|Better Society, Inc.|
|Motto:||“We make the Wasteland better”|
|Goals:||Proliferate technology throughout the Wasteland to improve the lives of ordinary people|
|Allies:||The Five Families of Atlantic City, Garden State Shipping|
|Enemies:||Raiders, The Followers of Einstein, The Brotherhood of Steel|
- "Do these things make me look funny?"
- ―A Wastelander upon trying out the Better Society Spectacles v.2
Better Society, Inc. is an offshoot of the Followers of Einstein, a cult centered in the ruins of Princeton College, in Princeton, New Jersey. Mitch Michaelson was a member of the group, an orphan that was taken in at a young age by the Followers and subjected to their indoctrination. Though the propaganda found its way into his mind, and Michaelson lived by the tenets of the group as he grew up, the cult was unable to completely erase all vestiges of the seven-year-old boy that they rescued. Most importantly, they were unable to erase the empathy that he felt for non-Followers.
In the year 2216, Michaelson had an experience that fundamentally altered him, and put in motion the chain of events that would found Better Society, Inc. While out on a routine expedition investigating why a nearby Followers power generator was no longer operational, the group came upon a handful of begging Wastelanders. The callousness in which his Followers brethren ignored them shook Michaelson to his core. It was not the first time in which he had seen the Followers ignore outsiders, as their religious scriptures call them to do, but something in that particular encounter shook him. When he and his companions returned to the Followers compound in Princeton, he began plotting to leave the group. Unlike the handful of others in the past that had left the cult, Michaelson wanted to do more- he intended to not only leave the group, but use the technology they developed to help the common man.
How Michaelson obtained the Followers technology that he eventually stole is unknown, but along with a handful of fellow Followers he was able to convince to leave and those very same Wastelanders that had caused his crisis of conscience and faith, he fled south. The journey through the Pine Barrens was dangerous, much more dangerous than heading to the relatively peaceful and stable north would have been, but Michaelson figured that the danger he was subjecting his group to would protect them, making it much unlikelier that the Followers of Einstein would peruse them. His gamble was correct, and the resistance the group met from the Followers was minimal. They were able to navigate through the Barrens, keeping their contact with Jersey Devils and Pineys to a minimum. Finally, in Atlantic City, they found sanctuary.
Setting up shop in a storefront in the city and calling themselves Better Society, Inc., the group of fifteen began doing their best to mass produce the technology that Michaelson stole from the Followers to sell and distribute to the common man. Among their early products were solar-powered light bulbs, stain resistant Tesla coil clothing- which remain a top seller- and self-replicating non-dairy nutritional powder. Word of the strange group eventually found its way to Morris “The Rotten Egg” Solomon, one of the heads of the Five Families of Atlantic City. A ghoul, Solomon had a different outlook than his fellow Five Family heads. In Better Society, Inc., The Rotten Egg saw a group that could help prop up his businesses- along with those of the other Five Family members- and raise the profile and profitability of Atlantic City years into the future. He convinced the group to sponsor and protect the group, turning Better Society, Inc. from a small operation running out of a storefront to a big-time operation running out of its own factory.
In 2243, Better Society, Inc. developed and released their marquee item, the Better Society Spectacles. Produced after reverse engineering a RobCo Pip-Boy, the Better Society Spectacles were designed to do most of the things that Pip-Boys could, but at a fraction of the cost. The group released a second, improved version of the item, Better Society Spectacles v.2 in 2274, and Better Society, Inc. president John Stockton already has ideas on v.3.
Membership to Better Society, Inc. is open to anyone who applies, provided they are able to pass the group’s membership test. The test was developed by the elder members of the group in their earlier days, based on knowledge taken from the Followers of Einstein as well as information garnered from other Pre-War sources the Followers did not utilize much. The exam is designed to test participants’ knowledge in various aspects of physics and engineering. Those who score sufficiently high enough after grades are tallied are asked to join the organization, while those who do not are turned away.
After founder Mitch Michaelson retired in 2260, John Stockton became head of the company. He chairs a board that consists of four of the group’s influential members.
Activities & Interests
As their name plainly states, the goal of Better Society, Inc. is to make contemporary society better. Instead of looking to change the world from the top down, they intend on changing the world from the bottom up. Using their advanced knowledge and know-how of technology, Better Society, Inc. has gone about trying to improve the world by making the lives of everyday people easier. Members wander the Wastes selling machines and technology designed to improve the lives of normal people- solar-powered light bulbs, plasma powered engines, and all kinds of other technological marvels designed to make the daily lives of ordinary Wastelanders easier. Their most well-known product are the ‘Better Society Spectacles’, glasses with an optical head display that allows the display of all kinds of information, similar to the more ubiquitous RobCo Pip-Boy. The Better Society Spectacles, in fact, were initially developed by reverse-engineering a Pip-Boy.
The members of Better Society, Inc. are seen in a positive light by most Wastelanders. The technology that the group produces and proliferates is designed to improve their lives, and as such, most are appreciative. Because the group lacks the capability to sell all of its hardware by itself, local merchants and trading groups benefit from their activities, aiding the organization in transporting its goods. In particular, Garden State Shipping and certain tribal groups in Southern Jersey benefit from helping transport Better Society, Inc. goods and engineers.
Better Society, Inc. enjoys their best relations with the Five Families of Atlantic City. Upon leaving the Followers of Einstein, Mitch Michaelson and those sympathetic to his cause fled to Atlantic City, figuring that they would be safer there than they would be in most other places in the Jersey Wasteland. Selling their wares- minor trinkets at the time, word of the group spread, eventually finding the ears of the Five Families of AC, and Morris “The Rotten Egg” Solomon in particular. The Five Families reasoned that, with more funding, Better Society, Inc. could help prop up their businesses and expand their power, so they offered the burgeoning group protecting and a degree of sponsorship in exchange for the exclusive rights to some of their inventions.
Because the organization was born from a schism within the Followers of Einstein, the parent organization has it out for their spawn. Were it not for the fact that Better Society, Inc. has very powerful patrons and protectors in Atlantic City, the Followers of Einstein would have likely already wiped them out in a holy war. The zealots from Princeton periodically send members out to harass and attack BSI trade caravans and traveling engineers, but are unable to do much more to prevent them from proliferating their wares across the Wasteland.
In addition to their parent organization, some believe Better Society, Inc. has earned the ire of the Brotherhood of Steel. There are no known Brotherhood of Steel outposts in the region, but trade caravans have in the past been attacked by power armor-clad warriors matching the description of the brotherhood, the wares were taken, and the engineers kidnapped. Given the governing ideology of the Brotherhood of Steel- collecting and removing harmful technology from the hands of non-members- it would make sense for Better Society, Inc. to be on their watch list.