Today’s post is by Meghan Fitzgerald. Meghan is a freelance writer and developer for tabletop RPGs and a taxonomist contracting with NASA’s Earth Science Division. Besides Chill, she works on numerous projects for Onyx Path Publishing, including as co-developer of the Changeling: The Lost 2e core book and of Dark Eras 2. She’s also written for Green Ronin Publishing’s Modern AGE and John Wick Presents 7th Sea. She lives in Silver Spring, MD but still calls Italian ices “wooder ice” just like everyone else in her native city of Philadelphia.
Most hear “SAVE envoy” and think of intrepid field agents who fight monsters and save lives. Just as crucial, though, are those who collect and disseminate information about the Unknown, personnel, and the organization’s successes and failures. SAVE’s greatest historical catastrophes concerned the destruction or corruption of hard-won intelligence to suit the Unknown’s ends. Knowledge is as much a weapon in an envoy’s hand as a rifle or the Art.
SAVE, especially in traditionalist offices, tends to use the word “archivist” to describe anyone responsible for gathering and communicating information, because no matter their methods, they perpetuate knowledge to secure SAVE’s future. They support field teams from afar by phone, email, or clandestine meet-up to make sure their monster-hunting colleagues have what they need to destroy threats and keep people safe, anytime. Many an archivist has dragged herself out of bed in the middle of the night to look up the best ways to kill a zombie or dig through old files at the sound of “We thought this town was supposed to have an HQ, but….”
SAVE’s basic information strategy rests upon three pillars: Curation, Preservation, and Access. Curation is about sifting through half-remembered lore and ancient myth to pin down what’s actionable and true. It’s about getting reports from every returning field team, piecing together clues across decades of cases, and hoarding every scrap of tested, confirmed data available. Preservation is about making sure the knowledge remains for future envoys and protecting it against the Unknown; many SAVE archivists pick up specialized disciplines of the Art to ward off intruders, or devise complex ciphers only fellow envoys can crack. Access is about making sure SAVE puts the knowledge to good use — a meticulous catalog of ghost types is meaningless if the ghost-hunting field team can’t easily get at it. Archivists might act as on-call researchers, distribute printed case briefs, or maintain secure SAVE websites. Balancing security with access is a tough job, and different HQs emphasize one or the other depending on how cautious (or paranoid) they are.
Each HQ type manages its archives differently. Many don’t even have true archives, getting by with whatever they can afford — or what little they dare to keep around in defiance of potential Unknown infiltration. A cell archivist exchanges reports and intel with her peers across a small group of similar offices, keeping a cabinet of manila folders or a hard drive of encrypted files she can smuggle out or destroy swiftly in a crisis. A traditionalist archivist processes compiled reports from her regional office daily, organizing them in ways that suit the envoys’ needs — most use the full Garrett system and classic threat level classifications, with tweaks based on specific cases the HQ has handled. They have whole libraries of envoy journals and creature files at their fingertips, and even databases with mobile apps for field teams to look up common monster traits, regional SAVE history and contacts, and known sites of Unknown activity on the fly. In a lost HQ, the archivist must make do with what she has on site, often squirreling information away behind passwords and locked doors, doling it out in small bits to trusted envoys only on a need-to-know basis.
As a CM, you can use SAVE archivists in your games as supporting NPCs who give personality to the otherwise faceless act of hitting the books. When you build an HQ with your players, you can add a sixth topic, “Archives,” to phase two. Everyone can pitch in ideas about who the archivist is, what kind of relationship the envoys have with her, and what kinds of resources she has available. Does the HQ have a massive library or just a desk drawer of newspaper clippings and hastily scrawled notes? Does the archivist keep in constant contact with other offices or refuse to share (this doesn’t necessarily need to correspond to the HQ type)? Does she lean toward security or access, and how does that cause tension among the envoys? Maybe it’s like pulling teeth for the field team to get what they need through all the cautionary red tape — if so, consider applying a negative modifier to checks the players make to use the archives or call HQ for intel. Or, maybe the archivist is too free with information for comfort — if so, consider making Unknown infiltration a looming threat always on the HQ’s mind, and applying a positive modifier to any rolls you make for the Unknown to learn what SAVE knows.