The Virtual Adepts began as a splinter of Iteration X, the information technomancers. Iteration X developed a faction in the early nineteenth century that was interested in information using machines. They invented a difference engine similar to Babbage's by the 1830s. Setting up a research facility in the Near Umbra near Bristol, they began improving the machine. By the time Babbage created his machine, they had vaccum tube machines. It was at this point that the idea of virtual reality began to spread among the sect. They realized that the universe could be viewed as a giant computer and all of reality was one big data set that could be manipulated by the appropriate changing of ones and zeroes. They allied with the Syndicate to promote the "invention" and spread of computers by the mundanes. By 1930, they had computers equal to the best known today among the mundanes. By 1950, the Virtual Chantry went on-line. Shortly after, the Virtual Adepts openly defected after Syndicate agents realized what the Virtual Adepts were doing, but it was too late to halt the spread of computers. Today, the Virtual Adepts have access to computers that dwarf any known to the mundane world.
Reality 1.0 and 2.0
Reality 1.0 is the mundane world most people live in. The Virtual
Adepts, worried by the forecasts of the Chaotician faction of the VA, are
trying to prepare Reality 2.0, the Digital Web, as a sort of 'Ark' into
which humanity can be evacuated if things go to hell. The Digital
Web is one of the many strange realms of the Umbra, this one somehow related
to the development of modern communications networks (or possibly to some
ancient Ahli-Batini realm, but they're gone and it's ours now!).
It is divided into many 'sectors', each of which is originally just a huge
open white space until someone 'formats' it with an act of will.
Many Virtual Adepts love it to death, and the NetExplorer faction is busy
trying to get it ready for everyone to use. Sleepers using computers
sometimes connect to parts of it, often leading to trouble for them...
Reality can be viewed as a giant multi-dimensional matrix, in which each level of the matrix represents a level of perception or existence. Quintessence is the energy which flows through this matrix and keeps it connected and in existence. Most humans operate only at the level of mundane existence. An awakened individual has learned to access data from the other levels. The spirit world, or Umbra is a data level that is parallel to that of the physical/mundane world.
What we percieve as physical objects are actually multi-dimensional arrays of data. Once you learn to percieve a particular type of array, you can alter the data in it, by "flipping the bits". The ancient concept of yin and yang was right--the ancients merely misunderstood how it worked and how to make practical use of it--you simply interpret yin as one binary state, and yang as the other--0s and 1s. By flipping the bits, you can change an object's motion, physical state, composition, etc.
This merely requires an act of will, once the appropriate data is perceived. This is easier with the use of a computer to help model the necessary changes for you. To move yourself or an object , you simply move the data to a different location in the array. By changing the level on which it is stored, you can move objects between the spirit and physical world, and so forth. By finding a level of the matrix that is not being used, virtual realities can be created by changing their data contents and then finding a way to enable people to access this level of the universal Matrix.
Each reality has its own operating system. This makes up the rules of
that reality. The minds of its inhabitants are constantly rewriting the
operating system. It is possible to bypass the operating system and
monkey with the hardware, but some operating systems have built in programs,
known as paradox programs, that try to prevent this. Physical reality has
very effective paradox programs, but they can be tricked by deviating from
the operating systems approved operations as subtly as possible. By masking
your actions as an approved one, it is possible to evade the attention
of paradox programs for long periods of time. One of our goals is to rewrite
the Operating System of physical reality. This will require the cooperation
of the sleepers.
'Eliteness'. The more Elite you are, the more Reality rolls over for you and does what you want.
Most Virtual Adepts are fairly oblivious to the whole Avatar thing, seeing its promptings as their own wild imaginations at work. Those few who actually study spirits tend to see Avatars as minor Digital Loa attracted to them by their eliteness.
Juice. The power supply for the Universal Matrix.
How the Spheres work:
Since the universe is a multi-dimensional array, and all physical entities are merely collections of data in it, data need merely be copied or transferred to new locations in the array to achieve the effects of this sphere. The technical term for this array is the Universal Matrix.
The Universal Matrix contains random elements. However, these elements are only apparently random. They are actually the result of chaotic systems, which can be predicted to some degree. They are random within limits. By the proper examination of the Matrix, they can be manipulated and controlled by the proper manipulation of bits.
Forces are one of the three primary data array types of the Matrix. They are the most dynamic data type. Their array of data is constantly in flux. By altering components of these arrays, energy can be summoned, channeled or removed. However, to create new energy, knowlege of Prime is necessary to channel the quintessence to create a new data array.
Life data arrays are the second of the primary data array types of the Matrix. They are the second most dynamic data type. To create a new life data array requires knowledge of Prime to channel the quintessence to create a new data array. By manipulating the data stored in the array, the properties of a life form can be altered and by scanning their array, many things can be learned about the lifeform.
Matter data arrays are the third and least dynamic of the primary data array types of the Matrix. As with the other primary data types, alteration of properties can be done without knowledge of Prime, but some skill in Prime is needed to channel quintessence to create a new data array.
The mind of any creature is a computer in itself. Minds exist within the Matrix as a collection of data normally accessable only by the Will, which is similar to a CPU. Essentially, they are isolated systems that only interact with the outside world through the senses, despite being part of the Matrix. The mind gains its data from the senses, which fill the roll of I/O devices. However, to a trained VA, the mind can be accessed by outsiders, and not just by the Will. The more complex the mind, the more difficult it is to access and alter. The effect known as astral projection or untethering does not really disconnect the mind from the physical data set that it is normally associated with, but rather creates a virtual body that it becomes attuned to. Virtual bodies interact with each other, but can ignore the limitations of the physical world. The virtual body remains linked to the physical body, and severance of this link can have grave consequences.
The universal matrix is powered by the flow of Prime, also known as Quintessence. By altering the flow of quintessence, one can store quintessence within your own "battery", create new data arrays in the Matrix, absorb Quintessence from naturally occuring batteries, known as Nodes, Remove the Quintessence from a data
array, causing it to lose properties, or increase the natural flow of Quintessence through a data array.
There is a level of the Universal Matrix known as the Spirit realm, or Umbra. Creatures known as spirits exist primarily on the Spirit level of the Matrix and can only enter the Physical level for brief periods of time. It is subdivided into Near and Far Umbral regions. Each Near region is seperated by a construct known as a Gauntlet. This security construct attempts to prevent the passage of data between the Physical level and the Spirit Level. It is weakest around nodes and Garou caerns. Training in this sphere can enable one to sneak data past the Gauntlet into or out of the Near Umbra. A similar security construct isolates each near umbral region from the Far Umbra. This construct is called the Horizon. The Spirit level uses a different operating system from the Physical realm, and is much more easily manipulated. Defeating these security constructs can be quite difficult.
Many Adepts have come to refer to technology related spirit beings as 'Digital Loa', especially those connected to communications networks.
One aspect of the Universal Matrix that differs from Computer systems under static reality, is that time is an accessible dimension of the Matrix as well as an experienced one. A properly trained virtual adept can access temporal levels of the Universal Matrix other than the one on which his consciousness currently resides. With enough skill, one can even transfer one's own data set into a different temporal level of the Universal Matrix. However, no one has ever returned from a trip into the "past" levels of the matrix, although it is easier to recover data from "past" levels than "future" ones.
Umbral E-Mail Correspondence 3 Spirit 3
The Adept emails himself to any location in the Umbra he desires to visit. Vulgar as all get out.
Remote Picture: Correspondence 2 Forces 2
This effect enables the VA to cause an image to appear on any TV set or computer monitor that he knows of. It can be anything that fits on the screen and is within the capability of the system hardware to produce. With Forces 3 and Prime 2, you can even do it on a monitor/TV that is turned off or not plugged in or even broken. You can do sound also, if the machine has sound capabilities.
Remote Power Feed: Correspondence 2 Forces 2 or Correspondence 4
This Rote enables the mage to tap a power supply elsewhere to get lesser or greater forces to manipulate in some manner without having Prime 2. It can also be used to feed forces away from the area the VA is in to some other area.
Pretimed Mailing: Correspondence 3 Time 3
This rote enables the VA to teleport somewhere(Chosen when cast) at a pre-determined time(Chosen at casting) regardless of the state of health/consciousness/ desire of the Mage. If Correspondence 4 is used, other people can be effected.
Portable Sun: Correspondence 2 Forces 2 or Correspondence 4 Forces
This opens a portal to a location where the sun is shining and pipes through real sunlight under the mage's control. It can be used as a spotlight, to simply illuminate an area, or to make Vampires run very fast. This is classically done with a modified flashlight.
Crash System: Correspondence 4 and [ Entropy 3 or Forces 2 ]
This rote enables the adept to crash a computer that he knows of the existence of. The more successes, the more damage.
Virus: (Correspondence 4 ) Life 3 or 4
This lets the VA infect a person with a computer virus. They can use one that causes a system crash (Life 3, 2 lethal wounds per success after the first one) or which causes performance problems (Life 4, target becomes subject to emotional manipulation through hormonal control or Life 3, the target is physically weakened by the attack). Correspondence is necessary to do this at a distance.
Remote Link Correspondence 3 Matter 4 Prime 2
This enables the VA to remote access a computer that has no modem by creating a wireless modem hooked into the computer at the site. The modem is itself non-magical, allowing perfectly mundane hacking once it exists.
Power Surge: Correspondence 2 Forces 2
The VA can wreck a computer by producing a power surge of electricity from a distance. Surge Protectors may force the need for extra successes and if it isn't plugged in, you can't do it. (Unless you use Correspondence 4 to pipe in the electricity from somewhere else).
Virtual Adept Factions:
Performers of Mathemagic. :) The Chaoticians study advanced mathematics with the help of computers in order to probe the underlying structures of the universe, to predict future trends, and to cause hurricanes with butterfly knives when they're bored. It is their studies which have many worried that Reality 1.0 is about to Crash and not come back up.
People who have read too much William Gibson. They turn their mad skillz loose on anything they don't like, which is usually big corporations and Technocracy bases. Some of them simply hack into places, others go for full-scale commando raids.
Information wants to be free. They intend to liberate it. This involves a combination of hacking for data and creating ways in which data can be shared, from networks to secret FTP sites to the Digital Web. Unlike the Cyberpunks, they rarely engage in sabotage of data they 'liberate' in the original sites.
Gods in the Machine:
Umbral explorers and experimenters with spirits. They are busy discovering all the forms of Digital Loa who have arisen with the rise of the Digital Web and modern communications networks. They also represent the Adepts to the other denizens of the Spirit World as well.
The NetExplorers are the architects and explorers of the Digital Web. It's their job to help prepare Reality 2.0 for people to move into it when the Big Crash comes. They help to create new Virtual Reality technology as well.
The Populists seek to bring computers to the people. They promote computer literacy, the development of cheaper and better computer technology, and the idea of Virtual Reality. They are the front of the VA seeking to bring about change in the sleeper population. Many of the leaders of the faction are Populists simply because they actually have enough social skills to function as leaders.
Someone's got to build the hardware. The Virtual Engineers have an especial interest in building better computers and other electronic devices. They developed the Trinary system, and are now working on a big project known as the 'Essence Engine', which will use a quartenary switch as the base unit for data, so called because the four states will correspond to the four Essences.
The Virtual Chantry
The Physical Hardware of the Virtual Chantry is located in Omaha, Nebraska. It is based in the basement of a wealthy Virtual Adept Homer "The Bard" Johnson, a Populist. He owns a chain of small computer stores: Home Computer Center, Inc. It is linked into the tangle of phone lines in Omaha and can be accessed by any Virtual Adept who knows its location or phone number. It exists as both a "scientific" Virtual Reality based in the mundane realm, and a magical one based in the Near Umbra in a Realm fed by the Node Homer's house is sitting on.
It contains a massive number of databases, virtual meeting places, a virtual university for VA, and several experimental areas.
The Realm has ratings of:
Different sections of it have different themes. Different of the Fellows of the chantry have constructed Mansions, Esherite constructs, Medieval Castles, and Spaceships as dwellings/workplaces. The access point from the Node places you in a construct that resembles the gate room(a closet, essentially), but the door opens out onto a level plain with stairs leading underground and many things floating in the sky connected by ladders and staircases. The Realm has no innate gravity. You will it to pull you the direction you want to go. This realm is highly malleable to the human will. The Virtual Adepts hope to create a fully functional virtual reality that will enable even non-mages to experience what life under these conditions is like.