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Are the Exarchs the Mage equivalent of the Antedeluvians?

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  • #16
    Are we talking the world as in Earth, the entire Material universe or that plus all other parallel dimensions such as the Shadow, the Underworld, and the full-on parallels like the place it's suggested the Cheiron Group Board of Directors may have come from?


    A god is just a monster you kneel to. - ArcaneArts, Quoting "Fall of Gods"

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    • #17
      Ochemata do have rules, you know.


      Dave Brookshaw

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      • #18
        The reason I use is the Abyss. The Abyss is both a part of their plan and the thing that limits the Exarchs. As powerful as they are, they cannot risk paradox themselves. Unfortunately this excuse of mine made mooore sense in 1st Edition back when we had vulgar magic, but, the Exarchs prefer subtlety for the same cardboard world argument that any Superman would make, and the Abyss is always at-the-ready for the Exarchs to lose patience and cause a paradox.

        We're safe only because of the Lie itself, in a way.

        So yes, transfiguration gives them absolute narrative control over a single-arcanum. The God-Machine was teased years ago that it could possibly be a supernal Bound-denizen trying to Ascend (but this was before the God-Machine became canon so things aren't the same anymore), and the Exarchs could have huge influence over that.

        Attacking them in their citadels would be suicide.

        And in the Supernal Worlds the Exarchs are at their strongest, have armies of lesser denizens st their call, universes of time to prepare protective spells, and we don't even know how many exarchs there are! I think the Seers think there coule be 600 of them, with 10 Iron Seals.

        Even if their control is slipping in the material world, their grip gets tighter in the Supernal. Perhaps we only have the Abyss to thank, for limiting their reach into our world. They're by no stretch of the imagination synonymous with unstoppable, even if the God-Machine isn't their ally and if It is out of Exarch control or influence, the Exarchs themselves are still ridiculously powerful.

        But perhaps not unstoppable. The Abyss helps nurture the Lie, but to protect the Lie the Exarchs cannot use their full means. They themselves must never risk paradox (Or I think so)! This means we can fight them from Earth, because their symbology and power is anchored here. Use their own Lie against them, if you change the world and symbols here they will lose power, and you can do that here where their full power cannot be used.

        Easier said than done, of course. With the Seers and Ochemata and our own hubris mucking up our efforts its hard to say it can be even attempted much less done.

        But its the only way to beat them. As hard as it is, you have to beat them here, in the Supernal the only thing waiting for you is at best a truce, an armstice.

        BUT, just as the Exarchs help their minions enforce the Lie, ascended Mages *can* still help in subtle ways. They too perhaps know not to risk paradox, and know that being too direct simply conflates lesser mages hubris (The Author spoke to me, Im their chosen one!), and so rely on subtlety. But when your aeons old and have Intelligence 11, perhaps subtlety is all you need!

        The Exarchs also should probably be dealt with one-by-one, and cannot be beaten all at once. The Father has total control over "Truth" so if there was a true way to beat them the Father scrubbed it. Id start with freeing the world of the Fathers symbols first, but again, easier said than done... ...

        In the end everything about fighting or interacting with the Exarchs has to be entirely done in the narrative, dice are aaalmost meaningless at that point. Fighting the Exarchs probably would take multiple universee and timelines of coordination, and surviving a few more Time Befores scrub-events as the Exarchs try to bury successes.

        So yeah, the power scale is insane even compared to the antideluvians. But the antideluvians will end the world, whatever that means. The classic world of darkness' status quo is threatened by the antedeluvians.

        But in the Chronicles, the Exarchs will use *multiple* iterations of the world trying to tighten the status quo! All to imprison oppress and control. Multiple Time Befores might have come and gone as the Exarchs find the proper fit. So, I think that helps showcase their real difference. The lengths they go to to do the opposite of what the Third Generation will get up to.

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        • #19
          I would argue that what most holds the Exarchs back are their very natures, they are the embodiment of symbols and they must remain true to those symbols or they will cease to be.
          The General for example is the symbol of control through the fear of violence, he is not the embodiment of violence itself so it is self defeating to destroy the very thing he is trying to control.
          Those words, "control through", I would say is the line they can't cross, it implies that free will for the people of the Fallen World is necessary for the Exarchs continued existence.

          On a side note, though it may be impossible to destroy an Exarch and the supernal symbol they embody it is possible for them to be weakened and diminished, the rise of Mammon at the expense of the Hegemon shows this.

          Looking for the Mage equivalent of the Antediluvians, powerful beings that threaten creation itself, you would have to look at the Abyss as nothing else in the setting is actually working to destroy the status quo.
          Last edited by 2ptTakrill; 12-10-2018, 06:30 PM.

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          • #20
            Originally posted by 2ptTakrill View Post
            On a side note, though it may be impossible to destroy an Exarch and the supernal symbol they embody it is possible for them to be weakened and diminished, the rise of Mammon at the expense of the Hegemon shows this.
            While obviously not a reasonable method to do so, it does seem like the eradication of human life (and parallels, like the myrmidons) would probably weaken the Exarchs to cosmic insignificance, what with their symbols representing forms of tyranny borne from humanity.

            It also helps that they're not like the Ten Who Were Taken or ringwraiths, people of vast power ruling the world, and are 'just' symbols. Gravity doesn't smite down planes just because they manage to let humanity overcome its pull.

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            • #21
              It's worth mentioning that though we know what the Exarchs are, we don't actually know what's driving them so to speak. IM makes a point of stating that even archmasters don't actually ever meet an Exarch face to face (aside from Ministers and even then). There's the Exarch symbol which everyone can see, but who or what entities lies behind the mask isn't clear. I think in that regard there's a definite comparison to be made to the Antediluvians. They're entities that everyone knows about and are really scary but you don't actually know what they're up to.

              Originally posted by 2ptTakrill View Post
              I would argue that what most holds the Exarchs back are their very natures, they are the embodiment of symbols and they must remain true to those symbols or they will cease to be.
              One might even call it... paradoxical.


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              • #22
                Originally posted by Scarlet Witch View Post
                The reason I use is the Abyss. The Abyss is both a part of their plan and the thing that limits the Exarchs. As powerful as they are, they cannot risk paradox themselves. Unfortunately this excuse of mine made mooore sense in 1st Edition back when we had vulgar magic, but, the Exarchs prefer subtlety for the same cardboard world argument that any Superman would make, and the Abyss is always at-the-ready for the Exarchs to lose patience and cause a paradox.

                We're safe only because of the Lie itself, in a way.

                So yes, transfiguration gives them absolute narrative control over a single-arcanum. The God-Machine was teased years ago that it could possibly be a supernal Bound-denizen trying to Ascend (but this was before the God-Machine became canon so things aren't the same anymore), and the Exarchs could have huge influence over that.

                Attacking them in their citadels would be suicide.

                And in the Supernal Worlds the Exarchs are at their strongest, have armies of lesser denizens st their call, universes of time to prepare protective spells, and we don't even know how many exarchs there are! I think the Seers think there coule be 600 of them, with 10 Iron Seals.

                Even if their control is slipping in the material world, their grip gets tighter in the Supernal. Perhaps we only have the Abyss to thank, for limiting their reach into our world. They're by no stretch of the imagination synonymous with unstoppable, even if the God-Machine isn't their ally and if It is out of Exarch control or influence, the Exarchs themselves are still ridiculously powerful.

                But perhaps not unstoppable. The Abyss helps nurture the Lie, but to protect the Lie the Exarchs cannot use their full means. They themselves must never risk paradox (Or I think so)! This means we can fight them from Earth, because their symbology and power is anchored here. Use their own Lie against them, if you change the world and symbols here they will lose power, and you can do that here where their full power cannot be used.

                Easier said than done, of course. With the Seers and Ochemata and our own hubris mucking up our efforts its hard to say it can be even attempted much less done.

                But its the only way to beat them. As hard as it is, you have to beat them here, in the Supernal the only thing waiting for you is at best a truce, an armstice.

                BUT, just as the Exarchs help their minions enforce the Lie, ascended Mages *can* still help in subtle ways. They too perhaps know not to risk paradox, and know that being too direct simply conflates lesser mages hubris (The Author spoke to me, Im their chosen one!), and so rely on subtlety. But when your aeons old and have Intelligence 11, perhaps subtlety is all you need!

                The Exarchs also should probably be dealt with one-by-one, and cannot be beaten all at once. The Father has total control over "Truth" so if there was a true way to beat them the Father scrubbed it. Id start with freeing the world of the Fathers symbols first, but again, easier said than done... ...

                In the end everything about fighting or interacting with the Exarchs has to be entirely done in the narrative, dice are aaalmost meaningless at that point. Fighting the Exarchs probably would take multiple universee and timelines of coordination, and surviving a few more Time Befores scrub-events as the Exarchs try to bury successes.

                So yeah, the power scale is insane even compared to the antideluvians. But the antideluvians will end the world, whatever that means. The classic world of darkness' status quo is threatened by the antedeluvians.

                But in the Chronicles, the Exarchs will use *multiple* iterations of the world trying to tighten the status quo! All to imprison oppress and control. Multiple Time Befores might have come and gone as the Exarchs find the proper fit. So, I think that helps showcase their real difference. The lengths they go to to do the opposite of what the Third Generation will get up to.
                I always thought the reason the Exarchs couldn't win is because you can only define something by defining its antithesis. So when you ascend into the throne of predatory competition, for example, you automatically exalt the symbols of edifying competition. Its a package deal, you see, because the source code of the CofD is written in symbolism.

                There is also a suggestion in Imperial Mysteries that the hermetic principal of As Above, So Below also applies. Meaning that since everything reflects everything else, its why big peripheral changes are caused by aphoneia when you manipulate a few Supernal symbols.

                That also means you cannot truly beat the Exarchs without removing the symbols that place humanity as the center of reality or the ones that define freedom. But its also why they cannot truly win either. What anyone can do is tip the scales. Its why the Exarch keep growing their collection and why archmasters don't try to dethrone them, because maybe they do so and suddenly humans could become prey in a new Pangaea, for example. But if the scales are tipped 99.999% to edifying competition and 0.001% to predatory, its still a good enough win. I see that as a good reason to create the Orders, because free will can make a big enough change in the Phenomenal below to affect the Supernal above, since As Above, So Below. Its also a good reason for archmasters to seek ascension themselves, to reinforce the good symbols.

                The Abyss is just the anti-Symbol of the entire Supernal, its the Nominalism to the Supernal's Platonism, eliminating it would unmake all magic out of existence too.

                What this ultimately amounts to is that hope always exists. But is it hope for better or worse ? We see it as something positive, yet the Ancient Greeks saw it as negative (the last torment left in Pandora's Box). So which one is it ? I don't know, which interpretation of this symbol you impose on reality is up to your own skill and Wisdom, young magus.

                Of course, there is no official confirmation of any of this, its just the feel I get from how they use the inspiration material and how they present the themes of the setting.
                Last edited by KaiserAfini; 12-12-2018, 08:34 PM.


                New experiences are the font of creativity, when seeking inspiration, break your routine.

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                • #23
                  It's up to everyone's own interpretation, but I like to think the Exarchs are ultimately just 'avin a giggle.

                  Sure you could be a God-Symbol, ruling a stagnant, horribly boring enslaved world where everyone dances to your tune until you bore of them.

                  Or you could let some of them get a whiff of freedom, then set the ones who come crawling to your feet against the others, and sit back with the symbolic equivalent of a bucket of popcorn.

                  It's like a game show.
                  Some do so well they actually escape.
                  But even then they're still not really a threat to you, so you click on to the next season and laugh as another one dies choking on his own blood.

                  *edit*
                  But with regards to the thread question, yes the Exarchs play a similar role, but I think the Tetrarchs are probably a better comparison.
                  Last edited by HerbertIsBestBert; 12-12-2018, 07:19 PM.

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by KaiserAfini View Post

                    I always thought the reason the Exarchs couldn't win is because you can only define something by defining its antithesis. So when you ascend into the throne of predatory competition, for example, you automatically exalt the symbols of edifying competition. Its a package deal, you see, because the source code of the CofD is written in symbolism.

                    There is also a suggestion in Imperial Mysteries that the hermetic principal of As Above, So Below also applies. Meaning that since everything reflects everything else, its why big peripheral changes are caused by aphoneia when you manipulate a few Supernal symbols.

                    That also means you cannot truly beat the Exarchs without removing the symbols that place humanity as the center of reality or the ones that define freedom. But its also why they cannot truly win either. What anyone can do is tip the scales. Its why the Exarch keep growing their collection and why archmasters don't try to dethrone them, because maybe they do so and suddenly humans could become prey in a new Pangaea, for example. But if the scales are tipped 99.999% to edifying competition and 0.001% to predatory, its still a good enough win. I see that as a good reason to create the Orders, because free will can make a big enough change in the Phenomenal below to affect the Supernal above, since As Above, So Below. Its also a good reason for archmasters to seek ascension themselves, to reinforce the good symbols.

                    The Abyss is just the anti-Symbol of the entire Supernal, its the Nominalism to the Supernal's Platonism, eliminating it would unmake all magic out of existence too.

                    What this ultimately amounts to is that hope always exists. But is it hope for better or worse ? We see it as something positive, yet the Ancient Greeks saw it as negative (the last torment left in Pandora's Box). So which one is it ? I don't know, which interpretation of this symbol you impose on reality is up to your own skill and Wisdom, young magus.

                    Of course, there is no official confirmation of any of this, its just the feel I get from how they use the inspiration material and how they present the themes of the setting.
                    what fun counter arguements! I would have to give it a lot more thought but, for the moment the thing I'd first wanna answer would be if humans SHOULD be so important. Maybe I should make its own topic sometime.

                    Thanks!

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                    • #25
                      Thanks for all of the input, I am glad that this topic got lots of traction. I am hoping that the upcoming Night Horrors book for Mage might shed some light on the Exarchs and their minions.

                      Lets take a step down a bit. Even though the Exarchs are theoretical enemies that you will never face since they are up in the heavens, how about their minions the Tetrarchs who are also Archmages and Masters and are more hands on with their dealings of the fallen world. These guys can theoretically be considered the Methuselahs of the Awakened world. What havoc can they wreck if they wanted to? I wonder if they are going to make an Imperial Mysteries for the 2nd edition which would cover the powers of Archmages.

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                      • #26
                        If they are it’s not going to be for some time, arch masters typically exist in the real if plot devices.

                        As the corporate body of the Exarchs in the Fallen the Tetrarchs are pretty much as powerful as their masters as far as the regular Mage is concerned. The fact that they do exist in the Fallen though leaves them even more open to being foiled, and their level of control isn’t quite so subtle.

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                        • #27
                          Originally posted by maryshelly View Post
                          Thanks for all of the input, I am glad that this topic got lots of traction. I am hoping that the upcoming Night Horrors book for Mage might shed some light on the Exarchs and their minions.

                          Lets take a step down a bit. Even though the Exarchs are theoretical enemies that you will never face since they are up in the heavens, how about their minions the Tetrarchs who are also Archmages and Masters and are more hands on with their dealings of the fallen world. These guys can theoretically be considered the Methuselahs of the Awakened world. What havoc can they wreck if they wanted to? I wonder if they are going to make an Imperial Mysteries for the 2nd edition which would cover the powers of Archmages.

                          In the strictest interpretation of the Pax Arcana, none. They should not hold any position in any Order, should not antagonize any of the big fish (Luna, the chtonic gods, the True Fae, etc). The only exception is when pursuing Ascension, then you get a free pass to do whatever you need to seal your omens without the other archmasters undoing your work or leveraging punishment upon you. But in practice its never that simple.

                          Thetrarchs and Exemplars are the most likely to have connections to the Orders/Seers, especially in high stations on the Silver Ladder or Ministries, who stretch the notion to "if you didn't use any Imperial spells and don't let others know you are an archmage, its not a breach". So to put it into VTM terms, they are also heavy adherents of the unofficial 7th Tradition: "Don't get caught" (probably many of the other archs, but those two factions are the most likely).

                          Thetrachs also inherit the supernal chantries of "expired" or Ascended peers, so they have greater resources, staff and maybe even artifacts from the get go. Also don't forget each of them can build entire organizations that can be just as effective as the Seers. Maybe one is behind the Cheiron Group, or Task Force Valkyrie or even have their own custom organization. These are mages who could build their own Pentex or have enough resources to make the Camarilla Inner Circle cower in fear. If players face them directly, they will get curbstomped. The Pax also means that they need to act more discreetly lest a rival sponsoring your cabal exposes them. Some are content to push the agenda of the Ministries, other keep especially potent Bound from escaping and other are working on obscure goals for the Supernal Tyrants. For example, lets say that the Greek interpretation of Egyptian gods (interpretation graeca) ended up creating a synthesis or Rhea and Nut in the Astral, one who is very sympathetic to humanity. This spirit has the power to create a post scarcity society if she was left alone. So now the Thetrarch cannot eliminate her (the source godesses are too well known to be forgotten) and he has to figure out how to corrupt, weaponize or restrict her from being free to help the Free Council, for example.

                          There is also the angle of resenting the Exarch. By this point in their careers, they have climbed past the very top of the Iron Pyramid, commited acts of hubris that would scar them deeply, had everything they cared about be brought into the line of fire, they were brought to the Exarchial palaces to have a harrowing Threshold seeking and are expected to keep serving with the same "diligence". So they may be looking for a way out, but they are too deep into this rotten organization to quit. Or they may realize this and wish to sabotage the Exarchs, or Ascend on their terms and usurp the Iron Thrones
                          Last edited by KaiserAfini; 12-15-2018, 08:15 PM.


                          New experiences are the font of creativity, when seeking inspiration, break your routine.

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                          • #28
                            Another thing is that Tetrarchs can be ancient but dont have to be. One that is natural 40 something is possible. They caaan be old, but, a fairly young one who literally is *young* by vampire standards is possible.

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                            • #29
                              These guys can theoretically be considered the Methuselahs of the Awakened world. What havoc can they wreck if they wanted to?
                              Have you read Imperial Mysteries? Seriously, the route to Ascension for the archmasters is to rewrite reality.

                              Originally posted by maryshelly View Post
                              I wonder if they are going to make an Imperial Mysteries for the 2nd edition which would cover the powers of Archmages.
                              I doubt it. Whilst IM is an interesting book, it's almost a different game unto itself and really irrelevant for almost all games of mage.


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                              • #30
                                Specifically, Archmasters fall into a wordcount gap - they're too complicated to handle in a single chapter of another book, but not complicated (or interesting) enough to have a full-sized book all to themselves. Which is why they were both a dead cert when CCP wanted really short softback books with an option of dividing them up further, and also why it took until that direction decision for the lines before they appeared.

                                With the corebook and Signs of Sorcery, there's more 2e material about them than there was in 1e circa Tome of the Mysteries, when they were first described.


                                Dave Brookshaw

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