Written by Jake Shultz
Now that we’ve covered the groundwork for the game and setting (here and here), we can finally get to the juicy centerpieces of so many cyberpunk stories: the megacorp. Impenetrable, ubiquitous, and probably up to no good.
We followed the suggestions in the Sprawl book for creating the megacorps of our world, with each player, including the MC, creating one megacorp, group or organization to introduce to the setting. The one exception is that we had more contributors than there would be players at the start of the campaign, as we didn’t know who would be available when and so planned on cycling through players from time to time. We decided to still have each player introduce a corp, narrow it down to a few key corps, and keep the rest as details of the setting. Still other corps and groups have manifested as we play and explore the world further.
So, without further ado, we’ll start with the major corps – the big 5 – the focal points of the campaign that the players will be running missions for, against, and around.
Products: Heavy equipment, Metals, Polymers, Real estate
Services: 3D printing, Archiving, Construction, Cultural institution curation, Infrastructure, Mining, Record keeping, Storage, Tourism, Real estate
Subsidiaries: CADABRA Curation, CADABRA Digital Archives, Hearth by CADABRA, Hexa*Store, MotherLode, Jettison
Motto: “Preserving the past, framework for the future.”
Cadabra Corp (kuh-dab-ruh, stylized as C/\D/\BR/\) is a VanTle conglomerate specializing in construction and infrastructure. Using a specialized proprietary 3D printer, Cadabra is able to quickly and efficiently build large structures, bridges, platforms and more. The distinctive honeycomb pattern innate to the 3D building tech Cadabra uses can be found throughout all levels and areas of VanTle.
Cadabra also maintains a vast archive of data, records, art, and artifacts, creating a historical record and catalog for current and future generations. Although much of this archive is sequestered in well hidden and guarded storage facilities, CADABRA HQ features a world-renowned gallery and museum of rotating exhibits. Open Monday-Saturday 10-8pm, free entry for students first Tuesday of every month.
After the west coast was devastated by tsunamis and earthquakes during an event known as The Setback, Cadabra’s ability to quickly erect structures was integral to the rebuilding and eventual flourishing of the mega city VanTle. Large areas of the city sit atop Cadabra platforms above the flooded and destroyed landscape.
Cadabra’s contract terms have been the target of criticism over the years, as Cadabra retains ownership of a percentage of all structures they build. Much of the hexagonal support structures in the lower levels of VanTle now plays home to ghettos and criminal elements. Reports of structures built with no apparent entrances or exits have caused critics to question what Cadabra could be hiding.
CADABRA corp, brainchild of fan favorite House of Bob member Trevor, was the first corp introduced. For me, it was instantly appealing as you could see how their influence could easily worm itself into all parts of VanTle life. The infrastructure supporting VanTle is a key part of its history, so being able to play with that gives us lots of opportunities.
Products: Firearms, Ammunition, Drones, Sensors, Energy Management and Storage, Electronics, Software, Personal Access Devices, Communication Devices
Services: Cloud Services, Social Media, Gaming, Media, Entertainment, Computer Security, Communications
Subsidiaries: Epistle ONLINE, GLACIER, EXEgaming, EpicFlix, Epistle Networks, Icebox, EpiSoft
Motto: “Reach out and make a connection”
Epistle Communications (ih-pis-uh l) is a multinational corporation headquartered in the Cascades. Epistle’s major interests are in the communications and firearms industries, and their Smart Weapon lines command a nearly unassailable lead in market share for both personal firearms and personal access devices. Smart Weapons relay critical combat and environmental data to their users, while allowing communication and data sharing with allies. Users can also connect to Epistle’s servers to access social networking, leaderboards, games, media, competitions, and more. Epistle products are considered fashionable and cutting edge, and it’s not unusual to see a line of excited customers outside an Epistle Store to collect the latest smart weapon (including limited edition holster as preorder bonus). Epistle maintains a robust network framework used by many commercial and public web services, including their own social media apps, communication systems, entertainment vid channels, and more.
Epistle was founded strictly as a communication company. They secured many contracts with national militaries developing C3 and intelligent weapon systems. After The Powers That Be began to dissolve, Epistle found huge success selling their Smart Weapons to the private sector and individuals.
Epistle subsidiary EXEgaming drew criticism upon release of their massively multiplayer augmented reality game “Skiptracer.” Players compete to track down bounties and targets in real life and “eliminate” them with the harmless light gun function built into every Epistle Smart Weapon. Detractors call the game “wildly irresponsible.” Privacy advocates maintain that Epistle is reckless in it’s collection, analysis and use of user data.
Epistle was the corporation that I introduced as MC. Like I mentioned in my earlier blog posts, I really like taking a familiar issue or idea and ramping it up. Smart phones, social media, big data and gun control are all things we deal with today, and this felt like a natural extrapolation. I also liked the immediate “oh that’s super evil” feeling me and my group got when we discussed them.
Products: Consumer Goods, Clothing, Health and Beauty Products, Personal Protective Equipment, Cyberwear, Wetware, AR Systems, Biomods
Services: Cosmetic Mods, Fashion, Streaming, Marketing, Entertainment, Lifestyle Brands, AR Programs
Subsidiaries: ReKollect, Dream Stream, Nü U, Mas Studios, Ultimate, MOSHA, Crashpad, ClicKs, You+, The Way Things Are, White Rabbit, Exhale, Rummage, ReKover
Motto: “The air you breathe!”
MasKorp (Mass-corp) produces a wide variety of products from rebreathers, envirosuits, biomods, cyberware, personal goods, cosmetics and more. Beyond offering protection from unchecked pollution and extreme weather, MasKorp products are stylish and fashionable, and are commonly seen in the worlds of fashion, celebrities and influencers. MasKorp works closely with these groups, and their marketing division ClicKs is used by businesses the world over.
MasKorp is a worldwide household name, you’d be hard pressed to find a home or business without some MasKorp products at hand, or a VanTle citizen that can’t hum the jingle from their latest advert.
In an age of rampant and unregulated industry, air quality and climate continued to degrade to a point where the everyday lifestyle of VanTle’s citizens was threatened. Enter MasKorp, who mass produced a line of affordable rebreathers, filters, and home environment conditioning products that anybody could use.
MasKorp claims their products have limited environmental impact, thanks to their waste management and recycling subsidiary ReKover. Recent reports suggest that MasKorp products account for a staggering percentage of the unrecycled waste, harmful gas emissions, pollution and waste introduced into the environment. Additionally, animal rights activists have filed thousands of complaints against the company for their alleged use of inhumane animal testing for their health, beauty and wetware products.
MasKorp ultimately ended up being a combination of a couple different corp concepts. Shubert’s first suggestion was a group of “Streamer Knights”, somewhere between an MMORPG, LARPers, Twitch IRL streamers, Scientology, and r/outside. He eventually moved away from that and introduced MasKorp instead, focusing on the themes of climate, pollution, consumer goods and mass production. Where the two intersected, was the idea that MasKorp products were fashionable and popular with influencers. We get to take the streaming and cult personality ideas from the Streamer Knights and combine them with his other ideas.
Services: Banking, Financing, Investment, collections, insurance, currency regulation, financial rating, credit, commodity exchange, stock market, property titles
Subsidiaries: kaSH, All for ONE, ONE for All, EquiRate, ONE Exchange, ONE Acquisitions, ONE-UP, YOLO Insurance, ONEX
Motto: “Capital is Power. Loyalty is Paramount.”
Omni-National Equity (stylized as ONE) is a financial institution based in Olympia. ONE’s digital currency OmniCoin is the single globally recognized currency, and the standard for all transactions. The mess of unreliable, inconsistent, and dangerous currencies of the 21st century are no more, leaving your money in good hands[according to whom?]. ONE maintains complete control over each and every OmniCoin transaction, for the safety, security and peace of mind of all involved. ONE’s diverse service portfolio also includes investments, insurance, the ONE Exchange (ONEX) stock and commodity market, and much more. ONE’s loyal clients enjoy a generous loyalty and rewards program.
Terms and conditions may apply.
As the banks and financial institutions of the early 21st century merged and amalgamated, alternative currencies flourished. ONE began a campaign to convert the globe to a single, unified decentralized currency. As The Powers That Be began to dissolve and crumble, their currencies crashed, and the people rushed to convert their old money to OmniCoin.
The secretive ONE Collections Department has been frequently accused of using “unconventional” and “highly deadly” means to secure unpaid debts. Furthermore, ONE’s credit rating branch, EquiRate, has drawn criticism for predatory and manipulative tactics, and a lack of transparency or neutrality. Users report finding their credit and exchange rating varying wildly based on their perceived ‘loyalty’ to ONE and it’s interests. ONE maintains a tight watch for emerging offline and alternate currencies, and is quick to shut them down with the immense pressure of their influence and highly trained collections agents.
Omni-National Equity was another corp we very quickly incorporated, as suggested by Alex. Like with Cadabra, I enjoyed the sense of all-encompassing influence that ONE has, with it’s slimy tendrils extending into every transaction the world over. ONE presented a lot of cool opportunities for game play like laundering OMNI, collections agents, risky alternative currencies, and so on. Also, from day one I knew I wanted an excuse to include a greedy cyberdragon hoarding cryptocurrency, so here we are.
Products: Subscription Boxes, Vehicles, Drones, Defense, ICE, ECM, Driverless Vehicles
Services: Courier, Freight, Post, Distribution, Private Military Contractor, Delivery, Third-party Logistics, Vehicle Rental
Subsidiaries: QuikBite, QuikPik, The Cavalry, Quiker, QuikTrac, QuikStart, Two Drones and a Truck Movers
Motto: “There Today!”
QuikBox (kwik-boks) is a delivery and shipping company headquartered in Median. QuikBox’s extensive magnet rail network, Fastrail, allows them to quickly move shipments throughout VanTle and beyond. At the heart of the operation is EARP (Enhanced Algorithmic Routing Program), the vast supercomputer that constantly calculates and recalculates the most efficient delivery schedules, routes, priority and other logistical needs, according to an intricate set of algorithms. Although the majority of deliveries are made by unmanned drone, the Fastrail system is protected by QuikBox’s elite security forces known as The Cavalry, who are also made available for hire for a reasonable fee. QuikBox also offers an overwhelmingly myriad catalog of subscription boxes, meal kits, and mail order products.
QuikBox made considerable contributions to the research and development of the magnetic rails eventually used to build the VanTle Electromagnetic Space Launch, one of the key elements of VanTle’s prosperity. QuikBox scaled down and adapted this technology for it’s Fastrail network.
QuikBox’s shipping algorithms have come under fire for reported bias and lack of neutrality. Reports of shipments moved to the bottom of the queue, unexpectedly delayed, or simply lost are rampant, especially for individuals unable to afford priority service or packages that conflict with QuikBox’s interests. In recent years, some are concerned about a growing trend of addiction to mail order shopping. There are more and more cases of citizens becoming sedentary and reclusive, subsisting only on a steady, 3 a day stream of ready made meal kits.
QuikBox was Shaun’s corporate contribution. Shaun added a cool western flavour to the corp, imagining ‘train robbers’ boosting QuikBox shipments to defeat the impenetrable algorithms of QuikBox’s monopolistic delivery service. I also find the trend of subscription boxes and monthly clubs really fascinating, especially their presence in podcasting, so it was a natural addition.
Finally, these are the corps or organizations that we either introduced but didn’t end up nominating as a main corp, or ones that have come up during play and further expansion of the world. Though they aren’t the centerpiece of the game, they exist in the world as setting details.
Tranquility Resorts is a hotel and hospitality corporation responsible for many of the system’s most renowned and desirable hotels and resorts, such as The Domes at Tsukiyomi (a series of themed domes on the Lunar surface), and the “Business End” Hotel (overlooking Mt. Rainier and the VESL muzzle). Tranquility also manage several ecoreserves on Earth, including Mt. Rainer Park and Whistler, which are zealously protected by the well-armed and under regulated Park Rangers.
A secretive and enigmatic organization, Third Hand is a group of skilled engineers and builders backed by a number of anonymous wealthy donors. Third Hand goes into the extensive ghettos and flooded ruins of old cities to rebuild the infrastructure, restore power and plumbing, and set up critical structures like hospitals and schools. Third Hand is extremely tight-lipped about their operations, leading many to question their methods and motives.
VanTle Transit Commission
The VTC manages the intricate web of Skytrains, subways, buses, ferries, copters and planes that keep the vast sprawl of VanTle (and beyond) accessible to everyone. The commission is a joint endeavor between the VanTle Board of Directors and several local corporations. The VTC also manages the VESL railgun that allows transport into orbit and the Lunar colonies, all for very reasonable rates.
The Passing Angel Axiom
In recent years, a strange phenomena has begun to spread throughout VanTle. Seemingly random and localized blackouts appear without warning, drift aimlessly throughout the city, then disappear as quickly as they appeared. Most believe some corporate experiment is to blame, but a growing segment of people believe something supernatural is at work.