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Author Topic: LCS Reference in “AGI Federation”, a free tabletop RPG I made  (Read 1493 times)

Skynet

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So even though I no longer play Liberal Crime Squad, I did make a reference to it in a free tabletop RPG I made heavily inspired by PARANOIA: AGI Federation. The Federation is a loose alliance of megacorps (ruled by supercomputers) that survived the Corporate Buyout Wars, and have plugged their employees into utopian simulations. To protect said simulations from its many internal and external threats, they drafted Transhuman Police Officers - and that is who you play as.

Liberal Crime Squad is one of the default megacorps in that setting, based in New York City - the implication being that the Squad has outgrown its revolutionary origins and became incredibly powerful (and possibly corrupt). I only ran one game in this setting so far, and they haven’t played much of a role other than handling debriefing. I will plan on increasing their importance later.

Before I worked on AGI Federation, I tried making a sci-fi RPG (“The Regulator”) where you play as a police officer dealing with the Corporate Buyout Wars - you need to maintain the balance of power between the megacorps while keeping your boss (who is receiving bribes from one of the megacorps) happy. LCS was also a faction in that game as well, as a full-fledged megacorp:
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            id: 9,
            title: "Liberal Crime Squad"
            description: "A leftist terrorist group that previously wanted to establish an 'Elite Liberal Utopia'. The leadership soon realized that it would be far easier to plug people into a 'simulation' of an Elite Liberal utopia instead. They now adopt a policy of utter hedonism, and only leave the VR sims to raise funds and preach their agenda to the masses.",
            pro_quote: "Only by abandoning 'Conservative Reality' can humanity be awakened to its True Liberal Nature and be able to enjoy happy, productive lives.---Chris Horsa, Liberal Crime Squad Founder",
            anti_quote: "The LCS agents sleep soundly in their virtual pods, and dream of fighting their war against Conservative society. But I notice that they never really dream what happens after they win.---Leobwin Sansone, former LCS employee",
            industries: "Virtual Reality",
            alignment: "oblivion"

That game would also have randomly generated backstories that would explain the origins of the megacorps and the reason for the Corporate Buyout Wars. One random backstory would be about the game taking place a few decades after the Arch-Conservative Amendment has passed - LCS slowly “reformed”, while the other megacorps began feuding against each other for market share.

That RPG never got off the ground (not even a playable demo, just design docs), but many of its ideas migrated over to AGI Federation (even though it takes place after the big corporate war). Unofficially, you could consider AGI Federation a sequel to The Regulator, though keep in mind that The Regulator did have multiple backstories to justify its Corporate Buyout Wars (and only one of them made a reference to LCS’ Arch-Conservative ending).
« Last Edit: April 20, 2020, 09:23:13 am by Skynet »
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Azerty

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Re: LCS Reference in “AGI Federation”, a free tabletop RPG I made
« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2020, 12:38:06 pm »

If their workers are hooked 24/7 then how are these MegaCorps earning money? For the matter, are the workers for the real world recruited among free persons or hooked workers (in the latter, it might involve pills)?
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Skynet

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Re: LCS Reference in “AGI Federation”, a free tabletop RPG I made
« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2020, 01:34:16 pm »

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If their workers are hooked 24/7 then how are these MegaCorps earning money?

The implication is that there is nobody left alive other than the workers and the Transhuman Police Officers - every other human perished during the Corporate Buyout Wars. The megacorps aren't making money, but that because they don't need to - they already 'won'. You can treat each megacorp as a command economy that controls a significant chunk of the solar system, using the hooked employees as a convenient source of research and computing power. (In fact, when I state it like that, they're probably less like "real" megacorps and more like post-apocalyptic warlord states; the name only sticks because it's a useful shorthand.)

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For the matter, are the workers for the real world recruited among free persons or hooked workers (in the latter, it might involve pills)?
The 'workers for the real world' (the Transhuman Police Officers) are indeed recruited among hooked workers. The idea of using pills to help ensure the police officers remain loyal and compliant that's a good point, I didn't think of that. Sounds like an interesting mission hook I should use for next time I run a game...
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Azerty

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Re: LCS Reference in “AGI Federation”, a free tabletop RPG I made
« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2020, 12:35:42 pm »

Quote
For the matter, are the workers for the real world recruited among free persons or hooked workers (in the latter, it might involve pills)?
The 'workers for the real world' (the Transhuman Police Officers) are indeed recruited among hooked workers. The idea of using pills to help ensure the police officers remain loyal and compliant that's a good point, I didn't think of that. Sounds like an interesting mission hook I should use for next time I run a game...

The "pills" were a reference to Matrix but drugging workers to make them dependant of their MegaCorp seems like a good idea.

And, given they crushed all competition, what's their objectives now, apart staying alive? What are these MegaCorps' projects for the future?
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Skynet

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Re: LCS Reference in “AGI Federation”, a free tabletop RPG I made
« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2020, 01:07:28 pm »

Ah, missed the Matrix reference. Yeah, that can work too as part of a recruitment spiel - take the blue pill and live in utopian fantasy, or take the red pill and see the truth.

By default, none of the MegaCorps have any major plan, other than staying alive, although they distrust each other (so you can have spy vs. spy shenanigans as the megacorps covertly sabotage and undermine each other). In the Mission Hooks section of the rulebook though, there's a couple of plans that one of the megacorps can pull off to try to out-compete the other megacorps:

- Seize control over the Asteroid Belt so you can gain more resources than the other megacorps.
- Manipulate the enemies of the state (the Drifters and Irrationals) to only attack the other megacorps.
- Funding the Drifters to attack a rival.
- Conduct some idealistic goal (examples: go into deep sleep/find the meaning to life, the universe, and everything/break the Fourth Wall/wake the sleepers and bring them to AGI Enlightenment) that the other megacorps might view as being too disruptive to the status quo.
- Unify all transhumans and megacorporations together into a single totalitarian decision-making entity (the Singleton) for the sake of efficiency. The other megacorps may loathe losing their autonomy to this Singleton though.
- Establish a Transhuman cult that worships the "players", and use this cult as deniable assets to strike against enemies.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2020, 01:09:26 pm by Skynet »
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EuchreJack

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Re: LCS Reference in “AGI Federation”, a free tabletop RPG I made
« Reply #5 on: April 21, 2020, 02:44:11 pm »

So here is a question:
To what degree are Transhuman Police Officers aware that they are indeed functioning in the real world?  I mean, I understand them to be humans that were hooked into a virtual world.  It might be easier to control them if they thought their existence as Transhuman Police Officers was a dream, with the reward for obedience and mission completion that they could go back to their ideal life.

It reminds me of an idea I had for story in which a war was fought by people on Earth drafted from their dreams.  If they die, they don't get to fight anymore.  They don't generally recall the war while they are awake.  There is enough uncertainty about whether or not they survive on Earth if they die in the war that they fight to survive.  Even those who believe that nothing will happen to their Earth selves, and that their Earth selves are real still fight to be with their friends in the War.
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Skynet

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Re: LCS Reference in “AGI Federation”, a free tabletop RPG I made
« Reply #6 on: April 21, 2020, 03:57:19 pm »

To what degree are Transhuman Police Officers aware that they are indeed functioning in the real world?  I mean, I understand them to be humans that were hooked into a virtual world.  It might be easier to control them if they thought their existence as Transhuman Police Officers was a dream, with the reward for obedience and mission completion that they could go back to their ideal life.

I think at least a few Transhumans are aware that they are functioning in the real world (including the player characters), but it's very likely that most Transhumans believe that this is just a 'dream world' of sorts and they're merely fighting for the right to return back to the "ideal life" (their virtual world). It'll be interesting to see whether the megacorps would actually return them back to their virtual worlds or just 'string them along' as part of one long con. Probably the former, since I don't want to portray the megacorps as being completely evil or malicious.

For the Transhumans who do understand that they were previously hooked into a virtual world and then released into "reality" (and are probably too jaded by the experience to ever want to willingly return back to the virtual reality pod), it is possible to get promoted upwards and gain more power over other Transhumans (the highest level in the hierarchy is "Mind Upload" - to become a de facto AGI). You're exchanging bliss for power, essentially.
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EuchreJack

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Re: LCS Reference in “AGI Federation”, a free tabletop RPG I made
« Reply #7 on: April 21, 2020, 08:10:51 pm »

Well, I think even the evil or malicious megacorps would generally send Transhumans back to the virtual world if there was any hope they could be convinced to accept it.  Its the most effective way of control.  If they withhold it, the Transhumans might rebel or decide they don't need it so bad.

I think the biggest risk to our intrepid Transhuman Police Officers is becoming useful.  The more useful they are, the more they are dragged into the real world.  The more they are in the real world, the better they function and thus become more useful.  Eventually, those ones can't go back, whether they want to or not, because they're too busy Saving the World (or at least the virtual world).  They may occasionally get vacations back with their friends and loved ones in the virtual world, but they know that they can't stay.

I imagine that promotions would be more likely due to disability and mental trauma.  Those Transhumans that know too much to go back to the virtual world permanently, or that are too unstable from their experiences in the real world to function properly in the virtual world, yet are too crippled to continue on the front lines would have to be housed somewhere.  Might as well put them in charge of simple administrative functions and training of the newbies, since they're not much use for anything else.  While some megacorps might find it more expedient to kill them off, that risks disposing of some vital piece of information that that particular Transhuman knows.  As they've basically won, that risk is fare greater than the efficiency.  Plus, wouldn't most supercomputers be more paranoid of losing data than they would be of achieving ultimate efficiency?  The sentient ones, the ones that evolved beyond the calculators, the fear of losing data would be equivalent to human fears of senility.

Lasers and Treason...way to be subtle.  Might want a less obvious knockoff name, since its not a knockoff.  Sequel, maybe.  Knockoff, no.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2020, 08:17:46 pm by EuchreJack »
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Skynet

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Re: LCS Reference in “AGI Federation”, a free tabletop RPG I made
« Reply #8 on: April 21, 2020, 11:15:45 pm »

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*awesome worldbuilding*
Thanks for that! It really gives me good ideas about how the AGI Federation functions...and what are its weak points (a disgruntled high-ranking Transhuman going through a mid-life crisis, an attack on an AGI’s datacenters to induce senility, a virtual world vacation going wrong because the Transhuman’s virtual reality pod gets attacked, etc). It is the weak points of a society that provides fodder for adventures.

Quote
Lasers and Treason...way to be subtle.  Might want a less obvious knockoff name, since its not a knockoff.  Sequel, maybe.  Knockoff, no.

Well, Lasers and Treason is a fan-made ruleset for PARANOIA, so I thought about simply reusing it (especially since the main dynamic is players torn between multiple allegiances), but since there are a lot of differences between Alpha Complex and the AGI Federation that I may not need to stick with the same naming convention. One idea could be to I may instead replace “Lasers” with Reality and “Treason” with Virtual, so instead of stressing the divide between violence and criminality, you stress the divide between the real world and the virtual worlds.
« Last Edit: April 21, 2020, 11:20:11 pm by Skynet »
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EuchreJack

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Re: LCS Reference in “AGI Federation”, a free tabletop RPG I made
« Reply #9 on: April 22, 2020, 01:19:29 pm »

What about Serve and Protect?  Or Law and Order?
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Azerty

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Re: LCS Reference in “AGI Federation”, a free tabletop RPG I made
« Reply #10 on: April 22, 2020, 01:55:46 pm »

Well, I think even the evil or malicious megacorps would generally send Transhumans back to the virtual world if there was any hope they could be convinced to accept it.  Its the most effective way of control.  If they withhold it, the Transhumans might rebel or decide they don't need it so bad.

I think the biggest risk to our intrepid Transhuman Police Officers is becoming useful.  The more useful they are, the more they are dragged into the real world.  The more they are in the real world, the better they function and thus become more useful.  Eventually, those ones can't go back, whether they want to or not, because they're too busy Saving the World (or at least the virtual world).  They may occasionally get vacations back with their friends and loved ones in the virtual world, but they know that they can't stay.

Like Mustapha Mond's of Brave New World, who renounced his tranquility to run the world?

Speaking of which, could disruptive TPO sent in separate places such as islands?

I think at least a few Transhumans are aware that they are functioning in the real world (including the player characters), but it's very likely that most Transhumans believe that this is just a 'dream world' of sorts and they're merely fighting for the right to return back to the "ideal life" (their virtual world). It'll be interesting to see whether the megacorps would actually return them back to their virtual worlds or just 'string them along' as part of one long con. Probably the former, since I don't want to portray the megacorps as being completely evil or malicious.

For the Transhumans who do understand that they were previously hooked into a virtual world and then released into "reality" (and are probably too jaded by the experience to ever want to willingly return back to the virtual reality pod), it is possible to get promoted upwards and gain more power over other Transhumans (the highest level in the hierarchy is "Mind Upload" - to become a de facto AGI). You're exchanging bliss for power, essentially.

Could some more religious MegaCorps convince their TPO good assets will be sent to a good afterlife, essentially a separate virtual reality?

Speaking of virtual reality, how are dealt those who pierced the maya? They seem like good candidates for TPO.
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EuchreJack

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Re: LCS Reference in “AGI Federation”, a free tabletop RPG I made
« Reply #11 on: April 22, 2020, 05:47:36 pm »

I'm also fascinated by the idea that the TPOs are humans tasked to fight against the enemies of the AGI Federation in the real world and in the virtual world, one of those enemies being the Irrationals, who simply wish to exist in the real world.

Falling back on my discussion of usefulness, presumably the most talented Irrationals would simply be drafted into the TPOs, where their talents would assist instead of fight the AGI Federation.  Only pathetic and deranged Irrationals would continue to be "the enemy".  Irrational attempts to "break the system" might even be seen in some way as basic training for TPOs.  By plucking out those Irrationals that are close to breaking out, before they realize how close they really were, chaos turns to order.

It goes back to the theory of police forces in urban cultures as essentially being "the gang with the badges".  Also seen in the old Wild West.
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Skynet

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Re: LCS Reference in “AGI Federation”, a free tabletop RPG I made
« Reply #12 on: April 23, 2020, 07:21:31 pm »

Quote
Speaking of which, could disruptive TPO sent in separate places such as islands?
Sounds like a reasonable idea - you prevent the TPOs from causing a ruckus while not losing the data they accumulated in the process. It also provides a good adventure hook - what if an enemy force raid the islands in the hopes of 'liberating' imprisoned TPOs?

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Could some more religious MegaCorps convince their TPO good assets will be sent to a good afterlife, essentially a separate virtual reality?

"The Regulator" did have one religious megacorp in their design doc (based on a real-world South African organization), but I decided not to include it as a default megacorp in AGI Federation, partly because I didn't know how best to handle or roleplay them properly (then again, the fact that there are such things as confirmed virtual realities means that religions may probably see a resurgence in popularity). Since both you and Azerty are pretty good at worldbuilding, here's the notes I have on the religious megacorp:

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            id: 5,
            title: "PAGAD",
            description: "The 'People Against Gangsterism and Drugs' movement had its roots in the chaotic violence in 1990s South Africa. It has since spread throughout the world as an anti-globalization political force. Members of PAGAD use car bombings, intimidation, and extortion in its eternal crusade against corporate crime, in the hopes of bringing sanity to an often insane world. Despite its supposedly secular nature, PAGAD has attracted its fair share of religious zealots.",
            industries: "Security & Investigations, Law Enforcement",
            favorite_policy: "Vigilante Legalization",
            anti_quote: "They believe they can go against the law if it means ridding the area of a drug dealer or gangster. How are they any better than the criminals when they resort to criminal tactics?---John Davids, South African Civilian",
            pro_quote: "If you do not mobilise yourselves, no one will do it for you. Drugs and gangsterism is destroying our society and everyone is affected.---Haroun Orrie, PAGAD spokesperson",
            alignment: "law"

Quote
Falling back on my discussion of usefulness, presumably the most talented Irrationals would simply be drafted into the TPOs, where their talents would assist instead of fight the AGI Federation.  Only pathetic and deranged Irrationals would continue to be "the enemy".  Irrational attempts to "break the system" might even be seen in some way as basic training for TPOs.  By plucking out those Irrationals that are close to breaking out, before they realize how close they really were, chaos turns to order.

Huh. I didn't think about that. The 'Irrationals' were intended to be an Expy of the "anti-Machine Resistance" in the Matrix trilogy, but even that Resistance wound up being exposed as a tool of the Machines, with one of The Architect agents essentially trying to recruit Neo onto their side once he has proven himself. What if some TPOs are sent to monitor promising Irrationals, and identify if they are 'pliable enough' to join "their" side?
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EuchreJack

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Re: LCS Reference in “AGI Federation”, a free tabletop RPG I made
« Reply #13 on: April 27, 2020, 03:46:23 am »

The issue I'm having with imagining a Religious MegaCorp sending anyone to a good afterlife is that the people are already in an ideal virtual reality, so for me its an issue to think of another virtual reality as an "afterlife" or "better".  There is also the flip side of "Hell" as a threat that could be explored.

PAGAD basically sounds like LCS, only with a different agenda.  Maybe they're the CCS with less hookers.  Or the LCS without the drug use.  Their virtual reality would be to fight the good fight, maybe occasionally "die" and go to "heaven", then get recalled to the fight.  Those 99 virgins get boring after a while...
...good luck to the TPOs if the LCS and PAGAD MegaCorps decide to try and sneak "operatives" onto each other's virtual worlds in an attempt to subvert/combat each other.  Or heaven forbid they somehow decide to join forces and take up arms in other virtual worlds.

Truly religious VRs would suck to live in because VR actually kills mainstream religion.  Mainstream religion is that you do what you're told so that you go to a good place in many, many, many years.  But why would you do that if you could go to a good place NOW?  Screw religion and plug me in.
This drives the truly religious* to cry "blasphemy", and say that we should abstain from this false idol, that REAL heaven is better, and that we should use these VRs to study scripture, pray, and live simple lives until the Almighty brings the End and shows us real heaven.
...you can see how a minority of Megacorps could be formed on this.  Whether their AIs see themselves as custodians of the souls in their care, zealots that should purge the unbelievers, catalyists of the end days, con men trying to sell their idea to more suckers, or all/some/none based upon which archaic section of code has dominance at this particular moment.

You could also say "VR Amish" and it might work, although my mind turns more to monasteries.
« Last Edit: April 27, 2020, 03:49:02 am by EuchreJack »
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Azerty

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Re: LCS Reference in “AGI Federation”, a free tabletop RPG I made
« Reply #14 on: April 27, 2020, 02:20:42 pm »

Truly religious VRs would suck to live in because VR actually kills mainstream religion.  Mainstream religion is that you do what you're told so that you go to a good place in many, many, many years.  But why would you do that if you could go to a good place NOW?  Screw religion and plug me in.

What about pretty average VR, where life would be lived as nrtmal, witht he upgraded version for good TPOs?

Speaking of good VRs, could we have penitentiary VR for defective TPOs and hellish VRs for religious MegaCorps wanting to punish workers?
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