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Convention Book: Progenitors
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Convention Book: Progenitors
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Charles S. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 10/29/2019 16:10:57

"The Technocracy is sick." stands in stark contrast with the opening optimism of the NWO book that Progenitors comes out on the heels of. While the New World Order is depicted as optimistic but in many ways fundamentally corrupt, the Progenitors own their corruption in this book, though most of the text still downplays it to allow them to appear as heroes despite many of the terrible things that they are doing in their attempts to "heal" the Union.

Shattered by the Dimensional Anomaly, they've had to build themselves a new way of interacting with the world around them and the Union as a whole. The Progenitors, of all Technocratic groups, are experimenting with democracy in their Convention but at the same time, know that old ways die slowly. They're in many ways more self-aware than the NWO, who view their pathologies as triumphs, and instead they see themselves as sacrificing themselves for the good of the Union when they do horrific things.

The history section is solid and well-told, though nothing that readers of previous Mage books haven't seen before. The views on the other Conventions shows that they have diagnosed many of the Union's problems, and see the Technocratic Civil War and the Nephandic Infiltration issues as the two most pressing things (this is backed up by the opening and closing fiction focusing on bringing in Progenitors who have disappeared and using them to help mend rifts between NWO and Syndicate agents). The views of the Traditions, though, are less rosy than those of the NWO: the Progenitors find very little of value in the Traditions, and the growing Applied Sciences movement is in alignment with Iteration X on reinstating the Pogrom. The "other" section is most interesting, because it indicates that the very basics of Vampires and Werewolves is common knowledge within the Convention.

The Progenitors may be experimenting with democracy, but they're still organized like an academic department, with students, research assistants, primary investigators, etc. One of the most interesting parts of Chapter Two are the "micro" Methodologies, expanding the scope of the Progenitors and each of them just demands a proper fleshing out all on their own.

Much of the darkness of the Progenitors is hidden in the Procedures section, Primal Infusions and Primal Nets are described, and they are used to extract Primal Energy from the dying.

The most novel section is "Genegineered Creatures" which have the statistics for and rules for using fully non-human characters created through genetic tampering, such as uplifted dolphins, lizard people and modern dinosaurs. While a bit harder to justify without the Horizon Constructs, these add something truly new for the Progenitors, and there's hints that some of them might be capable of when a player asks "Can I play an Awakened Velociraptor" not only are there rules, but also explanations for why it might not be the best character concept (unless, of course, you plan your game to permit them.)

[5 of 5 Stars!]
Convention Book: Progenitors
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Christopher H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/18/2013 15:39:12

An excellent Convention book that brings a modern feel to the 'mad scientists'.

The introduction gives us an overview of the 'healers' of the Technocracy, and how they see themselves as the main group that binds the other conventions together. We of course get insight into how they view the end of the Ascension war, and in particular their struggle with Humanities rejection of their Enlightened Science, the very thing that could solve many of the worlds issues.

Of course the book is filled with a whole host of new tech, procedures and the Progenitor Methodologies, which are all brought up to date and in a way that thrusts these scientists out of the lab and into the world, to use their science in the world that needs it.

This is an excellent and must have book for any Technocracy game.

Full a more full overview of this book go listen to episode 50 of Darker Days Radio

[5 of 5 Stars!]
Convention Book: Progenitors
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Adrian S. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/07/2013 00:51:24

White Wolf is doing a remarkable job of capturing the zeitgeist of ‘Mage: the Ascension’, firstly with ‘New World Order’ and now with ‘Progenitors’. It is challenging to tap into the mood of an out-of-print game, almost pretending that the intervening years did not exist; but the writers have successfully tackled this project.

‘Progenitors’ is blessed by simplicity. By that, I mean that the authors have very astutely chosen a single theme to apply to the Convention and examine their role in the World of Darkness from that theme. The primary them is one of healing, with a subtheme of ethics woven through it. The advantage to selecting this single theme is that the authors can focus purely on this exploration – and they do so with skill, bringing a richness to this Convention.

In this treatment, the Progenitors seek to heal the Union, and the subtleties employed in bringing together disparate Conventions is explored very well through the opening and closing fiction. The style of writing conveys a sense of empathy with these Technocrats, and a reasonableness of purpose that could be adapted by a Storyteller in chronicles where recruitment is a possibility (or objective).

Likewise the Avatar Storm (edit: Dimensional Anomaly) is used to great effect to humanise the experience of both the Progenitors and their closest allies – the Void Engineers. Again, this is part of a great effort by the authors to move away from a depiction centred on mass-cloning mad scientists, and towards a serious exploration of the Convention and how they would operate on a practical and strategic level.

There is a section detailing new gear like grafts and enhancements, as well as materiel from the Pharmacopeia Division, and this is icing. The real substance lies in the descriptions of the Methodologies, the current agendas and a few intriguing mysteries that could easily be used as the basis for entire chronicles.

Overall, the authors have captured Ascension’s feel once again, and given Mage fans like me a real treat. As with NWO, I’ll be ordering a print copy for my shelves as well this digital copy – and my collection feels just that bit more complete.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
Convention Book: Progenitors
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Andrew M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/29/2013 08:44:37

Following the disastrous events of the late 1990s, the Progenitors are given a new sense of identity and a new mission. Casting off their lab coats in favor of field gear, they shed their "mad scientist" image and embrace the medical science that they were once known for, beginning a long and difficult mission to heal the ills of the Technocracy and then the world.

The book gives the Progenitors a much needed make-over - they return to the identity of the Sorcerer's Crusade Coasians/Hippocratic Circle, being doctors first and biologists second. There's a lot of effort given to describe the Progenitor Convention's motives, which are far more sympathetic and human than they were previously. The book is definitely geared toward the Progenitors' own perspective, making it extremely useful to give to a player that is considering playing a character from this convention. It also illuminates some of the dark corners of Technocratic politics and explains in a little more detail exactly why a Technocratic civil war is brewing and who the major players are.

There are plenty of hints of the scary and oppressive Technocracy hidden between the lines, for GMs to use in the context of Technocratic villain characters, but the book is from the Technocracy's own perspective, so the examples of the Convention being evil are hinted at mostly in past misdeeds that the Convention is atoning for or the things that are not mentioned about the Convention's current activities. However, I have never seen a better explanation of exactly why the Progenitors are a part of the Technocracy and why a bunch of doctors support the Union's mission of wiping out unscientific belief systems.

I found the book extremely useful for using the Progenitors as either heroic protagonists, or sympathetic-but-still-evil antagonists, and the Convention's motivation has never been better explained than it is in these pages.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
Convention Book: Progenitors
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Van W. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/25/2013 13:04:20

I wasn't planning to get this book, as I've never been terribly interested in the Progenitors, who were originally an entirely unsympathetic Convention of the Technocracy. They built dinosaur people, helped the Iterators create the Terminator-like Hit-Marks, made very short lived replicants for the NWO, and even were rumored to be working on a pill that would kill someone's avatar permanently. Some Progenitors even considered putting it in the Sleepers' water supply, forever preventing the populace from Awakening.

After reading the recently released Convention book: NWO, which radically updated the black clad spooks and leaders of the Technocracy, I knew I couldn't miss out on any of the rest of these books. The premise of these new Technocracy books is that the "Time of Judgement: Ascension" never happened, the Avatar/Dimensional Anomaly has cut the Technocracy off from their leadership and best scientists who were offworld in the Umbra. After ten years, the Union has rebuilt itself and reinvented itself as a force for good - if you believe their propaganda. These books do not diminish the Technocracy as a valid enemy - they still want to hunt down and stop the Traditions in the name of stamping out harmful superstition - but they are no longer monolithic in their evil.

While the NWO book was about refocusing the Technocracy on the things that matter, the Progenitor book is about rectifying the mistakes of the past. The Union is diseased and on the brink of war with itself as well as with the Traditions, and the Progenitors plan to heal it. Each portion of the book is named according to the steps of diagnosis and treatment. My review will follow these chapter headings.

Prologue: Recovery

I don't always read White Wolf intro fiction, but when I do, it's always in the Technocracy books. The intro and epilogue fiction isn't just good fiction. It shows how a Progenitor player character can operate. It showcases interactions with dissidents, traditionalists, and a party of Technocrats from the other conventions. The fiction immediately lets the audience know that this book is going to be a great resource for players. Progenitors don't just sit around in their labs making evil concoctions to test on unwitting sleepers; they have passionate beliefs that they ruthlessly apply to everything they do.

Chapter 1: Troubling Diagnosis

Theme: New Heroes and Old Lines - Progenitors are guilty of inaction and that's going to change.

Mood: Treating the Future - Progenitors will heal the technocracy and make the world safe for sleepers.

Chapter 2: Patient History

This chapter goes into the history of the convention from their roots as Cosians to their heyday as biologists with offworld laboratories to their current struggles. There's a surprisingly nuanced discussion of the optimal health care system for sleepers that's worth reading, a new partnership with the Void Engineers, and a new ethical focus for the Convention as a whole.

One thing I was surprised about was how much they despise the Traditions, who they see as superstitious peddlers of harmful snake oil. They grant that the cures sometimes work, but the Traditions don't have a plan for institutional medical care that works even when mages aren't present. I suspect that quite a bit of their intel on the Traditions comes from the crafty NWO spooks, who have skewed the reports specifically to enrage lovers of science based medicine.

For example, the Sons of Ether are probably not responsible for the popularity of homeopathy, but the Etherites have a solid enough reputation as cranks that the charge sticks. There's also a lot of bad blood due to the fact that Dr. Frankenstein, an Etherite, stole his research from an aberrant group of necromantic Progenitors back in the nineteenth century.

For people who are looking for the dark side of the Progenitors, this is a big part of it. Real life scientists oppose homeopathy and faith healing because it doesn't work and causes people to turn away from effective medical care. Progenitors hunt down and murder the faith healers and homeopaths whose powers work. These new ethically focused younger action scientists that are all the rage? They're the ones who want to restart the pogrom against the Traditions. As a Storyteller, I think this adds quite a lot of conflict and tension that I'm going to find useful when setting up either a Technocracy or a Traditions game.

Also of note is the fact that they keep tabs on the weirder things in the World of Darkness, and pay particular attention to Vampires (Homo Sapiens Mortis) and Werewolves (Canis Morphae). This becomes important in Chapter 3.

Chapter 2: Residency

This chapter is about the Methodologies that make up the Convention. No space is given to which Methodology gets which specialty sphere, but this can be houseruled based on Player/Storyteller preference. The focus here is on giving players and storytellers resources to make nearly any kind of badass scientist they want. The big three Methodologies (Fascade, Pharmacopoists, and Gen Engineers) are represented as well as the new quasi-methodology "Applied Sciences". There are also several other minor methodologies listed for agriculture, veterinary science, and a few other narrow fields. This is the chapter that made me really want to play a Progenitor. There are so many options and almost all of them are really fun sounding. There is also plenty of information on how the Convention operates, and what ranks exist.

Chapter 3: Prescriptions

This is the chapter we've all been waiting for - the chapter on sample implants, foci, procedures, enlightened devices, and sentient non-human creations. There are too many to review, but I'll mention a few that stuck out. Some of them highlight the new ethical direction that the convention has taken, and others are more of a reminder of their past. This chapter also provides a list of plot hooks, famous Progenitor NPCs, and info on mixed and unmixed amalgams (Technocrat cabals).

Body Modifications come in three varieties with different advantages and disadvantages: adaptive prosthetics, biomods, and xenotransplants. The last one on that list is somewhat disturbing. Chapter 2 mentioned an alliance with the Glass Walkers, but one of the available transplants is a werewolf heart, which allows a progenitor to simulate werewolf rage and abilities with the expenditure of Prime energy. Definitely makes you wonder how well this alliance has been going.

Almost all of the procedures are really imaginative and useful, but one is worth further discussion: Manufacture Enlightened Drugs. Remember the avatar-killing pill from the Guide to the Technocracy? Not only is it missing, but there are now drugs that will boost the abilities of one's inner Genius/Avatar. This is not only symbolic of the new direction of the convention; it's really damn cool and in keeping with the style of the Progenitors without being game breaking.

  • Digression: I do have one small criticism/misunderstanding about one or two procedures: I think Adaptive Chemistry Matter 3, Prime 2 should not require Prime since transmuting matter from one form to another is just a matter effect. Prime is used when you are creating matter from nothing or manipulating primal energy. This doesn't matter very much, because the sphere system is not easy to learn and rotes are often less about following the wording of a rule and more about explaining an approach to solving a problem. Maybe, since transmutation is impossible in the Progenitor paradigm, Prime is used to make new atoms from the raw energy.
  • End digression.

The section on bioengineered creatures is very good. Some, like the Cephalomorphs (sentient squids and octopuses) and the Cetaceomorphs (sentient dolphins), seem reminiscent of David Brin's classic SF Uplift series. If this isn't cool enough, there are rules on stating these as player characters. The Dracomorphs (modified dinosaurs) and the Sauromorphs (lizard people) were similarly excellent and should prove useful to both players and storytellers.

Epilogue: Sutures

This is a satisfying ending to the intro fiction, which I won't spoil here.


If it isn't obvious yet, I loved this book and I have been convinced that I need to get the next installments so that I can run a technocracy game. The art was also good, although the cover art is a reuse of the top half of a cyborg from the Guide to the Technocracy. Here, it's reminiscent of the Promethean atrocities the Progenitors committed in the 19th century.

I wholeheartedly recommend that if you like Mage, you should get this book, get the NWO book, and get the next two in this series when they come out.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
Convention Book: Progenitors
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Jay S. A. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/23/2013 19:58:09

The next in the updated line of Convention Books for Mage: the Ascension, Progenitors gives an updated look at the Technocracies masters of Life magics. Much like the N.W.O. and the Iteration-X, the Progenitors have been affected greatly by the Avatar Storm and as such have had to make some adjustments to survive in these modern times.

After the great impression left behind by the NWO book, I was very excited to check out the Progenitors as I knew the least about them. Thankfully the book served it’s purpose to present the new face of the Progenitors very well, and left me with a distinct need to play one the next time I ever get to join a Technocracy campaign.

Like the NWO book, Progenitors is divided into six sections, including the Prologue and the Epilogue, and an introduction to the new post-Dimensional Anomaly status quo. There’s also a section dedicated to the History, Structure and Methodologies of the Progenitor Convention and of course, the various toys and assets available to them.

I have to admit that I was quite amused with the Introduction of the book. I’m usually okay with game fiction in general but there was something about this particular one that drove home the point of how Progenitors see the reckless lack of responsibility and long-term thinking of the Traditions that just worked for me.

chapter One: Patient History gives a snapshot of the Progenitors as they are now, compared to what they were like before. An extended in-character paper talking about the Ethical History of the Progenitors was a nice touch, and I found this take a little more engaging than the one in the NWO book.

The section on how the Progenitors relate to the rest of the Technocratic Union and how they perceive the Traditions is a goldmine of plot hooks and is a refreshingly honest assessment of the good, the bad and the ugly side of working with and against the various other Mages (and supernaturals) in the Classic World of Darkness.

Chapter Two: Residency discusses the organizational structure of the Progenitors. I liked the mention of the sub-methodologies that work on less glamorous projects for the convention, including the Agronomists, who work on botany and agriculture, and the Shalihotran Society that works on veterinarian sciences. Both of these are very important to the overall picture even if they don’t necessarily bring in the usual reputation of the main Methodologies.

Each of the primary Methodologies is given screen time as well. Among them are the FACADE Engineers, the Genegineers, Pharmacopoeists, and the surprisingly “Action-scientist” non-Methodology: Applied Sciences, who have quickly become my personal favorite of the bunch.

Chapter Three: Prescriptions is a grab bag of sorts, offering some mechanical support in the form of notable NPCs, interesting places and plot hooks, Progenitor Fronts, a sample Amalgam, and the various toys ranging from Body Modifications, new Procedures and even Genegineered creatures.

The chapter finishes with a few sample characters, ranging from the usual labcoats and DNA sequencer types to more… ass kicking sorts like the Damage Control Operative.

Convention Book Progenitors is an excellent follow up to the NWO book. There’s an abundance of enthusiasm with the book, and more than it’s fair share of neat little easter eggs for some people. I had to chuckle after reading about the Clark County Forensics Department’s amazing amount of privileges, and the mention of a child genius being part of something called the Howser Project.

That said it’s a great book which provides an excellent insight to the nature of the Progenitor Convention, and is probably the best of the 3 Convention Books of the Revised Edition so far.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
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