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Syndicate Magic: Spheres and Tools

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  • #16
    Originally posted by Aleph View Post
    While the Syndicate certainly doesn't excel at hurling fireballs without proper devices, they can cast a lot of the more "social stuff" on the fly..
    This is true. It's one of the reasons I've always found The Swashbucklers' Handbook from Mage: The Sorcerers' Crusade to be a good sourcebook for the Syndicate, as it delves into Ars Cupidae/social magic (and, naturally, gives a lot of space to their Renaissance era High Guild incarnation).

    My general take on them is that they are The Elite, and by virtue of wealth and status are just flat out better than you. Anything money can buy, they have, be it high tech weapons and gadgets, super specialized training (including martial arts that rival the Akashic Brotherhood and psychological tricks on par with the NWO), or armies of flunkies/contacts as their beck and call. Rotes/Procedures with names like "Do You Know Who I Am?" (intimidation), "I'm On The List" (getting past security), "I Know A Guy" (access to information or special services), "Put It On My Tab" (afford anything), "Bring The Car Around" (summon transportation), "Hit Them Where It Hurts" (cause extreme injury via hand to hand combat), "An Offer You Can't Refuse" (forced agreement), "I Never Miss" (perfect marksmanship), "It's Good To Be The King" (everyone does what you tell them), "Read The Fine Print" (adjust circumstances in your favor at the last minute), "Silver Tongue/Sales Pitch" (convince people of anything), "Dress To Impress" (look amazing no matter the circumstances), "What's Your Price?" (find out what it takes to make people do what you want), "Market Forecast" (predict likely future events), "Poker Face" (don't give away anything), and "Close Account" (erase someone's life) are just some of the things they do.




    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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    • #17
      Here is the big issue I have been having so far, how do I preform unconventional effects within the syndicate paradigm? How can a syndicate agent preform a life 5 effect and shapeshift through enlightened economics? I have always been under the impression that a mage's paradigm can include any effect, and that all mages can "do anything" as long as they have the tools and training. The paradigm of every other group seems incredibly flexible, but through the purview of the syndicate approach I can not find a way to justify this effect with the syndicates paradigm. If a PC wants to use life 5 are they unable to access a shapeshifting adjustment because paradigms are actually restrictive? Or are all paradigms free to create any effect as long as they can justify it? Can anyone think of a possible way that the syndicate could fit this procedure into their paradigm?

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      • #18
        Originally posted by Brassfist View Post
        Here is the big issue I have been having so far, how do I preform unconventional effects within the syndicate paradigm? How can a syndicate agent preform a life 5 effect and shapeshift through enlightened economics? I have always been under the impression that a mage's paradigm can include any effect, and that all mages can "do anything" as long as they have the tools and training. The paradigm of every other group seems incredibly flexible, but through the purview of the syndicate approach I can not find a way to justify this effect with the syndicates paradigm. If a PC wants to use life 5 are they unable to access a shapeshifting adjustment because paradigms are actually restrictive? Or are all paradigms free to create any effect as long as they can justify it? Can anyone think of a possible way that the syndicate could fit this procedure into their paradigm?


        I am going to argue while the various conventions have Specializations and some parts they don't agree on GENERALLY the Technocracy has one Paradigm. The reason IXers don't have Hypereconomists is people with that apptitude are shuffled to the Syndicate. So A Syndicate member who shape shifts might not look all that different from a progenitor or Ixer

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        • #19
          Originally posted by Lian View Post



          I am going to argue while the various conventions have Specializations and some parts they don't agree on GENERALLY the Technocracy has one Paradigm. The reason IXers don't have Hypereconomists is people with that apptitude are shuffled to the Syndicate. So A Syndicate member who shape shifts might not look all that different from a progenitor or Ixer

          I was under the impression that each convention had their own paradigm that focused their enlightened sciences. Wouldn't every technocrat use the exact same techniques to achieve all effects then? The syndicate using cash to bribe someone and a NWO uses advanced psychology to convince someone.

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          • #20
            Originally posted by Brassfist View Post


            I was under the impression that each convention had their own paradigm that focused their enlightened sciences. Wouldn't every technocrat use the exact same techniques to achieve all effects then? The syndicate using cash to bribe someone and a NWO uses advanced psychology to convince someone.
            Its a matter of core beliefs. I'd argue the Syndicate generally deep down has "MOney makes the world go round" while the NWO member is using "MEchanistic universe"(or something about information...) but they share alot of similar tools. The Syndicate mage might see money is power and thus he buys all his "Tools" but he also would readily study psychology because.. he believes psychology exists. He believes in guns and cyberware and being able to buy clones. He believes he can buy what the others sell.. and thus is the "real" person in charge.

            So the syndicate person who wants to throw fireballs buys a flamethrower, or cyberware. The one who wants to shapeshift practices medicine. They don't reinvent the wheel. Though there are places the conventions don't agree on.. but if you agree with an idea like hypereconomics or Data as a sphere you're probably shuffled off to the right convention.

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            • #21
              The Syndicate generally believes in the You Get What You Pay For principle. So while a Syndicate rep might research some scientific principles or another - they DO need to understand the projects they are funding - they also generally trust in the efficacy of the tools provided by their fellow Technocrats. Especially if the Syndicate rep provided the funding for it.

              "The gadget better well work, I paid top dollar for it" is likely a common refrain among Syndicate members. They don't need to be experts in a technology to use it (though, again, Knowledge traits like Science or Hypertech could be useful for deciphering how to operate them). They just need to trust that Technocratic Science works, because it can afford the best materials, the best research, and the best people doing that research.

              So if a Syndicate rep wants to transform himself into an animal (for whatever reason), his dots in Life represent his base understanding of various Technocrat drugs or gene splicing tech, that he then requisitions or purchases as needed. Or he simply hires a team of Progenitor Extraordinary Citizens and rents some equipment, combining his grasp of Life with their understanding of how to operate the tech (making them Human Resources, Instrument-wise), so they can do the work under his direction. He wouldn't need an actual Awakened Progenitor for this (if he had one, he wouldn't need to cast the Effect himself), but just know what he's doing from a managerial standpoint. His broad expertise and general understanding of what he wants accomplished - combined with his ability to motivate and direct people - lets him bridge the gaps in specific knowledge, and allows him to do what he wants to do.

              He still HAS the requisite dots in Life to accomplish the feat; those dots merely represent a different sort of understanding of Life principles to the Progenitor. And then Money proceeds to fund the operation and smooth over details. Hell, the team of medical technicians don't actually need to be trained by Progenitors themselves - they could start as Syndicate-hired Extraordinary Citizens. (Obviously, there may be cross-Convention collaboration concerning training, or have Syndicate medical techs be scouted by Progenitors looking for exceptional talent.)
              Last edited by Bluecho; 08-28-2018, 05:27 AM.


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              • #22
                And at the end of the day, a Syndicate operative likely wouldn't *want* to turn himself into a tiger. There will be a way to solve the problem which suits them better.

                I mean really, "peak Syndicate" is simply hiring a weretiger ronin and making them your personal bodyguard/enforcer. One amazing aspect of the Syndicate is that they are less intolerant of reality deviants (on an individual basis) than the other Conventions (perhaps with the exception of the Void Engineers, for different reasons).

                There are Syndicate agents who work closely with Pentex, knowing full well that they're dripping with some sort of alien evil. There are Syndicate agents who run the accounts of Princes, and bankroll Vampiric operations. Remember how rich the Grimaldi, Ventrue and Giovanni are after all; it's inevitable that these financial forces will come into alliance or become enemies.
                Last edited by 11twiggins; 08-28-2018, 06:59 AM.

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                • #23
                  While it's very definitely not canon, my own take on the Syndicate's Special Projects Division is less about “we fund Pentex” (though that's still there, unless you're going with the Revised-era concept that Pentex has cut ties with them) and more about “we have mad scientists on the payroll”: they have their own guys who would fit in with the Sons of Ether if not for their loyalty to the Union and its goals, and who engage in Fringe Science. Bringing someone from SPD in doesn't necessarily mean that you're dealing with Fomori and Wyrm-tainted spirits; it can be more along the lines of getting Walter Bishop to help you out.

                  And frankly, that's where you'd find Technocratic shapeshifting and other really out-there Procedures; not even the Progenitors mess with that kind of radical Life effect all that often.

                  Granted, the Syndicate is just as likely to outsource such work to other Conventions or even to Tradition cabals (see the Revised Convention Book's section on the Traditions); but when outsourcing isn't an option (possibly due to the sensitive nature of a job), they've got their own in-house Weirdos.


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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by Dataweaver View Post
                    While it's very definitely not canon, my own take on the Syndicate's Special Projects Division is less about “we fund Pentex” (though that's still there, unless you're going with the Revised-era concept that Pentex has cut ties with them) and more about “we have mad scientists on the payroll”: they have their own guys who would fit in with the Sons of Ether if not for their loyalty to the Union and its goals, and who engage in Fringe Science. Bringing someone from SPD in doesn't necessarily mean that you're dealing with Fomori and Wyrm-tainted spirits; it can be more along the lines of getting Walter Bishop to help you out.

                    And frankly, that's where you'd find Technocratic shapeshifting and other really out-there Procedures; not even the Progenitors mess with that kind of radical Life effect all that often.

                    Granted, the Syndicate is just as likely to outsource such work to other Conventions or even to Tradition cabals (see the Revised Convention Book's section on the Traditions); but when outsourcing isn't an option (possibly due to the sensitive nature of a job), they've got their own in-house Weirdos.
                    I'm really curious now; Syndicate mages outsourcing work to Tradition Cabals? Are they pretending to be a "mysterious employer" rather than the Union?

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                    • #25
                      Only if they need to to gain the Traditions' trust. But really, that kind of deception is more of an NWO thing that a Syndicate thing; for the Syndicate, the standard approach is “everyone has a price”. Find something the cabal wants that you can give them, and offer it to them in exchange for doing something for you; everybody wins.


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                      • #26
                        Originally posted by 11twiggins View Post
                        I'm really curious now; Syndicate mages outsourcing work to Tradition Cabals? Are they pretending to be a "mysterious employer" rather than the Union?
                        The Syndicate Revised Conventionbook has a character example, "Ms. J.".
                        Are you familiar with Shadowrun? She is literally the Syndicate's "Ms. Johnson.".
                        She offers Traditionalist cabals jobs that get paid in "money, tass or some vaguely defined favor" and "they get the job done." Why? Because sometimes, "an inconvenient mix of politics, strange hazards and sheer fucked-upedness require an outsourced solution.". Occasionally, "Ms. J." will even accompany the Cabal as support.
                        Of course not every Cabal is going to jump at something like that, but Cabals that are not really involved in the Ascension War, or are short on resourcs may as well. And the whole act fits the Syndicate Paradigm oh so wonderfully.

                        If you're curious, page 92.
                        Last edited by Ambrosia; 08-30-2018, 07:14 AM.


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                        • #27
                          While this thread still has a little bit of life in it, I wanted to ask you all about enlightenment in the technocracy. As I have always understood it, for mages Arete is "a combination of universal understanding and power" and that most mages would view it that way too. I wanted to pose the question, does this change for technocrats with enlightenment? Do they view enlightenment as pure understanding of science? or is there an understanding that enlightenment gives individuals power (magical resistance). I always had trouble understanding the difference between this and sphere levels for the technocracy and how individuals view their own abilities. Some technocrats seem fine acknowledging that magic and tech are one and the same, but other times the line is more strictly drawn. What does enlightenment actually represent to technocrats (even though they don't actually measure it in universe of course).

                          -Brassfist

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                          • #28
                            Enlightenment is, to them, the power of their Genius. So it is really twofold; To them it is the ability of the mind to understand hypertech and Enlightened Science (remember that that's their name for 'Magick', Hypertech is just a result), and how well they are able to understand the world through Enlightened Science. It really is just an exchange of terms.


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                            • #29
                              Originally posted by 11twiggins View Post
                              Most Syndicate Mages perform magick in a way which isn't really suitable for a PC. Most Syndicate operatives are casting effects over weeks and years, meticulously controlling ventures and acquiring specialized gear. There isn't really a "click your fingers and create fire" type of mindset in most of them.

                              However PCs are often the exception. A Syndicate PC might believe in the universe being a hypereconomic simulation, and act much like a VA, simply integrating ideas of Value and Worth and Market Correction (Paradox) into the Data viewpoint. Another Syndicate PC might use Wonder Spheres; they cost half as many EXP to raise but they can only use their Spheres to make Charms and other Wonders.

                              Your average Syndicate mage is slightly limited in terms of what they can do with preparation of gear, and that's a disadvantage sure, but they have a huge advantage in Coincidental effects and being integrated into society. We believe it when we see a police officer looking the other way for a cash bribe. We don't believe it when someone gets them to forget what they saw by chopping the head off of a doll dressed in a police universe dipped in absinthe. Syndicate Mages are excellent at what they can justify, and a lot of that is social. So less flashy jetpack stuff (although they can buy them) and more subtle manipulative stuff.

                              You mention that they use infrastructure to solve problems, and that is what I have a lot of trouble with. I have read a lot of other threads recently and people talk about how syndicate magic is kinda bullshit because most of their effects are less "enlightened science" and more convenient industry. A syndicate activating a hidden feature like using (Matter 3) to make a steel security door slam behind him isn't doing "enlightened science", he just presses a hidden button to activate a certain feature. I feel like the syndicate paradigm is lacking in justification for how such effects occur, so how do you guys explain these effects in the eyes of a syndicate who is enlightened?

                              Sorry to raise the necro thread...job hunting is hard

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                              • #30
                                Originally posted by Brassfist View Post
                                I have read a lot of other threads recently and people talk about how syndicate magic is kinda bullshit because most of their effects are less "enlightened science" and more convenient industry. A syndicate activating a hidden feature like using (Matter 3) to make a steel security door slam behind him isn't doing "enlightened science", he just presses a hidden button to activate a certain feature. I feel like the syndicate paradigm is lacking in justification for how such effects occur, so how do you guys explain these effects in the eyes of a syndicate who is enlightened?
                                The thing is...that feature doesn't exists for anybody else. That's why it's magick. The sindic is SO certain that the Technocracy/The System can't fail them that it acts as a sort of faith based magick creating features that weren't there before into Technocratic or Technocracy funded products, expensive items they paid themselves...etc.

                                The problem it's...what happens if the sindic actually talks with the dude that built the door?.

                                -Great hidden security sistem you built there Citizen, it totally saved my life!
                                -er...thanks sir!(...wtf?, I didn't built any security sistem in that door...well, better shut up and grab the money)

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