The Read ‘Em ‘Cause You Got ‘Em series charts my attempt to read all the books in my gaming library that crept in over the years and went overlooked for too long.
Technocracy: Iteration X is a howlingly bad example of how amazingly silly and discombobulated Mage: The Ascension could be. It’s rife with the kind of cheesy terminology one associates with a gonzo, unrealistic world, even beyond Technocratic methodologies, constructs and amalgams. Iteration X is manned by ciphers, armatures, programmers and comptrollers.
The “Do technocrats know they’re working magic or not?” quandary stands front and center as well. Characters continuously refer to what they do as magic, or use sphere terminology, and yet still treat what they do as science, calling it rational and logical. It may be unfair of me, coming from a post-Mage Revised perspective where Technocrats are scientists and only the highest echelons of the Union realize their hyper-technology only works because the operators believe it does, but it’s hard to see the point in this deliberate two-faced attitude of the Technocracy in first edition Mage. Things cleaned up later in the line when the Technocracy was more uninformed, unintentionally hypocritical.
But anyway, there’s so little substantive content here — and what is present is generally laughable, flimsy or suitable for only the most gonzo, over the top games — that someone looking for material for a game would be better off utilizing Guide to the Technocracy or Convention Book: Iteration X, going by the reports of the latter I’ve read. One of the advantages of coming to a game at the end of its publishing life is that one gets the benefit of everyone else’s hindsight when it comes to the best and worst supplements. In 1993, books like Technocracy: Iteration X were all Mage players had.
After reading through all five books in the Technocracy splatbook series over the last few months, I’m really starting to understand all the criticisms to the splatbook approach. They’re so amazingly formulaic, particularly the last two chapters of each, that it’s easy to skim over them without really absorbing any information, because you think you’ve read it before.