Technology & MagicEdit
Using the ideas in the Mage Chronicler's Guide (which is an excellent resource for Ascension Nova), techomagic can be divided into three categories: Super Science, Science Fiction, and Mad Science. For further information, look at Gifted Science (Mage Chronicler's Guide, pp. 56-63).
Super science is technology that's likely to be possible within the next few decades. Contact lens displays for viewing electronic data, autonomously piloted drone robots the size of house flies, quantum computers that can easily crack any current encryption, room temperature superconductors, electronic devices that can understand most ordinary speech, autonomous security robots, gene therapy that can cure many diseases and enhance physical performance, and similar wonders are all super science. Much super science is Coincidental Magic, and super science is what the Technocratic Union excels at. Except in extreme or desperate circumstances, Union operatives are expected to limit the use of their Enlightened Science to Super science. Iteration X's more basic implants fall into this category, as do most of the Progenitor's less extreme drugs and treatments.
However, the Technocratic Union isn't the only group to use super science. The more down to earth Sons of Ether love super science. In fact, a number of the Sons of Ether are renegade Technocrats who only joined the Sons of Ether because their programs were cut, either for political purposes or because they no longer fit into the Union's plans and goals. Also, many Virtual Adepts use super science, most often in the form of advanced computers, like their trinary computers.
In general, super science is the realm of Coincidental Magic and especially of Extraordinary Devices. Any device that someone on the street could reasonably believe was under development is super science. So, a wireless taser, body armor that looks like denim or some other thick fabric, or a car that can drive itself under most conditions are all super science, while antigravity or nanotechnological weapons that can eat holes in concrete walls are not. Even when super science is not fully Coincidental, it is usually also not fully Vulgar. If an effect looks almost reasonable because the foci is just barely outside the Consensus, then apply the following rules modification:
- A spell that is Vulgar with Witnesses is treated as Vulgar w/o Witnesses
- A spell that is Vulgar w/o Witnesses is treated as Covert.
Science fiction is technology that's remotely possible, but which we are unlikely to see in anything less than 50 years, and possibly much further in the future. It includes everything from reasonable possibilities like personality uploading, artificial intelligence, or self-replicating nanotechnology, to radical revisions of current theory, like antigravity or faster than light travel. The Technocratic Union excels at the use of science fiction technology, as do many of the Sons of Ether. science fiction technology cannot break physical laws, but it can definitely bend them. Instead of perpetual motion machines, a science fiction power source might use Zero Point Energy, just gravity control can be used to great antigravity or reactionless drives, while not ignoring any of Newton's Laws. Everything from teleportation to gateways to parallel worlds, to deadly energy weapons are all possibilities for science fiction technology. The Union regularly develops these technologies in their labs and operatives use them when necessary, but are supposed to be relatively restrained and discrete in their use. The Sons of Ether and to a lesser extent the Virtual Adepts are sometimes considerably less restrained in their use of science fiction technologies. Science fiction foci and wonders are often Vulgar, simply because they are too advanced for the current Consensus. Although physical laws do not prohibit someone from building a plasma rifle, it is too advanced for the majority of Sleepers to accept and so it is Vulgar. However, if the device is large enough and the Mage has a chance to prepare the Sleepers who will be witnessing the device in use, then it may be treated as Coincidental, or at worst have its Vulgarity downgraded as is described above for super science devices that are just outside the Consensus.
Mad Science can most easily be described as pseudoscience or magic dressed up in scientific trappings. Creating artificial intelligence by wiring together the brains of half a dozen monkeys or humans, perpetual motion machines, devices that obviously violate Newton's Laws, serums that can transform a human into a wolf or animate the dead are all examples of mad science. Some are of these foci and wonders are based on outdated theories that have been proven to be obviously incorrect, others on theories never been accepted by any but a few half crazed crackpots.
Mad science is never accepted by the Technocratic Union and depending upon your chronicle's view of the Union, technocrats who use mad science face everything from social ostracism and loss of funding to forcible re-education. In vivid contrast, one of the stereotypes of the Sons of Ether is that they all use mad science. In reality, well more than half do not. However, mad scientists who belong to the Traditions mostly belong to the Sons of Ether.
At the far edge of mad science lies technomagic – using technological devices as foci based on laws of magic and not of science. For example, a Mage might use a telescope, a night vision scope, or even pieces of a broken x-ray machine to view the Shadow Realm, because these devices are associated with seeing in ways that people normally cannot. Technomagic is based on the principles of sympathy and contagion and is almost never utilized by the Sons of Ether. Instead, it is the hallmark of Dreamspeaker technoshamans, technowizards and technopagans in the Order of Hermes or the Verbena, as well as some of the more eccentric members of the Cult of Ecstasy or the Euthanatos. An Order of Hermes technomage might use a faraday cage or a circle made of neon tubes as magical ward, while a Euthanatos technomage might weigh innocence or guilt on a precision laboratory balance.