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Liberty and Control and Anarchy oh my

Or kinda, at least. I have something boiling around in my head that's not quite a forum post yet, so I may as well explode it here. Thinking about Mage, and thinking Judgment again. Damn you, eyebeams. Damn you for writing such a fine thing.

Mage has four broad factions. In the early editions of the game, three of the four kinda-sorta exemplified the extremes of the games' own metaphysic trinity of Stasis, Dynamism and Order. The fourth, the general PC faction, were assumed to be somewhere in the middle. Needless to say, this carries on polluting the ideas of players long-tied to the game. Which is a shame, because it's bullshit.

The Nephandi can be counted out entirely. Their avatar shards come from an alternate reality, the qlippoth to our own sephiroth. They don't embody entropy (save in some lame 1st ed crossover ridiculousness that equates entropy with Werewolf's Wyrm), they are Other. With avatars that are not in tune with this reality, they have their core of meaning stripped away, leaving only shells. Qlippoth. Without that meaning (driving humanity towards the end-point of the entelechy and Ascension) they do whatever the fuck they like, which usually amounts to personal gain at the expense of humanity. A significant amount turned to Creatures from the Outer Dark™ in their search for menaing. This didn't work.

Marauders = Dynamism is slightly more plausible. Slightly. But they're only dynamic on the outside. Inside they are locked into an insanity every bit as static as any other perception. They're a right bugger to classify, as well. On the one hand, given the nature of Ascension, they could well be the (failed) Ascended, who went before humanity was ready. Except logically the Ascended would no longer be part of a consensual reality. The only thing that separates a Marauder from a nutcase Mage is the former has a paradigm that denies objects of the consensus[0]. Fucking Marauders.

Technos = Order. With their constant advancement? I think not. Besides, younger ones are just as prone to be pro-freedom as younger Trads, and older Trads are just as much pro-control as older Techs. So that falls down totally.

In place of the triangle with points (Neph, Maraud, Tech) where Trad is equidistant from all, ignore the Nephandi and make it a progressive line. On the one side you have control. Most techies, some older Trads who ain't dead yet. This is your nation-state oligarchy. Mid-point you have reasoned freedom. Anarchy as enlightened self-governance, concern for others out of self-interest if nothing else. Trads in general and younger technos. This is the mid-point. At the far end of the line are the Marauders, what herdthinkers conceive of as anarchy — zero governance including zero self-governance. Life lived by impulse.

Or maybe not. I dunno yet.

[0]: Some smartarse is going to claim that all mages do that by default. But any three mages in a thunderstorm all get wet, they just know that the rain falls for different reasons. The Marauder is the only one to burn from the fire-rains falling from the sky in his world.


( 4 informants — We want information! )
Oct. 8th, 2004 08:44 pm (UTC)
I'm in the process of running a version of Judgment now. BEst game ender of the whole line, methinks.

Leto_II, funky party weasel
Oct. 9th, 2004 02:15 pm (UTC)
Despite how much the Technocracy gets played up as being static, controlling, stifling bastards, I've always seen the Traditions as the most static element in Mage. There is some dynamic quality in awakening people to a much more magical world, and to a different outlook on life, but after that, save for the Adepts and Etherites (and possibly some factions of the Dreamspeakers) you just have a bunch of whackos running around trying as hard as they can to preserve ancient cultural stuff, inherit problems and all. No dynamism there. I think the only thing in the real world we could use to understand the Traditions is probably the Vatican and the Pope; this sort of set-away enclanve that practices some archaic religion every now and then decides to pop into the real world, make some biased, decidedly ignorant comments (or at least comments that show they think their worldview is the right worldview), and then disappear again for a while.

When it really comes down to it, the split between Entropic - Static - Dynamic factions in Mage really doesn't follow the line between Tradition/ Technocracy/ Everyoneelse. If I were to divide it up, it'd probably look like this:

Hollowers [1], Etherites, Virtual Adepts, Iteration X, Progenitors, Void Engineers, and some factions of Dreamspeakers

Syndicate, NWO, and the rest of the Technocracy, as well as any of the Traditions not mentioned above.

Marauders [2], Nephandi [3]

Thus, the reason that Trads and the Technocracy fued as much with eachother as with their sworn enemies. Even the rundown of Trad/ Convention opinions on other Trads and Conventions in the Tradbooks will hint at this kind of unseen brotherhood of ideals between certain groups, enemies or not.

-- apocalypse survivor/ t0tem7/ Jon
Oct. 9th, 2004 02:17 pm (UTC)

[1] Why the Hollowers? Because, despite their stereotypical obsession with early 90's fashion, the new Tradbook describe their style as either intelligent vintage or cutting-edge-new, never last week or last year... so they either go all the way to create the perfect Victorian outfit as a form of (psuedo)intellectual expression... or they happen to be the coolest of the cool in counter-culture style. They don’t exist to perpetuate some archaic culture, they exist to perpetuate some ideals, and what they actually do, they do so without strict mentorship from the Old White Fogies © of their Tradition. They are a pseudo-Tradition that doesn’t hold to any ethno/ geographic "culture" (although they are, of course, influenced by some of the archaic esoterics, heavily influenced by counter-culture movements, and a pinch of Western Capitalist thrown in); so culturally, you can’t get much more Dynamic than the Hollowers.

At the same time, while their magic draws on a lot of old-school stuff, it is distinctly rammed into our heads in the new Hollower Tradbook that Hollowers don't perpetuate a Metaparadigm.... they perpetuate a style and an attitude, but the actual magickal practice is developed and extrapolated upon by the Hollower herself, without tutelage or mentorship (in anything other than fashion tips and counter-culture ettiquette). It’s actually mentioned in the Tradbook that the Hollowers don’t talk about their paradigms with each other overly much, and are pretty against any group that does try to push it’s metaparadigm on others. Plus, a large number of them would fall under the Chaote category, or at least the mix-and-match type of Magick most Trads frown on; this in itself is another example of how they don’t exist to perpetuate a cultural, and how their own magical style as a Tradition is constantly changing.

I’m not sure if you can get any more Dynamic in a non-Technological Trad than the Hollow Ones... they aren't even against Technology, as exemplified by rampant use of cars, cellphones, and Hello Kitty paraphenalia in Mage Hollower fiction. It just hasn't been internalized into their magical styles yet (which is understandable, considering the average person walking down the street hasn't internalized any of the concepts that allow even the most basic technology to work).

-- apocalypse survivor/ t0tem7/ Jon
Oct. 9th, 2004 02:17 pm (UTC)
[2/3] Why the Marauders as agents of Entropy? Because (if you believe Robert M. Pirsig), in order for anything Dynamic to actually create something new, rather than just create utter chaos, you have to have some Static element to it, a “latch” that allows the Dynamic concept to be perpetuated, or at least useable. The Marauders are Ganesha on mescaline; the destroyers of obstacles, without any thought to why and any way of perpetuating (or even recognizing) the possible positives that come from Dynamic forces. So, when you have Dynamic forces that exist only to break down barriers, to dissolve and to destroy, you have Dynamism’s ugly twin: Chaos. The Marauders are just crazy, and unlike the Ecstatic (or, especially, the Ecstatic Dissonance Society), they are not anarchy with a motive, they are just anarchy. The exist to dissolve barriers, both abstract and real, for the pure purpose of just that. So, while they are undoubtedly Dynamic, once again, if you believe Robert M. Pirsig (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Lola, just in case), Dynamism is only a progressive force when it contains a Static element. Pirsig sees the world divided into just two major forces, Dynamism and Stasis, and includes WOD Dynamism and Entropy as part of his definition of Dynamism (as both are opposites of stasis, just working in different directions). So the Marauders are Dynamic force without a Static element to perpetuate progress, which is what you need to truly have progressive movement.

The Nephandi. The Nephandi exist to dissolve and corrupt, to make Void where there was meaning. Even if you don’t buy into the whole Wyrm-Entropy crossover bit, the concept of things dissolving, rotting, breaking apart, being corrupted from their static forms… these are still processes that endanger the Static state of anything, real or abstract, and the Nephandi exist to do just that. So I still see them as being Entropic elements in the Mage WOD.

-- apocalypse survivor/ t0tem7/ Jon
( 4 informants — We want information! )



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