Thursday, July 7, 2022

Lighthouse: 6 Reasons Why The Tanks Have Not Yet Rolled In

Development of Lighthouse has been slow-to-none over the last couple years. Part of that is just the muses turning their backs on me, the other and larger part is trying to write a game of Lighthouse's particular political nature in Current Year(s).

To whit, the question for the last two years has been "in this game's setting, why hasn't the government just killed everyone yet?"

I don't know if it will kick me out of my creative inertia, but I do have some answers to it. 


1. They Already Have

The Ecumene was destroyed over forty years ago by concerted effort of the military, the police, and the intelligence apparatus. The leaders were gunned down by agents of the Alphabet Soup or fled to the Underworld. Members were jailed, relocated, forced to recant, or threatened back into secrecy. The months-long siege was so brutal, and the decades of crackdowns to follow similarly so, that the anomalous underground is effectively dead in both the public and governmental consciousness. The battle has already been fought, and decided so completely, that there is little expectation that another Ecumene might form. We have been rendered toothless, obsolete, scattered and disorganized. Organizations like Lighthouse are permitted to exist because they are not judged a threat.


2. The Agency Doesn't Have Unlimited Budget

Unlike our friends over at the SCP Foundation, the Agency does not have a magic box that prints money. A government black-budget might be practically equivalent to that, especially in a narrative sense, but they cannot deal with everything everywhere all at once. There are so many little paranormal instances occurring every day that it's impossible to investigate all of them. They need to prioritize. If it is not a threat, someone in an office can mark the file as "No Follow-up Needed" and get on with their coffee break. All the little things, it's just background radiation.


3. The Agency Is Not On Good Terms With Police

Self explanatory. There's no love lost between the two forces - the Agency considers the police a bunch of trigger-happy bootcamp washouts who parade their ignorance like a pride flag, the police consider the Agency to be a bunch of deep-state spooks with no knowledge of anything on the ground who come barreling into their turf only to make everything worse. Neither party is happy at being forced to cooperate, and will often do only the bare minimum in terms of an operation.


4. The Government Is Focused Elsewhere

Politicians get better results in the polls from attacking climate refugees, abortion rights, and trans folk. Those in the Know are still a useful target, but the days when they were the great enemy to rally against are long over; Paranaturalists have been bundled into the great manila folder of acceptable targets.


5. Those In The Know Have Gone To Ground

While everyone is more or less aware of the anomalous, those who are active within it have, by necessity, grown good at hiding their involvement. In the times when that's not enough, there's a greater ability-willingness-necessity for escaping to the Underworld - a solution filled with its own dangers and hardships, even if it's only a temporary stay. It's entirely possible, and common enough, that those who go into the Underworld are so changed by it that they can never return to the Surface. But that's a risk people are willing to take, as the Agency lacks a solid foothold in the Underworld (save the attempts of TOWER division), and the government has no presence at all.


6. The Unknown Unknowns

This point is hearsay and speculation, but it is thought by many In The Know that the Agency is tied up in something that's drawing resources away from The City and other hotspots of activity. There's no telling what it is, and the only evidence is the absence of Agency operations where it's believed that there should be, and folks are split on whether this is a good thing. For the time being, at least, it allows for some expanded ability to move and act on the Surface, so long as the boat isn't rocked.


  1. Well, a post is a post and that's at least something.

  2. A somewhat more optimistic option 7.: Passive Resistance

    Within and without, there's enough people who've grown sick enough of the Agency's shit to do something about it - not enough to openly defy the state, but enough to gum up its works. Its anonymous reporting system is flooded with false leads, its unmarked vans break down regularly because a mechanic shaved away unnoticeably at a part or a gas station attendant filled their tank halfway with gunk. Field operations become a nightmare as they get food poisoning and find their motel beds full of thumbtacks. The Agency can still make a spectacle of nabbing weaker, marginalized, isolated targets, but is leery of hitting entrenched ones for fear of revealing to the public and foreign enemies what a paper tiger it's become.

    1. Yeah this is solid. I like the idea that the Agency hasn't adjusted with the times - they've alienated the other agencies, grown increasingly insular and weird. An old tiger is still a dangerous tiger, but it is nontheless and old one.

  3. #8 Dr. Strange Timeline Fuckery

    The Agency has some oracle that is navigating the tangled mess of timelines and is aware that Lighthouse must continue to exist or something too terrible to consider will come to pass.

    #9 Truce

    Ancient rites of truce-keeping have been invoked and now a spirit of unfathomable power and wreak untold destruction if open conflict breaks out again.

    #10 Sell-Out

    Someone in Lighthouse made a deal with the Agency. They give the Agency something in return for their survival that the Agency deems valuable enough to allow Lighthouse to continue existing. If other members of Lighthouse were to find out, it would be bad.

    Just some ideas

  4. 11. Boiling a frog
    People fight hard when they know their backs are to the wall. Better to give them some hope they can escape the purge if they keep their heads down, to keep them passive until it's too late. The Agency can take all the time it needs to pick resistors off one-by-one, no sense in rushing things and provoking a desperate last stand that might be able to do them some serious damage.

  5. 12. At this point the Agency has become so strange and weird and "unconstitutional" that quite a number of pseudo-permanent internal investigations are underway. Over time, these internal affairs are so bogged down in reports of weird events and unexplainable phenomena that pointed questions start getting asked about the wasting of resources. Eventually, an audit of the internal investigation of the Agency is arranged...

  6. 13. The Agency needs Lighthouse for some greater purpose. Without Lighthouse, the Agency's long-term plans would surely fail.

  7. 14. Strategically Incompetent Unremovable Appointee. Somewhere in the Agency's byzantine hierarchy a minor but disproportionately influential functionary, appointed some administrations ago and completely insulated from any kind of meaningful consequence or recall process, is gumming things up. Maybe they have a strong moral objection to jackboots and black bags, maybe they just don't want to do any paperwork if it isn't necessary for a cushy paycheck, but either way the requisition forms for nerve gas and ontological disruptors aren't getting through. It's a real frustration to gung-ho Agency bureaucrats, but the functionary is too embedded and/or too paranoid to take out.

    If we are going to have this in real life, we can at least make it a good thing in our fictional paracosms.