Symposium Archive: Issue 2 “Reality or Fantasy?”

The Symposium was a WoD E-zine that disappeared many years ago, that I happened to have archived and will display some of their old entries here for archiving. All credits belong to the old staff of the Symposium.

by Kenji Bohlin

Science: process whose goal is to understand the natural world – Prentice Hall, Biology

I read this definition while sitting in Biology class listening to a lecture about the human nervous system. Immediately, the thought occurred to me that this definition is twisted from fact because there is no “natural world.” There is the perception of what mortals view reality as. Also, science’s goal is not to “understand,” but to force an understanding on to the public, in a sense, controlling them. After this passed through my mind, I tuned back into the lecture. “The nervous system uses electrical impulses sent through neurons to the central nervous system which processes these impulses, and then sends back another impulse.” So, the Technocracy has imposed the idea that the body is controlled by electrical impulses.

This is the way my mind now works; it automatically relates things to the World of Darkness, primarily Mage. The first paragraph might have over-emphasized my actual reactions, but essentially, that’s it. Contrary to what you are thinking now, I can distinguish the difference between truth and fantasy, I just use my imagination to distinguish how an idea might have come about in the World of Darkness.

For example, in history class, when learning about certain famous historical people, like Bismark of Willhem I, I think of what they would be in the World of Darkness, or who is behind them. Everyone who plays White Wolf must go through this; however, maybe not on the same level. Just in the act of pondering whether a rock star is a werewolf, or if someone you saw on television is a vampire, you are engaging in the same mind game I was.

Many argue that this is bad, it is “evil.” People say that White Wolf games and role-playing games in general are plaguing the youth with fantastic lies. At a dinner party, I argued with a man who was convinced that the very act of thinking about a fantasy world in satanic and sinful. He compared role-playing to “flipping though the pages of Playboy and saying that it is only art.” How wrong you are my friend, where ever you are right now.

Role-playing does something very important that we need to emphasize more or, it exercises the imagination. From the imagination comes forth ideas to solve dire problems such as hunger and poverty. If the whole world were to lose their imagination, we would spiral into the Dark Ages once again.

When I sit in history or Geometry, or English, or whatever, and think these thoughts, it is helping me break out of the mold that everyone is falling into. I don’t simply take everything for truth and let the media control me. In my questioning the very nature of science, I could do two things: find out that we are headed off into some completely wrong direction; or that science is what it presents itself as. I can recognize that technology is a good thing, but that it is also bad, and we, as a society, are starting to worship it over God. The book Technopoly by Neil Postman dedicates itself to the bad side of Technology. Postman is not living in a fantasy world, but is writing about things that he has uncovered in his questioning of the real world.

I will conclude with one thought and one question. If we really were living in a world of mages, vampires, and werewolvess, the White Wolf is not just a role-playing game, but a game that teaches and promotes the truth, and is a breakaway from the suppression of the Technocracy. The question is: Who controls White Wolf?

Paradigma: Building Allies, Part I

Paradigma is pleased to announce the beginning of a short series on one of the greatest feats possible through Science: the creation of allies. From the simplest automaton, to beings as completely complex as humans, Scientists have built, grown, or decanted a dazzling variety of beings throughout the ages. Now, Paradigma is able to provide details on a few of the more useful or interesting.

Ectoplasmic Empowerment of Automata

by Scientist Aaron Byers of the Emerald City Cabal

Automata, or machines capable of performing automatic movement, are often dismissed by those of our society as too simple and base to perform the tasks necessary of an assistant. Indeed, on their own, automata are little more than mobile clockwork, suitable for a Technocrat, but not a true Scientist.

However, these simple machines can be empowered with specific ectoplasmic emanations, causing them to become usable receptacles for what pre-technological Scientists might term “spirits.” My research has developed a method of putting the physical resources of an automaton at the control of an allied nonmaterial sentience.

Obviously, the first step in this process is the acquisition or construction of a suitable automaton. In theory, any mechanical device capable of motion could be effective. One might even use a diabled HIT Mark, although the reality-crystallizing effects of their Primium alloy would probably make this an unacceptably risky venture.

The automaton must then be prepared both etherically and ectoplasmically. That is, it must have a constant stream of etheric energy directed through it, in a manner similar to a Talisman. This ensures that the automaton will be able to interact with physical reality in a means more similar to a living thing that an inanimate object. It also grants the ectoplasmic effect permanence, without which the automaton would soon revert to inert matter.

The ectoplasmic empowerment is of equal or greater importance. The automaton must be attuned to a specific nonmaterial sentience, which both facilitates the interaction of mind and machine, and prevents possession of the automaton by other ectoplasmic entities.

Upon successful completion of the technique, the automaton can be automatically inhabited and controlled by the ectoplasmic intelligence. However, there are problems with the process. In particular, in all three of my trials, Paradox hindered my efforts.

The first automaton, a simple humanoid “skeleton” without even vocal capabilities, was prone to constant degeneration. It soon became clear that the mechanical problems were caused, not be physical forces, but by the static reality interfering with the experiment. The automaton was eventually abandoned.

My second attempt was far less humanoid, being of a hexapedal, radially-symmetrical construct attempting to closely imitate the inhabiting entity’s “spiritual” form. However, not only was degeneration more pronounced, but the sentience was quickly evicted and replaced by a Paradox entity, which attempted to destroy the laboratory. From this, we may deduce the Anthropomorphic Automatonic Principle: Reality finds humanoid robots more acceptable than nonhumanoid robots.

Keeping this in mind, the third automaton was constructed to resemble a “mannequin,” with a distinctly humanoid face and proportions. It is currently functioning ideally, with minimal Paradox-induced degeneration.

Ectoplasmically Empowered Automaton

(Matter 3 Prime 3 Spirit 2): As stated above, this Rote charges a mechanical device with a constant flow of Quintessence, and attunes it to a specific spirit. This process, unlike that of creating a Talisman, does not require that Quintessence be placed in the automaton. (It can be, but it will be usable only by the occupying spirit.) Possession by the attuned spirit is automatic, but other spirits must overcome the enchantment to use the automaton. GMs are encouraged to be creative and nasty with Paradox.
[If anybody else want to jump in on this series and post their own Etheric methods, please do so! I’ll be compiling the whole set of articles at my Web page.]
Brant Harvey

– The Doctrine of Nolloth –

Part 1

The Beginning
In the beginning their was only Nolloth. He was very pleased, not to mention nefarious. All was happy and joyous, and there was much zucchini, not to mention pestilence. But you see, at that time pestilence was a good thing (not that it isn’t now). Nolloth the Nefarious danced among the zucchinis, which grew strong and healthy, in spite of the pestilence. Soon, however, with only zucchinis as company, he became extremely agitated, as many of you would even if you were a deity. The obvious answer to this was to grow bean sprouts, of course, only a fool grows bean sprouts, so Nolloth turned to pottery. He began with simple objects such as large planetary objects inhabited by sentient beings, and moving on to more difficult complex items, such as vases, ashtrays, and pretzels. He was now a master, not difficult considering, as mentioned before, his status as a deity.

Finding the sentient beings to be slightly more interesting than the ashtrays, he came back to those early projects, namely astronomical bodies and such, and began playing an active role in the affairs of these creatures. He, however, found these entities to be extraordinarily dense (and, by the way, he still does) and it was at this point that he realized that he was not alone in the great celestial field of zucchinis. From out of a large cabbage patch arose the Adversary, Helga. She was a lusty wench and more than a match for mighty Nolloth the Nefarious. Until, that is, she was afflicted with mammary tumors and other forms of disease which Nolloth had been practicing recently. These tumors she was extremely fond of before realizing that they were, in fact, intended to kill her. Which they did. This earned Nolloth the Nefarious two new titles, He Who Killed the Mighty and Horrible Helga with a REALLY Big Mammary Tumor That She Thought Was Some Kind of Pet, and Nolloth the Prince of Pestilence. Needless to say, the latter was by far the more popular of the two, especially considering his further exploits in the field of pestilence, plague, famine, unsanitary conditions, the general suffering of men, and unwholesome sugary snack items.

Somewhat After the Beginning
While Nolloth was busy battling Helga in the great celestial cabbage field, the people of his planets had developed a complex society based upon the worship of Utith, the Mighty God of Fluff and Stuff (the people were really dense). This infuriated Nolloth to no end, and so he decided to infiltrate their society in secret and tear it apart from the roots, which was particularly easy because, if you remember from just a few seconds ago, the society was indeed based on Fluff and Stuff. Nolloth’s plan was so immensely nefarious, as well as totally unnecessary that Utith fled the city long before Nolloth could tear all the stuffing out of his body. Nolloth’s disappointment was unending, and is suspected to be the cause of some recent plagues.. After realizing that the society that he had so nefariously infiltrated was in fact an extremely backwards, unprosperous, primitive, and in general, stupid group of people, he understood that his next target must be the great then prospering, metropolis of Cleveland.

The Taking of Cleveland and Several Small Street-side Cafes
Seeing the prosperity which belonged to Cleveland, Nolloth took upon himself the form of a highly starched bread product and descended among the people saying to himself, “The convenience marts are the key to this city.” This comment may seem irrelevant and nonsensical, and really it is, but one is not to question the thought process of a living god, especially since this very same strategy was later used by the Greeks in their conquest of the city.

Entering into a small cafe which was quite badly managed, Nolloth began to feel the thirst that one acquires when spreading pestilence through a dense urban center under the guise of a highly starched bread product. He ordered a soft drink and seeing the greenness of the nearby sandwiches, which were clearly unfit for human consumption, he ordered some of those too. These he devoured merrily until he was approached by a waiter who clearly expected him to tip. Him. Nolloth. Living God. Deity. Prince of Pestilence. Lord of Disease. Highly Starched Bread Product. This was entirely unacceptable. Nolloth was forced, in his divine unmercifulness, to convert the manager of the store into a pillar of salt and the waiter into a writhing heap of maggots. After infecting the rest of the store’s patrons with a disease which would only become apparent to them years later after having passed it onto all of their sexual partners, Nolloth left the cafe full of anger, and intent on destroying this Cleveland, den of lies, the temple of deceit, this land of the wicked and the damned.

As Nolloth prepared to ravage the city he was approached by a long time follower who prostrated himself before Nolloth and begged that the city be allowed to survive saying, “Oh mighty Nolloth, I am but a poor and humble servant who knoweth nothing, and wisheth only that you may forgive us for our sins and not rip the whole city down into nothing more than a seething pile of rubble filled with a thousand varieties of vermin.” Though this was the correct method of groveling, Nolloth hated (and still hates) those who prostrate themselves, gave the man a VICIOUS venereal disease, and put into his families gene pool a horribly disfiguring disorder, which, unlike many curses, would never be weeded out, not even after the seventh generation. However, Nolloth recognized the usefulness of Cleveland in his mission of Pestilence, especially considering the available potential for ecological damage, thus he spared it in the name of industrial urban filth and despair.

The moral of the story: Well, there is no moral, this is just another example of what Nolloth can do if you Really Piss Him Off!!

The Punishment Of the Cleveites
Soon after the sacking of Cleveland there was great civil unrest and general unpleasantness. This was very unnerving for Nolloth, because he didn’t appear to be the cause, though this seems highly unlikely. Soon, two clear factions arose among the Cleveites, the Nollothians and the Gametophytes. The Gametophytes however where generally disregarded in the political and religious life of the city, considering that they were, in fact, PLANT LIFE. Ted, the Nollothian high priest, came before Nolloth while rooting around in a garbage bin for an abandoned bottle of kitchen cleanser. Nolloth speaketh unto him, as deities are prone to do, saying unto him, “Go to your people, oh Ted, and have them bring forth to a me a giant golden canoe, sufficient for three maybe four deities to ride in at once, that I may be persuaded to look favorably upon this city of Cleveland and pass my blessing upon it.”

Ted returned to the people and told them of Nolloth’s demand. The people, however, considered themselves crafty, which they clearly were not, and desiring to preserve their precious reserve of golden canoes, they went into the forest and plucked a cheap wooden one from the tree. This they painted gold and presented to Nolloth with much gaudy display. Nolloth sighed, for he saw clearly through their petty deceit, this lie made wooden. The canoe was not even totally painted, the paint was not even close to being dry, and the Cleveites hadn’t even bothered to hide in the woods while they painted it. All these Nolloth took to be an extreme insult to his intelligence, which it basically was, and smiting half of their ranks down with tremendous mutant tapeworms he speaketh again unto them, saying “Stupid, stupid, stupid Cleveites! You have incurred my wrath and I am greatly displeased. All will be most unpleasant for you, unless I receive my golden canoe by tomorrow night, and it better be really big and really expensive. By ‘most unpleasant,’ I of course mean that you will all be liquified by rare African hemorhagic venereal illnesses.” Actually, he wasn’t all that upset about not getting a canoe because he didn’t need one anyway, him being a living god and all, but deities can have their tantrums when they want to, it is, after all, their right. This decree, Ted, being a terrible high priest at the best of times, interpreted as some kind of divine humor, which, needless to say, was entirely not the way to take it.

To tempt the wily Cleveites, Nolloth, in anger, placed a false tree of canoes, so large and so conveniently placed that they would be unable to resist its succulent fruits. No sooner had the Cleveites plucked a ripe canoe and begun painting “HAPPY BIRTHDAY NOLLOTH” in neon pink on the side, when they were trampled by a rampaging herd of 300 pound diseased goats, bleeding from the eyes, hooves, and udders. Following behind was Nolloth, in the form of a giant yellow zucchini. Screameth Nolloth, “Fools, its not even my birthday.” Nolloth now understood that if he gave the idiots another chance they would just bring him another stupid wooden canoe, which was even less useful than a big golden canoe would be, so he simply had them all broken like cheap toys one can buy out of a candy machine in the supermarket.

From this story can be gleaned several important morals: First, always know the correct birthday of your god; second, beware of overly tempting canoe trees; third, and most i mportantly, NEVER SCREW WITH NOLLOTH.

Bean Dip, Birthdays, and Pestilence
On Nolloth’s second 77638 birthday he was having a small but perfectly acceptable party in the company of a few loyal followers. He had a nice set of hors devours prepared, some nice cheese and crackers, vegetables, and dip. Suddenly Nolloth’s 50ft high double bronze doors, inscribed with the ancient sigils of Henyeanluoth, which entered into his classy Manhattan apartment, burst open and revealed some of His garish followers (whom he despised intensely and hadn’t invited) toting a giant dish of tasty bean dip, and a VERY large bright neon pink sign saying “HAPPY BIRTHDAY, NOLLOTH.” Nolloth nearly spewed his dry martini, which he was sipping with his 11th head, all over his loyal followers. All of Nolloth’s eyes, which burned with the light of a million suns, and the sight of which would drive any normal mortal insane, turned to glare at the newcomers. He promptly stomped them to death with his 1000 cloven hooves of destruction, and ground them into the bean dip. As he wiped up the carpet with a little club soda and munched on restaurant style tortilla chips with his 15th-19th heads (the ones with the horns), he speaketh casually, “I HATE pink.” There is, of course, a moral to be learned from this lovely story, however we appear to have forgotten it in the rush to publish. But if my intuition serves me correctly, it’s probably something along the lines of “DON’T SCREW WITH NOLLOTH”

Brendan Murphy, High Priest of Nolloth, Prince of Pestilence.

Encounter With the Doom Squads of Nolloth

I met Mr. Johanson in the jungles of Cambodia in 1979. He was part of a top secret unit of SEALS sent there to rescue a group of English ambassadors from a radical group of natives. The mission was a complete failure, with Johanson being the only survivor. There was a total of twenty-five dead, including all seven embassy officials. I expected a story of bad government planning and carelessness, but Johanson told me that the extraction team worked with the utmost precision and care. Nothing was wrong with their execution of the rescue. When I asked him why the mission had failed, he told me a grisly tale of paranormal horror. So terrible was his story that it struck me as one of those rare cases where the public does not have a right to be informed. However, I have since, upon learning how widespread the religion in question is, decided to reveal Colonel Johanson’s tale.

It all started with the kidnapping of the seven English dignitaries from their embassy in Phnom Penh. Since no British unit was familiar with the area as Johanson’s unit was, they were called in from the Philippines to rescue the ambassadors. It was a simple international favor; however, if American officials could have had any insight on the outcome, I don’t think they would have so generously lent the SEAL team.

The SEAL team was airlifted into a rice patty field ten miles from the target village where the captives were reportedly being held. Each SEAL carried only the bare necessities, their eighteen man unit packed a total of 400 lb. (barring weapons) of equipment, that was about 22 lb. a person. this lightweight packing provided for very quick movement through the dense rain forest. Each solider was armed with the standard M16-A1 assault rifle; in addition there was on long distance sharp shooter who carried a Berkeley .50 cal sniping rifle. The entire unit was outfitted to be the ultimate unit for quick rescues in “hot” areas, nothing, barring a fully outfitted military platoon, should have been able to stop them.

The mission went like clockwork from the time that the objective village came into sight. The sniper climbed the tallest tree and set up shot with the .50 cal. The other men left the and prepared to enter the village. They made a map of the target based on observations with a pair of military binoculars, using information give by intelligence reports they located what they thought to be the building where the prisoners were being held.

With this information they mounted their assault. According to Johanson the whole thing went perfectly. Every unfriendly was eliminated in a swift, silent manner, and the SEALS reached the suspected holding pen in less than 12 minutes, without being noticed. That is when the problems started. There were no dignitaries in the building. At this time the worst possible thing happened: they were discovered. What followed was a spectacular blazing gun fight that ended with one American casualty and all Kamar Rouge either dead of incapacitated. The operatives, no longer fearing discovery made a village-wide search for the Englishmen; they were not to be found.

At this point, a low, continuous drumbeat started to rise above the treetops. The SEALS became serious and started to talk of abandoning the mission. Even if they had wanted to it wouldn’t have been possible, for at this time the natives attacked. The following will at first seem unbelievable to the reader, so I will directly quote Johanson from the tapes of the interview.

“The drums that night… were… horrible. They tore at our souls, we were all ready to scrap the whole mission and return home, but we couldn’t, we would’ve but, we couldn’t. The bushes all around the empty settlement started to shake, and this horrible shrieking joined the drums. Carlson on my left was the first to crack, he ran for the tree where Smith was perched, but he never got there. This huge seven foot Zucchini burst from the undergrowth, man, it was terrible. The beast was armed only with a SHMAW, which he raised to waist level and fired. Carlson never had a chance, man, he was blown to sludge, arms and legs flying in every direction. His left thumb hit me in the chest, it was horrible. I immediately ordered by men to hose down the unfriendly, which they did, but it was no use. The vegetable was blown to little particles, but upon its explosion around twenty more jumped from the undergrowth, all armed with SHMAWs. Three of our groups laid down suppression fire with the assault rifles as the rest of us tried to file out in groups of two, but it was too crazy, for every Zucchini we splattered, two more popped out of the jungle. Then we seemed to gain the upper hand. Smith came down from the tree and was standing in the middle of the village with Berkeley, taking out Zucchini after Zucchini. The green monsters tried to get him, but he was too fast; their SHMAWs just couldn’t hit their mark for some reason. One lucky Zucchini finally got him right in the chest, he was instantly vaporized by the blast, but not before splattering that one last Zucchini. What followed was an uneasy silence. For a while we though we had won, it was, however, an inaccurate feeling, for without warning one final Zucchini burst from the undergrowth. The 14 remaining men raised their guns, ready to take him without a second thought. But when I saw that he was unarmed I signaled them to hold fire. The Zucchini opened its mouth, and in an ungodly voice that could only come from a Zucchini he said, ‘You are all dead, your God has no power in the land of Nolloth! Now infidel, feel the power of his cavalry!’ With that he headed at Jones, who fired as quickly as possible, but it was too late. The incredibly strong steel jaws of the plant locked down on my man, crushing his spine. However, his insides were turned to soup as Jones continued to fire, even after his shoulders were separated from his chest. Then hordes of Causuaries burst from the jungle, on their backs rode inhuman vegetables of all kinds, beets, cauliflowers, chilies, garbanzo beans, pimentos, artichokes, avocados, broccoli, squash, and, of course, zucchinis. They were wielding wickedly sharp doom bringing thingies. Our unit broke for the trees, but the horrid birds and their terrible riders followed mercilessly. I ran blindly for about two miles before I was hit in the back by a wildly screeching turnip. When I fell I feigned my death, and that is the only thing that saved me. I stayed there for twelve hours listening to the screams of my colleagues. When I finally found the courage to pick myself up I saw no trace of any struggle. I wandered for three days that way until I came upon a peace corp outpost, and from there I was airlifted home. I have not forgotten my friends, mister reporter, I plan to one day lead a team into those forbidden jungles to retrieve any men that might be alive.”

That was the end of my interview with Mr. Johanson. I tell you this as a warning, for my investigations have found that members of the esoteric following of Nolloth have migrated to the U.S.. I plead with you, do everything you can to ferret out those monsters, and whatever you do, stay away from over-large vegetables.

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