The Fool on the Hill: The Union

Saturday, 6 February 2021

The Union: Sketch outine for a Cyberpunk mod

Preconditions

This mod becomes available after you have completed at least the Pisces side quest.

New factions

EntertainU, the union of entertainment workers. A mostly-corrupt organisation which is the established labour union for sex workers in night city, although only a relatively small proportion of sex workers are unionised and most of the joy-toy clubs and bars are opposed to unionisation.

Braindance Inc (present in Cyberpunk 2020 lore, as far as I know not mentioned in the game) were the originators of all braindance technology and have had a long relationship with Militech. They have mostly developed braindances for 'respectable' uses, such as aversion therapy and military training, but their technology is now a long way behind the cutting edge stuff that the porn virtu studios have, and they've been losing money fast. They've now been taken over as a wholly owned subsidiary of Militech, and Militech have put in Corey Smith to turn the business round.

The Cast of Characters

 Established characters

V: the player character (? or, given the complexity of the multiple endings of the main game, do we want a new player caracter?). Referred to as 'V' in this document for simplicity. If V, age is 28.

Judy Alvarez, talented brain dance editor, member of The Mox, close friend of many joy-toys but never (at least as far as we know) a joy-toy herself. Age about 21.

Susannah Quinn, manager of Lizzie's Bar and de facto leader of The Mox. Age about 50. Sees the new workers' co-op that Judy has established at Clouds as a competitor she wants put out of business.

Meredith Stout, Militech middle-management person with a private interest in sadomasochism. If Meredith died in the player's save game, then we invent another female Militech middle manager, with some different private kink. Referred to as 'Meredith' in this document for simplicity. Age about 35.

Dino Dinovic and Rogue, fixers.

New characters

Boss of EntertainU, no name or gender yet. Greedy and venal. Referred to as 'X' until I have a better name.

Mercenary, no name or gender yet, ambitious and very deadly, thought (by V and possibly also by Rogue, with whom you may have a conversation about them) to be too eager to take on morally dodgy jobs. Referred to as 'Z' until I have a better name.

Wobbly Man, activist for an ancient historical union based on International Workers of the World – a union which is essentially long dead and a bit of a legend. Real name is Arlo, but you don't get to know that unless he absolutely trusts you. An intelligent, experienced, wise, gentle, and possibly crazy person. There is a possibility that Wobbly Man is simply a lunatic and a fantasist, but he knows a lot of left political theory and appears to be very sincere and dedicated. Age maybe 70; old and weatherbeaten and carrying old injuries, hard to tell. I'm kind of basing him in my mind on my old friend Ed Iglehart. Members of the Industrial Workers of the World union were known as 'wobblies'.

Corey Smith, Meredith's line manager, long term Militech company man, new CEO of Braindance Inc, with a brief to turn the company round, bring it back to the cutting edge, and make it profitable. Cristopher Corey Smith voiced Agent Smith in The Matrix: Path of Neo.

Background

The owners of several of the joy-toy clubs, in association with EntertainU, are trying to push new standard conditions of employment onto joy-toys and virtu performers. It's long and complicated and written in legalese, but hidden deep in it is a clause which transfers all intellectual property rights in virtus made by anyone who signs it to their employer. Judy swears she's never signed this agreement, but Susannah Quinn says she's got a copy with Judy's signature on it.

Judy, fresh from her triumph at Clouds, irate at the theft of her intellectual property rights, and really angry about how joy-toys and virtu actors are treated in the city (including in Lizzy's Bar), is trying to set up a new union called the Creatives Union for the Neurotechnology sector, or CU/NTS, as a challenger/rival to EntertainU.

Judy has met the Wobbly Man, who moves regularly between homeless camps around the city, and is engaged in other labour activism. He's feeding her old books and pamphlets, and radicalising her.

Corey Smith is seeking the best braindance talent available and he isn't much worried whether it comes willingly. Among other talent he's specifically looking for Judy Alvarez. He's also keen to prevent labour organisation in the virtu studios which he's also buying.

He's also heard of the new union CU/NTS and wants it stopped; and he knows of the Wobbly Man, and suspects that the Wobbly Man is behind CU/NTS. He also wants to break EntertainU. Smith will use Meredith as the lead on these more underhand activities, not becoming directly involved unless you manage to Meredith to the CU/NTS side.

Susannah Quinn wants to suppress CU/NTS, and she also wants to take over Clouds and have Judy taken down a peg or two; but she doesn't want Judy hurt – just tamed, and working for her again. She doesn't want to suppress EntertainU, because she feels she can work with them.

Action

Cloud 9

At the beginning of the mod, you, as the player, V, don't know anything about the background above. If you were Judy's lover or friend, you're still her lover or friend, but she's been busy and you haven't seen a lot of her lately. The quest which launches the mod is a social event at Judy's, or possibly at Clouds but organised by Judy, Many sex workers from the game, whom you may already have met, are present, and you can talk to them. The Wobbly Man is also there. Nothing much happens. If you weren't previously in a sexual relationship before, you can flirt with her at the party; if you were, then probably the implication is that you sleep together after the party. I do intend to have at least one possible Judy sex scene in this mod, but let's not rush it.

In conversations at the party, you can learn about

  1. The new contract;
  2. Susannah's hostility towards Clouds;
  3. Some really ancient and slightly weird left wing manifesto from the Wobbly Man.

You don't at this stage learn anything about CU/NTS or about the Militech tachover of Braindance Inc.

Shortly after the party, you very quickly get a number of other contacts from fixers and others offering you jobs.

if you go to Afterlife and talk to Rogue, you discover that she's interested in what Militech are doing in the porn virtu business, which she believes they're trying to monopolise. She tells you that Militech now wholly own Braindance Inc. She tells you that Dino Dinovic has recruited Z to kill the Wobbly Man; she knows about CU/NTS and that Militech want to crush it, but she doesn't know who's behind it.

If you've already spoken to Dinovic, you can tell Rogue that he's trying to recruit you to (or even, if you have, that you've agreed to take the job); if you've already talked to Meredith and/or X, you can tell her about that, too. Rogue asks you how close you are to Judy. In at least one conversation path she'll suggest that Judy is in danger.

After you've seen Rogue, you'll get an invite to a meal with Judy.

Table for Two

Judy knows that the Wobbly Man is being hunted. She wants you to protect him. You can tell her that Dinovic has offered you a contract on the Wobbly Man, and also that Z has taken such a contract. You can tell her that Meredith Stout is offering her a sweet contract to work for Braindance Inc. If you do, Judy will make it clear she isn't interested; she's invested in the workers' co-op at Clouds, and she will also tell you that she's organising a new union to take on EntertainU.

You don't have to tell her any of these things; it's optional.

You can tell Judy that you're worried about her, and that you want to know where she'll be because you're worried she isn't safe. How she will respond depends on how friendly you've been with her and what else you've told her. If you're friendly with her and tell her most of the optional things above, she'll tell you what she's doing – which is going around all the seedier areas of the city talking to sex workers. If she does this, you can volunteer to go with her, in which case you'll get increased friendship/romance points with Judy; if you're not friendly or you don't come clean with her, she'll be suspicious of you and you'll get decreased friendship/romance points.

If you do volunteer to go with her, she'll turn you down, saying it's better if she goes on her own.

In the conversation Judy will bring up some of the radical left ideas she's been learning from the Wobbly Man. You can agree with her, be neutral, or try to persuade her these are bad ideas.

Vigilante Man

If you go looking for the Wobbly Man among the homeless camps, you will bump into Z, who is also looking for him. Z tells you they're on the same mission as you are to kill the Wobbly Man, and offers to share what they know, if you'll agree that the two of you will share the fee, no matter which of you makes the kill. You can accept or not.

Over the next several days you'll bump into the Wobbly Man several times, and you can kill him if you want to. Otherwise you can have weird rambling conversations about aspects of left wing political theory. At one of these encounters, Z will also show up. You have the choice of

  1. Killing the Wobbly Man;
  2. Doing nothing, in which case Z will kill the Wobbly Man (and, if you agreed to share, you will profit);
  3. Killing Z to protect the Wobbly Man.

You can't protect the Wobbly Man without killing Z. The Wobbly Man will protest against you using violence even to protect him, but if you do a non-lethal takedown on Z, you will later learn that Z has killed the Wobbly Man. In this case you can decide what you're going to tell Judy, but if you don't tell her the whole truth she's not going to be happy with you. Obviosly if you killed the Wobbly Man or walked away, she's also not going to at all be happy...

Collapse of Stout Party

After Table for Two, you can get back to Meredith and say that Judy isn't interested. Meredith asks you to meet with her, and gives you an address. When you get to it, you find it's unlocked. Going in, you find a BDSM dungeon; the only person there is Meredith, who is naked, bound over a bench, gagged and blindfolded. If you're female, there's a strap-on there. You can

  1. Do nothing and leave.
  2. Not remove the gag, have sex with Meredith, and leave.
  3. Remove the gag, in which case Meredith will make it clear she wants you to have sex with her.
  4. After this, you can have sex with Meredith and leave, or
  5. Not have sex with her and leave, or
  6. Have sex with Meredith and then untie her and have a conversation with her, or
  7. Not have sex with her but untie her and have a conversation with her.

If you have a conversation with her, she'll ask you to set up a meeting for her with Judy. If you agree, and then when you see Judy tell her the meeting is with Meredith, Judy won't agree to come with you. If you don't tell her the meeting is with Meredith, Judy will come, in which case she'll be kidnapped from the meeting by Militech while you are being restrained by multiple Militech goons and unable to help.

In this conversation, if you did have sex, you can make a joke about how the scene you've just done would make a great virtu, and if you do that you get a whole new conversation in which Meredith will say that she fantasises about doing that, she really wants to do that, but she daren't because if it came out she'd lost her job, and then she'll talk about how she really hates her job, and from there there's a path to winning her over to deciding she's going to ditch Militech and be a virtu performer as part of the co-op at Clouds.

Having Meredith on board will really help when dealing with Militech later (if you decide to do that).

Vanished Away

As detailed above, if you take Judy to the meeting that Meredith wanted you to, she's kidnapped (and in this case you don't have Meredith on your side).

If you don't take Judy to this meeting, then there's a period in which nothing in particular happens in the mod story and the player has to get on with other missions and side activities. Then you meet up with Judy and Meredith at Clouds, where they're getting along fine. This meeting restarts the action. At it you learn

  1. That Wobbly Man (if still alive) is still influencing Judy;
  2. That Judy is still wandering around the seedier bits of the city giving flyers to sex workers to try to encourage them to join CU/NTS;
  3. How things are going at Clouds (which will depend on whether you've been sabotaging the place);
  4. The state of the feuds with Susannah and with X.

You can optionally accept a job (Fly by Night) from Judy to hand out flyers to sex workers

The next move is that Judy vanishes.

If Z is still alive at this time it's possible that Z will kill Judy, and that's pretty much the end of the mod. Not sure if I want to include this outcome. Obviously the player also has opportunities to kill Judy, in which case the player will pick up the fee and that's the end, but I'm kind of guessing most players will not take that route.

Otherwise, Militech goons will kidnap Judy. If you took the Fly by Night job, you'll (quite by accident) be there when they attack her, and you can try to fight them off – but you'll fail, and at least some of the goons will get away with Judy.

Otherwise, the first you'll know about Judy being kidnapped is that Meredith (if you've won her over to the Clouds side), or another member of Judy's circle, will call you up and tell you.

If Meredith is on side, then she will have a good idea where Judy is being held. She'll also be able to tap up contacts within Militech to confirm this.

If Meredith is not on side, you'll have no clues until a new Judy Alvarez braindance hits the streets, for the first time ever featuring Judy as a performer. The braindance is pretty graphic and unpleasant to watch, especially if you like Judy, but in it she says something which you will recognise as being a message to you personally, asking for help, and she will also draw attention to things in the environment which indicate where she is.

Where she is is a former private prison, now abandoned, but owned by Braindance Inc and being converted by them into a new porn virtu studio. If Wobbly Man is still alive, he knows of a tunnel he dug years ago to escape from the prison. He offers to lead you through the tunnel if you promise that no one will be hurt in freeing Judy; if you won't promise, he'll just show you the entrance but not accompany you.

If Wobbly Man is not still alive, you'll have to break into the prison by another route; if Meredith is on side she'll give you a useful briefing on the route to take, otherwise you'll just have to wing it.

In any case, you get into the prison, and, at least if you took the tunnel route, you'll get to where she's being held without triggering any alarms or meeting any guards. As you try to sneak out, however, you will run into guards, who will open fire.

If Wobbly Man is with you, he will ask you for a gun. If you give him one, he will cover your retreat and you'll be able to get Judy away safely through the tunnels; he won't survive, and you'll see that he isn't actually aiming to hit the guards. If Wobbly Man isn't with you, Judy will be hit and fatally wounded, as Jackie was in the heist.

Optional: Agent Smith

Whether or not Judy survived the kidnapping, you can decide to assasinate Smith (if Meredith is on side) or Meredith (if she isn't) for their responsibility for Judy's kidnapping.

Sweet Love

At the end of this, if you got Judy out alive and you have done everything in the process to increase your friendship with her, and you're playing as female, whether or not you'd been in a romance with her before, then, after an interval of time, Judy will again get in touch and suggest that the two of you record a porn virtu together - 'just for us'.

You obviously get the choice of refusing; if you do, that's the end. If not, you get a choice of about three scenarios; whichever one you pick, you'll have sex with Judy. At the end, again whichever one you pick, she'll be naked, sleeping. You'll get up and get a cigarette from a nearby table. On the table will be your weapons.

You'll get a choice of

  1. Leave;
  2. Wake Judy and give her a cigarette;
  3. Kill Judy.

If you kill Judy, she'll wake up just before you do and witness you doing it. You'll get the reward from at least X; if Smith is still alive, you'll get the reward from him, too, and he'll also ask whether there are any virtus Judy left and whether he can buy them. You can choose to sell him the virtu which Judy was recording when you killed her.

 Labels: Game Worlds, Software, Fiction, Stories


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