Corporate Download Capsule Review by vitus979 on 02/04/01
Style: 3 (Average)
Substance: 5 (Excellent!)
A list of targets and employers in 'Corporate Download' make it an essential of 3rd Edition Shadowrun
Product: Corporate Download
Author: Mike Mulvihill
Page count: 144
Year published: 1999
Capsule Review by vitus979 on 02/04/01
Genre tags: Science Fiction
To those who play Shadworun (SR) this book might be the most important SR book to purchase after the Base Book in Shadowrun Third Edition (SR3). It breaks down the real power in the SR world, namely the 10 AAA Megacorporations that sit on the 'Corporate Court'. These companies are important for the basic fact that as a shadowrunner these are the people who hire you and generally the people who are your targets. This book is the essence of the old saying 'know thine enemy'.
'Where the hell is Fuchi?!?' I can hear a lot of people asking already. Prior to the 'Blood in the Boardroom' adventure there were 8 Megacorps, but after the adventure, which in the SR world has become known as the Corp War, Renraku is greatly weakened and Fuchi is dead, its pieces gobbled up by the others. Bad for them, but good for shadowrunners in the new, more dangerous corp environment. The Corp War also saw the rise of 3 previously AA corps, Cross, Novatech, and Wuxing. Being smaller they have been doing shadowruns in overtime to 'acquire' some of the more gifted scientists that the other Corps aren't protecting well enough.
'Nothing Personal, Just Business':
The first chapter of this book is written in a very interesting format. The chapter is really 2 different essays that take place simultaneously in a two column format on the actual page. The first portion is written by the 'Chromed Accountant', a former tax collector turned to the shadows, and it covers the basics of what business is and how corporations work, ie divisions, what the A ratings mean, what corporate takeovers are and other information to that effect.
The second 'minibook' is by an anarchist named Wobbly is a short essay on Extraterritoriality, that lovely little thing that means that Corps are now their own sovereign nations. The essay covers what Extraterritoriality means, the history of it, and the status of the current Big 10 Corps who have it.
This chapter deals with the governmental structure of the Corporations of the SR world. Since national governments no longer have the power to control these companies, the companies themselves decided after a few corporate wars to form their own overseeing body to regulate things. The Corp Court is located on the Zurich Orbital Space station. The chapter covers getting onto the station (nearly impossible), physical shape, history, residents, and information about the trans-corporate Zurich Orbital Gemeinschaft Bank, which holds the rather interesting job of loaning these huge Corps money, somewhat like national banks to in real life.
'Surviving the Corps':
A chapter every PC should read, 'Surviving the Corps' is a general breakdown of how shadowrunners interact in this huge world of Mega Corporations, how to deal with contacts the RIGHT way, and how to make runs without having the targeted corp decide to target YOU after you've finished.
Each of the following chapters has information on the following subjects; history, corporate emphasis (what they build or sell), notable shareholders, and information on how the corp treats its workers and how it treats shadowrunners. I'm saying this now so I won't have to say it 10 times in the next page : ) What I'll try to cover are a few of the interesting points that have changed since the last book on the corps (ie Corporate Shadowfiles) and have a short listing of each Corp's strengths.
Weapons, Space, & Security
Leonard Aurelius finally got tired of fighting for control of Ares, sold his shares to Arthur Vogel, and jumped to Cross during the Corp War. Damien Knight is left in a rather precarious position now since he no longer is the prime shareholder, and 2 of the 3 highest shareholders (with about 40% stock between them) don't like him. Ares as a company has finally pulled out of Chicago after declaring it Bug-Free and its space arm continues to be profitable.
Magic & Consumer Goods
The Corp War left them untouched, but the books in the 'Dragon Heart Trilogy' showed that there was a MAJOR shakeup in the upper-echelon of Aztechnology execs. All the blood mages are more or less out of power and Aztech can hopefully become the money-grubbing megacorp that all of its brothers are, unlike the 'ultimate evil' corp that its been portrayed as for quite awhile now.
'Cross Applied Technologies':
Computers & Biomedical
This corp is a New Kid On The Block (NKOTB) that gained AAA status after the fall of Fuchi during the Corp War. Based in Quebec this corp is a main competitor to Ares as being another AAA Corp on the North American continent.
Computers, Robotics, & Magic
Not a lot to say about this corp. Its previous spot as the proverbial also-ran seems to have come to an end when it took advantage of the death of Fuchi and the problems of Renraku.
Computers & Aerospace
Another NKOTB, this corp gained AAA status thanks to Richard Villiars moving from Fuchi over to Novatech after Fuchi's death. Like Cross this Corp and Ares have been butting heads since Novatech is based on the North American continent which Ares previously has ruled as its own little fiefdom.
Computers, Cyber & Bioware & Biotech
The dual body blows of the Seattle Arcology shutdown (SR books Renraku Arcology: Shutdown, and Brainscan) and its fight with Fuchi during the Corp War has left Renraku a shell of its former domineering self. On a side note it seems as though Renraku might start allowing metatypes other than humans into the corp (a first for the normally xenophobic Japanese corps).
Heavy Industry, Chemicals, & Finance
The great dragon Lofwyr's personal plaything and the only European MegaCorp of the bunch, this corp breezed through the Corp War with no damage and snapped up a bit of Fuchi Europe in the ending carnage. This corp has only gotten more formidable with the recent weakness of the rest of the corps.
Atomics, Environmental Cleanup & Biotech
Shiawase didn't directly participate much in the Corp War, but it gobbled up most of the dissolving Fuchi empire when the end came, especially Fuchi Europa, which has put it into more direct competition with Saeder-Krupp.
Shipping, Finance & Consumer Goods
The last of the NKOTBs, Wuxing was a big winner in Dunkelzahn's Will (Portfolio of a Dragon SB), and with Yamatetsu has turned the Pacific Prosperity Group into a real challenger to the JapanCorps (Shiawase, Renraku, and Mitsuhama)
Cyber & Bioware, Consumer Goods, Biotech & Agriculture
Internal strife has led this corp from its home. The death of its founder, the revelation that one of its board members was a free spirit, and the act of raising an ork (!!) to the CEO's slot of a Japanese MegaCorp managed to sour the Japanese Empire on Yamatetsu, so the AAA has moved its headquarters to Vladivostock Russia since the Corp War.
This chapter has GM Information about the previous book chapters, though it leaves open most rumors and doesn't tell you much more about the profiled persons than the other chapters do.
This book is technically written in the e-book format that should make things more interesting looking historically at previous e-book materials that have appeared in the SR world. For one reason or another though the shadowtalk doesn't have the free-wheeling spirit of either the earlier Cyberpirates, or the later Target:Matrix sourcebooks which results in a rather unexciting, though informative, read. This book could've been made into a rules expansion without much effort, and in fact when I look back on it after owning it for over a year I see it much more similar to the other SR3 rules expansions (Magic in the Shadows, Man & Machine, etc...) than other e-book SBs like the previously mentioned Cyberpirates and Target:Matrix.
The artwork is a bit bland, even the recycled artwork is less than exciting, though there are flashes of really good work like the inside cover graphic or the pic on page 108.
When looking at the raw amount of information however there is no doubt why most gamers rank this at the top of the list of 'must haves' for new players and GMs. A decent index (finally an index!) makes it relatively easy to sift through the book when you're looking for something specific.Its shear volume of information, coupled with the incredibly large variety of different hooks, makes it understandable why you're almost guaranteed to have at least one person in your group who has a copy of Corp Download.