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  • Brassfist
    started a topic Syndicate Magic: Spheres and Tools

    Syndicate Magic: Spheres and Tools

    I often see people suggesting a great many interpretations of how the magic of the syndicate works, and I wanted to get a definitive answer for what each of the spheres look like when a syndicate mage uses them. From my understanding money, expertise, and hidden features seem to be the main tools that the syndicate use to enact their procedures. A mage can use marketing campaigns to influence a Mind effect on people or effective management strategies to imbue objects with primal energy, or flash cash to drive somewhere instantly in a taxi. My question is, how does a syndicate mage create effects in the other spheres and what other tools can they use. What do Time, Forces, Life, and (probably the most difficult) Dimensional Science look like when a syndicate mage uses them? What does their magic look like when it actually turns vulgar? And are there more tools a Syndicate Mage can pull from to preform their effects than the ones I listed?

    Another question I have is this, what does an additional sphere level actually represent for a Syndicate mage when they are just purchasing an effect, such as a suit that can take bullets. How is that enlightened science for the syndicate mage, what is it that they have actually learned in order to create that effect?

    Love this community, and any responses/discussion are appreciated

    -Brassfist

  • Muad'Dib
    replied
    Originally posted by Brassfist View Post
    They get a lot more mystic than any of the other mages in the technocracy, and they apply the loosest of the "sciences" to their enlightened science. Syndicates focus on domination though hyper economics and the art of desire, which can lead to some pretty astounding mind, entropy, life, and prime effects. You can see a syndicate do most of this with eye contact, gestures, and most of all pure domination. If a syndicate dominates someone believes they are able to pull off effects they can because they are mages. The beliefs they have cultivated their own self worth then they can create effects like draining another value and primal energy or destroying another person with empowered life effects. Syndicates are the best at doing a lot with very little in the way of hypertech, they dont always need devices or gadgets, just strong confidence and a nice suit.
    Whether going by the more mystical take on and definition of the Technocrats of the Syndicate, or outlining and defining them under a technocratic take on the these Technocrats and how they carry out their Effects ( or portraying them as being in between those two approaches in regard to their Magick and their methods ) , I do think they do clearly and desperately need more Foci and methods. I think that assurance, some superlative skills, and nice suits, or other nice looking and well-made items, are definitely not enough.

    What about unique personal items, or given ( or exchanged ) meaningful gifts ? This isn't explored or outlined beyond mentioning lucky coins as Foci for an Adjustment in the first Syndicate Convention Books. What about calling upon and embodying tropes, ideals, or stereotypes ( Catchphrases are mentioned as a Foci for an Adjustment in the first Syndicate CB. ) ? Numerology is another possibility for an additional Foci and a method for the Technocrats of the Syndicate. Another one is tattoos - which can be intricately technological ( glowing, arcing, shifting ), as would be appropriate for members of the Technocracy. Those additional Foci that I mention and propose could be used for both possible directions the Syndicate can be portrayed and defined under - for the technocratic one, and for the mystic one ( And also for the take on the Syndicate that would be in between technocratic and mystic. ) .

    I think that it only needs to be admitted that what is currently described as the Foci and the methods of the Mages of the Syndicate is not enough. After this admission the possibilities become clear in regard to properly defining and expanding the Foci and methods of the Technocrats of the Syndicate Convention.
    I think that the Paradigm and the outlook of the Syndicate Convention, and the methods, values, symbolism, and assumptions that are present within it, are more than adequate to provide a basis, inspiration, and a direction in regard to outlining and defining additional Foci and methods for the Effects of the Technocrats of the Syndicate ; whether it would be developing and defining the Foci and the methods in a more technocratic, or a more mystical direction.
    Last edited by Muad'Dib; 10-24-2018, 04:22 AM.

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  • Brassfist
    replied
    Originally posted by Muad'Dib View Post

    This is all mundane actions and nothing that impressive. Though it is impressive in how easily members of the Syndicate can do this ; but many Mages ( and many other Nightfolk ) can deny a person money, mundane job, resources, or conveniences, that are provided by mundane institutions and infrastructure.


    Now this is interesting as an ( for example ) Entropy 4 Effect, but I'd say that the M:tA books don't describe at all how a Mage of the Syndicate would carry out such an Effect. The Technocrats of the Syndicate lack a described and developed Foci for such Effects, and many other Magickal Effects that they are implied ( in various ways ) in M:tA books to be capable of.

    Syndicate agents know that a persons own value dictates their lives in our economy, and with the power of plexic server axis an agent can modify a persons personal information so their wealth, health, and very fortune fall to pieces. Essentially using their phone or a computer as a foci a financier could alter a persons personal value and by adjusting it they can control the forces of their life indirectly.

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  • Brassfist
    replied
    Originally posted by Muad'Dib View Post
    Isn't the Syndicate as you described them more mystical than technocratic ? Going by what you, and other posters in this thread, wrote it seems that the Mages of the Syndicate are similar to ( for example ) the Cult of Ecstasy Mages to a much greater extent than they are to Technocrats of other Conventions. This is because of a lack of a technocratic and/or scientific basis for their Effects, and the focus on personal actions, qualities, and the Mage's lifestyle in regards to their Magick.

    There are places in M:tA books that do give this impression in regards to the Syndicate ( and Technocrats in general ) ; that they can cast mystical Effects through symbolism and belief. At the same time, there are many indications that the members of the Syndicate are Technocrat Mages in a similar - or at least comparable - way that the Technocrats of the four other Conventions of the Technocracy are.

    They get a lot more mystic than any of the other mages in the technocracy, and they apply the loosest of the "sciences" to their enlightened science. Syndicates focus on domination though hyper economics and the art of desire, which can lead to some pretty astounding mind, entropy, life, and prime effects. You can see a syndicate do most of this with eye contact, gestures, and most of all pure domination. If a syndicate dominates someone believes they are able to pull off effects they can because they are mages. The beliefs they have cultivated their own self worth then they can create effects like draining another value and primal energy or destroying another person with empowered life effects. Syndicates are the best at doing a lot with very little in the way of hypertech, they dont always need devices or gadgets, just strong confidence and a nice suit.

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  • Muad'Dib
    replied

    Originally posted by Furoan View Post
    Blessings and curses? They give a call and suddenly somebody’s credit score is in the shitter. That phone bill / mortgage/ credit card is starting to pile up because your interest rate went through the roof. Oops you can’t rent now because your credit score shows that you are horribly unreliable(even if you have paid every bill on time since forever). Sure that works best on people interacting with the mundane world, (...)
    This is all mundane actions and nothing that impressive. Though it is impressive in how easily members of the Syndicate can do this ; but many Mages ( and many other Nightfolk ) can deny a person money, mundane job, resources, or conveniences, that are provided by mundane institutions and infrastructure.

    Originally posted by Furoan View Post
    (...) and then you get into the exotic effects of how a bad credit score enhanced by Awakened Will is fucking you up in terms of probability until you pay it back.
    Now this is interesting as an ( for example ) Entropy 4 Effect, but I'd say that the M:tA books don't describe at all how a Mage of the Syndicate would carry out such an Effect. The Technocrats of the Syndicate lack a described and developed Foci for such Effects, and many other Magickal Effects that they are implied ( in various ways ) in M:tA books to be capable of.
    Last edited by Muad'Dib; 10-13-2018, 01:14 AM.

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  • Aleph
    replied
    Originally posted by Muad'Dib
    For example, what are their Entropy 4 Bless and Curse Foci and methods in regards to Effects cast on single persons, including themselves ? Can they cast Entropy 5 Effects involving changing somebody's fate, future, and actions ? How do they carry out such Effects ?
    No Technocrat would frame what they do as blessings or curses, but the Syndicate it's prety darn good at projections. Hypereconomy inclueds theories about success and failure that can be understood trough advanced probabilistics. Any Sindic that specializes in economy or business it's going to be a master statician, and with such mastery they can deduce when they're going to win in a casino just as well as any Euthanatos. They don't "bless" themselves, they calculate the path for success. They don't "curse" their enemies, but calculate how to foil their plans with just a small nudge. Now, this isn't such a neat instrument to be used in a pinch (no one wants to do advanced math in a fight. Albeit a Technocrat certainly can), but the Syndicate has never been the warrior Convention (albeit they totally use "common" Technocratic instruments like agent level enligthened markmanship).

    Changing somebody's fate it's as simple as to change their mentality, because fate doesn't exist - we're not superstitious like that - people build their own destiny, and fate it's just the probable conclussion of the path you're actually taking. Manipulating the way you think "changes fate", and that can be done with just a managerial nudge in the right (or wrong) direction. This is actually a specialty of the Syndicate, because they think people have a "net worth" that can be calculated: That's exactly Fate. It's the sum of the potential you have, which should account for the stuff you will be inclined and able to do. And that CAN be changed.

    You're making it too easy. The Syndicate Paradigm it's pretty bad to do stuff like Entropy 4: "rot someone from the inside out" or necromancy, but they aren't half bad for subtle stuff like "fate" or "future" that can be explained away as foresight and clever manipulation. The Syndicate it's bad at the flashy hypertech stuff that's magical in all but name, but changing somebody's course of action it's just being a good manager .

    They are like the Mages of the Order of Reason whose Magick is in many cases based on and cloaked in "intuition", "luck", "giving your best", "peak human capabilities", "fortune", or "insight" .
    I don't think they should use superstitious stuff like "luck" or "fortune" (at least not usually), however I don't see anything wrong with being in peak capability or using good ol' suggestion. A good amount of managerial techniques depend on stuff like "having charisma" and "give your 110%", while being well trained and knowing martial arts it's a must in any modern force of security worthy of such name. Technocratic Paradigm it's fully compatible with these.

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  • Furoan
    replied
    Blessings and curses? They give a call and suddenly somebody’s credit score is in the shitter. That phone bill / mortgage/ credit card is starting to pile up because your interest rate went through the roof. Oops you can’t rent now because your credit score shows that you are horribly unreliable(even if you have paid every bill on time since forever). Sure that works best on people interacting with the mundane world, but making it known that you are bad at holding up your side of bargains is going to effect your interaction with spirts, and then you get into the exotic effects of how a bad credit score enhanced by Awakened Will is fucking you up in terms of probability until you pay it back.

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  • Muad'Dib
    replied
    Originally posted by Aleph View Post

    They're both Social Scientists and Con Artists. If they want to shape minds with Entropy 5 they make an advertisement with lot's of symbolism and cues, not in vain they have a Marketing Methodology. Their self-assurance it's just part of their training, a training that alows them to provide extraordinarry motivational talks like those every competent manager knows how to give (except that in the case of the Syndicate they actually work because Mind 4)
    I have no doubt that they can do it within economical or social systems, and it is an perfectly acceptable Foci and a set of methods, that is also technocratic. However, I think that the Syndicate is severely undeveloped in regards to the wider breadth of Magick Effects that that are defined within their methods, Foci, and Paradigm. For example, what are their Entropy 4 Bless and Curse Foci and methods in regards to Effects cast on single persons, including themselves ? Can they cast Entropy 5 Effects involving changing somebody's fate, future, and actions ? How do they carry out such Effects ?

    The impression I get and conclusion I come to, is that the Technocrats of the Syndicate Convention simply don't have their own technocratic Foci for such, and many others, of their Magickal Effects. They are like the Mages of the Order of Reason whose Magick is in many cases based on and cloaked in "intuition", "luck", "giving your best", "peak human capabilities", "fortune", or "insight" . With a decent dose of helping those methods and concepts along with specific types of behaviors that to a significant extent are similar to mystical channeling or mystical rituals ; or by carrying seemingly mundane items that are actually Foci for Effects of such a Mage.

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  • Aleph
    replied
    Originally posted by Muad'Dib View Post
    Besides this, I think that in regards to the vast majority of Magickal Effects that are listed as possible in Mt:A, the Syndicate's Paradigm and Foci are extremely lacking and barely, unclearly developed and presented. I get that in regards to using Mind and Entropy ( technocratic ) Magicks for influencing minds, they are supposed to Adjustments and Procedures that are different but comparable to the New World Order's Procedures ; but this does not get described beyond "The Technocrats of the Syndicate are charismatic and use displays of elegance and wealth intricately.". How ( and for example why, or to what extent ) exactly does a Mage of the Syndicate make it so that they can do an Entropy 5 Affect Thought ? "They are tough, experienced, and assured." is a simplistic answer so unlike what I - and others, I think - expect from M:tA as a game and as a setting.

    Can a Provider or an Extraordinary Citizen working for the Technocracy be helped by a powerful Mind 4 Adjustment done by a Syndicate Technocrat that makes her feel like living ' the American dream ' for a few hours, or a few days ? From how the Syndicate Mages are presented, this is a definite possibility ; but it is never said how the Technocrats of the Syndicate prepare such Effects. I think that this one of the main reasons the Magick Effects of members of the Syndicate end up being much more mystical ( as in the Traditions or the Nephandi kind of mystical ) instead of being distinctly and primarily technocratic, as I see it.
    They're both Social Scientists and Con Artists. If they want to shape minds with Entropy 5 they make an advertisement with lot's of symbolism and cues, not in vain they have a Marketing Methodology. Their self-assurance it's just part of their training, a training that alows them to provide extraordinarry motivational talks like those every competent manager knows how to give (except that in the case of the Syndicate they actually work because Mind 4)

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  • Muad'Dib
    replied
    Originally posted by Dataweaver View Post
    I was describing it from a “gamist” perspective: how the player of a Syndic should approach things. The Syndic himself, though, doesn't view it as magick creating a “hidden feature” or spending cash achieving an impossible result: to him, the “hidden feature” has always been there; it's just “hidden”.

    The money? The impossibility of buying a hotel at the drop of the hat has more to do with the amount of paperwork that's involved with making such a purchase than with the amount of money involved, which is why someone with decent knowledge of finance transactions would call BS on the scene in question; so yeah, there's some “mysticism” involved here — but no more than you get with a professional biologist looking at some of the things the Progenitors do, or a professional mechanical and/or software engineer looking at a HIT-Mark. Technocratic hypertech of all stripes takes liberties with the limits placed by real-world science, especially when dealing with Vulgar Procedures. Let's not even get started on the lack of a scientific foundation for most of what the Void Engineers do: force fields, paralysis beams, teleporters, and space opera tropes all over the place.

    The only difference, as I see it, is that more people are inclined to see economics as an esoteric study to begin with (as opposed to the hard sciences that Iteration X and the Progenitors focus on), and so the more “impossible” effects that hypereconomics produces are more likely to be seen as mystical. The NWO's focus on psychology and sociology has a similar effect, but tends to get mitigated by the fact that they also draw heavily from the superspy tropes — which means that a lot of their magick takes the form of “spy-tech”: exploding cuff-links, lipstick lasers, etc. But when their magick gets into the realm of mental manipulation and their Practices shift from more tangible fields to Dominion, their effects can get just as “mystical” as anything the Syndicate does.

    You are right about the hypereconomics that is practiced by the Syndicate, in that it is comparable with what the other four Conventions of the Technocracy do. The hypereconomics part of the Magick of members of the Syndicate has enough of both technocratic ( and scientific ) basis and complexity, that it is what I consider to be a developed and appropriate Foci, and a fitting Paradigm-related activity ; that is consistent with the rules and themes of Mt:A ( and WoD ) as a setting. This Foci can be used for an amount of Prime and Entropy Effects by Mages of the Syndicate ; this amount is relatively limited, as it must involve transactions within, or ones somehow connected with, the economical systems that are established.


    Besides this, I think that in regards to the vast majority of Magickal Effects that are listed as possible in Mt:A, the Syndicate's Paradigm and Foci are extremely lacking and barely, unclearly developed and presented. I get that in regards to using Mind and Entropy ( technocratic ) Magicks for influencing minds, they are supposed to have Adjustments and Procedures that are different but comparable to the New World Order's Procedures ; but this does not get described beyond "The Technocrats of the Syndicate are charismatic and use displays of elegance and wealth intricately.". How ( and for example why, or to what extent ) exactly does a Mage of the Syndicate make it so that they can do an Entropy 5 Affect Thought ? "They are tough, experienced, and assured." is a simplistic answer so unlike what I - and others, I think - expect from M:tA as a game and as a setting.

    Can a Provider or an Extraordinary Citizen working for the Technocracy be helped by a powerful Mind 4 Adjustment done by a Syndicate Technocrat that makes her feel like living ' the American dream ' for a few hours, or a few days ? From how the Syndicate Mages are presented, this is a definite possibility ; but it is never said how the Technocrats of the Syndicate prepare such Effects. I think that this one of the main reasons the Magick Effects of members of the Syndicate end up being much more mystical ( as in the Traditions or the Nephandi kind of mystical ) instead of being distinctly and primarily technocratic, as I see it.
    Last edited by Muad'Dib; 10-11-2018, 01:26 AM.

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  • Dataweaver
    replied
    I was describing it from a “gamist” perspective: how the player of a Syndic should approach things. The Syndic himself, though, doesn't view it as magick creating a “hidden feature” or spending cash achieving an impossible result: to him, the “hidden feature” has always been there; it's just “hidden”.

    The money? The impossibility of buying a hotel at the drop of the hat has more to do with the amount of paperwork that's involved with making such a purchase than with the amount of money involved, which is why someone with decent knowledge of finance transactions would call BS on the scene in question; so yeah, there's some “mysticism” involved here — but no more than you get with a professional biologist looking at some of the things the Progenitors do, or a professional mechanical and/or software engineer looking at a HIT-Mark. Technocratic hypertech of all stripes takes liberties with the limits placed by real-world science, especially when dealing with Vulgar Procedures. Let's not even get started on the lack of a scientific foundation for most of what the Void Engineers do: force fields, paralysis beams, teleporters, and space opera tropes all over the place.

    The only difference, as I see it, is that more people are inclined to see economics as an esoteric study to begin with (as opposed to the hard sciences that Iteration X and the Progenitors focus on), and so the more “impossible” effects that hypereconomics produces are more likely to be seen as mystical. The NWO's focus on psychology and sociology has a similar effect, but tends to get mitigated by the fact that they also draw heavily from the superspy tropes — which means that a lot of their magick takes the form of “spy-tech”: exploding cuff-links, lipstick lasers, etc. But when their magick gets into the realm of mental manipulation and their Practices shift from more tangible fields to Dominion, their effects can get just as “mystical” as anything the Syndicate does.

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  • Muad'Dib
    replied
    Originally posted by Dataweaver View Post
    Infrastructure: the Syndic accesses the “back end” of a product or service — that is, his Magick results in the product or service having a “hidden feature” that extends its usual functionality just a little beyond its advertised capabilities. Or, if the Syndic is willing to go Vulgar, a lot beyond.
    (...)
    In reality, no one can just whip out a checkbook and buy a hotel on the spot, no matter how much money they have; but that's exactly what hypereconomics lets you do.
    Isn't the Syndicate as you described them more mystical than technocratic ? Going by what you, and other posters in this thread, wrote it seems that the Mages of the Syndicate are similar to ( for example ) the Cult of Ecstasy Mages to a much greater extent than they are to Technocrats of other Conventions. This is because of a lack of a technocratic and/or scientific basis for their Effects, and the focus on personal actions, qualities, and the Mage's lifestyle in regards to their Magick.

    There are places in M:tA books that do give this impression in regards to the Syndicate ( and Technocrats in general ) ; that they can cast mystical Effects through symbolism and belief. At the same time, there are many indications that the members of the Syndicate are Technocrat Mages in a similar - or at least comparable - way that the Technocrats of the four other Conventions of the Technocracy are.

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  • Bluecho
    replied
    Dataweaver is correct. Syndicate reps operate by pushing the limits of mundane resources. Whether that's money, style, etiquette, architecture, consumer products, or the physical limits of the human body and mind. It's an Art of Desire they've been practicing since the Renaissance - when they were the High Guild - and have now refined into a science. That science being, of course, their personal unified field theory called Hypereconomics. Wherever there is a bit of leeway - a gap in the ways things work - a Syndicate rep can use money, people skills, expertise, and raw Charisma to exploit that gap and wedge themselves in.

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  • Dataweaver
    replied
    Infrastructure: the Syndic accesses the “back end” of a product or service — that is, his Magick results in the product or service having a “hidden feature” that extends its usual functionality just a little beyond its advertised capabilities. Or, if the Syndic is willing to go Vulgar, a lot beyond.

    Personnel: This is the “Management and Human Resources” box on p.595 of M20, and does for people what Infrastructure does for products and services. One fairly extreme example comes from Doctor Who: Also, various “I am the Doctor; don't mess with me!” moments can be thought of as empowering his Fame to achieve extraordinary results that really have no business working, such as driving back whole flotillas of aggressors out to destroy him.

    Expertise: the Art of Desire isn't just about possessions and clout; it also “involves plenty of self-perfection: athletic exercise, meditation, mental gymnastics, self-reflection, etiquette, and other social graces” (M20 p.573). This is to Abilities what Personnel is to social Backgrounds: it lets you use mundane training to achieve the seemingly impossible. Consider Veidt from Watchmen: Veidt is a consummate Syndic, up to and including the aforementioned athletic exercise which has put him in peak physical condition — a physical Expertise which he exploits here to catch a bullet.

    Money: perhaps the best known instrument in the Syndic toolkit, but in many ways the least impressive on its own; this does for Resources what Expertise does for Abilities. Take the flamboyant purchases you often see in movies; that's what this Instrument does: In reality, no one can just whip out a checkbook and buy a hotel on the spot, no matter how much money they have; but that's exactly what hypereconomics lets you do.

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  • Muad'Dib
    replied
    Originally posted by 11twiggins View Post
    You could solve these niggles by having the Syndicate all use "Wonder Spheres". Basically you pay half cost to raise your Spheres, but you can only work with Charms, Artifacts etc.

    So a Syndicate mage uses Forces 2 with the plasma grenades he made/commissioned, he can't just make a normal grenade explode.

    Big advantage with half cost, big disadvantage being stuck with wonders. I'd also allow level 1 effects to work without Wonders, since examining things is so important in mage. I'd also allow one free dot in Prime since they'll be useless if they can't get Prime to a high enough level.
    Which Spheres do you think would be fitting and appropriate for Technocrat Mages of the Syndicate to use as Wonder Spheres ? Matter, Life, and Forces are clear and obvious ; what about Prime, Time, Correspondence, and Entropy ?

    Considering in regards to this, do you think Technocrats of the Syndicate would have some Magick Effects as especially common within the Convention, or that they would be more capable in regards to some Effects, through the use of Wonders made by them ?

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