Weeeeell, since you wanted to spark some debate I’ll throw in some views to get the ball rolling! o.o
I do have to note and strongly stress that these answers are purely my personal views and should not be taken as specific directions on how to do things!
Who is my employer
While it is true that there are only 3 playable factions in the game and we are forced to choose one of them, the nature of the game itself leaves us with plenty of leeway to expand beyond them and still remain canon. I mean really, most of the storyline can only be canon so far. We can’t all have fixed/broken prisons etc.
Besides, we know that there are a whole slew of other factions in pretty much all the areas we head into so belonging to one of them is canonically not really a problem.
One could argue that the faction lock-in could depend on what you are as well. To go by canon we are all Bees but plenty don’t follow that, so factional allegiance being all over the place would be a logical outcome as well. People’s loyalties tend to reflect how deep in an organization they are and humans are very fickle beings after all… Even as newBees allegiances can be pretty shallow.
We also know that the “Big Three” are not the only factions that have Bees so roleplaying as a member of a faction not in the Big Three should still be perfectly within the scope of the canon even if you do follow the main character canon of the game.
For the easiest reasoning if one does want to be within the Big Three though - You are a “insert whatever other faction here” plant within the Templars/Illuminati/Dragon, just to list an example.
What is my job?
Most faction members most likely do have a “normal” life when they are not busy getting killed or doing said killing.
People just vanishing off the face off the earth, while normally a frequent occurence in the world, would get noticed after a while if it were to happen on a very massive scale and it would be in every faction’s interrests for their agents to keep up appearances towards the rest of the world and any prying eyes from other factions.
So yes, you would most likely have a “normal” job. Going by the canon here, us making our apartment go kaboom and all, we might be relocated and either told to find a job or be given one, to keep up appearances. (Will revisit this bit in later portion)
If anything I’d say the Illuminati might be more likely to assign one to you since they seem very big on the whole control thing, while the other two would probably be either/or when it comes to assigning or letting you pick a job.
Granted, canonically we go from one hotzone to the next with barely any breaks and as such we wouldn’t really have the time for a 9-5 job but lets face it, with content releasing at the rate it is the timeline for pretty much every character is pretty… extended… So you fill in the “time” inbetween with other stuff. Character timelines and Canon timelines will never match up once you’ve played for a while so you just have to mix it well, being obscure about timelines and specific dates are a common method.
To be fair when it comes to a social life we kinda get into a tricky subject.
Lets face it, even if the factions were to tell you no, humans will want to do it anyway.
They are social creatures so they might grow unstable if they were to be denied such things.
Factions would not prevent you from having a social life, although they would probably monitor any relations you might have and be vary of any agent withing their own organization that fraternize with members of other factions. In some cases they might encourage it though, information gathering and the spreading of misinformation is important!
So a social life would probably be encouraged to keep agents happy but at the same time it would be monitored most likely.
With that said… I have to point out a bit of a pet peeve of mine here…
A lot of RPers have a severe tendency of blurting out their faction alignment at the drop of a hat.
Which is, canonically, a rather quick way to get disposed of. I’m sorry but that is just how it is. The factions are at war with eachother, perhaps not outright sure but there is still a war. Information is everything. Blurting out that you are a ‘insert faction here’ is the equivalent of painting a bullseye on yourself and then holding up a 40ft neon sign flashing “I AM HERE!”. If it is for misinformation purposes or a trap that is one thing but really… 99% of the time it isn’t.
Yes, a lot of new Bees or new recruits would not neccesarily adhere to the animosity that the factions have for eachother but precisely because they are new they are also a loooot more expendable for their respective factions. The Secret World is exactly that, secret. And so are the factions that exist within them. You don’t just go around handing out business cards to eachother with your adress listed as “Templar HQ / The Labyrinth / The Coil” ya know.
Wanting to knock back a few brews with some buddies at the Horned God is all well and good but given the world being what it is, in general you’d want to at least hide your colors. At the very least until you know the other patrons can be trusted or at least won’t knock you out and let you wake up in an interrogation cell…
Oooook, rant over, sorry about that, moooving on.
When it comes to families… they would be a double-edged sword to any faction. On the one hand it’s leverage to keep you in line but on the other hand it also makes you a vulnerable asset.
While the above is true the factions would probably not prevent you from having a family, it wouldn’t be feasable to try and prevent such a thing from happening since that would probably create a lot of animosity and friction between an agent and their faction but hey, they could always try to sneak in some chemicals to sterilize you! (Don’t drink the water in the water coolers at the office, 'kay? Or the Kool-Aid…)
As to if you should make a family… ehhh, that would have to be left up to each individual character really. You never know what might happen in life after all.
Oh and yes, Bees are able to have children (But not transfer the Buzzer they have inside them to said child). This has been confirmed by devs on the old forums.
Men in Black
Well, the why is rather straight forward when it comes to Gaia, she needed Bees, quite simple.
As for factions it’s even more simple - A bunch of superpowered beings are popping up all over the world, it’s a race to snag as many of them as possible to make sure none of the other factions get an advantage that could tip the scales of power in their favor.
This does go for all the factions although their focus might be differing slightly between each of them, but in the end it all boils down to what was mentioned above. Saving the world is all well and good but what is the point in that if you don’t wind up on top afterwards, right?
Keeping in touch with your old life can be risky but I suppose it depends on what the faction decides to do with you. If they want you to maintain your cover they might leave you to pick up your old life, it really does depend on how you make up your character to be honest. For the factions it would be risk versus gain, not to mention if letting you do so would serve their purposes.
As for the rest of the questions on this portion… that all really boils down to whatever you decide on as a backstory, how cooperative you are towards the faction that “recruits” you (Seizing all assets you have can be one way to persuade you to comply…) and most of it was also touched upon in the previous answers.
Where do we live?
Teeeechnically we don’t actually fully destroy our apartment so one could say that we still live there… if we were to be sent back to keep up appearances of course.
Logically all of the factions would have safe houses and various assets they could allow you to utilize (Apartments, houses, boats, trailer parks etc. etc.), which seems more likely since they could keep closer tabs on you then.
Besides that it’s really up to whatever you prefer.
Personally most of my characters tend to have their own place somewhere in the world but very few of them actually have places that their respective factions do not know of.
Powers, personality, psychology and physiology
We don’t really know much about any “requirements” for becoming a Bee, granted there is a lore paragraph where a “compatible candidate” is described as having “latent occult abilities”, although it’s not specifically said that it is a requirement. (A lot of RPers tend to see it that way though lately.) Nor is it the Buzzing that are making those statements specifically, they are simply telling us what a group of people said for a certain experiment involving implanting one of the Buzzing into a human.
Besides this not much more is known about the selection process, although it seems rather apparant that she does not really have much of a checklist.
It really is a rather flawed system, what Gaia is in essence doing when there is a problem that requires a Bee is to turn humans into Bees and leave them to their own devices and hope that they will meander to whatever the problem is and MAYBE fix it.
When it comes to physical conditions and limitations… According to devs on the old forums, the Buzzing can fix most things but not everything. There are things they cannot fix but exactly what those things are the devs have not mentioned much. With one exception. Going to have to dig through the forums later so I can actually link to them for ease of verification… but anyway!
The Buzzing cannot fix your brain completely. It is apparently an extremely complex thing and the Buzzing cannot completely fix that, which touches upon mental conditions - These will not be fixed or prevented. A psychopath will remain a psychopath, if you’re crazy you won’t magically get better, nor will the Buzzing be able to prevent you from going insane if such a thing were to happen apparently.
Which does seem a bit odd when you think about it since a lot of mental illnesses/issues are actually due to chemical imbalances in your brain so you’d think the Buzzing would be able to regulate that as they pretty much keep your body in tip-top shape otherwise and keep impurities/imbalances/diseases/toxins from affecting your body.
But maybe it’s just one of those things they can’t fix. At least they scarred our minds to prevent outright Filth mutations so… yay?
As for physical changes such as muscles and whatnot… that kind of depends on how you make your character.
Canonically Bees become faster and seemingly stronger than a normal human, stamina and endurance seem to be increased as well. Muscle mass does not seem to increase though. (Up to RPers reallly) The main powers of Bees are pretty much the ability to be reconstructed by the Buzzing to prevent death and the ability to spew out Anima both in it’s raw form and in specific forms (Maaaaagic!).
Bees are still as squishy as a normal human in most cases though… a hard enough conk on the head or neck and it’s lights out! They are injured just as easily by weapons and certain environmental effects (Extreme heat and cold) as a human as well with one important caveat. Bees can pretty much reach terminal velocity while falling and when they impact the ground the ground is what will be damaged, not the Bees. (Yes, no fall damage is actually canon…) We even crack the ground in the Facility dungeon due to falling onto it…
Humans have free will, Gaia and the Buzzing do not change this. They do not force us Bees to do anything against our will, nor do they outright tell us what we are supposed to do.
So no, Bees would be very much a threat to their peers and those they are set to protect by whoever they happen to be alligned with if a Bee were so inclined. Bees are not made to protect humans. They are made to protect Gaia, the Engines and the planet itself you could say. Nothing more, nothing less. The only reason we actually “fix” anything in the canon story is because the human factions that picked us up actually send us towards the problems. And sometimes we just fix things through a fluke… And canonically plenty of the Bees actually make things worse…
Gaia and factions choosing you
That’s really down to the RPer really.
Granted, when the recruiters show up at your door they talk (Well… two of them…) to you as if you are not affiliated with them so at the very least one could say that canonically you weren’t outright affiliated with the Illuminati or the Templars at least. But then again, perhaps you were, just not directly, or maybe you were… all up to you.
Besides that we have no knowledge of the character’s life prior to the recruitment pitch so for all we know they might have been involved in the Secret World already.
Gaia does not seem to choose someone in advance per ce. Some people can hear the Buzzing and may learn things sure… or end up insane or wrongly locked up in asylums… Some people might have powers already and learn of Gaia through connections they might make. But as far as we can tell Gaia only makes Bees when they are needed and it’s entirely random who becomes one. There’s no waiting line for becoming a Bee. (Now servicing #42!)
That is not to say you can’t be doing Gaia’s work though or at least what you believe it to be… Zuberi comes to mind.
In my opinion the mass surge of Bees worldwide was a “Oh ■■■■! BOMB! LAUNCH TEAM BEE! LAUNCH LAUNCH LAUNCH!” kind of thing.
You were left alone for some time before the factions came knocking so while they do seem to have a method of finding you, they don’t seem to have had knowledge of potential canditates really. It’s pretty much a scramble to grab as many Bees as they can before someone else snags them.
Not to mentional a race to dispose of any Bees that won’t join up with them…
I’d say it’s probably a bit more relevant now with the multifaction cabals. Especially for the cabals that have mainly been running as corporations, mercenary squads and similar entities. It allows for them to actually be proper groups rather than just a faction aligned/backed entity, which is a good thing really. More diversity that way.
Timeline wise cabals can be troublesome but with the timey-wimeyness of Agartha most RPers seem to be able to handle the discrepancies decently most of the time. It’s not like we can demand RPers and groups to condense years worth of plots into a few months really. So timey-wimeyness it is!