Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Metaphysics of Mystical Tyranny

The Principles of the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant

  1. There is no truth; the true nature of reality cannot be understood by mortal minds, nor express with mortal language.
  2. There is no morality; morality is a lie told by the weak to the weak to justify their weakness, and to the powerful to hobble them. The only true “good” is power. True power lies in the knowledge of what you want, and the strength to seize it.
  3. The world has no purpose; The world is chaotic, primal and unfathomable, and it is the only world that exists; there are no supernatural worlds, nor an afterlife. The only purpose the world has is one imposed upon it through will.
  4. All that matters is power; power is the expression of will and knowledge; All living beings have the ability to express will; the greater the being, the greater the will. Thus, psionic beings are inherently better than non-psionic beings (they have “greater will.”)
  5. Passion and pain indicate our true desires desires and thus our will. True power requires the alignment of all desire and will in the same direction; to impose your vision upon the universe, you must first impose your vision upon yourself.
  6. Those too weak to impose their vision on the universe crave having the vision of others imposed upon them. Through the power of the state and the submission of the people to the vision of a powerful tyrant can order be brought to a disordered universe.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

The Cultural Context of the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant

The Cult of the Mystic Tyrant has its foundations in the Divine Masks philosophy of the Ranathim Empire. Early in Ranathim Culture, the race of psychic vampires stumbled across the phenomenon of Dark Communion and began to embody and worship the various archetypes, paths, of Dark Communion as gods. Among these paths was the path of the Mystic Tyrant, and the ritualistic priesthood of the Mystic Tyrant became indistinguishable from the rulers of the Ranathim people, forging the role of the God-Emperor of the Ranathim ultimately codified by their greatest ruler, Anthara.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Patreon Preview: Cult of the Mystic Tyrant

A space opera setting inspired by Star Wars wouldn't be complete without a Jedi and Sith stand-in, and today, I've started the series on the first of those two: the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant, a philosophy dedicated to the transcendence exemplified by the Dark Communion path of the Mystic Tyrant and to ruling the Galaxy from the shadows.  The Emperor himself subscribes to this philosophy, perhaps explaining his lightning rise to dominant force in the Galaxy.

I've been wanting to work on this particular philosophy for ages (it was one of the first philosophies I had a rough draft for even before I started working on the Philosophy sub-iteration), so I'm pleased to present the Patreon preview of the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant, which is available here for all $3+ patrons.  This includes:
  • A look at the beliefs, history and symbolism of the Cult
  • A look at the core organization of the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant and it's secret "face" organization
  • The Cult of the Mystic Tyrant as an Esoteric Skill
  • The Schisms of the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant, including 
    • The original Ranathim God-King, Anthara
    • The criminal philosopher, Satra Temos
    • The True Communion Traitor Knight, Revalis White
I still have yet to complete additional psionic styles, martial arts, alternate paths and, most critically, the transcendent principles.  These will be available later.  In the meantime, thank you, Patrons, for supporting me, and be sure to check it out! 

The Cult of the Mystic Tyrant: an Intro

Peace is a lie, there is only passion. Through passion, I gain strength. Through strength, I gain power. Through power, I gain victory. Through victory, my chains are broken. The Force shall free me. -The Sith Code, Knights of the Old Republic

Star Wars follows a very simple sort of morality. On the one side, you have the good guys, the Jedi, who are good, and on the other, you have the Sith, who are bad. The films rarely stop to discuss the inherent morality of one side or the other. Even when the Jedi are at their most decadent and corrupt, all that really means is that they lose their ability to oppose the true source of evil, and at their best, the Sith can only offer lies. The latest films seem to suggest an effort at “balance,” which we’ll have to wait to see, but only in video games, where players may want real choice, do we get a glimmer of value or worth from the Sith philosophy, and even there, I often find how it’s treated to be incoherent (and I’m not the only one). I find little true balance in how Star Wars treats its philosophies.

That said, Psi-Wars needs their Sith. We need a dark, conspiratorial force that seeks to undermine the moral systems of the Galaxy and throw everyone in chains. We need a reason for our not-Jedi to keep their tradition alive and a force for them to defend against. We need the sort of villain who draws upon Dark Communion and TK-Squeezes the throats of his enemy while wielding a terrifying, red force sword.

But I personally find the black/white morality of Star Wars limiting when it comes to setting design. I do not object to GMs wishing to make True Communion the good guys with the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant as the bad guys. After all, that’s my default stance! And it’s likely the stance of anyone hewing close to Star Wars as inspiration. But I find that mustache-twirling villainy to strain plausibility for most mature audiences and, on the flip side, I see many players who chafe at the false choice presented by the Jedi/Sith split. Why would you, as a player, ever choose the dark side if it isn’t better, demands you kill a loved one, and leaves you irredeemably corrupted? For cool powers? Speaking of which, why precisely must one kill loved ones and become irredeemably corrupt to gain access to force choke? And if the GM is going to include dark villains who choose this dark path, he may want better motivation for that choice than “Mwahaha, I’m so evil!”

At the same time, a GM who doesn’t want the black and white morality of Star Wars may well want to make the “Sith” the legitimate good-guys without turning them into Jedi who just wear black. What does that look like? What options does he have? I’ve not spoke of him much, partly because I liked him so much, but a character like Vesper Tane, who embraces Dark Communion in his effort to end the Empire should be a feasible choice. What sort of philosophy might he follow?

To me, choice is the heart of an RPG, not just the choice of a player, but the choice of a GM in how he wishes to depict his setting. I know players will want to choose the dark side, and I know GMs will want a more nuanced and sympathetic depiction of its villains. As such, I feel that the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant, while dark, should be potentially seen as not villainous. One should be able to see their perspective and, with a few tweaks, make them into the good guys, if one wishes.

So, here begins the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant, a cynical path that denies morality, that denies truth, that seeks to enslave others, and to become master over everything in the Galaxy. It hides in the shadows and builds its power while whispering honeyed words into those who will listen and then, like a parasite, co-opts the philosophical system of others. This, then, is your villain’s philosophy. But it’s a philosophy that strips away the comforting lies we tell ourselves and forces its practitioners to either admit their cowardice or face the full, terrifying truths of reality head on. It demands individual responsibility from those who would be king, and demands that those who seek answers forge them for themselves. It embraces the here and now, rather than promising a fairy-tale where everything’s gonna be okay. This, then, is a philosophy of misunderstood heroes, men who lead when the rest of the world cowers at their feet.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

State of the Patreon: December

Another month, another State of the Patreon.  Where are we as 2017 closes out?

November, for views, was a disaster.  I haven't been this low in views since I started Psi-Wars (perhaps the first couple of months were worse, but this is definitely the worst month of 2017).  Why was it so bad?  Well, I cut my posting rate from 4 a week to 2 a week, and for a few weeks in the middle, due to illness, I failed to promote my posts across various social media platforms, and with the Philosophy series I've been giving all of my material to my Patrons up front, which means they don't view it as much.  It might also be that Divine Masks was just a less interesting philosophy for most people, but I've heard some vocal interest in it, so I suspect it's more the first three.

Am I worried?  No.  My Patreon is up again, which suggests to me that interest hasn't dropped.  I've halved the posting schedule and thus halved my views, I think it follows pretty logically. Moreover, there's nothing I can really do about this right now.  Slowing my posting schedule means I can take up side projects and continue to produce material at a reasonable pace while being a responsible husband and father. If circumstances change, I may go back to my previous pace, but I think I have to accept that this is the new normal.

Nevertheless, my approach is already paying dividends.  In December, I have the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant almost complete.  By "almost complete" I mean that I have more than enough material to fill up the month, but that I keep thinking of new ideas that I'm not sure if they should be Patreon specials, or if I should keep going with the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant into January.  We will see!

So, for you faithful viewers, I have the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant this month, including a minimum of:

  • An Introduction, including a discussion of the Sith, Thomas Hobbes, Friedrich Nietzsche and GURPS Cabal
  • Cultural Context, including how the Cult went from a Ranathim imperial cult to a pan-galactic conspiracy.
  • The Beliefs of the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant, which will dive into their moral and metaphysical nihilism as well as their views on the state.
  • The Symbolism of the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant, including their initiation rites and their master/slave relationships
  • The Cult and Conspiracy, a look at their global organization and their conspiratorial sub-organizations.
  • The three schisms of the Cult, including the imperial cult of Anthara, the criminal conspiracy of Satra Temos, and the grey path of the former Knight of Communion, Revalis White
I have more, but I'll get back to you on how I intend to release it.

For you, my dear patrons, I already have one post up for you on a new expansion for Anti-Psi, Negative-Psi, which seeks to expand the utility of Anti-Psi from just screwing with psions and moving it into something broadly useful, more closely themed with Broken Communion, and with a more complex relationship with the rest of Psi.  It was inspired by a discussion on Discord and, in part, by Darth Nihilus as a "wound in the Force."  This is available now for all $1+ patrons! Check it out!

Soon (at the latest, when the Intro for the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant drops), I'll decide how I want to put together the Mystic Tyrant document and it will be available to all $3+ patrons.  It will either contain the additional material that I'm working on directly, as an addendum later (when it finishes), or they'll be stand-alone Patreon specials for all $3+ patrons.  One way or another, you'll have them.  They may (no promises!) include:
  • Psionic Styles unique to the Cult
  • Martial Styles unique to the Cult
  • New Communion Paths carved out of Communion by the self-serving will of its Transcendent Masters
  • Transcendent Powers available to the Transcendent Masters of the Cult (I already have a first draft of this document).

By the end of December, I will have a poll on the fourth schism of the Cult of the Mystic Tyrant: the current Galactic Emperor and the true power and philosophy behind his throne!  This will be available to all $5+ patrons!

So, I've been busy!  This month should be hopping! I hope you enjoy reading this stuff as much as I wrote it.  If you're a patron, my family and I want to thank you for supporting me while writing this blog, especially as the Christmas season comes up.  I hope you, all of you, enjoy what I have in store for you.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Necro-Psionic Technology: The Legacy of the Dead Art

Necro-Psionic Technology

The Ranathim mastered the Dead Art and used it and its synthetic flesh to craft unliving biological machines that fed off of psionic energy to empower their uses. This technology gave them the edge they needed to forge their empire, but also had drawbacks, both in slowly twisting and corrupting their users, and in the intense specialization and skill needed to train necrocrafters. Thus, after the Ranathim Empire fell, most of its Necro-Psionic technology fell with it. Even so, some practitioners of the Dead Art still exist in the Galaxy, and many Ranathim relics still use this technology, or the living warmachines created by the Ranathim Empire still roam the decaying remnants of their great empire.

In essence, Necro-Psionic technology is bio-tech with a highly specific focus (synthetic flesh or dead flesh), and shaped with a specific technique (Necrokinesis). In a sense, it’s similar to “Variant Biotech” from BT 30, except that we use psionics instead of magic, and the Dead Art has a very distinc thematic flavor. Anything, from plague engineering to human engineering to bio-tech gadgets and bio-mods can be made using synthetic flesh or dead flesh and necrokinesis. The following represents a catalog of “common” technology as inspiration.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Dead Art: Necrocrafting

The Dead Art

Alternate Names: Anala Ivasur, Anala Ikafri, Dapomarvan, Jiburre, Necrocrafting

When the great armies of the Monolith marched on the nascent Ranathim Empire, they brought with them the secrets of Necrokinesis, a dark science gained from their deep understanding of Broken Communion and twisted psionic energy. The Ranathim stole a portion of that secret, Thanatokinesis, which resonated well with their powers of psychokinesis and psychic vampirism. Using it, one of their great mystic-technicians, Thamet Kafri, created synthetic flesh, vat-grown flesh that responded to the dark prompting of Thanatokinesis, and she mastered the art of embedding the animating force of Thanatokinesis into the synthetic flesh, or even into corpses, to create permanent half-living servitors. She also mastered the art of reshaping dead flesh, to give it a property she wanted.

This great breakthrough allowed the Ranathim to create strange, biological machinery that they crafted into war engines, monsters and soldiers that they used to defeat the Monolith. With the fall of their empire, Kafri’s art largely vanished, as much of the universe considered it and its creations abominations. Nonetheless, the ability to conquer death offers tantalizing possibilities and the relics of Kafri’s experimentations still litter the part of the Galaxy where the war was fought the fiercest, and she created one of the races of the Galaxy, the Gaunts (or the Tarvathim). It is, thus, the rarest and most controversial of the Zathare practices.

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