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Folding the Technocratic variants into the regular Spheres

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  • Folding the Technocratic variants into the regular Spheres

    In M20, we are given three optional Sphere variants to be used by individual Conventions in the Technocracy that are tailored to better represent the typical Focus of that Convention: Data (an NWO-biased variant of Correspondence), Dimensional Science (a VE-biased variant of Spirit), and Primal Utility (a Syndicate-biased variant of Prime). Elsewhere, I've explored the possibility of expanding on the notion of variant Spheres, or of restructuring the Union's understanding of the Spheres so that the variants stand on their own. Here, I'd like to go the other way and explore the possibility of doing away with the variants altogether, approaching the distinctions entirely in terms of differences in Focus. What gets lost in doing so, and how might it be recovered?

    Prime and Primal Utility
    Primal Utility does two things better than Prime: making Wonders (Primal Utility can create permanent Wonders at three dots instead of four), and accessing Primal Ventures (Prime can't access Primal Ventures at all). Conversely, Primal Utility has more difficulty dealing with Nodes and Tass. When folding Primal Utility into Prime, the limitations can be kept through the simple expedient of saying that, for example, charging up a Credit Card via a Node is inconsistent with a hypereconomic Practice, as opposed to loading it up by means of a Primal Venture. Similarly, I'm OK with Primal Utility's greater facility in Wonder-making being lost, as the facility is still there; it's just at four dots instead of three.

    More generally, what Primal resources the mage can tap into is highly dependent on the mage's Focus: the resources that a Syndic can access will differ from those that a Void Engineer can access, which in turn will differ from what a Chorister can access or what a Hermetic can access. It would all be covered by the same Prime Sphere, though. In order to do this, the notion of the Primal Venture needs to be added to Prime.

    Or rather, a generalization of the notion of the Primal Venture needs to be added to Prime. Choristers ought to be able to tap into religious activities conducted by faithful Sleepers in a manner similar to how Syndics can tap into economic activities conducted by business-oriented Sleepers. They're the same sort of thing in general (organized human activity as a Primal resource); and the differences between them are reflected in the Focus of the mage trying to access them.

    Spirit and Dimensional Science
    In a similar way, many (most? all?) differences between Spirit and Dimensional Science can be addressed in terms of the mage's Focus — if you're willing to take a more flexible view on things like Gauntlet strength. The simplest approach here would be to say that Gauntlet strength manifests one way for mystics and another way for technomancers: the same Sphere gets used by Void Engineers, Etherites, Dreamspeakers, and Hermetics; but the former two will tend to find the Gauntlet in tech-friendly Reality Zones to be more pliable, while the latter two will tend to find the Gauntlet in mystic-friendly Zones more pliable.

    Correspondence and Data
    And riffing off of the notion presented above, Focus-specific “Correspondence Range” charts potentially let us unify the different versions of Correspondence into a single Sphere.

    More thoughts later, when I have more time. In the meantime, I'd like to hear your thoughts.


    Addendum: I should probably clarify. In folding everything back into the original nine Spheres, the idea is that the hierarchy of effects (e.g., which Effects require one dot of a given Sphere, which ones require two dots, and so on) is the same no matter what; however, these Sphere ranks are necessary conditions but not sufficient conditions: in addition to having the necessary Spheres, you need an appropriate Focus (in the M20 sense of the term). And the differences between the Spheres and their technocratic variants can be approximated by what is or isn't appropriate for a given Focus.

    That, and some of the tables used in working an Effect have built-in assumptions about the magick being cast. When that happens, variants of those tables should be provided for mages whose Focus doesn't conform to those assumptions. That's the whole reason the Dimensional Science and Data variants were originally conceived: the Void Engineer Focus didn't mesh with the assumptions built into the Gauntlet Strength chart, and the NWO Focus doesn't mesh with the assumptions built into the Correspondence Range table. By divorcing the tables from the Spheres and making them a matter of Focus, you can remove the need for Dimensional Science and Data as variant Spheres.
    Last edited by Dataweaver; 12-11-2015, 01:41 AM.



  • #2
    Data and Correspondence can be easily, even trivially, folded into each other; apart from the range chart and a couple conjunctioning quirks specific to M20, they don't do anything differently. In my own game, I mostly just have "Network Range" and "Sympathetic Range" alongside "Space Range" as separate range charts that can be applied to either Correspondence or any variants thereof.

    Prime and Primal Utility mostly differ in that Primal Utility doesn't deal with pure Quintessence or mucking about with Ideal Forms, but does deal with some more semi-abstract-but-materialistic aspects. PU includes things like Resources where Prime really doesn't. They're easier to fold in if you don't mind losing or merging those aspects.

    Dimensional Science and Spirit are substantially different in a lot of ways even if you ignore the Gauntlet differences (pre-CB:VE, they were actually the same aside from that). That's no longer the case. Dimensional Science removes all of the "interact with spirits" bits of Spirit - half of the Sphere's usefulness, which is easily enough to relabel DSci as a 'Minor Sphere'. It replaces them with a bunch of effects that might normally be Spirit/Forces, Spirit/Matter, or Spirit/Correspondence conjunctions, as well as an attack that makes things die when they're killed. Presumably, if one had DSci and Life or Mind, they could affect alien beings that way via conjunctional effects, though in a very Life-y or Mind-ey way rather than Spirit-y ways.

    (Edit: I would also consider disjoining the Gauntlet Chart from the Spirit/DSci difference in some cases to be perfectly reasonable - a spiritualist who thinks that the material world is just yet another Spirit Realm and material beings its Emanations, for example, being represented mechanically with DSci but using the un-inverted Gauntlet Chart.)
    Last edited by Quantumboost; 12-11-2015, 05:26 AM.

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    • #3
      This is exactly the topic I've been thinking about lately. I was even considering creating a thread titled "Primal Utility For Everyone(!)" that was all about how there's no reason outside Focus why the ability to exploit Primal Ventures should be exclusive to one group. Even if we assume no Mages thought to derive Quintessential value from the exchange of currency or the investment of capital and/or labor, it's asinine to assume that Traditionalists and Disparates wouldn't react to what the Syndicate was doing and figure out a way to replicate it. House Fortunae deals with the power of numbers and its effect on value (they've made at least one Rote devoted to collecting the fractions of cents lost in digital transactions and redistributing it to the caster's benefit). And with M20, we see Crafts like the Ngoma and Taftani moving into the business world. I can totally see groups like these independently discovering the Syndicate's use of Quint sources that can't be normally accessed with Prime, and then researching ways to expand their own Practices to match them. Thereby allowing mystic groups to take the Ascension War to the Syndicate, who until now has enjoyed being comfortably, complacently distant from direct attacks in their own playing field.

      More to the point, I've always taken to heart the idea that the Sphere system theoretically covers all of reality, and all ways it can be exploited. If you have the right Spheres and enough successes, you can do anything. So just from that perspective, there's no reason whatsoever for a Mage using the nine vanilla Spheres cannot do everything covered in the alternate ones. Correspondence should be able to target via online presence, Prime should be able to distill Quintessence from the parts of themselves that people invest into the businesses or other ventures they work towards, and Spirit should allow you to kill someone by phasing them through the layers of reality. That the Technocracy has its own versions is evidence of their limitations, not strengths.


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      • #4
        Originally posted by Dataweaver View Post
        Or rather, a generalization of the notion of the Primal Venture needs to be added to Prime. Choristers ought to be able to tap into religious activities conducted by faithful Sleepers in a manner similar to how Syndics can tap into economic activities conducted by business-oriented Sleepers. They're the same sort of thing in general (organized human activity as a Primal resource); and the differences between them are reflected in the Focus of the mage trying to access them.
        I specially like this. Other traditions may benefit from "ventures":

        -Ecstatics could organize a gig tour and mantain a fan base (among other ways).
        -Euthanatos with the karma fixing thing that was mentioned in another thread.
        -VA could coordinate high scale hackings or even steal from Syndicate ventures.
        -Akashic brotherhood could "invest" in quests: "You will find the master hidding at the top of a mountain and...".
        -Dreamspeakers maybe through long pacts with spirits or more apropiate "quests" like fixing the gauntlet, etc.
        -Etherites could do it through research and discovery, gathering resources...
        -Verbena and OoH... Maybe with daily attunement rituals and the like?

        Just rough ideas, I would like to read what you think would fit in other traditions than Choristers.

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        • #5
          Eh, I don't know so much about that. The idea with Syndicate style Primal Utility is that it taps a well gathered from the collective efforts of a business and the value that runs through it. I don't think it could ever work with any one person's lone efforts. At least, not without very high Prime.

          Rather, let's stick closer to the business model, and branch a little from there. Ecstatics, for instance, could invest in the growing and sale of medicinal herbs, like pot, metaphysically drawing energy not only from the economic action, but from the land that fosters those herbs. Dreamspeakers could do the same, or foster activities in their community that bring large numbers together for some important task.

          I can see Virtual Adepts, meanwhile, running online businesses, creating a Node that exists on the network, rather than in any physical location. One idea might be to create a website for artists or other content creators, allowing the VA to draw Quintessence from the sum of their efforts being put on display for all to see. A "Like" economy, rather than one of currency like with the Syndicate. Or they could traffic in currency - digital currency, drawing Quintessential value from value alone, as a more pure expression of exchange.


          If nothing else, any old Traditionalist or Disparate could turn a small business into a source of Quintessence. This would do what the Revised era tried so hard to: tie Mage characters more to the mundane world, this time by tethers of investment and responsibility, rather than by punishing Mages for accessing the Umbra.
          Last edited by Bluecho; 12-11-2015, 06:44 AM.


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          • #6
            In order to be a venture, it must be an ongoing non-magical activity performed by an organized group of humans. In order to be a Primal Venture, it must embody an ideal: in the Syndicate book, Primal Ventures had to embody human innovation in some truly exceptional fashion. Change the Focus, and you change the ideal that the group and its activities must embody. E.g., A religious Focus would favor religious “ventures” such as missionary work. It doesn't have to be a money-making enterprise; that's just what the Syndicate prefers to focus on. Etherites, for instance, would likely favor research teams, and VAs would tend to favor online forums (dare I say like this one?). NWO agents, meanwhile, might tap into academia and/or government agencies.

            But yes, the genius of Primal Ventures is that it encourages mages to get involved in appropriate aspects of Sleeper society; and as appropriate as it is for the Syndicate to have pioneered the technique, it should not be a monopoly of theirs.
            Last edited by Dataweaver; 12-11-2015, 08:32 AM.


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            • #7
              It's clearer for me now (never read how Primal Utility works). ^^

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Bluecho View Post
                I was even considering creating a thread titled "Primal Utility For Everyone(!)" that was all about how there's no reason outside Focus why the ability to exploit Primal Ventures should be exclusive to one group.
                I wholeheartedly agree. If anything, Primal Utility is closer to the Consensual interpretation of reality, because it asserts that the fundamental worth of things is defined and fueled by human belief.

                Even if the Traditions for some reason didn't try to replicate its abilities, how many Syndics have defected over the years since Adam Smith put forth his views on comparative advantage, especially during the events that led entire Conventions to break away from the Union? How many members of House Fortunae and the Euthanatos since then learned something derived from their academic lineage, if recalibrated to those factions' paradigms?

                (...Well, okay, you don't actually need to change anything for a Syndic in House Fortunae aside from the whole 'willworking' factor. Why can Hermetics abandon instruments while Syndics can't again?)

                The same applies to Dimensional Science, as well; the Virtual Adepts left well after that was created and made available to the Conventions, and there isn't a particular reason for every single one of them to abandon it in favor of Spirit-calling. Format Space is so Adept it hurts.

                More to the point, I've always taken to heart the idea that the Sphere system theoretically covers all of reality, and all ways it can be exploited. If you have the right Spheres and enough successes, you can do anything. So just from that perspective, there's no reason whatsoever for a Mage using the nine vanilla Spheres cannot do everything covered in the alternate ones. Correspondence should be able to target via online presence, Prime should be able to distill Quintessence from the parts of themselves that people invest into the businesses or other ventures they work towards, and Spirit should allow you to kill someone by phasing them through the layers of reality. That the Technocracy has its own versions is evidence of their limitations, not strengths.
                I would point out that this doesn't necessarily entail folding the alt-Spheres into the core ones; only making it possible for some combination of the core Spheres to do what an alt-Sphere does.

                For instance, Dimensional Science's spirit-killing technique is easily (well, viably) replicated by Spirit 5, and the Dreamspeakers' Spirit Eating rote (Spirit 2/Mind 3/Prime 3) accomplishes much the same thing although with some additional drawbacks (mental contamination, mostly). Its communication capabilities can be replicated by Spirit 2/Corr 2/Forces 2. Its ability to affect ephemeral matter and energy as with Matter and Forces 3 is replicable with Spirit 2 and... Matter and Forces 3.

                Conversely, Spirit 3's Awaken the Inanimate can potentially be replicated by the use of DSci 2 (transdimensional solidity) and Mind 3 with your variant (intelligence and ability to aid or hinder the user). Similarly, DSci 2/Corr 2/Mind 3 should allow communicating with EDEs, as a remote-communication Universal Translator or some similar effect. Compelling aliens should be doable with DSci 2+/Mind 4 (DSci to account for their bizarre native physics, Mind to compel), and reshaping their bodies or merging them with flesh should be viable with DSci 2+/Life 4+.

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                • #9
                  The alternative spheres are explicitly the same with some minor tweaks though ("Dimensional Science, the scientific perspective on Spirit") they have "a few noticeable bonuses and limitations, which get covered in the individual entries" but they are fundamentally the same as Spirit, Prime and Correspondence. Of course Choristers can generate Quintessence from leading a religious ceremony of worship, and Nephandi can harvest quintessence from blasphemous rites with gangs of cultists, anything Primal Utility can do Prime can do. As Quantumboost said above, Data and Correspondence are trivially easy to merge.

                  I personally run Dimensional Science with the same ranked effects as Spirit, without the need for conjunctional effects that Quantumboost describes. It just means different difficulties mostly, let me elaborate...
                  DS rank 1 and 2 are identical to Spirit 1 and 2- perceive spirits, touch spirits, manipulate the gauntlet. I run it that Traditionalists find it easier to communicate with Spirits, while VEs find it easier to manipulate the gauntlet, but the only mechanical difference is difficulty and the Gauntlet rating- which is different for Technocrats than Mystics.
                  Cribbing directly from Werewolf: Changing Breeds, Mystics use the normal Gauntlet rating chart, because they're resonating with the Wyld. Technocrats resonate with the Weaver, and so they find it easier where the Weaver is ascendent (cities, laboratories etc.) in exactly the same way as Ananasi do, were-spiders have a gauntlet difficulty as follows (from Changing Breeds pp61)
                  Area Difficulty
                  Server Room 2
                  Office Building/Metro Area 4
                  Suburb/Small City 6
                  Farmland/Large Park/Rural Area 8
                  Untouched Wilderness 9









                  Obviously there are slight differences for VEs, a node is going to be easier even if it's in the wilderness because EDEs have weakened it, etc.
                  Rank 3 is also identical (Spirit 3- "At this Rank, a mortal mage can also harm an Umbral entity as if he was using Life 3") and DS rank 4 is just random benefits to make up for not being able to make fetishes.
                  I say DS *can* trap spirits, Ghostbuster-style, and harness their alien energies to power strange devices. DS *can* compel possessing spirits to leave a host ("Zap it with the disruptor again!") and a brave or foolish Dimensional Scientist can even turn himself into a temporary host for an EDE. Conversely Spirit mages can strengthen their ties to Gaia to avoid Disembodiment etc. anything DS can do Spirit can do.
                  Rank 5 is the same for Spirit & DS, so overall the only difference mechanically between them is different Gauntlet difficulties based on paradigm, and different difficulties interacting with spirits- Mystics have an easier time persuading them, Technocrats have an easier time destroying them.

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                  • #10
                    As written, Prime and Primal Utility each have capabilities that the other lacks. But yes; for the purpose of this hack, it's easy enough to simply add Primal Utility's capabilities into Prime and handle the rest through Focus.

                    Thanks for the Ananasi chart; I always felt that the original DS write-up didn't go far enough, and this chart nicely addresses my concern there.
                    Last edited by Dataweaver; 02-24-2016, 11:36 AM.


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                    • #11
                      I do like some of the ideas of expanding Primal Ventures I'm seeing here. I agree that the fundamental conceit is harnessing collective effort, so "individualized" efforts probably shouldn't fit the bill, but I wouldn't want to hew too closely to the Synidcate "business model". In fact, I doubt, if such a concept is integrated into the core of Prime, I would seriously doubt the Syndicate "created" it (commodified it, perhaps?). Such actions seem integral to fundamental acts of magic long long long before the High Guild was a remote concern.... why wouldn't Stonehenge or the Pyramids or Gobekli Tepe have been examples of geomantic "Primal Ventures"? I don't even think you need to extend a Chorister's version to establishing and running a mission, it could be power drawn from the constant churn of a functioning church/temple/synagogue or even just one hell-raising session of preaching. Similarly with the above mentioned ideas of Cultist concerts or orgies (or concert/orgies), Nephandi blasphemous rites of various sorts. Hell, I'm even somewhat charmed by the idea of a Marauder Primal Venture involving an infinite number of monkeys typing on an infinite number of typewriters....

                      I can also see folding Data into Correspondence. Data as is doesn't really have much at all to do with "data", as in information. It's largely just a different "range" chart tacked onto a Correspondence skeleton. Just having Practice/Instrument/Focus/Sect friendly descriptors for ranges would pretty much cover the same ground and then some. In addition to the "Law of Sympathy/Contagion" baseline, having " corresponding" electronic info relationship and maybe even another based on simple spatial proximity or knowledge of location based on relevant information - "have a sample of clothing or object touched/have user name/within the same general area or seen in the past hour". If you want to manipulate ACTUAL information at the other end of that Correspondence link, you need to conjunct with some Mind.

                      I'm still waffling on the Dimensional Science/Spirit inverse correlation (if you shuck the limitations of DSci and take out the add-in conjunctional effects). I don't like the basics of the magic system breaking down on a specific Sphere basis. Diff shouldn't waver off the Paradox liability matrix, that's a CORE concept, so I am uncomfortable of simply shucking it for Diff based on the strength of the Gauntlet. It's another one of those places Mage RAW goes off course and careens confusingly about how magic works. (It should probably be a number of successes needed to breach a Gauntlet of strength X, but that's a different topic altogether.) I really don't mind the concept of just ditching the whole dichotomy and having Spirit work the same for the Union and their conception/orientation means they really really like "warding" things. Sure they do their work in an area of lowered Gauntlet (increased dimensional permeability) but they hem such places in with a lot of "intrinsic field resonaters" to keep any EDE's from getting out of the holes they keep poking. And they aren't "talking/summoning/dealing" with the EDE's they are manipulating their "constituent underlying exo-energy matricies" or "generating a wave-confined field state".

                      As I have stated many times, I really want to simplify things just for the sake of creating less overall work. I have done a LOT of work trying to come up with Alternate Spheres and it just seems to start wearing. I am really beginning to hew to the idea of core Spheres that can be warped and tortured and combined and dissected to produce any and all effects. But, unfortunately, that entails its OWN set of headaches and additional work. The whole idea of 1 dot means this, 2 dots means that, etc. is honored more in the breach than in the observence. A lot of kinks might work out if the Spheres were actually consistent across the board in what could be accomplished at each level of mastery. Also, ONE system of how things work... .meaning you don't start rolling WP for some Mind effects, Spirit effects determining Diff based on Gauntlet as per above, "self vs. other" either being an aspect of successes OR an aspect of level of mastery OR both but never with any rhyme or reason, etc.

                      And, then of course, there's always the issue of what to do with Entropy, the Little Sphere That Couldn't (Make Up It's Mind About What the F^#& It's Supposed To Be About)

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                      • #12
                        As far as Entropy goes, I'd replace it with Moogle001's Fate Sphere.


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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Dataweaver View Post
                          As far as Entropy goes, I'd replace it with Moogle001's Fate Sphere.
                          And I'd say that could largely be folded into Time.... :-)

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                          • #14
                            And I'm doing exactly that… in the Fields for the Technocracy thread. Here, I'm trying to stay reasonably consistent with the original layout — which means making Entropy work rather than folding it into other Spheres.


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                            • #15
                              I am, as always, still torn on this one. I DO know that whatever ends up happening, whatever happens, the resulting Sphere almost certainly shouldn't be called "Entropy".

                              ASIDE: You COULD call it that, but then it would need to be thematically interwoven into the ideas of the Mage-verse much much tighter, e.g. it would be the Sphere of "the world is fucked and we're all going to die and there's nothing you can do about it", and that would also entail significantly reworking it in a way that is similar to the Death Arcana, more in parallels than in similarity or congruence. And then it wouldn't be a Sphere of luck or probabilities or determinism except in a very specific and probably awful way. This Sphere (Actual Entropy?) would actually fit with the whole new grimdark direction of the WoD, or even just the basic fundamental notion OF a "WoD", but that isn't the way MAGE has ever been focused. Sure it's THERE, but it's not specifically front and center (unless, mostly, when the Nephandi totter on stage).

                              I think it would be entirely possible to just toss Entropy altogether for everyone and then try to fold everything into back into versions of the now 8 Spheres that are re-oriented in a more Technocractic direction. You could also try to fold the Spheres into 5 Technocratic Fields and have each Convention specialize in one (a la 9 rings for mortal men. doomed to die.... err.... I mean 9 Traditions to 9 Spheres).

                              BUT (and this is the "torn" part), I think, even when you strip out the parts of Entropy that belong to Matter (which Matter can actually already do), Mind (which should be possible for Mind as is), etc. and give over all the luck and probability and fate and deterministic stuff and give them over to Time to beef it up with the causality that SHOULD be it's bread and butter, there's not NOTHING left. There is still a ghost or skeleton of effects that really DON'T belong to any other Sphere. I guess you could port them over to Prime as a part of it's "ultimate ultimateness" but it would definitely skew Prime into becoming a "large tent" of a Sphere and make it even more of a multi-axis cubist amalgam than it already is. So, to me, there is a THERE there inside "Entropy-that-is-not-really-Entropy", but it's pretty abstruse conceptually and hard to pin down. Sorta a Sphere of "relationships" that somewhat jibes with the conception of Correspondence that you (Dataweaver) have toyed with from time to time, but, in the case of the Technocratic Fields, Correspondence collapses down and gets divvied up to more mechanistic and less "magical thinking (in both senses)" of Contagion/Sympathy that grounds the RAW Sphere of Correspondence.

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