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  • Divis Mal, what's his deal?

    Okay so could someone give me a thorough as Hell Run Down on the whole Divis Mal secret history thing?


    It is a time for great deeds!

  • #2
    Divas Mal, i believe, is considered one of the worlds 1st Novas. He was Doctor Primoris in the Adventure! setting. He believes that he and all Nova kind are above humanity and therefore above humanity's rules. which is why he wrote the Null Manifesto. What it boils down to is that he's an angry gay guy with a god complex.


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    • #3
      Michael Donighal is presumably the first nova, yes, going back as far as the early 20th century. He was part of the original Aeon Society, which would in the Aberrant setting almost a century later found Project Utopia. He left Aeon sometime around World War 2 due to ideological differences: He wanted them to use their abilities to intervene in the world and steer the course of human history for the better. Maxwell Mercer, the founder of the Aeon Society and the guy he kinda had a crush on, had the opposite stance and believed they should limit themselves to inhibiting the influence of people like themselves so that humanity would be allowed to grow at its own pace.

      So when this became incredibly relevant, that is when World War 2 broke out, things went... poorly. We're not sure how much each side knew about the conflict (though with Maxwell Mercer being a time traveler, I'm personally convinced he knew about the Holocaust and chose to let it happen anyway because he thought it was a necessary event). After this little fight, Doctor Primoris (as he'd been calling himself at the time) disappears from history.

      He then reappears half a century later calling himself Divis Mal and, when novas first begin to erupt in large numbers he creates an ideological movement declaring that novas are a separate species from humanity and that they cannot be governed by human law. He has spent his isolation creating an entire transhumanist philosophy to go along with this.

      It ends badly, as it is one of the contributing factors to the Aberrant War. He disappears from history entirely after this event, and we never hear from him again. Some sources claim he eventually left our universe altogether.
      Last edited by Aiden; 04-01-2014, 01:23 PM.


      Revlid wrote:
      Yes, hollowing out your humanity to become an utterly utilitarian asura is the exact suggestion I would expect from you, Aiden.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Aiden View Post
        Michael Donighal is presumably the first nova, yes, going back as far as the early 20th century. He was part of the original Aeon Society, which would in the Aberrant setting almost a century later found Project Utopia. He left Utopia sometime around World War 2 due to ideological differences: He wanted them to use their abilities to intervene in the world and steer the course of human history for the better. Maxwell Mercer, the founder of the Aeon Society and the guy he kinda had a crush on, had the opposite stance and believed they should limit themselves to inhibiting the influence of people like themselves so that humanity would be allowed to grow at its own pace.

        So when this became incredibly relevant, that is when World War 2 broke out, things went... poorly. We're not sure how much each side knew about the conflict (though with Maxwell Mercer being a time traveler, I'm personally convinced he knew about the Holocaust and chose to let it happen anyway because he thought it was a necessary event). After this little fight, Doctor Primoris (as he'd been calling himself at the time) disappears from history.

        He then reappears half a century later calling himself Divis Mal and, when novas first begin to erupt in large numbers he creates an ideological movement declaring that novas are a separate species from humanity and that they cannot be governed by human law. He has spent his isolation creating an entire transhumanist philosophy to go along with this.

        It ends badly, as it is one of the contributing factors to the Aberrant War. He disappears from history entirely after this event, and we never hear from him again. Some sources claim he eventually left our universe altogether.
        Don't forget that he was the one that caused the spike in eruptions due to the Galatia (SP) explosion.


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        • #5
          Originally posted by Aiden View Post
          Michael Donighal is presumably the first nova, yes, going back as far as the early 20th century. He was part of the original Aeon Society, which would in the Aberrant setting almost a century later found Project Utopia. He left Aeon sometime around World War 2 due to ideological differences: He wanted them to use their abilities to intervene in the world and steer the course of human history for the better. Maxwell Mercer, the founder of the Aeon Society and the guy he kinda had a crush on, had the opposite stance and believed they should limit themselves to inhibiting the influence of people like themselves so that humanity would be allowed to grow at its own pace.

          So when this became incredibly relevant, that is when World War 2 broke out, things went... poorly. We're not sure how much each side knew about the conflict (though with Maxwell Mercer being a time traveler, I'm personally convinced he knew about the Holocaust and chose to let it happen anyway because he thought it was a necessary event). After this little fight, Doctor Primoris (as he'd been calling himself at the time) disappears from history.

          He then reappears half a century later calling himself Divis Mal and, when novas first begin to erupt in large numbers he creates an ideological movement declaring that novas are a separate species from humanity and that they cannot be governed by human law. He has spent his isolation creating an entire transhumanist philosophy to go along with this.

          It ends badly, as it is one of the contributing factors to the Aberrant War. He disappears from history entirely after this event, and we never hear from him again. Some sources claim he eventually left our universe altogether.
          This, right here. Michael Donighal is an extremely complex individual. In the early 1900s, Michael erupted as a nova due to the Hammersmith Incident, and was one of the founding members of the Aeon Society. The sheer magnitude of his Inspiration, both physical and in bearing, was incredible compared to his fellow Inspired -- he underwent a transformation so drastic that even friends by proxy (such as Whitley Styles, a charge of Maxwell Mercer) could hardly recognize him afterwards.

          Michael was certainly a close friend of Maxwell; and yes, it is strongly suggested that he held an unrequited love for Maxwell. He held Maxwell in high regard; in Michael's personal journals, he makes it clear that he and Maxwell have more than one strong ideological disagreements, and frequently encouraged (and ethically debated with) Maxwell in order to determine which of their ideologies was the most sound and appropriate. Regardless of these differences, though, Michael swore "[He] would stand by [Maxwell], whichever path [Maxwell] choose[s]". For twenty years, he kept to his word; he offered a dissenting view for the Aeon Society, one of practicality and uncomfortable truths to play devil's advocate to their unrealistic and overly-optimistic ideas. It is worth noting, however, that Michael spent these twenty years constantly hoping that his friends were right, and they could prove him wrong.

          When imagining what the Aeon Society should be (or at least, what he BELIEVED it should be), Michael seemed conflicted. It is obvious that he wanted the Aeon Society to take a very public and forward role in guiding humanity's future -- he says as much quite clearly in a letter to Maxwell Mercer. However, his personal journals also express a sense of horror and guilt when discovering that "so many men and women without [Michael's] advantages" (such as being a nova) attempted to follow his example and 'save the world' in the manner of himself and his more capable associates -- his horror and guilt comes from the fact that the vast majority of those people died horribly in the attempt to emulate Michael's abilities. In laying out his suggested plans for the Aeon Society, Michael seems to imply that he wants to turn it into a "city upon a hill", one that will guide humanity by example and direction; however, he seems to desire that an obvious distinction will be drawn between the Inspired individuals within the Aeon Society and the rest of humanity. He wants it be, "Look at us, observe our capabilities, and let us lead you into tomorrow; but do not pretend to be like us, because you will hurt yourselves in the process. Let us take that burden for you."

          Maxwell expresses a counter idea, suggesting that such action could be toxic for humanity in the long run. He believes that remaining behind the scenes is best; instead of telling humanity where to step, they should instead simply be there to pick them up when they stumble. His exact words are prophetic: "You ask to stunt society's growth. The future will bring what the future brings. Humanity must remain free to develop in its own way. The times ahead will be hard, but humanity will recover. The near future may be grim, but the far future brings wonders neither of us have yet imagined. If we seize history's reins, we will cripple humanity. What of human ambition when gods walk among men?" (Emphasis added)

          And Michael listens. He disagrees, but out of respect for his friend's ideals, he walks side-by-side with him. During the Second World War, those disagreements blossom and spiral out of control, resulting in some kind of fight between Michael and the rest of the Aeon Society. Details are intentionally vague, leaving it open to the Storytellers to individually decide what happens. Personally, I ran it such that witnessing Annabelle Lee Newfield's death (a young member of the Aeon Society who, like Michael did with Maxwell, held an unrequited love for Michael) was too much for him. His psyche, already strained from the humanitarian horrors of World War II, snapped, and he suffered a psychotic break. He attempted to forcibly take hold of the reigns of society to stop the bloodshed and violence, and in the process his means of doing so prompted the Aeon Society to intervene.

          Michael left, hid himself away, and gradually stitched his broken self back together. He assumed the named Divis Mal, and remained absent from world affairs for more than half a century. He was the one who began the Nova Age by initiating worldwide eruptions in 1998 (sources disagree on whether the Galatea explosion was a RESULT of his attempt, or the the INITIATING FACTOR of his attempt). After setting the spark of evolution, he sat back, and watched the world go by.

          And then Project Utopia got involved.

          Divis Mal's involvement in the creation of the Teragen is always a bit confusing, because we rarely hear his side of the story. Most often, it is told through the lens of N!'s talking heads, members of varying ideologies within the Teragen, and Project Utopia members. Is Divis Mal anti-baseline? Is he a nova supremacist? Does he believe that novas are inherently better than baselines, or that they are still human? Is he really suggesting that, because they are separate from baseline society, they are not bound by any of the legal or moral mores of that society?

          It's complicated, but think about it this way. View the entire thing -- from the 1920s to the 2000s -- from Michael Donighal's perspective. Maxwell Mercer is the man you love. You know he doesn't love you in return, but he does view you as one of his closest friends. This man is the man whom you respect more than any other person -- dead, alive, or yet to be born. When he vanished after the Hammersmith Incident, you refused to accept his death. You were willing to spend your entire personal fortune to engage in an almost year-long quest across the entire planet to find him, with no guarantee that he was still alive. You respect his views and vision to such an extent that, despite possibly being the most prideful individual on the planet, you set aside your personal qualms about his ideas and stood side-by-side with him till only your own emotional trauma tore you away from that man you love so much.

          And Project Utopia -- the child organization of the very group that your most respected loved one created -- shows up at the end of the 20th century. And their stated party line is the EXACT OPPOSITE of everything that the man you respected had stood for.

          Where Maxwell wanted subtlety, Project Utopia wants merchandizing.
          Where Maxwell wanted independence, Project Utopia wants everyone and everything to fall under their umbrella.
          Where Maxwell swore to never get involved where people did not want their involvement, Project Utopia forced themselves into every country and culture across the world.
          Where Maxwell understood the painful necessity of letting society make mistakes in order to learn from them, Project Utopia gleefully fixes any issue of baselines with nova abilities -- except they rarely correct the underlying cause, only the nasty effects of it, in order to create a shiny image that's good for the camera. Now, every society is being taught that "it's ok to screw up, because the novas will just fix it".
          And, most offensive of all, Project Utopia dresses their novas in matching suits. They put their image everywhere. They teach the whole world that novas are the end-all, be-all of humanity. They begin taking control of society's direction, and refuse any attempts to let humanity make decisions of their own. Is it any wonder, then, that Maxwell's words to Michael might have rung clear once more in his mind? "If we seize history's reins, we will cripple humanity. What of human ambition when gods walk among men?"

          With Maxwell nowhere to be found, the people he's left behind are utterly destroying EVERYTHING that you watched him sweat and toil and suffer and bleed to build. Your loved one, your respected teacher, your enlightened prophet of tomorrow, your embodiment of everything that humanity could hope to achieve, is slowly being destroyed under an unopposed march of easy-outs and someone-else's-problem solving.

          In response, a few years later, Michael proposes the philosophy that would become Teras. It is long, and it is eloquent, and it is embellished upon greatly by everyone who would hope to use it for their own ends. But what is at its core? What primary lesson does it try to get across?

          "We are no longer human, and we must no longer participate in human society. Instead, we must now chart our own path."

          Is it any surprise, then, that Michael suggests this philosophy in response to Project Utopia's statements? At this point, it's mostly conjecture, and I can't say this with the authority of "I'm quoting directly from the books", but I believe -- I FIRMLY believe -- that Michael is not doing this with the impetus of nova supremacy. He's personally witnessed the horrors of the Holocaust, you don't just forget that. Rather, I believe that he is trying his best to continue his loved one's legacy, using what he has and the position he holds. I believe that Michael created the Teragen with the intent (misguided, perhaps, with the benefit of hindsight) to encourage novas to separate themselves from baseline society -- NOT as a result of ideas of supremacy, but instead to give humanity the chance to progress on their own. To make their own mistakes, and not rely on novas to fix them and clean up. To make their own choices, and not be swayed (intentionally or otherwise) by the novas around them. To be able to happily pursue their own desires and lives and hopes and aspirations, without the oppressively omnipresent realization that no matter what they do, a nova can do it better.

          After all, what would happen to human ambition when gods walk among men?
          Last edited by lustral_star; 06-27-2014, 11:32 PM. Reason: Fixed an error Ian pointed out.

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          • #6
            Hmmm one mystery to is what Exactly is Divis Mal's powers? What was his power evolution? Why do people assume he left the universe? Is he present in Aeon? I remember it being theorized by some people that he became Malfeas in Exalted. :P


            It is a time for great deeds!

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            • #7
              Now, that is an impressive analysis of Divis Mal. It really makes the character seem more real to me, but it also seems to me that it conflicts strongly with my understanding of the things Divis Mal did, Atrocities associated with him performed by his own hand. But then again, I'm far from anything resembling an expert.

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              • #8
                Michael's powers are left vague -- they're essentially, "whatever the Storyteller needs him to have". In the 1920s, it was known that he possessed the ability to sense Telluric Energy; he could also track people down over large distances. He demonstrated supernatural grace, intelligence, and beauty. Many of his abilities appeared to cross the boundaries of mesmerists and stalwarts -- it seemed as though he could do it all.

                By the Nova Age, there are a few things that are either known or inferred:
                • He has a Quantum rating of 8
                • He has every Mega Attribute at a minimum of 3, and several at 5 (or more)
                • He has enough Mega-enhancements to accomplish just about whatever he needs to, given time and effort
                • He has:
                  • Armor
                  • Disrupt
                  • Immolate (plasma)
                  • Quantum Bolt (plasma)
                  • Elemental Anima (plasma)
                  • Elemental Mastery (plasma)
                  • Flight
                  • Hypermovement
                  • Disintegration
                  • etc, etc.
                The exact list, and really the only indication of his capabilities, is located on page 154 of the book Aberrant Worldwide, Phase I. It's strongly suggested that he has a way of hijacking global communications/radio waves, and he either constructed a device to initiate a surge of Quantum energy across the world or possess an innate ability (read: power) to do so.

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                • #9
                  Interesting so he had power set was very much like a Sun God or some such. Would it be fair to say his main powers were either enhanced intelligence or charisma?

                  And I take it he didn't age? Is that common with Novas?


                  It is a time for great deeds!

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                  • #10
                    To answer your other questions on why it's assumed he left the universe, the vast majority of that is fan speculation. I believe according to the unpublished (yet available online) Trinity Storyteller's Handbook, it makes a sidelong mention that Divis Mal left the universe when he realized how much his presence and actions had hurt people, and how badly he had f----d up. If he were doing this, mechanically, he could be doing one of two things.
                    • He's using a level 4 power, Crosstime Travel, in order to leave to an alternate timeline or a universe with very different physical laws
                    Or
                    • He's using a level 6 power, Create Universe, which does exactly what it says on the tin. Using this power, the new universe one creates may have any physical laws or concepts of reality that one may conceive. A nova's new universe is in no way constrained by the physical laws of the nova's originating universe.
                    As far as I know, there is no official mention that Michael/Divis Mal is associated with other White Wolf game lines and universes. What probably happened was that someone mentioned on a thread, saying "Hey, wouldn't it be [awesome/hilarious/cool] if Divis Mal used Create Universe to make [Exalted's Creation/The Old World of Darkness/The New World of Darkness/a universe filled with chocolate/a place where he was the only one who had arms/etc.]?"

                    This probably caught people's fancy, and it was repeated frequently enough as a fun fan theory that it is often "accepted" by fans as what happened.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Eldagusto View Post
                      Interesting so he had power set was very much like a Sun God or some such. Would it be fair to say his main powers were either enhanced intelligence or charisma?

                      And I take it he didn't age? Is that common with Novas?
                      His powers were less like a Sun God in a thematic or philosophical sense, and more like a literal star in a physical embodiment sense. Michael (as his namesake suggests) demonstrated many fire-related abilities, and his "quantum template" seemed focused on plasma and fire. He did not, however, enjoy the position of leading with ideology like a god; instead, he preferred rationalism and logic. And yes, he did not seem to age noticeably. Even the weakest nova has a life expectancy of 150 years; increasing levels of Mega Stamina can raise that to several thousand, and there is more than one Mega Enhancement which literally enables you to stop aging and live (barring accident or injury) forever.

                      His main powers were, perhaps, not his charisma -- though he is most well-known for his intelligence. Even before he erupted, Michael was brilliant.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Hark View Post
                        Now, that is an impressive analysis of Divis Mal. It really makes the character seem more real to me, but it also seems to me that it conflicts strongly with my understanding of the things Divis Mal did, Atrocities associated with him performed by his own hand. But then again, I'm far from anything resembling an expert.
                        This is another interesting foible. Yes, Divis Mal did things -- terrible things -- toward the end of the Nova Age. Startlingly, they conflict drastically with his own thoughts and ideas for the entire century prior. What the hell happened? What made him change so much, in such little time?

                        I've been running an Adventure!/Aberrant/Trinity game for almost two years, and a big part of it is that the characters were around at the very beginning. They've been with these NPCs since the very start, and they've seen Michael rise and fall. So, I had to come up with a reason for why such a noble person would wind up doing what he did. He not only allowed extreme elements within the Teragen to outright murder the more moderate and philosophical elements, he personally authorized the murder of Jeremiah Scripture, his lover and confidant for the past 50 years. How could his mind have changed so much?

                        We arrived at two conclusions. It's suggested that Divis Mal had his ethical about-face soon after leaving one of his (many) trips through Chrysalis.

                        The easiest explanation we came up with is that he botched his Chrysalis; something happened while he was in that comatose state, and his mind was left warped -- an inversion of what he believed he stood for. When he left Chrysalis, he was cruel, vindictive, and uncaringly ready for blood.

                        However, I felt that this was far too simplistic: why would the man who invented the process of Chrysalis have screwed it up so badly? I also felt that it took the responsibility of what happened to the world and pinned it on the chance of dice, a random event that has no emotion. It didn't tell a story.

                        So, I suggested an alternate theory: There is a man within the Teragen known as The Apostle. Long story short, he's an a--hole. He's a brown noser, a quantum-powered sycophant, and he's obsessed with Divis Mal. While Scripture views Divis Mal as a man (albeit a highly enlightened one), Apostle views Divis Mal as a literal god. The Apostle is also shown to be completely happy with straight-up betraying people; he's got a real Judas Complex. He betrays his own teacher, Caroline Fong, to Project Utopia when she's in Chrysalis. He mentally manipulates (using his quantum powers or just threatening) anyone to get his way, and if they won't budge, he just has them eliminated. It is stated in the description of Chrysalis, that it provides the nova with a fair amount of physical protection against attacks. However, it provides no protection for their mind. It also states that they are essentially comatose -- even if they have any awareness of the outside world at all, they're powerless to do anything about it. I proposed the theory that Apostle, tired of Scripture "having Divis Mal all to himself", and tired of Divis Mal not taking the hardline stance that Apostle constantly espouses, managed to find some way to manipulate Divis Mal while he was in Chrysalis. It wouldn't be impossible; do it slowly enough, over the years he was out, and telepathically change a memory here or an emotion there... by the time he was done, Divis Mal would have emerged from Chrysalis a complete changed man. He began to embody the ideas that he had earlier explicitly expressed hating, yet Apostle had mentioned them as being what Divis Mal needed to do. He coldly authorized Scripture's death, and the Apostle suddenly and strangely became his right-hand man.

                        I should point out that, while the individual elements were all there, this was a personal theory of my group, and is not by any means official. It places the events of the Aberrant War more closely on human (and nova) pride. It shows that Michael thought he was good enough, but his own pride on his incorruptibility led to his own downfall. It showcases something that I want my Aberrant game to express: No matter how much you want to, no matter how much you try, you can't change human nature. Only other people can change themselves. Michael thought he could, but he paid the price, and the people around him paid the price as well.

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                        • #13
                          The big source on the 'universe creation' thing was, for me at least, the Trinity Storytellers Handbook outline that was posted after the Trinity Universe lines were discontinued. http://rpgbooks.wikia.com/wiki/Trini...llers_Handbook the whole thing can be found here.

                          The specific sidebar I'm referring to can be found in this section: http://rpgbooks.wikia.com/wiki/Trini...y#Future_Fates


                          Revlid wrote:
                          Yes, hollowing out your humanity to become an utterly utilitarian asura is the exact suggestion I would expect from you, Aiden.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Ah! There it is!

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                            • #15
                              Of course, we're probably never going to get official commentary on this stuff from the writers. So, fan theories AWAAAY!

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