Vir's Archive

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Agents of Violent Change (Content, Mechanics)


Getting back to what the PCs do (and building off THIS post),, one of the really good pieces of advice I got from a writing buddy of mine is that I need to keep the setting focused.  Rather than just present a detailed setting, there needs to be a clear "this is what you, the player, is supposed to do."  Obviously, the setting will allow for a whole lot of options for the PCs, but I think my friend is right.  I have been working on a setting element that can facilitate the type of play I think TDE is built for.  I want to highlight cinematic action set against the backdrop of a realistic (and dynamic) Solar System.  I want the PCs to affect change.  I want them to pilot kick-ass mecha in the form of Jammers.

Sorta like this guy.  But with a big ass robot   
To all those ends, I am planning on the default campaign style to be that of futuristic CIA-like operatives.  I recall a few years ago I watched a show on Discovery that was stroies about the Afghan and Iraq wars before hey became full-on wars.  In that series (whose name I cant remember) it followed a number of CIA  and special forces operators as they laid the ground work for the invasions or tracked down terrorists/insurgents.  It was fascinating stuff (and probably sensationalized quite a bit).  Thats what I want out of the PCs - to be the very tip of the spear of whatever is going to go down.  I want them to have all the cool toys of a full-on military, without the restrictive hierarchy.

Enter CAID (aka "Fatewatch")..

CAID is patterned a bit after the crisis analysis organization in Peter Watts brillant SF Rifters Saga.  As always, rough draft, spelling errors, blah, blah, blah... 

Vanguard Social Science -- The Complexity Analysis and Intelligence Directorate (CAID): CAID is an elite and very specialized Martian intelligence organization that works to anticipate the development of chaotic events by calculating and statistically analyzing the likelihood of natural disasters, social upheavals, conflicts, and other major events.  It is also empowered to eliminate those threats.  CAID pulls on the best and brightest of Mars, and aggressively recruits throughout the System.  CAID researchers, scientists, and engineers are provided with generous budgets and support staff to facilitate their projects.  However, the core mission of CAID remains the correct prediction of threats to Mars and its people - and an unsaid aspect of that prediction is to do so far enough in advance of a catastrophe to be able to enact meaningful change.  

CAID is colloquially known as the “Fatewatch” and usually referred to simply as “Core” by CAID’s field agents and paramilitary wing.  For most of CAID;s existence, it was simply referred to in official Martian government documents as “Antevortia” -- a simple placeholder for budgets and bookkeeping.  “Antevortia” is still used by many in the Burt administration, and “Antevortian” is a common pejorative term throughout the System to refer to anything that involves an unbelievable or complex conspiracy.  

The resources at CAID’s disposal are significant.  To aid in forecasting, the Directorate has over 200 supercomputers, most of which are integrated, running statistical analyses and regression techniques to identify threats at various points in the future and apply percentages to the likelihood of the threat’s outcome.  From there, CAID’s researchers and analysts review the data and work up reports that draw on history, social and physical sciences, and good old fashioned logical hunches.  The reports are used throughout the Martian government (and, in rare cases, its allies) to identify the threat, its severity and its possible outcomes.  Its not quite a science, but its damn close.  

CAID’s operations cell is particularly feared - rumored to both enact events that CAID predicted but have not come to pass as well as prematurely end any events CAID fears it cannot control.  This often leads to the Ops Cell eliminating seemingly innocuous politicians or destroying “random” space debris that forecasting identified as particularly problematic for the future foals of Mars.  Fatewatch’s forces are staffed by the best and more experienced that Mars has to offer.  CAID operates a sizable Jammer fleet.  Jammers have proven their utility time and time again for the diverse set of missions Core demands.  CAID also operates a number of interplaetary assets -- including a handful of spec ops cruisers, frigates, an extensive array of detection and comms gear spread throughout the system, and even a full-sized carrier.  

In those times a threat is too large to be dealt with by CAIDs elite, but small forces, it can request aid through the Ministry of Defense, Ministry of External Intelligence, Ministry of Home Affairs, or just about any government organization.  The fact that CAID operates under the Administrator’s office and is funded by a special line-item in the Martian budget means that it has considerable latitude and high-level support when it requests aid.  

The Directorate has had its fair share of notable successes and abysmal failures.  They did not successfully predict the dangers the Huns presented - only realizing the threat to Venus after astrophysicists in the public sector revealed their findings.  This oversight still serves as, a major black mark they are seeking to correct through enactment of the Erinyes Doctrine.  On the other end of the spectrum, CAID successfully anticipated the Jovian L4-L5 War as well as predicted the level of involvement of TORA and OCRI.  Its notable that while it is publically acknowledged that CAID predicted the L4-L5 War, what, if anything, it did clandestinely about the war is unknown.  Another feather in CAID’s cap was its prediction of the 2188 Martian executive election.  CAID’s leadership, at the orders of Administrator Sugiyama, worked up a detailed analysis of the likely outcomes - and noted their belief that Sugyama would narrowly lose the election (with a 65% likelihood).  Sugiyama ignored the analysis, believing that the data confidence was still quite high.  History proved him wrong when the analysis was later revealed in a bit of a scandal after Burt took office.  


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Truckin' right along.  We've done game theory  setting design, mechanics... its starting to fall into place.