Thursday, September 21, 2017

Neo-Rational Organizations: Institutes and Salons

No single, overarching organization governs Neo-Rationalism; one can better think of Neo-Rationalism as a movement. Organizations form within that movement for the express purpose of exploring, expanding and teaching the ideas of Neo-Rationalism. Broadly speaking, these organizations break down into two categories: institutes, official organizations that teach Neo-Rationalism in a formal manner, and Salons, which teach Neo-Rationalism in an informal manner.

Neo-Rational Institutes

An Institute is any formal organization that offers explicit courses in Neo-Rationalism. Institutes have the financial backing of governments, major corporations or wealthy donors. They have explicit campuses where they practice Neo-Rationalism. They teach Neo-Rationalism formally, and often call themselves Academies or Universities. They offer explicit credentials (typically Laureates) to graduates or members of the Neo-Rational community who have accomplished great works. They also keep accomplished members on the payroll and sponsor expeditions and experiments meant to further the work of Neo-Rationalism and prove the words of the original Rationalist masters. When one speaks of “Neo-Rationalist Organizations,” one probably speaks of Institutes.

A sampling of Neo-Rational Institutes include:

The Royal Shinjura Academy of Sciences: The Shinjurai royal family explicitly supports the Royal Academy on their homeworld of Denjuku, and to this day it is the largest Neo-Rational institute in the galaxy. It serves as a living museum to the original Rationalist masters and even has tombs where their bodies lie to this day. Many Neo-Rationalists attempt to make a pilgrimage there at least once in their life, to walk among the places the original Rationalists walked, to better understand how they achieved their genius, though this has become more difficult in the past generation due to the political situation with the Alliance and the Empire. The Royal Academy teaches “standard” Neo-Rationalism, though it has some Cyber-Rational leanings. The current headmaster of the Royal Academy is the aging Tai-Lan Hawk on cybernetic life support, and the Royal Academy currently struggles with the growing influence of Zeb Lancaster, the now exiled former headmaster of the Royal Academy.

The Imperial Academy: The Emperor drew inspiration from the Royal Shinjurai Academy for his Imperial Academy, envisioning it as a place where he could begin to re-educate the citizenry of his Empire away from the superstition of the old Federation days. While not explicitly a Neo-Rationalist institution, Neo-Rationalism certainly flourishes in the Imperial Academy and throughout the Empire, especially in the Ministry of Science. Additional Neo-Rationalist institutes, mostly policy advocacy groups and research institutes, dot the Empire. While the Empire focuses primarily on standard Neo-Rationalism, Fringe Rationalism has gained a considerable foothold on the culture of the Empire, and many research projects of the Ministry of Science focus on psionic experiments. The most important Neo-Rationalist in the Empire is currently Ren Haversham, the Chair of Ethics at the Imperial Academy, who argues strenuously for the inherent rationality of humanity over all other species and seeks to uncover the historical origins of humanity, believing that the original wisdom of the human race, before it became watered down by Maradon, Shinjurai and Old Westerly culture, was the ultimate source of Rationality in the Galaxy.

The Terminal Cyber-Technical Institute: On the Cybernetic Union’s capital world of Terminal, the Union enshrined the existing Cyber-Technical institute, whose pro-robot agenda helped give rise to the Cybernetic Union, as the focal point for their mass re-education program. The Cyber-Technical Institute handles all re-education of humans into “purified” being as rational as the robots that govern them. Currently, the Cyber-Technical institute is a mess of Fringe- and Cyber-Rational ideology which have merged into a cult convinced that the ultimate robotic mind, the perfectional rational being, exists somewhere on the edges of the galaxy. The current headmistress of the Terminal Cyber-Technical Institute is a cyborg named Vaylen, one of the last humans to have any sort of governmental role in the Cybernetic Union’s government; she was the headmistress when the Cybernetic Union rose, but she’s a completely changed person, having endured massive, and mandatory, “refitting” by the head intelligence of the Cybernetic Union.

The Higher Thought Collective: On Jubilee station, the Traders blur the lines between formal and informal institute with their Higher Thought Collective. The Collective regularly offers laureates and has “official” administrative ranks, but they roam the station, loudly advocate for rationalism and hold classes wherever they see fit. The Higher Thought Collective prefers a more stripped down version of Neo-Rationalism and is the only famous Institute that explicitly teaches Folk-Rationalism. The current headmaster is the argumentative, cynical and sarcastic Rhee Kirakax.

Neo-Rational Salons

A Salon is an informal gathering of Neo-Rationalists where they can discuss and mentor one another in Neo-Rationalist teachings. This includes everything from reading circles to Neo-Rationalist cults. Salons crop up anywhere where a sufficient number of Neo-Rationalists gather, and typically serve as the lifeblood for more avante-garde Neo-Rationalist thought. They often seed Neo-Rational activism, advocate for donations to larger institutes and generally promote Neo-Rational thought throughout their community.

The very nature of a Neo-Rational salon never expands beyond a small, informal gathering, but some morph into major political clubs or cults of personality. A sampling of highly influential Neo-Rational Salons include:

The God-Slayer Movement: Dawkins Nigh, a highly effective psi-hunter, shook the Neo-Rational community with the publication of his work, the God-Slayer, which argued for the existence of psionic phenomenon and advocated for purging it as “an intrusion of the irrational onto a rational universe.” Properly a part of Fringe-Rationalism, his work has nonetheless attracted considerable attention in the Empire, and Imperial officials, especially from the Ministry of Science, regularly invite him to give talks, and small, unofficial groups attempting to emulate his works have popped up throughout Imperial space.

The Cult of Psycho-Social Analytics: The Royal Shinjurai Academy exiled Zeb Lancaster after a scandal involving inappropriate relations with several female students, but Zeb’s work on Psycho-Social Analytics continues to draw acclaim from his fans, who believe the scandal was manufactured by his political opponents to facilitate his removal. Zeb Lancaster remains in a palatial estate on a world near Denjuku where he accepts any who want to come and join his movement, or to be mentored by him personally. Most describe the experience as “exhilaratingly liberating,” and speak of the charismatic, mature and handsome Zeb Lancaster as “the Messiah of Neo-Rationalism.”

The Rational Brotherhood: Mari-No Kaku has split from her long lineage of Neo-Rationalism. She argues that modern Neo-Rationalism serves sophisticates and elites as a tool of self-aggrandizement, and that the truth of Rationalism challenges the status quo. She abandoned her post as a Chair of the Royal Shinjurai Academy to live among the laborers of the Denjuku undercity, where she advocates a return to the simplicity of Folk-Rationalism. She also argues that “The heart must mediate between the hand and the head,” arguing that without change, the population of Denjuku will rise up against the royal family, rhetoric that her enemies compare to the rhetoric of the Cybernetic Union.

Agendas of Neo-Rational Institutes

Ultimately, Neo-Rational organizations seek to further Neo-Rational understanding and to spread rational thought so that they can bring about an era of rational utopia. They tend to do this with their day to day activity, but specific agendas that might serve as the basis for adventure include:

  • Discovery! Investigation into long-lost rationalist texts have revealed new scientific principles that can be exploited to create a highly advanced weapon, armor or gadget that the institute can peddle to a powerful organization (such as the Empire) for additional influence or use themselves. They need to perfect this new technology in an isolated environment and keep their exact discovery a secret, lest others wrest it away from them.
  • A political decision hangs in the balance! Numerous Neo-Rational philosophers have weighed on in on this particular policy and know the best, most rational decisions to make on it, but, alas, aren’t in a position of power to influence policy makers. They must use agents to advocate, persuade and black mail these policy makers to ensure that the “right” decision is made.
  • Heresy! Irrational philosophies, or “incorrect” rational schisms have taken ahold of the population. While the institution works hard to correct the erring populace, the loudest advocates for this new philosophy must be silenced lest the whole population fall into the grips of this philosophical mistake! That can be a simple matter of explaining that error to the advocates, but stubborn advocates must be silenced in some manner.
  • A new star rises in Neo-Rationalist circles! Naturally, all the best and brightest institutions want him as their laureate! Each will approach the new philosopher to get a feel for them, to see if they’re a good fit, and to find out what they want, while doing their best to foil the efforts of other institutions to claim the new philosophical celebrity. Remember, given the high stakes politics that Neo-Rationalism engages in, this is more than just a matter of pride, but a matter of national security!

Neo-Rational Institutes as Opposition

Most Neo-Rational institutes don’t see security as a primary concern and, as civilian organizations, don’t rise above BAD -0. Some institutes have highly sensitive research material, in which case, they might have a BAD of -2, but never have a PSI-BAD worse than -0, unless they are a Fringe-Rationalist movement, in which case their PSI-BAD equals half BAD as normal.

Militant neo-rationalism certainly exists (see the God-Slayer movement and, increasingly, the Rational Brotherhood). Most such organizations are BAD -2, and act as ideological insurgencies.

Governmental Neo-Rational institutions, such as the Imperial Ministry of Science, are best handled by treating them as governmental institutions (see Ministries and Planetary Governments).

Serving in a Neo-Rationalist Institute

Academic Ranks

Formal Neo-Rationalist institutes have Academic ranks. Salons don’t have ranks at all, though they might have informal versions of the ranks below.

6: Headmaster

5: Chair, Honorary Chair

4: Dean

3: Professor

2: Fellow, Scholar, Associate Professor

1: Associate, Teacher, Researcher

0: Assistant

The head of a Neo-Rational organization is a headmaster, who answers to a board of stakeholders called “Chairs.” Chairs usually have associated titles, which represent what overall element they oversee, such as “the Chair of Neo-Rationalist Archaeology” or “the Chair of Destructive Skepticism,” but this is not necessarily so. Chairs tend to be either elected by the alumni, or are appointed by the board themselves when a vacancy opens up. The board together typically votes on who the Headmaster is, but in some cases, this is appointed from on high (such as in the Imperial Academy or the Shinjurai Royal Academy)

A Dean, like a Chair, governs an overall department. He has a more administrative role to play, and lacks the governing power of a Chair.

Associate Professors and Teachers all teach students. All such titles come with an accompanying subject (“A Combat Geometrics Assistant Professor).

Researchers focus on researching topics and expanding Neo-Rational knowledge. Scholars act as “free roaming” researchers, encouraged to leave the institute, to represent the institute, and to research what they think best.

Beneath Teachers and Researchers are assistants, who tend to have specific titles (Administrative Assistant, Teacher’s Assistant, Research Assistant, etc). Professors govern Researchers, Teachers and Scholars on a particular topic, or may act as any of the above, within the confines of his subject, and they have tenure, making them a firm part of the institute. All Deans are drawn from the ranks of professors, and Chairs often (but not necessarily!) are.

The ranks of “Fellow” and “Associate” are courtesy ranks granted to particularly impressive alumni who have a close connection to the institute, but do not directly govern it. Sometimes, for a particularly impressive alumni or laureate, an “honorary chair” position is offered, also a Courtesy Rank.

Favors of Neo-Rational Institute

Neo-Rational institutions can offer a wealth of favors to those who serve them, or who have favors with them. A sampling of the more important favors include:

Information (PR 15): One of the primary purposes of a Neo-Rational organization is to hold onto information, often obscure information. Any information favor is highly appropriate, and they can provide Consultation services with any associated Neo-Rational skill. Consultation requests should get a +1, as Neo-Rationalists are eager to offer their expertise.

Funding (PR 16): Neo-Rationalist organizations of all stripes tend to have access either to considerable grants, or to wealthy donors willing to back major expeditions. Neo-Rationalist organizations heavily favor expeditions that will expand Neo-Rationalism, especially “scientific” or archaeological expeditions.

Introduction (PR 18): Neo-Rationalists find it very important that their ideas be enshrined in governmental institutions, so they often make a concerted effort in bringing Neo-Rationalism to society’s elites, which means many Neo-Rationalists have access to powerful figures that they can introduce one to.

Invitation (PR 18): Neo-Rationalists often hold big, prestigious events such as Neo-Rational Conventions or Laureates, and will ensure that their friends and colleagues gain invitations.

Teaching (Services, PR 18): Neo-Rationalist organizations exist to spread rational thought. They will teach non-members the basics of their philosophy, and with a successful PR request, will offer deeper disciplines even to non-members.

Facilities (PR 18): Neo-Rationalist organizations have some of the best Research facilities in the Galaxy, and often have access to excellent Engineering facilities as well, for inventors, as well as a helpful, and thoroughly rational, staff of assistances.

Credentials: Official Neo-Rational institutes can put their stamp of approval on a particular Neo-Rationalist by throwing a Laureate ceremony for him and adding him to their roles. Only Neo-Rational institutes can grant the Credentialed perk. Use the AR modifiers for cash.

Neo-Rational Institute Character Considerations

Player Characters will rarely serve a Neo-Rational institute directly, as they serve more as background information, potential targets for heists, and interesting opponents.

Requirements: Characters serving a Neo-Rational Institute must have a minimum of Wealth (Comfortable) [20] and Academic Rank 0. Tenured professors have a Perk Tenure. Characters who belong to a Neo-Rational Salon or Movement need no additional considerations.

A Favor from a Neo-Rational institute is worth 1 point/rank. A Neo-Rational institute as a Patron is worth 15 points as a base. A Neo-Rational Institute as an Enemy is worth -15 points, and is typically only a Rival or a Watcher.

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