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Technology: Techniques and Tools

Given that they refer to their "magic" primarily as technology, there should be little surprise that many of the Chosen excel in the Pattern Spheres. Nonetheless, their true expertise lies in the direction of Time, Entropy, and Mind, more or less in that order. Those three Spheres are the only ones for which the Chosen can make do without foci as the Traditions can, until they reach Arete 6.

The Chosen's command of Time is of comparatively recent origin, in more than one sense. The most recent incarnation of their philosophy has only recently managed to translate their understanding of Restoration into a practical tool. Also, the concept of Restoration stems from a belief in an Apostasy. At the very beginnings of the Chosen's origins, the Apostasy they believe in was still in progress and had not been named as such. Thus the Chosen's skill in time must have been either minimal or based on other concepts during this earliest period, perhaps until the Waldenses.

The Chosen's concept of Time has been described by outsiders as a "disjunct recursive" viewpoint, neither truly cyclic nor truly linear. Ideally, time would progress toward greater organization without causing decay or static accretions, at least not on the level of individual lives. In practice, this is obviously not the case. The Chosen describe this "damaged" time as history--the course of events through which things tend to fall away from their original wholeness--and seek to return reality to that wholeness. As a result of this emphasis, the Chosen tend to be more adept at viewing the past than the future, and sometimes startle other mages with their facility for (and vulgar tendency toward) reversing time. The Chosen sometimes point out a paradox inherent in modern Western descriptions of time. An object or being is older than another if it existed prior to the other--yet, while your two-year-old self exists prior to your current self, it can hardly be described as the older. To the Chosen, the latter form of "newness" is the more important.

Many Chosen see themselves, as agents of the Restoration, as being outside of history, and because of this they can sometimes pull off Time effects without foci. When, more commonly, they do use foci, they use a combination of two methods: principles of responsibility and patterns of small electromagnets used to "strain space-time". These two very common foci are dealt with more carefully elsewhere.

The Chosen's practice of Entropy is rather similar; Entropy is the actual damage produced by history. This includes not only physical effects, but the spiritual taint produced by sin, though only a tiny handful of overtly religious techniques exist for dealing with the latter. To the Chosen, there is no fate as such; all things are the result either of chance fluctuations, or much more often are produced by the action of one sentient being or another. Likewise, "real" taint is not a transmissible substance, but the historical connection of responsibility. (Thus the Chosen, despite their religion, are unable to regard vampires as inherently damned--though they are far from being pleased with their normal activities.) Such taints as can be transmitted are not considered to be anything worthy of guilt or embarrassment; they are simply wiped clean as soon as possible to prevent harm, like toxic substances. Usually, any kind of taint is seen as an expression of chaos, or destruction; even accretions of order in inconvenient places are the result of chaotic behavior as to where order is placed. Naturally, the Chosen usually use Entropy to uphold order rather than subvert it.

Chosen can sometimes perform Entropy effects without foci just as they can with Time, for much the same reasons. They also make use of the same tools used to deal with Time. More often, however, Entropy is manipulated either by prayer (for luck/a blessing) or by disciplined activity that leads to precision of action.

Mind is something else again. To the Chosen, the mind is a web of information-relationships that the soul/will builds around itself using language. Because the mind and soul produce behavior, one must discipline the mind to prevent wrong actions. The Chosen put great stock in a "young" mind--that is, one that is open to being changed and relatively free of sinful tendencies. Thus, although Mind is a key Sphere, the Chosen approach it very differently from the other two.

The primary tool for dealing with the mind is, of course, language. The Chosen see written and spoken language very differently from Dreamspeakers--to the Chosen, spoken language is like a mayfly, vibrant and alive for only a moment, but written words live forever. For simple uses of Mind, the Chosen are perfectly capable of simply speaking or writing an effect into existence, depending mostly on the duration. In recent years, the latest incarnation of the Chosen has made great use of computers as "translators" for more complex effects. Occasionally, the Chosen alter their own minds simply by concentrating, with no other focus--their mind, after all, is the closest thing to their own will, the most direct of its tools.

The next "tier" of Spheres--Life, Correspondence, and Spirit--have some metaphysical importance to the Chosen, but not so much as the first three. Moreover, none of them have been developed so far as the previous Spheres, for different reasons. In theory, the Chosen could discard their foci for these Spheres at Arete 6, but they cannot make do without them prior to that point.

Verbena and the Chosen baffle each other in regard to Life, which they each supposedly revere, but on which they have very different viewpoints. The key to understanding the difficulty is that the Chosen's reverence would be more accurately described as being for lives--that is, for each individual existence. Therefore they consider death (at least for sentient beings) to be opposed to life and very nearly an abomination. For the same reason, their manipulation of life is deeply tinged with the notion of "mind over matter"; each person has, or should have, mastery over the actions and ultimately even the form of their own body. Many of their biological techniques are based on deliberately disrupting internal balance in order to make changes easier; the most commonly used form of this is to damage cells slightly to provoke healing, which is in part a process of rejuvenation. In a rejuvenated state, tissues are much more susceptible to body-altering chemicals (like the ones that originally cause organs to take shape). Some Chosen have observed or proposed that an individual who develops sufficient mastery of such techniques may alter his or her body to the degree that it both remains in a state of change-readiness and learns to produce such chemicals on its own. (In other words, the mage ceases to need foci for Life.)

The Chosen's understanding of Correspondence bears relationships to both correspondence-point and connection theories of space, as well as differences from both. To them, space is not only real, but sufficiently "solid" that it can be taken apart and reassembled. An area from which space has been removed collapses to its original dimensionlessness, from which the prepared mage can escape to any other area. In the absence of any deliberate reconstruction, space then returns spontaneously to its original state. Such manipulations are done using the aforementioned electromagnetic arrays. However, the Perceptive have found navigation through dimensionless non-space to be difficult and not a great deal of use for many other effects. They have therefore fallen back on ideas related to older connection theories; according to the so-called "principles of responsibility", the things a person creates are a part of her, especially her thoughts. No distinction is made between the originals and copies, so long as the copies are sufficiently exact. A Progenitor, for instance, might get an unpleasant surprise on transferring Chosen brain patterns to a clone; if he altered them first, however, they would eventually be more his creation than hers, and the danger of finding her in control of the clone would abate. It has been suggested that eventually Perceptive skilled at spatial manipulation might find themselves as much outside of place as history and thus no longer need electromagnets to slip out of it.

In a relatively similar fashion, the Chosen have proven able to remove themselves from the physical plane and enter other worlds. Physically, the Chosen view the Gauntlet as a gap in space of such a nature that there is no connection between the physical and spiritual realms. In their most recent reappearance, Restorationists have come to use the concept of "alternate dimensions" as a metaphor for the spiritual world and eventually to hybridize a Tradition-like viewpoint with that of Dimensional Science. Perhaps as a result, they see no obvious connection between the methods of traveling between worlds and the nature of those worlds' inhabitants. On the relatively rare occasions when they deal with spirits, the Perceptive use a combination of religious exhortation not unlike that of the Chorus and (in recent times) "quintronic circuitry" devices--that is, circuitry that semiconducts free Quintessence (such as a spirit's Power) rather than electricity.

Throughout their histories, the Chosen's study of Spirit has been severely hampered by their perspective regarding spiritual realities. Their entire rationale for being is based on the notion that God has quite deliberately cut off most interaction between the spiritual and physical realms, though there has always been considerable disagreement over the purpose and intended duration. (Some Traditionalists have stated this as "Restorationism neither opposes nor abets the Gauntlet; it simply assumes it.") With some few exceptions, the Chosen have tended to prohibit techniques that interact with spirits, especially summoning or binding them; many Chosen fear spirits and avoid even "mundane" associations with them. For one to have spirit allies of any sort, even angels, is rare indeed, and familiars even rarer despite their obvious benefits.

The final tier of Spheres, Matter, Forces, and Prime, are not of great importance to the Chosen but are relatively easy to work with (Prime the least so) because of their relative "solidity", and thus have become fairly well developed. However, they are not considered to have any direct connection to the mind and are thus harder to manipulate in certain respects; Chosen characters cannot discard foci at all using these Spheres (or if you consider this too harsh, must discard them last).

The Chosen think of Matter primarily as a variety of "objects" without direct connection to each other. Perhaps as a result, there are still several conflicting, though not quite contradictory, theories on how to deal with material objects, each deriving from a different train of thought. One suggests that underlying structure is unimportant; the only important thing is the qualities detectable by the senses. Objects are viewed as being entirely solid on a microscopic scale, without any substructure below what the eye can detect (some say with a microscope, others unaided). Adherents of this point of view typically make use of machines that produce unusual varieties of energy to alter the form or sever and move qualities. The other concept is that structure is real and important, permitting manipulation by shifting parts of the structure in high energy states so that they cause the rest of the object to change with them. This point of view is analogous to the common views on Life, and many of its adherents seek to produce material objects that grow and change as if they were alive, if only to create a desired structure. Most of these use physical tools of various common and uncommon sorts (and in some cases are trying to produce true nanotechnology). A compromise point of view is in the process of developing, holding that substructure is real but usually homogeneous and thus unimportant; where it is not homogeneous, the latter tools are used to manipulate it.

Forces are barely, if at all, considered to be Patterns in themselves. More often than not, Forces are events, things that happen to a Pattern of Life or Matter. These Events are what tie material objects into the universal system of things. As a result, even the most knowledgeable of the Chosen in this field never really produce "energy fields" unconnected to matter, though some have appeared to do so by using energy to fix matter (such as air) in place. Like Matter, the manipulation of Events is usually accomplished through various devices, tending more toward the Technocratic than the Etherish.

Of all the Spheres, the Chosen's interpretation of Prime baffles Traditionalists the most. The Chosen have taken the apparently unprecedented step of throwing out "raw Quintessence" entirely, and regard "free Quintessence" merely as a variety of exotic forms of energy (and thus more a happening than a thing), often generically referred to as "Fuel". They argue that a structure simply is or is not, rather than being "composed" of some substance-that-isn't-a-substance. If Quintessence were a substance, after all, it too would be a structure and would have to be composed of something else. Moreover, in order to make up everything, it would need to have all properties, including contradictory ones, and would thus cancel itself out. Chosen who are knowledgeable about Prime argue that the very concept of substance is without meaning; all is structure or form. Creation ex nihilo is taken quite literally; the world is composed of nothing at all. Several concepts are used to explain this idea; the most common is that "being" is actually a function of relatedness; if one structure cannot interact with any others, then it cannot be perceived and is thus not actually existent. Other attempts at explanation have included the idea of cancellation--that the act of creation puts the universe very deliberately out of balance, so that a thing is no longer negated by its opposite; and the idea of continual change--if a "something" never remains a particular thing for any amount of time at all, it is not really anything in particular; thus creation consists of halting its change in state.

In order to manipulate an object's state of being or nonbeing, the Chosen usually make use of both the previously-mentioned electromagnetic arrays (as if pulling an object from a literal nowhere) _and_ prayer, as creation requires the will of God to take place. (In fact, virtually any kind of creation requires prayer, whether it involves Prime or not.) The manipulation of Fuel is simpler, involving the "quintronic" circuitry discussed in regard to Spirit; this is usually composed of an alloy of silver and silicon.

Philosophy: Confusion and Caveats
The Metaphysic Duality?

A number of Tradition mages have expressed puzzlement over which, if any, of the three forces of Dynamism, Stasis, and Entropy, the Chosen are associated with. That the Chosen oppose Entropy with all their strength is without doubt, but they seem baffled by attempts to explain the meaning of the other two. They do not appear to acknowledge Dynamism at all, like a majority of the Technocracy, yet their actions are not particularly consistent with pure devotion to Stasis. In particular they are in strong opposition to hierarchial power structures, and while they jealously guard their own rules from violation and refuse to alter them, they insist that no further rules ought to be made beyond these (speaking of a distinction between "divine" and "human" regulations), and display an extreme degree of independence and sometimes social deviance almost worthy of the Cult of Ecstasy.

The nature of the problem appears to lie in the Chosen's teaching on Prime. By removing "substance" from their philosophy, they have disallowed the most tangible aspect of Dynamism, the underlying formless stuff of reality. Without this element, Dynamism becomes barely recognizable as a separate force, so that the Chosen easily merge it with Stasis, producing a simpler dichotomy of Order/Chaos, Creation/Destruction, Good/Evil. Thus the apparent inconsistency in their teachings and behavior. They believe, in essence, that while the creative force they consider to be at the heart of all sentient beings is not itself orderly, that it _produces_ order, or it would not be a creative force. Tradition mages who eventually come to realize this differ in their reactions; some have seen this as a desirable reconciliation, but others have been alarmed. At least one Dreamspeaker has gone pale at the thought and wondered aloud if "the Weaver has finally discovered how to bind the Wyld".

The Chosen themselves continue to find Tradition ideas on the subject baffling, with predictable effect. Several Chosen "techniques" have proven all but induplicable by Tradition mages. Certain kinds of Wyld spirits have been presented to Chosen as proof, only to be completely invisible to them; others (such as trickster spirits) have been seen as demons. On the one hand, many Chosen have an apparent affinity for Weaver-spirits and a moderately high Banality; yet rumor has it that at least once a Stasis-spirit has tried to possess (and Clarify) one of the Chosen only to find her indigestible.