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Guide to the Technocracy
Publisher: White Wolf
by Charles S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/22/2019 18:00:06

Guide to the Technocracy is one of the best Mage books published, and is essential reading for anyone looking to run Mage. The only way this will change is in the event of Technocracy: Reloaded being as good, but updated.

More specifically, this book is an in-depth guide to the world of Mage from the perspective of the Technocracy. It allows you to turn Mage from a Fantasy game into a Science-Fiction game, but still recognizably the same setting. It breaks down in more detail:

Prologue - The opening fiction isn't particularly strong, but it isn't bad. It shows an Amalgam taking out a Chantry, and the aftermath.

Introduction - The introduction sets the tone spectacularly, making it clear that (from the point of view of this book) the Technocracy are the misunderstood heroes, that the Traditions are the bad guys, and that the stereotype Technocrats of 1st Edition are not what the Union is. It hits the standard notes, and already begins adding depth, pointing out schisms within the Union and playing up a feeling of desperation for the Union...they may be winning, but Reality is still on the brink, and needs to be rescued.

Indoctrination - The first full chapter elaborates on the ideas in the Introduction: Reality is a mess, we need to save it, there are internal problems to go with the external ones, and that's why we need the player characters.

Enlightened Science -Chapter two is a deep dive into the Technocratic paradigm, or rather, the part of it that is consistent between Technocrats of various Conventions. It talks about the spheres, paradox and much of the Mage cosmology in these terms, explaining everything in scientific terms.

History Lessons - This chapter has a lot of meat in it: the Technocratic view of the history of the world, particularly the history of the Union. We see some of the schisms in action, following up on the Technocracy: New World Order book's discussion of interpretive lenses for history, though more concrete as is appropriate for what is functionally a core book (except for mechanics).

Protocols - Here's where the rules that Technocrats must live by are, such as the Precepts of Damian and the mechanics of Social Conditioning. It covers a lot of the day-to-day of being a Technocratic operative.

The Conventions - Five conventions, a bunch of methodologies, and a collection of examples fill out this chapter to help see the humans behind the technology and the masks of soulless uniformity that make the Technocracy so feared by the superstitionists.

Character Recruitment - Character creation, fairly standard. Includes rules for creating constructs, though they've largely been superseded, I believe.

Storytelling - This chapter covers how to run a Technocratic game, including what sorts of conflicts both internal and external are good for driving the drama, what sorts of resources the PCs get access to (by default), etc.

The Arsenal - BIG pile of Procedures and Devices.

Appendix - Recommended reading.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Guide to the Technocracy
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Technocracy Assembled 2
Publisher: White Wolf
by Charles S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/13/2019 20:46:43

Syndicate 4/5

Though I haven't yet read the Technocracy: Void Engineers, this is my favorite of the first edition Convention Books. The Syndicate is presented clearly, with the reasoning behind what they do and why they can't push to do more (such as abolish money and make everything free). It does a far better job pushing the Syndicate as a "good" guy than Iteration X, Progenitors and NWO did, though a big part of that might be that all three of those books praise the Nazis in some way, while this one takes credit for the one thing that Hitler did right (rebuilding the German economy) and then tries to take credit for undermining him, rather than saying things like that the camps were a great success for medical research.

It's still a first edition Technocracy book, though clearly by this point, the 2nd edition view of the Technocracy had started to take over, though it was still two years before Guite to the Technocracy was published. So it has some issues, like making the Syndicate and New World Order have a bit too much overlap (this isn't quite solved in Revised, though giving the Syndicate Primal Utility and REALLY tying them to their paradigm of the Bottom Line helped a lot).

Oh, and of course, this is in small ways a crossover book with Werewolf: the Apocalypse.

Void Engineers 5/5

I honestly love this book. From the framing narrative of a Void Engineer giving their history to a bunch of Reality Deviants (one of each of the major types, in fact) including the reveal at the end bringing the whole thing into question and giving rise to a major chunk of the Nephandic Infiltration metaplot for the Technocracy. It's really a modern Convention Book with a nuanced view of the Technocracy and one that clearly internally, at least, has them as the heroes.

It contains decent mechanics for Voidships, and seems to be the place where the exploration of the galaxy is farthest along (at least, I don't believe later books suggest that they've gotten as far as this one claims they have.) In fact, if there's a flaw, it's because them having significant extrasolar exploration is a bit beyond belief, though they justify it by Kepler and Einstein having worked together to find a hole in Relativity (Newton, also a Void Engineer apparently, had been killed a few decades earlier).

Overall, it's a very good book, with lots of useful procedures and devices, a solid narrative, and it makes it clear that Void Engineers are more complex antagonists who are more tolerant of Earthly relatiy deviants, simply because out in teh void, anything vaguely human is more friend than the natives are.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Technocracy Assembled 2
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Technocracy: Void Engineers
Publisher: White Wolf
by Charles S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/13/2019 20:46:38

I honestly love this book. From the framing narrative of a Void Engineer giving their history to a bunch of Reality Deviants (one of each of the major types, in fact) including the reveal at the end bringing the whole thing into question and giving rise to a major chunk of the Nephandic Infiltration metaplot for the Technocracy. It's really a modern Convention Book with a nuanced view of the Technocracy and one that clearly internally, at least, has them as the heroes.

It contains decent mechanics for Voidships, and seems to be the place where the exploration of the galaxy is farthest along (at least, I don't believe later books suggest that they've gotten as far as this one claims they have.) In fact, if there's a flaw, it's because them having significant extrasolar exploration is a bit beyond belief, though they justify it by Kepler and Einstein having worked together to find a hole in Relativity (Newton, also a Void Engineer apparently, had been killed a few decades earlier).

Overall, it's a very good book, with lots of useful procedures and devices, a solid narrative, and it makes it clear that Void Engineers are more complex antagonists who are more tolerant of Earthly relatiy deviants, simply because out in teh void, anything vaguely human is more friend than the natives are.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Technocracy: Void Engineers
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Technocracy: Syndicate
Publisher: White Wolf
by Charles S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/12/2019 02:43:20

Though I haven't yet read the Technocracy: Void Engineers, this is my favorite of the first edition Convention Books. The Syndicate is presented clearly, with the reasoning behind what they do and why they can't push to do more (such as abolish money and make everything free). It does a far better job pushing the Syndicate as a "good" guy than Iteration X, Progenitors and NWO did, though a big part of that might be that all three of those books praise the Nazis in some way, while this one takes credit for the one thing that Hitler did right (rebuilding the German economy) and then tries to take credit for undermining him, rather than saying things like that the camps were a great success for medical research.

It's still a first edition Technocracy book, though clearly by this point, the 2nd edition view of the Technocracy had started to take over, though it was still two years before Guite to the Technocracy was published. So it has some issues, like making the Syndicate and New World Order have a bit too much overlap (this isn't quite solved in Revised, though giving the Syndicate Primal Utility and REALLY tying them to their paradigm of the Bottom Line helped a lot).

Oh, and of course, this is in small ways a crossover book with Werewolf: the Apocalypse.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Technocracy: Syndicate
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Technocracy Assembled 1
Publisher: White Wolf
by Charles S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/10/2019 12:52:28

Here are my reviews of the individual parts:

Progenitors 2/5

This book is...confused. It wants to simultaneously leave things to the interpretation of the ST by saying "maybe this is a Progenitor scheme!" but having the PROGENITORS say that is quite odd. The in character sections should know, or at least think they know, if their own organization was involved in large scale actions. It also has the nonsensical idea that the Progenitors are somehow killing Avatars on a mass scale, which would mean no more Progenitors.

The book has some good parts, the story that the basics of the Progenitors are conveyed through are the notes of a student, though a super-unsympathetic one, who seems on the verge of going MRA terrorist by the middle.

In general, it's an ok book, but it shows badly how early in Mage it was written, before much of the setting and details had been nailed down properly, and while it did some of the lifting to make the Technocracy more than a one-note black hat, it left a LOT of work to be done.

Iteration X 3/5

This is a difficult book to review for me. On the one hand, I hate it. On the either, it is a well written book that is just part of first edition where the Technocracy is an irredeemable villain rather than a potentially valid antagonist.

It is told from the point of view of a recent recruit, who was given advanced prosthetics that were necessary due to thalidomide. He breaks conditioning for long enough to describe how terrible Iteration X is, and it's bad down to explicit comparisons with Nazis. The book gives a general overview including introducing the Artificers who are prominent when Sorcerer 's crusade is written. They effects and wonders are some of the most interesting parts of the book, along with the running theme that the Dreamspeakers are the biggest rival of the Convention, due to being the two oldest groups focusing on the spirit world and on tool use. It also introduced the Computer explicitly as a spirit that has some goal in Reality and is using Iteration X to achieve it.

Overall a solid book, but not great in many places if you prefer a sympathetic Technocracy.

NWO 3/5

This book fits into the cycle of first edition Technocracy books, and continues many of the trends that I dislike about early Mage. It depicts the New World Order, marking another Convention that is explicitly tied to the Nazis (through their "One World, One Truth, One Reality" slogan being similar to "Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Fuhrer" as well as the Nazis speaking of a "New World Order" they would establish) and generally is fine for a purely antagonist oriented book, but is badly unsatisfying in the modern era with a complex Technocracy. It does have the advantage of pointing out some debates within the the Convention, and foresaw the somewhat "post-truth" era that we find ourselves in today.

Overall, it's a decent book, but best acquired in a bundle or in Technocracy Assembled, and not as essential as the longer, more detailed and more nuanced Revised book.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Technocracy Assembled 1
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Technocracy: N.W.O.
Publisher: White Wolf
by Charles S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/10/2019 12:52:25

This book fits into the cycle of first edition Technocracy books, and continues many of the trends that I dislike about early Mage. It depicts the New World Order, marking another Convention that is explicitly tied to the Nazis (through their "One World, One Truth, One Reality" slogan being similar to "Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Fuhrer" as well as the Nazis speaking of a "New World Order" they would establish) and generally is fine for a purely antagonist oriented book, but is badly unsatisfying in the modern era with a complex Technocracy. It does have the advantage of pointing out some debates within the the Convention, and foresaw the somewhat "post-truth" era that we find ourselves in today.

Overall, it's a decent book, but best acquired in a bundle or in Technocracy Assembled, and not as essential as the longer, more detailed and more nuanced Revised book.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Technocracy: N.W.O.
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Technocracy: Progenitors
Publisher: White Wolf
by Charles S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/08/2019 22:10:28

This book is...confused. It wants to simultaneously leave things to the interpretation of the ST by saying "maybe this is a Progenitor scheme!" but having the PROGENITORS say that is quite odd. The in character sections should know, or at least think they know, if their own organization was involved in large scale actions. It also has the nonsensical idea that the Progenitors are somehow killing Avatars on a mass scale, which would mean no more Progenitors.

The book has some good parts, the story that the basics of the Progenitors are conveyed through are the notes of a student, though a super-unsympathetic one, who seems on the verge of going MRA terrorist by the middle.

In general, it's an ok book, but it shows badly how early in Mage it was written, before much of the setting and details had been nailed down properly, and while it did some of the lifting to make the Technocracy more than a one-note black hat, it left a LOT of work to be done.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Technocracy: Progenitors
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A Phoenix Rising
Publisher: White Wolf
by Charles S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/05/2019 16:08:14

This product has a lot of potential, and I would love to see it expanded. It talks about some circumstances under which a new Horizon council could be formed, and what that would mean for Tradition mages, Technocrats and Disparates. It's well done, with good art (though the layout is just slightly off in a few ways) but the biggest thing it did was leave me wanting more, coming off as more of a sketch than anything else, though it never claims to be more, being a "jumpstart."



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
A Phoenix Rising
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Sorcerer's Companion
Publisher: White Wolf
by Charles S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/03/2019 20:18:50

While this is overall a solid book, it fails somewhat at the goal of updating Sorcerer to 20th Anniversary Edition. It handwaves many of the difficulties, such as the different abilities that are standard across editions, with a brief summary and several options, whereas what it could really use would be a table of updated dicepools, or the like (which would also be a handy reference for players).

That said, as an expansion for Sorcerer Revised, the Companion is an excellent book, adding/updating a few paths and presenting a wide range of rituals. I have slightly mixed feelings regarding the new Sorcerous Societies, particularly the discussion with Changeling seems to lean on Changeling: the Dreaming 2nd Edition rather than the updated C20 banality rules, as an example.

However, if looking for flavor for sorcerers and especially if playing or STing for them in Revised, the Companion is an excellent book that adds a lot of options and flavor to the experience.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Sorcerer's Companion
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The Hallean Effect
Publisher: White Wolf
by Charles S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/03/2019 15:46:58

I have mixed feelings about this product. On the one hand, it is profesionally put together, it has relatively few typos and grammatical errors, it explains plot, setting and systems in a coherent and reasonable way, all of which are big positives for me. The story is fairly straightforward and though the mechanics talk about all of the bad things that will happen to PCs who throw magic around willy-nilly and accrue paradox, it actually seems like the only reason mages are needed is to be able to resist the Quiet and know what they're up against, and that's fine and allows the story to be used with a mixed group for those who engage in Troupe Play.

The downsides, though, are that there are a few awkward layout spots, a couple of grammatical errors, and one piece of advice that I can't endorse: ignoring player actions. I'm strongly against this, and if you want to have the PCs integrated into a Quiet without realizing it, the best way to do so is to let them do as they want, but describe a world that is different from what's actually there and happening. Letting players say "I do X" and then just ignoring them is a risky thing, and could work with some groups, but certainly not with all of them.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Hallean Effect
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Creator Reply:
Fair assessment, for sure! I do look back and see that I wish I would have phrased the bit about "ignoring players" more positively. One of those quirky situations where I let past successful storytelling styles creep into writing in too conversational of a tone. Thanks!
A Magickal Fiasco: Full Tilt Story Creation for Mage
Publisher: White Wolf
by Charles S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/01/2019 01:54:39

This is a useful tool for generating the outlines of a network of characters and relationships, as well as complications that provide plot hooks. The book has a somewhat more informal tone that most World of Darkness books do, with the author's note standing out tonally. Despite that, it provides a useful tool set, with easy to use tables laid out in a very readable manner.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
A Magickal Fiasco: Full Tilt Story Creation for Mage
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Weighing the Cost
Publisher: White Wolf
by Charles S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/30/2019 10:09:02

A solid skeleton of a story for Mage, and based on one of the short stories (by the same author) in the Truth Beyond Paradox collection. Honestly, I'm giving it full points for just being one of the few depictions of a Marauder in all of Mage that actually takes Marauders seriously instead of making them stupid joke characters or an organized force for chaos, but actually a metaphor for mental illness that functions at all. The only serious criticism I have is that Marauders still need the spheres to do the things they do, and this one is described as doing a ritual using Life 5 while having no dots of Life. I assume this is a typo, and will be easily fixed if the author chooses to update.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Weighing the Cost
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Creator Reply:
Charles, Thanks so much for the lovely review. Means a lot to me! And good catch on the typo, Jeremy should DEFINITELY have Life 5. I will update the file accordingly! Thank you for pointing that out! Travis
Heirs to the Mountains of Madness
Publisher: White Wolf
by Charles S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/30/2019 03:25:11

This one page (of course, not counting character descriptions, just one page of plot) jumpstart brings some Cthulhu mythos flavor directly into mage. Not too much can be said without spoiling it, but in a town in New England, a group of Tradition and Technocracy mages put aside their differences in order to try to change teh world for the better...but they risk making it worse if anything goes wrong.

There's a small layout issue, and "Iteration X" is often written "iteration-X" but other than these minor issues, it's an excellent source of ideas for a Mage story. The NPCs are largely well-drawn (and contain some easter eggs for Mythos readers).



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Heirs to the Mountains of  Madness
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SotM's Major Arcana optional system
Publisher: White Wolf
by Charles S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/30/2019 02:21:12

This product proposes a lightweight system to modify magick using tarot cards. It is based on the idea that Reality and the Ascension War can ebb and flow, and at times it could make some magicks easier and others harder to succeed with. Honestly, the main criticism I have of it is that it focuses on spheres, whereas if I were to make it, I would focus on Focus, likely picking practices that each card enables or harms, but that's a design choice, not a substantial criticism of the system as described.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
SotM's Major Arcana optional system
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Watch the World Burn
Publisher: White Wolf
by Charles S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 09/30/2019 02:16:33

Honestly, I was expecting to hate this product, and was only reading it because I decided I'd go through and read/review every Mage product for STV. I am not a big fan of Mage 1st Edition, though this is hardly the place to get into the details of that, so this being a 1st Edition book rather than a 20th Anniversary Edition one had me expecting the worst.

Reading it, though, I was surprised. It dodges most of the issues I have with the really old versions of Mage and instead presents an interesting scenario of a cabal of relatively newly Awakened mages who have fallen under the sway of a mysterious spirit directing them to destoy things that it has deemed should not exist, such as Technocratic research. They're just the tip of a larger iceberg, however, and the whole thing is coordinated using the mysterious Number Stations (which I admit, I've intended to use in a story for years).

Overall, a solid offering, there are a couple of places where things don't quite make sense, but nothing that a clever ST can't work around.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Watch the World Burn
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