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Dreamspeaker Nightmare [Oct. 3rd, 2009|12:17 am]
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[music |Glorious Dawn -- Carl Sagan]

Originally posted to Usenet in 2002.

In "my" World of Darkness, the reactionary Traditions are the Order of Hermes and the Dreamspeakers.  There is no House Thig equivalent among my 13 Houses of the Order; indeed, using the "tools of the enemy" such as computers to work The Art is political suicide if caught.  Like illicit sex in Sleeper politics, however, such use still quietly occurs among the ranks.

Dreamspeakers, as a Tradition, are even more conservative.  As I have them, they eschew high-technology with a vitriolic passion.  There are no so-called technoshamans.  Rather, there are, but they would be Orphans or belong to another Tradition.

I admit, my decision for such heavy conservatism was based more on flavor than solid reasoning.  I don't even use the Avatar Storm, so I couldn't have that catastrophe justify their extreme position.  I figured until recently that the combination of the Technocracy's Gauntlet manipulation coupled with the Pogrom was reason enough for the Dreamspeakers as a whole.  Still, this didn't really explain why there were no individual technoshamans -- after all, as had been rightly pointed out elsewhere, the large majority of their new recruits have been well exposed to technology and its associated philosophies.  It's difficult, though hardly impossible, to completely abandon a method of living into which one was born.

Having noted all that, I still wanted to preserve the Dreamspeaker Tradition as the one most venomous against the Technocracy and all they stood for; it happens to work within my Storytelling style.  During my read of the latest Dreamspeaker Tradbook, it occured to me how I could justify such a powerful policy.

Nothing mass-produced has a spirit.

Could you imagine?  What horror a shaman would feel entering a Wal-Mart* and encountering a trove of material objects (including the store itself!) each and every one of which was completely, irrevocably dead.  No ritual** would rouse the sleeping spirit of anything not handcrafted by an artisan.  The spirits of trees used in the plywood workstations were crushed out of existance in the mill long before assembly at the factory would have done the same thing.  Unless individually created, not a table knife, child's toy, rug, CD player, bottle of pills, chair, lamp, toaster or blouse could ever be awakened***.  And mass-produced items far, far outnumber artisan-created ones in industrialized countries.

What a ghastly world it is in which my Dreamspeakers try to live.  "Ford" would be a grotesque epithet.  In their eyes, a technoshaman would be a nasty, pathetic parody; a sorcerer playing at being a shaman in the most insulting manner possible.

Mission accomplished.

*Such horror would be even greater than the profound disquiet some Sleepers feel when entering a Wal-Mart!   ;-)

**Spirit 5 could create an Umbral entity, which then could be made to inhabit a modern mass-produced item.  It's questionable as to whether a shaman would be so cruel as to actually do this, although I could think of some justifications.

***Not entirely true, actually, if you allow that strong, prolonged emotional resonance directed at or closely around such an object could create a spiritual presence after the fact, as it were.  I would allow this, myself, as it also fits in very well with my style.


[User Picture]From: home_of_usher
2009-10-03 08:21 am (UTC)
An interesting view here. In the chantry games I was with, techno-shamanism angle was not a stereotype I found played much if at all. However it could also be noted that the DS that were about did not have any sort of aversion to technology to begin with. (they worked right along side Virtual Adepts when needed or Dated Etherites with impunity.) Perhaps it did help any DS feel more at ease to work and play alongside a conflicting trad since the environment itself was more old fashioned and organic seeming. There were few technological elements outside of the Adept and Etherite areas to interfere or disturb their spiritual needs. The security system and perhaps the espresso machine were the most advanced signs of technology in the whole common social area.

so would my example be something you feel to be too harmoniously rare to be used in other games? Do I have a skewed vision of how a multi-trad Chantry would work based upon my experience?

I've been unable to fully read the DS tradbook in PDF format because all PDF reading starts to really bother my eyes after only a few pages. Any advice or other tips you have on the Dreamspeakers and what you have found to make sense for a game would be most appreciated. Our 'house rules' will always be different of course, but if someone makes sense, I don't see why it could be adopted by other games.
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[User Picture]From: onetarot
2009-10-03 07:42 pm (UTC)
so would my example be something you feel to be too harmoniously rare to be used in other games? Do I have a skewed vision of how a multi-trad Chantry would work based upon my experience?

That's a complex question. Let me clarify and underline a few things.

1. My take on Dreamspeakers as a Tradition is severe. Granting their paradigm believes that mass production creates a dead world, their reaction to the Technocratic Union is understandable, as is their purported tendency towards insanity. If your setting assumptions don't include that, justifying such 'Speaker technophobia becomes tougher.

2. Mages are individuals first, practically by definition. Even in my game, if a player wanted a Dreamspeaker who dated an Etherite and lived in a city and they did a good job at justifying it, I would allow it. The player would have to accept that their character would find it problematic to receive help from their Tradition. They might even make it a Flaw.

3. Even granting my in-game assumptions about mass production and Dreamspeakers, the nature of the Tellurian means that other Traditions might very well have no trouble at all finding their own spirits inside modern objects. A Euthanatos might be extremely chummy with Agatha, the spirit of his '92 Chevy Camero, even though a Dreamspeaker would find said machine to be a lifeless polluter of the Technocratic Apocalypse.

If you can afford it, you might try a Kindle from Amazon. Its "paper screen" is just as easy on my eyes as a book would be. I can even lean back to read it, unlike a computer screen (odd how much difference that can make).

Did I answer your questions?
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[User Picture]From: home_of_usher
2009-10-03 11:58 pm (UTC)
1. Well the insanity angle I have seen, though perhaps not quite in ways that result from technocratic reaction or a dead world. Adepts and Etherites were in the minority in this chantry while Cultists, Verbena, Dream Speakers and Euthanatos were in the majority. Insanity that leaned more towards perhaps a changeling inspired madness was much more common. The place was perhaps too spiritual with a storyline of invading hostile spirits turning up from a storyteller at least once a month. The Technocracy storylines were not handled very well when they were done in my humble opinion, but I was not the one running them. I didn't know enough at the time to work with such a large group on a plot. I ran Seekings and crossovers with more familiarity. I'm starting to think the setting was far too forgiving towards DS and the proper technocratic threat was never used to it's fullest potential. Something I want to change if I do get another game started.

2. I am a firm believer that if a player has something way out of norm for their character they really had better justify it. This went for all kinds of things, from an extra purchased dot in an ability, to flaws they give their character on creation. if there's not a good reason for it in at least a full page of character history, I wouldn't allow it. I also had a rule that if two people wanted to improve their spheres and could teach each other, they had to record at least 10 sessions of the one on one role play of teaching each other the required knowledge and turn the scenes in to me. (Since we were all running games online it was much easier to have people record a chat scene than a TT scene between two people off of game times.) I would review the scenes, makes sure the players were not just goofing off and they were actually putting forth the thought and effort before awarding them the EXP for the sphere.

3. I can see how others can find a spirit within an object, but then it puzzles me as to how if a Euthanatos in your example can find it, how can a Dreamspeaker not? Or maybe that's their hubris. I might need to read the DS book better before I can answer that one myself.

I may look into that. I do have an iphone kindle app which I found I can read much easier due to the contrast settings and the PDF quality, so perhaps I should invest in a full sized kindle.

Thank you for answering my questions. you have been most graciously helpful. I have much food for thought to chew on.
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[User Picture]From: onetarot
2009-10-04 07:49 am (UTC)
I can see how others can find a spirit within an object, but then it puzzles me as to how if a Euthanatos in your example can find it, how can a Dreamspeaker not? Or maybe that's their hubris. I might need to read the DS book better before I can answer that one myself.

It is a logical consequence of paradigm. After all, a New World Order agent would not see Agatha (mentioned above) as a spirit at all. She would perhaps think the Euthanatos introduced an alien being or 3rd Level Memetic Entity into the car, i.e. things that agent has been taught exists. And, importantly, the agent could not deal with Agatha as if it were a spirit, in the sense of handling it with courtesy, bargaining with it, using proper protocols, etc. The agent could only approach the entity on her (the agent's) own terms. Sometimes this is very effective. Sometimes the concept is so far out of paradigm as to be literally inexplicable.

Similarly, my Dreamspeakers would view Agatha depending on their particular cultural paradigm, but in any case it would be a trespasser or "demon", not the car itself. If a Dreamspeaker has awakened his knife, the spirit of that knife is that knife. There is no difference; it is merely awake, now. To a Dreamspeaker, every natural thing (as well as every mindfully created tool) is literally living. To them, the Technocracy has removed the spirit from the process of creation, leaving a horrendous pile of dead matter everywhere they go -- they deliberately surround themselves with it. So Agatha would not be the car, but a mischievous or evil spirit invading the unliving form of the machine. At best, the Dreamspeaker could cast it out, ironically. Dealing with it in any other way would be repugnant at best, unthinkable (taboo) at worst.

As always, this is how it works in my version of Mage. Your Milage May Vary.
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[User Picture]From: home_of_usher
2009-10-05 04:04 am (UTC)
Interesting and good to know. ^_^
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[User Picture]From: home_of_usher
2009-10-04 12:00 am (UTC)
One other small question.

will we get to see your takes on all the other Traditions as well in the future?
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[User Picture]From: onetarot
2009-10-04 08:16 am (UTC)
I'm sure you have already noticed my Hermetic posts earlier. Aside from that, I have a few more things to share that I have already written and posted elsewhere, but I haven't gone through every Tradition to the same depth. If you wish to discuss any particular Mage-ly topic, I will likely have some sort of opinion!

However, someone more erudite than I, with far more creative energy, has already contributed megabytes of data on these topics: http://hem.bredband.net/arenamontanus/mage.html

You may find the above link very useful (and time consuming!).
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[User Picture]From: home_of_usher
2009-10-05 04:03 am (UTC)
ahh yes. Anders Mage page.Though for me, it is sort of 'old school' in that so many of our game have looked to this page first and held quite a few of the ideas contained therein as a better explanatory standard than the books themselves. So this material is rather familiar to me. Your input however is not familiar and therefore unique and intriguing. I look forward to whether or not you post more.

As for any particular subject? hmmmm Currently my magi of choice are Euthanatos and Cultist of Ecstasy. I have been fiddling with the ideas of two new Virtual Adept characters, but it's been hard for me to completely break away from the Random Interrupt stereotype when I played Glasswalkers primarily.
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[User Picture]From: x405_w4lru5
2010-07-16 07:28 pm (UTC)

so sad ;p

you, my friend, appear to have never spoken to or meditated upon any mechanikami or electrikami. mass manufactured items all share the same common spirits.. every serial number is a medium-level spirit truename (assuming the object is common), and every batch is a subset (sibling group). individual objects which have individual ID numbers have unique names. even simple objects like a toothbrush has its own spirit, it just isn't very bright (it only knows about brushing teeth). also, a can of soda or a shirt won't be all that much fun to talk to, but complex machines (like cars) or electronics (don't you name your computer?) are very much able to say interesting things. also, as soon as it's manufactured (shipped, sold, etc.) each item begins to differentiate. one person's laptop is not at all what another's is within a week, even if they're the same batch. the more complex the manufactured item is, the more likely it is to also develop unique quirks. let me tell you, there are plenty of times when my computers break that i just light incense and go do something else for a while. and lastly, manufactured items dwell in a human world with human ethics. guns are often bloodthirsty and/or morbid (in Basic, i named mine Esther, after the subject of the Everclear song Heroin Girl.. stupid, but i felt it was apt). and what, do you think that The Marlboro Man and Joe Camel aren't spirits? you may think they're evil (and yeah, they probably are) but they're still spirits. not everything in the Umbra is all that nice. there was a time when tigers were feared like we fear bombs now. just because Dreamspeakers are often from more biome-healthy areas doesn't mean they'd all just roll over and let a tiger eat them, any more than we'd want to hang around while a bomb goes off.

hope my comments don't piss you off, by the way. i just dislike having one of my favorite traditions getting pigeonholed into missing out on all the fun of technomancy.
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