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  • #31
    Also, why on earth would the Hermetic paradigm be the one most succeptible to falling behind the times? Sure, they are arrogant, but they are also one of the most avid seekers of new knowledge. Their entire house structure implies they are willing to look into previously unexplored areas and adopt previously unconsidered ideas. Nor do secret occult societies seem more out of place in the modern world than what the other Traditions are putting forward. Why is the Order of Hermes is fading the fastest?

    The implication that they were fading really fell flat, even when it was directly stated. It just came off as writer/developer fiat and metaplot nonsense; one more example of the OoH and other 'leadership' splats being singled out when they didn't need to be.


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

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    • #32
      The order represents the classic wizard, the iconic magi. Why wouldn't they be hit hardest if classic magic begins to fade? Seems like the ideal choice to explore that theme to me. The 90s brought a huge surge of interest in Wicca and pagan faiths and you only have to look at the news to see that the monotheists are still quite popular with the populace. If the collective unconscious is going to reject one of the big three then it would seem the short stick is on the hands of the order of Hermes.


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

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      • #33
        Seems to me most of the other Traditions can claim some sort of general public backing either in the form of religion(s) and cultural-traditions or science. Your sorta classic Western wizardry is more between those... thus gets nothing at all.

        Hermeticism is supposed to be sorta at the core 'rational magic' right... is anyone still claiming that mode of thought. Your various New Age/NeoPagan/Wicca/etc/etc all seem to take a 'mystery/revelation' personal approach. And of course the pure reason is all skeptical science now. Though some of the Eastern traditions are more "rational" in approach (Feng Shui, TCM) there's the massive cultural barrier.

        Other then the Masons I can't think of anyone really keeping elements of your sort of classic wizardry alive outside of fiction.

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        • #34
          The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn was (probably) the last major organization of Hermeticism I know of. Everything else now is pretty small or just individual practitioners.


          - 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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          • #35
            I've had to stock the shelves of the new age and magic sections of the bookstore before. While Wicca and pop magic predominate, I've seen more than a few texts I'd associate more with the Hermetics than anyone else. I've also seen a number in the Christian and Judaism sections that would also fit well with the Order. Admittedly, my standpoint is very amateur, but then doesn't that make it a good representation of the consensus?

            Further, Wicca is not exclusively Verbena territory either. Reading that wiki link Papa Bear posted shows that Wicca was at least influenced by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, so wouldn't sleeper practitioners of Wicca be reinforcing Hermetic paradigms at least a little?

            But that's getting away from the real problem, which is not that the Hermetics are losing ground like everyone else, but that for some reason they are frequently singled out as being unable to adapt. That lack of flexibility seems completely at odds with an inquisitive paradigm.


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

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            • #36
              Oh its not entirely absent or exact but by your own admission even in the mystical sections its in the minority... and that entire section collectively is going to enjoy less support then your Eastern traditions or the Chorus taking off more mainstream religion. Not that these are exact lines but put in terms of the Consensus well...

              Now as for adaptation well there are logically limits to how much you can alter a paradigm and still be in the same basic paradigm I'd think. The more fundamental your principle the less you can alter it.Or put another way maybe the OoH higher ups, leaders, and true believers could make the alterations but they would have to change their own paradigm to do that. Can they do that without say loosing proficiency and going back to being a novice in someone else's way of doing business. Are they still the Order of Hermes if they do?

              If they really could do that they'd probably have followed the more IRL course and become scientists a long time ago I'd think, since those lines of thoughts are interlinked in history. Newton the alchemist and all that.

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              • #37
                Originally posted by Ramnesis View Post
                That lack of flexibility seems completely at odds with an inquisitive paradigm.
                I think the way they are inquisitive is limiting them. They seem to put great value of the wisdom of elders and research. This keeps them somewhat nailed to the past. I just read the House Tremere book from Dark Ages. They hadn't heard of vampires before, and the first thing they did was research. If there was a bunch of lore on vampires, some of them would have read something about them beforehand. Later guided by their research they started capturing, interrogating and experimenting on vampires. I'm sure they missed some things because of preconceived notions about what vampires were.

                They also assumed because their spells were getting harder and vis was getting harder to find that magic was fading. I think individual Hermetics might be more open to change, but the tradition is about following the recipe and if none exists develop the recipe based on the wisdom of old.

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                • #38
                  Originally posted by Solomon Black View Post
                  Oh its not entirely absent or exact but by your own admission even in the mystical sections its in the minority... and that entire section collectively is going to enjoy less support then your Eastern traditions or the Chorus taking off more mainstream religion. Not that these are exact lines but put in terms of the Consensus well...
                  I didn't say it was a distant minority, especially if you don't heap the entire Wicca section into the Verbena pile. I'd probably put it third, or possibly tied for third with the Choristers. Because I definitely wouldn't take the entire contents of the Christian, Judaism, and Islamic sections and throw them into the Chorister pile. The Choristers are not mainstream.

                  Now as for adaptation well there are logically limits to how much you can alter a paradigm and still be in the same basic paradigm I'd think. The more fundamental your principle the less you can alter it.Or put another way maybe the OoH higher ups, leaders, and true believers could make the alterations but they would have to change their own paradigm to do that. Can they do that without say loosing proficiency and going back to being a novice in someone else's way of doing business. Are they still the Order of Hermes if they do?
                  That might be an issue if there weren't already technomancers in the Order of Hermes. Also the elders of the Order don't have to relearn their magic for the Tradition as a whole to adapt. It isn't an all or nothing thing.

                  The issue here is that the Order isn't really having to deal with anything the other Traditions aren't, but for some reason it is always the poster child for handling it badly. That would be fine if it were merely a description of the elders, because that would be a quirk of timing and an obstacle to overcome through gameplay. However, it is all too often a description of the entire Order, which is supposed to be a group for player characters.

                  If they really could do that they'd probably have followed the more IRL course and become scientists a long time ago I'd think, since those lines of thoughts are interlinked in history. Newton the alchemist and all that.
                  Why? IRL reality has the casting vote and we can either accede to it or we can be wrong. In the game reality is consensual which means there are many paths the search for knowledge could go down. The Order should defintely be different from what it was, because each new generation should bring new things to the mix, but those new things should not make it look ever more like science.


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

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                  • #39
                    Originally posted by Chase Variant View Post
                    Oddly, the theme of the Revised OoH Tradbook was rebirth, so if their situation was supposed to be tragic, the writers really screwed up. As for the inability to incorporate technology, House Thig grew big and influential enough to convince House Verditius to merge with them so the Thig could acquire their pedigree. Seems like that House is doing well. House Fortunae also has no problem incorporating modern mathematics and theoretical physics.
                    Your rejoinder is that they are not totally gone and will survive in a new form -- and that's great -- but the fact is that in the past1000 years, they've declined in more grandiose a fashion than probably any of the other traditions. Whereas they were once the leaders of the 9 traditions, they have since lost Mistridge, they lost Doissetep, they lost one of their most powerful houses to vampirism (Tremere), which not only led to two major supernatural wars (Massassa I and II), but the Tremere were also able to frame another house for being corrupted (which led to that House's demise -- I don't remember the name). The Massassa wars pretty much wrecked House Tytalus (another powerful house); and Houses Flambeau and Bonisagus are, as they are described in the book, clinging on by a thread. The fact that they decided to mint some new houses from certain groups in House Ex Miscellanea only demonstrates that the Order basically subsists on humble pie at this point.


                    Originally posted by Wolfgar View Post
                    That's a non sequiturial argument. You're conflating mechanical balance with compelling narrative.
                    Fair enough, I clearly saw the issue as being framed more widely than it actually was.


                    Originally posted by Wolfgar View Post
                    The Hermetics are given neither the tools to make them an interesting villain, nor the cool factor to make them good protagonists.
                    I could not disagree more -- they make excellent antagonists (I won't say villains because that's a bit too limited) inasmuch as they are largely a group of privileged (though less so now) and entitled individuals having to deal with their continuing loss of power; like I said before, they are the quintessential imperialists in decline. Not to mention the fact that they are the poster children for hubris and arrogance. This is a tradition that is very obviously meant to mirror, among other things, real world old boys' clubs (though the Sons of Ether also have elements of this).

                    As for them being protagonists, their "cool factor" is that they are the classic wizards of myth, and have a paradigm that, while completely out of touch with the progressing world, allows them to do more or less whatever they want (e.g., throw a fireball, teleport, bind spirits, fly around, turn invisible, mind control, what-have-you). Not to mention the fact that it is possible to be a Hermetic and have (I think) any specialty sphere -- want to be a Hermetic but specialize in (insert Sphere that isn't Forces)? They have House for that. Additionally there's something to be said for playing the young turk bucking the entrenched systems of power and privilege. And the fact is that absolutely none of the mage splats (except maybe the Technocracy) do internal political intrigue, out-of-box, like the Order.

                    Originally posted by Wolfgar View Post
                    The continual portrayal of Hermetics is of bumbling racist idiots makes them an unfunny joke in their own gameline, and adds nothing.
                    First, I don't know that I would describe them as "bumbling", and I would defy you to find me where they are portrayed as bumbling (simply having bad things happen to you, or you schemes backfire, or getting betrayed, or whatever, does not, to me, necessarily constitute "bumbling").

                    That said, I don't know if I'd call them pointedly "racist" either (there are some very powerful canon Hermetics who are/were ostensibly persons of color, but were clearly still part of, and benefited from the Hermetics' institutional power), though they are absolutely magical ethnocentrists (for lack of a better term), par none. But having them be that adds a great deal to the game as a whole. Rather than every tradition being a group of plucky, absolutely likable heroes, it's good to have some nuance -- someone who is not only not immediately likable, but might actually look a little ugly upon close examination and scrutiny. The Hermetics were practically the Technocracy before the Technocracy -- dogmatic and unyielding, drunk on arrogance and their own sense of magical superiority, but they've received one hard check after another for the past 1000 years or so (the Tremere, the fall of Mistridge, the rise of the Order of Reason, both Massassa wars, the fall of Doissetep). If that's doesn't make for a compelling narrative, I don't know what does.





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                    • #40
                      I find it amusingly awesome that the vampire->lawnchair discussion has become one of the OoH's viability. I love Mage.

                      It definitely tickles me that the supposed Masters of the Universe are the one paradigm that the Technocrats can fairly be said to have crushed under heel. Martial arts, monotheism, sex-drugs-&-rock, spirituality, reincarnation, wild science, neo-paganism and computers are all alive and well to some degree, but "magick?" Yeah, Qabalah is still out there, but that's about it. Bias-admission: I'm an RL neo-pagan, but it seems to me that the New Age stores are dominated by stuff that's more Verbenae/'Speaker friendly, with a strong side order of Chakravanti Vedic works. Hermeticism is mostly a handful of works reiterating Qabalic lore, a few books on the Emerald Tablet, and the Kybalion (which is kind of a weird-but-cool anomaly). IMO, this makes the Order very interesting from an in-universe standpoint: they're the high wizards, but most of their remaining, eroding power is temporal. They're forced to play on the Technocracy's ground just to hold their own.


                      Heroes die. Hope is a phoenix.

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                      • #41
                        Originally posted by Ramnesis View Post
                        I didn't say it was a distant minority, especially if you don't heap the entire Wicca section into the Verbena pile. I'd probably put it third, or possibly tied for third with the Choristers. Because I definitely wouldn't take the entire contents of the Christian, Judaism, and Islamic sections and throw them into the Chorister pile. The Choristers are not mainstream.
                        I don't know that I'd put Wicca under any single Tradition, but there's a lot going into this. Specifically because they don't line up except very casually so you can fit specifics into many places which is very likely by design. (Though if they did ....the Technocracy would probably not be winning since the Consensus is simply NOT there.)

                        Ultimately though when I look at that whole mass of overlapping Spiritualism/New-Age/Occultist/whatever-all-the-labels-don't-work-worth-a-damn I'm just not seeing say "wizardry" getting distinct support. A fair bit of backwash, sure. But that sort of highly archetypal and obvious fit sort of support... no I don't see it.

                        And all but two Traditions here are more/less sharing parts same ill-fitting umbrella of bookstore categorization and little small business shops selling crystals and incense. And everything from the outside is very very fluid. The two that definitely don't... well either Etherites are either "close enough" to benefit from being science or dead last as deprecated science. The VAs well hell we're supporting their paradigm right now. :P

                        Of course several traditions have China, India, and the rest of Asia are arguably providing billions in passive support while if anyones getting mainstream Western religions well... quantity is a quality all its own even under substanial dissonance, its it enough to render those numbers moot?

                        And again what's providing even halfway as arguable support for the Hermetics that has anything like the mass, or a sufficient quality of belief if not quantity.

                        I'd put the OoH down pretty low as far as popular support from Sleepers.

                        That might be an issue if there weren't already technomancers in the Order of Hermes. Also the elders of the Order don't have to relearn their magic for the Tradition as a whole to adapt. It isn't an all or nothing thing.
                        Yeah and unless your proscribing that Order is going to become technomantic in the majority thus change and adapt as a whole entity... well that's kinda my point right there.

                        They can try to adapt and change, but are only managing that so far.

                        The issue here is that the Order isn't really having to deal with anything the other Traditions aren't, but for some reason it is always the poster child for handling it badly. That would be fine if it were merely a description of the elders, because that would be a quirk of timing and an obstacle to overcome through gameplay. However, it is all too often a description of the entire Order, which is supposed to be a group for player characters.
                        Your leaders and most archetypal sorts are the ones who define you.

                        Why? Because nobody has the time to go around appreciating every detail of everything. Time economics demands generalizations and broad strokes.

                        Your PC can deal with that as they like for their game and story because that IS where those generalizations fall away for the specific case... like being a Ventrue or Tremere or heck vampire that's not a total d-bag. A Red Talon that doesn't want to wipe out humanity, a calm Get. Game settings are built on generalizations, so have your PC subvert them as you choose or can get away with. It doesn't change the broad picture that only has time for the more general ideas. Not "all" but "most" or even "most important" and so forth.

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                        • #42
                          Originally posted by Captain Aeon View Post
                          I find it amusingly awesome that the vampire->lawnchair discussion has become one of the OoH's viability. I love Mage.

                          It definitely tickles me that the supposed Masters of the Universe are the one paradigm that the Technocrats can fairly be said to have crushed under heel. Martial arts, monotheism, sex-drugs-&-rock, spirituality, reincarnation, wild science, neo-paganism and computers are all alive and well to some degree, but "magick?" Yeah, Qabalah is still out there, but that's about it. Bias-admission: I'm an RL neo-pagan, but it seems to me that the New Age stores are dominated by stuff that's more Verbenae/'Speaker friendly, with a strong side order of Chakravanti Vedic works. Hermeticism is mostly a handful of works reiterating Qabalic lore, a few books on the Emerald Tablet, and the Kybalion (which is kind of a weird-but-cool anomaly). IMO, this makes the Order very interesting from an in-universe standpoint: they're the high wizards, but most of their remaining, eroding power is temporal. They're forced to play on the Technocracy's ground just to hold their own.
                          Obviously, I am missing where there is ANYTHING Euthantos-like in mainstream culture. Or even in "outside the mainstream-rebellion" culture, Maybe Goths.... Oh wait, we got Hollow Ones for that.

                          And when you bring up a bunch of fringers who support Euthantos-ness, I challenge anyone to show that they are more integrated into the zeitgeist than wizards-with-wands (Harry Potter? D&D?)

                          BTW, I love the Euthantos and the OoH very much. But I don't think that the Technocracy has effectively crushed OoH ideals and not, say, Verbena, because more occult books seems crystals and potions than seraphic script and True Names. In fact, if you really want to see the OoH doing alive and well, go talk to a professor of Classics. They may not have the pointy hats and wands, but they have the academic paradigm DOWN and are going strong with it.

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                          • #43
                            Originally posted by CaptOtter View Post
                            they have since lost Mistridge, they lost Doissetep, they lost one of their most powerful houses to vampirism (Tremere), which not only led to two major supernatural wars (Massassa I and II), but the Tremere were also able to frame another house for being corrupted (which led to that House's demise -- I don't remember the name). The Massassa wars pretty much wrecked House Tytalus (another powerful house); and Houses Flambeau and Bonisagus are, as they are described in the book, clinging on by a thread. The fact that they decided to mint some new houses from certain groups in House Ex Miscellanea only demonstrates that the Order basically subsists on humble pie at this point.
                            They lost Mistridge before there was an Order of Reason or Nine Traditions.
                            They lost Tremere to vampirism waaaay before that. Tremere was the founder of his House. The last founder alive using powerful anti-aging magics that were losing power. That puts him WAY back in the Dark Ages.
                            They lost House Diedne in a Wizard War/March precipitated by Tremere when they wouldn't hand over their deepest secrets. This happened at the latest shortly after the vampirism thing. Probably before that, since it started as a feud between Tremere and Deidne personally.
                            The first Massassa War was the Wizard War/March in which they kicked out Tremere. Again, a long long time ago. After which House Tytalus was still strong enough to produce arguably THE Founder of the Nine Traditions... So not really a weak House at all..

                            ALL of the above happened before the Order of Hermes was strong enough to play a part as a major player in the founding of the Nine Traditions. In fact, there was a significant chance things could have tipped so that there would be no Nine Tradition, just a lot of new Houses. So I don't think any of them can be used as examples of the decline of the Order, as they all happened prior to the Order establishing itself as something close to prime inter pares for the Nine.

                            Now, SINCE then, there are plenty of cracks in the facade of primacy. Being infiltrated by a refugee sect of renegade Order of Reason assassins was definitely a minus. But Houses coming and going has been par for the course since the beginning. There never was a House Trianoma. Mercere wasn't even a mage, they gave him a "pity House". Diedne died. Tremere didn't. But whither Criamon, Merinita, Bjornaer? They faded, dropped back, were replaced by newer ideas or older ideas integrated under the "inclusion paradigm" that Bonisagus and Trianoma came up with way way way back in the day. A sort of mystic version of academic imperialism. Which still WORKS, because, if you can add in the Wu Lung, man, you can add in ANYBODY.

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                            • #44
                              Originally posted by Solomon Black View Post
                              I don't know that I'd put Wicca under any single Tradition, but there's a lot going into this. Specifically because they don't line up except very casually so you can fit specifics into many places which is very likely by design. (Though if they did ....the Technocracy would probably not be winning since the Consensus is simply NOT there.)
                              Ultimately though when I look at that whole mass of overlapping Spiritualism/New-Age/Occultist/whatever-all-the-labels-don't-work-worth-a-damn I'm just not seeing say "wizardry" getting distinct support. A fair bit of backwash, sure. But that sort of highly archetypal and obvious fit sort of support... no I don't see it.
                              Yeah, well none of them are being well represented in the bookstore, the point of looking there is just to show that there is still a degree of interest, which there clearly is. We can argue about the degree but given that none of the Traditions are able to pull off the really spectacular stuff coincidentally without really specific circumstances, it's not really important. What is important is that there is enough evidence of the paradigm in the public consciousness to call into question the Order being singled out. Which there kind of is.

                              Your leaders and most archetypal sorts are the ones who define you.

                              Why? Because nobody has the time to go around appreciating every detail of everything. Time economics demands generalizations and broad strokes.

                              Your PC can deal with that as they like for their game and story because that IS where those generalizations fall away for the specific case... like being a Ventrue or Tremere or heck vampire that's not a total d-bag. A Red Talon that doesn't want to wipe out humanity, a calm Get. Game settings are built on generalizations, so have your PC subvert them as you choose or can get away with. It doesn't change the broad picture that only has time for the more general ideas. Not "all" but "most" or even "most important" and so forth.
                              There's a difference between a faction having a stereotype and being nothing but a stereotype. The former is good game design, the latter is not. The Hermetics being, with the exception of the player characters, a load of ravening pants weasels is the latter.


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

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                              • #45
                                Most of my experience with the RL neo-pagan community would keep them out of both the Verbena and the Hermetics. While the use of ritual magic, ceremonies and spells would place them pretty firmly into the OoH, the enforced hierarchy, strict standards and extreme formality would put nearly all of them off. But, the Verbenas' more blood and guts approach would rattle more than a few happy-faerie-neo-pagans, too.


                                Of course, I took one of those online tests and it kept telling me I should be a Verbena when I think I should be a C of X or Speaker.....so what the hell do I know!


                                - 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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