"Putting a price on the priceless."
From its squalid roots as a haven for pirates and smugglers, the spires of Opportunity have risen to become the foremost trading capital of the Homeworld. Its success has been driven by the Visions: old criminal gangs given a stout lacquer of image, ethos and respectability.
Ruin has come to Opportunity. Most of their trading partners have been 'liberated' by the People's Combine, and their production centres have been torn down by the Walkers. To make things worse, the Valtarian Kingdoms have exiled them for engineering (and profiteering from) multiple civil wars. Their economy is now in freefall, and nobody wants to find themselves at the bottom of the pile.
Opportunity is dominated by the 'big three' Visions: Protean Dynamics, the Margin Drivers, and Joy Effect. If they wish to, you can also design your own Vision; once approved, this will be added to the setting.
- 1 Protean Dynamics
- 2 Margin Drivers
- 3 Joy Effect
- 4 Attitudes of the Visions
- 5 Leisure And Pleasure
- 6 Accessible Markets
- 7 Sovereign's Speech
- 8 Roleplaying An Opportunist
- 9 Additional Media
"Strangers are just assets you haven't met yet."
Sometimes, to make something happen, you need to have friends in the right places - and Protean Dynamics are everywhere. They deal in information and influence: their Relations wing manages a vast network of espionage, lobbying and reputation management that acknowledges no geographical or moral borders.
Some balk at their practices, to the bemusement of their operatives. They simply provide the means to turn ambitions into reality, for the right price. And snubbing their agents or refusing their polite requests is hardly the best way to get things done - if diplomacy proves insufficient to accomplish their goals, issues are escalated to the engineered killing machines of the Contingency wing.
"Protean Dynamics is committed to being an ethically aware organisation. Accredited certifications on Foreign Concepts, Belief Systems Architecture, and Advanced Rationalisation are available to all operatives deployed in environments where they are at high risk of exposure to ethics."
- - Operative Handbook (Declassified Edition), s.12
"Protean Dynamics acknowledge that operatives may develop romantic attachments over the course of their duties, and recognises that these are a valuable mechanism for accomplishing our strategic objectives. If, by error, you should happen to develop a romantic attachment that cannot deliver operational benefits, do not panic: speak to your handler. Our psychitects offer a number of minimally invasive support plans for operatives that have become emotionally compromised.
"You will be pleased to know that children born to operatives are covered by our operative welfare policy. Talented ‘junior handlers’ will ensure that your newborn receives all the virtualised education, biomantic tailoring, and psychological assistance they need to graduate from our Total Induction program. When you see the results, you won’t even recognise them! This is beneficial, as they will be working alongside you or, in rare cases, against you.
"All operatives completing induction will be provided with a simple, easy-to-remember classification. This name should be considered confidential information and, while we endeavour to retain the integrity of your root identity, may be subject to change without notice."
- - Operative Handbook (Declassified Edition), s.36
Name Examples: Sleeping Fox, Hurricane Nine, Silent Partner, Tempered Storm, Guilty Dog
Protean Dynamics adopts an elegant, neo-futurist look. They are consummate professionals, and this should be apparent.
- Clothing: Sleek and smooth lines. Flashes or panels of bright colour to contrast. Form-fitting or sharply cut clothing, trenchcoats.
- Accessories: Thin gloves, visors, eyepieces, half-masks, LEDs, cybernetic augmentations, embedded electronic devices, concealed holsters.
- Iconography: Hollow geometric shapes, inscrutable serial number and classification decals.
- Battlegear: Holdout pistols, force blades, ceramic guns, stun batons, concealable knives, bullpup submachine guns, katanas.
Final Fantasy VIII, Ghost In The Shell, Mirror’s Edge, Shadowrun, PN03, TRON Legacy, Portal.
"A word in every ear."
"The Relations division of Protean Dynamics is the home of unparalleled expertise in the information and reputational engineering sector. Our operatives are committed to enabling a solution-conducive environment by maximising your data advantage, and applying light-touch leverage to key decision-makers across the strategic tableau.
Unlike our competitors in the Margin Drivers, we do not believe in devaluing personal investments through coercion. We value our external assets highly, and cooperation is always carefully incentivised. If you are interested in developing a positive, synergistic relationship with us, please contact your nearest Relations agent.
All of your communications are monitored to tailor an optimised customer experience."
"Sometimes, plans fail. We don't."
"The Contingency division of Protean Dynamics would like to clear up the following popular misconceptions:
- Our operatives are not "assassins". We are specialists in delivery of maximal leverage to targeted stakeholders in high-risk environments. With recent advances in biomantic technology, many recipients of our services are still medically stable today.
- Our operatives are not "brainwashed". The nature of our work is unsuited to most emotional constitutions, however, and the services of professionally accredited psychitects are on offer to ensure continued employee welfare.
- Our operatives are not "biomantically-engineered killing machines". We prefer a holistic approach to human augmentation, and biomantic engineering comprises only a small fraction of the work done by our researchers."
"Excellence. Durance. Compliance."
"Protean Dynamics works hard to maintain and redefine the ongoing welfare of its employees, and we could not accomplish this without the nurturing hands of our Personnel division. They are here for you, however you might need them: as a handler, as a psychitect, as an engineer, or as a friend. They keep the blood flowing through our organisation, figuratively and otherwise.
Personnel will schedule regular maintenance reviews with you at one of our better equipped facilities, as well as ad-hoc catchups as required. Please take this opportunity to debrief, relax, and unwind in a sterile and secure environment.
You may experience feelings of trepidation on the approach to one of these meetings, especially if it is your first time. There is no need to worry: Personnel's services receive excellent internal feedback scores, with many operatives reporting that they feel like a completely new person afterwards."
"One way or another, we always get a cut." The Margin Drivers are expert brokers, wheeler-dealers, extortionists and con artists, and are fanatics in the pursuit of profit. They'll find a handhold in any sphere of business they can, then hit it with a hammer until it's roomy enough for them to move in.
The Vision used to be much larger, before Sales persuaded the mercenary brutes in Accounts to join them in what they called an 'aggressive restructuring initiative'. Both departments find that business is so much easier these days without all those unnecessary paper trails, policies, and management oversight.
Whatever it is you need - agreements made, goods supplied, territory secured, or just for the nice man to please stop breaking your fingers - the Margin Drivers are always happy to discuss a payment plan that suits you.
"You don't get a medal just for showing up. You want a medal? You have to be the best. Or rig the contest to decide who's the best. Or mug the best, whatever - you'll figure it out. Point is, are you buying gold or silver? Only I've recently acquired a, uh, a large number of medals." - "Mint" Deele, Margin Driver sales executive
"Kids, eh? Who needs ‘em? People with a need for cheap labour and long-term investment opportunities, that’s who. First few years you’ll end up sinking some costs, sure, but keep a track of those – later on, you’ll be able to bill ‘em.
By the time they’re six, most kids should be office-trained – and they’re good couriers, if a little light on muscle. See if you can scale up their customer-facing and -defacing responsibilities after that. Pull 'em up by their bootholsters. Oh, and encourage them to get a little work on the side. Great way of keeping eyes on your competitors, that.
They grow up so fast, though, don’t they? Soon enough they’ll be asking those awkward questions – how to buy out your parenting contract, legal processes around incorporating themselves, y’know the sort. Then they’re out there, in the wider world, carrying your surname. Before long they’ll earn themselves enough cash to start repayments, and a nickname good enough to go by. Job done - quality parenting."
Examples: “Ten Fingers” McClutch, “Unnecessary” Mussel, “Snatch” Snatch & “Grab” Grabb, “Short Term” Gaines, “Rigour” Mortis.
Margin Drivers Costume
Margin Drivers should look like some kind of collision between a drunk salesperson, a yakuza thug, and a private military contractor. All of their equipment will have been provided by the lowest bidder.
- Clothing: Ill-fitting suits, blouses and shirts, segmented body armour, exoskeletons, trousers and skirts, ballistic armour.
- Accessories: Bowler hats, scruffy ties, loose-worn scarves, toothblack, ammo belts, bandages, fingerless gloves, sunglasses, dirt, dried blood.
- Iconography: Margin Drivers often carry advertisements on their clothing to scrape some extra income. They also have a tendency to graffiti their own equipment with personal mottos like ‘No Refunds’.
- Battlegear: assault rifles, baseball bats, sawn-off shotguns, rocket propelled grenades, shivs, revolvers, uzis, ballistic shields.
"They'll buy it."
"I remember when I was your age, kid, and just got sold into my first internship in the Margin Drivers. Twelve years young, dreams as big as the world. You know what I sold? Divergent collateralisations. Know what those are? I sure as hell didn't, and I don't think my boss did either. Sold him out, too. Word to the wise, kid: pay your contractors overtime. Nothing comes for free.
You'll be working with 'Redline' Fawcett, over from Accounts. He likes shrapnel accelerators and origami. DO NOT ASK HIM ABOUT ORIGAMI. Turns out 'Ten Fingers' Carter has some loans he'd like to call in, and we're going to do it for him. No, Carter doesn't know. This is Sales, lad. World of opportunity. Now: chin up, arm up, and get out there. Atta boy."
"Make them pay."
"FANTASTIC MONEY-MAKING OPPORTUNITY!
Do you like hitting performance targets? Do you like hitting moving targets? Have you ever wanted to break someone's nose, then charge them for getting the blood out of your suit? Do you have your own gun? The Margin Drivers' Accounts department are specialists in:
- Asset liquification
- Boot administration
- Surrender terms & conditions
- Double-tap bookkeeping
Can you count whether they have fired seven shots or eight? Then you have the kind of head for numbers we need! Travel the world! Meet new people! Break their legs.
Contract with Accounts today!"
"Give us your dreams, and we will make them true."
Joy Effect wants you to be happy. Their elite euphoristas have a medley of talents - from performance to fashion, bloodsport to recreational alchemy. They are celebrated across the world, courtesy of Joy Effect's command of the Aethernet communications network.
Their broadcasts encompass news, live sport, entertainment shows and adult programming - often blending the different genres, as their heartisans create ever more exotic experiences to appeal to ever more jaded palates. The hunt for new feelings, sensations, and their commodification drives the full heart and the empty soul of the Vision.
"We just want you to be happy. By any means necessary."
"Love is just the most amazing thing, isn’t it? Such euphoria, such passion, such publicity. Anyone who’s anyone falls in love at least once a season. This winter everyone is going simply mad for those brooding tsundere types, but I went for Ztan Ztallion here – say hello, darling – who is such a gentle giant and we are so very much in love. Distinctive tastes make for distinctive coverage, don’t you know.
"Children are just the most amazing creative project. So many choices! How are you going to dress them? What talent should they cultivate? How much biomantic work do they need? How do they debut? Should they have their own show? It can all get a little bewildering at times, but not to worry – I know a simply amazing heartisan who’s happy to arrange an agent for the gorgeous little things.
"Names! How could I forget names? Oh honey, I am such a mess by noon. A name simply must stand out. And pick something that fits the career you have planned for them: makes creative choices easier later on. Ztan and I are going to have – what was it again, darling? – oh! Yes, a burlesque contortionist called Tropico Twist. We’ve already decided: I’m going to have custody. It’s going to be ~amazing~!"
Example names: Max Master Flax, Sapphire Sinstar, D:structr, Xioshara, -AVARYS-
Joy Effect Costume
Attention is money for the euphoristas, heartisans and exposeurs of Joy Effect.
- Clothing: Exotic cuts and combinations. Bright pastel and floral hues.
- Accessories: Ruffs, lipstick, bustles, EL wire, heavily styled hair, thigh-high boots, cravats, tinted spectacles, optic fibre, excessive bling, bows, strong perfume.
- Iconography: Go wild.
- Battlegear: Anything that can be made to look glamorous or pretty. Does it come in pink?
The Hunger Games (the Capital), Final Fantasy XIV, David Bowie, K-Pop
Who's Who, And What Do They Do?
"I'm nothing without my fans. And vice versa."
ZSASZ: Welcome back to Zsasz After Dark. And joining me in the jacuzzi tonight is none other than Sapphire Sinstar! Sapphire, darling: you've been the buzz of the Aethernet recently. How did you get your lucky break?
SAPPHIRE: Well, Zsasz, I got my chance to appear in Who Wants To Be A Slumspire Warlord, and I've been a euphorista with Joy Effect ever since. Most girls start their careers in bloodsports, these days: a lot of coverage, a lot of physicality. Really lets you build your image.
ZSASZ: And how! You've become famous - some say infamous - for your distinctive execution styles. There have even been a recent spree of copycat killings!
SAPPHIRE: That's right, Zsasz. Whoever you are, out there: naughty, naughty!
ZSASZ: Ha ha! Join us again after the break, where Sapphire will be showing us some of her talents. Fullsense viewers - please adjust your pain thresholds, because this jacuzzi... is about to become a bloodbath!
"All the world's a stage, in need of some good creative direction."
"This season is going to be simply fabulous! The Outworld is in, and the Homeworld is away. New life is everything - I'm thinking bright floral hues, lively fragrances, exotic marital aids? Get Ingenio on it; he loves this stuff. And let's have Sensatia Skyhigh fronting the campaign - she still owes me for setting up her last scandal. Transformation, my little petals!
How are we doing with the Envoy project? Catastrophic phase dislocu... don't give me technical details, darlings, give me results. I don't care how many interns you get through: this is the greatest creative undertaking Joy Effect has ever seen, and we NEED coverage. And I need a glass of fortified nectar - a heartisan's work is thirsty work, you know?
What are you waiting for? I'm dying here! Chop-chop!"
"Telling you everything you didn't know you needed to know."
"Righto, sweetie, it’s your first day on the job – so let’s have a look at some basics.
Remember your audience. People want to hear what they want to hear. Simple, isn’t it? Don’t get hung up on facts.
Keep it lively. If it’s dull, do whatever you need to do to make it lively. We can always edit that bit out afterwards.
Journalistic integrity is important. Ideally you want to start rumours that will make themselves true, but failing that just stick to the ones that aren’t easily disprovable.
Oh, and give things a personal touch. Get involved! However it works out, your sense rig can be tapped for footage.
I’m sure you’ll do just fine. And remember: exposeurs don’t have high life expectancy, so make that time shine!"
Attitudes of the Visions
THE PEOPLE'S COMBINE
“Protean Dynamics has been notified that our friends in the People’s Combine have recently appropriated a number of assets from Opportunity gravboats, and have thus far neglected to transfer payment in lieu. We would like to remind our valued partners that, in light of the present economic situation, we will be forced to conduct a budgetary review of our Contingency assets in Combine territory. As part of this review, we will be carefully adjudicating whether to sustain the ongoing cost of maintaining these assets in their current, non-active state.”
- - Indigo Herald, Relations operative, Protean Dynamics
THE VALTARIAN KINGDOMS
“They have everything I look for in a partner: they’re rich, well-dressed, and easily led.”
- - DreamBlossomSix, heartisan, Joy Effect
“It’s all very well deciding to have yourself a revolution and go play in the forest. But we had investments, see? We had contracts, and we had equity, and we had orders in place, and we had all the other things that mean YOU DO NOT BURN DOWN ALL OF OUR FUCKING STUFF. The Walkers are bad debtors, and if there’s a worse insult than that then I don’t know it. I have some payment plans in mind.”
- - “Gopher” Brokh, Sales executive, Margin Drivers
THE PENITENT ORDER>
“Unregistered operatives identified.
Contingency parameters: inactive.
- Asset Null, Contingency operative, Protean Dynamics
Leisure And Pleasure
Given some dice or a pack of cards, the inhabitants of Opportunity will err towards games of calculated deception: poker, liar’s dice, and werewolf are particularly popular. What use is a game, though, if you can’t turn a profit? Any recreational pursuit is vastly improved by the chance to place bets, and thus benefit from your successes.
Joy Effect has ultimate command of the Homeworld’s Aethernet communications network, and saturates it with mass-appeal programming. Fashion, bloodsport results, surreality TV and the latest rounds of celebrity scandal are all common topics of conversation and speculation. How people in the Outworld will survive without access to this vital news remains to be seen.
Clothes, devices, surgery, guns, chemicals, companionship: there's always more, more expensive, and more exotic to be had. Why be rich if you can't enjoy it? And show everyone else how much you're enjoying it? Nothing exceeds like excess.
Opportunity has suffered catastrophically from the collapse of trade agreements with the other nations. Nevertheless, they are determined to maintain a foothold: the Restitution Projects strike deep into the Verdant Waste, and carefully destabilised regions of Valtaria are used as a conduit for smuggling operations.
“Opportunity can be found in any circumstance. As our glittering realm shudders beneath unspeakable onslaught, those of us who remain to face what comes will embrace our futures. We shall embrace Adversity. We shall endure, and outlast, and overcome.
One day we shall rise up higher than we ever stood before, stronger for being tested in such a fire. Until then we shall become the point of light in the darkness. We will shine, a single unified force, and we will smile as the darkness surrounds us.
After all, everyone loves a dramatic comeback.”
- - Asset Sin, Core Contingency Control
Roleplaying An Opportunist
EVERYONE HAS AN AGENDA
That Valtarian? Wants to feel good about themselves. That Combine soldier? Afraid of rejection. That Walker? Entitlement problems. That Penitent? Guilty. The only reason anyone does anything is out of selfishness, and if they claim otherwise they're trying to deceive themselves. Or, more likely, you. Know your competitors' goals, or you won't achieve your own.THERE'S PROFIT IN ANYTHING
Natural disaster? Market imbalance. Scandal? PR incentive. War? Conflict economy. A crisis is just waiting for you to profiteer from. Or, at least, lay at the hands of your enemies. Opportunity never, ever stops knocking.YOUR VISION IS YOUR MASK AND SHIELD
The Visions help people understand you. Accept you. Normalise your behaviour. Help you get away with it. Embody your Vision, and the idiots from other cultures will think that you're somehow legitimate because of it. This works because they're idiots.