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In your opinion is Mage too attached to real life politics??

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  • In your opinion is Mage too attached to real life politics??

    For the record, i am NOT referring to things like gender, race, sexuality, etc, at least for the purpose of this thread . I am not even necessarily talking about M20 per se. Rather, i am talking about the very way the game is structured.


    For instance, what is the single most hated tradition in Mage? Not by players, but rather "which one has a lot of bad things written about it"
    I think the answer is, obviously, the Order of Hermes. My issue is not, for instance, that the order has politics, or is hypocritical, or evil or whatever. What bothers me is that all of this is presented
    from a very OOC perspective. Read guide to the sabbat , to the Camarilla, the Dharma books, or whatever. You will always find the group in question representing itself, so to speak, along with
    some more neutral, cold, "clinical" input from the writer.

    Should you own the books, please just read some literally random pages from " clanbook Tremere revised" and Order of hermes Revised, to mention just one of a myriad of examples spread through countless books.
    It is as if i am reading a history pamphlet written by either the Hollow Ones, or at the very least, the most reform-minded in the Order. In essence, they are portrayed as bumbling idiots with the word "pride" given as a justification.

    Now, there are 2 possibilities here. 1) the writers hate Hermeticism as a concept. I think this one can be safely discounted.
    2) The order represents all the RL things hated by the writers It all but screams
    "This is the Washington/Democratic establishment. These are the people representing the bad history of western civilization "
    Note: whether or not this is true is besides the point. The main issue is that they are presented as such even from their own freaking perspective. Last i checked, the Republican party Platform,
    was written by the actual Party, right?

    I focused on the order, because it is, in my opinion. the easiest example to analyze, but you can see this, to a lesser or greater extend, with the other Traditions, albeit with more subtlety
    That is, in general, the more sympathy the writers have towards any particular group, the more positively it will actually be presented even from an IC perspective. In short, the more the
    people representing the "establishment"* hate, say, the Euthanatoi , the more you know that they will actually get a very good portrayal. (which is not necessarily a bad thing, depending on
    how it manifests in the writing, mind you).

    *Establishment here meaning the people that your mage is supposed to be railing against. Yes, it's not explicitly stated, and i suppose i could be wrong, but i think that it short of is, in a "taken for granted" kind of way, in a fashion that i do not see in, say, Vampire, which does not take for granted your character's ideology in relation to his Sect.


    This whole situation reminds me of a DnD joke "All drow characters are rebels against their evil kind...which no one ever actually sees."
    Except that in DnD this seems accidental( player choice), rather than the way it is presented.

    This would also lead to the question of whether or not mages should be represented as more amoral, on average, but i would probably be threadjacking my own thread, lol







  • #2
    Wouldn't know really, my overall perception of the Order of Hermes, Tremere origins and middle ages WoD is more strongly colored by Ars Magica and some small references in 1st ed. books than anything connected to 2nd ed, Ascension, Dark Ages or - gods forbid - Sorcerer's Crusade.

    The moment some genius decided tried to throw that "Doissetep began as an Akashic center somewhere in Asia" angle back in the original Book of Chantries, i decided that any and all Ascension lore from that point onwards should be taken with a roman legionary's whole monthly pay of salt.


    In fact in my own chronicles/personal headcanon i make an active point of considering DA:V and Sorcerer's Crusade settings as NOT really parts of the true actual past of WoD at all but a weird spirit/dream realm derived from a sub-section of the Malkavians' Cobweb and an alternate timeline generated by massive Time Paradox, respectively.
    Last edited by Baaldam; 03-06-2023, 09:31 AM.

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    • #3
      Oh absolutely. It's necessary to remember that all those games were created in the 90's, and with that era mentality. Werewolf the Apocalypse is the most 90's environmentalist fantasy of "revenge of mother nature". Vampire is a cynical view of the elites, and Mage is absolutely a criticism against the government, but not just any government, it's against the US government and upon which every possible conspiracy theories are driven into overdrive. Funny how the game didnt took the same consideration in criticizing the communist dictatorships of the USSR or China thou, who were 10.000 times worse and are comparable to Nazi Germany heh?

      Those 3 games (as well as Changelling and Wraith as well) are horror games (personal horror), and as horror games, each is based in some kinds of fears. Good horror stories always deal with some of our fears. Werewolf for instance deals with fear of nature, obviously, which is one of our most basic fears, but also fear of disease and fear of filthy (the whole fomori thing is based on our fears of filthy and diseases, which are closely connected). Vampire deals with fear of death and fear of blood (blood is also connected to death, and is also a very basic fear we have). Wraith deals with the fear of death obviously, as well as fear of the unknown, but Mage is interesting because while it does deal with the fear of the unknown - which is a basic fear for little scared monkeys as us humans - the central theme and the focal point of the fear is another: it is the fear of the government.

      Mage deals with the fear we all have of being waked up in the middle of the night by masked men dragging us out of our homes and disappearing forever. That's a particularly important fear in the West, exactly because we enjoy some degree of freedom, and therefore we are afraid to lose it, while in countries like Russia or China people simply shut their mouths and obey exactly for being afraid.

      So yes, those games are definitely too political, although way too simplistic in their worldviews

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      • #4
        thin of it this way. one of the central tenets of the game's settings is that if enough people believe in something,it becomes true. keeping that in mind,how could it not be poliitical?
        Last edited by Nicolas Milioni; 03-06-2023, 12:01 PM.

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        • #5
          To be fair mage has been really rough to the order of hermes.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Ragged Robin View Post
            To be fair mage has been really rough to the order of hermes.
            I'm speculating of course, but maybe the way they wrote the Order of Hermes was a preventive measure to avoid accusations of favoritism. They caught a lot of that with the Tremere.

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            • #7
              The writers hate Hermeticism as a concept
              You say that this can be safely discounted but, I'm not so sure. I wonder how much did Brucato set as a precedent for that kind of thing. Brucato being infamous for being anti-structure and anti-modernization, so I wouldn't put it past that Brucato, maybe unintentionally, wrote hatred of Hermeticism into the system.​

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Kakost View Post
                Oh absolutely. It's necessary to remember that all those games were created in the 90's, and with that era mentality. Werewolf the Apocalypse is the most 90's environmentalist fantasy of "revenge of mother nature". Vampire is a cynical view of the elites, and Mage is absolutely a criticism against the government, but not just any government, it's against the US government and upon which every possible conspiracy theories are driven into overdrive. Funny how the game didnt took the same consideration in criticizing the communist dictatorships of the USSR or China thou, who were 10.000 times worse and are comparable to Nazi Germany heh?

                Those 3 games (as well as Changelling and Wraith as well) are horror games (personal horror), and as horror games, each is based in some kinds of fears. Good horror stories always deal with some of our fears. Werewolf for instance deals with fear of nature, obviously, which is one of our most basic fears, but also fear of disease and fear of filthy (the whole fomori thing is based on our fears of filthy and diseases, which are closely connected). Vampire deals with fear of death and fear of blood (blood is also connected to death, and is also a very basic fear we have). Wraith deals with the fear of death obviously, as well as fear of the unknown, but Mage is interesting because while it does deal with the fear of the unknown - which is a basic fear for little scared monkeys as us humans - the central theme and the focal point of the fear is another: it is the fear of the government.

                Mage deals with the fear we all have of being waked up in the middle of the night by masked men dragging us out of our homes and disappearing forever. That's a particularly important fear in the West, exactly because we enjoy some degree of freedom, and therefore we are afraid to lose it, while in countries like Russia or China people simply shut their mouths and obey exactly for being afraid.

                So yes, those games are definitely too political, although way too simplistic in their worldviews

                Vampire may be a cynical view of elites, but it is presented from a very cold and detached perspective. That is, it seems to be realistic in its portrayal of how power works, albeit heavily
                exaggerated by the realities of being a vampire(such as the fact that your bosses will never retire). Had it been written like mage, however, it would have basically said "here's how your anarch players can change things, because of course you will be an anarch"

                For instance, i have to admire whomsoever wrote "guide to the sabbat". You can sort of see his personal disgust at sabbat behavior, but he still presented them from their own perspective.
                These are the Sabbat. This is what they believe. Now here's some OOC commentary to make you see past the propaganda. The same is true for literally every splatbook and "clan" book i have ever read on every gameline .
                Basically, it is subtle. Sort of like a poem that 10 different students can interpret however they like, even if, technically, the writer did mean one single "thing"

                Except for mage! In mage, the only traditions that get this nuanced treatment are those that the writers tend to like on a personal real life level, or even better, those that they neither like nor dislike.
                For instance, the aforementioned OOH can easily be seen as representing white entitlement, western elitism, imperialism, some level of racism etc. All of these things are true, but all their chapters
                are written from someone who, to put it mildly, is not the order's golden boy
                In essence, when playing werewolf, i get the impression that a werewolf is talking to my character
                When reading Order of Hermes revised, i get the impression that the writer is telling me his politics in an extremely crude sort of way
                Vampire will tell you "here's what the elders did" Mage will tell you "Here's what the shitlords masters who rule us did"
                In Vampire you see the opinions of Vampires. In mage you see the RL opinions of writers explicitly written
                Take, for instance Clanbook Lasombra. Does anyone actually believe that the writer was a social darwinist??? I sincerely doubt it.
                Imagine how it would look like had it been written in the way that mage is.
                Again, it's not just the Order that gets this treatment. It is simply the most obvious example.
                When i see the mages 90s establishment, i literally see the Bill Clinton administration. When i see it collapse, i can short of hear the writer wishing that it happens in real life.
                Whether or not this should have happened is besides the point. The point is that any and all subtlety is missing

                By the way, even werewolf was a lot more nuanced, for the most part, than mage. Things were presented from an actual werewolf perspective. From what i recall tribebook red talons contained
                opinions about humanity that were downright genocidal. And yet, SOME effort was taken to present them from their own POV
                Book of the weaver basically says you "would it not be nice if the weak were culled and left to die"?
                These are not the writer's own opinions. It is supposed to acclimate you into playing a garou while also filling you, the player, with horror due to the knowledge that your fomori slashing hero
                probably believes things that would mean some very unfortunate implications about you, personally.
                Mages lacks a filter. Perhaps this is the word i am looking for.




                Again, i am not against mentioning things like racism, homophobia, etc This is an entirely separate thing. Although, even there, i would argue that they are presented from an extremely simplistic and historically wrong perspective.
                For instance, modern day racism is a relatively recent thing. Europeans did not participate (en masse, anyway,) in the African slave trade until the 16 century. The Americas were "discovered"
                decades after the council was formed. And yet, supposedly the mages were ahead of their time in being racist to the dreamspeakers. Fuck, apparently they even chose their name for them.(at least i think this is what m20 implies. I could be wrong)
                Because that's what you do if you gain leverage over someone. You use it to choose their name.
                And remember, that you had centuries old masters who were used to a feudal medieval perspective. Quite "progressive" of them to be more racist than even the sleepers of the time were.
                Also, apparently, in 1750 half the native americans left the council because some hermetic decided to be bad against them. Like, it is so cartoonishly simple, and ironically enough, racist, implying that this is how politics work. Hint : they don't.
                It's one thing to say that mages are not immune to racism. It is another, entirely, to imply that they are driven by it to such a monomaniacal extend.



                Originally posted by MrNatas View Post

                You say that this can be safely discounted but, I'm not so sure. I wonder how much did Brucato set as a precedent for that kind of thing. Brucato being infamous for being anti-structure and anti-modernization, so I wouldn't put it past that Brucato, maybe unintentionally, wrote hatred of Hermeticism into the system.​

                If i am not mistaken, and i could be, wicca takes a lot from Hermetic believes. That is, i doubt any of the writers hate, say, neoplatonism or the spiritual aspects
                of Alchemy,

                Originally posted by voidshaper View Post

                I'm speculating of course, but maybe the way they wrote the Order of Hermes was a preventive measure to avoid accusations of favoritism. They caught a lot of that with the Tremere.
                ​I assume you are referring to the fact that the Tremere signature character has nearly enough discipline dots to start tanking methuselahs? lol.

                The thing is that because the OoH is a relatively secular organization, as well as very well organized, it makes perfect sense to portray them as more corrupt
                than average. Its easy to avoid politicos when you have literally zero internal hierarchy, after all. This is not the issue. The issue is that everything about the order, and the traditions in general, was written by

                Mark Hallward Gillan is a mage and the signature character of the Order of Hermes. Much information is missing or hidden from Mark’s past, but the high points are well-known among the Traditions. Mark was in the US military in his late teens, and through the study of Aleister Crowley's Golden Dawn and its brand of Hermeticism, he was brought to the attention of the Order of Hermes. Mark eventually parted ways with the military, due to his questioning of authority, and was offered an invitation t


                this guy. Lol. As well as his fellow in-tradition progressives. (again, i know i am repeating myself a lot, but i am NOT talking about things like gender, race, etc
                After all, i imagine even corrupt Caeron Mustai was probably not a member of the local evangelical church trying to undo voting rights, lol
                The same goes about the Traditions in general. Imagine if there was a pro elders party and an anti elders party.
                In Vampire, it is not presumed that you will choose one or the other. You may go anarch, autarkis, fucking inconnu(long shot but whatever), sabbat, or you may pay your dues and one day fill the elder's shoes. It will merely cost you everything you once were.

                In mage, it is kinda presumed that you are a member of the anti-elders party, unless you really, really want otherwise, and you really shouldn't

                Last edited by mark; 03-06-2023, 01:59 PM.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by mark View Post
                  If i am not mistaken, and i could be, wicca takes a lot from Hermetic believes. That is, i doubt any of the writers hate, say, neoplatonism or the spiritual aspects
                  of Alchemy,
                  I wouldn't say that is wrong but, if my understanding of Brucato is correct I also would say it doesn't matter. Without getting to much into the weeds, Brucato whole thing is more about the liberation people through the returning to nature basically. So regardless of what wicca takes influence from, if its not doing sex magic in the woods while worshipping the Mother Goddess then it might be looked down on.​

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by mark View Post
                    In mage, it is kinda presumed that you are a member of the anti-elders party, unless you really, really want otherwise, and you really shouldn't
                    Yes, and this is very well represented by one quote of Porthos from one of the oldest books of Mage (I think it's the oldest novel?), the Fragile Path:
                    "Vitality is siphoned from us with age. Even if we slow the advance within our bodies, we cannot keep the weight from our enlightened minds. The more we see, the more we think we know. The more we believe we understand, the more set in our ways we become, and the more we limit our potential. Thus, youth is the flame that ignites the future. Power is merely polish on blunted blades"
                    And can be seen trought such things as the numerous, numerous, instances of repeating that ascencion isn't about power, and that Spheres are a trap of sorts. The one character that I know that supposedly Ascenced, was a very young mage. And I don't know any Master+ that's described as Ascended

                    This one may be one of the few themes ALL of Ascencion agrees on.

                    But I'm not sure how this theme being so important enters into real-life politics, or more sprcificly, I'm not convinced that it's a direct consequence of Mage being more politicaly loaded than Vampire. Rather, the premise it's less Gothic:

                    In Vampire you can chose to be Anarch, but really the war of the ages it's untenable: You *know* that the Elders are going to win. Even if your character has hope and plans a lot, and manages to succeed many times, you *know* that hope ends with Gehena, with the Antediluvians awakening, and there's less than a hail mary chance of stopping this.

                    In Mage the idea it's more like you actually *can* win the war of the ages. Power it's less constrained by age, some of the strongest of the old guys are actually on your side, etc...(then Revised came, and practically won the "war" for u :P)
                    Last edited by Aleph; 03-06-2023, 03:25 PM.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Aleph View Post

                      Yes, and this is very well represented by one quote of Porthos from one of the oldest books of Mage (I think it's the oldest novel?), the Fragile Path:
                      "Vitality is siphoned from us with age. Even if we slow the advance within our bodies, we cannot keep the weight from our enlightened minds. The more we see, the more we think we know. The more we believe we understand, the more set in our ways we become, and the more we limit our potential. Thus, youth is the flame that ignites the future. Power is merely polish on blunted blades"
                      And can be seen trought such things as the numerous, numerous, instances of repeating that ascencion isn't about power, and that Spheres are a trap of sorts. The one character that I know that supposedly Ascenced, was a very young mage. And I don't know any Master+ that's described as Ascended

                      This one may be one of the few themes ALL of Ascencion agrees on.

                      But I'm not sure how this theme being so important enters into real-life politics, or more sprcificly, I'm not convinced that it's a direct consequence of Mage being more politicaly loaded than Vampire. Rather, the premise it's less Gothic:

                      In Vampire you can chose to be Anarch, but really the war of the ages it's untenable: You *know* that the Elders are going to win. Even if your character has hope and plans a lot, and manages to succeed many times, you *know* that hope ends with Gehena, with the Antediluvians awakening, and there's less than a hail mary chance of stopping this.

                      In Mage the idea it's more like you actually *can* win the war of the ages. Power it's less constrained by age, some of the strongest of the old guys are actually on your side, etc...(then Revised came, and practically won the "war" for u :P)
                      In retrospect, i should have given a different name to this thread. I meant it in the sense of " Do the RL politics of the writers affect the way the actual traditions are presented, based on whether or not the groups represent something that the writer(s) hate in a way that is simply not there in any other gameline?" So i guess the fault is mine for not clarifying it.
                      If you need any comfirmation, go read say. the order of hermes books and compare them with,say, the euthanatos or dreamspeakers books.

                      Yes, ascension is not about power. But this says nothing about the way the books are written

                      Take clanbook Nosferatu for instance. Now imagine if it was ALL said from the perspective of a Cleopatra embraced like 5 months ago. Then the same Cleopatra also wrote like literally everything Nosferatu and Camarilla related in Vampire.

                      And this, is exactly how the establishment is presented.


                      Think of Transcendence in wraith the oblivion. Actually, some mage books literally imply its the same thing
                      You are not going to transcend by climbing the Hierarchy's ranks, but damn it, it's still an option. That is, the Hierarchy is (unless i am remembering it wrong), written from the Hierarchy's own perspective plus some neutral anti-propaganda commentary by the writers as well as dissending opinions




                      EDIT. Just to clarify I am not implying that the relationship between elder mates and younger ones need be as antagonistic as they are in vampire. The reasons for this conflict are simply not there. Quite the opposite in fact. It's part of the reason I do not quite find things like the horizon
                      war as particularly plausible. A bad copy of vampires elder
                      Neonate conflict if you ask me
                      Last edited by mark; 03-06-2023, 04:31 PM.

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                      • #12
                        Nope. I think one can argue that early Mage ran the risk of charicature, and that is a thing that casts a shadow over the entire franchise, but on the whole, the attachment to politics is one of the things that makes it richer and stronger.


                        Kelly R.S. Steele, Freelance Writer(Feel free to call me Kelly, Arcane, or Arc)
                        The world is not beautiful, therefore it is.-Keiichi Sigsawa, Kino's Journey
                        Feminine pronouns, please.

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by ArcaneArts View Post
                          Nope. I think one can argue that early Mage ran the risk of charicature, and that is a thing that casts a shadow over the entire franchise, but on the whole, the attachment to politics is one of the things that makes it richer and stronger.
                          In retrospect, I regret naming the thread as I did, but I believe
                          I clarified I was not referring to things like race, gender, sexuality, etc. Mages are less divorced from normal humans than vampires so it kinda makes sense. I do have an issue with the crude way they are presented, but the main subject is the "style" the books are written.



                          For the record I am gay, kinda androgynous looking and a bit neuroatypical, so I assure you this thread is NOT meant to be
                          a stealthy way of saying that I hate gays

                          Perhaps there is some better way for me to articulate my points, but if so I can not think of any

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by mark View Post

                            In retrospect, I regret naming the thread as I did, but I believe
                            I clarified I was not referring to things like race, gender, sexuality, etc. Mages are less divorced from normal humans than vampires so it kinda makes sense. I do have an issue with the crude way they are presented, but the main subject is the "style" the books are written.



                            For the record I am gay, kinda androgynous looking and a bit neuroatypical, so I assure you this thread is NOT meant to be
                            a stealthy way of saying that I hate gays

                            Perhaps there is some better way for me to articulate my points, but if so I can not think of any
                            I didn't say anything about that?


                            Kelly R.S. Steele, Freelance Writer(Feel free to call me Kelly, Arcane, or Arc)
                            The world is not beautiful, therefore it is.-Keiichi Sigsawa, Kino's Journey
                            Feminine pronouns, please.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by ArcaneArts View Post

                              I didn't say anything about that?
                              A misunderstanding on my part then.

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