Thursday, September 26, 2013

269: Quo Valis

ENTRY 269: Quo Valis

“You are now a living cell in a greater organism. Though you may not always be able to perceive it, you are a part of a life form greater than yourself, your actions affect it. We cannot always understand the higher functions of this ego, but we do know that it is aware of us. Quo Valis loves you.”
- Excerpt from the Quo Valis Employee Introduction Package

On Progress, Quo Valis is a middleman hypercorp best known for three things: the strong French/Spanish corporate culture with over 2,000 full-time employees (and perhaps ten times that many temporary workers outside of Progress), an unusual communal structure where the indentured employees are also the owners of the hypercorp, and the stringent belief among the shareholders/working body that the hypercorp itself is alive. Spokesbeings for Quo Valis claim that the upper management of the corporation is handled entirely via automated computer processes, with regular input from low-level officers, and that the middle management is partially integrated into the system via cybernetic augmentation, and that over a period of years the officers of the corporation have come to recognize Quo Valis as an organized, living entity, of which each employee/shareholder is a part, carrying out the operations that contribute to the continued existence and growth of the Quo Valis corporate entity.

Most outsiders call bullshit at this point in the spiel, with the most generous critics allowing that the Quo Valis automated software may have achieved AGI status (or have an AGI buried in there somewhere pulling the strings). The employee/shareholders of Quo Valis are determined in their belief though, often speaking of being a part of something bigger than themselves, feeling the “spirit” of Quo Valis through their actions, and the augmented middle management even claims some level of communion and communication with the Quo Valis super-ego, able to sense or judge its moods and convey them to the faithful employee/shareholders. The phenomenon has attracted any number of hypercorporate sociologists and psychologists, who claim that the belief in a higher form of life which directly or indirectly is responsible for the orders they receive has a generally positive psychological effect on the corporate population. However, they also claim that the ineffability of Quo Valis is an integral part of the unique concept, and anyone claiming to be a direct representative of the Quo Valis superego is generally greeted with a display of flash mob violence.


Quo Valis as an NPC has no normal stats. It’s SOM is measured in the strength of its employees, for example, and if it is a sapient entity then it is probably more comparable to a humpback whale than any normal transhuman standard.

Using Quo Valis

All bullshit aside, most hypercorps in Eclipse Phase can be played at the table like an NPC, with its own sometimes chaotic, inefficient, and self-defeating goals and methods—Quo Valis is just more honest about this approach than most. It is comforting for many players and gamemasters to focus on specific officers as focal points for attention; we as humans like to focus on individuals of singular power, influence, vision, skill, talent, and ambitions, the Gordon Geckos and Steve Jobs of the world. The truth, however, is that the strength of corporations lies in their ability to survive and thrive despite the greed or greatness of any single officer, to harness the abilities of many people working in tandem toward a goal, and in the far future of Eclipse Phase a great deal of the normal decision-making processes of corporations—approvals for sick leave, vacations, purchasing, cleaning, hypercubicle assignment, training, etc.—will probably be automated, leaving the officers to focus on more important tasks like innovations, cultivating interpersonal relationships with clients, managing their immediate subordinates, and so on. As such, Quo Valis is generally in invisible and elusive character that PCs grapple with only through proxies and agents who attempt to carry out their orders, often (but not always) without question.

No comments:

Post a Comment