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PENTEX: Research & Inspiration Company by Company

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  • PENTEX: Research & Inspiration Company by Company

    So, because it came up in another thread, I thought it might be useful to start a thread looking at the various PENTEX subsidiaries and offering up various fictional and non-fictional sources of information and inspiration about each one. That being the history of those industries, interesting events or scandals, corporate cultures, various criticisms (legitimate or otherwise) of the business, and any fictional works that give ideas for potential plot hooks or horrors for the Garou to stumble upon and fight.

    If anyone has any suggestions that I missed, I will gladly add them to each company's listing. Thank you in advance.

    I figure I'll start with the Wikipedia article on Holding Companies, which is what PENTEX is supposed to be, and people can chase links from there to their heart's content.

    Added: As far as corporate culture goes, PENTEX was heavily influenced by the original Robocop (1987) and it's sequel Robocop 2 (1990). (The second one is not as good as the first one, but does continue the wonderful examples of corporate backstabbing and throwing people under the bus.) Also, Michael Crichton's Rising Sun and Disclosure. (The film versions of these are OK, but the books get more in to corporate culture and its pitfalls.)

    More Added: As mentioned by Crowley, the current series Mister Robot also offers up some potential PENTEX ideas.

    ENDRON INTERNATIONAL (Oil, Petroleum and other forms of Energy)

    So, they're the original seed of the whole thing. Hence, it's probably a good idea to understand the history of the petroleum business. For that, I offer up Daniel Yergin's The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money and Power, a look at the oil industry up until 1990, and it's follow up, The Quest: Energy, Security and the Remaking of the Modern World, which game out in 2011. Also, Upton Sinclair's classic Oil!, which was one of the inspirations for the movie There Will Be Blood (2007). And, of course, no book about the energy industry would be complete without Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind's The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron (which also has a film version). I haven't seen Deepwater Horizon (2016) yet, so can't comment on it.

    Fiction-wise, the X-Files did a long running thread about an alien virus that thrived in earth's underground petroleum supply, which tied into a number of other business-related conspiracy angles.

    More Added: I've not read Adam Baker's Outpost, about the small crew of an Arctic Ocean oil rig during a global pandemic (and possible zombie apocalypse), but it does get good word of mouth from people I usually find trustworthy. I suspect one can get at least a few ideas about Endron workers going stir crazy or Garou trying to take over an oil platform out of it.

    China Mieville wrote a short story, Covenhithe, as something for The Guardian's anniversary coverage of Deepwater Horizon. I won't spoil it, but it's weird in the way that Mieville's stories usually are, and would make a rather odd chronicle idea.

    Quantum of Solace (2008) involves some oil industry shenanigans, but mostly as part of a larger unrelated conspiracy.

    Ida Tarbell's The History of Standard Oil is a period classic that shaped the way pretty much everyone remembered John D. Rockefeller and his rise to power.

    Knowledge Hub on YouTube has a pretty good summery of Rockefeller here.

    And if you feel up for binge viewing, try finding the tv show Dallas (1978-1991). J.R. Ewing is the early 80s poster boy for the Magnificent Bastard trope, and the sort of man who should be running a PENTEX subsidiary.

    Modern Marvels did a number of episodes about the oil industry (3:07 Oil; 5:10 The Alaskan Oil Pipeline; 6:26 Offshore Oil Drilling; 9:31 Gasoline; 11:08 Oil Firefighting; 11:30 Oil Tankers; 12:41 Lube Job), most of which can probably be found at various places online.

    Outside of their original business of oil, there's also the realm of natural gas. There are more than a few films critical to natural gas production, especially hydraulic fracturing. I can't conscientiously call these documentaries, as these sorts of films usually start with a preselected point of view to push and carefully craft the presentation to sway viewers to that point of view. I believe the proper term for this is "propaganda". That said, they are certainly mineable for ideas of stuff Endron might be up to which Garou can uncover. (I think Gasland was the really big one, IIRC.)

    Even though Endron apparently bought out Atlas International in Book of the Wyrm 2nd ed, I'm going to save them for later, as the nuclear power industry is its own animal, and it gets into things like, for example, General Electric, which is pretty complicated.

    ADDED: Steve Coil's Private Empire: Exxon Mobil and American Power, a look at what is one of (if not the) biggest corporations in the US and some of it's various shenanigans. Also, Daniel Ammann's The King of Oil: The Secret Lives of Marc Rich, a man who's somewhat shady and occasionally weird life has a lot of potential plot hooks for Endron and PENTEX.

    More to come.
    Last edited by No One of Consequence; 01-13-2018, 04:29 PM.


    What is tolerance? It is the consequence of humanity. We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other's folly. That is the first law of nature.
    Voltaire, "Tolerance" (1764)

  • #2
    The history of actual oil companies can be wonderful inspiration, but remember that oil companies are (one would presume) all about making money while Endron is focused on other goals (while remaining profitable). So for instance, Occidental Petroleum and its Love Canal fiasco is an interesting episode in history, it nonetheless was a story about (admittedly horrifying) disregard in the pursuit of a few extra percentage points of profit. Although it would work great as a Pentex plot, in a practical sense, creating a scene where rusted barrels of Dioxin come thrusting up from an elementary school playground like the coffins in the climactic scene of Poltergeist (as actually happened), was far more likely to become the one and only thing that the media would talk about for a year and practically demand that the EPA (recently formed) be strengthened and become very invasively involved (also as actually happened).

    ​In short, I like to use Endron (and other Pentex subsidiaries for that matter) to do more subtle stuff like quietly using their sway to undercut and kill alternative energy technologies or the creation of "Clean Air" statutes, while leaving the really overtly nastiness to good old fashioned innocent human stupidity.


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    • #3
      I've always found Mcfarlane Toys/Spawn toys from the 90's to be great inspiration for Avalon Inc. Especially their assorted lines like the Movie Maniacs.


      PENTEX SUCKS.

      I'm a gamer. I'm conservative. We exist.

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      • #4
        I'm mostly just offering material to help people get a better and deeper understanding of PENTEX's subsidiary companies. Sometimes understanding how a business evolved gives ideas for lurking skeletons, historical chronicles or just interesting color.

        And if you think Love Canal was bad, you should read some of the horror stories from the Soviet Era. I think the Baltic Republics are still having to clean up from where the USSR decided to build kindergartens and elementary schools over places were nuclear waste was buried only a dozen feet under ground.


        What is tolerance? It is the consequence of humanity. We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other's folly. That is the first law of nature.
        Voltaire, "Tolerance" (1764)

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        • #5
          EXTREME WRESTLING WARFARE

          So, back in the late 90s, professional wrestling was big. Really, really big. And among the fans of the "Monday Night Wars" era between WCW and WWF (now WWE) were Ethan Skemp, Rob Hatch, Justin Achilli, and Ken Cliffe at White Wolf. This, of course, made it inevitable that some form of pro-wrestling tribute/parody would work its way into the World of Darkness. EWW grew out of the Luchador Professional character template from the 1st edition Nosferatu Clanbook from Vampire, and when El Diablo Verde appeared in Vampire's Children of the Night, it was at the head of an entire wrestling promotion that involved real monsters. And it has ties to PENTEX.

          Professional Wrestling is a deeply weird business, even more so back before WWE had a near monopoly on the American market. It has its own carny-like jargon and some of the old timers are still reluctant to discuss behind the scenes stuff with outsiders.

          WWE offers a huge range of DVDs and streaming material, but the company does have a Soviet-style habit of rewriting history to serve whatever their current party line is.

          The Wrestler (2008) is a really good film in its own right, as well as an interesting look at some of the darker and more depressing corners of the business. Documentary wise, Beyond the Mat (1999) is really good, as is Hitman Hart: Wrestling with Shadows (1998).

          In the realm of books, James Dixon's trilogy of Titan Sinking, Titan Screwed, and Titan Shattered covers what was going on in the WWF in the handful of years they went from near collapse to being one of the biggest things in pop culture. Bryan Alvarez and R.D. Reynolds's The Death of WCW covers how that company originated, came to dominate the industry and crashed and burned in about a decade. (It is almost a how-to guide on how not to run a business.)

          And YouTube as a number of channels devoted to professional wrestling, many of them including looks back at the history of the business and various behind the scenes drama. Wrestling With Wregret, What Culture Wrestling, and Talking Sense with Jim Cornette are all pretty good.

          Added: I will also plug Lucha Libre Hero from Hero Games, as that entire entertainment genre - including various movies, Mexican pop culture, and even a Hellboy story - are rife with the idea of masked luchador heroes battling vampires, zombies and other monsters, and is just too perfect.a fit for certain aspects of Werewolf. The tv show Lucha Underground is also entertaining.

          More Added: Shaun Assael's Sex Lies and Headlocks: The Real Story of Vince McMahon and World Wrestling Entertainment.

          Also, Vince McMahon's interview with Bob Costas, which can be found on YouTube. And Vice's article on the 1993 steroid trial against McMahon.

          And Yet More: Just because I can, 8 Wrestlers Who Pretty Much Belonged in the EWW

          Vampiro (and Gangrel and Kevin Thorne and I'm sure more), because what more needs to be said about a wrestling vampire.
          Papa Shango, voodoo sorcerer (and later super-pimp The Godfather)
          Mick Foley, who alternated between violent redneck, deranged nut job and weird hippy
          The KISS Demon, because, yes, Gene Simmons will slap his name on anything for a dollar
          Raven, weirdly compelling grunge cult leader
          Scott Steiner, because this is what people pumped full of Magadon brand steroids look like
          Kane, the psychotic burn victim monster
          The Undertaker, because every wrestling promotion needs an undead demonic cult leader


          More later.
          Last edited by No One of Consequence; 01-11-2018, 06:50 PM.


          What is tolerance? It is the consequence of humanity. We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other's folly. That is the first law of nature.
          Voltaire, "Tolerance" (1764)

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          • #6
            MEYERS, FEINSTEIN and HARGRETT

            PENTEX's pet law firm, introduced in the revised Storytellers Handbook. Yes, evil lawyers, who would've thunk it?

            The most obvious source of inspiration to go to with this one is the tv series Angel (1999-2004) and it's antagonists of Wolfram & Hart. (I, personally, find them a little too wink-and-a-nod over the top twee at times, but they're clearly the primary inspiration for the creation of MFH.)

            John Grisham's THE FIRM is about a Memphis based law firm that works for the mob. Grisham's THE PELICAN BRIEF also deals with legal themes and a plot that fits right in to Werewolf. RUNAWAY JURY deals with jury consultants, something the PENTEX firm likely excels at. (The recent tv series BULL deals with the same thing, just in a more positive light.)

            THE DEVIL'S ADVOCATE (1997) is a good demonstration of a slick wealthy law firm seducing it's associates to the dark side.

            Johnathan Harr's A CIVIL ACTION is a non-fiction account of a 1980s case about toxic dumping in Massachusetts, that also has a film adaption.

            And if you are really into legal action for your games, you may get some mileage out of Jay Feinman's LAW 101: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT AMERICAN LAW.

            In edition, there are literally hundreds of legal thriller novels out there which can be minded for ideas.

            Added: The tv series Damages (2007-2012) involved a lot of behind the scenes maneuvering and manipulation, and it's cases dealt with subjects appropriate to PENTEX.

            More to come.
            Last edited by No One of Consequence; 01-11-2018, 06:38 PM.


            What is tolerance? It is the consequence of humanity. We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other's folly. That is the first law of nature.
            Voltaire, "Tolerance" (1764)

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Uniform Two Six View Post
              The history of actual oil companies can be wonderful inspiration, but remember that oil companies are (one would presume) all about making money while Endron is focused on other goals (while remaining profitable). So for instance, Occidental Petroleum and its Love Canal fiasco is an interesting episode in history, it nonetheless was a story about (admittedly horrifying) disregard in the pursuit of a few extra percentage points of profit. Although it would work great as a Pentex plot, in a practical sense, creating a scene where rusted barrels of Dioxin come thrusting up from an elementary school playground like the coffins in the climactic scene of Poltergeist (as actually happened), was far more likely to become the one and only thing that the media would talk about for a year and practically demand that the EPA (recently formed) be strengthened and become very invasively involved (also as actually happened).
              True, but telling the school board in advance that there were chemicals there, encouraging them to build something other than a school there, and finally selling the property for only a dollar (provided the school board took on all the liability) is actually very good inspiration for Pentex. Add a bit of behind the scenes bribery, strongarming, or formori and you have a scenario where the company can put on a good public face while making sure terrible things happen. Granted, it would have been even better to have the town seize the property by eminent domain (which was supposedly on the table)



              Mage: The Ice-ension: An Epic Game of Reality on the Rink

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              • #8
                Was there ever a comic book subsidiary of Pentex?


                PENTEX SUCKS.

                I'm a gamer. I'm conservative. We exist.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Ramnesis View Post

                  True, but telling the school board in advance that there were chemicals there, encouraging them to build something other than a school there, and finally selling the property for only a dollar (provided the school board took on all the liability) is actually very good inspiration for Pentex.
                  ​There's still a few catches that attach, however. In the real world, Occidental's PR damage was mitigated somewhat by the fact that their business is somewhat further upstream from the general consumer than (in the World of Darkness) Endron is. A real world parallel would be Exxon and the M.V. Exxon Valdez fiasco. That was something that they were able to litigate their way out of to some extent, but from a PR perspective, it was a disaster. When they merged with Mobil, they quietly re-branded most of the retail stuff on the west coast to Mobil. It's almost impossible to find an Exxon-branded service station anywhere on the west coast anymore because the name Exxon is sort of synonymous with sh**ing on the environment and then using lawyers to escape all consequences.


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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Fat Larry View Post
                    Was there ever a comic book subsidiary of Pentex?
                    Vesuvius Incorperated, the publishing company, is said to publish comic books, but no brand imprint was ever given, IIRC. (I'm going to have to poke about a bit and see.)

                    The subject of comics is one I hope to get into when I start looking at industries that were never really covered1, because I think there's a tremendous amount of material to be mined there. Not just in terms of subject matter or male empowerment fantasies and the like, but also historical bits like pre-comics code stuff in the 40s and 50s and the speculator bubble of the 90s, and corporate synergy issues such as when Marvel was owned by Toy Biz and DC's place in the Gordian knot that is Time-Warner.

                    If you've never read it, I very highly recommend David Hajdu's The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic Book Scare and How It Changed America. It's an easy but informative read about how and why the Comics Code came into being and, ironically, how it actually saved the Superhero Genre.


                    1Others including private security firms, record labels, movie studios, agribusiness, amusement parks, sports teams, transportation, real estate and private prisons. I gladly welcome any suggestions for additional industries.
                    Last edited by No One of Consequence; 01-09-2018, 03:56 PM.


                    What is tolerance? It is the consequence of humanity. We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other's folly. That is the first law of nature.
                    Voltaire, "Tolerance" (1764)

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by No One of Consequence View Post

                      Vesuvius Incorperated, the publishing company, is said to publish comic books, but no brand imprint was ever given, IIRC. (I'm going to have to poke about a bit and see.)

                      The subject of comics is one I hope to get into when I start looking at industries that were never really covered1, because I think there's a tremendous amount of material to be mined there. Not just in terms of subject matter or male empowerment fantasies and the like, but also historical bits like pre-comics code stuff in the 40s and 50s and the speculator bubble of the 90s, and corporate synergy issues such as when Marvel was owned by Toy Biz and DC's place in the Gordian knot that is Time-Warner.

                      If you've never read it, I very highly recommend David Hajdu's The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic Book Scare and How It Changed America. It's an easy but informative read about how and why the Comics Code came into being and, ironically, how it actually saved the Superhero Genre.
                      SFdebris' series, The Rise and Fall of the Comic Empire, is a source I would recommend when you get around to that subject.

                      For one of my own projects I've been researching the history of American television animation and it is amazing how many twists and turns that story takes. A lot of it is better inspiration for the Technocracy (there's a lot of stuff that revolves around court decisions and battles over free speech), but there's plenty of inspiration for Pentex there too, from how Hasbro leapt on lowered restrictions in the 80's, to how Ted Turner built his media empire, to why you should keep beloved shows away from Hallmark at all costs.


                      Mage: The Ice-ension: An Epic Game of Reality on the Rink

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                      • #12
                        ATLAS INTERNATIONAL

                        Probably the single biggest industrial boogieman - Book of the Wyrm 1st ed flat out says that nuclear energy is PURE EEEEEEVIL!!! and that every single nuclear power plant is a Wyrm Pitt - so it was a tad ironic that by the time the 2nd ed came out, it was such a fading industry that Endron had bought them out and went from oil to energy.

                        Anyway, Modern Marvels did do an episode on Nuclear Tech (11-26), and I'm sure that Three Mile Island and Chernobyl are in one of the many, many Engineering Disasters episodes.

                        The China Syndrome (1979) is, IMO, not a very good film. But it happened to come out right at the same time as Three Mile Island, and probably did more to shape a generation of American's views on nuclear power than anything else. Also, and especially fitting for PENTEX, is Silkwood (1983). Likewise Edge of Darkness (2010).

                        Wikipedia has an article listing notable "whistle blowers" in the nuclear industry, and most of the stories can be mined for plot ideas involving Atlas.

                        I am currently waiting on a copy of Kate Brown's Plutopia: Nuclear Families, Atomic Cities and the Great Soviet and American Plutonium Disasters to come in the mail, but it looks to be a potentially interesting account of one of the weirder aspects of early plutonium manufacturing and research (and potentially an idea for a way to breed fomori).

                        While I suspect uranium production probably falls more under Harold and Harold Mining than Atlas, I will go ahead and mention anyway Judy Pasternak's Yellow Dirt: A poisoned Land and the Betrayal of the Navajos, one of a number of books on the impact of uranium mining on the Navajo Nation.

                        James Mahaffey has written a trio of books about atomic energy, ​Atomic Accidents: A History of Nuclear Meltdowns and Disasters, Atomic Awakening: A New Look at the History and Future of Nuclear Power, and Atomic Adventures: Secret Islands, N-Rays, and Isotopic Murder.

                        Kazuto Tatsuta's Ichi-F: A Worker's Graphic Memoir of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant is a manga-form first hand account of the clean up efforts at Fukushima after the massive earthquake and tsunami induced meltdowns.

                        More on the humorous side, The Class of Nuke 'Em High (1986)

                        And, of course, no discussion of nuclear power plants in the World of Darkness could be complete without mentioning Mr. Burns and the Springfield Nuclear Plant from The Simpsons.

                        I will also mention that Dr. Cockroach from the movie Monsters vs Aliens gave me the idea of (a mentally unstable) someone at Atlas and/or PENTEX coming up with the idea to create human-cockroach hybrids who could survive a nuclear war as some sort of fomori breed (maybe looking like the things from Mimic or the cockroach shifters from Werewolf: The Forsaken's War Against the Pure).

                        Added: So, the above mostly focuses on atomic energy in the US, but there is an "International" in the company title.

                        Euratom is apparently the shorthand name used for Europe's Atomic Energy Community, the international organization which has been promoting nuclear energy in Europe since the 1950s. Weirdly (or perhaps conspiratorially), they're about the only organization of that type to have remained independent of the EU and outside the regulatory control of the European Parliament. I confess to not knowing very much about Europe's history with nuclear power. Hopefully someone who does can offer some insight, especially on areas where Atlas might have insinuated itself or found some sort of partner company to merge with/buy out.

                        I've not read it, but Gabrielle Hecht's The Radiance of France: Nuclear Power and National Identity after WW2 sounds potentially interesting, as does her more recent Being Nuclear: Africans and the Global Uranium Trade.

                        And speaking of Africa, South Africa actually had a nuclear weapons program back in the 70s and 80s, until they decided to completely abandon it in 1989. David H. Albright's Revisiting South Africa's Nuclear Weapons Program is a pretty good overview of it. This is, of course, the sort of thing a PENTEX nuclear power company might have been secretly involved in.

                        And, back in the US, John M. Findlay and Bruce W. Hevly's Atomic Frontier Days: Hartford and the American West about the Washington State arm of the Manhattan Project, it's role in Cold War plutonium production, and the ongoing efforts to clean the site.

                        I will mention that while Endron was clearly initially meant to be based on oil companies like Exxon, BP and Standard Oil, the post merger Endron appears to be morphing into something akin to General Electric.

                        And More Added: I am kicking myself for forgetting this: C.H.U.D. (1984), about homeless people in NYC turned into mutant monsters by illegally dumped radioactive waste. It's a classic of it's genre, and was a major influence on Werewolf in regards to the fomori. I really consider it a must-see for Werewolf fans.

                        More later.
                        Last edited by No One of Consequence; 01-12-2018, 10:23 PM.


                        What is tolerance? It is the consequence of humanity. We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other's folly. That is the first law of nature.
                        Voltaire, "Tolerance" (1764)

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by No One of Consequence View Post

                          I will also mention that Dr. Cockroach from the movie Monsters vs Aliens gave me the idea of (a mentally unstable) someone at Atlas and/or PENTEX coming up with the idea to create human-cockroach hybrids who could survive a nuclear war as some sort of fomori breed (maybe looking like the things from Mimic or the cockroach shifters from Werewolf: The Forsaken's War Against the Pure).

                          More later.
                          There's the Samsa, the cockroach shifters from Book of the Wyrm 20 (though they tap Kafka's Metamorphosis more than anything else).


                          Scion 2E: What We Know - A wiki compiling info on second edition Scion.

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                          • #14
                            Honestly, nuclear power is such a non-issue in the United States that I don't even bother presenting Pentex as having invested in it (at least State-side) at my own table. Instead they use it as a boogieman to deflect from the FAR FAR FAR FAR FAR FAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRR greater environmental and human health harm done by the fossil fuel industry.

                            Note that in reality, the environmental litigation that ties up potential nuclear power plants are bankrolled by Big Coal. That to me is the more interesting Pentex hook.
                            Last edited by glamourweaver; 01-11-2018, 12:55 AM.


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                            • #15
                              A lot of these technologies have the potential to be disastrous from the viewpoint of the Garou; I think a werewolf would have to be insane to welcome a nuclear plant into their territory. Even if everything works as intended under normal conditions, Fukushima shows that when things go bad, they go really, really bad.

                              Seems like ape-thinking to assume 'nuclear power is comparatively good but coal is killing the earth.' I am pretty sure most Garou would think they both suck. Gaia doesn't care whether humans are safe or comfortable or have access to internet or HBO. It's all the trappings of the ascendant Weaver.

                              With their slipshod practices, I could easily see a Pentex subsidiary failing to dispose of nuclear waste or even using said poisonous materials for evil ends. It doesn't have to involve a catastrophic meltdown to be deeply environmentally dangerous.
                              Last edited by The Laughing Stranger; 01-11-2018, 01:59 PM.

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