Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Alternate Rules for Practices and Instruments

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Alternate Rules for Practices and Instruments

    M20 has made a point of maintaining compatibility with all previous editions by providing optional rules that let you adjust the game systems to more accurately reflect the edition preferred by any given gaming group. That said, a few slipped through the cracks:

    Discarding Instruments
    We're All Technomancers Now: when using this option for Surpassing Instruments, there is no distinction between Mystics and Technomancers. Both start discarding Instruments at Arete ••••• •, and discard them two at a time. The name's somewhat misleading because the Mystics are still every bit as mystical as always; they just don't get to dispense with their instruments any faster than Technomancers.

    A minor variation on this notion is to make the the distinction between the two schedules for discarding instruments be based on which overall faction of the Ascension War you're aligned with: that is, the Traditions (including the Etherites and the VAs) discard Instruments according to the “mystic” schedule due to their insights into the Metaphysics of Magick and the de-emphasis of the importance of one's Practice from the central role to a supporting role; Disparates and Orphans lack that insight, so they use the “technomancer” schedule; and Technocrats, with their “One Right Way” mentality, don't get to discard instruments at all. Note that this variation results in a M2e-like play style for the Traditions, and more of a MRev-like play style for the Disparates. I'll come back to this later.

    Masters don't need training wheels: this option retools the notion of discarding instruments to put the attention on which effects can be done without Instruments rather than which Instruments you no longer need.

    Revised Mystic/Traditions schedule: if your Arete is at least twice the highest Sphere needed for the effect, the instruments are optional.
    Revised Technomancer/Disparate schedule: if your Arete is at least five more than the highest Sphere needed for the effect, the instruments are optional.

    Rotes and improvised effects
    Mage Revised defines “Fast Casting” as the opposite of casting by rote, effectively levying +1 difficulty to improvised effects. M20 restores it to its original meaning of rushing the casting. However, the notion of there being a one-point difference in difficulties between casting by rote and improvising the effect is potentially a useful one. Let's recast it as a “Rote Casting” Magical Modifier that reduces the difficulty by one if the Effect is one that the mage has plenty of experience casting.

    Fans of the second edition have argued that such a modifier has no place in Mage, as it detracts from the emphasis on improvising effects that is Mage's hallmark. I don't fully agree with that argument; but so be it: if you don't like the proposed Rote Casting modifier, don't use it.

    And I mean that in all seriousness, not as a brush-off. Going back to the option for presenting the Traditions in accordance with M2e's “zeitgeist” and presenting the Disparates in accordance with MRev's “zeitgeist”, an extension of that notion would be to let Disparates and Orphans use the Rote Casting modifier, while keeping it unavailable to the Traditions: in setting, you could argue that this is the downside of the same approach to teaching magick that lets the Traditions abandon their Instruments so readily. Conversely, the central role that Procedures play in the Technocracy's overall mindset allows them to get even more of a benefit from Rote Casting: double its benefit to a -2 difficulty if you're a Technocrat. So:

    Traditions discard instruments according to the Mystic schedule, but don't benefit from Rote Casting.
    Disparates and Orphans discard instruments according to the Technomancer schedule, and get -1 difficulty from Rote Casting.
    Technocrats never discard instruments, and get -2 difficulty from Rote Casting.
    Last edited by Dataweaver; 12-20-2015, 12:47 AM.



  • #2
    OK: so what do you think?


    Comment


    • #3
      The second one is really rather clever.

      The first one is a good idea I think. I never found the VAs and SoE having a tough time discarding foci to be terrribly convincing. I mean, I get the reasons, but it felt to me like it was reinforcing the idea that there's something inherently wrong with technomagick which seemed to cut against the entire point of the two Traditions.

      Personally, I'm not that happy with the Technocrats being barred from discarding foci. I mean, by the point you're arete 6, you're really becoming one of the masters of the Technocracy. The idea that someone of that enlightenment would still be led astray by the Technocratic social controls never sat right with me. To me it feels like it should just be extremely rare that a Technocrat reaches that level in the first place.


      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Michael View Post
        Personally, I'm not that happy with the Technocrats being barred from discarding foci. I mean, by the point you're arete 6, you're really becoming one of the masters of the Technocracy. The idea that someone of that enlightenment would still be led astray by the Technocratic social controls never sat right with me. To me it feels like it should just be extremely rare that a Technocrat reaches that level in the first place.
        There's more to Technocratic paradigm, outlook and mission than 'social controls'. A Progenitor might by aware that the Traditions can create and modify life without all the infrastructure...but he will honestly, deeply consider it to be a slander against reality. There might be other reasons, as well - like Paradox, especially permanent; or the fact that Progenitor advances actually have a somewhat realistic - compared to Traditions, at least - chance of making it into the Consensus. Someone who achieves Arete 6 or 7 while being a Technocrat will, on some level, be personally unwilling to discard his foci - even without taking Conditioning into account. After all, he isn't doing Magick, he is practicing Enlightened Science.
        Also, it might be that Technocrats' Avatars adapt to this outlook over time; the need for foci becoming hard-coded into their Magick?
        Last edited by Muad'Dib; 12-20-2015, 12:38 PM.

        Comment


        • #5
          The issue with the "but they won't want to" argument is... that's a choice that the Technocrat in question is making. Technocrats are people first and foremost, so a Progenitor who decides that it is right and proper that they reinforce the Technocratic Ideal every single time they perform a Life procedure by doing it in a fully Orthodox manner... but that is that person making a choice to not act on the knowledge of the true nature of reality. Saying that one who is more open to expediency when it's necessary doesn't even get that choice is... deeply disturbing. Especially when the Wu Lung and Order of Hermes - as exacting and One True Way as it gets - do get that choice.

          Especially with the implication that even the leaders of the Technocracy don't actually fully understand just what it is they're leading their organization to do.

          As an alternative, perhaps they learn to use alternate foci; they can't abandon them entirely, but if they want to use astrology to predict the future - well, why not? It only falls outside Technocratic methods because the lower ranks can't be afforded the truth until they've matured to the necessary level. And they've co-opted and adapted Reality Deviant techniques plenty in the past.

          Comment


          • #6
            I've never liked the “Technocratic leadership is lying to the agents in the field” argument. Instead, I prefer the argument that the Union has a fundamental but honest disagreement with the Traditions about how the world really works. From the Union's perspective, Enlightened Science is about recognizing and exploiting edge cases in the laws of reality as they're commonly understood. To them, it's not about altering the laws of reality so much as it's about making full use of them, even when the more advanced procedures seem to contradict the more basic understanding of the laws. And from that perspective, instruments and procedures are central to what they do: instruments aren't ultimately disposable supports that help you channel your Will; they're the mechanism that makes Enlightened Science possible. It is with that in mind that I wrote the Technocracy entry here.

            Note also that the whole point of the “Rote Casting” modifier, on a meta-level, is to provide compensation for having a later or nonexistent schedule for discarding Instruments: the techie doesn't get to discard instruments, but is really good at rote casting — which strikes me as very appropriate for the Technocracy. And likewise, having to wait a while to discard instruments, but being a bit better with rotes strikes me as appropriate for the Disparates, who are largely holdovers from the times before the Order of Hermes developed the Purple Paradigm and its implications.

            All that said, it's your game; do with this as you see fit. In truth, the configuration I suggested is merely one possibility. For the sake of further discussion, let's refer to the three schedules as “early”, “late”, and “never”. The only constraints I would impose are that Disparates and Orphans should not be able to use an earlier schedule than the Traditions, and the Technocracy shouldn't be able to use an earlier schedule than the Disparates. With that in mind, there are ten possible schedules:

            ID Traditions Disparates Technocracy
            #1 Early Early Early
            #2 Early Early Late
            #3 Early Early Never
            #4 Early Late Late
            #5 Early Late Never
            #6 Early Never Never
            #7 Late Late Late
            #8 Late Late Never
            #9 Late Never Never
            #10 Never Never Never
            #1, #7, and #10 are valid choices for anyone who wants all mages to be treated the same regardless of faction or focus. #1 is, I believe, the way the first edition handled things, while #7 or #8 was how the revised edition handled things. If you don't like the notion of Technocrats not being able to discard their instruments, your only options are #1, #2, #4, or #7. Of the others, #10 is the only one that bans the Traditions from discarding instruments; a setting based around that premise would be notably different from the standard game.

            I chose #5 because I like having a place in the game for all three options, and #5 is the only one that does that. But again, your game, your choice.


            Comment


            • #7
              I basically agree with Quantumboost. It'd be fine as a deliberate choice but it's not presented that way.

              I've never liked the “Technocratic leadership is lying to the agents in the field” argument. Instead, I prefer the argument that the Union has a fundamental but honest disagreement with the Traditions about how the world really works.
              It's not an argument, it's literally the entire central point of the faction. They claim power in the world on the basis that they hold the true rational knowledge, but that that actually they're the ones defining that rational knowledge.


              Comment


              • #8
                With all due respect, it's only the central point of the faction if the Storyteller's intent is to portray the faction as hypocrites and dupes of hypocrites. Remember, we're in a thread that's discussing optional rules and variant interpretations; in such an environment, “One True Way”-ism is out of place.

                I know that my preferred view — that the Technocracy believes in a valid alternative to the Purple Paradigm — runs directly contrary to the orthodoxy, which is that the Purple Paradigm has no valid alternatives, and is objectively true. But I have good reasons why I prefer such a heretical view, not the least of which is that it allows for more leeway in what the Technocracy can be. Per the orthodoxy, any role you choose to apply to the Technocracy ultimately runs headlong into the fact that everything they're doing is based on a lie; even a “Friends of Courage” chronicle that's supposed to be about rooting out the corruption in the Union and returning it to its noble ideals falls apart once it's revealed that said ideals are based on a lie. If the Storyteller wants the Union to have a leg to stand on, it really helps if members of the Union can honestly claim a valid basis for their beliefs.

                That, and for a group that's devoted to the notion of open-mindedness and the possibility that different ways of viewing reality all have the potential to be true, it strikes me as a little too pat that they never have to question whether or not their own fundamental beliefs might be wrong.


                Comment


                • #9
                  My personal approach to the "noble Technocrat" concept is this. Technocrats know that what they are doing is willworking. They know how the world really works - that is the point of science after all. A Syndicate manager can create nine million fishes and solve the world hunger. But he won't. If you conjure a fish out of thin air and give it to a man, then all that man has is a fish and reverence of your powers. But if you 'conjure' a fish with a 'tool' of fishing pole, and teach the man to fish, then the man will have a little bit of magic for himself. Don't create money out of thin air - make a business plan and teach the massess how to make their own business plans.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    If you want to present them that way, I'd recommend option #1: everyone starts discarding Instruments early, regardless. It's not my cup of tea, since you're basically abandoning key aspects of the Technocracy's philosophy in order to keep the notion that the Purple Paradigm is absolute.


                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Per Dataweaver's request in the other thread, posting my own houserule for discarding instruments - went for something very simple, trying to keep the basic spirit of abandoning instruments earlier for mystic mages than technomancers, but having a bit more mechanical heft than what's presented in M20.

                      Rule: You abandon the need for instruments to cast effects of a particular sphere, rather than abandoning a particular instrument. If all the spheres in an effect no longer require tools, then you can perform them directly by will; otherwise, you still need instruments.

                      So at Arete 3, a mystic mage picks one sphere; effects from that sphere no longer require instruments to cast (although conjunctional effects would still need instruments, until all spheres in the effect are likewise free of instrument requirements).

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Compared to my suggestion of dropping Instruments based on the Effect's rank, that's a lot closer to how things worked in earlier editions: Instruments were all bound to Spheres and so dispensing with an instrument was functionally equivalent to dispensing with the need of Instruments for a given Sphere.

                        As such, I'd recommend the kinds of schedules that earlier editions used: dispense with Instruments for one Sphere at Arete 2, plus one more per dot of Arete after that; or if your approach to magick is one where you have a hard time letting go of tool use, choose two Spheres at Arete 6, plus two more per dot after that.

                        I still personally prefer the dispense-by-rank option I described above, as it eliminates the possibility of gaming the Instrument disposal system and reinforces the notion that more advanced effects are harder to pull off than simpler effects: not just in that the difficulties are higher, but also in that you need more expertise (read “Arete”) before you can perform them without the need for Instruments.

                        But as I said before, this topic is about providing options, not trying to sell a “one best way” to do things; and there's something to be said for emulating the way of the earlier editions while retaining the general decoupling of Instruments from Spheres as MrApophena's suggestion does.


                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Another rule variant: Mastering Instruments: nobody gets to Surpass their Instruments. But you still get to Master them, benefitting from the -1 Magical Modifier that you would have gotten for using an Instrument that you don't have to. That instead becomes the “Instrument Mastery” Modifier. If using this option, I'd go with an Early schedule for everyone.


                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Dataweaver View Post
                            Another rule variant: Mastering Instruments: nobody gets to Surpass their Instruments. But you still get to Master them, benefitting from the -1 Magical Modifier that you would have gotten for using an Instrument that you don't have to. That instead becomes the “Instrument Mastery” Modifier. If using this option, I'd go with an Early schedule for everyone.
                            In the last/current (When will it END?!?) mage game, I pretty much ran a version this as the standard, without having a decent name for it. But it was really this, though it was only 1 Instrument at a time.

                            I also put in an option to ADD categories of Instruments and an option to expand a current Instrument outwards. For example, the NWO agent started with his "Black Suit and Mirrorshades" as one of his Instruments. He used it mostly for Mind effects - "Don't notice me over here", "Aren't I intimidating? So answer the question", etc. As he went up in Arete, the black suit broadened out into using "proxemics and kinesics" in interpersonal interactions (Added an Instrument - effectively some flavor of the "movement and dancing) and "fashion" in place of him just being able to use the NWO MiB get-up to using any outfit/sartorial selection to utilize cultural/sociological stereotypes/programing and neurological hardwirind as a sort of applied, even weaponized, pyschology.

                            He didn't actually master either one (yet). He just was able to use a wider range of instruments to create his effects. So, when his MiB suit got pretty ratty, he was still able to do everything he could before and, without that as a crutch, a whole lot more than he did before. Which seems a reasonable expansion of his ability to create effects associated with going from Arete 2 to Arete 3 and Arete 3 to Arete 4. In fact, his former lover, now a MiG, has indicated that being able to make those leaps is part of what is required to make the change in status between a black suit and a gray suit....

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              At Arete 3, mages may use Level 1 sphere effects w/o the need for Instruments. At Arete 4, they can use Level 2 Sphere effects w/o instruments. They get an extra die if they use instruments, of course. This goes up to Arete 8, where Level 5 Effects can be used without Instruments.

                              The Technocrats get extra dice to roll, equal to the Arete score -2, for the appropriate Level of Hyperscience.

                              Comment

                              Working...
                              X