Friday, November 8, 2013

312: Transcthonic Land Bank

ENTRY 312: Transcthonic Land Bank

"Do you believe in Earth? Do you believe in transhumanity? One day we will return, and retake our homeworld...and then what? Already, the Planetary Consortium has approved real estate lots, proceeds of the sales of which goes to aid the reclamation effort. For a few credits, you can invest now, and you or your children or fork can inherit the Earth..."
- Sophocles Clayton

Speculation is an addiction; transhumans are built for pattern recognition, their instincts geared toward risk/reward scenarios. Add in a dash of nostalgia, a dollop of hope, and some series metafinancing and you get the Transcthonic Land Bank, a special holding corporation established by the Planetary Consortium and entrusted with the full mineral and real estate rights of old Earth, to bundle, parcel, and sell these earthshares to whatever transhumans are gullible or saavy enough to buy them. Most of their customers are reclaimers and scam artists, the latter of which seem to crop up every couple of months working multi-level marketing schemes based around various old identities - like the New France Project, where a group of investors bought up the land and mineral rights to part of old Europe and then parceled it out, selling specific chunks of their geographic early life to post-French survivors and their descendents. "For only 1,000 credits you can own the ancestral orchard your dad was forced to leave behind." and other more subtle pitches still find a market, made all the sillier given that dad's farm is probably a sheet of radioactive glass right about now.

In addition to selling speculative parcels of old Earth, Transcthonic is also responsible for managing the trade in earthshares, and has established official (and, discreetly, underground) markets for the buying, selling, swapping, and tracking of earthshare prices. Here again the speculation market is in full tilt, and certain shares of prime real estate can fluctuate in share price, leading to an entire range of financial instruments that deal with betting on the rise or fall of earthshare prices - London may be high one day on rumors of the reclaimers getting their act together, then dive when the latest radio telemetry comes in to show the Thames as a dry riverbed that's on fire in places. Antarctica is usually regarded as the safest and most secure of investments, as it's seen some of the least damage during and since the Fall, and the large stock of ice-water has value on current markets.

Opponents of the Land Bank are many, and often question the legitimacy of the institution, with the Jovian Republic refusing to acknowledge its claims at all, and the Catholic Church insisting on the rights to what's left of Vatican City. Still, saavy investors point out that while a square kilometer of land currently averages 0.97 credits on the open market, if (or as they like to put it, as) the reclamation of Earth gets closer, the value of earthshares could increase exponentially, meaning that a very modest investment now can lead to substantial returns when the individual eventually cashes out...and, of course, it provides them with a good reason to further support reclaimer efforts.

Using Transcthonic Land Bank

Paying someone with an investment is a bit of a dick move, because it has limited current cash value. However, they have the advantage of giving the player characters an actual stake in the outcome of a conflict. The Transcthonic Land Bank and its earthshares are specifically designed for player characters working with reclaimers and their efforts to reinhabit the planet Earth, but plenty of microcorps and hypercorps might try to pay the player characters off in stocks and bonds which will be worth more if the corp continues to be successful, thus giving the PCs incentive not to turn around and screw with their former employers. In a larger sense, the same can be said for paying PCs off with credits, noyos, or a rep boost - what are these but investments in the larger economy of a given faction, habitat, or network?

Fun with paying player characters in earthshares aside, the Transcthonic Land Bank as a financial institution and marketplace is a suitable setting for any number of finance-related runs, where conflicting interests on the price of earthshares (and earthshare futures, derivatives, the New France bonds, etc.) can lead to employment or consequences for player characters as they or their habitats/factions/friends/etc. can tangled up in reclaimer schemes, hypermedia special reports, counterfeiting rings, and so on. Any rival Land Bank that seeks to set up shop is likely to face intense (if below the radar) interference from Transcthonic, whose board of directors control rather large amounts of credits and other assets based on the sale of earthshares, and they're no above hiring the PCs to drop a tungsten rod on their competitors from orbit to drive the point home. Of course, their position might change if it ever looks like reclamation will actually occur, because all the credits they've raised are themselves off in a diverse series of investments, and they could face serious difficulties if it ever looks like they have to pay out...

No comments:

Post a Comment