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  • #76
    Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post

    "Is the Disparate Alliance interesting?" is ultimately subjective. I find them interesting, clearly others don't. The big thing for me is that I find the WoD's default to having two main warring factions with some side minor factions for flavor rather boring. Adding factions, even if in this case just one, lets you tell more varied stories.

    "Can the setting?" I honestly don't know what this means exactly. Can you run a Disparate Alliance game where all the PCs are members of it? Then sure. I don't buy the idea that they need something like Guide to the Technocracy here. GttTech, like GttSabbat, had to work hard to make factions that were largely defined by being violently antagonistic to the default PCs and make them compelling as protagonists. The Disparate Alliance is taking groups that were already compelling protagonists - even if limited in what sort of stories you could tell with them - and having them work together instead of staying separate. It's an entirely different development lift.

    And the Disparates are supposed to be a tenuous organization that might crash and burn before it gets anything significant done. M20 core already both acknowledges that and puts it forward as one of the main reasons to play them over the others: taking a long shot at trying something different in the hopes of getting better results.



    .
    That's certianly true but I can draw a rough concensus (lol) on if they are in fact genrally considered interesting, I've yet to encounter anyone IRL who has any enthusiasm for the group. Individuals Crafts certainly but as a collective group pretty much all feedback has been negative. Now this is obviously a limited perspective but without a deeper feedback study I'm forced to conclude they're not considered particulary interesting in my personal experiance, Especially considering I myself find them collectively uniteresting. Personally I've always considered the ascention war a 3 way struggle disguised as a two way one incidently.

    carry the setting as in be a viable long term progonist for the game and I'm unconvinced they can pull that off. I can theorectically run a Nephandi game so theoretically yes. I can run a Alliance game, the issue isnt can I? it's should I? i'll conceed the individual groups have potential but as a collective it's a bit of a big meh.

    I'm not really convinced they really are that differant at least to the 9 mt's, they're effectuvely very simular to the 9 mt's but more genrally ethno centric and less infrastructure. I'm told this sect is distinct from the 9 and the union but I'm really not seeing it.
    Last edited by Ragged Robin; 10-10-2021, 01:03 PM.

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    • #77
      Personally I think the DA is a good idea, but agree that they may benefit from a proper book on them. Not necessarily a magnum opus, but something to explore the group.

      They are interesting already due to their members, which isn't something to be ignored. I don't think it so hard to figure out goals and conflicts among the Crafts that make them up. But I do agree that this isn't a lot for someone who isn't already interested on the Crafts. A pitch for the group is missing.

      Either way that isn't the only thing to make them a good or valid setting element. The Neffandi and Marauders aren't meant for a lot of play as protagonists, but are interesting setting elements by themselves for use as NPCs, background, ominous threats or many other roles. The DA likewise expands the ST's arsenal of tools in any chronicle as they put more weight and mobility on the crafts, making them a viable player in the Great Game the Traditions and Technocracy were trying to play alone.

      Also, by their mere presence they can pressure the other two to adapt. They can't look at any given Craft as only a local threat anymore, they need to come to grips with a more organized third faction. There is no correct answer, but they can't just choose to not answer and expect for this to have no consequences.

      ​In the end I'm totally for a new book exploring the DA and updating the Crafts.


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      • #78
        The Disparates certainly want, and could reasonably be said to need, more power. That's true Montparnasse. The problem is that the Disparates are presented as being a vibrant new force. "New Force" I can see that. "Vibrant?" That's what I find wildly unlikely.

        I've had coursework on African history taught by a man ( Dr. Andrew Clark) who spoke more than a dozen African languages fluently. He did oral history in Africa recording the Girots and similar figures.

        The simple fact of most African nations is that if they pulled together against their common problems they could be strong and build prosperity. Ancient animosities overwhelm practically time and again. Europe only got by their ancient bitterness with each other by first being ground to dust by WWII and then facing the threat of the U.S.S.R. And then it was a long hard slog towards any unity. And Brexit has shown how quick people are over there to toss the benefits of unity away.

        The Disparates as a weak association occasionally trading intelligence and resources makes sense. That's something that could fit in the setting. But as a new force equal to the Trads or the Technos, that's just not viable.

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        • #79
          Originally posted by Astromancer View Post
          The Disparates as a weak association occasionally trading intelligence and resources makes sense. That's something that could fit in the setting. But as a new force equal to the Trads or the Technos, that's just not viable.
          I'm not sure if they need to be more than a loose association to become a strong contender, given how complex this interplay can be. It isn't about being as militarily strong or as wealth, but about being just organized enough to not be ignored. They still have fairly distinct goals.

          And they're not as a rule groups ridden with ancient animosity. Many of them barely interacted in the past. There is a big difference there. Regions like Afghanistan or most of Africa are divided between local groups that fought among themselves for ages, but precisely because they're near each other and locked in local conflicts. But the DA works as an information network and support group for people that only share that common enemy. They share global interests while keeping their local matters untouched.

          Not to say that conflicts will never arise. And you can make the DA implode at your table due to one or more of them. But those dynamics do not play the same way all the time. Some may learn to keep working together because they ARE under that much pressure for survival. Others may learn a way to keep those conflicts from getting in the way of the Alliance as a whole. Things may get ugly, yet the DA survive. It may get tainted as it is corrupted by the conflicts, or it may get stronger as it adapts to them.

          There are many others forms of alliances the world around than the infighting among tribes in Africa after the careful European work in creating the worse bedfellows possible there. Even the situation in Africa is far more complex and nuanced than simply say they can't work together, even if this is true. Many variables are different to determine what will be the outcome.


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          • #80
            Brexit is also a hard example to point to because the UK didn't go completely isolationist... they took themselves out of one of a multitude of international multi-party organizations they belong to. The UK itself is still holding together despite being four countries with a long history of hating each other violently. Plus the amount of buyer's remorse that's already starting to set in even if rejoining the EU isn't likely to happen soon is nothing to overlook. Instead of the rest of the EU questioning the strength of their choice to remain together after the UK left (which there was worry about), the UK is pretty much a poster child for, "leaving the EU is an incredibly dumb idea."

            Mage, for good reasons, doesn't have the layers upon layers of geopolitics to capture that dynamic. Well, you could in theory, do a bit as some of the cross-Tradition factions might appeal to working with some of the Disparate Alliance, but it wouldn't be anything like the UK being in NATO while leaving the EU.

            Of course, pointing at Europe in general and talking about both war and an external enemy grinding away differences to allow greater unity... how is that not the history of the Disparates? The Ascension War, which most of them wanted no part in, has cost them countless members and forced many of them to recede to the edges of societies they were once prominent members of, robbing them of mundane and magical resources. The Nephandi are directly painted as their main external antagonist, as they see the Traditions vs. the Technocracy as a complete distraction from the spreading power of the Fallen. So those two elements are strongly present in the game. If massive devastating war + major external threat = good chance of unity despite long histories of division... then history would be on the Disparate's side, not against it.

            Originally posted by Ragged Robin View Post
            I'm not really convinced they really are that differant at least to the 9 mt's, they're effectuvely very simular to the 9 mt's but more genrally ethno centric and less infrastructure. I'm told this sect is distinct from the 9 and the union but I'm really not seeing it.
            This why I said earlier that the DA is rather dependent on the metaplot to make sense. If this was a brand new game without "20" years of history and metaplot behind it, I would agree with this sentiment.

            The Disparate Alliance is, absolutely, in the same place as the Council was when it started... but the Council has centuries of history, and some very major recent history, that have shaped it into something very different from how it started.

            To point to the above talk about the UK... that's kind of what the Traditions have become. Sure, in the UK, being Scottish and being Welsh are very important cultural differences, and sometimes enough that tensions about keeping the United part of the nation's name seems questionable. But they've stayed together for centuries and have a joint national identity as citizens of the UK.

            What I feel like distracts from the differences between the Traditions and the Disparates is that they're all mystic mages (even with the SoE and VAs around), in a game so heavily defined by the Traditions mysticism vs. Technocratic super-science. A potential new second faction of mystic mages looks redundant from that perspective.

            But from a political and philosophic standpoint, putting aside the trappings of how willworkers do their art, a centuries old political union that honors its individual member groups in culture more than political reality is extremely different from a highly organized state with internal divisions determined by the needs of the state, and just as different from a mutual collective cooperative alliance of independent nations.

            To change up my real world analogs a bit, saying that the Council and the Alliance seem to similar is like saying you don't see a difference between the USA as a federal republic of fifty sovereign states, and the EU as a parliamentary alliance of twenty seven sovereign nations.
            Last edited by Heavy Arms; 10-10-2021, 02:07 PM.

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            • #81
              Originally posted by Taggie View Post
              Solificati coroner who helps investigate/cover up weird goings on, Ahl-i-Batin arbitrator called in to keep the crafts/Traditions from clashing to badly, Knight Templar: basically Michael Carpenter from the Dresden Files, call then in to apply large amounts of holy beat stick, and as moral guide who legit is trying to live the nicer parts of the new testament. Sisters of Hippolyta 'transporter' works for an underground railroad, helping people awakened or not, escape war zones, drug wars, etc
              Originally posted by Heavy Arms View Post
              A Hollower information broker that specializes in knowledge of other supernaturals.

              A cross-Craft cabal of a Templar, Taftani, and a Batini working to help clean up the utter supernatural mess that is the canon state of Cairo while preserving Egypt's diverse culture in the post-Arab Spring environment.

              A Wu Lung investment banker that's using the Belt and Road Initiative to take control over land in east Africa (of the ideas off the top of my head this one is the easiest to do as ally or rival)

              A Sister of Hippolyta that goes into abusive homes to get women and children out and to shelters even if it risks pissing off physically dangerous or well connected people that could bring trouble to other mages by association.

              The Kopa Loei that keeps asking Pele to ruin road construction to protect sacred lands, but has been getting to blatant about it and it's starting to get unwelcome attention on all levels... from the new curse highway tourist craze, to the Technocrats getting tired of their projects being behind schedule.
              Originally posted by HorizonParty2021 View Post
              There are three questions that could help any storyteller in planning to include the Disparate Alliance:

              1) Given a vast geographic area, like Africa, that the Disparate Alliance is supposed to be dominant in, what fun possibilities can you you explore that are pertinent to that part of the world?

              2) Can you imagine A Single NPC who is from one of the Crafts belonging to the Disparate Alliance that you would enjoy running in your Chronicle? Looking at it this way takes some of the pressure off that would come with calculating the politics of a DA Cabal.

              3) Is there a Plot that you can run with this NPC that would not be possible with the other factions?
              #1: Toward the goal of building a green economy, developing countries have an advantage over those that were decades ahead in the building of grey-economy real estate. Suppose you wanted to construct a high tech building that has a negative electricity cost, grows food and has homes and offices inside. When choosing where to build, you would prefer not to have to buy expensive land with an existing building that has to be demolished. New green energy projects are also easier where there is totally undeveloped land. If modernizing and decarbonizing are something everyone will have to do to avoid extinction, it is developing countries who can do this with more freedom in terms of available land space. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QX3M8Ka9vUA

              #2: My favorite from each of the replies above (considering the concept of building green):
              - Ahl-i-Batin arbitrator called in to keep the crafts/Traditions from clashing to badly
              - A Wu Lung investment banker that's using the Belt and Road Initiative to take control over land in east Africa
              - My first edition to the group would be Claver Nimubona, a Gnoma engineer and geomancer from Burundi. His Paradigm is Turning the Keys to Reality. He is an optimist in a land where hope is scarce. He is interested in combining vertical agriculture with drone transport to diversify the crops produced there and increase yield. Being on the equator, Burundi has abundant sun that would allow solar-powered drone aircraft to transport seed and other materials from vertical farm buildings with specialized landing balconies.

              #3: The Wu Lung wants to own what he's investing in and is holding all the cards to begin with. Claver has asked the Ahl-i-Batin to look for Tradition partners with money to invest who could offer competitive terms... Nice open ended tie-in for a Tradition Chronicle.


              He/Him... I just Love Witches.

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              • #82
                Originally posted by monteparnas View Post
                I'm not sure if they need to be more than a loose association to become a strong contender, given how complex this interplay can be. It isn't about being as militarily strong or as wealth, but about being just organized enough to not be ignored. They still have fairly distinct goals.

                And they're not as a rule groups ridden with ancient animosity. Many of them barely interacted in the past. There is a big difference there. Regions like Afghanistan or most of Africa are divided between local groups that fought among themselves for ages, but precisely because they're near each other and locked in local conflicts. But the DA works as an information network and support group for people that only share that common enemy. They share global interests while keeping their local matters untouched.

                Not to say that conflicts will never arise. And you can make the DA implode at your table due to one or more of them. But those dynamics do not play the same way all the time. Some may learn to keep working together because they ARE under that much pressure for survival. Others may learn a way to keep those conflicts from getting in the way of the Alliance as a whole. Things may get ugly, yet the DA survive. It may get tainted as it is corrupted by the conflicts, or it may get stronger as it adapts to them.
                This is probably one of the places I would put my focus if I were running a Disparate game. The alliance is based on an idealistic view that they can work with each other without too much compromise or contamination. I might even say it is naive, but I don't mean that in the sense that it is wrong but in the sense that it is untested. The game, then, would be about testing it with unanticipated problems and seeing how the characters defend it or push it to adapt.






                Mage: The Ice-ension: An Epic Game of Reality on the Rink

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                • #83
                  I haven't had a chance to read the thread so far (RL has been taking up an inordinate amount of my time), so this may have already been addressed; but:

                  The idea that the mage factions slot neatly into the Stasis/Dynamism/Entropy triad is a relic of earlier editions. It is something that Brucato has been attempting to downplay almost from the moment that he took over as line developer. I know that MRev stated that the traditions represent questing while the technocracy represents pattern, the Marauders represent dynamism, and the Nephandi represents the primordial; but I think I could make an equally good claim for the Disparates representing primordialism: they are, after all, primarily composed of factions that preserve the old way of doing things. Certainly, they represent “the Primordial” at least as well as the Nephandi do.

                  And frankly, I wouldn't be inclined to have the Marauders or the Nephandi “represent” specific Avatar Essences; I'd be more inclined to go with a seven-slot structure (the four Essences, plus the three legs of the Metaphysical Trinity); and the flaw wouldn't be that there's nowhere to put the Disparates, but rather that there are two slots unfilled: the Traditions, Technocracy, and Disparates would fill the Questing, Pattern, and Primordial Essence slots, whole the Marauders and Nephandi would fill the Dynamism and Entropy Metaphysical slots; that would leave the Dynamic Essence slot and the Stasis Metaphysical slots unfilled.

                  But I wouldn't actually do that, either. I like M20's notion of a more diverse and individualistic culture for mages as a whole, with all of the elements I described above being present in every faction.


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                  • #84
                    There are a number of positions one could have with regard to the claim of the OP title.

                    1. The DA is a bad setting element and I don't use them for that reason.
                    2. The DA is a bad setting element, but I use them, since they are the default NPC faction in large parts of the world (PCs can take Corr3, so they are good to know about).
                    3. The DA is a good setting element, but I don't use them or haven't had the chance.
                    4. The DA is a good setting element that I use and my Chronicle is better for it.


                    He/Him... I just Love Witches.

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                    • #85
                      My position is that the DA is an OK setting element that I may or may not use, depending on the needs of the story.
                      Last edited by Dataweaver; 10-11-2021, 08:57 PM.


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                      • #86
                        I definitely find the Craft groups more interesting without an alliance - the decision to remain completely independent and not recognize the authority of any group outside their own being exactly what defined them as distinct as a pseudo-non-faction-faction from the Traditions.


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                        • #87
                          Originally posted by Dataweaver View Post
                          My position is that the DA is an OK setting element that I may or may not use, depending on the new of the story.
                          I think they are useful alternative to the Nephandi as a third Earthly faction with rational motivations (as opposed to nihilism). A power triangle has a lot more room for roleplaying and dialogue than a two-faction grudge match. So far, my story is set in North America. I am pondering some DA or unaffiliated Craft NPCs to bring into the story.

                          I will probably have an unaffiliated Craft character play a cameo role just to throw them off, giving them the impression that Crafts are niche loners. Then I can develop and unfold a DA plot that suits the setting. A DA Mage makes contact with the PCs, inviting them to visit some island paradise. After, either the same or another DA character posing as a Tradition Mystic attacks a Technomancer with dementing Magick, breaking the truce in the regional setting. If the players escape the conflict by accepting the invitation to the island paradise, they are slowly pumped for information about the Traditions back home.

                          I also have an idea for a Technocratic Union campaign, where PCs would investigate a location previously occupied by DA Mages. It may be a long while before I can use that one, but I will write, just for fun.


                          He/Him... I just Love Witches.

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                          • #88
                            My disagreement with many criticisms of the Disparate Alliance stems from a difference of value judgements.

                            Opponents of DA point to the ways in which the Crafts are different, and conclude that it cannot work. That these are irreconcilable differences, and thus the game shouldn't try to put them together.

                            Conversely, I see these differences as storytelling GOLD. It provides so many opportunities for conflicts, setbacks, mysteries, and challenges. Players have the chance to MAKE the alliance work, or to see it all come crashing down around them. The potential incompatibility with the various members's ideologies, attitudes, and goals is not a bug. It's a feature.

                            I don't know if such an alliance could work out. But it would be very interesting to watch. Better yet, to play out in a game.

                            Any attempts to appeal to reasons why it wouldn't work is, to me, all the more reason to do it. The absolute worst thing you could do for a roleplaying game is present an interesting scenario, and have it succeed or fail "off screen", with no input from the players or Storytellers. Because that's boring and squanders opportunity.


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                            • #89
                              I think that everyone has pretty much provided all the compelling arguments against and in favor of the Disparate Alliance, so instead I'm going to provide my interpretation and let people use it, or not, as they see fit.

                              First off, why it's so hard to imagine that groups with, pardon the pun, disparate beliefs would band together if the incentive is powerful enough? Like, let's say, avoid extinction? Let's see the position that the crafts find themselves if you follow most of the metaplot. A progrom by the technocracy, ignored or absorbed by the traditions, and the avatar storm that killed their leadership and horizon bases...all that with the added pressure of a society that has exploited, killed, slander, and pushed them to the fringe's year after year, and none of the crafts had even half the resources of the technocracy or the traditions to weather it. Taking that into account, from my point of view, the disparate alliance wasn't really a choice, but the only logical option they had to survive the attacks and influence of more powerful organizations of mages that wanted to destroy or absorb them, and also pushing back against a global paradigm that wanted to make them irrelevant.

                              That said, I'm willing to concede that even in such abysmal conditions, it's possible that some crafts would remain so stubborn as to just remain isolated even if it meant destruction. That's when you introduce what I consider the deciding factor in my head cannon, the intervention of the Ahl-i-Batin. The subtle ones saw the rising power and influence of the nephandi, something had to be done, but they judged the technocracy too corrupted to save and the Council of Nine as a complete failure. The crafts provided an opportunity for something new, a council 2.0 if you will, or perhaps they just needed pawns to use against the nephandi. In any case, through diplomacy and subterfuge, they pushed the idea of the alliance and the need to fight the real threat: the nephandi. With that, they gave the crafts an idea of how to reach to each other and a cause to rally around.

                              So, for me as of now, the disparate alliance is a defensive alliance focused on sharing intel and assistance to guarantee survival against a paternalistic council of nine and destroy the allegedly nephandi takeover of the Technocracy. Beyond that? Whether the alliance will work is something that, from my point of view, is meant to be explored in the game. They are a storyteller resource to enrich the experience, first and foremost. All the back and forward arguments discussed here are rich with role-playing potential, these are the kind of conflicts that I would very much like to explore in a campaign. The crafts could rise as the third power ready to challenge the other two, or they can collapse in spectacular fashion, or maybe they could even help broke peace in the ascension war. Their fate is ours to decide at our tables, and I intend to use them to try to make a more interesting campaign.
                              Last edited by Firanai; 10-25-2021, 07:19 AM.

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                              • #90
                                The best summation of this thread I can think of is we need two more books in the Mage20 line. A) a book of the Disparates that would both describe where these crafts are now and how they both work and fail to work together. The twenty to twenty-five years between these crafts being written down and where the crafts are now is supposed to be a period of massive change. Tell us what the changes were. And B) a book of crafts covering groups we've been told about for years but got few details on and a chapter, and a solid one, on making your own crafts.

                                By the way. The group that needs an update/new explanation the most is the Hollow Ones. The difference between the 90s Hollow Ones and the present group reminds me of an old Val Lewton film, The Seventh Victim. The two women in the final scenes sum up the Hollow Ones for me. The woman who is dying of an unknown disease but decides to just go out and live the life she still has reminds me of the 90s Hollow Ones. They felt they were doomed but they weren't willing to just give up without a party. The modern Hollow Ones are like the other woman in the scene. She decides to just kill herself because the struggle to live would require effort.
                                Last edited by Astromancer; 10-15-2021, 10:27 PM.

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