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YMMV / Mage: The Ascension

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  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Are the Technocrats authoritarian bastards out to crush imagination, or are they trying to make the world safe for humanity the best way they know how? Or both, given what a Crapsack World the World of Darkness is? Technocracy Reloaded outright lays out in its first chapter several perspectives one can hold on them.
    • In-Universe, this applies to how the Solificati reacted to Heylel Teonim's betrayal. Was it, as Heylel claimed, a way to show how powerful the Traditions could be if they set aside their differences? Was it a case of Heylel being Out-Gambitted by the growing power of the Order of Reason? Or was it a clear malicious act that Heylel tried to cover up with a weak excuse? The arguments over this ended up splitting the Solificati completely, leaving the Seat of Matter empty for centuries until the Sons of Ether defected from the Technocracy.
  • Broken Base:
    • Mage: the Ascension has been described as everything is YMMV, due to the nature of the setting, but two topics stand out for just how easily they generate arguments, and how often discussions derail into them: 1) How does the Consensus actually work? And 2) What is the morality of the Technocratic Union? The best answer for both is what ever your group decides.
    • Revised Edition's drastic changes to the setting and reduction in its scope. Some liked the tighter focus and Character Development on the part of various factions, others likened it to throwing out the needlenose pliers and torque wrench from a toolbox. The lack of options in the core gamebook, most notably playable Technocrats after making them the most sympathetic as any edition ever did, was another bone of contention.
    • The use of "magick" instead of "magic" in the 20th Anniversary Edition. Callback to the older editions of the game that underlines the exotic, otherworldly nature of what mages do, or a needlessly-pretentious bit of snobbery that's only going to take up space in the book.
      • Take a Third Option: Or a simple and elegant way to differentiate every other sort of magic in the setting from sphere magic which uses completely different rules such as paradox without having to say sphere magic or hedge magic or blood magic or whatever every single time.
  • Crazy Awesome: The Taftani, a craft of mages hailing from the Middle East, 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.
    • All mages have a bit of this; they live reality by their own rules.
    • Marauders, as the only beings in the Old World of Darkness who could reasonably summon a flying birthday cake made of baby dragons to fight their foes and see absolutely nothing strange about it, definitely qualify
    • Also worth mentioning are the Cult of Ecstasy and the Sons/Society of Ether, who gain their powers from distorting their own perceptions of reality and powering tech through sheer Rule of Cool, respectively.
  • Designated Villain: To put it simply, fans of the Traditions when looking at Technocracy-oriented parts of the game line and fans of the Technocracy in Tradition-oriented parts of the game line will generally find that their favorite faction very much gets the short shift in the respective parts. This is partly because materials are often written from the perspective of one of these two factions, and thus materials will reflect the prejudices of the faction that they're written from. Also, it's to allow the individual Storyteller to adjust the game to have the mix of Grey-and-Grey Morality that they want.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Go ahead and take a look at the main page. You may notice that the Sons/Society of Ether is mentioned several times more than all the other Traditions combined.
    • The Technocracy itself may also count as this.
  • Game-Breaker: Mages, in general, can wipe the floor with almost any other supernatural creature in the World of Darkness if they get in the first shot. One of the reasons why White Wolf was notoriously less than helpful when it came to running crossover games was that it becomes incredibly difficult to challenge a mixed cadre of supernaturals; a mage or two with some vampires and/or werewolves running interference for them can make mincemeat out of what are supposedly world-threatening encounters.
    • Like most of the first-edition games, White Wolf left a lot of unfortunate loopholes in play for truly ridiculous min-max crossover characters, such as the Skin Dancer ritual that could be used to make a Kinfolk mage into a full (albeit heavily Wyrm-tainted) Garou. By the time the third-edition games reached store shelves, most of those loopholes had been rather enthusiastically closed.
    • Even in a game where the entire point is that the players start breaking said game from minute one of the first session, ritual magic stands out as just completely blowing even what vague notion of balance there was into vacuum, because it allowed you to pool your dice with other people, and then to pool _that_ with previous rolls limited only by your character's ability to stay awake to keep casting. With a three or four man group, it wasn't unusual to have a _hundred_ successes to work with in a game built around the expectation that even a powerful mage might have three or four to parcel out into spell range, duration, power, and so on. Two points in the correspondence sphere and your target's birth name, and you could drop all of those dice in the form of unavoidable damage on top of the target, easily overcoming any defenses and vaporizing them and anyone they've ever so much as touched. Sure, Paradox would come for you, but you could avoid that by spreading it over your ritual-mates.
    • When compared to the other supernaturals, mages are all Magikarp Power, as they start with little and rather unstable powers, their powers are expensive and unlike the others, they are just straight humans, with no super-healing, resistance to bullets or any other in-born advantages outside of perks (and even those are double-edged). However, once they rack more arete, more spheres, higher sphere ratings, enough backgrounds to not have to even be on the same continent as their opponent and can throw things the others cannot conceive as possible, and grow outside of that initial discovery, mages can become absolute powerhouses that can make even elder vampires remember fear.
  • Misaimed Fandom: The Technocracy were initially portrayed as pure evil, hunting magical creatures to extinction and ruining lives, having procedure and propaganda lifted straight from 1984 and Stalin, wanting to destroy the very concept of "creativity." But enough fans still liked them and tried different things with them that the game designers began to incorporate their ideas and made them much more sympathetic. By the end, a still significant number of people (including the actual authors of the gameline) celebrated them as the unsung heroes of the World of Darkness.
    • See: Guide to the Technocracy, a sourcebook made to both support and subtly parody them. The Technocratic Union wasn't an evil organization, it's a well-meaning one gone horribly wrong. Their actions do monstrous things, but they have also done good: they lifted mankind from the Dark Ages, and while the WoD is certainly a Crapsack World, they can be credited with stopping it from being even worse. White Wolf themselves said that the majority of Mage books were written from a Tradition viewpoint and were thus biased against the Technocracy, while the Technocracy's own books portrayed them as heroes. The real answer, says a sidebar, is somewhere in between. The question: Is it better to be relatively safe but controlled or to be free in a world of monsters? Furthermore, the Technocracy wants imagination, creativity, and breakthroughs; they just want it to be completely within their own paradigm. While the Traditions certainly want everyone to Awaken, it's almost always with the implicit idea that "Once the Sleepers Awaken, they'll follow the paradigm of my Tradition because it's the right one." In the end, the two views (and factions) aren't all that different.
      • The post-Revised Convention Books have come to embrace this view of them; the developers have gone on to state that the primary reason the Technocracy is still antagonistic is because they haven't realized they are in dire need of reforms and a respect for freedom as a concept, while the Traditions have actually undergone some soul-searching and asked themselves why they have skeletons in the closet.
  • Not So Different: In-universe. As members of some of the Traditions point out, Hermetic mages would gladly replace Technocracy as the guys in charge. And back when they held more sway than what would become Technocracy, they weren't necessarily much more flexible and accommodating than the Technocracy is in the modern era.
  • Power Perversion Potential: While vampire disciplines, werewolf gifts, and many other powers function under Magic A Is Magic A, mage spheres can be employed to almost any purpose... including the one that fits right in with the Cultists of Ecstasy
  • Totally Radical: The Virtual Adepts and Hollow Ones, somewhat, based on some of their flavor text. Good players can avoid playing them this way easily enough, and one of the stated goals of 20th Anniversary Edition is to remove problems like this and avoid them in the long-term.

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