In my somewhat Traveller-like setting Flat Black players have tended to play characters who are working for the Empire in some capacity or another, to a greater extent than I had in mind when I designed it. The Empire in Flat Black is supposed to be undermanned and politically constrained, with supremacy in space but strictly limited power on inhabited worlds, and the whole idea of the setting is supposed to be that there is a lot that needs fixing on various planets that PCs have to cope with or fix themselves, because there is a lot of important stuff that the Empire is not doing. This being the case I would like to create a range of non-government organisations for the setting, particularly ones that might be inclined to meddle. Ones that PCs might work for will be good. Ones that will serve as recurring antagonists and plot-driving schemers will also be good. I’d welcome your suggestions.
So far, I already have the following, some of which could do with touching up a little. For example, some could do with better names.
Amnesty Interstellar is a non-government civil liberties organisation that is concerned with the plight of prisoners of conscience. It runs publicity campaigns on liberal worlds to collect money and raise awareness, it attempts to bring public pressure to bear from interstellar and local publics against governments that hold and abuse prisoners on account of their beliefs and political views. It lobbies against the creation and continuation of laws that permit governments to make people political prisoners. Where this is possible it provides legal counsel and advocacy to prisoners of conscience. Its extremist members are rumoured secretly to send effectives or hire mercenaries to effect the gaolbreak of prisoners who are either high-profile or in imminent danger of execution or mindwipe.
Democracy Unlimited is a movement dedicated to protecting the principle of democracy in colonial governments. The organisation monitors elections and plebiscites, provides training and organisational support to electoral officials. It campaigns in favour of democracy and against what it perceives as autocratic, oligarchic, and technocratic trends, or anti-democratic features in mixed constitutions, and aginsts corrupt, and dodgy electoral laws and procedures. It campaigns both openly in flawed democracies and clandestinely in hybrid regimes, and is accused of subversion and terrorism in autocratic, technocratic regimes. Democracy Unlimited is widely believed to be partly funded, supported, manipulated, and used by the governments of colonies in the “Fed” faction in Imperial politics and their clandestine services.
For Democracy Unlimited the big business is to promote the formation of democratic governments on newly-settled worlds, and to promote their eventual progress to the status of First Class Colony, so that they will appoint senators who favour democracy and drive on eventually to a democratic takeover of the Empire and the extension of democracy to currently autocratic, oligarchic, and technocratic colonies.
GreenWar is an organisation dedicated to protecting living environments. One wing is more concerned with protecting the ecologies &c. of inhabited worlds (which are mostly the artificial results of past terraforming) to keep them beautiful and highly habitable. Another wing is highly incensed by the destruction of autochthonous biospheres on planets that are being terraformed for continued human settlement. The latter campaigns against terraforming projects and in favour of human population control. Access to planets that are being terraformed for the purpose of blockades sabotage etc. is restricted and difficult, so extremists are sometimes moved instead to attacks, including terrorist attacks, against the Eichberger Realty Company and other terraformation enterprises, emigrants, newly-settled terraformed worlds, and facilities associated with to symbolic of human population growth.
The Historical Institute
The Humanity League
The Humanity League is the largest and most widespread humanitarian organisation, analogous to the Red Cross/Crescent/Symbol. Adopting a strict and highly-respected policy of neutrality, it attempts to organise practical relief efforts for victims of epidemic, famine, disaster, displacement, and war. The Humanity League is sometimes criticised for not doing enough to denounce and punish perpetrators, war criminals, tyrants and the like, whose activities cause more suffering than the league is able to prevent.
The Journalists’ Guild
The Journalists’ Guild is a professional association that certifies and protects reporters, travel writers, bloggers, vloggers and so forth who adhere to high professional and ethical standards. It campaigns against restrictions on the freedom of the press (broadly defined). It provides accreditation to ethical journalists, quasi-consular services to its more highly-qualified members when they are working on planets other than their homes, tries to supply a network of contacts to members, acts as an escrow institution for confidential information, provides legal counsel and representation at need to dues-paying members, engages in a certain amount of political activism in favour of a free and diverse press (favouring “reporters” over “publishers”), and has been rumoured to send effectives or hire mercenaries to rescue highly-credentialed members from various plights such as imprisonment.
The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Autochthones
The SPCA exists to protect and to promote the interests of sapient aliens, especially those who live on worlds that have been settled by humans and grossly harmed by past terraforming. It also agitates to ensure that no more planets with autochthonous sophonts are terraformed in future.
The Sons of Patrick Henry
The Sons of Patrick Henry is an interstellar civil rights organisation promoting individual liberty, but not sharing Democracy Unlimited’s concern with individual participation in government. That is, the SoPH is okay with technocratic and aristocratic governments if they work well and aren’t otherwise oppressive. Its main efforts are exerted against slavery and serfdom including the slave-like condition of AIs and artificial organisms that are made so as not to object to exploitation. It also objects to mass detentions and deportations e.g. of racial, political, and economic groups. The SoPH is much more respectable than Democracy Unlimited: it is not known for agitprop training freedom fighters, etc. It runs political and publicity campaigns, mostly, and is also known to have organised, supported, and operated a number of underground railroads for refugees and runaway slaves. However, “rogue effectives” of the SoPH have sometimes perpetrated “surgical” interventions in political affairs and industrial operations that individuals favouring slavery and concentration camps have denounced as “terrorism”.
(Yes, they are really more John Brown than Patrick Henry: no-one said that they were great students of pre-spaceflight history.)
The Planned Progress League
The Planned Progress League is ostensibly an interstellar advocacy organisation for the rights, just treatment, and acceptance of AIs, uplifts, “androids” (synthetic people) and in some places the beneficiaries and products of genetic engineering, gene selection, biomodification, augmentation, and high-tech surgery. It engages in publicity, propaganda, lobbying, and advocacy, provides information and organisational resources, legal counsel and representation and so forth, both to people with “advanced features” and to the professionals and enterprises that supply e.g. gene-fixing and gene selection services, biomodifications, android production, and who experiment with uploading. The PPL sometimes sends teams of effectives (not all of whom are genetically-engineer cyborg super-spies) to perform clandestine operations and rescues on planets where advanced features are illegal or threatened with legislative persecution.
The PPL is assisted and partly sponsored by the government of Simanta (a very highly-developed planet occupied by parahumans in a functioning organic state), and is rumoured also to engage in clandestine actions that promote technocratic constitutions in opposition to Democracy Unlimited, to further the interests of the “Public Safety” faction in the Imperial Senate (the “Jackals”).