A kind of “police procedural” game, set in a dystopian world of eldritch horror, drawing heavily on shows like The X-Files, Fringe, The Blacklist, Blindspot, Person Of Interest, The Wire, True Detective, White Collar and similar. It’s intended to be a police procedural veering into thriller or mystery, rather than an action movie.
The campaign’s about federal agents roped into a “shit detail” thanks to political pressure. The idea is to look at the demands of being a professional investigator tasked with defending the New Earth’s Government populace. There will be a focus on inter- and intra-Agency politics, as well as characters’ personal lives and relationships, all in the context of a foray into the eldritch horror of the Strange Aeon. Some major features may be inter-agency rivalry, bureaucratic interference, sinister conspiracies and unholy monsters. It’s possible you’ll end up investigating cults, crimes and conspiracies and ultimately tangling with cosmic forces several orders of magnitude larger than you are, but equally it might all be listening to wiretaps and marital infidelity.
As well as the policework, you’ll also have to deal with office politics and your characters’ personal lives.
Investigation and research will therefore both take up a lot of time. You’ll be crawling around in the underbelly of the New Earth Government, looking for evidence of wrongdoing. You’ll operate from time to time in the Arcane Underground, surrounded by powerful enemies with more than a few dirty tricks up their sleeves, or otherwise investigating potential threats and infractions, knowing you’re never far away from sects dedicated to the worship of things that are fundamentally wrong.
Combat is likely to be very rare – it’s up to you, of course, but ideally if you anticipate a big fight then you’re better off using Bureaucracy to call in tactical support (like local SWAT, or an OIS response team, or even SPAT) rather than loading for bear yourselves and hoping for the best. That said, sometimes you might find yourselves ambushed and/or facing unexpected odds where you will be badly outmatched – so it’s worth preparing for the worst!
You will start play as a Joint Task Force between the Federal Security Bureau and the Office of Internal Security. Two team members will be from the FSB, two will be from the OIS, and the fifth will be an Advisor from the Ashcroft Foundation, assigned to ensure that inter-agency co-operation goes smoothly and look out for the senior Ashcroft exec’s interests.
NOTE – it will actively harm your enjoyment of this campaign to read the actual CthulhuTech books. The setting material here is everything your characters need.
The team members from the OIS will normally have been tasked to deal with crimes involving sorcerers and para-psychics, with the mystical black market and with hostile non-human entities within arcologies. They’re more likely to be field agents or undercover agents than response team members or Special Power Armour Team troopers – this is an investigation detail, after all!
The team members from the FSB, on the other hand, might have been drawn from any of the FSB’s nine main divisions. Whichever division they’ve been sent over from, they’re part of the most visible and respected branch of the Government besides the military, and they take that responsibility seriously. Although they suffer from an increased bureaucratic burden, local law enforcement are much more inclined to assist them.
Finally, the Ashcroft Adviser is there to smooth out the tensions between the two cohorts, and keep them focused on the larger mission – specifically, building some sort of criminal case against the Micrologic exec so that they can be arrested and your superior at the Foundation can be satisfied (and everyone can then get back to their normal jobs).
Session and campaign structure
The campaign will be split up into a series of cases/investigations as you try to gather enough evidence to make an arrest. Of course, you might well find that the case builds into something much bigger – and you will need to do a lot of detective work, building an adversary map and/or GUMSHOE whiteboard in order to really pin some wrongdoing on the target. Getting the arrest is the campaign goal, not something you will achieve in a few sessions.
Each case will be broken up into scenes; each scene will have a core clue, which will help you move the investigation along. There may be additional clues, as well as all the roleplaying around people’s interpersonal relationships (with superiors, dependents, friends, one another etc. etc.). This is a police procedural crossed with conspiracy thriller, not an action movie.
As an OOC structure, I’m thinking a short-run “season” of 13 “episodes” (cases), building to some kind of climax. After that, who knows..?