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Replacing the Virtual Adepts and the Etherites with another Tradition

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  • #16
    Originally posted by Maris Streck View Post

    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.
    That's a rather restrictive view of them, though. While I agree that in many ways they are stuck in the past, they aren't about being stuck in the past. And most of those with a steampunk aesthetic are in on the joke. At their core, Etherites are about individual excellence, Science as a form of self expression, and things that are right because they are so elegant that dammit the universe really should work that way. They are famous for theories that have been left to decades gone by, but they themselves are not limited to those theories and can be just as cutting edge as any Convention.

    YMMV but to my mind Richard Feynman makes a pretty good template for a more modern Etherite.


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

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    • #17
      Originally posted by Ramnesis View Post
      That's a rather restrictive view of them, though. While I agree that in many ways they are stuck in the past, they aren't about being stuck in the past.
      The problem, as far as I see it, is that they're stuck into the wrong kind of past. I mean, the Order of Hermes and the Akashayana are still teaching centuries-old rituals, yet they do not feel so out of place like the Etherites. Why? Because they're rooted into a specific subculture that it's still pretty much alive in the modern age. The vision of science, instead, is in the hand of the Technocracy and every scientist grows up thinking that what matters is to discover how reality works... I just can't see a breeding ground for SoE philosophy anymore.

      So yes, they were a tradition, but right now they just shouldn't have the numbers to be one. At least IMHO.

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      • #18
        The thing that analysis overlooks, is that reality in Mage is subjective. Normal mundane science only works where the Technocracy has made it work as a method of introducing their vision of not science, but technology, to the masses. In the Mage universe what scientists study in school and then go out and apply in the field isn't actually discovering the truth of how the world works. It's discovering the mechanisms that the Technocracy wants them to find so that hypertech can transition to mundane tech.

        The Society of Ether's biggest draw is for all the scientists that Awaken and realize this and reject it on a fundamental philosophic level. The Etherites role if for people that want to apply the scientific method to a subjective reality. Their embrace of "debunked" theories, and flashy subcultures that idealize past eras of technology, is a statement of rejection of the Union's Time Table as being the true path of science. Being a steampunk ether-space train conductor is just as valid in Mage as being a spaceship pilot, and the Etherites want a world that acknowledges this instead of pursuing the Union's narrow view of science as a tool of controlling the course of human history. Because once you get past that, you can truly Science! the world of Mage as it really is.

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        • #19
          Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
          The thing that analysis overlooks, is that reality in Mage is subjective. Normal mundane science only works where the Technocracy has made it work as a method of introducing their vision of not science, but technology, to the masses.
          I know how Mage works, this is not the point.
          My point is that the modern age most popular "debunked theories" for science are something on the line of Chinese medicine, homeopathy, creationism or flat Earth, and they mostly do not fold into the Etherite paradigm. My point is that the alternative scientist of the modern age is more likely a kinesiologist doctor (that would join the Akashayana or eventually the Chakravanti) or a devoted creationist (more likely to join the Celestial Chours).

          Of course you still have a pro-Brontosaurus archeologist here and there but I really can't see the SoE being that many in the modern days... I see them better as orphans.

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          • #20
            Originally posted by Maris Streck View Post
            I know how Mage works, this is not the point.
            Whether you know it or not, you're not applying that knowledge. Which is my point on why your point isn't convincing.

            My point is that the modern age most popular "debunked theories" for science are something on the line of Chinese medicine, homeopathy, creationism or flat Earth, and they mostly do not fold into the Etherite paradigm.
            Everything folds into the Etherite paradigm. That's the whole point of it. SoE Revised uses Chinese medicine to explain the difference between normal science and Science!. The books literally take one of your examples to demonstrate how Ether science is performed compared to regular science. You're complaint isn't valid, because the books directly contradict it.

            My point is that the alternative scientist of the modern age is more likely a kinesiologist doctor (that would join the Akashayana or eventually the Chakravanti) or a devoted creationist (more likely to join the Celestial Chours).
            This isn't how Etherite requirement works at all. The Etherites don't start with Sleepers that are already kooks by normal standards; they're usually too close-minded about their pet theories for standard recruitment and are prone to being Dissidents. Their preferred candidates are young minds still open to exploring the truth themselves instead of taking the school dictated textbooks and example experiments as vessels of truth. They don't want people already devoted to single theory (again, the Traditionbook has a section on the Etherite preference for polymaths in potential candidates because it denotes people more open to esoteric science than single-path students).

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            • #21
              My own personal history of the Sons of Ether (and yes, this will contradict material from "canon") is that Aretus was an Awakened philosopher, mathematician, and engineer in the Hellenistic world of the 3rd century BC, who was expelled from the Architects of the Monolith (the ancient proto-Iteration X faction founded by Imhotep) for his heretical theories about AEther as the fundamental substance/energy that permeates all which exists and how one could manipulate it - and through it anything and everything - with the proper understanding and knowledge. (Aretus may or may not have been an alias/shadow name for Archimedes; Etherites continue to debate the subject.) Aretus's Book of the AEther, collecting his writings, teachings and theories, survived his death/disappearance, with copies showing up in Rome after the second Punic War and being known to (if not necessarily endorsed by) the Collegium Praecepti, as well as finding their way to the library of Alexandria, later to the Academy of Gondishapur and the Imperial Library of Constantinople and eventually to the House of Wisdom in Bagdad. It was here that members of the Ahl i Batin's University of Light translated it into it's Arabic form, the Kitab al'Athir.

              In the 12th century, Lorenzo Golo of the Hermetic House Verditius discovered a copy of the Kitab al'Athir and was inspired to use his newfound knowledge and theories to found his own house under the auspices of Ex Miscellania. At the same time, Simon de Laurent, a French veteran of the Second Crusade and member of the Knights Templar as well as somewhat disillusioned member of the Gabrielite Order of Pure Thought, has also found a copy of the original Greek version of the Book of AEther. The pair are put in touch with each other through a mutual acquaintance in House Jerboten, and after comparing notes and theories, both members abruptly abandoned their respective organizations with the intention of founding a completely new Fellowship. However, Golo is killed when his experimental airship explodes and Laurent is imprisoned by Gabrielite hardliners. (Some Etherite conspiracy theorists blame members of House Flambeau or Tytalus for Golo's death; some Hermetic historians believe the Tremere responsible but will not discuss it with outsiders.) Most of their handful of followers end up in Houses Verditius and Jerboton, or in the Craftmason's Fellowship, but a few remain independent and alone, passing on their knowledge and lore to a few apprentices.

              During the Enlightenment, a period when both the Mystic Traditions and the Order of Reason are fragmented and disorganized, there arise a number of "natural philosophy guilds", small enlightened brotherhoods who draw inspiration and methods from the Kitab al'Athir/Book of the AEther in its various translations. These guilds - the Voltarian Order, the Knights of Golo, Filii Aether, Dues Spiritus, the Illuminated Acadamy, and others - gradually form their own network of correspondences, friendships and rivalries. All of this lays the ground work for the formation of the Electrodyne Engineers in the 19th century.

              In 1851, at the Great Exhibition in London, the Enlightened Society of Reason is formed from many of those groups evolved from the Order of Reason, as well as other unaligned Enlightened Scientists. While many members of the various natural philosopher guilds attend the Exhibition, many are wary (of not outright offended) by the Society's apparent focus on intellectual conformity and the use of science and technology to control society and civilization. Such ideas fly in the face of the philosophies of research, wonder, exploration and importance of individual inspiration espoused by Aretus and his Book of AEther. These Scientists form their own society, the Electrodyne Engineers. Active throughout the Victorian Era, the Engineers make contact with a number of Lodges connected to the Mystic Traditions, as well as with the Analytical Reckoners, a group even more repulsed by the Society's goals than the Engineers are.

              On the eve of the first World War, one of the leading Engineers of his generation, Andreas Vargo, in a desperate effort to halt the coming devastation, tries to take over Europe using his armada of Science(!) inspired airships and robot soldiers. He fails, and as a result, the Electrodyne Enginers as a whole are viewed as dangerous enemies to the Society's plans. Over the next few decades, the two groups wage a shadow war against each other. Knowing the Engineers need allies, Doc Eon, the Man of Infinite Tomorrows and paragon of his age, is able to negotiate an alliance with the Council of Nine Mystic Traditions, with the now christened Sons of Ether taking the long empty Seat of Matter as a full Tradition, and helping battle both the increasingly totalitarian Society (soon to be the Technocratic Union) and the Nephandi during WW2.

              As for the modern Sons of Ether, while a lot of them love the aesthetics and style of Steampunk, Art Deco Pulp, Silver Age Sci Fi, and Analog for their inventions (after all, what is the point of Science! if you can't do it with style?), their actual theories and inventions focus on Quantum Theory, Dark Matter/Dark Energy/Dark Fluid, Non-Euclidean Geometry, and other things which are quite frankly beyond my ability to grasp with any degree of understanding. But a lot of them also still like to fiddle around with things like atomic energy, miracle drugs, alternate realities, or trying to produce phlogiston, just because they can and it's fun.

              Such is how they are in my games, at least.


              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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              • #22
                Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
                Whether you know it or not, you're not applying that knowledge. Which is my point on why your point isn't convincing.
                I'm not really here to convince you anyway, especially because you only answer to pick fights with someone. So, just like I once did, I won't consider you any longer for the remaining of this thread.

                Your complaint isn't valid, because the books directly contradict it.
                This is a categorical syllogism: the fact that an Etherite might study alternative medicine doesn't make it an exclusive nor main Etherite discipline. It is, in fact, a field better suited to Akashayana and Euthanatoi rather than SoEs because of the spiritual ramifications. My observation is a matter of numbers and recruitment and not of what disciplines might eventually be covered by the Etherite paradigm; this is why your counter-argument has no relevance nor weight on what I wrote.

                But then again it doesn't really matter, feel free to use all the etherites you want in your campaigns.

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by Maris Streck View Post
                  I'm not really here to convince you anyway, especially because you only answer to pick fights with someone.
                  Right, you you're going to complain about a syllogism in a post that opens with an ad hominem dismissal? Not really a great way to show that you've got something important to say here.

                  While you're going to ignore me and all that, if you'd like to defend this statement as an actual observation instead of a person attack on me, please explain how posts #6,9, and 14 can be construed as attempts to pick fights with someone.

                  You could also try to consider my statements in the light of trying to address what seems like a serious misunderstanding of the SoE in your posts, and my motivations might be an attempt to help show why what you're saying doesn't actually match what the books say; even if you don't get convinced, other people might value it.

                  This is a categorical syllogism:
                  Um... and? Categorical syllogisms are completely functional logical structures. This is a categorical syllogism:

                  Users of the Onyx Path forums communicate by posting messages.
                  Heavy Arms is a user of the Onyx Path forums.
                  Heavy Arms communicates by posting messages.

                  And... yep, that checks out as two true categorical premises and a logically sound conclusion. None of the formal syllogistic fallacies are present.

                  Of course, my statement doesn't meet the formal criteria of a categorical syllogism (I didn't present any categorical premises to deduce a conclusion, I extrapolated from the texts and your posts to draw a conclusion).

                  the fact that an Etherite might study alternative medicine doesn't make it an exclusive nor main Etherite discipline.
                  Of course... the main Etherite discipline is how they study things, not specific field of study. An Etherite doesn't study traditional Chinese medicine exclusively, or modern medicine exclusively. They study both, and then they study each in the context of the other. The seek to expand their understanding of the totality of all medicine by not limiting themselves to the rules of one system of medicine.

                  It is, in fact, a field better suited to Akashayana and Euthanatoi rather than SoEs because of the spiritual ramifications.
                  The idea that the Society of Ether doesn't study and use models of fields with spiritual ramifications is directly contradicted by the text. Understanding spiritual ramifications in Chinese medicine is as important to an Etherite as it is for understanding biological complications in modern medicine; aka very important. Only by fully understanding Chinese medicine in its own context - because reality is subjective and everything exists are fundamental to Etherite paradigm - can an Etherite translate that understanding towards their greater understanding of all medicine (applying Life magic to heal people).

                  My observation is a matter of numbers and recruitment and not of what disciplines might eventually be covered by the Etherite paradigm; this is why your counter-argument has no relevance nor weight on what I wrote.
                  So... how many disillusioned young academics and scientists are out there that feel stifled by modern scientific bureaucracy and are looking for the mentorship of someone that shares their desires to discover deeper truths about the universe instead of sitting in a lab for a decade doing analysis for someone else's pet theory?

                  How many people are studying traditional Chinese medicine in order to practice it professionally?

                  Because the first are the primary recruits for the SoEs, not the second... and while I'm not sure how you'd manage to actually answer those questions, there's clearly more than enough of people from group A for the Tradition to recruit from.

                  If anything, the Etherites are more relevant than ever, because they have the best appeal to every millennial with a college degree in STEM or social scienes, and is currently working a retail (or whatever equally unsatisfying) job. We have a whole generation of people that (a) are highly disappointed with a system of education and employment that's failed them, (b) generally value experience over material gain, and (c) rather open to sub-culture based fashion statements as group identifiers (there's a lot of steampunk enthusiasts out there right now that were born after 1982). The US is basically the perfect breeding ground for Etherites right now.

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                  • #24
                    Oh, um, I just wanted to mention that Society of Ether isn't just made up of steampunks who really dig Jules Verne. They also got atompunks who really dig Star Trek, Flash Gordon and Robert Heinlein.

                    Just saying.

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                    • #25
                      I believe one of the pre-made character templates in the original Sons of Ether Tradition Book was a Metaphysician who worked with biofeedback and other methods (some of which are accepted as legitimate therapeutic and medical activities) to promote a holistic version of scientific (or would that be "Scientific!"?) mental and physical health.

                      Perhaps ironically, the two best examples I can think of of potential inspirations for Mage characters who hold a largely scientific world view but still engage in alternative medicinal practices (mind-body intervention and homeopathy, respectively) - the main characters in Dean Koontz's Demon Seed and Scarlett Thomas's PopCo - both feel more suited to the Virtual Adepts than anyone else.


                      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)

                      Comment


                      • #26
                        Originally posted by Weirdboyz View Post
                        Oh, um, I just wanted to mention that Society of Ether isn't just made up of steampunks who really dig Jules Verne. They also got atompunks who really dig Star Trek, Flash Gordon and Robert Heinlein.

                        Just saying.
                        Those are cool. I also like Diesel Punk ones, taking inspiration from German Expressionism, Film Noir and WW2 military designs, especially when it comes to making ones who are hardcore Ascension Warriors of Central or Eastern European lineage. And New Wave Science! types in the vein of Buckaroo Banzai. Anime Otaku are fun too.

                        But then, I once made a Science Diva whose personality was based on Rarity from My Little Pony, so I'm clearly very, very weird.


                        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)

                        Comment


                        • #27
                          Originally posted by No One of Consequence View Post

                          Those are cool. I also like Diesel Punk ones, taking inspiration from German Expressionism, Film Noir and WW2 military designs, especially when it comes to making ones who are hardcore Ascension Warriors of Central or Eastern European lineage. And New Wave Science! types in the vein of Buckaroo Banzai. Anime Otaku are fun too.

                          But then, I once made a Science Diva whose personality was based on Rarity from My Little Pony, so I'm clearly very, very weird.

                          Honestly, given the huge amount of sci-fi we we've got these days with shows like Doctor Who, Stranger Things, Fringe, Sense8 and a shit-ton of superhero stuff like the Flash, Ant-Man, Iron Man, and others I really feel like the Society of Ether would not lack for people inspired by really, really weird science that defies Technocratic convention. While all the examples I listed may be light on Science they still all capture, in their own ways, the root ethos/paradigm of the the Society of Ether, which is anything is anything is possible in a subjective universe so why not allow yourself to be awesome?

                          Also, I love your Space Diva concept. Keep being awesome.

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                          • #28
                            If you asked my to sum up the Etherites in a single idea, it would be that these are people who look at various things from science, engineering and technology with a sense of wonder, saying, "Wow, that's really cool. Now let's Ether it up and make it 20% MORE AWESOME!"


                            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)

                            Comment


                            • #29
                              Originally posted by Lian View Post
                              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
                              Well, yes that's a problem. At the root of all this, there is mystic belief. The Traditions cannot be more or less than 9. They can only by 9 (that is why the appearance of the 10th seat is so problematic). For what reason ? Because nine is a mystic number. Actually, nine is the most mystic number of Mages ^^ and it is present in many references. This is canon, and of course you could chose to do otherwise. However, it is at the roots of the game. I'm just explaining why it is this way in the official setting. Several clarifications :
                              - In numerology, nine is the number of Magic (this would I think the first reason for the authors to choose this number),
                              - It is a sacred number, symbol of wisdom and fullfilment,
                              - It's the number of heaven,
                              - In hinduism, it is the number of Brahma, the Creator
                              - In China, the ninth day of the New Year is the birth of the Jade Emperor (In Taoism, the Jade Emperor is divine),
                              - For the Hebrews, nine is the number of truth,
                              - In Tarot, nine is the number of the Hermit, symbol of accomplishment. He is the figure of the one that has reached Ascension to enlighten others,
                              You can also read this source for other explanations and the importance of this number in various religions and beliefs : http://www.thehindu.com/life-and-sty...cle2514648.ece

                              Concerning the VA and the SoE, they are part of the Traditions not because of mere happenstence. They were not just here at the right time. They surely are Technomancers, but they really are Mystic Traditions too. Take the VA for exemple. Both Iteration X and VA want to transcend humanity. While the former try to reach that goal by merging with the Machine, the latter is pursuing a mystical ascension by freeing the spirit from the body to reach a new (virtual) reality. Their objective is fundamentally opposed and that mystical belief is why the VA's place is with the Traditions and not the Technocracy. Same is true with the Etherites. There is mystical belief in the Ether. It is substance that could move forces, light and matter. Ether is a primordial god in the Greek mythology personifying celestial forces and their brithness. Well, this is the Force from Star Wars in a way ! Definitely mystic ^^

                              Originally posted by Maris Streck View Post

                              The problem, as far as I see it, is that they're stuck into the wrong kind of past. I mean, the Order of Hermes and the Akashayana are still teaching centuries-old rituals, yet they do not feel so out of place like the Etherites. Why? Because they're rooted into a specific subculture that it's still pretty much alive in the modern age. The vision of science, instead, is in the hand of the Technocracy and every scientist grows up thinking that what matters is to discover how reality works... I just can't see a breeding ground for SoE philosophy anymore.

                              So yes, they were a tradition, but right now they just shouldn't have the numbers to be one. At least IMHO.
                              There are still fields in Physics that defy the existing laws. Physicians are still searching a way to make Physics work by pursuing the dream of Unity (Grand Unification Theory). There is plenty of place for the SoE ! Quantum mechanics to say the least !

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                              • #30
                                Apparently zero point energy has been described in some circles as a kind of reintroduction of aether to physics, so make of that what you will.

                                Edit: As for the number nine, it's also the Norse number of worlds/realms, and in Christianity is seen as a trinity of trinities.


                                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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