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Morrow Project Character Generation 1

Page history last edited by Michael 1 year, 9 months ago

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Selecting Candidates


     The selection process for Project members after 1977 was more formal and very different; but almost no members of the playable teams (MARS, Engineer, Agriculture, Science, or Recon) were recruited before that date. 90% of the members of those teams were recruited between 1981 and 1986; 90% of those teams are age 21 to 28, and hence born between 1953 and 1965. See the page on Recon Team R54 for specific dates for the first group of player-characters.

     Recruitment ended in early 1987, as background checks (six months) and the induction/training process (eight months) wouldn't leave a lot of time to prepare and hide those last teams.

     About 25% of the playable team members were chosen from persons employed at Morrow Industries or other companies controlled by the Council of Tomorrow. In many cases, employment at MI occurred because evaluation and background checks on employees of a DoD contractor were easier to accomplish. That is:  a person might be identified by the Council's network, and approached about employment at a Project-affiliated company. If the initial interview went well, a background check for top secret clearance would be performed (usually by the Defense Investigative Service), medical records would be researched, etc.

     Players wishing to have been employed by a corporation or organization within the Council of Tomorrow might choose from this partial list:


  • Hughes Aircraft, before 1985

  • Summa Corporation, up until 1987); in the Eighties it mostly owns casinos and (lots of) properties in Las Vegas

  • Cadillac-Gage, owned by Ex-Cell-O

  • Textron (which includes Bell Aerospace, and a pretty amazing variety of odd industries)

  • Ex-Cell-O Corporation, acquired by Textron in 1986

  • TRW

  • Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Halliburton

  • Dynalectron, a large defense contractor, before 1987

  • Bechtel Corporation

  • United Consolidated Corporation, entirely a (fictional) creation of the Council of Tomorrow. UCC was heavily involved in hazardous waste handling, transportation and storage. Unlike the companies listed above, this organization had almost no legitimate business dealings; it was created as cover for various pre-Atomic War activities of the Morrow Project. After 1983, the company was taken over by Morrow Industries. Any character working for UCC would already know about the Morrow Project.

  • Deltronics Limited, another creation of the Council of Tomorrow. This was another "cover" for the Project's secret activities.


     The Council of Tomorrow had access to a lot of military personnel records, and located many prospects through these files. 50% of the members of Recon teams were veterans of the Army or Marine Corps; fewer among the Science teams, but nearly all members of MARS teams; about 1/3 of those that were veterans had been commissioned officers, and about 25% of the military veterans had combat experience. A variety of decisions and organizational prejudices led to fewer Air Force or Navy veterans, and no warrant officer who served after the Vietnam period would be accepted ("psychological problems due to too many years in limbo.")

     Members of playable teams will not have dependent children. The Project does not want to be seen as an "escape from trouble", and doesn't want people fleeing from child support.

     The Project won't approach or accept anyone whose disappearance will cause an investigation -- no famous people, no children from rich families, nobody "on the run from the Mob", nobody in the Witness Protection Program, etc. These restrictions ease a bit in 1988, since trainees can cover for themselves a bit before being put into cryosleep. The Project tries not to be too predictable ... if two people are recruited from the same office or collegiate department, no more will come from there for a year. Again, this restriction was relaxed in 1987.

     Less than 1% of children are orphans by age 17; not all of those have no remaining family, of course; but we'll take that as a VERY rough number for the "no close family ties" fraction. About 2 million Americans graduate from college each year in the 80s; so it might be said the project looks at 20,000 prospective candidates (new college grads with no close family - we'll assume they have the same rate of college attendance as the general population). The Project looks askance at men age 22 to 28 who haven't registered with Selective Service (compliance rate about 60%) or served with the military (about 10%), so the pool drops to about 10,000 candidates per year. Drug screening eliminates about 40% of the candidates. In fact, the Project's preference for veterans makes the pool closer to 2,000 candidates per year:  young, drug-free college graduates with no close family ties, preferably veterans. Background and security tests, physical fitness evaluations, interviews and psychological tests (all conducted before exposure to the Project) eliminate about 80% of these; at least half the remainder have moral, political or ethical views that conflict with the Project. Only about 10% of the Science and Recon team members were female; none of the MARS team members were. The Project is lucky to add 800 members a year to the Teams.

     Keep in mind that a lot of the rejections during the evaluation are due to the process being done largely without the full knowledge or consent of the candidate; and thus perhaps on a "better safe than sorry" basis. Hence the large number of candidates from companies controlled by the Council of Tomorrow:  Morrow Industries, Cadillac Gage, Hughes Tool, Hughes Aviation, Summa Corporation, Textron, Ex-Cell-O, TRW, etc. -- it's easier for the Project to test and profile them.

      MARS team members are chosen from an even smaller pool; they have the following backgrounds:


  • 01 - 25%:  enlisted military

  • 25 - 49%:  enlisted military with combat experience

  • 50 - 68%:  law enforcement

  • 69 - 79%:  officer military

  • 80 - 90%:  officer military with combat experience

  • 91 - 96%:  neither military nor law enforcement experience

  • 97 - 98%:  officer military with law enforcement experience

  • 99%:  enlisted military with combat experience and law enforcement experience

  • 00%:  officer military with combat experience and law enforcement experience


     There are less than 300 MARS team members in total, so only 60 or 70 former military officers ended up on MARS teams. Since about 90% of the Project members in the teams are age 21 to 28, the possible combat experience for the Army and Marines comes down to mostly the invasion of Grenada in 1983, peacekeeping in Lebanon, various more or less covert operations in Central America in the 80s, and the Vietnam War. A young Vietnam veteran in 1980 might be 26; a Project member with "a lot" of combat experience might have been born in 1948, joined the military in 1966, and joined the Project in 1983 at age 35. 


Background Checks


    People who won't be getting into the playable teams are:  those without US citizenship (dual nationality is not usually an issue); anyone who can't meet the physical requirements and fitness tests; anyone who would not qualify to hold a Top Secret security clearance from the Department of Defense. Any indication of a felony record, narcotics abuse, financial irregularities, or psychological issues results in rejection. Background security checks for Top Secret clearance take six months to perform.

     The actual checks involve talking to family and neighbors; the Project is quite technically capable of installing bugs, conducting surveillance, etc.. The number of Review and Recruitment staff available probably limits the truly "deep background checks" performed. The Project uses its corporate connections to the Defense Department to have Defense Investigative Service perform most of the "grunt work".


Initial Approach -- "the pitch"


     The actual first contact varies a lot -- typically the potential recruit will be invited for an overnight trip in connection with an attractive job offer (or change in position within a Council of Tomorrow company). These "job interviews" will usually take place in resorts chosen for privacy (so that the Project can roll out some physical evidence, such as fusion reactors, lasers, etc. if need be).

     Someone chosen to impress the candidate will meet them at the interview site to begin presenting information about the War -- if the candidate is working for a Council of Tomorrow company, or has very recently been employed there, the interviewer will be someone with a senior title in the company. The interviewer will if possible have had a military rank at least one higher than any veterans; and a similar level of education, preferably in a field similar to the candidate's.

    The presentation begins with "our agency has evidence that World War III will occur soon." Photographs, a grim summary of someone's experience during the War in 1989, information about the risks in the American and Soviet nuclear command systems. Eventually, any half-intelligent person will ask where the information came from; a viewing of some more concrete evidence will happen. A reactor, resist weave, cryogenics, and other technology from the future is demonstrated (usually in a big tractor-trailer sort of thing). Nothing so far about Bruce Morrow, Morrow Industries, or the Council of Tomorrow.

     Once the candidate seems to be convinced that "these people know what's coming", comes the What Can Be Done? phase. The War itself cannot be averted -- merely delayed with increasing difficulty, but having worse effects the more it is delayed. The inductee is shown some news footage, a futuristic "three-D television" program", photographs, newspapers, and other documentation showing the aftereffects of World War III. This information is all apparently brought back from far in the future, but looks convincing. It certainly would be hard to achieve with (pre-digital) special effects; and building giant sets and landscapes seems unlikely and insecure; however, it is possible that the newsreels, photographs, artifacts, accounts, etc. were cleverly fabricated. The interviewer will assure the candidate that everything that can be done to avert the War is being done, but another avenue must be explored:  rebuilding after the War. Our side of the organization is dedicated to rebuilding America after the inevitable nuclear war.

    Players might want to keep in mind the BBC production Threads (1984), and the American productions Testament (1983), A Little Peace and Quiet (1985), Special Bulletin (1983), Miracle Mile (1988) and The Day After (1983) -- all grim depictions of nuclear war.




Q. Why haven't we told the U.S. Government / the world about the threat?

A. The technology available to us would become known to the government(s), and would make the War worse. The Council of Tomorrow doesn't know the actual proximate cause of the Atomic War.


Q. Why aren't you distributing fusion reactors / universal antidote / cryogenic technology / etc. to the world -- these would help people after the War?

A. Again, most of these technologies would make the War more terrible; in addition, each revelation would represent a great security risk for our organization. Some of the technologies might make organizations or governments feel that nuclear war can be (personally) more survivable.


Q. Why should I believe you? You might be deceiving me about your goals, the War, or the nature of time travel and the future.

A. Our recruitment policies found you, didn't they? You'll see, once you've joined us, that we are diligently seeking intelligent, ethical, capable people. We have some more documentary evidence we can present, but in the end you have to decide. There is no method for us to send you to the future "to see for yourself."


Q. Why only the United States?

A. Our organization is concerned with all of humanity; but working in another country would be difficult for us. The Council of Tomorrow has influence, facilities and resources in the United States. The more "remote, uninvolved, and technically unsophisticated" a country might be, the safer for us before the War, but it would be harder to rebuild civilization there after the War; especially if the locals don't speak English. Also, it must be admitted, there are a number of very patriotic individuals at all levels of our organization, who wish to see American citizens assisted.


Q. (regarding Recon and MARS teams) Why are we so heavily armed? Who are we expected to be fighting after the War?

A. The Project does not expect the United States to be invaded; but civil disturbances, brigands, and local authorities turned into tyrants may all exist. There are various Project teams and depots to assist in the reconstruction of the United States.


Induction and Cover


     While we won't play out the 20th Century, some idea of what happens when someone agrees to join the Project seems in order.

     It's sort of like joining the Witness Protection Program; the Project arranges a fake death, or a disappearance -- it's amazing how many college graduates serve as crew on rusty old freighters in the Eighties! Usually, the new recruit isn't able to turn all their assets into cash; the disappearance or death isn't supposed to look planned. No hints to your friends, and absolutely no contact with the world at large after you've "disappeared."


Q:  "Can I go into town and make purchases?"

A:  "Sorry, no. There's the small chance that a Project member would deliberately reveal the Project maliciously; or more likely contact friends or family; or be seen on television, arrested for speeding, taken to a hospital -- especially after whatever cover story our Documentation and Dropout team has emitted."


Q:  "How do I obtain items needed for my personal effects box?"

A:  "If you didn't bring it with you during your initial induction, or during your supervised visit home, you can use catalogs and mail order. We have staff who review your requests, and make the purchases anonymously, using funds you may have left on deposit with the Project."


Q:  "I have more stuff to keep than will fit in this little box; can I bury a bigger box out in the desert?"

A:  "No, we don't need people finding things that cause law enforcement, the media, or treasure hunters to take notice."


     Once a candidate "drinks the Kool-Aid" and sees secret stuff, they don't get to wander off alone; they're escorted by Project staff during the initial interview.; Project Documentation and Dropout staff talk to them for a couple of days at the interview site, and then a Project security minder stays with them for a few more days while they (probably) "return home" for the last time - packing some things, assisting the D&D staff with the cover story about their death or disappearance, transferring funds to the Project (if they want to), and showing the D&D staff where they keep hidden stuff in their homes, etc.


Pre-Training Medical


     Medical examinations take only a day or so (though some of the results take up to a week to get back from the lab). From about 1984, recruits are mildly encouraged to get an appendectomy (presuming they still have their appendix). Older recruits, especially women, are encouraged to undergo a cholecystectomy (gall bladder removal). Recuperation from these procedures adds more than a month between induction and the beginning of training. If you go for the gall bladder removal, you'll have a scar about 18 cm long on your right side.

     Removal of the gallbladder has not been known to cause any long-term adverse effects, aside from occasional diarrhea (especially after large, fatty meals). About 20% of the world's population develop gallstones at some point in their lives. Prior to 1990, the only medical specialty performing laparoscopy (minimally invasive surgery) on a widespread basis was gynecology.

     Very few Project members availed themselves of the gall bladder surgery; perhaps 15% requested an appendectomy. Many - but not all - of the Project members undergoing surgery are treated in a Med Unit, partly to provide more training for Project medical personnel.





     The Project's training schedule (for playable teams, at least) takes about 8 months. For Recon branch members, it includes, in approximate order:


  • Project goals, plans and methods (2 weeks, ALWAYS the first course for each platoon)

    • this includes the "why we fight" stuff, what the Project knows or can guess about the War, how the Project will support your team, Project security levels, and basic indoctrination

    • this is about the only training conducted in proper buildings; trainees get to sit in proper classrooms for this segment

  • familiarization with branch weapons, and basic issue gear, concurrent with initial physical conditioning - the most "boot camp" portion (4 weeks, always the second course for each platoon)

    • branch weapons for Recon teams includes the M2HB machine gun, the M174E3 grenade launcher, and the Mh202 autocannon. Everyone gets laser training, though -- it's easy and fun!

    • not considered fun:  exposure to tear gas (not CN-DM though) while learning to don gas masks

  • operation, safety and support for Project electrical power systems (1 week)

    • mostly what to do, and not do, with the fusion reactor. This course wasn't offered before 1985; instead, you got training on how to operate the gasifier

  • driver training for V-150, Ranger, Scout and XR-311 (2 weeks)

    • this does include motorcycles, if the trainee doesn't already know how. The motorcycles used in training are regular, gas-powered "dirt bikes" -- the Project wasn't quite clear on whether there would be electrical motorbikes.

    • some "cohorts" of trainees also get driver training for the SK-5 hovercraft, or other odd/scarce Recon vehicles (goofy little 6-wheel ATVs, for example)

  • operator training for heavy construction equipment, including stuff not used by the Project (1 week)

    • how to operate a bulldozer, backhoe, forklift, crane, cement mixer, tanker, and a few other vehicles

    • this is usually where the trainees will get to witness some HAAM suits in action

  • locomotive and train operation (2 days)

    • a very popular course. How to set and remove the manual brake, operate speed controller, open and close track switches, operate couplings

  • railway track repair (4 days)

    • a very unpopular course

  • use of Morrow Project computer systems (1 week)

    • for Recon team members, this is mostly how to use the AutoNav, and the vehicle computer. The Autonav is technically a computer, but it's not very programmable.

    • depots, large MARS and Science teams, and Prime Base have various "big" or "small" 1984-era computers installed. None of them are in any way anachronistic. Oooh, there's a GRiD Compass for the MARS team! 4.6 kg weight, no internal batteries, and the CCOS is not very compatible with other Project computers. Ahh, the Gavilan SC laptop, not even converted to used Project batteries, but much more compatible with the usual Project systems. Unless you're going to be assigned to use one of these, you don't get much more than a  look at them.

  • radio operator familiarization, and post-War communications procedures (1 week)

  • emergency medicine training to EMT level (5 weeks)

  • a course in handling mass casualties and radiation-related illnesses (1 week)

    • includes instruction on donning, doffing the whole suite of CBR gear, use of antidotes, decontamination procedures

  • a short course in demolitions (1 week)

  • a short course in SCUBA, and a check on swimming proficiency (3 days)

  • a wilderness survival course (3 weeks)

    • eating nasty things, what NOT to eat, fishing, hunting and trapping, dressing game, building shelter, finding water, making fire ... lots of Boy Scout skills. Includes a week-long "camp out"

  • cross-country skiing, use of snowshoes, building igloos, and other cold weather skills (1 week, usually November through June)

  • a course in mountaineering (1 week)

  • refugee camp construction class -- water & food distribution, power, shelter, etc. (4 weeks)

  • decompression, filling of personal effects boxes, and final psych evaluation and counseling (2 weeks, always last)


     Some courses change position in the list to suit weather conditions or equipment availability. There's usually a couple of weeks of "rest" included, and a good percentage of recruits have to re-take one course or another. Also, if too many people "wash out" of a platoon, it might be folded into another platoon at a slightly different point on the schedule. Everyone gets all the courses eventually, though. See this page for a description of the training experience

     Members of Science and MARS teams spend at least three more months in training, due to the greater variety of vehicles, equipment and weapons they use. MARS team members usually spend a month or two after completing their training, acting as security at some Project training camp.

     Facilities for training change fairly often, and it's made clear to recruits that no permanent Morrow presence should be expected at these sites -- don't expect to find the Project there after the War. 


What To Expect


Nuclear War


     The Project doesn't know the exact date of the nuclear war ... their best guess is late 1989 or early 1990.  Which nations will launch first, and the specific reasons for the attacks, is unknown. Bruce Morrow has stated that many nations will be attacked for no apparent reason. The war will apparently be a full-out nuclear strike by the United States and the Soviet Union, at least.

     A severe nuclear winter will follow for five years, during which agricultural production across the globe drops by 90% or more. (note:  the term "nuclear winter" was coined in 1983, but the Project has used similar terms since about 1970 -- "atomic ice age", "years of frost", etc.). A minor ice age follows for a couple of decades, and sea levels drop by a meter or more, as much of the world's water is locked up in ice.

     Thus Project teams are to expect snow, ice and cold conditions.


Exotic Project Features


     The Morrow Project will attempt to provide information and assistance for the restoration of American civilization. Since the Project doesn't expect to "go live" for about five years after World War III, refugee relief and emergency shelter will not be a priority. Priorities include replacing power generation systems, improving transportation and storage infrastructure, serving as a continent-wide communications network, ensuring peace and freedom under the Constitutional rule of law ... stuff like that.

     Specifically, the Project is not dedicated to reducing the number of casualties from World War III. There are lots of long, heated discussions of this among trainees, but the fact remains -- rebuilding America, not saving America, is the goal.

     The equipment pages will give more detail, but there are several areas where Bruce Morrow has brought back information from the future which allowed the Project (through Morrow Industries) to create some technological marvels. The examples known to every (well, maybe not the very earliest) Project member are:

  • resistweave

  • fusion reactors (known of since 1979, but not available as vehicle power sources before 1985)

  • combat lasers

  • universal antidote

  • universal antibody:  only found in MARS-One, Science-One, and bases or depots

  • HAAM suits:  the Project has a couple dozen of these.

  • med-kits

  • CBR kits

  • bio-comps and med units:  the Project has less than 20 of these sets, only found in MARS-One, Science-One, and bases or depots

     Bruce Morrow is a time traveler, but has not provided (at least, for members of the Morrow Project) any information about conditions more than a few years after the nuclear war. The technology he has brought back, however, are clearly from far in the future. 



Assignment to Divisions


     After training, members spend two weeks decompressing, being counseled, and being assigned to a team. Enough people have to re-take courses, or heal from injuries, or get special training, that teams aren't formed until after training.



Team Formation




     In theory, the Project makes up teams based on psychological profiles, etc.; but of course this isn't an exact science. All members of a team meet up before being put into cryogenic sleep, and spend about two weeks getting to know each other (if they weren't in the same training cohort -- which is fairly common). During this period, they're given a few days to goof around in a sample vehicle -- but NOT actually the vehicle(s) that will be in their bolthole. Bolthole logistics are pretty complicated, and it's just not worth the trouble trying to match a specific V-150 (say) to a particular team.

      About 75% of the time, team members have been in the same training cohort for some or all of their training. The smallest Recon teams are four persons; the largest, six persons.




     Each team has a Team Commander, chosen by the Project. Maturity, command experience, combat experience and personality are taken into account; but again, it's not an exact system. Recon Team Commanders have a security rating of 14; all other team members should check this page.


Roles In Team, Equipment Assignment


     Every team has a primary driver, usually not the Team Commander. Some Recon vehicles may call for a gunner position. These should be chosen based on character skills. The Project doesn't care too much about this, however; you don't get a patch, title, or even a job description.

     The crew in the turrets of the Scout and Commando vehicles must be less than 1.85 meters tall; it's even better if they're under 1.7 meters tall (but that's not a requirement). The pilot and any passenger for the AirScout also must be less than 1.85 meters tall.

     Characters get a basic load, and a role-based kit. The players should decide on the contents of the personal effects box.

     The referee will provide a list of the team equipment.



Placement Concepts


     After the team has been formed, they're told where they'll probably be placed (but no guarantee), given a day or so of briefing on the area, and put into cryosleep. Their cryoberths are then trucked to the bolthole and placed inside.

     Any teams placed into cryogenic berths before 1985 had an equipment upgrade in about 1987; vehicles were replaced, and a few other items of equipment were upgraded, removed, or modified.


Modifications By Date


  • 1980 - 1984:  relatively few teams are placed (and only Recon teams); they are pretty likely to have the Commando Ranger vehicle with a complicated biomass/wood-gasification system installed, and a multifuel engine. Nobody on the Recon teams gets trained with the lasers during this period.

  • 1985 - 1987:  the majority of the Recon teams are placed, along with most of the caches. Depots and bases are constructed; in 1987, the big update of the older teams takes place (fusion powered vehicles, most notably).

  • 1988:  the last MARS and Science teams are placed into cryogenic sleep. Depots are also sealed. Some Omega teams are placed late this year.

  • 1989:  a few last Omega teams are placed.



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