They had shut Beth out. They had cooperated completely for two weeks, and just when she had found her most promising lead yet, Core 9 had shut her out. She tapped her metal fingers on the desk and looked over the email hovering in front of her in AR.
"Dear Ms. Bethany Tate," it began, "We are incredibly thankful for your assistance in this investigation, but regret to inform you that we no longer require your cooperation. For your efforts, 300 rubles have been blah blah nondisclosure blah blah license agreement blah blah contact customer support."
She sighed and rubbed her eyes, pushing her AR goggles up to her forehead in the process. The stolen goods were no doubt confidential, but not confidential enough to warrant the dismissal of every private eye that got this far--at least, not if Core 9 ever wanted the investigation to go anywhere. She put her goggles back on and started composing a new message. If the tech was really that secret, someone would pay exorbitant sums of money for access to it. If there was something deeper to this secrecy, someone would pay for the information. Either way, she'd make a lot of money.
She selected the addresses of several of her most trusted friends and sent them each a message over a network she trusted:
Core 9 just canceled my contract, but there are still leads I want to pursue. Let me know if you want in and we'll split the money I make selling their corporate secrets >=P
Later that night, a sniper was preparing his weapon on a roof across from an apartment building. He had been hired by an anonymous client to silence some private investigator who had stepped outside the boundaries of her contract.
F R O S T B I T E
Thirty years ago, the world was dying. Global recession threw entire countries into financial chaos, as expansionism increased through wars of acquisition. Terrorism blossomed, and freedoms were forfeited, giving rise to social unrest and civil war. Chaos was the global constant.
All was made worse as the world continued to heat and permafrost banks around the world started to melt. Massive floods buried coastal cities underwater. However, the worst was yet to come. Buried in the Arctic and Antarctic ice lay a dormant life-form that would nearly wipe humanity out. This was the Runoff Plague, a pandemic consisting of several strains of virus with incredibly complex DNA. It didn’t take long for the Plague to work its way into sewage systems and water supplies across the world. Society started to break down as refugees retreating from the rising coastlines were forced into crowded, unsanitary camps where a new case of the Plague was just a sip of tap water away.
However, all hope was not lost. While the world’s governments struggled to contain the chaos, an isolated, for-profit biotech firm called Spiritechnology worked tirelessly alongside its state-sponsored cohorts to develop a working treatment for the Runoff Plague. When they finally put together something that worked, it was first distributed to those within Spiritechnology, followed by the company’s corporate allies, and finally, hospitals and medical camps everywhere. With Spiritech and its allies remaining healthy and prospering, deals were struck between the affluent group of corporations and world governments; free distribution of the cure in exchange for a few ‘favours’ at the end of the epidemic. By all appearances, the Plague had been stopped, but not before it had wiped out nearly twenty percent of the world’s population.
In 2023, in accordance with the agreements made during the Runoff Plague, the globe’s major powers signed the International Corporate Extraterritoriality Treaty (known as “ICE Treaty” colloquially), granting companies with a certain net worth the right to operate above the laws and restrictions imposed by the local government. As such, Spiritech and its allies in the “ICEd Tea Club,” fueled by the admiration of countries around the world for curing the plague, as well as political favours, gained ever more power on the world’s stage.
Now, in the year 2046, the smaller population has led to a slightly more stable environment in the world of politics and business. Extraterritoriality and the freedom granted by the ICE Treaty to big corporations have led to a number of unprecedented advancements in science and engineering. For one, new biotechnological research has led to an insurgence in highly-available cybernetic implants led primarily by Spiritech. In addition, almost all interaction with the digital world is done through virtual and augmented reality, whether you’re reading information projected onto your field of view via a pair of AR goggles or downloading it directly into your brain with a neural implant. AR programs can even be shared and updated in real-time between multiple users, allowing for a multi-user AR experience for those who can afford it.
However, it isn’t all roses-and-sunshine. Sea levels have risen two meters since 2016; this might not sound like much, but it will only get worse. While there were initially less people around after the dust settled, the overall population density in urban areas has seen an increase since 2016, as those settling around coastal areas have moved further inland. Quarantine cities, such as Karantin, have turned into fully-fledged population centres, as well as main operating grounds for ICEd Tea activities - especially those of an illicit and controversial nature. The ethics of cybernetic enhancement aren’t a major source of public controversy quite yet, although there still exists a prejudice against augmented individuals. As corporate power increased, the power of the government decreased in proportion, leading to a general rise in criminal activity. On a similar note, the corporations lucky enough to get into the ICEd Tea Club are doing increasingly underhanded things to stay there.
This is the world you live in. Will you take up bounty hunting, earning your coin by doing the jobs everyone else refuses to take? Will you steal corporate treasures and sell them on the black market? Will you be a hacker, breaking into secured networks and using what you find to further your own goals? It’s up to you, but one thing is for certain: if you play by the rules, the streets will eat you alive.
The Iced Tea Club:
If you want to survive out there, you’ll need to know who’s in charge. In no particular order, these corporations have reached and surpassed the threshold to receive the full benefits of the International Corporate Extraterritoriality Treaty:
Spiritechnology, Inc: “Not just biotechnology. Spiritechnology.” A biotech company and the first to join the Club. Currently, they’re the leading provider of cybernetic hardware. They’re also famous for engineering medication to combat the Runoff Plague, though due to the disease’s reduced presence in the modern world, it’s not really a priority anymore.
Taurus Corporation: “Information in the blink of an eye.” Taurus Corp. is responsible for providing internet access to an estimated twenty million subscribers each day. Needless to say, this makes them a highly profitable organization.
Ian V. Xavier Technology Solutions: “Putting the ‘World’ in ‘World Wide Web.’” IVX TechSol is Taurus’s number one competitor in terms of internet services, though they specialize more in hardware and basic software than networking. Chances are, if you have a pair of AR goggles or a Direct Neural Interface, there’s an IVX logo slapped on there somewhere.
Krueller-10 Weapon Systems: “This is your boomstick.” Krueller-10 is thus far the only weapons manufacturer to make it into the Club. And for good reason; their firearms are the most reliable on the market, and some even feature integrated computer systems that allow users to fire the weapon with a thought and receive data such as ammunition count and estimated bullet trajectory. They specialize in light firearms such as submachine guns and pistols, though they do manufacture a few heavier-caliber weapons.
Igneous, Inc.: "Ignite the highway." Igneous is a prolific transportation company, producing mostly high-end sportscars and sedans. The luxury of the Igneous brand name means they don’t have to sell very many units compared to other companies to stay where they are. They just need to sell a few at exorbitant prices.
Zeta Aerospace: “Innovation is our motivation.” Zeta Aerospace, as the name suggests, designs, builds, and manufactures aircraft, and they’re also funding their own budding space program. Most commercial airliners in use today are of the Zeta brand, though they do dabble in military technologies.
Coronation 9: “Moving the world.” Core 9 is the jack-of-all-trades of the corporate world. Through a number of subsidiaries, they manufacture a wide array of products, from computers to rugged road machines and everything in-between. Their main brands, however, are in the field of robotics. Their most famous product, the Multi-Purpose Mobile Platform (MP2) is a semi-autonomous four-legged walker that can be re-equipped and re-programmed to perform a variety of roles.
Karantin, the Frostbitten City:
Karantin (Russian for “Quarantine”) is an underground megacity situated far northeast of Moscow, deep in the now-thawed Siberian Outlands. Consisting of a traditional aboveground cityscape, the underground portion was built in a hollowed-out cavern during the Runoff Plague outbreak as a highly-sanitary superhospital for disease victims. The underground buildings, currently known as the Laquearia District, were built hanging from the ceiling of this cavern. Thus, if any runoff water made its way into the cavern, it would collect at the bottom, preventing doctors and other “clean” personnel in the hospital from becoming infected. Since the days of the Plague, the water that collected under Laquearia has been drained and another district, Solum, has been constructed. The gap between the two lower districts is bridged by a network of catwalks and elevators dubbed “Medius.” Medius also includes the lowest walkways connecting Laquearia’s buildings.
Above Laquearia, on the surface, lie the Lower City, Mid-City, and Upper City. Similar to the underground city, these buildings are separated into districts by walkways between them.
Contrary to most preconceived notions, in Karantin, the poorer you are, the higher you live above sea level. Geothermal vents warm air conditioning systems in Solum, and the heat is then distributed in accordance with proximity to the vents. This means that housing is cheaper towards the top, where heating is minimal at best and the living conditions are accordingly abysmal.
There are a number of ways to get around the city. If you live in Solum or the Lower City, you can usually just drive from place to place. If you can’t afford a car or you don’t live on a level with roads, you can take the Elevators. Elevator cars, or Levs for short, are equal parts elevator and subway car. Not only can they travel vertically, but thanks to a complicated system of wires, rails, and magnetic tracks, the right car can take you nearly anywhere in Karantin. And, for the particularly well-off, there exist expensive flying vehicles built by Igneous that run on technology developed by Zeta. These “hovercars” require massive batteries and solar panels in order to power the Pulsed Inductive Thrusters they rely on for propulsion, but they’re an option if you have enough money and patience.
Politically, Karantin is owned by the Russian government, and managed by the key players of ICEd Tea, meaning the ruble is the local currency. A construction company known as Kasper New Series is responsible for the construction and maintenance of the city, though each member of the Club also has a large presence there. Mainly forgotten by the rest of the world following the end of the Runoff Plague, it is a place of corruption and corporate control. The poverty at and above the surface makes it a bustling hub for gang activity. Meanwhile, the lower levels frequently host the activities of more organized crime syndicates. If you want to make a quick buck, Karantin hosts plenty of opportunities for you.
In recent local news, a Coronation 9 robotics research lab in Laquearia was raided by a group of unidentified, heavily-augmented assailants. Investigation is still ongoing, but thus far, nobody has claimed responsibility for the attack. Several untested prototypes were reportedly stolen in the raid. Several organizations, Core 9 itself included, are enlisting the help of private investigators to solve the case.
Iced Tea Club members aren’t the only powerful groups with presences in Karantin. Here are a few you should be wary of:
Dvenadtsat' Brat'yev (The Twelve Brothers): The Brothers are the largest crime syndicate in Russia, and they are particularly active in Karantin. As their name suggests, the twelve Lukyanenko brothers collectively preside over the the group, and their connections run deep throughout the city.
Your Local Collective: Despite the name, this hacker group is anything but local--their operations span the globe. Most people who operate in the Collective’s name do it for fun, exploring new ways to exploit the world’s information systems, but they do occasionally work for money.
Watchman Contractors: This private security contractor is headquartered in Laquearia and largely serves as its police force. They commonly make use of hover vehicles to get where they need to go faster than levs can carry them, and its officers are quite good at what they do.
The advent of virtual and augmented reality has made electronic warfare much more common in the modern world. Most consumer electronics have some sort of wireless capability, and many infrastructural items are linked, whether directly or indirectly, to some sort of wireless system.
Hacking in this game will be treated very much like combat. Players will take turns attacking and/or defending their devices in cyberspace. Virtual Reality interactivity has allowed for the creation of hacking systems that simulate combat between two or more “avatars” in cyberspace. Users can customize the appearance of their avatars, but their abilities in cyber-combat depend on the software they have, and the software they have usually depends on how much money they have. The battle takes place in an environment built by the defending user(s). This environment can be anything from a digital battle arena a la Tron to a clearing in a snowy forest--really anything that you can imagine. If a user hasn’t taken time to customize the environment on his or her device, it will usually default to an endless field of grid lines. No matter the environment, however, there is always some virtual object that represents files stored on the device, like a safe or a briefcase. Gaining access to this object is the ultimate goal, so defending parties should attempt to defend it at all costs.
Now, bear in mind that if you’re hacking a device, your opponent probably won’t be another human being right off the bat unless said device’s owner doesn’t have any security software. Most devices have Automated Security Protocols--ASPs--that can be customized as much as the VR environment, whether it’s through the tools that come with the software or by programming your own. They’ll typically take forms that suit their environment as well; for example, the previously-mentioned forest might be defended by a timberwolf. Like many things, ASPs cost money, and the more expensive they are, the better they work. If you’re trying to steal data from a large corp, expect heavy resistance. When breaking into lower-grade systems, however, the security measures might be more subtle and complex. For example, while a secure corporate databank might appear as a heavily-guarded fortress, a system owned by a programmer might be protected by a complex maze of dark hallways.
What happens once the ASPs are down largely depends on what you’re trying to break into. Most tech-savvy users will have their system set up to give them notifications once their security protocols have been breached. At this point, they’ll usually plug themselves into VR and intervene manually. However, larger databases usually won’t have a specific user guarding its contents, so the ASPs will be the last thing you have to go through before you have access to the system.
If a user does, however, decide to confront you, there will be little reason for either of you to constrain yourselves with real-life physics; many users program virtual superpowers of sorts into their cyberspace avatars. These powers can range from flight to teleportation to laser vision and beyond, so long as they're balanced.
Damage to an avatar will be reflected as damage to the data stored on the user's device. Files might be corrupted or lost, viruses might be installed--it depends on the extent and type of damage dealt. For example, if an avatar suffers some minor lacerations, a few non-essential files might be damaged and corrupted, whereas if it is mortally wounded, more integral files could be corrupted or lost. This damage, like real-life injury, takes time to fix. Ultimately, players should judge how long it takes to get their devices up and running based on how much damage they've suffered.
Aside from VR and AR technology, unrestricted corporate research has yielded breakthroughs in many technological fields:
Multiform Particles: Metallic particles that can be programmed to take different shapes. In volumes greater than about a gallon, they start to lose cohesion, so they don’t have a lot of practical uses on larger scales, but they can be used in smaller quantities to form tools and other useful items.
Hoverbikes/Cars: Vehicles that are propelled by ion thrusters and hover above the ground. They bridge the gap between aircraft and automobile.
Jet/Rocket Packs:These rigs are good for short bursts of speed and jumping higher than normal, but not really “flight,” per se. They require training to use effectively and can either be worn or implanted depending on the preference of the user.
Propulsion/Repulsion Boots: Useful for gaining extra height when used in conjunction with rocket-and-jet-packs, whilst also serving as stabilizing thrusters. Repulsion boots also help to slow flying users down before impact with ground.
Grappling Hooks: Hooks designed to be fired via magnetic or compressed-air propulsion system. They can be used to maneuver quickly between buildings and other large structures or set up ziplines and tightropes.
Interchangeable Weapon Systems: Specialized weapons platforms that use simplified base-and-grip platforms in order to attach multiple ‘rigs’ that will convert the firearm to a plethora of modes. With the right attachment, these ‘bases’ can be turned into assault rifles, sniper/battle rifles, LMGs, and even submachine guns and shotguns.
LIMEs (Linked Integration Module, Electronic): Electronic devices used as a tangible alternative to virtual reality. A touchscreen datapad device uses a specialized nanowire equipped with a ‘plug’ at the end - composed of multiform particles, the plug is able to shape itself to fit any computer terminal socket, transferring data to and from the LIME device.
Four Weapon Categories: Kinetic (Rail/Coil-based Weapons), Propelled (Bullets, Rockets/Missiles), Laser (Short charge before an extended burst), Plasma (Essentially shooting directed lightning bolts)
Specialized Multiformation Tool: This baton-like device uses multiform particles to arrange itself in a manner of ways depending on a re-programmable setting. The SMT can take the form of a spade, axe, crowbar, sword, and countless other tools (Tools with moving parts not included. Think the T-1000 from Terminator 2).
QuickHeal Regenerative Bandages: These Spiritech-made adhesive patches use chemicals that promote blood clotting and cell growth to quickly stem the flow of blood from open wounds. They aren’t much of a long-term solution, but they can buy a wounded person some time.
VR Goggles/Implants: Your standard connections to the virtual realm. Goggles project information onto the user’s retina, whereas implants feed data directly to the brain, allowing for a more immersive experience.
Generational Genetic Modification: Those who can afford it have the option of modifying the genetic code of their children before birth. The legal modifications are limited to basic things like appearance, immunity, and muscular strength. Anything beyond that, and the child is at significant risk to develop cancer or a degenerative genetic disease.
Augmentation: Numerous advances in cybernetics have made human augmentation much more commonplace. It isn't limited to just limbs, either; almost any electronic device can be implanted into a human body for the right price. A commonplace procedure involves implanting a net of electrodes and electric stimulators into the brain that allow the the implantee to control electronic devices with his or her mind and have information projected directly into his or her field of view. This system is known as a Direct Neural Interface.
Cybernetic limbs come in all shapes and sizes ranging from the lifelike to the blatantly mechanical. Whatever your taste is, in cities like Karantin, many augmented individuals who can afford it choose to have weapons like blades and firearms integrated directly into their prostheses for self defense.
Other popular augmentations include cybernetic eyes with special capabilities like thermal vision and built-in life support systems that support their users in toxic environments. If you can think of a way to enhance the human body electronically, chances are someone’s selling it somewhere.
Despite all the benefits of augmentation, there are more than a few drawbacks. Due to their added capability, augmented workers are more likely to be hired than non-augmented ones, dividing the populace between augmented individuals and those who can’t afford augmentations or refuse to get them for medical or personal reasons. While the tensions between “augs” and regular humans have not escalated to violence quite yet, the animosity rises with each passing day.
- All posts should be broken into “In-Character” (IC) and “Out-Of-Character” (OOC) sections. For example:
Adam stretched his new cyber-arm and ran his fingers over the smooth surface of the countertop. He was still getting used to the strange pseudo-touch granted to him by the latest in tactile feedback technology.
OOC: Anyone up for interaction?
- No godmodding. In short, this means don’t do anything outside the realm of possibility. Your character won’t be able to take down a squad of corporate goons without at least a little outside help.
Don’t take control of any characters that don’t belong to you without the respective player’s permission. This includes NPCs being controlled by other players.
- Don’t metagame. Your character won’t know any important info he or she hasn’t learned over the course of the game.
- Death happens. If your character is in a situation he or she can’t escape, there’s probably a reason for it, so it’s just best to let him or her go.
- As always, all BZP rules apply.
- Above all, have fun. The purpose of this RPG is storytelling; there are no winners or losers as long as everyone is enjoying themselves.
To create a character, fill out this form and post it in the discussion topic.
Name: (First and Last.)
Alias: (Giving out one’s full name to employers might not be the best idea when living the life of a criminal, so plenty ne’er-do-wells-for-hire go by a codename. If your character doesn’t, feel free to omit this section entirely.)
Age: (How long has your character been alive?)
Allegiance: (Does your character prefer to work for a particular group, or his he or she a lone wolf, taking jobs no matter who presents them.
Appearance: (What does this character look like? You can give a description and/or link to an image here if you so choose.)
Personality: (How does this character think and how do those thoughts affect their actions?)
Skills: (What is this character good at?)
Augmentations: (Does this character have any cybernetic implants? If so, list them here. Integrated weapons go in the Weapons section)
Equipment: (What does this character typically carry around?)
Weapons: (What potentially lethal objects does this character typically carry around?)
Cyberspace Environment: (What will a hacker see once he or she tries to hack this character’s device in VR? See Electronic Warfare above for more details)
ASPs: (On a similar note to the above, what Automated Security Protocols does this character have installed on his or her device?)
Cyberspace Abilities: (What special abilities has this character programmed/installed for him/herself in cyberspace? These can be pretty much anything you can think of, so long as they’re balanced.)
Weakness: (He or she doesn’t have to have a Kryptonite, per se, but nobody’s perfect)
Bio: (A recap of your character’s life thus far.)
Zyke (Zulu Yankee Kilo Echo)
Edited by Zulu Yankee Kilo Echo, Nov 08 2014 - 03:13 PM.