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> Just how evil are your Corps?, Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely
kanislatrans
post Oct 11 2010, 10:24 PM
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I got a chance,between changing diapers and not sleeping,to sit down with a couple of players from my younger group and one of the things they had problems grasping was how a mega could be so damn powerful and as corrupt as SR corps seem to be. They are young enough(bless their innocent little hearts) and although they have a suspicion of the powers that be, were debating the idea that corporations could be powerful and also be a force for good in the world.

We talked about that for an hour or so and although I think some of my paranoia and cynicism may have sunk in, they still believe the corp line about "for the good of all"

However, I just came across this article and have emailed it to them with the question "If modern companies that are supposed to be helping people are capable of this type behavior, How do you expect a company hundreds of time large to behave any better"
marketing the disease and selling the cure


And so, fellow DS'ers, I will put the same question to you...
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KarmaInferno
post Oct 11 2010, 10:27 PM
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Evil?

Not at all.

Amoral, profit-driven, and power hungry?

Absolutely.




-k
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Doc Chase
post Oct 11 2010, 10:29 PM
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QUOTE (KarmaInferno @ Oct 11 2010, 11:27 PM) *
Evil?

Not at all.

Amoral, profit-driven, and power hungry?

Absolutely.

-k


AZT and Mitsuhama's recent actions make me wonder about the first. Blood sacrifice for personal power is enough for the Dunkie Society to throw out a 1mil bounty on the heads of any confirmed blood magi.

Mitsuhama's 'research' into Technomancers, the near-war declared on them in Emergence, and the Rose Garden project are enough to make me think there's just a bit more than amorality there.
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KarmaInferno
post Oct 11 2010, 10:30 PM
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Well, I was speaking of the general nature of Megacorps.

It is true there is individual variation.

Note that I tend to place "does not value human life" more in the "amoral" category.

The Azzies are probably the closest to having actual "evil" agendas that aren't 100% profit-driven. But even they do it for power, mostly.

To paraphrase on the nature of Evil:
"Existence offers us nothing if not the opportunity for an endless series of betrayals. There's a world behind the world. Lie once, cheat twice and everything becomes clear. Do not mistake my deception for a character flaw. It is a philosophical choice, a profound understanding of the universe. It is a way of life. I am a monster, yes."

(IMG:style_emoticons/default/biggrin.gif)



-k
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Sixgun_Sage
post Oct 11 2010, 10:51 PM
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My megas fall along the spectrum of enlightened self interest, it's more a matter of how nice they are about it and how long the view they take. Ares, Evo, Horizon? (IMG:style_emoticons/default/cyber.gif) . Mitsuhama and Aztechnology? (IMG:style_emoticons/default/devil.gif) . Fuchi? (IMG:style_emoticons/default/dead.gif)
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Critias
post Oct 11 2010, 11:59 PM
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I'm with Karma on this one. They're not actively evil just for evil's sake -- they're out for "what's best for our shareholders." (IMG:style_emoticons/default/wink.gif)
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Neurosis
post Oct 12 2010, 12:29 AM
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QUOTE (KarmaInferno @ Oct 11 2010, 05:27 PM) *
Evil?

Not at all.

Amoral, profit-driven, and power hungry?

Absolutely.




-k


An important distinction, and one I mostly agree with. Although I'd change "not at all" to "not exactly" and make sure to exempt Aztechnology.
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Nifft
post Oct 12 2010, 12:52 AM
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In my 6th World, the Corps aren't evil. They aren't good. They aren't even internally coherent -- especially not the secret departmental projects which tend to hire 'runners.

For example, it's entirely plausible that an Aztech executive might hire a band of do-gooder 'runners to spoil an Aztech blood magic ritual -- PURELY to screw over his departmental rival.

So, basically what Karma said, plus heaps of internal confusion and some very deadly office politics.
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Glyph
post Oct 12 2010, 02:22 AM
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Corporations are amoral - they don't have a single guiding intelligence behind them. Individuals with power within the company can range from frustrated idealists, to those making decisions out of enlightened self-interest, to those making decisions out of greed or lust for power. Tending mostly towards the latter - the megas are the bad guys, after all.

And the latter (driven by greed or power lust), I would define as evil. That's what evil is - some people seem to think that if someone isn't a cartoon villain doing bad things purely to be bad, they aren't evil. The truth is, evil people will nearly always have what they have convinced themselves are valid reasons for their actions - or even if they aren't capable of deceiving themselves completely, they will at least have some high-sounding rhetoric to cover it up.

In addition to the powerful people, there are all of the minions, who might have some occasional qualms about what they are doing, but will hide behind "just following orders". Although there will also be some of them who like abusing their power to do bad things. Some corporate guards might feel a bit bad about driving the squatters off the site of their new factory construction, but others might relish the thought of busting some heads.
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jaellot
post Oct 12 2010, 02:23 AM
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This notion comes up with my players from time to time, too. Actually, the whole notion of "Good vs. Evil" comes up a good bit. For me, it comes down to this- Yes, they are Evil. But it's not personal, it's just business. It's that indifference that makes the difference, heh.

Take Werewolf: The Apocalypse. You have to big, nasty corporation Pentex, which is where our bit of debating inevitably boils down to in regards to comparisons. They are out to destroy the world, just for the sake of doing. Honestly, that's rather dumb. Actually it's extremely dumb.

But if you take the Big Ten from SR, and have them simply doing the same shit, only this time it's because it's worth billions of nuyen, and it suddenly takes on a different flavor. Yes, those chemicals we dumped will kill the very land, and eventually everybody around them. But the cost to dump them properly would eat into the profit margin. Besides, they aren't real people, otherwise they would have a SIN number and job. Also, it's not going to be my problem, I'll be retired by then, living the good live, away from here. Let some other schmuck clean it up. Indifference.
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Kruger
post Oct 12 2010, 04:44 AM
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I dunno how "evil" we've ever presented the corps as. They just... are. When you have a monstrosity with that much money and power, and decentralized control, you're going have abuses, sure. But the corps, with maybe the exception of Aztechnology, have never really felt evil. The Japanacorps got a bit of the negative light in the older editions since they were written when the Japanese still were an economic powerhouse, but that was probably subjective bias of the time.

I think if you make the corps inherently, or actively evil, it works for a "Fight the man!' style game. However, I don't think it's a very realistic way to portray them. The corps have it good in the world of Shadowrun. They have no interest in upsetting the balance. Their profits lie in maintaining the status quo, but they didn't entirely create that status.

And really, in the end, if the corps are evil, and the players are working for the corps furthering their interests, then the runners are evil too. I think everyone involved is just human. Looking out for their own best interests most of the time. And with a corporation, you amplify that into a sense of collective interest.
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capt.pantsless
post Oct 12 2010, 05:48 AM
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QUOTE (Kruger @ Oct 11 2010, 10:44 PM) *
And really, in the end, if the corps are evil, and the players are working for the corps furthering their interests, then the runners are evil too.


This is what really interests me about the Shadowrun setting - the choices that players make for their characters. Do they go for short-term gain or help-out the little guy and potentially make a powerful enemy? I always find myself adding those kind of elements to campaigns just to see what the folks sitting at the table will do.

To the OP - I'd agree with many others in this thread - the Corp is generally neutral, if selfish and short-sighted, but individuals can be terribly, terribly evil.
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Nath
post Oct 12 2010, 08:06 AM
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QUOTE (Doc Chase @ Oct 12 2010, 12:29 AM) *
AZT and Mitsuhama's recent actions make me wonder about the first. Blood sacrifice for personal power is enough for the Dunkie Society to throw out a 1mil bounty on the heads of any confirmed blood magi.

Aztechnology sure has no monopoly on killing people to get more personal power, or money. The only differences is that the blood mages must do it themselves, and that it taints the Astral Background faster than other kind of misdemeanors.

What makes Aztechnology an evildoer ? Laundering Mexican cartel money ? So did MCT with the Yakuza. Supporting cartel operations ? Wuxing does help Chinese Triads. Ares Macrotechnology sure do not support gunrunner operations, they sell the stuff themselves. Controlling the Aztlan government ? I'm pretty sure all the other megacorporation would do just the same had they the opportunity. Lofwyr is just more subtle, when it comes to Europe.

So, what makes Aztechnology more of an evildoer ?
- The Oscuro/Darke agenda to help the Horrors. Internal purge put this to an end circa 2060.
- Resurrecting the bloody Aztec rituals. It may have been part of the previous one, but it is still going on. Pay respect to native culture !
- Bio-warfare in Yucatan. On that one, the ACS probably went further than what MCT and joint corporate forces did in Tsimshian, Philippines and Kenya.
- The nationalization by the Aztlan government of foreign corporate assets in 2044. This is more than evil. This is communism.
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Mäx
post Oct 12 2010, 08:26 AM
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QUOTE (Doc Chase @ Oct 12 2010, 12:29 AM) *
AZT and Mitsuhama's recent actions make me wonder about the first. Blood sacrifice for personal power is enough for the Dunkie Society to throw out a 1mil bounty on the heads of any confirmed blood magi.

That bounty is for alive blood mages, kinda like most corps pay runners to extract people from other corps.
I never understand where you people get this idea that the bounty is because blood mages are evil, if that was the case wouldn't they be paying the bounty for all blood mages, not just the ones from the list they provide and also why would they want them alive if that was the case. (IMG:style_emoticons/default/cool.gif)
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Doc Chase
post Oct 12 2010, 12:52 PM
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QUOTE (Mäx @ Oct 12 2010, 09:26 AM) *
That bounty is for alive blood mages, kinda like most corps pay runners to extract people from other corps.
I never understand where you people get this idea that the bounty is because blood mages are evil, if that was the case wouldn't they be paying the bounty for all blood mages, not just the ones from the list they provide and also why would they want them alive if that was the case. (IMG:style_emoticons/default/cool.gif)


If you pay attention to the fluff, they put out a list specifically so Joe Runner doesn't bring in every mage off the street claiming he's doing blood sacrifice.
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sabs
post Oct 12 2010, 01:01 PM
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My Dad worked for a big Chemical Company that bought a plant in Delaware from Dupont.
Dupont had built a baseball diamond for the little league kids to use, on top of where they used to dump chemical waste right into the ground. My dad's company had to pay for the clean up (it was discovered about 3-4 years after they had bought the plant).

They built a baseball diamond for kids, on top of chemical waste.

My dad always said that the only thing that kept the chemical companies from just dumping waste was regulations, because the cost-benefit analysis shows that it's cheaper to dump the waste and pay the occasional fines and lawsuits, than to properly dispose of it.

That's a regular modern day corp. I figure in the SR future they do that kind of shit all the time with no qualms. So they're evil, in the amoral we only care about profit kind of way.
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IKerensky
post Oct 12 2010, 01:05 PM
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I am sorry but Corps ARE Evil.

"They dont do Evil because of Evil", "They are just Amoral and profit driven", "They just want power"...

Heck, lets just call a cat by his name.

What define Evil ? Did a really Evil person defines herself as Evil ? Even so did she ardently pursue Evilness or is it just her pursuit of Greed and Powerlust over any Moral Code that define her actions as Evil ?

So, yes, the Corps are Evil because their Goals, Methods and Motivation define what Evil is.
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Ascalaphus
post Oct 12 2010, 01:08 PM
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I do think it's good to amp up the evil just a bit. RPGs should be larger than life, not slaves to realism. Make the corporations just a bit nastier, or more blatant about it. Government is more helpless to stop them, and it shows.

There's also more to corporations than just profit; anyone who's been in office politics knows that. People making careers, carrying out vendettas, pushing pet projects.. and some of those people are just nasty. In fact, the nasty people fight dirtier, and therefore often win.

In any corporation there'll be a struggle betwen the "defenders of sanity" (the bottom line, protected by the shareholders and their minions) against the idiosyncrasies, pet projects and fraud of everyone else.

And to make a good game, the nasty stuff will spill out into the runners' world...
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Critias
post Oct 12 2010, 08:31 PM
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QUOTE (IKerensky @ Oct 12 2010, 09:05 AM) *
I am sorry but Corps ARE Evil.

"They dont do Evil because of Evil", "They are just Amoral and profit driven", "They just want power"...

Heck, lets just call a cat by his name.

What define Evil ? Did a really Evil person defines herself as Evil ? Even so did she ardently pursue Evilness or is it just her pursuit of Greed and Powerlust over any Moral Code that define her actions as Evil ?

So, yes, the Corps are Evil because their Goals, Methods and Motivation define what Evil is.

In game terms -- because, let's face it, D&D was the gateway drug for lots of people, sets the standard for many games, etc, etc -- yes, sometimes evil people do define themselves as evil. It's an important distinction to make, then, between "evil for evil's sake" (generally on a supernatural scale, like demons and devils, Horrors, Cthulu stuff) and "just generally pretty fucking greedy."

The orphanage test:

Your standard 14 year old playing his first Chaotic Evil Wizard in a D&D game will cast Fireball repeatedly to burn down an orphanage because he thinks it's funny, because it's the "eeeeevil" thing to do, to offer them up as a sacrifice to get into some Prestige Class, because he doesn't want this daily spells to go to waste, because the average orphan might be Neutral or Neutral Good so it's his job to murder them, or because he gets his jollies off on riling up the town guard so then he can Fireball them repeatedly. He'll do all this while getting to roll a whole lot of d6's, drink a bunch of Mountain Dew, and to watch the frustrated look on the face of the party Paladin who's across town and doesn't know what's going on, in-game.

A ruthless megacorp will build, fund, and staff an orphanage in order to take in the SINless (or orphans left behind by employees) in order to get them used to the conformist corporate lifestyle, get them comfortable and accustomed to wearing the clothes the corp gives you, eating the food the corp serves you, and attending educational and vocational classes to help you be a better corporate drone. The children will be given a virtual credit of corporate vouchers every week (with small deductions made for clothing, rent, and food) in order to get them into the consumer lifestyle and to numb them to the "company store" in their future. The megacorp will do all this while conducting marketing research on the children to test out new flavors of food, while giving them food past the expiration date ("it's only illegal to sell it to consumers, not feed it to company wards!") to cut down on corporate waste, while meticulously testing them all for magical potential, and while appearing to be a benevolent entity that's giving back to the community by taking care of needy kids. Then, somewhere down the line, when a hungry up-and-comer is trying to make a name for himself by discrediting the wasteful spending and bloated budgets of his predecessor, someone just might decide that the whole thing is a waste of company funds, and there'll be "a horrible accident" and a small news clip showcasing the efficient, heroic, but ultimately futile, response of the company trained fire department as the building goes up in smoke.

That's the difference between evil for evil's sake, or "evil for the lulz," and corporate greed. It's all about the bottom line, and different manager's interpretations of it.
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Glyph
post Oct 12 2010, 09:38 PM
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I think IKerensky's point, and mine, a bit earlier, is that a lot of people are too gun-shy about the word "evil", maybe because it sounds judgemental, or simplistic, or they simply don't like the implied value judgement. But for whatever reason, a lot of folks seem to have the notion that if it isn't some cartoonish, unrealistic, evil for evil's sake that you would rarely if ever encounter in real life, then some other word is better to describe it.

But evil is just fine as a word to describe greedy, amoral, petty, vindictive, short-sighted, or selfish behavior. Especially for a dystopian game where these traits, more than evident in a lot of real-life companies, are exaggerated even further to make the megacorporations into obvious bad guys.
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Brainpiercing7.6...
post Oct 12 2010, 10:17 PM
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QUOTE (Glyph @ Oct 12 2010, 11:38 PM) *
But evil is just fine as a word to describe greedy, amoral, petty, vindictive, short-sighted, or selfish behavior.

I thought you were descibing politics... (IMG:style_emoticons/default/twirl.gif)
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Critias
post Oct 12 2010, 10:35 PM
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QUOTE (Glyph @ Oct 12 2010, 04:38 PM) *
I think IKerensky's point, and mine, a bit earlier, is that a lot of people are too gun-shy about the word "evil", maybe because it sounds judgemental, or simplistic, or they simply don't like the implied value judgement. But for whatever reason, a lot of folks seem to have the notion that if it isn't some cartoonish, unrealistic, evil for evil's sake that you would rarely if ever encounter in real life, then some other word is better to describe it.

But evil is just fine as a word to describe greedy, amoral, petty, vindictive, short-sighted, or selfish behavior. Especially for a dystopian game where these traits, more than evident in a lot of real-life companies, are exaggerated even further to make the megacorporations into obvious bad guys.

For me it's mostly because the word "evil," in a role playing game, sci-fi, or fantasy setting, tends to have implications to it that are a little too heavy-handed and simplistic for your average Shadowrun game. Ares isn't Sauron. Shiawase isn't Emperor Palpatine. Your average corp arcology isn't the fleshy, pulsing, belly of a Cthuloid beast, and corporate-run New York city isn't Zhentil Keep.

There are connotations to capital-E Evil, in an RPG, that I just don't see existing within most levels of most corporations, in Shadowrun. Corporations might do evil things, but to me the reason they're doing those things matters, in large part because player characters in Shadowrun are often doing evil things, too, but are willing to fight tooth and nail in order to justify their murder of security guards, kidnapping of researchers, and theft of private property.

Corporations should be monolithic entities that are, taken as a whole, probably the "bad guys" of the setting, sure. But I think there's the temptation there for folks to reduce them to mustachio-twirling villains who are tying damsels to railroad tracks just because, and that does the setting, the people that make up the corporation, and the game a disservice. There's more complexity to it than "Because Elminster says they're bad," to me.

I save capital-E Evil for the blood magicians, Twisted Path Adepts who are serial killers, Insect Shamen that want to see the race wiped out, and Horror-lovers like Darke. I do my best to walk a tightrope in my own games, and keep just about everyone else, "human, but still capable of doing evil things when it benefits them."
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jakephillips
post Oct 12 2010, 11:25 PM
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Just people who make their own rules and arn't held accountable to anyone other than themselves and do whatever they can to make a profit.
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Kruger
post Oct 13 2010, 12:33 AM
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QUOTE (Critias @ Oct 12 2010, 02:35 PM) *
Corporations might do evil things, but to me the reason they're doing those things matters, in large part because player characters in Shadowrun are often doing evil things, too, but are willing to fight tooth and nail in order to justify their murder of security guards, kidnapping of researchers, and theft of private property.

Exactly. It still comes down to the fact that if we make the judgment call that the Corps are "evil" then the shadowrunners who work for them are evil too. Which is fine, because most shadowrunners are indeed murderers, thugs, and thieves who are far less repentant and subtle about their misdeeds.
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IKerensky
post Oct 13 2010, 07:53 AM
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QUOTE (Critias @ Oct 12 2010, 08:31 PM) *
It's an important distinction to make, then, between "evil for evil's sake" (generally on a supernatural scale, like demons and devils, Horrors, Cthulu stuff) and "just generally pretty fucking greedy."


Sorry but I dont really agree with your examples of Evil for Evil Sakes. Cthulu or other Great Ancient by example are definitely not doing anything evil for evilness... they just dont care at all about humanity and pursue their own war of power against the other Elders that chase them to our galaxy. ey are defined several time in Lovecraft as pure evilness but not with sheer willingness just because that is the essence of what they are and what they do.

Even Horrors dont act evily just for evil sake, they do it as a way of substentation, they NEED to do so or they die. In that way Horrors can be seen as substantially less evil than corporation.

But the truth is that evil is evil, no need to use convulated justification or synonyms.
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