OSFI Player's Handbook

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Guide to Playing Intelligence Characters in ASR


Chapters


Overview

The world of espionage in ASR is a world of intrigue, deception and secrecy; it is the "cloak and dagger" world of old with updated technology. As a result, many players understandably cannot resist the temptation to try their hands at portraying an agent in OSFI.

However, such a prospect is not to be entered into lightly. The life of the agent is not as it is glorified to be in TV, movies, etc. Agents such as James Bond are not realistic portrayals of field agents; black operations, such as assassination and sabotage, are prohibited. Starfleet Intelligence agents have three primary tasks: procure, process and protect information. They are never authorized to kill sentient beings or destroy property or disrupt institutions to fulfill their tasks. Portraying an OSFI agent in a realistic and, most importantly, ethical manner is not easy.


Ethics and Morality in OSFI

As one considers creating an OSFI character, consider the mandate of OSFI: to safeguard Federation and Star Fleet interests by protecting it from outside threats and providing information about the capabilities and activities of foreign powers so as to be better able to defend itself from incursion or other acts of war.

Given this mandate, there are a few things an OSFI agent NEVER willingly does:

  • OSFI agents do not undertake operations against Federation citizens within Federation boundaries.
  • OSFI agents do not undertake operations which would result in the death (either willful or through negligence) or inhumane treatment of any sentient individual, regardless of species, culture or race.


OSFI is forbidden by the Articles of the Federation from spying on its own citizens within its own borders; it is an external intelligence organization, NOT an internal security organization. OSFI is roughly analogous to the 20th-21st century Earth intelligence organizations of the United States and Great Britain, the Central Intelligence Agency and MI-6, respectively; as such, it cannot conduct operations in its own space, much as the CIA and MI-6 could not operate within its nations' own boundaries.

For those interested, matters of internal security are handled by the Star Fleet Judge Advocate General (SFJAG) and its investigative arm, Star Fleet Security and Investigative Services (SECIS). SECIS is roughly analogous to the old Federal Bureau of Investigation of the United States and MI-5 of Great Britain in that they could ONLY conduct internal investigations.

The reasons for this separation of duties is apparent when one studies the history of intelligence organizations, particularly those of Earth's past. The Soviet Union's KGB and the Gestapo of Nazi Germany in Earth's 20th century are but two examples of what happens when an intelligence organization mixes internal security with external espionage- one gets organizations that abuse its powers and trample the civil rights of its citizens and outsiders both; given the Federation's basic stand on the rights of ALL sentient beings, this is not the desired behavior. Besides, with the vastness of Federation space and the shear size and number of legitimate foreign powers, combining external and internal security into a single office would simply produce ineffective agents and operations on both sides.

OSFI is also forbidden by similar mandate from undertaking what is commonly known as "black operations," so designated because of the "blackness" of the moral or ethical qualities of the mission parameters. Again, as stated above, the Federation's high ideals regarding the ethical and moral treatment of ALL sentient beings must be followed by any office, department or division of the Federation and its agents- this includes Star Fleet and Star Fleet Intelligence. As such, OSFI does not take part in any operation where the welfare and rights of sentient beings could and/or would be compromised. Such missions include assassination operations, sabotage missions (except where reasonable precautions to safeguard innocent lives are taken), and the torture and inhumane imprisonment of foreign nationals for information or punishment. OSFI's enemies may undertake such operations as part of their modus operandi, but OSFI does not, regardless of this fact or any other.

There are those within Star Fleet Intelligence who feel, given the willingness on the part of our enemies to stoop to such depths, that the Federation should loosen the reigns on OSFI a bit so as to include limited powers to conduct black ops and/or operations against known Federation double-agents working within Federation borders. Fortunately for the Federation, such voices are rare amongst those truly loyal to the Federation and her ideals. However, that has not stopped some from apparently creating a phantom organization which conducts just such operations- Section 31.

Proof of Section 31's existence has only just been found, largely due to the fact that, since Section 31 operates both within and outside of UFP boundaries, no firm jurisdiction over a large-scale investigation of such an organization has ever been sorted out between SECIS and OSFI. As such, neither side has ever collaborated or shared any of its data (if either has anything), which only allows Section 31 to continue its operations unchecked. It is believed that Section 31, if it were to exist, is made up largely of rogue OSFI and SECIS agents operating from a misplaced sense of loyalty to the Federation. Regardless, no such agents would ever be allowed in as PC's in ASR, and should therefore be avoided.

For further information on Section 31, please see the Section 31 factsheets.


General Player Guidelines

If adhering to OSFI's mandate regarding ethics appeals to you, then some general thoughts about how exactly to play such a character are in order.

As a general rule of thumb, an agent, whether in the field or as an analyst, should always keep the concepts of "silence and secrecy" at the forefront of his or her thoughts. For an example, an agent would not divulge sensitive information- even to the captain of a starship- unless he or she absolutely had to in order to save the lives of others. An OSFI agent, regardless of position or operation, considers him or herself a part of a larger purpose and community, and therefore considers his or her own life to be expendable should the situation demand it. Real agents are willing to "make the ultimate sacrifice" rather than compromise the safety and security of the Federation.

An OSFI agent would also keep from divulging his or her real job to anyone, including loved ones and family members. The spouse of an analyst might know the agent works for Star Fleet Intelligence, but would not know the true nature of his or her job. It is even more likely that the spouse would simply know that the analyst works in some mundane governmental job, such as a clerical job.

Field agents rarely have any such attachments due to the nature of his or her job; those that do are almost NEVER deep cover agents. Usually, field agents are given a parallel service jacket in Star Fleet, which would serve as cover for both family and others alike.

Field agents are not nearly the swashbucklers movies and television often portray them as; they do not go in guns blazing, throwing all caution to the wind unless there is absolutely no other choice. OSFI agents- particularly undercover and deep cover agents- spend a lot of time meticulously creating cover for their infiltration and surveillance, and therefore generally act from extreme caution rather than risk attracting unwanted attention to him or herself and blowing their cover.

So, in summary, so long as a player keeps in mind that OSFI agents behave conservatively and with a higher sense of ethics, the player is ready to step into the world of Star Fleet Intelligence.