The Conspiracy
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Basic Information

The Conspiracy is an institutional character in (mostly) modern speculative fiction and RPGs and serves as a fictional counterpart to the many real life organisations that are said to be behind the various conspiracy theories. In any given setting, The conspiracy is the one that is actually responsible for all of the wierd and sinister things that inspire the theories - it may be the only true conspiracy, with the others being hoaxes, or it may be one of many. Of course all of the other conspiracy theories may actually be nothing more than cut-outs for the one true conspiracy, or there may be a genuine power struggle. Both of these may also be true. Better yet if the tangled web of conspiracies is so thick that no-one is really in charge anymore and most players spend at least half their time plotting against themselves at one or two removes… If there are multiple conspiracies, this is the one that's driving the plot that the PCs/Protagonist(s) are involved in.

What that actually means is up for grabs - the PCs may work for the conspiracy (knowningly or not), or against it (knowingly or not) … or both, depending on who they work for and how tightly controlled their employer is. As an employer or patron the conspiracy is a great source of arcane or occult knowledge (if relevant) or bleeding edge technology (if that suits the setting better), but internal politics may be … complicated and dangerous. As an enemy, the conspiracy can be potentially terrifying (if the GM likes to plot things that way … albiet for a rather short campaign) or merely a bottomless source of targets. A big enough conspiracy can - and probably will - have its fingers in anything.

The Conspiracy - if played deadly serious - is likely to wield lies at least as expertly as it does violence and be masters of media blackwash, Orwellian retcon and astroturfing (and equally, quite happy to repaint any movement they disapprove of as astroturfing). In some cases, no-one may be beyond their reach and a truely terrifying conspiracy should be able to turn people into non-persons more or less with impunity, transforming decorated heros into apparent mall ninjas and celebrities into delusional tramps, either by erasing public records or by stealing their identity and giving it to someone else1. Or both. The less powerful conspiracy can still attempt these things - by comprehensive black propaganda, the aforementioned media blackwash and extensive misuse of government powers - but is likely to be less sucessful.


1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • Try the various Deus Ex games for a truly confusing net of conspiracies - at least it's confusing if you're trying to puzzle out who was working for whom when and who knew what about which…
  • You can run conspiracies in pretty much any era … with the scope increasing as the years pass. With the right sort of campaign, PCs can serve (or oppose) the same conspiracy over millenia.
  • The Conspiracy as patron works for several decent RPGs, including Delta Green and Conspiracy X.
  • Allowing PCs to run into victims of the conspiracy may act as foreshadowing.
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