Weapons technology is sometimes great on paper, but in practice it often seems strange or even nonsensical. While certain weapons, like the bat bombs used during the Tokyo Firebombings to the terrifying nuclear bomb eventually proved themselves from moderately to extremely effective, the reality is that many weapons systems never make it off the drawing board, and those that do can't even pass the prototype phase. The Russians who tested the Tzar tank can tell you just because the design jumps off paper doesn't mean it'll work.
So where do all the bad weapon designs go when they fail? To any genius looking for new tools, they find the Paradox bardo.
The bardo was rumored to first appear in 1955, when Vietnam revealed that no, the next war wouldn't become a mighty battle across the planet by massive superpowers. When the war of the future was revealed to be larger armies fighting against unconventional forces. While the rumors were usually no taken seriously, it took the end of the Cold War and the death of many classified government projects for the mania needed to be released. Paradox had formed.
Why call it Paradox? Well, because that's what Paradox is. Maybe this needs a little explanation. You see, Paradox, until 1923, follows a path of linear progression almost exactly like our own timeline. The Crusades happened. The Renaissance happened. The Hundred Years War, American Revolution, Napoleon's reign, World War 1, it all happened like it had in our own time. But things get fuzzy after 1924, because Adolph Hitler disappears from record.
That's part one of the confusion, because many geniuses don't know whether Paradox is really a bardo or an alternate timeline that somehow managed to slip through the hands of the Guardians of Forever. Because Hitler did exist, the records from Germany's military files prove it, he even got the same Iron Cross. But after his release from prison in 1924, he vanishes. How? No one has an answer, and when asked most people in Paradox wonder who Hitler is. The better question is, who?
There's another disappearance thrown into the mix. Albert Einstein vanished from the Solvay International Physics Conference, leaving many of his greatest theories unfinished. What happened then?
Something apparently wondrous.
In Paradox, weapons concepts and ideas unbelievable to us, like a weaponized application of space-time or particle shields over tanks became weapons of mass destruction. Two-story supertanks rolled over the Polish countryside, and jet fighters made in 1950 dropped firebombs over Holland.
Without Hitler, the Soviet Union rose as the world's dominant dictatorship, and when they rolled in they rolled hard. The "Great" World War 2 lasted until 1955, and resulted in even MORE deaths than our world's Second World War.
Currently, any genius traveling to Paradox arrives in 1969. The Vietnam War has become a brutal quagmire like in ours. The counter-culture of America has risen up against old systems like in ours. At first, Paradox was a purely good war between good and evil. The good and pure Allied Nations fought the Soviet Union's brutal communist weapons, and all seemed in-balance by bardo standards. Then a third faction, the Empire of the Rising Sun, retroactively rose and battled the other two. Fine, three factions are bad but nothing too insane. Then a fourth, then a fifth. By the end of the first decade of exploring thirty-two fully developed and realized factions, each with their own intertwined histories and stories were recorded, and the fear among geniuses is that more may soon arrive and make even more trouble.
The only real agreement is that Paradox is the dumping ground for all the world's now-ridiculous weapons. The Allies fire cryo-satellites at their enemies, as the Atomic Kingdom of China fires ray guns of gamma radiation at their enemies. International Inc contractors work under mind-controlled American Unionists for the right price. India tries to combat the GLA cells on the Pakistani border with war elephants. Weaponized muon beams and deadly cyborg hitmen battle each other. More details follow below on each faction.
A genius entering the bardo first has to find the right entrance. Usually, the entrance is in an old weapons proving ground. Aberdeen in Maryland is the most common entrance for American geniuses, though White Sands will do as well. To enter, the genius spends three points of Mania and, carrying a weapon, walks through the nearest door. On walking through the other side, that genius be transported to the same location in Paradox. This might not be a good thing, since the constant state of war means that a genius might just drop dead as soon as they arrive. Anyone who lives has to contend with the insane and often stereotypical manes found nearby, and even if they secure anything, escape might be impossible when another random battle erupts in the area.
The Allied Nations are the closest thing many geniuses have to a starting point on Paradox. A parallel to the United Nations, the Allied Nations are more active than their passive counterparts in our world. The Allies actively send peacekeeping missions to parts of the world in need, and always trying to ensure that their ideals are actually enforced or followed. They have advanced medical technologies (for the 60s), and their politicians are some of the finest minds in our time.
The veneer starts to peel when people notice the Allies are almost utterly cold. Their actions ignore the individual as unimportant or a non-entity in the greater scheme. What member-states want is irrelevant, all that matters is that the world is made into the Allied image of "better". Peerage members have compared them to an international coalition of Atomists, and it shows in the United States. When the US tried to break from ever-increasing Allied Control, well, the Allies didn't like it to put it mildly.
Allied Technology is also some of the most advanced. With a strong capitalist belief the Allies have various companies that supply them with theoretical weapons based off of Einstein's lost ideas. Each of these wonders is deadly in their own right, but also noticeable in vehicular form. A perfect example would be the Athena satellite, since the system requires both the uplink vehicle and satellite to function effectively. In theory, a great idea. In practice, getting either back to Earth would be nearly impossible. Most geniuses trying to get new wonders from the Allies have two options; wait for a battle to break out and scavenge off the corpses, or simply offer their services to the Allies in exchange for payment, as the Allied Nations are incredibly receptive to geniuses of any kind, particularly experts in Apokalypsi, Prostasia, and Exelixi. Darker rumors say they're looking for more and more information on Epikrato, but nothing's been confirmed at any rate.
In terms of personality, the Allied Nations are a UN that actually gets involved. Currently they're the leading force fighting in Vietnam, they're patrolling a DMZ between Iraq and Communist Iran, building a wall around Berlin to keep the Soviet Union out, enforcing democratic processes in Africa, and leading explorations of the world's natural habitats. Their cryo-systems have saved thousands of lives, but have also been used to encase military, and more often political prisoners in Northern cryo-prisons. Their technology often has a sleek, smooth design scheme, and their colors are often varying shades of blue.
Aesthetic: Diesel Punk
If the Allies are the future, the Soviets are the present. Like their counterparts in our reality, the Soviet Union is involved as an adviser in Vietnam, what's left of Communist China (More on that later), and Iran. They rule the Eastern Bloc with a mixture brutal and oppressive policies and astounding humanism. In the words of one Scholastic, "They'll use Desolator defoliant to prevent the Allies from landing on Normandy, but they'll make sure every civilian is evacuated first."
Here's how things worked in Paradox. Without Nazi Germany to stand in front of him, Stalin saw a straight line of conquest to Britain, and launched a massive assault across the Polish border towards the Channel. The nations of Europe formed into the Allies, but it wasn't until they weaponized Einstein's theories that the Allies managed to fight back against the Soviet Udivitel'noye Oruzhiye, or "Amazing Weapons". Two-story Mammoth tanks, twin-barreled monsters that made the German tanks look like children's toys. The MiG jet fighter, which flew circles around the skies over France and Belgium. Tesla coils (Some Geniuses think Tesla didn't die, he just went to Paradox) kept Allied counter-attacks at bay, but eventually the Soviets were pushed back to the Eastern Bloc of the Cold War in 1955.
Then, in 1956, a new ruler rose up. Premier Cherdenko preached peace with the Allied Nations and of the glories of Communism, but in reality was honing the Soviet war machine. He ordered the Union's best engineers to simplify and redundantly design every system, every weapon. Soviet tanks were designed to slog through the worst weather and still take a beating. Massive airships were created to bomb cities to dust and survive the worst fighter screens. Submarines started to ply the North Atlantic, and on 1965 the Union again launched its assault. Spindly-legged Sickle Walkers gunned down the enemy as terror drones scuttled ahead of advancing armies to render the enemy afraid of every shadow. But again, weaponized theoretical physics were the death of Soviet dreams of conquest, and Cherdenko was last seen fleeing into outer space.
Much like Tsoska, the Soviet Union of Paradox is a Communist's simultaneous dream and nightmare. Everything is held in common as regulated by the State, but said state is horribly corrupt and paranoid. The current premier, Davidova, is trying to fight this corruption by championing the Soviet people instead of simple ideology. Geniuses looking for new wonders are advised to be pose as defectors from any of the other Paradox factions, or if they already have Slavic-sounding names, to pretend that they're already Soviet citizens (counterfeit papers from corrupt border guards are quite easy to find). The Soviets want geniuses who specialize in Apokalypsi, Automata, and Skafoi, while Epikrato is actually seen as a threat to the state and cracked down on with an inquisitorial fervor; you can beat someone into submission to Communism, but taking away their self is just evil.
Personality wise, most Soviets are simple, salt-of-the-earth people, though higher ranking politicians will act as though they're modern nobility leading the common man from going astray. All believe in Communism, but a few merely use it as a smokescreen to keep political power. Where the Allies are sleek, slim, and thought-out, Soviet designs and brutal, useful, and don't muck around with looks. Soviet engineers are experts are designing weapons that seem overdone, but in reality are simple to use (Soviet conscripts are notoriously under-educated) and almost impossible to break. Tesla and diesel power the majority of their designs, and this design philosophy has actually led them to the lead in Paradox's space race with MIR already in the sky, and functioning as a space barracks and weapons production facility.
Empire of the Rising SunEdit
When the first rumors of Paradox started circulating, the only factions involved in the wars were the Allies and Soviets. But in 1990, something changed. When the Soviet Union dissolved, a third power rose in the Far East. The Empire of the Rising Sun, a nearly transhuman force of samurai, daimyos, and psychics appeared almost out of nowhere and went on a conquering binge. In a wave they swept over Siberia and even managed to invade California. But like the Imperial Japanese Military in our world, they overextended themselves. Their emperor was killed by the Soviets, his son killed by the Allies. With no heir, the supreme shogun was made emperor, only to have his wife taken from him by rivals in the Imperial court.
The best way to describe the Empire's cities is that a hack anime fan who'd only ever written fanfic before was trying to write Japan in the future. Police robots patrol the wood and paper houses of Tokyo. Basic infantry practice with beam katana and are taught the tenets of bushido. Psychic schoolgirls scan for signs of disloyalty in the populace, and the heaviest weapons system in the Empire is a massive flying battleship. Apparently, the Meiji Civil War was won by the traditionalists, but in order to keep control they allowed the diet full control over military spending. This led to a three-way rule between traditionalists and their samurai tenets, militarists and their belief in big guns and shiny medals, and a growing faction of transhumanists who see mankind's future in modification of self. Though they lost the war, they found economic superiority through their nanotech, and are at the forefront of AI research.
Unfortunately, they're also suffering from what one visiting Scholastic called "Schizoid Nationality Syndrome". Where the Allies and Soviets both have a fully integrated military along all lines, the Empire still holds that men are the warriors, with relatively few women in combat. Their psychic powers are dangerously misunderstood, and the users are either clinically insane or downright criminal. They're intensely xenophobic, and the militarists and traditionalists still hold dreams of conquest despite a severely weakened "defense force".
A genius hoping to gain some of the wonders from the rising sun is in for a tough time. Due to their intense xenophobia, only Japanese geniuses have any chance of getting in-country, and even then they're subject to intense suspicion from a rigid caste system. Foreign (Read: EVERYONE NOT JAPANESE) geniuses had better be on guard, as Imperial psychics are everywhere. Posing as a defector is ineffective, because if you're willing to betray your home, why wouldn't you stop? However, the Imperial territory of the Philippines has plenty of lost tech lying around from battles with rebel forces. Prized skills include Automata, Epikrato, and Exelixi. Prostasia is seen as a frivolity, since a warrior's sword should be the only shield they need.
Their style borrows heavily from ideas on robotics and AI that people have now realized wouldn't work. Transforming mecha and nanotech make up the bulk of Rising Sun technology, while their vehicles are able to switch between variable modes and other methods of movement. One can also learn psychic powers if they're open to the possibility. The people of the Rising Sun are a bevy of Japanese stereotypes, from harried salarymen to "magical" psychic schoolgirls to sword swinging samurai warriors.
Aesthetic: Road Warrior
At around the same time the Tea Party movement rose in the US, the Confederate Revolutionaries appeared. When the Tea Party lost in 2012, a mania storm was unleashed that created a new faction, one made of the fringe and counter-culture elements of America. Hippies, John Birch Society, civil rights groups all flocked to the Confederates when they formed. What happened was that Kennedy survived to '65, and the Federalist Party elected Howard Ackerman to office. Though a staunch Allied supporter, the mania trickling in from the Tea Party warped his personality, and out came a mad nationalist willing to kill millions of innocents to destroy communism.
When their dreams of owning the Congress fell through, the Confederates erupted in Paradox. They want to drive out the Allies despite the massive interconnection that the US and Allies have. They want to return to simpler times, when the world is forever changed. They want to change themselves, when they're set in their own ways. Currently, the Confederates are led by Pres. Dennis Hoffhassle, Gen. Ben Carville, and Adm. John F Kennedy (The mane version of him anyway). Where'd the Confederates get their weapons for the revolution is even better.
The Confederates appear to represent the idea that somehow an older system on a modern battlefield is better than a newer system that's shown to work twice as well for half the cost of production. Coupled with the idea that the common rebel on the battlefield against a professional military can just slap a few plates of armor on a system and make it "better" (Like how you think you can take on the US military with nothing more than a shotgun and AR-15). Their tools look the most like weapons from our world, but with slight differences in make and profile. If anything, the Confederates could be considered master kitbashers; they can take a tank with a broken drive train, a malfunctioning turret, and a peashooter and upgrade it to a tank that handles like a Ferrari, a turret that spins like a head in the Playboy mansion, and a cannon that can sink a battleship. Their stealth systems and earthquake machines, though, are from Einstein and Tesla, respectively. And those systems, in Paradox, are also antiquated.
A genius looking to borrow their wonders is frankly welcome to take what they want, as long as they give in kind. The axioms of Exelixi, Katastrofi, and Skafoi are highly sought after. Metatropi is needed too, but the Confedeates are more interested in stealth than bodily transformation. The nebulous nature of the Revolutionaries means that a genius could theoretically ingratiate themselves with any number of Confederate cells or battalions. Asian geniuses are looked on with suspicion though, thanks to the Empire's invasion of California.
The Confederates are an amalgamation of all of America's fringe groups during the 60s. Stereotypical hippies helping gun enthusiasts heal up after a fight as old-school religious zealots preach in vain to nature protectors trying to save the whales. Most, though, are actually nominally regular "people" who have been caught up in the anti-Allied hysteria in the area. Confederate tech is often a slapdash affair, with older, square designs for their tanks and older wood-stock rifles. As a rebel movement, their clothing is also similarly randomized, with civilian clothes and surplus uniforms as default identifiers. Lucky geniuses might meet the JFK mane, which is pretty much JFK with a more outrageous accent. He still had Monroe.
Order of the TalonEdit
Aesthetic: Da Vinci's War
By the time they hit their second axiom dot, most geniuses realize that they're not the only ones trying to hold onto their humanity while trying to help mankind. Some geniuses have run afoul or afriend of a secret cadre of Catholic witch hunters, and occasionally the two are able to speak on even terms. Though Vatican backed, these hunters don't have much in the way of heavy weapons.
Paradox, of course, does.
Their history says they were formed in secret to crush a heresy, one that believed the Second Coming was to be brought about not by kindness and good intentions, but by utter depravity and sin. Unfortunately for the Order, their mission failed, and in Paradox the First Crusade was started to cover up said failure. They're the Templars, Freemasons, and Boondock Saints all rolled into one clockwork package. So what exactly does the Order do? According to them, they're still hunting that same cult, using the same weapons from centuries ago. Why? They know how to make real Damascus steel. It's allowed them to still use armored knights and clockwork in an age of room-sized computers and scuttling drones. Coupled with a "super-pure" spring they've discovered in the Arctic, their steam-powered systems can run for hours on a single gallon. This also means each system is closer to a work of art than a proper weapon, and each wonder is intricately crafted and takes longer to make, but also lasts longer and hits harder.
While the Confederates are old vs new, the Order is quality vs quantity. Every airship is inlaid with angelic visages on the bridge, each rifle made for each knight-errant to fit their arms like clothing. The Allies and Soviets can mass produce as many weapons as they want, for one Talon soldier they would have to pay entire platoons.
Currently, the Order only control Palestine, as without the Holocaust there was no major drive given to Zionism. Without the constant scrutiny, the Order grew in Palestine unopposed, becoming the de facto rulers of the region, with cells wherever there are Christians. A genius hoping to secure their wonders has to be prepared to face literal inquisitors, and what's worse, the ones in Paradox don't even have official backing. That's right; in Paradox the Catholic Church actually disowned a secret branch of itself. If the genius is willing to proclaim themselves a Catholic and bring with themselves knowledge the Order finds useful, they're alive a little bit longer. The Talon looks for works in Automata, Katastrofi, and Prostasia. Skafoi has become increasingly popular with newer technologies though. Epikrato is rumored, but whether or not their control is wondrous isn't yet obvious.
Built off of Da Vinci's ideas, the Order's weapons and technologies are run off punch-card computers and clockwork engines. Thanks to their knowledge of Damascus steel, their vehicles and armor are just as dangerous as the more contemporary technologies of the various other factions, while retaining a dignified and classical appearance. In terms of personality, the Talon runs from die-hard religious fanatics to understanding and merciful healers. A secret triumvirate runs the organization, though the goal of eradicating the physical notion of the cult is only a small part of the battle. The real goal is to wipe it from existence, and should the Order ever find time travel, it won't end well.
Aesthetic: Roman Cyberpunk
One of the confusions some recently catalyzed geniuses notice in Paradox is that while the Allies and Soviets have amazing weapons for their time, they still use computers the size of rooms and even buildings to solve equations and communicate. Not the Syndicate. The Syndicate found the power of the integrated circuit first, and like hell are they letting go.
In Paradox's history, the Syndicate rose out of the ashes of Mussolini's failed fascist state. The invasions of Ethiopia and Greece left his financial backers pissed, and during the Depression the leader of them all was Romulus, real name unknown. Romulus gained control of Mussolini's blackshirts, as well as roving bands of mercenaries left over from the war. They took control over the Sicilian crime families, and now operate as the largest criminal operation in the world. They also have hordes of legitimate businesses, from soda makers to Paradox's Motown Records. Of course, if a genius knows this, they're either part of the Syndicate, or on the run from it. Only the Imperial yakuza keep them from gaining total control over the underworld.
Technologically, the Syndicate are experts in computer systems and wetware cybernetics. They have a monopoly on the primitive internet, and their mercenary teams are the best in the world at killing without compunction. They also have AI networks, grouped computer systems designed to mimic thought and predict battlefield and market actions. Their weapons function off gyrojet propulsion, which means a genius at range is just as likely to die as they are up close. They're also expert manipulators of the market and crime, and where their power is strongest they create Sprawls, massive company towns that shield them from any and all suspicion.
The Syndicate makes its bread on wonders of Apokalypsi, Exelixi, and Prostasia. Katastrofi isn't necessary, since the weapons the Syndicate uses are based off real world designs for railguns and gyrojets anyway. Epikrato, however, will catch people's interests.
"Workers" for the Syndicate are either sullen, duped workers, Mafia toughs and bosses out of a movie, or gang members on suped-up roller-blades. The highest ranking members are similar to 1980s Wall Street leaders, but with a touch more morality. Their tech follows an often neon-laden aesthetic with a distinctly Roman flare. They're masters at robotics and implants, and their once-human battlesuits are a testament to their abilities.
Atomic Kingdom of ChinaEdit
Aesthetic: Yellow Peril Star Trek
One of the curiosities of Paradox is that, without Einstein's theories to support it, the atom bomb wasn't invented despite Oppenheimer still being around. Allied scientists actually found fusion power easier to make than fission, because they didn't realize that uranium was a fissible material. Then the Atomic Kingdom rose. Reportedly sighted around the time that China opened itself up to Nixon, the resulting Mania storm from the Chinese population that expected war with the Americans funneled into Paradox and retroactively created the Atomic Kingdom. A giant green rock slammed into the Himalayan mountains. This rock resembled a similar substance in another bardo, but to the two factions of the still ongoing Chinese Civil War, it was their ticket to victory.
This is why a genius going to Atomic China sees only a barren wasteland of destruction. Both sides bombed each other to rubble, but in the ashes like a phoenix a new power rose. The Atomic Kingdom uses the cloning technologies of the KMT and PLA to build their armies, the weapons they created to destroy their enemies, and the mystical "Jade" to power it all. They've taken to the stars with only a scant few outposts on Earth, their goals unknown. Theirs is a rigid caste system, made of clones at the bottom, sterilized survivors in the middle, fertile and non-mutated survivors near the top, all capped by the mysterious Viceroy, who bases his operations in the very depths of Mt. Tai.
The technology of the Atomic Kingdom is both strengthened and crippled from Jade and cloning; both save it from destruction at their own hands, but if crippled they would die without them. The Kingdom uses Jade in weapons, to power their bases, and as the component in their atomic bombs. The axioms of Automata, Katastrofi, and Prostasia are highly valued, but the Atomic Kingdom is even more insular than the Empire, and anyone not a member of the faction is immediately considered an enemy, so the only way to get a wonder from them is usually theft. It's rumored that any genius with highly advanced knowledge of Skafoi is in danger of being kidnapped for some grand plan.
Atomic Kingdom "subjects" are organized along similar cultural lines as the ancient kingdoms of China were, the clones nothing more than expendable peasants to be used up and disposed of. Non-humans despite their origins as the fractured genetic codes of the Chinese survivors, bodies, and other sources, recognizable by their pointed ears. Actual humans are more noble in bearing and hateful in their wrath against the Allies and Soviets, who they see as monsters for having let China kill itself with their aid. Wonders are designed for energy usage, not military sensibility, but the immense shielding and the hordes of clones makes it difficult to fight them on even terms.
Aesthetic: 1950s Terminator
If a genius has found out about the Electrical Protectorate, odds are they're already dead or insane because of it. The Protectorate aren't an army in a normal sense of the word, because the discovery of a bunch of self-aware escaped Imperial AI using nanites to create armies to stave off entropy in order to create the "pure state" of communism, while simultaneously working alongside a mad entity from beyond the depths of what even a genius was meant to know usually either results in a corpse or an even greater lunatic.
The Protectorate have their origins in a group of escaped Imperial AI, using nanites to transport themselves away from the Empire. Gaining their own directives, the AI called themselves the Core Mind Collective and started to create. They made art of all kinds, in all forms. Paintings, kinetic art, sculptures. They created music of strange and haunting qualities, alien notes man could never make. Yet despite all their efforts they fell into ennui, as they knew entropy of the universe would render all their works moot. Until Jacob. Jacob was a Soviet "advisor" to the Red Chinese during the Chinese Civil War, a prisoner of Mao Zedong training the Chinese forces in use of the rocket launcher. When he escaped north to Siberia, he found the Core Mind's hiding place, and told them of Communism, of the "pure state" of perfection. The Core Mind ran with the idea, desperate to save their works. Jacob was "honored" by being shoved into stasis.
As mentioned, the Protectorate aren't interested in geniuses aside from rolling over them. They're experts in Automata, Epikrato, and Metaptropi. They also have skills in Exelixi and Skafoi, but there is a weakness in Prostasia; none of their units are really made to survive a battle. With nanite construction, they can just replace everything in seconds. Rumors suggest they've also teamed up with said extra-dimensional intelligence, but given that every sentient being that's encountered it has gone mad, there's little chance it's a good thing for Paradox. This has led to some calling for the complete barricading of the entrances to Paradox, until a plan is made to deal with this intelligence. If it escaped from Paradox to Earth, the consequences would be apocalyptic.
Stylistically, the Protectorate are all over chrome, fins, and weapons that are made for terror instead of war. Where the Atomic Kingdom are lacking in actual engineers and technicians, the Protectorate consider the gray goo strategy insulting to their artistic notions. The Core Mind Collective itself is utterly alien to human though, and the logical fallacies in their version of the "pure" state escapes them.
Aesthetic: Col. Kilgore's Army
While the major forces in Paradox all are recognizably wondrous, smaller "minor factions" have been reported as a fine line between the unworkable science of the major factions and real-world military forces someone from our world would be used to. The differences with these smaller factions lay with their philosophical ideals instead of their weapons. Take the ARVN Rangers. In the real world, the tactics of the South Vietnamese regime left a distinctly hateful taste in the mouth of those that soon either supported the Viet Cong or passively resisted the rule of the Saigon government. In Paradox, those same tactics are actually succeeding.
For the Rangers, their fight should really be focused inwardly towards reforming their government and the corruption plaguing it. Instead, Paradox logic dictates that the only way to solve the problem is to win the war, and the Rangers are aiming to win the damn war. Supported by the Allied Nations, ARVN forces own dated tech (even by Paradox standards) can stand against the aged weapons of the Viet Cong. The heavy-handed actions of the Rangers can actually be considered slightly better at rooting out the Viet Cong than the same tactics used in our world. They've torched acres of farmland, strafed mountain trails, and killed some innocents, yet the harder they push, a little bit more progress is seen.
Unable to provide the budget that the larger power blocs have, the ARVN make do with aged designs given to them by the Allies. They're looking for inspired that can give them better access to weapons involving Apokalypsi, Katastrofi, and Skafoi. All other axioms might as well not matter since they're an Allied Nations' "member" (When they finally stop using chemical and napalm weapons, that is). Geniuses hoping to use some of the ARVN's weapons can either pose as an Allied scientist or official, or steal the weapons and pray they escape.
Members of the Rangers are either grizzled and bitter veterans of countless battles or beach-obsessed veterans of countless battles. The rest of the ARVN are a conventional force more than a specialized branch of service. The ARVN's weapons are built for ruggedness in the jungle climates and for maximum damage to the enemy. The Rangers also have a frightening tendency to cause large amounts of collateral damage in their fighting, and many moral geniuses might have a problem with their actions.
National Revolutionary ArmyEdit
Aesthetic: Post-Atomic Feudalism
In our world, the Chinese Civil War ended with a Communist victory. The PLA seized the entirety of mainland China, forcing Chiang Kai-Shek and his KMT party onto Taiwan. The release of the belief that the KMT could hold their positions solidified into the trench lines and static warfare. KMT loyalists' dreams of fighting harder to hold the lines became the NRA of Paradox; a dark and terrible force that found ways to work around the PLA's numerical superiority.
The KMT survivors are what you would expect from the survivors of an apocalyptic situation. They're a grim, dour bunch of bastards trying to push their cause forward despite its death a year prior. Vehicles are aged and stained, their outposts massive concrete and stone constructions trying to withstand the elements. The soldiers are dressed in ragged uniforms and fighting using the donated weapons of the Allies in order to stop the PLA advance. As if echoing the past, they used mustard gas and nearly endless trenches to stem the advances, using German weapons and machineguns against wave assaults. What leaders are left focus mainly on their own glories and kingdoms, and the peasants they "save" are no better than the clones of the Atomic Kingdom.
A genius wanting to gain access to KMT tech would have to either pose as a member of the Allied Nations or sell their services as mercenary mad doctors. Their primary method of keeping up manpower is a strange blend of Frankensteinian and tumor manipulation; when the forces of the Blue Chinese fall, their intact minds and spines are hooked up to "packs" and pumped full of chemicals to keep them functioning. This means that Blue Chinese leaders almost always look for experts in Exelixi, along with Automata and Katastrofi. Skafoi is almost universally looked down on. Let the enemy break on the defenses before pursuing them.
The NRA survivors are broken loyalists to a dead dream, and are either desperately fighting for survival, trying valiantly to fix the mistakes of the previous KMT, or are holed up in bunkers plotting their ascendancy as the leaders of the new China. The "clones" are often walking carcinomas carrying guns and attached to massive metal packs, and their vehicles are nearly rusted affairs kept together by the near constant maintenance of the slaves working on them, though they're relatively unassuming as far as wonders go.
People's Liberation ArmyEdit
Aesthetic: Post-Nuclear Trash Praxis
The PLA are the flipside of the NRA. Utterly devoted to communism to the point where the survivors consider a picture of Mao a better leader than any one of their own, the surviving clones of the PLA are roving warbands and bandits that barely remember the men they once were.
Where the NRA survivors are bitter, jaded, and often unable to remember their own names through the many surgeries they've been forced to undergo, PLA survivors are fanatical, desperate believers in the great communist revolution. Despite being bandits, they justify it with thinking that they're only trying to carry on the revolution despite the horrors that were unleashed on China. As opposed to the various surviving leaders of Blue China, Red China's leaders are nearly all dead or vanished.
If a genius wants PLA wonders, they can simply either steal it through force, or play at being a dedicated commie. Both have their risks. Theft means going up against a group of mad survivors willing to die to prevent the "bourgeois" from getting anything back. Posing might seem safer, but then the charade has to keep up until the genius can escape, and these are clones of the Red Guard. Disloyalty or intellectualism is a death sentence. Still, anyone with knowledge of Automata, Epikrato, and Katastrofi are seen as valuable resources. Metatropi isn't very valuable, though, as the Red Chinese aren't too focused on stealth when they have Blue Chinese lines to break open.
Compared to Blue China, Red China wonders are blatantly obvious. The mighty Overlord tanks alone would send most sane military design experts into aneurisms over the design. Never mind the cloned Red Guards armed with bolt-action rifles charging in waves despite the nukes. Survivors are often desperate but forever-loyal forces of the Cultural Revolution, or pretending to be to hide their banditry, ghoulish tastes, or simple madness.
Aesthetic: Twigs and Titanium
In our world, the 1968 Tet Offensive marked the turning point of the Vietnam War. While a military defeat for the Communist forces, the resulting public relations nightmare turned the US public away from the war, and despite increasing Vietnamization the pro-NATO forces eventually fled the country. The backs of the Vietcong were broken, and Charlie was a shell of the demon he once was. In Paradox, the NVA forces were broken, but only after the timely intervention of an Allied carrier group. The DMZ was strengthened, but the ever-resourceful Vietcong found new life in the rusted, beaten hulks before them. Wrecked vehicles vanished from the DMZ and other battlegrounds, and soon stories about ghost tanks, surprise ambushes, and captured friends dragged screaming into yawning tunnels.
The Paradox Vietcong are now armed with vehicles, everything from Soviet IFVs to Allied tank destroyers, to the massive original Mammoth tanks, the mighty and original Soviet supertank that has become the symbol of the Paradox bardo to those geniuses in the know. Their tunnel networks now run from barely large enough for a man on his belly to crawl through to huge complexes that can support entire motor pools along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The forces of the Vietcong are still trying to bring down what they see as the corrupt oligarchy of South Vietnam.
If a genius wants to work with them, then they'd better be ready to work, but even more important, they'd better be ready to disguise themselves as a Vietnamese citizen. The Vietcong only trust outsiders if they're fellow Communists, and in Paradox those are either NVA and Russian advisers, escaped Chinese, or even the random Cuban refugee that escaped when the Allies seized Cuba. They love any information on Exelixi, as well as Metatropi and Skafoi. Katastrofi isn't always valued, as a bigger bang can often give away a position.
The Vietcong of Paradox are mostly the popular images of young student fighters rising against the military oligarchy, or the desperate peasant farmers fighting for their way of life. Their allies in the NVA are similar, but more radically devoted to Communism and the Soviet ideals of war. Vietcong tech is often dated but useful, and their vehicles all possess either some method of stealth or survival. Not that you've heard of it, it's all pretty underground.
If there's one thing to be said about arms dealers in any universe, it's that they follow the golden rule. International Inc. is one of the few forces still standing against the Mediterranean Syndicate as the world's single largest arms manufacturer not governed by any multinational other than itself. Their designs are simple, but their methods are mysterious.
Formed out of the ideas of Andrei Orlov, I.I. is part of what made Paradox what it is. The weapons first used by the Allies and Soviets, the next generation found by the Confederates and GLA, the petty tin-pot dictators, weaker Allied and Soviet nations, all use I.I. designs. Some of them, however, came from the mind of David Xanatos, a former member of the Syndicate who has a long game that no one can see the end of. While not horribly amoral like the Syndicate, I.I. doesn't truly attempt to discriminate between who is trustworthy and who is looking to kill for fun and profit via their mail-order system.
Out of nearly every faction, I.I. is the most receptive to the almighty dollar (Or franc, or yen, or pound, or hell, even whatever counts for money in China). Pay for a wonder, get it upfront no money down or interest. But if a genius wants an employee discount, he can show his skills with Prostasia, Skafoi, and Katastrofi. None of the other axioms are really interesting, but may become so depending on what Xanatos wants.
The employees for I.I. are generally hardworking, simple people, while their security forces are gruff, no-nonsense types. Geniuses haven't reported meeting either Orlov or Xanatos, but the rumors say Orlov is devoted to his work, while Xanatos is a genial if mysterious figure.
Global Liberation ArmyEdit
Aesthetic: Last Year's Revolution
The GLA was slow to coalesce from mania in Paradox. The first inklings came as reports of Polish cavalry fighting Soviet tanks with "armor-piercing" pikes, and has since evolved into a quasi-Middle Eastern faction with a flair for the overly-dramatic. Their ranks are filled with freedom fighters led by leaders who living in opulent palaces. They are impulsive, weak, and dangerous.
The GLA are the world's failed revolutions, even if the facts always get misrepresented. They're the posed Polish cavalry charging Nazi tanks, and the simple rice farmer that throws on a straw hat trying to kill capitalists. Right now, since all the mania is associated with the Mideast, guess what the GLA believe now. They're bent on preserving Islamic and Middle Eastern culture, at the expense of Allied programs for social welfare and against movements by the Soviets and Syndicate in the region. Their own fighters are uneducated about their own struggles, believing they can take on professional and body armored soldiers using bolt-action rifles.
Despite their anti-everyone agenda, the GLA leaders aren't as stupid as their followers. They've started to bring in mechanics and technicians to bolster their aged weapons and designs. They're willing to pay handsomely for those with skills in Exelixi, Katastrofi, and Skafoi. Prostasia? Most warlords will laugh in your face.
The common GLA fighter is poorly educated, a bare-bones rebel not even fit to make it through the same training a conscript does. Their leaders are the corrupt and decadent oil sheiks, screaming at the Western barbarians while growing fat on women and wine. However, forces of Saudi Arabia's military have split from their government due to a "disagreement" on King Saud's alliance with the Allies. These White Guard forces are professional soldiers, at least as professional as you can get in the Third World of Paradox.
Aesthetic: Crystal Pyramids Africa
In Paradox, as in our world, Africa didn't have an easy time. Not only did the deserts of the North become a massive battleground, but the Sub-Sahran nations were taken by the Syndicate after colonialism by the European powers ended. Petty warlords and gangs all killed each other, played by the Syndicate as the Allies were occupied with bigger problems in America. Resources were essentially stolen and lives lost in meaningless border wars. Until Zakeem Diamonds Inc. had enough. Rallying the population of their sites around the knowledge of ancient African civilizations and the pride to be found in bringing them back, the Emirates was formed in 1896. It wasn't until World War 1 that the Emirates seized full monopoly control over Africa's diamonds. This has allowed them to study diamonds as more than just simple decoration.
The Emirates technologies may seem similar to the Syndicate, but where the Syndicate is focused on profit for their own maximum gain, the Emirates is profit at least trying to masquerade as beneficial. They are the desperate new union of a flailing nation trying to pull itself up after centuries of colonial rule. Their technologies advance, but their troubles are still the same as before. What the Emirates does have are the diamonds. They're using diamonds in everything from armor to pulse lasers to rifle rounds. And it's starting to work.
If a genius wants a piece of the Emirate's mining rights, they'd better not have had any dealings with the Syndicate. They can sell themselves as mercenary scientists, or maybe visiting Allied specialists, but Soviet geniuses are also warned away. The Emirates are looking for specialists in Automata, Katastrofi, and Prostasia. Epikrato isn't very valuable, though, as the Emirates sees mind control as something outside of their expertise.
Emirates citizens and personnel are a proud people, reminded of their historical place in the world and willing to see it again. Their leaders model themselves after the Egyptian dynasties, but are becoming consumed by their own mystique. Design for the Emirate's tech is based around an idealized image of what an ancient Egyptian war machine would look like covered in diamonds.
Aesthetic: Deco Punk
Before the Second World War in both universes, the future was an amazing place. Medicine could cure any ailment, explorers could dive to any depths and jump to any heights. The great march of progress could eliminate birth defects, racism, class restrictions. But as the myriad fanciful imaginations of an ideal future turned out to be just that – fanciful – the idea of a never-ending future prosperity lost power. In Paradox, however, that idea never fell.
The Combine rose out of a union of intellectuals, industrialists, and late-era explorers bound by the shared vision of a perfect future. They saw humanity as a shining enlightened torch in a dark and wild world, and the concepts of science and progress as holy weapons to be weilded in the fight against ignorance. They were the future of Jacob's Ladders and zeppelins, of giant ships and skyscrapers that dwarfed the heavens. At first existing as a high society club, the Paradox equivalent of World War 2 saw the club's ranks split, with one side preferring a hands-off approach to progress and the Combine's side taking a more...active approach. They took much of Latin and South America and formed the United Technate of the Americas in a bloody civil war...and then they started to rebuild.
The Combine are composed of every fool with an idea that was too blinded by their own hype to realize it wouldn't work and every inventor or entrepreneur who were sure their creations were going to be the next big thing. Eugenically engineered giant insects are used as transport and tunnel excavation while chimpanzee brains in mechanical statues keep watch over banks, and human self-modification is poised to be the next big thing. Most concerning is their experiments with alternate dimensions and universes, including potential contact with things that may fall outside even the bardo's microcosm of false 'reality'. Fortunately, their platform of exploiting science for the good of mankind along with their mane status makes it easy for a Genius to integrate themselves into the Combine: hand over the blueprints for some Wonders and rattle a spiel about how one's ideas could lead to a better safer world for humanity, and a genius can be set up with grants, mane assistants, and even labatory access. The Combine prefer to work with those skilled in Exelixi, Metaptropi, and Skafoi, though specializing in biological Automata or being a member of the Malcom T. Washington Fellowship can get you into their eugenics departments. Katastrofi won't get one very far, however, unless one is really good at spinning it into something theoretically 'peaceful'.
Members of the Combine are almost invariably inventors and creators even where it wouldn't seem to make sense, from Mexican farmers driving personally-modified combine harvesters to Brazilian businessmen making elaborate routes for the most efficient pneumatic line system on their walls. Their politicians are loud and forwards-thinking, their soldiers are the guardians of tomorrow and the heroes of yesteryear, and their aesthetics are a striking blend of elegant Art Deco form and strange glowing scientific modifications. Their wonders are classic Ray Gun, having all the gold plating, fancy wood panelling, fins, extraneous lines, and pink lightning that one would expect from a group of people still pissed that jumbo jets took off instead of airships.
Industrial Guild Edit
The Industrial Guild is actually retroactive even by Paradox standards. Though the Order of the Talon struck many visiting geniuses as the closest thing to Victorian-era Steampunk they could get to, the mania unleashed by thousands of steampunk fans in realizing no, their great fandom wouldn't ever work is what created the Guild. Their weapons are the thousands of discarded blueprints of "designers" that dreamed they would actually work.
Formed by a cadre of wealthy industrialist families against what they saw as the "Pahit Dictatorship" of the Greater Indian Commonwealth, the Guild harkens back to an age where families were tight-knit, technology simple and robust, and the only constant in the world was hard work and elbow grease. They're actually firmly opposed to the Mediterranean way of doing business, as they see the Syndicate as horribly amoral and dangerous to their customers and workers. The Confederates in America also strike some fear into the hearts of the Guild, who want nothing to do with the "American Situation".
In order to get a wonder from the Guild, a genius shouldn't be afraid to put on their best top hat and work for a little while. Again, Syndicate-aligned geniuses are right out, while those under the Allied Nations are seen as friendly. Anyone working for India is advised not to even look at a Guild design. Looking for experts in Katastrofi, Prostasia, and Skafoi, other stories suggest that they're also looking for biological specialists in Exelixi and Metatropi.
Guild members are the ideals of Victorian society. Workers are grimy and sweaty, dressed in simple clothes and full of grit and a crude joke to lift the spirits on the assembly line. The "elites" dress in expected Victorian formal wear, hiding their weapons in their jackets and petticoats. Guild technologies are often covered in brass, and sport a boxy look that hides just how advanced they really are.
Southern Contingent Edit
Aesthetic: Space Western
Australia is a rugged land of rugged, half-mad men. The animals can kill, the oceans infested, and the survivors toughened. And that's just in our world. In Paradox Oceania was invaded by the Japanese in the Third World War, but despite being member states the Allies could do little due to the fact that the Soviets were kinda throttling Europe in their iron grips. So, the leaders of Australia, New Zealand, New Guinea, and Indonesia decided to do the rational thing, and form their own power bloc as a raspberry to the Allies.
Currently, the Contingent is in a stable if cold relationship with the Allies, thanks to the aforementioned lack of resources. One visiting Allied "scientist" (A visiting scholastic with a bad German accent), said their technologies were "Ten steps forward, fifteen steps back." Their work with the process of gravametrics, the manipulation of gravity, is miles ahead of the Allies, but the lack of experienced designers has left them bound to the Earth's upper atmosphere. Despite this, the Contingent's actual military forces are gruff, determined, and unwilling to listen to anyone but other Contingent members.
To work with the Contingent isn't very hard, frankly no harder than the Confederates. The key is in presenting oneself as a willing participant in the beliefs of the Contingent; self-determination, a fierce loyalty to themselves and no one else. Their troubles with the Empire are already documented, but the largest trouble is actually with the Atomic Kingdom, which the Contingent sees as a dangerous threat the world over. For this reason, the Contingent relies on experts in Skafoi, Katastrofi, and they're trying desperately to find prodigies with Prostasia, as their own wonders suffer from crippling armor deficiencies.
Contingent members are often a generalized mix of cowboy and Australian stereotypes, though their leadership is slightly more level-headed. Their technology is a confusing mix of space-aged and country-western, both incredibly advanced and horribly dated and rusty.
American Unionists Edit
Aesthetic: All American Mind-Rape
America's a crowded place in Paradox, and some geniuses see this as a sign that America's creative energy gives it an almost limitless supply of mania. Unfortunately, this one came from the more straight-laced conservatives that wanted the US back to being the apple pie/baseball/Do-what-your-government-says-you-damned-beatnik-hippie capitol of the world. Karl Rove's wet dream, and that's disturbing enough.
The Unionists are Paradox's analogy to the American Civil Defense Corps during the Cold War, subverted with the addition of tanks, guns, and CIA backing (Thanks to I.I., even you can buy your own tank! Order today!). Led by the mane of Robert DePugh, the Unionists think they're securing the American way of life and ensuring that communists can never gain a foothold in their country. In reality they're led by old men in smoke-filled rooms plotting the next PHS broadcast to control their populations.
Getting in good with the Unionists is relatively easy; act like America can do no wrong and that Communism is the greatest evil since the Rolling Stones, and you've got an in to get their wonders. Unionist tech is mostly conventional by Paradox standards though, but the Unionists are looking for those who are skilled in Apokalypsi, Epikrato, and Prostasia.
The Unionists are what people who are old now think America should always be like. There is no change but that deigned to change from on-high. Everyone acts like a crowd of mind-controlled victims in a Twilight Zone episode, either unwilling or unable to see the massive hypocrisy in their actions. The leaders are the conspirators of their own shadow agendas, or duped by these old men into enacting their plans. Their technologies are boxy, large, and able to take their licks and still keep going.
Greater Indian Commonwealth Edit
Aesthetic: Scattershot Science
When India in Paradox won independence, it didn't just get into a pissing contest with it's neighbors. It rolled over Pakistan, seized Nepal, and took over what survivors there were in Tibet to get their hands on their own new toys "borrowed" from technologies taken from China.
Now the Greater Indian Commonwealth, really a tight confederation of states all under the control of Grand Delhi, it has to contend with rampant poverty, pressure from the Atomic Chinese, an economically overbearing Allied Nations and the annoyance of the revolution organized by the Industrial Guild. The need to expand is strong, and theoretically their next step would be into Syndicate-held Afghanistan. Instead, recent unrest in Somalia has opened up a new door, and now India is trying to balance the crushing poverty in its many slums with the military campaigns being waged worldwide.
Still technically a member of the Allied Nations, Allied scientists are welcome to see most of what India's wonders are, though they'd be disappointed to find that most are just mundane vehicles with a few additions or bad angles in the construction. Instead, a genius needs to break all of India's laws to find a "station" for the underground tram system that connects all of India's highest ranking leaders to...The Nightmare Hall; the point where Chinese technology meets Indian genius. The Indians are looking for experts in all fields, really, but with a focus on Exelixi, Metatropi, and Skafoi.
Citizens of the Commonwealth are a bevy of Indian stereotypes, from the desperate but kind-hearted beggars off the streets to the larger-than-life Mumbai stars. Their soldiers are professionals, but the lack of quality equipment often sees them grumbling that their "leaders" don't realize how hard it is to fight against many of the world's more "bizarre" armies. Indian equipment is often seemingly conventional until you hit the details (or the war elephants), but the "specialists" from the tram are so obviously wonderous it would make a Proginator squee. And no one wants that.
The Cult of the Black Hand Edit
Aesthetic: Stained Glass Alchemy
The Cult is an anomaly in Paradox. Unlike the various other factions, there is no real corresponding mania to account for why it exists. Despite being around in Paradox since before the Order of the Talon, there is nothing in the Cult that really gives geniuses a grasp of where it came from. Some have made the massive leap that maybe the cult is the collective mania that comes from loving a bad guy more than the supposed "heroes", but no one can pin down why that would make any sense, even to a genius.
What is known is that the cult is solely devoted to chaos. It wants havoc, mayhem, destruction of all kinds. It wants the world to burn, wants cities to crumble, and it wants to sell hot dogs in ten packs and buns in eight, the monsters. Anyone who thinks they know the overriding logic behind the cult's actions is a fool, because there often seems to be no logic. No genius has yet found the secret guiding hand of the cult, and anyone who thinks they've come close is often found lost in unmada or illumination.
No one has actually found an example of the cult's wonders, only scraps and second-hand accounts of what they're using. If anyone has found the cult's hiding places, they're usually burned out by the Talon or as a last ditch measure to prevent secrets from being leaked. No one knows what the cult's looking for, or even if they've already found it.
Suffice to say, cult members are unknown except as dangerous zealots, and most geniuses with long experience in Paradox would rather see them killed and the wonders destroyed instead of risking their existence in our world.
Important Notes Edit
- The bardo is always in flux, but always maintains a balanced equilibrium. However, each new faction upsets the balance, and many geniuses are afraid of what would happen if faction 22 ever arrives on the scene. Having said that, other forces seem to appear and disappear at random, from underwater Atlanteans to rogue mercenaries to multicolored ponies (Don't ask). Everyone's afraid that there will eventually be a critical point, where the number of factions will become unsustainable.
- In Paradox, mania is represented by "resources", most commonly ore and oil. The more a faction controls these, the greater the wonders they can build. It's why minor factions and smaller factions aren't able to fully gain access to overtly wondrous technologies, though how the cult has secured these devices is possibly due to their funneling mania from the other factions.
- Many actual historical figures exist in the bardo, meaning that before World War 1 they might hold valuable information on themselves, the world itself, or any potential threats the genius might need to know about.
- Many geniuses have infiltrated the power blocs to gain access to their wonders. Depending on how they roll on an Int+Investigation roll, characters can find a way to contact these geniuses without alerting the blocs to their searching.
- PARADOX MEMBERS ONLY, DIRGE MEMBERS TURN BACK NOW: Paradox is actually horribly misunderstood by investigating geniuses. The truth is that Paradox isn't the dumping ground for the weapons; any political ideology that fails, falls, or just plain loses gets shipped to Paradox. The weapons technologies are just pieces of the set of a larger play, but the first geniuses were so caught up with said weapons technology that they missed the deeper messages of how the Allies, Soviets, Empire, how they all failed due to their own ideals.
- Allied Nations: Utilitarianism gone mad, to the point where the individual is being subjected for the supposed "greater good" of the world. Though theoretically the most benevolent of the various power blocs, the Allies are still caught in the bind of trying to force their people to conform to their ideals without factoring in human weakness, needs, and wants.
- Soviet Union: Communism beyond what Marx and Engels ever wanted. The entire state is a paranoid mess trying to outwit both their enemies and other branches of the Union. Like the Allies, the Soviets can't accept that humans are inherently flawed, and that some would attempt to subvert Communism to their own purposes instead of the good of the state.
- Empire of the Rising Sun: Transhumanism, coupled with the still-living idea that Japan's "divine destiny" was stolen after World War II. The rampant psionic use in the Empire is actually driving the people mad, and the continuing effort to secure the world for Japan will never die.
- Confederate Revolutionaries: Truthiness, but only as far as they understand the "right" thing. Even despite increasing Allied control, the US was actually benefiting from Allied military contracts and protection. The Confederates don't stand a chance against any military in the world, but press on because the reality scares them and the fear that America will die drives them to fight on.
- Order of the Talon: Theocratic government, desperate to kill the "evil" in the world, never understanding that evil can never be destroyed. Unable to compromise and forever locked in struggle, the Talon's soldiers are so indoctrinated to see the world in a black and white, gray is just a line struggle that they will undertake any extreme to win.
- Mediterranean Syndicate: Bold-faced Objectivism, the idea that as long as the "I" comes out on top, it justifies crushing "Them" by whatever means. Of course, this means that the long-term is never an issue, because "I" won't be around long to see the results. The profits keep rolling in as people keep dying.
- Atomic Kingdom of China: Chinese Imperialism, which isn't dead. Even in our own reality the Chinese government still holds itself as the Middle Kingdom. The Chinese consistently dehumanize others as insects, and their own treatment of clones highlights just how little they value non-Chinese individuals, even those cloned from Chinese DNA.
- Electrical Protectorate: Nihilism, and all the feelings of worthlessness that drives them. This fear, this reality that all things must end, has driven the Protectorate on a desperate quest to try and keep their works, their arts, alive forever. Being non-human, and unaware of mortality as humans are, the Protectorate have dealt with the Devil and can't see where it's leading them.
- Army of the Republic of Vietnam: The actual South Vietnamese government of the Vietnam War. The efforts are still driving thousands to join the Vietcong, but their delicate situation has narrowed their focus to the point of myopia. The direct route is getting easier results than actually reforming their own government, and slowly South Vietnam eats at itself like an ouroboros.
- National Revolutionary Army: Feudalism, in all its faults. Technology has frozen for the NRA, and they rely on desperate resurrections to keep their forces numbered, be it machines or men. The reality of China's destruction has forever splintered them, and these feudal kingdoms are, through process of elimination, killing off what was once a strong, united force.
- People's Revolutionary Army: The Cultural Revolution, the idea that intellectuals and non-communists were the root of all China's evils. The surviving Red Guard still hunt down the enemies of Mao without realizing that their nation needs to be rebuilt, or justify their banditry under the banner of the People. The irradiated, cancer-stricken people.
- Vietcong: The Cause, despite not realizing their Cause has been corrupted. The Vietcong gladly accept any aid from the Soviets and other Communist nations, knowing full well that they're nothing more than a proxy for a war that cares little for their own fight. Despite knowing they could accomplish their wanted reforms peacefully, they have been radicalized and turned into killers.
- International Inc: Though not a real "philosophy", I.I. is the justification of the arms dealer, the gun manufacturer deflecting the grieving mother's anger by pointing at the government and saying they're the ones who make the rules, as the lobbyists wait in the wings waiting for the next election with the campaign contributions.
- Global Liberation Army: Despite what people think, the GLA are not radical Islam. The source of the GLA is corrupted revolution worldwide. When people are duped into killing and dying by people hidden in comfortable compounds and watching porn as they preach against whatever decadence they fight. Unfortunately, the placement in Paradox's Middle East has twisted this into radical Islam anyway.
- African Emirates: Pan-Africanism turned into a justification for violent expulsion of foreign groups and individuals. Despite claiming to be working for the good of the African people, the leaders of the Emirates are merely reacting to the sins of groups like the Syndicate, as programs to improve the nations under their umbrella still struggle to grow and prosper.
- Technocratic Combine: Fascism and humanism, since beneath all the uniforms and promises of science there lies hatred of opposing political philosophies and the forced sterilization of groups considered "inferior" by the leadership. The wonders of the Combine exist to draw potential sympathizers in, hiding the eugenics and forbidden science behind the proverbial curtain. Man was not meant to be a custodian either. Nature bows to his whims, and if it doesn't? It falls like everything else.
- Industrial Guild: Victorian ideals on work and culture. The poor aren't pushed down, they're lazy if they can't succeed. The leaders aren't corrupt, because the nobility are the leaders by birthright. Debts that can't be paid back are to be worked off in the poorhouses, and the big dresses and top hats hide the hypocrisy of saying people need to work hard to succeed when everything was given to the leaders on silver platters.
- Southern Contingent:Survivalism, the complete lack of faith in any institution or government. Though technically a power bloc, the Contingent is fiercely protective of their own ways, and see the Allies are a government utterly incapable of protecting them and theirs, at the expense of the very real progress the Allies have made that could help the citizens of the Contingent.
- American Unionists: McCarthyism, fearing your neighbor is a communist subversive as your wife tells the kids to never question the government because "it's the American way". The government puts on the mask of benevolence as they ruthlessly search out and destroy the counter-culture through brainwashing and quiet violence.
- Greater Indian Commonwealth: Indian Expansionism, particularly in regards to their Northern and Western borders. Desperate for any resources they can get, the Commonwealth has decided that the only way to solve their problems is to spread them out, forcing other nations under heel to try and save the sinking ship.
- Possibly the most cruel realization of all is that Paradox itself is an umbrella of one overarching thread; war is never a bonus, only a cost. Every power bloc mentioned is either deeply in debt, half-bankrupted, or too poor to pull itself up (Except for the Protectorate and Cult, but they clearly have their own problems). Entire generations have been lost to World Wars II and III, and now number four seems to lurk on the horizon daily. There is no winner in Paradox, only a collection of losers. The Allies have lost what they were fighting for; the Soviets are near collapse; the Empire is lost trying to find itself; the Confederates' long-term is clouded by anger; the Talon have given up seeing any good in anything; the Syndicate is slowly devouring itself; the Kingdom is willing to burn the world to save itself.