A loose organization of mages, the Traditions are a collection of mages who embrace the mystical and magical side of the world and seek to open up the masses to a more fluid and dynamic view of the world. Each Tradition is represented within the organization through a seat that represents a Sphere of magic that their Tradition specializes in.
Functional Magic: Each Tradition has their own different views on magic and trademark styles associated with them.
Masquerade: Not a personally enforced one, but more of a law of the universe itself through the Consensus and Paradox. Tradition mages are usually the most affected by Paradox effects and as such they typically don't use vulgar magic unless they absolutely need to.
Romanticism Versus Enlightenment: Heavily romanticist in contrast to the Technocracy's enlightened viewpoint, though the Sons of Ether and Virtual Adepts help balance it out with some enlightenment as well.
We ARE Struggling Together: One of the main reasons that the Traditions are not very successful against the Technocracy is because of the petty bickering and in-fighting between the various factions that they are made up from.
Enlightened monks from the Far East, who believe in training the body to serve as a better vessel for the mind and spirit. They are masters of Supernatural Martial Arts, particularly their special technique of Do.
Miracle workers and priests who transcend any single religious faith - as a group, anyway. They believe that all faiths are merely fragments of "The One", and that all humans can achieve transcendence through prayer and faith.
Specialty Sphere: Prime
Artistic License - Religion: Not exactly a good representation of any faith, particularly in how they work off the claim that all faiths are effectively the same. Unitarian Universalism is probably the closest, but the Chorus has its own unique flavor of monotheistic universalism.
Unsuspectingly Soused: A topic that is brought up as a debate inside the Tradition, as it can help Awaken a Sleeper, but at the same time places them in an obviously risky position.
Tribal shamans who walk the boundaries between dream and reality, and commune with the world of the spirits. They are a collection of eclectic animist traditions, from Native American to African, lumped together upon the formation of the Traditions.
Magical Native American: Not just native Americans, but also native Africans, Australian Aborigines, and Pacific Islanders. The other mages lumped them all together due to their common usage of spirits and shamanistic techniques. Understandably, some left in disgust.
Necromancers and fate-changers devoted to guiding the great wheel of death and rebirth. Their beliefs rose out of Indian beliefs in the cycle of karma and reincarnation, and also include Greek and Celtic death-cults. To the Euthanatos, death is merely a part of life, a part which is sometimes necessary for the greater good.
Genius Bruiser: To counter the effect their assassin training has on their psyche, many of them dedicate what's left of their "normal" life to various forms of science and academics - from medicine to philosophy to computer science.
He Who Fights Monsters: The Euthanatos Tradition spends much of its time trying to clean the world of evil people that no longer serve their purpose in The Wheel, but in doing so expose themselves to a corruption known as Jhor. Jhor is gained by using magic to kill, killing unnecessarily, not maintaining a mundane identity with a job and friends so as to remain grounded, and so forth. People who succumb to Jhor become pale and sallow, like they are ill, and become far more extreme in measures, methods, and goals. They often hold on to their original ideals and goals even as they continue to rationalize more drastic measures.
Token Evil Teammate: They are the most willing of the Traditions to engage in murder and accepting of harm, but it isn't universal.
Training from Hell: the Golden Chalice, a sub-faction of the Euthanatos that is effectively a fate-bending special operations group. Their training is said to be 24 hours a day for two weeks straight, with only the bare essentials of magic to keep contenders from dying.
Winds of Destiny, Change: Entropy magic allows for control over fate and chance, and they also tend to see themselves as agents of the Wheel of Ages.
Order of Hermes
Perhaps the oldest Tradition of them all, or at least the first one to properly define themselves as such, the Order of Hermes was one of the most vital forces behind the creation of the Council in the past. Of the Traditions, they are the closest to the classic fantasy "wizard", their style being based on the practice of Hermetic Magic. Amongst the Traditions they stand out for having the most organized structure of all of them, and their membership is grouped across several houses, each practicing a different type of magic that falls within the paradigm of the Tradition as a whole.
Specialty Sphere: Forces
Dying Moment of Awesome: In "Ascension", the entire Order of Hermes go out in a massive magical battle against the forces of evil. The Order is wiped out and Earth is engulfed by Hell, but if the PCs did it right, the Order's sacrifice leads to a glimmer of hope.
Pride: This, along with the defection of House Tremere- now Clan Tremere- was one of the main reasons that the early Technocracy was able to sway the masses to their viewpoint. As an example, the Traditions nearly fell apart before they could even formally be created because the Order of Hermes tried to get the others to organize as houses in the Order; it was a huge blow to them that the Order had to accept a seat as an equal to the other eight.
Sorcerous Overlord: What many of their members were during the Dark Ages, and some still are today.
Sons of Ether / Society of Ether
Mad scientists who embrace the weirder and more fantastic side of Science. The original Etherites were members of the Technocracy who defected to the Traditions, feeling constrained by the limits of the Technocracy's regimented form of science. To an Etherite, discovery and imagination are the main scientific goals, and anything is possible.They go from the Sons of Ether to the Society of Ether in the 20th anniversary edition.
Specialty Sphere: Matter
Defector from Decadence: Left the Technocracy due to their refusal to compromise on their goal of personal science. They were also responsible for helping the Virtual Adepts perform the same move, sponsoring the Adepts among the Traditions.
For Science!: Since they hold that science should be about discovery and wonder, not formalized rules, this crops up a lot.
Frankenstein's Monster: Some combination of Matter, Life, Forces, and Prime working together, and you too can start creating these. Some even Awaken and become Etherites in their own right; the original splatbook even offers one as a sample character.
Immigrant Patriotism: In some ways, they clash more with the other Traditions (outside of fellow former Technocrats, the Virtual Adepts) than they ever did with the Technocratic Union. But since they were welcomed with (relatively) open arms, they produce some of the most fiercely loyal Traditionalists.
Mad Scientist: Well, from an outside perspective; however, there's a faction even the Sons call "Mad Scientists", because of their disregard for ethics.
Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: While the Electrodyne Engineers certainly clashed with the rest of the Technocracy, they were still loyal. But when their pet theory about luminiferous ether was removed from the Consensus (ironically, to try and push them into being less rebellious), they defected and renamed themselves in honor of the ether that was no longer part of the scientific consensus.
Rage Against the Mentor: Described to be a common occurrence, particularly when the student's personal view of science evolves counter to his mentor's outlook. They try to keep such issues to sniping at each other in academic papers. Note the word "try."
Steam Punk: A very common theme for them, since they split off from the Technocracy in Victorian times.
The Medic: They wield the Sphere of Life, which means that they have the easiest access to healing magic.
Combat Medic: but never forget that they can do the reverse just as easily.
Religion is Magic: Highly associated with Pagan traditions, particularly European ones.
A relatively young Tradition, the Virtual Adepts are the newest addition to the Council, and therefore the least trusted. Originally one of the Conventions of the Technocracy, the Virtual Adepts were initially known as the Difference Engineers, but as the years went by they became increasingly more discontent with the Technocracy's actions, and eventually defected to the Traditions after the death of renowned Adept Alan Turing by the hands of Technocracy agents. Now a Tradition, the Virtual Adepts are masters of information, the Digital Web and computer wizardry.
Specialty Sphere: Correspondence
Berserk Button: They hate the Technocracy with a passion even greater than the other Traditions.
Cyberpunk: They draw a lot of their fashion and personality from this. They even have a sub-faction called the Cyberpunks.
Space Master: Masters of the Sphere of Correspondence, which covers the spatial dimensions.
The Web Always Existed: The internet was not made, but discovered by mages. It was - seen from another perspective - the Ahl-i-Batin's fabled Mount Qaf.
Tracing their origins back to the medieval ages, the Technocracy, then known as the Order of Reason, dedicated themselves to protect humanity from the various supernaturals that stalked mortals in the world, and embraced logic and science as a means to achieve their goals, crushing any and all traces of the supernatural and other mages, specificially the Order of Hermes. In modern nights, they control the masses with near absolute power, and work hard to preserve the status quo of humanity that has been achieved since their founding, for better or for worse, and are willing to eliminate anyone they see as a threat to their ideal world.
Fallen Hero: The faction as a whole. They were once the heroic Order of Reason, and they fought on behalf of God and the common people against the cruel Sorcerous Overlords to build a brighter future. Nowadays, while they haven't quite turned into complete villains yet, those past glories serve as a sad reminder of what could have been.. or, for the optimistic, what might one day be again.
Hero Antagonist: While the Technocracy certainly has their fair share of genuine villains out to crush imagination, a lot of them are just trying to protect humanity from things that are even worse, or to bring "supernatural" solutions to the Muggles.
The Man: The Technocratic Union is the establishment and their paradigm is currently the defining one... but they're not completely in control. Ultimately, it's humanity that decides where to go.
Order Versus Chaos: Solidly occupies the order side, as the vast majority of Technocrats leans toward Static avatar essences.
The Purge: The fate of the Craftmasons, who founded the Order of Reason.
Black Sheep: Materials sciences (chemistry, metallurgy, and the like) are still represented in the convention, but they're generally treated as the pitiful throwbacks of the Convention (and, to some extent, the Technocacy as a whole).
The Homeward Journey: A big motivation for the Convention as a whole after the Avatar Storm - it cut them off from The Computer, and everyone knows they're desperate to return (in particular, they try to get whatever resources they can get from the Syndicate and their own works to cajole the Void Engineers to mount an expedition to find it). Unfortunately for them, it turns out the Void Engineers already have written it off as being completely in the hands of Threat Null's Autopolitans.
Machine Worship: The old-tyme master craftsmen, not so much, but many of the newer members all-but worship the Great Computer they have built with their own hands.
New World Order
Body Horror: In the Revised convention book, after the Avatar Storm, Iteration X turned over the HIT-MARK program to the New World Order, who based the Atlas program on it. The difference being that the NWO uses brains harvested from captured Tradition mages to power the Atlas units.
Face-Heel Turn/Heel-Face Turn: They specifically have a Procedure to rapidly turn a mage into a loyal Technocrat. They'll also try less forceful methods when possible - in fact, the current leader of the convention is a former Cultist of Ecstasy who switched sides after repeatedly teaming up with the NWO against Nephandi during World War II. Of course, whether they're the face or the heel in the tropes in question depend on what side of the Ascension War you're on.
Manipulative Bastard: Psychology and social combat is their specialization, and they are very good at finding your weak points.
The Men in Black: The basic grunts; the ones that run the Convention are the Men in White. The traditional outfits are enhanced by "enlightened science" to tap into the part of the Masses' brains that leads them to overlook things, making them subtly difficult to spot.
Mind Manipulation: Their preferred method of dealing with most opposition is just about every type of mental coercion listed on the index. They were also the driving force for ending the Pogrom (the Technocratic push to kill all "Reality Deviants"). They do it to all their own allies, too - every Technocrat goes through "Processing" when they join.
The Atoner: The overall stance that the modern Progenitors take towards their World War II doings.
Berserk Button: Why they are the most gung-ho about wiping out the Traditions: Homeopathy and other pseudomedicine really cheeses them off.
Creating Life Is Awesome: Lots and lots of technocrats are actually grown in labs, nowadays. But most of them are decent, well-adjusted, ordinary people. Notably, being a clone or vat-grown agent is only a problem if you explicitly take the disadvantage that you have a complex about it.
Deadly Doctor: Most of them honestly want to help you stay healthy, and just as many know exactly where the pain centers are.
Evilutionary Biologist: Quite a few have... fun with their research. At its nadir during World War II, as the group who engaged the Axis Powers the most heavily (up until the massive Nephandi involvement with the Third Reich was revealed).
Fantastic Drug: They can produce these - sometimes just modifications of existing drugs, but sometimes out of whole cloth.
Genetic Engineering is the New Nuke: Usually averted. Their gene-mods are fairly safe and user-friendly. However, it is not a good idea to combine them with Iteration X cybernetics. The results are... well, in a word, messy.
Herr Doktor: One of the darker legacies of the convention as a whole is that they were perhaps the most gung-ho supporters of Nazi Germany, as there were plenty of avenues for medical experimentation. Naturally, this resulted in several Progenitors that fell into this stereotype.
He Who Fights Monsters: As of the updated Convention Book: Progenitors, they have the faction most dedicated towards neutralizing Reality Deviants besides Tradition mages that threaten humanity (e.g. vampires and werewolves). These Progenitors are notably at risk of becoming... rather extreme in their methods.
The Medic: They are the doctors of the Technocracy after all.
Mediator: Post-Avatar Storm, the Progenitors see themselves overall as this - they feel that they've won, more or less, the Ascension War, and now they have to treat the problems (the in-fighting, the wounds of the Storm) of the Technocracy itself.
Playing with Syringes: Usually averted: they are doctors, after all. But you get some crazies in every batch.
Accidental Truth: The splatbook dedicated to the Syndicate notes that there was one hidden upside to the Avatar Storm cutting off the various Horizon Realms - some of the top-level Technocratic operatives in these realms had spent so much time removed from humanity that they were developing lines of thought that would be detrimental to the Technocratic Union as well as humanity in general. In short, they were able to extrapolate Threat Null's existence and its raison d'etre, and they probably could predict their modus operandi and possibly even effective methods to combat them if they only realized the weight of their observations. Ties into Failed a Spot Check below.
Dark Secret: Everything about the Special Projects Division - what it was connected with, what it produced, and most certainly that it no longer exists, although it still somehow sends profits to the Syndicate.
Everyone Has Standards: For all that the Syndicate is amoral and corrupt, they are still loyal Technocrats, and despise the Nephandi. When Syndicate investigators discovered the Convention's Special Projects Division had been in bed with the Nephandi, they found it monstrous. (What happened to SPD, no-one knows - only that they stopped taking the Syndicate's calls after the Avatar Storm, that attempts to investigate their offices got the investigators disappeared, and that its dividends keep being sent to the Syndicate.)
Failed a Spot Check: Their revised Convention splatbook strongly hints of this being a Convention-wide problem. They're deliberately comparatively hands-off with their own personnel as long as they keep raking in profits. This can backfire in numerous ways, such as two Syndicate members doing a proxy war over the same materials (although said proxy wars aren't considered a problem until it starts cutting into profits as a whole). One notable example would be the Special Projects Division, which was descended from a company that they created out of a merger - Pentex. Given how quickly Pentex became Wyrm-infested (or Nephandus-infested, if you prefer to think in Mage terms), the fact that it took over a century for the Syndicate as a whole to catch up to the problem speaks volumes as to how widespread the problem is amongst the Convention.
Knight Templar: The true tragedy of the Syndicate is that they honestly don't understand how flawed their philosophy really is.
The Man Behind the Man: In general, the Syndicate prefers to operate as "consultants" rather than being CEOs of major companies. They also see themselves as this to the Technocracy as a whole (though everyone else sees through it).
Obliviously Evil: They honestly believe they are the Masses' partners, not their rulers.
Omnidisciplinary Scientist: It's often overlooked by the other Conventions, but the Syndicate has to be good at all of the other branches of Enlightened Science by default - they couldn't know what to fund if they didn't know what actually works. They may not be as good (outside of hypereconomics and public relations) as the respective specialists, but they couldn't do their jobs if they were ignorant fools.
Only Sane Man: They certainly feel that way - one of their more common reasons for refusing funding is that it'd be rejected by the Consensus, and the resulting Paradox would be more harm than the potential good the proposed product would have provided. In some cases, it's actually true.
The Resenter: Played in both directions. Each other Convention tends to resent the Syndicate overall, as they're the ones who determine just who gets what resources (and invariably, it's not as much as others want). On the flip side, the Syndicate resents just how little respect they get for managing the Technocracy as a whole and preventing it from crashing in a puff of Paradox.
Sour Supporter: In all, they're typically much more cynical than any other Technocrat - they believed worldwide Ascension was impossible even before the Avatar Storm, and they further cultivate the overall image of being the tightwad money managers. However, they believe in making folks happy and content even if Enlightenment is beyond them, and they feel their fellow Technocrats are on the right track, albeit too focused on what could be.
Uncle Pennybags: They view themselves as this, and indeed their primary goal is based around creating worth, not exploiting it.
Ancient Order of Protectors: Nuwisha (werecoyotes) who serve Coyote's Ptah aspect claim to be obscuring parts of the Umbra from the Void Engineers. These Nuwisha prevent Void Engineers from finding places of power and beauty, taking great pains to divert the Void Engineers to Umbral areas that belong to the Wyrm (the cosmic force of entropy).
Dyson Sphere: Their original base, the Copernicus Research Center (aka "the Cop").
Friendly Enemy: To the Sons of Ether and the Euthanatos of the Traditions - the former due to similar paradigms, the latter for access to the best launch window for space exploration as well as being the ones most ready to share info about the Avatar Storm.
I Did What I Had to Do: It was the Seekers of the Void (as they were then known) who ultimately pushed to have luminiferous ether removed from The Consensus. This was the action that ultimately led the Electrodyne Engineers to leave the Technocratic Union, rename themselves the Sons of Ether, and join the Traditions. The Void Engineers do regret the departure of the Etherites (see above, under Friendly Enemy), but felt that it was in the best interests of humanity to make the move. Also their general stance towards their increasing militarism as well as their refusal to inform anyone else about Threat Null.
Ineffectual Loner: They tend to be very tight-lipped about their operations, because they don't think the other Technocrats can handle it. This is, with one exception, a very stupid idea (and that one exception is also something of an exception to this trope, since while the Void Engineers don't speak with the other Technocrats about Threat Null, they do co-operate with Traditions on the matter).
Knight in Sour Armor: Are gradually becoming this as just how dangerous and bleak the universe is impresses itself upon them.
Space Marine: Their role in the Technocratic hierarchy. And it's beginning to override all other aspects of them.
There Are No Therapists: Explicitly averted, as they have an entire arm of the Convention devoted to providing therapy to others in the Convention. They retain this in no small part because they highly distrust the New World Order, who are generally the therapist option for the Technocracy.
Token Good Teammate: They retain most of their curiosity and are much more respectful of their counterparts in the Traditions.
Nephandi, Marauders, Crafts & Orphans
A group of Middle Eastern mystics who believe in the unity of all things with the Divine, seeking to dissolve the barriers between the self and the One through understanding and enlightenment.
The Heart: What they tried to be in their time with the Traditions, in accordance with their belief in Unity; eventually, however, seeing their efforts to get the Traditions working together perpetually frustrated finally pushed them to breaking point.
The Missing Faction: Used to be in the Traditions, holding the Seat of Correspondence, but quit in the early 20th century when the Technocracy invaded their homelands.
The Nondescript: There's a reason they're known as the Subtle Ones - and that other mages have trouble finding them nowadays.
Religion is Magic: The Batini are strongly associated with Islam - though practitioners of other faiths also join - and often use its practices in their magic. Some Batini claim they created Islam; most, however, believe that it was indeed a Divine revelation to the Prophet Muhammad, and as such shares many ideas in common with their own beliefs.
Space Master: How they got to be the original holders of the Seat of Correspondence.
The Hollow Ones stand somewhere on the border between Orphan, Craft and Tradition, devoting themselves to the cause of Romanticism as they see it - individualism, self-expression, and the championing of romance - with a decidedly eclectic approach to magic.
The Anti-Nihilist: They may think life is meaningless, but they're still mages, still driven to make their mark on the world.
Goth: Associated with the subculture, which has dated them a bit, but it's not all they are. They do tend to have a taste for the macabre, though.
Tragic Villain: One does not choose to become a Marauder, nor are all people who join their ranks evil individuals themselves. It can happen to anybody almost immediately when they Awaken, and worst of all, it is completely irreversible.
A choice is made, even if subconscious. The potential Marauder is given a choice by its own Avatar to surrender their sanity, usually in order to escape the harshness of reality. Marauders are chaos incarnate, rather than actively evil, slotting into the Dynamic role to the Technocracy's Static and the Nephandi's Entropic roles. In fact, one of the few things that can be predicted about Marauder behavior is that they will always attack Nephandi on sight.
As Long as There Is Evil: Sure, you can destroy their members in the thousands, but their next incarnations will always feel the pull to join the ranks once again once they awaken, ensuring that they will never completely disappear.
Card-Carrying Villain: Nephandi are not misguided, uninformed, or misunderstood. Becoming a Nephandus requires a deliberate choice to invert one's Avatar and serve their monstrous overlords by causing death and destruction.
Deader than Dead: The recommended way to deal with them, because inverted Avatars reincarnate just like regular ones.
Face Monster Turn: Normal mages can be forcibly turned into a Nephandus by being forced into a caul. Depending on the version, sometimes having the fortitude to resist means merely dying rather than being turned.
Humanoid Abomination: Once they are Nephandi, mages are almost completely different creatures, bent on pure evil.
Mind Rape: The caul (a shrine of unspeakable evil) does this to the recipient. It's flat out stated that nothing a Nephandus can do to another person can equal the horror of the caul.
Moral Event Horizon: In universe, once more. Passing through the caul irredeemably turns a Nephandus pure evil, even unto their later incarnations. Nothing, in any lifetime, can ever redeem the Nephandus, which is the point of the ritual. The earliest Nephandi intentionally sought out pockets of pure evil in the universe in order to make sure they were dedicated to the cause.
The Sociopath: Becoming Nephandus means inverting everything good about yourself.
Stupid Evil: They have no goal that they ultimately benefit from. They're alright with destroying themselves along with the world.
Tragic Villain: Widderslainte, reincarnated Nephandi who are born evil, with no choice in their fates. It doesn't make them any less horrific and evil, but the fact it's their previous incarnation's fault makes them slightly pitiable.
0% Approval Rating: The most evil and heartless faction in the entire Old World of Darkness, even defined as such in the sourcebooks. In a world as crapsack as this, that really says something about how repulsive these guys are.
Orphans are a catch-all term for an independent mage who does not follow a formal Tradition, and has instead created his own unique paradigm. They have no particular strengths in any sphere of magick, but make up for it in flexibility. Efforts to unify them as a single group are repeated but short-lived.
Forgiven But Not Forgotten: The Solifacti are eventually allowed back into the Traditions post-Avatar Storm, albeit in reduced capacity as House Solifacti in the Order of Hermes (allowing the Etherites to retain the Seat of Matter). Everyone watches them very carefully.
The Missing Faction: They held the Seat of Matter on the Council at its founding, until one of their exemplars betrayed their cabal to the Order of Reason, triggering an internal rift over whether the betrayal had been justified, and the Solificati collapsed, surviving as the Children of Knowledge craft.
A craft of mages hailing from the Middle East, which uses the ancient Arabian legends of genies, magic carpets, magic lamps and myriad other fantastic things pulled straight out of the Arabian Nights as the basis for their magic. They see Paradox as a badge of honor for imposing their will on the universe and practice magic as blatantly as possible to change the Consensus. And they live lives of opulence and luxury, lavishing feasts and gifts on honored guests while regaling them with tales of bottling djinn or retrieving their assorted Wonders. At least until Paradox blows them up.
Masquerade: the Taftani believe the Masquerade to be a lie and therefore immoral. They are not immune to the Paradox that comes with performing vulgar magic in front of Sleepers, but they shun coincidental magic as cowardice, and practice magic that is both spectacular and aggressive (and often suicidal), hopefully with as many witnesses as possible.
Threat Null *SPOILERS FOR CONVENTION BOOK: VOID ENGINEERS REVISED AHEAD*
The high-ranking Technocrats and their retainers caught on the other side of the Gauntlet during the Avatar Storm, causing them to metamorphose into embodiments of the Conventions' ideology...devoid of any restraint or humanity, completely alien to their human counterparts. And they want to come home.
Alien Invasion: The results of them coming home, and why the Void Engineers want to prevent them.
The Virus: Transhumanity's traditional offer is to make you "perfect", ie another Transhuman. Given how this results in a complete loss of individuality and free will, everyone sane and informed enough about what the choice entails turns them down.