The Institute for Primate Provolution
The Institute for Primate Provolution is an old, vital and growing organization. It has maintained a low profile for most of its history. Most people see the IPP simply as an unusually long-lived organization with a relatively narrow set of interests: reliable and conservative, if somewhat secretive. However, the IPP has branches in nearly every part of the human sphere, especially where humans or other primates are present, and within the realm of primate memetics and genetics the Institute's depth of knowledge and subtlety of application is unparallelled. Its cumulative influence on the course of history, simply by its leadership in the creation and improvement of primate, is subtle and difficult to quantify.
For thousands of years the Institute has been near the forefront of development in promoting the memetic and genetic provolution of humans and other primate species. It produced many of the more common genetic tweaks and patches for the human population and other primate clades. Though the IPP is not responsible for any particular memeplex in its entirety, many laws and customs in primate-dominated polities, and many of the memetic designs that larger polities use to integrate human or other primate populations, have their origins in designs by the Institute's memetics faculty. The Institute has an uncanny knack for producing designs that integrate well into pre-existing cultural and political structures and are congruent with a primate's underlying instinctive biases.
The Institute's other claim to fame is the creation of unique and successful sentient primates, each of which is a direct development of a baseline primate species of Old Earth. Though there are many other organizations that have undertaken work of this kind, the IPP excels in producing ones that are uniquely "true" to the traits of the original species, rather than being mere copies of the human model (a mistake all too easy to make when provolving primates). The IPP's clades have all proven to be fully viable in the modern era, and survive and thrive. No IPP provolve has become a mere protected minority, as is too often the fate of hastily or poorly developed provolves. In fact, on several occasions the IPP has been called in to undertake salvage and repair work when a provolution project involving primates goes awry.
The Institute for Primate Provolution is moderately famous in provolution circles for never having botched a provolution attempt. IPP protocols are widely copied by more cautious and egalitarian provolve groups, and the IPP is sometimes called in to repair the situation when a provolve project has gone seriously wrong.
The IPP acts to preserve all of the primate species available in its records. They have created four McKendree cylinders and devoted them to Old Earth baseline species (corresponding to the Old Earth regions of the New World, Africa, Asia, and Madagascar). In addition, the IPP retains and supports populations of the thousands of sentient but subsapient species that were either developed directly by the Institute or that were developed by other organizations and collected for study (and in a few cases, for rehabilitation).
The IPP Today
The true reach of the IPP's influence is unknown, but the fact remains that for all of its research stations, campuses, and branch offices its actual territories are minuscule. Its historic holdings in Sol, including Prime Habitat, Kasekala, the various smaller habs such as Goodal, Galdikas, Fossey, and Jolley, and even three Bishop Rings (Atlantis, Mu, and Lemuria) are now relegated largely to the status of museums and pilgrimage sites.
The IPP has no major direct enemies, though to this day it has rather strained relations with large corporations. It is, however, the occasional target of a number of AIA 'investigation,' and ironically, preservationist terrorist groups. On the other hand, the IPP is welcome and even encouraged in the territories of most of the civilizations. The supposed covert activities of the IPP are a favourite topic for conspiracy theorists, given its pervasive presence and long history, but in all its millennia of operation it has never been shown to be more than what it claims to be.
The IPP is considered by some to be a cult because of its cohesiveness, secretiveness, and singularity of purpose. However, its members are often adherents of other major political, philosophical, or religious movements. For instance the founding members were mostly Evangelical Orthodox Catholic Christians. Currently Beneficience and Neo-Taoism are commonly found among its members as well.
Anyone with the appropriate skills or resources may join the IPP as an Associate. Once one is accepted at the Associate level, there appear to be no bars to acquisition of additional duties, privileges and titles, other than one's own talents and the approval of fellow members. It is common for intellectuals with an interest in provolution to maintain at least a nominal connection to the IPP. This is a level known as "affiliate", which allows access to discussions and information, but does not give a role in IPP decision-making.
The IPP uses a complex democracy/meritocracy based on consensus, referenda, and gift exchanges, and (inexplicably to most outsiders) the occasional prank. It appears that its modes of transapient governance are of a similar nature. There is a semi-formal internal ranking system of Associates, Fellows, and Directors. Together the Directors choose a single entity to be the IPP's representative to the outside world. This individual is called the Primus (sometimes called the Top Monkey or the Monkey King by IPP insiders).
Benefits: Engineer (Biotech) 4+, Researcher (Biotech) 4+, Engineer (Metatech) 4+, Researcher (Metatech) 4+ are required to join the IPP. +1 Twist per game to spend on Intrigue, Empathy or Comprehension related to primate provolution or the IPP.
Core Value: Provolution of Primates. The IPP is focused on the creation of new sentient and sapient primate species, as well as the preservation (and restoration) of the baseline species.
The IPP is a society that is standing on the edge of becoming a civilization and possibly a unique one - one that includes non-humans in its mix. This would make an excellent story trigger in my opinion.