Thursday, September 16, 2010

Chaos Magick for the WitchCraft RPG

More stuff for the WitchCraft RPG, still my most favorite game that I didn't write myself. ;)

Chaos Magick for the WitchCraft RPG

“Nothing is True and Everything is Permitted”
- Traditional saying of Chaos Mages

Chaos Magick (with a ‘k’) is a new sub-tradition that at first seems to be a parody or even a mockery of the traditions that came before it. While this may in fact have some truth in it, what can’t be denied is there is a fascination for what they do and are (or what is commonly believed they are) and it may be one of the fastest growing traditions. The other truth that cannot be denied is that Chaos Magick, for all its seeming self-contradictions, does actually work.
Practitioners are called Chaos Mages or Chaos Witches by outsiders, but they prefer the term Chaote or at worse Chaos Magicians. The tradition is loosely formed and very disorganized. To refer to them as “chaotic” is not just a play on words, but a very adequate description.

Chaos Magick Grew out of the merging of various traditions of the 1960s it was not formalized till 1976-8. Some claim its birth was more properly placed in the 1890s during the Victorian Occult revival. It gained more ground after that with Austin Osman Spare, one of Crowley’s contemporaries. His philosophies of magic embraced many various traditions, but not a part of any of them. It blended with the ideas of both Wicca (it’s positive influence) and Discordianism (it’s more ‘negative’ side). It had rapid growth in the 1990s due to the popularizing of various chaos math theories, end of the millennia hysteria and the ability to connect and exchange ideas via the Internet. It has its obvious roots in the various solitary practices that began near the end of the millennium, but it also has influences as diverse as the Wicce traditions of the 1960’s and the Rosicrucians of the 1890’s.
One should not underestimate the power that technology has had in the formation of this tradition. What might have been separate, disparate ideas from isolated groups found interconnections and intraconnections thanks to the rapid communication features of the nascent World Wide Web. Practitioners naturally claim this is the very nature of Chaos Magick; the elements were all in place to provide a spontaneous generation of the Tradition itself. Many believe that if occultist had embraced the telegraph they way that they embraced the Internet, Chaos Magick would have be created 100 years prior.

First, it is difficult to make claims about the “average” Chaote. Indeed, no such thing exists. Despite this certain assumptions can be made about the common threads that hold all Chaote together.
The Chaote believe that there is no such thing as an objective truth. That everything is determined by a point of view. For this reason the Chaote embrace such disparate fields of science and philosophy such as Taoism, quantum physics, and Jungian psychoanalysis. Of course chaos math is another prime field of study for the chaote. Many in fact derive their incantations and magical effects from such works.
Chaos magic tries to avoid the things that define the other Traditions or philosophies, or a least using them the exact same way. Athames could be sharp for example, to the horror of most traditional Wicce, or using “made up” gods and rituals. To the Chaote, Cthulhu is just as real as Yaweh or the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
The Chaote believes that their magic should work and therefore it does. An interesting side effect of this is that chaos magic is less effected by the crowd effect if there is a suitable and logical explanation can be offered. An elemental fire display is explained away by a ruptured gas line. If someone sees a “demon” then they are sure that they heard about someone filming a horror movie on the radio. Another effect is that people will tend to believe the Chaote is nothing more than a “street magician” or some sort of illusionist ala David Blaine. Effects will be explained away as slight of hand, or a trick with mirrors.
The Chronicler should decide whether or not the crowd effect is negated (can it be explained away) or do they not lose as much Essence.

Ritual, Essence and Chaos
The Chaote is typically fond, or even required, to use rituals and traditions mixed together. So a traditional rite is often followed by a “spell” found in a science book, and ending in a Gnostic or Taoist (maybe both) rite while invoking a fantasy god. The Chaote believes that they work and therefore it does.
They believe Essence comes from within and ritual is only used to focus the mind, there is no inherent energies within the ritual itself. The ultimate goal of the Chaote is to produce magical effects without the need of any rituals. A state they describe as maximum entropy. It is by returning to this primordial chaos that they are able to obtain the peak of the their spiritual and magical evolution.

Spirits and Gods
The individual Chaote may believe in many gods, goddess, spirits or what have you, or even none at all. No particular gods or goddesses though are unique to them. They have adopted various deities, notably various ones of litature and science fiction. The works of H.P. Lovecraft and Micheal Moorcock are among the favorite. Many Chaote have even adopted Moorcock’s “chaos wheel” or “chaos star” as part of their personal symbol.
They do share the belief in Cardea as Goddess of the Internet with the Wicce TechnoPagans. They will even sometimes share a belief in the modern parody religions, such as Church of the Sub-Genius or the Pastafarians.
Despite this nature of chaos, the Chaote is no more prone to worship a Mad God than any other person and they are no more or no less susceptible to taint.

The Number 8
For the Chaote, the number eight, the Octarine, is the most magical number, not seven. Of course eight is the number of arrows of the chaos star it is also represents the number of “magical colors” the Chaote believes in. The Chaote will use these colors to focus their magic workings. They believe that eight is the true number of raw pure magic. There is of course a certain level of arrogance in this. While everyone else believes the proper number is seven the Chaote believes that it is actually one more than that. For this reason the extra essence normally reserved for 7 casters needs to have 8 Chaote casters. Seven chaote casters only produce 90 points of extra essence, but 8 will produce 115 points. Chaote casters with other traditions can not contribute extra essence when there are only seven casters due to their beliefs. Other numbers of casters are unaffected.
Colors: Black – death magic, necromancy. Blue – controlling people. Red – war and combat. Yellow – Ego magic or magic associated with the self. Green – love. Orange – mental magic and thoughts. Purple – sex magic.

Attributes, Qualities, Drawbacks and Skills: Chaote come from a variety of backgrounds and points of view but a few things are common. Nearly all are college educated and many come from middle-class backgrounds. Their natures tend to lend them to more “free spirited” professions; artists, authors, graphic designers, musicians, actors, and so on. Again, saying something is “typical” for a Chaote is problematic at best; dangerous at worse.

Metaphysics: The Chaote considers all magic worth learning. Magic then becomes their personal philosophy of how they relate to the universe. Invocations then are most used. Seer Powers and Necromancy are also learned, but these usually require prescribed skills that the Chaote may not have or see the value of. Divine Powers are, unless deemed necessary by the Chronicler, off limits. Again, exceptions are the rule.
Chroniclers may want to impose an added cost of 1-2 extra metaphysics points per level of some types of metaphysics. This offsets the access the Chaote has, but represents their different paradigm of learning.

Special Abilities: Chaote, also due to their nature gain a +1 to any one knowledge based skill of their choice, expect for Occult Knowledge. Common examples would be a bonus in artistic skills, or math. Typically this relates to how they came to their own specific points of view of their Chaos Magic.

Other Associations
Most associations believe the Chaote to some new sort of Solitary (partially true) or one of the Wicce bastard children (also partially true). Most of the attitudes are predictable. The Wicce tend to have the most positive point on view with regards to the Chaote, though they disagree with way they interpret philosophy, not the philosophy themselves. Rosicrucians look down on the Chatoe as amateurs, often referring to them as “Wikipedia Witches” due their connections with the internet and their habit of throwing everything together. They are interested in their methods though. Their seemingly random, and “unskilled” approaches to arcane research and to their use of Invocations baffles the Brotherhood. Confusion and ignorance are not things the Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross enjoys. Sentinels have the widest variation of attitudes. Most think they are children playing at miracles and are at best annoying or at worse troublesome. Others see them as deluded souls taping the power of a great primordial evil.
What the Templars think about this group is at present, unknown. Most of the other associations (the Storm Dragons, the Mockers) are only peripherally aware of the Chaos Mages. Some have tried to study with the Storm Dragons, but ones to date have not had the attention span to complete their training (from the point of view of the Storm Dragons).

Chaos Magick - Invocations
To date most Chaote have only been able to replicate other invocations and some necromancy. Though constant debate and discussion on whether or not they will be able to create their own forms of invocations. In theory they should be able to re-create any magical effect and more.


5stonegames said...

Nice article. Its been yanked and added to my ever growing Unisystem support file.

BTW thanks for adding me to the blog roll. I appreciate it.

Havard: said...

Great stuff, Tim. Makes me want to play WitchCraft again :)