Who Are They? Edit
- The Syndicate is a massive organization of corporations, "company towns" and criminal groups united by cultural and political beliefs, funded by war profiteering, exploitation of the third world, illegal activities, and technological innovation.
- The Syndicate was founded by and is "led" in a loose sense by an organisation called the Board of Classics, headed by a man known as Romulus. Roughly nothing is known about these guys, and their identities and role is probably the most widespread set of conspiracy theories in the world.
- The Syndicate are low-tier in terms of military threats to the rest of the world; Legion Security, which has a monopoly on paramilitary forces, is massive for a merc group but not large for an army. However, the Syndicate can spread its influence quickly without need for military force, and has a lot of population they could mobilize very quickly with technological aids. While it's unlikely they could beat any superpower one on one, they will rather let the others fight it out and pick of the scraps later.
What They WantEdit
- The Syndicate want two things.
- 1. Money
- 2. Influence, leading to #1
- When the Syndicate bother to think about a moral system to justify their actions, they usually go with Randian Objectivism, specificially the parts about how selfishness is a positive trait.
- Solid quote from Rand herself : "Suffering is not a claim check, and its relief is not the goal of existence." That's a pretty good summary about how the Syndicate feel about the people they hurt; human suffering is the norm. If I cause it in the pursuit of my own happiness, that is just the order of things.
- Everything the Syndicate does is in pursuit of money, either right now or at some point in the near future. Long term planning is not their strong suit; they will destroy the environment for the resources now and not even comprehend that they may be reducing their profits in the future.
- Because of this lack of foresight, the known role of the Board of Classics is to steer the Syndicate toward longer term goals, like knocking over a country to divide it up for resources or establishing Sprawls. The Board does this through a combination of the fact that they are respected enough for everyone to listen (corporations are willing to go along with the plan because they know everyone else will also go along) and the fact that everyone is completely terrified of them, a reputation the Board does their best to maintain.
- The Board of Classics is very much the man behind the man; if Paradox were an urban fantasy setting, they'd be a vampire mafia. The imagery of vampirism is a pretty good one to push with these guys; I can't actually tell you why, but having these guys be pale, sun-adverse and not seeming to age is totally encouraged; trust me, it'll fit in.
The Sinister SyndicateEdit
- The concept of the "Mediterranean Syndicate" as a uniform criminal body is one that exists only to intelligence communities and conspiracy theorists. The average person is unaware that many of the companies he purchases goods from are linked to crime; to him, they are just the guys that make soda/canned goods/t-shirts/record players etc and show a fancy logo or two in their store. Additionally, while the police might be aware of criminal gangs or organized crime groups operating in an area, they won't know that these groups are getting their marching orders from a larger organisation. Sprawls are strange trends in recent city projects, the neo-classical fashion and architecture is just a fad, etc. As far as the public is concerned, the Syndicate create jobs and merely have a strange taste for naming stuff with the morally wrong things usually swept under the carpet.
- It's not that these things are hidden, but just that the average person doesn't care enough to find out, allowing the Syndicate to fly comfortably under the radar.
- For that matter, most people in the Sprawls and workers in the various companies haven't really got a grasp on the whole organisation.
- As a result, the actions of the Syndicate, even if they are planned at the top, appear to outsiders as a series of unconnected events; a crime wave here, a new company opening shop there ("Oh hey more jobs from the Syndis...") , a lot of property being bought up by several companies... next thing they know, they are working in a factory stamping out cheap guns for warlords involved in the drug trade and they aren't any the wiser. The Syndicate is insidious because most of the people contributing are only vaguely aware that there is anything wrong; people more willing to turn a blind eye than others tend to advance up the ranks.
- To the Board of Classics and Romulus, the Syndicate as it is now is a means to an end; concepts like short-term profits and shareholders are not what motivate them. Rather, they are primarily interested in the creation of the Sprawls and the dependence of people on the services and goods of the Syndicate.
Classical Influences Edit
- When Cyberpunk was launched with "Neuromancer", everyone was pretty darn sure that Japan was going to take over the world, the same way everyone now is convinced China will take over the world. Therefore, Cyberpunk was usually heavily influenced by Japanese culture; in real cyberpunk, every company name is a merger between an American sounding name and a Japanese one, the head honchos of the criminal world are the Yakuza, Japanese characters on every surface, and if you meet a businessman at any point he is almost definitely going to be Japanese.
- The Syndicate remove the Japanese influence in favour of classic world ones, particularly Rome/Italy. Hence, the Mafia instead of the Yakuza, Italian names and Roman/Greek names for companies and products, and Italian and Latin as the language of choice.
- Cybernetics are still mostly an unknown element of the Syndicate, confined to Sprawls and in fairly early stages of development. Like much of the Syndicate's sinister elements, it's a secret because the other factions are ignorant rather than because it is actively concealed; your average person thinks "Japan" when they hear the concept, and have no idea how much cyborging is happening on their doorstep.
- When National Geographic published a full-colour picture of a Sprawl ganger, most people noticed his outrageous yellow-and-black leather suit, multiple facial piercings and glorious lime green mohawk, and totally missed that his funny sunglasses were in fact optical implants.
- In part, this is because the cybernetics used by those Sprawl-dwellers who interact with the outside world (like business executives, lawyers, and Legion security) are fairly high-end and thus rather subtle, and are usually wetware like microsoft ports or optical interface implants. These people usually have little use for the larger and more obtrusive modifications.
- These modifications find prominence among the lower classes, most of whom don't leave the Sprawls, as they are useful for manual labour and gang fights. A dockworker with powered joints is obviously going to fetch a pretty high salary, and a lot of gang members are down with stuff like surgery to replace their eyes or boost their reflexes.
- Because of this disparity, the Syndicate have a very small number of cybernetics which are carefully manufactured and installed, and a heck of a lot of crude custom jobs built in garages and installed by hack doctors. These street mods are cruder, but have more diverse utilities and are often more functional or powerful.
- Syndicate Battlesuits are super cutting edge. As of 1969, none of the military ones have yet seen deployment, and the civilian ones are a rarity.
- The Syndicate have the best grasp of information technology in the setting; where Japanese computers are often faster, smaller, and smarter, the Syndicate are much better at networking them, programming them, and incorporating them in everything they do. The utter lack of regulation surrounding it means that plugging into a Syndicate network device will lead to serious information overload. On the battlefield, they use this information superiority to coordinate their troops, while at home they use it to play the stock market, rapidly disseminate data, and communicate.
- Most networking in the Syndicate has to be done with wires. Syndicate wireless technology is absolutely terrible; with no regulation, useful use of the bands we use for wireless data transmission in real life is essentially impossible, and exceptions are unreliable or difficult to use, usually based around infared. Further complicating issues is that the sheer volume of data flying around creates an electromagnetic nightmare; getting the "black shakes" (Nerve Attenuation Syndrome) from excess electromagnetic radiation deep in the Sprawls is an epidemic problem. Imagine the worst wiring closet you can; that's what everything in the Sprawls is like.
- Genetic engineering for the Syndicate is very crude, relying primarily on selective breeding. As proper means of DNA profiling do not exist yet, inserting new genes is done in a scattershot method, using computer-controlled mass experiments and isolating successful chains. Human gene-engineering has not yet been successfully performed.
- The Syndicate have an excellent understanding of the nervous system and brain. They can rip images in real-time from the visual sections of the brain or rewire certain nerves to achieve certain results, and they can remotely copy brain-states, artificially replicate them, and use them to alter living brains. Language microsofts, for example, work by overwriting the language centre of the brain with an artificial one contained on the microsoft, which was taken from a native speaker of that language; thus, all people using a given microsoft will have the same linguistic quirks and similar speech patterns, down to systemic mispronunciations and accents.
- Syndicate technological and knowledge-base strengths are in biology, optics information technology, electromagnetic sciences, plastics, psychology, economics, and mathematics. Their weaknesses include material sciences, military philosophy, restrained engineering, aerospace technology, physics, chemistry, and ethics.
General Setting Details • Allied Faction Bible • Rebel Faction Bible • Soviet Faction Bible • Empire Faction Bible • Order Faction Bible • Kingdom Faction Bible • Syndicate Faction Bible • Protectorate Faction Bible • Minor Faction Bible