Alright you primitive screwheads, listen up!
I've been following EP for a long time, done a lot of reading, and a lot of listening (to the guys over at RPPR and their Know Evil/Duality campaigns), and I've come up with a general plot overview, but I'd like some help in fleshing out the entire nature of the story, and what sorts of threads I could dangle in front of the players to investigate along the way. Any and all constructive input is welcome, and be warned, your ideas may be used in the process of the plot.
The overall plot idea I actually had some time back, but the recent release of Firewall helped confirm the overall idea of the plot to me, and not that I was just being insane. In Firewall, under Speculations for the org, the book offered up this potential scenario:
"Members of Firewall have decided another faction is guilty of creating an x-threat (or pose an x-threat) and must be neutralized. Firewall assets are tasked with the destabilization and controlled collapse of the faction, and replacing it with a more friendly political organization." (p167, Firewall)
The original idea came out of the Gatecrashing book, most specifically the entry on Giza. Part of the Giza entry was the debate between four proxies about what to do about the blackbox-carrying exoplanet. (In short, they decided to send a team through the Pandora Gate and nuke it.) I read that debate, and the main argument in there, for me, was between Proxies B and C.
Proxy B opened up his commentary by saying 'total sanction, blow it up now.' Through the tone of their argument, it sounded like Proxy B was an arch-Conservative: mocking the potential (see the League of Very Nice Space-faring Civilizations) of what Giza had to offer, playing up to fears of what MIGHT happen, the usual conservative line.
On the opposing side, you had Proxy C, who was more than willing to admit that Giza did represent a potential x-risk, but if they were smart about it, Giza's blackboxes could provide them with a lot of resources, technology, and answers. Proxy C was definitely a Pragmatist to me: be careful, but use anything we have to ensure that TH gets to keep living if the TITANs come back.
In the middle were Proxies A and D, who were at least analytical and fence-sitting to begin with, though by the end they were on the side of Proxy B, voting 3-1 with the total sanction order. A sided with sanction because they felt that since TH didn't understand the boxes, or who was using them, our ignorance automatically meant we were going to get screwed. D sided with the sanction because the options proposed would take too long (such as public pressure on Go-nin).
In the after-action report for the Giza decision, the writer notes that the proxies are equally divided between the two sides (sanction & other options), and that nearly *all* the proxies took issue with the fact the server made the decision without at least consultation of the others. The tone of the report suggests that the writer is Proxy A or D - the writer took a rep hit for deciding not to poll the proxies (which was the course suggested by Proxy C, eliminating them as a possibility); and the writer also mentioned that 'hopefully next time, we can do something different than what happened (eliminating Proxy B because they wanted sanction from the get-go, which suggests that they would behave the same way in a future repeat of Giza). Of A or D, D is more likely because Proxy A's objection (TH's ignorance) isn't exactly something we can easily overcome.
My plot would concern Proxy C, and the pattern of behavior that they see happening in Firewall with the Conservative faction. Giza was, to them, just one of a long string of the same damn thing happening over and over and over again. Conservatives are too paranoid, too rabid about security, and refuse to transcend their own cognitive biases far too often. There's careful (which Firewall and TH as a whole need to be), and then there's where they sit.
Proxy C has been of the opinion, for at least a few years prior to start of game (if we're starting AF10, then somewhere in AF7-8), that the Conservative faction's hardline stance is going to result in a slow, wasting death for TH. Their 'destroy first, ask later' stance is, to them, actually WORSE than the Jovian approach to unknown tech (which is the Warehouse 13 method - lock it up until we can understand it).
Therefore, since the Conservatives are going to eventually be the death of TH (whether its from the TITANs, another alien race, or SOMETHING), they represent an x-risk, and Firewall's job is to defend TH from such things.
In that vein, over the last handful of years, Proxy C has been pulling together a conspiracy from across all of Firewall - Backups, Mavericks, Pragmatists, Structuralists, and maybe a key Conservative or two (one of the less rabid ones) - to oust the Conservative faction. The goal of Proxy C's coup is simple: remove Conservatives from Firewall leadership. If that can't be done without totally annihilating the faction, then it's a sad thing, but it has to be done. C's ideal outcome is that there will be handfuls of Conservatives still left, but they will be in positions where their attention to security and paranoia will be useful rather than hindering: Erasure teams, registers, crows for the more Precautionary-types.
But they won't be in leadership, where they get to try and dictate to the rest of Firewall and TH about what THEY think is best from a position they refuse to self-evaluate.
To that end, the Firewall conspiracy - The Spring Winds, as they label themselves (bringing change after a long period of darkness) - have set up plots all across TH-occupied space to cause the conservative bloc to destabilize and turn public opinion on the Eye against them. These will mainly be in the Inner System (since a good chunk of conservatives come from there), but there will be ones on the Rim planets, too.
As note, there are some real-world parallels I want to draw, and some messages (I know, I know, GMs aren't supposed to be preachy, but Hideo Kojima does it and dammit so can I!) I want to convey to the players in the course of the game.
I live in the US, and the last dozen years, the right-leaning portions of the political spectrum have basically been behaving like Firewall conservatives: block anything that doesn't agree with 100% that they agree with, disparage attempts made at progress, things like that. Their way or the highway. I want to reflect the aggravation that the average American feels right now when they watch the news and see another worthwhile thing derailed because of the far right bloc of politicians.
Second thing: the greatest damage to civilization is not done by people who set out to be evil (though it can come pretty damn close). The greatest damage done to civilization is done by people who think they're doing what is necessary, and in the best interests of everyone, because as long as they have the mindset of 'I'm doing this to help people,' they can do incredibly horrific things.
Last thing: the most important thing you can do as a human being is recognize where your biases are, and when they come into your decision making processes, try and go beyond them, try and really think about what the best move is, rather than have a knee-jerk reaction about it. THINK, then ACT.