- May 22, 2023
- Followers of Eternity
FoE's sufficient reason
For me zealous faith as an oddly tolerated while openly seditious group was a misstep in giving FoE a game niche and mechanics. While they may or may not in initiation still maintain a mysterious nature and the culture of a cult, for envisioning a gameplay style it’s better to look at them as technologically skilled revolutionaries. Their purpose and goal is to enact political change (to whatever degree) or disrupt the TU system as best they can in a deeply asymmetrical conflict that makes their game play more digital and physical espionage, weighing practicalities of resistance, manipulation and mobility.
MR does have a decent niche for players looking to be against the established order for political*/ideological reasons. There is viable action space for players who feel the desire to be anti-corporate abuses, anti-authoritarian or even just anti-a particular law or anti-leaders of X faction. Let’s still call this play style FoE for short as for the time being it’s as good a name as any and in general quite evocative. Having gameplay for this would cater to an additional interest/motivation of players while adding to the faction balance and game world. If made a broad and tolerant church of anti-current game state groups, linked by patronage with advanced tech skills, it could also give the dissatisfied a place where they can go and work to try and enact a specific change or make their displeasure known rather than just log off or retire to their least hated/the most decentralised faction and act against that faction’s niche in so far as they do anything. This said how wide a diaspora is accepted in the play style needs careful consideration to avoid toxic behaviours.
Let’s use SYN to mean the traditional BoS style criminal group. The SYN motivation is generally in accumulating power through wealth and members, just like corporations, but by using illegal methods. SYN leaders might use power and influence to enact political changes so their lives and business are easier to profit by and thus increase their control, again just like Corporations, but for FoE the changes or degradation of the system would be the point. FoE can’t exist without the TU while SYN exists despite the TU. Without a significant shift in how factions work (and I won’t be posting that spiel again don’t worry) the anti-system group needs differentiation from a general “unlawful behaviour” faction for the same reasons the TDC and CPC aren’t a “government authority” faction. The players want to have different roles in the game world and do different things for different reasons, the faction’s unique mechanics to support and differentiate that are designed and implemented accordingly as separate.
The divergence in goals (and thus what mechanics they might use) is particularly relevant if Bio wasn’t trolling and there is a sincere plan for SYN to be designed no different in faction operation from the corporations. Should the HC have the ability to pull control, access and resources back away from the decentralised departments level (if they so wish) and seize some control over all the gangs the HC aren’t members of, it makes the faction more monolithic and focused on the HC’s goals and thus not applicable as a catch all for differently motivated unlawful play. A mafia boss successful enough to crown themselves king of SYN that wants to sell drugs to corporate players and mercenaries is not going to be overly happy with a subunit that is spending faction resources and time fighting customers so they can disrupt map services for everyone for philosophical reasons and drag the faction into conflicts the HC might not want. The HC shouldn’t have to endure such a group that isn’t very aligned to the play style and goals of the HC or the other faction members that support them.
To summarise, SYN play is ignoring the law and ducking enforcement, FoE would be attacking the system were they can using the means available. It would be no more appropriate to have an persistently anti-government rebel group in the mafia than in the mercenaries or as a corporate department, it is not the faction behaviour.
The best reasons not to include FoE would be if revolutionary agent gameplay is too likely to be too problematic for other factions or if it seems like there won’t be enough player interest in the niche to justify the effort of developing it. Please do say if you think there is other error above and reason the concept above can be housed without a faction to call its own or if there is a niche for FoE better suited to the game and player interest that cyber-rebels.
Let's assume you are with me so far and move on to what sort of mechanics we can suggest now we are stepping back from faith based terror. The FoE specific mechanics are around sabotage and ideas that support espionage. @Rian Felix and I covered some of this on discord but thought I would put them in a more readable space and invite people to add to and critique them.
Special hacking, not your garden variety of guess the combination in X tries to get access for a time but a more involved gameplay loop. This will need expanding and might incur prohibitive dev costs but some sort of digital space mini-game or coding type puzzles would be nice, they can have a push your luck nature to dive further and further into control of what you are hacking. As you go you can unlock options like changing the rules it runs by, erasing any sign of hacking, making the object need repair to work again, be more vulnerable to you in the future and so on. There is a lot of depth this can go into by specifying what objects can have what actions open at what penetration levels and reach even quasi-meta things like an HQ hack giving FoE temporary read only access to another factions chat.
Messing with a whole map-
A map effecting TU Control/Compliance level that FoE can negatively impact through a campaign of activity like targeting territory objects over periods of time with it getting worse the further their hacking goes without being either detected or effectively countered. There could be a few other actions FoE can take to interact with this system like killing CPC/TDC/Gov/Map owning faction players or releasing Xenos but these are more abstract. This is separate from crime levels as that always has trade off of positives for the owner, a lack of control instead makes things bad for owners and possibly users to. You never want FoE in your space but you want them in your enemies lands.
For the progression of control loss there can be thresholds at which services suffer effects (on a permanent basis beyond targeted hacking, this is sort of planting an autonomous virus) and the FoE agents involved could choose a specific additional negative like a reverse R&D path or have a particular service suffer a higher degree of failure. How exactly this is actioned may need testing, starting with just a few systems glitching (terminals over charging or working for free for a period of time) but it should be capable of effecting all tech/network based services and at the top levels turning services off and frying developments thus demanding reinvestment. Storage, Vortex Gates, crime snapshot interaction, R&D choices that provide info or functionality to implants like Xeno Threat level and location, production terminals, markets, you name it and it can be targeted. As a final step if truly not properly stopped, FoE either gets to just take everything over &/or turn everything off for a map. Recovery from this catastrophic state would involve concerted effort, investment and possibly TDC or private space ships to ferry people.
Countering this, atop just preventing FoE agents doing their actions, would be maintenance and repair actions for vulnerable objects, TDC flying the flag and an R&D path deployable to fortify or hardening objects against interference or something to provide a minimum degradation level.
Unique and probably mostly illegal implants, there is a large scope here for creating play patterns. If ground up production is too far a step into Corporate play style maybe this can instead be modifying existing implants to have overridden functionality.
List to add to as ideas crop up:
- This has been brought up several times and would be a good fit for the sneaky faction. Chameleon implant that randomises your appearance, name and apparent faction unless countered with a specific scan. You can combine with others to a build around this, one implant can scan another player to enter the data into a second implant or shared deployable that banks it so the chameleon implant can mimic that player for a period that drains the Chameleon’s resources quicker, very effective but uses a lot of implant slots. An important limitation to prevent unbalancing combat would have to be it can’t hide weapons you couldn’t bury in clothes (so pistols only) or certain energy weapons/combat drugs futz with it somehow as does weapon discharge. Also maybe a temporary deployable can be made to disrupt it in a radius or cone.
- Remote group FoE hacking, linking either to a deployable left in a region or to a physically present FoE agent’s implant. For none routine actions this lets FoE collaborate on a particular target and probably certain top end effects should demand FoE groups working in concert.
- The police scanner, an implant that can provide information on the presence and location of a particular faction on a map. This should probably have to tie into either a none surface level hack of some map object or the use of a deployable and have gradations that provide better quality info the more investment there is.
- Data implant, something that lets you take a snapshot of a certain system's data once you have hacked deep enough. This would be useful for making them information brokers.
- Neural Links, implants that can be grouped in a short range network so members can share mental resources. It might make a single member harder to stun as they share a pool of whatever that damages and might have a mode where they combine regeneration of this pool for a particular period.
This being a FoM game there will certainly be shooting for all factions but FoE probably doesn’t need extra channelling into being a paramilitary force. While I am sure there are combat implications for other suggested mechanics, FoE might be best without anything designed from the ground up to give them a direct combat focus. Slightly better psionic weapons (if those are still a thing) is a nice flavour addition for a faction that might have a bit of a technological edge/digital hive mind going on, that isn’t a particularly faction defining play pattern though.
FoE could be a purveyor of a combat buffing addictive digital narcotic. If there is the entertainment stat system so much the better for this. I would like to see it as a metaverse of sorts, maybe one that has combat simulation aspect as well for people to test things out as much as getting the buff. You know kung fu.
FoE could also produce or modify the suggested droids to make them better in one direction or another that would otherwise be considered illegal.
This is a bit left field, potentially as part of the control system or using a linked but discreet “discontent” system** NPC citizen mobs can spawn that are hostile to TU factions, map owning faction members and/or anyone not native (having their primary rental) on the map. If left for more than a short time they start destroying territory developments and businesses belonging to those they view as valid targets, it would be a form of reset for the map for the owner having let discontent spiral. Having players just shoot these mobs or the map in that status that causes them for prolonged periods can cause the potential spread of the riots.
*It is important to note here that this is not the same as having an opposing government to compete with the TU, certainly not to start with. If the game has a second government with its own army, police system, corporations (or the ability to have corporation flip between them) it moves the “faction” part of the game a step further out to a national identity and a far less interesting Star Wars type dynamic. FoE is also not best as a GoM 2.0 peace and brotherhood activist moment, while PR and subversion sub-units might have a place the faction’s core should be directly confrontational and effective rather than just noisy.
**A white rabbit for an already dubious idea, the discontent level of a map could be an interlacing of values pulled from comparative service pricing for civilians, control and crime levels within a period of time, effects from things along the lines of FoE hacking billboards, and finished with numbers determined by government laws/actions which sit on a scale between authoritarian or liberal. Given some government actions might sit outside pure mechanics and even those that are toggles can have a context, I am not sure this can be properly done without a team of GMs dubiously setting the "popular reaction" values or building out a massive system like the CK3 conditional reactions which is too much work for the return to MR.