Freeze says, "Evening, folks. There's been a lot of questions lately about what the ESC is and isn't, so I figured I'd try to clarify some stuff. Please hold questions til I ask for them."
Freeze says, "Okay, so, ESC, Enigma Sector Consortium, is described as the "nominal government of the majority of the Enigma Sector." That's true, but it can be a little misleading. The ESC is not a government like the United States. It does not have a traditional form of government. However, if you want to compare it to something that exists, I'd use the words corporate oligarchy. In reality, the ESC is a bunch of corporations that coined the term "Enigma Sector Consortium" to give themselves a sense of legitimacy to the average onlooker. They are, actually, a bunch of corporations."
Freeze says, "Everything I tell you here, incidentally, is IC knowledge for the most part. There are other layers to the ESC that would take some work to get to."
Freeze says, "The corporations are kinda like Shadowrun corps. Highly competitive. Constantly at varying levels of war with each other, whether it be corporate boardroom war, or some kind of crazy subterfuge involving infiltrating each other with sleeper agents to spy on corporate secrets. I use the term Shadowrun loosely, because we do not have any of the magic or fantasy elements."
Freeze says, "The largest of these corporations are the Big 3: Von Sprechen Industries, Guinterin Combine, and Taffin Reclamation. But there are dozens of other, smaller corps and businesses that aren't as notable as the Big 3. The only form of "governance" that makes the ESC a recognizable entity is a secretive group known only as the Enigma Board. The Board is a bunch of representatives from all the most influential corporations. The exact makeup and membership is unknown. The exact distribution of power is unknown. All that's known is that occasionally, the Enigma Board will issue some edict or ruling that represents the majority opinion of the Enigma Board, and in turn, all the corporations of the Enigma Sector as a whole - whether they like it or not."
Freeze says, "Each one of the Big 3 corps represents a massive piece of the Enigma Sector's economy. VSI is the manufacturing and materials arm. A good 60 percent of /everything/ that's bought and sold in the sector is manufacutred by VSI. Taffin Reclamation is the media side. Every legitimate broadcasting station in the sector is owned by TR at some level. Guinterin Combine is the muscle. All of the security forces and any kind of quasi-military presence is owned and operated by GC."
Freeze says, "What this means is that when you see a security guard wearing an ESC uniform, they are actually an employee of the Guinterin Combine. GC signs their paychecks. They are glorified security guards, and their legitimacy or jurisdiction in any area is because the corporation or business that owns that area has a contract with GC to provide a "police" presence."
Freeze says, "GC only employs enough people to maintain a strong presence on Vespus, and a much smaller presence in a couple other systems. All other "law" in the sector comes in the form of private, everyday citizens like you guys, who sign a contract with GC (even though the contract says ESC at the top), giving you authority to enforce whatever rules are agreed upon by GC and the entity that owns the property you work on."
Freeze says, "So, some business who owns a piece of land on Inferno may decide that pickpocketing is punishable by death. If that's agreed to in the GC contract, then you will be shot on sight for picking someone's pocket, and no questions will be asked."
Freeze says, "This also means that the private contracted sheriffs or peacekeepers have /alot/ of discretion in their little areas. As long as the property-owning entity doesn't make a fuss, the contracted peacekeepers do as they please. They are, quite literally, the sheriffs of the old west."
Freeze says, "To summarize, ESC, as a whole, has /a shit ton/ of material resources and credits. What they do not have, however, is manpower."
Freeze says, "That's why everything is a contract. They need private citizens to do their work. In turn, the private citizens generally rely on one of the corporations of ESC to give them credits, materials, or whatever else they might need. If ESC decides to cut off funding or supplies to any particular group, that group will probably die out fairly quickly."
Freeze says, "Theoretically, if enough people stood up together, they could tell the ESC to stuff it. We don't know exactly how many people it would take or what the situation would be, but it could happen."
Freeze says, "ESC does not have a navy or fleet of any kind because, frankly, they don't need one. No one group has enough resources to field a fleet. The only group with enough political power and material resources to even think about it at this point would be the Kilrathi Commonwealth. But so far, the KC and the ESC have been buddy buddy. If a situation arose where a fleet was suddenly jumping into the Enigma Sector, basically what would happen is you'd see a sudden whirlwind of production as VSI churns out a half dozen capships in a manner of weeks. Then, you'd see a thousand GC contracts become available for crew to staff those capships."
Freeze says, "So, that pretty much sums up what I wanted to get across tonight. I am going to run afk for about 2 minutes, and in the meantime if anyone has any questions, shout them out, and I will answer them in a few."
--- THIS IS WHERE FREEZE OPENS PUBLIC UP FOR QUESTIONS FROM THE PLAYER BASE ---
James Roberts says, "By capships do you mean anything Corvette and up or just the heavy stuff like Cruisers, Dreadnaughts, Carriers, and possibly destroyers?"
Talbott Ackerman says, "Since there is no 'medium' ships I'm imagining anything with a passanger load of more than...4 is a cap ship... but... clarification would be nice."
James Roberts says, "I thought I remembered someone on staff talking abut there being corvettes and frigates flying around but little or no heavy capships but I'm not sure"
Zed says, "Anything heavier than a frigate in civilian hands would be exceedingly rare."
John Penta has a question: Who provides the court system for the ESC? Who...Picks up the trash? Runs the health service? I remember that in Shadowrun it was carefully explained why the corps kept governments around - because even though they maybe could knock em over, governments do all the stuff that distracts corps from their main function - making profit. Oh, and since I'm asking: Is it possible to buy shares of the ESC's member corps?
Freeze says, "Corvettes are exceedingly rare becuase they were originally designed for combat. There are privately owned ships of equal size that are available (or will be as we design them), but they are totally industrial. Everything is about industry. Nothing these days is designed for combat beyond dogfights and ship-to-ship engagements."
Talbott Ackerman says, "Right... I would imagine merchant transports would be considered cap ships as well."
James Roberts says, "You would think they would have a few combat ships around for Pirate hunting, repelling, escort and such but ok"
Freeze says, "Penta: All of those things are run by a business of some sort. Think U.S. healthcare without any kind of government to reign it in. Health insurance in the Enigma Sector is so expensive that only the richest people can probably afford it. Seeing a doctor for a "checkup" is unheard of for average people. Most people get hurt and seek out the nearest doctor to patch them up for whatever price they can negotiate. As for trash pickup and other municipal serices - again, it's a business. Everything is capitalistic. It may be that the landowners have a contract with some small business to maintain their properties. This is especially true on New Zurich. Most other places don't bother, which is why a lot of places beyond Vespus are total shitholes."
Freeze says, "Roberts: They do. GC certainly has peacekeeping forces that fly around Vespus looking for pirates, but they don't enforce any rules in too many other systems, and they aren't capships."
Freeze says, "Theoretically, you could turn some large industrial ships into gun boats, but it would be expensive, and you'd have to find some place to get the guns. VSI is probably the only group that could easily manufacture something like that."
James Roberts says, "Pity I was looking forawrd to designing a combat frigate at some point"
Talbott Ackerman says, "Is there a prison system? If someone is 'wanted' is that by the local contracting company or..."
Freeze says, "I should also probably mention that Taffin Reclamation, aside from being the media powerhouse in the sector, is also widely suspected of generally being The Intelligence for ESC. They do the spying and infiltration. They monitor everything that's going on anywhere within their reach. Because of their generally adaptive response to everything, they want to know ahead of time if they need to adjust production of some material or another. So, when someone starts buying a lot of big ships from one market and a lot of big guns from another market, TR spies are going to figure it out, and VSI will likely jack up the prices, making it very difficult for the buyer to build their "fleet". That is, unless you go out of your way to hide your purchases, disguise your business acts, etc."
Freeze says, "Yes, Talbott. Anyone with credits can place a bounty on someone else. Most of the time it's done by a corporation. Prisons are corporate-owned."
Freeze says, "Though certainly a private citizen can put a bounty on someone."
Diana Cabrera says, "Is there a coded system for that?"
Freeze says, "Right now, +ticket it and we will negotiate the price with you and put them on the wanted list. (help wanted)"
Kole Devar says, "Question. How is extradition handled, if at all. say I got into a fight on Vespus and stabbed a guy, then fled to Traggil and got caught there, would I be extradited to Vespus, or be dealt with on Traggil for both crimes?"
Talbott Ackerman says, "I would imagine it would be based on how much the corp on Traggil wants to pay the corp on Vespus or if they are run by the same company."
John Penta says, "Do the corps have a court system to adjudicate disputes between them? Are there inter-corporate diplomats?"
John Penta says, "Like SR's Corporate Court."
Freeze says, "That would be an interesting questions because Traggil is KC-owned, and they do things differently. I'll get Rince or Paradox to do one of these talks about how KC works because they are the Kilrathi experts. But within ESC space, Talbott has it. The corporation in possession of the prisoner would negotiate for a price. This system can make bounty hunting very profitable."
Kole Devar says, "I've another question, bounties are only (say) 150,000 creds if captured, yes?"
Kole Devar says, "So how do the corps deal with dead wanted people, shove them in the morgue?"
Freeze says, "The courts would be whatever the entity owning the property wanted them to be. It could mean you have Judge Dredd running around on some worlds. It could mean an overly complicated bureaucratic process on others, which is how it is on New Zurich. Vespus is special because it is the "ESC Capitol". Everything is owned by multiple corporations, and there are thousands of contracts and agreements detailing every minute aspect of all business on New Zurich. It is a nightmare of red tape."
Talbott Ackerman says, "so you sit in jail for months waiting for a 'trial' based on all the lawyers bickering..."
Freeze says, "Yes."
Freeze says, "Bounties can be any amount, Kole. Depends on how much someone wants to put on your head."
Freeze says, "And it could be alive or dead, or both."
Talbott Ackerman says, "Is there a universal monetary system?"
John Penta says, "Okay, so on Vespus, who decides contract disputes? If Company A and company B think the contract means different things, who decides what it means?"
Verlic Ragitagha says, "I believe he means.. if there's a bounty for LIVE CAPTURE of a wanted person of 150,000.. what happens in the case where said person is brought in dead?"
Kole Devar says, "Ver, that's what I meant"
Freeze says, "Talbott, the credit is the universally accepted money. The only reason it's like that is because credits are what the Terran Confederation and the Empire of Kilrah used during the war, and that's just what they use now."
John Penta says, "Is there a central bank for the credit?"
Freeze says, "Also on arrests, as admin we make a genuine effort to move people through the "justice" system rapidly, so as not to cut off RP and game-fun. The red tape is ICly how it is, though."
Talbott Ackerman says, "Yeah, who assures a credits value?"
Freeze says, "For bounties where it's for live capture and the person is brought in dead, it would be up to the bounty hunter to negotiate with the entity that placed the bounty. He might not get anything."
James Roberts says, "Actually this might be a good thing for my plans. If one of the heads of the VSI is expecting a second Kilrathi war he might push for comission of combat capship designs if there aren't any handy as preperation."
Freeze says, "There are hundreds of banks. The value of the credit is dictated by the market, which in this case means it's usually dictated by VSI. Theoretically, a PC with enough money could start their own bank, offer their own loans, offer interest returns on deposits, etc.. We wouldn't stop you."
John Penta says, "Is there anything like crimes against society in the ESC? Anything remotely like treason, say?"
Freeze says, "For our purposes, we aren't going to NPC a hundred different banks. There is one bank when you use the account commands. If some player started their own bank and started offering their own loans, and it became a big enough deal, we might consider some code support."
James Roberts says, "What about factories,shipyards, and such?"
Freeze says, "Penta, it all depends on what the entity owning the land decides. Could be they're all about human rights and social equality. Could be they don't give a shit."
Freeze says, "It would be really hard to commit "treason" against the ESC because being ultra-capitalistic and competitive is a good thing in this society."
Freeze says, "But someone might contract GC to hunt you down and whup your ass."
Freeze says, "Roberts, how do you mean?"
James Roberts says, "Could a PC eventually gather enough resources to start their own shipyards, and some of the factories for the harder to obtain parts like weapons?"
Freeze says, "Yes. We are working on our item system, which will include using commodities to manufacture different thing. All of that stuff you're hauling around in cargo jobs will eventually be used, code-wise, to manufacture different stuff, which you can then hoard for your own purposes."
Freeze says, "Okay, seems like questions are dying down, so I am gonna officially end this thing. I will get Para or Rince to do a KC Theme Hour at some point in the near future."