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Cyberpunk 2020: Corporation Report 2020 Volume 1

Corporation Report 2020 Volume 1

In the Cyberpunk world it's massive corporations, rather than nation-states, that have the real power. In the introduction, the author talks about the scandal surrounding a shady real-world organisation called the Bank of Credit and Commerce International which had, as he was writing this, been caught out in some cyberpunk-esque shenanigans. (I remember it well, and it inspired a megacorp in one of my games!) Here, however, two of the biggest players in Cyberpunk are analysed and explored: Arasaka and the International Electric Corporation (IEC).

So, what happens when the worst excesses of corporate nastiness go rogue, and then someone hands them a loaded gun? The first section, called A New Jungle, explains all. In this alternate history, there was a stock market crash in 1994 that made the 2008 credit crunch look like a bull market, and it was in the wake of this that the massive corporations began to take over. In attempting to grab as much as they could, they literally fought several wars. There's a bit of a rationale for why they've decided to write these 'corpbooks' which boils down to there being plenty of opportunity for adventures built around them... working for them (or against them), interacting, getting caught up in whatever they are doing... and I have fond memories of my players engaging in a 15-minute discussion in character about the ethics of the use of terrorism as a corporate strategy!

Both corporations are treated in the same way, designed to make the book easy to use. Starting with the corporation's history, there's a look at the main products and services that they offer, along with their stated (and unstated) corporate goals and market strategies. Then we get down to detail with notable individuals within the corporation, their major offices and other facilities and even notes on company uniforms. Don't laugh, if you want to infiltrate, the best way is to look like you belong... There are also hints about using that corporation in your game and a complete, if small, adventure you can run involving them. Reading the entries will spawn plenty more ideas, however.

Right, first up is Arasaka - the specialists in security, headquartered in Tokyo but found all over the world in rather forbidding black uniforms and armed to the teeth. The backstory goes back to World War 2, where the eventual founder, Saburo Arasaka, served in the Japanese Air Force and was badly injured in combat, barely surviving... and then almost suicidal at Japan's defeat. He took over his father's small company in due course and built it up, building a security division from scratch that became the giant it is today having capitalised on the turmoil after 1996. They specialise in providing corporate and personal security teams, but do other, more shady, things as well as sell security equipment, provide computer security systems, and undertake consultancy. They also provide contract police services to municipalities who don't want to run their own law enforcement. They also run a commercial bank. There's loads more detail, and a short infiltration mission to run, well resourced with maps include a Net one should your party number a netrunner. Arasaka is intended to be the Big Evil Corp, but you may choose to tone down some of their more covert plans and run them as legitimate, or just remember that only the inner circle of executives know what's going on so your party may not realise just how wicked they are!

The second corporation, the International Electric Corporation (IEC), is given a similar treatment. Ostensibly general manufacturers based in Berlin, the company is possibly even darker than Arasaka. It's not particularly the things they make (a mix of heavy industry, consumer goods and cybernetics), it's the way they operate - as suggested by the piece of fiction that opens this section. IEC is also active in space exploration and media... and make many components for other corporations' products, so fingers in many pies! Senior executives and other notables are listed, as are some of their flagship products; and there's a quite extensive write-up of their European headquarters and other facilities, including their presence in Earth orbit. The adventure begins with a dance-floor brawl and leads into a revenge mission against IEC.

This work really digs into the background of the Cyberpunk setting and gives copious ideas of how to make these two corporations loom large in your adventures, just as they loom large over life in 2020. Reading through gives rise to a multitude of ideas for adventures and whole campaigns...

Return to Corporation Report 2020 Volume 1 page.

Reviewed: 13 November 2018