The Traditions & The TechnocracyEdit
The Traditions and the Technocracy are the heart of any Mage: The Ascension campaign and this is equally true in Ascension Nova.
Heroes or Villains?Edit
One of the key parts of any Mage: The Ascension or Ascension Nova campaign is how the Traditions and the Technocracy are defined. These definitions have shifted from one version of Mage: The Ascension to another. In the first edition of Mage: The Ascension, the Traditions were heroic and enlightened rebels fighting to liberate humanity, and the Technocracy was a corrupt monstrosity; all Technocrats were either evil or brainwashed, or both. Later, in Mage: The Ascension (Revised), the Traditions were largely heroic, but with significant internal problems, and the Technocracy was oppressive and brutal, but was also responsible for making the world an objectively better place, creating a far more morally grey setting that the black and white morality of the first edition.
In Ascension Nova, we are specifically not making a decision on the relative heroism or villainy of either Traditions or Technocracy. Instead, we offer a variety of models, and leave the choice to each individual GM for their own campaign. As a result, we will do our best to support every option from heroic Traditions vs. vile Technocrats, to wise and enlightened Technocrats vs. foolish and deluded Reality Deviants, to more complex options, where both groups are each painted in many shades of grey.
It's also worth remembering that even if you view the Technocracy as oppressive and brutal, or the Traditions as deluded, it's still possible for characters in either camp to be heroic and devoted to improving the situation. Similarly, if your vision of either the Technocracy or the Traditions is as a group of benevolent heroes, either organization could (and likely should) still contain traitors, secret Nephandi, or simply powerful people who care far more about their own power and authority than about the lives and safety of others or what is good for either their organization or the world as a whole. Ascension Nova is a game where both internal and external conflicts can make for exciting and challenging roleplaying
To help you decide on what options you want, here is a selection of essays describing different models of the Traditions or the Technocracy.
Visions of the TraditionsEdit
The Hollow Ones in Ascension Nova
Visions of the TechnocracyEdit
A Positive Vision of the Technocracy: In this vision of the Technocracy, they are ultimately heroic. This model could be used for both a vision of the Technocratic Union as either relatively unsullied heroes or of morally dubious heroes fighting for a good cause. Alternately, a somewhat gritty and morally ambiguous version of this model for the Technocracy could be used in a campaign where both the Traditions and the Technocrats are ultimately heroic organizations that have come into conflict due to a combination of high-level corruption and tragic misunderstandings on both sides.
The Technocracy as Villains: In this vision of the Technocracy, they are a group of Mages who wish to control reality. Many justify this control by saying it's ultimately for the good of the world and the Sleepers, but many others simply enjoy the ones in power. Good technocrats can exist in this system, but they must be careful to avoid brainwashing or imprisonment, and likely many of the most moral ultimately defect to the Traditions.
Power & ScopeEdit
In Mage: The Ascension, the Technocrats were assumed to be more or less firmly in charge of the Consensus. This fit the overall model of the Old World of Darkness, where the various supernatural beings were all firmly in charge of their aspect of the world. However, one of the major changes in the New World of Darkness is that this setting is one where no one is firmly in charge. All knowledge is partial, and ultimately no one is running the show. Instead, the world is a complex, strange, and disturbing place where the odd and unexplained regularly happened and everyone can be surprised and horrified by events.
In keeping with this model, the default assumption in Ascension Nova is that the Technocracy's control is far less complete and ironclad. The Technocracy still makes their 5 and 50 year plans and if they're lucky some of what they aim for happens (much like the predictions of futurists everywhere). Instead, the mass of Sleepers determine the consensus and Willworkers can definitely tweak the result, but cannot steer it in any remotely precise fashion. Ultimately, no one fully understands how or why the Consensus changes as it does.
The overall power level and degree of influence of the Technocracy is more like that of the Mafia than a secretive shadow government that rules most nations of the world. Similarly, Technocracy researchers are effectively a secret cabals of Awakened scientists who do amazing work, but do not control the actions or beliefs of other scientists or engineers. Instead, they influence technology and science by showing their (successful) work to others, not by pulling strings.
This vision of reality is exactly as subjective and flexible as the reality of Mage: The Ascension, but the difference is that controlling the Consensus is never any easy or precise process. Instead, the Technocracy, and the Traditions can both tweak and influence the Sleeper's Consensus, but the Sleeper's collective unconscious is ultimate in charge of itself, which is another way of saying that no one is in charge of the Consensus. The Astral Realm is a continuous font for new ideas, concepts, and additions to the Consensus, many of which arise on their own out of the humanity's collective unconscious, with no help from any Mage. Mage's are capable of shaping this process and can sometimes make extremely impressive changes. But other times, they cannot.
Consider the example of the disease AIDS. In Mage: The Ascension, a likely assumption was that some Awakened mage was responsible for it. Perhaps the Nephandi created it to cause mass death, perhaps the Technocracy created it to help stamp out the freedom and free love of the 1970s, perhaps a brutal Tradition Mage created it in order to reduce the Sleeper's faith in the Technocracy's medicines. However, some Mage or group of Mages was probably responsible for it.
In Ascension Nova, none of these answers need be true. Instead, it likely just happened. Perhaps Sleeper fears of sex (which are very old and deep) created it because the combination of modern birth control and cures for syphilis and gonorrhea had reduced the reality of these fears sufficiently that there was a psychological backlash. Of course, the question then becomes who is doing what about it. Depending upon how you view the Traditions and the Technocracy in your campaign, it's possible that while many Mages can cure this disease, Sleeper's belief in it is sufficiently strong that no one has yet been able to develop a cure that fits inside the Consensus and is thus Coincidental rather than Vulgar. However, it's equally possible that the Technocracy developed both a cure for AIDs and the drug cocktails that people with HIV take for many years to keep this disease in check. Because these drug cocktails are expensive treatments that make the drug companies lots of money and an HIV vaccine or cure would cause all that money to vanish, the Technocracy's leaders refuse to release this cure. Which of these alternatives you choose will have a lot to do with how you view the Technocracy, and by extension the Traditions.