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Challenging Supernal "Truth"

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  • #31
    Originally posted by Axelgear View Post
    That sounds pretty religious to me.
    It's a bit more comparative anatomy than most. It actually doesn't mention humans specifically. It's more that the Corpus Author believes magic is alive, so she writes an anatomy of the Tellurian.


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    • #32
      Originally posted by 21C Hermit View Post
      It’s not the Diamond but the Seers who will be offended by such ‘modern’ analogies. Remember, hide-bound and traditionalist the Diamond may be, but they aren’t the guys religiously worshipping the concepts of authoritarianism.

      The Diamond will call the program analogy unorthodox. The Seers will call it heresy and condemn it as blasphemy.

      Rather it's on the grounds that such thinking makes their place in the universe seem less important and their status less entitled than the standard Atlantean/Matrix/Plato's Cave story. The Seers would be offended in the same way too. Both of them seem to be on opposite ends of a spectrum between anarchy(Adamantine Arrow, and The Guardians of the Veil far less so, but they're a case of 'Who watches the watchmen?") and tyranny, but that spectrum is a horseshoe (same thing happened with the Anarchs in VtM).

      Something I find interesting about Mage is that there is a lot of material to make socio-political commentary, but that's usually not the kind of thing people like to see at the game table.

      Errol216 How about using other splats to think about Mage? Maybe that way can develop a more comprehensive picture.

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      • #33
        Originally posted by GreenKitty View Post


        Rather it's on the grounds that such thinking makes their place in the universe seem less important and their status less entitled than the standard Atlantean/Matrix/Plato's Cave story. The Seers would be offended in the same way too. Both of them seem to be on opposite ends of a spectrum between anarchy(Adamantine Arrow, and The Guardians of the Veil far less so, but they're a case of 'Who watches the watchmen?&quot and tyranny, but that spectrum is a horseshoe (same thing happened with the Anarchs in VtM).
        To be honest, I’d pretty feel entitled after running global conspiracy-cults for centuries like the Diamond did :P

        Something I find interesting about Mage is that there is a lot of material to make socio-political commentary, but that's usually not the kind of thing people like to see at the game table.
        I majored in Politics, and dabble in social sciences in general. I found Mage easy to sell to my friends precisely because of that aspect. (Now only if I could get them to actually play...)

        How about using other splats to think about Mage? Maybe that way can develop a more comprehensive picture.
        Well, Uratha might see mages as a superpowered version of what Acrozatarim would call a haruspex. Check out the Six Pups-a-Changing thread in Werewolf.


        MtAw Homebrew:
        Even more Legacies, updated to 2E
        New 2E Legacies, expanded

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        • #34
          Originally posted by GreenKitty View Post
          Errol216 How about using other splats to think about Mage? Maybe that way can develop a more comprehensive picture.
          Sure. More perspectives is always good. In the case of something fictional, though, a given perspective tends to be most useful for understanding what you're looking with, rather than what you're looking at. It's a bit lose-lose in that sense. :P But, for the sake of tackling it:

          For instance, a big deal for Uratha is that they guard a border and keep things Right and Proper on both sides, so it's natural for them to see Mages as line-crossers and violators of the natural order. There have been several threads in Changeling about how Mages can be likened to the alien, unempathetic Strangers who tinker with lives and realities because they're toys to play with. I suspect most Vampires would look at Mages and think, "You have the cheat codes to the universe and you waste it doing what!?", but I'm not too firm on the Vampire perspective.


          I call the Integrity-analogue the "subjective stat".
          An explanation how to use Social Manuevering.
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          • #35
            I wanna note that one of my longest-running Mage games has included a lot of exploration of topics like "Is youthful idealism actually a necessary force, either to drive change or at least counterbalance cynicism, or does it merely act to drag down more useful efforts with infighting?" and "Is it possible to do great things while still retaining a connection to others who don't share your vision and ambition?", and it's done so largely not by trying to do so; it happens as a consequence of the characters involved simply being exactly who they are and the world bearing the consequences.

            Also, there's nothing I quite love more than introducing an outsider perspective to a Mage character, because it's always the thing that winds up making them the most uncomfortable. They're so used to seeing with their own myopic lenses that even a relatively close ally can make them uncomfortable.

            Small anecdote: An Obrimos from the aforementioned long-running game went on an Astral journey with a friend of his; a fellow Mage and the closest ally he's ever really had. It is massively awkward because they both get to see what they really think of one another, and there's this moment where she explains to him that she doesn't Astral dive anymore because she knows that, waiting in her Oneiros, there's the memories of all the people she let down and got killed. He's one of them (he got better - long story short, he opted to suicide-bomb an Archmaster). It was a fun moment of realization for him of "Oh, right, my actions actually have consequences for other people" and a reminder as to why his Wisdom hovers just at the edge of slipping into Falling.

            Originally posted by Michael View Post
            It's a bit more comparative anatomy than most. It actually doesn't mention humans specifically. It's more that the Corpus Author believes magic is alive, so she writes an anatomy of the Tellurian.
            Yeah, but that comes with an expressed notion of how a Mage should react to that; that magic needs shepherding to guide it out of Pancryptia, that the Awakened should act according to their dharma, etc. It's not purely a description; it is a guide on how one should live in response to it. It's why the Awakened are, for example, cast as immune cells in the body of magic, and the Abyss/Lie is treated as a cancer that needs expunging. It is not merely a cold description of what is, but also a notion of how it should be too.

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            • #36
              Originally posted by Axelgear View Post
              IYeah, but that comes with an expressed notion of how a Mage should react to that; that magic needs shepherding to guide it out of Pancryptia, that the Awakened should act according to their dharma, etc. It's not purely a description; it is a guide on how one should live in response to it. It's why the Awakened are, for example, cast as immune cells in the body of magic, and the Abyss/Lie is treated as a cancer that needs expunging. It is not merely a cold description of what is, but also a notion of how it should be too.
              You're putting too much thought into this. My meaning was merely that it has the aesthetics of something not traditionally religious, ie. anatomy.


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              • #37
                I'm just gonna link this image of Purusha.

                I feel like I'm being smug here but I'm trying to get across a point: This imagery is distinctly religious.

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                • #38
                  I think the Orders, at least the Diamond and some Seers, are all very religious, but the Guardians and Mysterium are explicitly called out as religions.
                  Last edited by nofather; 01-31-2018, 04:31 PM.

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                  • #39
                    When we say something is “religious,” we either means “it says something about the world and its spirituality” or “it has the trappings we commonly associate with established religions.” The orders are the former.


                    MtAw Homebrew:
                    Even more Legacies, updated to 2E
                    New 2E Legacies, expanded

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                    • #40
                      You can mean that, but they're also the latter.

                      Of the Mysterium, 'They’re a dedicated mystery religion devoted to the worship of magic itself.' And the Guardians should be more obvious but, 'They’re a true religion, zen-like in their acceptance of being damned by their own actions and with a tendency toward disassociation (which can be very bad indeed in Mage’s world – not for nothing is the main runner-up to the Tremere in “notable Reaper Legacies” stakes the exclusivly-Guardian (Legion).)' This is just from the open development but these are things repeated in the books, including the second edition core. That's without getting into the Silver Ladder, who are also very religious. Their religions are just focused on magic and Atlantis rather than a divine personage like most religions, though even that's a thing depending on your view of the Supernal.

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                      • #41
                        Originally posted by Axelgear View Post
                        I'm just gonna link this image of Purusha.

                        I feel like I'm being smug here but I'm trying to get across a point: This imagery is distinctly religious.
                        So you didn't catch my reference to those kinds of bodily religious analogies? Maybe I was being too oblique.

                        I'm not claiming that bodily analogies can't be religious, but that the Corpus Author's analogy has a distinct feel to it. I mean, look at that image you posted as example, it's not particularly anatomically accurate; whilst the Corpus Authors has a pretty good grasp of what bodily functions do what. There's a precision and a concreteness that's not usually present in the religious analogies.

                        I suppose there's an argument that the difference comes merely from the Awakened having better knowledge of biology, but seeing as we're talking aesthetics, that'd be missing the point. I mean, magic as programming isn't a million miles from platonic ideas.


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                        • #42
                          The religious elements I see include divine personage, divine good vs. evil, humancentricism, spiritual ascent, and well even the bad stuff associated with organized religion on the more social level rather than what is preached.

                          In the sourcebook with the Sona people it speaks of European mages as being like missionaries and colonists.

                          There is also social isolation from "normies" or "nonbelievers". When they start talking about "we know the Truth" all the time and if it weren't for quiescence they'd be knocking on people's doors.
                          Last edited by GreenKitty; 01-31-2018, 08:25 PM.

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                          • #43
                            Originally posted by nofather View Post
                            I think the Orders, at least the Diamond and some Seers, are all very religious, but the Guardians and Mysterium are explicitly called out as religions.
                            All Orders are mystery cults. This is explicit. All the Orders are religions, all of them are conspiracies, all of them are secret societies; they are all these things mashed into one. How much emphasis is placed on any particular aspect is a local concern. The Silver Ladder, though, emphatically praises the Avatar and worships human divinity; they call themselves an Order of philosopher-priests.

                            Originally posted by Michael View Post
                            So you didn't catch my reference to those kinds of bodily religious analogies? Maybe I was being too oblique.

                            I'm not claiming that bodily analogies can't be religious, but that the Corpus Author's analogy has a distinct feel to it. I mean, look at that image you posted as example, it's not particularly anatomically accurate; whilst the Corpus Authors has a pretty good grasp of what bodily functions do what. There's a precision and a concreteness that's not usually present in the religious analogies.

                            I suppose there's an argument that the difference comes merely from the Awakened having better knowledge of biology, but seeing as we're talking aesthetics, that'd be missing the point. I mean, magic as programming isn't a million miles from platonic ideas.
                            I'd say that any sense of being clinical or secular on the part of the Corpus Author is just because of the game book giving a description of a description. Saying that the Rigveda describes the order of the cosmos through anatomical analogy is true, but the text itself is clearly mystical in its description.

                            Remember, for the Awakened, religious analogies are precise and concrete; those ideas are descriptive of Supernal Truth. Even if the Corpus was exactingly clinical, it's still an analogy, and it'd be no more accurate in being so than any flowery mystical version would be. Perhaps even less so.

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                            • #44
                              Sorry about necroing this thread if that's a thing here.

                              I just had to sorta pitch a thought.

                              I saw this old thread and then I just had an idea.

                              I think it's interesting to view mages through the eyes of the other splats, especially since mages are the ones with the banner of "TRUTH" going around.

                              Taking the Sherpa analogy a little further it could easily be a colonial/crusader narrative: Here we have these worlds with their guardians who intimately know these places well such as the Sin-Eaters and the Uratha. The world is in balance as long as they can keep up with their respective enemies (like the Pure). Then here come some mages to mess things up.

                              Here come these outsiders who are humans with special powers. They come in from seemingly out of the flock of normal humans and claim to want to prod and explore these other worlds. They claim they have an intimate understanding of the forces they tamper with such as the Shadow and life and death. Furthermore they claim that their powers come from a higher, superior reality that is perfect, that is the truth of the universe, and everything else is part of a corrupted lie that they are on a crusade to extinguish. They barge in but only seem to have interests in some things here are there they claim are connected with their "higher truth", even those who are connected to the spirits are more interested in finding the "supernal" aspect of the Shadow. From the perspective of the others whose jobs are made harder by these invaders, they aren't spreading a "Supernal perfection" but rather a "Supernal infection".

                              And this can be the road that starts the idea: What if the supernal realms are not what mages think they are. What if the Supernal is actually a plague upon reality?

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                              • #45
                                Mages don't claim intimate understanding unless they've literally been doing the sort of work that justifies such a claim — the thrust of their intrusion is generally that they're addicts, and the fix they're chasing is seeing what happens if they poke the weird supernatural bullshit that may or may not be somebody else's pet project as part of an ongoing pursuit of personal power.

                                Also, again, the whole "the world is a Lie" thing is a distinct aspect of Awakened cultural positioning from "our magic taps into a deeply-buried and rarefied stratum of existence in which the things that define reality interact with our world." Outside of the context of Paradox and bad-idea spellcasting, the concept behind the Supernal has little to suggest it's an invasive force. Mages who are out to "extinguish" the Fallen world are generally regarded as self-destructive lunatics, not typical specimens of Awakened thought.

                                "Everything in reality means something, and what it means can be broken down for power" indicates that the Supernal is a plague on reality in the same way that the existence of the atomic bomb indicates that the weak nuclear force is a plague on reality — you're suggesting that words being things is a legitimate curse.


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