Halt! I.C.I.C.L.E.!

The very first campaign I ran in Flat Black had the player characters working as a team of criminal investigators for the agency that investigates breaches of the Imperial Crimes Act. It turned out very well, partly because I was lucky in my players and partly because (as I later worked out) the situation of that agency in the field allowed me to run a hybrid of the police procedural with the thriller. That turned out to be very suitable for serial RPG mystery adventures.

I originally gave that agency the name “Justice Department”, which was lazy and slipshod. It obviously can’t be a department of anything else. The only way the Senate is going to give such an agency any jurisdiction is if it is under the authority of an independent commission appointed from outside the Imperial Service. Furthermore the “thriller” half of the formula works best if the investigators are not subject to and not able to rely too much on the other Imperial authorities.

But “Independent Commission for Justice” isn’t working out. It’s good for the name of the panel of commissioners who direct investigations, corrections, prosecution, devils’ advocacy, and the bailiffs division from the top. But investigators announcing “I’m Inspector Ath, ICfJ” or “Stop! ICfJ!” isn’t convincing

Independent Commission for Imperial Criminal Law Enforcement?

I’m not wholly charmed by TLAs and other initialisms anyway. They seem a bit too contemporary for a setting so far removed from the present Earth. “Sûreté Imperiale” raises linguistic questions I don’t want to address. What would Vance do? Coin a word like “Cursary”, I guess.

The names that stick are often the unofficial ones anyway. Consider Mobile Patrol Experiment vs Flying Squad.


Also an option: Judicatory Imperial Magistrate, Bureau of Bureaucracy.

(“Stop, in the name of J.I.M.-B.O.B.!”)

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The Chamber. And you’d never invoke that name yourself. Let others tremble in fear, because it COULD be them.

I would avoid any “ICE” associations. In the US, at least, this invokes current politics.

“Lictors” or “Cohortes” is possible, if cheesy.

“Agents of the Imperial Senate” gets you lots of card references and AIS-hole slang.

“Imperial Agricultural Survey,” implying the whole thing was bolted awkwardly onto an existing inoffensive institution is the sort of bureaucratic farce that appeals to me but is not appropriate for Flat Black. I just want to share the mental image.

Imperial Policing Agency? Allows them to be “the Imperials.”

“Scotland Yard”. “Peelers”. “Mounties”.

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Provosts? Proctors? Quaestores?

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Lictors, for that matter.

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Speaking of Flying Squad: “The Sweeney”

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I settled on “The Imperial Law Enforcement Agency” (ILEA) in the 2020 version of the Players’ Introduction.

That’ll be fine.

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Yeah, it is a phrase that can go in the text.