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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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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