Posts Tagged ‘technocracy’
For the next in cut content from Convention Book: Void Engineers, a little snippet that was painful to cut: the first part of the relationships with the world section — The Masses and Extraordinary Citizens. Again, this isn’t edited text.
For all your rockstars and hot shots out there, check your attitude when it comes to dealing with the Masses. They’re why we won’t abandon the Technocratic Union. We’re their first, second, and third lines of defense against anti-Consensus threats — not the Union’s defense, but the Masses.
It took the Dimensional Anomaly for many of us to wake up and realize our responsibility to the world at large. We do what we do for them, and in a sense they repay us. For even in light of worldwide struggles of prosperity, terror, and control, humanity still dreams — dreams of exploration of the stars and dreams of fantastical futures. That’s what we’re fighting for, to make the whole of the cosmos capable of supporting those dreams.
How that dream is realized among them shapes our Convention’s nature. China’s rising ambitions have transformed us by adding many Enlightened Chinese to the roster. The International Space Station has helped bridge cultural rifts that used to plague us, notably U.S. and Soviet members. That’s to say nothing of the beginning of the commercialization of space travel; while far from ready, it’s that inch closer to the big dream, and every step forward is a boost to the Masses’ hopes. So we do all we can to foster the spirit of exploration (and not just in outer space). For we don’t just lose the war if our enemies beat us; we lose if the Masses stop caring.
Some of us take this idea a bit further. One popular theory among the Void Engineers is that the Masses will manifest global Empowerment once the whole of the Universe is ready for them. It’s a tall and ultimately worthwhile order — that’s humanity’s destiny.
An individual Extraordinary Citizen might be a potential recruit, but collectively they represent something far greater: hope for the Masses overall. Their rise is a fortune or blessing to us, as even though they aren’t capable of the full spectrum of Inspired Science, they’re able to serve without endangering their fellows with Paradox. Indeed, some of our most distinguished Border Corpsmen are Extraordinary Citizens. So show respect; the EC you meet today could be your CO tomorrow. (For relative values of “tomorrow.”)
On Cutting Text
This was one of the many cuts I made that sucked to do. There are two parts of each Convention book that I kept for myself: the introduction (since my job is to set tone and expectations, and I’ve read the whole book), and the relationships section (where I get to implant throughlines).
In N.W.O. and Syndicate, we wrote about the Masses. In Progenitors, for some reason I missed writing about that in the book — which no one caught until I did looking back in preparation for that Syndicate section. So, when I was looking for a few thousand words to cut from the book to make it be only slightly over budget, those 372 words above went on the block. Progenitors set precedent for that. And when I compare this text to some of the others we could cut, this feels more or less integrated with other sentiments throughout the book; it’s only explicitly stated here, but implied elsewhere. So, while painful to cut, it’s not like hacking off a limb.
To describe the whole process and publishing reality in short: the reason that there’s a word count budget even for PDF/POD products (which I realize baffles some people) is that there’s a financial budget for these projects. In the case of these Convention books, the word count budget is set based on an anticipated word count of 48,000; per the development contract, the project can’t come in less than that. Per a general sense of professionalism, we try to not go over by 5%, and by 10% is a lot. (Fun fact: Void Engineers goes over by around 10%.) The reason is that the more words writers write, the more words the developer has to develop. The more words a developer hands to an editor, the more words need editing, and the same for layout. But the payment doesn’t necessarily scale; it doesn’t in these cases. And some of the project’s creative expenses are invoiced before publication, which means that the project’s budget can’t adapt to the results of sales (unlike how it can with a Kickstarter campaign).
Part of this revolves around old publishing schools of thought regarding page counts and printing, though that still applies in POD land — for standard black & white POD from DriveThru/Lightning Source, the page count must be in multiples of 6; going over even one page costs the same, printing-wise, as having an additional six pages.
So when I get the initial proof to go through the book, I sighed a bit — there totally was room in that section for the above text, based on the amount of space at the end of that section. But this process is waterfall, not iterative like we have at Paizo or when I’m doing my own stuff, so once the text was laid out, there wasn’t any putting that missing text in. This isn’t the only time I found text I cut would have fit in a Convention book, but that’s the nature of the beast. C’est la vie.
As much as it sucks, it also causes us to actually finish projects, rather than constantly nitpick and never actually publish. I’m found of saying “Publishing is ancient Greek for ‘sub-optimal decisions and actions.’” (I vary it up, but that’s the general gist.)
The following is a sidebar that was going to be in chapter 2 of Convention Book: Void Engineers, but was cut for space — one of the many cuts that were made to bring the book from nearly 60K words to somewhere around 52K.
This was written by the awesome Jeremy Tidwell, who wrote the Methodology chapters of N.W.O., Progenitors, and Void Engineers, as well as spots here and there (including some of Threat Null). Note that this text was cut prior to editing and redevelopment, so it’s “as-is.” It’s not only posted with his permission, but he said he would yell at me if I left didn’t put it up somewhere.
There are currently a dozen colleges that comprise the “Void Engineer University.” The four most prestigious are:
The Tian’men Taikonaut Training Academy, Shanghai, China
This college, nestled between two technical wings at Shanghai’s oldest and most august educational institute, Jiao Tong University, is currently the largest instructional program for the Border Corps Division and the Pan Dimensional Corps. It’s massive Universal Simulation Tanks (made possible by clever Dimensional Science Procedures) give both Methodologies first-hand experience dealing with the rigors and dangers involved in excursions to the Near and Deep Universe.
The Marine Research Centre, Perth, Australia
This college is staffed and funded by the Earth Frontier Division. Its program stresses solid foundations in both marine science and undersea survival training. Currently, it boasts seven fully functional submersible vehicles and four large research habitat Constructs, housing and training two hundred Cadets per semester.
The Atrocity Archive Nexus, São Paulo, Brazil
The Neutralization Specialist Corps maintains a large information hub in downtown São Paulo, Brazil. It is hooked into information feeds coming from the NWO, mundane news outlets, and government sources from around the globe. Hundreds of Void Engineers sift through the data constantly looking for one thing; emerging information on atrocities around the world. The dead always filter out of such sites, and the NSC keeps tabs on new ones, as well as extensive archives on older ones. Their primary training academy is located here, so that they can filter new Cadets through a crash course/residency program.
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, La Cañada Flintridge, California, USA
This advanced space and aeronautic research facility, perhaps the most famous in all the world, has a large Research & Executions Construct woven inside of it. They woo some of the best minds from JPL’s brain trust of students and researchers with the promise of “learning how the real science is done.” Access to a massive power grid, sprawling laboratory space, and hot and cold running government contracts is just gravy.
I hope you enjoyed that little snip! I have a couple more files of stuff we cut that might be worth posting up over the next few days. (Fun fact: it was either to cut this or to cut the medals of honor section. They were two massive boxed text bits in a part of the book that just had room for one.)
 Pun not intended, but totally kept.
 Before you think that means there’s 8K in content, a lot of that was me trimming fat — flavorful fat, sure — and making the book leaner. I preserved the big chunks of whole meat I had to cut.
Many of the people who are interested in Convention Book: Void Engineers have already heard at this point, since it came out on Friday and I had already set up my blog post for that day hours before it was launched.
- The Void Engineers are, naturally, the most changed of all the Conventions by the Dimensional Anomaly. You get to see how that change — turning the VEs into an explicitly military force — affects the Union as a whole.
- A detailed Enlightened Cosmology, showing you how the Technocracy views the Umbral realms and beyond.
- Threat Null — the hints that were dropped in N.W.O. and Progenitors, the force named in Syndicate, now revealed to those with enough clearance.
- Dimension Science and Void Correspondence! Further showing how Enlightened Science isn’t the same as Traditional understanding (not that Traditional understanding is all the same). After all, Mage is fundamentally a point-of-view story.
- Brilliant opening and closing fiction by the ever-talented Josh Roby, showing some of the core conflicts the Void Engineers must content with.
- A speech on the history of the Convention by one of its most prominent admirals.
- As always, showcasing the relationships the Convention has with others. These ones are far more telling than even those in the other books.
Also, I learned over the weekend that our books have been incorporated into the TVTropes section for Mage. How awesome is that!
We had to cut more from this book than the others. The original turnovers were over 10% larger, and that’s before the ideas we cut because we _knew_ we didn’t have that. I’m not going to share what those are right away, but some of that material is stuff in Jeremy Tidwell’s Methodologies chapter, and he wants y’all to eventually see it. So I’ll blog it up in a bit. I want folks to get a chance to read the published work before then.
The End of a Journey
For over a year, I’ve been Control. I’ve been know to say “I am the Technocratic Union, motherfuckers!” in jest. But Convention Book: Void Engineers ends my run on Mage: the Ascension, in time for Phil Brucato to retake the helm with Mage 20th. It’s been a fun run, and I like it to something like an author’s run on a comic line — Joss Whedon on Spider-Man or whatever. I get to put some ideas out there, some that folks will love and some that folks will get all nerd-upset about.
But the line is bigger than any one person, so it moves on and I go to do other stuff. I have a bunch of Fate projects I’m working on, and I want to get honest motion on the Emerging Threats Unit — my take on the modern investigative/action horror RPG genre.
I’m not slated on anything involving M20, so I get to sit back and enjoy the stuff that’s to come as a fan. :) That means watching someone else write about the Technocracy just as I have, taking my ideas and doing things I don’t expect with them — some I’m sure will have me cringe (not because of stuff inherently bad, but because of weird creator investment), and others totally inspiring. But that’s what it means to have a line that’s larger than you, and I see that as pretty awesome.
The Story Behind The Line
At the ENnie Awards pre-party in 2011, where I was all dressed in my tux just in case Dresden won an award, Eddy Webb comes up to me and says “Hey, Ryan, how well do you know the Technocracy?”
If memory serves (and I got real drunk later, so 50/50 there), I responded with “Son, please.”
My Skype group and I were in the middle of playing our Mage: the Ascension game–heavily diverging from canon and using Cortex Plus Action, but Mage nonetheless. One of the game’s prevalent themes was “What does it mean to be a Traditionalist/Technocrat?” I had been blogging about that, and Eddy & I are friends who see each other far too infrequently, so he was aware of my Technocratic love.
And that I could find others of similar bent.
Rich Thomas & I talked a few months later about the Convention Book line and the promise made to the community. Given that I’m one of the people who was so, so looking forward to those books, getting the opportunity to make them was totally fucking metal.
Totally fucking metal, and the most nerve-wracking project i’ve ever been on.
The fans have been pretty awesome. Some of you guessed things coming down the line. Some of you give us ideas that we seriously wished we could have implemented. But mostly, y’all have taken the ball and ran with it in different ways, and that’s been pretty awesome to see.
Be seeing you,
 Well, the non-dick ones. But that’s always the case. :D
This book was hard to do — far harder than Progenitors — because the mandate of the line is counter to the way the Convention’s portrayed. They’re villains, ranging from Mr. Potter from It’s a Wonderful Life to mafioso types. The previous writers reveled in them as nearly being moustache-twirling sociopaths.
My job was to show how they’re the heroes of their own stories. And thanks to my crack writing team (Leonard Balsera, Adam Koebel, Josh Roby, and Malcolm Sheppard), we did just that. Frankly, as someone who grew up in a family in financial straits, who has suffered under the American health system, and whose mother just lost her house because of a banking technicality, I was a bit disgusted with some of the stuff that we were personally writing:
We explained why the Syndicate is the greatest force of good for all humanity.
A couple of my alpha readers messaged me after reading it, with “oh fuck you, Macklin, now I understand them.” — which is what I was going for, as the developer on the book. And in reading this, you too will fully understand the mindset of the Syndicate agent, no matter the Methodology.
Here’s a little bit of what’s in store:
- Information on how the internal Union economy works.
- The Enlightened Syndicate agent and how she deals with procedures in the world.
- The Convention post-Reorganization, and how it saved the Union from collapse.
- The Syndicate’s alternate theory of Prime, Primal Utility. Spoiler: it’s a game-changer.
- What exactly happened to Special Projects Division?
- And a little hint of what will be in the upcoming Convention Book: Void Engineers.
Forum links where people are talking about the book:
P.S. Because some cockbite did it last time, this time I will just delete any trolling bullshit comments, since they don’t come from the Enlightened. :)
 Incidentally, I truly loathe that film with all of my being, and won’t sit through a viewing of it.
Yesterday, I posted a little bit on my G+ about the book. I’ll build on that here, and tell you some stuff you’ll find inside:
- I put forth the question to my writing team: “Clearly, there are loads of player character-esque Progenitors in the Convention. Who are they?” And thus was born Applied Sciences: Biosphere Explorers, Deviancy Scene Investigators, Medicines Sans Superstition, Damage Control, and Ethical Compliance.
- Have you ever wanted a genegineered creature as a retainer? Or play one? The Progenitors have uplifted octopi, lizardmen, dinosaurs, and so on.
- The theme of this book is of the Convention’s (and the Union’s) sense of guilt, and of healing. They have some ambitious (and dangerous) plans to keep the Technocratic Union from fracturing.
- We touch on the other, little Methodologies in the Progenitors, the ones focused on veterinary medicine, psychiatry, ecology, and so on. And we talk about why even most Progenitors don’t know that these exist. (Spoiler: they don’t get a lot of funding.)
- Naturally, we add the Progenitors’ thoughts to the bigger picture that is the fracturing Union, and how the Dimensional Anomaly changed them.
- New gear, Procedures, etc., some of which is a bit creepy. And most of it key to the combat-oriented Progenitor amalgams.
- Memetic warfare.
- Progenitors not just in their own amalgams, but their roles in mixed-Convention amalgams.
- And more. I’m pretty goddamned happy with this book.
This book was also one of the harder books I’ve had to make, because the 1995 Progenitor book was written purely from a “lets write about the villains as unrepentantly evil! let’s twirl those mustaches!” (Though, Syndicate turned out to be even harder for that same reason.) And that was fine for that line, but the Revised line is all about them as heroes.
So how the fuck are the Progenitors heroes? That was a lengthy conference call, and the results are inside the book. :)
If you’re a Technocracy fan, I hope you’ll check it out and let me know what you think!
 And I’m damned happy with the results.