Like the Technocracy and the Traditions, the Theocracy finds it necessary to have all nine spheres covered. After all, their opponents do. But like the Technocacy and unlike the Traditions, the Theocracy has fewer groups, so some of them need to double up on their sphere responsibilities. The different sub-groups of the Theocracy are called Orders, and are as follows:
Just to open, I’m pretty much ignoring the metaplot established in various Mage books, which is pretty much what I’ve been doing since 1993 in any case. I’m taking the setting as it was originally introduced, and simply updating the timeline to allow for the events of the last two decades. Think of this as what it would be like if the game were introduced today. Kind of.
It might surprise many mages to learn that they have allies among the mundanes who are just as devoted to the fight against the triumph of the Technocray as they are. But there is an entire arm of the United Nations that does little but fight this battle, and often with better intelligence than the Traditions can muster.
That arm is the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement, or U.N.C.L.E. for short. And there is a very simple reason why they fight the Technocracy: because it is simply another name for the Technological Hierachy for the Removal of Undesirables and the Subjugation of Humanity, or THRUSH. Undesirables, in this context, clearly means what the Technocracy thinks of a ‘reality deviants’ and the subjugation of humanity is of course for their own good.
There are two ways to play such a game.
The first is to surprise your Tradition Mage PCs with the revelation that they have some very competent allies who are not in any way magical.
The second, and more interesting, is for your superspies to gradually uncover the true stakes of the game that THRUSH is playing, and to make places – possibly even awakened places – for themselves in the Ascension War. (They may well discover that one or two Sons of Ether have already made a home for themselves in U.N.C.L.E., working to create those wonderful toys that Solo and Kuriakin use so often.)
|Mage: The Ascension||The Man From U.N.C.L.E.|
Writing that crossover between Mage and Planescape the other day got me thinking about what Mage would be like if you were to run it now. And the more I thought about it, the more I thought that this what not only something I wanted to do, but would also give me the chance to fix a few things that had always bothered me in the past.
Like, for example, the way that the Spheres and Traditions never really made sense to me the way they were.
In the High Umbra that the Mages of the World of Darkness travel, the realms that they are encounter are largely conceptual. The High Umbra is a place of dreams and ideals given form. So it makes a certain amount of sense that a setting such as Planescape, which is at base little more than a literalisation of philoshopical differences (expressed largely in terms of Dungeons & Dragons’ alignment system), would exist here too.
But the factions of Mage and Planescape align strangely.
The Nephandi, for example, have some allies amongst the denizens of the lower planes, especially the Gray Wastes and Carceri, but for the most part, the inhabitants of the Planescape are interested in winning the philsophical debating game, not destroying it and all its players. The Marauders have many allies at the Chaotic end of things, from the Beastlands through to Pandemonium (plus the Xaositects in Sigil), and the Technocracy at the Lawful, although the vast majority of them are in Mechanus. The Traditions are a little more varied, rarely allying on the basis of Alignment, but instead forming loose networks across the planes – or with factions inside Sigil itself.
The Euthanatos find much to agree with among both the Dustmen and the Doomguard; the Celestial Chorus and the Believers in the Source find their beliefs qite similar. The Cult of Ecstasy and the Society of Sensation enjoy partying together, while the Akashic Brotherhood and the Transcendant Order prefer practicing katas and meditating.
Some factions are equally attractive to all the traditions: the philosophies of the Sign of One and the Fraternity of Order are equally applicable across the traditions, while every tradition harbours a small hardcore of fanatics who butt heads with but grudgingly admire the Harmonium, the Fated or both.
The Lady of Pain, of course, keeps dark on these subjects – although some Mages speculate about a connection between her powers and those of Paradox… although never while in Sigil.
|Planescape||Mage: the Ascension|
It might look like an unlikely match-up at first, but it’s one of those things: there’s one little piece that fits together perfectly, and the rest extrapolated from there. So without further ado, let’s get on with it: