"Five years ago this company didn't have any international presence.
Ten years ago this company didn't have a single fibre-optic line.
Fifteen years ago this company didn't exist."
John Spencer, describing WorldCom, America's
telecommunications giant (1998)
Sovereign entities abound in this fragmented world, each fighting for
survival and each trying to propagate itself to spread its message.
Megacorporations (now known as Intercontinentals) compete with
ethnic Clan networks, digital tribes, consumer unions, and national
governments, not for mere physical resources but for people. Entities
represent the ideal society for their members, pulling in new citizens
while at the same time manipulating them to further the entity's agenda.
People who prefer contractual business relations and meritocracy usually join
Intercontinentals. Those who believe in traditional ethnic groupings
and family ties join the recognized Clans.
Every entity is competing not only within the hyper-competitive
global markets and the Purchasing Market, but also in the realm
of political influence. Each entity tries its utmost to bend and
subvert the harsh Research Control Regime, which slows down scientific
thought and makes genegineering and nanotech innovation impossibly arduous.
Entities have gained certain extra-territorial powers - akin to diplomatic
immunity - which dwarf their influence during the previous century. Yet
these powers can be overriden or twisted by powerful
national governments and do not confer total immunity even to such gigantic
Intercons as Eagle Corporation.
"Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from
any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some
defunct economist. . . . It is ideas, not vested interests,
which are dangerous for good or evil."
economist John Maynard Keynes
Clans are distinguished by their ethnic character and often racist behaviour.
Those who feel threatened by multiculturalism or other tribes join Clans
to regain their sense of identity, traditional moral values, and sense of
purpose. Clans are about Blood and Belonging. Clans are powerful actors
on the international stage because the Protocol-registered Clans are legal
entities in their own right and are treated just like national governments.
Members of a Clan are citizens of that Clan, hold passports, and have all
the rights and duties of a normal citizen. Clan territory is considered
extra-territorial, just like an embassy. However, Clans are much more
demanding than national governments in what they expect of members. Members
must strictly adhere to the tenets of the Clan or face punishment or expulsion.
Clans make their own laws and members must follow them. Clans usually expect
members to follow their moral, as well as legal, codes. For example, members
of the Heartlanders Clan are expected to go to Church on Sundays, abstain
from many vices such as excessive alcohol and sex, and have a liberal-democratic
political orientation. Since Clans are independent 'countries' in their own
right, they are not obliged to follow any anti-discrimination laws and can
refuse or expel members as they wish. You won't find many non-Chinese in the
South China Commonwealth, or many blacks in the Mormon Union. There are also
many unregistered or illegal Clans whose members are nominally
citizens of another Clan/State, but who follow the codes of their secret
a Clan based on
traditional Victorian values of hard work, progressive technology subservient
to man, class divisions based on Equity, and a deference to Classical thought.
Most members are British, Anglo-American, and Eastern European, but a large
number of minorities from the former British Commonwealth are also part of the
Establishment. Neo-Victorians were strong supporters of the Research Control
Regime - wishing to turn back the clock - but chafe under its un-Enlightened
Atlantis a technocratic Clan based on
scientific rationalism and trans-Atlantic ties.
Atlanteans believe in a society based on reason, intellectual achievement,
controlled technology, and the repression of primitive instincts and irrational
emotions. Atlantis Clan citizens devote their lives to perfecting technology,
developing sociological models, and melding man with machine. Atlanteans tend to
be Euroamerican-oriented and hope for eventual union between the two continents.
Heartlanders rural-based Mid-West
American clan centered around
traditional family values, Christian Protestant beliefs, simple clean living,
equality, basic freedoms, limited government interference, and minimal technology.
Often derided as dull peasants, in reality this Clan maintains a sophisticated
international network of grassroot parties and supporters which allow it to
wield massive influence during critical moments in American politics.
Uhuru African-American Clan devoted to
economic development for underprivileged people, promotion of pan-African culture,
stable families. Uhuru is united against the common enemy of white oppression, but
is split along traditional Evangelical Christian and Muslim lines. After a prolonged
guerrilla war in America during the Pacific War (and comcomitant casualties), Uhuru
negotiated with the administration and renounced the use of violence, instead channelling
its energies to economic development and a peaceful separation of the races.
Also known as the South China Commonwealth, this is a formal grouping of the various
overseas Chinese communities in Asia and America. Based on traditional
Confucian values, the promotion of personal business alliances, extended kith & kin
ties, and shared traditions. Huaren citizens promote Chinese cultural awareness
(gonshi), support pro-market policies, and cultivate extensive bamboo networks
across the world. The leaders of this Clan tend to be quiet Christians and Muslims
but promote the traditional Chinese triad of Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism in public.
Slavonika a Russian-dominated clan
devoted to unifying and defending Slavic peoples. Emphasis is on fellow Orthodox
Slavs. This clan is constantly fragmenting because its members still revive
ancient animosities. Slavonika Clan is nearly indistinguishable from
The Kombinat, and is generally ignored as the propaganda arm of Holy Russia.
Nevertheless, Slavonika has managed to wrest diplomatic control of Serbia from
the European Legion Integration Command.
Latinate Latino Clan based on a
liberal lifestyle, traditional syncretic Roman Catholicism, mixed Indian-European blood,
and a mission to 'enjoy life's pleasures'. Citizens are conservatice
in some respects (re: gays), but liberal in others (alcohol and sex). Recent demographic
and religious shifts towards Latino Protestant sects have been the cause of vicious
street battles and numerous riots in Sapario city and Buenos Aires.
Kombinat union of several Russian crime
syndicates. Ultraviolent, racist, business-friendly and extremely xenophobic, the
Kombinat is perhaps the most overtly ruthless crime syndicate on the planet. Other
crime syndicates look upon them as barbarians and psychotics, but occasionally form
alliances in order to harness the Kombinat's military-industrial ties.
Triad an association of many Triad rings
united in a common cause to unify Greater China (which, according to Triad propaganda,
includes almost all of East Asia) and expel foreign 'barbarians'. The Triad(s) are not
formally united and tend to be opportunistic, though they coordinate attacks against
the hated American Governance forces on a regular basis. The Fists of Righteous
Harmony are the most militant wing and engage in terrorism, employing illegal nanotech
and bioweapons with a cold-bloodedness rarely witnessed elsewhere. The Triad is racist,
highly conservative, and not averse to using any means necessary to achieve its goals.
The more pacifist sections of the Triad are involved in smuggling, gun-running,
and laundering. The Triad has connections to the government of Imperial China.
Triad members especially hate Muslims and Christians, and with most other people
with barely-disguised contempt.
God's Lightning puritanical Evangelical
Christians who try to punish deviants and fringers, and who believe in an imminent
Armageddon - which they try to hasten by provoking conflict between other groups.
Though illegal everywhere, GL is often tolerated in Mid-Western America. God's
Lightning is a minor player in American politics, but a major in webworks proselytizing
and digital conversion.
Flame of Allah puritanical Muslim
brotherhood devoted to cleansing all signs of mutation and deviancy from the
population, usually through death. Tolerated in Central Asia, illegal elsewhere.
Others Clans/Nations include Orangeria Free State(Afrikaners), Haredim (Ultra-Orthodox
Jews), Zulu Nation, Mormon Union, La Francophonie, Nihondai (Japanese), Hindustan (Hindi).
"Form determines content. Corporations are machines."
economist and advertising executive Jerry Mander
Intercontinentals are gigantic multinational corporations whose motivating
factors are profit, market share, and return-on-investment. Most are
meritocracies where rank and promotion are based on skills and productivity,
not family ties or connections. In reality Intercons are as prone to
corruption, bribery, infighting, personal connections and backstabbing
as any other organization. Intercons in 2038 are usually divided into
Western and Eastern variants.
Western Intercons are usually informatics-based,
highly streamlined and efficient, specialized (core competency), and rely
on research, design, innovation, and engineering aspects to make money.
Western Intercons rely on sophisticated Infospheres and are usually not
in the business of making any physical products, but rather of providing
complex services. Western-type Intercons can be
found in many free-market areas such as America, Cathay, Australia,
Britain, Italy, and Argentina. Their distributed organization and lack
of physical plant make them highly-mobile and independent of national
Eastern Intercons are
classical vertically-integrated conglomerates which make everything from
toasters to airplanes and who tend to have operations in every sector from
banking to manufacturing to informatics. These are the infamous 'industrial
the Twentieth Century, and their massive bulks often conceal bloated
bureaucracies and inefficient production. Eastern Intercons invest heavily
in factories and laboratories, and tend to rely on national governments
for protection and subsidies. Most have branch-plants around the world
but may be concentrated in their home country. These Intercons are usually
less efficient and profitable than Westies, but often dominate in market share
and can sometimes bludgeon opponents to death using a variety of tricks.
There is also a growing number of Southern types, which are usually
co-operatives operating under employee-ownership and profit-sharing
plans. Most are minors and are heavily dependent on foreign venture
funds. They can be found in places such as Tutsigiland, Congo, Java,
San Francisco, and the Bolivar States.
Eumed a venerable health-care
consortium from the early century. Includes the powerful electronics
maker Medicon Industrial. Eumed (supposed to mean Eu-medicine, or Good Medicine
from the Greek) competes with Holy Trinity in providing health care
services from telesurgery-on-demand to patented herbal cures and
visits to witch doctors. Whatever you prefer. Eumed also designs
medical machinery such as Clotis generators and gene sequencers.
It's most successful service to date has been the 'Good Baby' line
of franchised eugenics counselling clinics.
Genesys formerly General
Systems, a combine from the union of the semi-balkanized IBM and
DEC corporations. Genesys designs cutting-edge connector and compad
hardware as well as more classical mainframe and minicore systems
for network applications. Many small electronic gadgets carry the
Genesys logo, though the actual manufacture is in places like Myanmar,
Sakha and Ogonia.
Reflex the world's premiere
software corporation. Reflex specializes in custom-made software and
is not in the mundane business of mass-market applications. Reflex
software is held to incredible standards of precision, robustness
and durability. Through a series of subsidiaries Reflex also controls
the major business and infosphere markets around the world, except in
China where they compete ferociously with Cathay Infosys and Iso Systems.
Shang East Asia's most powerful
industrial corporation, with manufacturing concerns throughout the world.
Builds cars, planes, small space modules, connectors, computers, and other
Powercorp a confederation-style
of allied corporations, each with the Power name added, such as Powertrans
(electricity transmission), Powertrade (purchasing networks), Powerhydro
(water utilities), Powercom (communications), etc. Powercorp specializes
in handling any physical networks, from power lines to sewerage lines.
Systemhaus AG a German minor
with interests in informatics, geomatics, networking, telecoms, and
Shiva the largest Indian
intercon with holdings in pretty much every industry, but most widely
seen in the West as a maker of white goods (stoves, fridges, etc.) and
and light electronics. Shiva controls a large chunk of Hindustani trade
by government edict and also bullies its way into East Asian business
Quizatl Designhouse Mexican
information and design guild/society employing tens of thousands of architects,
simulationists, decorators, graphic designers, modellers and other
artsy sorts. Employees are also owners, but profits are redirected to
overseas branches. Quizatl claims to have the best researchers who are
able to re-create any given moment in human history in perfect detail.
Gestalt Mechanics the world's
largest maker of biomechanical constructs such as chimerics, anti-parasites,
and even (surreptitiously) xenorganics. Gestalt does secret offworld modelling
and has a crack team of lawyers who have managed to defeat all attempts
at prosecution in the last 9 years. Gestalt is believed to be secretly
owned by the US Apparatus. Competes with Synthesia.
Telepresence formerly a large
European media combine which later merged with Brazil's Orba to form
a massive multimedia, information, telecoms and entertainment intercon.
Telepresence makes television programs, news, veeworlds; operates theme parks,
offworld resort habitats, and spectacles such as the Olympic Games.
Their motto is "If we're there, you're there".
Digital tribes are subcultures that have evolved on the Net over many
generations, and which now have a legitimate claim to their own traditions
and morals. These online tribes share cyberspace realms but may be widely
dispersed in realspace. Digital tribes permeate the webworks and include :
Undernet the infamous
uncrackable subnetwork of libertarian cipherpunks.
mankind's biggest collective dream. A veeworld collective and a potential
NegatiFland a loose group
of neo-anarchists who oppose all forms of government and coercion.
Currently resident in Nuke York's vast sub-sewerage network.
Tea Party banned political party which promotes direct democracy
and civil rights in America. From Boston Tea Party.
Helix progressive scientists (originally genegineers) who oppose
the Research Control Regime. Banned. Plans unknown.
Apple Clan an obscure digital cult centered around
an ancient (but supposedly divine) computer type.
Seventh International fractious grouping of Communists, Marxists,
Maoists, and other revolutionary left-wing groups. Most popular in nations south
of the Equator.
CONSUMER UNIONS & FRANCHISES
Consumer Unions are specialized collectively-owned corporations whose sole
purpose is to provide their members with cheap high-quality goods and services.
They are not considered extra-territorial legal entities, but their purchasing
power and political influence make them fairly independent in most areas, and
their pronouncements are closely watched by the Intercons. The largest consumer
union is United Consumers. Franchises are unique business enterprises
which actually have a guiding philosophy. Franchises provides goods and services
in a standardized fashion and follow their 'mission statements' to the letter.
For example, the Security Franchise is basically a global mercenary operation
which maintains strict codes of behaviour, makes mass weapon purchases, enforces
contracts, and brings professional management practise to a rather disreputable
activity. Security Franchise is successful because their member-franchisees follow
strict regulations on behaviour (no looting, etc), efficiency, training,
objectives, fees, and even cleanliness. A Security Franchise contract is ironclad.
Security Franchise signs on only the best professionals and runs a tight ship.
Other Franchises include:
Holy Trinity a Vatican-sponsored health services corporation
which promotes healing through science and Christian principles
DataGenesis a franchise which creates beautiful 'organic' data
structures and promotes the idea of information as a new life form.
Since players will either be working for or against an entity, there must be
a set of rules to deal with meta-events such as a corporate boardroom
power play that might be boring for players. Some events will be over their
heads, but should be decided by some dice rolls. In all such cases the
Controller should perform tests using the following Entity Traits:
Bureaucracy a measure of efficiency and smooth organization. Used when
players are attempting to fool a sales office, pit two branches of an
entity against each other, or suborn head-office communiques.
Military Might a measure of the [para-]military forces an entity can
bring to bear when faced with a big problem. This includes soldiers,
tanks, warplanes, war satellites, sea ships, submarines, etc.
Infosphere a measure of an entity's wisdom, accumulated knowledge
stored in a vast database, and its network of contacts in the field. Infosphere is
used when an entity is trying
to locate information about anything, be it a fringer, a new combustion
process, or your home address. Infosphere is most often used against
an entity's Secrecy trait.
Influence a measure of the power to do want you want. This can take
the form of political influence through bribery or other dirty tricks; close
relations with family businesses; favours stored with powerful people; alliances
with other entities; or simply vast amounts of money to buy power.
Internal Security a measure of the care with which the entity guards
its network, facilities, and employees. Internal Security can be used to ferret out
infiltrators, traitors, saboteurs and disloyal personnel. The Severity of
the security describes the punishment against those captured by IS.
Secrecy a measure of how much other people know about this entity.
A high secrecy means the entity is unknown, unrecognizable and the actions of its
operatives are very difficult to trace back. Secrecy is most often pitted against
Equipment a measure of the equipment resources the entity makes
available to its operatives/employees. Entities with high Equipment scores will
be able to provide macroparasites, dissemblers, lasguns, and other restricted
Presence a measure of the entity's global presence, as indicated
by branch offices, field sites, legations, etc. A high Presence rating indicates
the entity has a presence in nearly every country and major city in the world,
while a low Presence entity would only have a few bases.