by kris_40000 - Virtual Adepts for a new iteration. Mastigos or Free Council. (Special thanks to Kumiko who helped get their philosophy right.)
The ways of the Zero Coders, or as their younger advocates tend to recognise themselves as, Z3r0 Cod3R5 (or this in binary or even hexadecimal form) has been entrenched within human philosophy and science since the romantic times of Pythagoras and Plato, and reemerged and developed with other such great scientists and mathematicians such as Leonard da Vinci, Newton, Einstein, Schrödinger, Dirac and Hawkins to name but a few.
The key concept is that the world can be describe as by means of formula and fundamental rules that can be accurately quantified by these laws and formula. Such theories have in the past been propagated by fellow such as Pythagoras who simply viewed a world built by numbers, or Gödel who believed in an objective mathematical reality.
This mathematical realism suggested a part of the world not seen by mortals, and was filled with the underlying formula that set the world in order. In addition there such theories as Formalism and Logicism ("I’m am a human, all humans are mortal, thus I am mortal"), and all have been pursued by the earlier incarnations of the Coders, yet it was Intuitionism that started the ball rolling for these Reality Hackers.
The theory goes that mathematical statements are a construct of the mind, and the existence of these statements was because of the possibility of their construction.
The Coders’ history as a formal Legacy of the Mastigos path ties with work of the Nameless to course revolutions and progression in human society.
In 1824, the Manchester Mechanics Institute opened in Manchester, United Kingdom, and through this new community a group of mages began to take advantage of the growing new concepts and technologies coupled with the social changes taking place in the centre of the industrial city, with the rise of workers’ unions and political reform.
The Coders had what they needed in Manchester, and it was here that their work took shape. Coders believed that the world around them was the result of fundamental truths that can all be described by mathematics and formula, allowing the simulation and prediction of events. Not only this, but because the mind that has constructed these mathematical rules through the perception of the world around, it follows that much of our sensory awareness is an illusion governed by these universal mathematical laws. The key to understanding the world is through the being able to discover these rules and knowing how to alter them, something that the Coders think we have lost when the Abyss formed.
It is not hard for many mages of other magical styles to understand the strong relationship between the Coders practice and magic, since formula are much like Atlantean speech and runes, they are all words of power that describes the world. As a result the Coders are not averse to using their own mathematical notation riddles with Atlantean symbols.
It is then of no surprise that such a technology and science savvy group jumped upon the chance of using new devices such as the telephone and the computer (some would have it that the Coders in fact aided the developments of this new machine). Their methods of mathematical simulation rested allowed for some very key concepts. The first being that space is an allusion maintained by only way of interpreting the data we receive and how it is translated by the mind. The second core concept is that on some level of reality there is plane that represents and holds all the information of the all the connections within the universe, a place where space is not an issue, just the strength of those connections. It seems that the Coders would have us believe that the Internet is the Fallen World’s reflection of those connections, though limited and distorted.
Through use of the use of these connections and with the aid of telephone wires and computers modern Coders were able to properly, and covertly, interact over large distances and in multiple locations at a time, allowing for them to drive home their goals as a Legacy of the Free Council; the freedom of humanity through the sabotage and investigation of the Seers, and through the dissemination of their practices to the Sleeper populace in order to aid their awakenings.
On most fronts the Coders walk a dangerous line with the local Consiliums, often having to debunk their own magical propaganda or conceal their work in new sleeper technologies and theories. In addition their open conflict with the Seers often brings them an amount of disrepute, though also highlights themselves to younger mages as the true warriors of the Cage.
Parent Path or Order: Mastigos or Free Council.
Appearance: Generally they tend to be lithe looking and pale with dark rings around the eyes after viewing code for hours on end. They tend to dress for purpose though are not adverse to adopting striking looks as they are all to aware of the first impressions they make in the circles of the hacker elite. In general this approach to attire stems from their method of magic; bold and to the point, a factor that seems to come up in their conversations as they show a disdain for how others seem to ramble.
Sanctums: If you can get a hard line to it and the authorities can’t find it, it’ll do.
Background: Most Coders are those individuals that always have more questions for why it works, always pushing to find the truth, be they hackers, science students or psychologists. Even musicians find room within this Legacy since they too have a respect for the beauty of code, even though it is musical notes.
Character Creation: An emphasis on indirect means of attack means that the members have a focus on social and mental attributes, their amount of willpower allowing them to push through draining hacks and arduous journeys in the astral realm of the Web. Mental skills are a primary focus, especially computers and science, followed with a combination of stealth, larceny and streetwise for all Hackers, though some do focus on more martial skills in order to penetrate rival sanctums and perform risky hard copy extractions. Many tend toward the virtue of Justice or Hope, while falling for the vice of Pride.
Suggested Oblations: Meditating upon some mathematical truth, solving some puzzle, enjoying some risky/extreme activity such as taking drugs, free running, skating down a busy road, taking part in a game of wits and strategy. Even katas are good to enable the Coder to reach a state of no-mind so that they can rise above the material and view the realm of sympathy.
Concept: Hacker, cyber-journalist, computational scientist, club DJ, mathematician, anarchist, Discordian follower.
Hackers should be proficient with the use of Space, Mind and Forces, along with time and fate with regard to simulation and chaos maths.
1st: Remote AccessEdit
Prerequisites: Gnosis 3, Space 2, Forces 1, Mind 1 (optional), Computer 3
With this ability the mage can access and view data upon distant electronic sources via his own computer or analogous device. With the addition of Mind 1 the mage can do this without the need for a computer, allowing the to be processed within the mind, commonly referred to “Neo” it.
Roll Wits+Computer+Space with the dice pool modified based upon the sympathetic link to the target data source (pp. 114-115).
Prerequisites: Gnosis 5, Space 3, Computer 3.
With this program the mage can enhance or destroy the sympathetic connections to the target source by one level per success of a Manipulation+Computer+Space-Composure (the composure is if the target is alive). Know as Fire/Ice with reference to firewalls and ICE breakers (intrusion countermeasure electronics).
Optional Arcanum: Forces 2. With Forces 2 the mage can now perform Remote Access and alter data.
3rd: SMITH (Superior Multidimensional Interaction on nTH dimensions)Edit
Prerequisites: Gnosis 7, Space 4, Mind 3, Forces 3, Computer 4.
With this ability the mage can act in multiple locations at once and thus be a master of multi-route hacking or actually move and interact in various location at once through the use of Mind and Forces arcanum. However the Hacker only exists at one location at a time, the other beings being phantoms of himself, though they may move and act independently yet not interact with the world, the bonus comes with the use of forces to allow the mage to exist in the Web and internet at multiple locations and enact elaborate hacker raids.
Intelligence+Investigation+Space; this roll is modified by the worst sympathetic connection to the chosen locations. A duplicate is created in each place (or acts within the Web or internet in which case the penalties for sympathy are lost) for each success gained.
Rumours exist of Coders, who have now roam the world either fighting for the same cause or lost in their own desire for knowledge and pride, possessing the 4th attainment if possible, which allows full duplication of ones self (or more ghastly the idea that a mage could hack ones DNA and possess others in a similar fashion), or of those that have gained such a control over space that they may move through it as if it were not there, warping all things that exist in space, the true Andersons of the hacker elite.
A Brief Discussion of their Theories and Practices (AKA ‘Where's the Digital Web?’) Edit
The Zero Coders’ philosophy lies with Plato and his concept of a dual world, filled with one of perfect forms, and another , our world, as the imperfect world we perceive with our senses. In addition since Platoism derives from Pythagorean philosophy they viewed the world built from numbers that we imperfectly perceive in the world around us, this analogy working well for the concepts of the supernal and fallen worlds, as if our own senses are a cage that we cannot touch, taste or see.
Plato suggested that the forms and ideas in the perfect world are unchangeable, universal truths, which only with wisdom and intellect we can understand, since wisdom and intellect are not bounded by the cages of our senses.
Thus the universe is divided between the real perceived world and the intelligible world, which are then correspondingly divided into more segments, with the perceptual world divided into real things, and the objects reflections and shadows.
In a similar way the intelligible world is divided into first principles and the derivatives of these forms.
Platoism thus suggests a world parallel to our own in which all the perfect forms exist, their true numerical expression that we only see imperfectly.
This dualism allowed the Zero Coders to express their ideas through traditional Atlantean concepts, dealing with the Supernal, Fallen and Shadow, and also allow them to cross religious divides and put forward their concepts to Dualistic faiths, in particular it should be noted that Platoism-influenced Jewish Kabblalistic ideas, a result that Coder Kibo's suggestion is actually hummanity relearning some fundamental truths.
Thus this secondary realm of concepts and ideas is filled with the mathematics of the universe and as a result contains within the rules for all the sympathetic connections in the universe, this being imperfectly reflected as the spatial awareness of objects that we have.
Coders access this world of formula through mental conditioning and computer simulation, leading to many Hackers to be obsessive about why things work, how things are linked, freeing the minds of the sleepers, achieving perfect and clean code, though displaying short tempers and frustration leading to fiery, though imaginative individuals.
Linked to this dualism comes the Coders’ ability to comprehend complex quantum mathematics and with some Coder following Zoroastrianistic concepts of moral balance, a philosophy that older/wiser Coders try to teach younger cyberpunks in order to ensure a balance in their activities, ensuring that they remain firmly on the ground.
So what is this Web that Coders refer to? Simple. It is the truth of the connections between things that we can view using mathematics or when in deep meditation, being able to view this Platonic Realism. In a sense this realm lies parallel to our own, and that the internet is an imperfect reflection of this Platonic realm, a realm that is thought to be a shared astral realm, though until the Hacker elite improve their abilities to step over dimensional boundaries this will only be theory.
The Coders share these concepts with other groups in the world, such as the SMG cabal of MIT and the Shaonline who understand an analogous theory related to Taoism.
Philosophy, Rituals, Observances, Titles, OrganisationEdit
As above and in general they tend to follow the views of the Free Council. They fill the polar extremes of Free Council views, mixing mature strategists with bleeding raw rebels.
Rituals and ObservancesEdit
The Legacy holds no particular form of hierarchy, seeing this as a way to confound new initiates and to work against what they stand for. Though they do have very unique methods.
April Fool's Day is observed amongst the Coders; Do i need to say why? If so FOAD.
Case: from Neuromancer. An "elite" hacker of high renown who takes time to lead attacks and research, or holds lectures to the newbies.
Gibsons: A term reserved for the lore masters of the legacy and the locations of their file dumps. The way to free humanity of its constraints is collecting irrefutable evidence of the nature of the world and the work of the Seers. These dumps are heavily protected by awaken firewalls and in some case dimensional axis ciphers and locks. Though that is not to say they don't share their knowledge... just happens they get a certain smugness when doing so. Also sometimes called a Blog or a Wintermute (‘Wintermute’ though is saved for Awakened Gibsons).
Forums: also known as a Flame, these are the "constructive gatherings of the Coders when information, rotes and information is exchanged, or a course of action is decided upon. Though with no real leader it is the Cases that take the lead, with Kibo ensuring that everyone is up to date with things.
Posse: a collection of hackers on combat maneuvers.
Techne: sometimes known as just a prog. Sometimes known as a black box, though this term is reserved for those rotes that are dangerous if you don't really know what it does.
They may have a form of democracy but usually its the Cases that lead the way.
Arcanthus: First.... never let them touch your deck! Second never play online poker with them, even if you hacked the game. Third they hardly ever get to the point in conversations. Though if you need some one to help out of April fools day these are them. The few that make up the ranks of the Coders are true experts at encryptions that'll have you working for years upon.
Mastigos: Ok in general most of the Coder come form this path with the innate ability to envision the maddening world of computers and the Web. Though there are those so involved in their Mind arcana that they come across overtly haughty... which is really why they tend to join the Ladder than us. Plus after a trip through Pandemonium a bit of cyberburn is nothing.
Moros: Those that do join the Coders tend to focus on the Matter arcana, creating the new toys of tomorrow. However those that control the dead... yesh! Leave it in the ground. Morbid but make great Molotov's.
Obrimos: Ok so was this time against some zombies I think... and wham! Up in smoke. These guys wield some nice shiny magic, and those that join tend to get worked up about the Seers, leading our Cyberpunk warriors into battle. Their control over forces lends them well to the Legacy and their concern about the sleepers brings them to our cause... though they really should lighten up a bit and have a bit of fun.
Thyrsus: DNA hacking is a grim but useful ability. Shame so few of these guys grasp the raw chaos of the Web, being unable to let go of the world and feel the sympathy around them. Doesn't help they sux at Mind magics. Oh don't get me wrong, get a Moros and Thyrsus in the same lab and they can make some nice toys. Moody buggers too.
Vampires: They hold some of the best parties to crash. Some of the younger ones show a bit of respect at times. But these unnatural things are just to be used then exterminated. Hunting Sleepers, bugs in the system if you ask me.
Werewolves: To blunt, to furry, too angry. Generally if you see one in a mood run!
Spirits: Those that you can use like the Technos are good to have round, they just love running your server so long as they get a dose of info. Thought the other spirits. Its like the sub program of the world being expressed, but at times it acts up and has glitches.... nah leave them well alone unless you want a Wintermute.
Sleepers: Some aren't ready to wake up. Others don't. But we have to help them. Look around you - the world is falling apart and if we can draw the supernal back to earth then we can reload reality. Remember Coders... We are soldiers.
’Coders and the Spirit WorldEdit
There is a place for spirits in the Coders’ way of programming since spirits are more like a sub program, a raw piece of data designed to do what it does - taking info in (ie eating its natural food) and churning stuff out (new resonance or the spirit growing).
Magaths are viruses, worms etc; code gone wrong. Good code, complex code in spirit form is used for the Wintermute servers. I'm sure the Iron Masters would be interested in those. Iron Masters would be interested in seeing how these mages allow the spirits to interact and deal with the Magath bugs.
Web of Connections (Digital Web: Awakening Style)Edit
Let’s face it - the internet itself is not exactly a transcendental thing for mages. It may be useful for those covert magics of spying and for creating readily available sympathies for teleportation etc, but it’s not exactly a place of esoteric or gnostic understanding within the world of Mage: the Awakening.
The Zero Coders have power beyond their immediate association with computers and the internet. Their power extends to the mathematical equations that link patterns together. Computers and similar items of technology act as the perfect sympathetic link to this realm of connection, acting as a tool to aid the visualisation of this complex problem.
By entering a state of ‘no mind’, a Coder can control their mind in such a manner to visualise these connections and feel the sympathy of the world. Space is an illusion, due to the mind’s inability to synthesise all of the information out there in the zero dimensional space of sympathy. The Zero Coders call this realm the Web of Connections.
What is the Web of Connections ?
The Web of Connections is an overlay of reality, mapping all those connections in the hypersphere (to take an old VA term) of reality. This Web is more than a glorified internet; it is where all information is held; the mathematics of the world. It’s a dream world of connection that is reflected in the Fallen World by the internet as an imperfect mirror (which is why it’s twisted, filled with porn etc). The spirits of information related to the internet can breach over the Gauntlet into the world of the Web and cause havoc or simply do as they’re meant to. Not only is the Web the realm of sympathetic connections, but here spirits of sympathetic connection exist.
Since the Web is a place of connections, exploration of the Web is exploration of the world. It aids in movement of the world, assisting to analyse the connections. In Mage the Awakening, the Zero Coders’ hacking is about reality hacking and using certain tools to aid in this sympathy.
In the Web of Connections, there will be regions that are isolated and which contain information of lost ages. These are the lost mysteries to explore; the true meaning of Web exploration.
The Gauntlet lies as the barrier between worlds, as does the Abyss. The Web is located at the convergence of these intersections of reality since it is the point of transition of magic, essence and resonance.
And if the Digital Web lies upon the border marches of Pandemonium, it’s right on the doorstop of the Abyss....