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Animals of the Technocratic Union [Oct. 19th, 2012|05:41 pm]
The Ascension Community

[music |Cat Video, by Blue Man Group]

Although the stomping Terminator-esque Hit Marks or the fast, cunning and dangerously unstable Victors can present a lasting image to your players, I have some problems with them in the style of games I like to run. I say this having tried them in the as-presented manner. With that experience I discovered I have a couple of problems with the concept:
  • It takes real effort to keep Hit Marks from turning into clichés.
  • People are very sensitive to minor "errors" in human appearance and interaction. That's why animating them realistically is so difficult. If your Technocracy is trying to stay hidden, it doesn't make as much sense to use fake or partially fake humans to carry out public jobs. This becomes ridiculously true with the whole "chain gun from the shoulder" nonsense.
Hit Marks could be a popular solution to off-world security issues, where sprouting projectile weapons presents fewer problems (as for Victors, why would they use them at all if they are so prone to instability?). But on good old Earth with good old Paradox, the Union would look to other methods of active infiltration. The most popular solutions would be micro cameras and/or human agents. For those missions that require both mobility and observation, however, few things would work better than engineered animals.


One word: flies. Their only disadvantage is their unfortunate tendency to get actively crushed by completely unsuspecting citizens. This occurs less often then some might think, however. If all you have installed are a micro camera and microphone, Paradox nearly always leaves these alone. Even when it does take exception, what typically happens is the malfunction of a $15,000 surveillance system. These things work so well for the NWO that a surprising percentage of their infiltration budget is on flies (and their data handlers) alone.

Artificial mosquitoes are a problematic, but sometimes marvelous way to collect a tough-to-acquire DNA sample. Being wholly biological (thanks to the Progenitors) there is extremely little risk of discovery or even Paradox. They are expensive as hell, however, particularly considering their 30% success rate.


Until the flies were perfected, this was the favorite way to spy on any outdoor situation. Contrary to popular Tradition legend, the Union never made a crow or raven model, feeling this would invite scrutiny from those superstitious throwbacks they were spying on. By far, the Sparrow model proved the most efficacious. A distant yet respected second place was the Robin version. Others included the Vulture high-altitude observation model and the Starling semi-biological unit (all of the other models were completely electromechanical). The Starling was developed to counter the uncanny ability of some Verbena to quickly spot the other models. It didn't work as well as the Union had hoped, though it was otherwise a viable surveillance system. A Pigeon model was drafted but never fully tested by the time the insect models became popular. For some reason, the prototype was completely (and conspicuously) rejected by real pigeons in field tests.


Some Technocratic products gain a reputation, either in-house or from Reality Deviants, that outstrips their actual functionality. The Wolf Mark was just such a device. Early models ran into pernicious flaws, calling the whole project into doubt. The Wolf Mark III was the first successful field tested model -- a sophisticated and frightening combat machine, it was responsible for a strong reaction from the Traditions that carried over through the next, often subtler models. Later Wolf Marks de-emphasized the raw combat toughness for superior wilderness tracking ability. All models, controversially, were equipped with twin 2 watt lasers, ostensibly for emergency use. These were Paradox magnets in most cases, of course, malfunctioning usually after one use (sometimes causing the unit's head to combust). Combat, when necessary, was accomplished well enough with tooth and jaw alone.

The Union's domestic dog surveillance systems were often quite effective. Iteration X could never produce a model cheaply enough to make mass production worthwhile, however. Also, the dog models were prone to the "pigeon problem" of appearing alien to other dogs.


The Technocratic Union initially developed the ARISS (Active Rodent Infiltration & Surveillance System) for populations used to the presence of the actual animal, particularly India. To their delight, it experienced a couple of almost unhoped for benefits: every version tested was accepted by the natural animal social system, i.e. by real rats. This was largely the work of Shashi Divakaruni, wunderkind programmer for Iteration X. The second surprise was that individual units inexplicably possessed an appeal by the humans that encountered it. People already inclined towards rodents in general tended to actively adopt or assist the ARISS units if said device made an unanticipated contact. While this sometimes resulted in awkward mission situations, more often than not it was a boon, eventually anticipated in infiltration scenarios from the outset.


The Cabal of Pure Thought authorized some bizarre alchemical experiments with animate feline forms in the 17th Century. These were chiefly created to discredit the Verbenae and other such mystickal groups. Although this met with some success, a strange kind of internal superstition prevented the Order of Reason as a whole from pursuing the project further. This bias lasted well into the 19th Century, although the occasional half-hearted attempt was still made. The modern Technocracy revived the concept in the 1950's and took a predictably more mechanistic approach. It wasn't until the 1970's, however, when the Progenitors took the matter into their own hands that the first so-called Sparks (housecat cyborgs created for surveillance) entered production. The units had the benefit of being relatively inexpensive and modestly effective in urban or suburban environments. However, even the most advanced Sparks run into troublesome malfunctions at unpredictable times, frustrating the NWO in particular. These flaws are particularly irksome as they rarely result in a complete (and innocuous) shutdown, but much more often create weird and attention-getting behaviors, such as abrupt, rapid running, tail-chasing, and staring in inappropriate directions.

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Awakened Population [Jul. 2nd, 2010|05:04 pm]
The Ascension Community

[music |Carbon Based Lifeforms -- Mos 6581]

First, some remarks.

Originally (back in the 20th Century, perhaps), I had written this type of information as if it were from a smart-ass Virtual Adept hijacking a New World Order report regarding the number of Mages on Earth.

It was not my best work.

So, here it is redone -- stripped of its "in-universe" style and updated for the current world population. A little dry, I know, but less annoying.

I have never had a problem with the "1 to 1,000,000" ratio suggested by White Wolf. If Sleepers such as Golda Meir or Joseph Stalin could change the world as much as they did, how much more potential did a willful, driven-to-the-point-of-obsession human with the power to alter the fabric of reality itself possess? Keep in mind, too, that the various Magickal groups have the support of a sizable Sleeper contingent, some more than others.

Some ask "How do they ever run across each other, then?" not understanding that magick and centers of influence attract these people like blood does sharks. Mages tend to clump together, whether they like that or not.

Here you go, then: my version of the Awakened Population.Collapse )
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A fine place for tomes. [Mar. 14th, 2010|10:30 pm]
The Ascension Community

Need some ideas for a Hermetic grimoire?

Check out this site's catalog.
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Employing the Men in Black [Feb. 7th, 2010|05:22 pm]
The Ascension Community

[music |Soundtrack to American McGee's Alice]

©2010 onetarot

As presented in Mage: The Ascension, the Men in Black hew closely, if generally, to the “real” mysterious figures loosely associated with the Mothman mythos. Dressed in nondescript black or dark gray suits, black or mirrored sunglasses and oddly fitting hats or gloves, their skin seems strangely artificial, as does their speech and mannerisms. They drive black (of course) Caddies or Lincoln Continentals. Family members asked to enter these vehicles are rarely seen again.

How you wish to use Men in Black in your game fiction is up to you, of course. You should be aware of their variations in American conspiracy mythology, however, if you wish to change or expand their role in your story. Are they agents of some hush-hush branch of the U.S. Government? Clones of the Technocracy? Alien investigators that are actually aliens?

Some reports have them seemingly unfamiliar with everyday objects: fumbling with tableware, trying to drink from the jar of jelly on your table or demonstrating the handwriting of a seven year old.

Some might wheeze and cough as if seriously ill. Others smell bad (inorganic? rotting?), or wear their clothes uncomfortably. Language and syntax may be oddly “manufactured.” Time references are out of date or fractured (“We’ll be back in 1/6th of an hour.” or “Five of the clock, post meridian.”)

Perhaps they use “skin oil jet printers” to plant your fingerprints. Maybe they whisper out of the sides of their mouths at each other, almost simultaneously while interviewing you, as if communicating in code.

Maybe your Men in Black were first seen at the Holloman AFB in New Mexico back in 1964. Are they part of Majestic-12, the department created by Truman in 1947 to exploit the Roswell crash?

Or perhaps something like Men in Black have appeared all throughout history! Are they part of the Technocracy at all? Maybe they are aliens interfering with Earth’s timeline. What a shock to player characters when they trace the same three mysterious figures in black throughout recorded history!

For myself, while I like the version presented in the rule books, I disagree with the decision to make the MiB’s have Arete, i.e. be Awakened. Having an aware Avatar should not be something that can be manufactured, so to speak. So I am inclined to equip my Mysterious Cloned Agents with the latest in high tech equipment (along with enhanced stealth or interrogation abilities?), which makes them scary enough when handled properly, I assure you. When they dissolve into viscous goo after being killed, watch your players’ faces as you describe the process in vivid detail the first time.

For further study, I refer you to these sources: John Keel's The Mothman Prophecies, Grey Barker's They Knew Too Much About Flying Saucers, Robert Todd Carroll's slightly snarky but very useful The Skeptic's Dictionary, the magazine Fortean Times and, last but not least, both volumes of Kenneth Hite's marvelous resource for games with conspiracy themes, Suppressed Transmission from Steve Jackson Games.
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Motivational [Feb. 5th, 2010|09:32 am]
The Ascension Community

[music |Bola -- Whoblo]

Here is a mock-motivational poster I made some years back. The artwork is not mine, just to be clear, but the words and formatting are.

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Sex Ratios [Dec. 26th, 2009|01:00 am]
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Original version ©1998 onetarot. Modified in 2009.



Akashic Brothers--- 4/3
Celestial Chorus--- 2/1
Cult of Ecstasy--- 3/4
Dreamspeakers--- 1/1
Euthanatos--- 1/1
Order of Hermes--- 3/1
Sons of Ether--- 4/1
Verbena--- 1/4
Virtual Adepts--- 3/1

Iteration X--- 1/1
New World Order--- 3/1
Progenitors--- 3/2
Syndicate--- 1/1
Void Engineers--- 3/2

Hollow Ones--- 2/3

Other Orphans--- 1/2

Notes on the numbers: the female bias with Orphans reflects the facts that males get recruited into Tradtions and Conventions more often, plus females the world over are given fewer opportunities, on average.

The Void Engineers would be even except for the presence of the Void Marines.

While the NWO’s philosophy is theoretically egalitarian, there is a strong male dominance than pervades the upper echelons.

The African Dreamspeakers are slightly female-biased, most other locations carry a male bias.
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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...Collapse )

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La Vie Dans La Mémoire [Sep. 19th, 2009|01:21 pm]
The Ascension Community

A rote I created to be a plot device for the antagonist of a story.

©2002 onetarot

La vie dans la mémoire.  (Life *****  Mind  *****  Time ****)

"We will miss her generosity," intoned the dry little man behind the podium.  "We will miss her energy."
A child lost in the orderly rows of seats tried to stifle a sudden coughing fit.  The adults shifted restlessly in the tepid, still air.
"But," drove the eulogist, "most of all, we will miss her undying sense of purpose."  He shuffled a few degrees to one side, as if to face the casket.  He gestured to it, in case anyone of the two hundred attendees had forgotten the guest of honor.  The gesture slowly deflated as the arid silence became awkward, then strange.
Paper-thin whispers crackled from the mourners.
"Thank the Lord her 'sense of purpose' died along with her," said one.
"Nobody needed to be that...that driven," said another.
Like flies buzzing around a corpse, the muttering grew to fill the room.
"Now maybe the Institute will finally fade away."
"Elitist trash.  Good riddance."
"Yeah, they were assholes, but they were smart assholes."
"Hush your mouth.  This is a memorial."
"She knew what she wanted and went for it, at least."
"You gotta give her that."
"My son wanted to join the Institute..."
"Did he apply?"
"No.  I didn't let him.  But I'm sure he was smart enough...I mean..."
"Yeah, well, now you'll never know."
The murmurs grew and grew, rising like too much bread in the sun.  The eulogist found himself holding his breath; nothing like this had happened before.  He squinted into the crowd anxiously.   The suits and sundresses rippled in motley patterns before his eyes like heat waves on a tarmac.
Something was happening.  He could feel it spreading over the entire room, ignoring the wilting flowers and the century-old Wurlitzer, but finding each and every life: man, woman and child.  It shaped the air, it crafted the whispers.
"I wanted my Melissa to join..."
"I heard they had a fantastic business program."
"...but now she never will...it's too late."
"I guess it's hard growing up in this podunk little town."
"I just wanted the best for her."
"It isn't elitism if you really are better...educated, anyway."
"It was all about education.  Sure it was kinda weird, but, what would I know?"
"Somebody," said the dry little man up front, "somebody should continue her work."
It was like a revelation.  The whispers evaporated instantly in the shock of recognition.
"Yes," said the child, her coughing long since stilled.  "I want to go to the Institute."
The service ended fifteen minutes early.  After all, there was a great deal of work to do.

[The Effect allows an ambitious and powerful Mage to literally live on in the memories of others.  This isn't Untether -- the Mage actually converts her living being into thought, or more accurately memory.  Successfully cast, the Mage "dies" on the spot.  Then, using Time and Mind, the spell waits until a number of people who knew the Mage in some capacity surround the body, typically at a memorial or funeral.  A random crowd would not do (although a similar Effect adding Prime 2 and Quintessence might work in that case.  The latter would be Vulgar, however).
If successful from start to finish, the Mage literally becomes the memories within the minds of the people she has affected.  In this way can she, with Willpower expenditures, influence the emotions or goals of the breathing.  It would be an excellent way to continue ones life's work under the radar of enemies.
The Storyteller could use this Effect as a plot device, allowing a powerful antagonist to continue to foil the characters from "beyond the grave."  This would also make killing the antagonist very problematic...a Chronicle in and of itself, perhaps.]

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Hi! Newbie to community [May. 5th, 2009|11:41 pm]
The Ascension Community

[mood |hopefulhopeful]
[music |Pandora]

Well, like some of the posters here said I really wish I would have done this sooner. I feel like I'm so very late to the party. I've spent by days chasing the chats and the dwindling and rarely updated websites for Old Mage games that I should have turned to LJ to meet more players a long time ago. I don't know how many out there still play, but I would love to discuss some topics with anyone interested.

So a bit about me, well I'm a Mage player and have been for the last ohhhh 8 years maybe more (Gosh I feel so old and nerdy admitting that.) I am called theJaer mainly as an OOC alias. My Mage Characters have had crossovers into many other systems, but they are still mainly Mage.

I've been Rping online mostly in one set of chat rooms that started out in the very very old White-Wolf HTML chats. When those chats were down (as was often the case) the regulars would move to alt chat rooms on a mirror site. Eventually Conrad decided to take the HTML style chat rooms down permanently and retire that server as out of date. The Java chats were his new baby and those of us who didn't care for the java based chat rooms continued using the Alt chats. The Alt mirrors have gone through a few server changes and web manager changes over the years. Currently I suppose as is the case in a lot of places, those old WoD Chats are barely used at all in favor of the New WoD games. Since I'm still running characters in the Old WoD style, I am one of those few left playing. I have about 10 years of chat based Rp saved on my hard drive. I've posted some of these scenes on LJ, but there's so many gigs of word files spanning 10 years I don't know how best to post it.

If anyone is interested I would love to hear your feedback on what I've put up so far, and how I can better share my saved epics with the rest of the online world. I look forward to meeting new people and from what I have read in the archives of this community, there seems to be a lot of fantastic discussions going on.

Xposted to other Lj communities for WoD.
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Perceptions of the Life Sphere [Jan. 11th, 2009|03:37 pm]
The Ascension Community

©2001 mdf a.k.a. onetarot (slightly modified in 2009)

Perceptions of the Life Sphere

    Different Traditions understand the Spheres differently.  This is most noticeable with the Life Sphere.  Essentially, there are three general categories into which these perceptions fall.  I have used as an analogy an apple tree.  What happens to the apple after it has been plucked?
    1.  The apple instantly reverts to Matter, except for the seeds.
    2.  The whole apple is still living until it rots or is destroyed.
    3.  Not only is the apple living, but so are the “dead” leaves on the ground!
    Each Tradition is listed separately with how they fall into the above categories and a quote from a Mage of the Tradition.

    Akashic Brotherhood:  Category 1
    “The pattern of Chi may leave an imprint on the tree, but as it is the tree that supplies this life force the apple is cut off as soon as it falls.  Thus it is, too, with the hair on my head.”
    Celestial Chorus:  Category 2
    “Only when the Song has faded and the Harmony trails off into a simple Melody will Life depart.”
    Cult of Ecstasy:  Category 2
    “The apple is the tree’s passion, it’s expression.  I know this comes as a shock to you Techno-types out there, but the seeds are the apple’s passion!  Everybody together, now...THE TREE IS THE SEED’S PASSION!  Neat how it works, hmmm?”
    Dreamspeakers:  Category 2
    “The physical world is a vaporous reflection of the real world, the spirit world.  What is alive in the real world is reflected in the physical one.  Your so-called ‘Life Sphere’ is merely a Sphere of Reflections.”   
    Euthanatos:  Category 1
    “Of course the apple is not alive once it is removed.  It can move only one direction on the Wheel and that is towards decay.  The seeds, of course, continue along the Wheel as Life is wont to do.”
    Order of Hermes:  Category 1 (except Houses Davii, Rodin:  2)
    “As Master Huerista Pleasant documented in her treatise The Inner Temperances of Fire Upon the Pattern in Flux, only that which has been defined as having a Noble Pattern can actually be considered to be ‘alive’ in the true (i.e. mystical) sense.”
    Sons of Ether:  Category 3
    “What is all this talk of ‘dead’ leaves?  It is all just organic matter, waiting perhaps for Science to bestir it.  The cursed Technocracy has everyone believing in some ghastly permanence of death...don’t get me started...wait, here are my notes on this very subject...”
    Verbena:  Category 3
    “Life is nearly everywhere.  Nature is the most powerful force, and Goddess knows will not be put down by those bastard Progenitors.  Watch as I grab a handful of this ‘lifeless’ dirt and cause life to issue forth.  Watch as I plant this ‘dead’ branch and create another apple tree!”
    Virtual Adepts:  Category 1
    “Life?  Meat icons.  Worked well enough in this system, but my brothers and sisters are working on Reality 2.0 and meat will have nothing to do with it.”
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