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 The Free Council

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Join date : 2014-09-19

PostSubject: The Free Council   Thu Apr 23, 2015 1:10 pm

Nickname: Libertines/Hackers

Rote Skills: Crafts, Persuasion, Science

Summary: The Free Council seeks to escape the strictures of the past and modernize the craft of magic through technology.


This is an age of power and opportunity, the age of Corporate greed and advancing technology. The Awakened can see Supernal shadows overlaying it all... if they look at it the right way. But it's an age of horror, too, because power doesn't have an ethos. The tools of power are there for the taking, but the management is bad. Very bad indeed.

The Free Council means to change that. This age, this time of glorious technology, needs to be translated into Awakened wisdom. In a new kind of alchemy, the Council will change the trappings of the Sleepers' Quiescence into its undoing. It will free knowledge and information in these modern nights.

Humanity found the essential spark of Awakening in prehistory, and never forgot. The Quiescence can only subdue it; human beings recreate the signs of wisdom all around them. Even this Modern Fallen World contains countless treasures for the Awakened seeker, they just need to adapt.

Arcane power is not wisdom. For all their power, even great masters were blind to the new truths of the quickening age. It was time to drop the old hierarchies and seek the truth through democracy, consensus and technology. Levels of initiation and secrets barred from the so-called unworthy were all the worse because they replicated the values of the Exarchs and their Seers of the Throne. The Free Council insists that humanity was never meant to abase itself for the sake of occult training. Magic exists now, and it's moving forward as swiftly as a thought. Cling to tradition, and you'll get left behind.

Awakened society has always had its share of rebels and strange geniuses. The Silver Ladder cast them out, the Adamantine Arrow refused to protect them and the Mysterium expunged their words from history. But the Awakened have always been sensitive to the spirit of an age, and there have been times when the trickle of malcontent has grown to a flood. These eras have coincided with some of the greatest achievements in human history, but also with its wars and disasters. Do mages cause such events, or take their lessons to heart? So many layers of conspiracy exist between mages and Sleeping humanity that it's nigh impossible to tell who bears the burden of history, but during these pivotal periods, arcane knowledge increases. In the early 19th century, cabals across Europe expounded a startling theory: That upheaval led to genuinely new occult praxes.

The new movement gave itself hundreds of different names based on everything from Sleeper inspirations to esoteric humor. Conflict was inevitable. It spanned the globe through the charms of the Boxer Rebellion, the guns of the American West, and the bombs of London anarchists. Mysterium historians call it the Nameless War, for at the time, the other orders refused to even give the revolutionaries a common name. After all, names grant symbolic power.

The war left the rebels bloody but unbowed, and even increased their membership. Young members of the traditional orders defected, charmed by the opportunities offered by rebel factions. Even so, the Nameless rebels couldn't prove their worth to the ancient orders until they took a stand for something, instead of against tradition. The Great Refusal fulfilled this requirement.

Members

The elder orders would have you think that the Free Council consists of poorly trained cyberpunks political blowhards and tech savvy hackers who endanger everyone around them with poorly wrought spells, and who defile the Supernal World with every ill-considered touch. Sometimes, that's true. For their part, novice mages might speak up for the Free Council out of sheer contrariness, but might also seek to escape the burden of apprenticeship. Many mages treat their pupils as slaves and cannon fodder in battles for ancient lore. A few masters even cripple their apprentice's development because they're afraid of being surpassed. Resentment builds and apprentices leave.

The Free Council offers an environment in which young mages' NEW ideas are debated freely, but novices who expect total license to act as they see fit are in for a surprise. The Free Council takes democracy seriously, but doesn't take to every notion and there are many that is flung on the table. Like mages everywhere, libertines lead dangerous lives fighting rivals and searching for magical power. They believe in security and mutual aid. Empty rebellion doesn't help either. After running the gauntlet of debate and the sporadic violence of Council missions, survivors are tempered into idealistic but practical occultists who have a flexible set of capabilities. Libertines tend to be generalists outside of their arcane specialties. Their intense interest in culture and technology, and their iconoclasm, makes the ideal member a combination of engineer, anthropologist, and guerilla.

Young mages aren't the only ones who join the Free Council, however. Veteran sorcerers align themselves with the order to either reject their former, corrupt allegiances or to explore radical new age occult theories. Experienced defectors add political clout and arcane power to the cause.

Libertines all have a common interest in contemporary culture and tend to be skeptical of elder heritage. In any event, they believe that it's useless to limit themselves to tradition. It should be the future and should be a better place than any legend describes. Of course, Free Council members rarely agree on the best model for an Awakened or mundane society. Their sanctums ring with the competing voices of anarchists, free-market capitalists, and partisans of countless other doctrines.

Philosophy

Volumes have been written (and duels fought) about what libertines ought to believe. Despite this, members hold little in common aside from the charter of unity forged at the dawn of the 20th century.

Democracy seeks the truth; hierarchy fosters the Lie: The Quiescence does more than blind Sleepers to the great truths of existence. It creates a way of thinking that causes them to lie to each other by diluting power through society's ranks, creating hierarchies to control the spread of knowledge. This is a radical enough claim by itself, but the Free Council goes a step further and postulates that even mages are cursed to trap their lore in hierarchies of mutual deception. Every generation loses a bit of lore that was concealed in the highest levels of initiation and never passed on. Subsequently, the secrets of Atlantis (if it isn't a lie) have been filtered through so many masters and apprentices that they're nearly useless. Only shared discovery and free debate can throw off the Lie.

Humanity is magical; human works have arcane secrets: The Free Council believes that humanity never really forgot the secrets of magic. Human beings instinctively create their own miracles. These are only shadows of the potential they could attain if they Awakened, but they point to new ways to understand magic. Technology and culture have their own secret laws and symbols, drawn from Supernal regions still waiting to be discovered. Libertines embrace a modern vision of magic drawn from human accomplishments, not hoary myths. This doesn't mean that magic comes only from modern technology and mass media, though. Many libertines believe that preindustrial and developing societies have been making their own discoveries throughout Sleeping history and that it's a mistake to cleave too closely to modern Western values. Of course, other Council cabals believe the opposite: That the Enlightenment and its heirs are the only streams of human history worth paying attention to. What both groups have in common is that they see these developments as new and vital in their own right.


Rituals And Observances

The Free Council has existed for little over a century, so members know that the order's traditions were invented, not revealed. The spirit of invention and adaptation persists, so Free Council cabals regularly invent rituals and conventions that suit their own interests.

Assembly: Free Council cabals are run democratically, either by absolute consensus or majority vote. In addition, cabals often form regional Assemblies as an alternative to the local Consilium. Individual groups send syndics to the Assembly, who in turn formulate proposals to be voted on by every mage represented. Some Assemblies require members to forswear association with a Consilium, but most do not. Even so, the collective power of a well-run Assembly can decisively sway a Consilium, since all members share a commitment to a particular policy. A variation known as the Column organizes mages in battles against their enemies. While any democratically governed cabal is allowed to join an Assembly, libertine mages invariably make up the majority of their ranks.

Lorehouses: The Free Council's mission to renew the arcane arts can be realized only by the easy exchange of magical discoveries. The Lorehouse system assists that transaction by providing an open storehouse of magical knowledge. This doesn't always mean it's easy to get access to a Lorehouse; its controlling cabal dictates any requirements. Some Lorehouses use a free-market model, selling their stock to any mage who can meet the price in hard cash, Mana, or barter. Others serve only cabals that profess an ideology acceptable to the Lorehouse's owners.

Techné: The order prefers to call its style of magic techné, a Greek word meaning a skill or art. Techné is not just an application of ancient techniques, but a philosophy combining technology, art, and culture to produce magic that is relevant in a modern context. While other orders cling to a tradition belonging to an ancient past, the Free Council forges ahead to new horizons.

Status and Positions

Free Council positions are selected democratically and exist to fill a pragmatic rather than ritual role.

Voter ( Status 1 ): These are the groundlings of the order, respectable and even admirable for their membership and support. A voter needs no qualifications besides allegiance to be worthy of liberty in the Free Council. In some Assemblies, however, being worthy and being granted voting rights are not the same thing. Voters may be required to jump through hoops before their votes are recognized. In some places, the criteria are as simple as attending a minimum number of Assemblies or agreeing to donate a few days a month to serve on some committee. Other Assemblies require voters to pledge allegiance and swear off any previous or superseding loyalties, including those to the Consilium. Though every voter's vote is supposedly worth the same to the order, not every Assembly prices the position of voter so cheap.

Emissary ( Status 1 - 3 ): Emissaries are among the most common positions in the Free Council. Virtually every Assembly names emissaries to serve as contacts for the local Consilium and the rest of the Pentacle. An emissary is, in general, only as good as he is liked by both the Assembly dispatchers and the audience to which he is sent. Still, even the most eloquent and genial emissaries are regarded as messengers at best and decoration at worst. An emissary doesn't craft the message he delivers or debate the issues he brings word of; he simply talks and listens. That what amounts to a courier position can still warrant the prestige it does within the Free Council is testament to the order's ability to value honesty, communication, and a keen perception. A weak emissary lacks nuance and misses out on innuendo. A talented emissary subtly influences listeners and speakers alike with his demeanor and courtesy -- it can be the difference between merely delivering bad news to a thearch and causing a conflict that derails the Consilium for weeks. To be a good emissary requires tact, poise, and a willingness to let others get the attention. In exchange, an emissary gains a ready audience, face time with influential local wizards, and a reputation for discretion. Emissary is not a prestigious position, but it can be a valuable one.

Minuteman ( Status 1 - 3 ): Any Libertine who agrees to fight (in some Consilii even just figuratively) may customarily be called a minuteman. In practice, however, only a Libertine who has actually fought on behalf of the order enjoys the benefits of added respect from the citizenry. Minutemen, obviously, are fashioned on the guerilla militiamen of the American Revolution. The image of the common colonial man summoned out of his house in the middle of the night to defend against the redcoats is not too far off from what a Libertine minuteman actually is. A minuteman is expected to come when his cell phone rings or the strategos calls out to him through telepathy. Minutemen pull on their boots and convene in empty parking lots at four in the morning because a Seer pylon has found someone's sanctum. They drive to the Assembly site when a mage needs to be escorted out of town. These are the citizen soldiers of the Free Council, and they are all volunteers.

Host ( Status 2 ): Similar to so many Libertine honors, the position of host is both ceremonial and temporary. A host is simply any voter who donates his space to the order for an Assembly or debate. A mage who routinely hosts meetings or who sacrifices his time or money to create a great environment might retain his local status for weeks after an Assembly. The mage who merely lets his fellow Libertines use his basement when it's his turn enjoys the benefits of status only as long the meeting lasts. To represent the lasting influence enjoyed by a hosting character in simple game terms, do this: Roll Presence + Expression, Persuasion, or Socialize + order Status: Free Council as an extended action with each roll representing one hour of hosting. Only a number of rolls equal to or less than the Size of the venue may be made. The same Skill doesn't have to be used for each roll. For every five guests after the first five, apply a -1 die penalty to the roll. Each success extends the host's Status for one day.

Letter Carrier ( Status 2 - 4 ): The so-called letter carriers exist in only a few Consilii nowadays. Letter carriers are, to a large extent, emissaries, but nostalgia and a history of sacrifice lend them an aura of additional prestige. In casual language, a letter carrier may be any emissary who travels abroad to carry a message on behalf of the order. Historically, a letter carrier is specifically an emissary who allows his memory to altered with Mind spells so that even the courier himself may not have access to the message. In a few areas, where the Free Council was especially paranoid about Seer surveillance, letter carriers were even ensorceled into believing they were traveling for their own reasons, not on order business. Some letter carriers may still be carrying around hidden messages in their psyches and not even know it until the mental barriers isolating the message from their own memories begin to erode. The position of letter carrier started as little more than a local custom and a nickname somewhere in the Eastern United States around the late 1930s. During the thick of the cold war, when paranoia was in fashion, letter carriers were more common throughout the United States. Today, they've gone the way of the milkman in most Consilii. The majority of Libertines who still identify themselves as letter carriers are in their 60s or 70s now and keep the title out of nostalgia more than anything else. But the title still carries an aura of old-fashioned dedication.

Citizen Agent ( Status 2 - 4 ): The title of citizen agent is reserved for those Libertines who go beyond the call of the minutemen and serve the order as watchmen, spies, and covert operatives. A citizen agent's identity as an operative of the Assembly is seldom kept secret. His missions almost always are. It is an oddity of the order's desire for democratic transparency and its needs for security. Citizen agents may be combative, but they're just as often explorers and infiltrators. Whether they're descending into abandoned military bases on climbing harnesses in search of resonant technology or scheming up improbable magical deaths for Seer mages, the common factor in all citizen agent missions is peril. These mages jeopardize their lives for the sake of the order, and in exchange they gain celebrity, clout, and a degree of unofficial authority. No real command structure exists for the citizen agents. They take on missions passed by a vote in Assembly or, more often, in a Column. They work together largely on a volunteer basis or when directed to by election or strategoi. They have no real subordinates and no generals to guide them. In theory, the body politic provides everything its citizen agents need, but of course this isn't always possible. In practice, a citizen agent has good intelligence only if he is investigative and good weapons only if he arms himself.

Strategos ( Status 3 - 5 ): The strategoi are the generals, pundits, experts, and directors of Free Council Consilii. They're like straight-jacketed presidents, managers, and executives of their small area of authority, but powerless outside their purview. The position of strategos is an artifact of Libertine hope, however. (Some would say it is a sign of the order's self-importance.) The role of the strategos makes the most sense in areas where Libertines are numerous enough to make rapid communication and quick decision-making difficult. Not that many Consilii have so many mages, much less so many Libertines, that the role of strategos can be kept adequately apart from other roles in the order. A strategos represents a willful surrender of democratic power on the part of the people -- the voters' authority is invested in the strategos with the understanding that it will be paid back later. As an investment, many Libertines expect their power, or the order's, to be more valuable when it is returned. The people give up a degree of their liberty to the strategos, who gains a great deal of authority but also becomes responsible for the safekeeping of that liberty. It's a quietly cherished rule of the Free Council that a strategos who hoards authority and shirks liberty can be toppled by popular revolt. (But, of course, history has shown that tyranny alone is sometimes not enough to provoke the people to action.) In practice, the kind of responsible and dedicated personality that makes a mage suitable for the role of strategos is uncommon enough that no more than one or two area mages are trusted enough by the Awakened masses to take on the role. But the traditions of the Free Council prohibit a single mage from serving as a strategos in more than one area of expertise, so even if a single experienced and brilliant wizard is the ideal candidate to take on responsibility for both affairs of medicine and affairs of science, she must be restricted to one or the other. In some regions, where Free Council mages are few, every mage is given the title of strategos over some area of experience (if not expertise), to prevent one strategos from wielding too much power over the three or four other mages who make up the Consilium. This kind of patronizing, token promotion goes against the spirit of the platonic strategos -- a rare and celebrated expert worthy of the people's trust -- but is sometimes the only way to foster the sense of fairness that allows trust to develop. A city of strategoi inevitably becomes a house divided, however, as each vaunted mage tries to steer others according to his own "expertise."

Syndic ( Status 1 - 5 ): At their best, the syndics are statesmen, transforming complex and often delicate issues into surmountable topics for debate and eventual voting at Assembly. At their worst, they're two-faced politicos, reducing complicated issues into hot-button rhetoric and obfuscated schemes to manipulate voters and disguise the truth. As representatives, they can be shining champions using words like spells to clear away fogs of fear, confusion, and prejudice. As self-aggrandizing power-grabbers, they can be lying tricksters, creating illusory threats and fearsome shadows out of non-issues and buzzwords, subjecting their supposed allies to a confounding blindness derived from fear, from which only the syndic can protect them. In the platonic model of the Free Council, syndics would be clear-minded orators embodying the issues of the day and battling like champions in contests of reason and words against friendly and honorable combatants. They are meant to be a kind of idealized Greek debater clairvoyant neo-Ciceros shaping the ideals of a shining future. In the eyes of the founding Libertines, the syndics might be idolized and revered certainly they should be appreciated and respected -- but they should not be elevated above the voters. In theory, a syndic is merely an agent of simplicity, translating many voices in a single cogent argument. But a syndic is meant to enjoy no more power than any other Libertine. A syndic gets one vote, the same as any other mage. A syndic should have responsibility, not authority. For that she deserves thanks, not obedience. In practice, syndics are as greedy, defensive, deceitful, and power-mad as many mortal politician -- or more so. Syndics can achieve a kind of celebrity, and with that comes status and prestige. Some syndics avoid this kind of fame, but find it thrust upon them like a crown laid on the head of a reluctant hero. Other syndics cultivate their celebrity, constructing a new road to power and prominence out of hollow promises and empty poise. Some syndics sit down with their constituents, make eye contact, and absorb their opinions and agendas for the future, then carry those ideas to Assembly. Other syndics come to the mages they represent, sit them down, and say, "Here's what we're doing, and here's how we should vote." No special social mechanisms exist to keep syndics honest -- only the pressures that come from close contact with one's people. The voters must keep their syndic honest and informed. Enlightened reason among Awakened minds should be enough to elevate syndics above traditional democratic squabbles and temptations of power. But, too often, it's not. Is magic an acceptable means of keeping a syndic honest and ensuring that the relationship between the citizens' voice and the syndic's ears stays clear and true? This an ongoing issue within the Free Council. Philosophically, voluntary submission to spells is the only acceptable way to affect a syndic's behavior through wizardry. But how can the Consilium be certain that the citizenry are not secretly manipulating -- or even just tracking -- their syndics with sorcery? And in an Awakened society, why isn't that as valid a process as mundane speech and oversight? These are matters for serious debate. It is the syndics who will make the arguments.
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