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[OSSR] Guide to the Technocracy
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Mechalich
Knight-Baron


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 11:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Chapter Three: History Lessons

So, all White Wolf games are obligated to have history chapters, and those histories inevitably stretch back to the dawn of time because reasons. This is stupid. This is particularly stupid in Mage, where reality is consensual and the past constantly changes based on what people believe happened, making history a largely fact-free zone. it is incredibly stupid for the Technocracy because unlike all other major factions in the oWoD the Technocracy is essentially modern. It's one thing to talk about events thousands of years ago in Vampire, where thousand year old beings are still around and represent a functional part of the setting, or even in werewolf where you can hypothetically talk to immortal spirits and shit, but the Union really doesn't care very much about anything before around 1600 CE - it's all mythic path that point. As a result this chapter (which is the longest one so far) is an epic waste of space. This is doubly so when the authors chose to double down on vague uselessness and go all historicity on their recollection and talk about multiple interpretations and viewpoints and shit. No one cares about any of that, we just need data that can inform actual stories not philosophizing.

So I'm not even going to talk about the pre-modern parts. That's ten pages you simply do not need to read.


really no need to start earlier than this

Now in terms of the modern, at least potentially relevant historical pieces there's a couple of other things. First, none of the historical accounts presents in various Mage books are consistent in the slightest. Many of the various important events are relate one way in the core book, another way in this book, a third way in the relevant splatbook, and if they occur anywhere else a fourth way there. As a result the actual history of something like the career of Lord Vargo the zeppelin emperor is totally unknowable: canon does not agree with itself.


not this emperor zeppelin, though then again, maybe so

Then there's the additional issue of how actual real world historical figures interact with Technocratic history, which leads to one of the major conundrums of Mage: was everyone important who ever lived a mage or weren't they? The traditions largely elide this question by being 'outside of society' for centuries so they only have to probe this question for ancient figures like Lao Tzu or weirdos like Aleister Crowley. By contrast, when it comes to the Technocracy a decision has to be made with regard to nearly every major figure in the advancement of the sciences from the enlightenment onward. The result is about as ridiculously messy as you might expect. Some examples: it is strongly implied that the modern form of the Technocratic Union was dictated by Queen Victoria, but it is an open question whether she was 'enlightened.' Johnnes Kepler explicitly was enlightened, lived for centuries, and landed on the moon in 1892 (really), meanwhile Oppenheimer and the Manhattan Project generally apparently were not.


no Technocrats to see here, move along

While this is generally just stupid, it can be worse. Witness the case of Alan Turing. In Mage he was absolutely one of the enlightened - also powerful as fuck - and he was part of the Virtual Adepts in their little 'hey we don't like our bosses much so we're going to jump ship' conspiracy that has never been well justified. The fate of Alan Turing is related in at least five MtA books, including this one. Everyone version is significantly different from the others, but none of them manage to get around to mentioning how Turing was prosecuted by the UK government for being gay and that this probably had something to do with his untimely death. Maybe, if you didn't feel like addressing that, you could have avoided making Turing such a centerpiece of the secret history.

In other news this chapter includes the usual stupidity about WWII - how neither Hitler nor any member of his inner circle were mages. They are at least willing to shove 'nephandic aid' in there, but that's all. In truth is it really quite unclear how WWII could have even happened given the Technocracy's existence, or that if it did, how it didn't manage to fracture the organization in half. The chapter tiptoes around that particular question quietly.


seriously, move along, nothing to see here

The concluding bits of this chapter more or less declare Technocratic victory, of a sort, by listing off some major achievements by each of the various conventions - whose names must be getting very tiresome considering they haven't been officially introduced in any sort of systematic way. There's also a page long sidebar on how the Union uses its influence to try and avoid a major balance of power conflict that would launch WWIII by channeling government energy into smaller, side conflicts. It has a very high ratio of BS to actual information. Then, of course, there's the obligatory summary of the very recent metaplot developments (which wouldn't be properly codified until Mage Revised came out, so they lack any rules) and a prophecy that the end of the world is nigh.


inescapable

All in all, this is a really dumb chapter and it is full of gobbledygook. Thankfully, because the Technocracy is a ruthlessly modern organization managed in a modern way you don't have to care about almost all of it. This is a big leg up on Vampire - where you absolute do care about shit Tremere was doing a thousand years ago - or even Mage - where all the important big dick NPCs are hundreds of years old and remember this crap and take it personally. So the verdict is largely stupid but irrelevant.


verdict
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hyzmarca
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 9:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

It's really sad that they miss the oppertunity to make World War II the technocracy's fault entirely.

Like, it's easy to just say that Fascism and Communism were both created by NWO factions as a means of control, and the right hand didn't talk to the left hand, and when this led to the outbreak of a world war, both sides had to double down and support their cause against the nominally dominate democratic-imperialist faction, leading to both getting Shitcanned, with Communism only comming out slightly ahead because pro-Capitalist Syndicate agents convinced the bosses that it would be more effective to have Communism slowly collapse and fail over decades.

This, of course, also broke the Democratic-Imperialists NWOers, allowing the UN-supporting Black Helicopter People to take over.

They could even have Hitler as that NWO agent who gets all the shit jobs because everyone hates him.
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Voss
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 10:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Actually, skipping out on yet another option to deny non-supernaturals any agency ever is not a bad thing.

WW fake history is full of that sort of bullshit.
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Mechalich
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 22, 2017 12:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

WWII is a messy conundrum regarding Mage history. The problem is that, if Hitler is not a mage or doesn't have magical support it becomes trivial for almost any mage to assassinate him once people realize where things are going - and the information resources of mages make it almost impossible for them not to figure that out fairly early on. At the same time Hitler was so evil that any faction you associate him is forever tainted and unplayable.

The game as a whole tries to thread the needle by having mages in the Traditions and Technocracy assist the Axis early on for a variety of reasons, but when it all goes bad they actually form a truce and fight the nephandi who had joined with Hitler and are presumably protecting him. It just happens to be messy and confused.
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Ancient History
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 22, 2017 12:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Well, that's why they have the Nephandi and Marauders - White Wolf's basic moral alignment system isn't good vs. evil or law vs. chaos, it's our law vs. their law and everybody hates the ugly kid in the corner that just wants to set shit on fire. Because of course that's the Christian mindset: the typical view of Christianity has Christians in direct opposition to an organized, subversive anti-Christian organization (usually Satanists, but there are other flavors) - the idea that people just don't buy into your good vs. evil bullshit is even more extreme and heretical than "like Christianity, but we turn our backs on God and worship Satan!"
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hyzmarca
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 22, 2017 12:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Mechalich wrote:
WWII is a messy conundrum regarding Mage history. The problem is that, if Hitler is not a mage or doesn't have magical support it becomes trivial for almost any mage to assassinate him once people realize where things are going - and the information resources of mages make it almost impossible for them not to figure that out fairly early on. At the same time Hitler was so evil that any faction you associate him is forever tainted and unplayable.

The game as a whole tries to thread the needle by having mages in the Traditions and Technocracy assist the Axis early on for a variety of reasons, but when it all goes bad they actually form a truce and fight the nephandi who had joined with Hitler and are presumably protecting him. It just happens to be messy and confused.


I can seriously imagine a group of young idealists who want to save the world and make everyone happy with unicorns and rainbows and world peace forever coming up with a plan that consists of

1)Murder tens of millions of people
2)????
3)Profit.


And I can seriously see an orginization like the technocracy going "yes, World War II was bad, but if you look at the big picture we've done way worse stuff than that. It's like a 5 of of 10 on the in-hindsight-this-caused-a-lot-more-human-misery-than-we-expected-scale, and some of our worst mistakes have gone up to 11. But if you add all of it up, all the good we've done and all of our mistakes, our promote human health and happiness accounts are still in the black. Sometimes we drop a few eggs, but we really are making the world better and safer."

Because when you're a world domination scheme bent on doing horrible things for the greater good, that's just how you roll.
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Voss
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 22, 2017 3:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I'm legitimately disturbed that you think wwii and its associated atrocities only rank as middling on some sort of atrocity scale. What are you possiblyholding up as a 10/10, hyzmarca seal of approval?

The only thig that ranges from close to worse in estimates are the disease epidemics among the Native American populations and that generally wasn't intentional.


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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 22, 2017 6:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Smallpox used to kill one person in twelve. For every dozen people born, one of them would die at some point to smallpox. Not diseases in general, just smallpox. In the 20th century WWII killed about 60 million people. If you did that five times it would kill the 300 million people that smallpox killed in the 20th century alone. And I would remind you that the number of people killed by smallpox in the latter part of the 20th century was zero because it was declared eradicated in 1980. Tobacco kills 6 million people every year, and thus manages to be equal to World War 2 (1936-1945) everyWorld War 2 length time period.

As far as death and human misery goes, Tobacco is basically World War II grinding on forever with no real sign of stopping in our life times. Death camps and nuclear bombs and stuff are certainly dramatic, but public health crises are always and forever bigger than wars on the global scale.

-Frank
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Longes
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 22, 2017 6:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

hyzmarca wrote:
I can seriously imagine a group of young idealists who want to save the world and make everyone happy with unicorns and rainbows and world peace forever coming up with a plan that consists of

1)Murder tens of millions of people
2)????
3)Profit.

That's basically Euthanatos. It's their entire deal that they use time magic to decide who should die for the greater good and then kill those people.
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Voss
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 22, 2017 11:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

FrankTrollman wrote:
Smallpox used to kill one person in twelve. For every dozen people born, one of them would die at some point to smallpox. Not diseases in general, just smallpox. In the 20th century WWII killed about 60 million people. If you did that five times it would kill the 300 million people that smallpox killed in the 20th century alone. And I would remind you that the number of people killed by smallpox in the latter part of the 20th century was zero because it was declared eradicated in 1980. Tobacco kills 6 million people every year, and thus manages to be equal to World War 2 (1936-1945) everyWorld War 2 length time period.

As far as death and human misery goes, Tobacco is basically World War II grinding on forever with no real sign of stopping in our life times. Death camps and nuclear bombs and stuff are certainly dramatic, but public health crises are always and forever bigger than wars on the global scale.

-Frank


Right. I can see tobacco, that'd be an actual good example. But in the context of the Technocracy, smallpox would be the opposite, as if (in the WoD) it wasn't them that cured it, their worldview and paradigm influenced the people that did. That was a 'yay, science!' moment, pretty much the opposite of an atrocity.


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Omegonthesane
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 22, 2017 11:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Voss wrote:
FrankTrollman wrote:
Smallpox used to kill one person in twelve. For every dozen people born, one of them would die at some point to smallpox. Not diseases in general, just smallpox. In the 20th century WWII killed about 60 million people. If you did that five times it would kill the 300 million people that smallpox killed in the 20th century alone. And I would remind you that the number of people killed by smallpox in the latter part of the 20th century was zero because it was declared eradicated in 1980. Tobacco kills 6 million people every year, and thus manages to be equal to World War 2 (1936-1945) everyWorld War 2 length time period.

As far as death and human misery goes, Tobacco is basically World War II grinding on forever with no real sign of stopping in our life times. Death camps and nuclear bombs and stuff are certainly dramatic, but public health crises are always and forever bigger than wars on the global scale.

-Frank


Right. I can see tobacco, that'd be an actual good example But in the context of the Technocracy, smallpox would be the opposite, as if (in the context of WoD) it wasn't them that cured it, their worldview and paradigm influenced the people that did. That was a 'yay, science!' moment, pretty much the opposite of an atrocity.

I think this was more arguing that curing smallpox wins you so many good points as to offset being responsible for all the death in the Second World War.

Quick Googling and Wikipedia to remind me agrees with my suspicion that the Spanish Flu took out more than twice as many as the entire First World War.
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FrankTrollman wrote:
As far as death and human misery goes, Tobacco is basically World War II grinding on forever with no real sign of stopping in our life times. Death camps and nuclear bombs and stuff are certainly dramatic, but public health crises are always and forever bigger than wars on the global scale.

FrankTrollman wrote:
White people are basically just horrible...The entire Reagan Revolution is just white people voting to destroy their own social safety nets because they'd rather fucking starve than let black people eat.



Zak S, Zak Smith, Dndwithpornstars, Zak Sabbath, Justin Bieber, shitmuffin


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maglag
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 22, 2017 11:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Mechalich wrote:
WWII is a messy conundrum regarding Mage history. The problem is that, if Hitler is not a mage or doesn't have magical support it becomes trivial for almost any mage to assassinate him once people realize where things are going - and the information resources of mages make it almost impossible for them not to figure that out fairly early on. At the same time Hitler was so evil that any faction you associate him is forever tainted and unpplayable.


In the real world lots of nazi scientists designing terror weapons to butcher allies and calculating how to kill jews faster ended up just getting new jobs in the USA and then suddenly they were super good guys.

People can forgive pretty much anything as long as you show you are willing to switch sides and prove you will be useful to your new side.
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Actually, our blood banking system is set up exactly the way you'd want it to be if you were a secret vampire conspiracy.
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Prak
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 22, 2017 9:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I almost feel like WWII can't have involved mages in Hitler's circle. With the whole consensual reality thing going on in Mage, it's kind of a lot more effective to just convince billions of people that [demographic you hate] doesn't exist than it would be to actually physically slaughter them. Especially since probably half those billions don't even know about them anyway.
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No, No. 'Prak' is actually a Thri Kreen impersonating a human and roleplaying himself as a D&D character. All hail our hidden insect overlords.


FrankTrollman wrote:
In Soviet Russia, cosmic horror is the default state.

You should gain sanity for finding out that the problems of a region are because there are fucking monsters there.
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Longes
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 22, 2017 10:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Prak wrote:
I almost feel like WWII can't have involved mages in Hitler's circle. With the whole consensual reality thing going on in Mage, it's kind of a lot more effective to just convince billions of people that [demographic you hate] doesn't exist than it would be to actually physically slaughter them. Especially since probably half those billions don't even know about them anyway.


Mage is incredibly vague and inconsistent about how Consensus works. For example, M20 posits that history is immutable, people are immutable and essential laws of reality like Gravity are also immutable.
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hyzmarca
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 22, 2017 10:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Prak wrote:
I almost feel like WWII can't have involved mages in Hitler's circle. With the whole consensual reality thing going on in Mage, it's kind of a lot more effective to just convince billions of people that [demographic you hate] doesn't exist than it would be to actually physically slaughter them. Especially since probably half those billions don't even know about them anyway.


But, the scheme doesn't world without demographics you hate. You need to blame someone for backstabbing Germany in World War I. You need scapegoats to direct the anger of the masses at, or else you're just a crazy guy with a silly little mustache.


Also, convincing billions of people would require global media control, rather than control of the German media alone. It wouldn't work because members of those demographics still know that they exist, so you'll have to kill them, anyway.

I mean, you're never going to convince the world that Jews are a fairy tale that never existed, because there are too many of them and people have met them. Homosexuality as a distinct orientation wasn't believed to exist, but everyone knew that it was possible to stick your weenie in another guy's butt, and no amount of propaganda will make that impossible, either. You're better off just calling it Sexual Bolshevism and declaring that it is a Jewish plot to destroy Germany.

The real question then, is why the Elders of Zion aren't an actual cabal of mages who seek to destroy and enslave gentile society. And the answer to that is because we're really not going to go there.


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Longes
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 22, 2017 10:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

hyzmarca wrote:
The real question then, is why the Elders of Zion aren't an actual cabal of mages who seek to destroy and enslave gentile society. And the answer to that is because we're really not going to go there.


Joke is on you.

Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)
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Mechalich
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PostPosted: Sat Apr 22, 2017 11:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Prak wrote:
I almost feel like WWII can't have involved mages in Hitler's circle. With the whole consensual reality thing going on in Mage, it's kind of a lot more effective to just convince billions of people that [demographic you hate] doesn't exist than it would be to actually physically slaughter them. Especially since probably half those billions don't even know about them anyway.


Mercilessly slaughtering people for the evulz is totally part of the nephandic bailiwick though. That's the thing, if you're going to blame the monstrous excesses of WWII (which is the part people care about, not just that there was a giant war during that timeframe) on someone in Mage, the nephandi are practically jumping up and down screaming 'pick me, pick me!' And the game did kinda-sorta go that direction. There were nephandi allied with the Nazis, the Technocracy and Traditions called a truce so they could kick them in the face in 1944, and Nazi nephandi NPCs do exist (ex. there's one in Ascension who was the former wife of an SS Officer).

However, White Wolf wanted to avoid trying to go too far, for the reason that they didn't want to attribute pretty much all horrific evil in human history ever to the Nephandi and related incarnations of supernatural evil. The result is a very mealy-mouthed treatment of historical tragedies of which WWII and the Holocaust are merely the most blatantly obvious.

This is part of a more generally problem of having 'for the evulz' and 'made of evil' factions in the oWoD in the first place. It's the same problem the Werewolf Triat has with the Wyrm. You have whole chunks of the game where the only viable response is 'kill it with fire' and the result cheapens the dynamic between everyone else.
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Mechalich
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 23, 2017 9:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Chapter Four: Protocols

This is an important chapter - it's the one that describes what the Technocratic Union is, how it works, and what it does. This is probably the most important chapter in terms of differentiating the Technocracy from the other oWoD games.

This chapter begins by stating that the Union has protocols. simply put, there are rules regarding what you are allowed to do. This isn't exactly new, the Camarilla has rules too, but it's much more hard-coded.

Structure
The big difference regarding the Technocratic Union and other oWoD groups is that it is well, a Union. In pretty much all other organizations the parts predominate. The Council of Traditions is defined by the traditions, the camarilla and sabbat by their clans, the various fera breeds by their clans and tribes. The Technocracy has sub-conventions, but they all work as part of the Union and this is stressed. In particular, when this chapter outlines the hierarchy it applies to all the conventions. Contrast this with the traditions which have either vastly varied hierarchies or no hierarchy at all.


bland, but reasonably efficient

When playing as the Technocracy you are not at the bottom of the heap. Now this is largely true of all the oWod games - vampires have ghouls, werwwolves have kinfolk, and so on, but organizational role of the ordinary people in the Union is better defined. Basically, they are all the office weenies and support staff (and occasionally the muscle) you might happen to need. And rather than being the minions or relatives of a specific character or small group of characters, they are part of the Union too. That's important in reinforcing the idea of one organization rather than countless little fiefdoms.

Now, this book is self-aware enough to recognize that the enlightened portion of the Union - as people with actual superpowers - tend to look down on those who can't quite make the cut, especially given the meritocratic emphasis of the technocracy. So the 'citizens' tend to get referred to as 'Proles.' This is actually referenced a lot, to the point that there's both the official policy of treating the unenlightened as sub-humans is not to be tolerated, and remarks on the unofficial policy of absolutely treating the Proles like shit whenever its convenient.


in the context of this game, the meaning is rather different

PCs start at the third level, above the lowly proles and the unenlightened people who count as 'extraordinary citizens' which means they can use the super-science toys even if they can't build them. This is the front lines character who serves as a principal cast member in any police procedural you've ever seen.

It's at the next level that we see the big change: the supervisor. A party of technocrats (called an Amalgam because all the good names were taken by this point), reports directly to a boss. Again, like pretty much any group of agents in an assemble police procedural. This is seismically different from most other games. In vampire your coterie isn't responsible to anyone - the Prince is a distant figure who has rather limited control over what you're allowed to do. A werewolf pack is nominally responsible to higher-renown elders but they can't exactly order you to go on missions. A mage cabal isn't obligated to listen to anyone. The existence of a supervisor - a character who can assign missions and debrief the party after missions and do a bunch of other managerial stuff is huge. It provides a vehicle for the intrigue through which WW games are supposed to operate to move without needing dozens of people for a LARP cast. It offers the GM a figure to chastise the characters in-game if the party screws up, and so on. When you're fighting crime you need a boss. In this game you have one.


I am a horrible leader and person, but the story needs me

Above the supervisor in the Symposium - which are regional oversight groups. Above them are the horizon Constructs, which are in space and operate at a national or higher oversight level. They deal in abstractions and provide fuel for the schism. Even above that there is the Inner Circle and the manifestation referred to as Control. Control is basically written as an all-seeing ghost in the machine that can be anywhere, see all, and intervene wherever. It is admittedly an instrument for the GM to throw their dick around whenever they want (not that Mage, as a game, had those in short supply, cough, Paradox, cough). Still, in a game ostensibly about a super-science conspiracy, it is not surprising that such a thing would be written in.


this is the top result in a google image search for CONTROL, we are fully within the trope zone

All of this is followed by a listing of rank terms for the different conventions, conveniently organized so people know what to call each other. This is largely an exercise in unnecessary term bloat, but it is organized term bloat that keeps everyone literally on the same page.

Next up, the Precepts of Damian. This bizarre bit of terminology is actually hugely important. he Precepts of Damian is the mission statement of the Technocratic Union - the higher-order goals and intentions. This is what you do in the game - you advance one or more of the precepts. That's your purpose, a six point, itemized list. Bam, you have just outpaced all the other oWoD games. Pick a single precept as a focus, identity an interesting idea that falls under the umbrella, and you have a campaign.

I'm going to quickly summarize the Precepts to talk about them in a bit more detail:
1. Bring Order
2. Promote Science and Enlightenment ideals.
3. Keep in the Spirit World in the Spirit World and off 5th Avenue
4. Advance Science
5. Destroy all other supernaturals
6. Protect the masses from themselves and others.


Precept #5, more or less

So, it's a pretty broad list, especially article one, but you can easily line up campaigns under the others. Article 2 lends itself to media manipulation, wars of public opinion, and all that. Article 3 is about being Ghostbusters or the Men in Black, Article 4 goes for research based campaigns or exploration based ones. Article 5 is for getting violent and fighting crime. Article 6 is the rationalization that justifies it all. This is a vast narrowing of core assumptions compared to one oWoD games. Those could theoretically be about anything under the sun, which provided a massive lack of focus and led to various splatbooks fapping to character concepts and interests that were pretty much useless for collaborative storytelling at a table. In a technocracy game you are pursuing one or more of these six goals. Broad as they may be that is a significant improvement over not having any goals at all.

The bit immediately following this outlines what each of the five conventions is presently doing to pursue said goals and some conflicts about them. For example, Iteration X interprets 'destroy' with rather extreme prejudice, while the NWO would prefer to convert their victims (albeit possibly with even greater prejudice). Some of this is a bit dated now - like the reference to the Human Genome Project. The is a problem with the Technocracy as a game - it was constantly fighting to keep up with technological developments (Mage had this problem too, but it hurt less).

And, because the White Wolf pendulum must inevitably swing, we get to the part about social conditioning and psych ops. This starts with the principle that your bosses are monitoring and evaluating your performance and can, and will, call the party to account from time to time. That's all good, but then it gets weird. Someone, having read 1984 a few times too many, came up with a whole new and poorly defined sub-system of rules for 'social conditioning.' This is basically a form of limited but long term mind control that can be inflicted upon people - potentially including the PCs - without anyone necessarily knowing (because Control can do it to you, among others). It's a huge mess, not well designed at all, and in almost any sense not necessary, since use of the Mind sphere pretty much overrides conventional brainwashing and manipulation techniques anyway.

The sidebar about use of social conditioning shows how far the writers had their heads up their own asses here. It includes the following line: “indulge in the sort of angst that only a White Wolf gamer can understand fully.” I wish I was kidding. I swear, if I ever find out who was responsible for that particular declaration and happen to meet them I will face a very strong urge to throw something at their head. It is a travesty.



Moving on, thankfully, there is a set of sample operational protocols for actual fieldwork. This is mostly common sense stuff: don't talk about the occult to the newbs, don't do flashy things that accumulate paradox, don't talk to the psycho mages, don't randomly jump across dimensions, don't poach other people's Proles. Simple, sensible guidelines that honestly provide a nice fig leaf for GMs to advise the party not to do something ridiculously stupid. These are far more useful than similar guidelines for Vampire, because the Union is a functional organization and there are real consequences for violating these things and it is made clear that the Symposiums actually enforce these rules. Also, because characters are assigned to an amalgam, and not just a random association of mages, there’s a reasonable expectation that everyone would actually be familiar with these rules and agreed to follow them at some point.

The Union, as you might expect by this point, has rules for dealing with the various other things slithering about the oWoD. These range from the simple: kill all the Marauders and Nephandi, do it right now! To the complex: a list of five specific protocols for dealing with Mages, special ghostbuster units for exorcising wraiths. To the hilarious: walk around an watch fairies die horribly from the hideous levels of banality you naturally possess. As for vampires, the Technocrats regard them as largely irrelevant because they are almost trivially easy for their agents to murder (true). They mostly avoid werewolves, and in some ways there's actually a tacit alliance between the two factions, since werewolves spend a lot of time murdering hostile spirits or fomori the technocracy considers to be troublesome.


however, when other approaches fail, this is basically the back-up plan

Several pages of additional relatively generalized fluff follows about how the Technocracy operates at various scales, including business fronts, influence, just how far you can potentially bend the rules, and what it takes to bring out the big guns. This sort of thing is mostly generic and familiar and will be old hat to anyone who’s ever read any Tom Clancy (meaning most of the US), but there’s nothing glaringly bad.

The chapter ends with a bit about the Technocracy in Space. This is mostly useless material. Mage has long had a tradition of extradimensional otherworlds and the kind of crazy dimension-hopping shenanigans that people like Dr. Strange get up too. Mostly any expedition into this zone descends into MTP in a frightening hurry and the material to support it was never there, if it could ever be. Mage Revised dramatically dialed down excursions to other worlds in a rare case of WW learning a lesson. This essentially means that anything that talks about using the Technocracy for larger science fiction purposes is a waste of space. Essentially there are theoretical rues for playing at something other than the street level. In practice everyone admits they are awful and you really, really shouldn't do that and they specifically put up a wall of aggravated damage to make the point.

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Longes
Prince


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 23, 2017 11:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Quote:
the unenlightened people who count as 'extraordinary citizens' which means they can use the super-science toys even if they can't build them.

To clarify - there are two types of people both referred to as "extraordinary citizens". First are Sleepwalkers - people who can't do magic, but who don't provoke Paradox by seeing magic. These are obviously useful and mages want their entire support staff to be Sleepwalkers. The second type are Sorcerers. That is, people who are not Mages, but who can do what oWoD calls "linear magic", more on the level of Vampire disciplines. They also don't provoke paradox, but are more rare than Sleepwalkers.
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Mechalich
Knight-Baron


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2017 7:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Chapter 5: The Conventions

So, this is a oWoD game. That means factions split into sub-factions with their own sub-factions and occasionally sub-factions of sub-factions of sub-factions.


White Wolf inevitability

The Technocracy indulges in this too, though it is a bit more restrained by degrees than most.

The Technocratic Union is split into conventions, of which there are five. Each convention is further split into Methodologies, usually three or four. The Void Engineers further split some of their methodologies into sub-groups. This is at least better than the Traditions of which there are 9+1 and all have their own subgroups and call those subgroups different things. Because this is White Wolf each of the Conventions gets their own special symbol too - which you do not care about. These are particularly bland, being basically mathematical designs (the Syndicate one is a dollar sign in a circle, whee).

Mage, in general, had a better faction setup than many of the other games because the factions are based on what you do as opposed to who you are. Vampire and Werewolf factions are basically supernatural ethnic groups and you're stuck in the one you started in. Mage ones are based on what kind of magic you do. In the technocracy, that magic is some kind of science, and since the Union as a whole accepts the overall principles of science it is actually possible to transfer from one convention to another with a limited amount of fuss and non of the conventions are inherently at cross-purposes the way the Verbena and Virtual Adepts are.


an important part of this collaborative storytelling game

Of the conventions themselves, there's Iteration X - the name is a Roman numeral reference, like Ix in Dune - which does computers and cyborgs and similar stuff. Iteration X believes in the fusion of man and machine, which is fine, but is saddled with a lot of metaplot baggage regarding The Computer and Autochthonia - their little mechanical paradise in space (which yes, did get tied in with Exalted, sigh). Thankfully mage revised largely wiped these off the table.


the bottom of the rabbit hole goes to a bad, bad place

The New World Order (which is usually written as NWO, because acronyms man, the acronyms) i the stereotypical men in black grouping that deals with media monitoring, social control, and the like. It's the least science-y of the conventions in a lot of ways, especially considering the replication crisis in the social sciences, but there's enough of a veneer to justify all kinds of messing with people's heads. In any case this extremely stereotypical group is probably the easiest kind of White Wolf character to play at all, since you can just pick your favorite procedural or spy thriller character and play them straight up.

The Progenitors do biology. It's pretty much that simple. A lot of ink is spilled about how they make clones - the technocracy uses clones for all the things you'd expect and several you probably wouldn't - but they do other stuff too. Oh, and for your puppy-kicking pleasure the Progenitors also produce a large quantity of the WoD's illegal drugs, which serves to keep the Union's budget in the black.

However, we don't really kick the puppies until you get to the Syndicate. The Syndicate contains all that is good and also all that is terrible about the Technocracy. The good part: the existence of the Syndicate means the Technocracy has a budget. It has income and outlays and a system that can value such things, which means it actually becomes meaningful to talk about expenses and use of resources and so on in game - something you can't do in any reasonable way in Mage. The bad part: take everything that is bad about capitalism and square it. The Syndicate is basically an Ayn Rand fantasy come to life. Oh, and its also hosting it's special projects division which is infiltrated by the Wyrm for additional crapsuck.


dammit, I suppose that was going to show up at some point

Last up is the Void Engineers, kings of acronyms. The presentation of the Void Engineers is kind of schizophrenic. Half the time they are dedicated Men in Black/X-files operatives investigating the weird and keeping it in check and half the time they're refugees from Star Trek would got unreasonably dumped into this game. A lot of this has to do with the utter weirdness of the Mage multiverse and how Mage could never decide exactly what was happening beyond Earth and how much influence it had. The game really can't support any of the things the Void Engineers are supposedly doing - like their dyson sphere in another star system, but a more grounded mission was never provided to allow them to play well with other technocrats.


Toto, I don't think we're in the World of Darkness anymore

This chapter concludes with a handful of sample character templates - for use as NPCs. Mechanically they are poorly constructed, as expected, and there aren't nearly enough of them to represent a stable of sample Technocrats. Also they provide sample stats for Control, which is just insulting.
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2017 1:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Some people in White Wolf were really hardcore into making Exalted-WoD crossover shit. Those people seem to have successfully demanded that all the supernatural types like Hunters, Demons, Geists, Mages, Mummies, and whatever the fuck all conform to the Exalted soul fragment nonsense. Ultimately it's a lot like the people who wanted to do Earthdawn/Shadowrun crossovers.

It's all very odd, because of course like Shadowrun to Earthdawn, the Future/Modern game has always been much much more popular than the fantasy game. So shoehorning your fantasy game's metaplot and magic system and shit in sideways to your much more popular game has always seemed like a terrible idea from a marketing standpoint.

-Frank
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DrPraetor
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2017 2:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

We've run out of negative comparisons to make re: Exalted (a garbage fire with giant fans to blow the smoke into your face?), but the Steam Punk alchemical exalted were pretty cool. Their back story was... merely weird and implausible, as opposed to nun-raping?

So if you just have a magically-invisible abandoned ruin of a steam punk moon, which modern cyborg types have colonized, that would be pretty cool. That is, personally, I like autocthonia if you can have it absent all the other crap from Exalted.
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Mechalich
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Joined: 04 Nov 2015
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2017 11:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

DrPraetor wrote:

So if you just have a magically-invisible abandoned ruin of a steam punk moon, which modern cyborg types have colonized, that would be pretty cool. That is, personally, I like autocthonia if you can have it absent all the other crap from Exalted.


Autochthonia could potentially represent a fun place to explore, sure, but's there's issues with that approach. First, that part was done decades prior to your game. Second, it's not allowed to be abandoned and instead its central controlling alien intelligence tricks the Iterators into believing it is a sentient AI known as The Computer - which they end up kinda-sorta worshipping. This made Iteration X into a complete joke until Mage Revised used the avatar storm to cut contact with The Computer.

Mage in space (or the umbra, which is kinda the same but not) gets weird and distorted really fast. The rules for anything that happened beyond Earth were not just a dumpster fire, they were a dumpster fire with alternate physics. This was doubly a problem in that in Mage 2e you were encouraged to spend basically all your time there, because you were a god, there wasn't any Paradox, and the Technocracy didn't have the upper hand. The actual game kind of broke down as a result because there was no need for any characters to interact with anyone else, you just went and partied in your otherworld of choice.

It's not that you couldn't use the storyteller system for a near-future science fiction game (it would probably work at least as well as Eclipse Phase's actual mechanics for running Eclipse Phase), it's just that Mage rules meant that any movement beyond the Gauntlet tends to degenerate into pure MTP in a hurry - and I'm speaking from experience here, as I was determined to get my money's worth out of The Infinite Tapestry, which was not among my better gaming life choices.
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Mechalich
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PostPosted: Tue May 09, 2017 5:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Sorry this took so long.

Chapter Six: Character Recruitment

This chapter begins with a 122 word rant that takes Mage: the Ascension out back and shoots it in the head. I'll just quote a portion:

“Would you rather be shivering by a fire, crapping in the woods and wiping yourself with dead leaves? No? Didn't think so.”

Having settled that, this chapter proceeds to present character creation for a Technocratic character. It is noted that you technically need the Mage corebook to do this, but there's enough redundancy that you actually don't. This is a very long chapter, being over 50 pages. It begins with a fairly short set of guidelines about not making a puppy-kicking technocrat before jumping into the New Traits section.

Before getting there, I should mention the bit about 'Extraordinary Citizens.' MtA was burdened by the problem that there were entirely too many kinds of magic in the oWoD and it just happened to have the best one. However they had to create rules for 'sorcerers' who used a less cool (but actually better adjudicated) form of magic too. Both the traditions and technocracy co-opted a lot of these people, and in the Union they get called extraordinary citizens. This was massively overly complicated to handle in practice – because juggling two magic systems at once with poorly described rules for how they interact at best is insane. I don't know who actually played with these types of characters in game (I never did) but they technically existed.


other forms of magic...or something

Actually, before getting into traits I'll mention two other things. One is the 'Technocratic Processing Chart' that's this book's version of the standard WW summary chargen table. Except it's 3 full pages long, in rather small print, with an almost ludicrous level of detail. In fact, it has just enough information that it pretty much duplicates all the important information of the entire rest of the chapter.


you can skip to the next chapter now, seriously, it's cool

This wasn't a shovelware product, but man did they feel it necessary to pad out the link to hardcover size. The other thing is a short set of rules designed to produce drones, clones, and other death machines – this is mostly mediated through the ad hoc application of flaws and use of the yet to be explained Enhancements background. You're aren't actually supposed to play as one of the truly powerful cybernetic death machines (you don't have nearly enough points to do that anyway), but someone felt it necessary to cram some otherwise largely superfluous rules in anyway.

***BLOAT WARNING – BLOAT WARNING ***


needless bloat kills pufferfish, how could you do that?

Okay, it makes sense that the Technocracy would get some new stuff compared to standard mages, but they are operating in the same game right, so you'd think there wouldn't need to be that many specialized new traits. You would be wrong.

This chapter does contain so useful description of how technocrats deal with existing Mage phenomena like the cumbersome Avatar essence spirit-rider thing that latches on to awakened souls and how certain existing backgrounds are looked at differently from the Union's perspecitve, but mostly it just goes way off the rails in introducing new stuff.

Here's the rundown:
18 new Natures (yes you can still use any of the old ones)
3 new Talents
12 new Skills (these include Jetpack, Helmsman, and Pilot, which are all somehow different things).
15 new Knowledges and a massively modified whole new system for Academics and Science
23 new merits and flaws (not counting the 4 construct specific ones at the beginning of the chapter)
6 new backgrounds (2 of which are fully operating subsystems) and rules for enhanced backgrounds with ratings over 5.

Oh, all of this is accompanied by those 'here's what this dot rating does' examples things that are actually meaningless. Small mercies, these are rather tongue-in-cheek and are reasonably amusing (ex. Terrorism 4 is 'Mossad would like a word with you').

This is madness, so I'm only going to break down a few bits.

Academics and Science, or, You Don't Know Jack

dammit

Traditional oWoD character sheets have to abilities labeled as 'Academics' and 'Science' these were always problematic because of how ludicrously broad they were. They basically covered any knowledge-related role not specifically covered by the other knowledges, and sometimes not even then, since you could easily leverage academics to get you some finance or law and science to grab a bit of computer and medicine.

So, in their wisdom (or lack thereof) this book chooses to break up Academics and Science into sub-fields. There are six academic fields and a whopping nineteen science fields.

Now, from a perspective of realism, yes it makes sense to note that a physicist may not know anything about Biology or Psychodynamics, but from a gameplay perspective this turns both these disciplines into a giant point-sucking vortex from which there is no escape if you want to make a character who represents the sort of capable polymath who actually shows up in the kind of shows that inspire technocracy games. For example Dr. Walter Bishop of Fringe would have something on the order of 40+ dots just in the various sciences. So this attempted rules adjustment must be rejected in order for the game to remain playable. It's a classic case of White Wolf noticing a problem, but totally failing to identify how it was actually problematic in game and putting forth a solution that just makes things worse.


Technocratic Backgrounds, or Screw the Rules I Have Money

what you thought I wasn't a Technocrat?

We should all be aware that oWoD background were all kinds of unbalanced and broken, but Technocracy backgrounds are that squared. Oh, so much.

First up, the new system for using the requisitions background to acquire needed equipment from the Union. Now this makes sense narratively – James Bond doesn't make or own his gadgets, he gets issued them by Q – and it highlights the differences between Union agents and rogue mages. There's just one problem – it's overpowered as fuck. A smart amalgam – because you can of course work together on this – builds a high requisitions rating and marches around with a suite of 5-dot Devices precisely suited for whatever the mission demands. The GM is forced to put his foot down or this becomes the D&D equivalent of infinite gold in a hurry.


so, if you type 'infinite gold' into google image search...

Second up, we have the rules for pooling backgrounds. Again, this makes narrative sense, the amalgam is a team, they work together, why wouldn't they share resources the way any team of federal agents might be assumed to do. The problem is that this is done additively, while background power doesn't scale additively at all. Its trivially easy for starting characters to hit 8 dots (the recommended starting upper limit) in multiple backgrounds. So once again we have active GM management required.

Third up, the Enhancements background. This is oWoD powergaming for dummies. For the small price of very specific vulnerabilities and a modest reservoir of permanent paradox you can buy implanted weapons, armor, various weird effects, dice to just flat resist magic used against you, and bonus points to your attributes. Enhancements costs 2 points per dot instead of one, but its still totally worth it.

Last, but certainly not least, is the possibility of backgrounds over 5. These are just insane. You know what 8 dots in Backup gets you? A pair of fucking rifle squads (or one cybernetically enhanced rifle squad that fires laser guns) to deploy upon your command. Spies 8 is directorship of an intelligence agency (like, oh, the Kingsman, only probably less British). And of course, resources hits the billionaires mark (in 1999 dollars) at 7 dots and just keep going. The ten-dot rating is written as 'the world is your checkbook.'

Technocrats don't need any magic, they can obliterate pretty much everything else in the oWoD with just the power of their backgrounds from chargen. Screw turning vampires into lawn-chairs, there's a Syndicate-Void Engineer collaboration right now that saw that White House Petition to build a Death Star and decided to get right on it.


It's only 850,000,000,000,000,000, we'll cash out some oil futures, any price is worth the power to settle that stupid debate about whether Pluto's a planet

Bottom line on this chapter: We were doing so good, why'd you have to go and add rules?
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Ancient History
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PostPosted: Tue May 09, 2017 9:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

A lot of these are things that White Wolf tried to do in different products; which is why there are at least four or five different varieties of cyborg running around oWoD. High-level backgrounds and pooling backgrounds has always been overpowered and almost unworkable - the former since Elysium for fuck's sake.

Backgrounds themselves tend to just be problematic as hell. The idea is to capture and assign a quantitative value to assets tangible and intangible, which is something you need because oWoD has no real system to handle wealth or social contacts otherwise, but ends up being so impossibly broad that it's impossible to set an effective bar for what one dot in any given thing does, much less 5+. When wealth can literally buy you the other things you need, for example, why do you spend XP on anything else?
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