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Redefining Mystics and Technomancers

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  • Redefining Mystics and Technomancers

    This hack rethinks the Mystic vs. Technomancer divide, changing it into a feature of one's chosen Focus instead of some sort of “science vs. magic” conflict and making it so that neither option has a clear advantage over the other.

    First, the redefinition: instead of “Mystic” and “Technomancer”, you have “Internal” and “External”. An Internal Focus is one that's centered on the belief that the mage is inherently magical, and that his Instruments are merely ways to draw out and focus whatever innate property he has that lets him work magick (i.e., his Avatar). Rules-wise, this is the game's default setting: the mage can Work Without Focus (p.566), and he can Grow Beyond the Tools as per the Mystics option (p.567).

    By contrast, a mage with an External Focus draws power from a connection to some sort of external source: it might be exotic laws of reality that are hidden under the surface of “mundane reality”, or it might be some sort of “higher power” like a Greater Spiritual Entity. Either way, his Instruments are the means by which he interacts with the source of his power (i.e., his Avatar). An External Focus does not allow you to Work Without Focus or Grow Beyond the Tools. However, he can Master the Tools: at the same rate that one with an Internal Focus Grows Beyond the Tools, he can select Instruments that he has Mastered. If a Mastered Instrument is used in an Effect, the mage gets a -1 Difficulty reduction and is permitted to reroll 10s. Circumspect Avatars (Book of Secrets p.69) are common for mages with an External Focus.

    There's also a specialized subtype of External Focus which applies when the source of power has a mind of its own, such as a Templar whose “magic” is miracles sent by God, or a shaman who works magick by bargaining with spirits; call it a Transactional Focus. On the plus side, the mage benefits from a variant of the Marauder Wild Talent rules (p.528), with his Avatar rating being used as bonus casting dice at the Storyteller's discretion (e.g., when the Storyteller decides that the Avatar approves of the mage's actions but feels like she needs some help). On the minus side, such mages risk falling out of favor with their benefactor, acquiring the Faithless Flaw (Book of Secrets p.93). Rather than Circumspect Avatars, these mages often have Manifest Avatars (Book of Secrets p.71).

    Thoughts?

    [UPDATE] it's possible that Transactional is on a separate axis from Internal and External. That is, you could have an Internal Transactional Focus or an External Transactional Focus. Internal vs. External would strictly be about whether you Grow Beyond the Tools or you Master them; Transactional is about whether your Avatar can actively help or hinder you, or if it remains strictly as a guide.
    Last edited by Dataweaver; 03-01-2018, 02:59 AM.



  • #2
    Banishing the Magic Vs Science cliche alone makes this hack very tasty for me. Meanwhile, since that’s the trope the game was founded upon, not everyone will like it.

    While I can’t speak much since I know not much about WoD mechanics (just beginning to contemplate getting into the “20” series),
    I assume under this model the Celestial Chorus and the Dreamspeakers would be External?


    MtAw Homebrew: Even more Legacies, updated to 2E

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    • #3
      They would tend to be, yes; as would the Sons of Ether. But a Hermetic Mage who works magick by using his Instruments to channel ambient magical energy would also have an External Focus. Conversely, a Chorister might perform miracles because she has a Divine Spark implanted in her soul by the One (or the Pure Ones), in which case she'd have an Internal Focus. As would an Etherite whose Weird Science is based on unlocking his psionic potential.

      Any Tradition could have members with either type; it's just that some lean more heavily one way than the other. The Akashayana, for instance, lean heavily toward an Internal Focus: that Tradition is almost exclusively about nurturing some sort of innate quality. Likewise with Virtual Adepts, though they don't lean toward Internal Focus quite as heavily as the Akashayana do. If I had to rank them from “most likely to be Internal” to “most likely to be External”, I'd probably go with: Akashic Brotherhood, Cult of Ecstasy, Virtual Adepts, Verbena, Euthanatos, Order of Hermes, Celestial Chorus, Sons of Ether, Dreamspeakers.

      Also, there are no special rules for Technocrats; they just lean heavily (exclusively?) toward an External Focus.

      Oh; another advantage the External Focus gets: while he can't Work Without Focus, neither is his magick limited by his Willpower. That is, he doesn't have to use the lower of Willpower or Arete. It's a Minor benefit; but so is Working Without Focus, once you consider its downsides.
      Last edited by Dataweaver; 03-01-2018, 04:12 AM.


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      • #4
        Originally posted by Dataweaver View Post
        If a Mastered Instrument is used in an Effect, the mage gets a -1 Difficulty reduction and is permitted to reroll 10s.
        Can you clarify this a bit? Is the difficulty reduction in addition to normal instrument bonuses you'd get for that instrument (so a personal, unique, mastered is -3?), or simply the same as the -1 you get for using a surpassed instrument even if you didn't need to?

        Why are you rerolling 10s instead of doubling them? And it seems a bit unnecessary since Spheres get Specialties including double 10s at four dots anyway. So it's an OK bonus, but it doesn't seem that great in execution since this is stuff that generally matters more to higher Arete characters as it is.

        On the plus side, the mage benefits from a variant of the Marauder Wild Talent rules (p.528), with his Avatar rating being used as bonus casting dice at the Storyteller's discretion (e.g., when the Storyteller decides that the Avatar approves of the mage's actions but feels like she needs some help). On the minus side, such mages risk falling out of favor with their benefactor, acquiring the Faithless Flaw (Book of Secrets p.93).
        This is kinda... meh. It feels restricting that Transactional Focuses are forced into a very unpredictable style with a lot of ST judgement on when the Avatar will help, or get pissed off enough to harm. Given the potency of bonus dice on Arete rolls, it encourages STs to be pretty stingy with bonuses, making it not really any sort of transactional relationship as much of a, 'regardless of how well you do your part, you get a pity blessing here and there."

        I'm not sure if there's a real fix to this... it seems superfluous and something that can be captured with existing options rather than hard coded in as a Focus "type."

        Originally posted by 21C Hermit View Post
        I assume under this model the Celestial Chorus and the Dreamspeakers would be External?
        I don't think this model is meant to universally peg any mage as one or the other. It would come down to the individual. External should be fairly common in these two Traditions, but plenty of Choristers could say, "the One has blessed me with a divine spark so I can work miracles" as an Internal Focus rather than, "I pray to the One for intercession," as an External one. An Internal Dreamspeaker would be one that actively uses Spirit magic a lot to get spirits to do things, while an External Dreamspeaker believes they are getting the spirits to act when they use any of their Sphere magic.

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        • #5
          In hindsight, I should’ve added two “mostly”s there, didn’t I? : p


          MtAw Homebrew: Even more Legacies, updated to 2E

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
            Can you clarify this a bit? Is the difficulty reduction in addition to normal instrument bonuses you'd get for that instrument (so a personal, unique, mastered is -3?), or simply the same as the -1 you get for using a surpassed instrument even if you didn't need to?
            It's the same as the -1 an Internal Focus gets for using a surpassed instrument. I was considering doubling it to a -2 instead of the next bit.

            Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
            Why are you rerolling 10s instead of doubling them? And it seems a bit unnecessary since Spheres get Specialties including double 10s at four dots anyway. So it's an OK bonus, but it doesn't seem that great in execution since this is stuff that generally matters more to higher Arete characters as it is.
            Fair enough. The purpose was to provide more successes from the dice pool when the Mastered Instrument is in use without relying too much on the difficulty modifier. Maybe something like allowing a single reroll of the failed dice would work better.



            Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
            This is kinda... meh. It feels restricting that Transactional Focuses are forced into a very unpredictable style with a lot of ST judgement on when the Avatar will help, or get pissed off enough to harm. Given the potency of bonus dice on Arete rolls, it encourages STs to be pretty stingy with bonuses, making it not really any sort of transactional relationship as much of a, 'regardless of how well you do your part, you get a pity blessing here and there."

            I'm not sure if there's a real fix to this... it seems superfluous and something that can be captured with existing options rather than hard coded in as a Focus “type.”
            True. The whole notion was a last-minute addition, and want really thought out all that well. I was looking at the Faithless Flaw which is basically a punishment for believing that your magick comes from the Essential Divinity instead of from within yourself, and wanted something to offset that. Still, that's probably something best tackled in a separate thread; the only important aspect of it where this thread is concerned is the notion that the power behind an External Focus might have a will of its own.


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            • #7
              I like this a lot. Goes some lengths towards personalising magic rules around the mages paradigm.

              I would like to add that a technocrat would probably be completely outside of this system because their tech doesn’t rely on individual will, but on consensus.

              Their entire ethos is on gaining the will of the public and transforming what is otherwise magical into another mundane action. Their vulgar effects are only vulgar because the masses have not quite accepted it yet.
              I’d also say that most technocrats probably don’t consider what they are doing to be anything but high tech complicated science. Depending on your timeline, only those within the inner circle, or those at the top of the rebranded command chains are aware of exactly what the technocracy are trying to achieve. Everyone else might have varying degrees of awareness, but not the complete picture.
              I’d therefor argue that a technocrat could never outgrow their focus without getting to this upper echelon state. The benefit of getting the consensus on your side comes with the disadvantage of becoming a product of that consensus.


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

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              • #8
                I disagree that the Technocrats rely on consensus. They don't use any principles that they don't want to one day get into the consensus, yes, but they use those principles whether society understands them or not. And since they keep revising what should and should not be in the consensus, many a Technocrat has used scientific principles that will never be accepted by the masses.


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

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                • #9
                  I stand by what I said here about Technocrats: there's nothing special about them in terms of these rules; but they lean (almost?) exclusively toward an External Focus. This normally is some variation of “there are objective, if hidden, laws of reality just under the surface of mundane reality that let us do what we do”; but the important point is that these rules are about what happens to one's Instruments as Arete increases. And Technocrats are firmly in the camp of Mastering the Tools and not in the camp of Growing Beyond the Tools.

                  For the record, I have no problem with Technocrats differing from other mages in other parts of the rules; for instance, Book of Secrets says that “These costs [for learning from a teacher with a significantly different Focus] do not apply to agents of the Technocracy who train under other agents of the Technocracy” and “a Technocrat cannot train a member of the Traditions or Crafts, or vice versa, at all.”

                  As well, there are a few vestigial cases where the Mystic vs. Technomancer divide still has rules implications; but they're more along the lines of “Technomancers use the Science Knowledge instead of Esoterica”. Addressing them will involve going through the books hunting down specific instances of technomancer-related exceptions and identifying whether or not there's any need to do something about them. Ultimately, the big disparity between the two was in how they deal with Instruments; and this hack resolves that issue entirely.
                  Last edited by Dataweaver; 03-01-2018, 11:08 AM.


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                  • #10
                    Just to be clear, does this imply then that Technocratic science and techonmancy are two entierly seperate entities?


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

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                    • #11
                      No. As far as I know, that bit about learning from trainers with a different Focus is the only rule left that distinguishes between Technocrat and Technomancer; and it's less about the “techno-” and more about the Union's push for conformity: any faction featuring a diverse selection of *ahem* Foci (in the M20 sense) that put the same effort into ensuring compatibility between them would likewise have the learning benefits and drawbacks that the Technocracy has: isolation from everyone outside their clique, but easy access to the lessons of the others within it.


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                      • #12
                        Well, I think that the Hermetic could benefit from that motion (at least non ex-Miscelanea), after all they're all about joining disparate practices under the same language.

                        *Oh, and I like this hack.

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                        • #13
                          This is an excellent hack. I have nothing meaningful to add to the conversation, but I want you to know that this has my full support.


                          Shameless Technocratic shill.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Aleph View Post
                            Well, I think that the Hermetic could benefit from that motion (at least non ex-Miscelanea), after all they're all about joining disparate practices under the same language.

                            *Oh, and I like this hack.
                            I'll have to think about this; but yes, the Traditions should have an edge when learning from each other compared to how well Crafts learn from others. I don't think it should be as much of an advantage as Technocrats have in terms of learning from each other; but then, they shouldn't be locked out of learning from others outside the Traditions.


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                            • #15
                              I honestly think tradition mages, and in fact mages in general learning from one another should be a case by case affair. Made on the overlapping qualities of the mages individual paradigm.


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

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