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Is the Syndicate evil?

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  • Is the Syndicate evil?

    I'm finally reading the last of the CB's - Syndicate. And I can't tell if they're evil relatively speaking because IRL I'm pretty much everything they're against, or whether they're objectively bad. I know that while it was hard for me to play 'em back in the day, after reading this new CB it's gonna be all but impossible unless I wanna play someone I see as just downright evil. Thoughts?

  • #2
    With the exception of the Nephandi, no faction is objectively evil. Are there evil people who are members of the Syndicate. Yup. But there are evil members of the Cult of Ecstacy, Dreamspeakers and Verbena too. The Syndicate's goals are to elevate all of humanity using economic opportunities to improve the human condition.

    For all the blame lumped on the United States for its greed and wealth, it also donates more to help others (both individually and as a whole) than every other nation on Earth (one prominent example that came up recently for me was that even though Americans only account for 10% of the total population of Catholics in the world, America is the source for over 60% of the donations to world-wide Catholic charities). Wealth creates opportunities to help others that just wouldn't be possible if someone was struggling to simply get by paycheck to paycheck.

    Money in and of itself is not evil, it's what you DO with that money that matters. Might I suggest a Syndicate member who puts their talents to work fund-raising for cancer research or an Enforcer going after third-world bureaucrats diverting foreign aid funds meant to feed the hungry into their own pockets. There's lots of ways to portray sympathetic Syndicate people, just remember that money is only the TOOL they use to achieve good ends, not the end in and of itself, and it shouldn't be too hard.
    Last edited by Chris24601; 12-19-2013, 11:54 AM.

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    • #3
      They're not evil, they're just misguided.

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      • #4
        One of my buddies pointed this out to me one day and I realized how much it changed my perspective on The Syndicate. "Uncle" Scrooge McDuck would be a member of The Syndicate. After watching DuckTales as a kid, kinda hard to see him as "evil".


        - If you must be ridiculous, I must ridicule you.
        - Those that can give up essential liberties in exchange for temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. -- Benjamin Franklin

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        • #5
          The Syndicate is selfish, smug, and deluded as to the value of money and finance. This causes them to do evil. Highly virtueous and noble people with great power can do great harm if they ignore the rights of others and forget to respect others. The Syndicate has vast power, little virtue, and less nobility, and they assume the worst about most of humanity. So they can't correct their errors very well. Then we need to remember the wise words of Doctor Who (an Etherite if their ever was one) "The very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common. They don't change their opinions to fit the facts, they change the facts to fit their opinions. Which can be inconvient if you're one of the facts that need changing."

          Most of the Syndicate's worst crimes are attempts to change the facts to fit their opinions. but this is true of most Mages other than Nephandi.

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          • #6
            i don't think the Syndicate is innately corrupt and evil, its just that they are in a position of great temptation, and as such have a high potential to be corrupted and become evil. power does that.


            there are no bad ideas, just ideas that have not been refined enough

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            • #7
              What’s wrong with the Syndicate is the same thing that is wrong with most of the Technocratic Union in general, namely that it is generally set up as a top-down elitist structure and the ones that make it to the top of that structure tend to be the most driven OCD control freaks in the organization. On top of that, each level they are pressured not to fraternize with those in lower positions for operational security and to avoid influence trickling up the structure from “less informed” levels but it has the side effect of isolating the tiers with each level being “us” to those on it and everyone of lower rank being marginalized and lumped into successively lower levels of “them” who have less access to information and are theoretically are less competent than those above. Eventually they are reduced to nothing but statistics in the eyes of the higher-ups and no one really cares about the details of numbers, just the bottom line.

              They believe in survival of the fittest, that you have to separate the wheat from the chaff, and all those other cutthroat business adages and to advance in the organization one must be ruthless, efficient, and to put it bluntly cheat and not get caught at it. Some call it unpleasant but necessary expediency for the greater good; others call it criminal disregard for the rules and the rights of others. Personally I see it as more the latter which is why I prefer the Traditions even though they are not without their own glaring flaws.

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              • #8
                The Syndicate isn't any more evil than all the other Convention. Like with the NWO and the idea of them as jack-booted thought police, the negative aspects of the Syndicate tend to dominant their image but that's but one part of them. One of the best examples of the Syndicate doing something in positive is in the opening and closing fiction of the CB. Yes the Syndicate agent closes down a Prog op to introduce a cure for cancer to the Masses but not because it's a money sink or it's going to cost the Syndicate, she's closing it because the way they're doing it is too dangerous and is a Paradox disaster waiting to happen*. She knows that while the Masses dream of a world without cancer but deep down they know it isn't possible, yet. Hence why what those Progenitors were doing was dangerous, rather than working to inspire Sleeper scientists to fnd the cure through normal science and technology they were helping them with Enlightened Science, cheating the process of getting it accepted by the Masses.

                *Ironically enough that's the same as the Faith Healing and other mystic healing practices that the Traditions have tried giving to the Sleepers, something the Prog hate.

                Before reading the new Syndicate CB I didn't like them, they were easily my least favorite of the Conventions. In earlier works I found them coming off as a group of money-grubbing crooks and accountants. But then I read the book and I realized there's a lot more to them than money. In fact despite what people think, money is just a tool for them. It's easy to miss how they can inspire the Masses, especially compared to the other Conventions, and to think of them at best as pragmatic and down to Earth or at worst... well a purely antagonist force with no redeemable qualities. But you can find the good and inspirational in them if you look close enough at them, just as with any other Convention.


                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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                • #9
                  I don't think it matters. The Syndicate leaders don't care about your opinions on the matter, and they're the ones who run the world not you. So your options are: compromise and achieve as much 'good' as you feel you can in your own limited way, or your boss can have you send for retraining. Or you could be quiet and work to overthrow the system from the inside, while trying not to be co-opted into that system.

                  That said, is it really that hard to play a character with a terrible ideology? I've done it quite a few times, can be quite fun.


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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by BC001 View Post
                    What’s wrong with the Syndicate is the same thing that is wrong with most of the Technocratic Union in general,...
                    That's a problem, though - I can see most of the other Conventions as "good guys." That's what the whole CB thing is supposed to be about - portraying them as good guys even though they've traditionally been portrayed as bad guys. But the CB:Syndicate... I just can't get my head around them as "good guys." They still strike me as bad guys even with the obvious attempts to make them good.

                    However, judging by the responses above, I guess that might be largely due to my RL politics as opposed to IC stuff.

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                    • #11
                      Correct me if I'm wrong here, but isn't the Syndicate the only Convention of the entire Technocracy that flat doesn't really believe that Ascension is possible. I think that's even mentioned in the Revised Syndicate book that they would much prefer that things stay at the current status quo, which is an elitist plutocracy where they are at the top of things. The rest of Technocracy may have their negative aspects but at least they want to improve humanity as a whole. Yeah, their idea of improvement is similar to the Borg Collective, but at least there everyone is equal and not being treated as wage-slaves.

                      But when it comes to the notion of whether the Syndicate is evil I'd have to say not really, relativity speaking anyways. This is World of Darkness were talking about and with guys like the Nephandi, Black Spiral Dancers and Sabbat running around, the Syndicate just looks cute in comparison. Just think about it, which is worse the jackass that pays you minimum wage and uses morally dubious business practices, or the people who worship Cthulhu-Satan, eat babies and masturbate to the idea of murdering the entirety of the human race.

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                      • #12
                        Big Brother: Yeah that's the thing. The Syndicate and the NWO represent Big Business and Big Government both of which in this day and age aren't thought of by most in a positive light while the VE represent exploration, Prog medical science, It-X robotics and general technology, things that are more easier for people understand as good. But just as there is darkness in the latter three* there is light in the former. You just have to look for it. With the NWO it's a little easier to see the good, they're the guys on the Front Lines protecting the Masses from monsters. Yeah the VE protects Earth from alien threats but the NWO is fighting the stuff already here.

                        *For instance while the Prog CB is all about healing the Union and the world there is this undercurrent to the book, hinting that if a Convention is going to push for restarting the Pogrom it's them.

                        For the Syndicate it's a little trickier. To really get a grasp on their positive side you really have to understand some of core aspects of their Paradigm and Primal Utility. Despite what some say they don't really believe in a Darwinist, survival of the fittest system, they simply believe that while everyone should be given an equal chance to succeed by their own merits not everyone can. After all not everyone can be management, nor should they. And yes, that means that not everyone can Awaken/achieve Enlightenment but that doesn't mean they don't believe people shouldn't try.


                        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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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Big Brother View Post

                          That's a problem, though - I can see most of the other Conventions as "good guys." That's what the whole CB thing is supposed to be about - portraying them as good guys even though they've traditionally been portrayed as bad guys. But the CB:Syndicate... I just can't get my head around them as "good guys." They still strike me as bad guys even with the obvious attempts to make them good.

                          However, judging by the responses above, I guess that might be largely due to my RL politics as opposed to IC stuff.
                          I have to say, I came away from CB: Syndicate the same way: it really didn't change my whole conception of the Convention the way the others did. I thought the Syndicate were money-grubbing assholes going in, and that's pretty much what I thought going out. As propaganda (and the CBs are that, in-character) it was pretty worthless.

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                          • #14
                            I think that this is a case of IRL politics getting in the way. I have no problem seeing the “light side” of the Syndicate; though I suspect that by the standards of your IRL politics, my IRL politics would probably qualify as “evil”; so I doubt that my perspective on the matter is going to help you much.

                            AkatsukiLeader13 encapsulates some of the more critical points in his post, though I’d add to that the notion that to the Syndicate’s way of thinking, a healthy economy benefits everyone: so even if you don’t get to be management, that doesn’t mean that the Syndicate doesn’t care what happens to you or wants to turn you into a wage slave. It’s not stated in the Revised CB as clearly as in the original one (because the Revised CB is less about grand visions than the original CB was), but the Syndicate’s vision of “global Ascension” is a post-scarcity economy, where it doesn’t matter if there’s inequality, because even the poorest man wants for nothing.

                            Frankly, I have more trouble picturing the NWO as benevolent figures. I can do it, by focusing on the “espionage agents” side of their operations and downplaying the “Big Brother” aspect of thought police backing a totalitarian world government; but in general, I’m like the Void Engineers in this regard: if the looming civil war between the NWO and the Syndicate were to actually happen, I’d be more inclined to side with the Syndicate than the NWO.


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                            • #15
                              Or to put it more simply, you'd rather have the Blade Runner future (Syndicate) than the 1984 future (NWO)... Meanwhile thr Trekkies (Void Engineers) get completely ignored as head-in-the-clouds idealists by the others... Even though RL NASA scientists think they've now figured out how to make a practical warp drive (it only needs about 700 kg of exotic matter instead of the weight of Jupiter) that could reach Alpha Centauri in about two weeks. The biggest surprise to the NWO and the Syndicate is going to be when the VE's turn both of them into obsolete has beens... The meek will inherit the Earth. The bold will inherit the stars.

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