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Old 04-12-2010, 11:20 PM   #1
Orlin
 
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Default Gaming and the Corporate World

While it doesn't come up much in my games, the corporate world is an issue that has a tendency to rear its ugly head once in a blue moon and catch me wildly off-guard. To cite a prime example, I recently ran a game where one of my players decided to take the role of a company president for Heckler & Koch Los Angeles, and after hashing out the details we decided that he was responsible for the business' involvement around the U.S. Western seaboard. I allowed it because I enjoyed the concept that he'd pitched altogether -- a vengeful Malakite of War who "kills deals" by day and "kills demons" by night.

Apart from the most pressing concerns (namely finding ways to restrict his access to finances and high-tech weaponry, which I've managed to do primarily by avoiding the issue of what sort of weapons he owns and to what degree, as well as forcing him to constantly loan out bits and pieces of his arsenal to other needy angels at Michael's behest), I've discovered that I know absolutely nothing about the corporate world. I don't know how corporations are run, what the primary responsibilities of a high-ranking businessman would entail or how to present him with challenges that involve his job.

So far, I've kept the story afloat by shifting the focus toward the people that work for the Malakite, which in turn has allowed me to examine his relationship with humankind. Gina, the hard-working secretary who's suffering through a nasty divorce with an alcoholic husband. Jose, the illegal Mexican janitor who possesses an astounding degree of faith in spite of the hardships he's endured. Bill, the proud Catholic family-man who plays a mean game of Golf, supports three kids and bears a reputation for his absolute ruthlessness in the board room.

Unfortunately, many of the elements I'd like to highlight have been glossed over on account of my ignorance. I have no idea how corporate takeovers work or what manner of responsibilities the Malakite would be forced to endure.

What's the difference between a corporate takeover and a merger? What responsibilities does a CEO have and how are they different from those of a president, a major shareholder or a member of the board of directors? When in role, who does the character answer to? Who are his greatest competitors? Most importantly, what elements of the corporate world can I utilize to enhance the quality of my story?

While I recognize that Heckler and Koch LA probably doesn't really exist, and more importantly that I've handed over an incredible amount of power to an already powerful character, I've made my bed and am prepared to lay in it. The game is enjoyable for both player and GM, and I can be crafty -- but I need to know where I can draw the line within the boundaries of reason. Toward the end of the last session, the character was planning a raid (with several other PC's) on a small Tether of Haagenti and the two of us don't precisely see eye-to-eye on what weapons he should have access to.

His rationale is that his character's position (status 5, role 6) probably comes with an ex-military background, and that his profession entitles him to possess weapons that aren't authorized to civilians. This leads him to believe that, legally or illegally, he could easily have access to anything produced by H&K; I told him that we'd talk about it before the next session began. What do you think?

While I don't expect anyone to be able to break down the complete machinations of the corporate world, any simple advice on how to involve it or need to know information would be greatly appreciated. Likewise, links to sites that may provide useful, (preferably succinct) information would also be helpful. I don't expect anyone to hand me a story arc, but I can certainly hope that someone in the forum has a hand for these sorts of scenarios and can provide some much needed counsel.

I've often found that Hollywood has a great deal to offer the GM who can't afford to whittle away hours researching material that can be better demonstrated on-screen. Personally, I've found that the time I devote to reading is best spent on supplements that are directly related to the game -- although it has never hurt to check the web for religious lore. If anyone knows of some good movies that demonstrate the corporate world and the challenges presented to those who dwell within it, your suggestions are welcome.
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Last edited by Orlin; 04-13-2010 at 02:44 AM. Reason: Typographical Errors
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Old 04-13-2010, 12:02 AM   #2
Jason
 
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Default Re: Gaming and the Corporate World

It sounds like he wants his Role to be Bruce Wayne.

I must confess that I'm pretty ignorant of the corporate world myself. (Drop me a line when you have a player who wants to run a professor at a liberal arts college, though.)

I'm inferring that your character's company is an arms manufacturer. I'd look up the background of some comparable company presidents (see, for instance, Raytheon) to see whether military background is actually the norm.

Whatever the case, if you're looking to challenge him as he's going for Bruce Wayne sneaky equipment access, give him Bruce Wayne problems. Shareholders are noticing that the experimental arms division is WAY over budget, and that his personal travel and vacation time expenses are unusually high. Environmental activists have approached the media with damning evidence that the company is improperly disposing of faulty equipment (read: whatever gets blown up in celestial warfare). Other employees are gunning for his job, and because he keeps having to skip out on exceptionally important meetings with government clients at the most inopportune times, a vote of "no confidence" seems always looming right around the corner.
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Old 04-13-2010, 01:34 AM   #3
Rocket Man
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Default Re: Gaming and the Corporate World

While not part of the corporate world myself, I've covered enough business and political stories to have a basic idea of the players:

The Board of Directors, led by the chairman, has the responsibility for overall policy. In a publicly-held company, the directors are chosen by the shareholders and the chair is generally chosen from among their ranks. In a municipal government, the equivalent roles would be the City Council and the Mayor.

Where the directors are elective, the Chief Executive Officer is the highest-ranking appointed officer in the company. The CEO is hired by the board and is responsible for creating the long-term strategy that will achieve the board's vision (and often, his advice helps shape that vision). He is the boss, the one with the power to bind and loose, so long as the board allows him to do so. In a municipal government, this would be the City Manager, the one who has the power to hire and fire all the various departmental heads.

The President, meanwhile, is hired by the CEO and is responsible for overseeing the day-to-day operations of the company so that it remains capable of achieving the CEO's long-term goals -- the nuts and bolts guy, if you will. The usual title these days is Chief Operating Officer. The equivalent in a city government could be an Assistant City Manager, or a Director of Administration, or any of the more important department heads.

In a number of companies (especially small to medium-sized ones), the roles of CEO/President may be held by one and the same person. The Chairman of the Board is usually less visible but can hold a lot of power behind the scenes.
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Last edited by Rocket Man; 04-13-2010 at 01:39 AM.
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Old 04-13-2010, 07:07 AM   #4
Jason
 
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Default Re: Gaming and the Corporate World

Quote:
Originally Posted by Orlin View Post
Apart from the most pressing concerns (namely finding ways to restrict his access to finances and high-tech weaponry, which I've managed to do primarily by avoiding the issue of what sort of weapons he owns and to what degree, as well as forcing him to constantly loan out bits and pieces of his arsenal to other needy angels at Michael's behest), I've discovered that I know absolutely nothing about the corporate world. I don't know how corporations are run, what the primary responsibilities of a high-ranking businessman would entail or how to present him with challenges that involve his job.
I was thinking about this point (while I probably should have been sleeping last night). Your player's character is basically an arms dealer now, regardless of whatever his full-time job happens to be. He's risking some serious legal heat if he's not more judicious with what he "borrows" from the company, for himself or for others.

Moreover, if War angels are using mundane weapons to get into fights, they're probably creating a ton of disturbance: Every time a shot misses, it hits something instead, and the damage from such weaponry is probably phenomenally loud in the Symphony. This means that even if local and federal law enforcement agencies haven't caught on to this yet, sooner or later, demons will, and they will be quite happy to point investigators toward this arsenal.

I also have logistical questions about how the president of the company gets access to weapons for his own personal use, too, but I'm assuming you've worked that out. It's not like they just let him take free prototypes home with him, so I'm assuming he's using the Ethereal Songs of Form and Faith/Submission to invisibly pass through walls and steal whatever's needed (or something along those lines). Otherwise, it should be dreadfully easy to trace any security breaches back to him when any equipment is found to be missing, or shows up damaged near a recent battle site. (And after all, since he's loaning this stuff out to other angels, it's not even as if he can say, "But I was so careful to clean up after myself!" Well, unfortunately, your buddy Bigboomiel, Malakite of War, was not so careful with the toys you lent out, so now you need to play it quiet for a bit.)

I'm still no help for the corporate world, though. Sorry.
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Old 04-13-2010, 07:28 AM   #5
JCD
 
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Default Re: Gaming and the Corporate World

Alright! Let's have fun!

First, Heckler and Koch is a German company, where the REAL CEO lives.

Your player is probably more of a District Manager. The REAL bigwigs are in Germany.

Let's start with the research basics: Heckler and Koch USA

He is, no doubt, a board member in Germany (and this would entail constant travel to Deutscheland). So, we stipulate that HK decided it needed a local distributer in LA. In keeping with it's wonder moral stance in Bosnia and Nepal, they decided that direct supplies to the LAPD, the Crypts and the Bloods needed a whole new center for themselves. (Hee hee)

Let's get rid of some myths. He will be working around 16+ hours a day. He will constantly need to travel and have meetings. He will have connections to local law enforcement, the military and politicians. So there are plot hooks for days there.

A quick look at HK Wiki (what? You didn't even START there?) shows that HK has any number of prototype weapon systems, up to and including grenade launchers. Since LA is very close to lots of nowhere, it isn't totally outrageous to think that there is a proving ground in the desert nearby.

But...how many people have ACCESS to these weapons? This is not a punishment, but a consequence of using such things. So if he tries to use a Objective Individual Combat Weapon the list of who can snag one is VERY short. And since HK are a rock solid company who has a great deal of business with both law enforcement and the military, they WILL cooperate with the authorities.

But to go a bit further. If every angel in the area has a HK weapon (and he should be able to get access to all the commercial stuff he needs within reason) which HASN'T been sold yet...someone will ask questions.

Honestly, to be effective, he needs cut outs.

Lar (let's call him Lar) can authorize a deep discount to Mal, the gun dealer. Mal sells to 5 other angels/soldiers. THEY sell at gun shows...supposedly. That is how they would sanitize the weapons effectively.

This is less about the corporate world and more about gun control, but I hope it helps.

Last edited by JCD; 04-13-2010 at 07:41 AM.
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Old 04-13-2010, 07:39 AM   #6
JCD
 
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Default Re: Gaming and the Corporate World

On the merger/take over front. A merger is when two companies join amicably. Sort of a marriage between nobles (who gets what properties. What responsibilities? Whose Servants are we keeping? etc)

A take over is where a publically traded company is forcibly bought up by someone else.

For example, say Ben and Jerry's was a publically traded company. Anyone could buy it's stock. I win the lottery and decide I want it to be Ben and Jack's. I could go around, buying up all the stock which becomes available until I reach a magic 51% of the company, which gives me a great deal of control as the majority stakeholder. It is infinately more complicated then that, with leveraged buy outs, the politics of getting shareholders to vote your way etc.

The good news is, is that HK is a PRIVATE company. They don't sell stock so they don't face problems of that sort. Essentially all the stock is owned by the owners, and not by mutual funds, grannies, or gunnuts. This is not surprising in a military gun manufacturer.

What he could face are lawsuits, corporate sabatoge, corporate espionage, politics, etc.

One major problem is what he wants vs what the 'real' company would offer. Realistically, he would be a local President, but still under some oversight by someone. This probably isn't what he wants. Everyone wants to be Donald Trump, not the old schmuck next to him...which is what Lar should be.

Good luck and I hope this helps.
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Old 04-13-2010, 09:22 AM   #7
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Default Re: Gaming and the Corporate World

That is some awesome advice. Did not even realize HK is a real, private company. This actually sounds like it could lead to some really interesting scenarios.
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Old 04-13-2010, 10:16 AM   #8
Rocket Man
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Default Re: Gaming and the Corporate World

By the by, even though this started for an In Nomine campaign, the advice so far looks good for just about any game with a corporate flavor (big kudos to JCD). Mods, should this be moved over to the "Roleplaying in General" forum?
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Old 04-13-2010, 10:45 AM   #9
Archangel Beth
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Default Re: Gaming and the Corporate World

Probably depends on if the OP wants to deal with comments that aren't either system-neutral, or IN-based. Perhaps the important, non-IN data, could be copied over to there, if we want to keep this thread more IN-focused?
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Old 04-13-2010, 10:57 AM   #10
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Default Re: Gaming and the Corporate World

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason View Post
That is some awesome advice. Did not even realize HK is a real, private company. This actually sounds like it could lead to some really interesting scenarios.
Hell yeah! It's one of the biggest and (I think) best gun manufacturers in the world!

And, by the way Orlin...

Did you steal my War Malakite? You can keep him if you want, but it sounds an awful lot like what my guy tried to do.

The easiest solution for you would be to fire him. If he's running around a lot like he sounds then obviously he's not really doing his job and if he has such a high position then, realistically, he's on salary (the modern word for slavery) and pulling in ungodly hours. He has to be, I worked at a large company once and all upper management was salary. I was bottle of the barrel, and I was pulling in and average of 10+ hours. Heck, I even had 18 hour days. Yes, I was on salary too. One of my friends had to switch to salary when he became a lead (not even a manager).

But here's a better question for you...

Why are YOU doing the research? HE wanted the Role, let him do the research for you. Give him a list of questions and have him find the data. If you are worried that he will not be truthful then have him provide websites or where he found the info.

Last edited by ladyarcana55; 04-13-2010 at 11:05 AM.
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