June 20th 2013
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This idea comes from Sengar, who presented a lengthy and well-thought out case for:
“Having read everything I could lay my hands on, I formed the view that there was an important aspect of the government structure missing that related to covert intelligence gathering and espionage, which was cemented for me when I saw a Q&A session that suggested the military would have sole responsibility for this. This didn’t seem likely in a post-Messer era and was not my understanding of the ‘real world’ situation across many countries, so I undertook some research in order to set out my proposal and how I thought this could be weaved into the existing lore.”
Here are some reactions from the internal discussions of the dev team:
David Ladyman: “I think a separate imperial investigative agency is probably not needed and might get in the way. But a quasi-approved, ostensibly privately-run agency (as someone mentioned, like the Pinkertons) could be interesting. It could even be sponsored by the major corps and used (with a little actual legitimate leverage) to keep things relatively above-board among the private industry heavy hitters. (It could also put the hammer down on any upstart minor corps who are causing problems for any of the major corp sponsors.)”
Rob I: First, a very thorough and solidly-constructed post. From a design perspective, we have to answer a few questions:
1) Does it add to the game/game universe? That’s a pretty clear “yes”, in that it is a civilian organization and will therefore offer additional player content/missions.
2) Does it pose any major design obstacles? None that I can see.
3) Is it counter to existing fiction/game design? Yes, there is definitely a bit of a retcon where the fiction is concerned, but it does not run counter to existing game design. Design at that point turns to the writers to see if they can work it in.
So I would give it a thumbs up as a design concept.
DH: Right off the bat, this raised several questions: Who would they report to? Is it a recent division? If not, is it too much of a stretch to say that this department has always existed, as a spy agency would have undoubtedly gotten into some mischief during the Messer Era. As far as names go, while I like Spectare as a name, I think it’s too close to Mass Effect. I like the Pinkerton correlation made by David L. as well as DrHawk in the comments.
While we have continually mentioned that we reserve the right to amend previously released information based on new developments in the construction of the game, we have tried to avoid it for the simple reason that it can feel a little weird to suddenly force the fiction to account for a whole new element. That’s the downside of building your universe in public. For example, when we hit the stretch goal that included the Kr’Thak, we had to brainstorm a way to insert them into the universe that felt organic. It would be odd to suddenly say, “here’s a new alien race that hasn’t been mentioned in any of the Dispatches or Time Capsules but they’ve just been around the whole time.” So that’s why we placed them on the opposite side of the Xi’An and their presence was only recently discovered.
So how could we add a civilian intelligence agency into the lore in an elegant way without disrupting the history too much?
In the meantime, let’s take a pass at the spy agency:
Long hidden behind an innocuous (i.e., dull) name within the labyrinthine bowels of the Senate’s budget, Division is responsible for the collection, analysis or exploitation of information and intelligence in support of law enforcement, imperial security, defense and foreign policy objectives. This can take on many forms (from communication intercepts to asset gathering to counter-intelligence) as Division utilizes operatives throughout the Empire on both domestic and foreign missions.
Since it has never been officially recognized, no one really knows when Division was created. The first known mention of Division came in the archive of the Senate subcommittee meeting in 2794. But the first potential indication of a Division action came six years earlier, in 2788. Nathan Warrick, an Advocacy Section Chief in the Terra System, helped facilitate Senator Akari’s meetings with the Xi’An to create the Kr.ē/Akari treaty that diffused tensions with the Xi’An and marked the beginning of the end of the Messer Era. After that incident, Warrick left the Advocacy and disappeared. After the fall of Messer, Warrick reappeared as a ‘consultant’ on Akari’s staff before being named as the first Director of the new Division of Executive Services during that Senate subcommittee meeting in 2794.
Terrified at the prospect of another despot, the Senate wanted to make sure they were kept informed of the mood of the people, as well as the atmosphere of the other branches of the UEE. The Division of Executive Services was designed to infiltrate, keeping an eye not only on the public but also the military and even the Advocacy.
The Senate Subcommittee for Internal Appraisal handles budgetary and executive oversight of Division. Again, the official incarnations of this elusive spy agency are designed to be forgettable, hence the bland names.
Field agents for Division actively recruit assets within and without the UEE to keep the Senate apprised of potential crises and growing threats to imperial security. Known within Division as gatherers, they are charged with digging up information for Division analysts to consume.
Division is even more tight-lipped than usual about its method for recruiting gatherers. Division’s strength is that its agents can be anyone, so their recruitment path is personality-based more than physical. They want adaptable, intuitive and intelligent people who are capable of being present but not being noticed (or at least forgotten soon after).
WHAT DOES THE PUBLIC KNOW?
Nothing. They don’t even know that Division exists. There have been whispers, of course, but deniability has been Division’s prime directive since its inception and, thus far, they haven’t been caught.