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> To Civilise the Benighted, A few thoughts on power and its spread
Koekepan
post Nov 22 2015, 09:14 PM
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"Come on in, ladies and gentlemen. Sit down, make yourselves comfortable. Becker, is the location secure? Good, excellent. I know it's early, but our staff will serve you all a breakfast I think you'll find adequate. I recommend the grilled mushroom omelette, but please do request whatever you desire.

"Now, to business. This government has made a promise to reduce criminality, and we've been frustrated at every turn by the existence of lawless zones, commonly known as havens. Havens of piracy, murder, and all sorts of depravity is what they are in reality. Well, it can't be allowed to continue any longer, so I have come up with a plan.

"In phase one, we will contain them. Yes, Cartwright, I know what you're going to say, but the goal is not perfect containment. We all know that the determination of the smugglers will defeat containment as such, but the real purpose here is delineation. We shall buy out properties - on generous terms - where the owners can be identified. This will encourage other property owners to come forward willingly, but where other property owners are not on record, or are presumed dead, or the properties functionally abandoned, they shall be taken in the national interest. In any event the buildings are to be razed, and barriers erected. Checkpoints will be installed, and at those checkpoints all passers will be meticulously recorded. Troublemakers will be identified, and picked up outside the checkpoints, rather than making the checkpoints themselves focal zones.

"In phase two, the barriers will be grown inward. Again, property owners that can be identified will be compensated, but this must happen with great speed so that we can carve off pieces of each haven, search them in detail, and separate them. Bit by bit we shall eradicate the lawless element that chooses to fight back, capture those sufficiently intelligent to surrender, and bring the buildings up to code.

"Phase three shall be to install basic utilities, tear down the outer barriers progressively, sanitise the buildings and render the area ready for intelligent gentrification. We can provide incentives for government employee housing there, and establish a progressive structure for a security hand off from paramilitary to regular police forces while also establishing a solid public security surveillance infrastructure as well as a tax base to justify the entire exercise.

"Phase four will be to eradicate the last vestiges of the barriers and slums, putting the last blighted areas of land surface to productive use, and completing the rehabilitation of a once-septic scar on our land into a stable, productive, prosperous city.

"Any comment?"
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Sengir
post Nov 23 2015, 04:15 PM
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Sounds a bit like what they did with Berlin, gradually shrink down the anarchist holdout under the pretense of bringing light and enlightenment to the poor people there (well, that and a convenient terrorist attack)
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Koekepan
post Nov 23 2015, 04:46 PM
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QUOTE (Sengir @ Nov 23 2015, 06:15 PM) *
Sounds a bit like what they did with Berlin, gradually shrink down the anarchist holdout under the pretense of bringing light and enlightenment to the poor people there (well, that and a convenient terrorist attack)


I was thinking about this in the context of SRV, trying to sort out what the authorities would try to do, and how. The question is how, after the examples of Chicago and Berlin, the inhabitants would actually respond.
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Sengir
post Nov 24 2015, 04:34 PM
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QUOTE (Koekepan @ Nov 23 2015, 05:46 PM) *
I was thinking about this in the context of SRV, trying to sort out what the authorities would try to do, and how. The question is how, after the examples of Chicago and Berlin, the inhabitants would actually respond.

If you live in the barrens, you certainly have had some less than amicable contact with the authorities. And now The Man comes to bulldoze your home?
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Stahlseele
post Nov 24 2015, 05:27 PM
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You think the Ancients and the Spikes are bad news now?
Imagine what they would be capable of if they decided on an armistice untill they dealt with the corps trying something like that.
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Glyph
post Nov 25 2015, 03:36 AM
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I just don't see the megacorps acting in quite the same way as a totalitarian government would. They like the barrens - a pool of cheap labor and cheap muscle to exploit, a dumping ground for toxic waste and burned-out ex-employees, and an explicit example to their other employees, of how lucky they are to have a job, 80-hour work week and all.

Now, if something happened to make that land valuable, then I imagine their version of gentrification would be pretty ruthless, but I doubt there would be any concern for the people they would be displacing.
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Koekepan
post Nov 25 2015, 06:53 AM
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QUOTE (Glyph @ Nov 25 2015, 05:36 AM) *
I just don't see the megacorps acting in quite the same way as a totalitarian government would. They like the barrens - a pool of cheap labor and cheap muscle to exploit, a dumping ground for toxic waste and burned-out ex-employees, and an explicit example to their other employees, of how lucky they are to have a job, 80-hour work week and all.

Now, if something happened to make that land valuable, then I imagine their version of gentrification would be pretty ruthless, but I doubt there would be any concern for the people they would be displacing.


I should probably elaborate on my thinking here. I've been very lazy, so please forgive my disingenuous brevity above.

Glyph: I tend to agree that the corps have uses for the barrens in general, and havens in particular. I've gradually come to the line of thought that the corps regard havens as being rather like nuclear weapons: they can't stamp them all out, and if another corp is going to use them then they sure as hell want access too.

Conversely, if anyone wants to stamp out havens, the corps won't cry too hard, so it's really up to the denizens of the havens to fight back against the process. The question becomes then who truly wants the havens destroyed? I believe that the answer must be national governments. They're already taking body blows from several directions (not least the corps) and the existence of havens is a constant reminder of their own limitations. Politically, attacking havens is an easy sell to voters. Hence my thinking that if anyone is going to try, it will be a government with access to governmental powers such as eminent domain.

The implied question is how they would go about it - to which my opening post was an attempted reply. The deeper implied question is what the response would be, and I think that Stahlseele offered a reasonable first approximation.

Of course, every tool of the government that is left unattended will be stolen, stripped, or boobytrapped. Workers would need a constant military or paramilitary guard (which makes the entire exercise massively expensive) and as soon as runners get word of what is going on, I imagine that they would volunteer some time, effort and a couple of sniper rifles (or panther cannons) to the cause.

Any other thoughts on likely responses?
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Stahlseele
post Nov 25 2015, 12:14 PM
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Go with the old gag of sneaking in and mixing plascrete 7 or whatever it was into the vats that make the stuff for the walls.
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Blade
post Nov 25 2015, 03:12 PM
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Who's got an interest in doing something like this?

As has been written above, not the corps. They benefit from cheap lands, cheap labor and dumping grounds. However, some corp might want to restrain the playground to their exclusive access. It could be because of resources available in that place (natural resources, special human resources, presence of interesting artifacts/materials...) or just to get a monopoly on the local cheap lands, labor and dumping grounds. It might make sense for a smaller AA to try this to limit the influence of AAA in some locations, or to be able to get access to that location.

The government? What would it get out of this? Politicians are after two things : 1. money (for campaign funds or for themselves) 2. votes
The first, they can get by acting friendly with corps, so if corps have an interest in keeping the Barrens alive, the politicians have no incentive to change the status quo.
This leaves the second. The threat of the Barrens is a double edged sword. On one hand it helps keep the population in a state of fear that's useful for many things, on the other hand if the threat (or perceived threat) goes too high it can undermine the government's authority and force it to act in that kind of way (though I guess it would be more likely to send heavy police troops, build a wall or pass more aggressive/protective laws than do something like this)

Who/what else?
- Some Universal Brotherhood scheme
- A criminal syndicate that's trying to get government support (because even if the government is not interested in making it, it can't afford not to support something of that kind) to get a better hold on their turf.
- A powerful racist organisation that's trying to get rid of all the "wrong" people. But they'll need to have enough pull and funding for this. Please note that they can have infiltrated the local government/corp to get them (or the government/corp was made of them to begin with).
- Someone from a government/corp with either a flawed utopian vision or a personal grudge against the Barrens and enough influence to be able to pull off something like this.
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Koekepan
post Nov 25 2015, 05:31 PM
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QUOTE (Blade @ Nov 25 2015, 05:12 PM) *
Who's got an interest in doing something like this?


Like your post. I'll take a more detailed look at the elements here.

QUOTE
As has been written above, not the corps. They benefit from cheap lands, cheap labor and dumping grounds. However, some corp might want to restrain the playground to their exclusive access. It could be because of resources available in that place (natural resources, special human resources, presence of interesting artifacts/materials...) or just to get a monopoly on the local cheap lands, labor and dumping grounds. It might make sense for a smaller AA to try this to limit the influence of AAA in some locations, or to be able to get access to that location.


This raises the separate question of corps trying to shape the havens, or control access to them, rather than destroying them. It's an interested question, but rather more advanced than my simple initial question. I don't really have answers to how this would work yet, but off the top of my head I'd say that I would see corporations doing the usualy hearts-and-minds thing, what with sponsorships of sports, scholarships, soup kitchens and the rest, while competing (and possibly hiring shadowrunners) to keep each other from doing precisely that.

QUOTE
The government? What would it get out of this? Politicians are after two things : 1. money (for campaign funds or for themselves) 2. votes


Yes .... and no. Politicians want power and prominence. Power begets power, so a politician who successfully demonstrates that he (or she, or it - Shadowrun is so confusing!) can keep promises to a constituency gets an automatic his-word-is-good boost. Voters are not super sophisticated as a group, and tend to rally against perceived enemies. A progressive populist would call barrens a blight on the (meta-)human terrain, and a reactionary firebrand would call havens an affront against (meta-)human decency and law and order. Either way the pretext exists, and if by wiping out a haven a politician can demonstrate personal authority, swell the power of the state, and not immediately enrage every corp (probably wouldn't) that translates into a certain momentum of its own, in political terms. President Progpop says: "Look at all these new chummers we have brought into a well policed society with social benefits! Please ignore how most of the SINs we created immediately converted into criminal SINs and all the other cleanup that will be needed." On the other hand, President Reactfire will say: "We challenged the forces of anarchy and crime on their home grounds, and the losses were worth it because tonight our people sleep more soundly in their beds! Please ignore all the criminal scum driven into your suburbs by our activities." In either case, politicians have substantial motivations to be seen to be doing something, and to be successful at it.

QUOTE
The first, they can get by acting friendly with corps, so if corps have an interest in keeping the Barrens alive, the politicians have no incentive to change the status quo.
This leaves the second. The threat of the Barrens is a double edged sword. On one hand it helps keep the population in a state of fear that's useful for many things, on the other hand if the threat (or perceived threat) goes too high it can undermine the government's authority and force it to act in that kind of way (though I guess it would be more likely to send heavy police troops, build a wall or pass more aggressive/protective laws than do something like this)


It's the second I see as being more of a reason. If the politician bangs a drum claiming how terrible the barrens and havens are, the obvious reaction to the people who pound the bar while pounding back algaehol is: "Something oughta be done!" Politicians who talk a big game but do nothing don't win on this front.

QUOTE
Who/what else?
- Some Universal Brotherhood scheme
- A criminal syndicate that's trying to get government support (because even if the government is not interested in making it, it can't afford not to support something of that kind) to get a better hold on their turf.
- A powerful racist organisation that's trying to get rid of all the "wrong" people. But they'll need to have enough pull and funding for this. Please note that they can have infiltrated the local government/corp to get them (or the government/corp was made of them to begin with).
- Someone from a government/corp with either a flawed utopian vision or a personal grudge against the Barrens and enough influence to be able to pull off something like this.


These are solid ideas, but many of them would have to imply some sort of availability of amnesty or similar immunity from prosecution, since the methods are likely to be very questionably legal from the perspective of a nominal government. Granted, de facto immunity is not all that rare in the corrupt world of Shadowrun, but it is a concern for those who are paranoid about the machinations of their competition.

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Mantis
post Nov 25 2015, 09:14 PM
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I'm not sure I see any point in the Seattle government at least, even trying to clean up Redmond or Puyallup. Both districts are heavily polluted and at least in the case of Redmond, so overrun with gangs that it would take an actual military intervention (genocide?) to get them out. Following that would be the nearly impossible task of cleaning up the irradiated areas of Glow City or somehow dealing with Rainier dropping constant ash. Not to mention anything the various corps have dumped in these districts over the decades. Likely the only thing preventing Seattle from walling these areas off is that the NAN (Salish Shidhe) already did this from the other side and the expense. Unless they suddenly discover oil or gold or some rare earths in those districts I don't see any campaign to clean them up ever getting traction. The expense is just way too high to justify any perceived gain.

Havens take all this a step further. With the corporate presence in HK, for example, what incentive is there to return the city to the fractured clusterf*!k that is the remnants of China? Hell, compared to some places, HK is a literal heaven and haven. Other places like Hamburg or Capetown are in similar states. These places also act as release valves for the country they are in. A place to dump undesirables and conduct whatever social or scientific experiment they want without having to worry about voters or oversight committees.

Keep in mind these places were lost to their various governments due to the expense of keeping the place or placating (or pacifying) the population. Unless things change dramatically on the financial front there just doesn't seem to be much incentive to step in and take a place back. Take a look a Chicago for an example of how the 6th world reacts to things that go wrong. Walls and armed guards around the place but no real effort to take it back and rebuild. You could look at New Orleans for a real world example of just how much effort a government will put in to fix things. Katrina was a decade ago and parts of that city still aren't back to normal. And they don't have to deal with 6th world threats or mega-corps sticking their noses in and messing things up.

It's an interesting thought experiment but I'm not sure there is any incentive, even a tough on crime one, to get a given government to try and recover one of these lost cities or districts. Too expensive and too many opposition forces in play. Or at least, that's how I see it.
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Sengir
post Nov 25 2015, 09:23 PM
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QUOTE (Blade @ Nov 25 2015, 04:12 PM) *
As has been written above, not the corps. They benefit from cheap lands, cheap labor and dumping grounds.

Bear in mind that corps in SR also are governments. For the most part, they don't care what happens outside their comfy little enclaves, but if some place has gotten too troublesome they might decide a little "humanitarian intervention" is in order. Or maybe somebody has calculated that turning the barrens into a thoroughly gentrified yuppie refuge will be profitable (as it is IRL, gentrification does not happen because it's a poor business model (IMG:style_emoticons/default/wink.gif) ), and your particular quarter has been designated as the trial ground.
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Wounded Ronin
post Nov 26 2015, 12:20 AM
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The first thing that popped into my mind when I read the original post was "that sounds very expensive."
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Koekepan
post Nov 26 2015, 05:10 AM
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Taking control of havens can happen for many reasons, not least being strategic. Havens are a pain in the butt for people who long for control - i.e. politicians. Corps have the luxury of considering the benefits and problems inherent in having havens around. To politicians, they are a constant challenge, a lawless zone over which they should have control, but do not. Tolerating havens looks like weakness.

Now, in the case of havens that simply exist as inhabited toxic landfills, it's easier to justify ignoring them, but even so to tolerate free travel back and forth is weakness in this context; weakness the way politicians see it. They can't control their own people, they have a gaping maw of (relatively) untouchable criminal activity, they can't tax it, and every time something bad happens to their constituents (ostensibly) because of a haven, they get blamed for not doing anything.

And worse yet, there's no upside. A nation in crisis could get away with saying that they have bigger fish to fry, but there's absolutely no real reason that a government couldn't set up a series of elevated monitoring stations around a haven, populate the area with a team of people with suitable police powers, and start handing out criminal SINs. People who resist can be buried or imprisoned, and bits of property that are cleared out can be bulldozed, covered in tarmac and repurposed.

The bigger question is how much of a fight the haven and its inhabitants might put up. Might a corp oppose the government in this sort of urban reclamation? Maybe, although it's not at all guaranteed. Corps might figure that there's more profit in letting the government deal with cleanup while they go back to their core competencies.

So, balancing the pros and cons, as long as corps are promised that they'll get nice concessions from the government (cheap housing for wageslaves, solid police services, subsidies for commercial construction), they can be easily mollified. The governments have no benefit to a haven existing, and many detriments. A haven's continued existence depends on itself - which means that a haven must be more trouble to clean up than it is worth.

Who brings that level of trouble?
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Mantis
post Nov 26 2015, 05:50 PM
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Guerrillas. Guerrillas bring that level of trouble. None of the inhabitants in such places are going to fight anything like a fair fight. There will be IEDs every where along with snipers and magically threats of all sorts. Cleaning any of these places up to such a level that wage slaves are going to live there will require military intervention. In Seattle, while they can call on the Metroplex guard, how many of those troops are they willing to lose to take back Redmond? How much military intervention can they get away with before the Salish ask them to stop bombing the area? How much can they do without it looking to the Salish that this is actually just cover for a land grab on their side?

Politicians may claim they want to control these areas and may claim they want power over them but the politicians also use the resources in the barrens and havens for their own dirty work. So long as the cost of clean up outweighs the financial benefits nothing will be done. Most of these places aren't socialist in their political leanings so the local politicians are unlikely to gain much support for a 'good of the many' type of program. If there is nothing in it for the individual then there won't be the support needed to take the places back. Tax hikes to pay to clean up some place where the SINless and ganger scum hang out won't gain traction. You have to think that after all these decades of lawlessness in the barrens and havens that if nothing has been done, nothing will be done. Inertia is too great at that point and it would take some very serious threat out of one of these places to get anyone to act. These zones have been this way for literally decades by this point. Easier to let it be.
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Koekepan
post Nov 26 2015, 07:57 PM
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Mantis raises a very cogent point. Guerilla resistance aimed at making the area ungovernable is the single most plausible idea on this front I've heard yet - and shadowrunners would be guerillas par excellence.

Now we get to the more detailed points: who would rally those guerillas? Neo-anarchists or their counterparts? Maybe goblinoid separatists of some stripe? Maybe there are smaller dragons, dragons that do not have the size or power to have continental ambitions, who protect havens as their own domains, who would pull strings to arrange an impassioned and ferocious defence.

What then would be the fall-back position of governments around the havens? I suspect that there would be a belt of relative abandonment, a sort of no-man's-land, but around that would be a brutal policing team with a well-entrenched monitoring setup, intended to try to contain the anarchy that they can't stamp out.
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Glyph
post Nov 26 2015, 11:18 PM
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To be honest, while it has never (to my knowledge) been explicity stated, I have always assumed that the border between the Barrens and the rest of the sprawl is like a DMZ, or at least has checkpoints/security to keep the average SINless barrens denizens where they "belong", outside of a few tolerated buffer zones such as Loveland, where the suits can go slumming.

I see that security as being relatively complacent (no real major uprisings have happened) and porous, with bribery and corruption being the norm, and security not being too inclined to confront obviously armed types such as shadowrunners. North America in Shadowrun is like a third-world country today, with widespread poverty and anarchy, with a few bastions of relative stability in the megacorporate holdings. This is a setting where gangs like the Halloweeners are downtown gangs, and where other gangs do things like take over stretches of I5 or use the Tir border patrols for target practice.
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Koekepan
post Nov 27 2015, 12:00 AM
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Glyph's right of course - with one major exception. The exception in question being that that situation isn't really stable. All it needs is one competent street gang warlord, or would-be authoritarian president of the UCAS, or crusading do-gooder policlub leader, or other destabilising influence taking advantage of the natural stresses in the system.

At best, it's metastable, waiting to be thrown out of its zone of stability - and that impetus will inevitably come even if only because of pressures of shifting demography, food supplies or even something as simple as a determination to return I5 to usefulness as a logistical stream.

Remember, I'm trying to work out for an SRV environment what might have happened, rather than what the RAW currently say.
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Mantis
post Nov 27 2015, 04:57 PM
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Well then you need something, like you say, to move these areas or situations out of their current stasis, but like Glyph says, NA is pretty much like a current world third world country. Every documented city in the SR universe has a barrens and some are just barrens with little enclaves of civilization (Lagos for example). So these places aren't something unique to Seattle or unique to just a few places. They are everywhere. Politically then, you would need some pressure from somewhere to force this situation to change and be big enough to get the majority or at least the vocal minority behind it.

So sure, throw in an ambitious ganger warlord, link his supply chain to an enemy of a given area (whether it is true or not doesn't matter) and then have the outraged populace rise up in anger after said warlord starts attacking things he really shouldn't. Housing projects in Tacoma or farmland in Snohomish. Make it indiscriminate so long as the targets are not linked to either this outside enemy supplier or the interests of the gang itself. Place the gang strongholds well within the Barrens and then have the government roll in to deal with it via military. After they have dealt with the gang they may have their own foothold in there and can wage a clean up effort from there. Of course this effort would face the asymmetrical warfare issues I mentioned earlier. Whether the government involved would fare any better than any real world government has when faced with a similar situation is up to you.
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Koekepan
post Nov 28 2015, 06:52 AM
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I'm not quite sure that you understood my purpose, so let me see if I can get this a bit clearer.

My earlier mentioned SRV project was to envision a ShadowRun rule/milieu combination with maximal verisimilitude; i.e. that it be as plausible as possible (within the limits of reasonable playability). This is why I'm not asking the question of how things happen in the canonical environment, but how could they plausibly work in an adjusted model? The problem with havens is that right now the rules as written don't really address their continued existence but blandly assume it. In actual fact, even in the more functional parts of the Third World, people pour a lot of money into attempting to stabilise and uplift depressed areas.

QUOTE (Mantis @ Nov 27 2015, 06:57 PM) *
Well then you need something, like you say, to move these areas or situations out of their current stasis, but like Glyph says, NA is pretty much like a current world third world country. Every documented city in the SR universe has a barrens and some are just barrens with little enclaves of civilization (Lagos for example). So these places aren't something unique to Seattle or unique to just a few places. They are everywhere. Politically then, you would need some pressure from somewhere to force this situation to change and be big enough to get the majority or at least the vocal minority behind it.


As I explain above, it's not a matter of needing to move them out of stasis. Instead, I'm observing that the existence of havens as active thorns in the side of those who have power and seek more is not a particularly stable condition. Even if you accept that the UCAS is basically a degraded state, it's far from entirely broken. The biggest constituent pressure is from SINners (because they actually have votes) and they (as a rule) want their little slice of suburban bliss to be as well defended as possible. Thus it becomes very easy to envision, at some point, a law-and-order sort of government taking the reins. In fact, it would be downright amazing if that didn't happen. So what would such a government do? Ideally, they want to a) take action b) be seen to be taking action c) have some kind of success that they can demonstrate so that the whole thing doesn't turn into a huge political black eye for them. Taking power and not doing something around at least one haven would be unthinkable, in electoral terms.

So what would they do? Given that the havens are de facto a hostile territory, or at least an ungovernable no-man's-land, despite nominally having been claimed by the theoretical sovereign power, they need to contain, control and extinguish the haven as a coherent entity. The question, from a world design standpoint, is why and how havens would survive this sort of approach. As was suggested above, if the inhabitants of the haven pose determined and skilled resistance, they can make themselves far too expensive to reconquer - which raises several more questions. The first is: what would be the fall-back position of the government? Approximate containment with paramilitary police forces and a deep surveillance field? That seems plausible, and not particularly expensive while having the virtue that it's something the politicians can point to as an active step towards their electoral promises (while downplaying the bloody nose the haven's inhabitants gave them). The fact that corps would love to sell the government surveillance goodies, weaponry, and computing power with which to manage all this simply makes the corps more interested in profiteering from this rather than sabotaging the government's efforts. The second question is: who would have rallied the haven's inhabitants? To what flag would they actually rally? So far the prime candidates are various policlubs, or a sort of floating neo-anarchist collective, but it's unclear.

QUOTE (Mantis @ Nov 27 2015, 06:57 PM) *
So sure, throw in an ambitious ganger warlord, link his supply chain to an enemy of a given area (whether it is true or not doesn't matter) and then have the outraged populace rise up in anger after said warlord starts attacking things he really shouldn't. Housing projects in Tacoma or farmland in Snohomish. Make it indiscriminate so long as the targets are not linked to either this outside enemy supplier or the interests of the gang itself. Place the gang strongholds well within the Barrens and then have the government roll in to deal with it via military. After they have dealt with the gang they may have their own foothold in there and can wage a clean up effort from there. Of course this effort would face the asymmetrical warfare issues I mentioned earlier. Whether the government involved would fare any better than any real world government has when faced with a similar situation is up to you.


Governments can and have actually won against that kind of resistance, historically speaking. The problem with queasy denizens of the twenty-first century is that the techniques for doing so are brutal and protracted in direct proportion to how effective they are. A case in point, depending on how far you want to go back in history, might be as distant as the roman conquest of Western Europe, or as recent as the troubles of Sri Lanka. In the world of ShadowRun government brutality is easily justified, so the main question is whether the effort would be worth the result, and here the case becomes foggier.

If we stipulate for the sake of argument that the denizens of havens (not merely barrens in general, but areas sophisticated and stable enough to be substantial runners' havens) value their way of life highly, or at least despise their would-be conquerors, and have the means and the will to resist conquest, they would still need some form of coordination, however tenuous, to pose effective resistance. In the early days it might be as simple as a few street thugs hurling molotov cocktails at government bulldozers because they hate the government, but at some point there needs to be a clear reason to offer continued and determined resistance, rather than quit the haven in favour of another.

These are the questions I'm trying to puzzle out.

It does strike me that some of the strongest resistance, and coordination, would probably come through fixers. If you have a smart fixer who sponsors some runs against government targets, and uncovers the real project, the revelations might easily motivate a lot of other fixers, and for that matter organised crime blocs, to collaborate to preserve their independence, such as it is.
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Mantis
post Nov 28 2015, 09:38 AM
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OK but what do you mean by a haven? As described in Runner's Havens? Because these places have governments in place already along with substantiation corporate protection. Or do you mean places as described in Feral Cities? Those are really well beyond a government intervention more because the government that would nominally rule the place has completely collapsed or else just lacks any real power to do anything. Chicago for example, is still infested with bugs and despite efforts, no one has really come up with a surefire way to get them out.

In the case of barrens, these are examples of urban blight and decay taken to the extreme. You can look at parts of Detroit to see this happening in real life and how difficult it can be to actually do something about it. I suppose if your government is despotic and ruthless enough nothing is beyond them but this would just create more of a rallying cry for various groups to oppose them.

I feel like the governments of SR are just barely holding on as is. As Glyph pointed out, the Halloweeners are a downtown gang. These guys are really horrific and yet they inhabit areas or are next to areas that already have very high security and are home to some very influential people. Yet there they sit, despite this, carrying out their crimes. Despite any posturing, the SR governments feel like they exist more because the corporate overlords can't be bothered with the things the government does and so needs them to perform tasks they would rather not waste effort on rather than because they (the corporations) couldn't just take over a given area or country and run it themselves. In fact, I'm pretty sure this has been outright said to be the case in earlier editions of the game.

So for an alternate timeline sort of thing, you'd need the government in question to not have been neutered by the corporations at some point. They'd still need to be seen as a strong force in the area, something that people would turn to. I also think they would have needed to step into a barrens before it became a decades old establishment and done something then. So rewrite the history to take that into account.

While substantial money is poured into third world countries to uplift depressed areas most of that vanishes into graft and corruption. Very little actually makes it to the people who need it the most and what does make it doesn't last long before conflict wipes out any gains made. SR barrens are much like this I think, and would need an absolute and ruthless grip on the area to keep it from backsliding. So how ruthless is your government? And how willing to accept that ruthlessness is the population? Its hard to imagine a government that ruthless limits itself to just the barrens it is trying to clean up as far as draconian measures go. Possible but not likely or at least not likely for long. At some point the cure is going to become worse than the disease which, I suppose, will make for some new and interesting stories.
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Sengir
post Nov 28 2015, 04:12 PM
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QUOTE (Koekepan @ Nov 26 2015, 06:10 AM) *
Now, in the case of havens that simply exist as inhabited toxic landfills, it's easier to justify ignoring them, but even so to tolerate free travel back and forth is weakness in this context; weakness the way politicians see it. They can't control their own people, they have a gaping maw of (relatively) untouchable criminal activity, they can't tax it, and every time something bad happens to their constituents (ostensibly) because of a haven, they get blamed for not doing anything.

And worse yet, there's no upside. A nation in crisis could get away with saying that they have bigger fish to fry, but there's absolutely no real reason that a government couldn't set up a series of elevated monitoring stations around a haven, populate the area with a team of people with suitable police powers, and start handing out criminal SINs. People who resist can be buried or imprisoned, and bits of property that are cleared out can be bulldozed, covered in tarmac and repurposed.

You are assuming governments and states working like today. But in Shadowrun, most states had their territory and people balkanized beyond recognition, the monopoly and the use of force has been outsourced to private companies, and every company above a certain size is extraterritorial, owing neither taxes nor anything else.
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Tymeaus Jalynsfe...
post Nov 28 2015, 04:30 PM
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To your description, Koekepan, it sounds a lot like the Gaza Strip of Today.
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Koekepan
post Nov 28 2015, 05:48 PM
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QUOTE (Sengir @ Nov 28 2015, 06:12 PM) *
You are assuming governments and states working like today. But in Shadowrun, most states had their territory and people balkanized beyond recognition, the monopoly and the use of force has been outsourced to private companies, and every company above a certain size is extraterritorial, owing neither taxes nor anything else.


Balkanized, yes, but not destroyed. UCAS is still (at least nominally) a unified state. The monopoly on the use of force may have been outsourced, but that doesn't mean that the government can't tell contractors: "Monitor this area and bulldoze these plots of land." nor for that matter that the government doesn't still have its own armed forces as well as police forces.

As for extraterritoriality, that's mostly moot in this case. Allow me to explain: let's say that Siemens meets the definition for extraterritoriality. It's huge, it's globe-spanning, it employs enough people to form a pretty substantial city just by itself. If I were El Presidente of La Republica, and Siemens just took fat chunks of my territory and I had no way of effectively resisting that, I'd still charge tariffs when products cross borders. There would be customs offices, and while Siemens might not like it, and there might be an almighty fight about it, and they might push for free trade, I'd probably not end up empty-handed. Alternatively, if I'm genuinely backed into a corner and can do absolutely nothing about them, that leaves me a completely free hand to pay zero attention whatsoever to their convenience. If there's a haven causing me problems, and I want that haven wiped out, the fact that this would make the directors of Siemens pout would mostly make me giggle, while I order the Revolutionary Soldiers of Freedom to establish a perimeter.

The take-home message: if governments still have (even rump) armies and police forces, they can do this. If they still have the ability to exercise even commercial control over their own borders (without which smugglers would be pointless) then they can still tax, their point of taxation just changes. So they might be corrupt, and the map lines might have been redrawn, but they can still launch bombers and send cops to arrest people. More importantly, they can still afford to do precisely that.

Now, if what you're proposing is on a completely different level, where governments are genuinely toothless and broke, and mostly become country clubs for the idle rich, then the entire discussion vanishes because the country clubs aren't about to (afford to) violently contend for control of anything very much. In that case I have a whole list of other questions, but I'd want to hear why you think we'd get there.

There are many big holes in the canon history. The idea that any other country in the world would recognise extraterritoriality after the US-centric Shiawase decision seems pretty weird to me. If I were in just about any other country in the world I'd probably shake my head and mumble about crazy americans, and opine that they should be left to their own extraterritoriality decisions and not tell us how to live our lives. I am OK with the idea that extraterritoriality would or could come about to some extent, at least functionally in a wide variety of areas, but I don't see why it would be universally recognised, and even if it were I don't see how every corner shop marked HORIZON would suddenly be foreign territory. Major installations, company towns and HQ zones would be more likely candidates in my view. Corporate citizenship? Sure, but that wouldn't nullify my laws in my territory any more than it would convey diplomatic status on all citizens of Siemens, Inc. If someone wants diplomatic status, there would have to be a delivery of credentials, an arrangement of standing and of diplomatic offices. These things don't spring unbidden from the soil.
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post Nov 28 2015, 06:37 PM
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QUOTE (Mantis @ Nov 28 2015, 11:38 AM) *
OK but what do you mean by a haven? As described in Runner's Havens? Because these places have governments in place already along with substantiation corporate protection. Or do you mean places as described in Feral Cities? Those are really well beyond a government intervention more because the government that would nominally rule the place has completely collapsed or else just lacks any real power to do anything. Chicago for example, is still infested with bugs and despite efforts, no one has really come up with a surefire way to get them out.


I have substantial problems with both the foregoing. In this case I mean a zone in which the globocorpogovernment panopticon does not reach, and in which external forces have no enforceable internal jurisdiction, but I do not necessarily mean an irredeemable hellhole either. In a nutshell, it's a place where runners can go and do runner business without expecting that every streetlight, shopfront and drone is immediately summoning starship troopers to dismantle them. The hows and whys of these places are still under discussion (obviously). Somewhere between Hong Kong, Christiania, and Mogadishu.

QUOTE (Mantis @ Nov 28 2015, 11:38 AM) *
In the case of barrens, these are examples of urban blight and decay taken to the extreme. You can look at parts of Detroit to see this happening in real life and how difficult it can be to actually do something about it. I suppose if your government is despotic and ruthless enough nothing is beyond them but this would just create more of a rallying cry for various groups to oppose them.


Detroit is already flattening buildings - that part is straight from reality. The inhabitants are not being driven out at the point of bayonet, but there's no urgency to doing so, since there are processes already in place intending to correct the problems that Detroit has - and in financial terms some people are describing those as scorched earth warfare, but the rest of the country isn't paying much attention because the alternatives largely appear to be worse.

QUOTE (Mantis @ Nov 28 2015, 11:38 AM) *
I feel like the governments of SR are just barely holding on as is. As Glyph pointed out, the Halloweeners are a downtown gang. These guys are really horrific and yet they inhabit areas or are next to areas that already have very high security and are home to some very influential people. Yet there they sit, despite this, carrying out their crimes. Despite any posturing, the SR governments feel like they exist more because the corporate overlords can't be bothered with the things the government does and so needs them to perform tasks they would rather not waste effort on rather than because they (the corporations) couldn't just take over a given area or country and run it themselves. In fact, I'm pretty sure this has been outright said to be the case in earlier editions of the game.


I'm OK with the idea that the corps would simply ignore parts of the normal functions of government. I'm not OK with the idea that, in the light of a group like the Halloweeners, an actual government wouldn't have set up drones equipped with sniper rifles, monitoring the Halloweener area of influence, and the first time they see the gang lighting up some old lady just for yuks, the drones shoot as many of the perpetrators as possible. Fairly cheap, highly effective, and since the gang members are largely SINless, largely consequence-free. Give the poor victim a nice burial at city cost, shed a tactful tear in front of the cameras, bang on a podium and talk a big game about subhuman criminal murderous scum, and shoot anyone else who demonstrates similar tendencies. At some point the gang will either move on, or run out of members. Problem solved. And before you complain about the ostensible brutality, if a cop saw that happening on the streets of Seattle today, that cop could shoot every single one of the gangers with flamethrowers and suffer no legal repercussions whatsoever. Possibly even get a medal. In fact, if a private citizen saw it happening and unloaded on the gangers, it would still be legal. And that's in the modern USA! SINless scumbags getting shot up in anything like the chaos of the ShadowRun world would be hot stuff on trid.

QUOTE (Mantis @ Nov 28 2015, 11:38 AM) *
So for an alternate timeline sort of thing, you'd need the government in question to not have been neutered by the corporations at some point. They'd still need to be seen as a strong force in the area, something that people would turn to. I also think they would have needed to step into a barrens before it became a decades old establishment and done something then. So rewrite the history to take that into account.


The government might, even if it still exists, write off a true toxic, radioactive wasteland as a lost cause. However, that doesn't mean that every inconvenience would be ignored. And honestly, the government doesn't even have to be all that strong to be active. Imagine you're made the governor of the Seattle Enclave. Most people think you're a joke, or a figurehead, or the latest face of bribery, but if you want to raise your game in terms of prestige there's no reason you couldn't exercise some of the prerogatives of government, and try to prove that there are things you can do without Knight Errant or Lone Star's involvement. Given that the private police services have been very open about depolicing areas that they do not deem worth it, there's every opportunity to go down to where people complain about crime, press the flesh, look concerned for the camera, and get some actual government cops in to do the dirty work that Lone Star is just too scared to do. There are lots of ways you can spin this. Hell, you could even do it as a cynical contract negotiation strategy, trying to get Knight Errant to come to the table and promise greater police coverage in areas that Lone Star isn't. To the detectives and beat cops on the ground, it's still their job to police those areas, investigate criminal activity, defend the ostensibly innocent and exercise the power of arrest granted them by the government.

QUOTE (Mantis @ Nov 28 2015, 11:38 AM) *
While substantial money is poured into third world countries to uplift depressed areas most of that vanishes into graft and corruption. Very little actually makes it to the people who need it the most and what does make it doesn't last long before conflict wipes out any gains made. SR barrens are much like this I think, and would need an absolute and ruthless grip on the area to keep it from backsliding. So how ruthless is your government? And how willing to accept that ruthlessness is the population? Its hard to imagine a government that ruthless limits itself to just the barrens it is trying to clean up as far as draconian measures go. Possible but not likely or at least not likely for long. At some point the cure is going to become worse than the disease which, I suppose, will make for some new and interesting stories.


We're talking about different levels of third world here. Yes, there are the purely kleptocratic shitholes where foreign aid is seen as an income stream for the head honcho, but if you look at large parts of the uglier sides of the BRICS, say parts of Brazil or South Africa or India where things aren't as shiny as the brochures would have you believe, there are big pushes for education, for public health and so on.

I do agree with you that the cure and disease imbalance is an interesting question, and should absolutely give rise to a plethora of stories.

So let's think about this a bit more. In the 2020s and 2030s, things are deeply violent, chaotic, and the new world is being born from the wreckage of the old. At this stage I have no problems with large, ungoverned, ungovernable areas appearing. In the 2040s, the first clumsy efforts at stability will be created as the governments and corporations of the day recover from repeated shocks and I expect that a lot of the simpler approaches will involve internal divisions; walls, checkpoints, monitoring stations and newly constructed customs offices. These will be the glory days for smugglers.

In the 2050s, more complacent types might be inclined to sit back and let the walls and checkpoints do their jobs, but given that politicians tend to be ambitious glory hounds by nature, it's a fairly safe bet that a lot of land will fall under eminent domain, a lot of blighted buildings will be demolished, and some evil genius will come up with something they might euphemistically call Enhanced Monitoring Zones, in which civil liberties are substantially suspended (in the public interest, of course). The (currently still open) question is who will resist that encroachment by the governments of the day? Currently the best bet appears to be organised crime (who are roughly organised on feudal lines anyway) and neo-anarchists (who are almost impossible to stamp out because of how decentralised they are).
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