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Author Topic: The Commission (Black Chamber Reimagining)  (Read 12521 times)
Giant Space Hamster
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« Reply #30 on: October 21, 2012, 11:57:48 PM »

AWEFUL SHRUBBERY - a rather ancient and bloodthirsty herecine near Hausach, Germany.

(btw, this setting just stinks of awesomeness.  I'd post more right now, but I'm still overwhelmed by it.  Expect questions to come.)
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Owlbear
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« Reply #31 on: October 23, 2012, 01:02:27 PM »

Steerpike

Code-name ideas:

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

I am absolutely going to find a way to use these!
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« Reply #32 on: October 24, 2012, 01:48:30 PM »

Since I've talked so much about the Black Chamber, here's some more about their Soviet opposition, the 17th Directorate.

The 17th Directorate has its roots in various anti-occult branches and subcommittees of the secret police that were a part of the Russian Empire for virtually its entire existence, though such historical groups typically took a much more conservative view of occult phenomenon, destroying whatever they got their hands on rather than converting or exploiting it. During the October Revolution of 1917, cabals of sorcerers, necromancers, and other occult creatures who had been persecuted by the Imperialist Okhrana were quick to throw their support behind the nascent Communist Cheka, laying the foundation for an organization that would fester in the shadows for decades. Like the Black Chamber, the Directorate only really came into its own after World War II, using the Fall of Berlin as cover to forcibly extract some of Hitler’s top occultists and seize the lion’s share of artifacts and intelligence.

Much like its Western counterpart, the existence of the 17th Directorate is a closely-guarded secret to all but the highest echelons of the Communist Party, and even they are frequently kept in the dark about just what it is the agency actually does. Of course, such secrecy is far easier to accomplish in an oppressive police state like the Soviet Union than it is in the ostensibly-free West: even the entirely-mundane military intelligence department, the GRU, has never been openly acknowledged. The Directorate exerts invisible influence over the KGB, the GRU, the MVD, the Soviet military, the militsiya, and similar organizations in other Warsaw Pact states. They maintain their own secret gulags and science cities, hidden in the most remote corners of Siberia and Central Asia. They are very active in regions with strong Communist movements, such as Southeast Asia, Latin America, and post-colonial Africa. They also seem to be very involved with the Soviet space program, having sent men into orbit as early as the 1950s, though their reasons for doing so remain nebulous, since virtually none of the cosmonauts ever returned.

A significant portion of the Directorate’s efforts seem to be directed at phenomena related to the noosphere, the collective unconscious, gestalt psychology, and the development of so-called ‘psychotronic’ weapons. Closely related are their efforts into the process of apotheosis: the production of artificial gods. Based on numerous, if disjointed, field reports, the Black Chamber has been forced to recognize the very likely possibility that the programs STALINIST GOTHIC and SOVIET REALISM were successful in their creation of deity-level entities capable of acting through human avatars. The most infamous of the ‘Soviet pantheon’ is the entity codenamed GENERAL WINTER, who has demonstrated incredible cryokinetic abilities as well as limited control over weather patterns; others include WITCH HOUSE, BLACK HAMMER, DOOMSDAY AURORA, DEATHLESS, and FURNACE BIRD. Luckily, such beings appear to be constrained to behind the Iron Curtain or areas sympathetic to Communist ideology, alleviating worries over one such entity coalescing in the middle of London. However, that is not much relief for agents operating in Warsaw Pact countries.

Also like the Black Chamber, the Directorate employs a number of inhuman entities as both advisors and field agents. Reports indicate encounters with rusalka and vodyanoy, vila, and other creatures more-or-less exclusive to the region.
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Spawn of Ungoliant
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« Reply #33 on: November 01, 2012, 02:21:39 PM »

So does The Black Chamber setting take place in during the Cold War, or is this an alternate history where the USSR still exists?
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Gelatinous Cube
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« Reply #34 on: November 01, 2012, 04:54:33 PM »

Superbright

GENERAL WINTER... WITCH HOUSE, BLACK HAMMER, DOOMSDAY AURORA, DEATHLESS, and FURNACE BIRD
Words cannot express how much I love this list.
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Owlbear
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« Reply #35 on: November 01, 2012, 05:35:36 PM »

Steerpike

So does The Black Chamber setting take place in during the Cold War, or is this an alternate history where the USSR still exists?

The time period is some time in the early 1960s; I think I mentioned that somewhere, but I don't blame you if you missed it. It's not like the whole thing being some alt timeline is that unbelievable a stretch.

Also, add Communists from the future to the list of possible adversaries.
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Gelatinous Cube
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« Reply #36 on: November 02, 2012, 04:03:41 PM »

Superbright, in case you didn't notice, Steerpike wrote up an addition to your setting for the site's contest: http://www.thecbg.org/index.php/topic,209731.msg218684.html#new

I also expressed an interest in learning more about stalinist gothic, in the thread.

Best,
LD.
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Owlbear
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« Reply #37 on: November 04, 2012, 02:47:44 PM »

Ah, STALINIST GOTHIC. I had a feeling that was going to get some attention.

It was my intention to leave that deliberately vague, to be honest. What the Black Chamber knows for certain is that STALINIST GOTHIC and its successor program SOVIET REALISM were both attempts by Directorate metaphysicists to coalesce pseudo-deities sympathetic to the Soviet cause. While full-scale possession by an entity of that class is typically a short-term affair, the raw spiritual power exploding neurons and rupturing organs, the researchers have discovered a means to prepare human avatars, through a combination of metallic implants and chemical treatments, so that they can channel an entity more or less indefinitely.

In game-terms, they’re supposed to be one step below “Rock falls, everyone dies”: if the players have totally blown their cover, if the entire mission has gone all the way south and there’s a trail of bodies behind them, then they can reasonably expect a visit from GENERAL WINTER and its ilk. I’m reluctant to stat them out because barring the sort of firepower that would start WWIII, the agents aren’t going to have a reliable means of taking them out. Electromagnetism might disrupt the deities’ psychic resonance that disable them temporarily, but for the most part, the only reliable solution would be to run as fast as possible and never look back.

Also, still a girl.
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Spawn of Ungoliant
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« Reply #38 on: November 07, 2012, 09:25:23 PM »

Do any of the other NATO powers (Britain, Canada, etc) have any occult intelligence agencies of their own?  How about China?
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Owlbear
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« Reply #39 on: November 07, 2012, 09:42:31 PM »

Steerpike

Do any of the other NATO powers (Britain, Canada, etc) have any occult intelligence agencies of their own?  How about China?

While much of its funding and personnel comes from the United States, the Black Chamber itself is actually a trans-national organization, sort of like Gladio: the NATO members most heavily involved include Great Britain, France, Italy, West Germany, and Sweden, but pretty much any nation in the West can expect to have the Chamber working its tendrils into their military and intelligence services to some extend and siphoning off anything it finds useful.

I've actually been doing a lot of thinking about China. If it is a player in the OCCINTEL, it's organization is much cruder and more reactionary than either the Black Chamber or 17th Directorate. While we're still a good few years away from the Invisible Revolution that saw the vicious persecution of suspected non-humans and the destruction of vats areas of woodland believed to be harboring tcho-tcho communities, the Chinese are still infamous for their scorched earth tactics. They augment their agents as well, most of their knowledge based on research recovered from the Japanese Unit 815, but because they have such incredible manpower at their fingertips, the enhancements are typically incredibly unstable, giving the operatives even shorter life expectancies than their foreign counterparts.

As an aside, I was thinking about the modern Black Chamber. The organization  itself wouldn't be too incredibly different, but Illuminati and "eso-terrorists" would be the main political threat and the 17th Directorate would've all but collapsed, with many of its agents jumping ship to join Illuminati groups or the Russian Mafiya. Super-powered East European mob hitters: think about that for a second.
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« Reply #40 on: November 08, 2012, 11:00:50 AM »

GHOSTWRITER: the entity believed to be the inspiration for the Abrahamic patriarch-deity. Possibly omnipotent and/or omniscient, but strategic theologists have not made a conclusive determination. Operation currently underway to triangulate its position and develop a weapon, delivery system capable of killing it. If theory that “God is inside all of us” proves true, collateral damage may be slightly higher than projected.

LEVANTINE SADISM: pantheon indigenous to Eastern Mediterranean. Despite the genocide of their followers, supposedly at the command of the GHOSTWRITER entity, most of the deities themselves are still very much existent and preliminary propitiations suggest that their power has not diminished due to lack of worship, disproving Patenaude’s Axiom.

BLACK VIKING ALTERNATIVE: believed to be a vanguard force from a much bleaker version of reality. Clad in matte black environmental suits that resemble a cross between SK-1 spacesuits and Gothic plate armor, nearly impervious to conventional firearms. They are armed with highly-advanced energy and ballistic weapons, many of which bear a striking resemblance to BENTHIC GOLDSMITH and AMBER PYRAMID technology. Their lethality cannot be overstated: just three were responsible for the wholesale massacre of Camp Juliette, forcing the release a BRAINPAN GOURMAND psychovore as a weapon of last resort. A post-incident autopsy conducted on the two recovered bodies revealed that they were literally built into their suits, their bodies a combination of mutilated human flesh, necrotic tissue, metallic piping, and throbbing fungal growths.

TYPEWRITER CARNIVORE: a very thin cross-section of the DOWNING VOYUER panopticon entity bound within a hybrid Colossus mainframe/anti-Babbage machine. For security purposes, the room that houses the entity is also an UNCERTAINTY BOX: when the door is sealed, it exists in no less than two and no more than seven different locations at any given moment. It is quite possibly one of the most spiteful, malicious entities known to man and has frequently stated, usually via ticker tape but sometimes via runes carved into the bodies of technicians that must occasionally be pried out of tis bowels, all of the hideous punishments it would love to inflict on the entire human race as revenge for its imprisonment. Amongst the many jobs it performs are the assigning of codenames to ENEs and agents: obscene or humiliating designations are not uncommon.

ARACHNID MARIONETTE: spider-shaped creatures (but not spiders) that colonize human skulls via the ear canals or nasal passages, rapidly multiplying as they consume the brain over a period of days. They demonstrate disturbing intellect in utilizing the host body to colonize others, whether through force or guile. In older host-bodies, it is not uncommon for the entire chest cavity to be hollowed-out and filled to bursting with the tiny, nine-legged monstrosities.

LONGSHOT REICHSTAAG: extraterrestrial Nazi stay-behind force.

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Spawn of Ungoliant
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« Reply #41 on: November 08, 2012, 04:36:06 PM »

By extraterrestrial Nazi stay-behind force, do you mean Nazis in orbit in secret space-stations/moon-bases?
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« Reply #42 on: November 09, 2012, 11:01:34 AM »

Steerpike

By extraterrestrial Nazi stay-behind force, do you mean Nazis in orbit in secret space-stations/moon-bases?

I was actually envisioning them in a cramped, claustrophobic base on a tiny moon orbiting a dying star lightyears away and occasionally popping back to Earth via unstable portals, usually to extract or terminate ex-Nazi scientists like the ones taken during Operation PAPERCLIP.
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« Reply #43 on: March 01, 2013, 11:06:22 PM »

Out of Character

So I'm bumping the setting up to present day. While I've quite a lot of tweaks and revisions in mind, here's a bit of the backstory to set the tone. Let me know what you think.

In 1984, the Doomsday Clock was set at three minutes to midnight. As aging leaders gave apocalyptic speeches, people held their breath in fear that at any moment, the clock would strike and the bell would toll and that would be the end of everything.

If only they knew how close it almost came.

The members of the Commission who survived with their sanity intact remember the height of the Cold War with a cynical, bitter sort of nostalgia. Gone were the discussions of whether or not they could avoid full-scale war with the Soviet Union or even how long they could stave off open hostilities: the only question was how well-prepared they would be when the inevitable happened and how many punches the enemy would be able to get in before they brutally bludgeoned them into oblivion. If the early founders of the Commission looked at the occult intelligence game as a way of preventing the sort of nightmare-war the Nazis had planned on waging, then it was with disturbing giddiness that their Reagan Era successors scribbled notes into the margins of those very same battle plans accounting for developments in aeronautics and nuclear fusion. Whatever sense of ethics or fair play they had ever possessed was a concubine they enthusiastically dismembered in the name of defeating the Moscow Hotel, their counterparts behind the Iron Curtain.

In darkened rooms and underground laboratories, the brightest scientific minds, their names erased from their families’ memories, collaborated with the remnants of Operation PAPERCLIP on projects to weaponize Dee and Pythagoras the same way the Manhattan Project weaponized Noddack: projects like GODSLAM, TELEPHONE ZIGGURAT, DIVING BELL, RAINBOW DRAWBRIDGE. Forgotten programs for which men had been hanged and worse were revived. Cross-species breeding camps.The Waldfogel Experiments. The reactivation of the DUSTBOWL ARCHIPELAGO science cities. The only projects that ever went “too far” were the infamous OPPENHEIMER THEOLOGY and MINNESOTA BLUE, the research staffs quickly and discreetly executed or lobotomized. Operation OLD TIME RELIGION taught contras how to reawaken TEQUILA SUNSPOT death-entities with human sacrifices and DREADFUL ELIZABETH turned the writings of exiled Russian monks and heterodox Umayyad scholars into a field manual for waging occult counter-Soviet insurgencies. AGGRESSIVE PHILOLOGY successfully assassinated one of the three GHOSTWRITER emanations to reduce the number of variables during the End of Days. OLIVE BRANCH tapped the expertise of several of the werewolf units hiding in bunkers in parallel dimensions and on dying moons. American citizens were bartered to alien races as fodder for experimentation, or just as fodder, in exchange for exotic technologies. When Whitehall began to get cold feet, the most important question became how quickly they could train Thatcher’s doppelganger to write right-handed. HANGMAN MOLAR. VENUS OUBLIETTE. SPIDER QUEEN DENMARK. SKULLFUCK ROULETTE. APACHE SYNOGOGUE. BLIND MIDWIFE. The first two incarnations of EFFERVESCENT HATE MACHINE. GOBLIN GAME ANAGRAM. STILLBIRTH. HALFBIRTH. Good men and women died in ways human beings were never supposed to have died, their names engraved on a black basalt cenotaph on a distant planetoid. Worse men and women were allowed to live. All to further the greatest and most horrible battle-plan ever devised by human minds, the very opus of atrocity: OPERATION THIMBLE VINEYARD.

But then, its knuckles wrapped, a dagger clutched between its teeth and its mind steeled for what was to be the Last War, the Endgame, the Gotterdammerung, the Commission struck the lightest of opening blows. And their opponent shattered like hot glass. The invisible bogeyman of the Cold War, the Moscow Hotel, taken to the knacker’s yard and rearranged into an alphabet soup of new agencies. A considerable amount of personnel and artifacts disappeared into the booming underworld: KGB suitcase nukes were the least-dangerous thing to go missing from Soviet vaults. None of the SOVIET REALISTS were ever accounted for. Guerilla armies saw the enemy they were trained to fight evaporate and instead found new targets, leading to a rise in “esoterrorism”. Illuminati groups that had once been relegated to the sidelines began to force their way into the vacuum, ready to hungrily pick apart the increasingly-obsolete occult-intelligence complex.

And as fifty years of work turned to crematorium ash in its mouth, the Commission started to go a little bit…mad.
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Spawn of Ungoliant
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« Reply #44 on: March 08, 2013, 01:48:05 AM »

This is such a great setting - black and poetic and ballsy.  SKULLFUCK ROULETTE.  SPIDER QUEEN DENMARK.  So much awesome.

I love that the Commission is described as just now "going a little bit mad."  As if keeping TYPEWRITER CARNIVORE around was, you know, sane or something!
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