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  • How about just having information technology strengthen the masquerade?

    How about just having the internet and information technology strengthen the masquerade instead of weakening it?
    -

    So a central problem of urban fantasy in the modern age is that keeping the masquerade is far less believable today then thirty years ago. Especially in settings such as WoD that was never built to handle information technology and global internet communication.

    V5 tries to handle the issue by stating that the masquerade is broken kinda sorta but also not, which I dunno. It just feels like it pushes it off a bit into the future and even then not so distant.

    So my thinking is, instead of having information technologies threaten the masquerade just have it do the opposite.

    1. Allow the internet to be as much a supernatural place as the offline world.
    2. Allow the shadowy organisations of WoD to exert roughly the same amount of influence over information technologies as they can over other areas such as politics, media, and commerce.
    3. Implement an indoctrination effect for people using the more common information technologies out there. (If you have seen They Live, something like that).

    The metaplot would be that either the Camarilla or the Technocratic Union (if they exist in the setting) have implemented various mind whammies into most common technology, if both exist maybe they cooperated, or otherwise the Cammies themselves have done it trough experimentation and development, merging modern technology with various experimental pieces of occultism.

    Veil Indoctrination - Any person using common social media platforms, search engines, or browsers (facebook, google, youtube, reddit, twitter, internet explorer, etcetera), or standard smart phones get subject to weak yet constant subliminal messaging. This messaging seeks to blind them to the supernatural, get them to ignore it or make them incapable of seeing it. This indoctrination can even apply to supernatural creatures, though it is weaker and doesn't stop them from knowing about themselves.

    This effect has been termed as "The Veil" by people in the know and is seen as separate from the masquerade. No one knows where the Veil Indoctrination comes from, though most Vampires assume the Camarilla. Not even the Camarilla claims to know its limits. It has caused many kindred to take the masquerade less seriously, much to the constipation of more veteran vampires.

    It has a standard 1-5 rating:
    1. (Default for supernatural creatures suffering from Veil Indoctrination)A diminished capacity to notice the supernatural. The person is less likely to take rumours about the supernatural seriously, and will avoid looking up further information about supernatural stuff or miss details about the supernatural. For supernaturals this mostly applies to other types of supernaturals.
    2.The person is lethargic to the concept of the supernatural and will dismiss most indirect evidence(videos, testimonies, impossible stuff such as an impossible murder). Only if he himself sees a blatant supernatural effect will it get trough, or if he wades trough a lot of indirect evidence will this effect diminish
    3. (Default for normal mortals)The person is blinded to the supernatural. They will rationalize supernatural events to make them mundane. Memories of supernatural events will self edit to come off as fake or something more mundane. Repeated exposures to the supernatural or something extremely drastic can still break trough the indoctrination and lower this value. Dramatic evidence related to things he cares about can also diminish it.
    4. No indirect evidence or even repeated exposure will break the individual out of his stupor. Only a truly dramatic event (your son dying in a hail of plasma because of a hit mark, being turned into an undead, meeting the ghost of your wife) will diminish the indoctrination.
    5. The person will not accept the existence of the supernatural. Only trough powerful mind altering effects such as domination or Awakened Mind Magic can this indoctrination be diminished or undone.

    The Veil Indoctrination would work similar to a background/advantage. There's no distinct mechanical way to raise or lower it, it would be up to the st.

    Ways to avoid or diminish it would be to avoid using common social media platforms and search engines, avoid using standard smartphones, use security measures. It wouldn't be complicated but it'd be inconvenient. A paranoid mortal might do so. Ie, you'd have conspiracy theory nut using something like a Tor browser or a WoD equivalent (the others are infected! They are infected by the evil shadow organisations!), frequenting mostly obscure forums and smaller online communities, or as mentioned repeated or dramatic exposure to the supernatural.

    Ways to increase it would be repeated exposure to social media, standard smartphones (the black market could have hacked smartphones cleaned up to filter out the indoctrination), or just being rather easy going and not questioning stuff.

    The intended ooc effects would be:

    1. You can be more open about supernatural stuff, even if you still can't go completely hog wild.
    2. You can include mortal npcs in the campaign without having to brainwash them, mindwipe them, or kill them. Ie, your touchstones can have a Veil Indoctrination 1, hang with you, and even if they where to betray you other people wouldn't take them seriously. You have more options for what mortals can be in your campaign.
    3. It would make sense that the Anarch sect would be lighter on the masquerade than the Camarilla even if they don't break it completely.
    4. The Masquerade could break locally without breaking globally. You could have a subfaction within the Anarch for example living openly in a small community or neighbourhood, mostly trying to hide from hunters or the Camarilla. Even the rest of the anarchs consider them extreme, but noone moves in openly, yet.
    5. By modifying how effective the Veil Indoctrination is you can modify how strong the masquerade is.
    6. You could still have the Second Inquisition be a thing in the setting, but you wouldn't have to.
    7. You could still have the Camarilla put up an edict of 'Don't use the internet' cause they are hardasses about the masquerade and doesn't trust that The Veil will hold. In the middle or upper levels of the organization they are still doing lots of manipulation and research and expending resources towards information technologies, but on the street or as a default members are expected to control themselves and keep well away.

    Aside from the Veil Indoctrination:
    The internet is explicitly supernatural. Ghosts haunt it, demons possess parts of it, kindred fills it with experimental sorceries, parts of it doesn't make sense, occasionally people find strange sites that should not exist, homepages sometimes disappear into nothingness, lots of crazy shit goes on in it. if you are unlucky you go to ebay and you find shit that really shouldn't be there(and that's gone the next day). Even the parts of it that aren't supernatural are more crazy and byzantine than in our real world.

    Shadowy organizations influence both the internet and communication technologies in general. The Syndicate or the Camarilla owns large shares in most companies in silicon valley. They've also recruited people over the past thirty years relevant to this new domain of power. The camarilla approach it the same way they approach business and politics. Embrace some of the older people who made the backbone of the more common operating systems, the internet infrastructure, or designed smartphones with a large market share. Or ghoul or dominate, or just outright bribe them with money, pleasure or whatever they wan't. You know, some good old fashioned high level manipulation of important shit.

    Other stuff
    The Camarilla tries to develop new disciplines to affect technological systems. There are no official rules for creating new bloodlines or disciplines but we know it is possible so the Camarilla have started an official cross clan top secret research effort to knock something out. Select kindred from specific clans decent at mental manipulation are given vast resources to cook up useful occult shit.
    Have the Camarilla cooperate with the Syndicate in a limited fashion.

    Summary:
    There is a supernatural effect called the Veil which indoctrinates people into ignoring the supernatural. Created either by the Camarilla or the Technocratic Union.It is powerful but have limits.It affects the internet, smartphones, possible other things as well.
    The Internet is explicitly as full of supernatural stuff as any other place in the World of Darkness. It's not obvious, but it's always present under the surface. Half the creepy pastas are true or mostly true.
    Supernatural organizations influence information technologies like they influence politics, the media, and business. Ie, they may not totally control them, but they're a major player.
    Supernatural organization does a lot of R&D to get supernatural ways to influence information technologies.

    The drawback of all this is that it's still a pretty metagamey way to try and rationalize why the masquerade hasn't broken.
    Last edited by CoriolisEffect; 10-04-2019, 09:06 PM.

  • Theodrim
    replied
    Originally posted by Nosimplehiway View Post
    It's one of those rare times when "a wizard did it" makes a project harder, and not easier.
    Well, in a certain light it's not even as complicated as all that. The advent of the Internet really flipped the script on its head, and the best practice in the face of major scandal or quite serious allegations is to not even try covering shit up. The Streisand effect kicks in and the cover-up becomes the story. The best practice really is to let major accusations blow over, and lean hard into the least credible and kookiest interpretations of the events and accusations, to discredit the whole thing by association.

    Leave a comment:


  • Nosimplehiway
    replied
    Theodrim

    Okay, now I get it better.

    It's one of those rare times when "a wizard did it" makes a project harder, and not easier.

    Step One: Identify people on the internet who are close to figuring out the Truth.
    Step Two: Feed them disinformation or discouragement until they stop asking.
    Step Three: If somebody just won't let it go, tag them and follow up as a "micro-breech".
    Step Four: Repeat with the other seven billion people.

    That seems quite do-able, with the resources of the Camarilla brought to bear.

    I am now Team Theodrim on this one.

    Leave a comment:


  • CoriolisEffect
    replied
    Originally posted by Cifer View Post
    Having typed up a larger post and deleted it halfway through, I'll leave it at this: The only techno-magical effect within Vampire that comes even close to what you're proposing is SchreckNet 2.0 and that got quietly retconned away, most likely because a supernatural "Fangbook" didn't fit the theme of the game.
    You could do the veil entirely within the confines of Mage the Ascenscion and it'd work just as well. Honestly that's my default assumption. The only difference for Vampire then is that the Camarilla isn't actually behind the veil. You wouldn't even have to do a crossover for it, it'd just be another shared setting element (like Pentex which is used both in Mage and Werewolf).

    As for allowing technology to be as supernatural as I dunno, nightclubs or politics or whatnot I think instead of a supernatural facebook you should have isolated supernatural chats and stuff like that. Smaller communites, more difficult to find. We even have that in V5, one of the suggestions for the Companion (Manhwa? Mawhan? I don't remember) background is a nosferatu chatgroup.Place them in some seedy world of darkness version of the dark web and state how they don't tend to permanently store any records or do other stuff to keep secure.

    Hell maybe in addition to mind effects you could add in some supernatural effect that destroys records in a limited manner. 'any logs or recordings taken from this chat channel mysteriously self destroys in an impossible manner.' Oooh.

    Originally posted by Theodrim View Post

    -snip-
    Yeah basically this, just with an added effect to handle the permanent nature of information and ease of accurate recordings. In MtA it'd be the foci and consensus exploits(mundane science) technocrats would use to implement this effect.In VtM it'd be the stuff camarilla and mortal governments get up to.

    Also I think you could use all of the stuff you are talking about to help clarify information technologies and highlight what on one hand the mundane strategies and on the other hand the supernatural strategies are, because going by this thread if you were to actually implement it in a game you'd probably have to define it a lot better than I've managed here.

    As for Vampire, one cool thing would be to have one or two new disciplines that lets player characters interact with technology in fun ways. I think that's a place where you could design some really fun stuff to use in game. That would be less something to help make the setting more believable and more for the actual groups and players though.

    Leave a comment:


  • Theodrim
    replied
    Originally posted by Nosimplehiway View Post

    I took this to mean you were saying the mind-control technology proposed in the original post was reality.
    Well, to be completely honest, given how advanced data and metadata collection and algorithmic processing are when applied to fields like predictive analytics and advertisement optimization, it's honest to god not far off from the truth. Look no further than Amazon's data collection and use of predictive analytics to target product recommendations to browsers of its virtual catalog, and how creepy and effective it is.

    For example, let's paint a hypothetical. Let's say I'm at the "starting down the rabbit hole" phase of "I want to believe", and doing Google and Youtube searches on shit like vampires, werewolves, and maybe even keyword searches of words I might have heard but really don't know anything about, like "Ventrue" or "Ascension". That search history data is collected, processed, and the predictive analytics side kicks in, and flags me as "potential vampire hunter". Suddenly, I start getting targeted ads for science fiction and fantasy movies and books, goofball conspiracy theory documentaries, aliens who have traveled 40 light years to satiate anal fetishes, websites where performance artists talk about how the water makes the frickin' frogs gay, and "education services" like Prager U.

    See, here's the magic of this. I may not notice it, but my brain did. Seeing ads for kooky, fringe, incredible, and reprehensible shit puts me in a skeptical frame of mind. I unconsciously associate these "Ventrue" people and the gay frogs, and the whole thing is discredited by association. I rethink the rabbit hole I'm going down, because there be dragons...stupid, crazy dragons.

    The insidious thing is, if I'm aware how data and metadata collection, and predictive analytics, work, the effect is even stronger because I then know I'm getting these ads for a reason. That reason being, the recommendation algorithm must think I'm a nutcase. And yeah, I know Youtube's recommendation algorithm sucks donkey balls, but that's the exception rather than the rule and just go with it for the sake of making the example.

    This is the real world and the very real state of analytics and engine optimization. The tech sector doesn't spend billions per year on the behavioral sciences because it's fun. You don't need to be talking about rotes, rituals, Procedures, disciplines, or anything supernatural to get from here to there. This is regular-ass, mundane everyday shit we're talking about.

    And I haven't even started talking about fake news, media consolidation and vertical integration, media framing, and the 24-hour news cycle yet. We can have a hell of a discussion on how to mundanely keep the public uninformed and distracted on that alone.

    Maybe, try explaining it again a different way?
    Honestly, I was being more circumspect out of desire to be tactful unlike my usual fare here. I could have done a better job explaining myself, since I'm discussing a mishmash of about three distinct topics and how they relate to one another. My goal in pointing out PRISM was to shed light on how advanced, extensive, and insidious contemporary surveillance strategies and mechanisms are, and the sad reality is PRISM is just one part of it and only one of several revelations brought to us by the Snowden files. And in the end, nothing really ended or changed because of it, save perhaps tightened operational security by our intelligence community, which proves how normalized and entrenched the surveillance state is.

    This is a real world example of a system more advanced than anything ever published in a Technocracy book. Including the M20 material. And if anything can be said to be the Technocracy's wheelhouse, this is it. WoD can be consistently summed up as "just like the real world, but shittier"...how much shittier does it have to get, and how much shittier can it get?

    Leave a comment:


  • Cifer
    replied
    Having typed up a larger post and deleted it halfway through, I'll leave it at this: The only techno-magical effect within Vampire that comes even close to what you're proposing is SchreckNet 2.0 and that got quietly retconned away, most likely because a supernatural "Fangbook" didn't fit the theme of the game.

    Leave a comment:


  • CoriolisEffect
    replied
    Originally posted by Nosimplehiway View Post
    -snip-
    I think you are overstating how complicated it needs to be.

    How many people use google? If you could put a secret command people on the google front page to "Ignore the supernatural." How many people would it effect? How many people with what, auspex 5, auspex 6 or equivalent could even notice it was there? What if it also affected some other things, like internet explorer, or hell why not Windows?

    We are so dependent on the products of huge megacorporations, using them as a vector for mass influencing not only makes a lot of sense, but is a classic theme in semi dystopian stories like yes cyberpunk or WoDs originally gritty 90s world.

    There are already similar effects in the settings. Mages have the Arcane rating that literally makes people forget them or not even notice they are there. The Technocracy indoctrinates people as a standard practice. Werewolf automatically puts people into a cataconic state, specifically so that they don't understand what's happening. There are established effects that already do exactly this, just on a local scale instead of a global one. And even if you are only interested in vampires, and ignore other splats, you're left with vampires having some of the weakest intrinsic means to maintain secrecy, cause they where the first and earliest splat to be released.

    Also it should be up to each individual storyteller how strong or weak it is. If you want to run a campaign where the masquerade is inevitable going to break? It's a patch job barely holding things together. Want to run a very open game where you're known as the 'local heroic vampires' but the setting is otherwise intact? It's almost ironclad to people not in the know. Want something in between? It helps cover your ass but it has limits. It should be up to the group.

    I figured it would be impossible to hijack, but you could probably turn it into an adventure or whatnot. "Oh, I'm gonna spend half a decade targeting social media site x trying to understand and gain control of the Veil on that site" sounds like an ok long term project. Even just "I'll try to subvert it, not on the entire site, but on this smaller subreddit/youtubechannel/individual facebook page, so people that see it are slightly more likely to do something I want them to do" could work as a quicker goal.

    But yeah you might need to explain it in more detail because VtM tend to be setting focused, except that would also probably kill it since how the Camarilla actually upholds the masquerade is never really dwelt on in detail exactly to avoid people poking holes in it. It's all just vague "oh they have people in the media" and stuff like that.

    But I still like it more than like... the Second Inquisition and "yeah we're all fucked." I mean the natural actual thing that should happen is the masquerade broke during the week of nightmare when the end of the world almost occurred, so in like 2004, but that also kills the setting.

    Originally posted by Cifer View Post
    And yet the modern ways of influencing people mostly work by micro-targeting the right message to the right person, or, alternatively, stunning them into apathy by sheer overload, not via subliminal quasi-hypnotic reprogramming.
    There's no functional difference between these things. You could add a supernatural tinge to either of them and it'd be exactly the same.

    Leave a comment:


  • Mister_Dunpeal
    replied
    I think part of whether this works or not will depend on how you perceive the Masquerade to work. Originally it's just information control and secrecy, but if you added a supernatural element to it (magic, say via the Tremere) it becomes a little bit easier. Some sort of perpetual 'forget me' field (like the Delirium minus the fear in WtA). Or maybe its an extension of vampiric nature (something like the 'Arcane' background in MtA maybe?)

    Elements of technology can still help to play into that/reinforce 'rationalization' efforts that the magic might rely on (Theogrim mentioned 'deepfake' technology as one example, really good CGI is another, although I might be delving more into 'coincidental' vs 'vulgar' in MtA with that analogy.)

    There's obviously the wealth and technology and connections that Vampires have that can also play into it. Obviously no one factor (alone) likely will provide all the answers, but Vampires could put together enough temporal, technological, and supernatural factors into play.

    Leave a comment:


  • Nosimplehiway
    replied
    Originally posted by Theodrim View Post
    Dude, not to sound like a douche about this, but after Edward Snowden what "more" could you possibly need? There are only two fictions in this conversation, one is that vampires exist and the other is the technology needed to do this is itself fictitious.
    I took this to mean you were saying the mind-control technology proposed in the original post was reality.

    You misinterpret where I was going with that. My point's that complicated and lavish plans such as that outlaid by the OP simply aren't necessary in the first place.
    Oh. Okay, then I have no idea what it is you're saying.

    Sometimes, I can be a little dense.

    Maybe, try explaining it again a different way?

    Leave a comment:


  • Theodrim
    replied
    Originally posted by Nosimplehiway View Post
    Dude, PRISM is an evil data collation system...this plan is not what a mage player might call coincidental.
    You misinterpret where I was going with that. My point's that complicated and lavish plans such as that outlaid by the OP simply aren't necessary in the first place.

    Leave a comment:


  • Theodrim
    replied
    Originally posted by Cifer View Post
    And yet the modern ways of influencing people mostly work by...subliminal quasi-hypnotic reprogramming.
    I mean, let's be honest. The amount of money that goes into sales and marketing analysis and methodology, ad design, search engine and CTR optimization, and meta-analysis of all of the above, and the application of that data...we're not too far off.

    Leave a comment:


  • Nosimplehiway
    replied
    Originally posted by Theodrim View Post
    Dude, not to sound like a douche about this, but after Edward Snowden what "more" could you possibly need? There are only two fictions in this conversation, one is that vampires exist and the other is the technology needed to do this is itself fictitious.
    Dude, PRISM is an evil data collation system, which combs through private corporations' servers to identify information of interest and combine it into usable form at a central site.

    It is not, however, a magical electronic spell which causes people to edit their own perception of reality to remove whole chunks of their life experience. Mind control is a difficult and time consuming task, as the message needs to be carefully targeted to remove topics you want ignored, while allowing full functionality otherwise. All this needs to be done while not leaving any electronic breadcrumbs behind to be stumbled across and publicized. It also needs to be done so the individual victim adapts the edited memory to match the individual situation in which it occurs, no matter how many inconsistencies or paradoxes this creates. This needs to operate it in every language at once, to boot.

    That is much, much more complicated and invasive than what the surveillance state does.

    The sort of system the original poster describes would require something beyond the resources of all but a few state actors, and well beyond today's neural and computer science. The NSA, which operates PRISM, has an annual budget of $8 Billion dollars, and between 35,000 and 55,000 employees. The very fact that we are discussing PRISM, shows how difficult it is to keep such a big secret.

    If we want to say, "It works because a wizard did it", okay. Fair play in an urban fantasy game. But, this plan is not what a mage player might call coincidental.

    Leave a comment:


  • Cifer
    replied
    And yet the modern ways of influencing people mostly work by micro-targeting the right message to the right person, or, alternatively, stunning them into apathy by sheer overload, not via subliminal quasi-hypnotic reprogramming.

    Leave a comment:


  • Bluecho
    replied
    Originally posted by Nosimplehiway View Post
    I share Cifer's concern with breaking genre. It all seems a little cyberpunk to me. Or, maybe, it's just that the real world became a cyberpunk world while I wasn't watching.
    We live in a world where prosthetic limbs are getting more practical, deep fakes can be used to startling effect, increasingly more of the economy is in an entirely digital currency, and we've got working prototypes for flying cars. All while corporations exert more and more control over people's lives, while rising economic inequality leads to societal misery and political unrest.

    We ARE living in a cyberpunk dystopia. And it's the lamest one possible.

    Leave a comment:


  • Theodrim
    replied
    Originally posted by Nosimplehiway View Post
    I need more than "somebody somewhere does something" to the internet. Piggy backing this sort of thing onto the highly decentralized internet is a vast, vast project. Who is charged with maintaining the effect? How did they first develop the technology? How are they funded? Who decides how much public knowledge is too much public knowledge? (Bonus points for not referencing other gamelines at all. Like Theodrim I am not a fan of crossovers. Mechanics tend to break, and genres tend to get muddled.)
    Dude, not to sound like a douche about this, but after Edward Snowden what "more" could you possibly need? There are only two fictions in this conversation, one is that vampires exist and the other is the technology needed to do this is itself fictitious.
    Last edited by Theodrim; 10-05-2019, 02:22 PM.

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