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Replacing the Virtual Adepts and the Etherites with another Tradition

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  • Replacing the Virtual Adepts and the Etherites with another Tradition

    I recently ran a modern day game where several of my players expressed an interest in playing members of the Ahli’Batin but also playing members of the Traditions, and not as double agents or dual Tradition/Craft Mages but fully Batini and fully council of Nine.

    So, I decided to say that the Batini never left the Trads (the other option was a council of 10 or 11 and I decided not to do that).

    Instead I chose to do something I’d thought about a long time ago and create a new group, The Free Convenentions or FreeCons.

    I had toyed with this idea and formed it based on the idea of Technomancers who resisted the restructuring of the Order of Reason into the Technocracy back in the 19th century (there are many conflicting dates for when this actually happened) and the restructuring of the Technocracy again in the late 19th or early 20th century.

    These resistant technomancers didn’t like the disolving of their convention or methodology or the new command structure and mission statement that they were forced to work under. While many of these individuals would have been unhappy but likely to just buckle under and many more would engage in minor acts of dissidence over the decades, some were actually unwilling to go along with this altogether.

    Now most of those people would have been assimilated back into the fold through conditioning, some would have been purged in the political infighting and personal rivalries that followed and others would have been forced into submission on pain of imprisonment or death (or worse) but some would have gone rogue

    While the various disparate individuals and factions would be far form capable of working together, the not so secret campaigns to force these rogues back into the fold may just have galvanized them into working together to some degree and, after years of ruthless warfare and numerous brutal deaths (largely on the side of the rogues), the individuals would have banded together and found themselves between a rock and a hard place, either stand alone against the forces of the Techoncratic Union, or submit to whatever fate the Union would allow them if they surrendered... or, join the Traditions.

    I really liked the idea and depicted the FreeCons as being a group of disparate technomancers with both a vision for a future that the Technocracy would not allow AND an appreciation of a cultural tradition that the Technocracy was hellbent on purging.

    I generally depict the FreeCons as being comprised of the Virtual Adepts, The Etherites, The Novalon (Harbingers of Avalon), The Dalou'laoshi/The Elemental Dragons (who according to Sydicate Revied have been largely purged), remnants of the Craft Masons and the Gabrielites/Cabal of Pure Thought as well some others who have formed a new convention within this Tradition. I also sometimes include the Solificati or Children of Knowledge and other groups as well.

    I have no ill will for the Etherites and VAs being a Tradition but I like this idea quite a bit and hope by sharing it that I stir up some suggestions on how ot flesh it out and hopefully improve it.

  • #2
    It's interesting, but I really don't like it. I feel the whole "tech vs magic" thing was such a 1st ed thing that the game has managed to move on from. I don't really see what having a Tradition Technocracy hybrid faction actually adds to the conflict.


    Keepers of the Wyck: A Chronicle I'm running FINALE: Chapter 39: Green Fairy

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Saikou View Post
      It's interesting, but I really don't like it. I feel the whole "tech vs magic" thing was such a 1st ed thing that the game has managed to move on from. I don't really see what having a Tradition Technocracy hybrid faction actually adds to the conflict.
      Well ion this case the FreeCons are actually a Tradition just like the VAs and the Etherites, it’s a new vision for the former convention Traditions of the Council of Nine

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      • #4
        There are also some timeline issues. These groups are getting shed at very different times. Some of the Order of Reason groups were already down and out well before the Union was formed and, considering the situations at the time, probably would have had a problem hanging around until the others showed up.

        Specifically, the Gabrielites were erased before the Union was formed. It seems more likely that the remnants would have had a much easier time rejoining their former brethren in the Chorus than in cooling their heels in the wilderness, dodging death squads, until The Electrodyne Engineers got pissy about the whole Ether thing.

        Multiply that a few times for the Craftmasons. They were holistically purged way back when. Their continued existence would more the stuff of Da Vinci Code-style conspiracy plots (and that's like having myths about secret masters held by the members of the Illuminati...)

        And so on....

        It seems like it would be more parsimonious to just have the Sons of Ether have been the vast majority of Electrodyne Engineers, but they took similarly situated buddies from the Progenitors and IBM and maybe a few (very few) from the other groups. (With the remaining Electrodyne Engineers getting folded into IBM and spurring the imminent change to It-X). Then, when the Virtual Adepts left the Union, they defected to the Sons of Ether and joined up as a sub-group of them. And the Sons of Ether (under whatever name pleases you) has been relatively open to Union defectors ever since. Which makes them a little untrustworthy to the other Trads. Since policing the former Unionists would pretty much require the Etherites to act like the Big Brother tactics that they were defecting from. Such an "open arms(/closed eyes)" stance has probably led to some very nasty infiltrations. The groups squeezed out before the whole Michelson-Morely debacle had to go it on their own (Templars), find safe harbor elsewhere (probably for the Gabrielites), or perished (most of them)....
        Last edited by Ajax; 12-13-2017, 09:52 PM.

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        • #5
          When the Technocracy reoorganizes as the Technocracy why couldn't the Traditions reorganize as a new faction? The Council of Mystic Traditions and Free Conventions? Honestly mage isn't hurt by having a 13 faction base or 7

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          • #6
            For a private game, I don't really see a problem with keeping the Ahl-i-Batin in the Traditions, and the Society of Ether being replaced by a more general OoR/Technocracy defector Tradition. It's not that hard to reconcile the time-line stuff. The majority of defectors/purged before the Electrodyne Engineers did weren't organized enough to be their own faction, then a whole Convention defects and the earlier ones band together with them to form something bigger, etc.

            The bigger issue is actually how to handle the Disparate Alliance, since the Batini are a vital faction in binding them all together. Though that can easily happen with the Batini getting split when they were supposed to have left the Traditions, and the splinter faction being the one that doesn't trust the Traditions, even with Batini membership, to keep Nephandi influence down.

            Of course, there's lots of ways to redo the Traditions.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Ajax View Post
              There are also some timeline issues. These groups are getting shed at very different times. Some of the Order of Reason groups were already down and out well before the Union was formed and, considering the situations at the time, probably would have had a problem hanging around until the others showed up.
              I generally depict the various groups who originally left getting joined by various outcasts and rebels who tirckled in over the next century, some of which were fairly large at the time of their defection/dissolution.

              Originally posted by Ajax View Post
              Specifically, the Gabrielites were erased before the Union was formed. It seems more likely that the remnants would have had a much easier time rejoining their former brethren in the Chorus than in cooling their heels in the wilderness, dodging death squads, until The Electrodyne Engineers got pissy about the whole Ether thing.

              Multiply that a few times for the Craftmasons. They were holistically purged way back when. Their continued existence would more the stuff of Da Vinci Code-style conspiracy plots (and that's like having myths about secret masters held by the members of the Illuminati...)
              I generally depict members of both the Gabrielites and Craftmasons as having survived and gone into hiding inside other conventions where their allies shielded them and provided refuge. As such, elements of both Conventions survived in secret well into the ‘defection era’.

              Originally posted by Ajax View Post
              It seems like it would be more parsimonious to just have the Sons of Ether have been the vast majority of Electrodyne Engineers, but they took similarly situated buddies from the Progenitors and IBM and maybe a few (very few) from the other groups. (With the remaining Electrodyne Engineers getting folded into IBM and spurring the imminent change to It-X). Then, when the Virtual Adepts left the Union, they defected to the Sons of Ether and joined up as a sub-group of them. And the Sons of Ether (under whatever name pleases you) has been relatively open to Union defectors ever since. Which makes them a little untrustworthy to the other Trads. Since policing the former Unionists would pretty much require the Etherites to act like the Big Brother tactics that they were defecting from. Such an "open arms(/closed eyes)" stance has probably led to some very nasty infiltrations. The groups squeezed out before the whole Michelson-Morely debacle had to go it on their own (Templars), find safe harbor elsewhere (probably for the Gabrielites), or perished (most of them)....
              I can’t disagree with this and must admit it’s also an interesting take, I appreciate your contribution to the discussion and feel that this is a suggestion worth considering

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                Of course, there's lots of ways to redo the Traditions.
                I wouldn’t mind hearing some of your ideas

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                • #9
                  Well, for me anyway, part of the problem with the Traditions (and a few other game's splats for that matter) is that there's generally two main styles of Tradition: "Culture" first Traditions that are organized around specific (generally) real world cultural practices, that might try to be more inclusive as times goes on but that first culture is always extremely dominant. "Practice" first Traditions that organized around specific goals for why you do what you do with magic.

                  So one of the most direct ways of redoing the Traditions is picking one of those approaches and having all the Traditions follow that design.

                  Everyone going Culture First means a lot more Traditions, with the nine seats on the Council (if you keep that concept) going to the current nine most politically powerful ones, or powerful alliances of them. You get things closer to the Fellowships from Dark Ages: Mage. This allows a lot more fluidity in the make up of the Council over time without having to have groups leave the Traditions altogether or get subsumed into other Traditions. This also helps avoid the oddity of some cultural groups getting split between 3-5 Traditions, while other Traditions end up having dozens of distinct cultural groups inside of them. This also makes those that go Disparate Craft a much more meaningful statement. Instead of, "Well, we didn't feel like getting shoved into the Dreamspeakers, so we just went off to do our version of shamanistic practice on our own," you get things more like the Taftani and their, "We refuse to submit to the rules of other mages, period."

                  Everyone going Practice First makes it easier to condense the groups and down play (or even get rid of) the Crafts. In essence, you get something a bit closer to the Orders from Awakening, but more of them. These Traditions seek to recognize Mythic Threads that resonate with archetypal magic users, and let culture flavor their local variations. This does require a much rosier in-character founding of the Traditions where the Eurocentricism of the Hermetics, Chorus, and Verbena didn't mess everything up. Instead of the very Western Hermetics trying to gobble up all the high ritualist mages, they're simply the European flavor of the Tradition of High Ritual Magic, equal in standing respect as their counterparts from other areas of the world. Instead of all the variations of Hinduism somehow all ending up in the Chakravanti Tradition (with a few off-shoots), the Indian subcontinent would have a wide range of Traditions that have simply formed a relatively strong alliance around their local shared culture after long periods of external threats. From a more design perspective, this also lets you pick nine fundamental mythical archetypes that these practice focused Traditions are built around that have a much strong connection to the Spheres.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Zennis View Post

                    I generally depict the various groups who originally left getting joined by various outcasts and rebels who tirckled in over the next century, some of which were fairly large at the time of their defection/dissolution.



                    I generally depict members of both the Gabrielites and Craftmasons as having survived and gone into hiding inside other conventions where their allies shielded them and provided refuge. As such, elements of both Conventions survived in secret well into the ‘defection era’.



                    I can’t disagree with this and must admit it’s also an interesting take, I appreciate your contribution to the discussion and feel that this is a suggestion worth considering

                    There is a qualitative difference between a large scale organized defection and being purged. The Craftmasons and Gabrielites didn't leave, peacefully or otherwise, they were killed off. The Sons of Ether and the Virtual Adepts aren't refugees, they're rebels and revolutionaries. It doesn't seem entirely plausible that the Craftmason remnants were waiting with open arms for the Gabrielites, then the Electrondyne Engineers, then the Analytical Reckoners.

                    Sure, some of the Craftmasons may have made it out alive and found some group to take them in. (Interestingly the group that leaps to mind is the Batini because there is some significant overlap in some of the ways they do what they do. I'm putting the Hermetics to the side because, though they are really good at letting in people with ideas that can bend towards their core concept of magic. That's what Ex Misc is for. But they are also bastards who don't just hold grudges. They strap them to their backs so their hands are free to cast murderous spells of vengeance. And I can't see the old, powerful Houses forgetting the Craftmasons defection from the Order and, then.... Mistridge.) Considering the nature of their plight and the reach and resources of their primary adversaries in the High Guild, I just can't see a coherent organized Craftmason underground surviving Ksifirai assassins and a network of Gabrielite and High Guild informants that mirrors the extent of organized Christianity and the trade networks through 160 years of dedicated persecution and then waiting for another 70 years holed up with the remnants of their dire enemies and victimizers for an additional 80 years until the Eletrodyne Engineers defected. In fact, I think the major sticking point with this concept is the idea that the remnants of the Craftmasons wouldn't have just Cask of Amontillado-ed any Gabrielitse seeking succor.

                    With the Gabrielites the situation is different. They did have a place to go. Even though they have significant bad blood with the Choristers, they do come from two factions within the Messianic Voices, so they have history. Moreover, that history is based on some concepts that make "coming home" a very powerful meme, the whole "Prodigal Son" thing. And the Chorus was the ecumenical, accepting side of the Messianic Voices. The remnant Gabrielites would be just another Voice added back into the Chorus, as it were. (And it may explain some of the reasons why the Chorus is depicted both as pretty happy, friendly gnositcs and stick-up-their-ass judgmental types.... It's the influence of the Cabal refugees who have bent the Chorus that way.)

                    In either case, if those two groups did hide out with other Sects, don't forget the power of institutional thinking and adjustment to current circumstances. Once they've joined up and there's been about 6-8 generations worth of membership (for the Craftmasons) or 3-4 (for the Gabrielites), there aren't really enough folks (I'd say "any", but these are Mages) who would think of themselves as being members of the Order of Reason (back when it was reasonable and not this thing it's become) to even see themselves as having much in common with the later disaffected groups. The students of the students of the students of the students of the students of a Craftmason purge survivor would think of themselves as Ahl-i-Batin first. (I mean, look at how all the groups that went into the soup pots of each Tradition have cohered.)

                    Perhaps, riffing off the whole "Sons of Ether" as the core, they were actually active recruiters? If the Ahl-i-Batin are still visibly around, maybe the Etherites found out there was a faction or network of Batini that still oriented itself on more Craftmason-like principles and convinced them to join up. And sussed out some very Mind-oriented Choristers of Gabrielite lineages (though, really would the Etherites really WANT them considering their history with the Ivory Tower/NWO?). And even reached out to others, like House Verditus and Luxor in the Hermetics. Then they got the infusion of Virtual Adepts.... It would be a wild and wacky group (if you take out the ex-Gabrielites). But it wouldn't look all that different from the Etherites we have right now, just with more VR. And, oh, now they aren't just compromised, they are active poachers off the other Traditions, so their rep will take another significant hit.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                      Well, for me anyway, part of the problem with the Traditions (and a few other game's splats for that matter) is that there's generally two main styles of Tradition: "Culture" first Traditions that are organized around specific (generally) real world cultural practices, that might try to be more inclusive as times goes on but that first culture is always extremely dominant. "Practice" first Traditions that organized around specific goals for why you do what you do with magic.

                      So one of the most direct ways of redoing the Traditions is picking one of those approaches and having all the Traditions follow that design.

                      Everyone going Culture First means a lot more Traditions, with the nine seats on the Council (if you keep that concept) going to the current nine most politically powerful ones, or powerful alliances of them. You get things closer to the Fellowships from Dark Ages: Mage. This allows a lot more fluidity in the make up of the Council over time without having to have groups leave the Traditions altogether or get subsumed into other Traditions. This also helps avoid the oddity of some cultural groups getting split between 3-5 Traditions, while other Traditions end up having dozens of distinct cultural groups inside of them. This also makes those that go Disparate Craft a much more meaningful statement. Instead of, "Well, we didn't feel like getting shoved into the Dreamspeakers, so we just went off to do our version of shamanistic practice on our own," you get things more like the Taftani and their, "We refuse to submit to the rules of other mages, period."

                      Everyone going Practice First makes it easier to condense the groups and down play (or even get rid of) the Crafts. In essence, you get something a bit closer to the Orders from Awakening, but more of them. These Traditions seek to recognize Mythic Threads that resonate with archetypal magic users, and let culture flavor their local variations. This does require a much rosier in-character founding of the Traditions where the Eurocentricism of the Hermetics, Chorus, and Verbena didn't mess everything up. Instead of the very Western Hermetics trying to gobble up all the high ritualist mages, they're simply the European flavor of the Tradition of High Ritual Magic, equal in standing respect as their counterparts from other areas of the world. Instead of all the variations of Hinduism somehow all ending up in the Chakravanti Tradition (with a few off-shoots), the Indian subcontinent would have a wide range of Traditions that have simply formed a relatively strong alliance around their local shared culture after long periods of external threats. From a more design perspective, this also lets you pick nine fundamental mythical archetypes that these practice focused Traditions are built around that have a much strong connection to the Spheres.
                      This, to me, is beautiful as an alternative way to build out the whole mystico-political structure of Mage. Not that I don't love the glorious mess that it currently is and all the fun in trying to reconcile the various clash-y bits, but this might, in the end, make a more coherent, easier-to-grok and probably playable version of Mage.

                      It does rely on "the forest that is [definitely] being lost for the trees” of M20. The "Practice"(-First) as a concept that binds the mages of a Sect together as fellow practitioners of magic all of whom have something in common in the way they do magic has been broken down into the individual Practices (sensu stricto in M20) of each individual mage. Without the now largely defunct concept of “Practice”(-First), the Sects in Mage, particularly in the Traditions, are really just political organizations whose members have that in common but their magic (as in “How they do it”) can be relatively all over the place.

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                      • #12
                        I never had 1st edition, but wasn't the 1st edition origin of the Society of Ether completely independent of the Technocracy? They rose independently from a middle eastern group that penned the Kitab al-Alacir or something like that. If you went back to that being the case, you'd have a long standing technological Tradition ready to adopt those elements of the Technocracy that rebelled or were forced to flee.


                        Mage: The Ice-ension: An Epic Game of Reality on the Rink

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                        • #13
                          Hmm.

                          Group One: The Nine Mystical Traditions, made up of the original nine, with the Ahl i Batin and Solificati still holding the seats of Connection and Matter, respectively.

                          Group Two: The Technocratic Union of Universal Order, with the five Conventions, who are all pretty much totalitarian thugs.

                          Group Three: The Secret Society of Free Reason, made up of the Electrodyne Engineers/Etherites, Virtual Adepts, Collectors of Light, Go Kamisori Gama, Harbingers of Avalon, Lightbringers who aren't willing to sign on to a doctrine of pure atheism, Aesclapians/Progenitors more interested in helping and healing than in creating a master race, Void Engineers who want to explore rather than sanitize, a few of the more science-oriented Children of Knowledge, and the handful of surviving Craftmasons who've been hiding in Russia or wherever.

                          Group Four: The Confederation of Shadows, formed in the 19th century of the Knights Templar, Wu Lung, Bata'a, Children of Osiris, Hollow Ones, Sisters of Hippolyta, Lions of Zion, Children of Knowledge, and Ngoma, focused more on urban fantasy style mystic conspiracy and defending the mundane world from supernatural dangers than in the Ascension War.

                          Such a thing might require certain alterations to mundane history in addition to mystic history, I suspect. But I think you could run a pretty fun game using group 3 and/or 4 with groups 1 and 2 being potential antagonists (or at least headaches) to the PCs goals.



                          What is tolerance? It is the consequence of humanity. We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other's folly. That is the first law of nature.
                          Voltaire, "Tolerance" (1764)

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Ramnesis View Post
                            I never had 1st edition, but wasn't the 1st edition origin of the Society of Ether completely independent of the Technocracy? They rose independently from a middle eastern group that penned the Kitab al-Alacir or something like that. If you went back to that being the case, you'd have a long standing technological Tradition ready to adopt those elements of the Technocracy that rebelled or were forced to flee.
                            Their origin mythology is present throughout the editions.

                            While it does present them forming before joining the Order of Reason and the latter reshuffle into a Convention, that's true of pretty much all the founding groups of the Order of Reason.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Zennis View Post
                              These resistant technomancers didn’t like the disolving of their convention or methodology or the new command structure and mission statement that they were forced to work under. While many of these individuals would have been unhappy but likely to just buckle under and many more would engage in minor acts of dissidence over the decades, some were actually unwilling to go along with this altogether.

                              Now most of those people would have been assimilated back into the fold through conditioning, some would have been purged in the political infighting and personal rivalries that followed and others would have been forced into submission on pain of imprisonment or death (or worse) but some would have gone rogue
                              I don't like Etherites much. They're made of a mesh-up steampunk aesthetic that might have worked as an alternative science methodology up to the fifties but that, in the modern world, they don't really seem to have a place any longer. No place considers that kind of science valid any longer and even if the works of Jules Verne might have kept it alive for a while it seems really out of place to me. Yes, there could still be some whack-o here or there but... not enough of them to actually be a Tradition, there simply isn't a recruiting base any longer.

                              So, a different fringe science Tradition working against the Technocracy for their own reasons (like how the VA left it because of WW2) actually fits better in my book.

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