In some ways, the core of CthulhuTech is portrayed as the old struggle between mankind and the forces of the Mythos – only this time it is fought with giant robots!
There is something wrong with that picture:
Because in the world of CthulhuTech, humanity learned the things man was not meant to know and in doing so ceased to be man.
Through arcanotechnology the NEG finally achieved what all prior revolutionary ideologies – be they nazi or soviet or fundamentalist – failed to do: Create the new man.
A posthuman with every bad thing that entails, no longer human or humane. Creatures best classified as an independent or servitor race. But whatever their exact placement within the topography of the Mythos:
Some day in the future, it will be this new man, the strange man of the strange aeon, who will shatter the minds of another race, a race insignificant and unaware of the greater mysteries of the universe in which it exists, with his unfathomable machines and impossible ideas.
They might not be genetically different, but they are intelectually.
This is a species, whose every school kid learns things which literally and factually made cerebral fluid drip out of the nose of the greatest minds of the 20th and 21st centuries.
They are not us.
Interesting. How did you come to this conclusion, because I don’t see it after reading the first two books of the line?
To me, it looks like most of the people know how to use Arcanotech but don’t necessary have any deeper knowledge about it, in the ‘my car uses an AC engine but I still have to get it to the garage for maintenance’ sense.
That the ‘technobabble’ in CT makes people go mad instead of just confused is just setting appropriate.;-)
I agree with you – it’s really not something that is obvious from the books, quite the opposite. The books are written with more of an “it’s us (versus the Mythos)” outlook. And the game works great just going with that.
I just think think that this other interpretation is also there – hidden in the background so to speak. Humanity is in a sort of transformation stage. They might not yet be quite the same as the Migou or the Deep Ones, but they are going there.
Collectively, as a species, they have gained awareness of the universe in just the same way other Mythos races have it. They have unlocked mysteries – and instead of running screaming from them, they have started to use them, and to dig ever deeper into them without fear for their sanity but with dreams of a glorious future.
Individually, not everybody has the same level of that awareness, but they all have some level of it – the Rapine Storm is on the news every day, Migou ships are in the sky when you look up, Nazzadi and psychics are you neighbours, acranotechnology and spells are taught at college, …
And it is this, the transformation of elements of the Mythos from something hidden and something exclusive to the enemy, to something that is out in the open and that is accepted as part of your own nature and environment in the CthulhuTech setting, that for me marks that transition away from “us”.
The other big clue for me is the reason the Migou started the war: They were afraid of that new humanity. Of their progress. Not of what they might become – but of what they were already becoming. A power in their own right, a threat to the Migou – and one does not become a threat to a Mythos race without being a Mythos race oneself.
(In a way the Aeon War reminds me very much of the war between the Great Race and the Flying Polyps – or really any of the other wars between Mythos races previously hinted at in Mythos fiction and games.)
I agree that humanity has taken the first steps toward trans- or even posthumanism (hence the Migou attacks) but the NEG very deliberately took steps to prevent things from moving forward unless they help the war effort, because they fear whats going to happen. Propaganda, panem et circenses, censorship…
As a result, the CTech Joe Average is not really different from us right now. He got nicer toys, lives in a more hedonistic society and the government will try to help him if he starts to suffer from Aeon War syndrome. Until he gets upgraded to PC status or downgraded to ‘unfortunate victim in the evening news’ thanks to Mythos-related shenanigans, he won’t care and he doesn’t have to.
Humanity in Eclipse Phase is far more advanced and involved in contrast to that. Heck, even Shadowrun blows CT out of the water regarding public awareness and acceptance of strange things. In CT you might sit in the shuttle next to a Nazzadi or maybe a creepy looking guy forced to wear parapsychic markings – in SR it’s going to be a gigantic troll, and an uplifted octopus in EP!
I agree once more.
It’s not so much a trans-/posthuman condition and the inclusion of weird elements in the environment in general that I find to be that interesting “other take” on CthulhuTech, but the specifics of it. This is not a transhuman condition in the sense of “normal” transhuman science fiction as we see it in Eclipse Phase, neither is it the unreflecting otherness of the Sixth World – which owing to its strong fantasy tropes/roots goes largely ignored as a focus of SR games (I’d have to say a thing or two about that… well, maybe in a future article). This is a condition including the Mythos – and if we keep what we know about the Mythos (the way it pretty much invalidates everything one might know, believe, feel, think and do) from other (non-CT) sources, then this is a completely different kettle of fish.
This might actually turn out to be a good way of rephrasing my thoughts on the entire matter:
Either mankind is the same but the Mythos is different – less world shattering, or
the Mythos is the same – but then mankind has to be different.
The books and main storyline mostly go with the first approach.
I wanted to point out that you can approach the setting equally well from the second angle – giving it at once a major twist while at the same time changing nothing about it but your own perception.
I think I understand why the books went with the first one – it makes for a far more approachable game and elements from the other main line of CT inspiration (the various referenced anime series with their tropes and storytelling) integrate better.
But on a personal level, I have to say: We’ve already played the proverbial gods and monsters. Why shy away from that here and now?