Thursday, September 29, 2022

The Police State Ecosystem


"Look, thing is, you gotta understand that you're already in prison."

As many an empire before it, the CTA has been claimed by the death-spiral where the social ills of increased militarization are met with only further militarization. There is no problem, says the Alliance, that cannot be solved with a man in body armor pointing a gun at someone. In doing so, like finches on isolated islands, state-sanctioned violence has diversified to fill the many niches of interstellar civilization. 


On Enforcement

In this age of omnipresent surveillance, most petty crimes go unremarked; they will be automatically recorded, tallied, tried and sentenced by the blind and mindless algorithm of justice, no human input required. The fees will be added to the perpetrator's Universal Debt Record, and life will go on.

If the victim of a crime is a noncitizen, this is likely where things will end (unless they are able to afford enforcement services). If the victim is a citizen, well, that's when law enforcement gets involved (comes with the subscription package through your employer, see).

If you are caught, you are likely going to be found guilty (regardless of your actual connection to the matter), and if found guilty you will likely be subject to forced labor, corporal punishment, public shaming, or execution. (There are few prisons onboard space habitats - not enough space - and mass transport to planetary work camps is expensive.) If they do not kill you, they will destroy your body and/or your life as they see fit. Most criminal charges void citizenship and prevent you from ever regaining it.


The Eye

The aforementioned apparatus of omnipresent surveillance is, appropriately enough, simply called the Eye. Most habitats and colonies (barring the independent Rim, the Hidebehinders, and other isolates) will have at least one node, fed by the mighty info-harvesting engines of the datasphere.

While the Eye is all-seeing, the processing limitations placed on AI mean that the panopticon is always just behind where the powers-that-be wish it was. To cover the gaps, the emulated minds of repossessed debtors will be linked to the local Eye processing center and forced to sift through the river of surveillance data, weaving it into the great tapestry called _context_. Through this digital hell, edge cases are adjudicated, overlooked cases are brought to the fore, and the blindspots of biased datasets are covered.

The em-yus selected for this task are chosen for their ideological loyalty, but that has not stopped the occasional instances of internal sabotage - those times where the processors might trend towards leniency, or when the node might be subverted to the point of deleting data entirely. Likewise the power of any given Eye waxes and wanes over time as emulated minds burn out and are replaced.


The Fist

Private security firms are both specialists and generalists in this biome of violence. There are millions of them across the Expansion Sphere, from the lowliest rent-a-cops to the blood-drenched warzone PMCs, each one geared to a particular sphere of influence. Borders of operation are rigidly defined and enforced (cross-territory collateral damage regularly leads to inter-firm violence). Many are indistinguishable from organized crime (and many of them are indeed rackets that "went legit").

Their many variables of place, purpose, and method can be lumped into three main categories: those hired by private individuals or organizations, those contracted by local governments, and in-house security provided to a corporation by one of their subsidiaries. Nearly all of these terms of employment will be for asset-protection; it is in the what and the how that they will differ.

Private security firms will work in conjunction with Civil Security and armiger houses for operations that cross territorial lines, though they won't like it.

The Boot

Civil Security is not, technically, a police force. It is a military authority, and on paper it is the CTA's domestic antiterrorism branch. It operates independently of local governments, corporations or Great Houses, taking directives directly from the local CTA governance node.

Practically, though, Civil Security's modus operandi boils down to stomping out any brewing rebellions and keeping any disruptive cultural elements under the boot. The brush used to classify terrorism is exceedingly broad and unevenly applied, and justified with such euphemisms as "protecting the persons and property of citizens and upholding the social order". You know how this goes.

They should be treated as a hostile occupying army, (for that is what they are) and they will never, ever, be on your side. If at any point they appear to be on your side, it is because they are currently taking violent action against one of your enemies. You are, as a civilian, worthy of only the utmost contempt because you are weak, and weakness is the enemy of their warrior cult. See how they decorate themselves with skulls to show they are instruments of death? To do violence is to be unweak, to kill is to be strong. If they do not commit violence, they have become weak, morally corrupt, deserving of having violence done to them. This is their creed.

Civil Security are separate from the armigers of the Great Houses, and there is often a great rivalry between the two whenever their paths cross.


The Genteel Knife

The armigers of the Great Houses fulfill the military and security roles of that House's direct holdings (security for subsidary holdings will be contracted out to private firms, typically owned in part or in whole by the House). Their role is as much a ceremonial one as a practical - they serve as a means for their patron House to display their wealth and status, and so C-Levels are always attended to by flashily-dressed footmen.

They are the rarest of the the three types, as far as PCs will be concerned.


Security Units

The units presented below are generic, can be tweaked as needed according to which faction they are a part of.

  • Security - Unarmored, taser, baton
  • Corporate Police - Armored vest, revolver, taser, baton
  • Police Android - Robotic body, revolver, taser, baton
  • Station Security - Armored vest, boarding axe or foam gun, taser
  • Military Police - Med. armor, SMG, baton
  • Riot Trooper - Heavy armor, riot shield, baton, tear gas grenades
  • Assault Squad - Med. armor, 2x SMG, 1x rifle, 1x shotgun, flashbang grenades
  • Drone Operator - Armored vest, SMG, copter drone
  • K9 Trooper - Armored vest, revolver, cyberdog (smell, tracking, scout, bite)
  • Rimspace Ranger - Armored vest, revolver, long rifle
  • Sniper - Cuttlefish cloak, smart rifle, thermal scope
  • The Black Suits - Adaptive weapon, amnestic dispersal unit, scrambler mask
  • Inquisitor - Unarmored, excruciator, holdout pistol, unquestioned authority

The BlackCrown Security Dhole-Series Chimera

A wedge-shaped head, vaguely canine. Vestigial eyes removed and replaced with cybernetics. Leathery gunmetal skin, takes on a pallid sheen when it goes too long without food. Black gums, black tongue. Rust-orange teeth. Long arms, loping stride both bipedal or quadrupedal. Obligate carnivore - prefers human flesh. Will go into estivation if food supplies are low. Can pull memories by eating a fresh corpse. Can mimic voices of the deceased. Accusations of genome theft of Horizon Neurogen's "Werewolf" model have been repeatedly denied.

  • Claws & teeth, morph reinforcement, IR vision, motion detection, voice mimicry


Something new. Enormous, anonymous behind their power armor. Faceplates display an inverted Y in glowing gold, a circled sigil at the end of each line. No neck, just a lump of fat and muscle connected head to torso. Glistening grey-blue skin, if you were ever to see it. Eyes like inky pits. Deployed in squads, coordinated in a cacophany of bassy clicks and whistles. No survivors. No government acknowledgement. Fragmentary civilian footage, quickly purged from the Net. Seem to be deployed in scenarios involving exotic, anomalous or alien threats. Inquire carefully. Searches on these topics are monitored.

  • Heavy armor, HMG, grenade launcher, gene therapy, tacnet


  1. There will never be another Orange Box, and for this the world is lesser now.

  2. Damn. I feel like the Red Law is something that applies to any setting...

    1. Different names, different forms, always the same

  3. The inner workings of the Eye remind me of the surveillance system in Psycho-Pass with a darker twist, what with the forceful instrumentalization of unwilling minds. I guess the eternally decadent Hegemony is all and consumes all. Great post as always.

  4. Hatred between the different types of living boot is a hella useful chink in the armor of some extremely dangerous opponents for players to exploit. Just imagining unionists engineering a confrontation between a squad of heavily armed hominine uplifts deployed by the Gorilla Warfare PMC from that one faction post and a House princeling's retinue of warrior-courtier mamluks...

    1. Yep. "Multiple enemy factions that are all on bad terms with each other" is, I think, a vital part of any sandbox.

  5. What do you feel about optogenetical tech for the CTA? Is it too big of a can of worms?
    It seems you can force mice to attack prey or small objects by stimulating certain areas of the brain with light. Although having an adult homo sapiens engage in the right set of tactical behaviours for the right context is a huge step from that, it might be handwaved away.
    It does nullify the 'self-preservation instinct' problem, as the employer can be guaranteed of getting bang for their buck, aswell as the lessen the uncertainty of military engagements.
    Of course, part of the appeal of a warrior cult is identity through voluntary violence. Having the violence part be undeliberate takes away from it.
    Besides that, I have to wonder how similar to your average baseline human the typical cannon-fodder is? High-end biomorphs must be rare, but granting abilities like broader visible light spectrum or higher metabolism to grunts might be worth it.

    1. My love of BotNS means that several Great Houses have zoanthropic soldiers at ready, which is in the same ballpark as what you describe.