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Thoughts on the Fluff

posted Jan 30, 2015 19:56:07 by Nicholas Simpson
I've finally managed to sit down and read through the big fluff chapter released a while back. I don't really know a lot about the original mutant chronicles, so I dont know how much of the book is a rehash versus new information. That said, I think the fluff is a bit of a mixed bag.

Luna City
Good things: I generally like Luna City, and I like the idea of it having a bunch of different zones in which culture and laws can drastically change. I would really like to see a more practical birds eye view map that divides the city into distinct zones with a legend identifying major corporate influence and landmarks. It would be fun for players to see where their investigations are bringing them.

I also like that many of the locations are written with an eye toward cool things for players to do or adventure locations.

The Bad: Luna city suffers a bit from a problem that occurs regularly in the fluff. Several of th locations are either really similar and follow the "no one really knows what's going on" or "this place is really great and is basically a big hospital/mall/etc." While I can see this style of background being good for people who want to make everything up, it also provides more of a visual setting for action against than a story one. I think this comes from an old tendency of rpgs to act like mini encyclopedias rather than game guides. I know some people like this style, but I'm not a fan.

Capitol
The good: this seems like the corporation written with the most excitement. The writing focuses on corporate quirks that affect the average citizen, making it easy to imagine playing in Capitol at multiple levels of play. Capitol is obviously the stereotype of America and it does a good job of going with themes of being gun obsessed and freedom obsessed. I'd add that it's also business obsessed, but EVERY corporation seems to be.

The bad: A lot of the cool things about Capitol end up being repeated by other corporations. The business obsession, the shrewd negotiators thing (everyone in this setting is a shrewd negotiator!) and the mostly similar military styles. Capitolalso does have aheavy focus on higher level politics that is, frankly, not useful for actually roleplaying.

Bauhaus
The good: I'm kind of lacking in good things about Bauhaus. They're the German corp.
Th bad: Bauhaus is kind of the blandest corporation. They sell super high quality products (just like other corps), offer advancement to people who work well (just like other corporations), are run by people who are squabbling nobility types (just like other corporations). I have no real idea what culture in Bauhaus is like, and more importantly what about it would be exciting to roleplay in. Again, this corp is mostly about telling a higher level story than players will likely play in.

Imperial
The good: This is the British empire corp. It has some interesting potential to have lots of fun british quirks and have fun quirks for all of the British colonies/commonwealths.
The Bad: The potential for all of this isn't really lived up to. There's again a heavy focus on higher level politics. The ways in which British culture and culture of all the clans and colonies blend is barely mentioned. There's a single mention of non-Anglos, and that's it. I think imperial should bethe "all of the non US, non Germany, non China/Japan nations band together to make a super power and have to deal with trying to make thousands of cultures try to work together as one. That would be much more interesting.

Mishima
The good: This corp isnt full of awful stereotypes, which is good. It also has a bit more info on how day to day life would be interesting to play in. It also differs a bit from other corps because Mishima actually makes low quality products.
The bad: too much focus on high level politics that makes for an interesting read but not useful for a roleplaying game unless the group is playing courtiers or some thing. It's also mostly just focusing on ancient stereotypes of Japan with the honor, samurai, and family things. I think it would be more interesting to have Mishima be more about having a huge population, and having entire colonies/cities that are dedicated to a single product, similar to what is actually done in China. Have them the corp that has thousands of ultra specialists that makes them incredible when working together or narrow when working individually.

Cybertronic:
The good: the is much more interesting than the other corps. It has a lot of cool things going on it and seems like an actual catalyst for change in the setting and a chance for players to be involved in changing the world.
The bad: cybertronic is a pretty generic "high level technology utopia." The reasoning behind it allowing business as usual to just continue seems kind of flaky. It's obvious that cybertronic doesn't fit in with the setting, and the reason for keeping them in is basically "they make a lot of money and are waiting for the right moment to strike." That pot needs to be stirred!

Brotherhood:
The good: I like this group well enough. It has lots of interesting information. I like the idea of it being ever present in every other corp.
The bad: not a lot of information on day to day living. This also makes three separate watchdog groups over the corps (Luna pd, cartel, brotherhood)- this setting is too full of overlap.

Cartel
The good: I like the idea of having a sort of United nations of corporations.
The bad: there doesn't seem like any good reason for cartel to exist if the brotherhood does as well. It seems pretty limited to diplomat only stories. It also loses in the fact that I honestly have no idea how much authority any of these factions have over anyone but themselves. I get the feeling that the answer is "however much is convenient for the metaplot."

Playing in the setting:
Okay, so here is my main issue. Character creation has a whole bunch of iconic careers. Most of these careers are mutually exclusive to working with the others. They also drastically differ in plot importance. I have no idea how to make a group including a farmer, a doom trooper, and a celebrity work together. Basically, my issue with the setting is that I don't really know where to start on telling a story with it. It's really unfocused, and lots of setting info isn't conducive to player activities. I'd much prefer that the game focus on freelancers and give lots of info for how former corp employees start freelancing. Or info on inquisitorial groups and the investigations they do.

So overall, I like the world of the game well enough, but I'm just not getting a lot on how to translate that world into cool gameplay. Just because a setting makes for good reading doesn't mean it's good for group-based roleplaying.
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6 replies
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AmazingOnionMan said Feb 01, 2015 19:29:37
> I don't really know a lot about the original mutant chronicles, so I dont know how much of the book is a rehash versus new information

If I'm to go out on a limb, that's probably the reason behind the repeated butting of heads with the oldschool here.
There is much rehash, but also some fresh content. Overall, I like it - it allows for a take what you like and feel free to throw away what you don't.

>Okay, so here is my main issue. Character creation has a whole bunch of iconic careers. Most of these careers are mutually exclusive to working with the others. They also drastically differ in plot importance. I have no idea how to make a group including a farmer, a doom trooper, and a celebrity work together. Basically, my issue with the setting is that I don't really know where to start on telling a story with it. It's really unfocused, and lots of setting info isn't conducive to player activities. I'd much prefer that the game focus on freelancers and give lots of info for how former corp employees start freelancing. Or info on inquisitorial groups and the investigations they do.

I can agree with this. But the alternative would be to not have any corporate-specific careers in the corebook at all. As it is, it is a starting point - I assume that the corp-books will expand the options to a disturbing degree.
And yes, many of the carrers are mutually exclusive to working with others. A Capitolian farmer probably would not throw in with a Bauhasian Doom Trooper. Not only because of different philosophical indoctrination, but also because the farmer probably values his hide (which would be of exceedingly little worth if traipsing alongside a Doom Trooper).
I suspect most campaigns will be specific corp or freelancer-campaigns. Nothing is stopping the Cartel or corp execs to put together joint teams, but these are traditionally the exception and not the rule.
The downside of the varying careers and backgrounds as they are laid out is that players may have to burn lifepoints during chargen just to get a character that will function in the campaign. Which brings me to the actual rules..
I'm not always right!
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Nicholas Simpson said Feb 02, 2015 21:20:04
If I'm to go out on a limb, that's probably the reason behind the repeated butting of heads with the oldschool here.
There is much rehash, but also some fresh content. Overall, I like it - it allows for a take what you like and feel free to throw away what you don't.


I never pretended like my experience with the setting was otherwise. ;) I joined on for the game system, but I know that the setting itself will also have a big impact on the system. I think that what sticks out to me a lot with it is the whole 90's style of "big sweeping metaplot" with a bunch of ultra powerful NPCs running around doing things while the players just kind of sit around and watch.

Honestly, I'm a lot more interested in playing in the pre/peri-dark symmetry setting. I like the idea of playing in a time when the technology is at its peak and starting to fail. It seems more interesting than the kind of status quo that exists in the more recent MC time. I'm hoping that there is a good amount of setting information given on how technology and so on differs in that time period.

I can agree with this. But the alternative would be to not have any corporate-specific careers in the corebook at all. As it is, it is a starting point - I assume that the corp-books will expand the options to a disturbing degree.
And yes, many of the carrers are mutually exclusive to working with others. A Capitolian farmer probably would not throw in with a Bauhasian Doom Trooper. Not only because of different philosophical indoctrination, but also because the farmer probably values his hide (which would be of exceedingly little worth if traipsing alongside a Doom Trooper).
I suspect most campaigns will be specific corp or freelancer-campaigns. Nothing is stopping the Cartel or corp execs to put together joint teams, but these are traditionally the exception and not the rule.
The downside of the varying careers and backgrounds as they are laid out is that players may have to burn lifepoints during chargen just to get a character that will function in the campaign. Which brings me to the actual rules..


I think the specific example that is used by the creators is the idea of a farmboy like Luke Skywalker being in a group of more established characters. The issue with that is that the "party" in Star Wars consists of a farmer, smuggler, fighter/muscle, washed up wizard, and princess (who isn't really a part of the party so much as a goal for them). Having a doomtrooper in a party would be like having Darth Vader cruising around with a storm trooper and boba fett. The difference in power/resources would be enormous. In the sequels, the group in star wars tends to frequently be separated from their extensive backing/resources from the rebel alliance, putting them all on par with each other. The issue doesn't really even lie with the mechanical aspects of each career, as they're relatively balanced. The issue is that the iconic careers are unbalanced or impossible to work with within the setting.

A possible fix to this may be to have certain iconic careers "locked" to certain group combinations. Having every player in the group having to choose doomtrooper as a career, for example, or having them all have to choose murders & acquisitions agents. Or even just having the rules suggest reasons for mixed groups to exist/goals for them to have. There are ways to make this work, I think.
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Nathan.Dowdell said Feb 04, 2015 13:14:23
Obviously, there's a lot more detail to be found in the sourcebooks, once those are finished, but that doesn't help much now.

Capitol
The good: this seems like the corporation written with the most excitement. The writing focuses on corporate quirks that affect the average citizen, making it easy to imagine playing in Capitol at multiple levels of play. Capitol is obviously the stereotype of America and it does a good job of going with themes of being gun obsessed and freedom obsessed. I'd add that it's also business obsessed, but EVERY corporation seems to be.

The bad: A lot of the cool things about Capitol end up being repeated by other corporations. The business obsession, the shrewd negotiators thing (everyone in this setting is a shrewd negotiator!) and the mostly similar military styles. Capitolalso does have aheavy focus on higher level politics that is, frankly, not useful for actually roleplaying.

On the "business obsession", "Shrewd negotiators" side... it's kind of necessary. These are colossal corporations - business institutions on a scale that eclipses contemporary nations. They're business entities, that exist for profit and prosperity first. By absolute necessity, they're focussed upon business and an equal blend of negotiation and warfare (in Mutant Chronicles, 'hostile takeover' often means 'military action'). It's also fairly realistic - these corporations are competitors, so they will have natural similarities and rivalries based on their similarities as much as their differences.

As for high-level politics not being useful for roleplay... it really depends on the type of game you're playing. Personally speaking, I like my games to get political, particularly as the player characters get more powerful, and for player characters with a high social standing (it's the third stage of character creation, so it should define a fair bit about the way a character interacts with the worlds around him).

With Capitol, it's worth pointing out that because of their focus on individual freedoms, it is notionally possible for anyone to become President, and fame and fortune are available to any with the right drive and ambition. They (and Cybertronic) sit apart from the others because they lack an entrenched social caste system (though, just as with modern America, some people are just born rich).

Bauhaus
The good: I'm kind of lacking in good things about Bauhaus. They're the German corp.
Th bad: Bauhaus is kind of the blandest corporation. They sell super high quality products (just like other corps), offer advancement to people who work well (just like other corporations), are run by people who are squabbling nobility types (just like other corporations). I have no real idea what culture in Bauhaus is like, and more importantly what about it would be exciting to roleplay in. Again, this corp is mostly about telling a higher level story than players will likely play in.

Bauhaus basically cover the bulk of Europe, in a style designed to evoke the early 20th century (pre-WW1). The Germanic elements come through strong, but there's a fair bit of French, Italian, Russian, and Scandinavian there too. Defining them is a sense of place and purpose - every citizen has a role to play in the grand machine, from the highest Grand Duke to the lowliest commoner (and even their commoners aren't particularly lowly - they have a higher standard of living than their equals in Capitol, Imperial, or Mishima... though the Capitolian workforce has more economic freedom). While advancement for the worthy is possible, it's extremely rare. Definitive amongst the upper classes of Bauhauser nobility is a sense of noblesse oblige - the obligation of the nobleman to provide for his lessers.

Bauhauser products are high-class - top-of-the-line, reliable, with an absolute focus on craftsmanship. Everyone else produces a few types of item that are of top quality, but nobody manages a consistent level of craftsmanship that quite matches Bauhauser standards. Bauhausers are healthy (socialised healthcare), well-educated (socialised education), and dedicated to their jobs (universal employment - the idea of an unemployed Bauhauser is anathema, because that means they're not pulling their weight).

Imperial
The good: This is the British empire corp. It has some interesting potential to have lots of fun british quirks and have fun quirks for all of the British colonies/commonwealths.
The Bad: The potential for all of this isn't really lived up to. There's again a heavy focus on higher level politics. The ways in which British culture and culture of all the clans and colonies blend is barely mentioned. There's a single mention of non-Anglos, and that's it. I think imperial should bethe "all of the non US, non Germany, non China/Japan nations band together to make a super power and have to deal with trying to make thousands of cultures try to work together as one. That would be much more interesting.

Remember that this is a setting that was first established more than two decades ago, and there's only so far anyone can go in reinventing the wheel with an established setting. That said, once you get to the detail of individual Clans, differences start to crop up. There's a lot of Scots and Irish influence in there, and the background makes numerous nods to particular periods of British history (Diemansland is based a little on Australia, the Imperial-held city of Fukido on Mercury is clearly Hong Kong, the various wars are War of the Roses and English Civil War analogues).

Mishima
The good: This corp isnt full of awful stereotypes, which is good. It also has a bit more info on how day to day life would be interesting to play in. It also differs a bit from other corps because Mishima actually makes low quality products.
The bad: too much focus on high level politics that makes for an interesting read but not useful for a roleplaying game unless the group is playing courtiers or some thing. It's also mostly just focusing on ancient stereotypes of Japan with the honor, samurai, and family things. I think it would be more interesting to have Mishima be more about having a huge population, and having entire colonies/cities that are dedicated to a single product, similar to what is actually done in China. Have them the corp that has thousands of ultra specialists that makes them incredible when working together or narrow when working individually.

Mishima is, at its heart, a mixture of two eras of Japanese culture - feudal, and modern corporate. Samurai represent a blend of these concepts best: an individual Mishiman Samurai is both a warrior and a businessman, managing a portion of his liege lord's business portfolio. What you're asking about is definitely a feature of Mishima - while it doesn't have the most massive population (Capitol citizen-shareholders make up 25% of the solar system's population, making them the largest corporation), it's divided into numerous Keiretsu (business groups), each run by individual lords, which each focus on different things - for example, the Amida Keiretsu on Mars is Mishima's premier aerospace company, while Tambu is the foremost arms manufacturer - with internal trade between Keiretsu (the agri-business sells its produce to the arms manufacturer, so both can have both food and guns).

A significant proportion of Mishiman PCs will be Samurai in terms of social class, so understanding how the culture works from their level (the politics) is quite important here.

Cybertronic:
The good: the is much more interesting than the other corps. It has a lot of cool things going on it and seems like an actual catalyst for change in the setting and a chance for players to be involved in changing the world.
The bad: cybertronic is a pretty generic "high level technology utopia." The reasoning behind it allowing business as usual to just continue seems kind of flaky. It's obvious that cybertronic doesn't fit in with the setting, and the reason for keeping them in is basically "they make a lot of money and are waiting for the right moment to strike." That pot needs to be stirred!

Cybertronic fit very well with the setting... they just look like they don't. There's a lot about them that isn't presented in the rulebook that defines the hows and whys of what they do, but it's deliberate that the corporation is mysterious and creates a sense of dissonance.

Also, Cybertronic is tiny. It's the smallest fish in a colossal pond, and while their secretive agenda is part of staying their hand in terms of upsetting everything (considering the damage they did when they first arrived on the scene), they also don't really have the manpower or the support to push too far.

Brotherhood:
The good: I like this group well enough. It has lots of interesting information. I like the idea of it being ever present in every other corp.
The bad: not a lot of information on day to day living. This also makes three separate watchdog groups over the corps (Luna pd, cartel, brotherhood)- this setting is too full of overlap.

Technically speaking, that's only two watchdog groups - Luna PD is part of the Cartel, though it was established originally by Capitol. The Cartel itself was established by the Brotherhood as a neutral ground for economy and politics between the corporations, so there's a natural and intentional overlap there, and the Cartel took over Luna PD when it was founded. The Brotherhood are also uniquely placed as the 'wizards' of the setting - they have widespread access to mystical powers that everyone else lacks (Mishima get their own traditions in their sourcebook, much as they did in 2nd edition).

Cartel
The good: I like the idea of having a sort of United nations of corporations.
The bad: there doesn't seem like any good reason for cartel to exist if the brotherhood does as well. It seems pretty limited to diplomat only stories. It also loses in the fact that I honestly have no idea how much authority any of these factions have over anyone but themselves. I get the feeling that the answer is "however much is convenient for the metaplot."

The Cartel and the Brotherhood command different elements of human interest. The Brotherhood appeals to people - faith, charity, salvation, protection - while the Cartel is a meeting ground for corporations. Cybertronic and Mishima interact with the Cartel, but they don't have anything to do with the Brotherhood if they can help it. Capitol supports both Cartel and Brotherhood, but while Bauhausers are broadly very devout, they aren't particularly interested in the Cartel.

Having multiple oversight groups is also fairly realistic - there's lots of redundancy and overlap between things in real life. Keeping a setting 'clean' is fine for a wargame, but the mess and the grey area between the factions is where you find the real meat for an RPG.

As it happens, the Cartel is also one of the few parts of the setting where player characters of individual corporations can easily interact; a Cartel-sponsored task force is an ideal justification for a range of player groups (including Brotherhood characters - the Brotherhood has its own characters, rather than being a melting pot of other groups).
[Last edited Feb 04, 2015 13:17:19]
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Nicholas Simpson said Feb 05, 2015 07:13:13
@nathan

That gives me a bit of an idea on things, but I think I can sum up what I think is missing with some questions for each group.

Capitol:
What freedoms does a Capitol citizen have that others don't?

Bauhaus:
What does it mean for every person to have a place? Are we talking a sort of communist "you are assigned this job because it is what is needed?" Or is it more of a socialist "everyone is provided for but expected to contribute something they are good at?" How does nobility is Bauhaus differ from the ultra rich in other corps?

In other words, what is the difference between a Bauhaus citizen and a middle class citizen of another corp, and how do the nobility of Bauhaus differ from the rich of other corps?

Imperial:
I understand not wanting to reinvent the wheel. It's just that the corps are pretty much ignoring the entire Southern Hemisphere in terms of culture. Seems like something I'll just make up my own fluff for. Also, how do imperials differ from capitolians other than having more british affectations?

Mishima:
What is the difference between a samurai and a rich businessman in the other corps? Do other corps normally not have businessmen/warriors? Is society at the level of a caste system?

Cybertronic:
Are cybertronic people effectively cloistered from the rest of the corps and their culture? Are we talking a sort of big brother/demolition man culture?

Brotherhood:
I like the idea of brotherhood as a cloistered off wizard school type of thing. How does brotherhood culture differ from the other corps, given that it is already present in all of them and presumably influences all of their cultures?

Cartel:
It makes more sense to me now to see the cartel as the "official" intersection of all of the factions, including brotherhood. Basically that it holds no power other than being what all the involved parties write down on paper and publicly announce. Is the cartel more like the UN in terms of having an official meeting place and so on, or is it more just a bannerhead for any official joint projects ?

Politics:
I understand the allure of having the players involved in politics, but it's much easier for them to get into the setting through more low level or personal adventures, at least for my groups. Basically, the politicking is done for personal stakes rather than involving a bunch of plot NPCs or overarching metaplot things.

Summing things up:
I guess what I'm lacking is an ability to quickly sum up how people can play and see the corps differently.
Capitol is America and has more freedoms
Bauhaus is monarchy and socialist Europe
Mishima is Feudal and Corporate Japan
Imperial is British
Brotherhood is the Cleric/Wizard/Paladin
Cartel is when these groups cooperate

What I would like to be to see would be information on how to roleplay characters from these corps. What does the average person believe in/want. What do they have access to? How does this differ across social class? What are the classes? What auperstitions or cultural traditions or quirks are common to this corp?

For example, for those things I would say for Americans that they are relentlessly optimistic to the point of recklessness. That is they put faith into the righteousness of their own cause and that anything is worth pursuing if done well. That Americans have access to huge amounts of resources poured into successful things while lacking resources for non-successful ones. That american culture is more about appealing to everyone rather than appealing to high tastes. That americans are mostly split into lower/middle classes, rich classes, and the small amount of ultra rich. Americans tend to be overweight, tend to be loud and friendly, tend to be God fearing, and tend to be courageous.

All of those give a good idea to someone playing an American as a sort of brash and annoying optimist who is forever confident in his own success and succeeds both because of and in spite of this. Maybe that kind of thing could apply to capitolians. I'd like to see something like that for the corps so that players have something to grasp onto for their character.






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Nathan.Dowdell said Feb 05, 2015 13:56:00
Capitol:
What freedoms does a Capitol citizen have that others don't?

A citizen of Capitol has the right to bear arms, the right to fair trial, and voting rights for every share in Capitol he owns (all citizens are issued a single share at birth, and may purchase more during their lives). Further, Capitol citizens can establish independent businesses distinct from Capitol (they're classed as part of Capitol because they're owned and run by citizens, but they're functionally independent... at least until they get big enough that Capitol buys them out). Capitol is all free enterprise, and entirely lacks sumptuary laws (those laws which govern what particular groups of people are permitted to do, own, or use) - a citizen's life is his own to live. The only restrictions are upon criminals - having a criminal record basically shuts down 90% of your rights, unless you work off your record through hard labour or military service. Capitolian products are made for the mass market - they make the most of everything, and they make it widely available and easily accessible.

Capitol is all about fame and aspiration - anyone can make it big, anyone can get rich or become famous (or both). Unfortunately, this freedom and the ethos of ambition as the highest virtue also leads to a fairly violent society - imagine Black Friday sales turning into riots and then firefights.

Bauhaus:
What does it mean for every person to have a place? Are we talking a sort of communist "you are assigned this job because it is what is needed?" Or is it more of a socialist "everyone is provided for but expected to contribute something they are good at?" How does nobility is Bauhaus differ from the ultra rich in other corps?

In other words, what is the difference between a Bauhaus citizen and a middle class citizen of another corp, and how do the nobility of Bauhaus differ from the rich of other corps?

Bauhaus is a little of both, with heavy dose of social caste - the workers are the workers, and barring some oddities, they'll always be the workers. The populace lives well, but they live lives where familial honour and obeying your betters are the highest priorities. Bauhausers are typically insular - the world outside is dark and dangerous - and they're used to the order and security of their home lives rather than the anarchy of the other corporations (at least, so they're told by the Bauhauser media).

In contrast to Capitol, the corporation and the state are indivisible, and private business ventures are the sole purview of the elite. The rich are not merely rich, but titled and landed nobility, tied to one of the noble houses, attended by servants and living a life of honour duels (duelling with swords is a common Bauhauser noble sport), gambling, hunting, opera, and grand parties... and warfare, where the elite are the officers and commanders, and often the special forces too (lots of exclusive military orders). The commoners are well-paid, well-educated, and employed in skilled positions (unskilled labour is done by an underclass, known as Thralls, who aren't necessarily Bauhauser citizens), and most will follow in their parents' footsteps. Bauhausers are proud and dignified, almost to a fault - they don't take kindly to slights and insults, and regard the honour of their families and their corporation (rather than personal honour) as being something to defend to the death.

Imperial:
I understand not wanting to reinvent the wheel. It's just that the corps are pretty much ignoring the entire Southern Hemisphere in terms of culture. Seems like something I'll just make up my own fluff for. Also, how do imperials differ from capitolians other than having more british affectations?

There is plenty of room in Imperial for that kind of expansion, and nods towards it have been made in the new book, but that's still a ways off.

Imperial... is more about family than anything else. Every Clan is a distinct political entity, with its own holdings (which will be at least an asteroid, and maybe an estate on Luna or land on Mars or Venus) and its own business interests (every Clan has a 'family business' they excel at - Clan Finn are doctors, Clan Loughton make spacecraft, Clans Axelthorpe and Smythe control Imperial finance, etc). These overlap in places, and the Imperial Ministry of War is an amalgam of everyone. An Imperial citizen is Imperial... but more importantly, he's a Grendel of Clan Bartholomew (or whatever). Family comes first in identity, followed closely by your education - the university you attended defines the connections you'll make and shapes your future career to a degree far greater than in other corporations.

Imperial is also a lot more aggressive than most - every corporation has a strong military tradition, but Imperial wield theirs fiercely, regarding "hostile takeover" and "military conquest" as synonymous. They're almost defined by a chip on their shoulder over being the only corporation without a singular homeland, by their status as a collection of smaller companies banded together for their common benefit, and by being the smallest of the 'original four' (Cybertronic are new, only a couple of centuries old, and have earned Imperial's ire as being a direct competitor for control of the asteroid fields and the Jovian and Saturnine moons), so they tend to regard exploration, conquest, and expansion as their driving force - as demonstrated by Clan Fieldhausen, who defected from Bauhaus generations ago.

Mishima:
What is the difference between a samurai and a rich businessman in the other corps? Do other corps normally not have businessmen/warriors? Is society at the level of a caste system?

Mishima doesn't have a formal military - it has Samurai, and sometimes Ashigaru (commoner soldiers used as cannon fodder). Broadly, the managerial/businessman level of society *is* the Mishiman military (and its police force), because that's what the Samurai do - they rule over their little corner of society and the commoners therein, and if they're called upon to fight, they take up their swords and armour and march to war. Some focus more on battle or more on business, but all Samurai are notionally expected to be as comfortable in boardrooms as they are in battlefields. Every other corporation maintains a standing military, so while a Bauhauser nobleman may have spent time serving as an officer in the military, he won't be a soldier and a business leader at the same time. More importantly, Samurai fulfil all the middle-management roles as well.

It's a very clearly divided caste system - commoners on the one hand, whose rights and freedoms vary purely on the whims of their liege lord (if you work in one of the cities, you probably work a 50-60 hour week in an office cubicle or a factory, agricultural or mining workers tend to have it much worse), and Samurai on the other, who have all the rights and privileges so long as they still have the support of their lord (those who don't typically end up as Ronin if they survive, who tend to become mercenaries or freelancers).

Cybertronic:
Are cybertronic people effectively cloistered from the rest of the corps and their culture? Are we talking a sort of big brother/demolition man culture?

A lot of Cybertronic citizens are cloistered, but the culture as a whole is secretive, isolationist, and driven by an agenda that few are privy to. Part of it is a lack of understanding - Cybertronic isn't entirely trusted by outsiders, and Cybertronic's use of forbidden technologies (such as AI) tends to give them a perspective on the universe that separates them from everyone else.

Brotherhood:
I like the idea of brotherhood as a cloistered off wizard school type of thing. How does brotherhood culture differ from the other corps, given that it is already present in all of them and presumably influences all of their cultures?

The Brotherhood stands apart from the corporations - it isn't technically a corporation. The Brotherhood is a guardian of human civilisation, by any means necessary, maintaining records of human history isolated from the corruption of the Dark Symmetry. They move amongst the corporations as outsiders - though their membership is drawn entirely from those of other corporations (excluding most of Mishima and all of Cybertronic) - observing and advising, trying to lead the corporations away from the Darkness.

The Brotherhood isn't a corporation. It's a spiritual organisation on a colossal scale, and its membership is arranged by purpose (Mystics, Inquisitors, missionaries, administrators, etc) and by merit (particularly spiritual merit - those with more mystical power have more weight in the organisation). It has many of the trappings of an organisation, but it trades externally - its financial and media services are for the use of those outside the Brotherhood. They maintain charities, schools, hospitals, soup kitchens, hostels, and the like in order to stave off hopelessness and despair (easy ways for the Darkness to enter the human soul). They patrol and monitor the populace for signs of taint and corruption (the main role of the Inquisition is hunting and investigating those who have embraced the darkness), and wage war when the Dark Legion rises up - in conjunction with corporate and Cartel forces. Every member of the Brotherhood has chosen to serve, giving up all their worldly possession in exchange for their part in the salvation of humanity.

Cartel:
It makes more sense to me now to see the cartel as the "official" intersection of all of the factions, including brotherhood. Basically that it holds no power other than being what all the involved parties write down on paper and publicly announce. Is the cartel more like the UN in terms of having an official meeting place and so on, or is it more just a bannerhead for any official joint projects ?

Much more UN - the Cartel Building in Luna City serve as this, though there are Cartel offices elsewhere in the solar system as well.

Hopefully, this has helped provide a bit more insight into the setting.
Game Development - 2D20 System
System Design - Star Trek Adventures

Rules questions and playtest feedback to nathan@modiphius.com
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Nicholas Simpson said Feb 05, 2015 14:39:04
@nathan

Very helpful, thank you! I'd still like to see some sections about how to roleplay characters from the different factions, but this has been helpful for sorting things out. I'd also recommend that attention is given to characters from all classes within the different factions, because character creation is meant to allow for them. Some people may play Mishima samurai and Bauhaus nobles, while others will play dirt farmers and desk jockeys. Also, I hope to see guidance on ways to bring groups of pcs together and how to give them common goals and things to do in the setting. The original D&D was mostly rules for dungeon crawling and it also explicitly stated its purpose as being dungeon crawling. The old Vampire the Masquerade games claimed to be about politicking and backstabbing but was a bunch of rules for combat and super powers, leading to people playing it as X-Men with fangs. The mutant chronicles ruleset seems best situated for action-oriented and horror-style play, so I hope the guidance given keeps these strengths in mind
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