The Vectors

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Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
The Vectors
"It feels cold... I can feel the cold of things around me." "Great! You are opening up, Barbara. Tell me, what is beyond that wall?" "Nothing... no, there is a space there. Two oblong objects, horizontal. And... no, I can't get it. Too dizzy and cold." "Just relax and listen to what the Virus is trying to tell you. It makes you feel strange, but that is just the way it is. You have to relax and allow yourself to change." - Recording from Breccia Station, mote N459, 15 Jan 10AF Not all people are fighting against the Exsurgent virus. Some people support it and try to help it spread. The vectors believe that the Watts-MacLeod strain is something positive: a post-singularity tool given to mankind by benign superintelligences. If it was intended to do harm, why fine-tune it so it could enter symbiosis with humans, leave their free will intact and enhance their capacities? It might still be an unruly beast, but it is not actively harmful. It has much to teach us. Vectors deliberately infect themselves and others with the virus. Usually this is done in a controlled fashion rather than just spreading it around (although that has happened too). Potential recruits are befriended, the vector ascertains their views on human evolution and, if they appear ready, reveals the possibilities of the virus. If the recruit is willing, they infect them. While most vectors do not know about Firewall or other anti-Exsurgent groups they are not stupid: obviously there are powerful groups out there resisting the spread of what they consider a dangerous and subversive virus. Spreading nanoviruses is criminal nearly anywhere and some vectors have disappeared mysteriously. Hence there is a need for a low profile and caution. Vectors form small cells working together, budding off new cells as members move around; this way only one or a few cell members know about who is in other cells. They use sleights to check recruit quality and loyalty. Ideally they approach recruits just after a backup, so that if they turn out to be strongly negative they can be removed without any stored evidence. Similarly it is possible to "roll-back" a recruit if the infection goes wrong. Each vector keeps a few stored vials of blood or other body fluids from their "awakening", the 12 hours after infection when they are contagious. These vials are both a personal memento and a way to induct new recruits. The vectors are very interested on getting access to the infomorph strain of the virus, since it is easier to transport and hide. The vectors are an entirely decentralized organisation where any cell can replicate the whole. Unlike a normal terrorist group they do not need financing or access to weapons since they literally carry their weapon inside. There is little need for communication between cells. Educational recordings and documents are locally created and distributed between connected cells. They mostly consist of notes on how to train new recruits in using their psi, homebrew methods for recruitment and infiltration, and tips on what to do when things go wrong. Such documents are of course of great interest to the enemies of the vectors, so they are kept carefully hidden. And quite possibly, the documents may contain hidden messages from different virus infections to other virus infections. Firewall and other agencies suspect the existence of the vectors, but have not yet deduced the size and strength of the network. It is very hard to infiltrate cells, and it is always unclear after catching a few members whether there could be more out there. However, the vectors generally have fairly low counter-espionage skills (they make do with psi and paranoia) so they do slip up from time to time. Adventure possibilities Someone (possibly a PC) had their morph and stack incinerated in a freak accident. Investigating after coming back from backup reveals that they were approached by a long-time friend (who even now is around; ideally this figure should have appeared in earlier adventures) and apparently the friend arranged the accident. Actually it was a recruitment offer (or even infection) that went wrong and was "cleaned up". The friend is a vector, and might have been tipped off by their investigation - can the PCs capture them and uncover the local vector cell? Having a virus apologist around can be interesting. A NPC (perhaps a family member, teammate or even a Firewall contact) might be convinced about the general vector idea without being a member or even async. They discuss with the PCs whether the Watts-MacLeod is the best chance of humanity's survival, suggest clever ways psi could be used or dream about getting psi themselves. They might go through the entire campaign without doing anything more sinister. However, they might also want to enrol the PCs in getting the virus for them, or be approached by the vectors - which might have been the plan all along: the NPC is actually working for Firewall or somebody else as a honey pot, trying to attract the vectors in order to infiltrate them. They do not even know this themselves, since any trace of insincerity would be potentially detectable. Asyncs are not the most stable people, and some vector cells have serious problems. One cell splits into two due to a mixture of paranoia, shared delusions and personality clashes. Now there are two cells of asyncs who are mad at each other in a small habitat, willing to do a great deal of harm to each other. When strange things start happening, can the PCs figure out what is going on before the fighting escalates to deadly levels? The Sanjitsar Bosonics Condensate Lab, a physics project on Mars (or perhaps the Large Collider at Titan) is under assault from the vectors, for reasons not even the vectors understand. They just have a strong intuitive feeling that the project should be stopped or interfered with as much as possible. Apparently independent acts of sabotage, violence and strange subversion are happening around the project. Could it be that the exsurgent virus has discovered that the experiment may somehow threaten its plans? Or is the experiment producing some physical effect that is affecting asyncs in general but the vectors in particular (since they are so organised or descended from related sub-strains)? Somebody is leaking information about Firewall and its procedures to the vectors. Documents warning against the organisation, revealing recognition codes and suggesting counter-tactics are distributed from cell to cell. Is there a vector infiltrator inside Firewall, or is one of Firewall's enemies using the vectors against the organisation? A Firewall investigation into a data cache related to the old mess of Cognite's Lost disaster finds a new lead on where the exsurgent infection originally came from. Datastream tracking implies that the virus was inserted into the project network by a fairly high-ranking Cognite neurosecurity expert. She used her security clearance to erase (almost) all traces of the message, and was later appointed to the internal investigation tracking down the infection. The expert is a vector sympathiser who has been working very discreetly to spread the virus - first among the Lost, now by inserting it into enhancement code. Can the PCs catch the expert from within Cognite without her triggering failsafes that would infect millions? What is the next stage of virus development? Some vectors experiment with pushing their psi skills or even attempting to interface with the virus. In most cases it ends with madness, death or infection with a nastier strain. But some cells may accidentally develop entirely unknown strains, spreading through their psi. What if they develop a version that links all infected into a telepathic network that can infect anybody it gets into mental contact with? A sleight that imitates a TITAN nanovirus infection in the victim? Or a way to infect and "awaken" machines, despite the apparent law that psi only affects biological minds? Anything could happen - or it could just be a paranoid scenario implanted in the minds of the PCs by hidden asyncs.
Extropian
dsbinla dsbinla's picture
(Spoiler) Vector name already used by Firewall
Per page 359 of the corebook, Vectors are the infosec specialists at firewall. Simply for confusion purposes, a different name is advisable. (/Spoiler) Other than that, I like the concept. I enjoy the idea of mid-level conspiracies, such as the Rust Convocation and Die Wende over on Farcast, especially because they seem like good enemies for inexperienced sentinels. In addition, if a player had a strong desire to get Psi powers at some point in their careers, this would not be a bad option. I have been trying to collect a variety of these minor conspiracies for starter campaigns. Also, sorry for the threadomancy.
Arenamontanus Arenamontanus's picture
dsbinla wrote:Per page 359 of
dsbinla wrote:
Per page 359 of the corebook, Vectors are the infosec specialists at firewall. Simply for confusion purposes, a different name is advisable.
The one Steve limit? There are many things in the world where the name is confusing or has multiple meanings; I doubt there is going to be a major problem - we manage to keep the TITANs, the Titanian Commonwealth and the moon Titania apart, right?
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Other than that, I like the concept. I enjoy the idea of mid-level conspiracies, such as the Rust Convocation and Die Wende over on Farcast, especially because they seem like good enemies for inexperienced sentinels. In addition, if a player had a strong desire to get Psi powers at some point in their careers, this would not be a bad option. I have been trying to collect a variety of these minor conspiracies for starter campaigns.
Yes, we should totally brew more of them. I like the vectors too because they are in a sense bad (they are spreading the virus) but they are not trying to be an xrisk... they are just wrong.
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Also, sorry for the threadomancy.
Threadomancy is a fun kind of black magic. And since so many treasures are hidden down in the unsearchable depths of this site, it is doubly rewarding. I think we should dig up an ancient thread at least each month, reanimate it with medichines doing ominious latin chanting, and see what new angles we can find.
Extropian
Jay Dugger Jay Dugger's picture
I almost suggested a
I almost suggested a visualization tool for TVTropes.org, but a quick web search showed a project on Google Code. I will suggest forum visualization tools. :) A concordance might serve well. AntConc might work. I've note played with it, and creating concordances for the main books wouldn't require scraping the forums.
Sometimes the delete key serves best.
Undocking Undocking's picture
Arenamontanus wrote:The one
Arenamontanus wrote:
The one Steve limit? There are many things in the world where the name is confusing or has multiple meanings; I doubt there is going to be a major problem - we manage to keep the TITANs, the Titanian Commonwealth and the moon Titania apart, right?
I spent ten minutes on TV tropes thanks to that, and forgot what I was doing. Half of my group thought we were going to Saturn to nuke a Titan(ian) instellation when we were actually going to nuke a TITAN instellation. Much arguing on closed comms during the asteroid jump ("Wait, you thought we were nuking Titanians and just went along with it?"). The Vectors are a mid-level conspiracy of antagonists that offer a different perspective. Just as the spoliers point to many different reasons why the TITANs left and the nature of the exsurgent virus, the virus itself could be used or considered a tool for strains of transhumanity. Mind you, most transhumans would flip their shit if they found out people were experimenting with exsurgent viruses but it may be 'too soon'. Maybe the Vectors know something about the TITANs that even Firewall doesn't. Perhaps different Vector cells use their virus abilities to coordinate against threats that Firewall did as well. Something about the die Wende are amusing to me. Maybe it is their ignorance of the other organizations out there. I picture them as a bunch of naive oligarchs thinking they are the top dogs in the conspiratorial food chain. Sitting around a fireplace with smoking pipes saying, "indeed indeed" and "quite right, good sir". Then the sentinels burst in and one of the conspiratores exclaims, "what the deuce?"
dsbinla dsbinla's picture
On Conspiracies, then
@ Arenamontanus, I think it would be fun to put together a little list of various conspiracies, mid-level enemies, and general havoc-causing organizations of all ideological persuasions and goals. Whether player character groups or not, they could be good throw-away opponents or cat's paws. Here is my list so far, with source and ideological identification: Conspiracy Group Ident. Source Purpose Vectors Exhuman? See Above Spread Watts-McLeod Die Wende None Farcast Control populations with Basilisk Hacks Rust Convocation Martian Farcast Contain the TQZ on Mars- multi-group confederation Prog. W/o Borders Auton. Farcast Contain and solve digital crises Eingerost Auton? Farcast Break boring people out of their boring lives by force. Godkillers BioCon Farcast Kill those whose morphs/ideologies Future Keepers Anti-X Risk Farcast Create and maintain survival bunkers around systems Nietzi None Farcast Destroy non-prod. activities (art, religion, media, etc.) Revaunchists Reclaimers Farcast Reclaim earth by military action Steel Liberators Luna/Synths Sunward Fight for Synthmorph rights The Movement Barsoomian Sunward Fight for backcountry Martian independence Radio Argosy Argonaut Corebook Spread unauthorized info throughout system Lingg's Words Anarchist Rimward Anarchist terror network- hit hardest authoritarian target CRAM Anarchist Rimward widespread terror- support anti-authoritarian action Black Marsh. Brigade Anarch. Rimward Anarchist judicial bounty hunters- pursue into inner sys. Odo Ecoterrorists Ecologists Eye Fanzine 4 Stop habitation of planets when living in space is viable Zerzan's Brood biocon/anarch prim Rimward Anti-high tech terrorists If you wanted to work on more mid-level conspiracies, terrorist groups, criminal organizations, etc., Arenamontanus, I would be happy to contribute. My knowledge of criminal orgs, sketchy hypercorp groups, and uplift/AGI groups is less complete than I would desire, so if anyone has anymore to list, it would be welcome. Also, I did not include the high-level conspiracies, whether canon or homebrew, such as Firewall, Ozma, Oversight, the Medeans, Axis Solari, etc. Finally , if someone could tell me a better way to format this, it would be ideal. Sorry for the wall of text.
dsbinla dsbinla's picture
The perils of conspiracy
@undocking, I too find that fairly amusing. It feels like a number of deep secrets in the game world, such as the exsurgent virus, the Prometheans, and Firewall itself are all discussed like they are common knowledge in fan creations. Having minor conspiracies and the like which are ignorant is a nice change- and in which revealing the existence of Firewall, and its interest in their activities, has a far larger effect on the game world.
thebluespectre thebluespectre's picture
Reminds me
Didn't Panopticon mention that there's a terrorist group made entirely of Neanderthals? And that Neanderthals are collectively no more than 20-ish years old max? I'm getting this absurd notion of a bunch of angst filled teenage cavemen talking about plotting the demise of Homo Sapiens while mostly just playing video games and making out.
"Still and transfixed, the el/ ectric sheep are dreaming of your face..." -Talk Shows on Mute
Undocking Undocking's picture
dsbinla wrote:
dsbinla wrote:
I too find that fairly amusing. It feels like a number of deep secrets in the game world, such as the exsurgent virus, the Prometheans, and Firewall itself are all discussed like they are common knowledge in fan creations. Having minor conspiracies and the like which are ignorant is a nice change- and in which revealing the existence of Firewall, and its interest in their activities, has a far larger effect on the game world.
Running into a Firewall sentinal on an op is about as likely as running into a CIA agent. Or less likely, since there are less people and more space. You could run entire campaigns with mid/low level conspiracies without revealing Firewall. As long as the conspiracy is not interested in x-threats, they could, technically, be a reveal to Firewall. All of the books point to the fact that Firewall does its best to remain secret. Most of the other conspiracies do as well. Even Firewall does not fathom the full extent of the Hidden Concern and their gatecrashing. There is the possibility for conspiracies to have no intersects with Ozma or Firewall. Just In Case from Gatecrashing is a prime example. A non-Consortium conspiracy that doesn't include Firewall, perhaps because they have no idea there is an organization protecting transhumanity from x-threats.
thebluespectre wrote:
Didn't Panopticon mention that there's a terrorist group made entirely of Neanderthals? And that Neanderthals are collectively no more than 20-ish years old max? I'm getting this absurd notion of a bunch of angst filled teenage cavemen talking about plotting the demise of Homo Sapiens while mostly just playing video games and making out.
Damnit, not that I know of—but there should be.
nezumi.hebereke nezumi.hebereke's picture
Arenamontanus wrote: we
Arenamontanus wrote:
we manage to keep the TITANs, the Titanian Commonwealth and the moon Titania apart, right?
What do you mean keep them apart? The Titanian Commonwealth caused the Fall with their killbots, right? Very cool idea though. I could definitely see a whole campaign based around this.