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Corporate vs Mix play
Discussing the differences

Got told to make a separate topic to discuss this, and I have a feeling there might be some conflicting opinions on the topic.

I said I found most corporate play to be social oriented and I've generally seen staff back that sentiment, saying corporates are meant to drive and create these plots that boil down into the mix, where they take place. The important distinction is that you're creating these plots, but your part in them is... A managerial one. This is why I originally said I would only recommend corporate play to players who are very sure they want to almost exclusively play the social/political game.

Let's use some examples.

Let's say I want a colleague's position in my corporation. Almost every means for me to achieve this is going to be social, or going to require hiring a third party (the people who actually do the non-social part) to do it, because taking any direct action topside is a quick ticket to being demoted and/or getting fired. I'm going to frame the person and try and get them fired, or have them killed, or turn their friends against them, or create a problem they should be able to fix and then fix it myself, or blackmail them... The common link in all these is, they're social, or require a third party.

Let's say I want to crash a topside event, for whatever reason. I could spread misinformation (social), have the place bombed (third party), sabotage it by paying/blackmailing/threatening one of the organizers (social/third party)... You get the picture.

My point is, topside, by it's very nature, encourages people to not take risks directly and instead shove your jobs to someone else. Someone in the mix been talking smack about your candy, do you go down there yourself and kill them/ruin their own business? Of course not. You hire someone. If you don't and you get caught, you're probably going to die AND be fired. If you DO go down there and get away with it, you still risked your entire livelihood for a single feud.

Losing a corporate spot is a LOT more painful than losing a mix job. You now have to move home. You are now unlikely to be hired by other corps, you now have a much smaller income if any, since topside hustles are more limited. Oh, and you reset your entire career's progress too, which can now take years for you to climb back up. There is almost no situation in which you'd risk doing the crime yourself. So you're going to have those shady meetings, and political games, which is the topside style of play.

If you disagree, I'd like to hear some examples of say... A thievery-centric corporate character directly using that skill in a way that makes sense. Or even just a combat corporate character. 99% of the time, you're just not going to use your character's abilities, even in corpsec. People should be aware of that.

Yes, but it does not mean that this social maneuvering and intrigue is safe. If someone finds out that you're trying to get them demoted or fired? Well, expect them to start digging a pit for you to fall in as well, all while being cordial during social events, or pretending to be your friend, all while setting you up and betraying you through their own channels and networks. That's the way I see it.
My experience in the past has been that a lot of cyberpunk staples like corporate assassination, kidnapping, grand theft, destructive sabotage, and even a lot of types of surveillance were often off the table topside due to fear or aversion to Hall of Justice involvement.
@0x1mm

This, pretty much. Even for a career criminal, after a while, your character can't seriously look at topside crime and think it's a good idea anymore, if they've had too many run-ins with the Hall of Justice. Especially not for what's often offered. You can take the OOC initiative to push on despite the risks, but realistically, there's a point where even the most grizzled will just say no, that's not worth it.

@0x1mm

Also my experience. Fellow corporates were often too afraid/averse to get involved in crime, even when trying to drag them into crime that'd be perfect for their character concept. Most mixers didn't want to cooperate, to the point where continuing to try felt futile.

What was most surprising was that higher-ups also seemed to discourage involvement in cloak-and-dagger stuff, despite it benefiting the company. Something I've seen posted here about corp life is that 'you are not your job', but in my experience, your corp does want you to be your job and not be involved in other activities, or at least, they don't want to hear about it.

Now, I'm sure that other corporate players get up to lots of mischief and plots and moonlighting. I'm sure some people reading the above are saying, 'hey, Geigerbunny, that isn't my experience at all.' And maybe staff who have much more information than I do are seeing that corpies get up to this stuff all day, every day. I'm glad, but it wasn't my experience.

I'll say that there IS plenty of opportunity to be involved in mischief as a corpie, if you do it without expectation of reward beyond personal fun. That is...your corp won't want to know about it, your peers may not want to join you in the risk, it will probably be a money sink, but it can be fun. You can choose to throw your character into these situations, OOCly choosing fun, and find fun. But it likely won't make much sense ICly for your character to do it, other than to satisfy pride, revenge, hatred and other feelings you manufacture as justifications.

@batko

This is related to batko's post. 'You can take the OOC initiative to push on despite the risks, but realistically, there's a point where even the most grizzled will just say no, that's not worth it.' Batko's talking about mixers, but it applies to my experience of corpie cloak-and-dagger.

I think it goes back to the corporations being siloed into their own industries. If you're in NLM film production, do you really care if some VS characters are shit-talking your movie? ICly, that's one or two people out of millions. Realistically, your character wouldn't take notice, unless they were a very proud, vengeful type.

How about if VS characters started paying mixers to bomb your movie's viewing parties? Now we're talking. This is a real reason for your NLM character to respond, to find out who's ordering this and why, and get them back. But why would the VS characters go to that trouble and expense? Your movie's success is meaningless to them; if BADLANDS BRUISER 9: A FISTFUL OF MARCY is a big hit or a total failure, it won't change the rollout of VS's next biomod.

Maybe the individual VS character cares about making BADLANDS BRUISER 9 a failure. Maybe that NLM baka spilled hollandaise on their shoes at the last CPI brunch. But at that point, it's the VS character's player inventing reasons to have fun (which is great, don't get me wrong!), not the gameworld incentivizing conflict in a realistic way. Ideally, we'd have both motivations: the character personality conflicts, and the gameworld incentives.

Imagine if VS had a production division to make commercials about their newest biomod. Imagine if NLM had a biochem division to make cosmetics for their stars (and why wouldn't they? Why trust VS to know what's best for the entertainment/celebrity market?). Now we're talking. Sabotage and spycraft are immediately encouraged.

This all feels a bit moot, because after XX years of Sindome's corps being siloed, there is likely great resistance to change. But I think de-siloing the corps would help a lot with providing real motivation to get your hands dirty as a corpie.

Just my 0.02 chyen.

Springing off geigerbunny's comment, one of the things to know about a corporate career is that it's going to be character-driven, not metaplot-driven. If you're expecting GMs to start plots involving your character all the time, you're going to be disappointed. It's important to have character goals that don't lean heavy on GM interaction.

A while back, one corporate character refused to refund something petty like 5,000c for services not rendered. It escalated into this thing that involved over a dozen characters and had at least 3 plots to make certain characters suffer. It was overblown, hilarious, and a ton of fun.

Geigerbunny's example of someone from VS trashing an NLM show is a perfect excuse to be mean and do something like ban them from attending the next premiere to hurt their social reputation. Their friends are still invited, just that one person who's being rude gets taken aside and asked to leave. Now the ball's in the VS employee's court. What do they do to get back at them? Negative SICAD campaign? Pay mixers to trash the next show? Release that paydata you have on the producer's private dealings? Plenty of options.

Eventually someone is going to die over it, and it may even be you! Have fun with it. It's unlikely you'd get fired for taking indirect action with your own chy, unless you admit it on pubSIC or something.

It's fun to see a plan come to fruition. It's fun to get caught.

And also, it's perfectly fine if this kind of play isn't fun to you and you'd rather be the one taking corporate money to create SICADs or kidnap the corpcit's rival.

I think the risk reward equation is probably a little strange in difference in play. One of the most propagated myths that I think is believed is that Corp play is less risky. It might be physically safer, but it is by no means less risky. Let's look at the consequences.

Player A, a Mixer, and B, a Corpie, both do something shady and are caught.

Player A:

Might get a beat down depending on how shady the thing was. They could even be vatted over it. They will lose some chy and gear. They will likely keep their job, their home and their friends. Their RP will likely be the same. They would have likely gotten a modest chy reward for not being caught.

Player B:

Might get vatted for treason depending on how shady the thing was. They will likely lose their job. They will lose substantial chy from fall taxes and gear. They will likely lose their home and a majority of the people they RPed with. They would have likely gotten a modest chy reward for not being caught.

So for doing a shady thing for a little Chy, the mixer usually looks at a modest Chy loss and perhaps a vatting and minor resource loss. The Corpie looks at losing all their RP, Ongoing Plots, Friends, Home, and a large part of their Resources.

I think this in a large part dictates why Topside players are far more cautious. Now let's look at motivations.

Player A:

Probably has one or more people/factions asking them to do shady stuff. Expectations are that everyone is doing something. Their boss, friends, and partners are likely encouraging them to do things. Their factions are likely funding them to do shady things.

Player B:

Might have one or more people/factions asking them to do shady stuff. Expectations is that everyone is just doing their job. Their boss, friends and partners are likely telling them to NOT do things and likely are warning them of the consequences above if they do. Their factions are not providing them resources to do shady things.

So you have a situation where the risks for doing minor stuff at least SEEMS to be incredibly high and the rewards for doing so low. Simple game design tells you that people will in general avoid doing those types of activities.

With that said, there seem to be changes to raise the rewards and lower some of the risk. Paydata seems to be a great addition to the game and I've seen people demoted instead of fired. However, I'm not sure how long it will take to change opinions until NPC's start encouraging, acknowledging, and blessing certain shady types of actions.

Kidnapping, Murder, Theft Devices.

Whether corporate or mixer, criminal activities like these are a matter of cost benefit analysis.

@Sly already mentioned one form of this: "Is the risk of Hall prosecution worth prize of success?"

In my own experience, the answer is no 99% of the time. I mean this in terms of jobs my characters have been offered directly, and also jobs I've attempted to offer shady types of characters.

Theoretically, even a character with no priors in the Hall, and a powerful mix reputation as a solo has to consider things like cost of gear vs. pay. A botched/dataleak/bad lucked job involving corporate assassination just racked up lots of flash in loss, and for what? Nothing. If you want to see those types take jobs more often, pay more. Or guarantee pay even if they fail. Just two ideas.

Yes, we push a mentality of play to lose. Yes, we enjoy good rp even if it leads to loss. However, it's the 'idea' of winning that makes those interactions fun win or lose, and when a situation looks like a lose-lose from all directions, only a baka would walk into it with a smile on their face.

To me, "Is the risk of Hall prosecution worth prize of success?" Yes. Personally, I would rather have big stories to tell about my character than to just collect a paycheck each week.

What are you saving that chy up for anyway? Are you hoping something will change if you just get 500 more UE? What are you waiting for?

Until you don't have a character anymore.
There isn't one way to play the game or a right way play it. I do find many corporate characters appear to just want their RP to be low risk, no death, slice-of-life, cash my paycheck and stack it with my other stacks and mostly chill.

Now my personal take on corporate RP isn't like that at all, I would urge every single corporate character to try to engage with mixers and use some of their saved stacks to create plots and make the game more entertaining for others, even if its probably at their own detriment. Oh and backstab and frame your co-workers to move ahead, steal and embezzle from your corporation.

Also watch the show 'Incorporated', it was cancelled by sfyfy (big surprise) but you can probably find it somewhere on the internet and it gives you a good idea of what corporate RP could be like in a cyberpunk text-book fashion.

From what I can tell, it should also be a lot easier to get things tacked onto your budget as a corpie. Like, a lot easier. There should be incentive to actually use all of your budget. In real life, teams with budgets that do not use them, lose them, or at least have their budgets reduced. This causes a lot of people to use their budgets for anything and everything so that an accountant doesn't look at their shit and say 'damn, guess they don't need this money'.
My experience was that corporate departments who knew what they were doing, knew what their routine monthly reimbursements budget was to the chy and used all of it every time, and in fact was backlogged several months worth on top of that.

I was always pretty lukewarm on embezzlements; since on reimbursements it was effectively taking money away from the rest of the players in a department for plots just to pad a bank account.

It was thematic but seemed pretty tacky and counter-productive to me at the time. But I always found white collar crime to be pretty boring in general as a gameplay avenue.