Friday, October 10, 2014

Microscope on: The History of the 4th Corporate War – COMPLETE

This past Monday we finished running Microscope for the backdrop to our next campaign.  With five players (six actually, due to a sit-in player who missed the first two rounds), we filled the table with 3x5 cards.  Six is really too many for Microscope as it becomes difficult to come up with enough characters to believably run a scene without it seeming crowded.  Five players is on the edge, but do-able, and four seems optimal, especially when learning the game.  The phrase “I don’t know what to create” came up often.

Also, I introduced mechanical teleportation to the Shadowrun world, which I may seriously regret later.  That’s on me, wanting to wrap a scene up and grasping at straws.  It has significant repercussions in the last two periods.  We also learned how necessary it is to NOT create events that are open-ended when you are trying to establish something.  Saying someone hires shadowrunners to do something is NOT the same as saying hired shadowrunners did something.  BIG difference there.

Items added in the last session have [NEW] at the end of the entry.

So here is the final version of:

The History of the 4th Corporate War

Period 1: Two corporations vie for control of a third corporation (Dark).

Event: Zenith AstroTech starts investigating technological teleportation, labeling the effort Project: Burma. [NEW]

Event: Freeman Health Manufacturing (FHM) decides with some effort that they must acquire Alvarez Integrated Power Equipment (AIPE) and dominate their industry (Light).

Scene: Why did FHM need to acquire AIPE?
AIPE manufactures a micronized power cell used in all FHM cyberware and it is a significant percentage of the cost of the cyberware.  Recently, AIPE introduced an upgraded version of this power cell, but eliminated a historical discount on sales to FHM.  Alexandria Crowe, CEO of FHM, called a meeting of FHM’s VP of Procurement, FHM’s majority stockholder, and a representative from AIPE to discuss the situation.  In this meeting, AIPE’s representative confirmed the discount had been eliminated and that next year prices were likely to rise again.  At this point, Ms. Crowe decided that in order to control costs and preserve FHM’s profit margin, FHM needed to stage a hostile takeover of AIPE, immediately. (Light)

Event: After the takeover of AIPE, FHM raises the costs of the entire AIPE product line to external customers in order to recoup the cost of the takeover.  Internal customers, like FHM’s cyberware division, get the power cells at cost instead of the pre-takeover wholesale prices.  This allows FHM to keep their own retail prices low while sticking it to their competitors. (Dark)

Event: Tom Riddle, CEO of Riddle Netics – a FHM competitor, is outraged at the major price hike for AIPE components, components which are vital to their own products. (Dark) [Note: In hindsight, this event was not so much of an event and should have been expanded on, but it worked at the time.]

Event: Riddle Netics hires shadowrunners to steal samples and schematics of critical AIPE products. (Light)

Event: FHM uses new AIPE profits to bid on Aquamatics, a water purification company in need of a cash infusion to update and expand its facilities.  Getting wind of this, Riddle Netics enters a competing bid. (Dark)

[Arguably, this action completes this Period, but I think there is still room for shadowrunning shenanigans to happen.  There should be some good room to maneuver here in the campaign.]

Period 2: The initial corporations start calling in allies. (Light)

Event: FHM hires shadowrunners to plant evidence that Riddle Netics is using poor people as test subjects. (Dark)

Event: FHM spurs a class riot at the HQ of Riddle Netics. (Dark)  [This was probably a shadowrun of some sort.]

Event: Zenith AstroTech announces they are forming a joint venture with Riddle Netics to raise the bid for Aquamatics. (Light)  [This spikes the price of Aquamatics stock, increasing the cost to purchase the company.]

Scene: Why would Zenith AstroTech support Riddle Netics?
At a public gala, representatives and CEOs of Riddle Netics, Zenith AstroTech, Rosa Digital, Diagnostic Radiomation, and the Bank of Burma fell to talking over drinks and hors d’oeuvres.  Riddle Netics and Diagnostic Radiomation were being directly hurt by FHM raising AIPE prices, as were friends and associates of Zenith AstroTech and Rosa Digital.  Discussion turned to the possibility of taking some sort of direct action against FHM.  The representative of the Bank of Burma excused herself at this point.  The CEO of Zenith AstroTech suggested raising the cost of the Aquamatics purchase.  The representative of Diagnostic Radiomation then suggested removal of Aquamatics critical equipment right after the purchase was finalized would also cost FHM.  The group agreed to put some off-budget resources together to make these things happen. (Light)  [Yes, this is the beginning of a shadow war.  Why do you ask?]

Event: Riddle Netics sends shadowrunners to silence the representative for the Bank of Burma. (Dark) [NEW]  [This is very open-ended and should have given the actual result of the event.]

Event: In order to fund the escalating conflict with Riddle Netics, FHM borrows money and opens several lines of credit with Spanish Brokerage, a corporate bank headquartered in Hong Kong. (Light)

Event: FHM agents start infiltrating the corporate governance of Zenith AstroTech. (Light) [NEW]

Event: FHM infiltrators hire shadowrunners to start slowly eliminating Zenith AstroTech executives, creating openings for the infiltrators to move up into. (Dark) [NEW]

[These last two events created a whole new wrinkle in the FHM-ZAT conflict and changed our perspective on events already established later in the timeline. Hail Hydra!]

Event: Just before the bidding war for Aquamatics completes, Zenith AstroTech publicly announces it has rethought its position and no longer supports Riddle Netics’s bid for Aquamatics. This allows FHM to purchase Aquamatics (albeit at a significantly elevated price from their original bid) and causes Riddle Netics stock to plummet. (Dark) [NEW]

Period 3: The Conflict Escalates. (Dark)

[We discussed the need to change this to a period and not an event and then did so with full agreement around the table.]

Event: Shadowrunners hired by Zenith AstroTech raid the Aquamatics manufacturing facility in Egypt and it gets out of hand. (Light)

Event: The Aquamatics manufacturing facility in Egypt is completely destroyed.  Prices of water purification tablets and filters immediately skyrocket in Egypt, leaving the poor masses without affordable potable water across most of the country. (Dark)

Event: Lack of affordable potable water among the poor causes class riots across Egypt. (Dark)

Event: Shadowrunners hired by FHM successfully eliminate all Riddle Netics executives. (Light) [NEW]  [This event benefited from our realization of how to write more concise and less open-ended events.]

Event: Spanish Brokerage, seeing FHM hemorrhaging money and not wanting to lose the large amounts of capital loaned to FHM, decides to call in all loans and credit made to FHM. (Dark)

Event: Zenith AstroTech buys the remains of Aquamatics in Egypt at a cut-rate price, allowing FHM to just barely pay off the loans. (Dark)

Event: To recoup costs, Zenith AstroTech shuts down all Aquamatics operations in Egypt, lays off all remaining employees, and ships out anything not nailed down to sell as scrap, causing an immediate recession in Egypt. (Dark)

[The last two events were put on one card as I allowed the player to dictate more than I should have, but it was late and I had to work the next day.  After discussion this session, we all agreed it was best to split the single card into two events.]

Event: Zenith AstroTech diverts funds from scrapping Aquamatics into Project: Burma. (Light) [NEW]

Period 4: The conflict goes orbital. (Light)

Event: FHM offices in Burma targeted by shadowrunners – an entire city block is destroyed when the building collapses. (Light)

Event: FHM hires shadowrunner to get proof/evidence Riddle Netics and Zenith AstroTech were responsible for the attack on their Burma office. (Light)

Event: FHM releases evidence showing Riddle Netics and Zenith AstroTech were responsible for the attack on their Burma office. (Light)  [Whether or not it is true is a matter for some discussion…]

Event: Zenith AstroTech moves its headquarters to a newly finished orbital facility. (Dark) [NEW]

Event: Aztechnology sends shadowrunners to attack the Zenith AstroTech orbital facility. (Dark)

Scene: Why did Aztechnology send shadowrunners to attack the Zenith AstroTech orbital facility?
The scene takes place after the attack on the orbital facility.  In attendance are: the Assistant Head of Projects, Local Head of Station Security, The Lone Survivor (of the attack), the Lead Investigator, the Insurance Claims Adjustor, and a Reclamations Expert.  After asking many questions, some things are determined: the shadowrunners hacked into the isolated Projects Mainframe, the Head of Projects is missing, and the X-9 prototype is missing.  Station Security shows the Head of Projects last tracked entering a shuttle at the conclusion of the attack on the station, along with the attackers.  The prototype is located floating just outside of the station – telemetry shows a successful (if unscheduled) teleportation as a result of a short to the system (caused by the attackers shooting up the place).  The conclusion is that the attack was a data theft of the teleportation design specs and extraction of the Head of Projects, probably planned by the (now ex-)Head of projects. (Light) [NEW]

Event: Government(s) send in troops. (Dark)  [The specifics were never determined.]

Period 5: The conflict goes teleportational. (a.k.a., The Burma Wars) (Light) [NEW]

Event: Zenith AstroTech holds a tech conference to unveil the Technological Teleportation Device (TTD).  In the shadows, however, rumors swirling about the ZAT orbital attack tag the device with a different name: the Burma Drive. (Dark) [NEW]

Event: FHM stages a failed attempt to steal the TTD technology as part of their long-term strategy. (Light) [NEW]

Event: Aztechnology uses the data from the ZAT orbital attack to reverse engineer the Project: Burma technology. (Light) [NEW]

Event: Aztechnology uses Burma Drives to attack Amazonia, renewing the war between Aztlan and Amazonia. (Dark) [NEW]

Event: The other AAA corporations use front companies to secure Project: Burma technology from either Zenith AstroTech or Aztechnology as the opportunities arise. (Light) [NEW]

Event: Corporations that are not able to buy, beg, or borrow TTDs hire shadowrunners to steal them. (Light) [NEW]

Period 6: One side wins the corporate war. (Dark)

[Renumbered due to the introduction of a new Period.]

Event: The last remaining original Zenith AstroTech executive hires shadowrunners to eliminate the FHM infiltrators. (Light) [NEW]  [I was sloppy creating this event – I should have said the hired shadowrunners eliminated the infiltrators.  This led to the next player creating a counter event, below.]

Event: The FHM infiltrators, under attack, hire shadowrunners to eliminate the final Zenith AstroTech executive. (Light) [NEW] [Luckily, the next player made the same mistake as I did, allowing me to create a counter-counter event.]

Event: ZAT shadowrunners eliminate the last of the FHM infiltrators. (Dark) [NEW]  [Thus ends the bloodiest boardroom battle for control of a company.]

Event: Zenith AstroTech purchases controlling interest in FHM. (Light) [NEW]

Event: Zenith AstroTech petitions the Corporate Court for extraterritoriality status. (Light) [NEW]

Event: The Corporate Court heavily restricts use of Burma drives as they threaten the stability of just about everybody. (Light) [NEW]

Event: Zenith AstroTech granted extraterritoriality status by the Corporate Court, ending the corporate war.


That should provide a solid backdrop for a Shadowrun campaign.  My only regret is the introduction of the teleportation technology, which is on me.  I shouldn’t have forced things and come up with something more in the Shadowrun genre.  

While it came about because of my poor wording, I like the resulting battle royal between the last of the original ZAT executives and the FHM infiltrators via shadowrunner proxies.  The FHM infiltrators job was to secretly take control of FHM, wait until FHM sabotaged its own stock value, buy up FHM as a “hostile” takeover, and bring over all of the FHM executives in on the plan.  This would have given FHM a new, favorable face as ZAT and access to all of ZAT’s cutting edge tech, jettisoning all the negative baggage FHM had accumulated.  It almost happened, too.


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