Okay, next up are the clones of the setting. Once lauded as war heroes, they are quickly becoming an expensive and uncomfortable social burden on the society they helped create.
The AIHs (see below for the acronym) are a good example of the type of elements I want in this setting. I want there to be hundred of plot hooks that are presented as "potential energy" -- events that, once the campaign starts, could rapidly change the face of the world. At the point where the GM says the first couple of sentences establishing a new game, I want the setting to already be changing. Each setting for each group should be radically different - especially if it is due to the PCs. For the AIHs/clones - their world is close to exploding. They are an under appreciated forgotten people, struggling with who they are, what they are, and where they are supposed to fit socially. They are change just waiting for a catalyst.
|It was a way better movie than it had any right to be...|
There are major social and political implications of creating masses of semi-human soldiers, and I don't want to shy away from that discussion. Just as importantly for the game, AIHs provide some really fascinating (and challenging) roleplaying options -- and, yes -- if a player wants a kickass supersoldier, look no farther.
... And, in case it has to be said, if all the GM is looking for are supersoldiers to use for a plothook or all the Player wants is to play someone that can kick some major ass -- and both want to ignore all the social rigmarole I am embedding in the setting, that is not a problem. You are not playing it wrong.
This entry is going to be more raw than the rest - I wrote it last night and haven't given it even the rudimentary pass I gave OCRI and the Jammer entries. So, apologies upfront. Don't judge me too harshly on the spelling and awkward turn of a phrase.
Bottled Soldiers -- The Initiated Aging Process (IAP): As early as 2100, Martian scientists were exploring the use of clones as alternatives to labor-intensive careers. Despite a number of predictions that humans would no longer be required for physical labor, 2100 still saw many humans involved in a number of physically-oriented careers (though those numbers were the lowest they had ever been in human history). Warfare, in particular, still required humans for many key roles -- especially on the battlefield and to pilot the various full-sized and teleopertaed vehicles. Automation and digitization of the world marched along, but humans were still needed to perform a number of key jobs.
In 2099 the Erinyes Doctrine outlined the process by which the Martians planned to free themselves from Earth’s dominion - and a key part of the Doctrine was to acquire large numbers of physical troops to overwhelm the C-in-C of Hegemon and UN forces in the Martian well. Thus, Mars needed troops. Lots of troops. And Mars needed to make sure Earth interests were not alerted to the troop buildup.
Erinyes initially called for 1.5 million troops at the outset of war - with a stead increase in numbers as each tear of combat ticked by. Mercenaries and recruitment of native Martian forces could provide 500,000 of that number, but even the most generous statistical analyses from the CCFD had Martian leadership fall short of the targeted number. Initially, the Martians enacted a crash-course of trying to digitize consciousness in the hope that they could transfer their experienced soldiers into synthetic warforms, but, like all similar experiments, the human mind refused to remain coherent away from a physical brain. In time, the Martian executive turned their focus on to a parallel project -- the exploitation of clones. In secret, the Administrator Sugiyama charged the Department of Defense to grow and train two million clones - and for those clones to be ready by 2100 for potential hostilities with Earth.
The shortcut the DoD was forced to use was Initiated Aging Process (IAP), which doubled the speed by which the human body developed. Within 10 years, the DoD had, amazingly enough, a secret army of hale 20-year olds. Unfortunately, the psychological and sociological pressures the the IAP process placed on the the clones was enormous. Suicide rates for the clones were staggeringly high, and burnout was similarly astronomical. By the 10 year deadline, more than 500,000 clones were dead or evaluated as combat ineffective.
DoD researchers used every trick they could to prepare the clones for the upcoming war. Military discipline and training weren't a problem - the young minds of the clone soldiers easily absorbed and processed their lessons. DNI was experimented with as a way to impart advanced combat and piloting techniques - with some notable successes. However, for all intents and purposes, the clones were mentally only 10 years old when they took the field.
The deployment of the Martian clones (Artificially Initiated Humans, “Ayes”) had the desired effect of the battlefield. Earth and UN forces had carefully plotted their numbers stationed on Mars to counter known Martian forces. When the Free Mars movement revealed nearly two million unaccounted-for soldiers, the colonial forces were immediately placed on the defensive. The UN and Hegemons never recovered the initiative, and eventually were forced off of most of Mars. The initial battlefield successes of the IAP and its AIH shocktroopers prompted the Martian shadow-government to increase the numbers of AIHs in development - swelling the ranks of the Martian forces by the final stages of the war. All told, over 60 million clones were created, trained and processed; and an estimated 40 million of them survive to this day.
During the height of the Martian independence war, the UN spitefully passed Security Council Resolution 4161, condemning the use of AIHs and cloning as a tool of war. The nascent Martian planetary government ignored the resolution and the Earth-side condemnation it spawned, instead turning back to the vats and developing the next iteration of cloned soldiers. The UN noted significant moral challenges to the use of AIHs, and soundly condemned the routine savagery of the AIHs during, and after, combat. Truthfully, the Free Mars movement regularly had trouble reigning in the excesses of the AIHs, though the Movement, and its successor the MDP, never admitted to mishandling the brutality of the AIHs.
Today, Mars has a growing problem on its hands. The MDP has millions of former soldiers, struggling to find meaningful work, who suffer from significant anomie, and of which many have sociopathic tendencies as a direct result of the mental stresses placed on them by the state. These same dispossessed clones have skills best suited to combat and confrontation. Many turn to crime, piracy or mercenary guilds to earn cash and find meaning. The AIHs are also rapidly aging - creating entirely new mental pressures on the clones as well as precipitating a social services crisis.
Mars knows it owes a steep debt to the AIHs - it just doesn't know how to repay them - or if it really ready to pay the cost.
I want AIHs to be a tough setting element for the game. All too often, major issues like the implications of genetic engineering and wartime expediency are ignored - in literature and in games. Time to change that.