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  • The Trouble with Technomancers.

    So I've alluded to the issues with the portrayal of Technomancers in fluff, as set up opposed to Traditional Mages. But frequently I've held up the most broken possible aspects of these issues, leading to a muddying of the waters of conversation.

    So I'm going to leave aside the infinite numbers of dice and such for now. And simply point to the basic and, somewhat obvious issues with Technomancers.

    Wonders are powerful. Wonders are a game changer in the ascension war, as they allow a single mage to become MANY mages. And Technomancers, in the form of Devices, have an easier time fielding these game changing wonders than mystics. Yes, Mystics have an easier time fast casting, but fast casting is borderline useless compared to using a wonder.

    And in the end, it takes the exact same spheres, arete, and investment to create a Wonderous Device that quickens laser guns, as it does to quicken a laser gun personally. The earlier stages of constructing the foundation can be constructed by unenlightened personnel. And then once that's done, those same unenlightened personnel can use the machine that the Enlightened Personnel built to infuse it with energy.

    Because in the end, the very process of wonder creation is a form of magic. A 'rote' that can be imbued into an artifact or wonder. That then, ANYONE enlightened or not can use. Even supposing a great wizard, and a great technocrat are equal. Matched. that wizard will never be able to field the same magical might as a technocrat, because rather than making a single potent artifact, the technocrat is making an ASSEMBLY LINE for potent artifacts. That can then be run by Joe Schmoe. That, after the Technocrats death, will CONTINUE to be run by Joe Schmoe in the Technocracies war for the planet.

    Even worse, you could create a 'device' that creates those same devices that quicken devices. Meaning you can INDUSTRIALIZE Technomancy, which is not only blatantly happening in the books but what this means is that, strategically speaking, the very idea of enlightened field agents is not only reckless, it's stupid. Anything an enlightened agent can do, a device can do. And a device can be given to a sleeper who can then work it.

    And how then, would the Mystical Mages compete with such a foe? Sure they have versatility on their side. But no matter how versatile they are, they're up against a wall of brute force. Sure you have a dozen sphere levels, but it isn't going to help you all that much when you're being hammered on all sides by the same basic Prime + Forces Laser Effect again and again.

    That is the fundamental issue with Technomancers. Devices allow sleepers to perform magic, and are easily obtainable. Therefor, any militarized group of Technomancers could, should, and would industrialize their device production with devices that enable sleepers to create devices. Yes, the initial designers are enlightened, but once that first production unit rolls out of the secret technocratic labs, all it requires is for the sleepers to plug the 'energy cells' into the machines. Energy cells obtained from the Syndicate, or from Technocratic Nodes.

    You should never see an enlightened agent on the front lines, and yet for story reasons, they're there.

  • #2
    The technocracy won the ascension war for a reason, yes? That's kind of the point, the technomancers have more resources, better equipment, easier access to enlightened personnel, and networks spanning space-time into other dimensions.

    This is why in 2nd edition(pre avatar storm) you could be fighting the technocrats for control of a 1000 year old cruiser on the edge of the milky way and why the traditions are largely restricted to guerrilla warfare. Its why you can have massive Son of Ether Aetherships roaming through the umbra doing 70 levels of aggravated damage to everything in a 12 mile radius via its energy shields alone.

    Technomancy is honestly just doing to magic what the scientific method did to the old traditions and belief structures of older cultures. It's Codifying what works down to a simple, easily repeatable procedure that can be exploited endlessly.

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    • #3
      Just about everything you're saying is true, which is why in every edition, the Technocracy has a significant edge against the Traditions. The Traditions aren't without their own advantages, however. Unique tricks and bits of innovations that they use to fight the monolith.


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      • #4
        Originally posted by Octavo View Post
        Just about everything you're saying is true, which is why in every edition, the Technocracy has a significant edge against the Traditions. The Traditions aren't without their own advantages, however. Unique tricks and bits of innovations that they use to fight the monolith.
        Except, Guerilla warfare simply doesn't WORK under the conditions the Traditions are in. Guerilla warfare requires the populace to either support the Guerillas, or at least be incapable of mounting an effective Offense against them. This simply isn't true.

        So much of 'How the Technocracy works' is due to the supposed lack of enlightened field agents. But because of Technomancy, you simply don't NEED enlightened field agents. In fact sending Enlightened agents into the field is an outright DETRIMENT to the union.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Enginseer-42 View Post

          Except, Guerilla warfare simply doesn't WORK under the conditions the Traditions are in. Guerilla warfare requires the populace to either support the Guerillas, or at least be incapable of mounting an effective Offense against them. This simply isn't true.

          So much of 'How the Technocracy works' is due to the supposed lack of enlightened field agents. But because of Technomancy, you simply don't NEED enlightened field agents. In fact sending Enlightened agents into the field is an outright DETRIMENT to the union.
          I think you're overstating the technocratic advantage. Sure, technocrats can give shock troops inspired M16s, but they're still limited by their own consensus and when they're in a Chantry, they're limited by the local Tradition alliance paradigm. Also, mighty wizards can craft magic wands to give consors and Celestial Choristers can bless holy swords and give them to the laity.
          The Technocracy is winning, but they haven't crushed the Traditions yet.


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          • #6
            Originally posted by Enginseer-42 View Post
            That is the fundamental issue with Technomancers. Devices allow sleepers to perform magic, and are easily obtainable. Therefor, any militarized group of Technomancers could, should, and would industrialize their device production with devices that enable sleepers to create devices. Yes, the initial designers are enlightened, but once that first production unit rolls out of the secret technocratic labs, all it requires is for the sleepers to plug the 'energy cells' into the machines. Energy cells obtained from the Syndicate, or from Technocratic Nodes.
            That's...literally what happens.
            Except those wonders then cease being wonders as they become a consensual norm, and become everyday bleeding edge weaponry.
            And as for the kinds of wonders that don't fit the consensus, despite technocratic mass-production ("How can this hold so much energy?", "there is no way you can pack that in such a small thing", "etc."), those are exactly the devices that only get handed to extraordinary citizens, because in the hands of sleepers Paradox would be a bitch. Remember that even for wonders that sleepers *can* use in theory, Paradox will still drop the hammer if the result makes the sleeper go "Wtf!".
            That's when those devices statistically grossly malfunction in sleeper hands, and the Technocracy Timetable moves the introduction into general consensus to a later date.

            On that note...

            You should never see an enlightened agent on the front lines, and yet for story reasons, they're there.
            Remember that even when it comes to the dreaded MiBs, most of them are actually extraordinary citizens, either through processing or clones. When it comes to direct, pew pew pew front-line earth conflict, the Traditions actually rarely get to see an enlightened enemy - and even then usually when the Traditions either try to actively seek out and confront one, or when ItX gets called in for some serious firepower. The Enlightened of the NWO either act as coordinators of MiB squads (and might be forced into a fight if things go really really wrong) or actually work as Grey Suits that actively infiltrate as a fake Tradition Mage.

            Last but not least, the Pogrom's over.
            The Technocracy has declared victory. The world is theirs, and all the Traditions can do right now is covert operations. sublte influence on sleepers, and perhaps occasional strikes and sabotages on technocratic fronts while trying to make it non-obvious that it was an actual Tradition involvement, or at least hiding *who* exactly was the cause. Exactly because of the advantages you are listing. The big time of the Traditions doing full on assaults on Technocratic powerbases is long over.
            The reason why the Traditions are maybe getting more of a foothold again are the fact that the Avatar Storm was way more disruptive to Technocracy operations and control than to the Traditions, and the quickly growing internal schism and conflict inside the Technocray monolith.
            Last edited by Ambrosia; 08-09-2018, 04:53 AM.


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            • #7
              Originally posted by Octavo View Post

              I think you're overstating the technocratic advantage. Sure, technocrats can give shock troops inspired M16s, but they're still limited by their own consensus and when they're in a Chantry, they're limited by the local Tradition alliance paradigm. Also, mighty wizards can craft magic wands to give consors and Celestial Choristers can bless holy swords and give them to the laity.
              The Technocracy is winning, but they haven't crushed the Traditions yet.
              I don't think I am, if anything I'm understating the sheer damage the idea of mass produced magick can do to the setting.

              Think of all the times a player has broken a plot with an inventive use of spheres. Now imagine that, mass produced. Shipped out to every agent the Technocracy deems in sufficient need of it. Their only effective limit is the amount of quintessence they need to burn through to perform the feat.

              Which, between Syndicate shenanigans, controlling the most powerful nodes on the planet, and possessing abundant material resources which can be burned via prime for quintessence, the Technocracy has no shortage of. Without even getting into more questionable methods like Vampire farming or some hypertech version of the Etheric Orgonne Collector.

              And while wizards and choristers CAN craft items, to obtain the exact same results, they have to bleed out a portion. Of their will power, and open themselves up to Correspondence strikes through the artifact. Neither of which are issues with Devices. Sure, the talisman is STRONGER. But Quantity beats quality almost every time.

              Originally posted by Ambrosia View Post
              That's...literally what happens.
              Except those wonders then cease being wonders as they become a consensual norm, and become everyday bleeding edge weaponry.
              And as for the kinds of wonders that don't fit the consensus, despite technocratic mass-production ("How can this hold so much energy?", "there is no way you can pack that in such a small thing", "etc.&quot, those are exactly the devices that only get handed to extraordinary citizens, because in the hands of sleepers Paradox would be a bitch. Remember that even for wonders that sleepers *can* use in theory, Paradox will still drop the hammer if the result makes the sleeper go "Wtf!".
              That's when those devices statistically grossly malfunction in sleeper hands, and the Technocracy Timetable moves the introduction into general consensus to a later date.

              On that note...

              Remember that even when it comes to the dreaded MiBs, most of them are actually extraordinary citizens, either through processing or clones. When it comes to direct, pew pew pew front-line earth conflict, the Traditions actually rarely get to see an enlightened enemy - and even then usually when the Traditions either try to actively seek out and confront one, or when ItX gets called in for some serious firepower. The Enlightened of the NWO either act as coordinators of MiB squads (and might be forced into a fight if things go really really wrong) or actually work as Grey Suits that actively infiltrate as a fake Tradition Mage.

              Last but not least, the Pogrom's over.
              The Technocracy has declared victory. The world is theirs, and all the Traditions can do right now is covert operations. sublte influence on sleepers, and perhaps occasional strikes and sabotages on technocratic fronts while trying to make it non-obvious that it was an actual Tradition involvement, or at least hiding *who* exactly was the cause. Exactly because of the advantages you are listing. The big time of the Traditions doing full on assaults on Technocratic powerbases is long over.
              The reason why the Traditions are maybe getting more of a foothold again are the fact that the Avatar Storm was way more disruptive to Technocracy operations and control than to the Traditions, and the quickly growing internal schism and conflict inside the Technocray monolith.
              Except... Their agents won't ever disbelieve, unless allowed to disbelieve. Social Conditioning actually removes the ability for Sleepers to act as sleepers at middling levels. It would be rather simple, and also just a smart idea in general, to ensure your un-enlightened factory workers are sufficiently conditioned so as not to be spies anyway.

              And in the end, the most disruptive effects would also be those least likely to cause paradox. Could you imagine trying to cast while every sleeper agent nearby has a technocratic equivalent to 'watch the weaving' up and can push a button to counterspell at Arete 5?

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              • #8
                I feel like if you take apart most fiction about a scrappy bunch of freedom loving badasses fighting against an evil faceless mechanized empire, it's hard to imagine the rebellion winning.
                But a lot of those stories exist because sometimes the underfunded scrappy army with beats the organized evil empire. Mage is (partially) about hope in the face of overwhelming odds.


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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Octavo View Post
                  I feel like if you take apart most fiction about a scrappy bunch of freedom loving badasses fighting against an evil faceless mechanized empire, it's hard to imagine the rebellion winning.
                  But a lot of those stories exist because sometimes the underfunded scrappy army with beats the organized evil empire. Mage is (partially) about hope in the face of overwhelming odds.
                  Except usually those underdogs are fighting for an oppressed majority, and all they need to do is shake the organized evil empires grasp a bit so the people can rise up.

                  In this case, the Technocracy, for all it's issues, dutifully gives the public what they want.

                  The very nature of Paradox confirms that the people aren't waiting for the Traditions to free them.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Enginseer-42 View Post

                    Except usually those underdogs are fighting for an oppressed majority, and all they need to do is shake the organized evil empires grasp a bit so the people can rise up.

                    In this case, the Technocracy, for all it's issues, dutifully gives the public what they want.

                    The very nature of Paradox confirms that the people aren't waiting for the Traditions to free them.
                    I don't agree with this at all. One of the major sources for Ascension 1e is Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, a book that is (among other things) about how dissatisfied people are with the technological society we live in. Mage's Technocracy isn't just about science's ability to give people tools that better their lives; it's about how capitalism's inescapable hegemony dehumanizes and oppresses the people who aren't at the top. You bet people are discontented with it. That's probably more true in America in 2018 than 1993.

                    This is why I hope the next iteration of Mage gives the Technocracy its own core book. The Traditions need to have their side argued for in their own core the way Malcolm Sheppard used to do in the Revised era.
                    Last edited by Octavo; 08-09-2018, 10:56 AM.


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                    Mage: the Awakening 2E - Hogwarts: the Wizarding World Chronicle
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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Octavo View Post
                      This is why I hope the next iteration of Mage gives the Technocracy its own core book. The Traditions need to have their side argued for in their own core the way Malcolm Sheppard used to do in the Revised era.
                      That's what M20's "Technocracy Reloaded" is about, and it's actually in the making! It's the successor to "Guide To The Technocracy"


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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Octavo
                        I don't agree with this at all. One of the major sources for Ascension 1e is Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, a book that is (among other things) about how dissatisfied people are with the technological society we live in. Mage's Technocracy isn't just about science's ability to give people tools that better their lives; it's about how capitalism's inescapable hegemony dehumanizes and oppresses the people who aren't at the top. You bet people are discontented with it. That's probably more true in America in 2018 than 1993.
                        That is, indeed, true. Even if one disagrees, that's the premise of the game.

                        The greatest failure of Traditions, as per the books, was to concentrate the war arround fighting for Nodes and Realms rather than going to the people. Supposedly the Technocracy has fallen on that same hubris, thus now Traditions can act as those "rebels"

                        Originally posted by Enginseer-42
                        I don't think I am, if anything I'm understating the sheer damage the idea of mass produced magick can do to the setting.

                        Think of all the times a player has broken a plot with an inventive use of spheres. Now imagine that, mass produced. Shipped out to every agent the Technocracy deems in sufficient need of it. Their only effective limit is the amount of quintessence they need to burn through to perform the feat.

                        Which, between Syndicate shenanigans, controlling the most powerful nodes on the planet, and possessing abundant material resources which can be burned via prime for quintessence, the Technocracy has no shortage of. Without even getting into more questionable methods like Vampire farming or some hypertech version of the Etheric Orgonne Collector.
                        Personally, I think that the biggest problem are the current Syndicate shenanigans with Primal Utility. Before that getting the juice in amounts enough to mass produce Wonders was something only the Technocracy was able to do, and preciselly because they were in the cusp of their power.

                        Nodes are supposed to be rare and even the most powerful Nodes would be unable to spend hundreds of points of quintessence each day to create Wonders + refil Wonders that use Quint + mantain Horizon Constructs. All without drying.
                        And that's why the Technocracy would use...unorthodox...methods of getting the juice to power their assambly lines. I particularly liked MECHA as an example of those: MECHA had powerful Nodes, and it was an asambly line of HiTMarks - a great resource that gets blown up a lot in the front lines - yet it also doubled as a prision for mages and spirits that used their life force to get extra amounts of Quintessence.

                        MECHA shows both the great power of the machine that it's the Technocracy (to get insane amounts of Quintessence to make assambly lines of Wonders) and the extents that they had to go to do that.
                        No amount of Nodes, regardless of how potent, would support the expansive needs of the Technocracy and thus they had to extract the juice from any place they could get...Questionable sources like Vampires are questionable, but I would never put those above the Technocracy. You can always use more Marks and to find what other gasthly thing had the Technocracy made to get their juice it's always a good way to motivate our "freedom fighters".

                        This also shows why the Etherites and Virtual Adepts can't do the same: They have the theories, but they don't have the monolithic, massive, power structure of the Technocracy backing their projects. It also shows why the war lasted that long. Techncoracy had to be already winning to seize so many resources, and probably their assambly lines were less impressive before that.

                        No amount of Nodes can supply all the Realms, Wonders, massive Rituals and risky missions that the Technocracy makes every day. And creating Nodes or Quintessence from thin air are "always vulgar" endeavors (reliable up to a point). Hence the Technocracy had to do all of that and also..."questionable"...stuff to get their assembly lines fully operational...

                        The whole "you can get juice trough any business" of Primal Utility breaks Quintessence economy. Personally I recomend taking to the heart the statement of the Syndicate Revised book where it says that only business that improves human life significatively are Ventures. That way not every investment or grocery store get's to be one and thus wonders are still...well, not *expensive* (for the wallet of the Technocracy)...but not dirty cheap either

                        That way, while the Technocracy (and only them) have the resources to create Wonders for all their members, they're still expensive enough that they would preffer not to loose them if it can be avoided. Hence why agents learn Procedures (you don't want to pay good buck for every small sensory effect, even if they are in the market, do you?) and why sometimes a few enlighened agents that can fast-cast may be send to be sure nothing unexpected ruins the mission.

                        But I agree in that it should be rare, very rare, and the agents send should be always of the more expendable ranks of Arete 3 or less (and/or very short of the sixth degree). Most of the time you send normal people and clones armed with the best artifacts and killer robots you can afford without the Syndicate frowning their eyebrows and complaining about your "competence"

                        This does compare with the average Tradition chronicle where you fight against Marks and MiB (and Technocrats are keept as mysterious all knowing overlords), but isn't very well reflected on the book of the Technocracy, where pluky agents are often seen in the front lines. In that sense I do agree that the setting doesn't hold very well. A Technocracy chronicle should rarely be a dungeon crawl.

                        Also I think this it's a good time to aplaud once again M20 Book of Secrets system to create Wonders because it had the good sense to explicitly include the roll needed to cast the spell into the roll to make the Wonder (something I've always tought but wasn't propperly ruled). That way you can't create a laser gun that does 1000 levels of damage over the entire planet with one sucess if you can't cast the massive ritual that the ST demands to do so. And this massive ritual will also increase the Quintessence cost of the final product a lot (depending on how much successes the ST demands), making it adecuately hard to make.

                        It's still way better than casting on the fly, but it doesn't break the system because it's less flexible and mages can't be and usually aren't prepared for everything. Wonders are yet another reason of why prepared mages are so dangerous compared with unprepared mages.
                        Last edited by Aleph; 08-09-2018, 01:23 PM.

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                        • #13
                          It's worth noting not ALL Wonders (even Techno Wonders) can be used by anyone, even with conditioning.
                          It's also worth noting that Condition doesn't mean that disbelief can't creep in. Look at the tools and kit the people get issued with that they'll tell you is "worse than useless really", well that can happen to Union agents who are not Enlightened if their kit fails (low ArĂȘte devices, operating in an area or devices that attract paradox, Reality Deviants coming up with ways of dealing with Devices) that generates doubt and since Wonders are not as woven into the Tapestry of Consensus as say, regular tech then that doubt can mean the Device may not function for the UnEnlighened.

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                          • #14
                            Anyone with the appropriate skill can use a Techno wonder. That's worlds apart from anyone with an Arete score.

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                            • #15
                              Primal utility works when you understand its human sacrifice pieced out enough on a large enough scale.

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