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Nephandi and the Technocracy

Sauron's Ring

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So... am I the only person who liked the Techs being ate up by the Nephandi in one of the optional parts of Mage20? Judging by some comments I've seen floating around, people are acting like it's the worse thing in the history of rpgs.

Maybe I just like bad stuff. :(
 

CowboyEnergy

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I'm cool with there being Nephandi infiltration even up to the highest levels, but I think that htem just being totally taken over was too far.
 

Sauron's Ring

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I'm cool with there being Nephandi infiltration even up to the highest levels, but I think that htem just being totally taken over was too far.
I agree, to a point. I like the highest levels being totally corrupt, but the middle management and lower levels being... well, not corrupt, but not thinking about how evil they are, and have been, for a while.
 

face_p0lluti0n

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I'm cool with there being Nephandi infiltration even up to the highest levels, but I think that htem just being totally taken over was too far.
I'm with you on this one. The existence of Nephandi in the Union, possibly infiltrating up to one or more seats in the Inner Circle, makes Invictus, the Friends of Courage, and the Disparates have interesting story potential, but it also takes away from the idea that the Union gets a lot of story potential from being the "Utopia justifies the means" faction that might be right. That uncertainty - the possibility, never fully confirmed or denied, that the WoD is in such bad shape that it requires a WH40k, Imperium of Man level of cynicism and brutal response in order to be made liveable - is, from my perspective, what fuels a lot of the Tradition-Technocracy disagreements and keeps Mage as the game where everyone is right sometimes and nobody is right all of the time. Making Nephandi completely control the Technocracy veers dangerously close to making Mage too much like Werewolf - the idea that "Order" as a cosmic force has been corrupted and is totally unredeemable - and damages the chances in any given situation that the Technocracy could actually be right and that the Traditions sometimes do act like irresponsible children or insane regressives (I really like the idea that the Progenitors are way more open-minded about transgender stuff than the "back to nature" Trads who embrace gender essentialism and other conservative ideas about sex and gender).

I end up finding the middle option to have the most story potential - the idea that the Union is partially compromised - because it sets up a Code Geass-like debate, with reformer factions like the Friends of Courage on one side and the Traditions on the other, agreeing that the current system is broken but unable to agree about whether it is better to fix the system from within or tear it down and start over. Personally, I think Mage does better when it doesn't take sides in any of these moral or ethical debates, aside from "Any choice is better than the Nephandi", because the assumption on which Mage seems to be built is that there are many paths to the top and nobody is ever 100% right in what they do.
 

Five Eyes

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Conversely, I dislike it because I think it lets Order off the hook.

(If I ever make a Mage thread bingo card, "The traditions are shrill, backwards reactionaries" will be the Free Space.)
 

face_p0lluti0n

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(If I ever make a Mage thread bingo card, "The traditions are shrill, backwards reactionaries" will be the Free Space.)
Well, it's the Technocracy party line, after all, and the easiest way to make the Union into the good guys is to make it universally true.

Though it's much harder to apply to groups like the Virtual Adepts or Ecstatics. The most common criticism of them that I know of is "They're irresponsible children who will either accomplish nothing or do more damage than they fix."

I always assumed that these criticisms were valid sometimes, of some Tradition members, but not all of them, which would create some dramatic potential for the Traditions to fight to overcome their failings, and for individual agents of the Technocracy to have to confront the fact that they're right about the Traditions sometimes, but not all of the time.
 

Angel of the Dawn

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I agree, to a point. I like the highest levels being totally corrupt, but the middle management and lower levels being... well, not corrupt, but not thinking about how evil they are, and have been, for a while.
If people are going to interpret them as evil cartoon villains, then sure, why not make them devil worshipping evil cartoon villains?

If you actually see technocrats as people, with complex motivations and behaviors, then the whole Nephandi angle doesn't really work. But if that's not what you're going for, then make them into whatever monsters you want to.
 

Five Eyes

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Well, it's the Technocracy party line, after all, and the easiest way to make the Union into the good guys is to make it universally true.
I always assumed that these criticisms were valid sometimes, of some Tradition members, but not all of them, which would create some dramatic potential for the Traditions to fight to overcome their failings, and for individual agents of the Technocracy to have to confront the fact that they're right about the Traditions sometimes, but not all of the time.
Yeah, I follow. I just don't think it jibes with the organizations as presented, and to me it has a further philosophical problem - and something of a historical one. Imagine alternate-universe-B where the game is called Heathen and the TechnoCuria's go-to critique of the League of Atheists is that they are "godless and therefore immoral". I'm not saying the League of alt-B are (or should be) flawless, or that they can't be immoral, just that accepting the implied terms of the criticism's framework causes a problem from the get-go.
 

Stephen Lea Sheppard

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I think, even if you never want to use the Technocracy as anything but antagonists, taking a setting with two distinct, ideologically-divided Designated Antagonist Factions and having one absorb the other so now you only have one uniform Designated Antagonist Faction is just an inexcusable act of setting-shrink. Like, do whatever you want in your own games, but there are far more worthwhile options to explore than that in published books.
 

Sauron's Ring

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I think, even if you never want to use the Technocracy as anything but antagonists, taking a setting with two distinct, ideologically-divided Designated Antagonist Factions and having one absorb the other so now you only have one uniform Designated Antagonist Faction is just an inexcusable act of setting-shrink. Like, do whatever you want in your own games, but there are far more worthwhile options to explore than that in published books.
To be fair, the Nephandi aren't exactly united in purpose.
 
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