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Oracle-level Mind

Basic Concepts

The Mind mage has spent a great deal of her time and energy learning how to create connections between one mind and another. If she has been attentive, though, she may have noticed something: all minds are _already_ connected. Even the primitive minds of lower organisms communicate with each other, through pheromones or visual signals or sound; higher organisms and most especially humans construct ever more complicated means of communication, culminating in true language. And this communication is just as much a link between minds, if a crude one, as what the mage generally thinks of as "telepathy".

Though fewer mages make the connection, thought is likewise a form of communication. Each cell of the brain (or other basic component; it makes no difference) speaks to the others by electrochemical impulses (or other means; again, it makes no difference), and humans call the result "thought". Many Technomancers take this to be the only real mind; other mages consider there to be a mysterious consciousness that creates and/or guides these impulses.

Whatever the truth is on such matters, presumably the Oracles know it. Or else, they know that neither and both are true at once. But it is those mages who fully realize both of the above truths, the complete identity of thought and communication, who may become the Oracles of Mind. Of course, there are also some skills that the Master of Mind does not have full control of, and the Oracles learn the completion of those as well.

Society

Because communication is, in the last analysis, a form of thought, the Oracles realize that any society is not only a group of individual beings that share ideas; it is also a slow-thinking collective mind. The Oracles of Mind learn how to sense and manipulate such minds, and thereby gain the truly awesome power to reshape cultures and nations, as well as smaller groups such as businesses or families. (In this document, a society means simply a group of people who keep lines of communication open with each other and maintain some degree of common purpose.) The full impact of such a power may be understood by considering that it is the collective paradigms of Sleeper society that brings about reality as we know it; the most powerful Oracles of Mind should theoretically be able to transform reality entirely at their whim. Why have they not overthrown the Ascension-threatening Technocracy, then, simply by changing the Sleepers' minds? Only the Oracles themselves know for sure.

Group Consciousness

The opposite side of the coin is that thought is a form of communication. Since the Oracles know this, they realize that each being is, in one sense or another, a composite of smaller minds speaking with each other. They know, then, how to actualize this reality on a still larger scale, transforming groups of individuals into more tightly-knit collectives. To some degree any Mind mage is doing this, but each individual must be linked via a separate Effect; the Oracles can fuse many minds at once.

Mind 6
Sense Society
Escape Body

The first ability that the Archmage of Mind begins to develop is that of sensing society on a direct basis. He is aware of the common attitudes of any culture he chooses, whether he is trying to discern beliefs about a current election, an attitude toward war, or cultural practices about table ettiquette; in effect, he is reading the group mind. Of course, by this time the mage has long since become aware of most of his common everyday preconceptions, which means he knows what to look for. He may not, however, realize that he still has presuppositions about the nature of reality that even other mages do not necessarily share.

At this stage, the Archmage also gains the ability to completely separate mind from body and live purely in an astral condition. Although his body will die if injured, and will age normally unless otherwise altered, it can theoretically continue to live out its natural lifespan as a mindless shell. The mind can likewise continue to exist indefinitely in its separated condition, and there is no silver cord tying the mage to any physical form. The Archmage can travel to any plane of reality he wishes in this state and can use any Spheres he pleases without being embodied (assuming, of course, that no foci are needed, which is generally the case). However, many Archmagi continue to live in one physical body or another for a considerable time; they simply have become accustomed to physical existence and are not ready to leave it. Theoretically, the Archmage can raise other beings to this state as well, but few do, perhaps because lesser beings cannot cope with the experience.

Mind 7
Communicate with Society
Transform Mind

Having learned to put her finger on the pulse of a society, as it were, the Archmage of Mind next finds out how to speak with one. At this level, she can communicate a thought or image into the collective consciousness in a manner lesser mages find difficult to duplicate. The mage can produce perfect illusions that can be seen by all, insert a "meme" directly into the collective mind, or simply suggest a course of action that will appear to have come from some thinker within the society rather than from outside.

At this level, she has also come to understand the basic infrastructure that supports all minds, rather than merely her own, and can expand any mind beyond its biological (or in some cases, technological) constraints, raising human mental Abilities beyond five dots, and bringing normally nonsapient organisms to full human levels or higher.

Mind 8
Manipulate Society
Mind Link
Magnified Will

Now the Oracle has learned an even greater power--the ability to alter the behavior of society as a whole. By changing social attitudes, the Oracle can alter election outcomes, bring about wars...or end them, divert investigating groups from things they are not ready to know, or raise a public outcry about some deep-rooted problem. Evidently the Oracles make little use of this power. Or do they? Such a power can be used with extreme subtlety, as the public commonly changes its mind about a great many things.

The Oracle also understands how to create the simplest form of true collective consciousness. He simply ties the conscious thoughts of groups of people together without altering their individuality. Such a group mind shares its knowledge freely among all members, but each person continues to think of him or herself as a unique being with a free and separate will. This is most easily done, of course, when all the people whose minds are linked are already part of a society of some kind.

As the Oracle progresses toward joining the wills of others, he at last realizes the full potential of dividing his own will. At this stage, the Oracle can finally engage in more than one act of magick at once without splitting his dice pools, and confer the same ability on others. He may spend as much Willpower as he likes on any one action, or on multiple actions. Of course, regaining that Willpower may still take some time, even if it's done magickally; people simply don't go from mentally exhausted to gung-ho, and the Sleepers know it.

Mind 9
Control Culture
Collective Consciousness

The Oracle has now progressed to the point that she can alter not just the conscious expression of a society, but its unconscious tendencies as well. A materialistic culture may be transformed into an asectic one; an open society into a biased, paranoid clique; or a group of casual friends into a mutually devoted terrorist underground. The entire nature of society is up for grabs. Moreover, because the paradigm is determined at this level, the mage can make small or temporary changes in the underlying nature of reality. A coincidental rote can become a technique available to everyone, and a vulgar one coincidental; or a group of people can be temporarily made to believe in the Ecstatic paradigm or the Hermetic one rather than that of the Technocracy.

The mage also gains the power to fuse the conscious minds of groups of people, transforming them to possess a single collective Demeanor and set of conscious attitudes. This group mind can share not just the Knowledges of each individual, but the Skills as well. Of course, there is no absolute need to link the group's thoughts; if this is not done, each person shares the Demeanor and Skills, but appears to be a separate individual with his own knowledge, and may or may not be aware of the conscious memories of the others.

Mind 10
Create Society
Group Fusion

At the pinnacle of understanding, the Oracle of Mind is capable of binding together any number of previously unrelated people into a workable society, regardless of personal differences. (Of course, this is supposedly a skill possessed by great leaders anyway...) The common purpose of the new group may be anything the Oracle desires. The Oracle can also create an entire functioning society of minds from scratch (in essence, a community of AIs).

The Oracle is also capable of uniting both conscious and subconscious minds completely, forming a single common will and Nature. Such a group mind possesses all the abilities of the original individuals, though not necessarily other kinds of background details. Just as with the previous level, the Oracle need not fuse the minds at all levels; he may choose to join only the subconscious minds, creating a collective unconsciousness, or any combination of levels he so desires.

 

Game Mechanics of Group Minds

In White Wolf game systems (and probably all others) the logistics of forming a group mind out of pre-existing characters are problematic. I can suggest, however, a number of rules of thumb for how to deal with what happens when minds are joined together. If the group mind is created from a random group of people (say, the crowd waiting for the bus), then the Storyteller should simply assign whatever characteristics she sees fit. Otherwise...

Social and Mental Attributes

For a simple mental link, social and mental scores remain essentially unchanged (we will always assume no mage has chosen to make further modifications). Each person remains separate, and though others in the link may choose to give advice, the individual is free to reject it.

For a fusion of conscious minds, social and mental scores (other than Appearance) are simply added up. This can obviously lead to very high scores, but then that's one of the main points of linking the minds in the first place.

For a subconscious fusion (with or without a conscious merger), the mode score (the one which occurs the most frequently) is multiplied by the number of ex-individuals in the meld. This represents the potential costs of losing individual personality and will from the mix--the mind is smarter than any one of the individuals, but may not be as bright as all of them put together.

Abilities

When minds are linked, Knowledges are passed along, regardless of the status of any other aspect of the mind. In most cases, the Knowledge scores are not additive, though there are exceptions; there is only so much that is commonly known on any one subject. Generally, a dot should be added for each level above three possessed by any person, unless they have the same field of specialization; at this point specialization begins to come into play even if no actual field is listed. If no one has the Knowledge above the third level, the highest level is the mind's maximum. Exceptions include any Knowledges like Language, in which an additional level means an additional _kind_ of knowledge; in these cases additional levels may appear even though the individuals do not have the Knowledge at all.

Skills are passed on whenever conscious minds are fused. For most skills, the mode level should be multiplied by the number of people who possess it; skill is easier not to duplicate than information.

Talents are joined only when the subconscious minds are fused. Since each person's talent is often different, talent levels can simply be added up, with the group mind possessing the total.

All specialties are gained by participants in the merger at their appropriate level of joining.

Willpower

Willpower pools are added up when conscious minds are fused; each individual subconscious can draw on the will of the whole. When subconscious minds are fused, multiply the mode of the permanent Willpower rating by the number of joinees. Angst, Banality, and Rage function in the same way.

Paradox and Quintessence

These remain separate unless the beings involved are linked with some level of Prime (or possibly Spirit).

Avatar and Dream

These backgrounds remain separate unless the actual avatars of the beings (or equivalent, such as Eidolon for Wraiths) are joined with Spirit. Likewise, any special abilities (Magick, Disciplines, Gifts, etc.) remain the exclusive property of their previous owners unless the Avatars or equivalents are joined.

Virtues, Humanity, Passions, and the Like

These attributes will inevitably be altered by the Nature and Demeanor of the group mind, and individual storytellers must therefore judge for themselves.

Other Backgrounds and Social Rankings

Unless the group mind reveals what has happened (and possibly even then), social rankings and person-related backgrounds remain individual property. Property-related backgrounds such as Talismans are generally (but not necessarily) shared by the group mind among themselves.

If these rules don't work...change 'em!