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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.

    Added 3-11: For those looking for something odd to do with Endron, I offer up the 1976 remake of King Kong. The film is, quite frankly, awful, but for the purpose of this list, the plot involves an oil company (named Petrox, which makes me wonder if this is the original inspiration for PENTEX's name) making an expedition to an uncharted island in the Indian Ocean in search of untapped oil deposits. The oil they find is low grade junk, so they decide to bring Kong back as their new company mascot. That's kind of the 70s in a nutshell, I think. But it does offer the interesting idea of an Endron expedition that finds a lost island full of Mokole, Ananasi, Kami, and one of the Great Beasts.


    More to come.
    Last edited by No One of Consequence; 03-11-2018, 04:41 PM.

  • Morningkill
    replied
    I don't know if this has already been mentioned, but where I am in East Tennessee is the corporate headquarters and original plant for my employer, Eastman Chemical Company. If someone doesn't beat me to it in expanding upon them, in my opinion they are the perfect PENTEX subsidiary for a chronicle. They were responsible for managing the Y-12 complex in Oak Ridge, where they produced enriched uranium for the Manhattan project, as well as all of the creative things a Storyteller can do with a massive chemical manufacturing company. I am currently using Kingsport and the surrounding area for a chronicle of my own, which is especially fun for my players and I since we all live here.

    Leave a comment:


  • No One of Consequence
    replied
    So, I've been busy for a while, but still working on stuff for this thread. I'm hoping to have some stuff about the motorcycle industry and trucking/shipping. Also planning on something about social media, hopefully.

    Meanwhile, please enjoy this article about the issue of metadata in online music sales, and how it provides an easy and profitable way for music companies to potentially rip off their artists, songwriters, and even other publishers/producers, to the tune of billions of dollars.

    Added: I'm also taking requests for additional industries and businesses. I may also throw in some stuff about cults at some points (as a few of the groups/organizations in Freak Legion and elsewhere are more cults than companies).
    Last edited by No One of Consequence; 06-03-2019, 11:32 PM.

    Leave a comment:


  • Crowley
    replied
    All ill say is

    Watch HBO's Chernobyl... its horrible yet fascinating, very good inspiration for Pentex and its energy deparments, specially with all the human error going around

    Leave a comment:


  • Illithid
    replied
    The skip trace aspect is a really good point to be aware of in most werewolf games; considering many characters after a change just leave their family without a word.

    Leave a comment:


  • No One of Consequence
    replied
    Bail Bonds and Bounty Hunting

    OK, so finally bail bonding and related businesses. The issue of bail bonds is almost entirely an American one (I think the Philippines is the only other nation to use it), and even there it differs from state to state. It's actually illegal to post bail for profit in Oregon, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Illinois, Kentucky, and Maine. The legal minutia of the business is quite honestly mind numbingly dull and convoluted in certain areas. And because of that, I'm going to try to keep this as simple as possible But for a decent rundown of how the system works step by step, see https://www.wikihow.com/Understand-How-Bail-Bonds-Work

    They also have pages on how to become a bail bond agent and how to become bounty hunter.

    Because the state laws vary and because you have to be licensed in each state you operate in, it's fairly uncommon for a bail bond company to actually operate in multiple states. But in the case of PENTEX, they may very well underwrite several such agencies in multiple states. If one was to operate in multiple states, the best bet is probably the greater NYC area of New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey (and perhaps Pennsylvania as well). Second likely would be one that operates in California and Nevada (mainly LA and Vegas). The other option would be multiple licensed bail bondsmen across various cities and states who all have a single silent partner or financial backer connected to PENTEX.

    Bounty hunters are private contractors who are hired by bail bondsmen when one of their client skips bail and doesn't show up in court (causing the bail bondsman to forfeit the money they paid the court, which usually makes them very unhappy). Unlike law enforcement officers, bounty hunters don't have any special legal protection if they injure their quarry and can face murder charges if they use lethal force against them. It is also illegal for bounty hunters to pursue targets into foreign countries. If you ever saw the reality tv show Dog The Bounty Hunter, Duane "Dog" Chapman and his team were arrested in Mexico while retrieving a convicted multiple r*pist and spent several years tied up in international legal entanglements.

    There are a number of related occupations which closely tie to or crossover with bounty hunting, including skip tracing (tracking down individuals but not necessarily going out and confronting them) and repossession agents (effectively bounty hunters for vehicles). While a werewolf is unlikely to have to worry about someone repoing their car, skip tracers present a more pressing problem. More than a few young homid Garou come from families that either aren't Kinfolk or who have no idea that they are. If said Garou is young enough during the First Change, their family may presume that they've run away or been kidnapped. If so, they may turn to professional skip tracers to try to track down the missing person. This can get even worse if they go on to hire bounty hunters or professional cult deprogrammers to "rescue" the missing person. In the case of PENTEX, they've likely got an entire network of skip tracers who investigate every missing persons report which fits the pattern for new werewolves, hoping to uncover Garou strongholds and/or find subjects to turn over to the Black Spiral Dancers. (DNA likely tries similar tactics as well, searching for test subjects.)

    Bounty hunting and repoing are popular subjects for reality television, but much of it is either staged or edited to look more interesting than it is. It's also been a popular subject for movies, usually action films. I am a long time fan of the old Lee Majors tv series The Fall Guy (1981 - 1986), though it's not exactly WoD material. Also, the 1987 film Wanted Dead or Alive is a fun bit of 80s action schlock. Blade Runner (1982) is a classic more for it's visuals, but the story is pretty good too. I also recommend Repo Man (1984) and Midnight Run (1988) if you've never seen them. And if you're at all interested in making it harder for people to find you, Michael Bazzell's Hiding From the Internet is an interesting read.

    Leave a comment:


  • Helur
    replied
    Dont' know if someone already mentioned PEMEX.
    My best friend and loyal storyteller is in Mexico for 6 months ( I'll join him in one month to stay 10 days with him around some archeological sites) .
    As adopted south-american from paraguay and fanatic fan of the wod he told me about PEMEX, which is basically something really creepy in all senses:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pemex

    Leave a comment:


  • Crowley
    replied
    I got a real story that can work for the Pentex Mentality.

    Here in chile we got the tallest building in south america (Costanera Center), a sort of hotel/offices and what not, right under it theres a shopping center. Its strategical position is quite interesting since its right next to the subway station (to a station that interconnects with the south of the city, which has a large population currently). Theres been about 5 official suicide reports in this placeExtra officially theres about 35 in the last two years.

    Thing is, theres an internal and the building is pretty open so you can look down to the other floors. theres been a lot of jumpers, Each time someone jumps, the cops arrive. cover the body and the owner of the place WONT shut down the shopping center since "Money."

    Now, heres the thing, about a year ago an employee killed himself with Cyodine. The owner of the shopping center did NOT wanted to close the mall, until the cops told him it could be hazardous. he insisted he wanted to keep the place open, until the cops pointed out that "its hazardous, you may get sued."

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2jTl1WGT_dY

    Leave a comment:


  • EndlessKng
    replied
    Originally posted by No One of Consequence View Post
    So, I've been trying to work on a post about the bail bonding business and bounty hunting, but certain legal aspects of it are mind numbing, and I've also been heavily distracted by various family, health and work issues. (Bleh)

    Meanwhile, I leave you with the interesting factoid that back about a decade or so ago, various companies were looking at the concept of disposable DVDs. Flexplay was the developers of the technology, and Disney experimented with it under the name ez-D. SpecraDisc was another company that experimented with the idea, only to be bought out by Flexplay. Basically, the idea was that, rather than renting out normal DVDs, they'd have these discs which were designed to only play for a limited amount of time. When exposed to oxygen, the plastic in the discs start to darken, rendering them unreadable by the laser in the DVD player within a few days. Allegedly, the discs had a one year shelf life if unopened. Instead of returning the played disc, consumers would just throw them away. This was allegedly to deal with the problem of people renting discs and never bringing them back. The product bombed badly, as customers didn't want it, and environmentalists pointed out the rather obvious problem that this created a bunch of new plastic garbage to take up space in landfills. But, for PENTEX, that would be a feature rather than a bug. The first time I read about this, I immediately thought of Redbox, the little automated video rental kiosks, and that if one combined them with the Flexplay concept, you end up with all these cheep movie dispensers that churn out an endless supply of plastic garbage, including stuff from OMNI, Gorehound, and others, all on Rainbow provided plastics. Not sure what a good name for such an enterprise would be. BlueStar or something else primary color derived, maybe.

    The Museum of Obsolete Media has an entry for Flexplay, for those wanting to see what the things looked like. The YouTube Channel Technology Connections has a video about it. And the Company Man channel, which I've mentioned before, has a video about Redbox.

    I remember hearing about those. Thanks for the link - I remembered something about a red color but couldn't remember if it was the starting point or a mid-stage.

    I'd probably go with BlueCube - obviously a parody of RedBox, but also matching the cadence and symmetry between the words. I also can see there being a sort of virus in the disks that limits the devices' abilities to play regular disks over time - possibly a computer virus embedded in the disks, or a hidden chemical stain. Users who go to the new Pentex-subsidiary Geek Squad equivalent get told that the red disks keep track of the laser, that all devices break down ("They just don't make 'em like they used to") but the coloring is a way to prolong the life. Unfortunately, that exact shade of coloring always breaks down and renders the disk unusable, but hey, the disks ARE super cheap, and really, how many times do you watch a movie anyways?

    Alternatively, the coloring could also contain a subliminal coding that corrupts or hypnotizes the viewers in some subtle way. Mostly to buy more of the disposables, but maybe in conjunction with the movies to instill an openness to negative emotions, violence, and overall Wyrmishness.

    Leave a comment:


  • No One of Consequence
    replied
    So, I've been trying to work on a post about the bail bonding business and bounty hunting, but certain legal aspects of it are mind numbing, and I've also been heavily distracted by various family, health and work issues. (Bleh)

    Meanwhile, I leave you with the interesting factoid that back about a decade or so ago, various companies were looking at the concept of disposable DVDs. Flexplay was the developers of the technology, and Disney experimented with it under the name ez-D. SpecraDisc was another company that experimented with the idea, only to be bought out by Flexplay. Basically, the idea was that, rather than renting out normal DVDs, they'd have these discs which were designed to only play for a limited amount of time. When exposed to oxygen, the plastic in the discs start to darken, rendering them unreadable by the laser in the DVD player within a few days. Allegedly, the discs had a one year shelf life if unopened. Instead of returning the played disc, consumers would just throw them away. This was allegedly to deal with the problem of people renting discs and never bringing them back. The product bombed badly, as customers didn't want it, and environmentalists pointed out the rather obvious problem that this created a bunch of new plastic garbage to take up space in landfills. But, for PENTEX, that would be a feature rather than a bug. The first time I read about this, I immediately thought of Redbox, the little automated video rental kiosks, and that if one combined them with the Flexplay concept, you end up with all these cheep movie dispensers that churn out an endless supply of plastic garbage, including stuff from OMNI, Gorehound, and others, all on Rainbow provided plastics. Not sure what a good name for such an enterprise would be. BlueStar or something else primary color derived, maybe.

    The Museum of Obsolete Media has an entry for Flexplay, for those wanting to see what the things looked like. The YouTube Channel Technology Connections has a video about it. And the Company Man channel, which I've mentioned before, has a video about Redbox.

    Leave a comment:


  • No One of Consequence
    replied
    My understanding is that this sort of thing isn't uncommon in a number of industries where there's an constant stream of young people desperately wanting to break into the business who can replace casualties (stress and otherwise). Bret Hart once made the comment that professional wrestlers are like circus elephants, getting used up and then taken behind the tent and shot, and it's a sentiment I think applies just as well to certain periods of the RPG industry, comic books, pop music and others.

    Leave a comment:


  • Bluecho
    replied
    So, follow-up to my previous post about abuses in the AAA games industry. Once again, from Jim Sterling: "A Video About Bioware Working Staff To Tears And Calling Its Mental Abuse 'Magic'".

    THIS. THIS is peak Pentex, if I ever saw it. The idea of corporate interests working employees so hard as to given them health problems, to the point they become "stress casualties" (a term usually reserved for military personnel in wartime), is so REAL that Pentex wouldn't need to up the ante to achieve its goals. The only difference between Bioware and Pentex is that Bioware does it out of apathy and greed, whereas Pentex would do it deliberately, with misery and abuse being the primary purpose. If Bioware does this to its workers because they just don't care about anything but profit, imagine what Pentex would be like.

    Frankly, I don't want to imagine it, because the truth is already so terrible.

    Leave a comment:


  • Bluecho
    replied
    And now, here's an article concerning the same subject, that is more recent than the previous one.

    Edit: Actually, there is one issue I have with the article I reference above. That being that it makes the mistake of portraying Gamergate as a matter of "ethics in games journalism".

    It is not, as this Washington Post article and this video by YouTube's Folding Ideas explains.
    Last edited by Bluecho; 03-24-2019, 01:30 AM.

    Leave a comment:


  • No One of Consequence
    replied
    A few odds and ends.

    I'd talked about the United Fruit Company way back earlier in the thread. A bit I forgot to mention was one of the most disturbing incidents in their history, the 1928 Banana Massacre in Columbia. Much to my surprise, there are no non-fiction books about this incident. However, Jim Yoakum's fiction novel The Banana Massacre is an absurdist tragicomedy inspired by the event, set in a fictional Caribbean island and involving the fictional Choad Banana Company.

    Also, an interesting article about gaming journalists being way to cozy with gaming companies.

    Leave a comment:


  • No One of Consequence
    replied
    Originally posted by Bluecho View Post
    I think one of the big issues that plague the games industry is how games media seems unwilling or unable to report critically about it. Sites and publications that work in the industry are often beholden to them, because the publishers are strong enough to keep these news sources over a barrel. Jim Sterling can be as hyperbolically critical as he is because he's supported entirely on Patreon, and he got blacklisted by the whole industry years ago. No receiving of review copies, no press passes, no company execs willing to take his phone calls. Not because he's a jerk - though he is, a bit - but because he doesn't play nice and give nothing but glowing praise.
    Sadly, there seems to be some evidence that this is becoming more and more common in all media journalism.

    Leave a comment:

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