Armored Core (Rated PG-13 for violence, language, and implied sexual situations) The year is 2099 and the world is a very different place. Grand superpowers control most of the world, with the rest ravaged by war, controlled by massive corporations, or barely holding on to independence. In the midst of the societal upheaval that resulted in this world; a new type of weapon was developed, one that would forever change the face of war. This weapon was first developed in the year 2012. It was the Mobile Armored Core, an advanced humanoid weapons platform that turned a single soldier into an army. So began the new race, to see which nation could build the best and greatest Armored Cores and dominate the battlefield. Contracting this development to various weapons manufacturers and energy companies put several corporations in a uniquely powerful position; the money the world governments spent on weapons development made them exceedingly rich and gave them influence over the world's affairs as never before. By 2020, the world was consumed by social and political upheaval. Four great superpowers emerged, controlling more than 50% of the world's surface. The remaining half of the world became divided by corporations and local tyrants, who fought and competed with each other and the superpowers for control of the various resources available. The unrest finally stabilized by 2090, and borders were firmly established. This didn't stop the battles, however, and fighting still raged throughout the southern hemisphere. The corporations, eager to profit from the conflict, established operations in the various territories. They sold weapons and medical supplies to each and every side, profiting greatly from the bloodshed. The corporations competed even with one another by sponsoring the different warring factions. Back in their home countries, their ever-increasing power gave them more influence over world politics and policies than ever before. Together, they established the League (of Corporations) to serve as a meeting place and official political presence for their collective interests. But the League served another purpose. After the ceasefire, the nations dismissed their ace Armored Core pilots (the Irregulars) as per the rules of the New Geneva Convention. The pilots, who had built themselves around their skills, had nowhere to go, and were otherwise swept back into society without notice. Taking advantage of the pilots' desires to matter, the League established an organization called Collared, a pilot management organization that served as a watering hole for mission agency brokers carrying out orders for corporations. The demand for pilots in the conflict regions quickly made Collared (and in turn the League) one of the most influential and wealthy forces on the planet, and the pilots themselves became absurdly wealthy as well (though most of their earnings went to the upkeep of their machines). You are one of these pilots under the employ of Collared, taking missions at the behest of corporations, countries, or independent parties, sometimes working against your previous employers and then helping them the next day. For most pilots, it's all business; there's no hard feelings. Yesterday you were contacted by a Collared representative and assigned to a rarely-formed team of pilots to quell an uprising in Madagascar. True, it's unusual to contract more than two Irregulars for any given mission, but you've learned a disturbing new truth, there are more Irregulars than previously thought, enough to lead to full-scale global war. The status quo is about to change... =====World Overview===== Spoiler: Superpowers, Autonomous Zones, Volatile Zones The United Nations is essentially defunct, though it still exists in some form, maintaining a peacekeeping presence in and controlling parts of Africa as well as having "embassies" throughout the rest of the world. It really serves as a place where the countries can get together and deny trying to destroy one another (while secretly conspiring with everyone else to destroy everyone else). ===Superpowers=== Chinese Federation (China, Korea, Southeast Asia): established by swift Chinese expansion in the mid 21st Century, the Chinese Federation is the most populous empire in the world. Advocating unyielding loyalty to the ideals of China, dissention is not tolerated. European Union: composed of most of modern-day Europe, the EU was forced to form a central government due to the presence of both the Russian Empire and the Chinese Federation. With pooled resources, the Union was better able to establish as a world superpower. In the following years, conflict with Russia would leave much of Eastern European region battle scarred and desolate, resulting in a huge migration to the west, now slowly being overrun by poverty and crime. The governing bodies are attempting to solve this problem, but efforts have been largely ineffective, and they fear slipping into tyranny. North American Alliance (USA +Canada): an alliance formed to ease trade restrictions and present a powerful front to the rest of the world, the NAA is the "birthplace" of the modern corporation. Citizens live relatively peaceful and easy lives, though government is highly influenced by the corporations. The average American citizen is largely unaffected by the corporate influence on government, but the gap between the rich and poor has grown tremendously, leaving several areas rife with crime and poverty, and thus easy pickings for corporate takeovers. Russian Empire: composed of much of the old Soviet block, the new Russia is very little like the old USSR in terms of its ideology. Controlled now by mobsters and former intelligence officers, it is rife with corruption and extorts even the corporations that make Russia their home. ===Autonomous Zones=== Australia-New Zealand: this nation has been faced with many difficulties. Their rich supply of resources and available land made it a target of many countries and corporations. However, the unforgiving environment and well-supplied defenses has allowed them to remain autonomous despite repeated encroachment. India: an isolated nation due to the Himalayan Mountains, India has been able to maintain independence through its use of manpower and strategic buildup. Much advancement is made here in the field of engineering and medical research, making India one of the top developers of new technology. Israel: as one of the main pioneers of the Armored Core technology, Israel was on the bleeding edge of the weapon system's development. After the use of the Cores became widespread, Israel developed the Allegorical Manipulation System, resulting in exponentially more powerful combat units. Because of the nation's emphasis on technology and military superiority, a "merging" of corporation and government resulted, leading to a uniquely stable country in a chronically unstable region of the world. Japan: Japanese scientists were among the chief collaborators for the mechanical aspects of the Armored Core technology. Due to their proficiency for high-level use of the Cores, Japan was able to maintain independence from both the Chinese Federation and Russia. As in Israel, the Japanese were able to strike a delicate balance between the government and the corporations. ===Volatile Combat Zones=== Africa: the countries here are either colonies of the United Nations or controlled by warlords and corporations. Like with the South American corporations and drug cartels, life working under the corporations is comparatively/relatively safe, but the corporations are not held accountable for anything that happens to you. Life under the warlords essentially is the same, though there are much fewer rules to follow. The trade-off is that the warlords can do essentially anything they want. Antarctica: considered neutral territory, but due to the presence of vast resources below the ice sheets, control of it is highly coveted. Rights to the resources are contested between the various corporations and countries. Middle East: birthplace of the Armored Core-based combat. Most countries here have been ravaged by war, uprising, more war, and more uprising. Now they're ruled either by local warlords, religious extremists, or oil corporations seeking to drain the last bit of cash from a resource that's less and less in demand. South America (Mexico, Central, + South America): ruled by various drug cartels and pharmaceutical corporations vying for control over resources, all of which rose to power after the collapse of the regions' established governments. The corporations are well-supplied and generally keep the order quite well, though there's no defying them if you live in their zones. Southeast Asia (Indonesia, Philippines, Papua New Guinea): Individually, these states are well organized, but are constantly fighting against Chinese expansion. They receive support from Australia-New Zealand, however, and there are talks of forming a "States of Oceania". Spoiler: Corporations ===Corporations=== Corporations have evolved far beyond what they were in the year 2011. Now, corporations are multi-tiered entities of incredible social and political power. Each corporation is almost a nation in and unto of itself, involved in medical research, weapons development, and resource management. The essential goal for all corporations is to gain more power and influence over the people. Corporations are technically beholden to the laws of whatever country they're established in, but their monetary and political power enables them to bypass most legal troubles without concern. Corporations have headquarters in countries throughout the world, but hold total power within the volatile zones, where there are no strong governments to oppose them. The corporations have formed the League, a counterpart to the United Nations. Rayleonard: A rising North American energy corporation and major source of AC generators. As the leader in the field of Lumidium technology, they specialize almost exclusively in ACs in their military development. Rayleonard's engineers are known for their ambitious designs and consistent ability to think outside the box. Despite distributing Next parts to a variety of other Companies, Rayleonard keeps its industry secrets tightly under wraps. Oberon is currently Rayleonard's closest working partner Oberon: Longstanding military electronics corporation based in northern Europe. In addition to being the world's leading Lumidium technology company, Oberon produces top-of-the-line computing devices, sensors, and other electronics. Though offering weapons of impressive, cutting-edge functionality, their creations are plagued with a dangerous fragility. Oberon has strong ties with Rayleonard. Leonidas: Leonidas is a corporation centered in Southeast Asia and the Middle East known for its strong mass production line. Integrated industrial conglomerate and de facto leader of the south Asian economic sphere, they are well-known for mass production fueled by almost limitless manpower, and for their unique and imaginative weaponry. The mix of quarreling regions under their control gives them ample opportunities to test their products, ensuring their effectiveness in real battle conditions. Genesis: A small Israeli company, as well as a research institution, Genesis was one of the first to develop and use the AMS technology. The AMS allowed their test subjects to enter battle with heightened battle abilities, gaining them many military victories. Since then, Genesis has registered their former test subjects as official pilots, and has adopted a policy to utilize them in actual battle. Millennium: This corporate conglomerate is based in North America. It is one of the largest corporations in the world. Although they are not shy in publicizing the strengthening of their monopolistic system of exerting control over the government, few dare to speak publicly against them because of the magnitude and extent of their power. Interior Union: The Interior Union boasts an overall high level of technological prowess, and is by far the leading company in the field of laser technology. As well as being Europe's number one high-tech firm, they also control the fossil fuel market, making them an extremely important company to GA. Global Armaments: GA is the world's largest corporation, centered around the economic hub of the Pacific Rim. An advocate of standard military company, their products have gained much praise due to their power and reliability in battle. Global Armaments was a powerful corporation in the United States, Japan, China, the Philippines, and Australia during the waning years of the sovereign nations. They used this massive base of influence to grab huge amounts of power. While Global Armaments has stakes in Leonidas for rations and Interior Union for fossil fuels, they are not on good terms with BFF or Rayleonard. Bernard and Felix Foundation: BFF is a European company that is known for their extremely precise weaponry and is one of the largest companies in that sphere. BFF was one of the pioneers of the powerful Arms Fort combat deployment and superiority system. They have a deeply adversarial relationship with GA, though are closely tied to Rosenthal. Rosenthal: A military corporation affiliated with The League, they have a tremendous amount of capital. They tend to hide in the shadows of BFF, but provide well-built, all-purpose, balanced weaponry. Their weapon designs are quite unique, and their name is well known across the world. Of all the corporations, Rosenthal plays only minor roles in direct conflict situations. In fact this company can be considered almost benign as it is usually inactive or neutral in major combat events. Arisawa Heavy Industries: AS heavy industries company with a long tradition in the economic hub of the Pacific Rim. They specialize in a wide range of military vehicles and explosives, and the toughness of their products has gained them much praise in the field. Takafumi Arisawa, the 43rd president of the company, is also known for being a superior pilot, making him the first company president to also see combat. Collared: Collared is a pilot management organization under the jurisdiction of the League. They manage all ranking issues and organize Order Matches (non-lethal competition between Irregulars). Like the League, Collared has become a mere shell of what it was intended to be. Today, it is nothing more than a watering hole for mission agency brokers carrying out orders for corporations. =====Mobile Armored Cores===== General Overview: The Mobile Armored Cores (ACs/Mobile ACs) are the ultimate expression of individual military might, turning a single pilot into a force capable of eliminating hundreds of standard military units. There are several tiers of pilots: the standard pilots, the Normals, pilot generic ACs, ranging from two-legged "walker" platforms to humanoid combat models. They are powerful, to be sure, but completely outclassed by the blisteringly fast and supremely powerful machines of the next generation. The newer machines are much harder to pilot, requiring extreme reaction time and control; without which they are nearly impossible to pilot and are largely ineffective. ACs are powered by a newly-discovered type of material called Luminium. Inert Luminium is a superconductor and is built into the various parts of the AC's body, allowing for the range and power of the machine's movements. Luminium is processed into its active form at various processing plants and configured into power cells. Luminium reactor engines have almost no harmful byproducts and depleted Luminium power cells is easily and safely disposed of, making it one of the most valuable and sought-after resources in the world. Allegorical Manipulation System: To enable effective piloting, the Genesis corporation developed the Allegorical Manipulation System (AMS), linking the pilot's nervous system with the ACs electronics systems, allowing for direct 1:1 manipulation. High AMS compatibility is a rarity, leaving only a few handfuls of people with the ability to pilot the newer ACs. But these pilots are exponentially more powerful than their low AMS counterparts, able to overcome threats that would seem otherwise insurmountable. Pilots with lower than average AMS compatibility generally compensate by using heavier machine with higher ammunition count weaponry. Pilots with very low AMS compatibility cannot use the new generations of ACs, as the psychic stress caused by the AMS could make them go insane or even lead to total nervous system collapse. All humans, however, have some degree of AMS compatibility, and those with low compatibility can over time "learn" to use AMS. Pilots of the new generation machines are referred to as Irregulars. Pilots and Operators: The high combat speed and extreme skill required by pilots to effectively use their Armored Cores leaves little room for distractions. For this reason, most pilots work alongside an operator. Operators are support personnel who are "partners," so to speak, of those who pilot Armored Cores. While they do not control the AC itself, their jobs usually consist of remotely monitoring the unit's vital stats, updating the pilot of changes in combat (such as the arrival of reinforcements) or directing them towards designated targets; this allows the Armored Core pilot to focus their attention entirely on combat. Equipment and Machine Overview: The Armored Cores are divided into three weight categories: light, medium, and heavy. The lightest are the fastest and most agile, but also the most fragile. They specialize in lighter weaponry, but can equip heavier cannons and missiles at the cost of their speed and maneuverability (a dangerous trade-off). Heavy ACs have massive physical power and stopping capability with a much higher load capacity for weapons and ammunition, but are far slower. The legs types of an AC also determine its movement and combat type. There are three types of legs: biped, quadruped, and tank. Biped and quadruped legs come in the three weight categories, but biped legs are also divided by standard or reverse-joint structure. The reverse-joint structure has less load capacity, but is supremely suited for jumping and aerial combat. Quadruped legs are the opposite, geared solely for ground superiority and maneuverability. Tank "legs" are different, coming in two types, tread and hover. The tread tanks have the highest load capacity and can even store full-sized weapons in specialized compartments, but are slow and difficult to maneuver. The hover tanks have very low load capacity, but combine the ground and aerial maneuverability of the quadruped and reverse-joint leg types. Weapons setup: L/R Arms (hand-held/wrist-mounted) L/R Back - mounted cannons Shoulders-mounted - usually flares, decoy missiles, extra propulsion, extra missiles (auxiliary/supplementary weapons) L/R Hangars (stored in leg-panels) - small backup weapons (ie. small pistols or laser blades) Back-mounted weapons are best reserved for the things with higher recoil because you have more stability (and are usually referred to as "____ cannons" - laser cannons/grenade cannons/sniper cannons/gattling cannons/etc). That said, heavier ACs can certainly equip grenade launchers, gattling guns, and parts with higher recoil on either arm due to their greater weight-bearing capacity and sturdiness. The arm spots are best kept for weapons that require more dexterity and aiming in fast-paced combat (blades, machine guns, assault/rifles, etc). Important Note: This time, weapons are interchangeable between Arm and Back, able to rotate and switch on a carousel sort of pivot (only if the pilot so desires). The tradeoff for this is that Back-mounted weapons are more stable, while Arm-mounted weapons are more mobile and faster to aim. IMPORTANT GM Note: This will be a very character-driven RPG. I plan on spending less time on the combat aspects of the story and more on the characters themselves: what drives them, who they are, where they come from, where they want to go, who they want to be. In this respect, parts of the RPG will stylistically be more akin to a work of fanfiction than a standard Roleplaying Game. I will be looking for very detailed, in-depth character signups. The best of the best, the most interesting, the most varied. I will be very picky and hold all the players (myself included) to high standards when it comes to character development and expression. If you don't think you can adhere to the same high level of characterization and storytelling, I must politely ask that you reconsider signing up for this RPG. Those that feel up to the challenge, however, are more than welcome to come along for what I hope will be a tremendous ride.