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Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Shadow Squad of Syracuse! Links to Resources.

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Shadow Squad of Syracuse: Organizations, Cosmic Factions, and Adventure Locations


Organizations are groups in the city who use front organizations for their activities to keep them from being discovered by ordinary society and its authorities. They are aware of some of the mysteries of the city, although not necessarily possessing the total picture. The try to exploit their knowledge to serve their own agendas and often recruit or temporarily hire freelancers and privateers from among the Touched to serve their interests. A common adventure begins with recruitment or hiring by such an organization for a job or mission.


These features are not necessarily true or true in the same way of all organizations but they do describe a typical organization. Each organization has a public profile as one of the conspicuous social societies in the city. They also have a specific ambition that is not public. The organization is two layer in structure, a superficial layer that is the apparent structure of the public face of the organization (and where people may be working who have no idea of the organizations main goal) and a deeper structure designed to see to it that its true aims are realized. Finally there is often a specific type of soldier or agent that works for the organizations true purpose and answers directly to the true authority in the organization.

The MIB: the Men in Beige:

While it is generally true that civil authorities are in the dark as much as anyone else about the Touched, there is one branch that answers directly to the mayor's office and is responsible for policing the shadows. This organization uses the city offices for its front, disguising itself by an obscure organizational chart of of obscure public sanitation offices, such as the officer in charge of pop sickle stick distribution and the city manager of Canadian Geese safety. But they are as close as one can expect of a sheriff of the Touched. However, their conduct is not under any strict oversight since no one understands anything of the professional competence required to protect against the Cosmic forces. This gives the MIB a free hand to manage things as the see fit and the style of management tends to to be very inscrutable. One thing that characterizes the MIB is their emphasis on Psi abilities. A typical MIB, wearing a beige three piece suit, lemon yellow shirt, red tie and sepia toned sun glasses, also has some psi ability as well as special equipment and pistol. The MIB often "recruits" as many psi powered Touched as the can for training and research.

The Institute For Human Excellence

The Institute For Human Excellence is a research facility within the university and medical school community and has the public face of a special research institute. However, below the building is a secret network of labs and facilities, exploring time-travel, space-travel, cybernetic and robotic mechanisms, genetic engineering, mass social engineering and control, etc. A truly Promethean organization, it is suspected by some to be secretly kidnapping many of the homeless in the city and using them to test a new "super-soldier" project. Agents are often super-scientists or technicians. Otherwise, they may be Cyborgs or Androids.

The Native American Nations

There are two reservations near the city who struggle to receive their due respect from the social contracts they have with the city and state. But no other group has as comprehensive an understanding of the real secrets of Syracuse as these nations. Before the white settles came to central New York, one of the great ancestors of the tribe who was a great medicine man was hunting at night and discovered a strange glow in a clearing. As he approached, he saw a man levitating and giving off a strange aura. The man identified himself as Lord Abe No Seimi and told the medicine man that he had come from the other side of the world and from another time to warn his people of a great battle that would endanger this dimension. He gave his wisdom to the medicine man and it was passed down ever since. Agents of the Nations are typically shamans with healing powers and insight but they tend to be underestimated by the other organizations who often overlook them.

The Future Corporation

The Future Corporation is a major company in Syracuse that has offered its services to provide investment opportunities and jobs to the citizens of Syracuse. They have big ambitions for developing the city, which the proudly describe at their giant yet somehow always unfinished mega mall. But behind the scenes, the organization is investing on what it hopes will be control over whatever resources the shadows supply by making the city more and more dependent on them for its own well being. The Future Co, is responsible for the city subway, which is a private subway system that only some of the Touched know about outside the leadership of the company and which is largely abandoned. Their Agents are the notorious Corporate Ninja, an elite team of spies and assassins that carry out company directives.

The City Bus System

CitiBus is a public transport system that the city uses as a public-private company for city transportation. But the city service is also an evil cult of assassins.  While it has its ordinary operations much like a regular transit company, it has a shadow organization that recruits from the desperate and the simple (and "touched") and training them for elite skills that serve the organization for outside hiring.  These bus drivers are controlled through a powerful narcotic called "soma" and when not on duty live in a cultivated secret garden of earthly pleasures called "Not-In-Service".  Driver assassins who fail there task are threatened with not being allowed to return to Not-In-Service.

Ecclesial Charities

Ecclesial Charities is a widely recognized church based support that receives some public money - something that creates some awkward situations.  One of the key functions they perform is helping international refugees from all over the world to resettle in the city and find education, work, and safe neighborhoods to live.  However, one such specialized ministry, the Lichtensteinian Refugee Ministry, is really a cover for their outreach to the Touched who are struggling to find their place.  However, these clients are often recruited to serve the higher mission of the organization, which is to deal with the the various manifestations of evil that seem to have there source beyond ordinary science and nature.  These recruits become trained exorcists for the organization.


Organizations are based in the city and interact primarily with the Touched.  However, behind them either consciously or unconsciously to them, are darker deeper forces trying to manipulate events through them.  It is not necessarily true that even these more powerful sources have the complete picture but they certainly may be expected to have a deeper understanding even if they are not sharing much of it.  It helps to think of the overall picture as being like layers of an onion, with the core being Earth and the City being the very center of that. Then around that center is the realm of the arcane circles of power and weird science, as well as the hidden realms that exist on the planet.  Next is the Galaxy around the Earth and solar system.  Next the various alternate dimensions where intelligent powerful creatures dwell. Then, is the realm that contains all of these, the Dark Realm where the Ancient Ones are imprisoned and long to be freed to return to their former reign over the cosmos.  And finally . . .


Cosmic Factions have these features:  They are governed by one or another species or federation of other worldly intelligences either from the hidden realms of earth, space, other dimensions, or anything else off planet.  The usually specialize in one or another type of power or energy such as psionic, arcane, weird technology, etc.  They have their own (yet partial) interpretation of the cosmic system and its history and future.  If they are active in the affairs in the city it is usually through the intermediary of one or another of the Organizations in the city (a fact that the organization may not want to reveal).  The faction often provides powers and devices or information or missions to the organization.  Finally each Cosmic Faction has its own vested interest that brings it into conflict with other such factions.  Some Cosmic Factions may yet not be aware of the existence of any of the others.

The Intergalactic Empire of the Pirating Clans

Among the intelligent races of the largest occupied area of know space is the Imperium.  The Royal Family of the Emperor came to power through victory in the warfare for dominance between diverse space faring races hundreds of thousands of Earth years ago.  There remain other space faring governments outside the boundaries of the Empire that trade with or resist the Imperium.  However, when the Imperium took notice of Earth, it placed on the status of a natural reservation and instituted a non-interference policy with the hope that in the course of time the human race would evolve to contribute to the Empire.  However, this unusual display of benevolence and tolerance is not without self-interest.  The Imperium recognizes that the Earth and the city are to play a central role in the future of the galaxy and its reservation policy is meant to keep out rival powers within and outside of the empire.  It is rumored that there are members of the Royal Family in line to the imperial throne living incognito in the city.  The Imperium does have connections both with Future Co. and the MIB for purposes of trade and secure management of the security of the city.

The Ancient Ones

Beyond the edge of space, time, and sanity are the Old Ones, the Lords of Madness and Chaos, who once entered into the existing order and twisted it to their own reign.  By seems or another they were expelled from the Cosmos and locked away behind the Great Wall (or membrane) of empirical reality.  They for ages sought to recover there former place and make an end of all sense and purpose and to taste the withering of the minds of all sentient races.  But now they cannot operate directly and can only work through indirect influence on those who blindly adore them and worship them or on those who because of their own interests allow themselves to be their tools.  The Old Ones believe that the key to their release is at the heart of the city.  They also believe that somewhere and somehow, the city contains the only thing that can stop them.

Other Factions

Other possible sources for cosmic factions may include: The realms of Fey: Dark Elves, Black Leprechauns, the Dryads who lived before the foundation of the city, etc. Other dimensions: the Kingdom of the Giant Crabs, the Alternate Roman Empire, etc. Other alien species: The Space Navigator Guilds, the League of Golems, etc.etc.


There are two settings that are typically relevant in a SSOS! adventure. One of the ethnic neighborhoods that have their own distinctive flavor, culture, and traditional values that have existed side by side with each other in the city's history.  (Ex.  In the real Syracuse, there is Tipperary Hill, one of the oldest Irish neighborhoods in America, and Little Italy, an Italian business district.  There are also Polish, German, Ukrainian, and Indochinese neighborhoods, native American and refugee neighborhoods, and urban neighborhoods.)  Each character is a native child of one or another of these neighborhoods, chosen at character creation.

The other are the adventure locations that are set in or around the city's landmarks and buildings - except always in there "shadow places" that are unknown to the public (Examples; the hidden third basement at the University Research Facilities, the floors "in between" the floors at the City Hotel, the gateway to the Dark elf realm at the base of the Central Statue, the long unused extension built at major shopping mall, and of course the subway that Future Co. built without the city's notice).  There are often underground locations or hidden dimensional gateways or cloaked spaceships where much of the real action and adventure lie for the Touched.