Alpha Centauri 2

Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri & Alien Crossfire => After Action Reports => Topic started by: Tayta Malikai on June 29, 2020, 10:05:06 AM

Title: Money and the Will to Power: A Game of Economic Imperialism [PBEM]
Post by: Tayta Malikai on June 29, 2020, 10:05:06 AM
The Will to Power (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?topic=21359.0) is a new mod to emerge from the recent upswing in modding activity for SMAC, itself an offshoot of the revolutionary Thinker Mod (http://alphacentauri2.info/index.php?topic=21013.0). While these two mods might have their differences, both have incorporated and built off each other’s features, and it’s very encouraging to see new innovations being made for this venerable game. I certainly look forward to seeing what else modders come up with in the years ahead.

While Thinker focuses on improving AI and providing configuration options, Will to Power makes an effort to completely rework the game in order to patch exploits and finally bring about True BalanceTM on Alpha Centauri. Among its many changes, and likely the most significant, is that combat is now weighted more strongly in favour of the defender, with huge bonuses to base defense and fighting on one’s own territory. Any war between factions is destined to be a protracted, drawn-out affair, defined by attrition and won atop a hill of mangled corpses and broken rovers.

So of course, we’re going to completely ignore all of that and instead wage war using purely economic means.

For as we all know, money is power…

(https://i.imgur.com/k6nS6tI.png)

This is a PBEM game played between myself and Nevill, using version 69 66 of the Will to Power mod. The exact rules have yet to be fully determined, since we were keen to get the game off the ground while it was the weekend and we could squeeze a good number of turns in, but essentially they amount to:

Game Settings
Difficulty: Transcend.
Map: Standard, Random.

Players
Tayta: Peacekeeping Forces. ;lal;
Code: [Select]
Starting tech: Applied Physics.
-1 EFFIC
-1 POLICE
+1 talent per 4 citizens
+2 standard population limit
x2 votes in Planetary Council elections
Pro-Democratic, Anti-Police State.

Nevill: Gaia’s Stepdaughters. ;deidre;
Code: [Select]
Starting tech: Centauri Ecology.
+1 EFFIC
-2 MORALE
-1 POLICE
+1 PLANET
+1 nutrients from fungus
Pro-Green, Anti-Free Market.

Two peace-loving factions going head-to-head. Who will prevail in this contest of economic might? Find out as the game unfolds!
Title: Re: Money and the Will to Power: A Game of Economic Imperialism [PBEM]
Post by: bvanevery on June 29, 2020, 06:47:06 PM
Hmm.  Sounds like a game of "who is cheap to buy".  Because I don't think either of you will be cheap to buy.  Therefore, the AI factions become "food".
Title: Re: Money and the Will to Power: A Game of Economic Imperialism [PBEM]
Post by: Tayta Malikai on July 03, 2020, 03:49:23 AM
Therefore, the AI factions become "food".
Aren't they always? ;)

Anyway, the game is actually proceeding at a blistering (for PBEM) pace, since work-from-home combined with relatively aligned timezones let us squeeze in a lot of turns. Considering how sluggish our last game with more players went, it's a nice change of pace. The downside is that since playing the game takes priority over writing about it, there hasn't been much chance to post about it here.

Now that the turn rate is starting to slow down, though, I'll try to get some material out soon.
Title: Re: Money and the Will to Power: A Game of Economic Imperialism [PBEM]
Post by: Tayta Malikai on July 03, 2020, 03:39:04 PM
(https://i.imgur.com/KgaUPJR.png)

The United Nations was not meant to outlive the Earth.

From its initial conception as a vehicle of international peace and stability following the end of World War II, the UN had never been more than the sum of its member nations. And as nations always did, they began to twist and pervert the powers granted by these new international institutions for their own purposes. Wars were declared and countries devastated in the name of peace; punitive sanctions and embargoes crippled economies in the name of prosperity; the worst violators of human rights were allowed to serve as their enforcers; unchecked veto powers enabled the self-styled guardians of democracy to repeatedly overrule it. For all their talk of the rules-based international order, it soon became clear that, as ever, there was only one rule that mattered: the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must.

It was therefore viewed as the ultimate irony when, as the governments of those nations started to collapse left and right, their former citizens turned to the UN for leadership. A few unremarkable bureaucrats, who once had to plead and scrape for funds to help those in need, suddenly found themselves responsible for administering the remains of entire countries. Taking the reins that slipped from other hands, they soon became the world’s new powerbrokers, for it was the bureaucrats who decided where those resources would go: money, technology, armies and fleets. They governed no countries, yet without their connivance, no country could be governed.

In spite of their insistence to the contrary, power shifted from the halls of Washington, Brussels, Moscow, and Beijing, and into space: the final frontier, untamed by man, and therefore not yet subject to his petty geopolitical disputes. It was precisely because space belonged to no-one that a government which ruled no countries was able to claim it. While the surviving nations of Earth bickered over the spoils, it was aboard its stations in high orbit that the United Nations Space Authority became the sole arbiter of all human economic and military activity.

But while the underappreciated bureaucrats of the world had finally tasted power, they knew all too well how fragile it was. The UNSA’s entire powerbase rested on terrestrial assets: advanced technologies developed and built by the scientists and engineers of the former superpowers; tax dollars extracted from failing economies; reserves of natural resources long depleted by centuries of reckless over-extraction; even the bureaucrats themselves owed their prized formal educations to respected institutions on the planet’s surface. And those broken superpowers still possessed massive arsenals of anti-satellite weapons: intended to be used against each other in the final war to end all wars, but just as easily used on an outside party that was already too powerful for anyone’s comfort. If they couldn’t have space, then nobody would.

And so, with a resource and technology base that was crumbling by the day, the UNSA threw everything it had into one last gamble: the UNS Unity, crewed by the brightest minds humanity had ever produced. Leave the charred wreckage of Earth behind to start afresh on a virgin world, where none would be able to threaten them. If the problems of humans couldn’t be solved on one planet, then clearly the logical solution was to move humans to another.

That was how UN High Commissioner Tayta came to be standing here on the surface of Planet. Staring up at the harsh binary suns which once glittered with so much promise in the skies of another world, he reflected on just what went wrong along the way.

In a word, everything.

Six saboteurs, planted by Earth’s intelligence agencies decades ago, had emerged from their cryo-capsules alongside everyone else, and immediately thrown the Unity into chaos. The final gasp of their dying homelands, all of them had the same objective: to rally fellow national sympathizers, seize control of the ship, and re-establish themselves as the leaders of new successor states on Planet’s surface.

None were able to achieve dominance over the others, but they succeeded nevertheless, storming the Unity’s landing pods and breaking away from the ship to head for Planet –  and, in the process, wiping out the entire UNSA leadership on board. It was only thanks to Tayta’s quick thinking that any of the remaining loyalists were able to repair the final pod and escape the rapidly disintegrating wreckage.

Tayta found it rather fitting, in a twisted fashion, that the greatest crisis faced by the United Nation Space Authority should occur right as it attempted to transfer itself down to a planetary body.

Now here Tayta was: the last representative of the UNSA’s supreme executive power, a governor for a non-government. A bureaucrat who suddenly held more power than he’d ever dreamed of.

It seemed that humanity might have left Earth, but Earth had not yet left humanity.

Time to change that.
Title: Re: Money and the Will to Power: A Game of Economic Imperialism [PBEM]
Post by: bvanevery on July 03, 2020, 06:21:36 PM
Nice writing! 

Quote
the sole arbiter of all human economic and military activity.

I have trouble believing the UN was ever powerful on Earth, but nice writing.  Seems more likely the UN would have been a clearinghouse for a last ditch international effort, and not a military force of its own.  Hence why Lal is accused of being a pusillanimous wimp.  Simply put, you don't tell the USA where it's going to send its troops, unless the USA has crumbled into nothing.

Is Tatya a wimp??
Title: Re: Money and the Will to Power: A Game of Economic Imperialism [PBEM]
Post by: Tayta Malikai on July 05, 2020, 01:29:34 AM
Thanks! I'm just starting to get back into writing in general after a long hiatus, so it's good to see I haven't lost my touch.

I actually did have a line explicitly referencing pieces of the crumbling US economic and military hegemony falling into UN hands (among others) in an earlier draft, but I decided it didn't flow well to specifically call them out. I do agree that in the event of some general international calamity, it would be the other nations who step in and take control, with the UN acting as a clearinghouse as you call it - unless those nations had their own problems to deal with. The game does support this to some degree, with several faction profiles implying that the P5 nations all suffered some form of collapse or regime change. It's in this environment of shaky government control over their own countries that the various UN missions get repurposed to "help" them.

In that sense, what I mean to describe as the UN's supreme executive power is less that it deploys troops itself, and more that it uses its influence on member nations to get them to deploy troops on its behalf. The USA could still send troops wherever it wanted, but if it wanted things to go smoothly and to accomplish something meaningful with them, it would be in its best interests to get the shadowy faceless unelected UN bureaucrats on side. After all, even the USA needs basing rights.

But yes, portraying the UN this way is definitely a departure from what the game suggests. I just find the idea of a UN that learns to wield the levers of power for itself to be an interesting evolution, compared to its usual limp-wristed ineffectual reputation.

Also, United Nations Space Authority is a really cool name for a faction.

Is Tatya a wimp??
Lal is an idealist through and through. I expect he would argue that the UN succeeded because it was able to bring all the world's nations together to accomplish this one act, and ultimately ensured the continuance of the human species as a result.

The Tayta that appears in this story has a rather more cynical view of things. He'd argue that the UN succeeded because it recognized the importance of seizing and maintaining power when the opportunity arose, and took the necessary steps to ensure its own survival. For while ideals are wonderful, without power, you can affect nothing.

Lal would earnestly prefer to work with the other factions and effect change subtly, bringing them over to the UN's vision of their own will. Tayta knows they will never give up power willingly and will have to be strongarmed into submitting. But it's all for the greater good. Right?
Title: Re: Money and the Will to Power: A Game of Economic Imperialism [PBEM]
Post by: Tayta Malikai on July 05, 2020, 02:23:55 AM
Mission Year 2120

It’s shocking how fast two decades have already passed. I didn’t even realize until Sally asked me whether I was going to give a speech for the occasion.

Two decades. That’s almost half the time I’ve been alive. Subjectively, anyway. Cryo-years don’t count; otherwise, the whole High Commission would officially qualify as geezers by now.

Not that you could tell. I’ve no idea how the Space Authority got its hands on this stuff, but these treatments [intercourse gerund]
work. I feel like I haven’t aged a day since I climbed out of that pod. Physically, at least. Mentally, my brain has more holes in it than the Unity.

I guess I’ll never find out how they did it, either. They’re all gone now. Only me left.

Look at me. I was a young man when I left Earth. What did young men ever do back on Earth? Well, apart from starving. Get a degree, get a career, get a wife and kids? People still believed in that sort of thing, even though nobody could afford it anymore. I might’ve been able to: I had the first half down already. I still don’t know how I pulled that off, either. I thought for sure that smartass Alastor was gonna get the post. I’m here now, though, and he isn’t, so I guess that counts for something.

Ugh, I’m rambling again. Surely I’m not the only one who’s noticed. How long before some other smartass realizes that I’m faking it? That I’m a fraud waving around the UN flag to cover up for my own shortcomings? And when that happens, how long before the same smartass decides to take a shot at the top job?

I’m sure it’s happening already. I can hear the whispering stop when I enter the room, the sneaky texts under the table, the notes scribbled in the margins of requisition forms, the posts on the private message boards. I’m not even sure I can trust Sally these days. Sometimes it feels like she’s the one running this organization rather than me.

Right. Enough of feeling sorry for myself. I’m a leader now. I’m
the leader now. And leaders have to give speeches every now and then, so let’s write a damn speech.

======

Citizens of the United Nations, it has been a long and hard twenty years for us all. When we departed Earth with hopes in our hearts and regrets in our minds, we never dreamed that existence here on Planet would be so harsh or austere. As we have all experienced for ourselves, nothing comes easily, and every endeavour takes not just blood and sweat and tears, but above all time. In the years since we arrived, an entire new generation has been born and raised, already becoming citizens in their own right. And what world have we built for them so far? I hope we all take some time to reflect on our answer to that on this day.

(https://i.imgur.com/iFyumqz.png)

Nobody despairs the loss of the Unity’s industrial and technological base more than I. It has taken us twenty years of toil and effort, often working with little more than our bare hands, to reproduce the simplest of the colonization and terraforming devices we carried with us to Alpha Centauri. Were it not for Commissioner Mitchell’s recycling initiative, we might have found ourselves confined to our riverbed landing sites for decades more!

Indeed, the sole item of Unity technology our scouting expeditions were able to recover has been more a source of consternation than one of comfort to us. The Battle Ogre was a top-of-the-line enforcement droid, built by the military-industrial complex on Earth for one purpose and one purpose alone: to ruthlessly crush dissent against those who would profit from others’ misery.

(https://i.imgur.com/lMLLbPr.png)

One could hardly imagine any more fitting a symbol of our species’ legacy: one that, as citizens of the United Nations, it is our solemn duty to overcome and rise above. For the sake of our children, for the sake of humanity itself, we will break free of the bonds of history and forge our own destiny here on Planet!

(https://i.imgur.com/Lv5Ah9E.png)

It will not be an easy duty for any of us. And it is only about to get harder. Our fledgling diplomatic corps has been run ragged for the past ten years, as our diligent scout patrols put them into contact with not just one, but four groups of our fellow survivors from the Unity disaster in orbit. It is my heartfelt desire that the five of us will be able to coexist in peace and harmony as all we strive for a higher purpose. Our diplomats have already concluded several fruitful exchanges of technology and information with these factions, a promising portent of the progress to come.

(https://i.imgur.com/QuRopeI.png)

We must not place our trust blindly, however. Already we have seen signs that conflict, the same kind that devastated Earth and disintegrated the Unity, has followed us here to Planet. Morgan Industries reels in the wake of a short and brutal border dispute with the Spartan Federation, which has since invaded and occupied two of its three bases, stifling its peaceful expansion. Essential technology from Earth, which was meant to be shared with all of the Unity’s passengers, has been illegally scavenged and hoarded for private purposes. And this will surely not be the worst to come in the days ahead. As citizens of the United Nations, we must all remain vigilant and do our utmost to ensure that the horrors of industrial-scale warfare never have the chance to ravage another world.

(https://i.imgur.com/mXnOfEZ.png)
(https://i.imgur.com/GW3Uxkx.png)

The years have taken their toll on us; but we survive, we endure, and we prosper for it.

We have already taken the first of many steps on Planet; our giant leap awaits us yet.

======

(click to show/hide)
Title: Re: Money and the Will to Power: A Game of Economic Imperialism [PBEM]
Post by: bvanevery on July 05, 2020, 04:25:37 AM
In that sense, what I mean to describe as the UN's supreme executive power is less that it deploys troops itself, and more that it uses its influence on member nations to get them to deploy troops on its behalf.

And unfortunately I think that's a poppycock idea, in any future we can ever imagine about the human race.  The real number of soldiers you personally can put on the ground, matters.  The real number of tanks you have, and the real amount of oil you have to drive them around, matters.  Your real factories, matter.  Your real launchable nuclear warheads matter.  You cannot "peddle influence" on all these things.  They are repositories of real power.

Money is an odd one to try to reason about, given this.  Money is a virtualized system of exchange, ever since humans invented the idea to supplant direct barter.  If the exchange system is working, then money talks, money is power.  If the exchange system is breaking down, as in the state of planetary calamities and national collapse, then real power matters.  You can try to pay me as a mercenary, for me to use my knife on your behalf.  But if I have a knife, and know how to use a knife, I can just knife you.

In short, Santiago is correct.  When the world has gone to hell in a handbasket, at least.

Scientists are valuable in most post-apocalyptic sci-fis because they know how to make useful things like nerve gas.  That's a material artifact of real power.

The United Nations peacekeeping effort as portrayed in the game, is correct.  Bureaucratic middlemen that can't control all kids of stuff.  Like the 6 other factions.

Diplomacy is one of the forms of real power.  The problem is, it only works by convincing people to "vote others off the island".  It's all sleight of hand.  Someone who's got enough tanks and rockets and oil and nukes, doesn't need to negotiate anymore.
Title: Re: Money and the Will to Power: A Game of Economic Imperialism [PBEM]
Post by: Tayta Malikai on July 05, 2020, 05:08:52 AM
I think we are disagreeing over details here. We both (in the context of the story being posted in this thread, at least) seem to operate from the core premise that fundamentally, well, fundamentals matter. If you don't have the tools to enforce your will yourself, that will is irrelevant.

Of course, if you do have those tools, oftentimes you don't even have to actually use them to get people to do what you want. Isn't hard power diplomacy grand?

So yeah, you're right, you can't rule with a shadow government alone, you need Real StuffTM to back it up as well. The UN was never meant to get its hands on that sort of stuff, but in this story, it did.
Title: Re: Money and the Will to Power: A Game of Economic Imperialism [PBEM]
Post by: Tayta Malikai on July 05, 2020, 03:41:00 PM
SCANDAL! TOP U.N. OFFICIALS BUSTED FOR GRAFT

(https://i.imgur.com/b5lbDSl.png)

Shock sweeps the United Nations in the wake of several high-profile raids carried out at the UN Headquarters by the Peacekeeping Forces, uncovering a corruption scheme implicating top officials from multiple agencies, including the Planetary Monetary Fund and the Nutrition and Terraforming Organization.

These raids were the culmination of a 10 year-long investigation into reports that funds earmarked for expanding the UN’s burgeoning terraforming fleet were disappearing into what one investigator called “a bureaucratic black hole”. It has since been found that the funds were in fact being used to finance unnecessary refurbishments to the amenities at UNHQ. Accountants estimate that over 30 million UN dollars have been lost as a result of this graft.

While details on the ground remain scarce, it is known that the Battle Ogre multi-purpose enforcement droid which was restored to service in 2109 took part in the raids.

At this time, we can confirm that two high-ranking PMF officials, Assistant Director Timothy Newton and Senior Economist Tammy Weiss, have been arrested and formally charged with the misappropriation of mission resources for personal use. However, due to ongoing undercapacity in the UN court system, it is expected that the case will not be heard for another 10 years.

UN High Commissioner Tayta called a press conference following the raids. “It is very disappointing to see that respected leaders of our noble mission have stooped so low as to engage in such petty acts of corruption. It would appear that a more shameful part of the United Nations’ legacy on Earth has followed us here to Planet.”

The High Commissioner then went on to announce that restrictions on the hunting and sale of live mind worms would be temporarily lifted in order to recover the loss, which represents a significant setback to UN development efforts on Planet.

When asked about concerns that excessive force may have been used in the raids, Tayta had this to say. “Unfortunately, due to the chronic staffing issues this mission faces, the Peacekeeping Forces had to make do with the materiel they had on hand. Rest assured that the on-site commander acted with a wholly appropriate level of force, and that any injuries to innocent bystanders were kept to a minimum.”

However, inside sources close to the High Commission have painted a different portrait. “Using the Battle Ogre in this manner was a completely intentional show of force,” one insider who agreed to be interviewed under condition of anonymity said. “This is about sending a message that anybody who misuses resources will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the Charter.”

(click to show/hide)
Title: Re: Money and the Will to Power: A Game of Economic Imperialism [PBEM]
Post by: Tayta Malikai on July 07, 2020, 04:01:31 PM
The UN High Commission passed Resolution 44 with a majority vote this morning, paving the way for an extensive restructuring of the United Nations’ organizational structure.

The restructuring is intended to address the issues believed to have caused the infamous Tim-Tam Scandal which broke headlines last year. While Timothy Newton and Tammy Weiss have yet to stand trial, a formal inquiry by UN Data Acquisition has identified major deficiencies in the UN’s education system and organizational culture as the root cause of the scandal.

“Education is the foundation of all civilization,” UN High Commissioner Tayta stated in a speech to the UN General Assembly. “Education is what allows scientists to research, engineers to build, administrators to manage, and soldiers to fight. Every advance in the history of our species was only possible because education allowed us to build on what previous generations achieved before us. Beyond all else, it was education that enabled billions of Earth’s citizens to escape crushing poverty and reach unprecedented socioeconomic heights at the turn of the third millennium.

“And yet, detailed statistics kept by UN Data Acquisition show that during the twenty-first century, education standards actually decreased worldwide! Worse, evidence shows that this decline was an intentional effort by world leaders, to suppress the threat to their positions that an educated populace represents. It is this brand of thinking that precipitated the calamities of Earth’s final century, and now threatens to precipitate similar disasters here on Planet.”

The specific objectives outlined in Resolution 44 include the establishment of a world-class education system, capable of producing talented future UN leaders; the expansion of the UN’s industrial base; the prevention of bribery, graft, cronyism, and any other form of corruption; and the promotion of the universal values of peace, freedom, social progress, equal rights, and human dignity as enshrined in the UN Charter.

These are intended to be achieved with the establishment of new agencies specifically tailored and empowered to achieve these objectives; significant increases to investment in capital goods, such as terraforming modules and computer networks; a tightening of budgetary restrictions, with all outlays to now require approval from a special oversight committee; and a thorough review of all UN agencies and sub-agencies, entailing the demotion or removal of any officials found to be underperforming or engaged in corrupt activities.

Critics have questioned the scope of the program, pointing out that the allocated budget of 80 million UN dollars over the next 5 years far exceeds the amount which was lost in the Tim-Tam Scandal. “This is spending dollars to save cents,” PMF Senior Economist Samuel Fletcher said in an interview. “All of these newfangled agencies and sub-committees are purely an exercise in expanding the bureaucracy to meet the needs of the expanding bureaucracy.”

Controversy also arose over the inclusion of a measure in Resolution 44 that would see a reduction in the production and distribution of contraceptives. “The UN Declaration of Rights applies to all human beings, regardless of their natal status,” High Commissioner Tayta responded to criticism of the measure. “The unborn child will be treated with the same dignity as the adult citizen.”

(click to show/hide)
Title: Re: Money and the Will to Power: A Game of Economic Imperialism [PBEM]
Post by: Hagen0 on July 07, 2020, 08:28:54 PM
I can get behind Planned but why Fundamentalist? You do not currently need the talent. Building the recycling tank over more formers also seems questionable unless you have enough money to rush-buy it.
Title: Re: Money and the Will to Power: A Game of Economic Imperialism [PBEM]
Post by: Tayta Malikai on July 08, 2020, 02:12:29 AM
I can get behind Planned but why Fundamentalist? You do not currently need the talent.
I am admittedly uncertain as to how +TALENT interacts with Psych rules, which I already find confusing enough as it is. But I figure it can't hurt. At the very least, it should let you coast on RecCommons + 1 police unit for longer, right? That seems significant given I can't run Police State and Non-Lethal Methods got stuffed all the way to the back of the tech tree.

I'd still pick Fundie for the +INDUSTRY alone, which I sorely needed to get anything built in this version of the mod.

Building the recycling tank over more formers also seems questionable unless you have enough money to rush-buy it.
Well, let's do some theorycrafting. Both RecTanks and a former cost 4 rows to build (40 minerals). A RecTanks costs no maintenance and immediately gives the base +1 to all three resources, and is unlikely to be destroyed barring extreme negligence. To get the same from a former, you first need to build it, and then spend a cumulative 16 former-turns (4 for a farm, 8 for a mine, 4 for a solar), which can't really be sped up this early in the game. Formers also take up support you could be using for scouts or CPs, and there's always the chance you'll lose it to a mind worm attack.

And 40 minerals for a facility is not equal to 40 minerals for a unit. One costs ~10 turns of income to hurry (I was getting 8/turn at that point), the other 20. One clearly offers better value over the other.

Of course, in reality I don't actually make decisions like this. I mostly think, "Jeez that's expensive for a former! Might as well build RecTanks instead."

It would be a different story if RecTanks cost twice as much as a former, as they did in vanilla and Nevill's mod (or, more precisely, formers cost half as much as RecTanks). Then formers become a more attractive option, as they can be built faster and start terraforming tiles earlier.
Title: Re: Money and the Will to Power: A Game of Economic Imperialism [PBEM]
Post by: Tayta Malikai on July 16, 2020, 02:31:24 PM
Mission Year 2152

Fifty years ago, when the remaining crew of UN loyalists crash-landed on Planet, one of the first things they did was to dispatch reconnaissance teams to survey and secure the landing area. While the mission’s parameters expected a certain degree of habitability, nothing could be guaranteed, especially not from over four light-years away. Therefore, the UN's designers had spared no expense in ensuring that its brave pioneers were outfitted in the best survival gear that Earth technology had to offer. Full-body sealed pressure suits with NBC and ballistic protection, laser rifles with enough wattage to burn through over a metre of solid steel, and miniaturized fission reactors that provided practically infinite operational endurance were just the tip of the exploratory spear.

Things were a little different today. The new generation brought up on Planet had never known any other home; a combination of biogenetic tweaks in utero and simple human adaptability let them acclimate to the new environment in a way that their parents would never quite match. The extraordinary caution of dealing with an alien environment had long since given way to mundane everyday practicality.

The UN Peacekeeping Forces soldier of Mission Year 2152 wore a simple set of combat fatigues, patterned in blended woodland-fungal digital camouflage. They were light and comfortable, easy to move around in, easy to remove in case of medical emergency, and most importantly of all required no maintenance. That mattered a lot when maintenance could only be performed by qualified engineers under close supervision after submitting work orders in triplicate. Helmets and respirators were still necessary, but compared to the bulky SCBA affairs of yesteryear, these were thankfully lightweight.

Likewise, the Space Age laser rifles brought to Planet aboard the Unity, while fearsome enough as weapons, were also highly impractical for regular patrols. Their operation in Planet’s atmosphere was a messy tangle of power cables and cooling fans, and while the benefits might have been worth it to combat human opponents, against native life mettle mattered far more than metal. Simple flamethrowers rigged from defoliation equipment were easily sufficient to destroy mind worm clusters, once properly applied.

And if UNPF soldiers on patrol were to be attacked by human opponents… battle rifles chambered in 7.62x51mm NATO might’ve been primitive by Earth standards, but they were also portable, simple, and reliable. There was a very good reason Earth’s militaries had continued to use them right up until the end.

Of course, the whole point of this particular UNPF patrol was that those weapons would never have to be used. That was because the four soldiers were patrolling in the shadow of another Earth-era war machine: the so-called Battle Ogre. Allegedly intended for law enforcement, it was discovered during one of the sporadic attacks on UNHQ that mind worm clusters became curiously docile under the effect of its primary weapon system. It was theorized that this had something to do with “resonance waves”, which were used in the Battle Ogre’s original capacity to pacify masses of rioting drones. Some found these implications disturbing, but others soon realized the potential for a dedicated anti-worm system. If only anyone actually understood how it worked.

But until someone figured it out, Sergeant Stewart Ross and the three soldiers under his command were to take it for a spin outside the dome.

It wasn’t a bad day for it, all things considered. The weather was mild, with the westerly winds helping to alleviate the heat from both suns being in the sky at the same time. The terrain on this section of the patrol route wasn’t too rough, and the soil was firm beneath everyone’s feet.

“So, guys,” Private Antonin Marceaux was saying, rifle slung over his shoulder, “I’ve been thinking for a while now–”

“Yes, please, do that,” Corporal Vijaya Jha said snidely. “It attracts worms.”

“Very funny, Vijaya.” Marceaux took it in stride. “So I was thinking if this thing here is so valuable, why are the bureaucrats sending it on patrols outside the dome? Shouldn’t they be keeping it in a workshop night and day until they crack what makes it tick?”

“Hey, I actually like babysitting this thing, thank you.” Private Serafina Dwyer jerked a thumb at the Battle Ogre, which was currently plodding along the scrublands alongside the river, occasionally stopping to scan an errant patch of dirt with its laser rangefinder. “Would you rather we have to hunt worms with bare hands and a stick, instead?”

“Well, obviously not,” Marceaux answered, “but think about it. If they actually do work it out, then they’ll be able to reproduce it, and then we won’t have to use bare hands and a stick ever again. But if it gets broken out here–”

“Great, now you’ve jinxed it,” Jha remarked.

“Let me finish, will you? I’m saying that if it breaks out here, then we’re gonna be stuck using bare hands and a stick for the rest of all time. Now, I dunno about you guys, but that doesn’t sound like a great tradeoff to me.”

“You just don’t understand the mind of the bureaucrat, man,” Dwyer drawled. “It’s the most special thing, not meant for outsiders to know. It’s all in the numbers. They’ve got the gift, this special talent to know what this number means and that number means, and what happens when you add them together. And in this case, the numbers tell them that they can get a bigger number by sending this thing outside with us. It’s all numbers, I’m telling you.”

“So what’s your theory, Antonin?” Sergeant Ross cut in. “Seeing as you’ve been doing so much thinking lately.”

“I think Sera’s actually got the right idea,” Marceaux said, adjusting his respirator as he spoke. “It’s all about the numbers, and those numbers have a big fat dollar sign attached to them. See, when Tim-Tam went down, all the other bureaucrats, they had to cover the losses, right? Can’t have humanity’s progress held up just because a couple of idiots had to go and build themselves a golden recycling tank.”

“We already knew that, Antonin. Get to the point.”

“What I’m saying is,” Marceux started to gesture more animatedly, “we should’ve more than covered the losses by now. Thirty million’s a lot of money, but it’s not that much, you know. It’s only three years’ of the UN’s operating budget. Now, I dunno about you, but I’m pretty sure I know where all that money’s going. See, after Tim-Tam showed us the limits of UN bureaucracy, all the other bureaucrats–”

“Seriously, man, just get to the point,” Dwyer said. “All this thinking is doing my head in before the worms do.”

“Alright, alright. The point is, the bureaucrats are clearly skimming off the top thanks to our efforts. And I say we should be getting a slice too.”

There was a moment of silence, punctuated only by the Battle Ogre’s servos whirring as it scanned another bush.

“My, my, what’s this?” Corporal Jha mocked. “Corrupt UN Peacekeepers? It didn’t take long for history to repeat itself.”

“Yeah, man, don’t go joking around about that sort of thing.” Private Dwyer shook her head. “UNDA hears about it, they’ll send the boys in lavender to take you away and put you in remedial. Classes fourteen hours a day, exams every two hours. It’s not worth it, man.”

“Of course it’s worth it,” Private Marceaux defended. “Planetpearls go for like a million a pop. Who’s gonna notice if we skim a few hundred grand off a bounty like that?”

“You… you do know what organization you’re in, right? United Nations? Bureaucrats? Like, hello, who else is gonna notice us mysteriously losing a few hundred grand? [poop], I’d bet on them noticing if a few grand went missing.”

“They didn’t notice when Tim and Tam swiped thirty million of terraforming funds, did they?”

“Yeah, until they got caught. As in, they got caught? Now UNDA’s got their hands into every damn cookie jar. They’re reading every form, they’re weighing every trolley, hell, they’re watching you piss in case you drank too much water at breakfast. And you think they aren’t gonna notice a few hundred grand? Forget it. I’m not risking it.”

“That’s smart thinking, Serafina,” Ross nodded at her. “You should take note, Antonin. There are worse fates than being mind worm chow, you know, and remedial training is one of them.”

“Really, Sergeant?” Marceaux challenged. “Because the way I see it, we’ll be out here crawling in fungus until the twenty-second century comes around. Do you really wanna be doing that for the sake of some crooked, limp-wristed–”

A loud and distinctive ping interrupted Marceaux before he could finish his invective.

“We’ve got movement!” Dwyer called, holding up her motion tracker to study its screen more closely. “I make that… five hundred, no, four-fifty metres and closing, on our two o’clock! Looks like larval mass-sized!”

“Well, what do you know?” Marceaux spread his hands out. “Still don’t think grabbing a few hundred grand for our trouble is worth it?”

“If you call standing around while this thing does all the work for us ‘trouble’, I’d hate to see what you’d do in a real fight.”

“Hey, if you want a real fight, I can give you one right now, you know.”

“Oh yeah? I bet I can finish it before this thing mops up all the worms.”

“Deal.”

It was good that the team was confident, certainly better than the converse, but Ross still frowned at how lightly they were treating the threat of mind worms. “Don’t count your pearls until they’ve dropped,” he warned. “Be ready in case anything goes wrong. If the situation does change–”

The Battle Ogre suddenly exploded.

Everyone instinctively fell prone as the blast wave rolled over them, showering burning chunks of Earth-origin space alloy everywhere.

Ross was the first to recover his feet. “Team, sound off!” he barked, fumbling with his flamethrower’s straps. His heart rate was up, his palms were slick with sweat, and every breath through the respirator was a strain. The mind worms were coming.

“H-Holy [poop],” Marceaux gasped, all traces of his earlier bravado gone. “Did the worms do that?”

“N-No way,” Dwyer cried out, clutching her flamethrower to her chest as she started to visibly tremble. “How could worms do something like that? They’re animals, man!”

“Stay calm!” Ross ordered. In truth, he was just as shaken as everyone else, but as team leader he couldn’t afford to let it show, especially not now. “You’ve got flamethrowers, you’ll get through this just fine. Marceaux, Dwyer! On my mark, aim and–”

There was a sudden click right next to his ear. Ross was no fool; he knew what it meant, even before he turned to see Corporal Jha holding her rifle to his head.

“Vijaya.” Ross found that he spoke at a remove, surprisingly calm despite the situation he faced. “What are you doing?”

The respirator concealed her features, but Ross knew her well enough – or he thought he did, before now – to detect the cruel smirk beneath it.

“Sparta sends its regards,” she said, and pulled the trigger.

======

“Are we sure it was Sparta?” UN High Commissioner Tayta asked, as he put down the briefing folder.

“Not really,” Deputy High Commissioner Sally Mitchell admitted with a shrug. “But it makes for a nice story, doesn’t it?”

======

(click to show/hide)
Title: Re: Money and the Will to Power: A Game of Economic Imperialism [PBEM]
Post by: Tayta Malikai on July 17, 2020, 01:02:25 AM
U.N. COURT OF JUSTICE OVERRUN BY MIND WORMS!
THOUSANDS BELIEVED DEAD OR MISSING

(https://i.imgur.com/2LdR63Q.png)

Disaster struck the United Nations today as mind worms swarmed the newly established UN Court of Justice and overran it, marking another setback to UN development efforts on Planet.

The primary cluster of mind worms, categorized by xenobiologists as being larval mass-sized, was first reported at 0814 hours emerging from a nearby fungal river and seething south towards UN Court of Justice. As the first individual worms began to cross into the base’s radius of control, local administrators made the decision to evacuate all personnel and equipment from the site. Regrettably, it appears that local deficiencies in evacuation procedures resulted in a chaotic and mismanaged evacuation, with thousands of citizens remaining unaccounted for in the aftermath. This represents the first major loss of life since UN settlement efforts on Planet began.

UN Deputy High Commissioner Sally Mitchell personally commended the engineers on base for their quick thinking and initiative, which allowed an estimated 20 million UN dollars’ worth of recycling machinery to be recovered from the scene, greatly softening the blow of UNCJ’s destruction so soon after its founding.

UN Data Acquisition is expected to open a formal inquiry into the cause of these events in the following weeks. Several theories have already been proposed, chief among them being the recent cutbacks to UNPF budgets which may have resulted in the base lacking an adequate garrison to hold off mind worm attacks. Criticism has also been levelled at the UN Settlement Agency for pursuing what several key figures believe to be an overly aggressive settlement strategy, which caused UN resources to be stretched over a wider front, increasing the UN’s overall exposure to Planet’s dangerous native fauna.

It is expected that the long-awaited trial of Timothy Newton and Tammy Weiss will end up being delayed yet again as a result of these events.

(click to show/hide)
Title: Re: Money and the Will to Power: A Game of Economic Imperialism [PBEM]
Post by: Tayta Malikai on July 19, 2020, 02:14:35 PM
Mission Year 2165

(https://i.imgur.com/ZX8BFrX.png)

When the United Nations arrived on Planet, we believed that we would be able to avoid the pitfalls of Earth as we strived to build a fair and just society for all of humanity. But today, more than sixty years after Planetfall, such optimism appears to have been sorely misplaced. While the United Nations continues to stand by its hopes for a better future, the leaders of Planet’s other factions, already forever marked by their acts of sabotage in high orbit that splintered the UNS Unity’s mission, have chosen to resurrect regressive forms of government at the expensive of their citizens, in a deliberate throwback to their long dead sponsors on Earth.

Then as now, the United Nations condemns the re-emergence of authoritarianism in all its forms. In order that we as UN citizens might better banish these dark forces back into the dustbin of history where they belong, this publication will endeavour to familiarize you with the forms and mechanisms of the current authoritarian regimes here on Planet.
 
Might Makes Right: Colonel Corazon Santiago
(https://i.imgur.com/2u6c0L6.png)
Code: [Select]
Starting tech: Doctrine: Mobility.
+2 MORALE
-1 INDUSTRY
Prototypes do not cost extra minerals.
Pro-Power, Anti-Wealth.

The mad Colonel’s regime is a classic example of the far-right populism that became so prevalent during Earth’s final century. Having first risen to power on a slogan of “Make Humanity Great Again”, Corazon Santiago immediately sought to burnish her militarist credentials by invading and annexing territory of the neighbouring Morgan Industries. It is an all too familiar pattern that a regime founded on ideals of strength can only survive by being seen to exercise it, for the moment it demonstrates signs of weakness, its own ideology will see to its downfall.

As in many classic autocracies, the stability of Santiago’s position rests on the support of the military, which she rewards with lavish spending and privileges to take advantage of the civilian population. To coerce the citizenry into acquiescing to this state of affairs, she has declared war on the United Nations, creating an external enemy to scare citizens into compliance. This “war” also provides a convenient excuse to engage in campaigns of nerve gassing “weaklings” and other political undesirables, all in accordance with the Spartan Federation’s proclaimed Social Darwinist ideology.

Santiago’s regime will eventually destroy itself, but not before it destroys others around it in its insatiable lust for power and dominance.
 
Survival as a Service: CEO Nwabudike Morgan
(https://i.imgur.com/SFlUX2I.png)
Code: [Select]
Starting tech: Industrial Base.
+1 ECONOMY
-1 SUPPORT
-1 POLICE
+1 COMMERCE
+100 starting credits
-3 standard population
Pro-Free Market, Anti-Planned.

The UN would do well to remember that many brands of authoritarianism owe their rise to widely felt grievances, legitimate or otherwise, against the capitalist economic system that dominated most of Earth’s modern history. Nwabudike Morgan’s regime provides a cautionary tale against dismissing these grievances out of hand – for while Morgan and his followers cloak themselves in the free enterprise that was so vital to the prosperity of Earth’s final golden age, beneath the shining surface of Morgan Industries lies a murky kleptocratic oligarchy.

As the “company’s” self-appointed CEO and Board of Directors, they freely embezzle and plunder the equivalent of billions of UN dollars from neo-feudal holdings, allowing them to live lives of immeasurable splendour and opulence on the backs of thousands of corporate drones. One only needs to look out the windows of UN Social Council to see the gleaming luxury villas lining the coasts of Morgan Processing just across the water, readily supplied with the finest aquafarm produce and guarded by legions of corporate security – rumoured to have been outsourced to the neighbouring Spartan Federation, as “remuneration” for the territories lost in the Spartans’ invasion. Such an arrangement is more than satisfactory to CEO Morgan; indeed, it is essential for his continued reign, as his rampant embezzlement of company funds leaves him unable to fund a military force of his own.

It is believed by UN Data Acquisition that even Colonel Santiago herself, for all her talk of survivalism and minimalism, regularly visits the Morgan villas to partake in narcotics and prostitutes with her fellow elites.
 
Data’s Mandate: Provost Prokhor Zakharov
(https://i.imgur.com/0XIU1d1.png)
Code: [Select]
Starting tech: Doctrine: Flexibility.
-1 POLICE
-2 PROBE
+2 RESEARCH
+1 drone per 4 population
Free Network Node at every base
Pro-Knowledge, Anti-Fundamentalist.

As the United States of America learned to its detriment during the 21st century, the free flow of information is a society’s only safeguard against tyranny. With the institution of his own uniquely technocratic brand of authoritarianism, Prokhor Zakharov shows that information itself can be wielded as the mechanism of tyranny. The Provost might claim to have abolished religion, but in reality, he has merely substituted one god for another: the god of Big Data.

Every decision in the University of Planet, no matter how big or small, is made on the basis of calculations carried out by a series of networked supercomputers salvaged from the UNS Unity. Naturally, these calculations are utterly arcane and incomprehensible to those lacking the necessary intellect, which just so happens to exclude anybody outside of Zakharov and his circle of loyalists. Like the priests of yesteryear, the academicians derive their authority from understanding and interpreting the supercomputers’ output, effectively enabling them to implement whatever policy they please under the banner of irrefutable “science”.

While the talent-worker-drone model of class stratification first identified by UN Social Council exists at some level in all societies, the University of Planet distinguishes itself by explicitly embracing and codifying such divisions as the basis for its social structure. The talent class, as far as it can be said to exist, consists mostly of research assistants to the academicians, who are tasked with following them around and fulfilling their every need, both intellectual and (according to rumour) physical. The worker class is made up of those lucky citizens whose non-academic skills are nevertheless considered essential to the University’s continued running, who face exacting schedules subject to the whims of the academicians and their supercomputers. Finally, there are the drones, who lack all human rights and are relegated to manual labour, treated with contempt by those above them.

Indeed, where the high levels of poverty observed in other factions could be seen as the result of neglect on the part of their leaders, Provost Zakharov considers the existence of a sprawling drone underclass to be a desirable outcome in itself. Citing pseudoscientific studies from Earth purporting to show that such poverty leads to high rates of birth, tens of thousands of “academically underperforming” drones were forcibly resettled in the Monsoon Jungle just east of University Base, left to scavenge food like primitive hunter-gatherers in stifling humidity, while the academicians enjoy the fruits of technological civilization in air conditioned comfort. It is clear that the Provost sees his faction’s drone population as nothing more than an endless pool of test subjects for his own depraved experiments.

One Man, One State: Chairman Sheng-Ji Yang
(https://i.imgur.com/Nk2HBMN.png)
Code: [Select]
Starting tech: Social Psych.
-2 ECONOMY
-1 POLICE
+1 GROWTH
+1 INDUSTRY
Immune to negative EFFICIENCY
Pro-Police State, Anti-Democratic.

The world held high hopes for democracy at the turn of the millennium, and nowhere was this hope more apparent than with regard to the People’s Republic of China. With the collapse of authoritarian communism showing its inadequacy as a socioeconomic model, it was believed that an increase in free trade and integration with the free world would cause the PRC to undergo a similar democratic shift. Instead, the new wealth was captured by the ruling Communist Party of China to consolidate its power and transform the PRC into a revisionist nation, casting itself as a successful alternative to democracy that became an increasingly attractive model for dictators worldwide.

In that sense, Sheng-Ji Yang is merely following the legacy of his predecessors. Behind the principles of Sheng-Ji Yang Thought that every good Human Hive citizen can recite from memory is an overwhelming obsession with the total control of every single aspect of society and humanity. The slightest facial tic or production inefficiency is scrutinized by Hive Security for signs of thoughtcrime, with those deemed guilty soon disappearing into the Hive’s recycling tanks to fuel the next generation of disposable labourers. Hive “society” could barely be described as such, for the only interactions permitted between its citizens are those involving gruelling work to fulfil Chairman Yang’s grand vision. It is everything that humanity feared it would become towards the end of the 21st century, and worse.

A megalomaniac to the core, Chairman Yang is distinct from the average dictator in the strength of his devotion to his faction’s totalitarian ideology. He sincerely believes that the fate of humanity is a boot stomping on a face, forever – and that he alone must bear the burden of wearing that boot.

Most recently, the Human Hive has embarked on rapid territorial expansion towards the Uranium Flats, an uncomfortable reminder of the nuclear exchanges that spelled the end of human civilization on Earth. UN citizens would do well to remember that it was the PRC which ultimately sparked those exchanges with its covert support of neighbouring Pakistan’s nuclear ambitions. The Peacekeeping Forces’ timely establishment of UN Enforcement Base to observe the Uranium Flats may be the only thing standing between humanity on Planet and a repeat of those devastating events.

(click to show/hide)
Title: Re: Money and the Will to Power: A Game of Economic Imperialism [PBEM]
Post by: MercantileInterest on July 27, 2020, 10:05:56 PM
good LP  ;b;
Title: Re: Money and the Will to Power: A Game of Economic Imperialism [PBEM]
Post by: Tayta Malikai on July 29, 2020, 11:59:03 AM
U.N. EXPEDITION SUNK BY ECO-MILITANT “GAIANS”

United Nations exploratory personnel were brutally attacked without provocation by members of a heretofore-undiscovered Unity saboteur faction, reporters heard at a press conference held at UN Headquarters today.

As part of UN efforts to ensure freedom of navigation and promote maritime commerce in Planet’s oceans, a multi-agency expedition was convened and dispatched in MY 2151 aboard the coastal hydrofoil UNS Curiosity to chart and monitor the Northern Ocean. In keeping with the humanitarian ideals of the UN’s mission, the crew was equipped with only personal sidearms for self-defense.

After an uneventful first decade spent traversing the ocean and following the coastlines of several islands, all of which were found to be heavily overgrown by fungus and thus unsuitable for landing, signs of human habitation were observed on the shores of Island C. A closer investigation soon led the expedition to a ramshackle outpost inhabited by a small band of humans operating Unity-type terraforming equipment. Upon being hailed, they identified themselves as belonging to Gaia’s Stepdaughters, a “community of like-minded eco-sensitive individuals committed to ensuring a peaceful and sustainable path to human development on Planet”.

The discovery of Gaia’s Stepdaughters marks the fifth Unity saboteur faction confirmed to have survived Planetfall and the intervening years of settlement.

“It was like stepping into one of those holos from Old Earth,” Matteo Piccolo, a Senior Officer in the UN Planetary Maritime Organization, told UNDA investigators following the incident. “Everything we saw was more like an agricultural commune, like they had in warzones without any government services, than any kind of professional settlement endeavour. These people weren’t even wearing uniforms; they had some sort of tie-dyed sheets and scarves wrapped around them, the ones who were wearing clothes, anyway. I saw at least two of them taking their masks off to breathe in the fungal spores. Frankly, it’s incredible that a group like this was able to survive on Planet for so long.”

At this point, concerned that these “Gaians” might be engaged in ecologically unsound terraforming activities, Nutrition and Terraforming Organization inspectors on board the Curiosity asked to see their terraforming licenses. Shockingly, instead of complying, the Gaians responded by drawing weapons and opening fire on the expedition! The ensuing firefight resulted in heavy damage to the UNS Curiosity that forced the crew to abandon ship. Relentlessly pursued by “rainbow-painted” hydrofoils, the lifeboats finally reached the safety of UN-patrolled waters last week, whereupon they were rescued and returned to the port of UN Amnesty Town.

At today’s press conference, High Commissioner Tayta promised that the Gaians would face “serious repercussions” for their role in causing the incident. “It is despicable that these radical eco-militants would attack peaceful United Nations explorers undertaking lawful maritime charting and prospecting activities. Their tree-hugging antics may have won them sympathy on Earth, but here on Planet we are committed to improving the human condition through a program of controlled industrial development. There is no excuse for engaging in this sort of ill-thought violence.”

The NTO condemned the environmental damage caused in the crossfire. “Under the UN Charter and the powers granted to us by Resolution 38, we remain the only agency with the authority to approve terraforming operations on Planet. Unlicensed terraforming by rogue actors has the potential to easily destabilize Planet’s fragile ecosystems, and these so-called Gaians really ought to know better.”

No further contact with Gaia’s Stepdaughters is known to have occurred at this time.

(click to show/hide)
Title: Re: Money and the Will to Power: A Game of Economic Imperialism [PBEM]
Post by: Tayta Malikai on July 31, 2020, 01:19:36 PM
(https://i.imgur.com/XUAbfA2.png)

The 2170s marked a period of rising tensions on Planet, as diplomatic relations between the United Nations and the other surviving factions continued to deteriorate. Both found it expedient to regularly denounce each other for their alleged depredations against the human condition, making use of such belligerent posturing to stir up nationalism among their respective populations and ensure that their frustrations were directed outwards. In the Spartan Federation, citizen militias jeered the UN for its humanitarian sensitivities; the University of Planet sneered at it for crippling its scientific capabilities with excessive bureaucracy; Morgan Industries decried it for engaging in communism. It was always possible to find something to lambast other factions for, when incidents weren’t simply made up wholesale.

(https://i.imgur.com/VqY134E.png)

Cross-border incursions became a semi-frequent occurrence between the United Nations and the Spartan Federation. In one highly publicized incident in 2172, a team of Spartan commandos was caught at the border by the UN Peacekeeping Forces and handed over to the UN Criminal Tribunal, where they were convicted of espionage and subsequently executed. Both sides vowed retaliation; UN Data Acquisition soon added insult to injury by sending its own commandos to infiltrate Sparta Command and “liberate” blueprints for Sparta’s new line of mass-produced man-portable particle impact rifles. The newest development in ground warfare, they hit harder, faster, and further than the conventional ballistic weapons they resembled, all while being far more practical to use and maintain than Earth-era laser rifles. It wasn’t long until every UNPF patrol carried them, the sight of which no doubt served to infuriate the Spartans even further.

(https://i.imgur.com/L8mYgEn.png)
(https://i.imgur.com/V8AfdqT.png)

Military technology wasn’t the only field in which innovation was taking place. Every faction had struggled during their early years to build sufficient industrial capacity; now that was done, they were turning their attentions to more esoteric methods of gaining an advantage. The University in particular sought to leverage its advantages by upgrading its extensive computer networks to pacify its sprawling drone population; meanwhile, the UN and Gaia’s Stepdaughters both raced to be first to crack the human genetic code, which promised to provide incalculable pharmaceutical and therapeutic benefit for their respective populations at large.

(https://i.imgur.com/uLu4JiJ.png)

These were interesting times, and it was in 2186 that a certain event drew interest from all corners of Planet…

----------

“An election?!” High Commissioner Tayta exclaimed, mere minutes after he’d settled down to review today’s items. “They want to run an election?”

“They were very insistent about it,” Deputy High Commissioner Sally Mitchell replied, rolling her chair over so she could reach over his shoulder and fiddle on his tablet. “And they presented a solid case: under Section 22.7 of the UN Charter, ‘If leadership of the Unity mission is found to be permanently incapacitated, new leadership will be selected by means of a popular vote of the entire mission membership as soon as it is reasonably practicable.’ Now that we’ve confirmed the survival of all the other factions on Planet, they’ve decided that time is now.”

“But I am– I mean, we are the leadership of the Unity mission!” Tayta protested. “Their refusal to acknowledge our authority doesn’t change the facts. And given that they are mutineers, they can hardly claim to be part of our mission’s membership!”

“That’s not the way they see it. Their argument is that the UNSA ceased to exist upon the loss of all its spaceborne assets, and therefore there is no legitimate UNSA presence to take command of the mission. And honestly, they’ve got a point. We can’t exactly go around calling ourselves the Space Authority these days, can we?”

“This is ridiculous.” Tayta pushed back on his chair and stood up, beginning to pace the width of his office. “The United Nations is an organization founded on the rule of law. I won’t have us be pushed around by a band of usurpers just because they outnumber us!”

“A rule of law that derives from a popular mandate,” Sally pointed out, “which, in case you’ve forgotten, we haven’t had for more than eight decades now. Or were you starting to think that this was a permanent arrangement, Commissioner?”

“O-Of course not!”

“Then you know that we can’t afford to be seen opposing this. We’ve been promising to restore democratic rule for eighty years. An entire generation has lived and died without ever casting a ballot, let alone for you. Even the High Commission’s starting to question your motives, and UNDA won’t be able to plug that leak once it gets out. In fact, they’ll probably make sure it does. Another scandal will be just what they need to convince the High Commission to vote them another tranche of investigative powers. And you don’t want that to happen, do you?”

“No, I don’t.” Tayta paused to stare outside his office viewport. The landscape beyond had once been wild and untamed, full of promise and optimism. Now all he could think of was the other factions out there, scrutinizing him for any sign of weakness.

“Realistically?” Sally added. “They’re going to run the election with or without us. And if we don’t take part, then we can kiss any pretence of us having a democratic mandate goodbye.”

“Alright, alright. I get it.” Rubbing his temples, Tayta sat down again. The rejuvenation treatments were still working, but over the years he’d begun to develop a sort of fog that ever so slowly ate away at his faculties, one brain cell at a time. So far, nobody else had noticed, not even Sally. He was determined to keep it that way. “I don’t suppose there’s any way we could actually win the election ourselves?”

“We’ll do our best to influence things, of course, but…” Sally shrugged. “Between you and me, I doubt it. Remember all that forced drone resettlement Zakharov got up to? It’s given him a voter base nearly twice our size. And we all know which way they’re going to vote.”

“Bastard. Even on another planet, there’s Russians meddling in elections.”

“The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

----------

ZAKHAROV WINS GOVERNORSHIP
U.N. ACCUSES UNIVERSITY OF “POPULATION STACKING”
(https://i.imgur.com/Q00lG1U.png)

Provost Zakharov of the University of Planet has emerged the clear winner of the 2186 Planetary Governor elections with a final count of 99 votes, almost double that received by the runner-up, High Commissioner Tayta of the United Nations.

Despite fierce campaigning by the UN Social Council to convince Planet’s citizens that voting for democrats was superior to voting for autocrats, Tayta was only able to secure 56 votes, slightly more than a third of total voters.

While the University of Planet’s population advantages helped it to secure an early lead, ultimately the election was decided by endorsements from key faction leaders, including Chairman Yang of the Hive and Lady Nevill of the Gaians. The latter came as a surprise to some UN analysts, as Gaia’s Stepdaughters have generally refrained from the sort of authoritarian measures commonly observed in other factions. Others were quick to point out that Gaia nonetheless maintains close diplomatic relations with members of Planet’s authoritarian axis, a sore point in UN-Gaian relations for many years.

At a ceremony in University Base, Zakharov accepted the post of Planetary Governor with great fanfare. “It is gratifying to see that humanity has chosen the path of scientific progress and discovery, rather than cultural stagnation and regression. The result of this election stands as a clear repudiation of those who would result to emotive pandering to incite irrational fear of the future, in a vain attempt to convince the public to cling to a rose-tinted portrait of the past.”

Tayta’s response to the Provost’s remarks was no less scathing. “Zakharov might preach his gospel of scientific advance, but at the same time he intentionally keeps his citizens in conditions of barbarity for nothing more than temporary electoral advantage. If this is the enlightened future he sees for humanity, then the United Nations will have no part in it.”

(click to show/hide)
Title: Re: Money and the Will to Power: A Game of Economic Imperialism [PBEM]
Post by: Tayta Malikai on July 31, 2020, 01:19:49 PM
good LP  ;b;
Thanks. I was inspired by the games over at the Codex; those guys can spin a decent yarn. I find writing like this is an interesting exercise that really tests your understanding of the concepts and ideologies involved, as well as just being good memeing in general.
Title: Re: Money and the Will to Power: A Game of Economic Imperialism [PBEM]
Post by: MercantileInterest on July 31, 2020, 07:05:52 PM
Surprised you fellows didn't include Auriga.
Title: Re: Money and the Will to Power: A Game of Economic Imperialism [PBEM]
Post by: Tayta Malikai on August 01, 2020, 12:21:26 PM
Haven't met him, so I wouldn't know. Only started playing this venerable game last year.
Title: Re: Money and the Will to Power: A Game of Economic Imperialism [PBEM]
Post by: Nevill on August 03, 2020, 09:27:17 AM
U.N. EXPEDITION SUNK BY ECO-MILITANT “GAIANS”
Meanwhile in Gaia
A transcript of a conversation overheard in communal kitchens.

Heeeey, maaan. Did you hear about the boat incident back in the 60s? That was when the blasted bureacrats from across the pond sent in their delegation to "check on us". Hah! To bring us under the yoke of UN functionaries, more likely. We didn't break away from the mind-numbing boredom of meaningless General Assembly sessions to be roped right back into it after the taste of freedom.

They just waltz in our waters, scaring the local fishermen, and demand docking rights for their rustbucket, UNS Something. UNS... Uns, uns-uns-uns! (sounds of spontaneous dancing) :danc:

Anyway, Lady Nevill doesn't turn them away and even puts together a team of entertainers to meet the guests. Nothing too fancy, just a mild laser show.*

(click to show/hide)

But these boors have no manners and no appreciation for artistry. Not only did they disturb our communal workers planting a forest for people to dance naked in, they also wanted to see the papers confirming the spores "comply with UN regulation on toxic substances". I know, right? Half a century of no contact, and the first thing they do is send a weed inspection team! We decided to go them one better and had the spore launcher give the whole ship a whiff so they would see for themselves. Who knew repressed pencil-pushers could be so vicious the second their inhibitions were removed! In hindsight, there must've been a reason the so-called PeaceKeepers were more obsessed with weapons than goddamn Spartans!** Apparently every second PK citizen dreams of shooting the other one. The whole ship went up in flames as they started settling old scores, and I tell you, nobody keeps a score better than a bureacrat. It's just another proof how the state apparatus drains the soul out of you, man.

We tried to mount a rescue mission on Lady Nevill's personal yacht, but to no avail. I don't know what kind of hallucinations the spores induced, but they were convinced we were out to get them and shot back every chance they got. We had to spend 3 years in port patching the nasty breach they gave us. They didn't let us pick up any of the lifeboats without a fight either, and even people without one were last seen swimming back across the ocean rather than to our shores. Few have made it back, but fewer still had the courage to admit what happened, and now we are blamed for the whole mess. Eh, bending the truth and falsifying the facts is nothing we've not already seen from the governments, whose ultimate goal is to have man lord over fellow men, no matter how many "democratic" ideals they hide behind.

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I mean, the notion of us being aggressors is ridiculous. We are in the middle of a sealurk infestation, and the most powerful weapon we have is a glorified laser pointer!

Now we are at war. So be it. They may take our lives but they will never take our weed!

* A (2)-1-1 artillery, to be precise. How do you use beam weapons for bombardment, anyway?
** PKs get Applied Physics as their starting tech in the mod.


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Title: Re: Money and the Will to Power: A Game of Economic Imperialism [PBEM]
Post by: Tayta Malikai on August 03, 2020, 02:03:11 PM
We tried to mount a rescue mission on Lady Nevill's personal yacht, but to no avail.
Recovered footage from UNS Curiosity's aft cameras of "Lady" Nevill aboard her personal yacht:
(https://i.imgur.com/eOmZ6Yz.png)

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Title: Re: Money and the Will to Power: A Game of Economic Imperialism [PBEM]
Post by: Alpha Centauri Bear on August 08, 2020, 06:41:04 PM
Players
Tayta: Peacekeeping Forces. ;lal;
Code: [Select]
Starting tech: Applied Physics.
-1 EFFIC
-1 POLICE
+1 talent per 4 citizens
+2 standard population limit
x2 votes in Planetary Council elections
Pro-Democratic, Anti-Police State.

Nevill: Gaia’s Stepdaughters. ;deidre;
Code: [Select]
Starting tech: Centauri Ecology.
+1 EFFIC
-2 MORALE
-1 POLICE
+1 PLANET
+1 nutrients from fungus
Pro-Green, Anti-Free Market.

Two peace-loving factions going head-to-head. Who will prevail in this contest of economic might? Find out as the game unfolds!

I don't remember at which point I've changed it but latest version don't use -1 POLICE shift for *all* factions anymore. Thanks for somebody's suggestion I realized it is easier for players to install.
Title: Re: Money and the Will to Power: A Game of Economic Imperialism [PBEM]
Post by: Alpha Centauri Bear on August 08, 2020, 06:50:29 PM
I can get behind Planned but why Fundamentalist? You do not currently need the talent.
I am admittedly uncertain as to how +TALENT interacts with Psych rules, which I already find confusing enough as it is. But I figure it can't hurt. At the very least, it should let you coast on RecCommons + 1 police unit for longer, right? That seems significant given I can't run Police State and Non-Lethal Methods got stuffed all the way to the back of the tech tree.

Removed TALENT from Fundamentalist. With that it essentially becomes a duplicate of PS drone quelling power. Now all three first choices are more or less distinct. PS is for drones and support. Democracy is for growth and efficiency. Fundamentalist is for pure combat and industry to support unit building.
Title: Re: Money and the Will to Power: A Game of Economic Imperialism [PBEM]
Post by: Alpha Centauri Bear on August 09, 2020, 03:11:03 PM
Amazing report, Tayta, by the way! I've got a lot of pleasurable moments reading this. I am curious when someone is going to make a movie by this game. The game story itself is already quite well prepared for that. With all your AARs we may have a ready script! 😀
Title: Re: Money and the Will to Power: A Game of Economic Imperialism [PBEM]
Post by: Alpha Centauri Bear on August 09, 2020, 03:25:54 PM
I was quite strongly impressed by your ability to cut through AI factions without problems. Thinker already has stronger AI. With all the removed exploit in WTP it should be pretty difficult to beat them. After you claimed you were beating AI left and right in WTP thread I tried few games myself. I don't know if you guys just two heads above me in skills but it is pretty difficult to overtake other faction economically bot so much to fight them without any tactics. Of course, there are leaders and underdogs among them and sometimes I am able to squash one weak neighbor quite early but that's it. Others, especially, strongest ones are quite difficult not only to conquer but even defend against should they decide to eliminate me.

All and all, AI is still dumber than human but its current skill level combined with huge Transcend bonuses is high enough to challenge player. I think. Let me know if you believe it is still quite far from challenge level. I may continue working on AI itself. Currently I don't have plans to do it due to my own feeling of adequate challenge but may change my mind if you give me some pointers on it.
Title: Re: Money and the Will to Power: A Game of Economic Imperialism [PBEM]
Post by: Tayta Malikai on August 10, 2020, 01:48:42 PM
I don't remember at which point I've changed it but latest version don't use -1 POLICE shift for *all* factions anymore. Thanks for somebody's suggestion I realized it is easier for players to install.
I'm pretty sure Nevill was the one who brought that one up at the time. xD I agreed with him, it just looked strange all around.

It may still be worth it to address faction balance as part of the mod as a whole, though. For instance, Spartans almost certainly need a buff - they were already known to be the weakest faction in vanilla, and now their main advantage of being able to conquer early got a significant nerf due to territory bonuses.

Removed TALENT from Fundamentalist. With that it essentially becomes a duplicate of PS drone quelling power. Now all three first choices are more or less distinct. PS is for drones and support. Democracy is for growth and efficiency. Fundamentalist is for pure combat and industry to support unit building.
Fine with me.

Amazing report, Tayta, by the way! I've got a lot of pleasurable moments reading this. I am curious when someone is going to make a movie by this game. The game story itself is already quite well prepared for that. With all your AARs we may have a ready script! 😀
Heh, thanks. You flatter me. Though I do agree that it could reasonably stand on its own if a reader had no idea what Alpha Centauri was about, with some editing work.

I was quite strongly impressed by your ability to cut through AI factions without problems. Thinker already has stronger AI. With all the removed exploit in WTP it should be pretty difficult to beat them. After you claimed you were beating AI left and right in WTP thread I tried few games myself. I don't know if you guys just two heads above me in skills but it is pretty difficult to overtake other faction economically bot so much to fight them without any tactics. Of course, there are leaders and underdogs among them and sometimes I am able to squash one weak neighbor quite early but that's it. Others, especially, strongest ones are quite difficult not only to conquer but even defend against should they decide to eliminate me.

All and all, AI is still dumber than human but its current skill level combined with huge Transcend bonuses is high enough to challenge player. I think. Let me know if you believe it is still quite far from challenge level. I may continue working on AI itself. Currently I don't have plans to do it due to my own feeling of adequate challenge but may change my mind if you give me some pointers on it.
It's rather difficult to explain... I found myself gaining a sense of the patterns in how the (Thinker) AI moves after playing a lot of games with them. The main problem the AI has is that while it might make good moves on the micro level, it is incapable of long-term planning and can't squeeze the optimum performance out of the game the way the player can. It doesn't launch coordinated attacks, so attackers can be defeated piecemeal. It builds defenders in bases now, a major improvement over before; but it doesn't counterattack very well, so the player can pretty much siege bases at their leisure, focusing all their forces on one base, then the next. It builds probes and does a decent job in annoying the player with them, but it doesn't leave any for its own defense, which lets the player prevent it from building up a tech or project advantage. It gets a lot of bonuses that give it a headstart, but the player can maximize their economic performance and be assured of overtaking them. Ultimately, once various tools become available in game, the player is just able to use them a lot better than the AI ever could.

Also, being willing to use atrocities helps a lot if you aren't interested in trying to force a surrender. You'd be amazed at the sorts of obstacles nerve gas and gene warfare let you overcome. Otherwise, you probably will have to use at least some tactics to speed things along.

Part of the reason I never got around to releasing my own pet custom faction pack was that I wanted to playtest them thoroughly before putting them out there to the world, but eventually I found it tedious to go through the motions of defeating the AIs over and over again to gauge the balance.

The thing is, in my experience, because it is very unlikely that AI attacks will pose an existential threat to you, the ideal strategy is to hunker down and build up your economy for a while, then pick a target and do whatever it takes to bring them down. The best time to launch the attack is when you have a tech advantage, you have enough forces to neutralize maybe a third of enemy bases, and you've identified some soft targets you can take out quickly. Then, even if your attack stalls, you've deprived the enemy of their bases and can simply build up the next wave of forces to finish the job. Then move on to the next target until they're all dead.

I would say at the moment that it takes some effort to defeat AIs, but in this game victory goes to the one with the initiative, and against AIs the player always has the initiative.

EDIT: Also, the AI's inability to upgrade or selectively disband units is a massive disadvantage.
Title: Re: Money and the Will to Power: A Game of Economic Imperialism [PBEM]
Post by: Tayta Malikai on August 10, 2020, 02:27:09 PM
PEACE FOR OUR TIME!
GAIANS TO JOIN U.N. SECURITY COUNCIL
(https://i.imgur.com/VK31wPs.png)

Today marked a momentous occasion not only for Planet, but for humanity at large, as for the first time since Planetfall all six surviving factions from the UNS Unity agreed to refrain from hostile activities and establish peaceful relations going forward.

“The United Nations has only sought peaceful development on Planet, but these efforts were hindered by the atmosphere of tension and mistrust that has permeated for decades after the initial round of misunderstandings,” UN High Commissioner Tayta spoke at a press conference called to announce the signing of the agreement. “With the increase in free trade bringing in millions of UN dollars’ worth in energy credits, humanity is now one step closer to fulfilling the Unity’s mission conceived all those years ago.”

The seeds for this occasion were first sowed in 2192, which saw formal diplomatic ties being established between the UN and the eco-activist group Gaia’s Stepdaughters after numerous visits by envoys from both sides to each other’s territory. Shrewd negotiation tactics by the UN Envoy Corps, backed up by the personal effort of High Commissioner Tayta, soon led to Gaia’s Stepdaughters agreeing to join the newly recommissioned UN Security Council, which until now existed in only a vestigial form on Planet.

As part of the negotiations, the UN has agreed to establish a common Planetary Trust, in order to coordinate environmental preservation efforts across Planet for the benefit of all its inhabitants. In return, Lady Nevill promised to use her diplomatic connections with Planet’s other faction leaders to mediate long-standing disputes with the UN, paving the way for more cooperative developments in the future.

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Title: Re: Money and the Will to Power: A Game of Economic Imperialism [PBEM]
Post by: Alpha Centauri Bear on August 10, 2020, 04:10:06 PM
It gets a lot of bonuses that give it a headstart, but the player can maximize their economic performance and be assured of overtaking them. Ultimately, once various tools become available in game, the player is just able to use them a lot better than the AI ever could.

That is right. Thinker makes AI smarter in AI way but it still doesn't make it human smart. What I meant is that if in vanilla human can achieve economical superiority by the turn say 100 it happens at turn 150 or so in Thinker. Not drastic change in engine but some.

Also, being willing to use atrocities helps a lot if you aren't interested in trying to force a surrender. You'd be amazed at the sorts of obstacles nerve gas and gene warfare let you overcome. Otherwise, you probably will have to use at least some tactics to speed things along.

Yep. Looks like we need to teach AI to use atrocities. What's up with gene warfare? I thought it just decreases the population in base and has no direct implication on combat tactics. Meaning it doesn't harm units or anything like that.

Part of the reason I never got around to releasing my own pet custom faction pack was that I wanted to playtest them thoroughly before putting them out there to the world, but eventually I found it tedious to go through the motions of defeating the AIs over and over again to gauge the balance.

I admire your responsibility. Most of the time people modify factions based on their perception on how they performed in their past games and don't bother play testing it much.
As you correctly pointed out AI faction balance and human faction balance are two big different things. So there won't be an elegant solution for faction power anyway as it can be played but either AI or human, which changes everything.
Title: Re: Money and the Will to Power: A Game of Economic Imperialism [PBEM]
Post by: Tayta Malikai on August 11, 2020, 10:59:29 AM
That is right. Thinker makes AI smarter in AI way but it still doesn't make it human smart. What I meant is that if in vanilla human can achieve economical superiority by the turn say 100 it happens at turn 150 or so in Thinker. Not drastic change in engine but some.
It does force the player to play more aggressively to stop the AIs from running away with the game, which is already a great improvement.

Yep. Looks like we need to teach AI to use atrocities. What's up with gene warfare? I thought it just decreases the population in base and has no direct implication on combat tactics. Meaning it doesn't harm units or anything like that.
An AI that learned how to use nerve gas and gene warfare effectively would be a terrifying thing.

Gene warfare does, in fact, cause massive HP loss to units inside the base, usually inflicting 50-90% damage. This makes it trivial to neutralize almost any level of base defenses if the base doesn't have any probes of its own to defend it. The AC2 wiki claims that Research Hospitals and Nanohospitals can reduce this effect, but I haven't confirmed that.

The AI is actually capable of building units with nerve gas and using them in combat... it just doesn't do it very well. This is because it doesn't even consider building the units while the Charter is still in effect, and it doesn't upgrade existing units to carry nerve gas either, so it can't capitalize on the Charter being repealed. It also doesn't realize that it should stop using nerve gas if the Charter gets reinstated, so it effectively sanctions itself into oblivion. Being incapable of long-term planning, it can't build a strategy around repealing the Charter and going all-out with atrocities either, like human players frequently do.

I once suggested to Induktio that AIs consider selectively nerve-stapling drones at the beginning of the game, when sanctions are meaningless, but he considered that too gamey. I think leaving bases empty in order to expand faster isn't something you approve of anyway.

As you correctly pointed out AI faction balance and human faction balance are two big different things. So there won't be an elegant solution for faction power anyway as it ca be played but either AI or human, which changes everything.
I think this is most exemplified by my favourite pet custom faction, whose special power is getting a free Psi Gate in every base. This opens up a lot of possibilities for creative thinking by humans, and was in fact how I beat Nevill in our second game... but the AI can't use it at all, while still getting lumbered with the faction penalties. It's very sad, but I don't see that changing anytime soon.

For a vanilla example, there is Morgan, where the AI struggles to deal with -1 SUPPORT and -3 pop limit while humans hit the ground running with CP spam to capitalize on +7 energy per base.
Title: Re: Money and the Will to Power: A Game of Economic Imperialism [PBEM]
Post by: Alpha Centauri Bear on August 11, 2020, 05:52:27 PM
Gene warfare does, in fact, cause massive HP loss to units inside the base, usually inflicting 50-90% damage.

Incredible! Never knew that. Always something new with this game.
😊


A genetic warfare probe action has the following effects:

The base loses population. The amount lost depends on a few factors, defensive technologies, defensive structures, and if the faction and base have been targeted before.
Each unit in the bases loses health. A random amount between one hp left, and half the hp of the unit. Defensive structures, and security interlocks can prevent this damage. But not technologies.
Title: Re: Money and the Will to Power: A Game of Economic Imperialism [PBEM]
Post by: Alpha Centauri Bear on August 11, 2020, 05:58:05 PM
It also doesn't realize that it should stop using nerve gas if the Charter gets reinstated, so it effectively sanctions itself into oblivion.

Is it really matter if all AIs sanction each other into oblivion? I don't think they care much. And neither does human player about inter-AI relationships. I mean not too much. Or, in other words, that doesn't make AI less challenging for human to beat.
Title: Re: Money and the Will to Power: A Game of Economic Imperialism [PBEM]
Post by: Tayta Malikai on August 12, 2020, 12:33:01 AM
Is it really matter if all AIs sanction each other into oblivion? I don't think they care much. And neither does human player about inter-AI relationships. I mean not too much. Or, in other words, that doesn't make AI less challenging for human to beat.
Sanctions are irrelevant to diplomatic relations, they are automatically and compulsorily applied if you commit atrocities without repealing the Charter.

Given that sanctions prevent all commerce from happening, and commerce starts to make up a not-insignificant portion of a faction's income after turn 100 or so, I'd say that it does matter a lot.
Title: Re: Money and the Will to Power: A Game of Economic Imperialism [PBEM]
Post by: Alpha Centauri Bear on August 12, 2020, 01:08:42 AM
Do they automatically end after some period of time?
Do they respond to cumulative atrocities? Meaning if one commits more of them during sanctions they are proportionally extended, etc.
Are there any other consequences beside sanctions? Like relations impact. Maybe long term one?
Title: Re: Money and the Will to Power: A Game of Economic Imperialism [PBEM]
Post by: Tayta Malikai on August 12, 2020, 01:32:28 AM
Do they automatically end after some period of time?
Do they respond to cumulative atrocities? Meaning if one commits more of them during sanctions they are proportionally extended, etc.
Are there any other consequences beside sanctions? Like relations impact. Maybe long term one?
Someone did research on how sanctions are applied here (https://www.weplayciv.com/forums/topic/2960-the-atrocity-thread/?page=2). Not sure how accurate it is.

Each atrocity you commit with the Charter enabled slaps you with X years of sanctions. The sanctions automatically end after that time. You can see how many years are left in the F3 screen.
X starts at 10 and increases in increments of 10 depending on how many atrocities you have committed. Nerve stapling doesn't increment the number, so if you stick to nerve stapling your own bases, you will only get 10 years for each stapling.
This means it is entirely possible for a particularly unrepentant player to end up with hundreds or thousands of years of sanctions.

Committing atrocities against an AI faction will result in them becoming permanently and irreversibly hostile towards you. They will refuse to make peace and only threaten you in the diplo screen. Note that this happens even if you repeal the Charter.
Other AIs will complain to you in the diplo screen if you commit atrocities, but I don't believe this has any tangible consequence on relations. Supposedly they will all declare vendetta if you commit too many atrocities (with the Charter enabled?), but I haven't seen it happen yet.

Committing atrocities with the Charter enabled lowers the clean mineral limit, which can cause increased eco-damage and worm spawns at your bases. This does not happen if the Charter is repealed - Planetmind only cares about you violating the Charter, and not the atrocities themselves.
Title: Re: Money and the Will to Power: A Game of Economic Imperialism [PBEM]
Post by: Nevill on August 12, 2020, 11:02:29 AM
ZAKHAROV WINS GOVERNORSHIP
Meanwhile in Gaia
It's been a while since Lady Nevill got the frequencies of all the remaining factions. Ever since one of Yang's slave galleys washed ashore on the Verdant Island, in fact; some mere years after her own explorers made it to the mainland.

(click to show/hide)

Truth be told, she was often tempted to call for a Council meeting herself, and she would long have done so, were it not for certain circumstances making such a meeting a rather awkward affair.

 ;miriam; - What do you mean there are others!? I have it on Lord's authority that this is our Promised Land, and no one else should have a claim to it!

Ah, yes, that. As much as she wished Zakharov didn't poke that particular can of mindworms, she was also glad she wasn't the one dealing with it.

Truth be told, she found the good Sister's radio frequency while scavenging the remains of the Unity escape pod. Miriam and her followers found themselves marooned on an island much like her own, but long isolation coupled with exposure to hallucinogenic spores led the already loopy congregation to believe they all died and were taken to Eden for their righteousness. A disembodied voice with no prior sightings of survivors was taken as nothing short of a divine miracle, and Lady Nevill played along, not having the heart to tell them otherwise. And if she used the Sunday sermons to spy on gleam a few insights into the lives of the faithful, no one was hurting for it.

(click to show/hide)

But that was something to worry about later. For now the Lady's thoughts turned to the war perpetuated by the Peacekeepers. A misnomer if she ever heard one. She made contact with two of their neighbours, Yang and Santiago, and both were asking her to intervene on their behalf, promising their undying friendship and more besides. They have been so warm and accomodating; surely the fault for the conflict must lie with the warmongering faction who came out of nowhere to harass her people. Not being one for hasty retribution, Lady Nevill set up patrols to watch the Peacekeeping shoreline out of the safety of the fungal jungle. It was then when reports came in about another war party sneaking out of U.N. Disaster Relief under the cover of the night. She ordered to not let them out of sight until their ill intent could be proven without doubt.

(click to show/hide)

Being a pacifist at heart, Lady Nevill had a welcoming committee ready for when the ship reached her territorial waters, hoping to persuade the pirates to abandon their vile goals and adopt the ways of love and peace. They even put up a banner to greet them where the ship was supposed to pass. And yet when time came, it did not, even though it was on a direct course the turn before. What fate could have befallen it!?

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It was only years later that Lady Nevill learned the ship took a detour to pillage some of the Spartan Kelp Farms and also to regroup with a nearby probe vessel which the Lady's scouts did not spot. Having no idea where the enemy was caused quite a panic, forcing the Lady to try a gambit by putting her own boat in jeopardy just to lure the hostile ship out so they could be brainwashed persuaded to see reason. Fortunately for her, it didn't come to that; the boat she used as a bait survived the initial assault, and the enemy probe was located and sunk shortly afterwards.

The Lady's emissaries were on their way to U.N. Criminal Tribunal, and nothing dared stand in their way anymore. Soon she would see the truth of just what agenda the Peacekeepers were hiding behind their U.N. mandate.

(click to show/hide)

***

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Title: Re: Money and the Will to Power: A Game of Economic Imperialism [PBEM]
Post by: Tayta Malikai on August 15, 2020, 01:04:34 PM
;miriam; - What do you mean there are others!? I have it on Lord's authority that this is our Promised Land, and no one else should have a claim to it!

Ah, yes, that. As much as she wished Zakharov didn't poke that particular can of mindworms, she was also glad she wasn't the one dealing with it.

Truth be told, she found the good Sister's radio frequency while scavenging the remains of the Unity escape pod. Miriam and her followers found themselves marooned on an island much like her own, but long isolation coupled with exposure to hallucinogenic spores led the already loopy congregation to believe they all died and were taken to Eden for their righteousness. A disembodied voice with no prior sightings of survivors was taken as nothing short of a divine miracle, and Lady Nevill played along, not having the heart to tell them otherwise. And if she used the Sunday sermons to spy on gleam a few insights into the lives of the faithful, no one was hurting for it.
(https://i.imgur.com/qwIBlAV.png)
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Title: Re: Money and the Will to Power: A Game of Economic Imperialism [PBEM]
Post by: Tayta Malikai on August 15, 2020, 01:21:52 PM
HUMANITY CELEBRATES 100 YEARS ON PLANET

One hundred years after the United Nations first touched down on Planet, all citizens of the UN can justifiably look back on themselves with pride. From the chaotic early years immediately following Planetfall, to the steady pushing back of frontiers and taming of new lands, the efforts of each and every citizen have been vital to human development on Planet. While in a real sense the hard work has only just begun, what we have so far accomplished is more than sufficient grounds for us to look to the future with optimism.

Celebrations began early today in UN Data Acquisition, UN Settlement Agency, UN Social Council, and UN Amnesty Town, all of which have played an extraordinary role in our organization over the century. Gathering information on the challenges facing us; building the tools with which to address them; ensuring that all stakeholders wield them with a unity of purpose; and providing understanding for those inclined otherwise. With a resume like this, it is no wonder that UNDA surveys regularly report the highest job satisfaction ratings here out of all the UN’s agencies and sub-agencies.

(https://i.imgur.com/ucbci0b.png)

The mood is more sombre, though no less positive, at the very heart of our organization. The men and women at UN Headquarters have been working tirelessly day and night on an as-yet undisclosed project that spokesmen say has the potential to rival the unlocking of the human genetic code, of which the monopolization by Gaia’s Stepdaughters was a source of deep frustration amongst Planet’s research community. Details are scarce, but scattered statements by UN researchers suggest that the project is expected to bear fruit within the next decade.

Secretive research projects might stoke citizens’ imaginations, but making an impact on their lives today are the UN’s ongoing development programs. From recycling facilities and recreational spaces to childcare centres and research laboratories, everything we’ve accomplished would not have been possible without the UN’s commitment to building infrastructure for the future.

The first hundred years have brought light to Planet; may the next hundred years shine even more brightly.

----------

U.N. INFORMATION AGENCY RELEASES 2200 BUDGET FIGURES
CAPEX TO RISE, CUTS TO MILEX

Amidst all the centennial celebration, the UN Information Agency quietly published the latest revised figures for the Mission Year 2200 Annual Budget.

The new budget confirms recent speculation that the more settled political environment on Planet would embolden the UN to pursue a new economic direction. Most significant amongst its proposals are plans to transform the UN Peacekeeping Forces into a public-private partnership, with investors from Morgan Industries planned to take a 49% stake in the new arrangement. This is the first of many investments expected to take place, as cuts to the UNPF law enforcement budget will be matched with deregulation of Planet’s nascent financial sector. These changes would free substantial funding to be reallocated to increased capital expenditures, particularly in infrastructure and R&D. Overall, these cumulative proposals are expected to raise GDP by approximately 16% over the next 5 years, with a concomitant rise in the UN’s Human Development Index.

(https://i.imgur.com/8AQK63v.png)

Small business owners were overheard rejoicing at the decision. “The UN’s red tape has been stifling progress on Planet for more than half a century,” Shomari Anenih, owner of the recreational tourism company MY2420 which does frequent business with Gaia’s Stepdaughters, spoke to reporters. “With the loosening of export restrictions, I’ll be able to service the entire Gaian market for my goods. Even Lady Nevill herself will have one of my bongs in her office!”

The UNPF was incensed by the news. “Certain members in our organization seem to have forgotten who exactly was responsible for the peace that we all now benefit from,” UNPF Commissioner Naito Takeo castigated at a press conference. “It was less than a decade ago that we faced the threat of invasion from all sides. Any who would sacrifice fundamental security for temporary prosperity deserve neither security nor prosperity.”

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Title: Re: Money and the Will to Power: A Game of Economic Imperialism [PBEM]
Post by: MercantileInterest on August 29, 2020, 05:05:35 AM
good larp

Thoughts on your favorite features introduced by the mod?
Title: Re: Money and the Will to Power: A Game of Economic Imperialism [PBEM]
Post by: Tayta Malikai on August 29, 2020, 12:42:41 PM
Mission Year 2210

TERRORISTS HIJACK U.N. OCEAN AUTHORITY
(https://i.imgur.com/1XyvNDS.png)
 
Terrorists belonging to an unidentified organization have hijacked UN Ocean Authority and taken the crew hostage, sparking a crisis that threatens to shatter the fragile peace on Planet.

Deployed only last year, UN Ocean Authority is a free-floating oceanic survey platform, equipped with facilities to conduct a comprehensive hydrographic analysis of the seabed along the coastline of Continent A. It is hoped that this will uncover undersea deposits of valuable minerals suitable for processing by Planet’s burgeoning manufacturing base.

While UNOA’s mission calls for it to follow a course that remains in clearly delineated international waters, the Spartan Federation nonetheless raised objections, claiming that its projected course will encroach on Spartan kelp farms and risk jeopardizing the yearly harvest. The UN Planetary Trust denied that there was any environmental or agricultural risk associated with the operating of UN Ocean Authority.

The ringleader of the terrorists, a hitherto unknown figure known only as “the Fatman”, made a televised statement following the platform’s seizure. “The waters of this Planet are a gift from God that belongs to all of mankind, and we will not stand by as they fall victim to plundering and exploitation by globalist servants of the New World Order,” he thundered to the camera, in between sipping from a glass of fungal juice.

(https://i.imgur.com/qxKR2Mb.png)

Apart from demanding the immediate withdrawal of all UN presence from international waters, the Fatman also demanded to be provided with obscure technical data related to the refractive field technology recently developed by researchers working under Provost Prokhor Zakharov. It is unclear how the UN is expected to fulfil this demand, given that UNDA does not and has never run scientific espionage operations within the University of Planet.

“It is distressing to see that nearly two decades of peace on Planet have been blackened by a group of self-aggrandizing fringe radicals who engage in violence and intimidation to oppose peaceful scientific and developmental efforts,” UN High Commissioner Tayta spoke at a press conference called to address the crisis. “While of course we hope that there can be a peaceful resolution to this crisis, I remind you all that the United Nations does not negotiate with terrorists, and that we are fully prepared to commit to enforcing peace by more coercive means if necessary.”

No further transmissions have been detected from UN Ocean Authority, leading the UN Peacekeeping Forces to believe that the terrorists have begun fortifying the facility with communication jammers and other electronic warfare equipment, in an attempt to deter UN surveillance ahead of an assault.

The Spartan Federation denied that it was in any way involved in the crisis taking place aboard UN Ocean Authority.

More on this story as it develops.

(click to show/hide)

Title: Re: Money and the Will to Power: A Game of Economic Imperialism [PBEM]
Post by: Tayta Malikai on August 29, 2020, 01:18:08 PM
I actually already had the next few updates written up, but wasn't in the right frame of mind to put the images together and post them.

good larp

Thoughts on your favorite features introduced by the mod?
Nevill and I gave some more detailed feedback in the mod's thread, with regards to balance and from the perspective of playing multiplayer.

In terms of actual mechanics changes made by the mod (as opposed to alphax changes), off the top of my head, I think the best ones were:
Title: Re: Money and the Will to Power: A Game of Economic Imperialism [PBEM]
Post by: Alpha Centauri Bear on August 29, 2020, 09:40:43 PM
Thank you for feedback, Tayta, as always!

    [li$i]Rates of repair for units damaged in combat are configurable now, which could be a nice tool for rebalancing. I'm personally not a fan of the way the mod did it (it just takes too damn long to repair things, might as well scrap and rebuild), but something like 10%/turn in the field, 20%/turn in a base, and 40%/turn in a base with the appropriate repair facility might be good. Or, if you wanted to try something different, 0%/turn in the field but 10%/turn in a bunker or airfield. Would hurt early exploration but reward building those improvements. (Need to confirm whether sea bunkers also heal naval units.)[/li][/list]

    I didn't care much about repair rates in the field. This feature was introduced to slow down one turn full repair in base with facility. This makes attacking AI wasting too many units in their under-powered and badly coordinated base assault waves. Five turns repair (+20%) in base with facility gives next wave AI units chance to avenge their first wave brothers-in-arm sacrifice in base storming. I don't think this could be reduced any more without losing the effect as 5 turns is the max and some defenders may be not damaged that badly. So even +30% rate would make very quick repair in between waves.
    The exceptionally slow field repair rate is just a consequence of the above as it bound to be even slower.
    I don't see other good solution to this problem but am open to suggestions.

      [li$i]Units are Very Green by default in this mod. I'm not sure it's the best change: it means there's no real penalty for going into negative MORALE, and makes early combat a serious pain in the butt. Thankfully this can be reverted in the config.[/li][/list]

      Yea. This is definitely not a cornerstone of the mod so I'm perfectly fine if people turn it off.
      From the other side, I don't see it making a huge difference even in the early game. All early native are very green too. Also CC is level 1 tech and one can build just one of them to get +2 morale advantage early (+3 with monolith). Doesn't seem like unsolvable problem. Probably just an annoyance for those who does not bother to solve it.
      😉

        [li$i]Territorial combat bonuses, probably the defining feature of this mod. Defense was sorely in need of a buff, there's no denying that, but I think +50% is too much and makes things silly. I'd say +25% would be more appropriate for MP.[/li][/list]

        I don't mind this as well. It is also configurable. The exact value of each bonus is an endless discussion topic. This one essentially was inspired by bunker (+50%) and sensor (+25%) bonuses those are no longer there because AI cannot use bunkers to defend a territory. Imagine we can teach AI to build and use bunkers properly. Then it would be quite difficult to circumvent strategically placed bunker line. Unfortunately, no one experienced proper AI territorial defense. So there is nothing to compare to. I bet if you did you wouldn't perceive territory bonus as too high.
        Territorial bonus essentially turns whole territory into a bunker relieving AI from special defense planning. Numerically it is even weaker than vanilla bunker+sensor combination and it also does not protect against bombardment as bunker does. I really doubt there is need to weaken it even more.
        Title: Re: Money and the Will to Power: A Game of Economic Imperialism [PBEM]
        Post by: Tayta Malikai on August 29, 2020, 10:27:17 PM
        The quote formatting was not kind to the list formatting. :P

        Honestly, I think a lot of what we're talking just comes down to differences in the pace and particulars of how singleplayer and multiplayer are played. Obviously, things are very different when it's player vs player - one lets loose with a strike force coordinated to cause maximum damage in a single turn, the other tries to resist by designing their territory appropriately (or, ideally, forestalls the attack by attacking first). Such things don't really exist where AIs are concerned.

        We sort of touched on this when I was first starting to talk about the mod, but I really do think the easiest solution is just to maintain separate versions for SP and MP play. Thankfully, it looks like Merc is stepping up with the latter. Nevill and I might post our own too, once we've a few more test games under our belts.

        Yea. This is definitely not a cornerstone of the mod so I'm perfectly fine if people turn it off.
        From the other side, I don't see it making a huge difference even in the early game. All early native are very green too. Also CC is level 1 tech and one can build just one of them to get +2 morale advantage early (+3 with monolith). Doesn't seem like unsolvable problem. Probably just an annoyance for those who does not bother to solve it.
        😉
        Heh, touche. It clearly is not unsolvable given how Nevill and I both conquered the AIs while running Wealth the whole time. :V

        It might be more impactful now that you've turned up the rate of worm spawns in newer versions of the mod. We'll see.
        Title: Re: Money and the Will to Power: A Game of Economic Imperialism [PBEM]
        Post by: Alpha Centauri Bear on August 30, 2020, 04:30:54 AM
        but I really do think the easiest solution is just to maintain separate versions for SP and MP play

        100% agree. MP is a completely different game. More like a chess where every single matter.

        . Thankfully, it looks like Merc is stepping up with the latter. Nevill and I might post our own too, once we've a few more test games under our belts.

        Anything workable to have a look at already?
        Title: Re: Money and the Will to Power: A Game of Economic Imperialism [PBEM]
        Post by: Tayta Malikai on September 01, 2020, 02:30:32 PM
        100% agree. MP is a completely different game. More like a chess where every single matter.

        Anything workable to have a look at already?
        That's probably an accurate description. For one thing, actually reading what the opponent is doing becomes a matter of utmost importance.

        I am not currently authorized to share any files, but I can talk about what Nevill previously modded in his games. It's been a while since I played with that configuration, so my memory might be fuzzy.
        I should probably also make a new thread for this but meh, this one is starting to move towards its end, so we might as well talk about it here.

        Let's start with the tech tree. I made a rather nice (if I do say so myself) graphic for it here (https://i.imgur.com/dsg68XJ.png). Keep in mind that the intent with this was to keep relatively close to vanilla, just fixing perceived imbalances rather than trying to build a new game flow. Main goals were to provide more options for gameplay, particularly where defensive play was concerned. Mostly a lot of stuff ended up getting shuffled around to what were deemed more appropriate places.

        Not listed on that sheet are changes to maintenance costs. Minerals multipliers especially got saddled with huge costs to offset how powerful they are: Genejacks got 5 (as well as producing 2 drones), RoboPlants got 10, so they're only affordable at major bases; I believe this was meant as an attempt to penalize ICSing. Command Centres and Naval Yards were made rather cheap, likely to facilitate early wars and the lots-of-units playstyle. Sea base facilities were also made significantly cheaper, which caused sea bases to become actually pretty strong - we're still unsure whether this is a good thing or not.

        The solution for nerfing population booms was to simply remove Creches from the game. Aside from being bugged, they were also just too much of a no-brainer facility that got built at every base. This made it actually somewhat arduous to build up one's population throughout the game, since you couldn't count on that +2 GROWTH and had to rely solely on SEs to increase the rating. I'm of two minds when it comes to nerfing pop-booming in multiplayer; I think it might actually be an important method for weaker players to stay in the game, especially when people are using nerve gas left and right. That, and I hadn't quite gotten the hang of Golden Age pop-booming until this game.

        There were also some minor changes to factions. Probably the most important ones were giving Spartans 75% hurry costs (to compensate for -INDUSTRY), and raising Morgan's hab limit to 5.

        Clean Reactors being available from the start and free for defensive units really sped up the game. There is still a trade-off with giving them Non-Lethal Methods or Hypnotic Trance, and defensive units could still get rather pricey, so at least they wouldn't be hogging support on top of that. It does somewhat encourage using cheap scouts to soak up expensive cruise missiles, though.

        Land transports received a significant boost, with infantry transports holding 1 unit, speeders 2, and hovertanks 3. This is a quite popular and effective tactic in multiplayer, as APCs allow units to reach the front line and attack in the same turn without a hasty penalty. Air transports would probably be rather strong, albeit expensive, if it wasn't for their low movement range - but I still found them to have their uses here and there.

        In games vs Thinker AIs, I found that the most common weapon seen in the early to mid game was the 5-attack Gatling Laser, which was not always effective against most AIs staffing their bases with 3-pulse defenders behind Perimeters. Those were beefy enough that I needed to use APCs loaded with infantry to have any chance of cracking bases.
        Incidentally, in this game I didn't see Zakharov and Santiago building any Perimeters at all, despite being at war for major portions of the game. Only Miriam really bothered.

        Social Engineering tables
        Everyone and their dog seems to have their own opinion on this. You have one, Nevill has one, Merc has one, a bunch of people on this forum have one... in fact, I must be the only person without one, aside from generally "vanilla had nice distinctions between the different models but it wasn't quite balanced". I liked Nevill's configuration in this regard.

        Code: [Select]
        Frontier,        None,
        Police State,    DocLoy,  ++SUPPORT, ++POLICE,   --TALENT
        Democratic,      EthCalc, ++EFFIC,   ++GROWTH,   --SUPPORT
        Fundamentalist,  Brain,   ++PROBE,   +MORALE,    +INDUSTRY,  --RESEARCH     
        Simple,          None,
        Free Market,     IndEcon, ++ECONOMY, ----POLICE, --PLANET,   -INDUSTRY
        Planned,         PlaNets, ++GROWTH,  +INDUSTRY,  --ECONOMY
        Green,           CentEmp, ++EFFIC,   ++PLANET,   --GROWTH,   +TALENT
        Survival,        None,
        Power,           MilAlg,  ++SUPPORT, ++MORALE,   -INDUSTRY,  +TALENT
        Knowledge,       Cyber,   +EFFIC,    ++RESEARCH, --PROBE,    -POLICE
        Wealth,          AdapEco, +ECONOMY,  +INDUSTRY,  --MORALE,   -PLANET
        None,            None,
        Cybernetic,      DigSent, ++EFFIC,   ++RESEARCH, +PLANET,    ---POLICE
        Eudaimonic,      Eudaim,  ++ECONOMY, ++GROWTH,   +SUPPORT,   ---MORALE
        Thought Control, WillPow, ++POLICE,  ++INDUSTRY, +MORALE,    ---SUPPORT

        As I understand it, the focus was less on how balanced individual options were, and more on creating synergies between categories. It also seems to have embraced the idea that some SE choices will be optimal early game and others later.

        Nevill also wasn't a fan of how -EFFIC worked in vanilla. It may be different now that WtP changes the inefficiency formula.

        This did have the somewhat uninspiring effect of encouraging all the AIs to pile on Police State+Planned for most of the game - although they did switch to other SEs from time to time! (Usually after 2200.) If anything, it showed the adaptability of Thinker AI to different SE configurations.

        I will say that I never actually used Free Market in this configuration - I didn't know how to leverage the energy from +2 ECON, I was always at war so -4 POLICE hurt a lot, and -1 INDUSTRY was always a hard pill to swallow. Maybe I just wasn't skilled enough for it at the time.

        Future Society remained a late game luxury in this iteration of the mod; but I'm starting to feel that this is something that should be changed for future versions.
        Title: Re: Money and the Will to Power: A Game of Economic Imperialism [PBEM]
        Post by: Tayta Malikai on September 01, 2020, 02:56:26 PM
        TOP UNIVERSITY SCIENTISTS DEFECT TO U.N.!
        HORRORS OF “ENLIGHTENED” TECHNOCRACY EXPOSED

        Highly-ranked scientists working at the University of Planet’s Nadezja-Hope research campus have defected to the United Nations, reporters heard today.

        According to a UNPF official at UN Commerce Committee, which faces Nadezja-Hope on opposing shorelines of Lake C, the scientists made their escape in a prototype model of the University’s newly developed mobile artillery vehicle. Specifications provided by the scientists show that while it utilizes a standard design, a 155mm gun mounted on the Unity rover chassis, its ammunition features new innovations inspired by recent findings in the field of superstring theory. The shells are described as containing miniaturized superstring detectors and disruptors, which are used to home in on targets by tracking the unique vibration frequencies of their constituent superstrings, and then destroy them by exciting these superstrings to the point of destabilization. In effect, the target literally vibrates itself apart.

        The scientists soon found themselves pursued by University commandos, who made use of another recent scientific discovery in the field of probability mechanics to track them. It is believed that the commandos carried devices capable of performing probability derandomization, which enabled them to perfectly predict the routes used by the scientists to escape. Nonetheless, the scientists were able to stay ahead of their pursuers, finally skirting Lake C and making it across the UN-University border with their former faction members hot on their heels.

        (https://i.imgur.com/pA8hJkH.png)

        Immediately following the incident, Provost Zakharov personally made contact with the UN High Commission to demand that the scientists be returned to the University, citing their possession of top secret data related to its study of harmonic fields. However, after hearing and evaluating their testimony, the UN Social Council decided to formally grant their request for asylum.

        Transcripts of the scientists’ testimony, released by UN Data Acquisition, describe truly appalling conditions within the University of Planet, even worse than what many in the UN had been led to believe. The massive drone population produced by the University’s forced resettlement policies has been reduced to brutal serfdom, forced to work 18-hour days to turn the wheels of University industry. Those whose bodies fail under the strain inevitably become the personal guinea pigs of the academicians, whose tortured corpses are then dumped into the recycling tanks to begin the cycle anew.

        Living conditions reportedly became so bad as a result of overpopulation that drone-led uprisings swept across bases in the Monsoon Jungle, only for University Enforcement to ruthlessly crush them, having the leaders publicly vivisected as an example to the other bases. All of this is justified in the name of keeping pace with the neighbouring Human Hive and its megalomaniac Chairman, from whom Provost Zakharov is believed to have adapted methods of repression with his own uniquely technocratic spin.

        Even more horrifying are statements alleging that the University, under the directions of Provost Zakharov himself, is working to develop weapons of mass destruction on Planet in direct violation of the UN Charter. Following the legacy of the Soviet Union’s, later the Russian Federation’s, chemical and biological weapons programs, researchers have reportedly succeeded in producing a refined variant of the Novichok nerve agent, as well as genetically modifying samples of the Variola major virus to maintain and even enhance its infectivity in Planet’s atmosphere. While these statements have yet to be verified, if true they would represent an incredible threat to the human condition on Planet, even risking a descent into the type of unmitigated global warfare last seen on Earth.

        (https://i.imgur.com/nypGe9Q.png)

        According to a statement by UN Social Council, the defecting scientists will be resettled at UN Amnesty Town, where their safety from University reprisals is assured. A fund of 75 million UN dollars has been established to cover the costs of their rehabilitation after enduring the horrors of Zakharov’s technocratic regime, as well as providing enticement for more defectors to step forward with further information on the University’s WMD programs.

        (click to show/hide)
        Title: Re: Money and the Will to Power: A Game of Economic Imperialism [PBEM]
        Post by: Tayta Malikai on September 05, 2020, 05:22:35 PM
        DEMOCRACY RESTORED!
        MAJORITY OF U.N. OFFICIALS TO RUN FOR ELECTION
        (https://i.imgur.com/uExBQLe.png)
        Left: Democratic Planet Party. Right: Centauri National Party.

        Citizens throughout the United Nations were united in celebration today, in the wake of an announcement by the UN High Commission that resonated with the very core of our organization’s mission. In Mission Year 2220, exactly twelve decades after humanity’s arrival on Planet, the United Nations and its constituent agencies and sub-agencies will be holding the first organization-wide elections to determine the direction of humanity in the years to come.

        Paying homage to an ancestry harking back all the way to the earliest planning stages of the UNS Unity mission, the new government will be structured using a tried and tested bicameral model. Members of the UN General Assembly will be directly elected by the citizenry, while the seats of the UN High Commission will be evenly distributed among the UN’s agencies and sub-agencies, with members of each agency voting for who will represent them.

        Leading the way forward by example is, of course, the UN High Commissioner himself, who simultaneously announced his candidacy, as well as that of many current members of the UN High Commission, under the banner of the Democratic Planet Party. The first legitimate political party to exist on Planet is expected to enjoy a significant incumbent advantage, with UN citizens widely acknowledging the role of Tayta’s wise leadership in bringing order to chaos and ensuring just outcomes for society throughout the critical first mission century.

        Further announcements have shed light on the DPP’s election platform, which promises to continue the economy-first policies of Tayta’s administration by way of a significant expansion in social welfare spending and raising salaries for UN officials. More funding would be allocated to the UN Social Council, UN Education Agency, and UN Planning Authority, with the goal of further trimming waste and cutting inefficiency from the UN bureaucracy, allowing it to achieve more greatly beneficial outcomes for the citizenry at large.

        These changes are expected to be funded by further cuts to the UN Peacekeeping Forces budget; and also, for the first time since 2144, shrinking the infamously large budgets of UN Data Acquisition.

        (https://i.imgur.com/SHJYkVa.png)

        While the DPP’s proposed measures appear popular with the citizenry, members of the current bureaucracy are somewhat less enthused. “These sorts of promises to deliver the moon at the expense of the sun are a classic example of electoral populism, unbefitting of a democratic leader with Tayta’s stature,” UNPF Commissioner Naito Takeo rebuked his superior in a press conference, before dropping suggestions that he would be starting his own political party to run in the election.

        By far the biggest surprise of this election, however, was the announcement that Deputy High Commissioner Sally Mitchell would be resigning from her position, in order to run for high office independently. Her registered political party, the Centauri National Party, espouses a common national identity for all humans living on Planet, endorsing a policy of more active diplomatic intervention into other factions to safeguard human rights and ensure that democratic norms are being respected. The CNP’s platform has been gaining in popularity over the past decades, with increasingly frequent diplomatic incidents and terrorist activities along faction borders highlighting the need for more proactive foreign policy.

        With these developments so far, and likely more to come, it’s safe to say that UN High Commissioner Tayta will have his work cut out for him if he wants to remain in the top job.

        (click to show/hide)
        Title: Re: Money and the Will to Power: A Game of Economic Imperialism [PBEM]
        Post by: Tayta Malikai on September 10, 2020, 03:07:27 AM
        Mission Year 2230

        The meeting took place out in the middle of the ocean, with two innocuous hydrofoils rendezvousing under the searing midday light produced by Alpha Centauri A and B. To any outside observers who might’ve been watching, it was a routine inspection of cargo and transit documentation performed by Gaian eco-patrols on UN-licensed merchants to ensure that all products entering the Gaian markets were in compliance with the recently instituted environmental sustainability regulations. The merchants, of course, grumbled that this was an affront to free commerce and that Gaia’s foolish eco-populism would be the death knell for its economic growth; but that didn’t stop dozens of these interactions from occurring every year, or the tripling of Gaia’s gross domestic product over the last five mission years.

        It was the cause of many a wistful sigh amongst the more romantic of Planet’s settlers that the oceans were not quite as calm and tranquil as they used to be. In the wake of the UNS Curiosity incident and subsequent UN-Gaian skirmishing over the waters, Planet’s other factions had taken the cue to stake their own claim upon the potentially boundless wealth to be found there. The Human Hive’s secret police now patrolled the coasts so as to extend Chairman Yang’s eyes and ears to the maritime realm, while “citizen militias” affiliated with the Spartan Federation loudly asserted their right to defend their territory with lethal force. Both were an equal menace to the burgeoning commercial fleets criss-crossing Planet, and it had been necessary to evade both on the way to this rendezvous.

        The trouble with humans boldly going forth to explore and colonize vast and bountiful new lands, High Commissioner Tayta reflected as he descended the aluminium staircase into the conference room, was that those lands soon tended to be full of humans.

        Located below the deck of Last Rose of Summer, away from prying eyes, the conference room was not quite what Tayta had come to expect from Gaia’s Stepdaughters. It was a dark and dimly-lit place, filled with trellises and flowerbeds that hosted an astonishing variety of flora. Half of them he somewhat recognized from his xenobiology briefings… the other half, he realized with a start, were plants of Earth heritage which he’d last seen a century and a half ago, during an inspection of the UNS Unity’s seed stockpile. Those seeds hadn’t followed the United Nations down to Planet’s surface... because, of course, Gaia’s Stepdaughters had taken them.

        “An impressive collection, don’t you think?” a mild, yet refined voice prompted Tayta. “The native plant life, evolved to survive with a scarcity of oxygen, flourishes where the Earth plants exhale it in abundance: in turn, the plant life from our home planet benefits from the rich nitrates in Planet’s soil. A truly symbiotic relationship: one that our own species could stand to emulate.”

        He looked up to see Lady Nevill standing among the trees in all her finery. She was just as beautiful as her faction’s media made her out to be: curly dark brown hair tied into an elegant grid of beads resembling a shogi board; her lithe yet muscled form, tempered by long years of practical xenobiology experience, wrapped in a colourful dress in the style of a gardener’s shawl; a gaze that always seemed to be staring at something past you off in the distance, something more important than you could ever imagine.

        “They used to say that interdependence would bring about peace, back on Earth,” Tayta replied smoothly. “Instead, it bred fear and suspicion that one country would deprive the other of vital resources, which became a self-fulfilling prophecy.”

        “But we’re not on Earth now, are we?” Nevill countered with a raised eyebrow. “Please, come this way.” She gestured deeper into the room.

        “Certainly.” As Tayta followed behind her, he found himself reminded of the fairy tales told to him as a child, where the witch lured unsuspecting children into the woods to be cooked and eaten – or worse. It was a silly comparison, of course: those children hadn’t been accompanied by UNPF bodyguards outfitted with superstring excitement rifles and refractive field armour, for one thing. Nor was Tayta on the run from an evil stepmother who regarded him as a mere waste of resources, to be disposed of as soon as it could be deniably arranged.

        Except for–

        He quashed that thought as he took his seat opposite Nevill at the conference table, his bodyguards taking up positions behind him.

        Speaking of bodyguards, Tayta wondered where Nevill’s were. For all her peace-loving rhetoric, and this being Gaian home ground of sorts, he was sure that no self-respecting faction leader would dare to venture outside of their territory without at least some form of physical protection. Yet apart from the usual dishevelled “eco-guardians” on the deck up above, there was none to be seen thus far.

        Unless – he resisted the urge to twist and look around – unless the plants were supposed to be Nevill’s protection. He suddenly realized that his own knowledge of Planet’s flora, gleaned from tidbits in half-recollected UN briefings, utterly paled in comparison to the former Unity xenobiologist’s personal expertise. Everyone knew about mind worms, but what if the plants were capable of psi attacks? It wasn’t something he could dismiss out of hand. And if it was true… then all that expensive UNPF gear would be useless, little more than paperweights.

        “Shall we begin, then?” Nevill smiled, picking up one of the datapads set on the table. “Here is the situation as I see it. With our completion of Project Harmonica five mission years ago, we have ensured total Gaian energy supremacy for the rest of the century. It’s already allowed us to advance our scientific understanding leaps and bounds beyond the University’s wildest dreams. Their pie-in-the-sky pursuit of pre-sentient algorithms will already be obsolete by the time the first paper is published.”

        “All of which, of course, was built off the back of systematic espionage efforts against the University,” Tayta pointed out calmly. “I know for a fact that Zakharov would have finished his own study of harmonic fields first, if your operatives hadn’t sabotaged it a decade ago.”

        “And as I recall, you were quite happy when those operatives happened to knock out his virtual reality project on the way out,” Nevill answered wryly.

        “Maybe, but the UN certainly didn’t see any benefit out of all the other research you’ve pilfered from him over the years.”

        “My, is that a touch of envy I hear? All the science and technology on Planet won’t help if you don’t know how to leverage it. But in your case, you haven’t even got that, have you? All those ‘education reforms’ have left your United Nations without any scientists worth the title. We’re already a generation ahead of you, and by the time you catch up, we’ll only be another generation ahead.”

        “We’ll make up the difference soon enough,” Tayta retorted, feeling justifiably needled.

        “Will you now?” The Lady’s smile took on a mocking quality. “Is that what your agents in UNDA tell you? It pains me to tell you this, but Gaia infiltrated it decades ago, while we easily foiled all your clumsy attempts to break into our datalinks. For all it drains the UN budget, UNDA is a bloated and ineffectual intelligence service, which only exists to sustain its own power, while getting its operatives killed in all sorts of humorous ways. I recall this one incident involving a University centrifuge and the operative’s–”

        “That was classified at the highest level,” Tayta snapped hotly, and then he realized that he’d just admitted to everything Nevill had said.

        “Which only goes to prove my point, doesn’t it?” Nevill set down the datapad, propping her head up on her elbows. It made her look rather dreamy… until Tayta angrily aborted that train of thought, wondering what the hell he was thinking. “Admit it Commissioner: your faction is obsolete. It may take decades for it to finally fail, but rest assured, it will. That’s if any of the sharks circling you as we speak bother to wait that long, anyway.”

        “And so what would you have me do?” Tayta demanded. “Surrender? Bend the knee to you?”

        “Surrender?” Lady Nevill widened her eyes in faux innocence. “I would never dream of humiliating you so. I have a rather different proposal in mind, if it pleases you. Instead of squandering both our factions’ time and effort on pointless competition, let the two of us join forces, and sweep Planet beneath our combined might.”

        “Me? Join forces with you?” Tayta barked out a short laugh. “You must be joking. My faction would never countenance sharing governance over Planet. We are the legitimate successors of the UNS Unity mission, after all.”

        “On the contrary,” Nevill spoke, and for some reason, Tayta just couldn’t bring himself to look away from her dazzling turquoise eyes, “this partnership would be just what you need to bring all those militarist parties in your faction to heel. How are your approval ratings, by the way? Lower than fifty percent? With this, you’ll have all the ammunition you need to make those numbers go your way. Nobody will question your commitment to human rights and democracy, not after you’ve enforced them on Planet’s wayward factions.”

        She’s using psionics on me! Tayta realized with a jolt, a sickening feeling going through his stomach. It was true, all those rumours about Lady Nevill’s so called Planet Cult, the apocryphal seventh Unity landing pod, whose passengers fell victim to fungus-induced hallucinations and Gaian pseudo-empathic brainwashing. In that very moment, he knew it was all true.

        But he couldn’t look away. His bodyguards continued to stand impassively behind him, unable or unwilling to assist.

        “Be honest with yourself, Commissioner,” Nevill’s melodic voice sang pleasantly in his ears. “Haven’t you ever wanted to crush that pesky Zakharov and his ranting about the enlightened future of mankind? Or to put that uppity Santiago and her little band of boy scouts in their place? Well, I can provide you with the means to deal with them. Join me and none of them will ever bother you. Not Zakharov, not Santiago… not Mitchell.”

        Tayta flinched at the mention of Mitchell’s name. “What do you–”

        “I’m right, aren’t I?” Nevill nodded to herself, satisfied. “That woman’s been a thorn in your side from the day your boots touched Planet’s soil. She was happy to play the part of the loyal retainer who makes everything run from behind the scenes, while you smile and wave to the adoring public. But you’ve always known, haven’t you, that she would never be satisfied with that? All this time, she’s been using you to further her own ends, subverting your authority with every helpful suggestion she makes.”

        “That’s not true,” Tayta defended automatically, but it is true, isn’t it?

        “And at the first opportunity, she challenged that authority in front of the whole faction. She may not have succeeded, but it made every other two-bit bureaucrat smell the same blood she did. They all know you’re weak now, and the moment you move against her, you’ll only become even weaker in their eyes. She’ll make herself a rallying flag for the powerbrokers behind her, and this time, she’ll be sure to finish the job.”

        It was everything Tayta had dreaded and feared over the years. All the sleepless nights, the half-mad journal entries, the surreptitious glances, that inherent human sense for lies which not even twenty-third century biogenetics had managed to replicate, laid out bare on the conference table between the two of them. He didn’t need to ask how she knew, how she could be so sure about him. She knew everything about him. Why try to hide it?

        “And you’ll be left nothing more than a has-been, a chapter in the history books, the old doddering grandfather of the United Nations, pushed aside to make way for her youthful vigour. If you’re lucky, you’ll live long enough to drink yourself to death. If not, well… it’s a dangerous Planet. Tragedies happen all the time, out of sight and out of mind. One more won’t make any difference. What will it be? An anonymous bombing by Spartan terrorists? Ex-Peacekeepers radicalized by constant budget cuts? A fungal toxin slipped into your tea? An ‘accidental’ perimeter failure letting in the mind worms? They might even ask me to help with that last one. I have a lot of those to spare, after all.”

        It didn’t matter how she knew, Tayta decided. All that mattered was that she did. And if Lady Nevill could find out these things about him… it wouldn’t be long until everyone else did.

        And once that happened, everything she said would come to pass.

        Unless–

        “Alright,” he ground out carefully. His head was pounding, and his breathing was short, but he retained the presence of mind to speak clearly and precisely. “You win. I’ll do it. You’ll give me the technology I need to destroy my enemies – our enemies. Then we’ll see them swept beneath your might. Our might.”

        “I knew I could count on you to see reason, my dear Commissioner.” For the first time, Nevill broke out into a genuine grin, finally allowing her persona of cool reserve to give way to eager glee.

        “I just have one condition.”

        “Which is?”

        “I get to be Planetary Governor.”

        And Lady Nevill’s eyes shone brighter than Planet’s binary suns.

        (https://i.imgur.com/k31PBCP.png)

        (click to show/hide)
        Title: Re: Money and the Will to Power: A Game of Economic Imperialism [PBEM]
        Post by: Tayta Malikai on September 13, 2020, 12:35:56 PM
        “–ongoing grassroots protests by drone rights movements across Nadezja-Hope campus soon escalated when University Enforcement attempted to shut off access to amenities, culminating in thousands of formerly oppressed drones storming the residences of local ruling academicians–”

        “–abandoned supply crawlers were declared environmentally unfriendly, and therefore dismantled on the spot in accordance with UN Planetary Trust directives–”

        “–refused to recognize the democratic will of Nadezja-Hope’s population, claiming that they were being masterminded by UNDA agents, and threatened to carry out reprisals–”

        “–elections would be delayed yet again, citing the ongoing risk of University hacking–”

        There was a particular thrill elicited by listening to the news, a sense of validation that came from knowing that those headlines and more were happening as a result of Tayta’s actions. It was the simplest of feedback mechanisms: by ordering these actions to occur, those desirable outcomes could be brought about. At the start of his century-long tenure, Tayta had shied away from such decisions, fearing that their consequences would reflect on him; now, he welcomed and sought them out for exactly that purpose. Any negative outcomes could be easily ignored and swept under the rug; a positive outcome could be amplified and enshrined for the rest of time. In this way, his own stature could only ever increase as a result of what he did.

        Not everybody agreed with him, of course. His many critics in the UN called it a sign of egotism and narcissism, traits unbefitting of the impartial and selfless leader demanded by the United Nations Charter. Not that they really needed an excuse to slap derogatory labels on him. But after today, it wouldn’t matter what they called him.

        Such thoughts buoyed Tayta’s spirits, carrying him aloft through the grandiose doorway leading into the currently-designated chamber of the UN High Commission. Things had come a long way since that first emergency meeting, held inside a cramped room of the landing pod that would become UN Headquarters, with Commissioners promoted out of what few remained of the UNSA’s loyalists. In those days, practically any decision with even the slightest significance to the mission had been made in that room.

        As the years passed, however, and more and more powers were delegated – first to the UN General Assembly, and then the internal bureaucracies of individual agencies – the High Commission found its importance to the organization being steadily reduced. As it should’ve been, for it wouldn’t have done for a democratic organization such as the UN to have all of its decisions made by executive committee. Subsequent relocations of the High Commission to venues more “appropriate” to its stature occurred alongside the re-introduction of proper democratic mechanisms into the United Nations decision-making process; by Mission Year 2239, having been awarded its most magnificent space yet for its contributions to humanity, it now solely convened to debate those matters pertaining to life and death of the United Nations as a whole.

        Such was the democratic way.

        As he took his seat at the head of the chamber, Tayta made a point of locking eyes with each and every one of the twenty-four elected UN Commissioners doing the same. Most of them still occupied the same posts that they’d held ever since Planetfall: they just did so under a different flag these days. Naito Takeo, Commissioner for the Peacekeeping Forces; Elizabeth Dazermet, Commissioner for Data Acquisition; Navin Thakore, Commissioner for the Settlement Agency; Shila Kiaei, Commissioner for the Social Council. Once upon a time, most of them had been faithful colleagues, working side-by-side with Tayta to prevent the final collapse of the Unity’s mission.

        Now they were his bitterest rivals.

        And then there was one more figure present today, the one now standing up to address the room, as confident and self-assured as she always was. Not like him. The one whose informal qualifications had proved so essential to backstopping Tayta’s formal authority over the mission. The one who resented his inexperience, even as she took advantage of his naivety. The one who was always destined to one day take the reins he’d so unfairly been handed, and put him out to pasture for a well-earned retirement.

        “My fellow estimable members of the United Nations High Commission,” Deputy High Commissioner Sally Mitchell spoke, every word carefully and deliberately enunciated. “Today’s session has been convened so that we may deliberate on a matter of the utmost importance to the future of the United Nations’ mission on Planet. We are here to debate and determine whether Tayta remains fit to carry out his duties as High Commissioner.”

        There were no signs of surprise around the traditional semi-circular table. Everyone had known this was a long time coming.

        “Now, I realize this may be a difficult matter for some of us. High Commissioner Tayta is someone who has not only been dear to our hearts as a treasured colleague and friend, but has also been the centrepiece of our settlement efforts on Planet. His leadership was not only what kept us all together in the chaotic days following Planetfall, but also what led us through the next mission century, allowing us to reconstitute the United Nations as a truly global organization once more. Throughout that time, he always strove hard to keep the foundational values of our mission alive; the hopes of billions of Earth citizens who watched us depart for a new beginning weighing down upon our shoulders. Human rights, freedom, democracy; none of these things would exist on Planet today if not for his tireless efforts. To the United Nations, to all of humanity, High Commissioner Tayta is a hero.”

        (https://i.imgur.com/rlBR51l.png)

        “But there was a saying, back on Earth: you either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain. And it is my belief, and I expect it is the belief of many of us here, that High Commissioner Tayta is becoming that villain. I am fully aware that this is a shocking accusation, and one that I would not level lightly. But the evidence is clear for all to see: Tayta’s conduct in the decades following our centenary has been an unconscionable and flagrant abuse of power. Left unchecked, he threatens to destabilize everything that we have worked so hard to accomplish.”

        “In retrospect, the signs should have been obvious to us all. A mere eight years after the long-awaited return of democracy on Planet, Tayta unilaterally suspended it on the basis of spurious claims that the University of Planet was conspiring to hack our elections. It was purely coincidence, I suppose, that he should do this during the year when his polls were at their lowest point, and his electoral defeat was all but inevitable, as the result of repeatedly broken campaign promises.”

        (https://i.imgur.com/075uv3M.png)

        “Having stolen another twelve years of his rule, Tayta promptly sought to return the UN to the model of unilateral decision-making he grew so accustomed to during the chaotic Planetfall years. Nowhere are his autocratic sympathies more clear than in his executive decision to pass Resolution 130, the so-called Global Trade Pact that merely facilitated the commercial enrichment of authoritarian factions on Planet. He might defend himself by pointing to the years of prosperity that occurred under his watch, but they were built on the back of forced labour in Morgan Industries and the Human Hive, while increased social spending was used to cover up the steady offshoring of jobs to these exploitative factions.”

        (https://i.imgur.com/xPjCmlh.png)

        “And as we know, much of this social spending took the form of wasteful infrastructure projects, leading to the creation of ‘ghost bases’ on our borders with these factions. And just where did Tayta find the needed funding for these project? By once again using the Peacekeeping Forces budget as his personal piggybank. While our boys and girls in blue were lucky to even be issued their own rifles, let alone ammunition, the UN bureaucracy was being bloated to greater widths.”

        (https://i.imgur.com/5Z4oimD.png)

        “All this only served as a smokescreen for even further acts of blatant corruption, which served to fatten Tayta’s hidden Morgan Bank accounts at the expense of the UN and its mission. By far the most obscene example of this was when he ordered the dismantling of the UN’s scientific infrastructure, privatizing vital research facilities for bargain rates under the guise of his ‘economy-first’ policies. No doubt a hefty percentage of that one-hundred-and-sixty million dollar payout found its way into his pockets!”

        (https://i.imgur.com/L1A0LGg.png)

        “It was around this time that members of this organization became aware that Tayta was engaging in secret, and illegal, negotiations with the leadership of Gaia’s Stepdaughters. Circumventing the regular legal procedures for inter-factional exchange, he arranged for an enormous transfer of technologies to cover up his hollowing out of the UN’s research base: technologies which had not even touched the desks of the ethics committee at UN Humanity Base before being unleashed on an unsuspecting wider society. This also led to another opportunity for corruption, when Tayta pushed through plans to upgrade our tried-and-tested fusion reactor designs with dangerous and untested ‘quantum splitting’ chambers. While the UN was obliged to pay for the expensive infrastructure needed to mine, process, and supply tritium where simple deuterium sufficed before, Tayta made off with a neat half-billion dollars in ‘efficiency dividends’.”

        (https://i.imgur.com/Cjq9VY6.png)

        “Now, you may wonder, how could technologies be transferred on such a massive scale without their source becoming apparent? The answer lies in the incestuous relationship between High Commissioner Tayta and UN Data Acquisition. The two of them were in cahoots ever since Planetfall, with UNDA agreeing to cover up all of Tayta’s endlessly embarrassing scandals, for which he would repay them with constant budget increases and ever-expanding mission creep. Indeed, UNDA is the only agency that has remained flush with funding throughout a century of cuts and waste! One only needs to review the expenditures which were recently approved for UNDA missions: six hundred million to finance protests at the Library of Planet, eight hundred million for today’s headlines at Nadezja-Hope. Over a billion dollars in spending on covert operations, and for what? A couple of impoverished bases totally lacking in modern facilities? A hundred thousand drone refugees whom we’ll have to shoulder the burden of feeding, housing, educating, and employing? Needless and reckless provocations of the University of Planet, which could easily spark off a Planetwide war?”

        (click to show/hide)

        “In fact, it is all but certain that such an ill-conceived, all-out war with the University of Planet is Tayta’s exact intention. Or, should I say, the exact intention of his paymasters, Gaia’s Stepdaughters? For who else would condone starting a war with the potential to devastate all human development on Planet, if not the faction that has publicly declared all such development to be an immoral sacrilege against their so-called Planetmind? Is this what Tayta has brought us to, then? The legitimate government of Planet reduced to taking marching orders from a band of eco-radical lunatics?”

        (https://i.imgur.com/CXG2Kso.png)

        “No, I think not. High Commissioner Tayta might have done irreparable damage to this organization and its values, but there is still time to pull back from the brink. By uniting for the common good, we can still redeem this mission’s values and return humanity to its proper course. It is for that reason that I am now calling for a vote of no confidence in Tayta’s leadership.”

        Then, and only then, did Sally Mitchell deign to look at him. “Is there anything you’d like to say in your defense, High Commissioner?”

        “Yes, actually, there is.” There wasn’t a reason for Tayta to speak now, it wouldn’t have any meaningful effect on the outcome, but before he knew it decades of frustration had surged to the forefront. “You and your cronies have been complaining about everything I do for the last century, pushing the Overton window rightward with every little debate, every little innocent question, every little allegation published on the net. You’re the ones who pushed me to ‘be tough on the University’ and ‘hold Zakharov to account’ in the first place, who demanded that I put UNDA to good use, who insisted that I devote all my efforts to procure superior equipment for the UNPF. So yes, I did everything that you’re now accusing me of, but it was you who forced me into this position. Go ahead; you can vote to get rid of me all you want. Just spare me the moral grandstanding while you do it.”

        “I see.” She blinked for a moment, evidently surprised by Tayta’s open admission: the only sign of emotional weakness he’d ever seen from her. He took what satisfaction he could from it. “In that case, I propose that the High Commission proceed with the vote.”

        “Seconded,” Naito Takeo instantly spoke up. Of course he would.

        “The motion to express no confidence in the High Commissioner will now be voted on. All those in favour?”

        Hands began to rise all around the table. Commissioners for the Settlement Agency, the Planetary Trust, the Criminal Tribunal… even Data Acquisition had turned against him in the end. And after all those budget subsidies he’d lavished them with.

        “Twenty-five for, none against. The motion passes unanimously.”

        On cue, the door to the chamber opened again. A squad of men and women wearing the ceremonial blue helmets and dress uniforms of the UN Enforcement Guard filed into the room, quickly fanning out around the table. Two of them approached Tayta at the head of the room, ceremonial-but-very-functional superstring excitement rifles in hand, their faces steely and professional.

        Tayta just remained seated and smiled.

        The last members of the squad entered. Four of them were rolling something on wheels covered by a blue tarpaulin into the centre of the room.

        “What’s that, Guardsman?” Sally Mitchell asked, looking genuinely puzzled.

        “Something to mark the historicity of this occasion, ma’am,” the guardsman answered.

        An expression of self-important comprehension came over Sally. “Ah, I see. Carry on, Guardsman.” She turned to face her nominal, soon to be no more, superior again. “Well then, any last words before you retire, my dear High Commissioner?”

        “It’s funny,” Tayta mused, almost to himself. “After all these accusations of becoming a dictator, I was thinking I should try it for real sometime.”

        The tarpaulin was whisked off.

        It had been covering a coercive psionic wave emitter, the sort that was extensively used by intelligence agencies all over Planet to subvert their targets, from individual soldiers in the field all the way up to entire faction bases. Even UNDA, as regularly maligned as it was, had access to them and had used them successfully in operations, although it had just as frequently seen its operatives suffer fatal mishaps from equipment malfunctions.

        A significant fraction of that UN$1 billion had gone to compensating the families of the victims.

        This model, however, was something special. It had been secretly built and transported all the way across the ocean from a secret laboratory by Gaia’s Stepdaughters. The UN Enforcement Guard troops now present in the High Commission chamber were, in fact, all Gaian operatives. Not that anyone would’ve ever guessed. Having finally met Lady Nevill in person, Tayta now understood why the Gaians always appeared so bedraggled and uncoordinated. It led everyone else to underestimate them.

        And now they would never have the chance to again.

        There were gasps all around the chamber as the device activated.

        Sally’s eyes widened. “You–” she managed to get out, just before the psi-wave washed over her.

        Because she’d been looking him in the eye at that moment, Tayta was able to watch in stark fascination as the final vestiges of Sally Mitchell’s self-determination and free will left her forever.

        After a short time, it was done. Those eyes, which had burned so fiercely with the desire to see the ineffectual and undeserving High Commissioner Tayta fall from grace, were now glazed over and blank. She could still breathe, react to danger, and even perform a series of complex tasks of her own volition; but her motivations and reasoning all now belonged to him.

        Horrifying, inhumane technology. The ultimate violation of every ideal that the United Nations had ever stood for. But oh so useful.

        (https://i.imgur.com/JJuLPez.png)

        “High Commissioner Tayta,” one of the Gaian operatives prompted.

        “Hm? Ah, yes, of course.” He’d fallen into a reverie. Tearing his sight away from his former subordinate, he straightened up, adjusted his suit. It was time for the next step in the operation to reshape the United Nations in his name, beginning with the total repeal of the UN Charter. Before, it would have taken months of media campaigns, drumming up public support for the measure, negotiations and horse-trading behind closed doors, just to secure a slim majority in his favour. Now, all he had to do was call the vote, and it would be done.

        Just before he did so, a thought struck him. “Hey, you,” he said to the operative. “How come you didn’t just use the device on me at the same time?”

        “What makes you think we already haven’t?” the operative replied with a sly grin.

        There wasn’t very much Tayta could say to that.

        (https://i.imgur.com/t69OBEl.png)

        (click to show/hide)
        Title: Re: Money and the Will to Power: A Game of Economic Imperialism [PBEM]
        Post by: Tayta Malikai on September 14, 2020, 12:27:34 PM
        PEACEKEEPERS BLITZ UNIVERSITY!
        ACADEMICIANS IN SHAMBLES

        The UN Peacekeeping Forces have successfully carried out a decapitation strike against the headquarters of the University of Planet with the assistance of UN Data Acquisition, UN officials revealed this morning.

        The strike marked the official beginning of Operation Monsoon Thunder, the codename assigned to the United Nations’ humanitarian intervention into the University of Planet, with the objective of liberating the entirety of the University-controlled Monsoon Jungle and the enslaved drone population inhabiting it.

        According to UNPF Commissioner Naito Takeo, the strike took the form of a lightning assault in the early hours of the morning, spearheaded by a brigade of modified Unity-pattern rovers outfitted with superstring excitement munitions and composite armour. A second brigade was standing by in reserve, but was ultimately unneeded.

        Despite their much-vaunted probability de-randomization technology, the token defense force stationed at University Base utterly failed to predict the UNPF’s assault. Analysts speculate that the University Enforcement “commandos” were asleep on the job, having entered a so-called “hypnotic trance” as the result of excessive indulgences in alcohol and “performance enhancing” recreational drugs.

        (https://i.imgur.com/HXmH8fF.png)

        UNPF mechanized infantry entering University Base have reported finding evidence of horrifying atrocities being carried out against the base’s drone population by University academicians, providing long-sought confirmation of decades’ worth of testimonies by defecting scientists. Fragments of University records recovered by UNDA operatives at the scene describe in clinical and detached detail how tens of thousands of drones were rounded up and exterminated in job lots by University Enforcement, under the orders of Provost Prokhor Zakharov himself. Most were used as test subjects for newly developed chemical and biological weapons of mass destruction, which demonstrated lethality far above that of previously reported stockpiles of Novichok nerve agent and Variola major virus.

        (click to show/hide)

        It is believed that these atrocities were ordered in response to the popular uprisings that took place at Nadezja-Hope research campus and the Library of Planet, with Zakharov fearing that a similar event at University Base could threaten his tenuous grip on power.

        The newly democratically-elected local government of the Library of Planet has stated it will open its borders to all refugees fleeing Zakharov’s technocratic regime, expected to reach hundreds of thousands in the coming years.

        (https://i.imgur.com/GfErHis.png)

        Regrettably, it appears that Provost Zakharov and his inner circle were able to flee from the scene in an unmarked civilian supply crawler, evading arrest to make their way to a secondary command centre at Academy Park. UNPF patrols have since been ordered to halt and search all supply crawlers operating in the area, in case any more members of the University’s leadership are attempting to escape judgement for their crimes against humanity.

        (click to show/hide)
        Title: Re: Money and the Will to Power: A Game of Economic Imperialism [PBEM]
        Post by: Alpha Centauri Bear on September 14, 2020, 01:27:06 PM
        humanitarian intervention

        🤣
        Title: Re: Money and the Will to Power: A Game of Economic Imperialism [PBEM]
        Post by: Alpha Centauri Bear on September 14, 2020, 01:39:29 PM
        Will to Power goes to great lengths to ensure that human players can’t lazily overwhelm the AI with a few high-attack units, most notably in rebalancing weapons and armour to be roughly equal on the tech tree, and in adding the +50% territory bonus on top of the +50% base defense bonus to further augment that. The human player can still eventually overcome the AI, but they’re supposed to work for their conquest to the point where it’s not really worth it a lot of the time.

        Atrocities bypass all of that.

        Here you see me engaging in the classic one-two combo of gene warfare followed up by a nerve gas attack. Gene warfare reduces all defenders down to 50-90% HP, while nerve gas boosts your units’ attack by +50%. Both cause population loss: gene warfare does it according to a more complicated formula, nerve gas just straight-up halves it.

        Normally, atrocities result in sanctions being applied according to a formula, scaling up as you commit more and more; but repealing the UN Charter removes this effect.

        I actually planned to take University Base intact, seeing as it had the Empath Guild, but the atrocities were too effective at wiping out the population and so the base was razed when my rover moved in to capture it. Troops got a little carried away!

        They voted for that, haven't they? Probably planned to commit few atrocities too. The game is actually quite logical in that. We sure can try to tone it down somehow but this is why lifting UN charter is there - to aid aggressive nations. It is fun element of the game.
        I don't think it is too easy to lift it. You need to become a planet governor or ally few factions or bribe them, etc. It is a work too. PKs with their voting power are in unique position to avoid other governor veto. That is a nice bonus too.

        I suggest you keep atrociting away and let us know about consequences whether from University or others. Did they build hospitals anywhere to reduce unit health loss?
        Do you think we should reduce unit health loss even without hospitals?
        Do you think we should reduce population loss from gas?
        Title: Re: Money and the Will to Power: A Game of Economic Imperialism [PBEM]
        Post by: Tayta Malikai on September 15, 2020, 08:13:32 AM
        They voted for that, haven't they? Probably planned to commit few atrocities too. The game is actually quite logical in that. We sure can try to tone it down somehow but this is why lifting UN charter is there - to aid aggressive nations. It is fun element of the game.
        I don't think it is too easy to lift it. You need to become a planet governor or ally few factions or bribe them, etc. It is a work too. PKs with their voting power are in unique position to avoid other governor veto. That is a nice bonus too.

        I suggest you keep atrociting away and let us know about consequences whether from University or others. Did they build hospitals anywhere to reduce unit health loss?
        Do you think we should reduce unit health loss even without hospitals?
        Do you think we should reduce population loss from gas?
        Yeah, the whole Planetary Council mechanic is actually quite robust and sensible. One of my favourite parts of the game for sure.

        I forgot to mention it earlier, but the Thinker AI goes seriously crazy with nerve-stapling the instant the Charter gets lifted. It's a rather amusing sight to behold. Makes you think about how different all the factions are...

        The AI did not even have the technology needed to build Research Hospitals in this game. I think Nevill commented somewhere that the AI stagnates hard around mid-game, and being unable to research Gene Splicing at level 6 is the result. This was part of why I suggested making BioLabs count as defensive facilities, since they're available a lot earlier.

        As for whether the effects of gene warfare or nerve gas should be reduced, that's a tough question. The thing is that there are a couple of not-immediately-obvious dimensions to using atrocities:

        1. Is the Charter still in effect?
        Which brings us to:

        2. Are your opponents humans or AIs?
        This is an important question, because it leads to:

        3. How counterable are atrocities?

        So to answer your questions:
        Title: Re: Money and the Will to Power: A Game of Economic Imperialism [PBEM]
        Post by: Alpha Centauri Bear on September 15, 2020, 01:32:10 PM
        and the target will hate you forever

        This happens regardless of charter, obviously. Charter is there only for others to either stand united against atrocities or let everybody suffer individually.
        Title: Re: Money and the Will to Power: A Game of Economic Imperialism [PBEM]
        Post by: Tayta Malikai on September 17, 2020, 01:08:24 PM
        M.Y. 2247: A YEAR IN REVIEW

        Nearly a century and a half after human settlers first touched down on Planet, citizens of the United Nations celebrate the passing of another successful mission year. And what a tremendous year it was! Tonight, as we mark another orbit of Alpha Centauri A and B, the UN Information Agency takes a moment to look back on all of the major events that took place throughout Mission Year 2247.

        The number one story of this year, featuring at the top of every citizen’s datalinks feed, is of course the news that Provost Prokhor Zakharov was finally arrested and brought to justice, bringing an end to the seven year-long Operation Monsoon Thunder that saw at least a million drones liberated from pseudo-scientific slavery at the hands of University academicians. On the run after UNPF armour brigades crushed his secondary command centre at Academy Park, the mad Provost made his desperate last stand at the geological survey post of Korolev Centre, where a company of crack Gaian Eco-Marines assaulted and overran his bodyguards in a pitched battle lasting seventeen hours.

        Although the University of Planet’s eventual fall was never in doubt, analysts remain divided over what was the deciding factor in the last battle. Conventional wisdom states that most of Zakharov’s bodyguards deserted him in the face of rock-bottom morale and promises of amnesty by UNDA operatives, leaving only a loyal core to be outnumbered by Gaian forces. A significant group of the more hardware-focused commentators were quick to highlight the wide disparity between the Gaians’ quantum disentanglement rays and the University’s encased neutronium shielding. A much smaller minority continues to claim that the Gaians’ usage of experimental psionic communicators allowed them to maintain key unit cohesion in the University’s electromagnetically-hostile environment.

        (https://i.imgur.com/ePJQVnk.png)

        While Zakharov currently remains in the custody of Gaia’s Stepdaughters, Lady Nevill has promised to expedite his transfer to UN Criminal Tribunal, where he will stand trial for his crimes against humanity, as soon as security conditions in the Monsoon Jungle make it practicable to do so. It will certainly be a trial to remember, surpassing even that of the infamously conniving Timothy Newton and Tammy Weiss!

        (https://i.imgur.com/z6PxGeO.jpg)

        The winding down of Operation Monsoon Thunder has spurred a significant reshuffling of responsibilities, budgets, and priorities across numerous UN agencies as they prepare to transition into a program of occupation and reconstruction in the liberated Monsoon Jungle. Collectively designated Operation Monsoon Freedom, the program will see the majority of UN bases make preparations to accommodate an influx of refugees from the Monsoon Jungle, where a century of Zakharov’s neglect and cruelty has rendered living conditions unsuitable for human habitation in the medium term. It is expected that each base will accept up to twenty thousand former drones, while a wide-ranging program of counselling and retraining will facilitate these refugees’ orderly integration into United Nations society.

        (https://i.imgur.com/FS18GmP.png)

        International diplomacy remained the foremost priority of the United Nations in spite of all the military excitement this year, with High Commissioner Tayta personally persuading the Planetary Council to vote unanimously to authorize the recovery and salvage of the remaining UNS Unity wreckage on Planet.

        While most of the Earth-era technologies within have since been matched or surpassed by various scientific discoveries made by humanity here on Planet, the hull and fittings designed to survive the stresses of a 40-year deep space voyage remain valuable sources of sturdy construction material, estimated to be worth five hundred million UN dollars.

        Furthermore, any shipboard databases that remain intact and salvageable would provide a priceless trove of Earth-era knowledge for the benefit of archivists and anthropologists on Planet today. In particular, UNDA officials are hopeful to uncover any data that may shed light on the origins of the Unity splinter faction leaders on Planet, who are believed to have infiltrated the original Unity mission as agents of their home nations’ respective intelligence agencies on Earth.

        (https://i.imgur.com/ZPkZnRL.png)

        Diplomacy did not always prevail this past year, however. The continued refusal of the Spartan Federation to acknowledge the presence of terrorist training camps on its shores has been a persistent point of contention in UN-Spartan relations, even as graduates of those camps such as the notorious Fatman remained free to terrorize the region. Fed up with constant Spartan intransigence, the UN High Commission authorized the UNPF to carry out anti-terrorist operations which led to the recapture of UN Ocean Authority and the effective neutralization of the training camps. This led the Spartan military dictator, Colonel Corazon Santiago, to make a speech declaring the anti-terrorist operations to be “a gross violation of inalienable faction sovereignty” and “an act of war by crooked UN globalists against the free peoples of Planet”.

        (https://i.imgur.com/DyVkqtA.png)
        (click to show/hide)

        With UN-Spartan tensions running high once again, it no doubt came as a relief to many UN citizens when a UNDA engineering team announced that they were on the verge of finalizing a working prototype of its newest tachyon bolt cannon design. Inspired by the recent breakthroughs made in unified field theory, the cannon makes use of a classified mechanism to generate an atom-sized mass of tachyons encased within a quantum field, which is then directed towards the enemy. While the quantum field is unstable and will generally destabilize in under a microsecond, this is still sufficient to give the ‘bolt’ an effective firing range of 300 metres. Aside from the destructive effects of a collection of particles smashing into the enemy at superluminal speeds, the fact that it travels faster than light means that not even the fastest military supercomputer would be able to see it coming, let alone dodge before impact.

        (https://i.imgur.com/fteKhBE.png)

        While less destructive than the Gaians’ quantum disentanglement ray, the tachyon bolt cannon still represents an order of magnitude improvement over the fusion-pumped X-ray lasers currently in service with the UNPF. A UNDA spokesman expressed optimism that the design would enter mass production next year.

        (https://i.imgur.com/jjGBj7J.png)

        These remain interesting times for Planet, but citizens of the UN can take pride knowing that their collective efforts are building a better Planet for all of humanity.

        (click to show/hide)
        Title: Re: Money and the Will to Power: A Game of Economic Imperialism [PBEM]
        Post by: Tayta Malikai on September 20, 2020, 02:18:42 PM
        U.N. HEADQUARTERS FLOODED!
        U.N. PLANETARY TRUST BLAMED FOR FAILING TO TACKLE CLIMATE CHANGE

        (https://i.imgur.com/oz2drGG.png)

        A freak tropical storm has wreaked havoc at UN Headquarters, bringing home the threat of climate change to a complacent bureaucracy at horrific cost.

        Despite valiant attempts by engineers on the scene to erect last-minute defenses, winds exceeding 300 km/h swiftly overwhelmed the base’s structural integrity, allowing heavy rains to flood over half of UNHQ before all of the internal bulkheads could be sealed. A preliminary assessment made by first responders arriving from UN Disaster Relief and UN Aid Station estimated that fifty thousand citizens were unable to escape in time and drowned at the scene, marking the worst humanitarian disaster experienced by humanity so far on Planet.

        Other agencies were quicker to respond to the threat, with UN Social Council and UN Planetary Trust both reporting that engineers were able to complete their base’s pressure domes in time and thus suffered no significant casualties from the storm.

        The unprecedented scale of this disaster, dwarfing even the loss of UN Court of Justice to mind worms in 2157, has raised serious doubts among the public regarding the ability of the UN Planetary Trust to address the growing climate threat looming over Planet. A formal UNDA inquiry is already underway into the accuracy of the climate simulation models currently being run at UNHQ, the supercomputing infrastructure for which was completed at great expense in 2208, which UN officials are now criticizing for failing to provide adequate warning of the disaster.

        (https://i.imgur.com/QO2mQFu.png)

        The UN Planetary Trust denied that increased sightings of mind worms were occurring as a result of climate change, although it recommended that the UN as a whole adopt a more rigorous program of environmental protections as a part of its ongoing partnership with Gaia’s Stepdaughters.

        (https://i.imgur.com/u59QBWK.png)

        High Commissioner Tayta announced that due to its facilities being rendered unusable by flooding and the likelihood of future climate-related disasters affecting the area, the UN High Commission would be relocating itself to an undisclosed secure location until further notice. He stressed that this would not affect the quality of its decision making, nor its commitment to overseeing current UN operations and advancing UN values.

        (https://i.imgur.com/7WZv3QW.png)

        ----------

        SPARTAN SHOCK TROOPERS BLASTED

        A mobile task force of the United Nations Mission in the Spartan Federation (UNMISF) was met with a hostile reception as it moved in to provide relief to the war-stricken base of Blast Rifle Crag, sources within the UNPF reported.

        While the citizens of Blast Rifle Crag greeted the task force as liberators, local warlords nominally claiming allegiance to the Spartan Federation violently resisted in an attempt to retain power over their captive population, forcing the mobile task force to return fire.

        Although these “citizens’ militias” were unusually well-equipped, adding fuel to UNDA suspicions that many of them were actually members of Colonel Santiago’s elite “Three Hundred” shock trooper force, the UNMISF task force nonetheless retained the mobility advantage in the open fields surrounding Blast Rifle Crag and eventually prevailed over the Spartan infantry.

        (https://i.imgur.com/YgIc3tJ.png)

        The lack of rovers among the Spartan forces suggests that the former Spartan Federation is encountering logistical difficulties as a result of the recent climate-induced flooding at Sparta Command, which forced Colonel Santiago and her loyalists to relocate command inland to Fort Liberty. This appears to have been interpreted as evidence of weakness by victims of the mad Colonel’s Social Darwinist regime, sparking revolts in Survival Base and Assassin’s Redoubt, further eroding her once rock-solid powerbase.

        (https://i.imgur.com/yvoirSc.png)

        In a sign that even former Spartan military higher-ups are becoming disillusioned with Santiago’s reign, the entire Spartan Admiralty reportedly offered to defect to the United Nations in exchange for amnesty and a 1 billion UN dollar payout. Hommel’s Citadel is also believed to have defected to Gaia’s Stepdaughters, claiming an increased ecological sympathy in light of recent extreme weather events.

        (click to show/hide)

        The Spartan Civil War has its roots in the aftermath of the Second Spartan-Morgan War in MY 2251-53, in which Colonel Santiago ordered the annexation of the remaining two “free contract” Morganic bases in an attempt to shore up her failing poll ratings, as well as plunder Morgan Industries’ corporate bank accounts so as to plug gaping holes in the Spartan Federation’s infrastructure budget. UNDA analysts remain uncertain as to what happened next, but it is believed that the military higher-ups fell out over how to divide up the loot, soon escalating to violence as they sought to “reappropriate” the others’ loot for themselves.

        Whatever the cause, with Spartan troops suffering defeats in the field and defecting left and right, it is all but certain that the Spartan Civil War will end sooner rather than later.

        (click to show/hide)