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Shard: the Technocratic Civil War

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  • Shard: the Technocratic Civil War

    OK: in the NWO Revised CB, we're introduced to the notion of an anticipated civil war in the ranks of the Union, with the NWO and its allies lined up on one side and the Syndicate and its allies on the other side. The Progenitors are revealed to be doing their utmost to heal the rift before it gets any worse. I forget what was said about Iteration X's role in this developing conflict; their Revised CB was published ten years earlier, and was seriously out of date.

    Then we get to the Void Engineer Revised CB, and the whole civil war paradigm shifts: now we have the Earth-bound Conventions that the other CBs have described on one side, each having been cut off from its former leadership and having spent the last decade since the Avatar Storm began establishing a new command structure that's more down-to-earth and more responsive to conditions in the field; and opposed to them, you have Threat Null, which is built around the former leadership which has grown even more out of touch (both literally and figuratively) and extreme, arguably to the point of caricature. Let's stick a pin in this and come back to it in a bit.

    In M20, we're given the groundwork for a "New Millennium" scenario where the Dimensional Anomaly only caused a temporary disruption in the Union's chain of command before fading away. The more responsive command structures of the Revised Convention Books never took root, nor did Threat Null metastasize. In the present, the Technocracy is on the verge of a reorganization where its leadership will seek to purge dissident elements from its ranks. Meanwhile, we have Navalon: a recent development of the New Avalon faction that's half a step away from jumping ship from the Union and possibly joining the Disparate Alliance; presumably, the likely purge will drive them out of the Union. And I suspect that the planned Technocracy Reloaded supplement will detail the post-purge reorganized Technocracy and Navalon.

    So, going back to that Revised stuff: I'm contemplating a possible variant on this "New Millennium" scenario where the "dissidents" in the Union's ranks get tipped off to the purge just in time to react. The purge still happens, and the dissidents still get driven out; but far more of them survive than the purge's architects anticipated. Instead of a Craft-sized remnant of reform-minded former Technocrats hiding out with the Disparate Alliance (i.e., Navalon), the Union splits into a 2e/M20-style "top-down" Technocratic Union that's firmly under Control and a smaller but still sizable faction that more closely resembles the Union depicted in the Revised CBs.

    Initially, both factions claim to be the "true" Technocratic Union, with each labeling the other as "Threat Null". Over time, the Revised-style faction starts calling itself the New Order of Reason in keeping with the notion that the Technocracy lost its way and they're returning to its philosophical roots. Naming-wise, the Reloaded Technocracy's Conventions update their names (to what, I'm not sure) as part of the reorganization, and the New Order of Reason continues using the Convention names that they've used for over a century. The OoR's Conventions are organized in the same manner as depicted in the Revised CBs, and the overall feel of the sect is less antagonistic toward the Traditions than the Reloaded Technocracy is, in part because they've got bigger fish to fry and in part because they're more of a "bottom-up" organization that's more driven by practicality than by remote ideology and thus is more likely to acknowledge that so-called Superstitionists aren't quite as bad as the former party line would have claimed. In short, they're pretty much like how the Rev CBs depict the Technocracy aside from the name change and Threat Null.


  • #2
    I see the rhymes you're spitting, and I kind of like the idea. Not so sure I would use it myself, but it's certainly interesting. Also not sure I'd have each faction calling the other Threat Null - they'd probably call themselves "those punk kids" and "those old farts", respectively. But it's not a bad idea.

    But hold on. Let's take this a step further, and turn it from a two-way split into a three-way split. Remember the Five Elemental Dragons?

    Most people don't, as the Dalou-laoshi were only really explored in Dragons of the East. For those not familiar, they were a sort of parallel development to the Order of Reason; artisan Mages and early scientists who sought to promote order in Asia. So when the Technocracy spread there, they were called by the locals the Five Metal Dragons. And though many local Mages "joined" the Metal Dragons, they secretly maintained loyalty to their roots. And so, while the Metal Dragons maintained more open control of Asia (to the degree to which any shadowy conspiracy can be said to openly control anything), the Elemental Dragons continued their work in secret. A conspiracy within a conspiracy, aiming to promote the prosperity of the region's many nations, while also working to preserve their cultural heritage.

    Then the Revised Convention books came out. According to the Syndicate book, by the 2010s, the Elemental Dragons had been "brought back into line" with Technocrat orthodoxy. The secret about the Elemental Dragons had been out for a while, but the leadership finally did something about it. Now all Dragons in Asia were Metal.

    I propose that, while this did happen, it didn't go as perfectly as the Syndicate would like to believe.

    The Miao Guan - the Elemental Dragons' experts in psychology and subtle manipulation - saw the writing on the wall in advance. They suspected that a mass reprogramming of Technocrat agents with Elemental Dragon sympathies might occur, and took steps to prepare for it. They gathered as many of the old records as they could, so Elemental Dragon knowledge wouldn't be lost (at their core, the Elemental Dragons were a mix of technomancer and traditionalist, something the Technocracy high command would frown on as too superstitionist). Further, they used their understanding of Mind to plant deep programming into the minds of themselves, and key members of the Zaibatsu, Zi Guang, Saensaeng, and Taiping Tianguo. Programming that would help preserve the member's own knowledge and Will. Once the Metal Dragons believe that orthodoxy has been restored, the Miao Guan wake from their reprogramming, and work to do the same for their allies.

    As soon as the old memories are restored, the Five Elemental Dragons are pissed. How dare these presumptuous upstarts - these Western barbarians - try to destroy an organization centuries their senior? It is a crime and an insult they cannot abide. Before long, though, the Civil War between the lower ranks and the established command breaks out. Not all of the former members of the Elemental Dragons have been restored. But, sensing this moment of instability in the Metal Dragons to be the best opportunity, the Five Elemental Dragons throw their hats in the ring, becoming a third faction. They declare the Metal Dragons - all Metal Dragons - to be unwanted in Asia, and must be expelled.

    Thus creating a three-way conflict. Within the bounds of China, Japan, Korea, and other Asian countries, territory held by each faction is more or less split evenly. Despite the home field advantage, the Elemental Dragons don't really control anything uncontested. For this reason, they seek two things. First, to reclaim as many of their old members from the other factions, and return them to the fold. And second, to extend their control outside of just Asia. Elemental Dragons travel to other parts of the globe, looking to seize Constructs, Nodes, resources, and influence. They will not only take back what is theirs, but turn the tables on the so-called Western invaders.


    • #3
      Bear in mind that the Elemental Dragons, as well as an "African Technocracy" (IIRC), will be getting some coverage in Technocracy Reloaded. My guess is that Brucato disagreed with the Revised CB notion of folding them into the standard Conventions; and I won't be surprised if the Reloaded Technocracy's reorganization takes the Elemental Dragons and the African Technocracy into account.

      My inclination would be to keep the Elemental Dragons within the post-purge Technocracy in some way, either increasing their influence while more fully integrating into the new command structure or maintaining their identity and a measure of autonomy by supporting the Technocracy's overall agenda. The distinction between the two is to what extent the Metal Dragons become more like the Elementals.


      • #4
        I think it would be appropriate and cool to factor Technepandi in. Especially Special Projects Division, which has been a story seed since almost two decades - both in real life and, as far as I know, in the World of Darkness. Something as catastrophic and weakening as a civil war is an ideal time for Technepandi and/or Pentex to strike - either for destruction or for subtle recruitment. Mystical Nephandi might also be involved heavily, given that Technepandi could supply them with ideal occasions and information.


        • #5
          There is reason to suspect that the Technephandi are behind the upcoming purge. So yes, they factor in — potentially a lot more centrally than merely reacting to the split. For the record, my primary source for this is the “Technocratic Upgrade” box in M20:
          Future Fates: A Technocratic Upgrade?
          Modern corporations change with the times. It stands to reason that the Technocracy would do the same. Rumor has it that the Technocracy is gearing up for a monumental re-org – a new-millennium upgrade that will purge a lot of the old bugs (and probably a lot of personnel as well) in an effort to address a brave new world.

          Like the New Horizon Council, this reorganized Technocracy is an optional development. You can use it, ignore it, or modify it to suit your chronicle. If you’re running a Technocracy-based chronicle, the news and implementation of the re￾org could present a dramatic variation to the old “hunt Reality Deviants” thing… especially if the reorganized Technocracy has put your players on the termination list.

          It’s a good bet that the pending re-org comes courtesy of the Nephandic Inner Circle. What better way could there be, after all, to rattle loose the stubborn idealists than to reorganize the entire organization and find out who and where those malcontents might be? Such shakeups always have casualties, and if a bit of red ink winds up spilling over groups like Project Invictus, the Friends of Courage, and the Harbingers of Avalon, well, that’s just the cost of doing business.

          As of 2015, the re-org is simply a rumor among the rank and file. The future configuration of this 21st-century Technocracy remains to be seen… assuming, of course, that the idealists remain alive to see it appear!
          On a meta-level, this Shard is basically Phil Brucato's vision of the Technocracy vs. the Revised CB team's vision of the Technocracy, with the latter replacing Navalon in the former, and the former replacing Threat Null in the latter. Both require a bit of tweaking to account for the facts that both factions are likely to be weaker than their source material portrays them (or will portray them, in the case of Brucato's Technocracy) and that each faction's technocratic opposition is stronger and a more immediate danger than originally envisioned: the new Order of Reason is much bigger, better equipped, and better organized than Navalon would be, and the Reloaded Technocracy isn't just (or even primarily) relegated to being an Umbral threat that the Void Engineers desperately holding back and about whom the other OoR Conventions only have sparse rumors.
          Last edited by Dataweaver; 10-25-2016, 05:18 PM.


          • #6
            Don't forget the "Threat Null" from "revised Void Engineers", let's say it is like a more hardcore Technocrazy-like faction.

            "Tell me what you brag and I will tell you what you lack" (Spanish saying)

            «The Master Confucius said: “The noble man is in harmony but does not follow the crowd. The inferior man follows the crowd, but is not in harmony”» (Anaclet 13:23)


            • #7
              Originally posted by Luis Carlos View Post
              Don't forget the "Threat Null" from "revised Void Engineers", let's say it is like a more hardcore Technocrazy-like faction.
              No no, the entire point behind Dataweaver's post is that we're assuming Threat Null as written in that book never formed, because the Dimensional Anomaly didn't last long enough for void adaptation to set in. Instead, the higher ups - the Mages who would otherwise become Threat Null - returned to their positions overseeing the whole of the Technocratic Union.


              • #8
                If Threat Null never metastasized, there's no reason the two factions would call each other Threat Null. The VE's aren't telling the other Conventions what Threat Null really is, so it would never occur to anyone to apply that label to their enemies in the Technocracy. More likely they would call each other things like traitors, usurpers, or sell-outs while the dust settled. It would be very interesting to see what the VE's do if Threat Null is actually still around.

                Indeed, my big question is, how many of the hints at a TechCivWar in the Convention books are you keeping? Is there an uneven split in the Conventions with, say, most of the Syndicate going one way and most of the NWO going the other? Even if those elements aren't the sole reason for the split, they were still compelling conflicts that probably play a role.

                Mage: The Ice-ension: An Epic Game of Reality on the Rink


                • #9
                  If I like the idea, I use the Threat Null in my stories, I don't mind the canon. Sometimes the canon has to be broken to cause suprise to the players. And in my homebred setting, there are confrotations between the amalgams from the different powers (for example England vs Spain, Germany vs France, USA vs Soviet Union).

                  "Tell me what you brag and I will tell you what you lack" (Spanish saying)

                  «The Master Confucius said: “The noble man is in harmony but does not follow the crowd. The inferior man follows the crowd, but is not in harmony”» (Anaclet 13:23)


                  • #10
                    A couple more excerpts:
                    Evidence of this Nephandic endgame can be found in the fracturing relationships between the five Conventions as the new millennium sees a growing schism within the Union. One particular event, referred to as the Greylocke Incident of 2006, causes a major rift between Iteration X and the New World Order. Stories differ, of course, but the end result of a fight between Iteration X shock troops and the Hermetic mages of the Greylocke Chantry is a monumental explosion that kills or injures hundreds of Technocrats, particularly among the NWO. This, combined with the financial crash of 2008 and the rising tide of rebellion among the Masses, pushes the New World Order toward a defensive leadership role. The Syndicate and Progenitors grow closer, Iteration X flounders, and the Void Engineers – having suffered the worst losses from the Dimensional Anomaly – close ranks, adopt a military leadership called the Existential Threats Directorate, or ETD, and wage a determined campaign of salvage and war.

                    By 2012, the Union faces a potential split down the middle with the NWO on one side, the Syndicate on the other, and the other three Conventions deciding which way to go if and when a civil war erupts.
                    There’s corruption, but they’re dealing with it: Yes, some Nephandi have warped the Union’s purpose. And yeah, the Technocracy’s brutal. But still, the Union can be saved. Devoted Technocrats – inspired and sometimes led by Secret Agent John Courage – have been fighting a covert war within the Technocracy… and despite major losses and obstacles, there’s still hope for the Technocracy’s redemption.
                    This is the state of the Union just prior to the Purge.
                    The Union remains Earthbound: The Dimension Storm still rages; most extraterrestrial Constructs have been destroyed. The Void Engineers have gone hardcore. The NWO has literally lost Control, and Iteration X has been cut off from Autocthonia and, as a result, has become more human and less machine. HIT Marks have been largely phased out in favor of power-armor Hardsuits and personal enhancements. Aside from the efforts of the Panopticon, the Pogrom is largely on hold unless someone presents a distinct threat to the Earth at large. The Technocracy now faces the combination of rebellious human belief, internal schisms, potential Nephandic corruption, and the ominous Threat Null (see below).
                    The Union has problems but is not metaphysically corrupt: Despite a few bad apples and a ruthless approach to Ascension, the Technocratic Union is not overrun with Nephandi. The corruption that does exist is an extension of hubris, not infiltration by the Fallen. Essentially, the Union means well but has a brutal way of taking care of business.
                    Except for the Dimension Storm bit at the start and possibly the Threat Null reference at the end, this is how the new Order of Reason falls out, more or less. "Most extraterrestrial Constructs have been destroyed" instead becomes "most extraterrestrial Constructs are in enemy hands"; but the overall effect is the same: with the exception of the VEs, the new Order of Reason has little to no off-world outposts. I'll get to Threat Null in a moment.
                    The Storm has faded, but the scars remain: The brief catastrophe did change the Union’s tactics, priorities, and resources, but not quite as radically as in option #1. Many Constructs are operational, the Colonies have suffered losses but are rebuilding, and the potential malignancy within the Union is perhaps more intense than it had been before… but the Union has become more humane and is looking at long-term reform. If the Nephandi are in charge, however, that might not be a good thing at all…
                    The Technocracy has Fallen: In this option, the Inner Circle is essentially a Nephandic playground. Most ranking Technocrats are either barabbi or were never true Technocrats to begin with. The Union has been exterminating its rivals, purging dissent, and driving humanity toward self-destruction. Although some Technocrats mean well and have been fighting against corruption, it’s essentially a doomed effort. The Technocracy is fucked, and it has been for ages.
                    This is what I've been calling the Reloaded Technocracy.

                    Ramnesis: Yeah; I made a mistake in suggesting that the "Threat Null" terminology would be used in this Shard. Consider the suggestion retracted. As for your big question, my intent is for the new Order of Reason to be as much like the Technocracy of the Revised CBs as possible, within the context of the struggle against the Technocracy Reloaded-style Technocracy. So yes, the same rifts exist within the new Order of Reason; but an actual internal war is unlikely so long as they have the Technephandi (their nickname for the Reloaded-style Technocracy?) to deal with.

                    OK; Threat Null.
                    More recently, the Revised Convention Book: Void Engineers postulated a similar infection: Threat Null, an Otherworldly reflection of Technocratic excess. According to this sourcebook – which depends heavily upon the Dimensional Anomaly metaplot – a deeply corrupted version of the Technocracy exists beyond the Gauntlet, possibly made up of lost members of the Union itself. Essentially, Threat Null consists of cruel parodies of Iteration X, the NWO, the Progenitors, and the Syndicate, taken to their utmost extremes. Is there a Void Engineer analogue as well? Good question. The VEs don’t want to look too deeply into that mirror because the answers might destroy them.

                    Aside from vague mutterings, the Void Engineers are keeping Threat Null very Classified with regards to their fellow Conventions. Afraid (and with good reason!) that exposure of Threat Null might rip apart their unstable Union, the Engineers are trying to contain that Threat and neutralize it in secret. Paradoxically, that secrecy might do even more damage if and when the secret slips out into the Technocracy… or worse, reaches outside of the Technocracy! The insidious agents of Threat Null insinuate themselves into positions of power throughout the Union, often hidden until some catastrophe reveals their presence.

                    So, is Threat Null a Nephandic plot? Is it an independent phenomenon arising from a quirk of metaphysics? Might it be both, or does it exist at all? That’s for your Storyteller to know and you to find out… maybe. In any case, Threat Null is NOT common knowledge to anyone, and the Void Engineers are working hard to keep things that way.
                    In the Revised CB, Threat Null was a spontaneous development that occurred because of the ongoing Dimensional Anomoly, as large numbers of Technocrats (including Control) underwent Void Adaptation over a decade. This last excerpt suggests another possibility, though: what if Threat Null was engineered by the Technephandi as a "fifth column"? In this scenario, the Reloaded Technocracy's Control knows all about Threat Null, and very likely commands it; meanwhile, the new Order of Reason's Void Engineers are desperately struggling to keep Threat Null contained in the Deep Umbra; because if Threat Null can make it to Earth, it will likely be the straw that breaks the camel's back.

                    This leaves a question about the Reloaded Technocracy's counterpart to the Void Engineers. My inclination would be to say that they've joined forces with Threat Null, mostly without undergoing Void Adaptation. I can only see this working if their relative numbers are small; but given the Void Engineers' strong independent streak, I can easily see the bulk of the VEs siding with the new Order of Reason, with the exceptions tending to be the Nephandi-corrupted ones (in keeping with the Reloaded Technocracy having Fallen).

                    More thoughts later; I've been called in to work.
                    Last edited by Dataweaver; 02-08-2018, 02:48 AM.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Ramnesis View Post
                      Indeed, my big question is, how many of the hints at a TechCivWar in the Convention books are you keeping? Is there an uneven split in the Conventions with, say, most of the Syndicate going one way and most of the NWO going the other? Even if those elements aren't the sole reason for the split, they were still compelling conflicts that probably play a role.
                      I see the primary split being along the lines of the Schism between Control and the Front Lines rather than a Convention-based divide. That said, different Conventions are likely to divide in different proportions:

                      · The New World Order I'd likely to bias fairly heavily toward the Reloaded Technocracy. Don't forget, though that John Courage is an NWO agent; enough of the NWO joins the new Order of Reason that the Convention remains viable and retains its overall leadership role as described in its Revised Convention Book. A case could be made that this Convention is the primary instigator of the Purge.
                      · Iteration X likewise biases toward the Reloaded Technocracy, though not quite as heavily as the NWO. As described above, those who flee to the new Order of Reason leave the Hit Mark project behind and concentrate instead on hardsuits and implants.
                      · The Syndicate… remains the Syndicate. While there's a nominal split between the two versions of the Union, this is a concession the Syndicate makes because of the impossibility of remaining a single organization that's loyal to both factions at once. That said, the Syndicate has a long history of maintaining ties to oppositional groups such as the Traditions, and the other Technocracy is no exception. This is especially true of their counterparts in the other Technocracy: on paper, as it were, there are now two Syndicates; in practice, it's hard to tell where to draw the line between them. (To be clear, there is a line between them, with genuine differences of opinion involved; but it's an exceptionally blurry line, with a space in the middle where it's hard to tell on which side a given Syndic is.). A notable exception to this is that SPD maintains its ties to the Reloaded version of the Syndicate, but not to the new Order of Reason's version.
                      · More Progenitors stay with the Reloaded Union than flee to the new Order of Reason; but that's largely a reflection of the statistical fact that more Technocrats stay with the Reloaded Union than flee rather than any particular preference of one over the other on their part.
                      · The Void Engineers are the only Convention where more go to the new Order of Reason than stay with the post-Purge Union.

                      The preceding assumes that the reorganization of the Reloaded Technocracy least vaguely resembles its pre-Purge organization: e.g., you might have the Void Marines instead of the Void Engineers (or some other renaming that better reflects the fact that even the Reloaded Technocracy's off-Earth forces are more military than civilian these days), but you still have a Convention dedicated to taming the wild frontier that is the Umbra; and the Reloaded Technocracy almost certainly has a faction dedicated to financial wizardry, though it may not be structured the same way as the pre-Purge Syndicate.


                      • #12
                        Actually the Rev Ed CBs are not the first time the notion of Technocracy Civil War has popped up. In Ascension, the scenario The Revolution will be Televised features just that. The Union divides between two groups, the Unionists, those that hold more to the original ideals of the Order of Reason and the Loyalists, those that want to see all Reality Deviants wiped out and all the other extremes of the Union*. It's been a while and I don't recall all the details of that scenario though it was also dealing with the typical Time of Judgement stuff going on. Still it could have some useful stuff and I do find the Unionist/Loyalist divide over the NWO/Syndicate divide the CBs were playing up.

                        *Ironically despite calling themselves Loyalists, the actual leadership of the Union in that scenario are more in line with the Unionists than the Loyalists.

                        Homo sapiens. What an inventive, invincible species. It's only a few million years since they crawled up out of the mud and learned to walk. Puny, defenceless bipeds. They've survived flood, famine and plague. They've survived cosmic wars and holocausts. And now, here they are, out among the stars, waiting to begin a new life. Ready to outsit eternity. They're indomitable. Indomitable.


                        • #13
                          At your recommendation, I just reviewed that scenario. It relies heavily on the Avatar Storm, Avatar Shards, and Anakim (beings able to manipulate Avatar Shards), with the climax boiling down to an arms race where the Unionists and Loyalists each seek a way too take control of the force of the Avatar Storm and direct it as a weapon of mass destruction against the other faction. Other than that and some quibbles over terminology, it strikes me as essentially compatible with the scenario I've been working on, but without bringing anything useful to the table. If I've missed something, please let me know.
                          Last edited by Dataweaver; 02-08-2018, 01:17 AM.