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oMage v. nMage
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Daniel
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 14, 2016 5:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

In further examples of:"you need to many sphere dots to accomplish something simple".
Passing a low level mundane security scanner, say to get past the door into an office building of a completely mundane American style company.
At least 4. Entropy, or Forces 2 and Mind 2. To make the scanner glitch and convince the receptionist/security person that it's the scanner being faulty.
And you need 3 successes as well.

This is just super lame.
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Occluded Sun
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 14, 2016 9:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Only if you want to magically ensure the convincing. Merely disrupting the image is much easier.
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Daniel
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 14, 2016 9:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Occluded Sun wrote:
Only if you want to magically ensure the convincing. Merely disrupting the image is much easier.

According to 'M20 How Do You DO That?', disrupting the scanner is Entropy 2, or Forces 2. Pretty Useless in itself.
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Longes
Duke


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 14, 2016 10:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Well, you are not going to conquer the world with just one level 2 sphere. Entropy 2 cast as a ritual to get about 5 successes would let you pass the scanner at exactly the time it glitches and opens the door, and the guard is looking away. Forces 2 would get the scanner to glitch, but won't do anything to the guard. Matter and Forces 3 would make you a fake ID card that gets access. Forces 3 would let you fake a signal of the card's RFID. Spirit 3 would let you rouse the spirit of the door and force it to open the door for you. There are many ways for a Mage to pass a checkpoint. But How Do You Do That does a terrible job of explaining things.
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Occluded Sun
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 14, 2016 10:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Matter and Forces 3 would permit you to make a card... but making the *correct* card is rather more difficult. It would let you copy an existing valid card, though, no problem.

You can't act like an Archmage with only two Spheres. Jedi can't just whammy doors open or mindcontrol everyone they come across, and their paradigm is relatively permissive. Some random gothkiddy who's just opened their eyes to True Reality isn't gonna manage much.
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Longes
Duke


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 14, 2016 10:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

What really pissed me off about HDYDT is a sidebar listing essential abilities for a martial artist. Let me quote it:

Quote:
Although certain arts (boxing, krav maga) are more utilitarian than others (t’ai chi, kung fu), most – if not all – martial-art practices feature other skills that enhance not only the power of the strikes but the wholeness of the practitioner.
In game-terms, then, a skilled martial-arts disciple should take a several dots in the appropriate Abilities. Some real-life homework about your mage’s practice will tell you which Abilities suit her martial training.

Common Abilities
Acrobatics
Athletics
Awareness
Enigmas
Esoterica (all kinds)
Intimidation
Medicine
Meditation
Melee

Specialized Abilities
Academics (History, Philosophy, Tactics, etc.)
Archery
Art (Acting, Dance, Calligraphy, etc.)
Crafts (Weaponsmith)
Cryptography
Empathy
Expression
Etiquette
Pharmacopeia/ Poisons
Science (Biology, Mathematics, Physics, etc.)
Seduction
Stealth
Subterfuge
Survival
Torture
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Cuatro
NPC


Joined: 03 Mar 2017
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 28, 2017 7:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Wow, that answered nothing and only brought up further questions.

Does the book ever actually say what's the bare minimum requirement to be a Kung-fu Wizard?
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Longes
Duke


Joined: 04 Nov 2013
Posts: 2416

PostPosted: Tue Mar 28, 2017 4:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Cuatro wrote:
Wow, that answered nothing and only brought up further questions.

Does the book ever actually say what's the bare minimum requirement to be a Kung-fu Wizard?


Yes. You set the book on fire. Then you make an akashic, put as many dots in Do as GM lets you (pretend that you don't know about the three-dot limit at chargen, it's stupid anyway). You then take whichever spheres you want - any combination can make a fun kung-fu wizard. Except for Spirit. Spirit is great, but it won't make your kung-fu better.
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Occluded Sun
Knight-Baron


Joined: 02 May 2014
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 13, 2017 8:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Spirit can do just about anything, in the sense that it lets you contact spirits and persuade/compel them, and since spirits inhabit and control everything, striking the right bargain permits practically anything. The drawback is that you have to be able to intimidate a spirit, or be able to pay the price it demands, to get things done.

The real problem is that the Spheres aren't conceptually balanced against each other. I doubt there's a practical way of representing a Paradigm mechanically.
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Voss
Prince


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 13, 2017 9:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Well, no. Paradigms are technobabble bullshit by definition. If you have the right sphere dots, you can do whatever, regardless of paradigm and regardless of how much white wolfers jerk off to the concept.

The problem with 'spirits can do anything,' is they're also capable of refusing, which gives DMs grounds to resort to fuckery, and encourages monkey's paw levels of fuckery. I'm reasonable certain that the books explicitly supported this.

The bigger problem with spheres conceptually is they don't reflect anyone's world view. They might believe in spirits, or believe life is distinct from matter, but there isn't a world view that jumbled up all that shit and believed it simultaneously. So for example, instead wood burned because it had fire in it, so burning people with fire arguably spawned off the 'matter' sphere. Or you could believe in D&D style psionics, where molecular agitation is a thing, and so burn people with life magic rather than forces. It isn't even anachronistic or cultural, it's just pure shit all the way down.
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Longes
Duke


Joined: 04 Nov 2013
Posts: 2416

PostPosted: Thu Apr 13, 2017 9:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Occluded Sun wrote:
Spirit can do just about anything, in the sense that it lets you contact spirits and persuade/compel them, and since spirits inhabit and control everything, striking the right bargain permits practically anything. The drawback is that you have to be able to intimidate a spirit, or be able to pay the price it demands, to get things done.

The real problem is that the Spheres aren't conceptually balanced against each other. I doubt there's a practical way of representing a Paradigm mechanically.


The problem with Spirit is that right at the start of the game you get to do much less than other mages. You desperately need downtime to build up a stock of fetishes and make bargains with fire elementals and what not, but in your first adventure you have a sphere that is virtually useless. Though Spirit does shine at investigation as you can talk to spirits of objects and learn a ton of stuff.
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Occluded Sun
Knight-Baron


Joined: 02 May 2014
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 13, 2017 9:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Voss wrote:
Well, no. Paradigms are technobabble bullshit by definition. If you have the right sphere dots, you can do whatever, regardless of paradigm and regardless of how much white wolfers jerk off to the concept.
Well, no. Which is why they had to change the name of Spirit to 'Dimensional Science' for Technocrats, and it does entirely different things.

Sphere dots don't exist in-setting any more than dice do; they're a way to crudely represent the very complex reality, like game mechanics generally.
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Ice9
Duke


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 13, 2017 10:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

My experience with Spirit is that it goes almost straight from sucking to "do all the things" when it hits a tipping point.

At the start, you can talk to spirits, and they're mostly not too helpful. By doing a lot of favors for them, they might assist you with some stuff, maybe. Oh, and you might have pissed off another, more powerful, spirit in the process.

Then when you get high enough to boss spirits around, those spirits can pretty much do anything from any sphere if you have the right ones, plus you can bring a bunch of them with you and stomp your foes with action economy.

Between those, there's a very narrow window where it might be balanced, but that seems to go by pretty quickly.


Last edited by Ice9 on Thu Apr 13, 2017 10:01 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Mechalich
Knight-Baron


Joined: 04 Nov 2015
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 13, 2017 10:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Ice9 wrote:
My experience with Spirit is that it goes almost straight from sucking to "do all the things" when it hits a tipping point.


This is true of any sphere, and the location of the tipping point depends on the GM, the player, and the specific campaign. The general rule of thumb is that, with a reasonably permissive GM (which why are you playing Mage if that's not the case), a decently informed player (meaning who has some actual understanding of the principles they're going to abuse, ex. a physics major with forces) can do pretty much whatever they want with four dots. The tricky part is a that a really well-informed player might be able to synergize 3 dots into godhood.

The spirit based approach is mostly notable for being the most GM dependent, since there are at least theoretical rules for big effects with other spheres but spirit bargaining is pretty much pure MTP, and the GM gets to decide just how hardcore they want to be about the avatar storm.
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Longes
Duke


Joined: 04 Nov 2013
Posts: 2416

PostPosted: Thu Apr 13, 2017 10:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Voss wrote:
Well, no. Paradigms are technobabble bullshit by definition. If you have the right sphere dots, you can do whatever, regardless of paradigm and regardless of how much white wolfers jerk off to the concept.

The problem with 'spirits can do anything,' is they're also capable of refusing, which gives DMs grounds to resort to fuckery, and encourages monkey's paw levels of fuckery. I'm reasonable certain that the books explicitly supported this.

The bigger problem with spheres conceptually is they don't reflect anyone's world view. They might believe in spirits, or believe life is distinct from matter, but there isn't a world view that jumbled up all that shit and believed it simultaneously. So for example, instead wood burned because it had fire in it, so burning people with fire arguably spawned off the 'matter' sphere. Or you could believe in D&D style psionics, where molecular agitation is a thing, and so burn people with life magic rather than forces. It isn't even anachronistic or cultural, it's just pure shit all the way down.


The fact that Hermetic paradigm of oMage is closer to LaVeyan Satanism than to historical Hermeticism has been a source of great amusement for me.
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Occluded Sun
Knight-Baron


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 13, 2017 10:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

The problem isn't so much that paradigm isn't rigorously defined. You can make a game work with mechanics that the players define. But they have to spend time discussing to actually define them, and that gets very tedious when every aspect of each character's worldview has to be understood. So people pretend the mechanics are complete and skip the discussion... which leads to disaster.

A modern chemist with Matter 3 and an alchemist with Matter 3 don't do the same things. Alchemists believed in a fundamentally different worldview than chemists do, and there are consequences of that - one important one being that alchemists didn't require consistency, and thought that the same physical arrangements would behave differently depending on the nature of the experimenter. "As Above, So Below" means that the spiritual controls and determines the physical. Until the alchemist went through a process of spiritual improvement, the physical reactions which symbolically reflected that state would not occur. The process of turning base metals into noble ones was about refinement of the soul.

A chemist, meanwhile, believes that no chemical process will turn lead into gold, because they're basic elements - it takes nuclear changes to alter their nature. The status of the experimenter's soul isn't considered to have anything to do with either chemistry or nuclear physics, you don't need to be a pure person to transmute elements.
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Ancient History
Invincible Overlord


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 14, 2017 1:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

To really appreciate the paradigm approach, you have to look at a system where paradigm is a bit more rigid - like 1st and 2nd edition Shadowrun, which gave Shamans and Hermetics the same skills and building blocks (sorcery, conjuring, enchanting), but gave them very hard-coded differences (elementals vs. nature spirits, libraries + circles vs. lodges, totems vs. elementalists). There were a lot of ways for shamans and hermetics to do the same thing, but because of their individual strengths and limitations, each had their advantages and disadvantages - and on the outskirts, there were things each could not do.

The advantage of paradigms is that the limitations they apply force people to be creative. The disadvantage is that not everybody likes to be creative (or, more bluntly, nobody likes to have to solve some Mister Cavern cock-sucking mindtrick about the one true way to overcome stupid obstacle X, which appears in far too many adventures), and it's often difficult to balance paradigms against each other.

Which is because all paradigms are not equal.

The reason Science! won out as the leading paradigm for understanding the universe is because science works better than the competing paradigms - in part because it was self-testing and self-correcting to a degree that other paradigms aren't.

Ironically, GURPS is a great example of this. GURPS has multiple different magic systems, some of which call themselves magic and others which call themselves whatever. There is no single system that is "right," there are just competing, sometimes interacting, flavors of magic. Some are objectively better than others, and despite the point cost, none of them are really balanced. They don't have to be. GURPS' primary setting is an inherently unbalanced one, which little old ladies can exist side-by side with demigods, sorcerers and cyborgs with superheroes and werewolves and aliens. Some of their magic subsystem has hard limits, others are fuzzier around the edges; Mister Cavern is expected to sort everything out - because there's way too much to detail every possible interaction.
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Voss
Prince


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 14, 2017 5:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Occluded Sun wrote:
The problem isn't so much that paradigm isn't rigorously defined. You can make a game work with mechanics that the players define. But they have to spend time discussing to actually define them, and that gets very tedious when every aspect of each character's worldview has to be understood. So people pretend the mechanics are complete and skip the discussion... which leads to disaster.

A modern chemist with Matter 3 and an alchemist with Matter 3 don't do the same things. Alchemists believed in a fundamentally different worldview than chemists do, and there are consequences of that - one important one being that alchemists didn't require consistency, and thought that the same physical arrangements would behave differently depending on the nature of the experimenter. "As Above, So Below" means that the spiritual controls and determines the physical. Until the alchemist went through a process of spiritual improvement, the physical reactions which symbolically reflected that state would not occur. The process of turning base metals into noble ones was about refinement of the soul.

A chemist, meanwhile, believes that no chemical process will turn lead into gold, because they're basic elements - it takes nuclear changes to alter their nature. The status of the experimenter's soul isn't considered to have anything to do with either chemistry or nuclear physics, you don't need to be a pure person to transmute elements.
and none of that matters for shit in the game. If you have matter 3, (or whatever) you can just turn lead into gold, regardless of whether you're spiritually a dickwaffle, or if it isn't physically possible. You just take an extended action until it happens- it's pretty hard to push that transformation into coincidence, so it's just brute forcing it until it works.

I'm not sure why you think sphere dots don't exist in setting. Character refer to the spheres and their mastery levels all the damn time. What the fuck do you think they're talking about?
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Longes
Duke


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 14, 2017 8:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Voss wrote:
and none of that matters for shit in the game. If you have matter 3, (or whatever) you can just turn lead into gold, regardless of whether you're spiritually a dickwaffle, or if it isn't physically possible. You just take an extended action until it happens- it's pretty hard to push that transformation into coincidence, so it's just brute forcing it until it works.


In theory it shouldn't. You are supposed to self-regulate and say "My character's paradigm doesn't allow for this and that magic feat". But no one ever plays this way because it's stupid.
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 14, 2017 10:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Mechalich wrote:
Ice9 wrote:
My experience with Spirit is that it goes almost straight from sucking to "do all the things" when it hits a tipping point.


This is true of any sphere, and the location of the tipping point depends on the GM, the player, and the specific campaign. The general rule of thumb is that, with a reasonably permissive GM (which why are you playing Mage if that's not the case), a decently informed player (meaning who has some actual understanding of the principles they're going to abuse, ex. a physics major with forces) can do pretty much whatever they want with four dots. The tricky part is a that a really well-informed player might be able to synergize 3 dots into godhood.


Or even 2 dots in some cases. But yes, basically all the spheres do pretty much nothing until you start being able to break rules that let you do pretty much anything.

The big issue with Spirit is that there aren't really any parameters to what it does or doesn't do. You can make a pretty reasonable argument that the tipping point that lets you be master of time and space is one dot. But equally plausible is that you could have a full hand of five dots and have nothing to show for it but a few save or lose spells. What spirit lets you do is to interact with the spirit world. But the spirit world:
  • Doesn't actually exist.
  • Isn't explicitly described anywhere.
  • Interacts with the world you care about in a way that is inconsistent and largely undefined.
  • Has inhabitants which may or may not want things, but what those things are is unknown.


What can it let you do? Well, possibly there's some kind of animist alternate reality where any and all nouns and verbs have associated spirits and you can get them to change their essential trait by waggling your tongue or penis at them. And if that's true you can pretty much line item alter reality provided that you can find out what your MC thinks the various ministers of gravity and managers of concrete hardness and shit actually want and that you could somehow give it to them. And further, if that's the way things are, then the actual powers that Spirit gives are pretty much meaningless - the ability to talk to these things at all is the only power that matters.

On the other hand, if your MC doesn't let you do al that shit, the sphere doesn't really do anything. If there just aren't impactful, interested, and coercible lamp post spirits around, there's no positive impact for having any number of dots. It can even be a net disadvantage because just having spirit is an extra source of potential Big Penis NPCs and threats that you can't actually get away from.

-Frank
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hyzmarca
Prince


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 14, 2017 2:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

A Syndicate agent with the Slip a Fifty Mind 2 rote can get into most locations trivially. "President Grant has an appointment inside."

Scanner:Beep
Guard: Please step out of the line.
Associate: President Grant says that I don't need to step out of the line.
Guard: Carry on, then. Enjoy your flight.


Voss wrote:
and none of that matters for shit in the game. If you have matter 3, (or whatever) you can just turn lead into gold, regardless of whether you're spiritually a dickwaffle, or if it isn't physically possible. You just take an extended action until it happens- it's pretty hard to push that transformation into coincidence, so it's just brute forcing it until it works.


Unless your a Technocrat, then you just build a nuclear reactor and bombard the lead with particles until it loses three protons. Totally coincidental. The resulting gold might be slightly radioactive.

Quote:

I'm not sure why you think sphere dots don't exist in setting. Character refer to the spheres and their mastery levels all the damn time. What the fuck do you think they're talking about?


Spheres as we known them are a game-mechanic abstraction. When Mages in game refer to Sphere's, they're really referring to broad bodies of academic knowledge that apply to certain facets of reality.

In character, a Technocrat wouldn't spend EXP to raise his Matter Sphere to 2. He'd study the cock out of a bunch of physics textbooks until he knew enough to build an elemental transmutation reactor in his basement.

Likewise, a Hermetic would study various in-paradigm textbooks to learn how to perform elemental transmutation.

In character, telling someone your sphere rank is like telling someone the highest class you passed in a subject. Matter 1 is Chemistry 101. Matter 2 is Chemistry 102. And so on.


Last edited by hyzmarca on Fri Apr 14, 2017 2:45 pm; edited 2 times in total
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saithorthepyro
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 14, 2017 2:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Trying to learn Mage the Awakening is what made me decide to never try White Wolf at all. I spent around a week reading the main rulebook, and at the end of it all, was still confused over the mechanics and how there was a meaningful conflict or what the Mage was really supposed to do.

It probably was a better experience then trying to play 1st edition probably would have given me, because reading that just makes me think that I would love to play the Technocracy instead. There are ways to do the technology vs nature argument to make it an interesting story, but Mage makes it completely one-sided in favor of magic without really explaining why bringing the armies of demons, vampires, and other mortal-killing supernatural creatures back is a good thing. If it was a game of playing the villains, this would be fine, but that's not the tone the book has.
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Mechalich
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Joined: 04 Nov 2015
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 14, 2017 4:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

hyzmarca wrote:

Spheres as we known them are a game-mechanic abstraction. When Mages in game refer to Sphere's, they're really referring to broad bodies of academic knowledge that apply to certain facets of reality.


Spheres are referred to explicitly in-setting. The explanation is that the Order of Hermes codified their system such that the Hermetic understanding of magic matches up with the spheres - which in MtA reflect the underlying reality. The OfH goes so far as to have a pompous latin name for each of the spheres. A number of other traditions and the technocracy also do this. While the precise nature of the spheres is intentionally nebulous, characters in setting are quite aware that there are nine different types of magical knowledge and organizations (like the Council of Traditions) and structures reflect this.

saithorthepyro wrote:
It probably was a better experience then trying to play 1st edition probably would have given me, because reading that just makes me think that I would love to play the Technocracy instead. There are ways to do the technology vs nature argument to make it an interesting story, but Mage makes it completely one-sided in favor of magic without really explaining why bringing the armies of demons, vampires, and other mortal-killing supernatural creatures back is a good thing. If it was a game of playing the villains, this would be fine, but that's not the tone the book has.


You would love to play the Technocracy instead. Technocracy: the Enlightenment is the best oWoD game. It has a setup for why the party exists and what the party does. It has organization goals to serve as hooks for the party to pursue. It utilizes well established themes and tropes that anyone who has ever watched any police procedural or Bond film will recognize and understand. It even manages to understand large bureaucratic organizations correctly and posit an internal conflict (the Schism) that makes sense in context. I'll OSSR Guide to the Technocracy if anyone wants more on that particular front.

As for the motive behind playing on the side of magic, well, it's a hard sell. First you have to accept that the modern world is a horrible place that crushes minds and leaves everyone unfulfilled and trapped by capitalism and life is totally spiritually bereft, corrupt, and sick. Mage just sort of asserts this implicitly, it doesn't provide any evidence or marshal any arguments. Once you've bought that, Mage throws the Technocracy at you - stating that the world is not only irredeemably corrupt, but that there's this giant corporate conspiracy that is actively working not just to keep it that way but to make it worse. With that in place, the Traditions - which represent an alternate core worldview, are presented as the other option available.

This is rather like capitalism versus communism. Capitalism has a lot of flaws and there are people who are beaten down by the system or otherwise dejected and unable to cope with the modern rat race who rebel against it, seeking the total destruction of the modern edifice. Historically, such people were attracted to communism, since it was presented as any alternative system that at least had the potential to work better. That crashed pretty hard when communism actually got hold of Russia and China and the grand experiment didn't work out so well, but there are still communist rebels out there and there's a whole bunch of other anti-capitalist creeds still going, sometimes with surprising local success (Venezuela anyone?).

Mage offers players a chance to indulge in their fantasies of 'bring the revolution' in an extraordinarily literal way, without having to necessarily face any of the costs. There are a lot of people who want that.
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Chamomile
Prince


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 14, 2017 4:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Mechalich wrote:
I'll OSSR Guide to the Technocracy if anyone wants more on that particular front.


I'm down.
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hyzmarca
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 14, 2017 5:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Mechalich wrote:
hyzmarca wrote:

Spheres as we known them are a game-mechanic abstraction. When Mages in game refer to Sphere's, they're really referring to broad bodies of academic knowledge that apply to certain facets of reality.


Spheres are referred to explicitly in-setting. The explanation is that the Order of Hermes codified their system such that the Hermetic understanding of magic matches up with the spheres - which in MtA reflect the underlying reality. The OfH goes so far as to have a pompous latin name for each of the spheres. A number of other traditions and the technocracy also do this. While the precise nature of the spheres is intentionally nebulous, characters in setting are quite aware that there are nine different types of magical knowledge and organizations (like the Council of Traditions) and structures reflect this.


Well yes, that's pretty much exactly what I said. There are nine types of magical knowledge, which are rather arbitrary, and your Sphere rating is abstraction of how much you know about that subject.

Except, while the Technocracy has 9 Spheres, it does not have the same Spheres. Dimensional Science, for example, is not Spirit, and does not do the same things that Spirit does. Data, likewise, is not Correspondence, and works very differently from Correspondence.
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