- This is the story-based description of Empirical Industries. For in-game rules that apply to Empirical and affiliated characters, go to here.
Empirical Industries is an interstellar megacorporation, but it is also much more than that. There are two sides to EI, the overt and the covert. The overt side of Empirical Industries is the side the public sees. It runs the portal network, produces technology from dishwashers to advanced robotics and AIs, and even colonizes the stars. The covert side of Empirical Industries, on the other hand, contains the classified operations that no one outside the company sees. This is where things like the Black Chamber reside, or where Ogres are produced. Despite the differentiation, there is a great deal of crossover between the two, such as the Black Chamber engineer-sages also having overt employment with EI.
With the advent of the Safehouse, many overt Empirical operations have been moved there from Cardinal, and is considered the headquarters of the company, althrough Empirical does still maintain a major facility in West City, Cardinal, which is the headquarters for all overt Earth operations.
Most covert operations are distributed throughout the company's facilities and organized electronically, so could not be said to have a separate headquarters. However, given that Empirical's Titan Base is where many of the key pieces come together, it is at least the spiritual headquarters of covert Empirical Industries, if not the actual.
- 1 Resources
- 2 Active Divisions
- 3 Major Facilities
- 4 Secondary Facilities
- 5 Major Product Lines
- 6 Key Figures
- 7 Other Related Characters
Empirical Industries' primary resource is its high level of technological development. Capable of producing true AI and powerful weapons systems, it still applies all of its knowledge and power to the development of something as relatively simple as a dishwasher. This means that while its products are expensive, they are extremely effective and reliable, which is the stock-in-trade of the overt commercial operations that brings in the majority of Empirical's wealth.
Empirical's primary covert manufacturing occurs in the Empirical Enclave-factory, under the watchful eye of Daedalus.
Empirical Aeronautics operates strongly out of EIS-4, the Empirical-owned space station in Earth's solar system. It has not been displaced to Safehouse given the difficulty inherent in moving such a massive object through a portal, and the restrictions on space travel in the immediate interstellar space surrounding Safehouse. Its focus is on spaceflight and aerospace engineering. While some space-based manufacturing has been established in orbit of Safehouse, EIS-4 remains one of the major Empirical installations in the Sol system.
While space exploration was originally a gigantic money sink, even on the scale that Empirical Industries operates on, since it led to the discovery of Safehouse and numerous other resources, Alothin continues to direct investment into the Aeronautics division, developing further advances in space-faring technologies.
Employees of Empirical Aeronautics fall into one of two categories, staff and line. Staff employees are the 'normal' employees, whereas line employees are employees whose jobs include a military or paramilitary element. As Empirical Aeronautics forms the core of a nascent spacefleet in support of Empirical's colonization efforts, these line employees are critical to the success of this effort. As such, a military-style rank system has been implemented for them, representing levels of skill and responsibility that have been recognized by Aeronautics.
For more details on the operations of this division, consult its wikipage.
Empirical Networks exists, more or less, solely on paper. While they have a scattering of employees, barely anyone has ever met one of them in person. Those met tend to be tight-lipped workers, and never higher-level management. Empirical Networks is responsible for maintaining several Empirical-wide systems, including the Empirical Infonet that the PAD network runs on, and the portal stations that connect distant places together instantly. Networks is known to have some space set aside for them in all Empirical facilities, including the space station EIS-4.
The reason for the lack of visible employees in Networks is because they tend to be largely invisible -- the majority of employees in Networks are the artificial intelligences that operate both the Empirical infonet and the portal network. While the Itinerant Scholars of the Black Chamber are the ones who actually establish new portals, they never perform this while in the public view, given the 'trade secrets' that go into the preparation and initial activation sequences of portal 'technology'.
Empirical Robotics is the foundational and largest division of Empirical Industries. Its original facilities in West City and on a converted oil derrick off the coast no longer exist, with the emigration of Empirical Industries out of Cardinal and off of Earth. The primary production facility of Empirical Robotics is now the Empirical enclave-factory on Safehouse, in the city of Sanctuary. The Robotics division continues to produce a thousand thousand things, from massive industrial machinery used for building skyscrapers and starships, to household microwaves. Empirical Robotics is well-known for the reliability of their equipment.
Despite Aeronautics using it in vast quantities for their primary structural members of their ships, Robotics is nonetheless the primary consumer of Black Iron. The inherent Order in this material contributes strongly to the resilience of Empirical Robotics' products, and the consumption of it is so great that it is very difficult to keep it in proper supply. They are constantly doing metallurgical research to find a material that can be produced without supernatural assistance, and the results of their research are generally referred to as 'Gray Iron', as what they have made is significantly superior to other iron and steel alloys, but not quite a match for the unearthly properties of Black Iron, which they sometimes despair of ever duplicating through science alone.
Empirical Security exists to deal with any issues of security that might arise in the spheres of influence of Empirical. They conduct background checks on prospective employees, provide first aid personnel, and so forth. They have a number of power wielders in their employ to counter powered threats to Empirical, but with the rise of an effective Compass Guard, the Psionic Militia that they used to have has been disbanded. Few power wielders are hired strictly for their combat capabilities, however -- typically, power wielders are hired who possess either regular qualifications for the job (e.g., skilled labour, academic credentials, etc), or whose powers are particularly useful for the tasks Empirical has before it (e.g., practically any psion). These power wielders are then offered bonuses if they help defend Empirical assets whenever and wherever they might come under attack by hostile powers.
The Black Chamber is a secret organization within Empirical Industries -- the public is unaware of it, and only a few employees at the highest levels of clearance are aware of its existence. The Black Chamber is composed of the mages of Empirical, which are significantly more numerous than most people suspect, as if Empirical has one single edge in technology compared to other companies, it's their ready adaptation of supernaturally-produced components and technologies. The mages of the Black Chamber enable that. They are divided into several groups, or Scholarships, and use a common ranking system to delinate skill, regardless of subdivision. The majority of Black Chamber mages are either Craft Scholars or Itinerant Scholars. Besides being mages, the members of the Black Chamber are also technological adepts, being engineers or technicians of various types and degrees, and that qualification forms the 'cover' for their employment by Empirical Industries.
Craft Scholars specialize in metallurgy and other materials sciences. They strive to reproduce Black Iron, the fabled material that only Order Foci can seem to produce. The various attempts they have made are typically referred to as Gray Iron, and each new composition tends to have certain traits of Black Iron, but they have yet to produce one that has all the characteristics of it. Most of the production of the Craft Scholars goes to either the Robotics or Aeronautics divisions, and thus, that is where their engineering identities tend to be employed.
Itinerant Scholars specialize in non-conventional movement. Their chief responsibility is for the Empirical portal network that ties cities and planets together. They maintain, upgrade, and expand this network in accordance with the magic first established by Alothin. As such, their engineering identities are linked to the Networks division.
There are several more specialized divisions of Scholars in the Black Chamber. Notable among them are the Battle Scholars, who are mages that focus solely on combative magic, mastering techniques with which to defend Empirical Industries and its people from attack. They are few, as the study demands far more arcane strength to make a noticeable difference than compared to the more peacefully productive Scholarships. Battle Scholars are typically employed under Empirical Security's auspices, where they have a freer hand to have a flexible schedule, as they often also work as the Black Chamber's field agents, retrieving necessary magical components or performing field tests of new developments.
The Scholars of the Black Chamber are ranked as either Scholar, Free Scholar, Provost, or Master. A Scholar is a novice -- at least, as a mage. They may be the greatest engineer in the world, but not having the arcane knowledge to tie together with their mundane knowledge prevents them from progressing further in the Chamber's eyes, for magic is their raison d'etre. A Free Scholar is a journeyman, who has mastered the basics of their trade, and at that point, they are officially inducted into a specific Scholarship. A Provost is acknowledged by their peers as one of the foremost among them, having formidable skills and knowledge of their arts and sciences. Each Scholarship has a single Master, or none at all. If the Scholarship cannot agree to a high degree of consensus that a single person among them deserves the title of Master, none holds it. Only when a single Scholar so far outshines their peers, is a Master named. There are currently no Masters acknowledged in the Chamber.
Empirical factory-enclave, Sanctuary, Safehouse system
Empirical Industries Solar Four (EIS-4)
Mars Mining Colony, Mars
Various portal facilities
Major Product Lines
Artificial intelligences are not merely a major product line for Empirical Robotics, but also comprise an ever-growing part of Empirical's workforce. The computing capacity and data analysis prowess of artificial intelligences make them superb employees in a wide variety of positions throughout Empirical, and they can be found in every division.
Empirical regards AIs as sentient beings with all the rights thereby entailed, and frowns severely on anyone attempting to enslave an AI.
Home and Commercial Appliances
One of the streams of revenue that's little remarked upon by power wielders is strongly dominated by Empirical products. Whether it be a toaster or microwave for your home, or a commercial-grade pizza oven or soda pop fountain for a restaurant, Empirical manufactures it. Moreover, Alothin's dominant personality and philosophy trickles down into this -- Empirical products in general have a long lifespan, and a very low rate of failure, which has helped ensure their market share in this niche.
Empirical's manufacturing facilities are capable of duplicating themselves quite handily, and so Empirical quite often manufactures industrial-grade equipment, whether for manufacturing, or research and development, or what have you, and sells them to other companies -- typically those in fields it does not wish to enter into, so as to avoid giving the competition the advantage of Empirical's own equipment. Empirical is thus a source for every sort of equipment you would need to set up an entire factory, from materials processing to product finishing.
Empirical has designs for, and manufactures, a wide variety of military and paramilitary equipment. Some of it goes to provide for Compass Guard production contracts, others are earmarked for the civilian non-power wielder market. Much of the civilian market exists on Safehouse, where much of the planet remains wild, with dangerous beasts existing that homesteaders need to protect themselves from.
Empirical does not generally make powered-grade military equipment available to the public, but it does produce a selection of powered equipment which can be provided to authorized individuals, such as armored UPCAV vehicles, remote probes, high-energy projectors, and access to support from Pericles.
(See also the main article on portal travel.)
Portal facilities on Earth are the most common Empirical facility that was not removed when Empirical emigrated away from Cardinal. This is because of several factors -- with the establishment of inexpensive and instantaneous travel, many other mass carriers, such as airlines, went bankrupt. Removing it when these other options are no longer available was determined to hold too much potential for negative public opinion and criticism for it to have been done at that time. However, portal facilities have also always been strongly armoured and secured due to the inherent dangers should a portal be destabilized in a destructive fashion -- it's to the credit of Empirical designs and the artificial intelligences that oversee the portal stations that such has never occurred. Still, with the emigration of Empirical, the security protocols for the portal stations have been enhanced even further.
The portal station has mortal security officers that deal with any mortal problems. For power wielders, they will typically call on Empirical Security, often in the form of automated defence drones operated by artificial intelligence. All of the security forces have very low response times, as they are often in the vicinity of portals, and need no ticket or key, response to a powered attack is usually measured in seconds, if that. In cases of powered conflict erupting near portal stations, inbound travel is locked down except to security personnel responding to the threat, and emergency evacuation protocols rapidly empty the portal station, preventing potential casualties -- even the overseeing AI can evacuate itself via portal once the station is evacuated and locked down. The threat of immediate massive destruction of the facility is ameliorated by the construction of the building -- it has sufficient powered defences to withstand most power wielders for sufficiently long to evacuate its occupants.
Central City has the largest portal station on Earth -- the Grand Central Station of portal stations. Contained within the large building are dozens of portals -- large circles of stone and steel, that, when active, are filled with a shimmering field of opaque violet energies. In order to use a portal, unless otherwise specified, a ticket must be purchased. Ticket booths are all around the station, as well, and are largely automated procedures, controlled by a low-level submind of the artificial intelligence that operates the facility. Upon approach to a portal, with an appropriate ticket in possession, the portal will automatically open and admit the ticket-holder, instantaneously transporting them to the destination portal. The ticket is thereafter useless.
Interstellar portal travel is available from major portal facilities such as the Central City portal station, provided the traveller has the appropriate documentation to allow them to travel to those foreign lands. Generally, customs offices are available on the far side to process travellers.
Empirical Industries' initial development was in the field of robotics, and they've kept up well in it. A great deal of their robotics manufacturing goes towards the construction of industrial equipment, and industrial worker robots. This equipment is often used for Empirical's own manufacturing operations as well, minimizing their overhead cost for such things as retooling their production lines, or establishing new facilities, such as EIS-4.
Using gravitic controls, skiffboards are essentially surfboards that fly. They've a number of safety features incorporated into them for liability reasons (although all of them are largely redundant to power wielders), and they sell for about as much as a moped or scooter would. A few thousand dollars at most, in mundane terms. Those wanting a customized design should be prepared to pay the much greater cost for such an item. However, given that Empirical has been known to sponsor various forms of skiffboard competition, it can be worth getting such a board, if you're in it for the professional competition. Power wielders using their own powers to augment the board's performance in a competition is strictly forbidden and monitored, however.