You've seen it on the billboards and the trash-strewn alleys, amidst the halls of the powerful and in the tenements of the desperate: the Change. It's coming, and soon everything will be different. Our world will transform itself―in fire, if necessary, in blood, certainly―and be reborn, fresh and new, to gaze out on the universe with innocent and wondering eyes. And I am the herald of that Change. So forgive me if I cannot hear your words or your screams. They are too small. Do you hear the mayflies screaming tonight? Neither do I.
When I was in high school my teacher told me that there are more people alive today than have ever lived. Don't worry: she lied, then got cancer. (Not my fault.) We live atop a mountain of corpses. The Earth is swimming in humans, above and below the ground, so when I see you trying to raise the dead, I'm torn. On the one hand, I recognize your despair. On the other hand, do you really want to spend the rest of the week fending off azombie apocalypse as the Earth vomits up her dead? AGAIN? Come on, man, think this through: every time you try this, we end up fighting zombies. I hate zombies. Just put the syringe down.
First let me tell you that human beings without mathematical souls are transparent to God and thus mean nothing to Him. So you ask, why does God (who is the Equation) care about window-souls? He doesn't, but the Devil, whom I define as our negative thoughts, does, and directs window-soul humans at us to destroy us. These humans think they think and feel, but they are without the highest Number and their feelings are only our self-doubt. Destroy your self-doubt, be free of their hatred. Or destroy them, and be free of your self-doubt. Vengeance is time- and space-symmetrical, like any good equation.
Changing of the Guard: All the foundations are undergoing or have recently undergone massive cultural shifts, from an old generation that favored conservationism and large structures to a fast moving, dynamic even radical younger generation. This shift began when the old generation intentionally dismantled the large social structures of the Peerage. They were being corrupted by power and so they destroyed their own power. For all it's faults the Peerage is dedicated to helping Mad Scientists avoid the perils of their own insanity.
Comes Great Responsibility: Subverted, the Peerage do believe that the Inspiration comes with responsibility. Responsibility to say low, keep quiet, and try not to do anything too crazy.
Will Not Tell a Lie: For older (or old-fashioned) Peers being truthful is Serious Business. The Scholastics do this the most note They were originally a zoroastrian philosophy cult. Truth was to Ancient Persia like democracy is to Eagle Land.
The International Union of Artifice
Originally quiet reclusive Geniuses who just wanted to be left in peace to build their Wonders. They have since radicalized with younger Artificers emphasize a punk DIY ethos as a way to remain free from, or oppose, The Man. Artificers give players a chance to play the mad scientist who builds awesome stuff and represent the fear that we will have to adapt for new technology whether or not we want it to.
Good, fast, and cheap: you get all three. And if you talk like that to my people again, you're going to wake up as a collection of spare parts.
Doing It for the Art: Old style artifiers tend to be reclusive humble mad scientists who just want to make stuff. Averted with younger artificers who delight in the communal aspects of creation and are often politicized, angry and demanding.
Created as a Fellowship to organise the Peerage in the invisible war, the Directors grew to become the Peerages social and organisational experts. Charismatic, skilled and as brilliant as any other Genius they are nevertheless corrupted by naked ambition. Directors let the players be bond villain style masterminds and represent the fear that "the elite" will step on the little guy for their own benefit.
Like even the strongest iron bar, every man has a weak point, and it can be found.
Gone Horribly Right: The Fellowship was explicitly founded to provide the kind of organized leadership Lemuria had. Almost immediately, the Directors became every bit as corrupt, racist, and fanatical as the leaders of Lemuria. The Foundation was extensively reformed in the early twentieth century, but things were looking bad for a while.
The Navigators were formally part of Lemuria, there they faced discrimination for their race and ended doing maintenance, transportation and front line combat for their so called betters. After abandoning Lemuria they eventually joined up with the Peerage, after the invisible war was over. For a while the Navigators were known for being practically a military, but the old generation has given way to rugged independent explorers. The Navigators exist to give players the opportunity to play adventurers and Science Heroes, to saner individuals they represent the fear of being caught in the crossfire of the powerful.
I've seen things you wouldn't believe. Hell, I've seen things I don't believe.
Appropriated Appellation: The name Navigator is intentionally humble in defiance of people who used to see them as second class Geniuses. The attitude is gone, but the name remains.
Respectable, neat academics who believe it is important to manage their own insanity with a dedication to logic and truth. Or at least they used to, older members unraveled mysteries to uncover the truth. Younger members create mysteries and delight in bizarre non-linear thought. Playing a Scholastic is an opportunity to be the mad scientist who knows strange secrets, while to everyone else they represent the fear of things man was not meant to know and the people who publish them.
If it's true, someone wrote it down, even if just to refute it.
Badass Bookworm: They're the oldest Foundation, and have been fighting Lemuria the longest.
Non-Action Guy: Older Scholastics are often content to stay inside and theorize.
Took a Level in Badass: They started out as a small philosophy cult who really liked truth and objected to Lemuria's historical revisionism. Now they're the most influential organization of Mad Scientists in the world, led a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits to overthrow the Ancient Conspiracy that controlled mankind since the beginning of history, and all Inspired culture (even Lemurian) has been heavily influenced by them.
Trickster Archetype: A popular persona for younger Scholastics, much to their elders' chargrin. Tropes commonly incorporated into the Scholastic Trickster identity include:
There was so much potential. So much promise. So much that failed us, all those years ago. But not this time.
Atomists represent the idea that technology can solve human, social or political problems. They tend to be utterly dismissive of (if not outright hostile to) the proposition that the human element is important or in any way greater than just another number on their spreadsheet.
I Want My Jetpack: Or Hovercar/Invisible Zepplin/Robotic Spider/Horde of Gorilla Cyborgs
Determinators: They are the best at warding off Havoc- it happens sooner or later, but maybe next time...
Expy: Of the Technocracy. They're also based on some hardcore fans of Robert Heinlein, Larry Niven, and Ayn Rand.
Utopia Justifies the Means: All they ever wanted was to bring us into the future- not that they ever cared about the people who would have to live in it.
Zeerust: Not a defining trope, but certainly not uncommon, being formally founded in the 50s at the dawn of the Nuclear age means many of their elders have a pre-apocalypse Fallout style of Mad Science.
Now if you look here, you'll see that this is how things really work. Actually, really, positively work. But ignore that, that part is still being corrected.
Etherites are people who care more about "proving" their pet theories than actual science, mixed in with some of the worse cultural attitudes from the Victorian era.
Face-Heel Turn: Sorta. Geniuses espousing what is now modern Mechanist philosophy have always been around, but the Baramin itself officially formed after a schism in the International Union of Artifice.
The Fatalist: They reject the idea of free-will and consequentially the idea of responsibility.
Hmm. That's an interesting point, but is there really any kind of absolute truth out there? Anything that is immutable?
The Phenomenologists believe that there is no universal reality. Consiquently they choose to live in whatever reality suits them best and act appropriately, even if it's outright harmful to those around them. They are a reference to post modernists and the Science Wars in particular.
Consummate Liar: And how! They can spend a point of Mania to gain a exceptional success on a subterfuge roll. This is because they aren't actually lying, they genuinely believe anything they say.
I Reject Your Reality: Even more so than other Unmada. Phenomenologists will reject their own reality when it suits them.
Not all of them do, though. For example, Belinda Czdenk (who is not highly regarded by other Phenomenologists) doesn't so much disbelieve in objective truth as believe that it's irrelevant and/or unknowable. So, while she may reject common reality, she can't substitute it with her own, much to her frustration. Yes, that logic is shot, but remember who we're dealing with.
Because of this the other Phenomenologists consider Belinda to be a phony.
Appropriated Appellation: "Ten Thousand Fans" was originally a Lemurian catch-all term for any non-Lemurian Program in Asia, as the dissenters fanned the flames of heterodoxy. The independent Geniuses of Asia apparently decided not to let such an unintentionally awesome epithet go to waste.
All Love Is Unrequited: His unceasingly unstable love/hate feelings with Dr. Vienna might not be romantic, but if they are Sam is in for a long wait. Dr. Vienna is mentioned to have previously been in a fifteen year heterosexual relationship and there are no hints that he could be bisexual.
Iron Woobie: Let's see... through bad luck, she lost her shot at the Ivy League, and her parents want nothing to do with her. She recovered from that and became a police officer. Then she got pregnant and her husband abandoned her. Then she discovered that her superiors were on the Pacific Gauntlet's payroll. Then she was made into a Beholden by Dr. Vienna. Life has not been kind to Detective Gotti, but she's taken everything it's thrown at her.
St. Croix is a bitter, tired woman, touched by sadness at the disappointments in her life. While insane and, when the mood takes her, tremendously cruel, hers is the small, weak kind of human cruelty that encourages as much pity as loathing.