STORY (somewhat longer than usual, still skippable)
When you graduated top of your class from Data Science School, you didn't care where you ended up working, you just wanted to find the highest-paid job possible. (Your student loans may have had an impact on this decision).
(Yes, I know a past scenario background has also begun this way. It's a versatile backstory. And one that I think may resonate with many of my players.)
Somewhat surprisingly, at the last minute Goldman Sachs was outbid by a firm you'd never heard of before called "Marshall, Carter and Dark Ltd." They hired you (for a substantially higher salary than anyone else was offering) to analyze sales data for "our ultra-exclusive chain of clubs, facilities, and banking services, catering to the finest gentlemen since 1952".
You've been working for them for several years now, in the course of which you've seen a variety of...very strange objects pass through their firm. It seems that, in addition to their upper-class business, they acquire and sell a variety of items that don't strictly seem to obey the laws of physics.
In the course of the last few years, you have excelled beyond your employers' expectation at all the technical aspects of your job...while perhaps performing less well on the social aspects.
It might have been turning down an invitation to drinks with your boss Mr. Alden because you don't like alcohol...
...or spending forty-five minutes explaining a particularly interesting piece of your data methodology to a client who had asked an innocuous question (how were you supposed to know he would be such a philistine as to find that boring?)...
...or asking a few too many questions about the various strange items that passed through the firm...
...or (what seemed based on your colleagues' reactions to be worst of all) pointing out that when you acronym "Marshall, Carter and Dark" to "MC&D" it looks very like "McDonald's".
Whatever the reason, when you were called into the office of Mr. Marshall for a private interview, you assumed you were going to be fired.
(You weren't too worried. You're a data scientist. You can find another job in less time than it'll take you to leave the building. And given the severance package in your contract, firing you would basically amount to paying you a large bonus.)
With your usual level of social acumen, as soon as the door to Mr. Marshall's office closed you asked him: "Am I being fired?"
He looked surprised to hear you say that (which would have fooled you three years ago, but since then you've learned that the top-tier client-facing staff of MC&D change expressions the way you change clothes.) "Fired? Of course not! Mr. Alden speaks very highly of your technical ability."
"My technical ability yes, my non-technical ability...uh...not so much." (You're sure a salesperson would have said that in a better-sounding way).
Marshall puts on a smile that you couldn't imitate if you spent months in front of a mirror. "Quite so! In fact, that's why you're here." He steeples his hands and leans forward slightly. "It's come to our attention that you're being...under-utililized in your current role. As you say, your salesmanship skills are...perhaps a point for future improvement. However, your technical skills are top-notch, and we think they're being wasted in your current position. And as it happens, we have a recent opening as head of Acquisitions that my colleagues and I think would benefit from a more data-driven approach."
You blink in confusion. It sounds like they're...promoting you? That can't be right...can it?
"I'm pleased to inform you that this position would come with a 20% base salary increase over your current compensation, with the additional potential for a noticeable element of performance-based bonus compensation. Additionally, I know you've shown interest in some of our more esoteric offerings," he smiles again, "and I'm happy to say this position will offer you a role dealing directly with them, which I'm sure you'll find fascinating. If you'll sign this non-disclosure agreement, I can give you more detail."
You sign, and he smiles again. It might be your imagination, but it looks like a different smile, with less warmth, like the smile of a shark that's just wandered into the middle of a school of tasty, slow-moving fish.
"Marshall, Carter and Dark is a globally connected firm. Among the advantages this lets us offer our clients is our knowledge of certain esoteric artefacts that act in manners beyond our current understanding of physics - or, in some cases, in manners outright foreclosed by our current understanding of physics. We seek out such objects from across the world and acquire them for our clients, or in some cases for direct usage by ourselves. While this is a source of revenue for us, and your performance as head of Acquisitions will be evaluated principally by revenue generated, the true benefits lie largely downstream from that - the connections thereby formed and relationships generated with our clients provide returns in excess of the initial sale price."
Blah blah client relationship blah blah. You get it. How do you find these anomalous items anyway? Perhaps some kind of analysis of mana flows underlying the world? That sounds like the sort of problem you could turn your data science skills to.
"The majority of such anomalous objects are secured before we can identify them, by an extralegal organization referring to themselves as 'the SCP Foundation'. They consider it their mission to 'Secure, Contain and Protect' - to locate these artefacts, priceless relics that offer unique capabilities or even a chance to advance human technology, and sit on them lest anyone do anything productive or profitable with them. As such, the main role of Acquisitions lies in identifying items currently in the custody of the SCP Foundation that we can realistically acquire and put to better use."
"Wait, you're stealing them?" Surely he can't be trying to-
"I would prefer to say we're using these objects in a more efficient manner. The market indicates a substantial demand for these items, and by removing them from circulation the Foundation is-"
"No. This is obviously illegal. I'm not helping you do it. I'm calling the police."
He's still smiling, and it's freaking you out. "I do seem to recall that less than two minutes ago you signed an agreement not to disclose-"
"An NDA to cover up a crime isn't enforceable."
He sighs, and sounds genuinely disappointed. "A crime? What crime?"
"You just told me-"
"Told you that you were going to help steal 'magical' objects from a clandestine organization no-one has ever heard of. Strange physics-breaking artefacts that no-one believes exist. By all means. Call the police. I'm sure everyone will be quite distressed to hear that a valued employee of Marshall, Carter and Dark has suffered a nervous breakdown." He sounds genuinely sympathetic. "It must have been the strain of the job. Of course we would never dream of overworking our employees, but the young always think themselves invincible. Don't worry, officers - under the circumstances Marshall, Carter and Dark won't be pursuing any cause of action for slander."
You look down at the phone in your hand, with a slow realization that maybe you did not entirely think this through.
"Secondly, I think you are underestimating the capabilities of Marshall, Carter and Dark in a litigation environment." He smiles, and it's all teeth, white and cold as a winter mountain. "Under the choice-of-law clause in both your employment agreement and the nondisclosure agreement you just signed, you agree for issues between you and the firm to be resolved first by our in-house arbitration committee, and should that fail by escalation to courts in our corporation's home jurisdiction. The firm is incorporated in the Cayman Islands. There are a grand total of four judges in the Cayman Islands. Three of the four are former employees of Marshall, Carter and Dark, still drawing generous pensions whose value is based on the company's stock price. The fourth golfs with me on weekends." He lowers his voice conspiratorially. "I usually let him win, you know. It's good for building relationships."
"And thirdly." His voice has gone cold now, matching the smile. "Under ordinary circumstances our retrieval teams are employed to locate and acquire anomalous objects. Highly valuable artefacts, defended by a quasi-governmental agency with a vast budget, anomalous resources and weapons of its own, and very few constraints on its actions. And in more than half of cases, a team sent to acquire such an object succeeds." He leans forward, locks eyes with you. "While the firm would of course prefer to avoid any unpleasantness, should it prove necessary one or more of those teams can be redirected to...resolving a loose end before it can grow into a potential legal and public-relations issue for the whole corporation."
"Now sit back down."
"Your main role as head of Acquisitions will be selecting targets for our retrieval teams. You see, despite our frictions with the SCP Foundation, we believe that they are doing good work. Many of the anomalous objects they contain in fact should be contained. We are interested only in that subset of objects whose value outweighs their danger. So by all means let them continue to contain the giant indestructible reptile driven solely by hatred for humanity. We would prefer to acquire, oh, say, the magical pills that can cure any illness."
"Sadly, our information about SCP objects is limited. We have access only to the Foundation's internal classification system, identifying objects by their danger level and a few tags. In the past this has led to certain unfortunate incidents where Acquisitions in fact imposed costs on the rest of the firm, to clean up the messes caused by acquiring something we rather shouldn't have."
"You will be supplied with a list of all SCP objects identified as targets by our teams, and we have also collated for you a comprehensive history of our past attempts and how successful they were. As I understand your latest soliloquy on the matter, that should provide enough information for you to employ data science tools, and hopefully to identify targets more effectively. I wish you more luck of it than your late predecessor."
"One last thing. Our firm's assets are our employees, our capital, and our reputation. If any of these is ever diminished, the last is the most difficult to restore. Marshall, Carter and Dark has grown on the back of our reputation as an acquirer of anomalous items. However, recent ineptitude in the Acquisitions department has led to very poor performance. Our firm's reputation has suffered."
"I and my fellow partners appreciate competence in our employees. Turn around the lackluster performance of the Acquisitions department, restore our firm's reputation, and we will see you well rewarded. Fail in this, and...well." He sighs. "Mister Glover is a major client, with several billion dollars invested with our banking subsidiary. He found your long explanation of recent machine learning advancements tedious in the extreme, and has expressed his displeasure to us. I'm sure a successful quarter in Acquisitions will give us interesting objects to demonstrate and renew his pleasant relationship with the firm. Failing that, perhaps he would settle for the ability to express his displeasure upon you in a more personal fashion."
"Security will show you to your new desk." He gestures behind you, where two men each larger than the room's doorway have somehow managed to enter without making any noise. "Don't let me keep you, I'm sure you're anxious to get to work!"
DATA & OBJECTIVE
- You have been allocated 9 retrieval teams to acquire SCP objects for your employers:
- 3 Infiltration Retrieval Teams
- 3 Legal Retrieval Teams
- 3 Paramilitary Retrieval Teams
- You need to select (from among those SCP objects identified as potential retrieval targets this year) a target for each of these teams.
- For the avoidance of doubt, you may not send two retrieval teams after the same SCP object.
- A valid solution might look like: 'Send infiltration teams to retrieve SCP-111, SCP-222 and SCP-333; Legal teams to retrieve SCP-444, SCP-555, and SCP-666; and Paramilitary teams to retrieve SCP-777, SCP-888 and SCP-999'.
- Your objective is to maximize the profit made from acquisitions:
- A failed acquisition makes no profit.
- A successful acquisition makes some amount of profit, which might be positive or negative.
- Your overall profit is the sum of all profits of all successful acquisitions.
- To help with this decision, you have been provided with a dataset of past SCP objects seen, MC&D retrieval teams sent, success/failure of retrieval operation, and profits/losses made. (The dataset seems to reach back further than you thought the firm had even existed for.)
- This dataset also includes a variety of 'tags' indicating yes/no whether an object possesses a given property. For example, the 'is_organic' tag indicates an SCP that is to a substantial extent composed of organic material, while the 'is_location' tag indicates an SCP that is anomalous location (a building? a town? a forest? a particular geographical latitude and longitude?) as opposed to an anomalous object.
- The SCP objects identified as possible targets this year are as follows (data format matching the main dataset is available here):
|SCP||Foundation Site||Object Classification||Tags|
|SCP-537||Site 2: Washington D.C||Safe||Mechanical/Mobile|
|SCP-1282||Site 4: Moscow||Euclid||Infohazardous/Mechanical/Virtual|
|SCP-1466||Site 3: Kinshasa||Euclid||Humanoid/Organic/Mechanical|
|SCP-1720||Site 3: Kinshasa||Safe||None Applicable|
|SCP-1785||Site 7: Shanghai||Euclid||Location/Infohazardous|
|SCP-1838||Site 3: Kinshasa||Keter||Location/Predatory|
|SCP-1970||Site 2: Washington D.C||Euclid||Organic|
|SCP-2116||Site 7: Shanghai||Keter||Predatory/Mechanical|
|SCP-2122||Site 4: Moscow||Safe||Location/Virtual|
|SCP-2178||Site 7: Shanghai||Keter||Replicating|
|SCP-2253||Site 3: Kinshasa||Safe||Humanoid/Predatory/Mobile|
|SCP-2325||Site 6: Geneva||Euclid||Location/Mobile|
|SCP-2603||Site 6: Geneva||Keter||None Applicable|
|SCP-2626||Site 4: Moscow||Keter||Predatory/Mobile|
|SCP-2628||Site 6: Geneva||Keter||Humanoid/Mobile|
|SCP-2699||Site 6: Geneva||Euclid||Predatory/Replicating|
|SCP-2719||Site 6: Geneva||Euclid||Organic|
|SCP-2720||Site 7: Shanghai||Keter||Humanoid/Organic|
|SCP-2797||Site 7: Shanghai||Keter||Humanoid/Infohazardous/Organic/Mobile|
|SCP-2883||Site 7: Shanghai||Euclid||Infohazardous|
|SCP-2898||Site 3: Kinshasa||Keter||Humanoid/Mechanical/Mobile/Replicating|
|SCP-2942||Site 2: Washington D.C||Euclid||Replicating/Virtual|
|SCP-2964||Site 7: Shanghai||Keter||Humanoid/Mechanical|
|SCP-3212||Site 4: Moscow||Safe||Organic/Mobile|
|SCP-3273||Site 8: Tehran||Safe||Mechanical/Mobile/Virtual|
|SCP-3279||Site 7: Shanghai||Keter||Predatory/Mechanical/Replicating|
|SCP-3339||Site 3: Kinshasa||Safe||Organic|
|SCP-3440||Site 8: Tehran||Safe||Mechanical|
|SCP-3577||Site 3: Kinshasa||Keter||Location/Mechanical/Mobile/Replicating|
|SCP-3597||Site 4: Moscow||Safe||None Applicable|
|SCP-3656||Site 8: Tehran||Keter||Humanoid/Mobile|
|SCP-3668||Site 6: Geneva||Keter||Humanoid/Infohazardous/Mobile|
|SCP-3699||Site 6: Geneva||Safe||Location/Organic|
|SCP-3781||Site 2: Washington D.C||Keter||Mobile|
|SCP-3850||Site 4: Moscow||Safe||Location/Organic|
|SCP-3936||Site 4: Moscow||Euclid||Humanoid/Infohazardous/Organic|
|SCP-4004||Site 7: Shanghai||Keter||Location/Infohazardous/Organic/Mobile|
|SCP-4026||Site 4: Moscow||Euclid||Humanoid/Mobile|
|SCP-4027||Site 6: Geneva||Euclid||Mechanical/Mobile|
|SCP-4036||Site 7: Shanghai||Keter||Predatory|
|SCP-4222||Site 2: Washington D.C||Keter||Virtual|
|SCP-4271||Site 4: Moscow||Safe||None Applicable|
|SCP-4370||Site 2: Washington D.C||Safe||Location/Infohazardous/Virtual|
|SCP-4390||Site 2: Washington D.C||Safe||Virtual|
|SCP-4412||Site 8: Tehran||Keter||Mechanical/Mobile|
|SCP-4424||Site 2: Washington D.C||Keter||Humanoid/Mechanical/Mobile|
|SCP-4449||Site 3: Kinshasa||Safe||Mechanical/Virtual|
|SCP-4550||Site 4: Moscow||Euclid||Location/Infohazardous|
|SCP-4565||Site 4: Moscow||Keter||Humanoid/Mechanical/Virtual|
|SCP-4579||Site 2: Washington D.C||Keter||Mobile/Virtual|
|SCP-4625||Site 8: Tehran||Safe||Location/Predatory|
|SCP-4654||Site 4: Moscow||Keter||Location/Replicating|
|SCP-4709||Site 7: Shanghai||Safe||None Applicable|
|SCP-4834||Site 7: Shanghai||Euclid||Humanoid/Organic/Mobile|
|SCP-4931||Site 6: Geneva||Euclid||Infohazardous/Predatory/Mobile|
|SCP-4957||Site 4: Moscow||Safe||Mobile|
|SCP-5058||Site 4: Moscow||Keter||None Applicable|
|SCP-5087||Site 6: Geneva||Euclid||Location/Organic|
|SCP-5117||Site 7: Shanghai||Euclid||Infohazardous/Organic/Mobile|
|SCP-5136||Site 8: Tehran||Safe||Location/Infohazardous/Organic|
NOTE ON SOURCE MATERIAL
This scenario is based (per request from simon, winner of the PVP competition in an earlier scenario) on the SCP Foundation canon.
A few brief comments on what you should and should not assume to hold from that canon in this scenario:
- 'Safe', 'Euclid' and 'Keter' work the same as in canon - they are levels of danger for an SCP, with 'Safe' being the least dangerous and 'Keter' the most.
- Specific numbers of SCPs do not match up with those in canon. If you see a row for SCP-255 in this data, you should not look up SCP-255 on the SCP Foundation wiki and assume that it is the same thing.
- I have attempted to make this scenario and dataset incorporate certain elements present in the SCP canon. No further detail on this point will be provided.
I'll aim to post the ruleset and results on February 21st (giving one week and both weekends for players). If you find yourself wanting extra time, comment below and I can push these deadlines back.
Thank you to abstractapplic for providing feedback on a draft of this! For clarification, abstractapplic has no inside information on the scenario and is still free to play it.
As usual, working together is allowed, but for the sake of anyone who wants to work alone, please spoiler parts of your answers that contain information or questions about the dataset. Given that this scenario is SCP-canon-based, this rule is more important than usual.