Obviously, one of the most important elements of Cyberpunk 2020 is corporate power. Megacorporations have essentially replaced or at least eclipsed traditional nation-states, becoming de facto governments. They are, however, governments without borders. Arguably the most important, the most powerful, and the most dangerous of these is Arasaka. Arasaka is set up within the universe of Cyberpunk 2020 to be sort of a default bad guy. If you don’t have something in mind for your PCs to face off against, there’s always the lurking danger of Arasaka. This book details Arasaka as well as IEC (International Electric Corporation).
Arasaka’s history begins in earnest with the horrors of World War II. However, the company didn’t really come into its own until the crash of the 90s and the subsequent collapse of the traditional world order. In the ashes of civilization’s collapse, Arasaka maneuvered itself into a powerful position. They now dominate much of the globe, being a specialist in security, yet reaching into many aspects of day to day life in 2020. From their iconic black uniforms to their unique corporate tower architecture, they are an ever present force. Yet, their tentacles go deeper. This book also provides detailed descriptions of important players within the Arasaka corporation, the personalities that have shaped and continue to shape the organization. Being a Cyberpunk 2020 book, there are of course some new technologies and such for PCs to get their greedy hands on…or experience from the more unpleasant end of things. There’s also a short adventure provided, which while I may not run myself, is a welcome addition to the book. Example adventures are such a handy thing to have in books like this, for inspiration if nothing else.
IEC may actually be more insidious, if not more dangerous than Arasaka. In many ways, IEC feels very much like a company we might see when looking around in our real 2020 (2021 when writing this). They’re not flashy. They don’t have snazzy uniforms. However, they are in every aspect of your life, from the media you consume to the car you drive to the satellite that lets you communicate around the world. Like some horrible Frankenstein’s Monster combination of Disney, Pepsi, and Procter & Gamble, IEC has you, cradle to grave. As with Arasaka, the book provides profiles of important players, some examples of IEC’s products, as well as another brief adventure.
While not an essential book for a Cyberpunk GM, I would definitely recommend it. Arasaka is such an important part of the Cyberpunk 2020 universe, having more detailed information can help a lot, even if just to add color to the setting if they aren’t going to play a big part in your campaign. I also think using IEC as a ubiquitous presence, finding their branding on the most random products, from car motors to soda cans to cyber-implants can help to give your world some sinister life.