The Ashcroft Foundation coined the name arcanotechnology when they first shocked and amazed the world over fifty years ago. They used it to describe a bold new field that married advanced technology with the effects of ritual magic. Arcanotechnology touches all citizens of the NEG every day, though they may not even be aware of it.
Teresa Ashcroft pioneered arcanotechnology as a gifted young doctoral student at Miskatonic University. While working in the library’s restricted section, she discovered a unique and as of yet unknown translation of The Mysteries Within – an ancient book detailing non-Euclidean mathematical principles that could rip through the very fabric of the universe. It’s upon these principles that she designed the theory behind the D-Engine. Unfortunately, the pursuit of such cosmic forces claimed her mind.
Others followed in her footsteps, eventually creating the Ashcroft Foundation and the first D-Engines. These machines use a combination of advanced engineering concepts combined with small dimensional rips formed and maintained by non-Euclidean mathematical principles to create a clean and inexhaustible power source. All initial applications of arcanotech were derivatives of the D-Engine. D-Cells created powerful rechargeable batteries, Cascaded D-Engine Generators created and distributed power for everyday use, and A-Pods created true anti-gravity fields. Arcanotech is now everywhere.
Arcanotechnology changed the world forever. Fossil fuel exporters lost their power overnight. Energy conglomerates faced ruin. Resource mining and management companies went bankrupt. Fortunately, faith in the new field was so high that economies didn’t collapse under the strain. The companies that survived were those who could adapt as quickly as possible. The car manufacturers who had stubbornly refused to design good vehicles powered by alternate fuels were buried by their more ready competition.
The D-Engine Operator Extension Side Effect, which attunes a pilot more closely with his vehicle, created a vector for an entirely new machine of war. Now the military could create giant mechanized infantry with the firepower to level buildings. Internal D-Engine power gave way to plasma cannons and charge beams. These mecha changed the face of warfare into what we see today.
Arcanotech engineers also research enchanted materials. Highly experimental, this new field attempts to weave the effects of enchantment ritual magic into the materials manufacturing process. It has been slow and difficult going. These researchers hope one day to produce reinforced building materials, enchanted composites, broadcast power, and the like.
The leading arcanotechnology researcher and producer is still the company that started it all – the Ashcroft Foundation. It is a firm founded by the original scientists and investors from the prototype D-Engine. When the D-Engine was finally revealed to the world, the Ashcroft Foundation went from a small, unknown research group to one of the most wealthy and powerful corporations in history in a matter of months. They still hold patents on nearly all ubiquitous arcanotech and draw massive revenue from licensed manufacturers. One of the Foundation’s stated goals is the continuing development of arcanotechnology – they are the creators of the field and they plan to stay leaders in it. They’re convinced that the key to winning the Aeon War lies in arcanotech and they labor feverishly to find new applications. The public relations department of the company paints them as patriotic heroes working with the New Earth Government to save the world.
The New Earth Government and the Ashcroft Foundation are in bed together the way no government and corporation has ever been. The Foundation is the government’s primary producer of essential arcanotechnology. Their equipment powers the nation and, through subsidiaries, they manufacture critical military components. They are, in many ways, the premiere research and development arm of the NEG’s military. Beyond all that, the Ashcroft Foundation floated government agencies a great deal of money to rebuild the world’s infrastructure using arcanotechnology and to help build them their new army. While the Foundation isn’t asking for repayment, the NEG treats them as advisory partners. Ashcroft Foundation advisors are found at every level of the government and military. Some say they are the power behind the New Earth Government. Some say they are just a powerful branch of the NEG. Many protest that a private organization has no business advising on matters of state or economy, but that hasn’t changed anything.
As one might expect, the Ashcroft Foundation is a singular company for which to work. Only the most gifted are employed. Employees are encouraged to treat the company and their fellow workers as if they were family. People look out for each other at the Foundation and loyalty and merit are the only qualities rewarded. Employees are compensated and cared for through generous wages, excellent benefits, and lucrative investment packages. Not only is the Foundation an equal opportunity employer, they actively recruited Nazzadi researchers once the “aliens” were introduced into New Earth Government society. But secrecy is a significant part of the Foundation’s culture as well. Employees are not only tightly knit, they’re close mouthed. There are very few people outside of the Foundation who know much of anything about what goes on inside.
The bizarre principles upon which arcanotech is based are difficult for the mortal mind to fathom. There is much of the Foundation’s research that is taxing on a person’s psyche, causing nervous breakdowns, psychotic episodes, or worse. To deal with these effects on their employees, the Foundation established the Ashcroft Clinic – a first-rate psychiatric research and care organization. Their first patient and inspiration was Teresa Ashcroft. Not surprisingly, the Clinic is lauded for its advancements in the field. Today, arcanotechnology researchers and developers are required to meet with Ashcroft Clinic therapists for 90 minutes of one-on-one counseling and evaluation every week. Some more extreme cases are required to schedule additional sessions or even take “leaves of absence” at the Clinic’s facilities. The Foundation however has never fired an employee for mental health reasons. Those who can eventually return to work do. Those who can’t return to research are given cushy office jobs with ample compensation. Those who can’t return to work are provided with generous disability packages. It’s because of these risks that Ashcroft Foundation research and development employees are among the highest paid professionals in the world.
With the destruction of Arkham in the First Arcanotech War, the Ashcroft Foundation followed the New Earth Government to Chicago. Their global headquarters is almost an arcology unto itself. Today, they maintain offices in every major NEG city and send Ashcroft Clinic trained therapists all over the world.
Ashcroft Clinics and Advisors
The Ashcroft Foundation’s mission statement is “The betterment of all people through the application of knowledge.” Though the world knows them mostly as the leading developer of arcanotechnology and the creator of the revolutionary D-engine, those things are hardly their only, or greatest, impact.
When the D-engine was created, the promise of unlimited energy profoundly changed lifestyles, economies, and politics. The world was changing fast and structures that had been in place for generations were rapidly disappearing. And into this void rose the Ashcroft Foundation.
The two most immediate problems the New United Nations faced were infrastructure and overall impact. They needed to rebuild the way power was created and distributed across the whole world, for D-engine power was cheap, plentiful, and infinitely renewable with no environmental impact. The Ashcroft Foundation was the sole provider of this equipment and these services as patent holder of this new technology. There was really no way the NUN was going to be able to pay for everything, unless they undermined both law and free enterprise, so they needed to strike a deal. Add to this the anxiety of those in power, who saw danger in the coming changes. They could only guess the effects that the re-tooling of the world’s energy infrastructure was going to have on economy, politics, and society. There was really only one organization that could help them understand.
The deal was proposed. The Ashcroft Foundation would retool the world’s power distribution infrastructure (and telecommunications while they were at it) for a reduced cost, but would be contracted long-term to help the powers that be understand the effects of the myriad changes the world was and would continue to undergo as well as help guide society through them. The Foundation agreed and the first generation of Ashcroft Advisors went out into every level of the government and the military.
While the intention of the New United Nations was only to involve the Ashcroft Foundation during the period of change, things were not to go as planned. As threats began to compile through two Arcanotech Wars and into the Strange Aeon, the need for Ashcroft Foundation involvement continued to grow and Advisors became more and more firmly embedded into the political landscape on a “non-official” level.
The agreement created by the New United Nations carried over into the formation of the New Earth Government and nowadays Ashcroft Advisors are an accepted part of the system. They are the best of the best in their fields and are rigorously trained and educated by the Foundation. They advise on nearly all levels of government and the military and that’s all they are allowed to do. But what most people don’t realize is the power they truly command. An Ashcroft Advisor is not an elected official and does not need to leave their position when a new politician is elected. Many of the newly elected rely on their advisors to get them up to speed. Furthermore, the political deals the many advisors make through the years make them as influential as the politicians themselves. While they do not have the ability to execute any of their own counsel, many know how to apply pressure to find someone who will. They are, in many ways, the power behind the throne. If citizens of the New Earth Government truly understood the power that the Ashcroft Advisory body wields, they would demand to have a say in who was placed where. As it stands, most people regard Ashcroft Advisors as either a good thing or with ambivalence, even though conspiracy theories abound on the internet.
Considering the fate of Teresa Ashcroft, it’s no surprise that the Foundation would find their way into mental health. The Ashcroft Clinic is a world leader in psychological screening, therapeutic techniques, psychopharmacology, and in-patient care facilities. While the New Earth Government maintains its own force of public health therapists, Ashcroft Clinic psychologists and psychiatrists are the cream of the crop. They are routinely brought in to assess public health centers, to conduct training in new techniques, provide continuing education classes, and to deal with the toughest of cases. The government employs many Ashcroft Clinic professionals to provide counseling for government agents and military personnel.
The toughest cases, the criminally insane, those whose minds have snapped through exposure to the horror of the world, and the truly lost all are turned over to the Ashcroft Clinic’s in-patient facilities. These facilities are high security complexes housing floor after floor filled with madmen. It is here that the Clinic tests radical techniques, experiments to find new ones, or tests new drugs. They do their best to bring these unfortunate souls back from the brink of oblivion, and in some cases they see success. But the world is a dark place and some are forever gone and it is the Clinic’s job to see that they live out the rest of their lives in as much comfort as possible.
Another division of the Foundation is Ashcroft Education, a new and growing part of their work, dedicated to the transformation of life. Drawn from methodologies akin to controversial programs from the past, Ashcroft Education offers what they call courses in personal effectiveness. Their programs offer an experience drawn from Zen, philosophy, and psychology that is designed to get people out of their own way. The tools they provide give people the ability to live powerfully and without needless suffering. However, it is not for the faint of heart. These programs take people out of their comfort zones to get them profoundly related to reality – and for many people, this experience is difficult. The defense mechanisms they’ve set up their whole life resist the idea that they can be truly happy and in control of their life if they only let go of being right, trying not to look bad, and the conclusions they’ve drawn about “what they know life to be” and strike out boldly. There are those who consider the whole idea preposterous and assert that the education is nothing but a government sponsored cult. But the education works, hence its continuing existence.
Ashcroft Education offers two main curricula. The first is called the Life & Community Curriculum, which focuses on getting people out of their own way in life. An important component to this curriculum is community service and most participants and graduates of these programs go out to create events, benefits, companies, and non-profit organizations to impact their world. The second group of courses is called the Connection Curriculum, which focuses on the way people communicate or don’t communicate. It breaks down how people hear and color relationships and communication on a subconscious level and creates new ways for people to connect without all their emotional baggage intruding. Participants are able to create deeper and richer relationships with loved ones, business associates, and even strangers.
In general, the people who participate in the education suffer fewer barriers to success and happiness, are more honest and authentic in all areas of life, live at a higher level of accountability, are more even keel, are capable of seeing, admitting to, and overcoming shortcomings, are aware of and responsible for the impact they have on the world and others, are more respectful of others and capable of connecting with anyone, even strangers, are free from the baggage of the past, and are more at ease with uncertainty and the chaos of modern life. Even in the face of such results, most people are still suspicious of these programs.