||[Jul. 18th, 2006|04:53 am]
Institutions are very important, and not just because the GM is a social science nerd. This shit's all part of the dystopian context. Feel free to make up your own. On the fly, even.|
IEC- The International Economic Confederation acts in much the same role as the modern United Nations, except voting power is purchased through yearly dues and it has considerably more political and economic power. Its main purpose is to minimize conflict and promote economic stability. As such it all but ignores most humanitarian abuses unless they threaten to disrupt world trade.
Atlantis Central Municipal Administrative Bureau- (Cent Bureau or just the Cent for short) The Atlantis settlement, located a few hundred miles northeast of present-day Bermuda, is a special economic zone of the North American Empire. It is politically autonomous, but leases a division of the Imperial Marines. It consists of a mayoral executive branch (essentially a figurehead), a bicameral legislature (one relatively weak elected Diet, and the Ministria Presidium appointed by the Diet) , and a judicial bureaucracy (headed by a Supreme Court of seven Arbiters). The Central Municipal Administrative Bureau is one of the few public bureaucracies in existence, although it is not entirely insulated from private corporate interests. As such, the Atlantean bureaucracy is lean and efficient, and all members of the civil service are augmented with a standardized holocrystal cerebral storage device for security purposes. It is rumored in obscure circles of the metaweb that a shadow government exists within a closed network using the civil servants' cerebral computers as nodes. As in most countries outside of Atlantis, posthumans are ineligible for civil service for security reasons, although there are rare exceptions of persons with bizarre and unclassifiable powers who have infiltrated the highest echelons of Atlantean government.
MuniSec- The Atlantis Municipal Security Corporation is a publicly owned corporation that enforces laws passed by the legislature. MuniSec is organized in a vast and rigid hierarchy wherein low-ranking officers are all but explicitly encouraged to engage in corrupt relationships with criminal organizations. Field officers are usually transferred to Invictus before they attain a rank high enough to live comfortably; most everyone in MuniSec above the rank of Lieutenant is either a candidate for civil service or a corporate liason. Posthumans are ineligible for work in MuniSec.
The Invictus- The organization responsible for research and neutralization of posthumans is the Invictus, which while officially subordinate to MuniSec and the Atlantean government, is for practical purposes more powerful than either organization for several reasons, not the least being that posthumans are encouraged to join the Invictus or be subject to severe social and legal sanctions. The Invictus' posthuman resources give the organization a considerable edge in terms of political and military power; its dependence on MuniSec for funding is all that keeps the Invictus in check.
The Holy Order of Solaria- Although there are many competing religious groups boasting practitioners of mysticism, the Solarian Church is remarkable in that its clergy possess a unique talent for disrupting and neutralizing posthuman phenomena with the power of Exorcism (in game terms, this is the only posthuman convention with access to the level 3 version of Nullify that counters all powers). Members of the Church interpret this as a sign of their spiritual covenant with their ineffable deity. Although their dogma is slightly more organic and abstract than that of today's Christians, they are just as prone to fundamentalism and zealotry. Their scripture, the Solarian Codex, is inspired by Jewish, Christian, and Islamic monotheism, as well as Zoroastrianism, Manicheanism, and Baha'i, although the Solarians count a considerable number of new prophets and saints since the ascent of posthumanity. Solarians eschew most conventional forms of cyber-augmentation, meaning every single adherent is a closed mind to cyberbrain infiltration.
Megacorporations- Even though Atlantis is home to one of the last public governments on the face of the planet, most sections of the arcology are partly or fully administrated by private corporate organizations. Hierophant LLC and Izeruu Industries are the two most prominent corporate actors, holding a tenuous duopoly over defense and security contracting in the Western hemisphere. About 75-85% of publicly available cyber-augmentations are produced by one of these two companies.
Criminal syndicates- The rise of megacorps all but annihilated any sense of shared national identity for most inhabitants of Earth. Tribal consciousness persists within crime families which have relied on adherence to traditions to promote solidarity. There are, however, many criminal organizations that do not rely on clan traditions to promote their agendas (see the previous entry). Neighborhood protection rackets are the essential livelihood of most crime families and some of the most stable sectors of Atlantis remain so because of cooperation between MuniSec and the local syndicates. The Aryan Brotherhood deserves special attention not only because it is one of the most powerful of these groups, with ties to the Holy Order of Solaria, but because of the peculiarities of its white supremacist ideology, which lumps most (but not all) posthuman "freaks" in with all other undesirable ethnic groups. There is nuanced distinction between what constitutes a freak and a genuine Aryan, as a majority of the Brothers are cyber-augmented in one form or another, and Solarian clerics are typically respected.
The Posthuman Conventions- This is not a singular entity, as posthumanity is still too young to possess the type of shared identity to organize on a broad level. With the exception of the Solarian Church, even the individual conventions rarely organize as monolithic institutions, as it is rare that more than a handful of posthumans can agree on a unified theoretical principle or hypothetical origin for their powers. Most posthumans can be roughly classified as Solarians, alchemists, psychics, mystics, shamans, mutants, or cyborgs. None of these categories are mutually exclusive except for the wide gaps of social isolation between the traditions. Due to instructional nuances, each convention has its own advantages and disadvantages.
Solarians have access to the level 3 version of Nullify (all powers) and the Persistent power feat for Healing, but they suffer from Power Loss if they violate the Covenant.
Alchemists are extremely talented at transmuting physical substances and have exclusive access to the level 6 version of Transform, but they are burdened by the Law of Equivalent Exchange and have power source limitations on most powers dealing with energy manipulation. They may use the Power Use skill (from the Masterminds manual) to create new alternate power effects on the fly without using Extra Effort, but are barred from using Mental powers.
Psychics have the most freedom in power selection (especially Mental powers), but since they directly manipulate reality through willpower rather than ritual, they are frequently mentally unstable and/or are prone to losing control of their powers (treat as Power Surge drawback from the Masterminds manual).
Mystics rely on arcane rituals to produce magical effects and are also able to use the Power Use skill effects in lieu of Extra Effort, but they have drawbacks related to the nature of their rituals and must make a Power Use check even for rote effects. This may include a power flaw requiring that the character be able to speak, sing, gesture, dance, draw, etc. or a power source requirement.
Shamans and totemists can communicate with and summon powerful spirits and manipulate weaker ones to create geomantic effects. They have unrestricted access to the Summon (Minion) power and can take the Heroic or Horde extras. Actually, so can Mystics if they focus on demon summoning or necromancy. There's a lot of overlap with Mystics. I haven't determined how to differentiate between them in game terms other than that shamans can't substitute Power Use for Extra Effort and also aren't required to make Power Use checks.
Mutants and Gifted do not learn their powers; they are encoded in their genes. They must apply the Innate power feat to all of their powers, meaning they cannot be Boosted, Drained, or Nullified (even by Solarians). However, they are extremely limited in creating power arrays because all of their effects must be thematically linked.
Cyborgs are technically posthuman in the sense that they are something else but do not suffer the same fearful social stigma as other posthumans because they are available to anyone with the money, their powers tend to be more predictable, they are vulnerable to certain effects like EMP fields and cyberbrain hacking, and they are usually easier to spot and regulate (although high-grade augs can be made of organic materials and only detectable with x-rays or sharply enhanced senses). Cyber augs, particularly those designed for combat use, are regulated in higher-class parts of the arcology. Augs that are worn or held instead of permanently connected to the body qualify as Devices. Nanotechnology, while expensive and difficult to use (requiring Knowledge: physical sciences and Power Use), can produce many of the same effects as alchemy (transmuting materials) and psionics (manipulating neurochemistry).
Feel free to make up your own category. Just make sure you explain it adequately in your backstory.