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Convention Book: Syndicate $11.99 $8.99
Publisher: Onyx Path Publishing
by Charles S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/31/2019 02:48:05

"Reality is in the black." The Syndicate book opens up as optimistic as the New World Order book did, but the book itself actually sells their optimism. Whether you agree or not with their philosophy, it's absolutely dominant in reality and bringing them power and influence.

This book had some problems that the others lacked (we'll talk about numbers in a minute), and others that they had but less so (such as a need for more editing), but overall it was still an excellent book and necessary for anyone who wants to play Syndicate characters or use them as believable NPCs.

Regarding the Enlightened population and hangers on, the book suggests that Extraordinary Citizens are created by adversity: the economic downtown is what they credit the rise of the Extraordinary Citizen covered in both NWO and Progenitors. They also suggest that the mage population is MUCH higher than other books have indicated, referring to "tens of thousands of Constructs" which, even by generous notions of how many mages there are, would indicate some that have no Enlightened personnel at all.

The tension between the Syndicate and the NWO is a constant throughout the book. From terminology at the very beginning to later when the Syndicate comes out as anti-DRM, pro-net neutrality, anti-surveillance, etc, indicating a focus on bottom-up rather than top-down control. They've even got factions trying to mend the rift between the two Conventions, because a Technocratic Civil War would be an absolute disaster (and at this point, if M5 comes and doesn't bring a Technocratic Civil War, or give a strong reason it didn't happen, I'll be disappointed).

A minor aside: the sidebar "The Jewish Syndicate" on page 26 is a welcome addition. Jewish issues have not been handled well by Mage (or the World of Darkness in general, with one notable exception) and seeing this brought up explicitly was good. It was a small thing, but actually brought up and confronted one of the many issues that show up (I would have preferred also mentioning something about Media Control given the belief that Jews control the media, but it's still better than really all other Mage books).

The "others" section has a lot of meat to it. The discussion of the Traditions indicates that cultural appropriation is a powerful weapon against the Traditions: take their source cultures, commodotize and trivialize. Talking about the Masses, they indicate that they love humanity as it is, not how it "could" be like the other Conventions, and make a solid case for it. And, of course, there's the first mention of "Threat Null."

The book continues to hit standard points and moves on to Methodologies after the basic internal structure. And then, after said standard things, suddenly "The SPD is gone, no one knows what happened, but money keeps showing up." This is another metaplot element I hope is expanded on in the future, with the Werewolf/Mage crossover potential, it'd be almost criminal to ignore it.

The highlight of the remainder is Primal Utility, the third Technocracy alternate sphere. It's damn good, and adds a lot, removing some powers (Prime Weapons) but adding Primal Ventures to the game gives the Syndicate more depth and reduces the distance between game mechanics and setting.

As a closing thought, the Syndicate comes off as far and away the most mystic of the Conventions. In fact, the Syndicate and the Order of Hermes have many things in common. The focus on the power and necessity of a hierarchy, the power of Will (individual for Hermetics, Collective for Syndicate), the love of competition, and the high level of flexibility...just an interesting, though likely unintentional, comparison.

[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Convention Book: Syndicate
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