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Increased Mix / Corp Interdependence
Blurring the Divide

Synopsis:

Staff should strive to construct plots that encourage corporate characters to either leverage Mixers to complete. Or require corporate characters to enter Red themselves to complete them.

Involvement in these plots has the potential to create "fork in the road" type decisions for mid-level, Mix based characters. e.g. begin working for the corporations, or become known for actively opposing them.

Background:

These Ideas have been born out of the intersection of four main themes / discussion points that have surfaced over the last few months.

1. There is some demand for more inter-corporate conflict and interaction. As it is currently perceived through BgBB discussions, topside (corporate) life is pretty stagnant without much interaction between the various corporations.

2. Topside is too hardened / locked down / difficult to commit crimes in.

3. Corporations utilizing criminals (most-Mixers) to harm their rivals is either non-existent, or so rare that other than a few players who are "in the know", it might as well be non-existent because "nobody" (else) knows how to get involved in it.

4. The stock market has been created and explicitly stated to be a mechanism through which corporations can affect each other through conflict.

Discussion: (tl;dr)

This came up again during the most recent town hall. I think both Trey and Carlito mentioned coming from Shadowrun backgrounds where the entire game was more or less centered around players being hired to do dirty work for corporations. Cyberpunk 2020 also plays heavily upon this theme, and in my mind aligns more with the theme of Sindome than Shadowrun does.

The theme of Sindome specifically calls out a dystopian environment where corporations are exploiting the masses as disposable labor. This includes keeping them in desperate living conditions where they will literally jump at any opportunity to earn a few thousand chyen, and probably kill each other for the opportunity to earn tens of thousands of chyen.

Plenty of cyberpunk literature (especially Gibson and the Sprawl series) makes corporate black ops a central element of the story. e.g. Count Zero where the protagonist is focused on extracting a researcher from a secure corporate facility.

The staff has made it clear that there is no intention to change the current security posture on Gold. Numerous players have made it clear that they believe that Gold is working fine, and the balance of crime to safety is fine and does not need to be adjusted.

Given that, I see a lot of opportunity to incentivize more corporate activity in Red. Here are a couple of examples of what that might look like, and how it ties in with the stock system.

A couple of corporations already have a physical presence in Red. By physical I mean, coded locations that characters can visit. Those physical locations can be used as plot locations. Maybe there is a Gizmo that one corporation wants, and the other corporation needs to protect. Maybe instead of a Gizmo, it is an NPC. Stock prices are affected by how well a corporate does or does not acquire or defend the Asset / Location.

Maybe a corporation has a new employee coming into the city and for whatever reason, they can't fly them into NeoTrans so they have to come through the standard immigration procedure. One corporation wants that employee to make it to corp HQ. Another corporation wants that employee for themselves. Maybe a corrupt WCS agent tips off one of the syndicates that a corporation has an interest in the employee and the syndicate decides to kidnap them for ransom. Stock prices are affected by what happens to the employee.

Or a corporation has a researcher / executive / whatever who loves to slum it. They head to Red to visit one or more of the clubs. Word leaks to a rival corporation that the researcher is vulnerable. Stock prices are affected by what happens to the employee.

Or maybe we go long term with a plot. A corporation is ordered by their board to establish a new facility in Red. Insert six months of planning and plotting to identify a location, make friends with relevant factions, secure the place.... and try to keep it secret the entire time. Stock prices are affected by how well the entire campaign is orchestrated.

Lastly and most importantly, the types of scenarios that I described give mid-level PCs the opportunity for a richer roleplaying and character development experience. When I think of mid-level PCs, I mean the type of PCs who can roll immigrants without breaking a sweat. The type of PCs who might be outgrowing the gang because it's not challenging, or they are tired of dynamic. The type of PCs who certain factions might be looking to recruit.

The mid-level PCs can participate in these types of plots however they see fit.

Maybe they want to get in good with the corporations, so they offer to help / accept offers to participate. It's a win-win. The corporation gets to try someone out without the risk of putting them on the payroll and filling up an employment slot. The Mixer gets some exposure to corporate RP and plots without having to sell their soul to topside.

Maybe they want to make it clear how much they hate corporations, so they actively oppose these types of operations any time they catch wind of them. This encourages corporate PCs to be more careful and more intelligent in their planning so that word doesn't get out. It provides additional challenge as an X factor for corporate PCs who might otherwise come down to Red themselves, as opposed to hiring disposable assets (Mixers) to work for them. Or who knows, maybe the characters who put on the front of hating corporations are really just positioning themselves as the ultimate deniable assets and double agents. (What could possibly go wrong?)

Conclusion:

If you read this far, thanks.

I have seen so many discussions, debates and down right nasty and heated arguments over changing the current systems that I have come to believe any significant changes are highly unlikely.

Therefore I think we need to ask ourselves WHAT ELSE can do to address things like blurring the divide and breaking down the barriers that have effectively divided the player base into two separate populations? Assume that the current systems (e.g. Judges on Gold) are not going to change. And working with that assumption, consider what else can be done within the theme to make the game richer and more inclusive for EVERYONE.

I like how you bring up Count Zero as an example. You know what happens there, corporations are very protective of their secrets and assets, better to destroy it than let it fall into enemy hands. I think a lot more could be done with this.

The one difficulty I see is the culture of mixers treating jobs for corporations a killable offense. There would need to be some reason for taking these jobs for the purpose of moving forward anti corporate objectives.

There is a lot of this already, simply PC run.

A lot of these proposed scenarios require GM attention though, which takes up a huge chunk of time. Plots like these require proposals, approval, set-up, puppeting, overseeing progress, lining up PC activity times...

They are certainly already out there though.

There is a lot of this already, simply PC run.

This is what I was referring to in my OP about it being so rare that only a few, in the know characters, are participating. Whether that's good or bad is open to interpretation.

A lot of these proposed scenarios require GM attention though, which takes up a huge chunk of time. Plots like these require proposals, approval, set-up, puppeting, overseeing progress, lining up PC activity times...

This is always the biggest challenge. I have thought about this, and there are a couple of things that come to mind.

1. Staff (via "management" type NPCs) should delegate tasks to PCs. In the example of Gizmo type plots it requires very little involvement. Staff creates Gizmo and drops it in Room. Staff tells Corporation A and Corporation B about the Gizmo. The players drive it from there.

2. For NPC type plots (researchers, executives, etc.) I think that there is some opportunity to use the current token code. For example, the NPC could be given basic functionality like the ability to "follow" and "stop". They would only accept those commands from specific factions. (or maybe anybody... much hilarity). The 'workflow' would be the same though. Staff creates NPC token. Drops token in Room. Tells Factions A, B & C about NPC. Players drive it from there.

2a. We open source some behavior scripts, just like with drug and cyber experiences. Basic stuff like drinking, dancing, whining about work, whatever.

2b. Maybe beta-test the idea of responsive tokens on Gold where the potential interactions are more limited. Basically one group would be protecting and the other group would be trying to retrieve. You wouldn't have to deal with the huge number of variables in a Mix type (club, street, mall, etc.) type environment.

Hey Hek.

Always an admirer of your analytical posts and I just happened to be in the process of writing a thread with a similar track at the same time, albeit different enough to warrant its own thread.

Before I start analysing your propositions I want to say that there is definitely a stealthy undercurrent of mix-corporate interaction going on already. I also feel that the already available service-mixer positions are underutilised for this purpose, being ideally placed to interact with both sides and avoid suspicion or at least prove too useful to mess with.

Your proposition of adding more tangible elements to the topside economy to act as incentives for activity is something I stand strongly behind, feeling it would increase corporate activity in general as well as encourage corporate/mixer co-operation/coercion if implemented correctly. Physical items are easier to attach a value to than the paydata corporations are encouraged to steal from each other at present, and paydata only really has a value if it provides actionable intelligence on a way to steal/destroy something with tangible value for the participants.

@Mong

Thanks for the supportive reply.

I just thought of a super cool Grid 3.0 tie in.

It would be amazing if deckers could discover pay data in a node. And as soon as the pay data is discovered, an item is created in the world.

For example, a decker cracks ViriiSoma, locates some pay data about a new experiment and then a test tube gets created in a VS lab. Maybe if the decker does a really good job on the hack, VS doesn't even get notified, short of a sharp eyed PC happening to check a cabinet and noticing that there is a new item in there.

The same structure could work for corporate NPCs. Decker discovers pay data about an NPC coming into the city, or an executive who skipped down to Red to party. NPC token gets created. Hilarity ensues. Maybe the decker does an average job and the NPC sends a message on a corporate SIC key letting people know they're around. Maybe the decker does an excellent job and the message never goes out.