Sunday, 11 September 2016

Cyberpunk 2020 PreGens: Corporates


Once upon a time I scrawled up some pre-generated Solos and Rockers for Cyberpunk 2020. You might remember, although at this point I doubt it!

This week's year's character role is the Corporate. Presenting the Company Man, the Dogged Investigator and the Ambitious Courtier.

As usual, this post is rounded out with some contacts. ALSO: a D20 table to explain why you failed your Resources roll!

These characters were generated using the basic rules in the Cyberpunk 2020 Corebook, with no detail from the sourcebooks. 

1. Every character has 60 Attribute Points and 60 Skill Points (40 career skills and 20 pick-up skills).

2. I haven't rolled for Humanity Loss or on the Lifepath tables (let the players do that!).

3. I've given everybody a (fairly) balanced array of equipment and cyberware based on the "Quick and Dirty" character creation guidelines.

THE CORPORATE

Another strange, campaign defining role. 

The Corporate is a vital part of the cyberpunk milieu and yet surprisingly hard to fit into a CP2020 campaign. Part of this is simply a matter of tone - an explicitly corporate character seems far more in keeping with latter-period Shadowrun's amoral economic warrior ethos than Cyberpunk, whose characters often tend towards gutter-survivalism or pretensions of rebellion. CP2020's Corporates are also presented as 1980s Wall Street issue bastards, which serves to alienate them from the other roles. 

There are a few sympathetic Corporate characters in the literary genre - Islands in the Net's Laura Webster probably fits the role, as does Landon Kettlewell in Makers. Neither is a Wall Street issue bastard. Another example is Julia Evans in the Greg Mandel Trilogy, a character who is absolutely a 1980s-style besuited monster presented positively, because Peter Hamilton's Mindstar world is a uniquely middle-English Tory fantasy.

As usual, I've created three pre-generated characters. They've all been designed to fit in with a group of 'runners, one way or another.

THE COMPANY MAN: AKA Mr Johnson. The company official sent along to co-ordinate the action, select the targets, or ensure the team gets impregnated by xenomorphs.

THE DOGGED INVESTIGATOR: the employee who learnt too much to sleep at night. The whistleblower who risks exile or worse to expose wrongdoing inside the Company.

...and the THE AMBITIOUS COURTIER: the rising executive, prepared to scheme and spy and shoot her way to the top.

Below these three characters are the usual array of contacts and antagonists, and a D20 table you didn't know you needed.

For Laura Webster, use the Investigator. For a "heroic entrepreneur," mess around with the Ambitious Courtier (or frankly, use a Fixer or a Tech). For everybody else, read on...

THE COMPANY MAN


His real name is Carter Burke. You might know him as Mr Johnson.

He's the point man for the Company when they have to deal with the street. He's an officer in the corporate wars. He's the white-suited spook sipping wine on the hotel balcony as the colonels carry out their bought-and-paid-for coup. 

He's the guy who takes the danger money when the company wants someone actually on the scene. In the field he identifies the targets and makes the snap decisions.

Like many Corporates, he has a chipware socket - in this case, he relies on it for his combat skills. Professionals like to disparage skill chips, and it's true that Mr Johnson will never be effective as a veteran solo with his H&K MP9. Still, a +3 SMG chip combined with the weapon's good accuracy and a smart rig gives him a +6 to hit, making him a better shot than the vast majority of trained soldiers in the twentieth century. 

There will be time to hit the range later. 

Instead, he's concentrated on the skills that allow him to function in his role - stealth, disguise, leadership. He can blend into the background while his troops go to work, and if necessary keep up with them on missions without badly compromising them. Professional SERE training will help in emergencies. He's equipped for combat operations. With any luck his hired solos will handle most of the "combat" part.


COMPANY MAN


INT: 8 REF: 8 COOL: 8 TECH: 7 LK: 4 ATT: 5 MA: 7 EMP: 7 BT: 6


SAVE: 7 BTM: -2


CAREER SKILLS

Resources: 5
Awareness/Notice (INT): 5
Human Perception (EMP): 6
Education (INT): 4
Library Search (INT): 3
Social (EMP): 4
Persuasion (EMP): 7
Wardrobe & Style (ATT): 2
Personal Grooming (ATT): 2

PICK UP SKILLS


Endurance (BOD): 1
Resist Torture/Drugs (COOL): 2
Oratory (COOL): 2
Streetwise (COOL): 2
Leadership (EMP): 2
First Aid (INT): 2
Stealth (REF): 3
Disguise (TECH): 3
Basic Tech (TECH): 1
Electronic Security (TECH): 2

EQUIPMENT

Cellphone, Mastoid Commo, Low Impedance Cables, Poison Sniffer, Laptop
Smartgoggles w/Image Enhancement, Teleoptics, DigitalCamera, Infrared

2x Streetwear outfits
1x Leisurewear outfit
2x Businesswear outfits
1x High Fashion outfit

Trauma Team Account

Health Plan

Stripwire binders

SP14 Light Armour Jacket

Medium Sedan w/smartlink

Smartlinked H&K MPK-9
RIF +1 J C 2d6+1 (9mm) 35 25 ST
4 spare magazines, 210 rounds


Avante P-1135 Needlegun
P 0 P P Drugs 15 2 ST
2 spare magazines, 30 Sleep Doses

$400

CYBERWARE

Basic Processor w/Vehicle Link, Smartgun Link, Interface Plug (2D6+5 Humanity Loss)
Chipware Socket (1D6/2 Humanity Loss)

Chips:
SMG (REF): +3
Handgun (REF): +3
Drive (REF): +3
Aikido (REF): +3
System Knowledge (INT): +3


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THE DOGGED INVESTIGATOR


The Dogged Investigator might have started off as an employee of the company who knew too much, or she might have been hired by a law firm on behalf of the opposition or the government. She might work for a regulator. Either way, she's stumbled onto something so utterly immoral, so completely corrupt, she'll risk her life to expose it. 

If she succeeds, she'll probably be played by George Clooney in the movie adaptation. If she fails, a 'runner hired by the opposition will leave her body at the bottom of the Potomac. She's got the skills to get the evidence out of the right people, to collate it and build a case. What she lacks is the ability to hack into the files or to fight off a team of hired ninjas hired by the bank. That's why she's fallen in with a crew of heavily armed mohawk'd misfits.

This character is explicitly based on Jeffrey Wright's character in Syriana, Edward Snowden and my idea of Michael Clayton (a film I've never actually seen). The character's Resources skill should be tweaked according to the story, but probably ought to start on the lower side:
  • an investigator backed by a law firm or external corporation with Resources over 5 is more likely to be a legal mercenary engaged in corporate lawfare than a plucky moralist (a fine story hook in itself, of course)
  • an investigator with Resources over 6 encountering evil in her own company is probably investigating herself (...I intended that to sound ridiculous, but now I've put it on paper a dozen potential thriller plots come to mind...)
Like most Corporate characters, the Dogged Investigator relies on a chipware socket to understand exactly why using children's playgrounds as burial sites for large quantities of Hexachlorocycopenthadiene is a bad idea. She'll probably need to develop her Composition skill a little before reporting her findings, 'cos simply writing "Hexacloroclorocycopenthapenthadine is bad for teh kids" won't convince anyone. 

And have her 'punk friends train her in advanced gun play studies, because the hired ninjas won't wait.

DOGGED INVESTIGATOR

INT: 10 REF: 7 COOL: 7 TECH: 7 LK: 4 ATT: 6 MA: 6 EMP: 7 BT: 6


SAVE: 6 BTM: -2


CAREER SKILLS

Resources: 4
Awareness/Notice (INT): 7
Human Perception (EMP): 6
Education (INT): 6
Library Search (INT): 6
Social (EMP): 3
Persuasion (EMP): 4
Wardrobe & Style (ATT): 2
Personal Grooming (ATT): 2

PICK UP SKILLS


Interrogation (COOL): 2
Intimidate (COOL): 1
Streetwise (COOL): 2
Interview (EMP): 3
Persuasion & Fast Talk (EMP): 3
Hide/Evade (INT): 3
Library Search (INT): 3
Handgun (REF): 1
Electronic Security (TECH): 2

EQUIPMENT


Cellphone, Laptop

4x Businesswear Outfits
2x Streetwear Outfits

Trauma Team Account
Health Plan

Medium Sedan

$2300

Militech Arms Avenger
P 0 J E 2d6+1 (9mm) 10 2 VR

CYBERWARE

Basic Processor w/Chipware Socket (2D6+1D6/2 Humanity Loss)

Chips:
4x [INT Skill]: 2 chips, as appropriate for the character's prior career.
Drive (REF): 3

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AMBITIOUS COURTIER


Often known as "the opposition."

Competition for the upper echelons of the corporate world is fierce. Untold millions have been cast out of the middle classes and into abject poverty: the penalty for failure is to join them, or worse. The old codes of conduct have fallen away, opening the way for assassination and economic terrorism. It began when an "eco-activist" stepped into the lobby and executed the Director of Sales. Shortly afterwards "Texan Secessionists" bombed the Austin Logistics Hub. At first, security assumed the real perpetrators belonged to a economic competitor. It took weeks before investigators implicated the HR Director.

The Ambitious Courtier represents a corporate character on the cusp of making her play for power. This might mean gunning for a promotion, attempting to start a new business or advancing her company into a new market. In an era when corporations would rather cannibalise the opposition than take the risks associated with innovation, any such move necessarily entails an adventure. 

Her skills are orientated towards memetic warfare in the boardroom. She can already move through any social situation with ease and has an array of different persuasive tools at her disposal (not limited to hired stand-over men, either!). These skills are only likely to improve with practice. As ever, a chipware socket helps round out her abilities (although she'd rather rely on hired talent than store-bought chips). 

She has limited cyberware because her EMP skills are too important to her role - and besides, cutting off one's own limbs and replacing them with power tools in the hopes of acquiring some small economic role in society is for the little people. She'll wait till she can get at the Chromebooks for the latest in biotechnology. 

More than the above characters, the Courtier's Resources skill should be tweaked according to the campaign set-up. A regional director leading her forces from her armoured SUV on the streets of some new Babylon will have a much higher Resources than an entrepreneur, who might start with nil! In this case, simply redistribute the points elsewhere (communist!).

For some plot hooks and character ideas associated with the her entourage, check out this post I scrawled back in the day.

AMBITIOUS COURTIER


INT: 10 REF: 7 COOL: 8 TECH: 4 LK: 4 ATT: 9* MA: 7 EMP: 9 BT: 5


SAVE: 5 BTM: -2

(Starting *ATT was 6, enhanced by bio-sculpting)


CAREER SKILLS

Resources: 7
Awareness/Notice (INT): 2
Human Perception (EMP): 4
Education (EMP): 2
Social (EMP): 6
Persuasion (EMP): 7
Stock Market (INT): 3
Wardrobe & Style (ATT): 5
Personal Grooming (ATT): 4

PICK UP SKILLS

Intimidate (COOL): 3

Streetwise (COOL): 1
Leadership (EMP): 3
Seduction (EMP): 3
Persuasion & Fast Talk (EMP): 3
Composition (INT): 2
Handgun (REF): 3
Drive (REF): 2

EQUIPMENT

Laptop, Holo-generator


2x Leisurewear Outfits
6x Businesswear Outfits
3x High Fasion Outfits

Mirrorshades

Trauma Team Account
Health Plan

Smart Linked SUV (the smart-link is for the hired driver...)

Sternmeyer Type 35
P 0 J C 3d6 (11mm) 8 2 VR

$500


CYBERWARE

Basic Processor w/Chipware Socket (2D6+1D6/2 Humanity Loss)

Bio-sculpting (+3 to ATT, already accounted for in attributes)
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CONTACTS AND ANTAGONISTS








































Mr Abukara: ISO9001 auditor from the home office. Officious, irritating, and protected from assassination by what few conduct standards remain.

Mimi Lewis: an Image and Networking consulting frequently underestimated because of her pink hair, pink dresses and short stature. Has had neural rewiring to remain appropriately stubborn yet tactful.

Karen Carson: a fixer and "lifestyle co-coordinator" for the city, vets hotels and restaurants for both style and security. Jaded coward found a way to have other people pay for her lifestyle, continues to live this way.

Russel Olenrewaju: company quartermaster for the local security forces. Jovial veteran of company intrigue vaguely suspected of being a double agent for Internal Security.

Jaden Hill: Marine Recon veteran lost two limbs and all his economic prospects during the DPRK counter-attack on Pyongyang Sunan Airport. The company gave him his legs, his dignity and his purpose back. Streetwise driver so fanatically loyal to the brand he can't be trusted to take bribes like everyone else.

Nigel Torres: extraction scout for a rival company. Effete, nonthreatening man with a psychologist's manner and training, calming manner.

Myron: "wine-taster." Cyborg with inhuman manner and very limited empathy is an elite medic assigned to protect the local division from all manner of NBC attacks. Bedside manner is somehow reassuringly appalling. 

Mikey: Expert System custom designed by an Italian psychologist to care for your children.

Mr Bains: stagnant misogynist heads a stagnant department. Good at nothing except survival, recruiting 'runners, blackmail. Loves the Kentucky Derby: owns a poorly performing racehorse turned poorly performing stud.

Miranda Theodoru: "Councillor" commissar for the company. Staggeringly well dressed woman with alarmingly straight posture, store-bought style, voice perfectly attuned to the company anthem. Observant and vicious. 

Hotline: shy hacker blackmailed into helping the company after they got wind of his (never acted upon) sexual preferences via a co-opted therapist. Now remotely assembles blackmail material on other people. So scared and ashamed of his own proclivities that he hasn't stepped outside his apartment in eight years.

Jennifer Haldane: company geisha knows so many secrets they might not let her leave her employment. She's just beginning to figure this out, coldly making plans. Idolises 1940s starlets.

Antietam 7: an INT 4 Raptor drone equipped with micro-missile launchers, a .50 sniper rifle and a pleasant zen-monk iPersonality. Much more trustworthy than these other bastards you call colleagues. Growing stock portfolio.

Salvation: "griefer" performs false flag strikes, blackmail and sabotage against rival companies. Self-described anarchist constantly goes on about how amoral corporations screw over the "sheeple," takes a cynical "if you can't beat them, join them" attitude. Has repeatedly attacked people actually trying a different way of life.  

Monica Wu: the best dressed hacker you've ever seen. "Business Intelligence Analyst" cultivates an enormous web of contacts from behind her shining mirror shades. Morbid sense of humour, always happy for a glass of wine and a gossipy chat at 9pm.

Lenny Long: city fixer has hook-ups with a variety of organised crime figures - knows how to get the uncut stuff, then smuggle it into the green zone. Has businesslike manner, massive chip-on-shoulder about his inability to disguise his class origins around the Harvard MBEs. 

Brighton Bains: young security officer genuinely loves violence. Achieved position through nepotism. Takes a "principled" cavalier attitude towards procedure and rules, like his movie heroes.

Gary Shecker: insult comedian with a background in memetic warfare performs corporate gigs for the company on a regular basis. Extremely good at making tailored jokes about golfing performance, etc. Takes money to subtly attack the self-esteem of specific targets.

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WHY THAT C-130 HERCULES YOU REQUESTED ISN'T AVAILABLE (D20)

("Arch Rival" refers to your chief antagonist inside the company, as opposed to your Arch Nemesis who probably works for an entirely different corporation, the bastard)


1. The resource is in maintenance.

2. The resource is in Manitoba.

3. The resource has already been requisitioned by your Arch Rival.

4. You or one of your allies already broke the resource.

5. The resource only exists on paper, contrary to the boasts of the corporation.

6. Your Arch Rival sabotaged the resource.

7. Hostile 'runners have compromised, sabotaged or killed the resource.

8. You entered a minor typo on the requisitions form. Add D12 days to requisition time.

9. Your department's operational budget is being audited. 

10. Your department's environmental footprint is being audited.

11. Your department's murder rate is being audited.

12. Your department has introduced new and complicated requisition rules relating to the resource.

13. Your department is concerned about your use of resources and wants you to scale back.

14. Gary in Operational Resources is on holiday for another week.

15. Gary in Operational Resources is being audited, adding D3 days to delivery time.

16. Gary in Operational Resources made a human error, adding three days to delivery time.

17. Gary in Operational Resources accidentally delivered your gear to your Arch Rival.

18. Gary in Operational Resources thinks you've been casting aspersions on his competence, so delayed delivery by D6 days out of spite.

19. Gary in Operational Resources fucking hates you and wants you to fail as well he might, you stuck-up, shiny chrome-plated pseudo-bard 

20. Gary in Operational Resources is conspiring with your Arch Rival to have you fired or killed, or fired and killed. Your resources will be one day late and delivered with unexpected new features. Like bombs. Also tracking devices. Also timers. Also bombs with tracking devices and timers.

WHAT HAPPENS IF GARY DIES

If Gary dies for any reason, all resources will be unavailable for 2D6+2 days while Steve waits for his access pass to be upgraded. After that, change all entries on the table to say "Steve" instead of "Gary."

If Steve dies for any reason, all resources will be unavailable for 2D6+2 days while Chris waits for his access pass to be upgraded. After that, change all entries on the table to say "Chris" instead of "Steve."

If Chris dies for any reason, the company will implement stringent new security procedures. They will issue a booklet explaining them. There will be pictures of people in suits smiling at other people in suits. Please read the booklet at the next opportunity.