Time to meet the Hyperpower that calls the shots in the Human Sphere, and what makes it great.
The Big Money goes Around the World
The Hyperpower. Capitalism unbound. The powerful melange of money and faith. The gleaming societies and megalopolises allowed by progress without limit or conscience. PanOceania is the raw, undilluted dynamism and power of Western-style market economy and religion, taking the forefront as the strongest faction in the Human Sphere and quite ready and willing to defend its first place against any upstarts.
PanO’s origin lies in the closing of the First Age of Space Exploration, when the collapse of the wormhole that was being used to colonize other system thoroughly borked the economies of all the old powers that were invested into it. Eventually, a new coalition of rising economies centered around a Phillipines-Australia accord, and to a lesser degree India and Brazil, bought out the debts of the crashed USA and Europe and remade the West.
The Second Age of Space Exploration would see PanOceania become a modern, bustling corporate mega-state. Political parties were done away with and replaced with ‘lobbies’ where individuals converge around shared goals and ideologies; the more support (which usually but not always means wealth) a lobby has, the further it can sway laws and governance its way. This new melting pot of cultures had the Catholic Church step in as a strong unifying identity, and its active role in protecting and rescuing travelers in the reborn space lanes saw it reinstate many orders of elite knights and regain a military presence in the Human Sphere.
As a result, PanO attained the strongest economy, the largest number of controlled planets, a burgeoning military presence and cultural primacy across the human-controlled space. It is a strong backer of the ALEPH AI, and therefore also relies heavily upon it to manage its day-to-day affair. From the bright arcologies of Neoterra, over the gleaming blue ocean cities of Varuna, to the vital industrial coasts of Acontecimento and all the way to the harsh snowy reaches of Svarlaheina, PanOceania is on the move, and it waits for no one.
Big Money Underground
Since nothing in Infinity Lore is fully white or completely black, PanOceania’s model is not without its consequences. Its sky-high standards of living conceal an underclass that is truly, inevitably destitute. It’s not a set ethnictiy, like the Japanese in Yu Jing. In a hypercapitalist sociaty, those left behind are…self-selected, after a fashion: Ateks, losers, members of lobbies who fell out of favor, people left behind by technological innovation, followers of non-mainstream creeds and ideologies. And while the State Empire at least affords partial rights to those not on its love list, PanO offers its rabble blissful ignorance about their life or death, and nothing else.
It’s not inhumanely harsh, of course, as this is not a cyberpunk dystopia. In Infinity, all systems at least sort of work. And there are some ‘softer’ lobbies, as well as the Church that offer some measure of relief to those that fall behind, by luck or design. But as far as PanO cares, this is incidental.
The strong role of the Catholic Church also raises some issues. In PanO society, the holy see is the final arbiter on who gets first in line when it’s time to get reborn into an L-host. This is done by a system of indulgences that earn you points (or points for a loved one you want to bring back) based on services to the faith: membership in a Knight Order, charitable donations, funding/supporting church causes. It also excludes those of different faiths or no faith from the decision-making (they can still get resurrected, but have to play the Church’s indulgence game with no say in it). We know how well selling indulgences turned out the first time around!
(This is actually a small peeve of mine. Having the Church be the arbiter of L-host resurrection always felt a bit odd to me. Those dedicated to making sure your life earns you passage to Heaven should not be the ones rewarding its most faithful with an indefinite stay in this material world created by the Original Sin! Then again, I guess times change and dogma stretches to covers more than a few hypocrisies…)
The voracious drive for success of the Hyperpower has other downsides. Few powers have been as gleefully eager to violate Ariadnan sovereignty as PanO; if you can’t hold on it, it’s not supposed to be yours in the first place. Its penchant for getting fingers into as many pies as possible was one of the factors behind the Trade Wars that are the last big intra-human conflict in the Sphere.
Infinite growth is the ideology of the cancer cell, someone has said….
Big Money Leave a Mighty Wake
If we’re talking pros, let’s start with the first thing you’ll likely hear about PanO; that it’s the shootiest faction in a shooting-based game. This, you’ll soon learn, is a simplification. It’s technically true, but not the whole truth.
But yes, this army’s profiles usually have high BS scores, almost always one point or more than a comparable troop of another faction. And make no mistake, it’s handy. When you’re supposed to be stacking every roll in your favor and piling up penalties on your enemy, every point helps. It also means that enemies have to go a longer way toward making your shots impossible (as in needing less than a 1 to hit). This might seems a minor deal, but in a game that has criticals, I’ve seen more than a few gunfights where a troop that would only hit (and therefore crit) on a 1 got the better end of a vicious firefight. Any chance is a chance.
But in the great scheme or things? PanO are not better shots to a significant degree. Remember, we are not talking about simple tests here, the vast majority of the game will be Opposed rolls. So when you factor in other armies having easier access to Mimetism, ODD, smoke and so on, things usually equalize. It’s a plus, but don’t bank on it.
Another field where our catholic capitalists shine is Tech. Pan has toys out the wazoo. Visors (including the rare Level 3 MSV), MULTI weaponry, the venerable Hyper-Rapid Magnetic Cannon, TO camo, Auxbots, Holoprojectors, and very fine combat remotes. Excluding the Combined Army,which is in a class of its own, PanO likely has the most tech in the game, though with less exotic stuff than ALEPH and way worse infowar than Nomads.
For mecha fans, this third item matters: TAGs. PanOceania has them. And more of them. Big scary brazilian TAGs with magnetic cannons. Sleek fast TAGs that climb walls like newts. Invisible TAGs that glide over water (Yeah, there’s rarely water terrain on Infinity tables. It’s still cool, dammit!). Heavy ultra-armored TAGs meant to stride into the thickest enemy formation and deal death. Religious TAGs that come with an altar-boy Auxbot. What Yu Jing is to Heavy Infantry, PanO is to giant robots. Keep in mind that while most HI got a price cut in N3 that makes them more fialdable, the same is not true for TAGs, so building your list around one (or two) still requires a little bit of care so your army is not “hollowed out”.
The faction is also no slouch when it comes to Heavy Infantry. there are many options, with plenty of bells and whistles, including the recreation of Joan of Arc as a badass that can go toe to toe with the heaviest hitters in the setting. Basic shooty dudes, sharpshooting HI with visors that make a mockery out of all camouflage, and of course, several flavors of power-armored holy warriors. If you like the concept of space knights but don’t care for Space Marines, this just might be your faction.
Big Money Leave a Bruise
We’ve talked about the bad stuff, so let’s discuss limitations as well.
The army’s main weakness is bad specialists. I assume that most of the talented hackers, engineers and doctors in the Hyperpower stay far from the battlefronts making mad cash on apps, hovertrains and cyberboob jobs, and send their interns to do the fighting for them. You see, a WIP of 13 is basically the starting point for specialists of other factions. For PanO, that’s pretty much the ceiling. There are some exceptions (Father-Officer De Fersen is a fearsome hacker), but they are very expensive, and rare.
PanO doctors will kill your dudes 40% of the time if we’re not spending Command tokens (that diploma from Kevorkian Medical School really limits your employment opportunities) and your engineers are laughably lackluster, but at least some of the hackers sport a decent BTS that can make them worthwhile. Now, how bad is this really? In Objective games, it means that now and then you’ll need an extra order or two to capture an Objective. This is annoying but not a big deal. In more aggressive, close-fought engagements, though, it means losing more FtF rolls on infowar, failing to bring back unconscious heavy hitters while your opponent happily zaps his Azra’il back into the fight for the third time in the match, and so on.
The next item is a subset of the one above: low WIP scores. They are not universal, but it’s still common to see units that are amazing on nearly all fronts sporting a WIP score that is below standard. This is very much mitigated by the fact that most important units have workarounds (All TAGs are remote presence and therefore feel no fear, and many others have the Courage or Religious skill), but you’ll see badasses like the Aquila and ORC troops retreat from fire a bit more often than you’d like at times, and rebooting your HI after it’s been hacked might take a few tries.
Finally, this faction lacks a bit in skirmish and deployment shenanigans. Oh, they are there, make no mistake. You have infiltrating camo guys and some drop troops, but you won’t see a lot of options or highlights. I mean, the only model in he army with vanilla-level camo is a freaking TAG (which is kind of awesome). It’s a minor deal, but it’s there and might keep you from making the army you really want if it’s not mentioned.
What Faction would you like to see profiled next? Tell us in the comments!