Strephon's Covert Security Bureau (A. Slack)
Gushemege CSB Activities Andy Slack
HIWG Doc No. SW04
An overview of the activities of Strephon's Agency in the fields of
disinformation, memetic engineering, terrorism, and commando operations.
The Covert Survey Bureau (CSB) is the logical choice for Strephon's
secret agency. There are also a number of interesting anomalies in Gushemege
sector. This document discusses what the Gushemege CSB is up to, under these
main headings: Disinformation, Memetics, Terrorism, and Commando Operations.
Strephon's Worlds are outnumbered absolutely in terms of the fighting
ships and men available to the other factions. In any given battle, however,
what matters is not how troops the enemy has, but how many he can bring to
bear. The CSB aims to reduce the odds against Strephon's forces in three main
* by tying down as many opposing troops and ships as possible, rendering
them unavailable for combat.
* by rallying the undecided populations behind Strephon, thus increasing
* by attacking the enemy's command structure and communications routes so
that he cannot direct his forces to the right place at the right time.
The CSB's top administrators are wise enough to realize that this
strategy only delays the inevitable fall of Strephon's Worlds. The rebellion
is bound to settle down to a war of attrition, and in that kind of conflict
the faction with the most troops will eventually win. Strephon and the CSB
hope that the major factions will cripple each other before the attritional
phase sets in, or that they can rally enough high-population worlds to become
the largest faction.
In the meantime, an interesting scenario might be made out of a senior
CSB agent employing the PCs to carry out missions for him - not for Strephon's
cause, but to build up a nest egg he can retire on when Strephon's Worlds
Or, the time-honored art of telling lies about your opponents. Because
of the slow speed at which news travels and the general chaos of the Rebellion,
it isdifficult for most people to find out what is really going on. They will
therefore tend to believe nothing at all or whoever shouts the loudest.
Affeldt suggested lowering enemy morale by tampering with the troops'
mail. Strephon's agency takes this a step further by tampering with the
faction's mail -- introducing false information into their rival's xboat
networks. This is done in a variety of ways:
First, by introducing Gushemege xboats into the networks of rival
factions, carrying fake news. For example, reporting a battle or a planet lost
when it was won, or faked footage of the rival faction's leader being
assassinated. This is a dangerous mission for the pilot, but allows maximum
consistency between the messages aboard, making the news more credible.
Second, agents in rival faction's territory invent false messages and
introduce them into the local xboat network. This can mislead the readers.
More importantly, it lowers the credibility of the other messages delivered.
If one report says the battle was won and another says it was lost, which do
you believe? This slows the enemy's response to information as he must verify
its truthfulness before acting, possibly by sending another ship to check what
Third, destroying data banks, xboats, and couriers wherever possible.
This slows the enemy response, because he doesn't know what is going on. He
must either send more ships to find out, or have fighting ships escort
couriers. (The latter will slow down couriers, because warships generally have
lower jump numbers.)
In all cases, due to the excellent quality of Gushemege simulations,
based on Lancian technology, the false data introduced by the CSB are not
In a more adventurous vein, carefully doctored news might persuade a
low-technology, high-population world that it was cut-off, surrounded,
abandoned, and soon to be smashed by Strephon's fleets. Silver balloons
masquerading as orbiting battleships would help. A forceful landing by a
gunboat or two carrying a CSB agent dressed as a Colonel or Fleet Admiral with
a request that the world surrender could gain the world's surrender, if the
agents were good enough actors.
Pre-jump-drive experiments on Terra showed that certain ideas are
infectious, spreading among persons like viruses and taking over victims'
belief systems. These ideas are known as memes, and the techniques of studying
and creating them are collectively called memetics. Where the vectors
(transmission agent) for a physical disease include vermin, insects, and
carriers of the disease, the vectors for a meme include media broadcasts and
In memetic theory, social movements are side effects of the spread of
specific memes. It follows that a group capable of creating and spreading a
suitable meme can produce social movements to order.
Much CSB research has been targeted on projects to create new religions,
philosophies, and codes of behavior which will dispose those accepting the
artificial ideals to support the CSB's aim. These projects usually conduct
their experiments on interdicted worlds with low tech levels, to minimize the
disturbing affects of outside interference. The group of four type-X starports
close together in subsector L house the major projects, close together for
ease of comparison.
Creating a suitable meme requires, first, that CSB agents thoroughly
study which memes are already active in the target culture. The successful
pseudo-religion will make extensive use of existing memes to help it take root
in the target population.
Second, the meme must be codified in a written (or other recorded) form.
As self-replicating information patterns, memes are subject to mutation and
evolution like physical genes, and standardizing the meme helps to limit
mutation as the number of people infected grows. The CSB agent in place
normally prepares and distributes the standard "Bible" for the new meme.
Third, the CSB encourages those infected with the meme to isolate
themselves from the rest of the population, to minimize contamination from
competing memes, and to protect the believers. The local government and/or
religion will undoubtedly attempt suppression.
The most successful memes - from the CSB's standpoint - are those
overriding a sophont's natural desire for genetic and personal survival. This
sort of meme can induce untrained civilians to drive grav sleds full of
explosives into Lucan's or Dulinor's local headquarters, or attack troops in
battledress with sticks and stones. The sort of fanaticism needed can only be
generated by pseudo-religious memes, hence the CSB's interest in creating
artificial religions, and even then must be continually fanned by agents
A possible scenario is that the PCs are forced to deal with a local
religious cult inflamed to acts of terrorism by a CSB agent. Perhaps one of
the party's favorite NPCs is kidnapped and brainwashed by the cult.
Even in the former heartland of the Imperium there are dissidents -
corsairs, terrorists, criminal elements, and so on - who would take up arms
against the government. The CSB's policy is to contact those groups in their
rivals' territories, and give them arms, money, and specialists advice. The
CSB is not concerned with what these groups stand for; all that matters is
that they oppose their government and are prepared to take action. Of course,
should such action be against the CSB's interests, their supplies of guns and
cash dry up.
This policy will give Strephon major problems if he won, because he will
then have well-equipped, trained terrorist groups entrenched in his territory.
Desperate and vastly outnumbered, however, he is prepared to take that risk
and hope the CSB will have an answer for that problem when it arises.
Strephon's main concern so far has been for the innocent victims of terrorism.
The CSB argues that innocent victims are essential, as killing the spouses and
children of rival factions' troops is not only easier than killing the troops,
it has a greater effect on their morale.
The CSB recognizes that it would weaken Strephon's bid for the throne to
be associated with this activity. They are careful to lay blame either on the
terrorists themselves or on another faction. Atrocities committed in Lucan's
domain will be blamed on Dulinor, and vice versa.
False Flag Recruiting: The CSB studies intended recipient organizations,
and then poses as members of that faction. The Solomani Party is the main
recipient of CSB support within the volume of space controlled by the Ziru
Sirka. Like most other recipients, it is ignorant of the true source of
funding. It might reject the money and advice if it knew where they came from.
Within Lucan's Imperium, the Scarlet Claw Society is a group of Aslan
terrorists which the CSB funds. The agents pose as members of Dulinor's
agency, and so the terrorists believe themselves to be fighting for Dulinor
instead of helping Strephon.
Affeldt suggested arming PCs and turning them loose to create mayhem in
rivals' territory. This is as good a campaign setup as any sponsored by CSB.
Disease: Another common ploy is for CSB agents posing as customs
inspectors to board independent merchantmen just before they leave Strephon's
Worlds for enemy territory. While aboard they surreptitiously infect the ship
with contagious disease germs. The intent is to spread the disease into
starports within a rival faction's turf.
The plagues used will be crippling, but not actually lethal. A dead
enemy who only needs to be buried has less effect on opponents' morale and
resources than a horribly diseased one who must be cared for constantly.
A possible scenario is to infect the PC's ship with a virulent plague in
this way, perhaps while dropping off a passenger who is really a CSB agent.
The PCs will become ill while being hunted as saboteurs or plague carriers.
The CSB maintains a number of highly-respected commando teams, which are
trained and equipped at a level rivalling the special forces units of the
other major services. Like the rest of the CSB's operatives, these have a
reputation for the bizarre, earned mainly from their use of trained animals,
gadgetry, and deception.
Trained pouncers have been fitted with time-fused explosive packs and
encouraged to build nests inside enemy starships. This has had mixed success,
with some targets destroyed and other attempts destroying neutral or merchant
tonnage instead. The CSB argues that even failures help their cause, as they
lower enemy morale, discourage neutral merchants from visiting enemy ports,
and tie down forces on security duties.
Small flying animals that nest in the eaves of buildings have been
captured and fitted with incendiary devices in attempts to burn down enemy
cities. These missions have uniformly failed so far, but all add to the fears
and worries of those opposing Strephon.
During the early days of the Rebellion, attempts were made to peddle
drugs to troops fighting for other factions. These were discontinued when
Strephon's troops proved equally vulnerable -- in many cases they received the
drugs intended for Lucan's forces.
CSB commando units often travel incognito aboard free traders owned and
operated by the CSB. A possible scenario is for the CSB to hold the lien on
the PC's ship through a number of dummy companies. A CSB commando team in
disguise charters the ship, and the PCs are blamed for the atrocities the
commit at one port of call.
Once on-planet, CSB teams are supported by sleeper agents scattered
throughout the sector years ago to support anti-terrorist and anti-piracy
operations. The typical sleeper believes he works for someone else (whoever
his recruited thought he was likely to work for), and is exempt from draft by
virtue of ill health, age, or professional status.
The sleeper's task is to provide a safe house where the team can rest,
avoid searches, and prepare for missions. Stocks of food and medicine, and
perhaps a vehicle, are also needed. These hideouts take many forms -- a
starport restaurant franchise, a cargo container ostensibly storing furniture
for someone off-planet on business (and stacked amid many genuine ones), and
unproductive mine on a nearly-abandoned asteroid, a lighthouse or emergency
shelter, and so on.
The missions undertaken by a commando unit are often blamed on
terrorists, and are broadly similar to terrorist operations. What
distinguishes them is their precise timing and targeting, as opposed to the
apparently random and pointless violence of the terrorist. These units are
specially tasked with eliminating key opponents by killing, kidnapping, or
discrediting them. To gain the proper perspective for how the gadget-oriented
CSB tackles this sort of task, watch reruns of the "Mission: Impossible" show.
Computer Augmented Behavioral Alteration (L. Piper)
HIWG Document: # HD3419.1 Date: 16-10-1992
From: Leighton Piper
11 Skeffington Rd.
Lancs., PR1 5UP.
To : David Burden, Gushemege Sector Analyst.
Clayton R. Bush, Quadrant 1 Editor.
J.Duncan Law-Green, Vland Domain Editor.
Kevin Parry, HIWG(UK).
Subject: CABAl (Computer Augmented Behavoiral Alteration)
The use of microscopic biochip implanted into the hypothalamus and
other hormonal control regions of the brain (ie secondary implant in
the pituitary gland) to modify behavoir. External stimulation of the
hypothalamus by the pre-programmed neuroprocessor at specific regions
leading to the release of specific hormones. These specific hormones
can bring about rapid and particular metabolic change; effect whole or
isolated regions of the human body. Can interfere with natural hormone
release and/ or function through sympathetic, synergistic or
antagonistic/ blocking effects.
There can also be direct stimulation of pleasure and pain centres. The
controlled release of the bodies natural 'pain killers' - endorphines -
can be used as a very effective, safe, cheap and rapid method to
relieve pain. On the battlefield it could help to overcome certain
logistical problems and enable the recipient to continue in his/ her
actions without recourse to direct medical intervention. It is also
envisaged that the 'pleasure and pain' centres approach to convicted
criminals could ensure compliance with prison rules and regulations
thus reducing tension and manpower.
The process can have profound medical benefits for those suffering from
a variety of hormonal and neuronal/cerebral disorders ranging from
growth stimulation to control of fertility, from modulation of kidney
function to stimulation of nerve function and heart control. The use of
natural endorphines, as stated above, are very useful where
conventional anasthetics pose a risk to the patient.
The biochip can be inserted by a competent surgeon in under two hours,
and removed in a quarter of the time. The process has not been widely
implamented due to its re-classification as a military project and even
this developmental use has been limited in scope.
The CABAl project was developed by a team at the Bioengineering
Research Bureau of Shishmadarshag LIC, led by professor Rae Tuliiga.
The concept of direct manipulation of human action/ behavoir by the
introduction of advanced neuro-electronic systems incorporated and
controlling living tissue has had a long history. The most recent phase
include the insights gain by this particular line of research reared
its head at an obscure side meeting of the Bioelectronics Group at the
Shudusham Robotics Conference of 1083 where Tuliiga was a junior
research associate at the Lemkkoll-Hamun University on Anjiv (Tansa/
Gushemege 3006). The ideas taken away from the meeting were to remain
dormant in Tuliiga's mind until he was elevated to the head of the
Neuropharmacology Unit with the Bureau where his ambition bore fruit.
Initially the corporate planners at ShMaSh were skeptical on being
presented with the application of funds for extensive research in this
field. They argued that the controversial nature of the project could
seriously undermine the market base for ShMaSh if the details were ever
made public before the initial feasability studies and the
socio-psychological impact could be ascertained. Also the introduction
of a working system may well be relativelly cheap compared to a
complete course of orthodox i.e. neuro-drugs; this would seriously
erode company profits in this area. However the initial resistence was
overcome partly due to the fact that most of the executives were sure
that the project would never amount to much and partly prevent Tuliiga
from leaving and taking his ideas to another company.
Within four years of the start of the project the research team had a
working system introduced in a terran pig. Eighteen months later in
1115 the team had introduced a prototype biochip into a human volunteer
with a hereditary hormone defficiency. The neuroprocessor and its
associate effector circuits were used to compensate for the defficiency
by a specific stimulation of primary effector cells within the
hypothalamus. The success of this first human experiment paved the way
for the introduction of the primary goals of the research, namely the
external control of mood and behavoir. This stage ran into problems
however. The breakdown of control led to an imbalance in hormone
production which in turn led to acute psycheatric problems in the
volunteer. The man stole an auto-rifle (and a couple of magazines) and
fired indiscriminately into a holiday crowd killing seven and injuring
fourteen others. The local police killed him after tracking him down
and cornering him but not after he had wounded three officers. ShMaSh
had to bring a great deal of political pressure (and a few bribes) to
halt an inquiry. The project was nearly cancelled at this juncture but
survived through the dogged persistence of Tuliiga.
The problems were quickly identified and the project continued with a
set of human volunteers which brought about rapid progress in the work.
The research was set to developed for commercial exploitation when the
military stepped in and in effect took control of the work and the
direction of the project. This caused deep outrage amongst the staff
and Tuliiga resigned in protest over the hijacking of the project by
the military. As the work now went under the banner of essential
military research the heirarchy of the armed forces perceived Tuliiga
as a security risk due to his much publicised comments on the work. He
was placed under house arrest where he died in a suspicious fire.
A major development took place on 213-1118 when there was a break-in at
the research lab. Thieves were obviously professionals who knew exactly
what they were after, taking computer records, hand written notes,
papers and hardware. There was no trace left that could give a clue
towards the identities of the criminals. The work has not resurfaced,
the conclusion reached by administrators of the project is that the
theft was organised for the benefit of a 'hostile power' -a euphamism
for one of the factions fighting over the Iridium Throne. The current
favourite for the position of the sponsor of the theft is Dulinor or
one of his agencies. The work is probably being developed for its
military potential, a daunting prospect when coupled to some of the
elite Ilelish commando teams who already have a infamous reputation
without body enhancement.
The first sight of this technology in the open has come with the
emergence of a class of underlife in the seamier side of Kesser,
primary city on Masa (2513). These individuals have had CABAl biochips
implanted into the brain and are set to stimulate the pleasure centres.
These individuals do little but sit in a dream-like state and slowly
die, oblivious to their bodies' suffering. For many it is a last
desperate, but for them entrancing, act. Others have used the devices
to boost their responses
The most exciting and most dangerous discovery evolving from the
development of the CABAl work has been the interaction of chip
recipients with computer systems. The initial studies on the first
volunteers showed that during the monitoring of the neuroprocessor's
effects on the host, certain anomalies in the computer were discovered
to coincide with specific brain wave frequencies. Positive feedback
experiments showed that subjects could excercise some measure of
control over the computers.
Any individual wishing to undergo a 'psychochip' neuroprocessor
inplantation procedure must go through a series of prepatory tests.
This includes a full general medical plus physiological,
psychological-personality and neurological tests to assess suitability.
Laboratory assays cover aspects such as tissue typing and immunological
rejection assessment as well as screens for biochemical and hormonal
abnormalities (other than that being treated) and carriage of microbial
pathogens. Following this comes pre-operative preparation, the
implantation procedure itself and finally one or more follow-up checks.
The implantation of the chips requires a technical base in medicine and
of computing of at least average stellar; the importance attached to
the operation emphasises the need for a skilled surgeon - the better
the surgeon the greater the chance of success. The chips can be
manufactured at tech level 12 and therefore the operation has the
potential of being performed on a wide basis as long as the knowledge
The range of chip functions are potentially limitless although many are
dangerous to implement and/ or are illegal. The following list is but a
short and rough outline of the available feesible designs and their
specific effects (Individual referees should feel free to develop their
own ideas and the subsequent game effects - the author would be pleased
to here from any).
Hormonal: Base price of implant Cr.125,000
The hormonal implant is in essence the original idea fostered by
Tuliiga using a computer chip desighned to specifically stimulate the
hypothalamus and the pituitary glands to compensate for defficiencies.
The biochip controls the complex electrochemical activities associated
with the secretion and passage of chemicals through cell
microchanneles. The method of action of the CABAl chips within the
brain are essentially similar across the subtypes, although placing of
chips, sensors and control structures vary.
Effects can be seen almost immediatelly, the chips can be set to give
appropriate stimulation, or alternatively at greater expense the chip
can be programmed to repond to bio-electrical signals from the
brain stem. This requires a period of training ten times 1D days -
progress is monitored at the regular check-ups.
The implant introduced for purely medical reasons has effects specific
for the condition to which the neuroprocessor was added. The hormone
production is achieved via controlled impulses. There are other
specific neuroprocessor implants which for example through training and
control can lead to the specific production of adrenalin (through an
indirect path). In the best-trained individuals the raising of
adrenalin levels at will, seeing increases of hormone of up to 200%.
This leads to increased metabolic activity temporarily boosting
strength and endurance two points. The response lasts for up to half an
hour; there is a refractory period of four hours where a response is
Neuronal: Base price Cr.250,000.
This type of implant can lead to a general and specific stimulation of
voluntary, skeletal, muscle - although those taking a more expensive
option and more lengthy, vigorous training can specifically a;ter the
pattern of involuntary muscle contraction (i.e. of the heart and
gastrointestinal tract muscle).
Training to acheive muscle control is of the same duration as that
required for the specific hormonal control above. The specific
stimulation of particular muscle sets (or indeed an overal stimulation)
can lead to an enhancement of body strength by up two points.
Then 'general control'-type neoroprocessor implant was originally
designed for those individuals suffering from a variety of muscle
wasting diseases where neurone degeneration has lead to failure of
natural stimulation and control.
Axonal-Cerebral: Base price Cr.325,000.
This type of implant is the most expensive, dangerous yet promising in
its effects. The first neuroprocessors used were of a general nature
designed to compensate those with defects in the neuronal/axonal
pathways of the brain that give rise to various cognitive, memory and
General benefits for those suffering from any of the above problems
will include improvements in recall and cognitive abilities etc enough
to overcome the original defect. Specific enhancements of cognitive
functions can raise intelligence by one point and an improvement in
recall of memory can raise apparent education by one point. These
effects last up to three hours and can be utilised once every six,
during which time the individual usually must rest.
The enhanced cognitive neuroprocessor comprises a cerebral-computer
interface and controlling system. Electrical signals generated by
thought process are converted into binary codes that can directly
make switches in electronic pathways of any linked processor-driven
device. Prolonged training of up to 12 months is needed for these
functions to be mastered and is analagous to certain abilities
possessed by special, zhodani psionic adepts. These adepts can alter
the bits of data held on computers (see 'Travellers Digest 1' or Best
of Travellers Digest vol.1' - Adventure 1 by DGP).
The enhanced chip costs up to ten times the basic price - this includes
all the costs involved in monitoring and training.
To determine the psychological suitability of a subject for
Routine, Det, 30 min (time optional),(uncertain).
Referee: The determination relates to the player's/NPC's ability to
convince a psychologist that they will be able to cope with the
To determine the physical suitability of a subject for implantation:
Routine, Med, special *, 1 hour (optional), (uncertain).
Referee: The medical skill relates to the investigating physician. The
special modifier comes into force at the referee's discretion and
relates to any particular physical problems or enhancements that the
Both the above tasks must be successfully negotiated before the
character can proceed onto the next stage. Both tasks can be attempted
again if an individual fails, with the following modifications; for the
first task the difficulty increases one level for each previous failure
i.e. second attempt is difficult, for the second task the ability to
make another attempt depends on the level of mishap. If the mishap is
at the destroyed level, some fundamental incompatability has been
discovered and no further attempt may be made. At major level then the
examining doctor has discovered some potentially fatal disease/disorder
in the individual (which should be easily cured - randonmly determine
the nature of the disease). This disease must be treated before the
physical suitability task is attempted. This second attempt is at the
next difficulty level; only one re-try is possible. The superficial and
minor mishaps increase the task difficulty one level. Multiple re-tries
are possible as long as determination rolls are successful.
To prepare an individual for implantation procedure:
Routine, Med, Dex, 15 min (optional), (uncetain, hazardous).
Referee: The skills apply to the supervising physician. Failure
indicates that there is some small problem. A retry is possible unless
there is a destroyed mishap, a major mishap increases the task one
To perform the implantation procedure:
Difficult, Med, Dex, 30 min (optional), (uncertain, hazardous).
Referee: Again the skills apply to the principle medic involved in the
operation. Success will only become apparent some time after the
operation - recovery period is 10 times the time increment at which
point the biochip functions can be activated. Mishaps can be
potentially fatal; a destroyed mishap signifies death to the recipient,
a major mishap leaves the recipient with some degree of permanent
damage - intelligence and dexterity are reduced by one point. A minor
mishap leads to the permanent loss of either one intelligence or
dexterity point. For all categories including superficial there is a
coma following failure, the more severe the level of mishap the longer
and deeper the coma.
To follow up an individual after implantation:
Routine, Med, Int, 15 min (optional).
Referee: These check-ups should occur once every two weeks for three
months to monitor progress, iron out any problems and spot potential
trouble. These consultations are designed to evaluate and implament the
physiological and psychological changes brought about by the working
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