Sunday, March 3, 2019

Adapting the SCP Wiki 2: Groups of Interest

(It won't fit on the page, but the art that should go here is by Zhange000)

We're back! In the previous installment, I went and featured bunch of items and monsters for use in Esoteric Enterprises. Here I'll be running through the various groups of interest - what they want, how they operate, and how players would generally interact with them.

I'll be writing with the presumption that EE players are all on the fringes of the supernatural world and don't belong to any particular faction. Several of the groups listed would be very easy to play as, though, so adjust to taste.

As with anything on the SCP wiki, most of these groups have a downright ludicrous amount of material written for them, and everyone interprets them differently.

Emmy's "Law Enforcement in Esoteric Enterprises" post is necessary reading and will need only minor adjustments when it is applicable.

Gorich from the Discord server was a great help organizing this and providing feedback

Major Organizations

High organization, wide scope. 
These are the big players. Their reach is global, their members number in the thousands, they have deep pockets, politicians and CEOs by the short and curlies, and enough skeletons in the closet for a necromancy convention. They're recurring features of the world and players can expect to deal with them regularly. These are the guys who show up to fuck you up.

The Foundation

The biggest kid in the sandbox. A sprawling leviathan of uncertain origin, the underworld's version of a bank too big to fail. Devoted to the capture and collection of anomalies, both to prevent knowledge from spreading to the world at large and for study of the paranormal. They are extremely reluctant to actually use anomalies in practice, due to some disastrous incidents in the past and a very conservative outlook towards the paranormal.

Using it in play: The arrival of the Foundation on the scene is an instant complication. Sure, they might be able to help you out of a pickle, but they'll also confiscate all of your cool magical shit (and any Spooks in the party) and put you on a watch list. Escaping the scene without getting caught easily becomes the order of the day. The announcement that the Foundation is on the way should be a call for grabbing whatever you can and getting the hell out of dodge, and there's no guarantee the players will ever be able to go back to the location after it's been secured.
  • Field Agents will be as plain clothes officer.
  • Mobile Task Force operatives will be as riot cop, fire team officer, and police marksman. 
  • Field Agent Specialists are as MIB field agent.   


The Global Occult Coalition

A UN task force formed in the wake of the second World War to combat the paranormal, consisting of 108 member organizations pulled from all the major powers. They are much more willing to experiment with the anomalous than the Foundation, embracing both weird science and occultism - but only so long as it can be controlled. Threats are dealt with succinct, overwhelming violence.

Using it in play: The GOC functions similarly to the Foundation: sweep in, make sure that everything is either under control or dead. Spooks in the party will be targeted, and any occultists or mystics they can find in short order behind them. Parties that have accumulated significant paranormal resources will not be given a chance to explain themselves.
  • Assessment Team - As plain clothes officer, possess advanced reconnaissance and surveillance equipment.
  • Strike Team - As riot cop, fire team officer, police marksman, MIB Field Agent, MIB paladin, with accompanying support from occultists and mystics. Equipped with the best equipment the modern world can provide. Drop in a helicopter APC if they really want to break stuff. A tank is not out of the question if things get really bad.
 

The Horizon Initiative

An alliance of secret religious societies, primarily those of assorted Christian, Jewish, and Sunni Muslim traditions. Originally founded to study religious relics and counter cult activity, the organization now finds itself torn between upholding its ancient traditions, and the realities of the paranormal world. Minor cults and mystic traditions more rooted in the anomalous world have begun to make inroads as well as the old guard dies off and new discoveries of the true nature of the universe are made. The Initiative attitude towards the paranormal is on a case by case basis: use, destruction, or leaving well enough alone as circumstances dictate.

Using it in Play: As the Initiative has a more focused aim, their interactions with players will generally happen when the players are mucking around with relics and cults. If they haven't made a threat of themselves, they probably have nothing to worry about.
  • Scribes - Tend to be buried in their work. Most neutral faction. Noncombatants, but may possess grimoires and a few spells.
  • Shepherds - Mostly normal folks out in the field. Lean more liberal. As plain clothes officer or mystic of Judas Thaddeus. 1d4 minor magical items per team. 50% chance of blessed weapon.
  • Wolves - The militant arm. Ultraconservative zealots on a short leash. As MIB paladin, can cast Dispel Magic, Protection from Weapons, Magic Blade, and two other spells. All attacks count as holy and magical.
 

Church of the Broken God

Religious organization seeking to escape flawed and ruinous flesh through machinery. Seek to rebuild their god MEKHANE and achieve apotheosis through it. Three main denominations:
  • The Broken Church - The oldest branch, from which the other two are derived. Headed by Robert Bumaro, the man responsible for revitalizing the Church in the 20th century.
  • Cogwork Orthodoxy - Remake themselves according to "Standardization". Deliberately invoke outmoded technology: steam, clockwork, so on. Tend to make loud ticking noises. Hate electric and digital devices. Call their god MEKHANE.
  • Maxwellianism - The modern reform branch, embracing computation and networking as part of their worship. Call their god WAN, seek to rebuild it through mass networking of transhuman digital minds.
All branches of the Church demonize the Flesh and will wage war against the Sarkists at whenever the opportunity arises. 

Using it in Play: The CotBG will generally ignore players, unless they were to come in contact with a piece of MEKHANE or have been dabbling in Sarkism. Otherwise, they will evangelize (mostly Maxwellists through social media) and leave minor players alone. Recovering a piece of the god and returning it to the church

Sarkicist Cults

Loose collection of cults centered on Yaldabaoth (referred to as The Flesh by the Church of the Broken God), an old and terrible god of meat and matter, blind and mindless progenitor and destroyer of all life. Sarkicists do not worship Yaldabaoth as a rule, instead feeding off of its power as parasites. Seek apotheosis through bodily augmentation, ritual cannibalism, bloodline purity, blood sacrifice, and theophagy. Two main variants:
  • Proto-Sarkicism - Remnants of ancient cults, practiced now only in isolated Eurasian communities. Secretive, anti-modernity, ruled by superstition and taboo.
  • Neo-Sarkicism - Modern variants that have shed many of the ethical strictures of their older counterparts and embraced the technologies and cosmopolitan customs of the modern world to further their own power.
Sarkicist Cults either do not know or do not care about MEKHANE and the Church of the Broken God.

Using it in Play: The Flesh does not play nicely. We're talking "airborne cancer", here. A major emergence will be enough to make other organizations set aside their differences to wipe them out. From the players' perspective, the Sarkists provide all manner of horrible monsters to fight, horrific realizations when a new cult is stumbled across, and a looming threat.

Minor Organizations

High organization, small scope.
These groups are either small, defunct, background, or otherwise limited in scope. They generally won't recur unless one actively seeks them out, or players are remaining in the same neighborhood.

Alexylva University

An extrauniversal university from a much more Greco-Roman timeline. Keeps losing its mail somewhere in Tennessee.

Using it in Play: Players are unlikely to interact with Alexylva University unless they mistakenly get a package from the Department of Natural Philosophy.

Ambrose Restaurants

A chain of fine-dining restaurants appearing across the multiverse. Franchises vary in appearance and menu depending on location. Non-hostile but deeply entrenched in the anomalous. Will pack up and vanish when threatened by an outside force. Known to cater to MC&D and occasionally bring in Herman Fuller's Circus for entertainment.

Using it in Play: Local branches of Ambrose Restaurants can serve as meeting grounds for those who have gotten deep into the paranormal. A good way to keep up with appearances and meet with contacts.

Anderson Robotics

A small, Portland-based paratech company specializing in anomalous AI, cybernetics, software, and robotics. They will readily do contract work for other groups in need of anomalous tech.

Using it in Play: Direct interaction with Anderson Robotics is unlikely. Players will more likely than not run into their products in the hands of other parties, or perhaps seek them out when the team doctor decides that cybernetic enhancements are in order.

The Chicago Spirit

Organized crime syndicate founded by Richard Chappell in 1895 and dissolved in 1938 after Chappell's capture. Has seen a resurgence through the "Chicago Spectre" since 1990, though it is unknown if there is a direct link beyond the name.

Using it in Play: The Chicago Spectre would be equivalent to higher-level EE players, and so can be brought in as a rival party competing for the same treasures.

Church of the Second Hytoth

A branch of an extraterrestrial religion (Orthothanism). Mythos focuses on aiding a godlike being (Rakmou-leusan) from a previous universal iteration (The First Hytoth) against their great enemies (Voruteut) through offerings of blood and vital essence. Human practitioners are often skilled occultists and theurgists, and have some limited contact with extraterrestrial practitioners.

Using it in Play: The Orthothan Church would be the party's primary means of contacting any extraterrestrial beings, though the first difficulty would be finding the group and gaining their trust.


Dr. Wondertainment 

Creator of whimsical and often dangerous anomalous toys. It is uncertain whether Dr. Wondertainment is an individual, a company, or the head of said company, and likewise uncertain how aware it or they are of the dangers of their products.

Using it in Play: Wondertainment toys can be stuck wherever one wants, and the Little Misters series can be used as random encounters. Otherwise, players might stumble across Isabel Wondertainment and her assistant Emma (and Jeremy the corgi) in the midst of their own adventure.

The Factory

Secretive manufacturer of mass-produced anomalous items. Raids on production plants have found products and workers, but no sign of leadership.

Using it in Play: The Factory exists primarily in the background. Items bearing its stamp are generally dangerous (but not immediately so) to the consumer.

The Fifth Church

Mystery religion popular among west coast entertainment elite and hidden cults in the deep south. The tenets are so heavily coded in verse and poetic language that they appear as gibberish to outsiders. Are they communicating with stars? Shedding their mortal bodies and ascending beyond this vale of tears? Are the patterns they weave the path to the transcendent? Or are they just to religions what clowns are to people?

Using it in Play: Fifthism is infectious. Those who start studying it will need to make regular saves to resist its influence. If too much of it builds up in a person there's no going back, it's all gibberish and starshine from hereon.

GRU Division P

Rendered officially defunct by the collapse of the Soviet Union. Most of their projects vanished along with the remaining members, filtering down into the paranormal underworld out of the eyes of the Foundation or GOC. The paranormal world's equivalent of an unexploded landmine, just waiting to resurface.

Using it in Play: Ex-GRU-P members are always good leads to find hidden artifacts. Likewise, a GRU-P project dug up by some other underworld party is always a cause for concern.

Herman Fuller's Circus of the Disquieting

A traveling show filled with all manner of bizarre beings and freakish sights. The circus itself is notoriously difficult to find - most interaction comes from members or equipment that have been left behind after shows. Currently led by the Man With The Upside-Down Face and Icky the Magic Clown.

Using it in Play: Random encounter. There wasn't a circus here yesterday, now there is. There was a circus here, it's gone now.

Imperial Japanese Anomalous Matters Examination Agency (IJAMEA)

Japan's once-official counter-paranormal organization. Founded during the Meiji Restoration, dissolved in 1945, absorbed by the Foundation and GOC. The modern iteration is a network of autonomous cells, many of which are family lines themselves, and the occasional radical holdout.

Using it in Play: While geographically limited, IJAMEA cells can serve as friendlies for players avoiding the Foundation or GOC.

Manna Charitable Foundation

An interfaith non-profit humanitarian organization. Their desire to help often outweighs their knowledge of the paranormal, which has lead to several incidents of disastrous consequences.

Using it in Play: Manna Charitable is always hot on the heels of disaster, and has an unfortunate tendency to make things worse. If the players themselves are responsible for the disaster, all the better.


Marshal, Carter, and Dark

An exclusive club and auction house for the rich and depraved. Centered in London, but representatives might be found wherever wealth accumulates in amounts worthy of their notice.

Using it in Play: MC&D representatives will always be willing to purchase artifacts from and extend lines of credit to the players. Their auction houses are also perfect opportunities to do a black-tie heist job.

Office For The Reclamation of Islamic Artifacts (ORIA)

Iran's secret anti-paranormal office and the primary anti-paranormal organization in the Middle East and Central Asia. Close ties to the Iranian government and the djinn of House Asfeneh leave the organization in a precarious position.

Using it in Play: ORIA fills the role of the Foundation within its territory, though has fewer resources above the level of normal field agents.

Prometheus Labs, Inc

The first major paratech company. Dissolved in 1998. Most of the projects and personnel were absorbed by the Foundation and other groups. Those that remained either faded into obscure retirement or made desperate attempts at continuing development of their projects.

Using it in Play: Players will most likely interact with Prometheus Labs through discovering lost projects or through old personnel who managed to avoid death or recruitment.

Shark Punching Center 

An alternate-universe version of the Foundation that has devoted its entire pool of resources and the acquisition of paranormal objects towards punching sharks.

Using it in Play: Random encounter. Is there a shark around? Can be real, could be a toy, a painting, could be something that vaguely looks like a shark. Some absolute lunatic comes in from nowhere (bursting through walls as needed) beats the shit out of it, and runs off. Crafty players might weaponize this, or attempt to stall and get information. If they do, take them down the rabbit hole.


Unusual Incidents Unit

The official response of the US government to the paranormal. This tiny, woefully underfunded office of the Federal Bureau of Investigations serves as a punchline to most other groups and rarely deals in with any major anomalies, but they've kept at it for decades now and will occasionally be drawn into Foundation and GOC operations.

Using it in Play: UIU only ever handles small incidents and so its field agents can serve as antagonists or friendlies for low-level groups new to the paranormal world.

Wilson's Wildlife Solutions 

Publicly-funded wildlife service based out of Boring, Oregon. An official relationship was made with the Foundation in 2008, allowing WWS members to be brought in for the care and keeping of anomalous fauna under Foundation control.

Using it in Play: WWS can be treated as part of the Foundation for purposes of player interaction, though they'll generally be friendlier towards players than their mainline compatriots.

Clandestine Groups

These hardly count as an organization. No obvious leadership, no coherent motives, more of a collection of ideologically-aligned individuals. Players will rarely encounter more than one or two individuals at a time, but they. Low organization, wide scope.

Are We Cool Yet?

Anomalous artist collective, linked through their love of high-visibility installations featuring the phrase "Are We Cool Yet?" or something close to it somewhere in the project. 

Using it in Play: Rogue art installations can serve as encounters or items, and the anartists themselves are good contacts and go-betweens for players. There are plenty of non-AWCY artists in the underworld, too.

Chaos Insurgency

The Red Right Hand split off from the Foundation in 1924 and have been running a guerilla war to topple the Overseer Council since then, believing that their meddling in the unnatural has set the world on the path of paranormal rot. They have no qualms about extreme measures, and will use whatever paranormal powers fall into their hands to do as much damage as possible to the Foundation.

Using it in Play: CI operatives are a treasure trove of paranormal treasure and excessively dangerous. If they bring the players into an operation, it will be to be disposable. If players get into a fight with them, someone or someones aren't coming home: if no one dies, you are running it wrong.

Gamers Against Weed

Some insufferable online web inhabitants who do a lot of ironic hipster shitposting and occasionally make anomalies.

Using it in Play: Players who know their way about the memeosphere might be able to forge connections worth some information among members of GAW.

Oneiroi Collective

A hive-mind of dreaming beings, human and otherwise. Physical manifestations are always directed in such ways to benefit the dreamscape and the dreamers that are a part of it.

Using it in Play: Physical manifestations may be used as rare random encounters.


Serpent's Hand

A network of pro-paranormal individuals operating out of the extrauniversal Wanderer's Library through a network of Ways (spatial shortcuts and passages between universes). Anyone affiliated with the Hand will be skilled with magic and have an array of occultist and mystic spells at their disposal. They are opposed to the Foundation and even more to the GOC. The leaders of the group are a shifting cabal called the Nest; recurring members include a bipedal female bull moose, a patchwork man, a satyr, and "the silver woman".

Using it in Play: The Hand are natural allies to a party that has gone deep into the paranormal and embraced the wily ways of magic. Fostering good relations with the Hand might allow access to the Ways, or even the Wanderer's Library itself.

Individuals

Sometimes a single person is enough to be classified as an entire group.


The Black Queen

The infinite alteruniversal iterations of Allison Chao, daughter of a prominent Foundation scientist. Operates out of the Wanderer's Library, known connections with the Serpent's Hand. Most active iterations hostile to the Foundation.

Using it in Play: A random encounter within the Wanderer's Library, who might task players with assisting her in a raid on the Foundation.

Nobody

Might be a person, might be a lot of people. The nondescript figure you're sure you recognize, who appears at portentous times and disappears just as swiftly.

Using it in Play: Random encounter. A moment of help, a warning, a portent of things to come.


8 comments:

  1. Fun fact: two of these sprung up as I was writing this post.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Man, you aren't kidding about there being a ludicrous amount of material written. It's actually kind of nice to see it all loosely summarized.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Are you referring to the OSR discord? Or is there a separate one for Throne of Salt discussion? It's cool if it isn't open to randos, I'm just curious.

    ReplyDelete
  4. It is interesting to see the thematic similarities with the Magnus Archives. I wonder if the Archives inspired some of these or the other way around? Maybe there is just something about the Weird that travels along specific passages in our cultural mindscape.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The new weird / modern paranormal mindscape is an interesting subject to plumb. It's so broad and has so much cross-pollination that direct thru lines of inspiration can be difficult to trace.

      Magnus came out well after SCP and goes in an entirely different direction in how the archived documents are presented and the contents of them, so I'd wager that direct connections are minimal.

      Delete
  5. Going to defend Gamers Against Weed here. They're a support group for wizards and people with magic powers on the run from the Foundation. The bad posts they make on the internet are the public face of a counterintelligence operation they run to avoid being tracked down and killed.

    You can skip the SCPs associated with the group, the actual story begins in The Assassination of Beleaguered Normalcy by the Coward Gamers Against Weed.

    ReplyDelete