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  • Mage and tonal consistency

    The melting part nature of Mage has always been the thing I loved most about it, but it's also my biggest problem with the game. I like all the various groups so I don't particularly want to cut out any, but each faction has such a wildly different flavor that I find it difficult to imagine how you could have all of them in a game and maintain any sense of thematic cohesion. Let's take the stock "suiting up/buffing" scene. You bounce from a Verbena doing ancient blood rituals in the forest that look like something out of Game of Thrones to an Etherite building his crazy Time Lord-esque ray gun, to an Ecstatic going on an acid trip to gain insight into the place they;re planning to break into, etc. etc. A Technocracy game would be easier in this regard, as would a Traditions game where you cut out either all the Technomancers or all the Mystics, but, assuming you don't want to do that, what's the best way around this issue?

  • #2
    I don't actually see this as an issue. I had a game which had a smart ass kid hacker along side a reverend verbena coven and a film noire detective, and the tonne was never an issue, in fact the differences between these groups in the way they did magic actually enhanced the experience we would often shit the story over to each group to see what they were getting up to. watching them interact and argue about what the heck was going on was probably the best part since they had such wildly different interpretations of the events due to their backgrounds.

    I guess the trick, if you can call it that, is to take each and every one of these things as seriously as they can be taken. The etherites don't just "do science", they are building, trying things out, grappling with the lost theories of their paradigm to utilise great power. The Verbena instead are communing with the gods of nature, asking solemnly for aide, or even just carrying out the seasonal rituals. The combined theme though is that they are getting ready, and so the focus may not be on the activities themselves, but in how desperate they are to be ready in time for whatever things are going to happen.


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

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    • #3
      a bad cliched scientist looks at the unexplained and shouts "THAT"S IMPOSSIBLE!" gets angry and is a downer for the rest of the story. A good Scientist sees something they know is impossible and goes "Ok how does that work!?"

      The Etherite might not be a Verbena but an Etherite in a Cabal with a Verbena is going to damn well come up with all sorts of "Science" for why their buddy's magic works.

      Conversely most verbena use cellphones....

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      • #4
        I usually find the opposite to be more jarring, I dislike it when the book fictions and characters in game start talking about Spheres and other aspects about magic the same as any other Mage does (basically treating it as the Purple Paradigm). It's always nicer for me when the interactions are framed from the characters' perspectives on how magic works. Like when I play an Etherite or even a Technocrat instead of going "magic doesn't exist you are just using etheric fields/a reality deviant!" I prefer to do something like "I don't know entirely how you do this but part of it is 'technobabble' and that is what people have called magic" and then from there the Etherite will study what the other Mage does or just leaves them to their own devices and the Technocrat would view it as dangerous for people to work with forces they obviously don't understand.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Lian View Post
          a bad cliched scientist looks at the unexplained and shouts "THAT"S IMPOSSIBLE!" gets angry and is a downer for the rest of the story. A good Scientist sees something they know is impossible and goes "Ok how does that work!?"

          The Etherite might not be a Verbena but an Etherite in a Cabal with a Verbena is going to damn well come up with all sorts of "Science" for why their buddy's magic works.

          Conversely most verbena use cellphones....
          Agreed. Mages should be somewhat used to eachother's strange ways in the Traditions, and "agree to disagree" is often the default. Privately an Etherite might think of witchcraft as crude, unrefined precursor science (herbalism being prescientific chemistry, lots of witchcraft being poorly defined psychodynamics) which is inefficient and vulgar, and doesn't fit with the modern world. But they're not going to be obnoxious about it. They can see the evidence of their eyes; Verbena can do the things they do, and many are more powerful than them. The only reason to start behaving irrationally on this front is a serious personality issue, or Denial Quiet.

          Honestly, if you're a technomancer who gets really mad at mystical procedures, there's a BIG sect which would love to have you...

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          • #6
            Originally posted by 11twiggins View Post

            Agreed. Mages should be somewhat used to eachother's strange ways in the Traditions, and "agree to disagree" is often the default. Privately an Etherite might think of witchcraft as crude, unrefined precursor science (herbalism being prescientific chemistry, lots of witchcraft being poorly defined psychodynamics) which is inefficient and vulgar, and doesn't fit with the modern world. But they're not going to be obnoxious about it. They can see the evidence of their eyes; Verbena can do the things they do, and many are more powerful than them. The only reason to start behaving irrationally on this front is a serious personality issue, or Denial Quiet.

            Honestly, if you're a technomancer who gets really mad at mystical procedures, there's a BIG sect which would love to have you...
            Alternatively, an Etherite might be in awe of Verbena brand herbalism, convinced that “alternative medicine” is actually the purest form of healing, but discarded by the technocracy for not fitting their agenda. Here etherites are the ones that promote homeopathy, create periodic tables of crystals, research healing energy frequencies, as well as look into the healing properties of herbal remedy, not just extract the “active ingredient” like the progenitors do, but invest time into understanding how the whole process of brewing, extracting, and drinking functions to aid the ailments.

            There will probably also be etherites that are heavily interested in the connection between a shuffled deck of tarot cards and the patterns of the universe, hypothesising that not only do they match up, but a tarot deck in the correct orientation may be a 1:1 copy of the relationship of causality within the universe. All one needs is a way to interpret card configurations in a more quantifiable way.


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

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Saikou View Post

              Alternatively, an Etherite might be in awe of Verbena brand herbalism, convinced that “alternative medicine” is actually the purest form of healing, but discarded by the technocracy for not fitting their agenda. Here etherites are the ones that promote homeopathy, create periodic tables of crystals, research healing energy frequencies, as well as look into the healing properties of herbal remedy, not just extract the “active ingredient” like the progenitors do, but invest time into understanding how the whole process of brewing, extracting, and drinking functions to aid the ailments.

              There will probably also be etherites that are heavily interested in the connection between a shuffled deck of tarot cards and the patterns of the universe, hypothesising that not only do they match up, but a tarot deck in the correct orientation may be a 1:1 copy of the relationship of causality within the universe. All one needs is a way to interpret card configurations in a more quantifiable way.
              And what's cool is that another Etherite might see all of this and be peeved by the presentation of mystical mumbo-jumbo as legitimate Scientific Endeavor. At least Newton had the decency to hide the fact that he believed in magic; he didn't have to gall to try and elevate Tarot up to the level of legitimate physics, for example. They might expect mysticism from the other Traditions, but really dislike seeing it in their own.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by 11twiggins View Post

                And what's cool is that another Etherite might see all of this and be peeved by the presentation of mystical mumbo-jumbo as legitimate Scientific Endeavor. At least Newton had the decency to hide the fact that he believed in magic; he didn't have to gall to try and elevate Tarot up to the level of legitimate physics, for example. They might expect mysticism from the other Traditions, but really dislike seeing it in their own.
                To which the first Etherite will lament that certain factions of their own tradition can be so close minded.

                “This kind of dismissal of perfectly valid theories desperately in need of further attention is exactly why we left the technocracy in the first place.”

                No wonder why Etherites rarely work together in large groups.


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

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Saikou View Post
                  No wonder why Etherites rarely work together in large groups.
                  This is only to be expected! Since they are united by the scientific method, but don't have a unifying dogma (outside some shared philosophy on science and the nature of ether), they will struggle with compatibility at times. One of the strengths of the technocracy is that you can take any 10 NWO agents, and the likeliest outcome is that they'll easily be able to work together on a "ritual", as there won't be any compatibility problems. This doesn't really apply to any of the Traditions.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by 11twiggins View Post

                    And what's cool is that another Etherite might see all of this and be peeved by the presentation of mystical mumbo-jumbo as legitimate Scientific Endeavor. At least Newton had the decency to hide the fact that he believed in magic; he didn't have to gall to try and elevate Tarot up to the level of legitimate physics, for example. They might expect mysticism from the other Traditions, but really dislike seeing it in their own.


                    I call bullshit on that! Newton wrote EXTENSIVELY on alchemy and various magical practices.


                    Back on topic, what separates the Etherites from being a bunch of Random Technomantic Orphans is the fact that they austensibly have all read the Kitab and taken its ideals to heart on some level. How well this works out is a matter of degrees but at least according to the Trad book they see Science as an infinitely expanding method, you see someone playing with Runes you expand your grand theory of everything to include Runes.

                    This is in fact what they see as separating themselves from the Technocracy who sees someone playing with Runes and shoots them says Runes don't work.


                    Which.. probably Makes Etherites only TRUE scientists in the setting. The Technocracy has the trappings of such but they reject the underlying factors because they have to look like "Real" science in a world that is a crazy demon haunted world. Where the crazy pseudo science of the Etherites actually works.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Lian View Post



                      I call bullshit on that! Newton wrote EXTENSIVELY on alchemy and various magical practices.
                      Well to be fair alchemy at the time was THE physical science. Modern chemistry and biology arose from its early systems and even the Order of Reason relied on alchemy. The mystical trappings were because at the time society just accepted there was supernatural aspects of the world.

                      Back on topic, what separates the Etherites from being a bunch of Random Technomantic Orphans is the fact that they austensibly have all read the Kitab and taken its ideals to heart on some level. How well this works out is a matter of degrees but at least according to the Trad book they see Science as an infinitely expanding method, you see someone playing with Runes you expand your grand theory of everything to include Runes.

                      This is in fact what they see as separating themselves from the Technocracy who sees someone playing with Runes and shoots them says Runes don't work.


                      Which.. probably Makes Etherites only TRUE scientists in the setting. The Technocracy has the trappings of such but they reject the underlying factors because they have to look like "Real" science in a world that is a crazy demon haunted world. Where the crazy pseudo science of the Etherites actually works.
                      Well this, like all things Mage, can be a matter of perspective. Etherites can be just as narrow minded as any Technocrat but they will just have an alternative science to the Technocracy. On the other end of the spectrum, the Technocracy doesn't discount that mages are doing crazy stuff and that crazy things exists (all depending on how they are written for better or worse) they just are convinced that these 'reality deviants' are using their Genius to utilize forces they don't understand that it is fundamentally dangerous to do so without proper Technocratic training and Scientific Procedures (again depending on how they are written, I personally dislike Purple Paradigm writing that is often extensive in a lot of Mage fictions)

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by stanlemon View Post

                        Well to be fair alchemy at the time was THE physical science. Modern chemistry and biology arose from its early systems and even the Order of Reason relied on alchemy. The mystical trappings were because at the time society just accepted there was supernatural aspects of the world.
                        Alchemy, Astrology, Secret societies.. I mean if Newton doesn't get to be a Hermetic and is some how a "scientist" no one is. His scientific output was the least of hsi work



                        Well this, like all things Mage, can be a matter of perspective. Etherites can be just as narrow minded as any Technocrat but they will just have an alternative science to the Technocracy. On the other end of the spectrum, the Technocracy doesn't discount that mages are doing crazy stuff and that crazy things exists (all depending on how they are written for better or worse) they just are convinced that these 'reality deviants' are using their Genius to utilize forces they don't understand that it is fundamentally dangerous to do so without proper Technocratic training and Scientific Procedures (again depending on how they are written, I personally dislike Purple Paradigm writing that is often extensive in a lot of Mage fictions)
                        No, you are entirely missing the point. Yes there are "bad" Etherites. Similarly the Celestial Chorus espouses universality of faith. That all religions are Paths to the One but there are plenty of members who are "nope mines' the one true religion everyone else is wrong" But the mission statement that separates the Etherites from random Orphan who believes in homeopathy or even the Virtual Adepts is that they are supposed to adapt their theories as new data comes in.

                        They at least as a mission statement have proper science as their plan.


                        The Technocracy's Mission statement is Control. We know this because here are the founding statements of the TEchnocracy
                        • Bring Stasis and order to the Universe. Predictability brings safety. Once all is discovered and all is known, Unity will be won.
                        • Convince the Masses from the benevolence of science, commerce, politics, and of the power of Rationality. Conflict and suffering will be eliminated in our Utopia.
                        • Preserve the Gauntlet and the Horizon. Chaotic individuals who open gateways with impunity threaten the stability of our world. Uncontrolled portals also allow outside forces, such as Nephandi, access to our world. This must never happen.
                        • Define the nature of the universe. Knowledge must be absolute or chaos will envelop all. The elemental forces of the universe must not be left to the caprices of the unknown.
                        • Destroy Reality Deviants. Their recklessness threatens our security and our progress toward Unity.
                        • Shepherd the Masses; protect them from themselves and others.

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                        • #13
                          Etherites at least pay lip service to the ideas in the Book of Ether (that everything is true, and it's just a matter of getting the Consensus to acknowledge that, even if you have to do it bit by bit) even if they fall short of fully realizing that ideal in their exploits. That, not “adapting their theories as new data comes in”, is what's core to being an Etherite.

                          They really don't put much stock in the Scientific Method, either; what matters to them is that their theories need to be elegant and useful — and in a universe that is at least partially shaped by belief and Will (very subjective things), there is very definitely such a thing as too much objectivity. In particular, the usefulness of a theory is greatly influenced by the fact that one's Focus can make normally impossible things possible. Sure, the Consensus may slap you with Paradox for doing so; but if we insisted on using the Consensus to measure what is and isn't useful, we'd be no better than the Technocrats. It is, at best, one dimension of usefulness.

                          (Also, the Etherite approach to the Consensus is diametrically opposed to the Technocrats' approach, and is centered on the notion of the Mythic Threads — minority views that nonetheless retain influence in the Consensus. The Union embraces reductionism and seeks to purge the Consensus of all Mythic Threads in their quest for One Reality, whereas the Etherites reject reductionism and seek to enrich the Consensus with as many Mythic Threads as possible, to bring as much of Ether Science into the “Walls of Troy” as they can manage. A given Etherite may focus on just one Theory to advance; but he will not deny the viability of other Theories, even ones that seem to clash with his own.)


                          ★ The “Walls of Troy” being the Kitab al-Alacir's metaphor for the Consensus.
                          Last edited by Dataweaver; Yesterday, 09:51 AM.


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