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SPD: a new take

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  • SPD: a new take

    So, the original Syndicate Convention Book portrayed the SPD as Mage-speak for Pentex, one part Werewolf crossover and one part illustration of the Syndicate's willingness to get in bed with true monsters, and another sign of the Nephandic corruption of the Union that 2e was pushing.

    The Revised Syndicate Convention Book's “kinder and gentler” take on the Convention addressed this matter by severing the SPD from the Syndicate entirely. In this post, though, I'd like to try a more nuanced approach. In my take, the SPD isn't Pentex (but it might be tied to it), and it isn't an example of Nephandic corruption (though if you choose to have the Syndicate infested by Nephandi, SPD is definitely not immune).

    Put simply, SPD is what was left of the Electrodyne Engineers after the Sons of Ether jumped ship. Not every proponent of Ether Science's ethos was willing to part ways with the Union; but options were slim for those who choose to stay: the NWO insisted on reconditioning any who wanted to remain, and none of Iteration X, the Progenitors, or the Virtual Adepts were willing to stick their necks out to shelter them. The Void Engineers were willing, but they were the last Convention that the former Electrodyne Engineers wanted help from, given that Tychoides and his Cosmological model was what had caused the break in the first place; so any who ended up finding refuge there weren't really committed to Ether Science after all. That left the Syndicate, who set up the Special Projects Division to shield and fund their continued investigations and exploitation of fringe sciences.

    And that's what SPD is. Think Fringe: at its best, it's a group of government/corporate-backed scientists who investigate fringe sciences and develop procedures and devices that most of the other Conventions would frown on if they knew about them, but that the Syndicate keeps as an ace in the hole in case things ever get crazy. At its worst, the other Conventions are justified in their concerns.

    Pentex isn't part of SPD. However, note that the Syndicate Revised Convention Book states that one of the instruments that a Syndic can use is backdoor access to a suitable corporation. If the Storyteller permits it and the Syndic's ethics can stomach it, the SPD can use Pentex's subsidiaries in this way.

    Last edited by Dataweaver; 02-23-2018, 07:01 PM.

  • #2
    You might want to specify specific subsidiaries for backdoor access (when used) if you're going that route, as Pentex is strictly a holding corporation; all of the economic gruntwork happens elsewhere.
    Last edited by Saur Ops Specialist; 11-28-2016, 01:16 AM.


    • #3
      Fair enough.


      • #4

        Just kidding, my idea was similar but not so Etherite based. I like your take though.

        I use the SPD as the Syndicate's tech development house. It began similarly actually, the SPD recruited enlightened scientists from other conventions, notably, those people who had pursued ideas which their Convention's had refused to support, leaving them alienated as a result.

        The SPD was an amalgamation of Technocrats poached from different conventions, it included many former Etherites and VA's who didn't want to leave the Union.

        When the Syndicate needs some tech and doesn't want to call in a favour or just can't let the other Conventions know about it, they go the SPD, after all, it is probably the most tech savvy methodology in the Syndicate.

        As long as its members make the Convention a profit and they keep their weird ideas on the down low, they're left to their own devices... literally!

        The SPD still poaches people who are willing to leave their respective Conventions and occasionally, even the Traditions.

        The other conventions know that SPD has a controversial past but they look the other way, because the Syndicate guards it's golden goose quite well and who wants to have their funding cut.

        On another note, there's also a flip side to the SPD. It serves as a special operations division as well. Since it's leaders are so accustomed to covering things up and many of its members have experience dealing with the sort of phenomena that makes the rest of the Convention shit themselves, the SPD gets assigned to all sorts of weird tasks.

        I am looking forward to running a game of Technocracy rejects in the SPD, I think it'll be interesting to say the least.


        • #5
          Makes sense. The Electrodyne Engineers bit works well as backstory for how the SPD came into being in the first place; but ongoing recruitment probably resembles what Zennis described.


          • #6
            Why not? It's a pretty good idea, particularly if that's going to be the genesis of the game you want to run.

            I've always had the Electrodyne Engineers that stayed being divvied up between the Conventions that were left. Just like the Virtual Adepts that didn't jump ship. The Electrodyne Engineers most went into Iteration X (or... maybe they were still IBM? I usually set it up that way...), as they were the ones who could stomach the whole 'no Ether" thing and didn't take it so personally. A few of the more "production minded" joined up with the Syndicate, but more in the sense of the advancement of industrialized mechanical production line style stuff and probably helped out with the codification of full-on Primal Utility. Sorta, "Tesla jumps ship and becomes an Etherite while Edison stays in the Union and switches to the Syndicate."

            (Incidentally, the remnant VA's were split between the NWO and It-X, with some heavy duty conditioning all around.... ending up with their intellectual heirs comprising the core of the Feed.)

            I've had a Fringe like set up waiting the wings, but more like an inter-Convention Methodology, like Panopticon, but with less in the way of anger management issues and more of an investigative function. SAND, I think. "Situational Analysis Directorate" or something similar.... (So the joke name for the agents can be "Sandmen", it can be called "Agents of SAND", etc.) If the next game ends up being a Technocracy game, that's the one queued up. That way we can have people playing members of any of the Conventions and not try to finagle characters that would be more difficult to build-out from a Syndicate starting point.


            • #7
              I actually loved the idea of ex VA's and Etherites joining the Syndicate rather than the NWO or IX and honestly, I think that they would! Down to almost all of them actually.

              Imagine being an ex VA as a Syndicate rep shows you around a surprisingly high tech lab space within his construct, he turns to you and says "now, we know you have a checkered past what with your former convention-mates choosing to leave the Union and all but we in the Syndicate are willing to overlook that. We don't care what the other conventions say, we value innovation over blind obedience (mostly a lie), we aren't afraid to think outside box and we want someone who isn't afraid to push the envelope and hit the cutting edge. We want someone like you because we know that it's innovators like you who are going to make the next big breakthrough in this field and we're willing to make it worth your time and effort, because unlike the other Conventions, we value you. We're prepared to offer you top level access to a cutting edge lab that's yours to run, excellent pay and benefits and the opportunity to continue working on your personal projects during your off time, as long as they don't disrupt the companies goals that is, you'll even have access to the lab for your personal work... as long as nothing gets out of hand. Now, you can either say yes to an amazing offer that'll make you millions of dollars and give you the freedom to pursue your own research as well push the boundaries of science or you can choose to work for one of other Conventions and be given projects off a flow chart by a manager who doesn't give a damn about whether you were conditioned into taking the job or not. The choice is totally up to you (with a smile), all you have to do is sign here."

              Personally, I think the Syndicate probably had a field day with both defections, the Etherites being dissolved as a convention (the Union didn't kick them out, they ordered them to assimilate into other Conventions) was even better for the Syndicate than the VA defection because it meant that it was open season on recruiting Etherites where as the recruitment of VA's who'd already left the Union only to come back would've raised more than a few eyebrows.

              Mark my words, The Syndicate would've been the number one destination for ex VA/Etherites.


              • #8
                On a side note, I actually used this idea in a Technocracy Chronicle once, the group was playing all Void Engineers and were often in space or the Umbra. The look on their faces when they found out that the guy in the spacesuit who was doing repairs on a Trans Dimensional scout/fighter outside an abandoned construct in the umbra was a member of the Syndicate was priceless.

                "I'm here to scout this facility for a salvage operation, there's a lot of valuable resources in there!"

                "You have people who understand Dimensional Science?"

                "How do you think I got out here motherfucker?"

                "And you can fly that thing?" gesturing towards the fighter.

                "Man, I fucking built that thing!"


                • #9
                  Except this skews the Syndicate in the direction of being omni-capable. "The Syndicate is All" Paradigm. Where they are, of course, better than all the other Conventions at those other Conventions specialties. Why? Because they're the SYNDICATE, baby!

                  Which is complete BS. At best, it's Syndicate internal propaganda. Self-defeating propaganda, at best. As thinking you're the best at everything isn't the same at being the best at everything, which, frankly, they can't be. They have their "thing" and "everything" isn't A thing. Which is, TBH, pretty good... It is their extra-special flaw. The hubris of being very capable and very greedy. But it's a flaw. It's not real. (Or else, just throw in the towel and stop having a Union and just replace it with the Syndicate).

                  The Syndicate is good at their thing. Which is not building spaceships or defeating armies of werewolves. Accountants don't build spaceships, they make sure all the bits and pieces get to the right people so that they can be built. Patent lawyers don't create inventions, they take credit for them and hand them off to salesmen to create profit. That's the Syndicate is about. Profit. Value. Adding in everything everyone else can do pretty much undoes them.

                  So would the leftover computer scientists join up with sales & marketing? Some would. But some would definitely join up with the hardware folks. Quite a few, probably. Some would join up with the information-brokers and social engineers (maybe less than would have happened if, ya know, it wasn't those same social engineers that had just tried to do them in...) Would the mad scientist/sweat of their brow inventors join up with money men? Sure. Probably quite a few of them. Because joining up with the other inventor-types is joining up with the guys who just went out of their ways to render you and yours obsolete. And once they were there? They would be put to work doing whatever would generate the most profit...


                  • #10
                    There's a reason I'm talking about SPD and not The Syndicate in general.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Ajax View Post
                      Except this skews the Syndicate in the direction of being omni-capable. "The Syndicate is All" Paradigm. Where they are, of course, better than all the other Conventions at those other Conventions specialties. Why? Because they're the SYNDICATE, baby!

                      Which is complete BS...
                      Yes, but nobody ever said that here Ajax.

                      Originally posted by Dataweaver View Post
                      There's a reason I'm talking about SPD and not The Syndicate in general.

                      We are talking about the SPD, a methodology within the the Syndicate which has limited resources and man power. It's not an all powerful Super Methodology that can beat the whole Union with one hand tied behind its back, it's a group that can do some pretty exceptional things though.

                      Sure, I depicted them as having a space ship, ONE space ship which got built by the ONE guy in the whole methodology who had high enough DS to do so and it was piloted by that one guy's protege, who exaggerated when he said 'he' built the thing and was the only person in the entire methodology aside from his boss who could fly it.

                      What I think Dataweaver is trying to propose here, and I'm basing this conclusion on what I have done as well, is create a cool alternative to the SPD that isn't the "evil Pentex executives who have ties to the Nephandi and would be better off left in Werewolf the Apocalypse".

                      No one is saying the SPD can do everything and out resource the whole Union, but this way they're something different, they're something that the Syndicate doesn't already have and they're something that still makes sense. In the setting, the Syndicate really would want a manufacturing house that could pull some unique feats and they would try to build one.

                      The Etherite and VA defections would be the perfect opportunity to do so and with a group like that, well, you might just get a space ship or two.


                      • #12
                        Two? Two? What do you think we're made of, money? I want to see a return on our investment in the first one before we fund another!


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Zennis View Post
                          Yes, but nobody ever said that here Ajax.
                          Originally posted by Dataweaver View Post
                          There's a reason I'm talking about SPD and not The Syndicate in general.
                          Except, of course, as has been discussed many times before, in many threads (in which both I and Dataweaver have participated), there are certain assumptions made about the breadth of the Syndicate's mission. And that is obviously related to the mission of the SPD. So, yes, thinking that the Syndicate is DA BOMB is materially related. Particularly after the Syndicate book, which, though very useful, really needs to be taken with a block of salt. They are the ultimate salesmen. Boosterism is de jure. No, the Syndicate secret agents aren't super-spies beyond anything the NWO can bring to bear (James Bond is not a model for a Syndicate secret agent man... more the corporate espionage types from Gibson.). Likewise, the Syndicate is not the ultimate in technological innovation (in fact corporations pretty much never innovate. They take innovations and market them.) So, embedding a secret/investigative/mad inventor Methodology without taking into account the milieu of the Syndicate's mission is, in fact, exactly proximal Syndicate boosterism redux.

                          So, no one said it, but they didn’t not say it and it’s definitely swimming under the surface.

                          The SPD, as is, is a sort of "re-purpose magic/magi-tech, field-test and bring to bear", essentially a "reverse-engineer applications & testing" Methodology. In setting/metaplot/Mage historical terms, a Methodology completely and deeply corrupted by pretty much every possible type of corruption and by every type of corrupter the WOD can bring to bear. ("Do not call up that which you cannot put down" and all that...)

                          Reimagining it as something else. Well… that’s probably all well and good. SPD-as-is has been pushed offstage and cast as “untouchably Nephandic”, even in the new Technephandi Technocracy baseline. Unless they are going to be a/the bad guy, they’re effectively nothing.

                          So, bringing in the Electrodyne Engineers…. Sure, the Syndicate would do that. If the Electrodyne Engineers are bringing to the table something that fits within the Syndicate’s mission. So, how does having this new SPD accomplish something that creates value? That isn’t redundant with what another Convention does much better because it’s more within their area of specialization? The Technocracy is built on Convention specialization and mutual interdependence. Sure, there is some overlap and redundancy between Conventions, but, actually, the Syndicate should have less crossover with other Conventions, rather than more. They have the checkbook. That allows them significant input pretty much everywhere. The other Conventions have to try to do projects “off the books” if they don’t want the Syndicate to have their fingers all over it. Effectively, the Syndicate isn’t going to have to duplicate effort because they have the other people (e.g. the other Conventions) to do that for them.

                          Which goes to the idea of the new SPD. Seems like the non-defecting Electrodyne Engineers would bring something to the table. That thing that the SPD-as-is never did do very well, the whole “reverse-engineer applications & testing” idea. As inventors, they would be good at that. How about the investigative function? Well… They are handed the weird stuff collected by Amalgams on other missions and asked “Is this useful? Can we do something with this? What do we need to do to protect against it if we see it again?” Following from that, they will probably get tasked with missions that directly bear on that, both as CSI and brought in pro-actively on occasion.

                          The Syndicate guy in space didn’t build the tech on the starship. (He’s not a yard dog or an astro-engineer.) He recognizes THAT component of the ship that he reverse-engineered from something that was discovered in the basement of a House Thig/Etherite Chantry. And knows how to fix it/can duplicate what went wrong/etc. and know that there is a bit of implicit weirdness that almost certainly didn't get into the manual


                          • #14
                            Oh, and, when I think about it, it's entirely possible that a lot of the non-defector Electrodyne Engineers probably went to the Virtual Adepts....

                            That seems like it would make perfect sense. It's the added application of electronics that really allows for the hardware side of computer technology takes off. And it would make better sense than joining up with IBM/Iteration X, who, really, were the jerks responsible for their ex-Conventional status.

                            Then their intellectual descendants probably ended up either defecting with the majority of the VAs (Not again.... Screw this crap. We're leaving.), or, for those who just can't see going it alone or becoming <shudder> those anti-scientific Sons of Ether, would have gone to join the SPD where the other former Electrodyne Engineer compatriots found a home.