Inscrit le: 19 Sep 2009
Mer 30 Sep - 23:31 (2009)
Inside the Patent Office
When it comes to the players and their characters, the most important organization in the universe is probably the Patent Office. Here we’ll talk about them in a little more detail.
Organization and Management
To cover the universe’s fourteen major civilizations, its hundred-odd inhabitable planets and myriad minor colonies and installations, the Patent Office employs over 1.3 million individuals. The majority of them are clerks, technological advisors, and organizational experts. Inspectors (such as the PCs) and their supervisors make up less than 1% of the organization, with about 12,000 active Inspectors at any one time.
Each inhabited planet has at least one branch of the Patent Office, with a moderate support staff and significant computer support. Each office has a wormhole transceiver, to relay information across the universe as quickly as possible. If the planet has no other wormhole generators, the Patent Office will have one to provide emergency travel for Inspectors. Most inventors never see the Patent Office; there’s no point in physically going there when the infosphere can send anything you like back and forth without the trouble of physical transport. The office building will typically have a live secretary, waiting room with refreshments and replicator, and a “hall of records” with holographic displays and data on every piece of intellectual property ever created. The building itself will be well-built and tasteful (at least for local definitions of taste), and blend into the local urban environment seamlessly, with only the subtlest of signs indicating its purpose.
Inspectors see a rather different side of things. The tasteful buildings mentioned above are what Inspectors call the “front office.” They instead use the “business office” — a space station set above the galactic plane of a very distant spiral. The station keeps rooms available for Inspectors who need a place to rest before or after a difficult mission, live secretaries to provide a human touch, cafeterias, environmental rooms (such as aviaries, greenhouses, and desert rooms, to provide rest and relaxation), and more. Most Inspectors end up wandering around the station in their free time at least once, and are somewhat surprised to find theatres, zero-g recreation facilities, and hydroponics bays, all packed in mothballs — unused, but ready for future activity.
Whether the Transcendentals’ computer cores are actually located at the Business Office is unknown — they wisely refuse to say.
Almost every Patent Office assignment begins and ends in the Briefing Room. There are several, but they are identical. The room is “bare” metal (diamond-coated), with simple but comfortable metal chairs arranged around a transparent central pillar. The Transcendentals use the pillar to display a crude vector-graphics face. They could, of course, display a perfectly human-looking face, but they prefer not to give the impression that they are human. Here the Inspectors can talk to the Transcendental in charge of their mission, receiving instructions and asking questions, and being debriefed after their assignments.
Not all missions are delivered directly by the Transcendentals. Most new Patent Officers take a little time to acquaint themselves with the Office’s practices, and also prefer not to get their instructions from a computer. For these reasons, the Office assigns a more experienced Inspector (a “handler”) to every group of new employees.
The turnover of staff in the Patent Office is pretty high. Most people are either fired or quit within a few years. There are several reasons for this, the most common being that the Transcendentals often put highly moral people into highly immoral situations, where they are likely to attempt to change things. This can quickly lead to people disregarding mission objectives for the greater good, which isn’t a bad thing but does sometimes lead to firings. Those people who don’t go against mission objectives often burn out. Others simply find that the job isn’t to their liking.
It’s important to remember that every single Inspector is there because they were hand-selected by the Transcendentals. The Ts know, at least in brief outline, what you’re going to do to help them, and when you should be let go. And to a certain extent, they will sometimes “use” people, but they prefer to have a better relationship than that with their employees.