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Good Guys
Don't Exist

I want to get some other opinions.

In my view, it isn't just difficult, but actually impossible to be a Good Guy topside. It's difficult and unlikely to be a good guy in the Mix, but you can have a Mix hero that makes sense for a long time, though they will likely hit walls regularly and be forced to do ethically grey or even clearly wrong things to accomplish good ultimately. There'a never a real, true blue good guy anywhere who lives to tell the tale. You end up with actual good guys who -look- like they're really awful guys, but what they do in the end justifies their means.

But if you've chosen to go topside, your character has already sold their soul. You can claim to attempt to change things for the better, but in doing so, you harm or contribute to harming many many people. I see a lot of people move topside because they're fleeing something in the mix that feels like evil or unfairness. Then they get upset when they're pushed to do something uncomfortable ethically, when this is the entire climate of topside. Comfort paid for by the blood and tears of other people.

Every Corp has their special evil. The WJF provide 'justice', but justice on their terms. They're bought out to look the other way on things they shouldn't. If they resist and try to stand for real justice, they'll be crushed by the Corps that control the chy. It's all a push and pull game.

You can have a character who convinces themselves and others that they're good, but they're delusional or just lying. They contribute toward death, manipulation, and extortion every time they go pick up their paycheck. What I find the most interesting about topside play is defining why a character is okay with all of these awful, terrible things they contribute toward. How they can live with themselves at all. Mix players in the more powerful organizations have to do this too. There's certainly very little good there.

Good guys, to me, are the little guys. The ones who stand up to evil Corps. Bad guys are the ones that seem good. The ones that live well and thrive.

-Can- you be a good guy in Withmore? If so, how long before you're forced out? How effective can you actually be? What makes a good guy good?

Interested in other thoughts :)

In my opinion cyberpunk stories are sort of post-good.

Some will say "it's unthemely" to play a good guy, or at least to play one and expect to succeed for any length of time.

Good guys finish last. So maybe losing is what makes someone a good guy? certainly sacrificing would be involved. In huge measure.

People who flee the mix the way you say do it because of evil or unfairness to {b}themselves personally[/b], not any global sense of righteousness.

Anyway, even if someone behaved consistently out of motivation to "goodness" (whatever that even means in a CP world), it's unlikely they'd be recognized for doing anything positive. I don't know if recognition is part of what you mean when you talk about "good guys" but people who appear to act selflessly or for a "greater good" are not understood, in-universe. They're gravely misunderstood - or maybe not misunderstood but at any rate they're dismissed as irrelevant.

I disagree, you can absolutely play a good guy in both the mix and corpo land. The thing about good guys though is that they rarely if ever are seen on the big stage. But I can assure you they are out there, and it is possible.
Just a couple of further thoughts:

One, cyberpunk is noir. Without the noir, it isn't cyberpunk, it's futurism. Noir means moral ambiguity, anti-heroes, and powerlessness over bleak truths of the setting.

Two, with this in mind, in both noir and cyberpunk, stories about would-be heroes and goodness are tragedies.

This is a great question. Here's some stream-of-consciousness thoughts in response.

Going against the grain can make your character unpopular. In a world that overwhelmingly revolves around chyen, what do you do with a character who values their ideals more than they value money? This can throw a wrench into the plans of someone who was relying on their wealth to get what they wanted.

How far is a character willing to go for what they view as "the greater good"? At what point does dedication to their ideals override loyalties to their chums? What methods do they use to stand up for what they believe, and do these methods ever have unintentional consequences? Does this character ever self-sabotage and end up "losing" not because of the triumph of "evil" over "good," but because their passion blinded them to incoming threats?

"Good" is a point of view. I'm sure lots of corpies believe the exploitation of mixers is necessary for "progress", "modernity" and other utopian causes. I'm also sure there are lots of corpies who just don't want to think of themselves as bad guys. They don't see themselves as partaking in class conflict, because they never think about the mixer lower class. Rather, they view themselves in relation to their boss, their coworkers, their competitors. Maybe for them, being a "good person" means treating their employees to drinks, or donating to charity.

I'd argue the opposite. It is much harder being 'the good guy' in the mix, whereas you can very easily justify being somewhat moral topside. This idea that an NLM employee is somehow contributing to the sorry state of things in the mix is frankly unrealistic. The average corpo slave has no effect on the mix. Collecting a paycheck and doing your job as HR or whatever doesn't mean anything to the mix. Now, if you're a senior and beyond and you actually have enough influence AND you use it, then yes, I'd say there's definitely grounds there to claim some part of your soul is sold to the big corp. Simply joining a corp effectively does not contribute or change anything. These are globe-spanning megacorps, you are a number to them, even less than a number.

It is an interesting subject to talk about and I always found it funny how there's a large mix collective ideology of several things that simply aren't true. One, that the mix is united against the corps (or united against anything, really). Or that by working servo or mix jobs, you are 'standing up to the man' or have some inherent sense of freedom that corpos don't have. This is entirely untrue, and in practice, I've found mix life actually comes with several masters who DO want their cut and who WILL fuck you up if you don't do as they say. Your corpo masters just care about profit, generally speaking, you can go and screw mix joys and otherwise make an idiot of yourself publicly as long as you bring in profit. Ironically, corporate characters, in a lot of ways, are a lot more free than mixers are.

As far as good guys go, I'll tell you from experience, you will be almost entirely segregated in the mix and the only way you will even function is if you compromise on a lot of lesser evils. The mix is all about finding a group of strong people to surround yourself with, picking a side, whether that be a gang or crime family, a notorious enough person, etc. If you don't, you are prey, pure and simple.

Comparatively, topside, you can more or less be as good or evil as you please, again, as long as you please your corp, which doesn't necessarily mean being evil. Topside is all about kissing ass and stacking the deck in your favor. This can involve screwing over other people, or it can not.

I would not recommend most people play a legitimately 'good guy', purely on the basis the the setting and game aren't built for it and you'll be left out of a lot of stuff. You always need some edge, at the very minimum. It would be nice to have more variety and not have everyone be an unscrupulous murderer, but the nature of the mix almost prevents that.

-Can- you be a good guy in Withmore?

From a meta point of. view, it's been my experience that people who insist on doing so in an uncompromising way have unrealistic expectations of what the result is likely to be and they wind up sick with bleed.

On the other hand, going into it with realistic expectations can yield a really great character. Great to RP with, great to know of from afar. One needs to be prepared to make awful decisions in service of one's mission, in Withmore. How much bad do you have to do to do good.

There is no major character I've known in the past few years who did not operate within some kind of personal ethical code, even if loosely. People are complicated and not binary in their motivations and I think weighing oneself down with expectations about what the genre may or may not require in terms of grand morality will only make it more difficult to be authentic.
I don't think that there IS a good or evil really. What we call good are things that help you survive. Not stealing or murdering and all that tends to produce a stronger society and humans do best when they have a strong group they are a part of.

Further, I tend to side with a saying I've heard somewhere (can't recall where really). One man's hero is another man's villain. You can't please everyone and the more 'heroic' you seem to be with one crowd the more 'villainous' you will seem to another.

So at the end of the day I think every character should try and be 'good' as they see it. I think most do really. They try to adhere to their code and 'justify' or 'explain away' the things they do that breaches their code.

Some will consider your character a paragon (usually your character's social circle) while others will view them is grey or even evil (Usual your competitors or enemies).

If you take the 5 most visible PCs in the game and look at them from various lenses you can see them as hero and villain and everything in between. Just by putting yourself in different people's shoes.

So I do think you can be a good guy. I think we do have good guys. But the lack of a clear and objective definition of good (which I feel is a huge part of the cyberpunk theme) means there will never be universal good guys.

I would say that you have much more ability to be good topside as you do in the mix. In fact, an ethically good character probably does reside topside more so than one in the mix.

Consider corporations today that we would consider passively evil. Amazon? Google? Both of those companies have been embroiled in situations where they have done some shady things to both the communities they serve and the people that work for them. Yet would you blame a warehouse manager for that? Would you consider a purchasing manager evil? How about the guy that drives the CEO around? Just because you work for a corporation topside does not mean that you have sold your soul. You're just another person, in another spot, doing a job and collecting pay.

In Sindome, most of the jobs that are given and the role play around them is so mundane that what your character does outside of their job defines them far more than anything they do in their job. In fact, I would argue that most of the shady stuff is handled by very specific parts of a corporation. Even if you wanted to do evil things, you are actively discouraged from doing them by elements within your corporation; both NPC and PC.

PR, Sec, perhaps some of the functional areas specific to each company can get in on some of the shady business. If you're going to make your living there, then yes you've probably sold your soul, or you will have a hard time trying to justify being a "good person". If you are in one of those roles, and trying to play a good character, then you're probably doing bad at your job.

I might also suggest that this is why there are few people in PR who manage to stick around more than a month or two. It's one of the few jobs that literally requires you to embrace the shady side of corporate politics and paint a target on your forehead. Security is a close second although there is a lot more room for being secretive in your shade.

Let's contrast that with mixers who day to day have to make questionable choices about how they will survive the next day or make their bank. Usually they have to align themselves with someone and do specific jobs for them. It's harder to remain out of the fray or out of the sphere of influence of some very shady people.

I would totally agree that this may not be the theme that SD wants to convey. However, I think it's more reality than people would like to think. Mostly, I believe this is the case because both company goals are vague enough that most corporate players don't necessarily know how to advance their companies position and even if they did know them they would be discouraged from acting on it The plots that do come through tend to be geared towards the functional arms like security or for public relations. If you are not in one of those roles, you are rarely involved in the kinds of shade that make the corporations the evil entities that they're supposed to be.

I would say playing a character as good or evil with intention is incredibly boring. Most everyone thinks of themselves as good, but placed in a position of power they will need to make decisions in which there is some sacrifice. I would say it is more important to consider what is most important to any character and play them around that driving force. It could be as simple as looking for a better life for their loved ones. They could have a dream of following in the footsteps of an idol. They might wish to stomp out violence that may have affected them in the past. Perhaps their morality is kept in check by loyalty. Any of these choices could lead to an interesting path that forces complicated moral choices.
I had some interactions with staff around this question a few months ago.

Without going into specifics, I was lamenting the lack of thematic support for certain "good" tropes that have traditionally been core elements in cyberpunk and dystopian storytelling.

The general gist of the response from staff was, "What you are looking for is not aligned with the theme that we are cultivating here."

I am trying to avoid putting words in the mouths of staffers. I am also trying to not reveal some key elements of the theme as I understand them, and as I believe they have been explained to me. One of the greatest joys that I derive from playing here is navigating my expectations and desires of how I want the theme to be, with the realities of what the theme is / has been.

At a high level and in a generally vague way, I feel comfortable saying that "doing things for the greater good" and "being a 'good' person" are luxuries in a society where tens of millions of people are literally struggling to survive another day. Incinerators are constantly running because that is the only way to deal with the body count.

I am going to bastard a nuanced Chinese saying / philosophy further by trying to apply it to Withmore.

"If you are unwilling to cheat, you are not serious about winning." That's not an exact translation and it is highly nuanced. The adaption I would make for Withmore is, "If you are unwilling to kill / betray to survive, you are not serious about staying alive."

One last consideration that I always keep in mind is that there are rarely more than 60 players active at a time. There are probably no more than 150-200 total active players on the MOO.

Withmore has a population of ~88 MILLION people. (IIRC)

Players, and the characters that they play can be as "good" as they want to be. All of the good that they try to do will be like a single droplet of rain in a hurricane. Society as a whole won't even notice.

(All of this is just my opinion based on only having played here a few years.)

Realistically, I think 'Han Solo' type of good guy is possible in Sindome. Chaotic Good, if you may.

No qualms with shooting first, being a dick, etc but he isn't the sort who would go on a murder spree, kill kids, etc.

Realized I never responded to this. Thanks for all your comments. Loved the different perspectives and I really love the idea of post-good.
@papertiger

Your argument seems to come from a place of mix mentality, I think. Those 'awful things' that make good guys look evil? That's quite likely how a corporate citizen would see something like terrorism maybe? In the mix, it might be seen as good guy things. He murdered five judges? Dude is fighting for the mix. What a good guy. And vice-versa. It's important to remember something here: our characters were given 'sanctuary' from the badlands when allowed entry in the first place. How magnanimous of those golden towers, right? It's all about perspective.

It was said in a bunch of different ways, but good/evil is an abstract like love or beauty. Arbitrary. It really depends on where you are and what you're doing as to -who- thinks you're good/evil. This excerpt from The Dispossessed sums it up pretty well.

THERE was a wall. It did not look important. It was

built of uncut rocks roughly mortared. An adult

could look right over it, and even a child could

climb it. Where it crossed the roadway, instead of

having a gate it degenerated into mere geometry, a

line, an idea of boundary. But the idea was real. It

was important. For seven generations there had been

nothing in the world more important than that wall.

Like all walls it was ambiguous, two-faced. What

was inside it and what was outside it depended upon

which side of it you were on.

Even if -you- the player or character see yourself as good, and actually -are- good by the common collective social definition? Someone else is going to see that and say, nah, that isn't what good is. You can't please everyone and shouldn't want to ( not that anyone is saying that).

Truth be told, I would worry less about whether it's themely, and focus more on exploring the concept in a way that makes sense for your character and their development. Try it out, take in the city and its people. Interact and ask yourself how it shapes the character's outlook. Do they crack under pressure and give in to desperation in a bad spot? Sell out their ideology to live another day? Do they bear down and face it, headstrong and willful? Do they justify their actions for some reason or convince themselves that x y and z grey areas are ok because of a b and c? Does that lead to a slippery slope as those grey areas become easier to say yes to, and grow darker as the scale tips away from 'goodness'? These types of questions can take that light/dark concept and build a rich framework for a character to grow with.

Good/evil can be starting points if that's your thing, but it doesn't have to be an end all be all. That said, it can also be an end all. I'll try to be vague, but many a year ago, my very first character was a purely white knight citizen. Morally upright in and out of work, openly catered to both mixers and corporates, and didn't acknowledge the class divide. IC feedback from mixers and corporate citizens alike was very good in general. It's definitely possible.

One last thing. For the greater good, and 'good guy', are not mutually exclusive. But when the phrase comes up in the game's context, I always like to ask myself , 'for the greater good of who?'.