This was my first Fifth Edition campaign adventure. I will be experimenting some with format and content until I find the right balance of hard content and abstract concept to fit my style of play, especially in regards to the new Matrix rules.
Scene 1 – Meeting Mr. J.
The runners are contacted by their fixer about a low tier job that promises decent pay and the possibility to make some powerful allies in the shadows, if they play their cards right. Mr. Johnson wants to meet them at Basil’s Faulty Bar in Tacoma for 8PM.
Basil’s Faulty Bar is a known runner haunt, frequented by runners and run by a retired runner named Abe. Mr. Johnson is an obvious stand out in this crowd of dressed down runner-types, but their employer isn’t the only one hunting for talent in this place on this night. Mr. Johnson waves away prospective hopefuls as he waits for his assigned team to show up. He is a slightly pudgy Caucasian human, in a tailored suit and receding hairline. A quick look around the bar shows numerous mooks in suits watching the table intently for any signs of wanton aggression. Once everyone gathers, he takes in each of the runners, shrugs and gets down to business.
“Thanks for coming. I run a neighbourhood watch organization in the area here and I’ve noticed a disturbing trend. There has always been a significant substance abuse problem is this part of the metroplex, but the beetle users are changing and it’s not for the better. Most junkies tend to gravitate to anyplace where they can get a fix, but of late, they seem to be becoming ‘brand specific’, to coin a phrase. We’re actually tracking a form of ‘junkie migration’, as the beetleheads are making their way west toward the Tacoma shoreline to get the type of chip they’re now craving. We want you to investigate this new trend, find out who is behind it and put a stop to it. If you can salvage a small sample of their product, so we can turn it over to the proper authorities for study, there could be a bonus in it for you. We’re offering you 9,000¥ apiece for this bit of work.”
Of course, Mr. Johnson is no neighbourhood watch. He is David Meath, a Sottocapo with the Gianelli family, who has watched his profit margins fall to the point he feels he needs to act. Known Mafia associates would draw too much attention, so he needs to rely on hired help. The figure he’s offering is a low-ball figure, but he is hoping the runners will take the offer and solve the bulk of his problems. If he can get his hands on whatever technology his rivals are using to hook the junkies, all the better.
Mr. Johnson is willing to go up a little on price, but feels that raising his offer too much means he will simply go for cheaper help. If the runners sign on, he nods in appreciation. “Perfect! Thank you for helping us out. I have a list of known or suspected BTL users in the area, if that will aid you. I hope you find the people responsible for this and put a quick stop to it.”
Matrix: Many of the users in the bar are running silent (runners are a secretive bunch) and Basil’s doesn’t have much of an AR presence to speak of (and most of what is there has been tagged by deckers, leaving calling cards for needy teams to contact them). Being in the heart of Tacoma, the Noise rating here is set merely by distance to the source of the hack.
Scene 2 – Touring Junkie Country
Using Mr. Johnson’s list of known or suspected BTL users will take them throughout central Tacoma. Many of the “known users” are so far gone, most will be either zoned out on a chip, or so desperate for another fix, that they will promise the runners anything if they’ll provide them with another hit. The “suspected users” were people the Mafia had provided the initial samples to, in hopes of procuring new paying customers. Some will be unaware that the free sample they received was a BTL and may have thrown it out, while others let curiosity get the better of them and slotted the chip, and now they are already craving their next fix. Any with financial means may have stumbled onto the hot chips that Mr. Johnson wants off the street.
The runners’ best chance is to manipulate one of the heaviest junkies, though they may have moral objections to doing so. If they promise the junkie a fix, or simply search the apartment while a user is on a trip, they may find one of the suspect BTLs. The chip is solid black with the Cantonese word for “Desire” on the side of the chip in silver. Due to the chip burning itself out after use, unless the runners can find an unused one and slot it themselves (and if they did, they might have a nasty addiction and an angry junkie to deal with), they don’t really know what the chip contains.
If the GM allows a runner to slot one of these BTLs, they are subjected to an idyllic world, where the desires of that runner are made manifest, as if the chip could see into their mind. The simsense is very realistic and highly addictive. Returning to the real world, where all their dreams are no longer in their grasp is depressing and jarring and can lead to severe moodiness of the user.
Extracting information from the junkies, either by bribery or intimidation, they can learn which dealers the junkies are getting these ‘Desire’ chips from. At GM discretion, if any of the runners’ contacts are drug dealers, the GM could introduce tension between runner and contact by having the contact as one of those pushing the new chips.
The runners are going to want to put some weight on the dealers to see if they can get one of them to give up their distributor. Any dealers part of one of the large crime syndicates will refuse to yield any information, as to talk would mean death and they are willing to wager that the runners would be less likely to kill them. Independent dealers are the most likely to cough up the name of a place they buy their chips from: the Jade Empress Game Parlour.
Matrix: The Noise rating in this part of Tacoma is open and clear, offering no Noise resistance, save for distance. Should the runners do any legwork on the information they extract, they can use the Matrix to dig further.
Threshold – Matrix (3), Underworld (3)
1 – A brand new product hitting the streets. Supposedly a tailored chip to the buyer that is highly addictive, as the ideas seen are very much subjective to whoever slots them.
2 – Chips were named Desire because it seems to give the user their hopes and deepest desires during the trip. The whole chip lasts for one hour of the junkie’s deepest desires. Afterward, comes despondent feelings and a sense of deep loss.
4 – Rumour has it that the chips are being made in Hong Kong and are being distributed by the Triad smugglers.
5 – Chips are in the hands of the Black Chrysanthemums.
Jade Empress Game Parlour
Threshold – Matrix (1), Underworld (2)
1 – Chinese establishment, centered on giving the visitors the Macau Casino experience: Fan Tan, Baccarat, Poker, off-track betting, Sic Bo and slot machines. Traditional Western games, such as Poker, Roulette and Blackjack are also available here.
2 – Rumoured to be associated with the Octagon Triad. Run by a shady individual by the name of Zhou Cang, rumours of extortion and game fixing surrounds the place, though it still has a fair amount of loyal visitors.
4 – The Jade Empress funnels illegal goods from the Tacoma docks through its doors, sometimes selling its goods within the establishment. This includes guns, and drugs primarily.
5 – The basement of the casino serves as a drug den for the clients who want a discrete place to indulge their vice in private.
Scene 3 – Pinching the Providers
Upon learning that the Desire chips are being circulated by the Triads via the Jade Empress, they are likely going to want to close in on it and try to secure the goods (or destroy them, depending on their morality). The casino is a smaller building that is packed with games of chance with an Asian flair.
Most of the patrons are Asian, but not all are associated with the Octagon (most of the staff are). In order to keep tabs on those inside the casino, the casino maintains an active commlink policy (no running silent). The casino is all wirelessly enabled, so patrons can’t play without an active profile. Only the private section is sealed off Matrix-wise.
Anyone caught running silent or otherwise causing trouble will be detained, questioned and punished accordingly.
Casino – Full Detail of Main Level
Casino – Public Floorplan (Player Handout)
1 – Main Game Floor. This open area is where the main games are all set up. The right side of the layout is the only full wall and it’s along that wall the slot machines have been set up. Card tables, roulette, craps and several Asian games, such as Fan Tan, Sic Bo and Mah-jongg all have a place in this space. There is a raised dais where the game of the night takes place, where people can bet on the gambling underway. The entire floor is recessed slightly, with stairs up to the street level on all sides. The walls and ceiling are done up in jade and gold accents, adding a splash of Asian decadence to the space.
2 – Duo’s Dim Sum. Accessible from both within the casino and the street, this small Dim Sum restaurant has a recent reputation for being a clean, tasty watering hole, where you can order a sizeable portion of food, from an impressively long menu.
3 – Poker Room. For those closed door tournaments, a tournament of up to 24 players can be sequestered in this room for privacy from onlookers. Many of the tournaments here are posted on the Matrix, especially of any kind of local card shark makes an appearance.
4 – Cashier Cage. While the casino allows patrons to bet with nuyen directly from their account, many gamblers are the superstitious sort, who loves the feel of chips in their pockets. The attractive Chinese ladies behind the counters here are happy to convert any sum of nuyen into clay chips, to retain that classic feel.
5 – Coat Room. A guarded closet, where patrons can leave their heavy winter coats with a feeling of security, and are given an AR claim ticket for anything they check in.
6 – Restrooms. The washrooms in the casino are clean and tastefully decorated. Each facility has at least one troll-friendly stall.
7 – Haven. This space has been bookmarked as a spa. Shiatsu, massage, acupuncture and various branches of herbology are all available here. The women of the spa are attractive Asian women in long flowing robes. Despite the assumptions of many of the patrons, these women do not offer sexual favours on top of the “usual”. All are actually registered practitioners of their chosen branch of medicine. The fact that they are all attractive women is a by-product of Zhou Cang’s hiring practice.
8 – Chen’s Pleasure Garden. A fine dining establishment, Chen’s offers sushi and other Asian delicacies prepared by chefs of some local renown. The restaurant is established as an adults only restaurant, as there is a section of the restaurant reserved for those who wish to use the naked body of a female employee as the table (for double the price of a standard meal). The qi in the restaurant is finely attuned for an atmosphere of relaxation and tranquility.
9 – Conference Rooms. These rooms offer local businessmen a place to have a small conference (max 20 people per room) with associates before hitting the casino. These room have retractable skylights (armored glass, covered by a mechanical door) to allow extra light in on those seemingly rare sunny days.
(Rooms 10-20 are all on a separate Matrix host than the public casino. Access is limited to employees only)
10 – Freight Elevator. This extra-large elevator is used for carrying cash carts down to the lower level.
11 – Guard Room. This room houses three Triad soldiers, who will not hesitate to violently intervene with anyone who tries to come down this hallway without proper authorization.
12 – Interrogation. Anyone who has been caught making trouble or walking around with their commlink set to silent is brought in here for questioning. Cameras watch and record anything said by those detained (or are turned off, if things get violent). Those detained here are restrained “for their own safety”.
13 – Storage. Cleaning drones and supplies are kept here to keep desperate patrons from walking off with anything they feel they can hock.
14 – Conference Room. This private conference room is heavily encrypted and soundproofed, so the Triad can conduct more nefarious business matters in relative security.
15 – Floor Boss’s Office. While the casino is owned by Zhou Cang, he has a small team of floor bosses watch the day-to-day happenings of the casino. This shared office is used by whichever floor boss is working that day. Most are busy walking the floor and making contacts rather than sitting in here.
16 – Cafeteria. A simple cafeteria that helps keeps the troops fed and content. The area is mostly kitchen, since most of the employees eat at their station.
17 – Main Security. The equipment and the majority of security are stationed here. They are staffed by former runners and cops and have some training should they be called upon.
18 – Monitoring Station. The copious numbers of cameras station around the casino all get routed to this room. The on-site hackers watch for any problems in the building, while dispatching agent programs to monitor the Matrix for intrusion.
19 – Magical Resources. This room is greatly empty, showing a large summoning circle from where the on-duty mage can summon a spirit to keep an eye on astrally active patrons and ensure they aren’t cheating. There are usually a couple of watchers and one mage on duty at any time (one spirit to watch the floor, another for security purposes).
20 – Armory. Locked down with only three people able to grant access (the owner, the floor boss and the chief of security), while most security personnel use non-lethal means of pacification (to avoid complications with the authorities), there are a stash of the lethal variety in this closet. From handguns, to sub-machineguns to shotguns, this closet is well stocked, should the Triad ever need to defend the casino.
Casino – Underground Level
1 – Freight Elevator. This extra-large elevator is used for carrying cash carts down to the lower level.
2 – Security Checkpoint. Cash carts are scanned for weight, explosives and RFID marks that don’t belong. Until cleared by the two guards stationed here, the doors into the lower level are locked by two heavy-duty bolts that are structurally reinforced.
3 – Torture Room. Anyone that attempts to infiltrate the lower level, or has been questioned upstairs and found to be dangerous is sedated and dragged into this room. In here, they are tortured as any relevant information they have has been extracted before the body is ultimately discarded.
4 – Security. While the casino floor security forces are limited in the force they can use in the public eye, these security are not. They are well armed and not afraid to use extreme force to halt any assault.
5 – Zhou Cang’s Office. This large and spacious office shows off the man’s decadent tastes and perverted sensibilities. Images of sadism and pornography adorn the walls and several unsnorted rows of Novacoke are on the ink blotter of his desk when the runners enter. Almost instantly, he activates his panic button upon the runners’ entry. In order to extract the information they need, they will probably want to take Cang alive, though in a pinch, the info can be extracted from his commlink if the runners cut him down in a firefight.
6 – Holding Room. All collateral items are kept here, “safe” for their owners until they are done gambling. If the item is lost to the casino, items are moved from the holding room to the vault.
7 – Offices. Triad officials at the casino can conduct their affairs from here, as a base of operations away from their own turf.
8 – Cafeteria. Keeping security fed and content is important. While utilitarian in construction, it has all the needed fixtures to prepare food, as well as a decent stock of ready-made snacks and drinks.
9 – Washrooms. None of the frills from upstairs apply down here, but the bathrooms are clean and functional for the employees.
10 – Servers. This series of servers tracks win-loss ratios, user profiles, total debts and all sorts of relevant metrics, as well as serving as an internal tracking device for every person within the casino. Heavily IC-laden, the system is quick to respond to any perceived online threat.
11 – War Room. The Octagon use this place as a distribution center and this room is a large board room with holoprojectors and internal network access that allows them to coordinate the distribution of goods and services into Seattle. References to the Kong Chip trade factors heavily into the projections, though the Desire chips are not specifically named.
12 – Vault. All sorts of goods are stored in the vault. On top of the casino’s liquid assets, drugs, guns and data are all stored in here as well. Searching the vault (if the players can gain access at all) shows no evidence of the Desire chips. A data log shows that they had arrived, but had since been sold off and distributed in full to the local dealers. All items are coded with the Octagon as the owners of the goods and the Triad will hunt down anyone who steals from them…
If detained and threatened, Zhou Cang folds under pressure and will tell the runners about the chips and how they had been chosen as selling partners for the ones responsible for bringing the chips into the city: The Black Chrysanthemums. The Triad has been bringing the chips in by boat via the Tacoma harbor. While his supply has been depleted, a new shipment should be arriving very soon to meet demand.
Matrix: The casino is in the heart of Tacoma, but the sheer volume of wireless signals and extensive use of internal ARO confers a Noise modifier of 1 while inside the casino. The ARO is sculpted in heavy Chinese symbology, in a direct rip-off of the major casinos of the Far East
Host – Rating 5 (A 7, S 5, D 6, F 8)
Available IC – Patrol, Probe, Killer, Acid, Jammer, Blaster
Scene 4 – Cutting the Cord
By the time the players arrive at the Tacoma Port, the Triad shipment has already arrived and is being unloaded. The transfer is happening at the Northeastern Marine at Hylebos. The main port is still very much active with the cargo container cranes moving goods at all hours, but these smaller, personal marinas are typically shut down for the night.
The area around the pier is allocated as boat storage, auction houses and a harbour master’s booth, which the Triad are in control of. While the boat is controlled by the Black Chrysanthemums, a combination of the Chrysanthemums and the Octagons oversee the transfer. A good percentage of the goods are already loaded into trucks and if a firefight breaks out, both the boat and trucks will flee the scene, while those on the ground will attempt to kill anyone who interferes. If one of the vehicles are stopped, the runners can obtain a product sample, if they desire to.
Otherwise, the focus will be on the exchange of combat and attempting to shut down the supply chain as best they can before Knight Errant arrives. Use the Underworld Soldiers stats from the Core Book. Triads should have some magical resources available to them and likely Matrix overwatch (seeing as they subverted the harbourmaster).
Matrix: The Port at Tacoma is directly off the local grid and shares a similar look and feel to the Emerald City Grid. There is no Noise modifier on the system. While most of the major infrastructure is tied directly to the local grid, security and shipping manifests are part of the Harbourmaster Host.
Host – Rating 6 (A 7, S 6, D 8, F 9)
Available IC – Patrol, Probe, Killer, Acid, Jammer, Scramble, Marker
The Triad Decker has managed to infiltrate the system and scramble the camera system to ensure the local security network cannot identify those involved in the chip transfer. He is not interested in dealing with the runners (though if he can use a harbourmaster system to thwart them in the fight, he will) and will do his best avoid detection, if a runner decker tries to seize control.
If the runners turn over any liberated chips from the waterfront, they can earn another 2,000¥ in payment apiece for the trade-in (but likely gain a point of Notoriety for furthering the drug trade). If the runners instead, destroyed the chips despite the offered bonus, the GM should feel free to award extra karma instead.
>> Really? One of these do-some-good-by-taking-drugs-off-the-streets jobs? Why does feel like a public service announcement?
>> Don’t believe it… if you find that nobility doesn’t exist, it’s probably because it doesn’t any more. It’s just someone fulfilling their selfish goals, using morality as a justification.
>> Believe what you will about the human condition, but these chips are not normal. I, for one, will sleep easier knowing something that addictive is off the street.
>> How do you know how addictive they are? Talking from experience?