Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Imperial Black Ops

When I realized I needed imperial intelligence, it occurred to me that the Imperial Navy would never trust Imperial Security to handle its intelligence needs.  The rivalry between these two, heavily armed sides of the Empire simply wouldn't allow it.  While I expect Imperial Security has the Emperor's personal sanction to spy on its enemies and hand that information up the chain of command, which then could be passed down to the Imperial Navy, the Admiralty would want its own intelligence assets, ostensibly for immediate, battlefield intelligence, but in practice, also as a check against the growing power of the security bureau, and for the benefit of individual admirals.  "You have assassins?  I have assassins too!"

The Imperial Navy and Imperial Security work fundamentally differently, which means I'd expect their intelligence branches to work differently as well.  Imperial Security works within the Empire, and uses the Empire against itself.  It captures prisoners and uses their information.  It terrorizes the citizens and uses that power to expand itself.  The Admiralty, by contrast, is independent and self-contained.  It sends out its fleets far from the Empire, and cannot rely on local Imperial resources to work for it.  It also has a different mission: Imperial Security needs to keep the Empire in line, while the Imperial Navy needs to destroy opposition to the glorious Empire.

The result is a new intelligence branch: Imperial Black Ops.  This answers to the Admiralty directly, and uses its own assets and resources to perform its tasks, which primarily consist of sabotaging enemy installations and assassinating enemy leadership.  This is the commando arm of the Imperial Navy.  It doesn't have the official status that Imperial Intelligence has, but the Grand Admiral implies that he has a secret edict from the Emperor himself allowing it to exist, and Imperial Black Ops does receive "black book" funding from the Empire, and its actions have evaded any imperial audit thus far, suggesting that it really does have the stamp of approval of the Emperor.  If this is untrue, however, it may well mean that the Grand Admiral has taken his first step against the Emperor.

This is also a great spot for PC Imperial Commandos to work, which is a nice side-effect!

Imperial Black Ops

Imperial Black Ops Agendas

Imperial Black Ops exists primarily to provide intelligence to the Imperial Navy.  It generally does this by monitoring foreign signals ("signal intelligence") and with lightning raids against information-rich targets, though this latter definitely tips Black Ops' hand, as these raids are singularly violent.

While not explicitly in their charter, Black Ops' excellence at lightning raids make them an excellent choice for assassinations and sabotage.  They also need a place to keep all of their ill-gotten gains, such as information-rich prisoners or detailed enemy plans, which means Black Ops has highly secure "Black Sites." The security and secrecy of these "Black Sites" allow Black Ops to act with plausible deniability, and which means it can investigate illegal and immortal weapons technologies, which it can use to empower the Imperial Navy.  If these technologies pan out, the Imperial Navy can "normalize" them by "discovering" them in their own labs.

Example Agendas include:
  • The Grand Admiral has reason to believe that an alien world is planning to defect and join the Rebel Alliance.  Interstellar chatter puts a particular official at the center of the conspiracy and as a central contact point for the Alliance.  Black Ops needs to raid the alien world, capture this official so they can interrogate him and learn what he knows, but they need to do this in such a way that the Empire can plausibly argue that some local faction did the deed, while also bearing enough Imperial hallmarks that the alien king can draw his own conclusions about going against the Empire.
  • Imperial Intelligence cultivates criminal empires beyond the borders of the Empire, and an Agent that Intelligence claims they burned sits at the heart of this criminal syndicate, which has been regularly interfering with Naval activities at the behest of Imperial Intelligence, or so the Grand Admiral is convinced.  Black Ops is to raid the criminal syndicate, destroy several key sub-orginizations, and then to assassinate the head of the Syndicate and to deliver the head of its leader back to Imperial Intelligence.
  • The daughter of a high-ranking Ministry official has been taken prisoner by an alien race on trumped up charges.  The race is currently engaged in delicate, diplomatic negotiations that would be ruined by the visible display of a major military action to rescue the girl, but the alien potentate is definitely using her as leverage against the Ministry official.  Black Ops is to slip on the planet undetected, and then break the girl out of prison and return her to her father, while ensuring that no specific evidence is left that the Empire, itself, did the deed.
  • Black Ops has perfected a prototype viral weapon which should be capable of destroying a particular alien populace without touching humans.  Naturally, deploying such a weapon would greatly benefit the Empire, but also blacken its name.  Furthermore, it has not yet been tested "in the wild."  One world lies under Imperial interdiction, and thus no people can get on or off, which makes for a great quarantine, and contains both humans and this alien race.  Black Ops needs to slip past the Imperial blockade undetected, deliver the viral weapon without detection (it can never get out that the Empire did this) and then report the results back to Black Ops.

Imperial Black Ops as opposition

Black Ops can afford to be the best of the best.  It lacks the raw recruits of the rest of the Empire, and has extremely secure facilities.  It's universally at least BAD -5, but might, at its highest levels, be BAD -8.

Black Ops definitely deploys high powered personnel and materiel, discussed in tomorrow's post.

Serving Imperial Black Ops

Black Ops Ranks

Black Ops characters have the same ranks as the Imperial Navy, they just have different missions and different priorities.  In principle, they represent a parallel branch of the military, up to rank 8, which means black ops have their own admirals that answer to the Admiralty and, especially the Grand Admiral himself. The infamous, traitorous "Black Fleet" was one such fleet.

Black Ops characters usually have Security Clearance (Black Ops) [10], which represents access to Black Ops secrets only.  Black Ops commandos know of the entire shadow military lurking at the heat of the Imperial Navy. This is usually only granted to officer-rank characters, with Black Ops "grunts" unaware that of their true allegiance, or the real importance of a particular mission.  The result is that Black Ops rarely uses armies of grunts, preferring to use elite, officer-level commandos.

Black Ops Favors

Entry Clearance (PR 13): Black Ops has scattered "black sites" where they hold prisoners, experiment on secret weapons, and have their own, special military installations.  Entrance onto this might require Security Clearance.

Cover-Up (PR 14): Black Ops have the capacity to cover-up missions gone wrong, or to wipe out anyone who has uncovered one of your secrets.  They tend to do it with much less finesse than Imperial Intelligence, though: expect much carnage.

Disappearance (PR 14): Black Ops is far better at murdering people than capturing them, but it can try the latter, if that's what you need.

Insertion/Extraction (PR 14): Black Ops has access to uniquely stealthy vessels that can slip in behind enemy lines to drop you off or pick you up for your stealthy mission.  In fact, this is largely the purpose of Imperial Black Ops!

Safe House (PR 15): Black Ops has a scattered "fall-back" positions throughout space, usually secured to highly specific codes.  If you need one, they can open it up to you.  Such safe houses feature arsenals of weapons and automated medical facilities.

Technical Means (PR 15): Black Ops has less blatant access to Imperial resources than Imperial Intelligence does, but it still has considerable resources.  It can engineer poisons or viral weapons, crack codes, analyze enemy movements, etc.

Consultation (PR 15) and Specialists (PR 19)Black Ops has access to many of the same strategic specialists that the Imperial Navy does, but they also have military weapons researchers, which give them access to specialists with Bioengineering,  Engineering (Any), Hazardous Materials (any), Pharmacy (Synthetic) or Poison.

Gear (PR 16): Imperial Black Ops have access to most Imperial Naval resources, but they also enjoy their own exclusive gear.

Treatment (PR 17): Imperial Black Ops has access to top-of-the-line medical facilities, and can even treat relatively unknown diseases and poisons, as they have extensive knowledge dealing with the more insidious poisons and diseases of the galaxy!

Facilities (PR 18): Imperial Black Ops has numerous "black sites," including "black" repair sites, secret facilities for repairing ships, which likely have additional resources available to its commandos.

Travel (PR 19): Imperial Black Ops has access to the same resources as the Imperial Navy for getting you to your final location.

Fire Support (PR 19): Imperial Black Ops does have access to its own special brand of Dreadnoughts and Vanquishers, which means it can engage in orbital strikes.  It doesn't usually have artillery, though.

The Cavalry (PR 19): Imperial Black Ops employs crack commandos, which it can offer to any officer serving it.

Character Considerations

Prerequisites: Characters serving Imperial Black Ops need at least Wealth (Average)Military Rank 0 (Though 3+ is more common), and Duty (15 or less, both extremely hazardous) [-20]. Black Ops officers (Military Rank 3+) may take Security Clearance (Black Ops) [10].  They also need Secret (Black Ops Commando) [-10], which represents the fact that technically nobody is supposed to know about the existence of Imperial Black Ops.  Generally, being revealed as a secret commando of the empire results in your dismissal from the service and disavowal by the Empire.  This might be escalated to a "war crime" or "insubordination" if that's necessary to hide the tracks of Black Ops, but in general the Empire is satisfied to simply state that you were a rogue commando and then gently release you into the public (In fact, quite a few Black Ops commandos seem to be retired commandos, possibly even outed commandos, who still quietly work for the Empire from their apparent exile).

Black Ops, as a whole, taken as an enemy, is worth -30 points.  A single black ops admiral is worth -20 points.  A single black ops admiral (and his fleet!) as a patron is worth 20 points.
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