[HOE] The Agency Question

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WiseGuy
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[HOE] The Agency Question

#1 Postby WiseGuy » Thu Feb 05, 2009 11:22 am

What has become of the Men In Black Dusters?


Whilst I may be asking a very odd question but I have recently bought Hell On Earth D20 (and read The Unity as well as a few other Classic HOE adventures) and whilst reading it through I nodded that there were still ex-Texas Rangers running around and then I actually spluttered in shock as I read that the Agency seems to have disappeared. To quote the wonderful Jo (and the 2ic of the Templars seems to know a thing or two);

The Agents were a small, close-knit group, and I don’t think any of them have survived through today. At least I’ve never heard of anyone totally sane claiming to be from the Agency.


Either the Agency has become so skilled at hiding from people that everyone thinks they are all dead OR they fled to Banshee (I have not got the Lost Colony book yet so that's an option for me anyway) OR perhaps these "mad" men are really Agents in disguise? Or maybe they went mad because They Meddled In Things They Shouldn't Have?

The Marshal Section of the Deadlands: The Wasted West Worldbook states that the final explanation is the closest to the truth (on Page 125) says:

Those few insane individuals who claim to have been “Agents” are actually telling the truth. Something happened in their final days that drove many of them insane.


So something big did happen but it then goes on to say that "we’ll reveal just what that was in a future Hell on Earth supplement."

Perhaps it is revealed in the Hell On Earth D20 Companion (which I cannot find a copy of for love nor money) or it will be revealed in the upcoming and hugely anticipated Hell On Earth Reloaded book?

So, Marshals in the meantime. What do you think?

Have you any suggestions, wild stories or insane theories on what has happened to The Agency after the Last War?


Personally I am all ready to blame Mina Devlin. When you are involved in something as traumatically sounding as the "Second Great Witch Trials" your surviving family have got to harbour some need for vengeance and need for some horrific revenge. And if there is one thing that the ladies of the Devlin brood know how to do is to bide their time to be ready for some exquisitely planned payback. Sending those who wronged her family completely insane? Just seemed like Devlin handiwork to me.
Last edited by WiseGuy on Thu Feb 05, 2009 11:58 am, edited 1 time in total.
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#2 Postby ScooterinAB » Thu Feb 05, 2009 11:32 am

Pre War the Agency was still kicking. IIRC they were the ones who spearheaded the Cyborgs program (spcifically Infiltrators). I recall that they were really big into Cult busting.

Post War, I'd imagine that they'd have officially fallen apart. Although that does create some interesting pc/npc ideas. Someone playing an ex-Agent, some npc trying to restore the Agency, etc.

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#3 Postby oddtail » Thu Feb 05, 2009 12:53 pm

OK, how about this:

- the Agency has always been aware that the supernatural exists;
- the Agency was aware that Ghost Rock was essentially magical as early as 1870s-1880s;
- the Agency was there to prevent a major supernatural disaster of some sorts, although it was never clear what exactly that would be;
- the Agency infiltrated, spied on, and helped to thwart the Sons of Sitgreaves movement, therefore essentially playing a key role in what led to the development of Ghost Rock bombs;
- during the war, Agents (probably) still worked as an organisation, at least for a moment. At that point, they probably still felt they were fighting against the supernatural badness. An Agent's life was typically devoted to that very task.
- now let's imagine that one Agent put two and two together, having all the pieces of the puzzle finally available. And let us imagine that he told his collegues "um, guys... not to rain on your parade, but I think we're part of the reason for what we were trying to prevent. Funny, innit?". Although he probably used more dramatic words.
- now, Agents, possibly, realised (and why wouldn't they? They always were pretty aware of what was happening - up to a point) that by trying to stop the Reckoners, they helped them (this role of the Agency, although more subtle, is talked about already in the Deadlands rulebooks, not HoE). For a man (or woman) whose whole life was devoted to such a mission, I'd think it might be enough for the mind to snap.

How's that sound?
Can't think of anything smart/funny right now, sorry.

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Great!

#4 Postby WiseGuy » Thu Feb 05, 2009 1:37 pm

Agency Infiltrator Cyborgs, Scooter? Interesting! That gives me an adventure idea. *Starts scribbling away*

Whilst the Agency could have simply disbanded inthe chaos after the Last War like Oddtail has suggested I think there must be some huge events to make some of the toughest men in the world en masse go loopy. We are talking Agents here. Someone who deals with the supernatural as much as they doI dread to think what would break them.


That's a great reply, Mr. Oddtail. You have my congratulations (and a virtual cookie). With a storytellin' mind such as that I am sure your Posse must be really enjoying your campaigns.
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Re: [HOE] The Agency Question

#5 Postby Sitting Duck » Fri Feb 06, 2009 10:36 am

WiseGuy wrote:Whilst I may be asking a very odd question but I have recently bought Hell On Earth D20 (and read The Unity as well as a few other Classic HOE adventures) and whilst reading it through I nodded that there were still ex-Texas Rangers running around and then I actually spluttered in shock as I read that the Agency seems to have disappeared. To quote the wonderful Jo (and the 2ic of the Templars seems to know a thing or two);

The Agents were a small, close-knit group, and I don’t think any of them have survived through today. At least I’ve never heard of anyone totally sane claiming to be from the Agency.


Keep in mind the Wasted West is a big place and settlements are scattered far and wide. It plausible that there are sane Agents out there which Jo simply hasn't run into. In fact, the Cyborgs book features an interview with an Agent who has all of his marbles (though it's implied that he was mostly a desk jockey before Judgement Day).
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#6 Postby Teller » Sat Feb 07, 2009 9:59 am

If you read Denver or City o Sin, you can see what happened to many of the Agents in their regional HQs when the power went out as their electronics were scrambled by EMPs and such.
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#7 Postby Shawn » Sat Feb 07, 2009 2:16 pm

Yep. Kinda like the scene in Ghostbusters the movie when the containment field was shut off. All of the bad stuff they had taken from the public and hidden away was free to get out and play.
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#8 Postby oddtail » Sat Feb 07, 2009 6:04 pm

Shawn wrote:Yep. Kinda like the scene in Ghostbusters the movie when the containment field was shut off. All of the bad stuff they had taken from the public and hidden away was free to get out and play.


Heh... incidentally, I've always figured Ghostbusters was one of *those* things that fit the Deadlands universe perfectly, with just a little tweaking (or not even that).

Especially the second movie. I mean... they used the Statue of Liberty to lower the Fear Level in NYC ;P. The gooey stuff was just a physical manifestation of the high FL.

That, in turn, gives me an idea for a Relic or two, should I ever run HoE as opposed to Deadlands...
Can't think of anything smart/funny right now, sorry.

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#9 Postby Pure Evil Model: D » Sun Feb 08, 2009 12:39 am

In my mind Ghostbusters was actually a true story about a group of mad scientists taking on supernatural happenings in new york city and were eventually shut down by the Agency. the Agency then had a Syker plant the idea for a movie in the minds of Dan Akroyd and Harold Ramis. thus once a movie was made of it, people would dismiss the real happenings for publicity stunts and glimpses of on location filming.

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#10 Postby oddtail » Sun Feb 08, 2009 3:47 am

Pure Evil Model: D wrote:In my mind Ghostbusters was actually a true story about a group of mad scientists taking on supernatural happenings in new york city and were eventually shut down by the Agency. the Agency then had a Syker plant the idea for a movie in the minds of Dan Akroyd and Harold Ramis. thus once a movie was made of it, people would dismiss the real happenings for publicity stunts and glimpses of on location filming.


That makes sense, too.

I suppose 90% of horror films (with "Nightmare on Elm Street" series being the most obvious one) were part of a similar strategy? =)
Can't think of anything smart/funny right now, sorry.

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#11 Postby Shawn » Sun Feb 08, 2009 5:01 pm

Actually in my game and in my mind, the slasher flicks of the 90's were more the Reckoners back handed attempt to raise the Fear Level by increments. I see it as a graph kind of. Really High fear level in the Weird West (1876) dropping to a mid level by 1900, raising back up for WWI, and climbing steadily higher for WW2 until it drops to almost nothing past 1948 (when Berlin was nuked in the DL universe). It stays pretty level, spiking a bit during Vietnam (possibly through some Tour of Darkness style shenanigans) then starts rising again after Zimmerman's rampage in 2000, the Banshee war in 2044, and the invention of the ghost rock bomb in 2045. It climbs very sharply during the Last War 2077-2081 and plateaus at the highest level on J-Day. Hopefully that makes sense. The overall global Fear Level explains why there is no real supernatural action in what we would think of as 'present day' 2009.
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#12 Postby oddtail » Sun Feb 08, 2009 6:44 pm

Shawn wrote:Actually in my game and in my mind, the slasher flicks of the 90's were more the Reckoners back handed attempt to raise the Fear Level by increments.


Um, the whole Reckoners' plan shows that they are pretty smart guys. Creatures. Beings. Whatever ;). And since the dawn of humanity, scary stories were told to tame our fears, not to create them. Not to mention the fact that a Fear Level is not the temporary startling, but a lingering menace. You are not afraid of a horror movie a few days after you've seen it, are you? (*)

So I don't really agree with your reasoning. If anything, I'd see horror movies as a clever attempt at Tale Tellin' at a real mass scale, dressed up as fiction, and thus *lowering* the Fear Levels. Kinda like old issues of Tombstone Epitaph are relics that help with Tale Tellin' in the Wasted West, despite the fact that those speak of supernatural horrors.

And, well, it is said a few times in certain books that Tombstone Epitaph were, in fact, right, and the Agency and Texas Rangers were wrong, even if they meant well.

Also, why do you think there is no supernatural action in 2009 in the Deadlands universe? =) of course, I'd say real-world things like racial/religious/cultural tensions, McCarthyism or (more recently) terrorism sound scarier than a bunch of zombies, but it seems Deadlands tells a more black-and-white, pulpish version of the world. I mean, "Back East: the South" is careful to steer clear of issues like racism in favour of less... controversial problems. I can see the reasoning, but it does paint a certain picture of the setting.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, I can totally imagine new, retooled for more jaded "audiences" Abominations in the early 21st century. Modern fears are different, but it's not THAT difficult to come up with bogeymen that reflect what your average person is anxious about, today.

(*) As an adult, I know only two movies that give me the creeps whenever I think of them, and in neither case I'd say I'm particularly "afraid" of the memory.
Can't think of anything smart/funny right now, sorry.

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#13 Postby ScooterinAB » Mon Feb 09, 2009 12:38 am

I absolutely love the idea of Ghostbusters actually taking place in Deadlands. Particularily the idea of using a large monument to lower the local fear level.

[quote]As an adult, I know only two movies that give me the creeps whenever I think of them, and in neither case I'd say I'm particularly "afraid" of the memory.[\quote]

Is one of them the Amityville Horror? The movie freaks me right the hell out. Eveytime I watch it, I am afraid to go into my basement to do laundry for a week.

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#14 Postby Quibbles quaint » Mon Feb 09, 2009 1:34 am

ScooterinAB wrote:Is one of them the Amityville Horror? The movie freaks me right the hell out. Eveytime I watch it, I am afraid to go into my basement to do laundry for a week.


Or at least that is the excuse you use to get out of doing laundry. :wink: Kidding.

On a more on topic note, it seems to me that it is quite possible that the organization has either gone into deep hiding or has just dissolved. From what I remember a lot of bad stuff happened that they might not have been able to stick together through and even if they could there might not have been much point. Their main thing was to keep things quiet and at this point there is very little reason for them to do so.

I find the ideas that you all have been bouncing around to be quite interesting and very cool. Many of them would make sense and have given me ideas and lead me to think about things that lead me to a better understanding of the whole thing. It was very nice.
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#15 Postby oddtail » Mon Feb 09, 2009 6:48 am

ScooterinAB wrote:
As an adult, I know only two movies that give me the creeps whenever I think of them, and in neither case I'd say I'm particularly "afraid" of the memory.


Is one of them the Amityville Horror? The movie freaks me right the hell out. Eveytime I watch it, I am afraid to go into my basement to do laundry for a week.


Nah. One is "Shutter", the real one (the Thai movie, not the American remake). I haven't seen many Asian horrors (and I don't watch many horror movies at all, anyway), but there's something heavy about the atmosphere of this one. I didn't really know whether I wanted to keep watching it or turn the DVD player off immediately.

The other is, well, "Pan's Labyrinth". Not so much for being scary, but for being a mixture of mesmerisingly beautiful and surprisingly harsh and violent. Plus, the design of the Pale Man was perhaps the best boogeyman I've ever seen.

But again, I don't watch many scary movies (and some so-called "horrors" are more silly and/or startling than any kind of scary), so maybe if I'd watched "The Ring" or something, I'd find it scary as well. Maybe.
Can't think of anything smart/funny right now, sorry.

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#16 Postby WiseGuy » Wed Feb 11, 2009 4:11 pm

Perhaps the Agency realised what they were doing was inadvertedly meant that they were being used as tools of the Reckoners (by creating fear by being the G-Men of their day).

I am very impressed by all of these answers; there has been some grade-A thought gone into these replies.

For a laugh I used my free question with an question answering service AQA (http://www.aqa.63336.com/) and asked the following question.

"In the RPG "Deadlands: Hell on Earth" by PEG what became of the American Union's "The Agency" after Judgement Day? What sent many of them insane?"


And I actually recieved an answer;

"The fate of The Agency has not been revealed. It is expected that the tale will be told in a future supplement, perhaps Hell On Earth Reloaded. Thank you for using AQA."


You can count me as very impressed that they had any idea what I was talking about.

I wonder if anyone at PEG can confirm that AQA is right? :D

Thanks,

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#17 Postby Edivdrone » Mon Mar 30, 2009 7:25 pm

While not really saying anything about what happened, the books hint that a very, very nasty abomination is the source of the madness in the handful of agents that are left (and known). My best guess, given what is discussed in supplements like Denver and City of Sin is that something akin to Baphomet was imprisoned by the Agency for several years. On escaping, it uses its pent up rage and the energy released by the deaths of millions around it, to unleash revenge on its captors. I have even toyed with the idea of stating the thing and having my posse cross paths with it.
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#18 Postby Cutter XXIII » Tue Mar 31, 2009 7:26 am

WiseGuy wrote:I wonder if anyone at PEG can confirm that AQA is right? :D


Funny...I talked to Teller about this very subject not two weeks ago.

AQA is right. And yes, something very nasty is involved. But it's probably not what you think. :twisted:
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#19 Postby The One » Mon Apr 06, 2009 10:42 am

Personally I think that most, if not all, of the Agency went down shortly after Judgement Day. After all, those that didn´t go down with the GRB, would have likely been eaten up either trying to get back in touch with a HQ, or taking down the worst of what followed. The very very few that are left are proberly too disorganised to count as "The Agency".

What I did in my game was let someone be a former Agent who got recruited into Project Damocles as a Infiltrator ´borg. Imagine his surprise though waking up not to a bunker chock full of grunts and ammo, but instead finding heavily armed Walkin´Dead patrolling the corridors! (ran him through a mini adventure pre-game)
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#20 Postby WiseGuy » Mon Apr 06, 2009 12:32 pm

This is why the Deadlands Community is still the height of awesome-ness great Storytellers (whether players or PEG writers) telling great stories.
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