Pandora: First Contact - The Factions

4X strategy game from Proxy Studios

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Philkian
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Pandora: First Contact - The Factions

Post by Philkian » Tue Oct 01, 2013 3:01 pm

Pandora features different Human factions struggling for the supremacy on the planet. Below you can find out more about them.

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Ecologic -- Terra Salvum (Advocate Vivian Gardinier)

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Backers: Developing world governments

Access to space: Last ditch

Quote: “Our ancestors knew how much Earth was suffering, but they kept their ways, and we paid the price. Now that we have found this exciting new world, did we learn from the mistakes of our forefathers? And if not, how will the alien ecosystem react to our intrusion?” -- Advocate Vivian Gardinier, Alien Ecosystems

Description: The Earth-founded organisation that became Terra Salvum started out as an array of pressure-groups, scattered over the planet, in the late 20th century. As the 21st century progressed and the climate collapsed, they won more supporters to their cause, especially in the areas where natural resources were being over-exploited -- Africa, South America and parts of Asia -- and in liberal parts of the west.

Gradually, the organisations realised that the only way to talk to governments was to match their size. In the 2040s, following the formation of the greedy and polluting Solar Dynasty, these pressure groups merged into Terra Salvum, using their influence and financial power to make their opinions count just as much as the corporations. Their more-militant arm became especially feared in international waters.

When Pandora was discovered, Terra Salvum didn’t have the finances to buy one of Noxium’s terrifyingly-expensive cruise-colonisers. Thankfully with the aid of developing world hackers, the organisation managed to ‘acquire’ the blueprints for the ships. Friendly scientists donated their time and lives to rapidly decode these and the resources of a small nation were poured into building a single colony ship. However, the organisation simply couldn’t justify the extra cost of building hibernation units before launch -- so they didn’t.

During flight, First Gardinier Elora gives birth to Vivian Gardinier. Despite never seeing a naturally grown flower, Vivian is raised alongside a small group of children as a fervent ecologist who has never known her opinions to be opposed. With Elora’s passing, a year before landing, Vivian is appointed as Advocate to lead Terra Salvum. Her peaceful followers -- after more than two decades of imprisonment on a spaceship -- long for a living world and are determined that the war for natural resources which bled old Earth white will never happen on Pandora.

Likes: /

Dislikes: Solar Dynasty, Imperium


Economic -- Noxium Corporation (Director Eric Preston)

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Backers: Space mining / manufacturing monopoly

Access to space: 2010s.

Quote: “In this day and age, supply and demand are the driving forces behind our society. I made an immeasurable fortune by understanding the market, by buying and selling at the right times, and to the right people. In this world, provided you have the liquidity, nothing is impossible.” -- Director Eric Preston, Planetary Markets

Description: No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that Earth was being controlled keenly and closely by intelligences more subtle than most men's. The Noxium Corporation didn’t exist then, of course. But the handful of greedy men who valued their own happiness more highly than that of a thousand others had existed since the 17th century.

The slow cartelisation of most economic markets really took off in the 19th century, but advanced marvellously in the 20th century, and in the USA in particular. By the end of 2000, the poorest 80% of people in the USA owned just 15% of the country’s wealth -- and that fell to 10% in the next five years.

By the 21st century, these financiers had reached an almost perfect capitalist state. They did nothing. They produced nothing. They gambled huge amounts of money on stock markets like roulette wheels, but hid it carefully when the taxman came to call. When the countries of the world, driven to desperation by their collapsing incomes, eliminated tax havens, these financiers just bought up the nascent space industry and moved into orbit.

Noxium wasn’t the first company to make money from space habitats -- in fact its main focus was on asteroid mining -- but its establishment of the so-called Ceres Cartel with the Imperium mercenary group in the 2030s meant that it was quite soon the only business in town. Habitats that weren’t launched with the cartel’s approval had a horrible habit of being struck by micrometeorites, exploding on launch or directing themselves into a burn-up orbit while the occupants slept. The commercial war was bloody but understandably short-lived.

The Ceres Cartel held together for the best part of forty years, until 2075 when the first interstellar probes reported back from the superterran exoplanet Tau Ceti e. Though the planet was uninhabitable, the prospect of space colonization suddenly reawakened Noxium’s dosing commercial instincts and plans for interstellar ships were put into effect. Unfortunately, Noxium foolishly neglected to take Imperium into their new venture, instead allying with the production facilities of the Solar Dynasty and the design geniuses of Togra University.

Imperium’s vengeful raid on the Callisto headquarters of Noxium's mining operation killed off the Ceres Cartel totally. The Imperium vacuum troopers took the prototype ship -- intended for Noxium’s own use -- which Imperium then used to head to Pandora. It’s worth noting that the Noxium board didn’t blame the Imperium commanders for this, regarding space-piracy as an entirely legitimate business model, but instead focused their ire on Noxium’s own security section, who soon found that, whilst accountants might be boring people, it doesn’t take much imagination to cancel your bonus or throw you out of an airlock.

Retrenching and belatedly establishing their own security force, Noxium built itself a new colony ship, and hastened for the new markets of Pandora, ripe for the exploitation of its physical, human and financial capital. This will be paradise indeed!

Likes: Solar Dynasty, Togra University

Dislikes: /


Fanatic -- Divine Ascension (Lady Lilith Vermillion)

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Backers: Widely distributed religious structure / social media

Access to space: 2040s

Quote: “God has finally shown us the path to a new paradise, so do not fear my brothers and sisters for I am destined to be the shepherd leading you to salvation.” -- Lady Lilith Vermillion, The Path to Salvation

Description: The Divine Ascension is a theocratic monarchy and the colourfully-named Lady Lilith Vermillion is its absolute monarch. Born as simple Lily Maroon in 2010s rural America, Lily's wild early years hardly gave signs that she would one day be regarded as next-to-god by billions; drinking, gambling, blackmail and more sordid sins all came naturally to her.

Her first steps on the path to godhood came, though, when a nerdy drinking buddy signed her up to a major social network as a prank. Never having used these, Lily saw, where few had before, the potential for social networks as a natural outgrowth of evangelical organisations -- and as a tool for blackmail.

Taking elements of major modern cults, and using her underworld connections, Lily founded the world's first entirely online religion in 2028. Then the second. And third. In fact, Lily Maroon renamed herself Lilith Vermillion and with the help of Togra’s off-shelf AI designers founded hundreds of new religions, some riffing on old favourites like The Greek Autodocs Church, some entirely new, like Blessed Abduction, but all plugged deeply into user's online lives. Each one was subtly different, but all had Divine Ascension and the unity of all religions as their heart, their eventual revealed truth.

That wasn't Divine Ascension's biggest secret though. The precepts of the church were extremely hierarchical and to reach the next level of salvation, believers had to put their trust in their higher-ups -- revealing their darkest secrets as part of ascension rituals, projected live on the social network. Essentially, every step up the hierarchy knew the dirty secrets of every person below them. And Lady Vermillion, aided by data-mining AIs, sits at the top.

Now imagine trying to leave such a network. You're all being automatically-blackmailed, your income siphoned, your friends and family incentivised to betray doubters so they can be "healed" at the special reformation camps in Siberia. There's no way out save to disappear entirely.

By the 2040s, Divine Ascension was one of the largest religions on earth. Some of the followers truly believed; those who didn't kept their mouths firmly shut. But now the really strange part started. Lilith, a grasping materialist since birth, finally found herself with the luxury to rest, think; and found that she genuinely had faith, in herself, as a god. Now this might have been an outgrowth of the medicinal compounds she was accustomed to taking, and it didn't change anything about the cruelty and authoritarianism of her organisation -- but it changed the religion's aims. She was a god; now she wanted a planet of her own.

Using the fabulous wealth of a tithe drawn from a billion people, Lilith had Noxium build her a fabulous space cathedral, a gothic rotational habitat that was decorated as a prayer wheel, turning the sun's rays into rotational force, and hence prayer, and incidentally gravity. With her faithful few, she retreated into meditative cryo-pods in the hub of the habitat. Here they lay, ageing only slowly, waiting for the discovery of a world she could call her own -- and the science to get there.

In the 2070s, the Pandora announcement invigorated her religions. Vermillion's instructions were clear -- her cryo-pod and those of the faithful were loaded straight into her custom-built Noxium colonisation ship and sent to the stars, while her fearful faithful prayed for her deliverance (and many secretly hoped she never came back).

On Pandora, Lady Lilith Vermillion sits at the top of a social pyramid that combines the worst parts of Facebook, Scientology and North Korea. Her zealous followers worship her for being god's instrument to express his will among men. She believes it's her destiny to show her people the right path, and lead them to a prosperous future in a promised land. Pandora is that promised land. Woe betide any heathens who get in her way.

Likes: Imperium

Dislikes: /


Industrious -- Solar Dynasty (Prime Minister Yun Xi)

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Backers: China / India

Access to Colony Ships: Paid their way / provided workers.

Quote: “People need guidance. Without control and authority there is anarchy, and the masses would simply consume themselves. It is the duty of the few enlightened ones to lead those masses, to give them a purpose, to channel their strength. Unified they are privileged to serve in a dynasty that will shake the very foundations of this world.” Prime Minister Yun Xi, Leadership of the State

Description: The prevailing theme of the short twentieth century (1914-1991) was the clash of authoritarian ideologies. Communism, fascism and capitalism fought throughout the century, with none of them emerging with its reputation intact. Indeed, the only ‘ism’ that did emerge successfully was authoritarian pragmatism -- as practised effectively by the Chinese Communist party from the late 1930s. By always acting in the interest of the majority over the interest of any single individual, the Chinese state emerged with a brutally effective economy by the late 20th century.

But, as Plato observed, regimes always decay towards tyranny. Chinese communism was no exception, though the efforts of the National People's Congress to execute and subjugate overweening leaders to their authority until the early 2060s were impressively effective. It was only with the appointment of Xu Zhengsheng as Chairman of the Central Guidance Commission for Building Spiritual Civilization that they made a misstep.

Like Caesar and Napoleon before him, Sheng Xi made carefully-brutal steps towards the suppression of resistance. The early steps are of little interest -- his birth in Xiamen, his rapid rise through the party and accession to the Politburo. However, his own business is of note -- a firm specialising in genetic manipulation (essential for progress in the ranks) used by the elite to guarantee children and sons (rumoured to involve cloning technology for the more infertile cases). By the time of the final National Congress in 2062, Sheng was General Secretary and powerful -- too powerful in fact, so that rumours rumbled in the state media that the Congress would take him down a peg.

What happened at the final National Congress, no-one really knows. The state media blames the detonation of poison gas bombs on Uighur and Nepalese separatists, but we do know that after the event, Sheng's authority was unchallenged. He changed his title from General Secretary to Prime Minister and, to prevent further attacks on the new Congress, had them all shipped up to a new Noxium-built habitat in orbit about Saturn.

This habitat was, in fact, his pleasure palace, where complicit members lived a life of bliss. No-one knows what happened to any dissidents, but there was always a large supply of shipboard protein. With the consent of his Congress-slaves, Sheng changed the name of the country to the Solar Dynasty, and died in bliss, while his people suffered.
His clone-son, Yun Xi, became Prime Minister after him and it was he who took the Solar Dynasty to Pandora. Yun's people slaved in the shipyards of the asteroid belt for Noxium, turning the rare ores into the refined metals needed. His also people built every last interstellar transport, working long hours in leaky spacesuits, until they dropped. Togra had the designs, Noxium the resources, and Yun had the manpower.

Yun Xi, like his father, is concerned with the greatness of his people. They only know him as father of the country, the spiritual and physical successor to his father. But he seeks to remake the state in his image. His clones are seeded throughout the state, in positions of authority; indeed, the majority of the colonists taken to Pandora are Yun's clones too, with the other passengers just there as makeweights, in case genetic diversity is needed.

Yun's aim on Pandora is to build a perfect state, in his image -- strong, resolute and clear in purpose. He has already sold his state and his people to reach Pandora -- if every other living thing has to suffer for the greater goal too, so be it.

Likes: Noxium Corporation, Togra University

Dislikes: Terra Salvum


Militaristic -- Imperium (Admiral James Heid)

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Backers: the USA, NATO, private military corporations.

Access to space: 1960s

Quote: “Yeah sure, I'm aware that for some of our guys fighting in this hellhole was a living nightmare and traumatizing experience. But for me... it was Tuesday.” -- Admiral James Heid, The Callisto Conflict

Description: At the end of the 20th century, war got expensive, fast. When a single-shot dumb missile costs more than a small town, you can't just fire them at anyone -- but the Western powers did, fearful of losing even a single soldier. Most first-world soldiers never got within a mile of a living enemy, and their autonomous drones.
Meanwhile their developing-world opponents cobbled together countertech from video game consoles, how-to guides on 4chan and sheer bile. It was asymmetric warfare to the nth degree, one side using money, the other lives.

For the West it got to the point, where a single soldier's death was a tragedy -- so it was simpler to hire veterans, mercenaries and the insurgents themselves. The corporation that fronted all this -- that provided a one-click military solution anywhere in the world, dropping bombs like ordering pizzas -- was Empire Management, originally an internet logistics firm run by Chad Harrigan and Buck Smith, a pair of Muscle Marys from Venice Beach, California.

Empire's rise to dominance was fast, thanks to the terrorism scares of the 2030s. It was often rumoured that Empire's boys supplied the terrorists too -- indeed, that they instigated minor insurgencies in key mineral territories when the global warfare levels dropped. Empire's troops, raised in private camps to work in squads called ‘legions’, were recognised as the best on the planet. Soon, warring factions could bid against each other for Empire's protection in a territory -- with the auction loser often surrendering and the winner paying the full fee, with no troops or bombs ever deployed.

With the private space race in full flight, Chad and Buck saw a new opportunity. They approached the management of Noxium, offering them a simple deal; access to space in return for the elimination of their competitors. Noxium agreed and, in a series of short-lived skirmishes, space became the fiefdom of the two corporations, with Empire absorbing other military firms, and pretty much merging with the US military. An internal marketing-squad renamed the firm Imperium in in the late 2060s, in parody of the Solar Dynasty.

Chad and Buck didn't make it through the 2070s -- a loophole in their procurement software saw a disgruntled employee dump a small satellite-rod on their rural Californian home, obliterating it and the local area -- and the company was left in trust for their body-building club. Operationally, it was taken over by a young veteran, James Heid, a self-styled admiral, who'd grown up in the Spartan training camps of Ceres.

Within a few years of Heid's appointment, his first major challenge arrived; the Pandora discovery and the revelation that Noxium was working on transports without the involvement of Imperium. Heid's reaction was characteristically calm. During a long-distance conference call with the Noxium board, he raised the issue -- and was rejected, explicitly. At which point Heid panned his camera to reveal that he was on Callisto, already silently conquered by his troops, under his personal command, and that they had seized the prototype colony ship.

Heid's decision to fly personally to Pandora is pragmatic. His forces don't need Pandora -- but the company's pride couldn't stand the concept of wars without Imperium, and he was sure war was going to come on Pandora.

Likes: /

Dislikes: /


Scientific -- Togra University (Doctor Alpheus Schreiber)

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Backers: CERN / Internet / AIs / NASA / Liberal donors

Access to Colony Ships: Breaking of embargo

Quote: “Since the beginning of time, mankind has traveled towards new horizons and discovered new wonders along the way. However, we scholars of Togra University travel even further by discovering the natural laws that exist behind each and every wonder.” -- Doctor Alpheus Schreiber, Discoveries of a New Age

Description: Togra University was founded in 2022, with a specialism in cutting edge research in materials science -- that is, valuing practical products over pure research. Despite that, in the 21st century, Togra’s professors received more Nobel prizes than the rest of the world put together.

Set up in 2022 by an anonymous donor, initially as a research lab to discover better materials for shower curtains, the University grew fat on corporate donations for its research. The line went that if you wanted to do something immoral, then you asked Noxium -- but if it was immoral and impossible, then you asked Togra. Despite that, the scientists of Togra are mostly good, honest and upright people -- just forgetful and a little too keen to chase truth at the expense of, say, a thousand lab monkeys’ brains.

It’s hard to show a history of people who sat in a lab for seventy years but, as those Nobel Prizes indicate, Togra has been behind most of the 21st century’s transformational innovations. It was Togra that supplied Noxium with the theory that allowed it to develop its expertise in zero-g mining. It was Togra which advised the Solar Dynasty on cloning techniques, so Prime Minister Sheng Xi could rule (in some sense) for ever. It was even Togra which devised the schemata that allowed the interstellar probes and the great colony ships to actually reach near light-speed, without using up the energy of a small sun.

However, Togra’s board of governors, chaired by Doctor Alpheus Schreiber, has a severe dedication to information being ‘free’. So it was probably also researchers at Togra that helped Terra Salvum build their own interstellar colony ship. It’s likely to be Togra that let Imperium know about Noxium’s plans for the ship. And it was definitely Togra that supplied the open source AI cores that look like they could save Earth from global warming -- and might eventually take over more branches of government.

Most irritatingly for Togra, it was also these open source software AIs that helped Lilith Vermillion set up the social media / data-harvesting sites that eventually turned into Divine Ascension. Togra’s scientists are mostly disgusted with her manipulative, truth-avoiding religion (though, as the saying goes, ‘where you have two Togra, you have three opinions’.) On Pandora, their first aim is research; their second is to destroy Lady Lilith Vermillion.

Togra’s scientists and engineers value the human intellect and academic virtues, particularly respecting personal freedom. While this freedom might result in a lack of discipline or motivation at times, this faction shows unrivaled creativity, with the brightest minds in the known universe. However, just because they’re clever, doesn’t mean they’re all nice people.

Likes: Noxium Corporation, Solar Dynasty

Dislikes: Divine Ascension

Igorputski
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Re: Pandora: First Contact - The Factions

Post by Igorputski » Thu Oct 03, 2013 11:11 am

Why are the factions and their descriptions so much like the ones in Alpha Centauri?

jdmillard
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Re: Pandora: First Contact - The Factions

Post by jdmillard » Mon Oct 07, 2013 6:10 pm

Igorputski wrote:Why are the factions and their descriptions so much like the ones in Alpha Centauri?
Well, it is a an unofficial remake. I'm excited for it, but I just don't understand why they picked Pandora for a name. Sure, I understand that it's iconic in science fiction. But if you Google Pandora, your results include internet radio, jewelry, Wikipedia (Greek mythology), Avatar, and a hundred other businesses that thought they were the first ones to think of the name. I don't care if they want to name the planet Pandora, but they should pull a quick name-change for the game before release for the sole purpose of avoiding the uphill marketing battle. I won't even charge you for that little piece of advice. lol. I know that they added the ": First Contact" for this reason, but still.

Anyways. I don't mind if the factions resemble the AC factions. I do mind that every single faction is evil. Also, I would like if the there was a larger faction pool. Imagine if there was a pool of 12 factions and you pick 6 of them before each game. It would add replayability.

MizzouRah
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Re: Pandora: First Contact - The Factions

Post by MizzouRah » Tue Oct 08, 2013 5:40 pm

Maybe they will expand on the factions later on? I'm VERY excited for the game, November can't get here soon enough!

Potato_Farmer
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Re: Pandora: First Contact - The Factions

Post by Potato_Farmer » Sun Oct 20, 2013 4:04 pm

I find the homages to be a littler more interesting than Alpha Centauri. The range of actions over the factions histories gives a better pretext for playing a faction however you want to. The little note in the Togra faction's description that they are not all nice people, for example. A larger faction pool would be nice of course. Expansions are a big part of business now, and as Civ 5 demonstrates new factions can be added to later releases.

Two things occurred to me while reading the faction descriptions. The themes for Noxium and Togra are one word only. Not sure if this is the right place for suggestions, but I wanted to share that in my mind I've added the following descriptors to each faction.

Economic -- Noxium Corporation (Director Eric Preston)
Themes: Finance, Sabatoge

Scientific -- Togra University (Doctor Alpheus Schreiber)
Themes: Espionage, Utilitarianism, Rationalists, pure learning is a drug to them.

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