Review – Convention Book: Iteration X Revised (Mage: the Ascension)

As the only Convention Book released for the revised edition of Mage: The Ascension before Judgment overtook the classic World of Darkness, Iteration X Revised sees a significant reboot of the convention. Mage Revised, along with the Guide to the Technocracy, brought significant changes to the world of Mage, and the viability of Technocracy characters. The “dimensional storm” (as the Technocracy referred to it) cut off much of the high fantasy/high technology, limiting it on Earth and isolating Earth from the horizon realms. And the presentation of the Technocracy (at least in the books that focused on it) switched from pretty much straight-up evil to more of a normal collection of folks, who just happened to be focused on secretive science (you could theoretically play as a Technocrat before Guide to the Technocracy, but not really).

These changes are prominent in the revised version of Convention Book: Iteration X. The convention was once run by the Computer from the realm of Autochtonia, but the dimensional storm put an end to that. Also mostly gone are the iconic H.I.T. Marks, the heavily cyborged death squads of the Technocracy (characters can now get power armor for a similar mechanical effect, but they remain human). Emphasizing the ‘kindler, gentler Technocracy,” Iteration X has developed better technology, such that it no longer feels compelled to (literally) cut out the part of its members brains that controlled moral judgments in order to implant a cybernetic component.

The typical member of Iteration X probably still spends much of their time doing research, engineering, or planning, but the PCs will presumably be part of a field time that will spend much of its time tracking down reality deviants – vampires, ghosts, marauders, and, of course, some Tradition mages. The full on cyborg experience is now frowned upon, but Iteration X members are still likely to have some sort of biomodification – just of the more subtle kind (such as the new Advanced Digital Enhancement Implant – the one that doesn’t require excising part of the brain).

Convention Book: Iteration X is well executed, the usual format for the Revised splat books. There’s a history of the world from the point of view of the convention, convention philosophy, thoughts on other groups, how the convention functions on a day-to-day basis, intra-convention factions, some Iteration X bases, an Iteration X cabal that one might slot the PCs into (it fights corruption and hunts down reality deviants), lots of new merits (in the form of bits of advanced technology), and template characters. Also, Christopher Shy’s cover art for Mage Revised remains some of the best ever.

Unfortunately, despite the technical execution, it’s a bit uninspiring. The ‘history of the world’ is mostly a vague history of technological development, with only a modicum of spice thrown in. The day-to-day functioning is mostly the functioning of a large, well-run research company. If you are looking for what this is – a solid look at one of the revised conventions – Iteration X delivers on that. But I don’t think it will shift anyone on the question of whether playing Technocracy characters is interesting, now that it’s possible.



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