Vir's Archive

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Tool of the Imperialists -- OCRI (Content)


Okay, so lets jump right into some of the content I developed for the game that has no name (yet).  A little background first, since I think insight into my decisions will help clarity why I chose certain design elements.  

I am writing entries into the master document a little like the entries in Dictionary of Mu.  I don't know why I chose this process, but there it is.  I went back and looked at the content written in this format a week ago and decided I liked it.  It adds a sense of immediacy and reader involvement - almost like reading a wiki-analog in 2131.  That, BTW, also led me to a couple other overall goals in the game - immersion through text (but that is a discussion for later). 

The SF game was born of a number of musing I've had over the years and am only just now putting to paper.  Orson Scott Card once advised to never write down an idea that comes into your head.  Instead, wait, and let it germinate   If you immediately forget it, it probably wasnt a good idea.  However, if you sit on it and mull it over for weeks/months.years - when it finally does get to paper it will be all the stronger for the consideration you gave it.  This setting is a result of that process.  There are ideas embedded into the Solar System that have been years int he making.  One of those ideas was the design decision to feature a Mars/Earth conflict where Mars wasn't the underdog.  The idea of a brewing conflict between OCRI (below) and the hegemons of Earth (to come later) against a recently liberated Martian polity was the catalyst for me to finally but my idea to paper.  

So, here is OCRI, the core antagonist of the setting (do be warned, this is still very and hasnt yet seen a good grammar or content editing pass):  

Despotic World Government, Just Add Black Helicopters!  
Civilization at the End of a Gun -- OCRI:  The Office of Colonial Rights and Integrity (OCRI – colloquially pronounced “Ohs Ree”) is a U.N. body empowered with a seeping mandate to “maintain peace and security in the Solar colonies.”  The UN charter in 2083 gave the High Commissioner for the OCRI the ability to call in support from standing UN security forces during crises or force majeur.  In the modern day, the High Commissioner of the OCRI is one of the most influential people in the System – with the ability to order significant member state and UN Peace Keeping forces to intervene in just about any situation. 

In 2131 OCRI is the single most powerful entity in the System.  Since its mandate was expanded in 2083, the OCRI now maintains a small but elite standing body of forces ready spread across the System ready to respond to contingencies (known, simply enough, as Contingency Forces).  When these OCRI “Crimson Helmets” aren’t enough to deal with the problem at hand, the High Commissioner can put out a call for the support of member states.  This support can come in a number of different forms, from financial to material – including the loan of personnel.  When member states provide support to OCRI, the resources come under direct control of the High Commissioner until such time that the emergency has passed.  Unfortunately, the (once again) broad and ill-defined mandate of the OCRI charter means that it has sometimes retained control of ships, personnel, and equipment for longer than the member state preferred, leading to some tensions.

The original charter for OCRI charter was relatively limited in scope and charged the standing Contingency Forces to patrol the port areas and gravity wells of the inner planets.  In certain cases, the Contingency Forces were given special dispensation to range outside of the wells and into the outer planets to track and engage pirates.  At the time, however, this was a rare occurrence, requiring Secretary General approval.  Not surprisingly, approval from the SecGen was only ever secured when the intelligence was undeniable.  The handful of instances when the Crimson Helmets did venture past the wells did not often turn out well.  Asking glorified customs agents to fight a shooting war with hardened pirates was a recipe for disaster.  It was the handful of high-profile failings that led, in part to the 2096 revision of OCRI’s charter.  The actual process was slow and highly politicized, and resulted in a drastically different OCRI.

Besides its current mission to respond to contingencies and emergencies and keep the peace, OCRI has an extensive bureaucratic and investigatory arm.  The “Rights” portion of the OCRI apparatus was originally created as a concession to the colonial lobby in order to ensure the OCRI had a role in protecting the rights and interests of the colonies.  “Rights” was only added to the original “OCI” moniker after a number of colonial-sympathetic member states refused to ratify the charter in the General Assembly.  The result of the intense negotiations and rewriting of the charter was the creation of the Deputy Commissioner for Colonial Rights, a position second only to the High Commissioner and legal status on par with the Special Representative for the Secretary General (PeaceKeeping).  The Deputy Commissioner’s office has a wide range of enforcement and investigatory powers to ensure the living conditions and legal rights are on par with Earthers.  In reality, the ORCI Rights sub-office has withered into little more than a rubberstamp for the more aggressive actions of the Crimson Helmets.

In the modern Solar System, the UN’s OCRI is a tool of the major Earth hegemons and is used as a tool to keep the various colonial independence movements marginalized.  This inevitably results in a directly antagonistic relationship with the United Martian Government, which is increasingly active in its effort to support and encourage sovereignty movements in the colonies.


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Comments and criticisms are very welcome - as are ideas that riff or add to the above.