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  • Heroic (or at least decent) Syndicate characters

    How would you make a morally and ethically decent Syndicate character? They can easily be some of the most shit bag characters. But how do you make one who is not a shit bag?

  • #2
    An established character in my story is part of Media Control. He's an actor, writer and producer of inspiring TV series.

    A Financier could run literally any company you can imagine. This could include solar and wind utility companies.

    An Enforcer could be part of Fintrac, investigating money laundering related to sex trafficking controlled by Mammonite Nephandi.

    A Disbursements Agent might discover some depraved experimentation going on at a Construct and just pull funds on moral grounds alone.

    In addition to all four methodologies being redeemable in terms of commonly associated character concepts, you can depict the character as a good person outside their work life. How might you improve the city you live in if you had money and quintessence in large supply? Who would you help?


    Thank you for passing time with me in conversation. My Hacks.

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    • #3
      Let them adjust their notion of “value” to include more emphasis on the well-being of others: “don't measure wealth by how much you gain, but rather by how much you can give”. The accumulation of wealth shouldn't be an end unto itself; it should be a means to an end.

      Have them reject “Might Makes Right” and accept that some things are wrong and should not be done even if you can make a profit doing them. If anything, try to inculcate the opposite attitude: “With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility”.

      View employees as partners in the Venture, not as resources to be expended. Thinking long-term, you'll get better results from employees who have a sense of ownership in the Venture than from ones who are burning out all the time as they're worked to death. And the Venture should be focused primarily on what it can do for the customers, not what it can do for you; the latter is important, but (as I mentioned before) only as a means to an end: the more power you gain, the more you can empower the Venture. The fact that you're better off too is more of a fringe benefit; the real goal is satisfied customers.


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      • #4
        The Syndicate is interested in money, of course, but not simply for the purpose of hoarding it like a dragon and never ever spending it. The goal of acquiring money is to use it as a form of power to change and manipulate the world. Sure they spend the money on the usual bullshit, but that money will also get spent to fund funds charities, social welfare programs, etc. For some Syndicate members, wealth is an ends to itself, and the Syndicate definitely has a lot of members who are only interested in the cash. But for other members, the accumulation of money simply a means to an end.

        I have no problem imagining a Syndicate member using their money to try and end homelessness in a city, or to run free or low cost rehab clinics, or to buy up dilapidated properties in a city and turn them into low cost housing or set up community gardens.

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        • #5
          A Syndicate phylantrop is all fine sure, but I dont think you need that to make a guy that we could relate to.

          You can make "heroic" techies without having them to be "do goodies paladins".

          Just makes a guy that truly believes in the cause.

          He hoards money not because he's greedy, but because money is power, and power is how you change the world.

          This guy genuinely believes in "saving the world", and he genuinely believes in keeping the innocent safe from inhuman predators.

          I did in fact a Techno NPC villain who were like this. He were a NWO, but it's just the same. He was cold and callous, but not a mere sadist. He were a memorable villain, and one you could relate to. His introduction was when he captured the chantry of a Akashic player, but told him he would release them all if the player could beat him in open combat. And he did this to make it splicit for the player that the Union was superior in everything, but also to show that the techies are the ones who are civilized and decent, even with their enemies, while the Traditions represent just chaos and barbarism. The player lost, but the agent let him live and leave, so that the player would tell others of what happened - psychological warfare. And he took the rest of the chantry for reconditioning on room 101.

          He was the villain, but that's actually just a matter of perspective. This techno fights to keep the world safe and he would give his life on that pursuit.

          Later on he actually joined the players Cabal, including the Akashic who has swore vengeance, to fight Nefandi. And he told the Akashi "you killed many of my friends, and yet I dont seek vengeance, but you do. You dont realize how you are on the wrong side of this war".

          In the end, he "sacrificed" himself to hold off the Nefandi powers while both the techie and tradition teams escaped, so he "gave his life" to save all others... Including his greatest enemies, the PC traditionalists.

          I put this under quotes because what actually happened is that... He wasnt killed. His fate was far worse. The Nefandi actually captured him, tortured him endlessly until he went mad, and eventually they "reborned" him as a Nefandi.

          And from that, he became a truly scary villain, like Agent Smith from Matrix. No longer the defender of civilization, but the destroyer of it.

          And he went from big villain to reluctant ally to truly big bad of the entire story, and a tragic character for the game.

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          • #6
            Making a moral Syndicate character is easy, as being a member of the Syndicate is about money, not about being criminally greedy (something you can be in any Convention or Tradition, for money, power, knowledge or whatever). What's hard for most is to make a moral Syndicate Paradigm.

            The Syndicate is about economy, and how fiat money gives us unprecedented power to unfetter value from the limits of concrete goods and the constraints of time.

            It isn't even just about Capitalism, which is a common misconception. Instead it's the basis for all modern economic systems and theory for a long time. Whenever you talk about someone being paid, about financing a project, about donation and salary, social security, retirement funds, insurance, risk hedge and so many other concepts, in whatever form and for any goal, you're talking about economy and the social power of money, you're talking about the purview of the Syndicate.

            Value is already everything that has worth for someone for whatever reason, and that's why money can buy anything. It is not that money is power, or happiness, or the end itself, but that money translates value. This is why the faithful donate to the church, why the patrons finance the artist, why you transfer your hard earnings of hours of work to the company that gives you a beloved game, and why we think those who work hard and help others deserve to be recognized not only with praise, but with an adequate sum for their labor.

            So take that and go wild. The Mage that understands Value and wants to hoard it is certainly a member of the Syndicate, but the Mage that understands Value and wants to lessen its accumulation to keep the system healthy is also a member of the Syndicate, as is the Mage that wants to properly codify the environment as value that must be properly protected, seeing environmental recovery as an investment, or the one that seeks to create a Goodwill economy based in the Value of doing good for others as a way to improve the economical growth of the group. A member of the Syndicate may even see wealth redistribution as a means to improve general wealth in the long run in such a way that he'll see a greater increase of their personal wealth in their Enlightened lifetime, doing good for greed.

            At the end of the day, while the Syndicate was born just as an avatar of the Gnomes of Zurich and other conspiracy theories about Jews controlling the financial system, at the light of actual economic theory they're maybe the most philosophically sound Convention, whose theories can be based on a lot of real world ideas and concerns, both for the worst or for the best.


            #NothingAboutUsWithoutUs
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            • #7
              George Bailey (make Clarence his avatar) would make an excellent good guy in the Syndicate. George was all about making the money system work for ordinary people. He even explains to Potter why he does what he does.

              Kant's Handelsgeist (the spirit of peaceful and mutually beneficial trade) would be a basic paradigm for heroic Syndicate members.

              In fact they might say the Handelsgeist is the weaver, the Money Queen (the spirit of the excitements and pleasures of riches) is the wild, and that Mammon (the arch devil of greed) is the wyrm. But that might be to W:tA for some.
              Last edited by Astromancer; 06-11-2022, 02:00 PM.

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              • #8
                I know this is from The Awakening, rather than The Ascension, but I think this is something you should consider if you try making "heroic" members of a conspiracy. It's from the Seers of the Throne:

                Throughout their long history, the Seers of the Throne have found despots, warlords, and other powerful and autocratic rulers to be the most useful type of individuals for them to control. These rulers usually have sufficient authority over their underlings to enable them to suddenly favor a new advisor without raising too much dissent, and can deal with opposition in a firm and often lethal fashion without arousing suspicion. More importantly, these rulers do not have to spend time and effort making their plans seem acceptable to some other branch of government that is not under the Seer’s control. Also, some of the more ethical Seers honestly believe that puppeteering a brutal despot is morally superior to turning someone less corrupt into their Thrall, in part because these Seers often believe that they can help avert some of the evil that the despot would otherwise perform.

                However, using autocratic despots and brutal warlords as puppets has one important limitation that many Seers overlook. Despots are expected to behave like despots. Extracting additional wealth from their subjects so that their puppetmaster can enjoy this largesse lies well within the range of acceptable activity for such individuals, as does obliterating their enemies, or even Atlantean mages who they claim to be traitors, spies or potential rivals. However, if a despot suddenly begins attempting to aid the populace or to promote justice and freedom, his advisors and second in command usually assume he has become delusional or incompetent.

                While most Seers dismiss and discount Sleepers and their opinions, any Seer who is puppeteering a despot is constantly surrounded by people who willingly serve despots. These Seers are thus gradually conditioned to think and act like despots. Time and time again, many of the most ideological Seers who start out being dedicated to simultaneously serving the Exarchs and attempting to improve humanity’s lot end up performing various atrocities to advance their agenda. The histories of all of the world’s empires are rife with examples of this sort of brutality as Seers become entrapped in the very horrors that some of them have sought to avert.
                So if the Syndicate is trying to control people through money or a rigged economy, members of the Syndicate should be expected to behave like people who rig the economy. Otherwise, they should be suspected of betrayal or incompetence. So, at the very least these idealistic Syndicate members are risking becoming the "bad guys" just so they can do anything at all.
                Last edited by Father Enoch; 06-12-2022, 08:41 AM.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Father Enoch View Post
                  I know this is from The Awakening, rather than The Ascension, but I think this is something you should consider if you try making "heroic" members of a conspiracy. It's from the Seers of the Throne:



                  So if the Syndicate is trying to control people through money or a rigged economy, members of the Syndicate should be expected to behave like people who rig the economy. Otherwise, they should be suspected of betrayal or incompetence. So, at the very least these idealistic Syndicate members are risking becoming the "bad guys" just so they can do anything at all.
                  That's how I envision the Technocracy - and in fact, real life too. Good people wanting to do good deeds - only to end up going into a slippery slop of moral decay, all in the name of the "greater good". And the greater good always ends in absolute horror.

                  Most of my technocrats are like this, idealists believing they can "save the world", but in the end their attitude of believing themselves to always be the moral side (after all, they are the ones "fighting for what's right") is what causes them to become fanatics with no limits.

                  This is the cause of the ismalic jihad, the christian inquisition, and also nazism and socialism. Lets not forget, the nazis did not believe they were villains, in their warped and dellusional minds they thought they were "saving the world".

                  And this is how you convince good people to make evil acts; you just need to convince them that their actions are just and justifiable, no matter how terrible they might be.

                  So yeah, it's possible to have "heroic" technocrats... Most of them actually.

                  And to also have them be the villains nonetheless too.

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                  • #10
                    Adapt Ben Affleck's character from The Accountant, maybe.


                    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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                    • #11
                      The problem with staying moral within the Syndicate is that it's just so easy to get corrupted (I'm talking about regular corruption, not nephandi corruption, although the first makes the second easier). Syndicate mages are constantly surrounded with many temptations, and the fact that the convention encourages an attitude of "get what you want because you can" doesn't help. When you learn the tricks to tweak things in your favor to get more wealth and power, you end up wanting more and more, the "just this time" turns into "I want it I get it". So, does this mean that it's impossible to play a "moral" Syndicate? No, but you need a mage with a very strong will and moral code, one that emphasizes the value of humanity above everything else and that any economy must be based on that principle.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Firanai View Post
                        The problem with staying moral within the Syndicate is that it's just so easy to get corrupted (I'm talking about regular corruption, not nephandi corruption, although the first makes the second easier). Syndicate mages are constantly surrounded with many temptations, and the fact that the convention encourages an attitude of "get what you want because you can" doesn't help. When you learn the tricks to tweak things in your favor to get more wealth and power, you end up wanting more and more, the "just this time" turns into "I want it I get it". So, does this mean that it's impossible to play a "moral" Syndicate? No, but you need a mage with a very strong will and moral code, one that emphasizes the value of humanity above everything else and that any economy must be based on that principle.
                        I think this is indeed the default and more intuitive vision on them, but there's one problem with this reasoning: this is true for every Mage.

                        Every Mage is surrounded by temptations, including wealth and power, and most are in some way encouraged to see themselves as above the Sleepers and entitled to a huge level of "do what I want because I can", being the only judge of their own actions instead of deferring to Sleeper morals or laws. How is Syndicate disposition on those matters fundamentally different from that of the Order of Hermes, the Sons of Ether, or the New World Order?

                        My impression is that while yes, the Syndicate is definitely above average on exposing members to corruption, it isn't by that far. What gives us the impression of exposure to corruption is actually the similarity to IRL power and corruption, the fact that they control reality through a means that we see actually happening in our daily lives, while the others are through too abstract or just fictional means that do not resonate so strongly.

                        Seeing the Syndicate as deeply corrupted and corrupting is intuitive. But not realistic.

                        Of course, for the exact same reason it isn't necessarily a bad thing, it all depends on what you want to do in your game.


                        #NothingAboutUsWithoutUs
                        #AutismPride
                        She/her pronouns

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Firanai View Post
                          The problem with staying moral within the Syndicate is that it's just so easy to get corrupted (I'm talking about regular corruption, not nephandi corruption, although the first makes the second easier). Syndicate mages are constantly surrounded with many temptations, and the fact that the convention encourages an attitude of "get what you want because you can" doesn't help. When you learn the tricks to tweak things in your favor to get more wealth and power, you end up wanting more and more, the "just this time" turns into "I want it I get it". So, does this mean that it's impossible to play a "moral" Syndicate? No, but you need a mage with a very strong will and moral code, one that emphasizes the value of humanity above everything else and that any economy must be based on that principle.
                          A student of the Art of Desire who, himself, succumbs to ever expanding desires as his access increases could turn so rotten that his greed, narcissism and lust come bubbling to the surface, like Ken from this famous Breaking Bad scene. On the other hand, I think Sphere Perceptions grant a little bit of perspective that can save the Syndic from such a downward spiral. Matter 1 changes how you appraise objects. An expensive but gimmicky product can be seen for what it is, as compared to something older, more rustic, durable and functional - a Louis Viton handbag versus an old army packsack.

                          Originally posted by monteparnas View Post
                          The Mage that understands Value and wants to hoard it is certainly a member of the Syndicate, but the Mage that understands Value and wants to lessen its accumulation to keep the system healthy is also a member of the Syndicate, as is the Mage that wants to properly codify the environment as value that must be properly protected, seeing environmental recovery as an investment, or the one that seeks to create a Goodwill economy based in the Value of doing good for others as a way to improve the economical growth of the group.
                          Continuing with Matter, the Syndic would see renewable resources for their potential value, taking into account the benefit of sustainable practices. Forces gives you the energy potential. Life, the potential for organic growth and Prime, the metaphysical or Quintessential value.

                          Even if a Syndic only begins studying Mind for the purpose of gaining powers of influence, at the first rank, they're able to see what's going on in their own psyche. This would tend to interrupt the downward spiral mentioned above. The four remaining spheres, DS, Correspondence, Time and Entropy all grant Perceptions that tend to anchor the mage in a metaphysical understanding that transcends base materialism.

                          What I enjoy most when creating Syndicate NPCs is giving them a load of resources, accumulated over years, all of which they are willing to put at risk to achieve a societal or deeply personal goal. They are so good at making money that they would consider starting over at zero a fun challenge.


                          Thank you for passing time with me in conversation. My Hacks.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Father Enoch View Post
                            I know this is from The Awakening, rather than The Ascension, but I think this is something you should consider if you try making "heroic" members of a conspiracy. It's from the Seers of the Throne:



                            So if the Syndicate is trying to control people through money or a rigged economy, members of the Syndicate should be expected to behave like people who rig the economy. Otherwise, they should be suspected of betrayal or incompetence. So, at the very least these idealistic Syndicate members are risking becoming the "bad guys" just so they can do anything at all.
                            Seers benefit from their relationship with the Exarchs and can perpetuate The Lie to further that connection. The Syndicate's Market Paradigm requires sleepers who enthusiastically believe in it. If it is so heavily rigged that no independent sleepers ever win, the population becomes disinterested, at the very least, and insurgent, given enough collective hardship. Conflict wastes resources and destroys value. A totally rigged system will reveal its inability to provide for everyone, even with Media Control working overtime to conceal the malfunctioning systems. People have the Internet, after all. Thanks in part to the Virtual Adepts, the Syndicate are now obligated to build a system based on truth and genuine intent to improve life for everyone or they are doomed to fail.
                            Last edited by HorizonParty2021; 06-12-2022, 06:43 PM.


                            Thank you for passing time with me in conversation. My Hacks.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by HorizonParty2021 View Post
                              ...or they are doomed to fail.
                              I mean, is that not an entirely plausible destination for the Syndicate? For all the talk about competition, the Syndicate are presented as incredibly complacent.


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