Ads

Pages: 1 [2] 3 4 5
  Print  
Author Topic: The Commission (Black Chamber Reimagining)  (Read 12737 times)
WINGED NEMESIS
Owlbear
*


View Profile
« Reply #15 on: September 24, 2012, 09:15:43 AM »

Exegesis

When an agent is resurrected, do they remember being dead (as distinct from the dying process)? Are there any significant advantages/disadvantages to experiencing death.

Agents who have been revived following medical death have no conscious memory of the time they spent dead. However, they are often plagued by phantasmagorical nightmares, the exact nature and imagery of which seems unique to the individual. Chamber psychologists attribute this to both the existential shock of having literally come back to the dead and the means used in the process, which are, to say the least, experimental.

So while some agents come back emboldened or enlightened by their visions, most find the experience suitably traumatic that it’s something the endeavor to never repeat. And as I mentioned before, there are the various physical and psychological side-effects of the process, including but not limited to: strange cancers, tumorous growths, changes in body chemistry and/or spiritual aura, exotic psychological syndromes, and limited to total possession.

Exegesis

Can a person be brought back to life after their soul has been tortured? If so, does it change them in horrifying ways?

Yes and no. By the time you’ve reached the point where you’re torturing someone’s ghost, they’ve been dead for so long that revivification is impossible; the threshold is usually a few hours to at most a day, depending on how they died. It is possible to directly torture the soul of someone who’s still alive, but it’s a complicated, time-consuming process reserved for only the hardest of cases. And in both cases, the victim comes out of the experience invariably warped on a fundamental, metaphysical level and, more often than not, irrevocably psychotic.

Exegesis

Does liquidation refer to ectoplasmic harvest?

It’s actually just a slightly more polite euphemism for assassination. ‘Wetwork’ is a Russian expression popularized by the KGB, so it’s not a universally-accepted term.

Exegesis

Does the Chamber ever use children or the mentally infirm? If so, to what end?

Not as agents, but sometimes as test subjects. There’s a prevailing theory about children’s still-developing brains make better vessels for otherworldly entities than those of adults, but even in the Black Chamber, that’s considered somewhat tasteless. The mentally infirm are likewise considered to be more sensitive to extra-normal phenomenon and are sometimes used as lunatic ‘oracles’, their marginalized position in society making them perfectly-deniable assets.

Children have occasionally resulted from breeding programs with various entities (‘Deep Ones’, ghouls, ancient astronauts, etc.) conducted by both the Chamber and their Third Reich predecessors. Those not born with obvious mutations or inhuman psychoses are raised by Chamber personnel to serve as potential field agents in the future.

In this vein, Chamber headhunters sometimes approach prisoners facing exceptionally-harsh sentences. The offer is straightforward: work of the Black Chamber and receive a pardon. No guarantees are given about whether or not they’ll survive to enjoy it.

Exegesis

Does it ever recruit from the Illuminati?

Never. Well, almost never. They’re a lot more hesitant to accept defectors than their mundane counterparts, whether it’s from the Illuminati or one of their opposite-numbers. There was a particularly-nasty indecent that has since been immortalized in Black Chamber lore, where an apparent Illuminati defector turned out to have been subconsciously programmed with a powerful summoning-rote. The resulting hellpawn tore itself out of her skull and proceeded to massacre the entire team sent to pick her up.

So, despite the official policy to liquidate rather than turn enemy agents, defectors are sometimes accepted if they can provide invaluable information, information they couldn’t possible acquire through less-risky means. Of course, they then have to pass undergo thorough debriefing by Chamber ‘inquisitors’ and psychological and spiritual deprogramming (defusing, really). 

Exegesis

What special toys did the Nazi scientists bring to the table? Do any of them have divided allegiances?

The Nazi scientists, engineers, and occultists acquired during Operation Paperclip and similar operations revolutionized the Black Chamber’s understanding of ENEs. Both the sides had consorted with the occult to gain an edge in the war, but the Axis had been infinitely more thorough in its study, while the Allies had always kept such ‘necessary evils’ at arms-length. When the Chamber was done picking their brain (sometimes literally), they were left with literally volumes of secrets, formulas, and blueprints. Among other things, the Third Reich had conducted numerous expeditions to certain quasi-geographies that had long been thought legendary. They were also the first to accurately quantify the effects of occult energies on the human body and psyche.

The pseudoscience of the day being what it was, the vast majority of Nazis were not ‘debriefed’ anywhere near as thoroughly as the defectors today might; the Directors did not want to risk compromising any of their information or expertise. As a result, more have defected than anyone cares to talk about: many were acquired by the Illuminati, including the infamous ‘Argentinian Expats’: Nazi war criminals smuggled to Latin America via ODESSA ratlines. The Chamber continues to have trouble with stay-behind units, many of whom include enhanced soldiers and full-blown Others.

Exegesis

Even though the Chamber doesn't use psycho-programming to ensure agent secrecy (so you claim), what kinds of psycho-programming might they apply to agents?

Mental blocks to prevent sensitive information from being extracted through torture or telepathic programming. Empathy reduction. Conditioning of the agent’s psyche to resist the effects of entities whose powers or very appearance induce psychoses. Counter-possession wards. Fine-tuning of the fight-or-flight response, in either direction. Linguistic implants. Hell, implanting entire, selectively-dissociative personalities.

Exegesis

Do agents get to choose how/when they are "enhanced"? Do such enhancements make them more/less subject to P/S/E attention?

In metagame terms, the players get to pick what enhancements their characters receive.

In-setting, however, the agents are totally at the mercy of their superiors’ decisions. They’re lucky if they’re informed of what the procedure entails, what the effects will be, or even that it’s being performed. While the enhancements are usually intended to complement the agent’s strengths or make up for their weaknesses, Chamber surgeons and technicians are infamous for their cavalier attitudes, so it’s not unheard of for the ‘upgrades’ to be something totally bizarre.

Exegesis

Do any of these enhancements have minds of their own? Do these enhancements ever "accidentally" transform agents into monsters?

Some do, whether it’s an alien computer-crystal or just the residual memory from grafted ghoul muscle. While few end up completely dominating the agent they’re implanted into, subtle shifts in personality or demeanor are not unheard of.

The Chamber generally tries to avoid turning its people into monsters. For jobs that require a monster, they just employ actual monsters, and they don’t have to waste valuable time and technology getting them that way.

Exegesis

How does an enhanced agent measure up against a typical P/S/E threat, mano-a-mano?

That varies immensely, depending on the agent and threat in question. To put it broadly, most enhancements boost the agent’s capabilities beyond what is possible for most humans, sometimes to the level of minorly-superhuman. This might put them of the level of an ENE ‘foot soldier’ but anything above that is still likely to tear through them like wet tissue paper in a straight-up fight. Enhancements give them a realistic chance of surviving contact; agents still have to rely on superior planning and tactics to close the rest of the gap.

Exegesis

How does the Chamber keep surveillance on its agents? Who watches the watchers?

They’re not as active about is as one might expect. Agents’ superiors expect regular status reports and check-ins; go off the grid for any extended amount of time and they risk giving the impression that they’ve gone rogue or defected. The Chamber also employs ‘pavement artists’ to keep an eyeball on agents they have concerns about.

Of course, this is the Black Chamber, so they’re perfectly capable of using blood samples to triangulate their people’s positions via sympathetic magic; this method is highly-susceptible to jamming, so it’s significantly less effective against enemy agents. A more precise but far more involved method is to use some manner of panopticon-entity, but they are inhumanly-difficult to get an answer out of that isn’t infinitely-self-referential.

And nobody does. Welcome to zero government oversight, baby.

Exegesis

Are there any ancient pseudo-human cultures at large today?

While the great pseudo-human civilizations were all but wiped out in the secret wars of antiquity, some populations survive to this day, hidden in the remote corners of former colonies, particularly in Africa. This includes the dog-headed cynocephali, the one-footed skiapodes, the headless and cannibalistic anthropophagi, the towering syrbotae, and the aquatic mermaid. The Chamber has tentatively approached many of them, considering them too small a threat to warrant extermination. During operations that take them through these creatures’ territories, agents sometimes employ them as guides; while they are difficult to conceal, the Chamber does keep on hand a small platoon of ‘dog soldiers’.
Logged


(Salacious Angel)
Flail Snail
*


View Profile
« Reply #16 on: September 24, 2012, 03:49:46 PM »

Superbright

"The resulting hellpawn tore itself out of her skull"
That's what I'm talking about!

Superbright

It’s actually just a slightly more polite euphemism for assassination.
I was familiar with the term, but I figured the Chamber's combination of amorality and efficiency might have given the term some darker implications. Since liquidation involves the redistribution of resources, why not recycle the victim's soul?

Are you familiar with Mutant City Blues? It uses the GUMSHOE system and incorporates a matrix of principally investigation-related powers. You could readily combine it with Esoterrorists/Night's Black Agents.
Logged

WINGED NEMESIS
Owlbear
*


View Profile
« Reply #17 on: September 24, 2012, 03:59:26 PM »

Exegesis

Are you familiar with Mutant City Blues? It uses the GUMSHOE system and incorporates a matrix of principally investigation-related powers. You could readily combine it with Esoterrorists/Night's Black Agents.

Heard of it, never checked it out, but I guess I'll have to now! NBA gives an example of how to go about playing a vampire agent, so I figured I'd modify those rules a little for any superhuman powers the agents get from their enhancements.

I didn't forget about the rest of your questions. After the first hour I spent writing up responses, I knew I was going to have to take a break and come back to them later. And then you just kept posting more...

And one last thing: one of my favorites bits of he Charles Stross novels are amazingly-evocative code names he comes up with: Deep Ones are BLUE HADES, Mi-go are PLUTO KOBOLD, gorgons are GAME ANDES REDSHIFT, the horrible pocket dimension is called OGRE REALITY, etc. I was planning on doing a similar thing for the Black Chamber, so if anyone has any suggestions (with or without ENEs to go with them), feel free to share.
Logged


(Salacious Angel)
Flail Snail
*


View Profile
« Reply #18 on: September 24, 2012, 04:34:30 PM »

Superbright

And then you just kept posting more...
Blame sparkletwist and her "community participation initiative". You were just in the wrong/right place at the right/wrong time.
Logged

WINGED NEMESIS
Owlbear
*


View Profile
« Reply #19 on: September 24, 2012, 04:54:39 PM »

Exegesis

Blame sparkletwist and her "community participation initiative". You were just in the wrong/right place at the right/wrong time.

Hey, I'm not complaining. Yours is one of the writing styles I wish I was talented enough to emulate.
Logged


WINGED NEMESIS
Owlbear
*


View Profile
« Reply #20 on: September 25, 2012, 02:56:22 AM »

Exegesis

How has the P/S/E rogues gallery (particularly the cthulhus, and deities if they exist) responded to the advent of atomic power? Are any of them taking concrete steps to prevent/instigate nuclear war?

It certainly did shift the balance of power towards humanity’s side, however infinitesimally. The playing field isn’t anywhere close to even, of course, but there’s now at least the possibility that these quasi-godlike entities could be killed or, at the very least, forced back into whatever realm spawned them. This is during the time of Project PLUTO and SLAM: nuclear-powered cruise missiles. It’s not inconceivable that the Black Chamber might be working on ways to turn such technology into a reliable ‘godkiller’ weapon.

Certainly, there are entities of all power-levels with apocalyptic designs that view atomic weapons and their potential for global-devastation as a veritable Christmas present. At the same time, there are plenty more who are quite comfortable with the status quo, require humans for sustenance or amusement, or simply have designs that do not include mushroom clouds blooming on the horizon. OCCINTEL agencies on all sides work to actively subvert any ENEs who attempt to acquire a nuclear weapon, sometimes pitting them against each other. In fact, such a threat is one of the few that will prompt an uneasy cooperation between the Black Chamber and 17th Directorate; in the opinion of the most cynical “If anyone’s going to start a war that wipes out humanity, it’ll be humanity.”

Exegesis

Is a Black Chamber contract written on A) paper B) stone C) human skin D) the agent's own soul? Is it a spiritually binding contract or simply a formality? Are there any P/S/E entities that recognize the legitimacy of such a contract?

The correct answer is A) paper.

While it seems innocuous enough (especially if you only skim the fine print written in inhuman lettering), the contract all Black Chamber personnel sign is a piece of powerful bureaucratic sorcery that binds them not only legally, but metaphysically. In addition to waiving or amending the majority of their civil rights, the contract also creates a lasting sympathetic link, making it much, much easier for the Chamber to scry an agent’s location, conjure their ghost, etc. Such a link if difficult to break or suppress, but not impossible.

The contract also has the benefit of providing agents with some level of protection from the myriad of entities the Black Chamber employs as advisors, ‘technical experts’, and occasionally even as field agents. Whether it strengthens a binding geas, renders their aura spiritually-unpalatable, or simply compels the respect of such beings, it makes possible a working, even convivial, relationship between agent and monster.

Exegesis

Have there been any profound cosmological revelations in the past 60 years?

These are just some rough brainstormings, even more so than the rest of what I’ve written. As such, they may change dramatically in the near future.

With the advances in such fields as computational science, post-Einsteinian metaphysics, arcane formulae, and anti-Euclidean geometries, along with first-hand information gleaned from occult sources, Black Chamber researchers and theorists have been able to construct an increasingly-complete (and complex) picture of the universe.

It was only in the 1930s that plate tectonics became an accepted scientific theory; with those studies came evidence of labyrinth of tunnel-networks honeycombing the Earth’s crust and non-human civilizations existing miles below the surface, even below the Mohorovičić discontinuity.

Documents and personnel recovered in Operation PAPERCLIP verify that Ahnenerbe expeditions managed to reach several esoteric geographies, verifying the hypothesis that such locales exist in dimensions that only intersect with our own at certain points in time or under specific conditions, and not always at the same point. Nazi explorers are believed to have reached Hyperborea, Bhogavati, Leng, Lemuria, Mu, and Ultima Thule; following their directions, Chamber agents have been able to visit several of these locations as well.

The Chamber is increasingly-aware of the existence of other realities existing parallel to our own, though creating a stable portal to them is proving infinitely more tricky that creating one to, say, the dark side of the Moon. Some of the more hateful ones, actively malignant to mortal life, have been termed ‘Dark Anthropic Zones’.

Related is the theory that attached to our current timeline are multiple parasitic ‘alternate pasts’, including BLAVATSKY REALITY, which contradicts virtually all current scientific theory.

Chamber ontologists, metaphysicists, and theologists believe they have identified several ‘pantheons’ of entities of sufficient scale and power to be considered ‘gods’, including several who appear to be actively-malevolent. At the explicit orders of the Directors, work is underway on Project NIETZSCHE. Further information is classified.
Logged


WINGED NEMESIS
Owlbear
*


View Profile
« Reply #21 on: September 26, 2012, 03:36:05 PM »

Light Dragon

I'd be interested in hearing more about any sub-groups or specializations in the Black Chamber, if you're looking for something else to write about it.

Man, I feel like a dick for having totally forgotten about this question. When you say subgroups and specializations are you referring to the Black Chamber as an entity or individual agents?

I’ll get to both eventually, but I’m curious as to which you’d prefer to see first.

Also, the document I'm saving all of this to is now 20-pages long. That's the most I've ever managed to churn out for a single setting, ever.
Logged


(Salacious Angel)
Flail Snail
*


View Profile
« Reply #22 on: September 26, 2012, 03:52:57 PM »

Quote

I’ll get to both eventually, but I’m curious as to which you’d prefer to see first.
That's a toughie. To my mind, the specialisations of the Chamber itself probably play a large part in defining the setting's conflicts, while individual agent specialisation speaks more to the player toolset and the nuts'n'bolts of character creation.
Logged

WINGED NEMESIS
Owlbear
*


View Profile
« Reply #23 on: September 27, 2012, 05:13:50 AM »

The Black Chamber is roughly divided into two branches: ‘Home Office’ and Field Operations. Some departments appear to straddle divide between the two, while others don’t fit comfortably into either.

Home Office encompasses the Chamber’s administrative branch. While the Directors are the officially-unofficial heads of the agency and issue often-cryptic marching orders, it is Deputy Directors and their executive officers who actually see to the day-to-day operations. The ‘housekeepers’ manage personnel, finances, facilities, communications, logistics, and perhaps one of the most crucial departments of all: Internal Security. This is where you can find the lion’s share of the Black Chamber’s analysts, scientists, occult theorists, parapsychologists, medical staff, and the “computer technicians” who have to make sure TYPEWRITER CARNIVORE stays fed.

Field Operations is the home of the unlucky bastards who actually have to leave the safe, warded confines of an unmarked office and do the real legwork. Most are general “field agents” with a bit of training in all the important elements of the trade, though nobody go very long without developing some sort of specialty, such as ‘artists’ (surveillance), ‘cleaners’ (evidence-removal), ‘liquidators’ (assassination), ‘and plumbers’ (counter-possession). There’s also a large contingent of ‘babysitters’, paramilitary operatives recruited from NATO services. Rounding out the bunch are the field support: on-site analysts, medics, technicians, etc. There are few standing departments within Field Operations. The most notorious one is Special Projects: it frequently disappears and reappears from agency records, has zero-accountability even within the Chamber itself, and the agents assigned there full time are often so heavily enhanced they’re quasi-human at best, if they were even human to begin with.
Logged


Gelatinous Cube
*


View Profile
« Reply #24 on: September 27, 2012, 06:14:20 PM »

Ah good, that's what I was curious about. What I was also wondering about was if there are any cliques within the Black Chamber- that is, are there certain researchers who have cults of personality about them-and/or  are there philosophical divisions in the Chamber about how to deal with things? Since dissent appears to be dealt with harshly with disappeared members, the dynamics of the Chamber's self-policing juxtaposed to its development of creative ideas to deal with difficult tasks seems to be intriguing.
Logged


WINGED NEMESIS
Owlbear
*


View Profile
« Reply #25 on: September 30, 2012, 11:54:05 PM »

I have no ideas what these are going to be, but here's just a few names I jotted down while I should've been studying. I want the code names to be vaguely-evocative of the entities they refer to, without out-and-out giving away what they are. Some, however, will be entirely unrelated: all official designations, both for entities and agents, are produced by TYPEWRITER CARNIVORE who, Chamber scientists have determined, hates us all. If anyone feels inspired, by all means, share away: I'll get to them sometime, hopefully soon.

MANHATTAN CANINE: Ghouls, cannibalistic, subterranean half-dead.

COFFIN DENMARK: Vampires, broad umbrella term.

XERXES ASTRONAUT: Animate statues made of a living alien mineral.

BUSINESS FORMAL INTERROGATORY: "Body-snatchers" and infiltrators that resemble the archetypal "Men in Black", often cooperate with the Illuminati.

NEVADA SURGEON: "Greys", bug-eyed, impossibly-lanky extraterrestrials infamous for their medical experimentation.

QUEBEC RADIO

TEQUILA SUNSPOT

CENOTAPH PERSONA

AWFUL SHRUBBERY

COSSACK BOREHOLE

BENTHIC GOLDSMITH: Deep Ones.

MONACO GAMBLER: short-term precognition, a la Nick Cage in "Next".
« Last Edit: November 08, 2012, 10:30:16 AM by Superbright » Logged


Iä! Iä!
Yrthak
*


View Profile
« Reply #26 on: October 19, 2012, 09:39:00 AM »

I'm thinking that the COSSACK BOREHOLE could refer to something like a crossover between the Sandworms from Dune, the Sarlacc from Return of the Jedi, and antlions; immense underground burrowing things that never come to the surface but occasionally cause sudden sinkholes to gape open on the ground above, devouring anything that falls down. They could be bred as larvae within secret 17th Directorate laboratories, to be employed as bio-weapons by transplanting them into the soil near American oil fields in an attempt to disrupt the capitalists' energy supply, as well as to cause trouble for any Black Chamber agents that are sure to show up investigating.
Logged

¡ɟlǝs ǝnɹʇ ǝɥʇ ´ʍopɐɥS ɯɐ I
Paragon * (Paragon Rules) * Savage Age (Wiki) * Argyrian Empire

Spawn of Ungoliant
Flumph
*


View Profile WWW
« Reply #27 on: October 19, 2012, 06:27:45 PM »

TEQUILA SUNSPOT sounds like it could refer to chupacabra.  Or Aztec mummies.  Or maybe some kind of freaky Day of the Dead style event.  Something to do with solar flares and zombies/ghosts maybe...?

Are you looking for more codenames or just ideas for what the preexisting codenames should stand for?

I'm currently reading the Laundry series right now, as it happens - I'm about halfway through Jennifer Morgue.
Logged


WINGED NEMESIS
Owlbear
*


View Profile
« Reply #28 on: October 19, 2012, 06:36:59 PM »

I'd welcome either. I've been meaning to give this setting more attention now, that I'm over the mid-semester hump.

Hope you dig the novel as much as I did; I admit, his info-dumping can make it kind of hard to read on occasion and makes any of his harder works (yes, it gets even crunchier) virtually-unintelligible for someone like me.
Logged


Spawn of Ungoliant
Flumph
*


View Profile WWW
« Reply #29 on: October 20, 2012, 02:14:52 PM »

Code-name ideas:

TUNDRA GLUTTONY - wendigo possession
MEMPHIS BITUMEN - mummies
BILIOUS CRADLE - changeling phenomena
Logged


Pages: 1 [2] 3 4 5
  Print  
 
Jump to: