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  • The Prophetic Masses

    Wondering how other Storytellers handle a setting with populations of beings with premonitions of future events.

    Cahalith (ie a fifth of Forsaken), Spirits/Ghost/Angels/Horrors with the Omen Trance Numina, Oodles and oodles of Mages (ei one fifth plus those that do it without it being their Ruling Arcanum), even mortals with Omen Sensitivity all qualify.

    Do you map out which beings would be interested-in/privy-to what types of events so you know if something of significant scale is about the affect the setting you know who'd already know and whom they would have informed and how that would have immediate and possibly retroactive bearing on the story?

    Particular things that come to mind are events that could drastically alter the Essence of an area would ensure werewolves out in force, major unveiling of the supernatural to the public would definitely get Seers of the Throne and Guardians of the Veil involvement, not even counting those more regular folk trafficking with prophetic ephemeral beings in mystery cults.

    9/11 in New York 2001, how did that happen?

    What about various school shooting and other terrible events?

    What I come up with is supernatural interference in those types of events that causes Clash of Wills that the Prophetic being lose or the beings want the events to happen. Any other ideas? What presumed level of prophetic involvement/interference do you expect in your settings?

    For example 9/11 in my headcanon was supported by Seers of the Throne using Time Veiling that either instigated the plot in the first place or caught it quick enough that they realized it'd increase world wide oppression and then veiled it from others, possibly via an agreement of several powerful entities to have an Archmage do it so the Clash of Will of worldly being automatically fail, or maybe just a Pylon or two of Masters. Can't argue 9/11 didn't further the Seer agenda, that's for sure.
    Last edited by Pale_Crusader; 08-10-2017, 03:29 PM.


    “Youth ages, immaturity is outgrown, ignorance can be educated, and drunkenness sobered, but stupid lasts forever.” ~ Aristophanes
    "Virescit Vulnere Virtus" ~ Stewart Clan Motto

  • #2
    Short answer: Shit happens.

    Long answer: You just pointed out how many potential Pre-Cogs there are. What do you get in series with multiple factions with time travel? Re-edit wars. Assuming time isn't fixed (and there is nothing to indicate it ultimately is with precognitives having any effect at all), then each seer/prophet sees the future, takes action to change it or doesn't, and may the best actor win. These powers also aren't constant - they have to be activated, or only come during certain timeslots. This leaves it open for the future to be changed from disaster A to B, but the pre-cog hasn't even seen B yet to do anything about it before it happens. Even with a bunch of prophets in the area, their own actions might trip each other up, which mean fate A happens anyway.


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    • #3
      I think for big events, I'd have the Exarchs intervene directly. So, the local Magi of New York know something very bad is coming, but they can't see it.


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      • #4
        I think the official stance is that real life disasters are always mainly the fault of regular humans. Different supers might be able to influence certain groups, but all wars and all acts of terrorism (that are based on real life events) would've taken place regardless of any supernatural influences.


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        • #5
          For me, 9/11 was an actual terrorist attack in WoD, but no one saw it coming because of how overwhelming it is. Before 9/11, hijackings were primarily hostage situations aboard an airplane. So if a precog sees a vision of 9/11, they go, "Yeah, right. Even I don't believe that could happen."

          Now, what happened immediately after 9/11, that's where the precogs have trouble. Because after something like that, how sure is the future?

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          • #6
            The Prophetic Dreams of the Cahalith aren't anything they can control. They're crazy images and symbols from Luna that may or may not be remembered depicting a future hunt and, even if they were, Luna is not Homeland Security and not only wouldn't care if thousands of humans were going to die, but might actually encourage a werewolf to let it happen. Spirits, angels, ghosts and horrors also aren't particularly benevolent and charitable beings, one group is flat out slaves to the God-Machine, and aren't going to be stopping something from happening unless it's sent the order.

            Mages are more tied into human affairs but aren't as Batman as most people seem to think. Even if they did get a hint that something was going to happen, and by some stretch they decided they were going to stop it, actually doing so would be another matter. Specifically with 9-11 you had a variety of different attackers orchestrating multiple attacks. All were preparing and training for something similar without any specific direction, for the most part separately. They ended up getting together less than a month before the attacks. So say some mage happens to check the future of certain parts of the city every month and realizes there's going to be a disaster. If they also want to save said parts of the city they'd have to track down the various plotters somehow, scattered across the United States, find a way to stop them all, and deal with regular consilium politics and other mages trying to stop them.

            School shootings might be easier to justify being stopped by mages, but the idea that they would all be stopped would require mages working full time at every school across the country, because they don't just happen at high schools and the shooters aren't always students. This level of organization goes well beyond the depiction of mages in the books.

            Certainly having organized prophets stopping this stuff is something you can do but you can understand why, between disorganization, the complexity of disasters and attacks, and the fact that game lines and monsters aren't 'good guys', bad things will still happen. After all, in real life we don't have magic attackers but we do have vast systems of surveillance and information and groups organized solely to stopping terrorist attacks and mass murders and they still happen.

            In the game, prophecies, just like attacks from terrorists or mass murderers, are plots and plot hooks. It's no different from getting a call from a former friend asking for help or stumbling upon one clue of something else happening. And just like any other plot hook, some are going to want to stop the players from resolving it, some are going to want to help, some are going to act as obstacles for other reasons entirely. If you want you can add layers and more layers to it, with it just being stage one of a multi-part plan, or an opportunity for another character to enact a different plot entirely. If your players are asking about their prophetic dreams or using magic to warn themselves about the future, it's just like an aspiration, they want their character to have that come into the game, and the storyteller should take advantage of it.
            Last edited by nofather; 08-11-2017, 03:00 AM.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Flyboy254 View Post
              Before 9/11, hijackings were primarily hostage situations aboard an airplane. So if a precog sees a vision of 9/11, they go, "Yeah, right. Even I don't believe that could happen."
              That seems a stretch. I mean, 9/11 happened during the Second Intifada, suicide bombings were already high profile events with international media coverage. It's really not that big a step to combine it with hijacking.


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              • #8
                Originally posted by Michael View Post
                That seems a stretch. I mean, 9/11 happened during the Second Intifada, suicide bombings were already high profile events with international media coverage. It's really not that big a step to combine it with hijacking.

                So true from an objective perspective or hindsight, I mean it seems obvious that it was a matter of time until something like this happens, however I remember the significant shock at the time and how it seemed unimaginable. I don't think that shock would affect precogs as much just because in the world where Chronicles of Darkness takes place has supernatural catastrophes/doomsday which are adverted, thus making all but the most newly initiation precogs fairly used to seeing horrible world shaping things.

                I think this brings up a valid point, how many horrific world altering things are prevented in a world with common precognition if 9/11 is what fell through the cracks without any veiling or supernatural pressure ensuring it happened? It just doesn't make sense to me, and I note it pushes forward the primary agenda of a supernatural group that has the ability to veil it (Seers of the Throne promoting global oppression), so that's the conclusion I come to.
                Last edited by Pale_Crusader; 08-11-2017, 10:44 AM.


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                • #9
                  In the games of Werewolf I have played, where I am playing the Cahalith, the Visions/portents that the GM provided (some of which were of epic proportions) were directly tied into the Story being told. As Nofather indicated, the player has absolutely no control of such images.

                  Seemed to work for me.


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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Pale_Crusader View Post

                    I think this brings up a valid point, how many horrific world altering things are prevented in a world with common precognition if 9/11 is what fell through the cracks without any veiling or supernatural pressure ensuring it happened?

                    You should check the Apocalypse Vault from Demon. The God-Machine is basically constantly preventing planet wide annihilation, compared to that 9/11 is small potatoes.


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                    • #11
                      You know, this jogged my memory about something in Mage 2E so yesterday I went and reread their section on Time and the Advancing Present, and then I reread some Time spells like Divination and Prophecy. Here's a particularly intriguing piece of text from Prophecy, a Time 4 spell:

                      "Other mages using Divination on the same subject while Prophecy is in effect see the most likely outcome of the scenario set by this spell." (Mage: The Awakening 2E pg. 190)

                      Time magic focused on seeing the future is based on likelihood and probability, barring things like free will and outside influence. It also offers the interesting tidbit that if someone has constructed a "model future" using Prophecy so long as that spell is still in use and the Duration holds up it warps all other Mage-based means of seeing the future into seeing that exact potential future. Because precognitive spells are often to assist in decision-making, Prophecy earns its name by encouraging people to act towards the future posited by the Mage who initially cast the spell, which itself makes it increasingly likely that future will happen, or something very similar to it will.

                      The text specifically says it only impacts other Mages but if I was running a crossover game I'd probably have Prophecy warp the precognitive magic of other splats as well, at least regarding whatever the prophecy covers. Of course, that's a static model of a future, who knows what's actually been happening in the background while everyone's been blinded by it.


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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by ElvesofZion View Post


                        You should check the Apocalypse Vault from Demon. The God-Machine is basically constantly preventing planet wide annihilation, compared to that 9/11 is small potatoes.
                        Unless the towers had to go down or they would have been the gateway to an extra-dimensional all-devouring invincible swarm of giant bugs.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Arcanist View Post
                          You know, this jogged my memory about something in Mage 2E so yesterday I went and reread their section on Time and the Advancing Present, and then I reread some Time spells like Divination and Prophecy. Here's a particularly intriguing piece of text from Prophecy, a Time 4 spell:

                          "Other mages using Divination on the same subject while Prophecy is in effect see the most likely outcome of the scenario set by this spell." (Mage: The Awakening 2E pg. 190)

                          Time magic focused on seeing the future is based on likelihood and probability, barring things like free will and outside influence. It also offers the interesting tidbit that if someone has constructed a "model future" using Prophecy so long as that spell is still in use and the Duration holds up it warps all other Mage-based means of seeing the future into seeing that exact potential future. Because precognitive spells are often to assist in decision-making, Prophecy earns its name by encouraging people to act towards the future posited by the Mage who initially cast the spell, which itself makes it increasingly likely that future will happen, or something very similar to it will.

                          The text specifically says it only impacts other Mages but if I was running a crossover game I'd probably have Prophecy warp the precognitive magic of other splats as well, at least regarding whatever the prophecy covers. Of course, that's a static model of a future, who knows what's actually been happening in the background while everyone's been blinded by it.

                          Interesting, so a very powerful Master of Time using Prophecy to predict a rising stock market could muddy the eyes of precogs significantly in terms of 9/11 without that being an intended consequence. If that was the case that'd make 9/11 a Mystery a surely as if it were deliberate Veiling, and woe to the mage that did it accidental because being that cautionary tale would suck on so many levels. In fact that makes any use of Prophecy that predicts the opposite of what is going to happen because of the sheer inertia of events and machinations of other beings including mortal.

                          So let's break this horrible real life tragedy down in game terms: Let's say the Hijackers had a +5 Plan but suffered as much as a -5 penalty due to attempting actions that would prevent the artificial Prophecy or Destiny of the mage "selling penny stocks for a killing the next day", but they are picked because they are well suited to the task thus with appropriate Attributes and Skills, probably with Specializations, possibly Areas of Expertise in what they need to do to pull this off. That means they are still likely to pull it off, though one obviously failed his rolls... That's so awful to think that even in a world with what are essentially superpowers, that shortsightedness and desire for a comfortable life of affluence by the powerful could inadvertently cause calamity.

                          Originally posted by Tymeaus Jalynsfein View Post
                          In the games of Werewolf I have played, where I am playing the Cahalith, the Visions/portents that the GM provided (some of which were of epic proportions) were directly tied into the Story being told. As Nofather indicated, the player has absolutely no control of such images.

                          Seemed to work for me.
                          Questions to play the devil's advocate: In a world about to be hit by a 9/11 event why wouldn't that be "the Story being told"? Doesn't that seem artificial to have it not since even the werewolves in the cities where the hijackers took off would be affected?

                          There being no control could be all the more reason why they would get that Prophetic Dream; they aren't restricted by their expectation or what they are specifically looking or asking for to miss something completely unexpected. Arguably it being not directed makes it cast a wider net, potentially.

                          But hey, maybe there were 10 different planes that were going to Hijacked but the cities where the Hijackers left from were in Pure control were successful, and in the ones where the potential Hijackers were that were under Forsaken control the Hijackers never even made it to the airports. I mean Portland still has a World Trade Center, and there are other targets. How would anyone not in the Uratha community ever know if they prevented such events?
                          Last edited by Pale_Crusader; 08-11-2017, 02:51 PM.


                          “Youth ages, immaturity is outgrown, ignorance can be educated, and drunkenness sobered, but stupid lasts forever.” ~ Aristophanes
                          "Virescit Vulnere Virtus" ~ Stewart Clan Motto

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                          • #14
                            Pale_Crusader Maybe Luna doesn't gives a crap about 911.

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                            • #15
                              The Mekhet clan can also get prophetic abilities too. In VtR 2e, they can have prophetic dreams during the day about people they are going to meet.

                              However, in the Elder's book there is a devotion named Annals of Death; this devotion let's the user ask amy question about death in a place whether it be about the past, present, or future.

                              So a Mekhet suddenly learning about a mass murder that would soon take place would be an interesting plot hook.

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