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Or Adept Lifestyle Extremes
By their very nature, adepts tend towards extremes. Most commonly, this involves the idea that is the backbone, lynchpin, or foundation of their obsession, and pushing it to the logical limit. Then pushing it a little more. And a little more. And litt- Oops. Reality broke under the strain.
But this does not necessarily mean that every single adept is living in a roach-infested apartment, spending every waking moment trying to get booze, drugs, sex, books, or a hairline fracture. True, this kind of outlook is common in the Underground, but it's not universal.
The common traits of adepts living their magick 24/7 is actually less of a side effect of thinking in magick 24/7 and more of a side effect of the very postmodernism that makes present day magick so personalized. By immersin their entire lives in the very matter they obsess about, they not only learn all its little nuances that can be used against each other in paradoxes, but they have the full force of their personality behind those paradoxes.
This does not always happen.
Some adepts take a more modernistic, compartmentalized viewpoint, dividing their life into magickal and non-magickal sections. They never stop THINKING in terms of their magick, of course, but they only act on those thoughts under specific, and sometimes strict, conditions. These adepts tend to be able to interact fairly well with the mundanes, but also tend to lean towards minor, low powered magick because they don't have the time or effort to devote to significant charges.
However, even after the sweet taste of significant spell effects, not all of them are willing to forgo all else in pursuit of their magick. Usuaully it's because they have decided that this very approach is important to making magick happen -- by only having magick made manifest at certain times and places, they give it more power. It's the same idea as holding your thumb over the end of a pipe or garden hose to make the water run out faster through the uncovered portion. To those in the Occult Underground who care about this sort of thing (all four of them) this is sometimes reffered to as "Emphasizing the Sacred". Compare to other adepts, who get magick everywhere they can, mixing the magick with the everyday or Profane.
Mentored adepts tend to lean towards this more than self taught adepts, unless their magickal training specifically runs contrary to it. This factor will depend mostly on the skill and personality of the mentor.
Just a few examples:
Almost all Dipsomancers are alcoholics, by the very nature of the magick. This tends to mean the postmodern integration of alcohol into all aspects of life. They have a flask of the stuff at all times -- ideally one that used to belong to a famous writer, authority figure, actor, whatever -- and will probably stab anyone who says any word that even sounds like "intervention".
Those who are not alcoholics tend to venerate the power of liquor because it makes things look different. They drink for the magickal abilities, not for the fuzzy feeling or to forget what terrible sights they were witness to last night. And it is because of liquor's power to do just that -- make the adept feel good, or less bad, even if temporarily -- that these types very quickly lose sight on their magick power. It's hard to focus on getting rid of your problems through demons and drunken luck and telekinetic chicanery when one more drink would make it all seem okay to start with. Those who manage to maintain the split are, probably without exception, closet drinkers and "recovering" alcoholics who desperately need a break from life's demands but want even MORE desperately to not go back to rehab.
As has been mentioned previously, those epideromancers who were mentored can sometimes be extremely protective of their bodies, unwilling to risk letting them get damaged, because if some outside source breaks their toe then that's one more spell they can't cast until the toe heals up and THEY get to break it. These types tend to be rather paranoid, and in extreme cases, entertain Howard Hughes-esque fears of germs and toxins. This is one way that Epideromancers can Emphasize the Sacred, but of course it is most common among mentored fleshworkers.
Self taught epideromancers tend to take more personal approaches even while keeping the magick distinct from everyday life, such as ritualistic tattoos. In these cases, the tattoos are usually symbolic of certain charging injuries or spells that the adept is trying to perfect, and may actually be made over the appropriate scars and burn marks to cement the connection. Peircings can be used the same way. Among those Epideromancers who are trying not to advertise their interests to their enemies (or worse, parents, psychologists, and high school guidance counselors), it's usually pretty common to find some sort of private place, ritualistically decorated, where the adept can cut/stab/brand/break finger bones in peace.
It's not uncommon for these types to keep journals of their experiences, fears, triumphs, hates, vendettas, and all other things personal. These tend to ground the adept's feeling safely until they can release them through ritual mutilation, and the medium of the journal may function as a reference for how "together" the adept is. An online weblog is relatively stable (especially if all references to mutilation and magick are left out), as is one of those cheap pocket notebooks with locks. A larger notebook, with metal covers and kept closed by one -- or more -- padlocks is not a good sign. Scattered loose-leaf papers written in the adept's own blood, and NOT because her pen is out of ink, is a much worse sign.
Chaos mages actually have a much easier time of it if they want to Emphasize the Sacred. Your typical chaos mage will do everything randomly. They got on busses without checking the route or schedule. They close their eyes and jab random buttons on the vending machine at lunch. They have absolutely no sense of self preservation. They eat, drink, breathe, and sleep chaos and unpredictability. So to emphasize the power of chaos, all they need to do is introduce a great deal of order; meticulously planning each day, possibly months in advance, and establishing a public routine they rarely deviate from, if ever.
Of course, because they know all too well that the unpredictable elements can never truly be eliminated, they will be constantly on the lookout for anything different, because they know they sure didn't do it. To the untrained eye, such people can range from extreme Anal retention to full blown paranoia. A few will also become interested in chaos and probability in their abstract forms and become very knowledgeable regarding statistics and number theory.
Self taught clockworkers are the exception to the rule in the present day. Spontaneous clockworkers are almost always the result of mental illness of some sort fixating on machinery. On the other hand, mental illness is a very personal thing and can spread like a virus throughout a person's existing personality -- obsessive compulsion is the quintessential example, where worrying about locking the door can mutate into checking the door repeated times, to checking the door a certain number of times, to getting everything in the world to revolve around that number... and it goes downhill from there. The neophyte magickal greasemonkey is likely to start incorporating specialized technical terms into his vocabulary, approach every problem like a case of vaporlock, try to "fix" other people with personality problems or physical disabilities, or any number of things.
Contrariwise, it is the mentored clockworkers who will set aside mechanomancy into a niche of their lives, because their mentor did, and his mentor did, and his mentor before him... or because there was some sort of drift or mutation during the training process. Typically, this can be done one of two ways. Either the mechanomancer restricts the use of old technology in everyday life, or they restrict the use of modern elements when building something. In the first case, the mechanomancer will probably spend any non-magickal downtime around high-end electronics and the like.
Some clockworkers, in fact, have been known to play computer games solely for inspiration -- this has reliably happened with the Builder's Children in Thief 2: The Metal Age, the Manhacks in Half-Life 2, and the improvised security robots and turrets made from outboard motors and office chairs in the recently released BioShock. Only when the time has come to pull out the pliers and forge mechanical life, do they involve themselves fully in gears, springs, oil, and memory.
In the second case, they may or may not have computers and other modern technology around them, but they will not include such things in their creations, even for artistic or functional symbolism purposes -- their emphasis is on keeping the "mechanical" approach "pure". They may also tend more towards a proliferation of minor clockworks than significant ones, not because of a desire to retain memory but because deep down, they are not sure how intangible memories of getting wedgied in high school can interact with the tangible spring-loaded spikes on their attack clockworks. Accordingly, when they burn memories it is only to purge negative experiences, and what they create with that memory may not even be of any use except that it got the unpleasant memory OUT of the clockworker's head. For similar reasons, they seldom keep any sort of notes, and any leftover unexplained psychological elements -- an irrational hatred of thong underwear, perhaps -- is shrugged off and rationalized.
Almost any adept school can fit this type of approach -- two scenarios not detailed here are a Bibiomancer who NEVER reads his books lest they wear out and spends his time watching TV instead, and a Videomancer who will not even glance at a TV unless it's her fetish show and spends her time between airings reading or engaging in artistic pursuits. The idea itself can also throw people who are expecting the obsessions of magi to be blatantly obvious and therefore easy to pick out.
Other schools will be analyzed this way in the future if reception is favorable. And if I can dig my way out of the Pile Of Higher Educational Work Of Doom.
This is actually something I've done in my games. I like that you're writing it down for others quite a bit.
I really like this, especially since it can be used to inject the normalcy needed to emphasize the significance of the spells. Please do more.
Anon | profile | Sep 13, 07 | 10:52 am