Guide to the Technocracy by Slimnoid
You'd better get your head screwed straight.Original SA post
Guide to the Technocracy Part 1 : "You'd better get your head screwed straight."
What is the Guide to the Technocracy?
The Guide to the Technocracy was a sourcebook for White Wolf's line Mage: The Ascension, released in 1999 and labeled as the Year of the Reckoning book for Mage. Before this, the Technocracy was given the stereotype of the "man in black" organization of antagonists for any would-be Mage who mucked around with the fabric of reality too much, but with GotT they are given a full write-up and details into the motivations of the Technocracy, as well as breaking down the various factions within the group itself--and of course, rules to play as them. Because White Wolf couldn't produce a splat book without giving rules on how to run it, now could they?
And really, you'd want to play as the Technocracy, because they're the only ones keeping reality from letting it drop all its spaghetti.
Why are you reviewing this book?
Beyond the usual "why not?" excuse, there's a lack of World of Darkness reviews here in F&F. Perhaps because it's one of the best-known RPGs out there, but there's plenty of books that fell through the gaps during the 90's from this line that would be considered obscure, and certainly mockable. There's enough 90's cheese in here to get a good laugh, if nothing else. I will be doing this partially blind, as I've only picked up bits and pieces of knowledge in the past; I have also never read Mage, so some of this will only make sense to some of you guys.
Now, with that said, let's dive into the prologue...
Prologue: The Machine Inside
Like any WoD book, it begins with a little story, this one told in the first person. Our nameless insurance agent protagonist has been given a job from a contact to pick up two agents--a man and a woman, the man being a "spook" named James who thinks he's in charge, and the woman named Irene who is an Armature. Not that we know what that is yet, but hey, this is White Wolf--they've been throwing lingo and word salad our way for two decades now, so this is par for the course. An Armature is apparently a cyborg, or at least someone with a few implants that give them computational assistance and other high-tech gobble-gook.
At any rate, the three travel to the site of a break-in at a Unicom facility--apparently a group of people just waltzed on in and took a test sample. Test sample of what? Its "the kind the docs never really want to tell you about." Well, thanks for clearing that up.
When they get to the facility, they enter a sterilized lab with a doctor who gives them the low-down: apparently the group were Reality Deviants, who managed to not only knock out a security guard, but bypassed their computer security with a laptop ("of all things") and weren't recorded; a convenient brown-out, of course. James doesn't give a crap about those details though, he's here on business and wants cold, hard evidence . He's all business, you see. Because he wears a black suit and tie. And he's a spook. To his credit, he does find a fingerprint from one of the deviants, since they didn't bother with decontamination suits inside a highly dangerous laboratory because they're sticking it to the man, maaan or some other extreme 90's motive.
Number 4 is slacking off
Our protag notes that these stolen test subjects were submerged in suspension fluid, but if they were taken by the deviants then why is there no liquid on the floor? The answer of course, is Bounty the quicker picker upper actually they deduce that the criminals used some of the decon suits to hold these subjects. Immediately after they scan the fingerprint for DNA and find pork on it, which through some leap of logic leads the three to a Chinese restaurant a couple blocks away. Of course! The deviants work in greasy fast food! Actually it goes through the deduction process pretty handily (the guard in the parking garage wasn't attacked, so they didn't get there by car so they had to be on foot which means they had to hide quickly), but it's the kind of far-fetched evidence that CSI is based off of. Oh well, it ends up they're right, and leads to a quick fight in a kitchen.
What is going on with this guy's torso jesus christ get a chiropractor dude
Protag and James face off against a sword-wielding deviant, who ends up meeting a nasty death as James punches a hole through his chest with a gun. Outside the store, the cops have captured the other culprit, a young woman who is holding a rather fancy laptop. Sleek and smooth, with oily black patterns that move just under the surface, and whose interface ports are contact pads (so, it's an iPad). Protag and Irene find that it isn't holding all of the information the deviants gathered, though--detachable storage systems (so, flash drives) have the info. Seems that there was more than just these two deviants, and have fled with the test subjects long before the group got there.
James is meanwhile interrogating the remaining deviant, and when protag comes over to him he finds the spook is shaken. From what James found out, the project samples weren't just samples--they were children ! :ohno: Protag knew all about this and tries to explain it to James, that the kids were all dying anyway but the scientists were trying to cure their nerve damage with implants and that even if they were going to croak, the cure was right there and it would save countless lives. James however, seems sympathetic to the deviants who took them, thinking that they were just trying to give the kids a shot at life and why were we experimenting on children and blah blah moral grey area. The two argue a bit back and forth, before James admits that he might not be able to live with this knowledge.
Protag makes sure he doesn't by putting a bullet into James's head It ends with him getting a call and saying "mission accomplished," showing what a stone-cold bdass he is.
The introduction section is somewhat in-character, in that it spends much of its time trying to sell you on being a Technocrat, one of the ruling elite. It tells that reality is fragile, and how things like terrorist bombs and cancer can throw all expectations out the window. That reality is "never as sure as we think." Apparently in the World of Darkness, if chaos has its way then reality won't have rules and we'd lose family, cops, and gravity. That's bad! So we want reality to crack like an egg, and someone has to keep things running smoothly, and who better than the Technocracy?
Yup, these black-hat mustache-twirling bad guys are keeping our world from turning into a Salvador Dali painting, and while they may have mindless drones in mirrorshades not all of them are like that. The world is full of reality deviants (read: Mages) who would be all too happy to see the world turn into a zamboni if it meant they could ascend and escape this totally boring world that's killing their buzz. Not only are there wizard-hippies, but there's other things too--vampires and werewolves and creatures from space that the Technocrats know even less about. But it's all good, because we've got belt-fed chain guns and magic-as-technology with us! Join the winning side, it has BFG-9000's.
A Guide to the Good Guys
Technocrats are cool. Cool as ice. Cool as freon. Cool as Mr. Freeze and his pun-tacular one-liners. This book, it warns, will be wildly inconsistent with what you've been told so far, that truths will fly in the face of what mages have been claiming for years, and that there's tech in our hands that would be considered impossible by the standards of 1999 but will probably be common-place in the far-flung today of 2012.
Mood: The Cracking Monolith
I'm not going to exaggerate when I tell you that this book spends a lot of time explaining that the Union is set on a cracked foundation, and that things slip between that threaten to not only bring them down, but reality with it. It's an interesting idea, but in typical White Wolf fashion it overdoes this and beats the motif over your head. This is only the starting point, sadly, but it quickly leads up to...
Theme: Act Now!
Where the previous sections give an impression that the Technocrats are the good guys with all the shiny toys, this one hammers home that it's a tough job, with a lot of bureaucratic overhead filled with the exact people the Traditionalists stereotype. As well, the Union is beset at all sides, both within and without, by all manner of threats.
The Complacency of the Union!
The upcoming Apocalypse!
A schism between the front-line and theoreticians in the labs!
The ignorant masses addicted to technology!
Said technology being too complex for the layman!
Hunters! (pfft yeah such a big threat)
Someone getting a bug up their ass and launching nukes!
This guy has it all covered, though!
So yeah, the Union has a lot to deal with. However will they deal with all of this? Why, with new blood of course! People like the players, who are still bright-eyed and full of vitality, willing to shake up the paradigm and enact real change within the Union without falling under the same pitfalls that got the Technocrats stuck in the first place.
Next time: Chapter 1: Indoctrination, or how I stopped caring and learned to love the plasma bomb.
And we end with a reject from Rifts
You will be who you will be. We are our choices. And we can choose to lead humanity away from this... darkness.Original SA post
Guide to the Technocracy Part 2 : "You will be who you will be. We are our choices. And we can choose to lead humanity away from this... darkness."
Chapter 1: Indoctrination
I actually like this image, even if it's totally a cover from an Iron Savior album
Chapter 1 begins with another first-person narrative, this time from the eyes of a prisoner named Richard Drake. Stuck inside a room, he attempts to focus his anger and magic his way out--but every time he's shot down by some invisible force that claims IT IS IN CONTROL. A woman enters and informs him this is the new deal, the new beginning; Room 101. She calmly explains that he is considered dead to the outside world after a failed attempt at suicide--his choice. Everything is his choice, and he chooses to scream.
Yeah, it doesn't make a lot of sense.
Hey, that intro is pretty typical, right? That's how it always begins, some Technocratic agent interrogating someone in a sterile room. So clear-cut and black and white, but no this book is going to correct that and show you who the REAL heroes are. And it claims it will adjust your perspectives and illustrate why the Union is best.
Reality on the Brink
What it says on the tin. Reality in the World of Darkness is a mess and liable to crack at any moment. It's ruled by a consensus, a kind of unconscious human gestalt consciousness, where if everyone believes something is real then it simply is. Yet despite that, all the supernatural crap in the world--vampires, werewolves, skateboarding mummies--is tearing that all apart. And the worst offenders of this are mages, who think of it as their playground (it totally is). It goes on to say that humans are the most populous and least powerful and that we're all just playthings to these super badasses (after reading Hunter, yeah, we totally are). But the Technocracy is here to try and set things right!
Every Light Casts a Shadow
Or they would, if they weren't so flawed and full of people getting in the way of real progress. Technocracy can either save the world or destroy it, depending on how cynical your viewpoint is. Humans invent things, and these things have an impact on society--communication and travel removes distance, improved health care alters the perceptions on life and death, and media spreads ideology and philosophy of all kinds. We can lose privacy and identity as easily as we can change our underwear, or we can make lives better. Just as often, humans can do both, but the fact remains: inventions can alter reality.
With each new invention and innovation, it pushes the boundary of what is considered possible further and further, swathed in science and technobabble so that they can be accepted by the people, the consensus. If it makes sense within an accepted form of logic, then it works, and eventually what is "magical" becomes "mundane." Technology works, authority protects them and the supernatural does not exist. They didn't create this reality, but they enforce it.
Mages violate this silent agreement. They live in a world where consensus controls reality, but their personal whims can shatter that at any time. The Technocracy wants none of that, rather liking the world as it is, and this gives them justification to keep it in line by any means necessary for the greater good ( the greater gooood )
Brought to you by a Nine Inch Nails video
The Dream and the Nightmare
The Union, from a textbook definition, would be "a gathering of scientific and philosophical societies." Only the Enlightened--those scientists who can alter reality with technology--can move on through the Union, because only smart people can get past office grunt. There are many factions, called Conventions, and each has their own ideas of how their groups should do things. Ideally they all should be working towards the same goal, but the fact is that they don't always agree on things. Sometimes, they really don't agree.
Politics, Warfare, and the Schism
To the surprise of no one, the Technocracy is rife with internal struggles. Putting a bunch of egocentric inventors with different ideas of how reality should advance together was a recipe for disaster, and naturally it is filled with political wars and philosophical differences. The higher-ups are almost completely divorced with the reality of reality, thinking up theories without wondering how to apply it on a practical level; the front line is stuck trying to put these theories to the test, often with disastrous results. And during all of this, idealist and pragmatists vie for control--the former, justifying their actions for the good of all mankind, while the latter tries to seize more power and wealth to better implement the Union's lofty ideals. Both are tempted to misuse their power, and their struggles bring up the question: is this power a means to an end, or is it power itself the ultimate goal?
Deep stuff, man
There are five faction, called Conventions, within the Union. They argue with each other constantly, as befit of all White Wolf games. They are: the Syndicate, Iteration X, Void Engineers, New World Order, and Progenitors. We'll go into deal with them later, but suffice to say they don't like each other as much as they should.
Outside the Technocracy's walls, reality is falling apart. Forces called the Nephandi and Marauders threaten not only the Union, but Traditionalists as well. Do we know anything about them? Nope! But we probably will later on, halfway through the book no doubt, because editing was never a top priority in these books. For now we'll have to think and wonder.
Of course, there's all those other nasty supernatural threats, though the technocracy isn't sure they even exist. Which begs the question: how can you be the arbiters of reality when you can't even be sure that the dozens of people who end up with all their blood drained aren't the victims of vampires? I don't think they're as smart as they say they are...
There's another threat too, one vague and dreadful. The limits of reality don't end at the physical world, and there's things like ghosts, nightmares, and denizens of lost dimensions who slip between the cracks to harass humanity. There's races and things in the Deep Universe we know nothing about, and those that try to go there either never come back or return forever changed. Spooky!
The Underground Resistance
With all these corrupt supervisors, fanatics, and Reality Deviants, how is a good agent supposed to do his job? Well, there's a few resistance cells within the cracks, small but determined to do the Right Thing and keep the Technocracy from imploding. They have to remain covert or else the grinding wheel of bureaucracy would roll over them; after all, paranoia isn't a neurosis, it's a lifestyle!
"The Cassandra Complex"
They call themselves "the Strategic Prognostications and Data Dispersal Unit (SPDUU)" but that's a mouthful and a half, so people just call them the Cassandra Complex, or the angels. It's a group of intelligence officers who use arcane calculations and observations to try and predict the future and avoid calamities. For the most part they are strictly non-confrontational, gathering intel and dropping it off to people they believe will do the most good with it.
The Harbingers of Avalon
They're aping the Round Table and Arthur, if you couldn't tell (and they're located in England no less!) They uphold codes of honor and dignity through example, and use their wealth and power to see it through. There's only 10 of them, but somehow through the power of conspiracy theory they reach far and wide. There's so little info that they actually tell you to see a sidebar on pg. 61...which then tells you to check out the Changeling supplement Isle of Might for more details. Really, White Wolf? Really?
The "Friends of Courage"
Literally a fanclub based around "Secret Agent John Courage." He may or may not have his own brand of breakfast cereal. This group of wanna-bes are the Jimmy Olsens of the Technocracy, helping out others by bending the rules while keeping their heads down. They probably get captured every five minutes or something.
Not so much a "secret society" but a mission, focused on cleaning house inside the Special Projects Division and the Reality Deviants that sponsor it. They are trying to do this without inciting a civil war or economic crash or having the other Deviants find out about the corruption within the Union. To accomplish this mission of surgical strikes and data retrieval, they...leak misinformation to one another so no one has any real idea what's going on? Okay, that sounds dumb as hell, but as pg. 30 sidebar tells us Invictus is a SECRET!!! that no one should know about. And that you should totally buy Tales of Magick: Dark Adventures and Technocracy: Syndicate for more details.
If you choose to accept it, is to try and save the damn planet. That despite dangers within and without, that the Union needs people like you (yes, YOU) to fix all these problems, because you're willing to stand and fight while others hide. Which is to say, you're a meatshield who is going to get instagibbed by some Mage using a reality bomb, but before that you've got hypertech and power enough to possibly take him down with you. Fun stuff!
What, you thought we'd get through a White Wolf book without four and a half pages of jargon to slog through? Well don't worry, I'm not going to subject you to that, because it'd be boring as hell to list all of these. Most of them are easy enough to understand within the structure of a sentence, but if there's any odd or alien term I'll explain it when it crops up.
What's wrong with your faaaaaace
Next time: Chapter 2: Enlightened Science, or more mumbo-jumbo about subjective reality.
You will soon have your God, and you will make it with your own hands.Original SA post
Guide to the Technocracy Part 3 : "You will soon have your God, and you will make it with your own hands."
Chapter 2: Enlightened Science
Or, how the Technocrats do their Thing. Which, as someone else spoiled for us, is basically Magic (without the K) wrapped up in technobabble. The technocrats spend a lot of time trying to tell us otherwise, even throwing in a Handy Sidebar to condense it into an easily-digestible format.
It's science, not magic! No, really!
The difference between science and True Enlightened Science, is that the latter requires an understanding of the former; that you can't apply the near-mythical effects without knowing that gravity exists. It wasn't until the Renaissance that people started thinking like this though, when man started "thinking about thinking." A thorough understanding of the underpinning of physics and science is needed to grasp Enlightened Science, and if you don't know how bone structure works then you won't be able to use your trusty skull gun.
Fly me to the moon, and let me play amongst the stars~
The Paradox Effect
Even with a doctorate in theoretical physics, hypertech can have its drawbacks. While normal science is safe for the most part--tests are easy to reproduce, and mistakes fall under a predictable pattern--superscience is entirely different. It is shrouded in theory and based on phenomenon, and uses incredibly complicated and detailed equations, and thus is more prone to go wrong in unpredictable and often messy ways. This is the same as Paradox in Mage, though it is important to know that to the Union, this is based on esoteric science and not magic . Whereas a Traditionalist Mage can create effects that defy reality, such as a fireball, a Technocrat will use a custom-built shotgun that fires souped-up Dragon Fire rounds. Both accomplish the same effect, but only one of them may eventually be disseminated to the public for common use.
And that is the big difference, in the end. The Technocrats are using groundbreaking theories and technology in a way that no one ever imagined before, and work at it until such time as the experiment becomes easily repeatable and is safe. Once it does, they eventually release it to the masses, whereupon it becomes "normal" and accepted within the mass consciousness. A pair of mirrorshades that can see in the ultraviolet spectrum is bordering on the supernatural now, but within a year it's out there and being worn by everyone who can afford it. This is, ultimately, how the Union beats Paradox.
Science and the Supernatural World
Sure, the Union knows what they do is science, but how do they explain a woman turning into a 10-foot-tall pile of fur and hate? Or the man with no heartbeat who thinks everyone is a blood pinata and he's the baseball bat? Easy: they don't know. Yet.
Humans, as they see it, are constantly expanding the horizon on what is possible, and nothing is beyond the realm of logical explanation. They may not be able to say why certain people can transform into a werewolf, but that's just today; tomorrow they may have an answer. It's all just beyond our understanding at the moment. No one thought that atoms existed a hundred years ago, and that splitting them could result into the most destructive force mankind has yet created--but we do now. It's a reality we can fathom and comprehend. Someone smart enough just has to find out, is all.
It's all delightfully naive, of course, but they make an interesting case that reality will try and quantify any strangeness that happens to crop up.
Especially damning is when they point it out in a Handy Sidebar. Whoops.
Just how does one become Enlightened, then? Well, no one really knows. There isn't a way to trigger such a state in people; while an agent could be the greatest chemist in the world, it doesn't matter a lick of he doesn't have the Inspiration. Sure, he might be able to understand certain hypertech principles so long as he's Enlightened enough to understand the underpinning, but so can pretty much anyone else. Some tech is simply so esoteric that it's almost impossible to comprehend...but as he becomes more Enlightened, it all becomes so much clearer to his mind.
Which is to say, this is the associative term for experience and increasing your stats, wrapped up in some purple prose
Here, have some clip art from Changeling.
The Fifth Essence
When reality came into existence, it left an indelible mark on things. Everything is made up of energy, or so science tells us, and squirreled away in there is the Primal Essence--the building block of life, the universe, and everything in-between. By manipulating the Primal Essence, one can channel creation into a raw form and can then be transformed into other states; it's the potential for further creation. Naturally this is highly sought after and is incredibly valuable, but how does one find it?
Nodes and Places of Power
Certain locations produce or store such energy in unusual amounts. Old strongholds for the Order of Reason (we'll get to them in another update) were created according to the laws of geometry or by meditations of masters--none of which is practiced any more, because we know better than to believe in all that crap. The Union tracks down and holds on to such places, harnessing the "Quinte Essence" and storing it in specially-made batteries or in gel form for later use. These aren't the only places that produce essence, though; locations of deviant abuse or "haunted houses" also create essence, which agents are studious in cleansing or burning the place down, depending on whether its salvageable or not.
The Technocracy uses this primal essence to augment their Enlightened Science, powering their fantastic machines via this valuable energy source. This is not at all different from Mages using quintessence to fire off spells, but the technocrats at least have the audacity to use Energizer battery packs to hide the effect.
Your coffee looks to be ready, sir.
Tools, Devices, Styles and Theorems
Finally, we have some rules to chew through! They aren't much, but it's at least something. Naturally it hides it behind a few paragraphs of text, but unlike dear old Gary it's much easier to separate the wheat from the chaff.
With a capital M, mind. This refers to the alliances within a Convention, and if you're trained within one of these 15 groups, you get a small perk. If your character declares he was trained as such, then he gets to reroll any 10's when using one of the accepted procedures. He keeps the 10, and the next roll added to the total result. If you're somehow lucky enough to roll another 10, you get to reroll that one too--theoretically you can keep on rolling 10's, but we all know in practice it'll never end up like that. And no, we don't know what any of this does yet.
cybernetic Procedures, mechanical manipulation
heavy weaponry, tracking deviants, detecting extradimensional anomalies
tracking deviants, weaponry
Dimensional Science, cartography
media manipulation, advertising
espionage Procedure, tracking deviants, weaponry
chemical creation (synthetic rituals)
engineering, energy and matter manipulation, surveillance, weaponry
surveillance Procedure, tracking devices, media manipulation
Whew! That sure is a lot. I'm sure it will all come in handy at some point
I have no idea what I am doing here
Basically, foci from Mage, only it's a specific type of technology. With it, you get a -1 Difficulty when attempting to use Inspiration with its declared Sphere; it lists an example of a Man in Black having a "handgun" as his primary tool in Forces for all Force Effects that incorporate it. You can still declare other technological items as apparatuses (apparati?), you just don't get the -1 Difficulty. Players are free to think up any apparatuses that would work with a given Sphere, but they do give us a list of common items and which Conventions they would possibly apply to.
Cybernetic implants, weapons, computers, programs, hand-held sensors
New World Order:
Badges, weapons, suits, vehicles, televisions, printed media, personnel records, psychological techniques, Room 101
Biomods, psionics, retrovirus culture, surgical augmentation, enhancement drugs
Money, credit cards, financial data, social skills, personal assistants
Weapons, enhancement armor, tracking devices, sensors, dimensional gates, transponders
Note that you can use personal assistants as foci.
They're rare and barely considered science! Poorly understood and looked down upon, you can declare you are a psionicist but you'll be scrutinized heavily. It recommends that no more than two Spheres can be used in this manner, but a psionicist can activate effects with just a bit of concentration and maybe a gesture or strange look...which makes them basically Mages. It's dangerous though, as Paradox likes to manifest as psychic backlash that could make you a at best, and at worst a total vegetable.
Meanwhile, on FTL...
Technocrats can disguise their supernatural actions via hypertech, allowing them to go out there and fight on the same level as reality deviants...but it's also their weakness. Without them they can't really use Inspiration or Spheres, as they're convinced that they can't really use such things without their tech. However, the game helpfully points out that it would be no fun if you couldn't play your characters because they had their toys taken away, so the book says you can do spontaneous Effects so long as it is properly disguised as either a flash of insight, Inspired Science, or cobbled-together tech ala MacGuyver. You need only come up with some application of scientific knowledge, however far-fetched it may seem; the listed example is of an agent using his Mirrorshades to spot a weakness in a ceiling and stepping away just as it falls behind him. It's mostly coincidence at play here.
The Nine Spheres
Yup, straight out of Mage! But they explain this away with like they do everything else, and to their credit they do a pretty good job of removing the mysticism from it.
Correspondence is the science of space, and the application and manipulation of it through mathematics and physics.
Dimensional science is the science of alternate dimensions, and accessing this dangerous science through quantum field generators and psionic powers.
Entropy is the science of chance, of Chaos Theory and the ability to affect decay through calculations and thermodynamics.
Forces is the science of energy, and is used widely by all technocrats thanks to things like engines and power regulators.
Life is the science of medicine, and the ability to manipulate it through gene-splicing and drugs.
Matter is the science of, well, matter! It can be altered through a variety of means, such as chemistry and magnetic fields.
Mind is the science of human consciousness, and is changed by apparatuses like computer implants and psionic training.
Prime is the science of reality, and this not-quite-understood Sphere is used with such things as reality stabilizers and Prime batteries.
Finally, Time is the temporal science, and is a stubborn and difficult Sphere that is aided by tools like perceptual enhancers and relativistic spinning compression points.
Next time: Chapter 3: History Lessons, or how it dumps a whole lot of timeline in your lap.
We are the Invisible Hand. We are the Illuminati. We come before and after. We are forever. And eventually... eventually we will lead them into the day.Original SA post
Guide to the Technocracy Part 4: "We are the Invisible Hand. We are the Illuminati. We come before and after. We are forever. And eventually... eventually we will lead them into the day."
Chapter 3: History Lessons
This chapter is all history, all the time. Pages upon pages of it; of conspiracies, past like-minded groups, and notable Enlightened people. It's an infodump, and as a result it's rather kind of boring at times. So I'm going to try and condense it as best as I can.
Three Interpretations of History
Not surprisingly, no one can agree on just what the heck happened thousands of years ago! But there's three main theories within the Union: elitist theories, conspiratorial theories, and empowerment theories.
Professor Tanaka is a main proponent of elitist theories in history. She brings forth the idea that there was (is) a handful of visionaries and leaders who set in motion key achievements, meetings and gatherings. "Leonardo da Vinci being considered an Enlightened" requires an elitist theory mindset, and that all important inventors and trendsetters in science were Enlightened. Makes a kind of sense!
Meanwhile, Professor Richardson is a historian of the conspiratorial theory. He proposes that for every major event in history, behind it is a secretive cabal or conspiracy of people behind setting such events into motion. "Queen Victoria being controlled by the Templars" requires an elaborate theory and mental jumping-jacks to prove this. For the most part, people in the Union think it's hogwash at best.
Finally, Terrance Whyte is strongly in favor of the empowerment theory, and so are a growing number of people in the Union. It claims that human history is the direct result of the Masses, who react favorably towards any event or invention that would advance science or reason. "Victorian Imperialism inspired the early ideals of a New World Order" needs this kind of mindset to make it work.
Prehistory and Early Civilization
An artists rendition of Chris Fields
Each Convention tries to trace its origins as far back as possible, right down to caveman Ugg smashing two stones together to make sparks. All of them claim one thing or another as making them the oldest Convention. Of course, there's no proof, and even the best Void Engineer can't travel back in time to find out, so it's all speculation from a bunch of nerds. It probably sounds like a Star Trek convention to overhear.
What we do know is that the first "urban" settlement was somewhere around 3000 B.C., where the Masses and the Enlightened banded together for survival and protection. Some theories claim that many Enlightened ruled human civilizations in the early days, under the guise of priests, philosopher-kinds, and any other highfalutin' title they could think of. One of the most well-known example is Thothmes, an Egyptian king who ruled around 1500 B.C. and who promoted a caste of priests and visionaries. Borne from this was the supposed "Scrolls of Thothmes"--documentations that would allow modern scholars to deconstruct some of these legendary societies and the secretive, special languages and sigils. But no one today has ever found them, so who knows if they exist!
In the early days, this was the only way to get streaming porn.
It all came crumbling down due to some in-fighting and the egotism of Thothmes, just like every other ancient civilization. Oh well!
Early China, Ancient Greece, and the Roman Empire
Meanwhile, in the far-flung past of 1000 B.C., China was up to some Enlightened goodness all on their own. During the Iron Age, the Zhou Dynasty had consolidated its power and through that, reason and science blossomed, and philosophy became practically a way of life. Lao Tzu's advocation of moderation, self-control, and balance would inspire generations and keep Ciphers in Iteration X busy for days.
Beyond the borders of China, the Enlightened in Greece began a similar philosophical movement. Even as early as 680 B.C., there were those that tried to define reality using reason, trying to define the limits of reality using pure intellect unfettered by faith or mysticism. Naturally, many debate over which famous philosopher was Enlightened or not and is a nigh-impossible thing to prove, but it doesn't stop people from trying to argue until they're blue in the face.
Mogwai not for sale!
But hey, Greeks are credited with a ton of medicinal discoveries and practices! In fact, the first Hippocratic Circle was formed there, and through them and other like-minded people they experimented and tried to improve on local healing beliefs and more common techniques. This ended up creating a split, though, where one camp was based on superstition, and the other on inspiration.
The Roman Empire helped in expanding science and reason to a height as of yet unknown, prompting art and technology. Enlightened could ply their trade without having to do so in secret or have it mired in myth, often with support from the Masses. A secret society known as the Craftsmen were first founded in Rome, focused on public construction for the public good.
Rome eventually fell, as we all know, but some think there was hidden motivations for that! Shock and awe! Dig deep enough in the White Wolf metaplot and you'll find that there was many supernatural forces (mostly Vampires) who vied for control of the Roman Empire; others say that pagan traditionalists sided with barbarians, rejecting technology and order. It could just have been the actions of normal men being greedy and stupid, but in the end, no one is certain. It lead into the always popular...
Disease! War! Famine! Everything sucks because all reason and order is gone! Local lords cut out their own small domains in bids of power, while Traditionalists form sactums and cabals throughout Europe, discarding science and reason and sticking to superstition. They're the ones who inspired practitioners of the dark arts, and helped in the spread of the occult underworld. During the chaos of Rome's fall, many great works and texts were lost or destroyed, and only a small amount was rescued and stored within churches. Which is a cool and very real history note, but in typical White Wolf fashion they call the church "ignorant of the knowledge they possessed" and spent their time advancing the paradigm of faith. So edgy, guys.
While all the dirty ignorant Europeans were busy killing each other, Arabia was safe from all that Roman fall-out and was being super awesome with mathematics, inventing algorithms and becoming a haven of the arts. Enlightened meditated in isolation, losing themselves in math, which sounds like the dullest acid trip ever but what do I know, I'm not a math nerd European math wasn't as advanced, so they couldn't comprehend some of what came out of Arabia. Go figure.
Von Reismann and the Early High Guild
Von Reismann was a rich noble and merchant who had not only the dosh, but the Inspiration to indulge in some esoteric studies. A learned scholar, he paid cabals to unearth lost knowledge, making him the first shady quest-giver, long before that chump Elminister was around. Supposedly he found the Scrolls of Thothmes, and using that eventually formed a secret society called the Campagnari in 997. They went out to find other cabals, known as Craftmasons, and pooled their resources.
Ol' Von was pretty scared of death though, and spent his entire life looking for ways to beat it. Thanks to his connections and studies, he eventually found the cult Solificati at the ripe old age of 70. They knew the secrets of eternal life, but it required daily ingestion of this "vital essence" and eventually disappeared from society but lived for hundreds of years after that. He became the first Master (or "Honori") in the Order of Reason, a position that requires extended or near-immortal lifespan to achieve; eventually Von died in the 19th century.
Pryo's great-great-great-great grandfather begins a fine tradition
Basically, he was an Enlightened Robin Hood, who very well may have inspired that particular legend, and who formed the Hanseatoc League. It was one of many lodges that competed during this time, with many Craftmasons vying for more Enlightened in their ranks. Many created false systems of mystic knowledge, to keep their brethren distracted with things like rote memorization and distorted versions of mystic tracts. After all, only a true visionary could discern the mysteries within the Chemical Wedding of Christian Rosencreuz and find the true information
It all blew up in their faces when the Council of Rouen formally banned most of these guilds, teaching the High Guild the life-affirming value of secrecy. But hey, they still had plenty of money, so they could still fund projects and such so it wasn't a total wash.
Because I know at least one of you was angry at this!
Humanity's Response: Mistridge
Meanwhile, some dinglehoppers were talking about the supernatural openly as a threat and saying they could totally protect the innocent from them. Which they couldn't, because they were daft as all hell. Still, they used this as an excuse to make a position of power for themselves as so-called "protectors," and in a place called Mistridge in France this all came to a head. Peasants formed a violent mob that was backed up by a society of Craftmasons that believed the Masses should be able to defend their world, and together they trapped the magi in their stronghold and blew them up with cannons
They build up schools and waterwheels and formed a night watch to beat back the horrible night (insert Belmont clan here), and word of their deeds went out to other communities. Soon, people were breaking covenants with the supernatural left and right, reason replaced magic, dogs and cats were living together--it was a pretty rockin' time for the common man.
The Thirteenth Century: Pushing the Limits of Reality
At around this time, the practice of Enlightened releasing information to the Masses first began. Often, an Enlightened would create an item only another Enlightened could use, but through repeated use and experiment they eventually hammered out the kinks and removed any flaws until perfected and deemed acceptable; then, they'd have a local inventor "create" these, thus ensuring that the masses would accept it. Not to say that some un-Enlightened inventors didn't create things that would surprise even Enlightened, but the majority were thought up and created by these secret societies. In the long run it worked, and was used on such people as Marco Polo and Roger Bacon to expand connections and introduce new ideas to the masses.
In all of this experimentation and approaching new grounds, Empowered craftsmen came across a force known as the Scourge--a backlash against those that "dared to dream too much." Basically, Paradox! This put a cramp in everyone's style, and eventually like-minded individuals decided it was best to band together in order to combat this new thread. Which eventually became...
...something we'll cover next time, because this is already getting kind of long in the tooth!
Next Time: History Lesson part 2, or 6 more pages of this crap.
A bunch of pretentious old men playing at running the world. But the world left them behind long ago. We are the future.Original SA post
Guide to the Technocracy Part 5: "A bunch of pretentious old men playing at running the world. But the world left them behind long ago. We are the future."
Chapter 3: History Lessons part 2
Now where were we? Oh, yes, we were about to talk about...
The Convention of the Ivory Tower
Hey! I can see my house from here!
As people got together and formed lodges, lines of communication improved, with many scholars sharing secrets. Craftmasons had been thinking for a while that hey, if you get enough like-minded people together into a single order, reason could prevail and defeat the chaotic Scourge. So, a cabal of Craftmasons decided to hook up in the Ivory Tower of Yossamy, which has some history about a shapechanger that tried to defend it but an experiment went wrong and it had to be cleansed and yada yada
The "forces of reason" (pft) carved the nine symbols of the Elemental Keystones on the base of the tower, marking their territory for reasons. They brought in representatives from disparate orders and pooled their resources, eventually forming the Convention of the Ivory Tower in 1325. The "Honori" of the order (which included von Reismann and Trevanus!) established methods of communication and coordination across vast distances, as well as forming alliances between nine factions, each representing the keystones. What happened during those days is pretty sketchy, since it was oh 700 years ago and not everyone kept immaculate records. But we know a few things!
Namely, they got all Political on themselves and formed bitter rivalries. Typical! Craftmasons and High Guild were at each others throats, the Artificers had their own plan and were trying to distance themselves from the Order, and the Seekers of the Void weren't listening to others and doing their own thing. In other words, human nature and competition was their downfall!
Some say the fall of Constantinople in 1453 was the major divide between the Dark Ages and the European Renaissance; but to the Technocrats, two major events are even more important: the birth of Gutenberg, who would later "create" the printing press, and Copernicus. If you don't know who that is, he's the guy who said Earth wasn't the center of the universe--and he did that by pure observation, without being Enlightened. Even this threw the Celestial Masters for a loop!
Gutenberg's printing press and the effect it had on history is well-known, and he was probably Enlightened because of the "obvious Mind influences" that made its creation possible (they don't explain the how here). The Masses loved this thing, and it let anyone who could afford a book and could read study and critique religious writing on their own time. But uh, this also lead to the Malleus Maleficarum being printed and if any of you chuckleheads make a spanish inquisition joke I'm going to string you up by your ass hairs.
Suffice to say, the Inquisition was considered a Good Thing to the Technocrats. It embodied the Masses rising up to fight and reject the supernatural, to hunt down and kill the supernatural lurking in the shadows. Which almost sounds cool, if you ignore all the innocent people who did die from it.
After the Inquisition
The book states that the 15th and 16th century "saw the rise of a new type of scholar: the artist-engineer" which is my new favorite title ever. Cellini, Duhrer, Ghiberti, Alberti and da Vinci combined artistic vision with science, and whether or not any or all of them were Enlightened they ushered in a new Age of Reason and Enlightenment. It was a pretty awesome time for life science and physics, and much of what we know today was established or discovered during this period of time.
The Scourge was still around though, and growing in power, and so a secret society called Parmenideans were formed to document what did and didn't invoke the scourge, while also perfecting Procedures that could be carried out in the presence of the Unenlightened without invoking the scourge. At around this time the term "paradox" was first coined, thus cementing the idea.
I'm really kind of wondering that the oars are for
Though there was a catalog of Do's and Don'ts, some were still pretty extreme and sought-after--namely, immortality or longevity. The Seekers of the Void finally introduced one such Honori into the ranks by the name of Tychoides, who spent most of his time contemplating disbelief and charting North America.
The Destruction of the Craftmasons
The High Guild and the Craftmasons were arguing with each other for a while here, with the former believing that free trade and commerce would create the ideal society, and the latter saying that a communal monitored by a hidden meritocracy was the better way to go. This all came to a head in 1649 with the Digger Rebellion, wherein a socialistic commune of English farmers occupied and cultivated the fields of their neighbors. The Craftmasons supported the farmers; the Guild, sided with the landowners. The result? 20 years of open war. The Guild drummed up support and influence in the Order, finally routing the Craftmasons in 1670 and eventually disbanding them.
Once they were out of the way, the High Guild stepped in and expanded their influence and money. Reginald Proctor began creating financial institutions, called Proctor Houses, and started rolling in an insane amount of profit, and by 1715 ol' Reggie was able to extend his lifespan until 1914.
With no one else to really defy them, the Guild became the biggest power-broker within the Order thanks to careful predictions and investments (and a bit of Adjustment of Fortune). Meanwhile, Traditionalists lash out with organized resistances, eventually shattering the symbolic White Tower of Languedoc in 1745. Otherwise, it was a prosperous time for many, with the notable appearance of Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations proposing the basics of modern economics. Exciting!
Now now Bobo, don't get so upset, the hair will grow back eventually
While the High Guild was off playing Recettear, the other Conventions were doing ! 1865 saw Gregor Mendel announcing that a scientist could predict genetic traits, thus creating what would eventually be the science of genetics! Cosians started experimenting with artificial insemination in an effort to create homunculi--life from intellect, no nature.
Charles Babbage created the first difference engine, which threw the Artificers for a loop, but they started experimenting and improving on the device pretty quickly. It even lead to a whole new convention, the Electrodyne Engineers! Their whole mission was to eventually make an artificial intelligence via the difference engine, with each iteration of the device being more powerful than the last.
The Industrial Revolution
Secret Agent Super Mustache
We all know what happened during this time: assembly lines and massive factories lead to the mass production of goods, with the employment of workers in large numbers for lower wages and long hours. A mixed bag in history, all in all, but one the Technocracy remembers fondly as being the time when science and reason would push away metaphors and mysteries. The Order of Reason's original ideals was no longer relevant, and the Old Masters set about a new time table for this bold new age.
Reginald Proctor was setting up more Proctor houses, 13 in all over North America, Europe, and Africa. He started a political movement based around the idea of a World Government, something the 13 Old Masters were fascinated with but which fell by the wayside when von Reismann finally offed himself; living in seclusion for 7 centuries finally caught up with him, mentally. Tychoides became the oldest Master, and was more interested in exploration of the world.
Von Reismann had a final wish, though! An artificial son made from his genetic material. Jacob von Reismann was a test-tube baby that was carefully educated to fit in with his carefully constructed social status, and this would be an excellent player character and not some boring-as-hell metaplot character we are never going to interact with ever.
Rathbone's Skeleton Keys
This whole mini-section has nothing much to do with anything in the grand scheme of things, so to summarise: policemen and private investigators formed a cabal behind Inspector Rathbone of Scotland Yard, they investigate the occult, and Reginald Proctor joins forces with them and they called themselves the Ivory Tower. Yeah that won't backfire on them.
Empire, Union and Alliance
London, as you can imagine, became the world capitol for the Guild's efforts, because it isn't like this whole book hasn't been anglophilic as it is. From the rubble of the White Tower of Languedoc grew the Technocracy. England set the stage for a new society of elites, and the Guild was at the top of it all; during this time, new Conventions were formed or combined, with the Cosians becoming the Progenators and the Celestial Masters and Seekers merging into the Void Engineers. Artificers became Iteration X, named because that is the stage at which their difference engine became self-aware. The term "Technocrats" became their formal title, and an ambitious time table for the next 50 years was set.
Victorian science held that there had to be some sort of medium to allow light to transmit; two scientists with an "interferometer" debunked this theory. In private, they made discoveries that allowed for the earliest application of Dimensional Science. Naturally the Void Engineers jumped on this, and began exploring the Horizon--the boundary between Earth and the Great Void--using primitive scout ships. It doesn't say if they were manned or not, which brings up some horrible imagery
At the same time, there was another organization that contested the results of the "interferometer experiment." They held that space couldn't just simply be a vacuum, and eventually defected and formed the Sons of Ether (aka the only cool faction from Mage). Speaking of space, in 1892 man finally stepped on the moon--this man being what was left of Kepler. Tychoides went on an epic journey around the sun in 1893, discovering the realm of Autochtonia , which circled around the sun in an opposite position from Earth.
There were other crackpots besides the Sons of Ether though, and the Electrodyne Engineers became so terrified of tales about Autochtonia and the threats of Iteration X that they defected in 1900 and became the Virtual Adepts.
The Modern Prometheus
With the Technocracy patronizing the various sciences, life became better for the Masses. Henry Ford's assembly lines brought jobs and shortened distances dramatically, eventually phasing out traditional craftsmen who couldn't (or wouldn't) learn new skills. In 1895 a scientist named Ploeye wrote his treatise Rassenhygeine, exploring the concept of controlling the breeding of humans to increase the occurance of desired traits. The Progenators reapplied his ideas for the good of the Technocracy.
Speaking of the Progenators, they attempted at one point to repair their difference with some exiled Sons of Ethers. This didn't go so well, as during a Symposium an Etherite named Dr. Frankenstein stole the research notes from a Dr. N. Frankie tried to finish this research before the gathering was finished, and ultimately creating a rampaging monster that escaped to the Antarctic. Frankenstein became the new Prometheus, a new symbol for science that could advance beyond the capacity to deal with the consequences.
As a side note, this would probably be the best place to introduce Prometheans to oWod. Perhaps as a form of radical science which reality can't fully accept yet, thus creating their desolation effect and why people reject them so badly. I don't know, I just really liked Prometheans as a concept and it's sad it wasn't that popular, even if I know it was such a difficult game to play out right.
The Modern Age
By the turn of the century, Tychoides' campaign of Void exploration had launched Horizon Constructs that became both observation platforms, and refueling stations for further exploration. Kepler began an ambitious project: to create a Dark Side Construct, a city on the dark side of the moon. I wonder if any Lunarians had a problem with that...
Before the Technocracy could implement a World Government, World War 1 happened--and not at all their fault! The Masses did it all on their own During this, it became evident that a need for policing the world from reality deviants when Lord Vargo, the Zeppelin Emperor and Son of Ether , attempted to hold the world hostage in 1914. Sadly his nefarious schemes were circumvented by the Operative Methodology--formed from the Ivory Tower during WW1. The New World Order was born from this need to keep things like this happening, and started the time-honored tradition of Reality Deviant-hunting.
Then WWII happened, which again had no Enlightened person behind it, nor supernatural component to drive Adolf Hitler to wage genocide and terror. It was one of the few times that the Technocracy and the Nine Traditions actually ceased to bother one another, as there were more serious concerns with cults and supernatural forces exploiting the carnage, and when a certain weapon of mass destruction was created both sides focused their resources on removing the largest cults of Nephandi from the world. Team Effort: World Police!
Rebuilding the World
Two Ghostbusters and the Judge from Ace Attourney get irradiated
In the late 1940's, the world was still reeling from the destruction of WWII, and the Technocracy gained strength in the industrialized nations by helping rebuild. Void Engineers focused on the Dark Side Construct and the network of Horizon Constructs, and found out a chilling discovery: we're not alone out there :ohno: Alien races such as Zigg'raugglurr, the Ka Luon, and others were encountered, and not given detail here at all as to what they are or their motivations!
The crash landing in Roswell in 1947 was the result of the Void Engineers mucking up with one of their scout ships. Despite their best efforts they couldn't keep the idea of aliens out of the public eye, so they decided to roll with it and throw up a cloud of misinformation. Working with the Progenators, they made "Men in Black" out of genetic data and would ensure they would self-destruct into trace elements upon death; sadly they aren't perfect, and require one or two real people to watch over them in case they glitch out.
A Virtual Adept by the name of Alan Turing circumvented a ton of planning about introduction of computers by creating his own. The NWO sent in some Men in Black to retrieve him before it could be finished, but they were too late and he'd already opened the gateway to a new world. Turing then killed himself to keep the NWO from interrogating him, which is actually really insulting towards the real-life Turing and it kind of pisses me off (Alan was a homosexual who was forced into chemical castration due to his sexual preference, and died from cyanide poisoning). Bad White Wolf, bad!
The Ivory Tower was busy with analysis of world politics. With the Cold War just beginning, and the threat of nuclear armageddon hanging over everyone's heads, the NWO suborned the academic idealism of the Ivory Tower and set about monitoring mortal politics and establishing a framework for a World Advisory Council. By this time they've thoroughly infiltrated the major governments of Earth.
The Progenators were busy too, splitting into three Methodologies so that they could infiltrate chemical plants and pharmaceutical factories. "One gene, one enzyme," the helix spiral, and Crick's documentation on DNA defined the science of genetics and the potential for eugenics, raising the possibilities well beyond what was understood.
Victory is Ours
Over the last century, science has been more pronounced and more successful than at any other point in the history of mankind. Technology advanced through reason and logic has become the most powerful force in the world; the masses struggle to keep up with ever-changing technology, while making a better world for them behind the scenes.
Iteration X's difference engine finally achieved self-awareness, and a whole generation of scientists learned to find unity in the vision of the Computer.
The Progenators have created cures for almost all of mankind's woes, and even cloning technology is an achievable reality.
The Syndicate's control of business is so thoroughly complete that their goal of superfluous governments is almost here, and soon man will enjoy the highest standards of living.
The NWO's stranglehold on media is strong, and they use the world wide web, radio transmissions, and televisions to gather a truly massive amount of information that they use to influence the Masses. Information is power.
The Void Engineers have mapped the entire planet, but that isn't enough. There's more to explore and discover, and they brace themselves for the next great journey into the Void and beyond.
Through the light of reason and technology, the world is theirs for the taking, and they look on to the future with bright eyes and wonder.
Bolt-plated crotches sadly never caught on.
Whew! That went on longer than I thought, but all of that history is behind us and we can get on to some meatier, more entertaining stuff. I'm just glad I'm done with this crap
Next Time: Chapter Four: Protocols, or how to actually use some of this stuff!
Observe your motivations for breaking the arbitrary laws of the current government.Original SA post
Guide to the Technocracy Part 6: "Observe your motivations for breaking the arbitrary laws of the current government."
Chapter 4: Protocols
While the previous chapter dealt with the history of the world as seen through the looking-glass of the Technocracy, Protocols brings us the now and today--what to actually do as an agent, and what rules you must follow. It doesn't bring much in the terms of game rules of course, because this is White Wolf and they like to stuff that somewhere near the middle and wrapped up in paragraphs of word salad. So, y'know, par for the course!
Enforcing the Limits of Reality
The world needs rules, or else all turns to chaos. We've been over this before, but it bears repeating because the book isn't going to let that concept drop any time soon! These rules include the idea that the Masses cannot know about the supernatural; when they did, it only made those forces stronger, because once they were known it only magnified their threat. So, the Technocracy has to work in shadows to keep these threats unknown, because if Regular Joe and Ordinary Jane knew there were werewolves it would...make the furbags stronger in an age of guns and hypertech? Yeah that makes sense, sure, let's go with that.
The Union is a conspiracy based on a common goal: One World, One Truth, One Reality. To anyone on the outside it appears as a monolith; to anyone inside, it's a secret society created to push the interests of the technological elite. Agents think of it as a pyramid, and every agent has to know their position within the building-blocks of the Union's structure to make this machine run smoothly.
SCP-682 was soon barred from daily walks after this incident.
Where you end up depends on if you're Enlightened or not. Ordinary citizens don't really have any dealings with the Union, or if they do it's hidden from them. If you are Empowered, or show exceptional promise, you're promoted to permanent employee; where you go after that can depend on how Inspired you are! Inspiration 1 or 2 makes you support staff at many Front-Line Constructs, and make excellent managers for cells of citizens working for the Technocracy. They are also often given the derogatory term of "proles" if they are the overeager type.
Spend enough time working for The Man and you just might join the ranks of the Enlightened. Some are processed Reality Deviants, conditioned criminals saved from the madness of freedom; others are voluntary recruits. If you can perform more than a few minor Procedures, then you've got the stuff needed to be a good agent.
Above a team of agents (or "amalgam") is a Supervisor , who sends the team into the field with information and gear. They can be from any of the five Conventions, but are usually chosen due to their field of expertise; NWO coordinate espionage, Progenitors for dangerous life forms, Void Engineers tackle missions dealing with the Gauntlet, Syndicate is all about the dosh, and Iteration X plan surgical strikes. Amalgams can also enlist a coordinator, who handles surveillance and communication with Correspondence Procedures.
Each Supervisor must answer to the local Symposium , a group of experts who plan out and enact missions in a given geographical area. The board is advised by reps from each of the Conventions. If an agent or the whole amalgam is called before the board, Something Went Wrong and you're probably up to your ass in shit.
Symposiums answer to Masters , who are far removed from the front lines but expect regular reports nonetheless. On the Horizon, said Masters are usually busy sorting through a tremendous amount of data and info, and to them there are no isolated problems--only dangerous trends and poorly designed policies. So when a rule doesn't make sense and can't be used properly, these are the guys to blame!
In the Horizon Constructs, there's one real power: Control, the ghost in the machine and collective that maintains order. It sees through the eyes of Watchers, peering at the Front Lines using televisions and camera, and speaks and acts through the walls of Room 101. At any time, anywhere, Control can intervene.
Within the Deep Universe, dwelling in perfect contemplation, is the Inner Circle of the Technocracy, who process the data that Control brings to them. Here, they set the Time Table for the next 15 years, which is then distilled down the ranks in lesser forms so that agents can more easily grasp the plans of these inscrutable individuals.
As you can guess, having Rank in the Union has some privileges behind it! There's roughly five level fo authority, but some Conventions and Methodologies use different terminologies than what is presented below.
is not a term used for the Masses, but rather those that work for the Union.
are often those who have the capacity for Inspirational Science, and are at most familiar with minor Procedures.
are often you, the player character! Agents with a few months or years of service and experience.
either supervise amalgams directly, supervise Constructs, or serve as a rep for the Symposium.
are amongst the most powerful of authorities, able to supervise a whole geographical area directly and see through the eyes of Control.
Anything higher than this form the Inner Circle, run by the Old Masters.
OBEY THE DOLLAR
The Precepts of Damien
An Enlightened bureaucrat by the name of Damien penned a set of articles, or "mission statements," that have become the standards of which the Union is held to. These Six Articles of the Precepts are invoked regularly, but there's still much debate over how to agree on any one point--and as you can imagine, none of the Conventions have ever seen eye to eye on even one of these, let alone six.
Article One: Bring stasis and order to the universe. Predictability brings safety. Once all is discovered and all is known, Unity will be won.
In essence, this article is an excuse to act in any way that is deemed necessary to maintain order. Patterning all of reality is a pretty epic undertaking, so it has to be pursued within degrees or else it would take even longer. Any project that supports this article is given top priority.
Article Two: Convince the Masses of the benevolence of science, commerce and politics, and of the power of rationality. Conflict and suffering will be eliminated in our Utopia.
The first part was pretty easy and required little effort; today, science is the new religion in the World of Darkness. The second half, on the other hand...not so simple. Each Convention has their own concept of Utopia, and it's difficult to figure out which one the Union is trying to make...nevermind simple human nature, where people will argue over the simplest of things. The Union has been experimenting with said Utopias via colonies in the Deep Universe for the past 10 years, but it hasn't been going well (big surprise!)
So uh Bob, you wanna take this one?
Article Three: Preserve the Gauntlet and the Horizon. Chaotic individuals who open gateways with Impunity threaten the stability of our world. Uncontrolled portals also allow outside forces, such as Nephandi, access to our world. This must never happen.
Protect the Earth. This is pretty much a no-brainer, and even the Traditionalists know this is something you enforce with a zero-tolerance attitude! A coordinator citing Article Three with a nerve-wracking "Our Dimension has been breached!" can rally amalgams to fight like never before
Article Four: Define the nature of the universe. Knowledge must be absolute or chaos will envelop all. The elemental forces of the universe must not be left to the caprices of the unknown.
Written largely for the benefit of the more scholarly Conventions, the Ascension War isn't always fought with black helicopters and minigun-toting cyborgs. By defining what they know, and understanding what they don't, the Union hopes to use their research and academia to further enact their vision, and to hopefully remove the effects of Paradox. In theory that works, but in practice...nah, not one bit.
Article Five: Destroy Reality Deviants. Their recklessness threatens our security and our progress toward Unity.
Easily the most controversial of the Articles, due in no small part from the words "Reality Deviants." Being as there is no one set of protocols defining this term, it's up to an individual Supervisor and his amalgam to evaluate each threat on a per-case basis. Marauders and Nephandi are a clear and present danger, but what of a budding Mage who doesn't know or understand his powers? Do you eliminate him, or do you hire him on and scrub him of all his bad habits? And what of those within the Union itself, who create and use science so advance it threatens to rip a hole in reality? Some want any and all supernatural threats killed; others think that teaching them the error of their ways is more prudent.
Article Six: Shepherd the Masses; protect them from themselves and others.
Because the common man is an idiot just as liable to shoot their cousins as much as they would a bloodsucker, this article was drafted to state the obvious, and to act as a catch-all to justify any self-serving action "in the line of duty." Some proponents of the empowerment theory attack the first part of the article, asking the important question: If the Technocracy is empowered by the consensus of the Masses, are the sheep starting to lead the shepard? Who controls them? Who indeed????
See? They didn't spell it wrong! They just used it in a stupid manner.
The Technocracy wouldn't have gotten as far as it did over the past few centuries without some sort of plan for their grand vision, and the best way to implement these ideas is through time tables. Meeting regularly, the Conventions gather together like clockwork every 15 years, and spend a good chunk of it just arguing back and forth. The Inner Circle then collates its input into larger mission statements. Front-Line agents don't have to worry much about this, so they leave all the ideological crap to the brainheads above them.
On the flipside, there's no single document recording the Time Tables for the Old Masters. Maybe they don't have a plan at all and are just winging it, who knows!
Each Convention has a set of their own goals and prioritizing its most important goals.
Iteration X: Historically having the most ambitious goals, It-X doesn't always reach these goals; a perpetual motion machine was one of their biggest flops in terms of practicality. Their current holy grail is the Grand Field Theory, which sets about the nigh-impossible task of categorizing and classifying all matter and energy, including unseen energies , paranormal manifestations and all the other odd forces affecting the world. If they can't classify it, they eliminate it. Along the same vein, they have a strong movement within their ranks to reinstate the Pogrom.
The NWO: The Boys in Black are more focused on the past right now, trying to write up a definitive history of the Technocracy. It's proving to be tough, and they've had to amend and alter historical documents and play politics like a boss to get some of this done. Unlike Int-X, they keep a "waste not want not" when it comes to rebel mages, and make it a point of processing them as often as possible.
The Progenitors: They've been focusing on the Human Genome Project for a good 30 years, gathering genetic material from around the world. They hope to unlock the biological factors that lead to Enlightenment, unlocking the reasons why the human genome forms consciousness and awareness. What they do with that date, on the other hand--monitoring the masses through "gattaca codes," human cloning, genetic testing--can be a bit circumspect.
The Syndicate: They're trying to do a cashless society! That is to say, the Corporate Convention would theoretically have absolute control over the world's finances and put the Technocracy at an unassailable position; in layman's terms, it means they could monitor any and all financial transactions. I'm sure some libertarians are getting mad over this.
The Void Engineers: Our favorite Convention scoff and let the academicians and politicians worry about all that "real world" crap; the Voidies are busy strengthening the Gauntlet, and their Time Tables reflect this. They're busy making more Horizon Constructs, more colonies, and further exploring the Deep Universe
High-ranking agents like to set long-term goals, but amalgams don't give a crap. They're down there in the muck living day by day. Protocols define the methods of which they can achieve during a mission, and they follow any changes in local protocol very closely. One misunderstood or ignored protocol could spell disaster.
How the hell did she hide that banana clip in her coat?
The Six Degrees of Separation
Get your Kevin Bacon jokes out of your system now. You done? Good.
Agents of the five Conventions know of the six degrees between absolute loyalty and near ostracism. All agents fall between this spectrum, from the Old Masters to New Recruit Johnny. A new agent starts at the "third degree," where his loyalty must be maintained meticulously. Deviating from protocol drops loyalty, and after the first three strikes a sixth degree agent is watched very carefully for any deviance. Usually they don't last long unless they do some spectacular stuff. And before you ask, yes they keep detailed records and reports, so they've got a paper trail on you.
In the chance that the entire amalgam has mucked things up something fierce, they're called into the local Symposium for a formal hearing. They can reorganize the amalgam, assign new agents, or even call for extermination of key members. If they're lucky, the amalgam is given 48 hours to find contrary evidence and convince the Symposium, which honestly sounds like a really cool idea for a couple sessions.
Fighting against reality-cracking magicians and horrible werewolves can make even the toughest person crack after a while. As such, the Union employs Psych Ops, doctors and psychologists who are trained to deal with agents suffering from all that stress. They often come from the NWO, but they can be from just about any Convention and have their own set of specialties. Most of the time, Psy-Ops deals with routine evaluation and adjustments, restoring an agent's sense of balance with a few exercises and daily routines to make them get over a tough day.
Sometimes, though, an agent can break, and that is when they're called in--or a whole team, depending on the severity. A preliminary evaluation is made to see if the agent can be salvaged--and if they've broke rank and ran, if they can even be caught. Psy-Op teams will hunt such an agent down and try and make him see the error of his ways and get him back on track; afterwards, they check to be sure the rest of the amalgam and Symposium aren't corrupted by his or her influence. Psy-ops also do interrogation and mental conditioning, breaking in reality deviants and building them from the ground up into loyal, obedient agents.
Of course, this begs the question of who watches the Watchers...
WARNING! Creepy White Wolf rules up ahead!
They even endorse this crap.
So yes, there's social conditioning, which in Technocracy terms means loyalty and subservience to the Union. It's exactly what you think it means: mind control, in a roundabout way. Beating good behavior into a person and slavish devotion to the cause is A Thing, and it's represented by a Conditioning score of 1-10. It depends on their original training; someone recruited from the front lines is a 3, an enhanced agent from a Horizon lab is brainwashed with a 5, and a Technocrat raised in a Deep Universe colony is a 7.
Conditioning can be overlooked by Supervisors and Control, and there are trigger words they can implant! Did I mention Control can see through everything? Yeah this isn't creepy at all or anything. Also, an agent who abducts and isolates a mage can attempt to instill some Social Conditioning of their own; if the first attempt succeeds, they begin with a rating of 1. Through additional conditioning and a Technocrat with enough Mind influence, they can raise this rating even higher.
You can try and break your conditioning by spending a point of Willpower, and either making a temporary Willpower roll or a proper Mind Procedure. If the amount of successes exceeds the agent's Conditioning score, he's free to disobey his commands for a full scene. It's also possible for another Technocratic authority to condition an agent more thoroughly than Control! No, a Technocrat cannot mind-fuck someone with a higher Arete or a higher ranking than them, so you can't just condition an Old Master.
I really don't want to know what Cyborg Teddy Roosevelt is doing to that man
And you know what? On that horrible note, we'll continue later.
Next Time: More of Chapter 4, only with 50% less mind control!
Try that again, I'll kill you myself.Original SA post
Guide to the Technocracy Part 7: "Try that again, I'll kill you myself."
Last time we covered mind control, which...uugh. It's better going after that, though, so let's slog on through...
So we know what happens when a team violates protocol, but what kind of parameters must an amalgam work under? That depends on the location. There's a set of basic standing policies the Technoracy maintains, and is the baseline expectation for every agent. These can be altered by the Symposium, but only after much legal dispute with their Masters. So uh, probably not worth the effort.
1.0 Do not openly acknowledge the presence of the occult to anyone outside the Technocracy.
2.0 Do not employ blatant Inspirational Science unless authorized. The use of vulgar displays cannot be tolerated, either inside or outside the Union.
In other words, if you have the choice between a 9mm pistol or a hypertech Phase Cannon, use the goddamn pistol unless your boss says so. Paradox and the Union will both slap you silly otherwise.
3.0 Do not communicate with deviant mages unless authorized to do so as part of a mission.
This one is a little bit trickier, because an overenthusiastic agent could speak with a Traditionalist and totally ruin years of effort by opening his big fat mouth. Agents are given some leeway on missions, because their job requires asking questions and following leads, but check with your supervisor first before asking about that local sports team, m'kay?
4.0 Do not cross the Gauntlet or Horizon without authorization.
Are you a Void Engineer? No? Then don't do it. You'll probably just get instagibbed.
5.0 An amalgam may program its own assigned employees and citizens. The members of an amalgam may not affect the programming of other agents.
See: social conditioning and all that entails. But in short, Supervisors are allowed to make sure a team has all the employees it will need, and that programming "proles" is standard procedure.
6.0 Any protocol may be subject to change with authorization of the local Symposium.
This clause is basically there for any Storyteller that wants to change protocols within their own game. It's a bit metagame-y, but handy nonetheless.
Standard Protocols Regarding Supernatural Groups
The Technocracy is aware of most of the major supernatural groups out there (or, well the ones that were written at the time of the book anyway). As you can guess from the title, they have a set of standard protocols in regards to dealing with such Reality Deviants, and the following assumes a "default value" in most major cities. That is, unless the ST stirs up a crossover, in which case it can all go to hell in a handbasket!
Kill on sight. Terminate with extreme prejudice.
Notify superiors, investigate and destroy on receiving authorization.
Notify superiors on contact. Await evaluation, and carry out specific contingency assigned.
Observe, but to not engage. Threat level minimal.
Do not initiate deadly force unless absolutely necessary. Call for back-up, plan exfiltration. Monitor and evaluate if possible. Caution advised.
Threat level low. Do not disturb. Race almost extinct. Await confirmation of extinction.
Document, attempt to rationalize and sanitize all evidence. Gather testimony and alter memories as appropriate.
Even the Technocracy doesn't give a shit about Faeries.
They're pretty spot-on about werewolves though
Structure and Influence
There's many that think the Technocracy is some sort of monolithic organization that's infiltrated every aspect of society and watches over everyone with their army of cloned cyborg men in black. This isn't true! You can't clone a cyborg, for one, there's just too many mechanical gubbins to make that possible.
But all seriousness aside, the Union simply doesn't have the man-power to police the world 24/7. If they did, they wouldn't be at war with everything, now would they? Instead, they have to bank on the tactic of using the least amount of force ot achieve the most return--whether that's financial, scientific, or on the front lines. With only a few thousand Enlightened, and perhaps four to five times that number in Un-Enlightened assistance, they don't really have the people to waste on frivolous actions.
The Technocracy excels in fielding its forces efficiently and bringing in reinforcements quickly, and being under a single banner means they are willing to band together when things get rough. A mage running around turning skyscrapers into sausages will have the entire Union after his ass, while Traditionalist mages are so fractured you'd be lucky to get even a half a dozen mages to group together. In that regard, the Technocracy is organized in a way that few others are, which is their major strength.
But of course, they can also just get the Masses to do their grunt work for them, and they do this all the time. Why hack into a bank when you can just get the teller to do it for you with a phone call? Maximum return with minimal effort.
Because of the aforementioned lack of manpower, the Union has to exercise some influence over the un-Enlightened who run a city's day-to-day affairs. The Syndicate and the NWO are best at this (unsurprisingly), but just about any Convention has someone important in their pocket. The Technocracy keeps them there via advising, befriending, blackmail, and other such sundry means of control. This keeps them from catching attention, since any would-be detectives have to go through miles of bureaucratic red tape before they find the ones pulling the strings--and by that point, the Technocracy probably has some contingency plans set in place.
Most agents and assistants keep mortal jobs as cover and for everyday living, since the Union presumably doesn't pay enough to live off of. This also allows them to look out for any deviations in the norm; a Progenitor working in the college biology department has a means to not only do his own experiments, but watch out for those trying to make a super-virus to use against the city. Those in the federal government have it even better, as they can call on mortal back-up when things get heated, and have access to all kinds of goodies that would otherwise draw undue attention.
Clawhand sets up the next episode of Dinosaucers for Lex Luthor
Setting up Fronts
A "front" operation is a business or office that looks innocuous enough, but is secretly a place that works for the Technocracy. Amalgams often set up fronts as a base of operations and to support themselves and their jobs, and can pull some serious influence when needed. A few loyal citizens are brought in to get the ball rolling, but once it does it behaves as any other business. Most importantly, the front has to look and act like any other place of employment, which means the big shiny toys of the Technocracy have to be stowed away to not draw attention....though, if it's kept disguises as "company business," workers can be conned into working on Union tech without asking questions. A job is a job, after all, and most people don't really care all that much so long as they get a paycheck.
Know Your Demographic
When you set up your nefarious base of operations though, you need to know what will work in a given area. The industrialized cities are the Technocracy's stomping ground, to be sure, but what about more rural areas? Or going abroad to a remote location, or third-world country? You can't exactly plop down a McDonald's in the poor warzones of central Africa; that would completely go against their mandate of operating in secrecy. Thus, it is the amalgam's job to scope out a location and find a suitable front to set up, and in places that outright reject science and reason this can be extremely difficult. In such cases, improving the area itself is likely the first order of business, as that can ensure a stronger foothold for the Union and to the advancement of mankind as a whole.
Killer Satellites and Super Surveillance
Just because you've got people working in the police force and local government, have data coming in from contacts, and have a standing order to crack down on any RDs doesn't mean you've got it made. You have to enforce the Union mandate, and that ain't no easy thing. Having all the best techno-toys in the world won't help you when a deviant decides to slip under the radar and lie low; having a big camera doesn't help a lick when you don't know what you're looking for. The Technocracy will hand out some gear, but only when it's clear you need to use it, as letting anything fall into the hands of their enemies would be a Bad Thing.
In short, there is no global super satellites that monitor the whole world for you--that's something you have to do on your own. Like a good old fashioned police officer, you have to hit the pavement and do the tracking yourself (with the assistance of the Union's amazing tech, of course). Adding too much of said tech can complicate things and risk a Paradox Effect, so the human element is the go-to for any problem that needs solving.
Thankfully, amalgams have amazing connections, and even if a mage runs out of town the local Symposium will inform other Symposiums with the necessary details, drawing up a detailed report that's handed out to all other amalgams. Suddenly, the whole Union knows what to look for, and after that it's only a matter of time before the deviant mage is caught. And while there are Primal-charged missiles and neuron bombs at the Union's disposal, they only use those when needed; if every RD suddenly exploded, it'd draw a lot of attention. Once again, it's about effectively using the power at your disposal, in as discreet a fashion as possible, for the biggest return.
A bomb's a bad choice for close-range combat
What You Can Get Away With
In short: quite a lot, once you've figured out how to operate in a quiet, secret organization. There's all sorts of little tricks, clean and dirty, that can be learned on the job and with a bit of digging. Information is the biggest tool of all, and with it you can pull up detailed dossiers on all sorts of threats--or get someone to do it for you. In addition, mundane and super science are on your side, and with some Inspired Science you can get even the simplest of tools to perform virtual miracles in the right circumstances. Authority is your shield; if faced between the choice of a man with a badge and a gun, and the high wizard of flaming sausages, most people are going to side with the guy who looks less frightening.
An agent needs to use what he has on hand, and while Inspirational Science can get you far, there's rules in place that shouldn't be broken, which means it's just easier to use more mundane tools to get the job done. Arresting a deviant mage is a lot more difficult when your hypertech suddenly backfires and you're hit with a Paradox Effect! However, a lot can be excused when arresting such people; a vampire cutting up people in a club can be handled with minimal fuss if you and your buddies come in and take him down and tell the press it was just some psycho on PCP. If it's Dagon ravaging the shoreline, though? Yeah, time to call in the BFG.
The crux: keep it quiet. So long as you're not caught in the act, you can probably get away with it.
Technocracy in Space
Quaid, start the reactor!
Space must look pretty inviting compared to our mudball of a planet. No Masses, no morons, no pollution, no bloodsuckers or shapeshifters to deal with. A shining beacon of science and hope, right? Well...no, not really.
Space is just as bad as groundside, if not worse. Beyond a carefully contained artificial environment is the cold void of space, and any accident--however small--could spell a quick and violent death for anyone out there. Aliens and bizarre entities are rife out there, especially once you get past Mars. Heck, sometimes earthside threats will appear too, such as a group of shapeshifters that somehow got on Mir and had to be taken out by a team of Marines. Things sometimes slip past the defense line and end up on earth, causing the Void Engineers no end of trouble.
There's some advantages to being out in space, though. High technology and Inspirational Science work really well out there, likely due to a lack of gravity and contaminants. Devices can defy physics due to the unique environment, allowing spaceships to cruise between star systems. Places like Ares City on Mars and Tenebrous Station in orbit with it can provide places to allow experiments that aren't feasible on Earth. Sure, you have to deal with the mind-numbing authority of the Technocracy and the boredom of day-to-day life with little deviation, but that's a small price to pay for
However, all is not well up in space. The program has taken a few hits as of late; it's harder to maintain fleets with the complex technology employed, and several Deep Colonies have either had to evacuate or gone dark from Nephandi invasions, aliens, and unknown reasons. It's a difficult frontier and one that isn't showing any returns just yet, but with time it may yet yield results that are more than worth the effort put into it.
Next Time: Chapter Five: The Conventions, aka Void Engineers are the best Engineers!
Do you even have a passing interest in doing your job?Original SA post
Guide to the Technocracy Part 8: "Do you even have a passing interest in doing your job?
Chapter Five: The Conventions
After 100 pages, we're finally getting to the Conventions themselves! We've covered some of the basics about them, but this chapter goes into greater detail. It also explains why each of them is terrible in their own, unique way!
These guys are ALL about technology, and believe that integrating tech into the human body is the best idea ever. They have a point about that, though; the human form is fragile, with organs failing and disease rotting away the body and mind. A machine is precise and exact, strong and easy to repair. To them, meshing these tools seamlessly with humanity will lead to perfection, and is the clear and logical choice.
They're also really boring. Somehow an entire faction of a game made the concept of cyborgs dull.
The earliest example of Hipster
Most of this was covered during the History Info-Dump a few posts back, but as a refresher course: modern It-X started during the industrial revolution with the discovery of the difference engine. Fascinated with the potential of this machine, the Artificers continued to modify and improve on the design, until somewhere around the turn of the century it reached sentience at its Xth iteration. Happy as a clam, they changed their name to Iteration X in its honor, and redirected most of their research to biomechanics.
It-X is described as the Union's strong right arm. Their bio-mechanical HIT Marks are effective and disposable shock troopers, and produce portable weaponry that most of the conventions have use for. They are also the foremost in mechanical implants that provide a variety of effects, and with Force as their main Sphere of influence, they are valuable Front Line agents. They like to think themselves as the brains of the operation, which is partially true what with their excellent analysts and planners, but the other Conventions think them too rigid in thought.
Their home base is Autochthonia! It's also the bulwark for the Union itself, since it's such a pace of perfect order and logic, and with such great resources, that most of their enemies would find it difficult to attack.
As you could probably guess, hierarchy in It-X is very strict. In theory, everyone has an assignment, a Supervisor, and a set of directives; in practice, it isn't so easy. Freedom ranges from near-autonomy, to micromanagement inside Autochthonia itself.
Kamrads are the un-Enlightened employees of It-X, running the gamut from secretaries, to lab assistants, janitors, and slaves, all the way up to professional scientists and engineers. HIT Marks and Cyber-Tooth Tigers fall under this purview too, for some reason. It-X prefers to leverage the weight of Kamrad influence when trying to introduce new technology to the Masses.
Ciphers are the Enlightened recruits, who have to go through a lengthy training program that's supposed to divest them of previous ties, empower them, and test their mettle. Training camps look like a cross between prison, boot camp, and electroshock thereapy Most don't know they're being de-Ciphered, they just know they're stuck inside a grueling job. Those who absorb their training show promise and are usually graduated to Armature status, the lowest in the Enlightened rank; the ones that break are watched for potential security problems, and usually end up suffering "accidents."
Armatures that rise in rank and demonstrate loyalty and competence can become Programmers , who research in their own laboratories or de-Cipher incoming recruits. Above the programmer is Controller, , whose duty is to direct Programmers and Armatures and act as liaisons with other Constructs.
Biomechanics is the most visible of the Methodologies for Int-X, specializing in replacing organs and tissue with mechanical replacements. HIT Marks and other cyborgs are produced alongside the Progenitors. Most of the successful Armatures bear some fruit of their labor within their bodies. They've been a big boon to the masses, even though introduction of some replacements haven't been so successful (mechanical hearts didn't go over well). Other Technocrats don't really like the idea of merging body and machine, for good reason! It has a tendency to fail if it's too advanced, and they think people with computers in their brains are being controlled. Even those who manage to keep their cool without going nuts tend to be distant and cold. unable to relate to others.
Statisticians are all about calculating probability, via careful use of Entropy and Time Procedures. They closely monitor the activities of Deviants and the Masses, attempting to spot further dangers to the Union. Basically they gather a ton of data and predict the probability of success for any action the Union takes, whether it's introducing new tech or making a public relations ploy. Sometimes they muck this up and it doesn't work, leading to substantial losses; other times, they get it horribly right, like how there's a 75.367% chance that the Masses will destroy themselves within 10 years!
Finally, Time-Motion Managers manufacture stuff for the Conventions and the Union as a whole. Current research is focused on advanced electronics, nanotech, weapons, and even stronger synthtech material. Their equipment isn't anywhere as advanced or innovative as say, Sons of Ether or Virtual Adepts, but they make up for it with mass production and reliability. They do have a passion for technology despite all that, and try to popularize new advances among the Masses. Dissidents say that T-M Ms perpetuated the horrible conditions of the Industrial Revolution, and that there's still slave camps out there run by them, but the T-M Ms claim they eradicated that a long time ago. Or did they???
They think putting Linux boxes in their brain-box is a great idea.
As if it wasn't spelled out enough so far, they inform us that there's worse things they do! Kamrads and Ciphers are worth little consideration within It-X, often becoming guinea pigs for new technologies if they fail. HIT Marks or other cybernetically-enhanced beings are stripped of their humanity, making them useful but terrifying tools, often short-lived tools to be disposed of once they are finished with their task. As well, many inside It-X worry that technology has become their master, rather than the other way around; the Computer terrifies many former Artificer, and unbeknownst to most outside It-X aren't aware that this Convention's human leaders have all but capitulated to their creation. Little more than ambassadors for Friend Computer, these Comptrollers report regularly to Autochtonia. Some wonder if Iteration X actually created Computer, or whether it's something else entirely that's masquerading as the machine. There's even those that wonder if Dimensional Science, the science Computer denies to its servants, would reveal its true nature.
Theories and Practices
Iteration X likes big, shiny toys, Paradox be damned! Most of their toys look like something out of a sci-fi movie, with some being downright vulgar (vulgar as in Paradox-inducing, you sicko). They figure, why use a mundane thing like a hammer or paper clip when they can use a Hypertech Space-Hammer or a Spacial Distorting Paper Clip? Naturally they are very reliant on these things, and has lead to a profusion of specialized equipment. Procedures using detection, such as Sense Life or Perceive Forces , are usually sensors either worn, carried, or implanted; if visible, they're covered in blinking lights and chromed out for maximum bling. Better Body would be surgical implants or nanomachins. Primarily, Procedures rely on either internal devices or hand-held weapons for external Procedures.
Some It-Xers defy their masters and learn Dimensional Science anyway, often from Void Engineers, but they aren't above going after Sons of Ether or even Hermetics to learn knowledge of this forbidden Sphere.
Lucio Dandolo (1327-1713) was the lesser scion to a family in Venice, who entered apprenticeship in the Hermetic House Verditus. He spent nearly a century there perfecting his Art before running off to the Artisan's Forgers Guild, and with his devices based on emerging theory won him much fame in the Order of Reason and Council of Nine Traditions (whoa, he must have gotten around). In the 18th century he finally got shanked by the Flambeau Archmage Ardentia on the road to Milan. His old weapons are much sought-after by both sides of the Ascension War, as they remain unmatched in power and elegance. Guess adding some brass rods to a BFG makes them fancy!
Brice "Leather 'Nads" Hill (1971-??) was a total badass with a record-setting number of reported kills: 63 RDs, including 6 Nephandi, 3 Marauders, 9 Tradition mages, a pack of werewolves, the fomori they were fighting, 7 vampires, 2 Bygones and 4 unidentified "others." It doesn't state if they all died at the same time, but given he's clearly a Player Character, they probably did. He was last seen in 1989, emptying a depleted-uranium shell chain gun at the PAradox manifestation Wrinkle
The Matriarch (1953-present) isn't so much a person as a creature, a half-human half-computer that acts as a watcher for the prison Construct MECHA. Legend says that two twin sister Technocracts were chosen, their brains scanned and a combination of the two was used as a template for the machine intelligence. Now she watches over MECHA with a stern eye (or sensor), and manifests as a stern-looking middle-aged woman with a Victorian hair bun. Personally I can't imagine her as anything but the Cyborg Midwife from System Shock 2.
Next Time: The New World Order, or an example of just how badly they ripped off MiB!
This war all around us is being fought over the very meanings of words.Original SA post
Guide to the Technocracy Part 9: "This war all around us is being fought over the very meanings of words."
Chapter Five: The Conventions, Continued
The New World Order
The NWO is about control. Control of information, control of communication, what we see and hear, who we vote for. They collect data and turn that into truth for the Masses--or what the Masses wish to be the truth, that is. Ostensibly they control this information for the good of the Masses, turning their belief in science and making it a truth, something to be relied upon and trusted--and it's worked. The Gauntlet is stronger, Bygones are removed from earth, and immeasurably aiding the Union in its defense and aid of humanity. Considered the most humane of Conventions, they rely little on technology, preferring the soft sciences of sociology and psychology.
Scott Summers soon became a trusted agent
They are also one of the most manipulative bastards in the Union, and use their massive bureaucratic strength to get what they want, when they want. A mixed bag, really.
Like with Iteration X, a more in-depth study of their background was a couple chapters ago, and even in this entry it's rather brief. The NWO is fairly new compared to the other Conventions, created during Queen Victoria's house-cleaning, renaming and reorganizing the Order of Reason. The Inner Circle recognized a need to police the thoughts of the Masses, and after a short paroxysm of intrigue and assassination, the NWO was born.
This doesn't stop some within the Ivory Tower to postulate that the NWO is much older than that, creating a conspiracy theory stating that they were there for far longer than all that, and masterminded their "birth" once they thought they were strong enough. Naturally there's no hard facts to back this up, but maybe that's exactly what the NWO wants...
NWO is often considered the glue that keeps the Union together. They hire out many un-Enlightened personnel and assign them to whatever Convention needs the extra hands. Sure, a Convention could hire these people themselves, but this takes some of the pressure off them and doesn't cut deep into their funding, so they hardly ever refuse the extra help. Agents of the NWO are often in a position of authority, there to smooth out operations between the Conventions; NWO diplomats work constantly to soothe the egos of Comptrollers, Research Directors, VPs and DSEATC members to get them to (kind of) get along. The intellectual center of the Union is the Ivory Tower, reflecting the grand purpose of the Technocracy; in short, the New World Order has an overriding influence that's almost impossible to escape.
They like to present themselves as a flexible and human organization, but actually possesses a complex ranking structure. Members are differentiated by Enlightenment, seniority, function, and Methodology. The majority of un-Enlightened are Sympathizers --communication experts, secretaries, psychologists, government agents, intel operatives and interns for the NWO and their companies. Above Sympathizers, NWO ranks differ according to Methodology; Operative ranks range from cloned Men in Black, moving on to Grey Men (who often work together with the MiB, making their status more fluid). Intelligence Analysts supervise both branches, who are in turn directed by the mysterious Men in White. For the Watcher Methodology, Field Operatives, Reporters and Lensmen vary in power and prestige, but are somewhere on the level of Gray Men and Intelligence Analysts; beyond them, Gatekeepers rank equivalent to Men in White, and coordinate Watcher activity.
The Ivory Tower is the academic branch, with multiple mandates that cover several functions within the organization. The bureaucratic arm does all the administrative work for the Union, keeping an extensive and well-guarded record system; many a Virtual Adept has gone mad or popped their brainpan trying to get into their computer system, but this doesn't stop people from trying to get in anyway (much to the NWOs annoyance). Other academic departments, known as collegia (which is an actual word!), research and discuss intellectual problems--like what the hell the actual history of the Union actually is. Finally, the Ivory Tower watches the Masses closely, especially the practice of psychology and psychiatry, using them as tools to modify the Mind Procedure and to use them to influence Sleeper belief. They can read your miiiiind
The Operatives is the covert-intelligence arm of the NWO, and thereby the Union as a whole. Grey Men monitor RDs; the MiB kills said RDs. Men in White perform law-enforcement within the Union and are rightly feared for it. On the less action-oriented side of the Operators Operating, they perform the dull but necessary activity of sifting through government and corporate documents; many of these organizations work for the Operatives, whether they know it or not. Operative agents, especially Grey Men, often work undercover for extended periods of time and are known for their quick wit, initiative, and confidence--as well as their borderline insubordination.
Finally, the Watchers are creepy voyeurs who watch the Masses, infiltrating and controlling media organizations. They directly influence what the Masses can see and hear, further reinforcing the static paradigm; some think this a detriment to the Union as a whole, as it could lead to dulling the wits and whatnot. They also keep surveillance on Deviants, and work with all Conventions to assure proper mission documentation. Basically, the obsessive hall monitor with the ability to actually tell you what to do!
Dude, they're controlling your every thought and influence, of course it's being abused! The NWO is spread across the entire Union, under the guise of safeguarding the Technocracy and the Masses from Deviants, but there are plenty who think it's actually about a bid for power. After all, by having key positions filled by loyalists, and controlling the Masses, it would be all to easy for them to overthrow the other Conventions and control the Union itself. Needless to say, the thought leaves many Technocracts very, very nervous.
Theories and Practices
The NWO can work either with great subtlety, or frightening brutality, but is very rarely vulgar. With their mastery of the Mind Procedure, and an amazing knowledge of psychology, it's often difficult to tell if the Hermetic stuck in a room for 30 hours finally broke because of carefully chosen words or Mind Procedures. Their tools of psychiatry and evaluation is as much a part of them as machine pistols and microwave guns are for Iteration X.
When outside their sphere of influence, they follow the lead of other Conventions, adopting their technology as they see fit. For the most part they prefer small, easy to conceal devices, employing "spy gadgets" like tiny microphones or exploding lapel pins. Since they clearly have access to shoe phones, they're obviously the coolest Convention in the book . Watchers, obviously enough, prefer surveillance equipment, such as Kirlian lenses that allow them to spot supernatural beings.
Donald Richardson (1847 - present) almost single-handedly destroyed the consensus of the Collegium of History 50 years ago, around when he became an advocate for "spiritual ancestry" for the NWO. He believes that NWO members need to find role models for themselves, and idolizes the Knights Templar (I bet he's a neckbeard). Otherwise he...doesn't seem to have done much else, so I wonder why he was even noteworthy to begin with.
Yukio Ishida (1962 - 1996?) disappeared recently under mysterious circumstances during a research assignment in MECHA, prompting protest from several prominent Technocrats. She gave a critique about gender roles in NWO's policies, which likely resulted in her going missing due to criticizing the Order. I bet she was just a nice girl, too
Henre de Lorris (1732 - present) helped out the NWO's Allied branch during WWII, when he was known more as the Ecstasy Cultist; he worked with them to destroy a Nephandic cell in Paris. Afterwards, de Lorris stayed with the order alongside his new-found friend Rudolf Carter, first as a Gray Man and then as an Analyst. When Carter died, de Lorris became a Man in White, but has begun to sink back to his former affiliation, taking drugs and organizing his staff so that younger women are now on board. Some whisper that only Carter kept him in line, and that any day now he might break rank and join his old Tradition.
Next Time: The Progenitors, or probably the most jerkish of the Organizations!
You mechs may have copper wiring to reroute your fear of pain, but I've got nerves of steel.Original SA post
Guide to the Technocracy Part 10: "You mechs may have copper wiring to reroute your fear of pain, but I've got nerves of steel."
Chapter Five: The Conventions, Continued
A living being is a marvelous machine. From the tiniest insect to the largest mammal, each is a well-designed and coordinated organic machine. The Progenitors believe that life, once harnessed properly, is the most beautiful and efficient answer to the problems for the Masses. Cloning, genetic engineering, and other things have not only been discovered, but mastered, unlocking new avenues of science.
Whoa, this is some trippy shit
They're also very secretive and work with one of the most destructive organizations on earth, and are callous towards pretty much anyone!
The Progenitor lineage began with Hippocratesm and the Hippocratic Oath he created. Founding a small guild of apprentices called the Cosian Circle, they later spread along with the Romans as their influence grew, attempting to discredit the various folklore remedies with their form of logical science. Their influence waned around the 4th century, as ancient learning disappeared during the Dark Ages. It wasn't until the Order of Reason that the remaining Cosian circle came back into prominence, reorganizing into the Hippocratic Circle. They combated the plague in hospitals, warred with the Church and folk-healers, and eventually won intellectual brownie points with Europe and the increasingly secular governments. In the 19th century they shifted goals, turning from not just the preservation of life, but the creation of it; they focused on germ-theory and genetics, renaming themselves the Progenitors and becoming what they are today--a strong, focused Convention that looks very similar to a giant R&D department.
They use a single set of ranks across their entire organization and all their Methodologies, making them a bit of an oddity compared to the other Conventions. Un-Enlightened Technicians are numerous, ranging from lab workers, secretaries, or janitors; Realm Technicians are often genetically engineered construct og greater or lesser sentience. The Progens also employ un-Enlightened Street Ops and Recruiters, who have a greater level of respect in exchange for the greater risk their job entitles. They rarely enter the Enlightened ranks, stuck with simply advancing the Progen goals.
Enlightened agents start at the lowest rank, that of Student Progenitor, and work closely with one another or an adviser of at least Primary Investigator rank. After a time ranging from 2 to 8 years, Students defend their research thesis, and if they survive they reach the tank of Research Associate. RAs perform lab work under close supervision, and those that survive, perform well, display initiative and play the political game well, gain their own laboratory and the rank of Primary Investigator. Above them are the Research Directors, who teach and administrate to one or more Realm Constructs and earth-based networks. And finally, above the RDs is the Administration who lead the entire Convention. Admins prefer to communicate through e-mails or fax. Fax machines
The Forced Adaptation and Clone Alteration Developmental Eugenicists (FACADE) specialize in producing and modifying clones. Back in the day they used outdated and rather crude means of genetic modification that lead to bird-headed men or centaurs. Lack of proper medical knowledge must have made that pretty er, messy! But now they make all the clones for the Union, especially Iteration X who use said clone bodies for HIT Marks. The NWO uses them to infiltrate the ranks of their enemies, and aging Technocrats order clones of themselves and transfer their intelligence into these new, young bodies before their time is up. FACADE is a very closed and secretive Methodology, which leaves many in the Progenitors kind of nervous.
Meanwhile, Genegineers are a flexible Methodology that specializes in manipulating DNA. While FACADE works on the macro level of life, Genegineers work on the micro level; they can build creatures from scratch or modify existing ones from the inside-out. This has resulted in one-of-a-kind creatures inside Progenitor Constructs, which are often tailor-made ecologies. While a more spritely and egalitarian Methodology compared to their peers, they are also known for their horrible excesses, with plenty of creatures coming out malformed or dying soon after birth. A Genegineer lab would look like that scene in Alien Resurrection when Ripley finds her other clones, only probably with a lot more fangs and fur
The Pharmacopoeists have an incredibly unwieldy name to pronounce, and investigate the interaction between the human body and foreign chemicals. In other words, drugs! To be fair, they've saved countless lives and improved many others with their pharmaceutical research, but their most advanced drugs (which have no side-effects) aren't widely circulated for no explained reason. They're deeply involved with the world of illegal drugs, which they admit to introducing harmful addicting chemicals to the Masses; they do so to strengthen their ties with the Syndicate, making them vast amounts of money. Needless to say, they don't get a lot of respect for this.
Yeah, that pretty much sums it up
Well, besides putting out harmful drugs to get little Jimmy addicted to, they're a distant and withdrawn Convention that just so happens to hold all the keys that make people human. What they acknowledge openly is bad enough (cloning, gene-splicing, drugs), but it's the things they don't talk about that really worries some Technocrats. One rumor says that they're trying to destroy the Avatar of the Masses; those few who even acknowledge Avatars think this is ultimately foolish, resulting in no more new Technocrats to bolster the ranks. The split between field agent and researcher is particularly pronounced, as those on the field are often ostracized and all but forfeit their chance for advancement.
Theories and Practices
The Progenitors rely on a combination of mechanical and biological tools, often using the former to make the latter. A well-stocked and prepared Progen lab could fill a warehouse, and requiring a massive amount of electricity, water, and gas; for this reason they usually have such labs under the guise of real businesses. Gene-splicers, cloning vats, CAT scanners and electron microscopes are the bread and butter for a Progenitor Technician. Outside of Life Procedures, they rely on modifications to their own bodies or of other organisms; enhanced reflexes, modified eyes and other internal apparatuses and devices are common amongst Progenitors. For those without such things, or a task requires a device they can't usually fit inside them, they employ biotech devices such as hand-held spitters and living space crafts ala Lexx.
Muhammad ibn Yusuf al-Mush'awidi (1589 - 1918) had a really long name and was a prominent Egyptian Cosian of the early modern age. He spent his early career trying to introduce a workable longevity drug to the Masses, but found such efforts blocked by his own superiors. Frustrated, he took the logical course of action and began making animal-headed freaks, which somehow got him praise in the Order of Reason (maybe it was an early example of modern art? Who knows) and eventually joined up with an amalgam of FACADE Engineers. Later, he bit the bullet from an assassin, angry at the Technocracy's wartime atrocities.
Zsgraak, Devourer of His Enemies' Bowels (1992 - 1995) was a totally lizard-man who was just one of many created by the Genegineers in Research Plantation Number Two. Designed for combat, they lacked that important "servitude" aspect that such aggressive monsters needed, and soon ran amock inside the plantation. They waged a guerrilla warfare with the Technocrats for months, until finally Damage Control pulled out Genegineered dinosaurs, HIT Marks and a small tank to take care of this problem.
Charles Reid (?? - present) is perhaps the most famous Progenitor alive, known for his paranoia as much as his genius. No one is sure of his origins, but he's been active since the early 20th century and has nurtured many students over the past 50 years; several of them now hold prominent positions as Research Directors. His paranoia is directed at the Council of Nine Traditions, particularly the Virtual Adepts, and keeps his labs at combat readiness in case a group of digital hackers break in or something. Guy is kind of a whackjob.
Next Time: The Syndicate, or those guys who make a lot of money!
A forgotten virtue like honesty is worth at least twenty credits.Original SA post
Guide to the Technocracy Part 11: "A forgotten virtue like honesty is worth at least twenty credits."
Chapter Five: The Conventions, Continued
Money makes the world go round. Nothing is as more a truth than that; with enough money, you can buy anything. Weapons, technology, drugs, even people--and in the World of Darkness, far more esoteric things. Even happiness, with the right connections, is just a few dollars away. For the Syndicate, it isn't about the actual amount of money, no--it's about the idea of money, protecting the concept of monetary acquisition and its importance in our society. To them, they have to keep the trust of it going.
My smile has been augmented
Of course, money corrupts just as well as power, and they're not above being money-grubbing jerks. Remember when I mentioned the Progenitors ran around with one of the worst organizations around? Well, you're about to find out why!
Civilization was born on the backs of commerce and exchange, and for the Syndicate they began in one of the greatest civilizations: Rome. As the Brotherhood of the Rule, Enlightened and un-Enlightened members were responsible for the great architectural works of the Empire: aqueducts, roads, baths and fortifications (and fortified baths!). When the Dark Ages rolled around, the Brotherhood, like many of the early guilds, dwindled in power; unlike the others, they seized power sooner than most, turning into the Craftmasons in 997 A.D. One of these factions focused on fairs and markets, and by the time the Conventions of the White Tower, said faction had grown powerful enough that they carved their own Convention, the High Guild.
The High Guild grew rapidly through the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, creating sub-guilds and absorbing other like-minded organizations as they spread abroad. Them, along with the Artificers, engineered the Industrial Revolution, evolving from Italian bankers to industrial capitalists practically overnight. The Great Depression hit them where it hurt (the wallet), quickly getting to work to fix the damage; by the time the smoke cleared, they had become a newer, sleeker, more centralized Convention: the Syndicate.
Their ranks are similar to what a Western corporation looks like, which is a surprise to literally no one. It's even filled with white males on the top! Glass ceiling, everyone! What makes it even worse than our real world is that most of the leaders are nigh-immortal, so there isn't going to be a change any time soon
At the bottom rank is the un-Enlightened, referred to as Providers, Staples, or Our Friends. They're usually skilled people who are also massively in debt! Their salary goes off to paying the debt back, and keeps them loyal to the Syndicate. Other recruits are pulled from criminal organizations, but regardless of where they came from, only those who can balance their budget and not become blind with greed have any hope of promotion.
For Enlightened, the lowest rank is Associate, also known as "Magic Man." Promotion is to a post known as a Manager (or "Wizard") who supervises up to five Associates on any given assignment, while also memorizing Cloud Kill in case things get ugly. The Chairman ("Vision Man") is an administrator to several Constructs and Symposiums, and command half a dozen Managers. The Board (no special name!) governs the Convention as a whole, and members are known as Vice Presidents of Operations. Formally there are 10, one heading each of the Syndicate's seven geographical zones of operations; two "coordinating" VPOs, and the CPO, Sir Jonathan Saint Christopher Rey.
There's five of these damn things!
Disbursements is the purse and payroll office of the entire Union, providing funding to other Conventions, dispensing grants and making their whole "we control all the money" thing seem worthwhile to the Technocracy as a whole. Why anyone would need convincing of this is beyond me! Obviously, while Disbursements aids everyone, they have a subtle control over the development of the other Conventions; their money (or lack thereof) can determine the fate of entire Constructs. For giving out all these funds, they receive equipment and services, which sometimes even see use.
The Enforcers are the strong arm of the Syndicate, and make sure people pay their bills-- or else. They also remove unwanted rivals! They're spread liberally in law enforcement and the criminal underworld, controlling both the criminals the Masses fear and the police they see as protection. Usually, Enforcers are the first to get gutted during an attack on the Syndicate, but the wise ones figure this out and transfer to other Methodologies ASAP.
Financiers make silent adjustments to the global economy, insinuating themselves into positions of financial influence to better adjust the flow of money. They're stock speculators and advisors to criminal organizations, manipulating the very structures that permit loans and the exchange of wealth.
Media Control , on the other hand, shape the people that buy things. Working closely alongside the NWO's Watchers, they adjust the many advertisements that bombard the Masses on a daily basis, as well as the various media outlets. Thus, Media Control dictates not only what they buy, but their very thoughts about such issues as pollution, anti-trust laws and labor unions. Which leads into...
The Special Projects Division. This is the Bad Part I was talking about. On the surface they're the Syndicate's R&D, producing strange new weaponry and techniques for influencing the subconscious mind, as well as products for the Masses to consume. What few outside of SPD know, however, is that they're the secret liaison between the Syndicate and Pentex! Yes, the global conglomerate lead by the Wyrm, who delight in such wonderful acts of bio-terrorism like emptying toxic waste into rivers and crushing the souls of the living! The SPD continues to aid them because of the fabulous amount of money they make off Pentex, but should anyone uncover the truth and bring it to light it could tear the Syndicate, and perhaps the Union, apart.
Half of you know what this was leading to already
As if the SPD wasn't clue enough, the Syndicate is like Big Business, Organized Crime, and conspiracy all rolled into one. They do more harm on a daily basis to the Masses than Iteration X or NWO does in a month; foreclosing property, supporting crime, seeding greed and materialism into the Masses, all are damning evidence against the Syndicate even without the connection to Pentex.
Theories and Practices
Subtle. Very subtle. They don't use Magic or Procedures, they make Adjustments. A talk with a fellow reporter over a glass of wine and a firm handshake can change the entire tone of an opinion piece, turning it from a balanced critique to a hostile rant. It only takes a bit of paper-shuffling and a phone call to make a mutual fund just up and disappear. Most Agents don't even use apparatuses, just simple mundane technology to get the job done. The only time it gets vulgar is when the Enforcers or the SPD has to tangle with violent deviants, but even then they'll usually just have Disbursements call in the other Conventions to handle it.
Stephen Trevanus (1093 - 143 (their typo, not mine!)) was one of the most famous figures in the history of the Syndicate, and the (supposed) basis for Robin Hood. In the 11th century, this craftmason attempted to revive commerce via trade fairs in major cities, but most feudal lords opposed this. When the lord of St. Cedd's Market in Nottingman dissolved it, he rose up as its defender alongside a band of outlaws in a propaganda war that saw him the victor. He also masterminded the attack on Mistridge in 1210, which created a domino effect across Europe. Eventually he was a leader of the High Guild, and is considered the founder of the Syndicate to many.
Choe Yo'ng (1954 - Present) was the first to break the glass ceiling of the VPOs, having recently become the VPO of the Orient and Australian sectors. Coming from a prestigious family that controlled considerable wealth in Korea, her formidable intellect lead Yo'ng to improve her family's wealth, delving into international business and economy and eventually joining the Syndicate out of sheer force of will (as well as plenty of ruthlessness). Some think that she masterminded the Asian economical collapse in the early 90's as part of some hidden plan.
Joseph von Reismann (1812 - present) is a descendant of the same man who founded the Craftmasons, though he shouldn't be confused with the "son" Jacob. He rose to power in the early part of the century, and in the 1930's oversaw the trial and destruction of those Great Financiers wo caused the stock market crash and the depression that followed. Becoming the VPO of Europe West, he worked to stabilize Fortune throughout the region--including backing Hitler to jump-start German economy. Some blame him for WWII for this, and was even an Axis supporter up until the Allies won. Quickly switching sides, he backed the free market, ignoring the communistic advice from Europe East. Since the communist block crumbled, there are many who believe he'll try and combine Europe West and Europe East to consolidate his power.
Next Time: Void Engineers, and the end of this chapter!
The more power you think you have, the more quickly it slips from your grasp.Original SA post
Guide to the Technocracy Part 12: "The more power you think you have, the more quickly it slips from your grasp."
Chapter Five: The Conventions, Concluded
Look up at night, and what do you see? Countless twinkling stars, their light millions of years old. Some of them might even be dead by now, a fact we won't know in our lifetime. But that doesn't stop some people from wondering, and for the Void Enginers they do more than wonder--they explore, moving out from the reaches of our planet and going beyond. Finding new life, floating amongst these stars, and seeing whats hidden in the darkness, borne out of that unquenchable desire of human exploration.
Ghost Busters, X-COM edition
Poking at the things out there is a bad idea though, and messing with Things That Should Not Be can have dire circumstances. So let's find out what makes the Void Engineers tick!
Voidies trace their lineage back to two sources. The Roman Empire had organized guilds of explorers, sailing across the Mediterranean coast, but when the western Empire fell it crippled their sea trades considerably. During the Middle Ages however, the guilds began to recover thanks to the aid of the Italian merchantile culture. Many of the guilds began to work together, eventually being known as the Void Seekers. Meanwhile, a second organization of Enlightened explorers was formed in Italy, called the Celestial Masters; astrologers by training, they were determined to not just read the stars, but explore them.
Both the Celestials and the Seekers attended the Convention of the White Tower, and with one another's help became separate Conventions in the new Order of Reason. For five centuries, the two Conventions pursued complimentary goals, with the Masters exploring the Deep Universe and the Seekers seeking out the unknown corners of the earth. By the 19th century however, it was clear the Seekers were all but finished mapping out the world, prompting Queen Victoria to merge the two maverick Conventions, forming the Void Engineers.
The Void Engineers are a loosely structured Convention. They don't make much of a distinction between Enlightened and un-Enlightened personnel, barring that Enlightened are usually the only ones to have leadership positions. The lowest ranking are Technicians and the enlisted Marines, who are rarely Enlightened (it's kind of a crappy job). Higher ranks are a mix of Enlightened and un-Enlightened; those recruits that are not destined for Technician or Marine jobs are Cadets. before graduating to one of four specialties: Enforcers, Explorers, Investigators and Researchers. Those few who desire rank above those four become Coordinators who oversee Void Engineer co-ops, Constructs and/or ships. It's a thankless job with little actual power behind it, due to the Voidies being a factitious lot, but they all bow before Dimensional Science Evaluation, Administration and Training Committee (DSEATC) who are a group of ancient Voidies based in the Cop, which near as I can tell is a place in the deep reaches of space.
Ooooh boy. There's a whole lot of these.
Border Corps Division (BCD) patrol the Gauntlet, watching for Nephandi, aliens and other Deep Universe intrusions into Earth's space.
Earth Frontier Division (EFD) map out the remaining unknown areas of earth itself, and have sub-Methodologies to make this even more of a headache! Aquatic Exploration Teams ("aquanots") map out the mostly-unknown sea bottom, the Cryogenic Specialists ("snowdogs") perform arctic searches, Hydrothermal Botanical Mosaic Analysts ("weedwhackers") explore the rain forests, Inaccessible High Elevation Exploration Teams (IHEET) cover the mountaintops, and Subterranean Exploration Corps ("groundhogs") delve into the underground. Phew!
The Neutralization Specialist Corps (NSC) work closely with the NWO to cover up all those nasty undesirable entities from space who happen to land on terra firma. They check out UFO crashes, haunted houses and other such phenomenon, eliminating the danger and covering up their tracks. The NSC also runs a hospital for Void Engineers who happen to crack under the pressure, where the Enforcement Training and Conditioning Agency (ETCA) implant safety conditioning to space-bound personnel. The Department of Psychological Evaluation and Maintenance (DPEM) treats those unfortunates who are driven mad by the things they see in the Deep Universe.
The largest Void Methodology is the Pan-Dimensional Corps (PDC) , who explore the Universe beyond the Gauntlet. Their actions there win them much accolade from the other Conventions, but it's the Deep Universe that holds their real interest; there, countless sub-divisions of the PDC explore Deep Space and everything within it. On Earth, their Cybernauts explore the Digital Web and its Chrononauts much around with Time itself. Some even make it back alive!
And finally, the Research and Execution (R&E) develop new Technology for the Voidies to use. Why "Execution" and not "Development?" They think development is too slow a process! As soon as it's invented, they go right out and test it, Paradox be damned! I like these guys, they got moxie.
Their much-vaulted love of freedom and democracy only extends to their own members. Ship captains will send in groups of Marines to die like the redshirts they are and think little of it beyond "collateral damage;" the NSC wipes the minds of victims to hide their secrets. The other Conventions worry about what the Engineers are really doing out there in Deep Space. Just what kind of research are they doing? What new worlds have they explored, and what kind of threats have they awakened? Are they associating with strange beings? Sometimes, a Voidie will return with a blank spot in the ship's log, feigning ignorance or just flat-out not having a clue what happened. The Cop is larger than any other realm, even Autochthonia, and it begs the question: how was such a place supposedly constructed by teams of Void Engineers in their tiny spacecrafts? Perhaps it was given as a gift for services rendered--or yet to be rendered!
There's also the matter of them having some divisive sentiments, but many rebuke this. Where else would they go? No one else could fund their expeditions, especially the Traditions, and while they have some cordial connections to the Sons of Ether and a bit of a friendly rivalry with the Virtual Adepts, they have no intention of leaving the Union. For now.
Theories and Practices
They pursue Technology, with a capital "T," which is suffused with a sense of wonder and possibility. Not all of it is chrome and bling--plnty of scoffed paint and scorch marks for this rough n' tumble Convention--but suffice to say it looks more like something from Star Wars rather than Star Trek. In the Realms and on their ships, Technology blends with the mundane seamlessly, with many such devices workable for un-Enlightened folks. Much of it is very, very vulgar, which means most of their impressive (and borderline insane) tech is left out in space; on earthly visits, they stick with subdued, hidden apparatuses. For those that spend too much time in space and forget such a detail, they have a little device that warns them if they're about to step outside the bounds of accepted reality. Handy!
Void Engineers command Correspondence and Dimensional Science (DS) to great effect. Unlike the Spirit Sphere wielded by the Traditions, Voidies find it easier to access alternate dimensions in high-technology areas such as Constructs and laboratories; conversely, they find it near-impossible to use DS in natural areas, so they don't usually set up slipgates in national parks. They're forced to bring their own atmospheres, and use sealed suits to survive in these inhospitable environments (even when Mages don't).
"Tychoides" (c.1780 - present) is the current leader of the Engineers and the unofficial head of DSEATC. He's no less than the founder of modern Dimensional science; when he was a young man in the early part of the 19th century (...but he was around in the 1700's... ) he ran into a Deep Universe entity who introduced him to the Gauntlet. Taking the name of Tycho Brahe's fictional son, Tychoides spend the next few decades mapping out the Near Universe with the aid of the Seekers, and when near the end of his natural lifespan the Progenitors granted him immortality. He now lives in the Cop guiding the Engineers with relentless energy, acting as a father figure for many young members and Cadets and takes time to revise his textbooks. All in all, a pretty cool dude!
Martin St. Christopher (1915 - 1945) was stationed around the moons of Jupiter, somewhat of a bone of contention between the Union and the Council of Nine. During WWII, both sides kept the bulk of their forces on Earth, leaving a skeleton crew to battle it out in the Deep Universe. Martin brought the Engineers the closest they ever came to victory, as when the Engineer vessel Ptolemy lost its command staff, he took up captain-ship and showed himself a great strategist. With him under their leadership, the small number of spacecraft swept most of the Tradition forces off the moons of Jupiter; sadly, once the war was over, the Nephandi had nowhere to go and made it a point of attacking St. Christopher's fleet en masse.
Catherine Nicole (1918 - present) is more infamous than anything else. After serving the Engineers for four decades, she defected in 1985 due to the Challenger mishap (the Engineers say they had nothing to do with it and put the blame squarely on the NWO), and brought with her details about the Cop and the Darkside Moonbase to the Traditions in 1995. Needless to say, she's a wanted woman now.
That's the end of the Conventions! There's a little blurp right after that offers some templates, but beyond some hilariously bad art it's nothing to write home about. I might save that for a later write-up.
Next Time: Chapter six: Character Creation, or finally how to play the darn game!
Some gang-banger, maybe you should think about going back to school.Original SA post
Guide to the Technocracy Part 13: "Some gang-banger, maybe you should think about going back to school."
Chapter Six: Character Creation
I'm going to preface this by saying that I hate the oWOD game system. I've never really liked it, nor did it sit well with me for the longest time until I took a good, hard look at the math of it and found out just how broken it is. Not as busted as say, D&D 3.5, but it is undeniably borked on several levels. There's also little things like Nature and Demeanor that just smacked of silliness, and seemed to always invite that one contrarian jackass who'd take conflicting Nature and Demeanor and invariably disrupt play. Let's not even go into combat, which is just straight-up bad no matter which supernatural high school club you're playing as. But I digress; you're not here to listen to me complain about the system, you're here to read about it, so let's get to that shall we?
Okay this is actually pretty rad
Creating a Technocrat
So, one big problem we're going to face here is that it references Mage: The Ascension for character construction. Now, since having to stop this to review another book just so we can make our wizard JC Denton would be rather silly, I'll just skip all the paragraphs of text that take up more room than is entirely necessary and lay it out simply.
You start by choosing your Concept, Methodology, and Nature and Demeanor. Concept is things like Artist, Criminal, Geek, Money Man, etc.; Methodology you already know; and Nature and Demeanor are how you really are, and how you act. So, for instance your nature could be that of a Caretaker, someone who protects the weak or innocent, while your demeanor is that of a Mad Scientist, who experiments with wild ideas. They are mainly used as a vehicle to regain lost Willpower, and while a potentially neat idea tends to fall flat in execution.
The next step is your Attributes, rated from 1-5. There's three categories: Physical is Strength, Dexterity, and Stamina; Social is Charisma, Manipulation, and (ugh) Appearance; and finally, Mental is Perception, Intelligence, and Wits. These provide the back-bone of any checks you have to make, and you are given a spread of 7 in your main attribute, 5 in your secondary, and 3 in your tertiary. You start with one free point in each attribute right off the bat, which makes you suck a little less.
The tie tells us it's casual Friday
Attributes help with Abilities, aka Skills, also rated 1-5. Like attributes, there's a main/secondary/tertiary spread, which in this case is 13/9/5. They are separated into Talents, Skills, and Knowledges . Talents are innate abilities, like how alert or athletic you are; Skills are things you learn with practice, such as driving or firing energy weapons; and with Knowledges, they are more the academic set of skills, which includes computers, investigation, and the oddly-placed enigmas. No ability can be higher than 3 at this point!
After this, you have Backgrounds. You got 7 points to spend on things like Allies, a Companion, Destiny, or your Mentor. They all help your character in some manner, and range from useful to hilariously broken, and the players are given the option to even pool their background points together if they so wish. Hint: this is also broken because Resources 5.
Curse my cheap plastic robo-hands!
Once you've bought all the plasma-firing hoverjets as you please, you may as well power it by picking your Spheres. That's your not-magic! You determine your specialty in a given sphere and gain a free dot in it, and after that you spread 5 points around into whatever other spheres you wish. Make sure to record your Enlightenment (aka arete 1 and willpower 5) while you're at it. You also have your preferred tools to pick, as well as Procedures (aka rotes) that help in using your fancy-schmancy Enlightened doodads. Oh, and there's Enhancements , which is usually cybernetic in nature and generally enhances you in some manner.
Then there's Genetic Flaws , aka Merits and Flaws. Merits are meant to give you a small boon, something to make your agent a little more than he is--Unobtrusive means that you're forgettable, Acute Senses gives you a bonus to your senses, Iron Will lets you shake off mental domination or influence, etc. Flaws on the other hand, are what makes you imperfect--you could be a Bigot, have Rose-Colored Mirrorshades that make you a Technocrat fanboy, you could be a Rotten Liar, or--worst of all--Mr. Red Tape. You purchase Merits with freebie points, but you can gain more points for Merits by taking more Flaws, giving you up to seven more freebie points to spend on whatever the hell you want. It's rife for powergaming, as anyone smart will take flaws that have no major impact on their character and feed the freebies into Spheres.
Speaking of! Freebie Points are made at the end of character creation, and you get a somewhat paltry 15 points. Attributes, Abilities, et al. cost a certain amount of freebie points--Attributes are 5 per dot, Abilities are 2, Backgrounds are 1, Merits & Flaws are varied, Enlightenment is 4, Willpower is 1, Spheres are a whopping 7 per dot, and Primal Energy is 1 point per four dots.
So, that's character creation! But what do all the numbers do, exactly? Oh how I wish you didn't ask...
At it's core, the Storyteller system is a pool-based game using d10's. That is to say, you take an Attribute and an Ability, and roll that many d10s and look for successes. The baseline number for success is 6, but this number can rise or fall depending on how easy or difficult the action is. If you roll a 10, it counts as a phenomenal success (or "exploding dice") and can make whatever your action was succeed amazingly well. On the flipside, a roll of 1 is a disastrous failure, and if you have more 1's than successes you've really botched the job.
...and that's the major problem with the Storyteller system. The more dice you have to roll, the bigger chance you have of failure; Ettin covered this effect well with his review of Cthulhutech, which has a similar system of more dice = bigger chance to fail. It's also one of the reasons I hate the system as bad as I do, because you really have to try and game it if you want any chance of consistent success in whatever actions you try and do.
Where is my skull gun?!
However, there's one way to counteract all those 1's you just rolled--Willpower. By spending a point of Willpower, you can gain an automatic success in your action, which can counteract a single 1 on a d10, though you can only spend one per turn. Willpower comes in ranks of 1-10, and is regained by doing an action that appeals to your Nature or Demeanor in some manner. It is also used to resist certain effects, either mundane or supernatural. When you spend a point of Willpower, it's taken off a temporary track just below your actual rating; you rarely have to spend an actual point of your Willpower rating, though if you do it's probably a life-or-death situation.
Crazy uncle Joe got into the kids toys again
Combat in WoD is easily the messiest thing. You determine initiative for all combatants by adding your dex + wits, then roll a d10; the results of all combatants determines who goes first. At that point, everyone then states what they are doing before they do the action, declaring in reverse initiative order (so the last declares first, then so on and so forth). All of the actions occur at their rank in the order of initiative, but you can delay your action and act at any time after your normal initiative in case you want to prepare for an aborted action or other surprises. You can take defensive actions out of order so long as you have a free action, and multiple actions happen at the end after everyone has gone. This is why Celerity in oVampire has the much-deserved reputation of breaking broken as all hell, because you can just buy a ton of extra attacks and eviscerate someone.
Melee combat is either dex+brawl or dex+melee, depending on what you're trying to hit some poor slob with. Ranged is dex+firearms or dex+athletics, if you're either firing a gun or throwing something. Technocrats roll dex+energy weapons if they have plasma rifles! This illustrates another problem with oWoD--Dexterity is the king of combat stats, since it influences not only your to-hit rolls, but your initiative and even your dodge. Damage has a base number, plus the number of successes you rolled (so a knife does 2, but will do 8 points if you roll 6 successes).
Maximum exploding chest
Your health is kept in a set of boxes, or track, and attacks can do various types of damage. There's three types: bashing, lethal, and aggravated. Bashing is simple--a punch, kick, baseball bat, etc. Lethal is things like stabbing and bullet wounds. Aggravated is the seriously horrible stuff, like 3rd degree burns, loss of limb, or having your very soul blackened by eldritch flames. The health box moves damage along the more you take; if you have 10 health levels, and five are filled with bashing damage from getting into a fist fight, it'll take 5 more punches before damage starts becoming lethal. If however, in the same fight, someone stabs your spleen, you move the bashing down the track and fill up the beginning with lethal damage. The same goes with aggravated.
Sounds pretty lethal, huh? Well, you have a Soak stat, which equals your Stamina rating. Humans (including Mages and Technocrats) can only soak bashing damage, but supernatural creatures and those with proper protection can soak lethal or even aggravated damage, in some cases. Soaking damage means you knock off that many points of damage delivered to you with a soak roll (difficulty 6), so if someone punches you for three damage and you roll 2 successes on your soak roll, you only take 1 point of damage. Armor can add to your soak, and can even protect you from lethal damage.
Kyle Reese and the T-800 share a private moment
That's the basics of the Storyteller system! There's some other bits and pieces here and there, like combat maneuvers and weapon ratings and such, but they usually just add to an existing action and aren't worth the time going down the line detailing each one.
Next Time: Chapter Seven: Storytelling! Whatever the heck that means!