Heart of Darkness

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Heart of Darkness
 Creator(s) ManMythLegend
 System(s) Savage Worlds
 Genre(s) Modern


Heart of Darkness is a Savage Worlds setting focusing on the aftermath of a near-future civil war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The players will be members of a private military company fighting for cash, and maybe the well being of the locals, in a world where the major powers are spread too thin to care about another war in Africa.

Whether they’re in it for the money, the adventure, or actually want to try to make a difference to the people caught in the middle, the players will be thrust into a complicated situation where there may be no true “good guys” or “right side”, and will have to be just as diplomatic as they are aggressive to survive in a place where life is cheap. They might also find that there are worse things in the jungle then human greed and cruelty.

This page details the setting and the major players the characters will have to deal with. Additionally, there are setting specific rules and equipment for players and a page for Game Masters talking about some of the behind the scenes information.

Background

Recent History

The Congo region is no stranger to war. Two civil wars followed the violent collapse of Joseph-Désiré Mobutu’s Republic of Zaire in 1997, and together they are the deadliest conflicts since World War II having claimed an estimated five and half million lives. Since the late 90's the country has had no less than nine other nations conduct military operations on its soil in addition to the nearly countless rebel and militia groups all fighting for control of the region's vast mineral and timber resources. The Second Congo War finally came to an end in 2003, after five years of fighting, following a number of peace accords which led to the withdrawal of most of the foreign fighters in the country and the foundation of a transitional government.

Since its founding The Democratic Republic of the Congo’s government had always been a tenuous mixture of violently opposed parties. There had been numerous bouts of violence between the ruling People’s Party for Reconstruction and Democracy (PPRD) and the main opposition party in the country, the Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC). Since the cease fire in 2003 the MLC has threatened several times to boycott the government and reignite open hostilities. Despite this political powder keg, a tenuous state of relative peace lasted for the better part of a decade as the country struggled to recover.

The Third Congo War

As is typical for any African crisis, [the West] [has] chosen to ignore what’s going on. It’s like the Wild West down here, anything goes. The two ruling parties here are guns and money. Preferably dollars or euros.
COL William Franks, USMC, Defense Attaché to the DRC, in a leaked personal email
More than diamonds or oil there is one commodity that drives the African economy: blood, and there are people down here that will pay any price to keep it flowing.
Anonymous PMC Field Commander in an interview with the New York Times

The fragile peace fell apart in December of 2012 as the leader of the MLC, Jean Pierre Bemba, was killed when his motorcade was attacked en route to Kinshasa to discuss the upcoming referendum election with the President, Joseph Kabila. Almost immediately the various political parties of the DRC accused Kabila and the PPRD of assassinating Bemba who was in favor of the referendums on the ballot calling for greater distribution of mineral export revenues. The President denied any involvement in the attack and called for an emergency meeting of the nation’s key political leaders in order to peacefully resolve the situation, a call which was largely ignored. Three days later, an Army (FARDC) outpost in the northern portion of the Kivu province was attacked and destroyed by an unidentified rebel group.

Following the attack on the outpost the situation rapidly deteriorated. Other factions, emboldened by the first attack, resumed their violence on the government and non-sympathetic civilians. Kabila attempted to respond with the FARDC only to find that it had fractured into the disparate ethnic and political groups that it had been built from. With his military in near full revolt, Kabila recalled most of his remaining forces back to Kinshasa in order to consolidate his power base leaving the MONUC peace keepers to try and quell the violence. They were ill equipped to handle the situation.

By January of 2013 the DRC was in flames as civil war once again raged across the country. The collapse of the nation’s still fledgling economy threatened to starve millions forcing the West to pour billions of dollars worth of aid into what was left of President Kabila’s government. It was during this period that the first of the private military companies arrived. At first they were hired to simply escort supplies and assist in guarding refugee camps in order to free up UN peace keeping forces, but soon the Congolese began to pay for them to conduct offensive operations against the rebels. As the fighting intensified, so did amount of money flowing into the PMC’s while the beleaguered peacekeepers fell back to the population centers.

Now, six months after the start of the war, the bulk of the fighting is being done by the PMC’s who are on retainer with the various public and private groups in country. As of yet there hasn’t been any reduction in the level of violence, and if anything it seems to be increasing as more Congolese join the rebel groups desperate for some sort of structure for their families. It’s been impossible to calculate a death toll since December, but current estimates range from 2,500-10,000. The only thing for certain in times like these is that there is money to be had.

Private Actors

Major Private Military Companies

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AynCorp International

Headquarters: London, England
AynCorp is the second smallest of the major PMC’s operating in the DRC and its typical methods include SOF style snatch and grab missions rather than full on offensive operations. AynCorp is also proficient at covert intelligence collection including, IMINT, COMINT, SIGINT, and, HUMINT. Most of its employees are either former British SAS or SBS, though the occasional conventional royal marine or para can be found drawing a paycheck. This is something that AynCorp takes great pride in and it can be tough for foreigners to break into the company.


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Black Creek, LLC

Headquarters: Jacksonville, Florida, United States
The largest of the PMC’s in country, Black Creek nearly exclusively deals with the Congolese and American governments. Wary of political pressures at home, Black Creek has structured their contracts around infrastructure and settlement defense as well as training and supporting the Congolese military, and is wary of conducting many offensive operations. By far, former American service members make up the bulk of Black Creek's forces. However, with business booming, the company will give anyone with a relatively clean record and some military or law enforcement experience a fair shot at employment.


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Executive Options

Headquarters: Pretoria, South Africa
Second only to Black Creek LLC in shear manpower, Executive Options brings the largest amount of firepower to the theater. Having been in business since the start of the African independence period in the 1960’s, EO is well versed in warfare on the continent and has no qualms with a contract as long as it's paid in full. They are the only PMC in theater that has an offensive air power capability thanks to their exclusive contract to operate the DRC's air force. As the only African PMC in country it's no surprise that Africans make up the bulk of Executive Options' people. Folks from all over the continent work for EO, though most of their officers and commanders are former South African Defense Force.


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PathMaker Security International

Headquarters: Zurich, Switzerland
The smallest of the five major PMC’s in operation, PathMaker deals exclusively with corporations in need of security and military forces in theater. What they lack in size, they make up for in total capital on hand. Pathmaker is the most egalitarian of all the PMC's in the Congo. The company will hire anyone who meets their strict screening process and background checks.


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Solutions Militaire Groupe

Headquarters: Marseille, France
Solutions Militaire Groupe is probably the shadiest of all the companies conducting operations in the DRC. They are very secretive about their clients, and rumors abound in Kinsashaa as to who’s footing the bill for them to be in theater at any given time. Most of the private and government actors admit to having hired SMG at one time or another, though none claim to be doing so currently. For the most part SMG doesn't like to talk about its hiring practices, and for good reason. While most other PMC's hire from former regulars, SMG makes no such distinction. As long as the company is confident that an individual knows what they're doing, and is reasonably assured that they won't disobey orders or go on a murderous rampage, they'll hire anyone willing to work in a warzone.




Commercial and Industrial Interests

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Asia Mining Group

Headquarters: Hong Kong, China
Asia Mining Group is the Chinese state sponsored mining company, charged with filling the growing nation’s insatiable need for raw materials. The company has moved into the area to begin the search for new mineral deposits in the DRC as well as to secure their current tin and copper mines. AsiaMining’s PMC contracts are normally restricted to site security and intelligence gathering.




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West-Zenera Pharmaceuticals

Headquarters: Providence, Rhode Island, United States
West-Zenera is one of the largest of the non-military corporations active in the DRC. Their stated goal is to secure local cultivation rights, from both the DRC government and local tribes, for a myriad of botanical specimens necessary for their research. As such, West-Zeneca employees are typically found far off the beaten path and in dangerous territory. The bulk of their dealings with the PMC’s are for protection and rescue operations.

Government Actors

Regional

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African Union

Regional HQ: Kinshasa
Languages: Arabic, English, French, Portuguese
Shortly after the Civil War started, the African Union managed to rally a few thousand peace keepers to send to help quell the violence and protect the civilian populace. It hasn’t been enough though, and mostly the AU forces remain in population centers in the south to try and protect what population they can from the violence.

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The Democratic Republic of the Congo

Capitol: Kinshasa
Languages: French, Swahili, Lingalla, Kikongo, Tshiluba
The current government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, led by President Joseph Kabila, is struggling to hold its nation together. The Congolese armed forces were unable to quell the violence at the start of the civil war due to a lack of manning, funding, training, and numerous special interests among the officer corps. Government control is strongest in the southwestern corner of the nation around the capitol, but even this area is no stranger to rebel and opposition violence. The already flailing economy has once again collapsed since the start of the conflict, and what remains of the government is funded by the United States and the AU.

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Rwanda

Capitol: Kigali
Languages: English, French, Kinyarwanda, Swahili
Rwanda was one of the major combatants in the first and second Congo wars, hoping to claim some of the lucrative mining areas near their border as well as conduct ethnic conflicts against those in the border area. For now, Rwanda has yet to join the third Congo war, but they wait on periphery watching.

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Uganda

Capitol: Kampala
Languages: English, Swahili
Much like Rwanda, Uganda was a major belligerent during the first and second Congo wars. Besides actual troops, the Ugandan government supported numerous domestic rebel groups to fight as proxies hoping to carve out a piece of the DRC’s eastern border for their own. They too have yet to commit to the current conflict, and wait to see if there is an opportunity to for them to make another foray into the country.

International

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The People’s Republic of China

Capitol: Beijing
Regional HQ: Chinese Consulate, Isiro
Languages: Standard Mandarin
China has been rapidly expanding their economic influence in Sub-Saharan Africa for the last decade and the DRC is no exception. China is the DRC’s primary importer with close to 50% share, and is clamoring for more raw materials. To that end, China maintains a robust presence in theater to help defend its economic interests regardless of who ends up on top at the end of civil war.

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The United Nations

Regional HQ: Kinshasa
Languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, Spanish
The United Nations has had peacekeepers in the DRC since the conclusion of the second civil war in the late 90’s. These troops were part of MONUC, the United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo. There are currently over 20,000 uniformed personnel under MONUC’s command, but they’re slow to respond to any given situation and have proven mostly ineffective at conducting offensive operations against the various rebel groups in country. As the conflict has intensified, the peacekeepers have withdrawn to the major cities in the southern portion of the country to garrison against rebel attacks. Finding a blue helmet in the bush is a rarity.

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The United States of America

Capitol: Washington DC
Regional HQ: US Embassy, Kinshasa
Languages: English
While not directly involved in the conflict, the United States has been offering money, intelligence, and military advice to what remains of the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. America’s fear is that a failed state nearly half the size of the continental US, in the center of sub-saharan Africa, will give terrorists and extremists a nearly impervious stronghold on the continent. Additionally, the US is hoping to maintain stable access to the DRC's rare earth metal mines given how much control China has over that industry. For now America just watches and waits, hoping more drastic measures won’t be needed.

Rebel and Militia Groups

Domestic

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Movement for the Liberation of Congo [Mouvement de Libération Congolais] (MLC)

Head Quarters: Gbadolite
The MLC started as a rebel group during the first two Congo Civil Wars, but became an opposition party in the presidential republic founded after the transition from Zaire. However, the MLC has never been happy with its minority position in what they call a corrupt government and has been prone to violent outbursts during elections. The group controls most of the eastern border area where they have established a new capital for what they claim is the new government of the DRC.

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Rally for Congolese Democracy [Rassemblement Congolais pour la Démocratie] (RCD)

Head Quarters: Kisangani
Actually a loose alliance of similarly minded rebel factions, the RCD controls much of the northeastern portion the DRC.

Resistance Patriots of Dongo [Patriotes-Résistants de Dongo] (PRD)

Head Quarters: Dongo
Part religious crusaders, part ethnic fighters, the PRD formed late in 2009 to plague the DRC’s northwestern provinces. Its members claim that their leader can grant them magical powers through his enchanted machete as they fight to carve out a Dongan homeland from the ashes of the DRC.

Foreign Supported

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Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda [Forces Democratiques de Liberation du Rwanda] (FDLR)

Head Quarters: Kalemie
Originally a Rwandan sponsored rebel group during the second civil war and the Kivu conflict, the FDLR consists mostly of ethnic militia men who took part in that country’s Tutsi genocide in the mid-90’s. Having been mostly abandoned by their homeland they fight for survival and to continue their racial clensing campaign. However, there have been rumblings in Kinshasa that ethnic Hutu in the Rwandan government are once again funneling men and supplies to the FDLR in preparation for fully reigniting the ethnic conflict.

Theater of Operations

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Currently the country has been divided into five major regions, six if uncontrolled territory is counted:

  • The Blue area is that currently controlled by Kabila and the remnants of his government. Most of the refugee camps set up by the UN and the AU are in the border areas of this region.
  • The Purple region is controlled by the PRD, who are looking to create an independent ethnic homeland for themselves.
  • The Yellow region is held by the MLC. They have declared the Kabila government illegitimate, and have claimed that their territory represents the new Democratic Republic of the Congo with its capitol in Gbadolite.
  • Red is territory held by the RCD. The region is further subdivided into sections held by individual groups of RCD rebels. This confederation meets periodically in Kisangani to discuss strategy and try to keep the disparate groups from splintering apart.
  • Green territory is held by the FDLR who seem to only want to clear the land of its native populace. Most of the refugees from the conflict come from this region.
  • Uncolored territory is currently disputed by all of the major factions. Some locations have peackeeping forces in place, while others have formed local militias to protect themselves from the violence in the rest of country.