A Positive Vision of the Technocracy Edit
(By SrGrvsaLot: used with permission)
The world is sick. In Central America, an earthquake kills 10,000. Over the Atlantic Ocean, severe ball lightning destroys an airliner's instruments. A hundred and eighty people die, freezing, in the arctic waters. A new strain of drug-resistant bacteria spreads through a school cafeteria. The parents and teachers recover. The children don't.
Random disasters? Unforseeable accidents? Life is not what it seems. There are no accidents. A common thread runs through all these incidents and more besides. The thread is Paradox, and it claims lives.
The Awakened have the power to change the world, but they don't always have the wisdom to change it for the better. Reality has its own inertia, the masses have their own imperatives, and even plants and animals have their own, small say on the direction of the Consensus. Cause and effect are difficult to discern, and a change that seems benign can have unintended consequences. When Awakened magic comes into conflict with the unwritten rules of the world, Paradox is the inevitable result.
The Technocracy exists to insure that Paradox does not destroy the world. They are humanity's first, last, and only line of defense against those that would destroy the foundations of civilization to serve their own selfish purposes. There are monsters in the shadows, some of whom are pleasing to behold.
The Technocracy puts them down, like the rabid dogs they are.
Unlike the Traditions, the Technocracy is very strict about who it allows to join. Only the most ideologically committed scientists, politicians, and soldiers are allowed into the Union's inner circle. Those of lesser conviction, especially those among the Awakened who refuse to abandon the trappings of mysticism, may work alongside the Union as "assets" or among its lowest ranks as "associates," but they are never fully trusted.
In theory, the Technocracy functions like a finely tuned, well-oiled machine. Each Convention has its role spelled out in the Union's charter and every Enlightened operative has an official rank and title, with duties and privileges defined by her Convention's managing committee. On paper, the elegant interplay of authority, organization, and oversight produces a sublime model of efficiency and accountability.
In practice, things are not so smooth. Though it's leagues ahead, organizationally speaking, of its mystic rivals, the Technocracy is nowhere near as perfect as its architects predicted. Personal ambition, inter-convention rivalry, chronic shortages of Enlightened personnel, and plain old human nature contrive to make the Union's internal politics much more fractious and dynamic than outsiders imagine.
Each Technocratic Convention has its own organizational mandate, but the actual day to day affairs of the Conventions are controlled by the managing committees. In order to secure greater prestige for their Convention (and a correspondingly large portion of the Union's overall budget), these committees will poach the other Conventions' projects and personnel, in an effort to prove the superiority of their organization's approach.
Officially, this is viewed as healthy and friendly competition that strengthens the Union as a whole, and for a large part it is, but to some among the Technocracy, this inter-Conventional rivalry is deadly serious, and anything but friendly. Technocratic policy forbids the lethal duels prevalent among the Traditions, but Enlightened Operatives who have made the wrong sort of enemies have a habit of receiving assignments of the most dangerous sort.
The Technocracy is strongest in densely populated, industrialized areas and those places devoted to science and learning. Their operatives have connections in universities and corporations. They derive their income from stocks, patents, and government grants. They can be found in militaries, police forces, and walking the halls of power. Though the Technocracy rarely exercises outright control, the lobbyists and consultants under its employ can exert a tremendous amount of influence.
All for the greater good, of course.
It is not the Technocracy's policy to target unaffiliated mages. The Technocracy targets Paradox and Poisoned Awakenings. This is a distinction that is meaningless to mages who follow a mystic paradigm, but it has proven an effective political tool. The fact that the "scientific" Traditions receive a much lower share of Technocratic attention has not gone unnoticed amongst the Council of Traditions.
When the Technocracy notices a Paradox manifestation, its first goal is to suppress information about the event, its second goal is to protect the masses from the damage dealt by the paradox, and its third goal is to track down and "sterilize" the source of the paradox. Sterilization is exactly as unpleasant as it sounds, but the Union prefers to take Awakened captives alive. Most amongst the Traditions consider that to be a fate worse than death.
But the Technocracy's opposition to the Traditions is not solely, or even primarily, military. A substantial portion of the Technocracy's resources is devoted towards the goal of adapting Enlightened Procedures for use by the general public. In contrast to the boundless wonders called forth by the magic of the Traditions, the Technocracy produces bland, mass-produced effects of limited ambition and negligible paradox.
This willingness to share the fruits of its knowledge with the unawakened has paid great dividends, both politically and mystically. As the masses' quality of life has increased by margins, so has their complacency. In most of the world, the mechanistic, materialist paradigm favored by the Technocracy is accepted without question. As time goes on, the Consensus tightens until one day the threat - and the promise - of magic will be extinguished forever.
At least, it will if the Technocracy has its way.
Technocratic Data: The Science of ParadoxEdit
The Technocracy does not truly understand the potential of magic, a fact that has led them to consistently underestimate the power of the Traditions. It does, however, understand the danger it poses. The Technocrats are scientists as well as mages, and have, from the very beginning, applied the scientific method to magic and its consequences.
Because of centuries of rigorous research, the Technocracy possesses a working mechanistic model of Paradox. They can distinguish a subtle paradox manifestation from a random accident. They can measure with precision the amount of paradox produced by an effect without seeing the paradox manifestation. They can use statistical data gleaned from polls of the masses to determine which effects are likely to cause paradox. And they can use advertising and propaganda to push the masses to accept the previously impossible.
Worst of all, from the Traditions' perspective, the Technocracy can trace a paradox manifestation back to its source. As much as the Traditions mock the Technocracy for treating cause and effect as a rule, rather than a suggestion, those concepts have great power in the Consensus. Connections exist between events, and the Technocracy knows how to identify those connections. The Traditions may prefer to view the damage caused by paradox as outside their control, but a trail of responsibility leads back to the mage who caused the damage. Given enough time, the Technocracy can follow all but the subtlest of those trails.
Differing Priorities: Utopians and PogromitesEdit
The Technocracy is ideologically unified, both in outward appearance and in actual fact. The deep divisions that threaten to shake apart the Traditions have no counterpart in the Union. Every member of the Technocracy agrees about the importance of the organization's two main goals - the elimination of harmful paradox manifestations and the careful broadening of the Consensus to allow for more powerful paradox-free effects - they wouldn't be allowed to join if they didn't.
This unity of purpose gives the Technocracy a powerful advantage over the Traditions. But unity of purpose does not imply absolute agreement on all issues. Though they do not often approach the level of venom and mistrust that plagues the Traditions' internal faction, the Technocracy does suffer an internal political split over which of its goals should take priority.
The Utopians believe that advancing the Consensus is most important, and that the majority of the Technocracy's resources should go into research and development. The Pogromites believe that fighting the Ascension war should be the Union's top priority and that the Technocracy should throw more money at destroying the Traditions.
Most members of the Technocracy have little stake in the conflict between factions. Front-line operatives are far too busy to worry about the details of long term planning. At the lower levels, Technocrats favor the politics that will get their division the most funding. Only at the highest levels of planning do factional agendas become felt to any significant degree.
The Union, unlike the Traditions, is in no danger of splitting due to factional unrest. The Technocracy as a whole makes such obscene amounts of money that the relative funding of different priorities is a mostly academic issue. Over the course of its history, both the Utopians and the Pogromites have enjoyed periods of prominence and suffered from periods of declining influence. The primary determining factor in deciding which faction is most influential is the violence and extremism of the Traditions. The Utopians rule in times of relative peace and the Pogromites rule in times of war.