It is 2144 A.D.
The end of the world is not here yet. Some people say it is getting close.
National governments are, in the main, superceded by megacorporations, which are, in essence, nations unto themselves. Corporate employees and holdings enjoy extraterritorial privilege, and as such are free to pursue their interests unrestricted by anything save internal policy. Most utilities are contracted to a private firm, and through the web of subsidiary ownership, many megacorporations extend their power outside of what is strictly theirs - Wal-McDonald's reach does not end when you walk onto the street when the law is enforced by Stillcreek Security Solutions which is ultimately owned by Wal-McDonald's through a complex series of shell companies.
Science has come a long way. The dream of expanding out into the stars is within humanity's grasp, with several megacorporations having colonies on Luna and Mars. The incredibly wealthy live in O'Neill Cylinders far above Earth's surface. Human augmentation is a ubiquitous reality - all megacorporation office workers undergo at least some cognitive enhancement, and private security or military workers frequently receive combat enhancements. Augmentations mechanical, chemical, and biological are available to those with the money and connections to secure them.
The concept of war has changed in the face of these developments. Nation-states fielding thousands of soldiers is a thing of the past. Corporate espionage is the new war. Deniable, expendable assets - individuals with no corporate ties and a loyalty only to their own bank accounts - are the cat's paw of choice, although many corps do maintain their own private strike teams for jobs that absolutely must be performed by in-house assets. This necessity is why workers are permitted to strike out on their own from megacorporations, despite the considerable time and expense that goes into crafting an individual with the particular skills and enhancements that makes them suitable for wet work. A preferential rate to one's 'parent company' is expected. Although considerably less common, some individuals manage to make a name for themselves without going through the corp mill. Frequently, these individuals hone their skills as part of a criminal syndicate or interest . . . but such syndicates are much less forgiving and amenable to losing assets.
Your character will be essentially, a soldier of fortune. They are known by many names - a temp, independent contractor, short-term consultant, non-permanent asset - but the job is the same: dirty deeds done at mutually satisfactory rates. You may be called upon to steal, murder, kidnap, sabotage, protect, or destroy targets of interest to whomever you are paid by. Your professionalism and discretion are expected, lest your reputation - and thus, continued practice of your profession - be soured. Corporate representatives who come bearing job offers are frequently referred to as HR-men and women, although head hunters, sharks, and other less polite terms are common in the wet worker subculture.Name:Age:Appearance:History:Skills:Enhancements:Additional Information:
There are, generally, three different types of enhancements available to a person - mechanical, chemical, and biological - and they do not typically play nice together.
Mechanical enhancements entail replacing body parts with artificial, mechanical components. It is an umbrella term that encompasses mechanical limb and organ replacements, adding data processors to the brain, and passive enhancements such as subdermal ceramic antiballistic plates or titanium skeletal reinforcement. The first mechanical enhancements, which did not so much enhance as provide an approximation of normal functionality, were developed and marketed in 2032 A.D. With more than one hundred years of advances, mechanical augmentations are the most common and reliable enhancements available on the market. One can purchase a cyberlimb at any Wal-McDonald's - and although their products are shoddy, plastic examples of mass production with minimal quality control - that is nevertheless stronger than the flesh and blood limb of a 20th century Olympic athlete at the peak of their career. Apart from extremely rare individuals, rejection of mechanical enhancements is a fear of the past.
The ubiquity of mechanical augmentations affords some advantages and disadvantages. The skills and facilities to repair mechanical augmentations are widespread and commonly available, through legal and illegal channels. Replacements for enhancements damaged beyond repair are easily acquired. Mechanical enchancements that improve virtually every aspect of human performance are available on the market - and beyond. Cybernetic eyes offer their user vision spectrums without the need for clunky goggles. It is even possible to install a port in the skull to receive artificial skill software, providing an otherwise unskilled individual with the knowledge necessary to perform a task at a level of competence roughly on par with an entry-level trained worker. Some skillsets are sufficiently complex that this is not truly possible, but many workers in data-entry positions are little more than slot jockeys who plug in a chip for ten hours and unplug at the end of their shift.
On the other side, the maturity of the technology means that it is easy to discern when someone is mechanically enhanced, even if cosmetically they appear to the unenhanced eye to be normal. Another is vulnerability. Although mechanical enhancements are some of the most secure pieces of hardware available - depending on the brand, of course - it is possible for especially complex or high-end examples to be hacked or compromised by electronic means. Most products are hardened against EMP, but it is nevertheless a concern and specialized anti-cybernetic measures can render mechanical augmentations inert. Mechanical enhancements can achieve a degree of improvement over baseline human capability no other type of enhancement can, but to reach the peak of what is possible the enhancement invariably hinders performance in other areas and will appear undisguisedly artificial.
A unique mechanical enhancement is the Mind-Interface Unit. It is a particularly invasive augmentation that enables a user to directly interface with pieces of technology of sufficient sophistication. Earlier models required a physical connection between the MIU and the technology to be manipulated, but contemporary models allow for wireless interface (although a wired connection is more secure and more efficient, allowing for faster exchange of data; defeating intrusion counter-measures of any contemporary system without detection and in any reasonable time frame is next to impossible with a wireless connection). It is the hacker's most important tool of trade.
Chemical enhancements are good old fashioned drugs. The least effective means of enhancement, their use nevertheless persists. Stimulants, depressants, and other chemicals that alter the body chemistry fall under this umbrella. One can purchase drugs to make one happy, sad, amoral, psychotic, and everything in between. Many low-level office workers employ chemical enhancements to improve their focus and reduce boredom, and some private security firms employ combat drugs to make their operatives fearless during riots. The positive effects of chemical enhancements are fleeting, but many have undesirable effects associated with long term use that make them unpopular - though for some purchasing a new liver is more affordable than a biological or mechanical enhancement.
Chemical enhancements are for the most part incompatible with mechanical enhancements - designer steroids have no effects on hydraulics after all, and extreme alterations in body chemistry often have unforeseen and deleterious effects on more specialized biological enhancements - combat drugs that produce a blood rage may produce stimuli a cultured gland cannot properly process, retarding its function.
This type of enhancements represents improving the body through biological means, whether that be gene therapy, grafting cultured tissue onto existing tissue, or otherwise manipulating organic elements of the body. It is relatively new field, with the first successful biological enhancement performed in 2100 A.D. in the form of grafting vat-grown muscle onto existing musculature, and the first successful gene therapy procedure was only performed in 2133 A.D. Biolimbs, skeletal and dermal reinforcement, increases in healing speed and efficacy, digestive improvement, transgenic features and organs are all possible.
Biological enhancement enjoys greater popularity due to its novelty, but it is limited in comparison to mechanical augmentation. While it is extremely difficult to detect biological enhancements - of a sedate nature; if you have your hair replaced by quills only the blind will fail to notice - and they will repair themselves, it is much more difficult to acquire a replacement in the event of damage or dismemberment or malfunction. An adrenal gland designed to release on command failing to trigger or triggering more frequently than is desired is beyond the skill of the average medical technician to correct. And while an off-the-shelf cyberlimb may be installed in an hour or two, barring complications and assuming the required peripheral enhancement is in place, grafting a biolimb is a much lengthier procedure, to say nothing of gene therapies. There is considerable extra expense in biological enhancement versus mechanical, and biological enhancements simply cannot offer the same range of capabilities: bio-eyes offer vision that is improved over 20/20 in every way, but they will not allow you to switch between low-light, infrared, or thermal imaging at will. That said, biolimbs offer better overall performance compared to cyberlimbs before focus in one area causes a loss in performance in others.
In 2144, connectivity to telecommunications and the internet saturates the globe to a degree that would make people of the 21st century murderously envious. There are several dead spots, but they tend to be small. Notable exceptions include particularly hot spots in South America and Africa where bush wars are a constant reality. Others include the Arctic and Antarctica. Consequently, cybersecurity is an incredibly more important industry and experts in the field often command huge salaries and benefits. An entry-level specialist in cybersecurity is a professional with comparable training and education to a lawyer or medical doctor. Artificial skill software helps to fill the gaps in labour demand, but someone with a skillsoft enhancement is a poor substitute for a genuine professional.
True artificial intelligence has not yet been achieved, although it is believed that many megacorporations are close and the systems governing off-world colonies are sufficiently advanced and sophisticated that some might not be able to truly tell the difference.
Human colonies off-planet are possible. Currently Mars and Luna have half a dozen colonies between them, with self-sustaining ecosystems. Terra-forming either planet so that they will be fully habitable by humans is yet beyond what is possible, but extensive research is underway. Eight artificial habitats exist for the supremely wealthy; six of them orbit the Earth, one orbits Luna, and the other orbits Mars.
Pollution resists all efforts to reverse it. Progress is one area is stymied by deliberate carelessness in another; for each corporation that develops a bioform that could eliminate carbon surplus another corporation dumps some pollutant inimical to that bioform.
Guns continue to use bullets. Primary advances include effective caseless ammunition - desirably reducing weight and eliminating spent casings left behind as evidence. Antiballistic defenses have advanced in the form of enhancements and body armour capable of withstanding contemporary weaponry. Restrictions in acquiring low-end weapons are virtually non-existent, and many citizens carrying a 9mm pistol for self-defence as they are both affordable and require no license. Advances in enhancements has expanded the definition of 'man-portable' for firearms, as well. Energy weapons remain laboratory prototypes, and many years of development lay ahead before effective weapons platforms are produced.
There are many Megacorporations in the world, and some national governments retain much of the power national governments enjoyed in the 21st century. Criminal syndicates also have a large degree of autonomy and influence with the collapse of bodies such as INTERPOL and the collapse of nation-states and the privatization of law enforcement. Here's a sampling.
Wal-McDonald's Global: The largest megacorporation in the world is Wal-McDonald's. It is the only megacorporation with a AAAA rating, and interests on every continent and off-world colony. The size of the corporation grants it great power, but that power is decentralized leading to great difficulties in getting all of its parts working towards the same goal. Its head office is nominally the Ronald McDonald Orbital Platform, one of the O'Neill Cylinders orbiting Earth, but in practice so long as revenue projections are met and compliance to company policy is within acceptable ranges, large offices such as the Grimace Consortium in New York are permitted a unique amount of independence in the execution of company mandates and pursuits of company goals.
Although Wal-McDonald's has a hand in every industry on the planet, its chief method of domination is not innovation but to undercut all competitors by appropriating advances and figuring out how to make it cheaper. This invariably results in a shoddier product, but given the option of a poor quality, affordable product or going without, many elect to purchase Wal-McDonald's brands.
Wal-McDonald's controls the presidency of the United States of America; election campaigns are little more than social media and reality television stunts designed to produce ratings and advertise products. The actual function of the presidency appears to be nothing more than for a photogenic, bombastic performer to denigrate other countries, extol the virtue of the Big Daddy Mac (three double-pounder synth-beef paddies on a genwheat bun with extra bacon and cheese sauce! It's got what Americans crave!), and call other companies bad names.
Corpsecorp Private Security Solutions: North America's largest private military and police firm, formed from former U.S. military and local police veterans. Their market share of security contracts in North America is 68.3% and rising as aggressive marketing and hostile takeovers absorb other PMCs and security firms. The ubiquity of their black uniformed officers has caused the term Corsecorpsman to enter common parlance as a slang for anyone engaged in law enforcement, although old standbys such as pig and 5-0 remain in usage. They are a AA rated corporation. Mars Dynamics has a 30% controlling interest in the company.
Mars Dynamics: A AAA corporation that made its name pioneering the technologies responsible for making the Mars colonies possible, this corporation is also a major name in mechanical augmentation. It has offices only in North America and its off-world holdings, and has an intense rivalry with all the zaibatsus, particularly Blue Dragon Industries. What has caused the corporation to earn universal enmity in Japan is unknown, and corporate officials are not forthcoming.
Blue Dragon Industries: A Japanese zaibatsu with interests in energy production, aerospace developments, mechanical and biological enhancements, and robotics. Blue Dragon Industries is one the world leaders in the development of intrusion countermeasures and cybersecurity whose experts are contracted out and command credit payments in nine figures. They are a AAA rated company but this rating belies their small size; they have only a single interest in an O'Neill Cylinder orbiting earth and are otherwise based in Japan. Rumours circulate that Blue Dragon Industries is years ahead in development of a functioning laser weapon.
Albanian Mafia: The Albanian mafia has made inroads globally, and are the premiere power in organized crime when it comes to human trafficking. Their involvement in drug trafficking is also heavy. A loosely connected coalition of thirty-five families, the Albanian mafia frequently employs shipping companies to launder products and profit. One of their more lucrative criminal enterprises is organ and enhancement black market sales; Albanian harvester gangs are epidemics in several major urban centers. It is said that a skilled Albanian harvester gang can murder and remove the most valuable organs of a victim with surgical precision in under five minutes, leaving behind only a skeleton, skin, and useless or low-value organs.
Russian Mafia: The Russian mafia are the heavies when it comes to arms and mechanical augmentation trafficking. If you want milspec gear, the best place to look is with the Russian mafia. Of course, it requires carefully cultivating a good business relationship before one can purchase the good stuff. Within the Russian mafia, there is exists a divide between the old-fashioned vory v zakone - those who adhere to the code of thieves that arose from Tsarist and later Soviet era prisoners - and the 'new' Russian mafia who more closely resemble corporate businessmen in operation and outlook.
South American Cartels: The various South American cartels traffic drugs and small arms, and are a major player in human trafficking. Although they have generally banded together in a pyramid format following their unopposed rise to power after the fall of nation-states ended the War on Drugs, many corporations take a dim view of the use of non-corp recreational drugs and oppose the cartels and those who collaborate with them.
More can be added/integrated as the muse strikes and/or in response to your questions.