The Technocracy & Crafting Doublespeak
I’m sitting in a medical clinic right now, waiting on a procedure and unable to VPN into work so I can, well, work. So let’s think about words—specially, the word “procedure.”
I was the developer for the pre-Mage: the Ascension 20th books on the Technocracy, and I felt like I really understood them. To be fair, I did—and a lot of fans agreed with that sentiment. But driving to the clinic today really hit home the subtle power of doublespeak in Technocratic material that I only caught today.
In Mage Technocratic terms, a procedure is a technomagickal effect by someone with a Technocratic paradigm. It’s mechanically identical to the effects a mage can do, and just a philosophical divide. But that word is so much richer than I consciously realized back in 2012.
What is a “procedure?” That word gets used a lot.
- In software engineering, a procedure is a set of instructions given to a machine to carry out. That’s the context that feels most at-home to me.
- In medicine, a procedure is a general term for some course of action taken by a physician, surgeon, etc. on someone for diagnostic or treatment purposes. That’s the context I’m living right now.
- The ritual phrase “I’m following procedure” is the law enforcement equivalent to “I’m following orders.”
There’s frightening and yet disarming power behind that word, which is why I’ve always unconsciously respected it in Technocratic jargon, and now am truly awed.
- Technocrats give instructions to reality, which can be as buggy as normal software code.
- Technocrats use their effects to diagnose or “treat” reality, as in their view they’re fixing reality from Reality Deviants.
- Technocrats by and large tow the party line, being literally conditioned to respect authority. (Even if player characters don’t. Even the Void Engineers aren’t immune to this, given their military bent in the revised book.)
If your game text involves doublespeak, get thee to the Technocracy books or M20 (or both!). My team’s proud of the other doublespeak we created, like Statistical Inevitability/Market Correction for Paradox, Dimensional Anomaly for Avatar Storm (as an anomaly can be corrected, a storm only ridden out), etc. But as much as I can take pride in what we did, they live in the shadow of “procedure.”
Alluded to, but also relevant: a procedure makes the person doing it unimportant. Its the process, and not the person, that matters. Relevant to the technocratic paradigm.