"Inventory Control", or Fun With RHRs

There are things out there, in the weirder reaches of space-time where reality is an optional extra. Horrible things, usually with tentacles. Good thing there's a bureaucracy to deal with them. Based on the Laundry Files novels by Charles Stross. Learn more at our website: http://www.cubicle7.co.uk/our-games/the-laundry/
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Re: "Inventory Control", or Fun With RHRs

Post by SBRPearce » Mon Feb 03, 2014 4:47 am

Will your players be consulting the help desk, or tasked with running it? :D

Thanks for your comments - I'm glad you find my insane maunderings at least partially useful.

Oh, and another thing I've thought of - the rulebook describes what sort of bodies end up in Laundry custody as "grist" for the RHR mill (perhaps "grist" is the ubiquitous but frowned-upon in-house slang for "raw materials") and that got me wondering about the demand and turnover.

If a properly preserved RHR (reconstructed, embalmed, partially resistant to decay thanks to the EPE onboard, and likely shrink-wrapped) has a useful life in service of 6-10 years, how many does the Intake and Processing Office need to acquire to meet current organizational requirements? However many RHRs the Laundry employs, they need to replace 10-18% of the stock every year... The limited demand versus the supply probably means that the Laundry has been able to pick and choose for some time. However, with CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN approaching, the operational need for RHRs has increased slightly and the research needs have increased tremendously. DRHR/IPO is having to patch up and send out to the labs or the facilities bodies that, in previous years, would have been deemed too damaged for use. You know - the ones that suffered severe fire damage, the decedents who were killed beneath a train or under the propellers of a fishing boat (long story, you're not cleared for it and probably don't want to be), the legless, etc. It's more expensive in terms of time and materials, not to mention taxing for the hands-on morgue staff, but necessary for the organization. This means, however, that the process of getting RHRs to the end-users is becoming more expensive, and that some end-users are having to accept product of a lesser grade than they're used to.

DRHR acts as a sort of wholly-owned vendor, "selling" its products to a wide variety of internal clients. They determine the end-user's needs, develop inventory to match, and bill the expense to the requesting department. With IPO forced to cover more demands with the same basic pool of materials, the "cost" to the client departments is going up, and that's making line managers shriek as the RHR line on their departmental budget has grown. Assuming these points, under what circumstances would an irregularity in a DRHR/IPO processing facility come to light via a financial audit of client facility? Is there an unofficial "swap circle" operating in which departments haggle and exchange RHRs and other equipment beneath Financial Control's radar? In an effort to placate employee grumbling, a manager talks to a friend elsewhere to replace one of his RHRs with one that's less upsetting to his staff? (Prettier, fresher, less-badly-mangled, etc. But in what coin is the quid pro quo of this sort of favor paid? To take it in a more sinister direction, has someone in a dead-end Laundry office found a way to make a little illicit cash by peddling the office equipment out the back door and claiming replacements for RHRs "worn out and de-accessioned"? Who would be the external market for that sort of thing? Is the buyer just looking for a Zombie Of Their Very Own, or are they trying to crack the RHR's geas in an effort to reverse-engineer one element in Laundry site security?

Plot Development A report comes in through Home Office/Police Secretary channels - an individual walking down a rural motorway was struck by a local motorist. The pedestrian apparently died instantly, because he was beheaded in the crash. Initial investigation has the Ruralshire Constabulary deeply vexed and confused. The decedent was ID'd via fingerprints as a minor London criminal, missing for the last several months. The police think the accident may be the result of a bizarre hoax, prank, or possible insurance scam, since the "pedestrian" had been embalmed some weeks before the accident. However, there's no death record for this fellow on the system.

As junior duty officers for whatever department whose desk this report landed on, the players are responsible for looking into the 'mysterious incident'. First look would seem that it's a random case of corpse-walking to investigate in the countryside, with a side order of waving your Warrant Card at rural officialdom to clean up the loose ends and stopper awkward questions. The major worry is that someone in the sticks is dabbling in practical necromancy, which is just the sort of thing to attract the Laundry's attention. (Home-grown EPEs are just one step down from DIY nerve agents on the Laundry's Scare Scale). It gets more fraught when the wandering corpse is (eventually) identified as one that was accessioned by DRHR/IPO, sent into service, and recently reported "worn out and de-accessioned".

IPO runs a set of small preparation facilities ("body shops") around Britain for the creation and management of RHRs in use across the country. There used to be just one big facility, but Financial Control decided a decade or so ago that the cost of moving corpses back and forth across the country offset the economies of scale represented by the One Big Shop, and set up the smaller shops to support non-London users. (It's also proven easier for these small facilities outside major urban areas to obtain the permissions to run the crematoria where de-accessioned and deactivated RHRs eventually end up.) These scattered facilities don't have the same up-to-date inventory tracking systems like DURABLE WICKET, and close investigation may find that the record-keeping has been sloppy, lax, or even criminally-negligent. Also, you might encounter staff members who were transferred from the One Big Shop in London out into the countryside, against their wishes. And just what sort of thing might a disgruntled mortuary technician get up to, let alone a disgruntled necromancer?

I'll leave the complications on this little investigation as an exercise for the Game Master!

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