The Gaming Den Forum Index The Gaming Den
Welcome to the Gaming Den.
 
 FAQFAQ   SearchSearch   MemberlistMemberlist   UsergroupsUsergroups   RegisterRegister 
 ProfileProfile   Log in to check your private messagesLog in to check your private messages   Log inLog in 

Google
 Search WWW   Search tgdmb.com 
[OSSR] Guide to the Technocracy
Goto page 1, 2, 3  Next
 
Post new topic   Reply to topic    The Gaming Den Forum Index -> In My Humble Opinion...
View previous topic :: View next topic  
Author Message
Mechalich
Knight-Baron


Joined: 04 Nov 2015
Posts: 634

PostPosted: Sat Apr 15, 2017 7:18 pm    Post subject: [OSSR] Guide to the Technocracy Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

OSSR: Guide to the Technocracy

Okay, so let's jump into this shall we. This is an OSSR of Guide to the Technocracy, a supplement for Mage: The Ascension. As such, anyone who's made it here should read the Mage vs. Mage OSSR by Ancient History and FrankTrollman first, to get an idea of where things are.

The Book

My eyes. The tie, it does WTF

Personally I've always felt that Mage had the weirdest art of the White-Wolf games, which was at least thematically appropriate. This particular cover though, I will never understand. The funky abstract symbol font, sure, okay, the old school suit type atop abstract background, okay, but that tie man, I don't even...

In fairness to cover artist Scott Baxa, it is a memorable design - you will remember that the Guide to the Technocracy is the book with the tie guy probably more than anything else. Still, it's a rather odd opening for what is actually among the more grounded titles in the product line.

Weird cover art aside, this is a mostly typical White Wolf hardcover. 250 pages of black and white printed, somewhat unexpectedly the paper is matte, not glossy, which is a break from pretty much all later Mage hardcovers. The design is mostly fairly minimalist, simple geometric margin designs, black of white and black of gray text with no crazy fonts.

You might notice the little 'Year of the Reckoning' bit on the bottom. This book was technically part of one of the themed Year lines that White Wolf did. 1999 got the Reckoning, and this book was part of that because it was released in 1999. The year lines themed books were a stupid idea, but I have to talk about it because unlike some of the other ones, the Reckoning was actually a big deal. Essentially the Reckoning covered the set of metaplot events that involved the destruction of Wraith: the Oblivion as an actual game, the death of the Ravnos antideluvian, and the transition from Mage 2nd edition to Mage Revised (which meant the Avatar Storm and a bunch of other important shit went down). As a result this specific book occupies a kind of unique and weird lace in-between two editions. Nominally it's part of 2nd edition - since Mage Revised didn't come out till 2000, but a lot of the big changes have already been written into the DNA so to speak. The book is written with the events of the Week of Nightmares having already happened - in typical White Wolf fashion they didn't write the book about the guys with the power to drop nukes in the oWoD until after they'd actually dropped the nukes.


really should have the nukes in the strategic picture from the start

One of the more visually apparent aspects of this weird 2.5e status is that all references to magic in this book are spelled 'magic' not 'magick' (praise be to our robotic overlords).

The credits are actually on page 12, after the opening fiction, because reasons. Regardless they credit 2 developers, 5 authors, and 1 additional writer - Phil Brucato apparently developed and wrote, while Jess Heinig didn't bother with any of the writing. My guess is that Bill "Mister Technocracy" Campbell (yes his name is actually printed that way in the credits) was the principle writer on this particular project. He was a veteran WW writer by this point. Five writers doesn't seem like an unreasonable number for a book of this size, and Campbell apparently cared about the material.

The credits also reveal that there were actual playtesters for this material, if you can believe that. Heck WW managed to marshal a whole two campaigns to test out their gigantic expansion of the MtA universe. Two! The fact that I find this surprising (it's not one) is a good idea of the curve we're grading on here.


this is, regrettably, a step up

The table of contents reveals that there's the intro fiction, an introduction, eight chapters, and an appendix. So we're going to be here for a while. Note that while this book apes the structure of a typical WW core game book, it is ostensibly an expansion. There are plenty of new rules and even a character creation chapter, but essentially no new mechanics. In many ways it is similar to the various Werewolf breed books - you use the same rules, but it's not exactly the same game.

Opening Fiction

While we're here, I'll talk about the opening fiction, which occupies pages 3-11 and includes three half-page illustrations of story events. Now, I've read a lot of opening fiction from White Wolf and most of it is at best serviceable mood setting. This piece qualifies at that but it also does something else - it almost, kinda, maybe serves as an example of play. I mean, sure it's stuck in narrative format, but the story itself is about three Technocrats who get put on a mission and then carry out that mission. There is an investigation, there are scene transitions, magic, er, enlightened science, is used. There is even, miracle of miracles, combat. People shoot other people, with guns. There is conspiratorial double-dealing. Stuff happens.

It is great no. But is it a completely waste of space, also no.


construction is ongoing, may not be a total disaster

Next up, the Introduction.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
FrankTrollman
Serious Badass


Joined: 07 Mar 2008
Posts: 26845

PostPosted: Sat Apr 15, 2017 10:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Mechalich wrote:
Note that while this book apes the structure of a typical WW core game book, it is ostensibly an expansion.


There was definitely something a bit cargo cultish about the way White Wolf structured their books. It was odd. Every book was nominally for a different game line and made no guarantees that it was necessarily the same world being talked about, but for some reason you could be handed a brand new book and flip to about where the Mad Libs character types were going to be listed just by being familiar with the company. And there were going to be Mad Libs character types, because that was something you could infer from other products as well.

It was all very odd the things they decided were core and immutable parts of their brand. When they went to NWoD they took it even farther and scripted it to the point of demanding that there be exactly five things in column A and shit like that.

You'd think that at some point someone would have taken that kind of iron clad message discipline and applied it towards having a combat system that wasn't a pile of ass, but that never happened.

-Frank
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Ancient History
Invincible Overlord


Joined: 18 Aug 2010
Posts: 10972

PostPosted: Sun Apr 16, 2017 12:22 am    Post subject: Re: [OSSR] Guide to the Technocracy Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Mechalich wrote:

You might notice the little 'Year of the Reckoning' bit on the bottom. This book was technically part of one of the themed Year lines that White Wolf did. 1999 got the Reckoning, and this book was part of that because it was released in 1999. The year lines themed books were a stupid idea,


I'm gonna play devil's advocate on this one: the idea of a unifying thematic theme for supplements isn't a terrible idea in and of itself - especially if you have a sprawling, interlinked setting or settings with an ongoing metaplot. It's kinda like tie-in issues on big comic book events. But somewhere between piss-poor-prior-planning and terrible execution, the "Year of <insert bullshit here>" tag never really lived up to its expectation.

Year of the Lotus for example was...well, racist and tone-deaf, but if you are going to introduce a brand-new setting to the game like Kindred of the East, releasing a bunch of tie-in books for the other game lines so that you can try and attract players from all of your game lines to buy into the new product seems like a solid marketing strategy. It's why when Games Workshop released Ogre Kingdoms, they made they all Dogs of War so that any existing army could buy the new models and incorporate them right away.

But then you get shit like Year of the Ally which explicitly pumped out a bunch of inferior options and...you have to wonder at the marketing/design space discussion (or lack thereof) that went into that one. I'm not saying Vampire: the Masquerade didn't have room for a Ghouls sourcebook, but a sourcebook for being a vampire's bitch/walking midnight snack wouldn't have been my take on it.
_________________
The Unpublishable - Updates Fridays between midnight and midnight | http://wikithulhu.com
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Heaven's Thunder Hammer
Journeyman


Joined: 25 May 2014
Posts: 147

PostPosted: Sun Apr 16, 2017 12:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I always liked that intro fiction better than some of the other M:tA books from back in the day.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Mechalich
Knight-Baron


Joined: 04 Nov 2015
Posts: 634

PostPosted: Sun Apr 16, 2017 12:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Introduction

The introduction supposedly runs from page 14 to page 21. However the first page of this 'chapter' and all other chapters is actually a full-page art piece. It, like all the others, is a sort of futuristic vaguely-dystopian high tech bit - this particular one involves a girl hovering? over a neon-lit square in Japan. Opinions can vary on art, but these things are at least on topic. Several of the chapter art blasts would later be reused in the Revised Convention splatbooks, continuing a practice done on the Traditions side in Mage Revised (I guess it saved money).

Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)


The actual text begins with a quote. White Wolf loved quotes in Mage and this book has a fuckton of quotes. Every chapter, every major subheading, and a number of lesser headings gets a quote. I bet this book has several thousand words worth of quotes. These quotes tend to be rather eclectic in assembly - the intro has three quotes and they are by entertainment mogul Howard Bloom, ancient Chinese military philosopher Sun Tzu, and Men in Black's Agent K - but at least some of them are recognizable.


kinda like that

Before actually talking about any of the content, I need to mention another aspect of the presentation. This book has a very unusual writing style - it talks at you. The text will address the reader directly, s if the reader is a novice technocrat and the book is a supervisor giving you a lecture. This isn't done all the time, and it is not consistent, it just periodically happens that Guide to the Technocracy will periodically go all drill-sergeant on you as a device. Interestingly this voice is used most often when it's time to tell you that everything you thought you knew about Mage the Ascension was wrong. The resulting immediacy lends the critique more power and visceral force than it would otherwise have.

Probably this was intended to be tongue-in-cheek, and over-the-top parody that would be laughed at by all those seasoned Mage players who knew that spiritualism is the one true path. However, since the 'mages' in Mage are actually the bad guys for level of bad that rise to positively Godwinian proportions it actually works as an effective recruiting spiel.

The upshot of this is also that, at the very beginning (page 15) of the book, the Technocracy has established who you are and what you are doing in this game. You are a ruthless warrior in the battle to save the world from chaos defending the principles of law, capitalism, and reliable wifi coverage. Oh, and your side is the one that's winning.

Obligatory xkcd

Now none of this holds the slightest shred of originality. It wasn't new in 1999 and it sure as hell isn't knew now. However that's doesn't matter a whit. This is a shtick that works. Heck Charles Stross published The Atrocity Archives and launched the Laundry - which is the Technocracy except British - in 2006 and was wildly successful. Technocracy games have a purpose and unlike Werewolf it's a purpose that matches what Technocrats are defined to be (the purpose of Werewolves is to be the Planeteers, which is rather a thematic mismatch). So by pg 16 the Technocracy has already punched out pretty much all the other oWoD games in terms of the 'they fight crime' test.


this should not surprise us

The 'yes drill sergeant' approach is also welcome in terms of tone. Most WW books are incredibly ponderous in their self-seriousness and their absolute need to be moody and deep and crap. Sure, there's going to be a bunch of that here, but it doesn't dominate. There is light-hearted stuff too, and plenty of lines that suggest that being a technocrat is fun. Considering you're playing a game, that matters. Sample quote: "Put on your mirrorshades, straighten that black tie and get your BFG ready." At least some of the authors remembered that while most of the time you're better off being Agent K, sometimes you need to be Agent J.


it's a buddy (secret alien conspiracy) cop movie, the 'buddy' part is important

I remain amazed that this was allowed to happen.

This being a White Wolf book there are sections about Mood and Theme. The Mood is "A Cracking Monolith," essentially that the Technocratic Union looks strong but is actually super-brittle and really needs some serious reform. This is somewhat uninspiring but is at least proactively. Speaking of which, the Theme is given as "Act Now!" (yes the exclamation point is in the original, such are the breaks). This is not a game about sitting around Elysium sipping blood and attempting to socially destroy goth rivals this is at least intended as a game about doing shit. Being an idealist and fix the world.

Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)

you get the idea

They ends with ten bullet points that are half-metaplot summary, half-campaign hooks. There's also the first mention of The Schism, a major on-going theme.

The introduction ends with a brief 'how to use this book' section that contains the usual White Wolf trick of reprinting the TOC but with an explanatory sentence for each chapter. It also contains a short little blurb that totally rips Mage: the Ascension to shreds. This one is notable for its brutal send-up of certain conventions of WW gameplay, like how a party of totally disparate individuals would "all live in the same house (just like on MTV!)" and "head off in so many directions at once that the game would self-destruct." Then it is briefly explained how the Technocracy avoids those problems.

There's a level of self-awareness here that is both impressive and devastating. Guide to the Technocracy shows that WW was aware, on at least some level, that their core games just plain did not work, but outside of the Technocracy itself they never took any steps towards fixing it. I just don't fucking know. I mean Brian Campbell was part of the design team for nMage, which was so much worse.


though regrettably, I am not surprised
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Ancient History
Invincible Overlord


Joined: 18 Aug 2010
Posts: 10972

PostPosted: Sun Apr 16, 2017 2:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

It's important to contrast Guide to the Technocracy with something like Guide to the Sabbat. Both had as the basic idea that the PCs could now play the "enemy" faction, which generally involved a degree of humanizing said enemy (or at least toning them down from lol-evil territory).
_________________
The Unpublishable - Updates Fridays between midnight and midnight | http://wikithulhu.com
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Mask_De_H
Duke


Joined: 18 Jun 2009
Posts: 1735

PostPosted: Sun Apr 16, 2017 3:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

And didn't both books have better hooks and explanations for why you were working together?
_________________
Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Voss
Prince


Joined: 07 Mar 2008
Posts: 3604

PostPosted: Sun Apr 16, 2017 5:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Sabbat did. Which, frankly is fucking sad since 'we'll kill you if you don't' is such a low bar. But at least between that and vinicissdnsj, there was a reason for a pack to act like one. And to actually, you know, drink blood and do vampire stuff.

Even provided a reason why you'd be newbie trash in terms of character power, but also give you a reason to kick the shit out of gangs and establish a power base, while killing other vampires and getting a power boost out of it.


Interesting thread. That it was part of the year of reckoning crap explains why I had no idea what the fuck people were talking about in the other thread. But the opening salvo of nuking Myanmar, Ravnos and whoever the fuck he was fighting is exactly the moment I gave up on WW, so I missed the ending deluge of crap, and just flipped through the end times books in stores when they showed up
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Cervantes
NPC


Joined: 28 Jul 2014
Posts: 7

PostPosted: Sun Apr 16, 2017 8:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

a good thing abt playing for the Technocracy instead of against it is that "maintaining the status quo by solving problems" is something that is doable, compared to "let's overthrow the fucking government" which your party is never going to manage
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
hyzmarca
Prince


Joined: 14 Mar 2011
Posts: 3345

PostPosted: Sun Apr 16, 2017 8:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Cervantes wrote:
a good thing abt playing for the Technocracy instead of against it is that "maintaining the status quo by solving problems" is something that is doable, compared to "let's overthrow the fucking government" which your party is never going to manage


Overthrowing the American government is something your party is never going to manage. The Syrian government, or the Lybian government, on the other hand. Well, those aren't too difficult to knock over.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
darkmaster
Knight-Baron


Joined: 29 Apr 2011
Posts: 902

PostPosted: Sun Apr 16, 2017 11:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

That moment when you realize you're a nameless NPC in a White Wolf game.
_________________
Kaelik wrote:
darkmaster wrote:
Tgdmb.moe, like the gaming den, but we all yell at eachother about wich lucky star character is the cutest.


Fuck you Haruhi is clearly the best moe anime, and we will argue about how Haruhi and Nagato are OP and um... that girl with blond hair? is for shitters.

If you like Lucky Star then I will explain in great detail why Lucky Star is the a shitty shitty anime for shitty shitty people, and how the characters have no interesting abilities at all, and everything is poorly designed especially the skill challenges.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Mechalich
Knight-Baron


Joined: 04 Nov 2015
Posts: 634

PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2017 2:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Chapter One: Indoctrination

So this chapter is about what the Technocracy is and what it is currently up to and goes from page 22 to 35.

Now, because this book is contractually obligated to present Technocrats as villains even as they humanize them, they periodically kick the puppies. Ergo, this chapter begins with a piece of flash fiction about a random mage getting the Room 101 treatment. That's not a euphemism - the book has the Technocracy refer to dumping people in a black site to be tortured and philosophically converted as Room 101. The idea of trying to explain that particular circumstance to George Orwell amuses me, but in a sad way.



The opening of this chapter discusses how the technocratic paradigm works in the context of the world of darkness and the consensual reality of Mage. This is basically that while people may believe in weird stuff, they expect the sun to come up to tomorrow, 2+2 to equal 4, and the damn microwave to keep on making their popcorn when they push the buttons. They also explain the converse that there are these people called mages who expect an alternate reality to work and in that reality - life sucks for everyone. And its not just because those mages get all the power and can rule the world like tyrannical gods, but its also because you're now stuck in Hogwarts world and simple things like light bulbs and ballpoint pens have now been outlawed by the new rules of physics.

As I mentioned before, this book is pretty self-aware by White Wolf standards, so there is also a discussion of what the word 'technocracy' actually means in a normal context, and how the impacts of technology influence societies and their users. They also note the inherent tension between security and freedom and how the technocracy has problems in the 'ends justifies the means' and 'power corrupts' departments. They even manage to acknowledge, very briefly, how the Technocracy is super-prejudiced towards 'the enlightened' (meaning mages) and everyone else if stuck at the bottom.

The next bit includes the first quote from La Femme Nikita (the TV series with Peta Wilson, not the movie or the reboot with Maggie Q) to appear in the book. It will not be the last. Guide to the Technocracy has a massive hard-on for this show, which was popular at the time (it was the number one drama on USA Network when this book was being developed) but is now fairly obscure. In fairness to the authors, they do get around to admitting their rampant fapping to the show eventually. More on this particular thread to follow in later posts.


not that I can't see why the authors might have gotten overly fascinated

We're also at the point where they introduce The Schism. It probably isn't worthy of the capital letters but it is important. The key point is that the Technocratic Union, unlike pretty much any other oWoD faction is a properly organized, hierarchical, organization that actually functions as such. It is also a security organization, combining law enforcement and military elements in the same way every dubious counter-terrorism agency you've ever seen on TV does. The Schism is, very simply, the disconnect between the worker bee operatives who deal with the day to day activities the organization actually undertakes and the management who coordinates, deploys resources, and conducts strategic planning. They are on the same side but the respond to the same issues very different. Take zombies: the low-level grunts respond with 'shoot 'em in the head!' while the bigwigs develop a 'strategic undead management plan.' The two sides don't agree, are deeply suspicious of each other and believe, probably correctly, that the people on the other side of the divide don't have the same motives they do.

Once again, this isn't original. It also happens to be real. Actual real world security organizations have this problem - in fucking spades. This disconnect has long been well documented and also used as a powerful source of drama in cop shows, spy shows, and pretty much any Jack Ryan novel ever. The Laundry Files books are all about this shit. If you've watched The Wire (and if you haven't what is wrong with you?) you've been treated in a master class in how this works. So the schism only represents the Technocracy playing out the way we would expect it to, but it is a very valid source of drama in a game. Now, it does represent a danger - since it provides an excuse for the GM to have management dick the players over at any point, it is also a useful tool to manage having an organization with all the Union's power and toys while justifying the players not getting to use them all.


kinda like that, but less cute

The chapter briefly mentions a bunch of internal and external threats before detailing a small number of hidden 'resistance' groups within the Technocracy that are trying to reform the operation. Theoretically these groups would provide useful hooks or support for a campaign. The results are...mixed. The Cassandra Complex is a group of secretive future forecasters who occasionally dispense cryptic warnings (if you read The Nightmare Stacks, this is Forecasting Ops) - that's useful. The Harbingers of Avalon are just a bit of bizarre weirdness, the Friends of Courage represent the assets of an NPC who you are not, and then there's Project Invictus.

Project Invictus is the first real big dollop of stupid Guide to the Technocracy has to dole out. The idea is that there's a subgroup of the Syndicate called the Special Projects Division that has been corrupted by the Wyrm. Project Invictus is the super-secret conspiracy-within-a-conspiracy dedicated to dealing with that in a way that doesn't trigger some kind of internal civil war.

The issue here is not that Invictus exists or that the SPD is corrupt (now the book has yet to cover what the SPD is so this whole bit is premature, but that's par for the course at this point). Having a sizable chunk of the Technocracy lost to corruption with hooks into the greater power structure is, on balance, a useful thing to have. The problem is that the corrupting agency is the Wyrm. The Wyrm isn't part of mage, and the various wyrm fetishes and fomori that power the SPD conspiracy aren't part of this game. As such the whole plotline is rendered useless unless you're running a crossover, or at least have access to enough werewolf rules to ape one.


dude...wrong game, this one lacks fuzzy

Now, this isn't entirely a sin attributable to this book specifically. The Wyrm-Syndicate had been previously established (in the Technocracy:syndicate book and in Book of the wyrm if I recall correctly). So this is cross-pollination gone wrong. A massive Nephandi conspiracy within the Syndicate would have made much more sense, but that didn't happen. White Wolf had a real problem with doubling-down on ideas that didn't work in the first place.

The final piece of real text in this chapter is a sidebar about the viewpoints of Guide to the Technocracy versus those in Mage. It doesn't say anything you wouldn't expect, but it demonstrates reasonable self-awareness. Also, the final sentence once again lacerates Mage without really even having to try: “Just think what would happen if the Traditions really won, and you had to deal with a reality rife with magic, spirits, demons, unpredictable vagaries of nature, blood rituals and no technological comforts at all.”


Guess who has no thumbs and isn't living inside your intestines right now due to the miracle of modern medicine? This guy!

Then we get the Lexicon. It's a dozy. There are over fifty 'official' terms and even more pieces of slang that were made up for this. We're looking at the better part of 5 pages here. Only a portion of these terms actually matter for anything and most of those that do are new labels for Mage terms (in fairness, given the way Mage's reality is supposed to work it is actually immensely important to not describe anything the same way your enemies do). The slang in particular is an egregious sin. Nobody cares, and anyway, groups will make up their own jokes. Also, this massive Lexicon does not include many of the key acronyms used throughout this book that are much more common in game parlance than anything referenced here.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Longes
Duke


Joined: 04 Nov 2013
Posts: 2436

PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2017 8:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Unfortunately the later books managed to completely fuck up the Schizm by saying that the entire top brass of the Technocracy has been replaced by demons and became Threat Null* - evil nephandi archmages who have all the worst sides of the Technocracy and none of the best.

*As known to and called by the Void Engineers. Who are not sharing this valuable knowledge with the rest of Technocracy because fuck 'em.

SPD/Pentex is just weird. Because it's the evil organization of evil, its board of directors consists of Baali, Black Spiral Dancers, Demons and Nephandi. Who apparently all bonded over evils of capitalism and keep sending the appropriate share of profits back to the Syndicate.


Last edited by Longes on Mon Apr 17, 2017 8:38 am; edited 1 time in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
FrankTrollman
Serious Badass


Joined: 07 Mar 2008
Posts: 26845

PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2017 8:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Basically everything about Werewolf was awful, and the degree to which it got its dog fucker pee on other gamelines was all bad. The Triad of Wyrm/Weaver/Gaia was incoherent and makes less sense the more you think about it. Weaver and Tree Mother aren't actually different except that one is making whatever the fuck it is that I like and the other is making shit that I don't like, and you can't fight at all without being on the side of the Wyrm because it's the representative of all destructive impulses. Fuck!

A lot of grand crossover shit tries to frame everything in terms of the Werewolf Triad, and that's uniformly terrible. It's kind of understandable, in the sense that Werewolf was the only game line that gave clear good guys and bad guys, so framing things that way gives you the ability to have the monster teamups everybody wanted. That was the take they tried in some of the versions of Mummy, for example. And it was always bad.

Such that the World of Darkness has a draw, it's the murky gray scale teamups and noir double crosses. Planeteers vs. Evilcorp would have no place in that even if they hadn't managed to fuck that dog by making the sides incoherent and also making three of them.

-Frank
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Nath
Journeyman


Joined: 28 Oct 2012
Posts: 171

PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2017 11:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Longes wrote:
SPD/Pentex is just weird. Because it's the evil organization of evil, its board of directors consists of Baali, Black Spiral Dancers, Demons and Nephandi. Who apparently all bonded over evils of capitalism and keep sending the appropriate share of profits back to the Syndicate.
"- Listen. I know about evil, darkness and the end of the world, but you got to give investors a faire share of revenue or innovation and entrepreneurship will dry up by lack of incentive for funding. Is that what you want ?
- But established organization can innovate too! And trickle-down economics have been proved not to work you know.
- Economics is more a way of shaping beliefs than proving things. Besides, can you point me when did White Wolf use the revenues from Vampire: The Masquerade to innovate?
- Fuck you.
- Good. Now, to be true, it's mostly that we found it sounded dark and edgy when Schumpeter coined the expression "Creative destruction" but we had no idea what it was about."
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Ancient History
Invincible Overlord


Joined: 18 Aug 2010
Posts: 10972

PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2017 12:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

The problem with puppy-kicking is that the regular game was already so grimdark that it usually came across as comical, or at least not exceptional. I mean for fuck's sake, the Giovanni sourcebook starts out with a guy making a snuff film, and the book includes incest and necrophilia, like making your cousin suck your vitae out of your engorged cock - and these aren't NPCs, they're supposed to be PCs! So for the Technocracy to go over the top, they would have had to go into full cartoon evil territory.
_________________
The Unpublishable - Updates Fridays between midnight and midnight | http://wikithulhu.com
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Whipstitch
Prince


Joined: 29 Apr 2011
Posts: 2880

PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2017 2:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Yeah, I always figured that the Technocracy are the bad guys first and foremost because they are The Man in a franchise whose default mode is aimless cynicism. They're not technically any more evil than anyone else but they wear suits and ties instead of shopping at Hot Topic and that's bad.
_________________
bears fall, everyone dies
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Mechalich
Knight-Baron


Joined: 04 Nov 2015
Posts: 634

PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2017 3:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Ancient History wrote:
The problem with puppy-kicking is that the regular game was already so grimdark that it usually came across as comical, or at least not exceptional.


If you read the initial run of Technocracy splat books - they are indeed comically grimdark to the point that makes no sense because they describe something so distorted it cannot possibly function or fill its role (the Progenitors book is particularly bad). Guide to the Technocracy exists in the recognition (or at least the appearance of recognition) that, whatever else, the nominally dominant faction in not just Mage but the oWoD as a whole ought to be something more than a bad joke.

Longes wrote:
Unfortunately the later books managed to completely fuck up the Schizm by saying that the entire top brass of the Technocracy has been replaced by demons and became Threat Null* - evil nephandi archmages who have all the worst sides of the Technocracy and none of the best.


Convention Book: Void Engineers was released in 2013. It's an Onyx Path product. So while Threat Null is indeed colossally retarded (though my understanding is that it is supposed to represent the portions of the Technocracy lost in the Umbra and converted into spirits post Avatar Storm) and totally unnecessary we can't quite lay the blame of White Wolf for that one.

What White Wolf actually did with regard to the Schism is that in Ascension (the Mage ToJ book) they established they the Technocracy's internal propaganda was so strong that it's highest ranking members merged with CONTROL literally. Meaning they (with some exceptions) became part of a bodiless group mind that facelessly exerted influence over all Technocrats.


Last edited by Mechalich on Mon Apr 17, 2017 3:27 pm; edited 1 time in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Longes
Duke


Joined: 04 Nov 2013
Posts: 2436

PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2017 3:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Threat Null was hinted at in the late WW Mage books, but yes, it only got a full writeup in 2013.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Mask_De_H
Duke


Joined: 18 Jun 2009
Posts: 1735

PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2017 6:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Yeah, I remember the ToJ heads of control becoming SEELE monoliths was different from the spirits of bad 1e ideas in Threat Null. I also remember M20 waffling on the 'Crats being infested with Nephandi, which also seemed dumb.

It is really weird/funny how much the mainline Mage apocalypse is End of Evangelion, except people don't come out the Tang and the book insults you for being invested in it.
_________________
Click here to see the hidden message (It might contain spoilers)
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
souran
Knight-Baron


Joined: 05 Aug 2009
Posts: 967

PostPosted: Tue Apr 18, 2017 2:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I won't claim to be any kind of expert on the oMage metaplot. My own first experience with white wolf began when I loaned all of my "black" edition 2E D&D books to a friend who had V:TM, W:tA, oMage, Hunter, and demon and a couple of vampire suppliments. He let me have those for the summer while he was at camp and I let him have the 2E stuff and then I never heard from him again.

Thats beside my real comment, however, which is that when I read the core rulebook to Omage I thought that the way they tried to establish that the "technocracy = bad" was to effectively argue that the problems that technology fixes are supposedly created by the technological world view in the first place.

While this is certainly a "turtles all the way down" explanation it does at least make the players not quite so obviously horrible.

Effectively, ebola and hookworm, and bubonic plauge only exist as microscopic organisms because of the belief in the the worldview of the technocracy. Without the germ theory of disease the default state of the universe is that disease is an abstract concept that depending on your viewpoint you can "combat" by administering antibiotics, nurturing your aura, doing Galenic bloodletting, or if your of the right mindset you just march into the realm of disease and punch Ebola and Cancer right in the fucking face.

Similarly, if famine only exists because people believe that a an acre of land can produce a yield of only so much food and their is a shared belief that the loaves and fishes do not spontaneously multiply then the "advances" of the technocracy are only solving problems that they created in the first place.

So germs, famine, radiation, the specter of nuclear apocalypse and the galactic inevitability of an earth/asteroid collision are the demons and dragons of the technocratic worldview. They only exist in the form that they do because of the same common belief that allows them to be overcome.

Not that it ever mattered. I ran a oMage game in college for 3 sessions before I just gave up. Everyone I played with (including myself) were majoring in various sciences and everybody just selected the spheres that were related to what they were learning about and then tried to utilize their personal knowledge to describe how manipulating what ever it was that they were learning about lead to real ultimate power over the universe. It was little more than a weird degree based pissing contest.


Last edited by souran on Tue Apr 18, 2017 2:14 am; edited 1 time in total
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
hyzmarca
Prince


Joined: 14 Mar 2011
Posts: 3345

PostPosted: Tue Apr 18, 2017 4:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

souran wrote:
I won't claim to be any kind of expert on the oMage metaplot. My own first experience with white wolf began when I loaned all of my "black" edition 2E D&D books to a friend who had V:TM, W:tA, oMage, Hunter, and demon and a couple of vampire suppliments. He let me have those for the summer while he was at camp and I let him have the 2E stuff and then I never heard from him again.

Thats beside my real comment, however, which is that when I read the core rulebook to Omage I thought that the way they tried to establish that the "technocracy = bad" was to effectively argue that the problems that technology fixes are supposedly created by the technological world view in the first place.

While this is certainly a "turtles all the way down" explanation it does at least make the players not quite so obviously horrible.

Effectively, ebola and hookworm, and bubonic plauge only exist as microscopic organisms because of the belief in the the worldview of the technocracy. Without the germ theory of disease the default state of the universe is that disease is an abstract concept that depending on your viewpoint you can "combat" by administering antibiotics, nurturing your aura, doing Galenic bloodletting, or if your of the right mindset you just march into the realm of disease and punch Ebola and Cancer right in the fucking face.

Similarly, if famine only exists because people believe that a an acre of land can produce a yield of only so much food and their is a shared belief that the loaves and fishes do not spontaneously multiply then the "advances" of the technocracy are only solving problems that they created in the first place.

So germs, famine, radiation, the specter of nuclear apocalypse and the galactic inevitability of an earth/asteroid collision are the demons and dragons of the technocratic worldview. They only exist in the form that they do because of the same common belief that allows them to be overcome.

Not that it ever mattered. I ran a oMage game in college for 3 sessions before I just gave up. Everyone I played with (including myself) were majoring in various sciences and everybody just selected the spheres that were related to what they were learning about and then tried to utilize their personal knowledge to describe how manipulating what ever it was that they were learning about lead to real ultimate power over the universe. It was little more than a weird degree based pissing contest.


The problem with that is that, in the old days, effective magical healing was mostly limited to highly trained linear sorcerers (witch doctors). These days, much of it is limited to highly trained linear sorcerers (medical doctors) but you can at least buy some useful drugs over the counter. The entire point is to create tools that can be used by the masses, rather than just the elite.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Mechalich
Knight-Baron


Joined: 04 Nov 2015
Posts: 634

PostPosted: Tue Apr 18, 2017 5:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

souran wrote:

Effectively, ebola and hookworm, and bubonic plauge only exist as microscopic organisms because of the belief in the the worldview of the technocracy. Without the germ theory of disease the default state of the universe is that disease is an abstract concept that depending on your viewpoint you can "combat" by administering antibiotics, nurturing your aura, doing Galenic bloodletting, or if your of the right mindset you just march into the realm of disease and punch Ebola and Cancer right in the fucking face.

Similarly, if famine only exists because people believe that a an acre of land can produce a yield of only so much food and their is a shared belief that the loaves and fishes do not spontaneously multiply then the "advances" of the technocracy are only solving problems that they created in the first place.

So germs, famine, radiation, the specter of nuclear apocalypse and the galactic inevitability of an earth/asteroid collision are the demons and dragons of the technocratic worldview. They only exist in the form that they do because of the same common belief that allows them to be overcome.


Well, here's the thing, the history of the oWoD is supposed to more or less mirror the history of the real world, at least in the big things. Also, during earlier time periods the Technocratic paradigm was not the dominant one. For most of human oWoD history the dominant paradigm was either Akashic Brotherhood, Celestial Chorus, or Dreamspeakers, depending on where you lived. Somewhat hilariously the dominant mystic tradition is supposed to be the Order of Hermes, but high ritual magic by the elect was never the dominant paradigm anywhere, ever.

In the West, the dominant paradigm was absolutely the Celestial Chorus (ie. monotheism), with that control lasting from around 400 AD to at least the 1700s when the Enlightenment became a running concern. Life under the Chorus manifestly sucked balls for pretty much everyone (including many of its members) and their tradition proved at least as vulnerable to corruption as the Technocracy ever would - see Borgias, the. Technocratic dominance, by any material measure has been manifestly better for approximately 99% of the population, and this is not open to any real dispute. The central contention of Mage as a game is in fact that materialism is bullshit and that none of the very concrete benefits the Technocracy has delivered to the masses - and to the Mages as well, since using a fucking phone is way easier than casting correspondence effects all the time - actually count, or alternatively that they are completely irrelevant (the Euthanatos perspective). However the mages lose because the Technocratic paradigm can offer incremental benefits that the other approaches can't. The Akashic Brotherhood, Celestial Chorus, CUltists of Ecstasy, and Verbena all other revolutionary dreams of achieving a glorious utopia for all mankind, but these are all or nothing ventures, the steps along the way are messy and brutal and involve countless people dying and there's no evidence that even when these groups have all the power - as they did historically - they can even get close to achieving it.

From this perspective the utopian traditions are the Ra's al Ghul to the Technocracy's Batman.

Now, the specific argument you're making souran is that the benefits offered by the Technocracy aren't good enough and that Technocratic science lacks possibility and self-imposes crushing limits that can mostly be traced to the Second Law of Thermodynamics and a general paranoia. This is, in the Mage context, the Etherite argument - that the Technocracy isn't utopian enough. It is certainly possible to run with that theme - I actually ran a Mage game more or less along those lines (about helping the Technocracy develop a superintelligent AI so that they could usher in a Banksian utopia and making sure it was straight arrow technocrats who did it) and it is fairly well developed in a number of the revised edition Mage books where they kept throwing around mage types like technoshamans and chaos mathematicians who could function more or less harmoniously within the Technocratic paradigm. Heck, the intro fiction to the revised Guide to the Traditions is about a group of mages helping the Union reform.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Mechalich
Knight-Baron


Joined: 04 Nov 2015
Posts: 634

PostPosted: Tue Apr 18, 2017 8:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Chapter Two: Enlightened Science

Guess which Arthur c. Clarke quote opens this chapter?


kneel before Clarke!

Anyway this is the chapter about how Technocrats do the voodoo that they don't do. This means describing the scientific method and then translating a lot of Mage conventions across the divide to explain how they work through the Technocratic lens. Essentially this is the action of spilling a whole lot of ink to justify how this version of mage uses all the same systems even when they don't quite or at all fit. Time to apply an instagram filter to the game.


caution, some clarity may be lost

First up, Paradox. Please see the oMage OSSR for a proper takedown of Paradox, but suffice to say that Technocrats have to deal with it too. However they have it a little differently. First, because the technocratic paradigm is nominally dominant, and because all Enlightened Science (the term used in place of magic) effects most be couched within it, your characters can't just completely violate the laws of physics completely without justification. There's always at least some sort of fig leaf in place. That means Paradox is pretty much entirely arbitrary depending on how much the GM dislikes or doesn't buy what you just did. Fast-talking players who can pull Star Trek style technobabble out of their buts have a real advantage as technocrats. Of course in addition to the strict mechanical effects of Paradox, the existence of the technocracy as a functional organization also means that getting lots of paradox has a negative effect on your performance reviews. The Union is supposed to be doing SCIENCE, so slinging maximum BS is not cool. This is actually good, since in Mage played straight there's a dangerous tendency to play with as much fire as you think you can take, though it does give the GM even more power over the party.


it has come to our attention that you've gotten yourself face melted, you know this means we have to demote your clone

In terms of Mage baggage the Technocracy has to deal with the whole Avatar and Seekings business. Avatar gets labeled to Genius and is considered internal - so extra soul-bonds required, but your character still has to go through weird vision quests in order to advance their enlightenment, you just don't talk about to all your friends the the way mages do. other baggage includes the whole Prime and Node business. Since the oWoD explicitly built atop a Tron universe of energy pulses, the Technocracy has to play the same game mages do with all that. As far as the technocracy is concern though, Primal energy is basically just a super awesome form of energy used to power stuff and that's that.

There's a bunch of rules about foci next. These are too complicated and you do not care about them and neither does your GM. It boils down to - you cannot do super-science without the tools of science. Said tools are fairly flexible and of course this is all Mother May I anyway. There is a small note about psionics, which is basically 'let's not 'mkay, but if you really have to, keep it small.'


not that psionic technocrats are exactly outside of the theme though...

The technocracy mostly uses the same nine spheres system as Mages. The big difference is the dimensional science/spirit divide. Obviously technocrats don't believe that the universe is actually an animist reality with everything having some spirit attached to it that you can talk to. They do believe they live in a multiverse and if you play with quantum effects weird shit happens. This is not especially well articulated anywhere in this book, but if you've read any Laundry Files novel it's basically that system (honestly, either Stross read some of the Technocracy books or the convergent evolution is strong).
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Longes
Duke


Joined: 04 Nov 2013
Posts: 2436

PostPosted: Tue Apr 18, 2017 8:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Dimensional Science becomes its own unique sphere in Void Engineers revised. It is much less capable of dealing with spirits than Spirit, but in exchange it gets the awesome ability of warping the spirit world whoever you want. On top of that, Dimensional Science is also more efficient than Spirit at fucking with the Gauntlet, which allows Technocrats to play red light green light with all the spirit and Spirit effects in the area. Lolnoping the shamans by raising their roll difficulties to 10 is in fact possible.

What really changed in the Revised convention books however is Prime. Syndicate now has its own special variant of Prime - Primal Utility. In essence, the Syndicate describes quintessence as the inherent value of everything that exists, which removes the ability to create energy swords and not-fire fireballs, but gives the ability to turn productivity into mana and use Primal Utility to directly fuck with people's resources. What this means mechanically is that Resources also function as Node background for people with Primal Utility, which is incredibly useful and awesome.
Back to top
View user's profile Send private message
Display posts from previous:   
Post new topic   Reply to topic    The Gaming Den Forum Index -> In My Humble Opinion... All times are GMT
Goto page 1, 2, 3  Next
Page 1 of 3

 
Jump to:  
You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot vote in polls in this forum




Powered by phpBB © 2001, 2005 phpBB Group