STAR FRONTIERS® game characters will encounter a number of identifiable organizations throughout the course of their adventures (Star Law, the Sathar war machine, spy networks, etc.) but one organization stands out from all the rest: the Pan-Galactic Corporation. The STAR FRONTIERS Alpha Dawn basic game rules list Pan-Galactic as "the oldest and largest interstellar company." The history section explains how Pan-Galactic was established. In the STAR FRONTIERS Knight Hawks game, Pan-Galactic is mentioned as the largest of over half a dozen huge and multi-faceted corporations operating in the Frontier. How and when did Pan-Galactic's monopoly on the Frontier fail? Where did these other companies come from? The status of mega-corps are clarified in many of Zebulon's notes. The establishment of the PGC as the major mega-corporation on the Frontier was designed into the basic rules as a starting point from which game referees could design their own corporate structures. The information given in the original Star Frontiers Alpha Dawn game was applicable during the time ofthe First Sathar War (SWI). The information given for the Knight Hawks game is specifically placed as the beginning of the Second Sathar War (SWII).
The first large interstellar company was the Pan-Galactic Corporation; it is no exaggeration to say that PGC ruled the Frontier in the early days. Like the great railroad century of late 19th- and early 20th-century Earth, the PGC was the only fast, safe way to travel through an unknown frontier for the millions of pioneers who yearned for land and their own fortunes. The PGC had its fingers in every pie, controlling financing, transportation, mining, industrial and agricultural organizations, and more one the worlds of the Frontier. There is a lot to thank the GPC for in this early development period. It founded a common unit of currency (the credit), established the galatic board of trade, created and spread the Pan-Galactic language (usually called PanGal), financed innumerable scientific breakthroughs that led Frontiersmen further and further into space, and did much, much more. But there were great problems inherent in the one-company system. Corporate corruption became rife on the less civilized worlds. Often whole planets and races were at the mercy of the PGC's concept of "morality," and too often aesthetic values lost out to financial ones. No competition meant stagnation in many industrial areas and complete control of the economic system by a single entity. Possibly the worst problem, however, was the lack of independence ejoyed by planets, and sometimes whole systems, because of their overwhelming dependence on one source for all their needs. Because of this last factor, a type of economic blackmail, it was inevitable that others would try to break PGC's monopoly on the Frontier. During the period the Sathar Wars, secret financial groups sprang up, investing in land and various industrial operations and gaining power until their size could no longer be hidden from PGC. Many of these initial investments were made in cities, planetary govenments, and militias. By the time PGC discovered its potential rivals, it was too late; their footholds were established, and with them cam planetary autonomy. Pan-Galactic's hold over the Frontier was broken at last. The new corporations decided to fight PGC on its own ground, making diverse investments and establishing their operations in the same areas as PGC's operations. This last point is important, because without it the Satahr could not have presented a serious threat to the UPF during the Second Sathar War. Escalating competition between the larger companies, particularly PGC, Streel Corporation, and Cassidine Development Corporation, led to armed conflicts that required much of Star Law and spacefleets's time and energy to quell. Many galactic historians believe that without this debilitating distraction, the UPF forces would have been stronger and better prepared for another Sathar invasion. After SWII, corporate focus and investments altered rapidly and radically. Many executives and design teams left the established mega-corps to found their own companies. These new companies were extremely specialized. Financing became available through planetary and galactic bonds created to increase local industry and jobs. During this shift of talent, many of the established mega-corps began to feel that these were nonprofitable directions and thus not worth their support in the face of any substantial competition. The logic behind this was based on the larger investment firms' belief that specialized companies could not grow to any significant size and would later fail and be merged back into existing mega-corps. This was a terrible mistake by those few pre-war mega-corps and shows the tunnel vision and lack of foresight that permeated the top executive levels at that time. The specialized firms grew at unprecedented rates. They reinvested their income in their own spefici areas, not in mergers and outside acquisitions. Because of this, within years the thought of dealing with anyone but a specialized compnay was absurd: people would only travel with Trans-Travel, only buy their weapons from WarTech Inc., etc. These companies were the best in their fields and competive in their pricing. They represented reliability in many areas in which the established mega-corps could no longer hope to compete. The single greatest factor preventing these embryonic firms from being swallowed up by their larger, richer cousins was the UPF Anti-Merger Laws, passed during SWII. Wishing to discourage centralized industry, which is an easier target for attack or covert takeover by the Sathar, the UPF enacted numerous laws to rpevent mergers that would give a mega-corp a complete monopoly in an industry. So effective were these laws in curbing corporate tyranny that they remain in effect today. The specialized companies grew at an amazing rate and soon became mega-corps themselves. The animosity some of the older mega-corps felt towards the UPF Governing Council's decision to keep thse laws is still felt today through their lobbying efforts in planetary governments and through their increased "security" divisions that may someday rival those of the UPF forces.
THE CORPORATE WARS
The term "Corporate wars" was not coined until a decade after SWII. The first use of the term was by WarTech Inc., in a special weapons catalogue released to various industries. The new media quickly picked up on the term and used it for sensationalistic effect. The true beginnings of the Corporate Wars are decades old. In fact, they started before SWII began. The first Corporate War began on Laco's World in the Dixon's Star system. It was the scene of a decade-long conflict between the Streel Corporation on one side and the Pan-Galactic Corporation operting through the jGalactic Task Force on the other. Tens of thousands of casualties were suffered, and more than a dozen spaceships were destroyed in what is now called "Laco's War." This was was started and settled before SWII. The outcome of the War was decided by PGC's immense military expenditures. PGC settled with the rights to the planet and Streel Corporation, soundly defeated, made no more attempts to claim it. This set the pattern for future corporate conflicts of and "unnegotiable nature." At this time, the UPF could not afford to go to war with every corporation that raised a private army or fleet. With the sudden reintervention of the Sathar, culminating in SWII, corporations ceased their hostilities to combine their efforts against the common foe. The end of the war quickly saw resumed tensions and private military escalations. This time, however, the UPF was ready for the hostilities. New laws gave Star Law more power and authority to act in the interest of galactic peace. Spacefleet was rearmed and could easily intimidate smaller fleets. Landfleet, the standing UPF army created during SWII, had been maintained, though at a reduced size, and Corporate Wars offered perfect chances for it to practice maneuvers. For a while it looked like the UPF forces could prevent occurences leading to further Laco's Wars. Unfortunately, the government did not reckon with the mega-corps' greed and resources. A combination of swelled mega-corporate coffers from SWII, thousands of unemployed soldiers turning mercenary, and the emergence of specialized mega-corps that thrived on military conflict resulted in an escalation ofcorporate warfare to a previously unknown level. In addition to covert Sathar, Mechanon, pirate, and terrorist activities, the UPF security forces now had to deal with full-scale invasions, sieges, and battles fought by more than a dozen mega-corps and conglomerates of smaller firms.
STAGES OF A CORPORATE WAR
To better understand the Corporate Wars, one must go to Star Law and their guideword for rookie Star Lawmen: ICEWARS. This acronym outlines the seven stages of escalation usually seen in a corporate War.
Interest conflict -- A conflict of interest develops between two corporate entities over mineral rights, world development rights, etc.
Corporate esiogae -- Usually an increase in corporate spying takes place after the inital conflict of interest develops. If results indicate the opposing corporations' goals are not actually in conflict, then the entire matter is cleared up immediately.
Economic sanctions -- If espionage does indicate a conflict, economic sanctions are imposed to pressure theother corporation out of the dispute. This is usually when corporate alliances are made, out of a need to find alternative sources of financing, food, weapons, etc. Sometimes these economic sanctions work, usually they do not.
Withdrawal -- When economic sanctions do not pressure either side out of a conflict of interest, then a rapid withdrawal of corporate personnel and equipment from the planet, moon, or site in question begins. This pullout sometimes confuses the opponents into believing the economic sanctions worked. Generally, it is a prelude to war.
Armed conflict -- Once a site is deemed vacated by a corporation or any potential hostage personnel or material, mercenaries are sent in to hold the site while negotiations proceed. These mercenaries are usually referred to as "advisors." This step is the tip-off to the opposing corporation that war is imminent.
Reinforcements -- The inevitable hostilities are exchanged and reinforcements are sent in to protect the corporate interests. The actual war has now begun and negotiations, usually for public relations purposes, continue to be held while the war continues. The length of the war can vary. The shortest war on record was between two moonmining colonies around Outer Reach in the Dramune system. A stray missile with two high-explosive warheads hit a cache of TD-19 in a tin hut. The blast of shrapnel punctured every space suit worn in battle. Actual battle time: 3 minutes. Casualties: 135 dead. The longest war on record is Laco's War. Actual battle time: 10 years. Casualties: 235,000 dead, 367,000 wounded, 170 tril-credits in equipment destroyed.
Stabilization -- When one corporation wishes to withdraw from the conflict, because of the drain on its resources or the inevitability of defeat, the negotiations suddenly become serious. The conflict is then resolved within a week (after all, time is money). Terms of surrender range from full reparations to the victorious corporation to the simple withdrawal of the losing corporation's forces.
It should be noted that these wars are no longer fought on the developed worlds within the frontier. All battles occur on newly discovered worlds, moons, and in space about them. If a Corporate War is seriously affecting the health and welfare of a planet on the Frontier, Landfleet may be sent in as a peace-keeping force or Spacefleet may step in and end the conflict in the swiftest, surest method available: space blockade, saturation bombardment, and so on. No corporation has ever won a battle with Spacefleet or Landfleet. Star Law usually acts in a covert manner to prevent, delay, or bring an end to these most harmful of wars. Sabotage, disruption of communications, and even the arrest of mega-corp executives on other charges have been used to end conflicts. Other factors to keep in mind when dealing with mega-corps are their own internal problems. Power struggles between executives are commonplace. The cadres, far-removed descendants of labor unions, are must contend with their influence. Planetary governments also figure heavily in mega-corp decisions.
Star Frontiers (tm), the setting, and any published material and images from the rules are all copyrights and trademarks of TSR, Inc., and appear here only for private informational and/or educational purposes. All other materials are the property of their authors.