be volatile and expansive, filling the space allowed them. Heat encourages particles to separate from dissimilar particles and cling to their own kind. Retention is caused by cold and dry particles. Coldness causes mixing and coagulation, while dryness causes solidity, rigidity and structure. Thus, rock breaks rather than changes and metal melts only because it is more moist than other forms of earth, and even then requires extreme circumstances.

Alteration is not always under Muto - in fact, most alteration is in terms of natural change, and thus is Rego. Water can be made ice or steam by Rego, for both are natural states of water. Rego may also make something resistant to change by enhancing its retentive capacity. Alchemy operates via the natural alterations of substance caused by refinement and purification. Muto, on the other hand, does not work via digestion or retention, but instead directly manipulates the category of quality to alter the properties of a substance without actually changing the substance. The original form and matter remain unchanged, so a man made into a pig by Muto is just a man with the categories of a pig, and is still a man. House Bjornaer's transformations are deeper, with a change in form despite sharing the same matter. If this were fully understood by Hermetic magi, perhaps permanent change would be possible.

Change in quantity is growth or dimunition. Just as all objects have digestive and retentive capacities, they have attractive and expulsive capacities. The attractive capacity is granted by hot and dry particles, while the expulsive is by cold and moist. Since all substances have all four particles, all things may attract to themselves more matter and grow, or expel extra matter and shrink. Those objects with excess heat and dryness are naturally inclined to grow by attracting more matter, such as the capacity for fire to spread and grow, while moist and cold objects naturally decrease their own substance, much as water tends to evaporate or seep away if not prevented from doing so. It is the attractive property of living things that causes them to grow through their lives, and it is the attractive and expulsive properties that order the seasons, causing the spheres of air and fire to expand in summer at the expense of water and earth, and vice versa in winter.

Growth is most easily caused via magic by creating more substance directly via informing new matter to account for change in size. This is Creo magic. Muto may also make a thing grow, but this is again manipulation of categories directly, making a thing larger or heavier without increasing substance. Such a change is unnatural and can never be permanent.

Change in place is motion. All things, inanimate or animate, capable of motion are moved by something distinguishable from the thing which is moved. In animate creatures, this is often the living spirit as mover and the body as moved. In animate objects, the mover and the moved are physically and spatially distinct, and what is what seperates animate from inanimate. In the sublunar world, natural movement of inanimate objects is always in a straight line. All things find their level according to their balance of elements unless somehow restrained. Stones fall, being predominantly cold and dry and so seeking to reach the center of the world. Water is relatively heavy, but not absolutely heavy as earth is, so it rises above earth but below air and fire. Air is relatively light, so between water and fire. In all cases, the initial mover of natural motion is the generans, the generator which initially produced the body in motion. Fire produces fire, and confers on new fire all properties that belong to fire, including the natural ability to rise when not impeded.

In addition to natural motion, objects may experience precipitate motion, also called violent or accidental motion, which is motion contrary to that naturally determined by the elements. The initial mover is usually quite easy to identify, since it must physically contact the thing being moved. A man is the initial mover of a thrown stone, and to do so he must overcome the resistance of the stone caused by its natural desire to move downwards. What keeps the stone moving once it loses contact with the man is the air. You see, the initial mover also moves the air, the first portion of which pushes the stone and thus activates the next portion, which pushes the stone and activates the next, and so on. As the process continues, the motive power gradually diminishes until the air is not strong enough to activate the next unit of air because of its resistance. At this point the stone begins to fall naturally. Fire and water may also propagate motion in this manner. It is only earth, which is absolutely immobile, which cannot. Water is more dense than airand thus has more resistance, so objects in water do not go so far due to precipitate motion. Fire is less dense, and an object in the sphere of fire continues to move for much longer than would normally be possible in air, which is why comets and meteors remain in the sphere of fire for years. Above the lunar sphere, other rules may apply. Those who follow Aristotle posit the idea that aether's natural movement is circular, not linear, and thus that the rotation of the heavenly spheres is a product of natural motion. Dissenters claim that the sphere of fire extends into the celestial realm, becoming increasingly rarefied until it offers no resistance at all. Thus, the wandering stars, set into precipitate motion by the Prime Mover, God, when He created them, still move to this day in their orbits.

It may seem counterintuitive to you modern folks, but there is no concept of momentum, and an object's speed has no relation to the force that propels it. Thus, a stone from a sling would do no more damage at higher speed - only the force imparted on it is important. Those thrown by the strong are no faster than those thrown by the weak, though they may travel further due to greater ability to overcome resistance of both stone and air. An object propelled and guided infallibly to the target by Rego magic has magic as both initial and subsequent mover (and so can be resisted). To overcome this problem, a few Rego spells work in two different ways. First, an object can be positioned high in the air and then released, that natural movement (ie, falling) makes it hit the target. The second is to use magic as initial mover and the force of air as the subsequent mover. Both require aiming, because the magical control is released early enough for non-magical movers to take over by the time they hit.

Now, Natural Philosophy. Metaphysics studies why the world is as at is. Natural philosophy considers what the world is. Much of this work is by the great encyclopedic authors, such as the 37-book Natural Histories of Pliny, or the 20-volume The Etymologies by Isidore of Seville. Geography is the first aspect of natural philosophy, the study of the spheres of earth and water. It is plainly evident to all people with reason that the earth is a ball, not flat. Were it flat, then there could be something below it, which is impossible Further, a city at the extreme east would have sunrise and midday at once, for no sooner would the sun rise than it would be at zenith, while in the extreme west, midday and evening would be the same time. Since for all people in all places, the time from morning to midday and midday to sunset is equally long, it is clear the earth is round. (Sure, the actual length of the day varies, but the time from sunrise to midday is always equal to the time from midday to sunset.)

The earth is by nature cold and dry, but the middle zone, directly in the path of the sun, is scorched by its heat. Further, the two poles (the arctic, on this side of the torrid zone, and the antarctic on the other side)are so far removed as to be perpetually bound in ice. Two parts, however, one between the arctic and torrid zone and one between the antarctic and torrid zone, are suitable for people and animals. These are the temperate zones. Within each are two habitable areas. The ocean divides the ball of the earth along the equator and the meridian which connects the two poles. Thus, the only known habitable area occupies one quarter of the globe. Its partner on the same side of the torrid zone but divided by the meridian is the anticthones, while on the same side of the meridian but across the torrid zone is the antoeci. Directly opposite the known habitable area is the antipodes.



Next time: More geography and meteorology

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