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The Council of 9 Mystic Traditions
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.
- Magical Society: All of 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.
- Un Equal Rites: They don't get along very 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.
- Specialty Sphere: Mind
- Enemy Mine: The Akashic Brotherhood has a long-standing rivalry with the Euthanatos tradition, due to the branches of the respective traditions from the Indian subcontinent clashing over how to handle plague victims millennia ago. Plenty of current members were reincarnated from the times when the two were at outright war, and they make for uneasy allies in the modern era. Not to mention a couple old masters are still around from those days.
- Enlightenment Superpowers: How they view their powers.
- Fantastic Fighting Style: Do, "The Way", the first martial art.
- Far East: While originating there, they've not been the defining paradigm - that falls to the Wu Lung craft.
- Flanderization: In-Universe, the Brotherhood is beginning to worry that more and more new mages are beginning to see their organization as a glorified military training regimen, rather than a deeply philosophical analysis of the human condition with martial elements.
- Full-Contact Magic: They can cast spells through martial arts.
- Ki Attacks
- Magic Knight
- Martial Pacifist: No small percentage of their members.
- Meditation Powerup: The other common way to cast.
- Psychic Powers
- Supernatural Martial Arts: Their Martial Arts and Katas are capable of impressive magical powers.
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.
- Church Militant: The more combat ready groups tend to resemble this.
- Interfaith Smoothie: As Omnitheists, they blend all religions together. That said, individual Choristers tend to see things through the lens of their original faith.
- Pieces of God: Their theory on Avatars.
- Religion Is Magic: the Chorus casts using prayer and holy symbols to create miracles.
- Religion Is Right: From their perspective it certainly is.
- Soulsaving Crusader: At their worst.
Cult of Ecstasy
Seers who seek to alter their perceptions and see beyond the limitations of their mundane experiences, usually through the use of sex, drugs, and rock and roll.
- Specialty Sphere: Time
- Deus Sex Machina: While sex is not the only way for Ecstatics to reach their altered states of consciousness, it's an easy and common way.
- Drugs Are Bad: It's implied that this trope was created to discredit them.
- Higher Understanding Through Drugs: The theme in a nutshell, but it's really more about the means to create an altered consciousness.
- Junkie Prophet: A natural character type
- Magic Music: Not given a huge amount of focus, but present nonetheless.
- Odd Friendship: with the Virtual Adepts
- Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: They have a particular distaste for rapists, seeing the act as a corruption of the ecstatic principles they believe in.
- Sex, Drugs and Rock & Roll: both the stereotype, and a list of potential foci.
- Time Master: Masters of the Sphere of Time.
- 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.
- Specialty Sphere: Spirit(of course)
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: The spiritual, contemplative Blue to the Verbena's wild, visceral Red.
- Closer to Earth: Usually.
- 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.
- Post-Modern Magik: The Ghost Wheel Society faction is a group of technoshamans looking to adapt the spirit ways to the Internet and other pinnacles of modern tech.
- Soul Power: Masters of the Spirit Sphere.
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.
- Specialty Sphere: Entropy
- Because Destiny Says So: Their primary motivation
- Blue and Orange Morality: Their devotion to the Wheel of Ages can be this.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Despite their tendency towards killing and use of necromantic energies, they are still fighting to help the Sleepers.
- Enemy Mine: The Euthanatos have a long-standing rivalry with the Akashic Brotherhood tradition, due to the branches of the respective traditions from the Indian subcontinent clashing over how to handle plague victims millennia ago. Plenty of current members were reincarnated from the times when the two were at outright war, and they make for uneasy allies in the modern era. Not to mention a couple old masters are still around from those days.
- Entropy and Chaos Magic: As masters of the Entropy sphere, naturally.
- 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.
- Mercy Kill: One duty of the Euthanatos.
- Necromancer: They tend to be associated with the Underworld; indeed, a requirement for joining is that one have first-hand experience of the Underworld the traditional way (i.e., a temporary death).
- Necro Non Sequitur: They're assassins who control chance. Yeah, this is kinda' their schtick.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: As money and commerce are ruled by entropy, the Euthanatoi are the most likely of the Traditions of being able to pull this off - usually via gambling.
- Serial-Killer Killer: The Euthanatos are quite ready to step up and slit the throats of those who target innocents.
- 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
- Ancient Conspiracy: In their heyday, they were this.
- 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.
- Elemental Powers: As masters of the Sphere of Forces this comes naturally.
- Hermetic Magic
- Kill It with Fire: This trope sums up House Flambeau's magical philosophy.
- Language of Magic
- 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.
- Rewriting Reality
- Robe and Wizard Hat: a common stereotype, was much more true back in the mythic age.
- 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
- Bold Explorer: Every Etherite enjoys a good discovery, but special mention goes to the Ethernauts subfaction.
- 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.
- Food Pills
- 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.
- Friendly Enemy: To the Void Engineers of the Technocracy.
- Humongous Mecha: These tend to be just a bit too absurd for the Technocracy. This makes them a favorite of the Etherites, naturally.
- 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."
- Rule of Cool: What their gadgets tend to operate on.
- Silly Rabbit, Cynicism Is for Losers!: Perhaps more than any other group in the World of Darkness, the Etherites maintain an unbridled enthusiasm and sense of adventure that stands in stark relief against the grim and gritty setting.
- Steam Punk: A very common theme for them, since they split off from the Technocracy in Victorian times.
- Zeerust: Another common theme for them to use.
Pagan and druidic-inspired witches who use healing and transformation powers.
- Specialty Sphere: Life
- Arch-Enemy: To the Progenitors.
- Blood Magic: They tend to use primal sources of life and sacrifice, thus blood is a common source.
- Closer to Earth: very common personality type.
- Deus Sex Machina: Blood is not the only vital fluid that they work with, although they generally take a different tack with such rituals than the Cult of Ecstasy.
- Green Thumb: They are the nature mages, and it's also the name of a merit of theirs.
- In Harmony with Nature: They advocate that humanity needs to reconnect to the natural cycles of the world.
- 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.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: The wild, visceral Red to the Dreamspeakers' spiritual, contemplative Blue.
- Religion Is Magic: Highly associated with Pagan traditions, particularly European ones.
- Witch Classic: Depending on the Writer, they may or may not have this aesthetic.
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.
- Cyberspace: The Digital Web.
- Defector from Decadence: Left the Technocracy in protest of their excessive control.
- Everything Is Online: They can hack your room's wallpaper given time.
- Hollywood Hacking: They can pull everything on that page off.
- Information Wants to Be Free: One of their core beliefs.
- Insufferable Genius: While undoubtably smart and talented, they know it all too well and as such aren't above arrogance when it comes to showing it off.
- Leet Lingo: used very often in the sourcebooks, actual characters can drop it.
- Loners Are Freaks: A lot of their members tend to be loners by nature and the Tradition in itself is rather unorganized.
- Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: When the NWO killed one of the Adepts' most prominent members, it drove the entire group to join the Traditions.
- Odd Friendship: with the Cult of Ecstasy
- Playful Hacker: They tend to be.
- Rewriting Reality
- 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, specifically 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.
- Ancient Conspiracy: Not as old as most Traditions, but older than most governments.
- Black Comedy: Enjoyed by several of their members.
- But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Between the constant attempts to preserve the world from harm and the many potentially disastrous events approaching from every angle, it's not uncommon for a Technocrat being confronted by a mage to be more confused than anything else.
- Enemy Mine: Though built on largely-conflicting philosophies, Technocrats and Mages are, at heart, not terribly different from one another, and they will cooperate to deal with problems like Nephandi, Marauders, or just plain ol' human evil like child pornographers and slavers.
- 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 of the Dark Ages to build a brighter future, where the "magic" their foes hoarded was available to all. 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.
- Go-Karting with Bowser: Organizationally, the Traditions and the Technocracy don't get along, but individual Technocrats (particularly Void Engineers, though others do it too) can and do get along with local Mages of good character... assuming that a Pogrom isn't at hand.
- Hero Antagonist: While the Technocracy certainly has their fair share of genuine villains out to crush dissent, a lot of them are just trying to protect humanity from things that are even worse, or to bring "supernatural" solutions to the Muggles.
- Internal Reformist: A common concept for Technocrat player characters, explicitly encouraged by the books.
- 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.
- Measuring the Marigolds: A big part of their initial characterization that was later mostly removed. However, it's still an unfortunate side effect of their reality policing and debunking. The Union has done a very good job of making people not believe in magic, but, unfortunately, has also found it much harder to make people excited about science in its place.
- N.G.O. Superpower: The Technocracy is not subject to any one nation, but its resources are immense enough to, in one Ascension scenario, conquer Australia.
- 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 were some of the founders of the Order of Reason. Inflicting this on local Mages is referred to as a Pogrom, though it isn't as standard policy as many think.
- Punch Clock Villain: Of the "Played straight for horror" variety. This is what ultimately makes them a villainous faction, even after the whitewashing they received in updated revisions. They embody the sheer soul-crushing indifference of corporate culture, stamping on free will, hope, expression and wonder not out of deliberate malice but out of simple blind obedience to their bureaucratic culture. They're so caught up in their "Great Schedule" that they fail to see how fare they've fallen into being monsters via the refrain of "for the greater good".
- Science Hero: Depending on your views.
- Science Is Wrong: Well, shaped by the general views of the masses, which is what the setting runs on.
- Utopia Justifies the Means: They created a world that's safe and relatively comfortable for normal humans by denying absolute freedom and crushing dissent in favor of a more rational and scientific worldview.
- Black Sheep: Materials sciences (chemistry, metallurgy, and the like) are still represented in the Convention, but they're generally treated as its pitiful throwbacks (and, to some extent, as throwbacks of the Technocracy as a whole).
- Counter-Earth: The former headquarters of their Master Computer.
- Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: Averted, actually. It is not the cybernetics that destroy Iteration X'ers who go off the deep end, but their anti-humanist beliefs. That said, earlier models of cybernetic enhancement were noted to cause problems along these lines, though they've mostly been upgraded past this point.
- Cyborg: A large number of their Agents are cybernetically enhanced.
- Dark Secret: Theirs is so explosive (revealed in the revised Convention book, one of the last that was published before the Time of Judgment) that it's been kept even from the membership of Iteration X as well. The Master Computer? It's not an artificial intelligence built solely by the efforts of the Convention. It's actually an Incarnum (or something of similar spiritual power and stature) that surreptitiously inhabited a powerful Iteration X device and demonstrated its sapience on the xth iteration. It actively prevents future attempts at building such a device to prevent Iteration X from discovering the truth. There are subtle hints in the revised Void Engineers book that this has gone further: it's heavily suggested that it's controlling the Autopolitans of Threat Null, and it's possibly even the heart of Threat Null's existence.
- The Engineer: Their specialty, both among the newer cult-like members and the older master craftsmen.
- Gadgeteer Genius: For the Technocracy.
- 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. Its loss was quite a blow, though it did accomplish some much-needed internal reforms.
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.
- Can't Argue with Elves: Many of the stereotypes surrounding them focus on their intolerable smugness.
- Face–Heel Turn/Heel–Face Turn: They specifically have a Procedure to rapidly turn a mage into a loyal Technocrat. Lest they be judged too harshly, they'll also try less forceful methods first whenever 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.
- Government Conspiracy: Averted. They influence governments, but weren't formed by any of them and are beholden to none of them.
- Knights Templar: Their predecessors, the Cabal of Pure Thought, actually purged the actual Knights Templar for not being fanatical enough.
- The Man Behind the Man: They prefer to influence rulers rather than become them - lobbyists, paper-writing academics, and political advisers are their preferred public roles. They would prefer to be this within the Technocracy as well, but feel compelled to be leaders within the Union.
- 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") in favor of "soft" warfare and social reform. They do it to all their own allies, too - every Technocrat goes through "Processing" when they join.
- The Social Expert: Their field of expertise, for good or ill.
- There Are No Therapists: Averted; they are the therapists for the Technocracy as a whole (except the Void Engineers, who maintain their own therapy corps).
- Visionary Villain: They are the architects of most of the largest and greatest of Technocratic programs, and have plans to establish world peace.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Even more than the rest of the Technocracy, the NWO is genuinely idealistic and believes in its duty to the masses above all else (which has a tendency to bring them into conflict with the Syndicate.) This doesn't mean that they don't still practice torture and brainwashing.
- Arch-Enemy: To the Verbena.
- Artistic License – Medicine: What their Procedures let them do, though they think it's just hyper-advanced medicine. They're not... completely wrong.
- 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 pseudo-medicine really cheeses them off. Their argument boils down to, "Even if you can make it work with your magical powers, you're duping countless innocent people into entrusting their lives and bodies to hucksters and frauds who can't."
- Closer to Earth: In a sense. They seem to be the Convention that best remembers that the Technocracy is supposed to be empowering the masses, rather than just controlling them.
- 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 only affects your character in anything but a role-playing sense if you explicitly take the disadvantage that gives you the Cloning Blues 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. In their updated convention book, they put a lot of focus on "healing a broken world," and part of it involves defending ordinary people from extraordinary threats.
- 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. Modern Progenitors generally don't.
- 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.
- 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.
- The Medic: They are the doctors of the Technocracy after all.
- Mix-and-Match Critters: One of the specialties of the FACADE Engineers.
- Playing with Syringes: Usually averted: they are doctors, after all. But you get some crazies in every batch.
- Accidental Truth: The revised Syndicate splatbook 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.
- Arch-Enemy: Out of all the Traditions, the Syndicate seems to hate the Euthanatos the most. This probably has something to do with their combination of fanatical (read: hard to subvert) beliefs, their habit of destroying things the Syndicate put a lot of cash into building and, worst of all, the fact that they are completely unmarketable.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: As the most amoral of the Conventions as well as the businessmen, what did you expect?
- Honest Corporate Executive: What they think they are, and in a few cases actually are.
- 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.)
- On that note, they created Pentex, but they didn't keep backing it once they found out what it'd gotten up to.
- 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.
- The Friend Nobody Likes: No corporate engineers enjoy dealing with marketing and budgeting. Iteration X and The Progenitors both find the Syndicate repulsively short-sighted, The Void Engineers are terrified that The Syndicate will cut their funding and the NWO disagrees with the Syndicate so strongly that, at any given time, the two are on the verge of civil war.
- Knight Templar: The true tragedy of the Syndicate is that they honestly either can't or won't understand how flawed their philosophy really is, or see how many people are hurt because of it.
- 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).
- Mundane Made Awesome: This bares repeating: they are literal financial wizards!
- 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.
- Pragmatic Villainy: The better class of Syndicate employees are often simply doing what they feel is the most efficient and useful for the Technocracy for a whole, even if it means some short-term losses.
- 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.
- Right Hand vs. Left Hand: As noted under Failed a Spot Check, the Syndicate is much more prone to intra-Convention infighting and conflict than most others, as a side effect of their cutthroat competition philosophy.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: How they use their magic.
- 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. Unfortunately, it doesn't always work out that way.
- Vetinari Job Security: How they stay around and remain powerful and influential, despite being the most straightforwardly-villainous Technocracy fashion, despised by their peers, and crippled by infighting brought on by their own hyper-capitalist ideology. At the end of the day, they might not be very good at their jobs, but no one *else* in the Technocracy wants to do what they do, and the Technocracy cannot function without what they do: marketing, budgeting, and all the other little minutiae of running a massive N.G.O. Superpower.
- Acronym and Abbreviation Overload: Present with all of the Conventions, but most obvious with the Void Engineers. It's Lampshaded multiple times in their splatbook.
- 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).
- Bold Explorer: Their schtick.
- Dark Secret / Necessarily Evil: The Avatar Storm would have ended long ago were it not for them...and they're feeding it to protect the world from Threat Null, the Technocrats who were trapped in the Umbra and become a sick and twisted parody of the Conventions they used to belong to.
- Deprogram: One of their less-explosive secrets - they actively remove the low-level programming that the New World Order does to all Technocrats.
- 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.
- They also have been known to work with the Dreamspeakers. As the Progenitors Convention Book mentions, they can actually be somewhat protective of the shamans.
- 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.
- Sufficiently Analyzed Magic: As the Convention most likely to interact with spirits, they tend closer to this than the rest of the Union.
- 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 on an organizational basis.
The Disparate Alliance
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.
Practitioners of voudou, they are the servants of the spirits they call Les Mysteres. Their magick is a mix of African, Native American and European beliefs combined with the hearts of the people.
Children of Knowledge
Formed from the Solificati and came to the foreground again back in the 1950's after vanishing centuries ago due to infighting. They are alchemists pur sang and frequently dabble in the use of drugs to enhance their senses and inspire them.
Looking to reveal the truth that others would ignore, the Hollow Ones are a group looking out for those on the fringe of society: the freaks, misfits and left-behinds. They consider art and bringing out emotions through it as sacred and are almost always part of some subculture that revolts against the status quo, with the Goth look being a group classic. The Hollow Ones were in the running to become the 10th group in the Council of Nine, but the political play involved here caused much of the group to ditch their Council aspirations and go their own way.
Exclusively made up from members of various Polynesian groups, the kanakakahuna call upon their Arts to protect the land and their people, preserve the culture of the various peoples, maintain the balance between the natural world and the people living in it and protect it against invaders. They don't follow the traditions regarding Awakening and other mainstream conventions regarding Magick: they follow their own ancient ways of the Arts, though one of these ways is that of ali'i, who specialize in Prime.
The Ngoma stem from Classical African ways practiced in Egypt and Nubia. Forced more and more to the heartlands of Africa they were held as something akin to the divine. They were of such renown that they were offered to become part of the council, but the Ngoma left in disgust when they were inaccurately lumped together with the Dreamspeakers and other spirit talkers. Over the course of centuries though much of their knowledge was lost to war, conquest, plague, famine and death. But they endured in small numbers that are now growing, and many of their members are scientists of some kind who seek to recover or replace the knowledge that they have lost.
Sisters of Hippolyta
The heiresses of the Amazons, the Hippolytoi hold freedom above all: death is preferred over slavery. They revere life and have been healers and liberators all throughout history and prefer nonaggression over violence, but do not consider self-defense as violence. Their practices are a mix of ritual, martial arts, shamanism and witchcraft, with rituals held in ancient Greek as befits their origin.
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.
- Arabian Nights: The big inspiration.
- Arabian Nights Days: Where they live.
- Conspicuous Consumption: The Taftani believe you must first have luxury before you can offer hospitality, so they tend to this in order to prove they can afford to be hospitable.
- Crazy Awesome: Deliberately invoked: to them, being a Mage is all about living it up to the fullest
- Flying Carpet: They're famous for weaving these.
- Genie in a Bottle
- I Know Your True Name: How they control djinn.
- 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.
- Mundane Made Awesome: Well, really, their goal is to make everything awesome, but they are noted to count the world's greatest weavers among them.
- Sacred Hospitality: Coming from a desert culture, they are big believers in this.
- Stuff Blowing Up: The standard method for dealing with what annoys them.
- Words Can Break My Bones: A common focus is poetry.
Yes, the real deal. The Templar Knights believe in the word of Christ and believe in Him, carrying out many acts of charity to help those in need. But they are still soldiers of Christ and will fight to defend those who cannot defend themselves. Originally part of the Order of Reason, when they started to question the corruption amongst the Order they were betrayed and had many of their order killed. They are organized into lodges who mainly communicate with each other through the Internet, in code riddled with scripture and references that only the Templar Knights will understand. Some of these lodges are dedicated to Peace (acts of charity), while others are dedicated to War (armed conflict). These cover a notable part, but not the entire, of the Order, with the former lodges being all-female, while the latter are all-male.
The ancient mystics of Imperial China, they served the nation from the Yellow Emperor all the way up to the Opium Wars. From there on it went downhill for the Wu Lung fast, with the Cultural Revolution killing many of the ancient masters. Humbled by this all they have been silently rebuilding themselves, finding new initiates and hoarding vast amounts of gold (both for its wealth and use in Magick). Still performing the ancient rites of the original Wu Ling, the Dragons are almost exclusively Chinese men, though in the necessity of recent years they have grown to accept women and tolerate those of non-pure Chinese blood. Having foregone the strict social structure of old, they still pay homage to the T'ien Kung te Huang Ti Wu Lung (Heavenly Emperor of the Dragon Wizards) and the Feng Huan Hou Wu (Phoenix Empress Wizard) as their supreme leaders. To aid in their goal of regaining their wealth and power initiates with an affinity for finance and/or business are preferred, but all those of Chinese blood who pass the tests are welcomed into the fold.
Nephandi, Marauders, Crafts & Orphans
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.
- Goth Girls Know Magic: While their history is linked to subcultures reaching back to the flappers and Bright Young Things, and their magic style is basically chaos magic, they're tightly linked in with Goths in the present day.
- Romanticism Versus Enlightenment: You can guess which side the Hollowers come down on.
Mages whose Awakenings went disastrously wrong, Marauders are literally incapable of distinguishing their Paradigm from Reality itself. Truly convinced on a soul-deep level that their vision of reality is Truth and that reality is Lie, their presence literally twists reality itself into confirming with their insane vision of the world. Although ultimately doomed to self-destruct, they can cause immense damage to those around them before it happens.
- Insane Equals Violent: A Marauder's mere existence is violence upon reality.
- The Mad Hatter: the saner ones.
- Power Born of Madness: All of their special powers are born out of their stark, incurable, all-consuming insanity.
- Reality Warper: Even more so than most normal mages, considering their near-immunity to Paradox.
- Reality Warping Is Not a Toy: They serve as a stark reminder of why this is so; ultimately, they can only push reality aside so much before it violently snaps back.
- 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.
- Un-Person: The ultimate fate of a Marauder who grows too powerful; eventually, reality violently snaps back, literally erasing them from existence.
Mages who have deliberately chosen to invert their Avatar and align themselves with the forces of destruction and corruption that lurk beyond reality, all for the sake of obliterating everything that is.
- Always Chaotic Evil: All Nephandi are depraved and evil psychopaths bent on destroying reality, sometimes from birth. No exceptions, except for the very rare cases of Special Snowflake Syndrome and two cases in canon.
- 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.
- Black Magic: All their magic is dangerous to reality.
- 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.
- Eldritch Abomination: Just one of the potential flavors of masters they serve.
- Enemy Mine: If a Nephandus is in the area, Tradition and Technocracy operatives will put aside their conflicts to kill it... and so will Marauders.
- Enemy to All Living Things: Sort of. According to the first Book of Madness, Paradox tends to hit Nephandi especially hard. Reality knows who its enemies are.
- Enfant Terrible: Widderslainte, the reincarnated Nephandi, often start out as these.
- Evil Sorcerer: The most evil of them all.
- Eviler Than Thou: They serve as this to every other evil faction in the oWoD.
- Face Monster Turn: Normal mages can be forcibly turned into a Nephandus by being forced into a Caul... but the Nephandi generally don't like to do this in most versions of the game, given how inefficient it is: the initial stages of the process involve embracing the worst aspects of the things you hate the most, and that provokes many mages not bent on going Nephandi to fight back or run, which provokes the Caul into killing them.
- Fate Worse Than Death: Whatever happens after a mage accepts the Caul's offer is explicitly said to be far, far worse than anything the Nephandi can come up with.
- For the Evulz: A fairly common hobby among them.
- Hell Seeker: Some Nephandi want to create a dimension of pain and torment. Some of them even want to suffer in said realm with everyone else.
- 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.
- Omnicidal Maniac: The nicest ones (relatively speaking) just want reality to stop existing altogether.
- Religion of Evil: Whether they worship demons, The Wyrm, or simply oblivion itself, they all fit this trope.
- The Sociopath: Deliberately invoked. 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 horrible 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.
- Urban Fantasy: The best representation of classical urban mages.
- Alchemy Is Magic: The major practitioners.
- Food Pills: One of their inventions.
- Forgiven, but Not Forgotten: The Solificati are eventually allowed back into the Traditions post-Avatar Storm, albeit in reduced capacity as House Solificati in the Order of Hermes (allowing the Etherites to retain the Seat of Matter). Everyone watches them very carefully.
- Healing Potion
- Love Potion
- 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.
- Philosopher's Stone
- Phlebotinum Pills
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.
- And Then John Was a Zombie: They ended up becoming the inhuman monsters that they once fought.
- Blue and Orange Morality: The Union's ideals can be pretty weird when devoid of any human influence.
- Deal with the Devil: The Residents' (Null Syndicate) modus operandi.
- Flanderization: In-universe. Threat Null have essentially become caricatures of the Technocracy, with none of the redeeming qualities, none of the nuance, none of the humanity.
- Hive Mind: All of them, but especially the Autopolitans (Null Iteration X), and Transhumanity (Null Progenitors).
- The Missing Faction: The Null version of the Void Engineers is suspiciously absent. Given what the Engineers are, it's likely their extreme version just wandered off to explore the universe.
- Shout-Out: Autopolitans are basically The Borgs, while Agents with their ability to appear as anyone and capable of hijacking any Technocratic operative still 'plugged in' makes them dead ringer to The Agents.
- Transhuman Aliens: Sort of.
- 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.