Monday, April 10, 2017

Imperial Intelligence

Imperial Intelligence evidently does end up in Star Wars, and is evidently explicitly mentioned in Rogue One, though I haven't found an explicit reference to it. This makes sense, as a dictatorship needs to rely on secret police, which means it needs to spy on outsiders, as well as its own population.  The line between Imperial Security and Imperial Intelligence, thus, probably blurs, and that's how it's going to be in Psi-Wars as well.

I had just finished my Imperial work when I realized that I was missing Imperial spies, which is definitely a gross oversight, but at the same time, I also realized that the Imperial Navy would never trust Imperial Security to gather its intelligence for it.  Thus, just as the US government has a variety of intelligence agencies that sometimes come into conflict, so too does it make sense for the Empire to have multiple intelligence agencies, highlighting the fault lines of Imperial power.

Today, though, I want to focus on the "conventional" spies, that of Imperial Intelligence.

Imperial Intelligence

Imperial Intelligence works side-by-side with Imperial Security, two sides of the same coin.  Both answer to the Emperor's Hand, and both follow the same organizational designs.  Intelligence ostensibly focuses on protecting the Empire from external enemies, while Imperial Security protects them from internal enemies.  In practice, Imperial Intelligence regularly spies on its own citizens, works with the Emperor's Hand to concoct secret plans, and raids Imperial Security for access to useful and interesting prisoners.  In a sense, Imperial Intelligence is everything that Imperial Security is and more, except they lack legitimacy. They cannot legally make arrests, or legally detain people.  For that, they rely on Imperial Security.

The primary purpose of Imperial Intelligence is to spy on the enemies of the Empire. In this role, they infiltrate alien governments, uncover plans against the Empire, and bring back any information they find about threats to the Empire.  They also act to sabotage the enemy, and in this broader role, they receive broad powers from the Emperor.  If the enemy already has agents acting within the Empire (say, the Alliance has infiltrated the Empire), then they may act upon Imperial soil, though if they need to make actual arrests, that remains in the jurisdiction of Imperial Security.

In practice, this need to quietly act against the enemies of the Empire means that Imperial Intelligence often quietly builds small, "black" empires among the criminal community.  They use information gained in Imperial prisons to form connections with black markets, rebels and criminals, and then infiltrate, form alliances with or extort assistance from these groups to take down their enemies.

This creates a strange dichotomy within Imperial Intelligence.  Cultural intolerance for outsiders mean many imperial agents look down on the very people assisting them, using them as disposable pawns to advance their own agendas for the good of the Empire.  But this constant interaction with non-imperial criminals rubs a bit of their culture off on the Empire's spies, who begin to speak the languages and practice the customs of the very aliens the Empire supposedly abhors.  They begin to become criminals and warlords, and the line can become exceedingly fuzzy, especially with the lack of oversight the empire has over its spies, made necessary by the need to keep their actions quiet.  When an Imperial betrays the Empire, usually, it's one of the Empire's own spies, though sometimes, this is only because the Imperial has become a double agent.

Imperial Intelligence as Opposition

Imperial Intelligence works much as Imperial Security, and is typically BAD -2 to -5.  Imperial Intelligence does not have legions of minions at its disposal.  Instead, it deploys elite agents (treat them as PC-level Spies and Assassins) or, sometimes, it offers criminals a chance at freedom by serving Imperial Intelligence for a few "suicide" missions, after which they're sometimes freed, or sometimes executed.  These tend to be BAD -2 and desperate for their freedom.

Serving Imperial Intelligence

Imperial Intelligence Ranks

These mirror the ranks of Imperial Intelligence, except the Ranks 0-3 tend to lack military connotation and have more civilian names like "Operator" and "Manager."  Like with the Ministry, the titles of low, "non-commissioned" ranks are unofficial, made more true by the fact that many of Imperial Intelligence's spies don't officially work for Imperial Intelligence.  Instead, they're run by a controller who handles whatever intelligence they have to offer to the Empire.

Ultimately, Imperial Intelligence answers to the Ministry of Justice and the Emperor's Hand, just as Imperial Security.  However, the directors (Rank 6) usually gather together as a Board of Directors, headed by a Chief Director who answers to the Emperor's Hand directly.  He represents a rank 8 Intelligence Rank position.

Imperial Intelligence also deploys Special Agents, but these do not have Law Enforcement Powers but, instead, Security Clearance (Total) [15].  This negates any penalties for asking for access to anywhere within the Empire!

Additional roles within Imperial Intelligence include interrogators and controllers.  The first work closely with Imperial Security, torturing prisoners to get at vital information.  If necessary, they'll ply their brutal arts in remote "black sites," though the state of imperial human rights are such that this is seldom necessary.  Controllers manage imperial intelligence assets.  While Imperial Intelligence definitely employs "James Bond"-style special agents, most of its information comes from human assets, like prisoners, traitors or informants.  When the Empire identifies a useful potential asset, they convert them (often with bribes or blackmail), and then a controller is assigned to them, who milks them for information and gives them tasks to expand imperial power.  Controllers often work closely with the Ministry of Affairs, sometimes without the knowledge of the ministry.

Imperial Intelligence Favors

Entry Clearance (PR 13): Imperial Intelligence has "black sites," secret research facilities and secret prisons.  Gaining access to any of these might require pulling rank.

Bribe or Hush Money (PR 14): Imperial Intelligence has nearly bottomless "black funds" that aren't earmarked for anything.  Agents can ask for nearly anything with very few questions asked.

Cover-Up (PR 14): Imperial Intelligence regularly engages in anti-propaganda campaigns and hides imperial war-crimes.

Disappearance (PR 14): The enemies of the empire sometimes vanish into the night.

False ID (PR 14): Imperial Intelligence has limited resources outside of the Empire (though it does have some pull), but it can easily provide you with any Imperial credentials you need.

Insertion/Extraction (PR 14): Imperial Intelligence doesn't have access to unique ships, but it can send any Security vessel to pick you up, but more often it employs confiscated civilian vessels: sometimes a smuggler is really just an imperial agent!

Technical Means (PR 15): The Empire has vast computational resources at its disposal.  If an Agent needs extremely well-forged documents or codes to be cracked, the Empire can easily provide.

Consultation (PR 15) and Specialists (PR 19): Imperial Intelligence employs well trained specialists, with skills between 15 and 18.

  • Analysts have mastered Intelligence Analysis, and usually have Research and Current Affairs (Politics and others) at solid levels.
  • Interrogators have mastered Interrogation, and are often skilled in Diplomacy, Intimidation and Psychology.
  • Controllers have mastered Psychology and are often skilled in Diplomacy, Intimidation and perhaps even Brainwashing, but their real benefit is their ability to access useful intelligence assets.
    • Intelligence Assets might be nearly anything, from criminal informants to turncoat rebels to desperate housewives.  They usually have a specialized skillset, but their real benefit is the knowledge they can provide.

Files (PR 15): Imperial Intelligence keeps extensive tabs on foreign governments and has access to numerous state secrets, which it might offer up, though be sure to note that most of this is highly sensitive and will result in a penalty without Security Clearance.

Gear (PR 16): Imperial Intelligence might boast cool gadgets at the GM's discretion (especially covert gear from the gear list), but it more often has access to numerous confiscated and disguised vehicles, weapons, armor, etc, which it can offer an agent who is infiltrating enemy organizations

Muscle (PR 19): Imperial Intelligence prefers using highly skilled agents (read, PCs or named NPCs) rather than swarms of commandos.  That said, it regularly offers pardons to prisoners in exchange for black ops suicide missions.  If pushed, Imperial Intelligence can provide such a "Suicide Legion" for the players.

Character Considerations

Prerequisites: Characters serving Imperial Intelligence need at least Wealth (Average), Intelligence Rank 0 (Though 3+ is more common), and Duty (12 or less or 15 or less, both extremely hazardous) [-15 or -20].  Special Agents (Intelligence Rank 4+) may take Security Clearance (Imperial) [15].

Imperial Intelligence is too compartmentalized to take the entire organization as an enemy.  A single enemy special agent is worth -10 points, and an ally Special Agent costs the same.  For patrons, see Ministries.
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