Thought Police Archetypes

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by Tom Verreault

A science fiction staple since George Orwell wrote “1984”, the thought police have entered the common vernacular, mainly in reference to the proponents of political correctness. It remains a strong science fiction element through shows like Babylon 5 with its Psi-corp. In a world where hyper surveillance like that of Orwell’s “1984” and cutting edge technology exists could thought police be far behind? They are certainly present for science fiction RPG game play. This article endeavors to make the archetype available to players within the Star Frontiers setting.

Character Concepts

Thought police have been presented as simply agents employing hyper surveillance and psychological measures to police the subjected population as well as telepathically enabled agents of a far future setting. Both are valid ways of handling the thought police in a game setting and since the mentalism rules in Star Frontiers are optional I will leave this choice as optional to the game referee.

Family of One Inquisitor

The Family of One is a repressive religious government on the edges of the Frontier controlling the Araks system and the Greater Overall Development mega-corp (GODco). It uses the inquisitors as thought police to subjugate the population of Hentz as well as agents throughout the Frontier ready to do the bidding of the Family. They are ruthless and relentless in the pursuit of the Family of One’s goals but all inquisitors are yazirian.

They have a solid grasp of Family of One theology (Frontier Explorer #2) and understand the principles of the psych0-social skill set. They do receive some weapons training as part of their police duties but are also proficient at basic tech skill to operate communication devices as well as disabling locks and alarms.

They are unforgiving and hardened against opposing views. They can be both zealous for their religious belief and for their organization.

The Corporate Negotiator

This character concept can be any specie.  However dralasites, with their natural lie detection ability and vrusk with their natural comprehension ability, will have an edge. The corporate negotiator is in the employ of a mega-corp but the concept works well enough for a diplomatic envoy as well.

The corporate negotiator is very good at reading people and has excelled at the psycho-social skill set.  He may have some computer skills that he uses to research those he is negotiating with but weapons skills are completely secondary to the concept.  After all, most mega corps have a ready supply of knuckle-dragging mercenary types to handle their “diplomacy by other means”.   It’s very likely that this character has some latent or fully realized telepathic talent that the corporation has actively recruited to exploit for its benefit.

The negotiator is savvy and personable with a reasonably high PER score for NPC interactions. He is well versed in the culture of the Frontier and can rub elbows with most of its upper echelons without a problem.

The Star Law Interrogator

Note: The article, “Careers in Star Law” by Alex Curylo in Dragon #91 covers the creation of Star Law agents by PSA.  These characters are fairly advanced so it might be that the starting player character is merely an interrogator or investigator from a small police or sheriff organization on the outskirts of the Frontier. Also the dralasite ability, lie detection, will help that specie excel at this character concept.

The interrogator uses his psycho-social skills to find the truth and push a suspect to confess. He has not neglected his military skills being law enforcement and may have a level or two in computers or technician skills. He can read people and uses his PER ability score to gain favorable responses from NPCs. He is by far the most militant of the character concepts and carries standard police issue gear.

Development

Developing Abilities

The ability pair of INT/LOG should figure large in actions involving mental processes and should be among the character’s higher scores. LOG is critical to characters using the mentalism/psi rules and should in that case be the highest ability score. These character concepts will not be likely to “shoot first and ask questions latter” so the PER ability should not be neglected either.

Developing Skills

Hands down the Psycho-social skill will be this archetype’s bread and butter.  The Inquisitor and the interrogator will both need some weapons training.  A level or two in the right technical skill (computers or technician) will greatly aid these character concepts. 

As noted before, the racial skills of Lie Detection and Comprehension could be a powerful edge to the character but do not discount the Human specie’s racial ability to add 5 pts to any ability score. Of all of the “core four” species, the yazirians are the only one with a natural enhancement to the INT/LOG ability pair so they should not be counted out for this archetype either.

Equipment

Negotiators, diplomats, and even the Inquisitor may desire civilian skein suits while the Interrogator probably uses a police issue skein suit which counts as a military skein suit in game terms. Thought police are less likely to go in for heavy weapons preferring a side arm that can stun or knock out a being so that they can be talked to later. They just are not geared to fight a war but function best in a support role to regular police or mercenary teams.

Mentalism Disciplines (Optional)

Information gathering psychic disciplines like Analysis II, Clairaudience, Clairvoyance, Detection, Empathy, Telepathy: Aliens, Telepathy: Characters, or Timeread are excellent choices. Disciplines that influence NPCs can be handy: Confusion, Illusion, Infatuation, and Suggestion can be very useful.

Edges and Flaws

If you are using the optional Edges and Flaws system from the remastered rule books or any other system that has a edges and flaws mechanic you can assign points appropriate to that system.  Otherwise you can include these traits into your character background as appropriate.

Flaw: Hubris

This character is so smart he occasionally makes a bad decision based on his own arrogance. Once per game session a character with the Hubris flaw may make a bad decision at the referee’s discretion based on the character’s conceit. This decision might put him or others in harm’s way or simply offend an NPC such that he refuses to talk politely with the character anymore.

Edge: Second Sight

The character’s intuition is highly attuned and once per game session the player may invoke the right to re-roll a bad NPC reaction roll. In addition the character has an IM bonus of +1 at all times.