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  • Thoughts about Victorian Mage

    This thread is for calmly and politely stating problems with Victorian Mage. And making respectful suggestions for change.

  • #2
    While looking at the list of suggested books to read for back ground I saw Edward Said's Orientalism. Frankly this work is poor choice. First Said is often factually wrong, a good example is his total misinterpretation of whole genres of paintings (many of which when chased out of western museums were proudly bought by Arab governments and lovingly displayed in Arab museums to the delight of adoring local crowds). The publicly ascertainable facts about many institutions were simply trashed or ignored. Example: most major chairs of Arabic and Arabic literature at Oxford, Cambridge, and the Sorbonne, were founded in the Early 17th century, in a time when the Ottoman Empire was still expanding Westward and the Barbary Corsairs still raided as far North and West as Iceland and Ireland. Far from being founded as tools of conquest these chairs were founded when the Barbary Corsairs freely took slaves in the English channel.

    For better information might I Suggest either Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes

    or The Islamic Enlightenment: The Struggle Between Faith and Reason, 1798 to Modern Times

    .

    Both of these book are by Islamic authors and about events in the Islamic world from the viewpoint of those living there.
    Last edited by Astromancer; 04-26-2021, 07:03 AM.

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    • #3
      In general I find the book as a whole very inconsistent on tone and theme.

      -The book almost going overboard on talking about the institutionalized bigotry and how you're doing a disservice to history for not mentioning it in your chronicle...and yet later on, particularly in the Storytelling chapter, listing genres that inherently aren't about confronting bigotry (and are perfectly viable to do more pulpy stories) and the existence of "The Question of Prejudice" sidebar laying out "ok, yeah that's fine if your players don't want to play out bigotry happening to their characters, because that might be retraumatizing for them".

      I'm personally more in support for "The Question of Prejudice" to make it a choice between players and ST, to keep all options open, and find that raising the buy-in that high is incredibly unnecessary.

      -My already stated point of trying to paint the Order of Reason as Iredeemably E V I L in some places, and yet the writing also making them sympathetic in other parts of the book, while also making them as playable as the Traditions and Crafts (and my preference towards making them more sympathetic, due to that requiring less work, just having more viable playable options over doubling down and making them completely villainous).

      -The book in of itself being inconsistent on to the extent of how the various other groups were involved or the level of nuance of some of them. The best nuanced portrayals is stuff like the Sisters write-up that, while they were entrenched in the suffragette movements, that they were also indulging in racism against PoC women, prioritizing the needs of white women. Then there's the talk about how the Hermetics and Choristors are also benefiting and enabling atrocities of the Victorian era. But then mentions the Armenian genocide...and yet pointedly dances around how this could have affected the Ahl-i-Batin, even though their splat write-up deliberately points out how entrenched they were in the Ottoman Empire.

      -The retcon to the Hollow Ones...and the group, while interesting on its own, bears no resemblence to the modern day group, and doesn't really provide the connective writing on how these Hollow Ones become the modern ones.

      And that's just the tip of things. There;s extremely problematic territory of saying that the Order of Reason directly caused a bunch of the atrocities of the Victorian Era, which slips into actually whitewashing history by blaming atrocities on a fictional organization.

      And goes against the creed of WoD to not directly blame real world atrocities on WoD groups, like how it first laid it out in NY by Night or in Charnel Houses.

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      • #4
        I think it can do well carving out SOME of the reminders of the horrors of imperialism, simply because it’s a redundant use of word count. No discussion of specific atrocities should be removed, but we don’t need the multiple reminders saying the same thing.

        Love the magic and paradigm stuff, and most of the areas that did disappoint me because they didn’t explore or add to existing Mage lore (Order of the Black Willow, Acharne, House Tharsis, return of Sh’zar, etc etc) I’m just turning my frustration into my Vault project to expand on the setting.

        The Hollow One thing is annoying. There is no reason to use that label for Marxist and Theosophist Mages. And no reason to shove those two potential era specific Crafts together. I’m giving “the True Levelers” and “the Universal Brotherhood Ascendent” their own Craft writeups.

        As for the future Hollowers, I’ll be sure to drop in reference to Nigel around as a Romantics obsessed Orphan.


        Check out my expansion to the Realm of Brass and Shadow

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        • #5
          No offense intended, but wasn't all this discussed in the kickstarter thread?

          In particular, stuff about how the book should be written is pretty much a moot point now: opinions on the matter have already been heard, and they will either be listened to or not. It is now out of our hands.
          Last edited by Dataweaver; 04-26-2021, 11:53 AM.


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          • #6
            Originally posted by Dataweaver View Post
            No offense intended, but wasn't all this discussed in the kickstarter thread?
            I assume it's so people don't need to go digging in the thread to find them.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by tasti man LH View Post

              I assume it's so people don't need to go digging in the thread to find them.
              Yes, and to encourage specific clearly stated objections and problems in a way that makes dealing with the issue simple.

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              • #8
                The Order of Reason used to be portrayed as when the Technocracy still had some sense of honor, dignity, and purpose beyond being fascist douchebags.

                It's kind of funny that we've utterly reversed course and it's now, "God, the Order of Reason was the WORST, man." The Technocracy is now portrayed, at least post-WW2 and definitely post-Avatar Storm as progressive and racially as well as sexually inclusive in a way that is well above the regular Sleepers. Definitely not when they were behind all the shitty racist colonial empires and eugenics movements.

                I mean I don't DISAGREE with it and even made the observation myself a few times but it is kind of funny.
                Last edited by CTPhipps; 05-01-2021, 05:47 AM.


                Author of Cthulhu Armageddon, I was a Teenage Weredeer, Straight Outta Fangton, Lucifer's Star, and the Supervillainy Saga.

                Forum Terms of Use
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                • #9
                  While reading the list of suggested films I noticed that Picnic at Hanging Rock was described as being based on real events. That was part of the original promotion of the film, but the author of the screen play and the book the film was based on have long since admitted that the story is pure fiction. That said, you can learn many details of life in a Victorian school and Victorian life in general from the film and it is a classic of world cinema. And it is totally right for Mage. .

                  Besides, the blonde with the glasses always struck me as half Alice half Professor Challenger and a perfect model for a Mage character.
                  Last edited by Astromancer; 05-01-2021, 09:59 AM.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by CTPhipps View Post
                    The Order of Reason used to be portrayed as when the Technocracy still had some sense of honor, dignity, and purpose beyond being fascist douchebags.

                    It's kind of funny that we've utterly reversed course and it's now, "God, the Order of Reason was the WORST, man." The Technocracy is now portrayed, at least post-WW2 and definitely post-Avatar Storm as progressive and racially as well as sexually inclusive in a way that is well above the regular Sleepers. Definitely not when they were behind all the shitty racist colonial empires and eugenics movements.

                    I mean I don't DISAGREE with it and even made the observation myself a few times but it is kind of funny.
                    Actually, the Order of Reason as presented in the Victorian Age is the Order of Reason in the midst of transforming into the Technocratic Union. Such changes rarely occur overnight; but the book describes most of the changes as occurring over the span of about fifty years or so, in the latter half of the 19th century. And most of the remaining changes took place in the early 19th century. That still leaves five centuries of history (from the Order's founding to the start of the Victorian Age) where they weren't “the WORST, man”. And it's not like the atrocities they're associated with stopped with the Great Housecleaning right at the end of the Victorian Age. Arguably, the Pogrom, when they started hunting down and murdering Superstitionists in earnest for the crime is disagreeing with them, didn't really start until the Virtual Adepts defected around World War II, well after the Order of Reason was no more, and played right up to the rise of the Avatar Storm. In the meantime, the fledgeling Technocracy was busy applying the same strategies outlined in Victorian Mage to such areas as the Middle East, arguably taking down the Ottoman Empire and driving an entire Tradition into hiding.

                    Prior to the 19th century, the Order of Reason did still have some semblance of honor, dignity, and purpose; and after the Avatar Storm, an effort was made to reclaim some of that. So it's not so much a matter of utterly reversing course as it is filling in some details about what already was there.


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                    • #11
                      The Order had issues even back in it's founding. The more zealous Christians (namely the Cabal of Pure Thought) among them in the meetings that formed the Order scared off many non-Christian Mages that had compatible beliefs. Which kind of goes to show why they would become so Euro-centric in the coming centuries.


                      Homo sapiens. What an inventive, invincible species. It's only a few million years since they crawled up out of the mud and learned to walk. Puny, defenceless bipeds. They've survived flood, famine and plague. They've survived cosmic wars and holocausts. And now, here they are, out among the stars, waiting to begin a new life. Ready to outsit eternity. They're indomitable. Indomitable.

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                      • #12
                        Agreed: they've always had issues. So had everyone else. But it wasn't until the Victorian age that those issues blew up into a world-wide threat — the distinction CTPhipps was making between once having some sense of honor, dignity, and purpose and being fascist douchebags.

                        It's true that the seeds of their 19th and 20th century atrocities were there from the start; but if you condemn something for having the potential to go horribly wrong, everyone would be condemned.

                        And ironically, it was the act of purging the Cabal of Pure Thought from the Order of Reason that kicked into high gear its transformation into the Technocratic Union.

                        To be clear, I'm not saying that the Order of Reason was ever “the good guys” (for one thing, that runs counter to the “shades of gray” morality that Mage features); I'm just saying that the Order of Reason in the 19th century bears far more in common with the Technocracy of the 20th century than with the Order of Reason of even the 18th century.


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                        • #13
                          If we redid the Technocracy timeline basically the Victorian Era to WW2 is the "worst period" of the Union. However, the Nephandi leaning fascist and totalitarian parts are purged.

                          Then the Avatar Storm puts an end to authoritarianism altogether.

                          The New Technocracy isn't democratic but it has gone from brainwashing authoritarians to, well, tech bro jerks.


                          Author of Cthulhu Armageddon, I was a Teenage Weredeer, Straight Outta Fangton, Lucifer's Star, and the Supervillainy Saga.

                          Forum Terms of Use
                          the Contact Us link.

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                          • #14
                            One thing that would help a lot is far less about Western evil and far more about ways Victorian society was simply different. China in this period is going through hell, but there was never anything about China's future fate that was set in stone. Dealing with China's distinctive culture and social values and how that effects your Mage is a million times more useful than rehashing the Opium Wars.

                            Just saying "White Man Bad" a thousand times doesn't tell anyone about why explorers went into vast wildernesses. Slamming examples of "White Savior Syndrome" won't explain why the West came to reject its own ethnocentrism (something few other cultures have done even today). We need information on what Empire meant to the Victorians, not another loud denunciation of imperialism.

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                            • #15
                              An interesting development is that The Operative's Dossier now gives (optional) rules for the process of changing a Reality Zone; and it's not easy. So we now see just how impressive the feat was that the early Technocracy pulled off.


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