|Plural:||Syndicate agents/members, Syndicate|
|Nicknames:||Convention of Cash, Credit Card Convention, Cash-or-Credit Convention|
The Syndicate is one of the most reviled Conventions, even among the Technocracy. They control the flow of money and trade among the Masses as well as in the Union. This leaves them in a very unpopular position and they are often blamed for perceived shortcomings. But the Syndicate knows that it is the glue which keeps the Union together, and without them, the Technocracy could not function.
Money makes the world go round - this is the Syndicate's primary ethos. The Syndicate is about the almighty Bottom Line, but the Bottom Line is this: the Masses want a Consensual Reality where they have a say in what goes on. The Union gave the Masses exactly what they asked for, and the Syndicate continues to do it today. Traditionalist propaganda aside, the common man doesn’t want to fight for Awakening. The Masses want something simple: they want to live.
What the Syndicate sells to the Masses is control — a stable system in which they can pursue their goals without fear. They can find their niche and they can work, raise their families, and contribute their full-and-complete worth to their fellow men and women. This Control is about trust, in the government, the corporates and the banks as well as the trust in oneself. They just have to embrace their creativity, and the Syndicate does the hard work of selling it for them.
The Syndicate believes in humanity. They see the absolute value and worth of every human being on the planet. Everyone has a place on the Bottom Line. Every CEO needs a board. Every manager needs a team. While they don’t believe in Enlightenment for all, the Syndicate aims to be shepherds of progress and prosperity all the same. They create a system in which anyone has the potential to succeed, where anyone can look at their bank account and their home and their car and say that they earned something with their labor.
Brotherhood of the Rule Edit
The Syndicate traces its history to an association of builders and architects in ancient Rome called the Brotherhood of the Rule. Its members believed that labor itself was sacred; the act of making something useful or precious from raw materials was a divine gift, and that knowledge of crafts was worth protecting. The Brotherhood was one of the first builders' associations and helped construct much of the infrastructure of the Roman Empire, but as the empire collapsed its members were forced to disperse and go into hiding across Europe in order to avoid persecution from mystical mages.
In 997, Wolfgang von Reismann, one of the last surviving members of the Brotherhood, invited like-minded men of science and crafts to discuss uniting against the mages who were keeping the masses in a dark age of fear and ignorance. This event, known as the Gathering of the Square, marked the birth of the Craftmasons. Over the next two centuries the combined use of merchant guilds and mercenary armies under Craftmason control helped overthrow the feudal system, freeing mortals to work for a living rather than in service to oppressive (and often supernatural) lords.
In retaliation, a ban was placed on the existence of merchant guilds under the pretense that their secrecy was used to hide Infernalist practices. A prominent Craftmason named Stephen Trevaine attributed this to the mages of Mistridge and gathered a large army to lay siege to the chantry in 1210. The fall of Mistridge marked a new era in Europe, where the Craftmasons could work in open and the influence of mystical mages fell into sharp decline.
At the same time, proto-Syndicate agents were hard at work improving the economies in other parts of the world. Islamic capitalism flourished in the Middle East until the Mongols invaded in 1258. In Bengal, agrarian economy flourished in the Pala Empire. In 1299, the Turkish tribes were united into what would become the cosmopolitan (and ridiculously wealthy) Ottoman Empire. The ancestors of the Syndicate were hard at work in all these places.
Despite their success and rise to prominence, the Craftmasons would soon suffer a philosophical divide. When the majority of people did not seize the opportunities given them to take control of their own destinies, many Craftmasons came to the conclusion that most people just wanted to live comfortably rather than pursue excellence or significantly contribute to their communities. The Convention of the White Tower in 1325 saw the formation of the Order of Reason, but also the splitting of the Craftmasons into two Conventions. Those who still believed in the masses, led by Trevaine, retained the name Craftmasons. Those who thought it a waste to try helping those who wouldn't help themselves, such as Von Reismann, formed the new High Guild.
Over the next several centuries the Craftmasons and the High Guild worked together on many projects, but the former gradually declined while the latter gained greater and greater power. The Grand Financiers funded exploration voyages and the founding of colonies around the world, ran the merchant houses that became the center of Europe's economy, and provided support to the other Conventions within the Order of Reason. Finally, when the Craftmasons decided to support a socialist uprising called the Diggers, the Guild rallied the rest of the Order against them. By 1670, the Craftmasons were no more.
In 1851, the Order of Reason underwent reorganization and emerged as the Technocratic Union. The High Guild was re-christened as the Invisible Exchequer. This lasted until the later years of the 19th century, when the Union overhauled itself yet again, and the Exchequers became the Syndicate. Soon thereafter debate and dissent about the Syndicate's role caused schisms, with members of its leadership who were heavily invested in the economies of Europe feuding amongst themselves. This infighting persisted throughout World War I and eventually provoked the Great Depression. This taught the Syndicate an important lesson: that the global economy had become too large and complex to be toyed with, and that their Adjustments would need to be subtle lest they provoke a "market correction."
They used their remaining stores of cash and invested them in economies throughout Europe, only to see them blown up again in World War II. When the Cold War ended, the Syndicate was overjoyed. In 1999, they introduced the Euro in an effort to stabilize a shattered European economy and gain some semblance of control over those fractious countries. Various financial crises, however, let this plan backfire and now, the European Project is spiraling out of control of Syndicate agents.
When the Avatar Storm severed the contact to Control, it was the Syndicate that managed to keep the Technocracy together, spending their fundings to save their fellow Conventions. The Modern Nights also saw the collapse of many of the hypereconomical experiments of the Syndicate, with further financial crises as the result. This earned them considerable blame from the New World Order. Other, more successful, experiments include the MMORPG economy; a new approach to the introduction of Hypertechnology, which involved the funding of several Sleeper scientists to construct Devices following Technocracy blueprints; and the use of Social Media as an advertising platform.
Agents of the Syndicate begin their existence as Associates, who rarely have any idea of the sheer vastness of the Technocracy and only interact with Syndicate members as their mundane employers. An Associate’s most important job is networking. If they are not already well-positioned, the Syndicate will take care of installing them in a lucrative and influential position to observe them for leadership qualities.
The next step up the ladder are the Managers, who operate their own Constructs or supervise other Associates, or both. The Syndicate gives its people a good deal of freedom, so there is a vast array of different positions under the title “Manager,” and quite a lot of jockeying for position within that tier.
A good Manager can remain in that position and enjoy its considerable perks for the rest of his life. A great Manager may be tapped by a VPO to become a Chair. With a staff of Managers and their Associates, a Chair is installed in a large corporation or criminal network. Their first job is to maintain what already exists, preserving the Syndicate’s infrastructure, power, and influence. This earns Chairs reputations among their underlings as conservative thinkers or stuck in yesterday’s modes of thought, although that impression isn’t always deserved.
And at the top of the heap is the Board, made up of the seven Vice Presidents of Operations (VPOs). The VPOs used to be associated with regions, but since the Reorganization, the Board is geared toward a globalized world. Consequently, each VPO’s portfolio concerns a single, global market segment. There VPOs of Energy, Finance, Healthcare, Media, Manufacturing, Transportation, and Resource Extraction. A VPO serves as a shepherd and custodian for their associated financial sector.
Role within the TechnocracyEdit
The Syndicate sees itself as the manager of the Technocracy and indeed, the war efforts in the Ascension War could not have been funded without their aid, something that grinds the gears of many other Technocrats. It is the Syndicate that decides how much resources are given to any project another Convention shows them, as it is the Syndicate that controls the Union's temporal resources (money) and primal energy (Quintessence), through funding and investment decisions.
Like any multinational conglomerate, the Syndicate is made up of organizations and fragments of organizations from many sources. Over the centuries, a number of minds have woven them together into one monolithic engine of economic control. And while there are inevitable cracks and seams born of history, rivalry, and ambition, the Convention is also united by its culture of optimistic capitalism and individuality. The Syndicate values and rewards ingenuity, innovation, and acute business acumen, and is structured as a vast gladiatorial arena where victors win spoils and losers are relegated to the sidelines to plot their comebacks. This actually forestalls most infighting and bickering, because successes are easily measured by the bottom line and universally celebrated throughout the Methodologies. Unlike other Conventions, transfers between the Methodologies of the Syndicate are relatively common.