Welcome to the Data Haven

•December 2, 2008 • 13 Comments

Hello chummers.  ;)

My name is J, but I also answer to Insomniac.  This blog will soon be the home of all my Shadowrun stuff that I have scattered around the Net.  Primarily a place to grab run notes, I plan on reviewing sourcebooks, posting fan fiction and perhaps even commenting on the game itself.

If you’re not familiar with Shadowrun (in the P&P RPG style, rather than the video games), it is a near-future, dystopian, cybernetic future game where fantasy elements have been re-introduced to the world causing an interesting blend of magic and machine.  The storyline is in-depth and there are so many things going on at once that Game Masters should have no shortage of material.  However, if you find yourself short on material, hopefully some of the future posts on this blog will help with that.  :)

While I will occasionally pipe up like this, the bulk of my posts will likely be “in-character” as my grumpy, sleep-deprived sysop alter-ego, Insomniac.  He runs a board in the Seattle Matrix where shadowrunners can look for work.  He’s a no nonsense kind of guy, but he does welcome some discussion.  So if you’d like to comment on run notes, feel free to do so in character and become part of the dialogue.

Well, I think that’s it for now.  Hopefully, you’ll check back from time to time.

J.

>>Oi!  Who’s grumpy?  Anyways, I figured I’d step up and introduce myself.  The handle’s Insomniac and I run my own little corner of ShadowSea.  If you need work, I’m your guy…assuming legality ain’t a scruple you tend to have.  If you think the shadows might be the place for you, then loiter for a bit and see what’s around.  Who knows…maybe you’ll be the next best thing round here.  Or maybe you’ll end up as the next red stain on the asphalt.  Either way, these should be interestin’ times, omae.  Perhaps I’ll see ya round.
>> Insomniac
“The shadows never sleep, so why should I?”

Haywire Health (Shadowrun)

•March 3, 2014 • Leave a Comment

This adventure was the last convention run I ran in 2013.  There were a lot of hand-written notes on this one, which is why it took so long to produce.

The runners are contacted by their fixer in regards to a job that is time sensitive. The runners should show up ready to run and their fixer will meet them at Club Infinity at 8PM.

Scene 1 – A Quick Meeting

Club Infinity is a busy nightspot most evenings, but by the time the runners start arriving, the club is only just opening for business. The line-up outside is long and impatient, but a quick name drop of their fixer at the door will get them into the club. While there aren’t many people inside just yet, the steady influx of club goers would see the building packed in no time.

Checking commlinks for known contacts will show their fixer is already on the upper level, in one of the conference rooms. Once all the runners have arrived, he gets straight into his spiel.

Thanks for coming. I have a line on a job, but I will be upfront with you… the pay is a little below grade. Hear me out… my clients are a family who are trying to find their young son, who went missing from University Hospital a couple days ago. The police investigation is treating it like a runaway patient, but the family isn’t convinced. They are willing to pay 7,500¥ apiece for a ‘private investigation’, as they feel that Knight Errant are pursuing the wrong angle for the sake of convenience. They want you to find their son and bring him home.”

If asked what the kid was in the hospital for, the fixer tells them that he was being treated for a schizophrenic episode, which was unusually violent for a 14 year old. He had been in the hospital for about a month prior to his disappearance.

The parents are correct in that their son didn’t just wander off, but they have been lied to by the practicing doctors at University Hospital. Their son suffered from a sudden onset of AIPS (Artificially Induced Psychotropic Schizophrenia) and has become a Wild Technomancer. His abilities and what triggered them is of great interest and he’s been studied at length for the past month.

Once the runners are on board, the fixer tells them the boy’s name is Percy Foster and had been under the care of Dr. Carlos Diarno when the boy disappeared.

Matrix: The grid at the club is open and clear. The only factor that impacts Noise for any searches, is the distance of any remote hosts or devices they might search for. If they pursue a Matrix Search for information on the boy, his family or the doctor, information and thresholds follow:

Percy Foster
Threshold – Matrix (1)

1 – Son of Julie and Robert Foster. Younger of two siblings. No police record and decent grades in school.
2 – Two reports from school guidance counsellor about being bullied and the manifestations of stress in the boy’s attitudes in school.
4 – Known on the Matrix as “Mysfit42” in Virtual Shooter circles. Reputed to be a solid player and has been courted by online clans to “go pro”.
5 – Recent incident on one VS server resulted in a biofeedback blast being exchanged between a group of disgruntled players.

The Foster Family
Threshold – Matrix (1), Corporate (3)

1 – No major incidents with law enforcement or government officials. Robert works for Dolman Data Systems as a project manager. Julie is in PR at Soonan Simsense. James is the elder son and is currently applying for college. Percy is the younger son and was recently hospitalized for a psychological incident.
2 – Family not very involved in their community, though the parents work many long hours. James has taken over a lot of the home responsibilities, outside of nannies and other surrogates.
4 – Both parents work for Mitsuhama subsidiaries and the megacorp has paid for much of Percy’s medical costs.

Dr. Carlos Diarno
Threshold – Matrix (1), Medical (2)

1 – Doctor with good standing in the medical community. Specializes in psychological disorders and neuroscience.
2 – Two charges of malpractice, but both were thrown out, as cases of patients lashing out when treatment didn’t take (often due to patients not following doctor’s orders).
4 – Medical degree was at least partially sponsored by Mitsuhama when Carlos was still just a resident.
5 – University Hospital’s reining expert on AIPS and the virtuakinetic phenomenon. Has written numerous papers on Technomancers since they were first discovered.

Scene 2 – University Hospital

The first place the runners are likely to check out will be University Hospital, where Percy is reported to have walked away from. Walking through the facility though should prove to the runners that nobody could out of a hospital without someone seeing something.

Asking around with the staff in the lobby area, no one recalls seeing anything out of the ordinary. If the runners make it to the psychiatric ward without raising any alarms, the staff in the ward seems to be confused about Percy’s disappearance. Many of the staff claims they had no idea that the boy was to be discharged. Many were shocked to see the Foster boy not in his bed the next morning and when an internal investigation was done, the required paperwork for the discharge was found, signed by duty nurse Ingrid Malchus.

Ingrid is off duty the day the runners are there, but Percy’s doctor, Carlos Diarno, is on duty. If confronted, he will be providing brief answers, as he still has his rounds to do. Despite being under pressure to keep moving, he will tell the runners that he knew of the transfer (but cannot say why, due to doctor-patient privilege), but did not approve of it. The boy was moved to a facility “Better suited to treat his particular ailment”. Dr. Diarno won’t mention what facility Percy was moved to, as he doesn’t exactly know, though he has suspicions.

If the runners track down Ingrid Malchus, she tells them that she signed the transfer order, out of obligation more than any desire to. She tells them that Mitsuhama is a major sponsor of the hospital and she knows better than to reject a transfer order when a sponsor comes knocking.

If the runners tap into the Matrix host for the hospital, they quickly learn that the camera logs have been tampered with, so that all evidence of the boy’s removal was missing (though archived copies still exist). The paperwork documenting the transfer is present, but it will take a Matrix Perception and an Edit test to notice a buried, hidden icon attached. The document, in order to be legal, must include the destination clinic, but someone had taken the time to encrypt the data, to make the location much harder to extract. The transfer location is Mitsuhama’s New Providence Research Clinic.

Matrix: Aside from the distance to the item being hacked, the Hospital is a busy place with doctor’s commlinks getting paged and the constant influx of emergency phone calls. The Hospital counts as a spam zone of 1.

University Hospital
Threshold – Matrix (1), Medical (2)

1 – University Hospital is one of the leaders in medical research in the Seattle Metroplex. Tied to the University of Washington, most students of advanced medicine get their feet wet here.
2 – The extensive research done by the hospital has attracted a lot of corporate attention. Many of the research projects have AAA sponsors and those sponsors monitor their investments closely.
4 – Dr. Diarno’s research involving the brain and Matrix interactions have garnered a lot of attention from Mitsuhama.

New Providence Research Clinic
Threshold – Matrix (1), Medical (3), Corporate (3)

1 – A new state-of-the-art facility Mitsuhama built in Downtown Seattle for Medical and Biotech research. Part private hospital and part research facility, it is labelled as the foremost authority in cybernetic surgery for the wealthy.
2 – The facility is rumoured to be a close partner with University Hospital, using some of the public hospital’s research in its procedures. Occasionally, doctors from University oversee surgeries that employ their techniques when New Providence attempts them.
4 – Often, if Mitsuhama patients at University contract a rare disorder, they will be transferred to New Providence for closer study, in order to develop advanced cures for the disease.
5 – The site of New Providence was re-tasked in recent years, as the site was originally branded as a facility for Mitsuhama’s technomancer project Rose Garden, which garnered a lot of negative press.

Scene 3 – New Providence

The New Providence Clinic is a pristine building of white stone, shined metal and glass. The building looks more like an office structure than a hospital. The interior lobby spills into a wide open space that indicates the research lab is on one side and the hospital is to the other. The receptionist wears a perfected smile and directs people where they need to go, but will not hesitate to notify security if she feels that anyone coming through the front door is at all sketchy.

Whether the runners sneak in or walk in the front door, they will notice that the security in the building has been heightened. As they probe deeper into the building, the runners will eventually do something that will alert the security forces that perhaps they don’t belong (a security measure gets tripped, the receptionist ratted them out, or they got seen carrying a weapon, for example). However, whether through Matrix investigation, physical reconnaissance or getting hospital staff to talk, they learn that the hospital was hit the day before and Percy Foster was the victim of an extraction from New Providence. Camera footage of the extraction is available, so the runners can get a look at the team responsible. As the runners are finishing their investigation, however they alert security, the powers that be move in to detain them. Let the runners decide how they plan to avoid capture.

Once they are away from the New Providence Clinic, they can begin tracing the movements of the team that beat them to Percy. Using whatever resources they have available, they will learn that the boy was taken into the Puyallup Barrens. Matrix tracking ceases to be effective once the other team leaves the civilized portion of the city and will have to rely on contacts, magic and whatever tools they have at their disposal.

They eventually learn that the other team has holed themselves up in an abandoned veterinary clinic in the Barrens with a local gang for additional protection.

New Providence Research Clinic

New Providence - Detail New Providence - Floorplan

Matrix: The New Providence Clinic is off of the Mitsuhama Global Grid and due to the high priority of medical work they do, there is enough Noise reduction at work that distance is the only real factor for hacking. If the runners attempt to use the Mitsuhama Grid, odds are they do not have permissions and will immediately begin accruing Overwatch Score.

Scene 4 – Under the Ashes

The veterinary clinic the runners have holed up in are set up in Carbanado. The lava flats that destroyed the mines and farms that once dwelled here dominate the landscape, with old burned out buildings jutting out of solid rock. The air here is barely breathable, as an ashen plume coats the area as it pours down off Mount Ranier.

The indigenous people of the area hide away indoors, away from the ash cloud that covers the area. However, the local powers that be, the Chulos, patrol the area around the clinic, apparently paid off to add additional security to the remote location. There is no Matrix presence here, save for the handful of crappy commlinks in the hands of the gangers. Even the runners have powered down their gadgets, due to the condition of their quarry.

The interior of the clinic is guarded by the four runners, a few gangers and a series of traps, rigged up by the team. If the runners try to use any wirelessly enabled devices, Percy’s mind reacts violently to the influx of Matrix traffic and causes nearby electronics to go haywire. Noise in the area is a +4 modifier normally, but shoots up to +8 when the Technomancer reacts to active devices.

The original map I had of the veterinary clinic has been lost, unfortunately.  I used a single story structure with narrow hallways and tight fighting quarters, littered with bombs and a crazed monowhip-wielding adept…

When the runners cut through the other team and the gang to find their target, they find him being defended by his older brother, James. James points a Browning Ultra Power at whoever comes through the door with unsteady hands and if not talked down quickly, will open fire (rather blindly). Fearful of what Mitsuhama might have done to his brother in the name of treatment, he decided to take his tuition money, hire a runner team and get his brother out of the clinic before he became another Mitsuhama experiment. They came to the Barrens due to the low amount of Matrix traffic and because one of the runners has friends among the Chulos.

The team will have a hard time talking James down and even if they convince him to surrender (or simply render him unconscious), they will have a problem telling the family that it was an inside job. Getting their payment may prove troublesome, as they refuse to believe their own son could do such a thing. The team he hired was less than professional and left a body count within his family’s company.

Matrix: There is no Matrix infrastructure in Carbanado. Leapfrogging off of commlinks and outdated and poorly maintained backbones is the only way to reach the outside world. A Noise Rating of 2 applies while in Puyallup, on top of distance modifiers.

Clash – Team Mage

Bod 3, Agi 3, Rea 3, Str 2, Cha 6, Int 3, Log 3, Will 6
Edge 2, Ess 6, Magic 6

Physical 4, Mental 5, Social 8

Skills

Con 6 (8), Impersonation 6, Performance 6, Etiquette 4, Leadership 4, Negotiation 4, Assensing 4, Binding (Spirits of Man) 6(8), Counterspelling 4, Spellcasting (Manipulation) 6(8), Summoning (Spirits of Man) 6(8), Pistols 4, Palming (Pickpocket) 4(6), Sneaking 4, Perception 4

Qualities

Focused Concentration: 3, Mentor Spirit (Raven), Allergy (Uncommon, Extreme): Nuts, Prejudiced (Common, Biased): Mundanes

Spell Focus 4 (Manipulation, Bonded), Bound Spirit of Man: (Force 6, Services 4), Bound Spirit of Beasts: (Force 6, Services 4)

Spells

Decrease Willpower (Health), Control Actions (Manipulation), Mob Mind (Manipulation), Levitate (Manipulation), Physical Mask (Illusion)

Gear

Fichetti Security 600
Concealable Holster
Spare Clips: 2
APDS Rounds: 60

Armor Vest

Commlink: Meta Link

Flashlight

Lightsticks: 4

Low Lifestyle

Personality

For Clash, everything is disposable. Possessions, living arrangements, acquaintances, contacts, team members and even friends, to Clash they’re all the same and any one of them will be sacrificed at a moment’s notice if it serves her needs. Full on sociopathic, Clash makes effective (often brutally effective) use of the “resources” at hand. Need to get the police off her trail? Mind control a child and run them into traffic. With Clash it doesn’t matter who suffers and how as long as she comes out on top.

When working with a runner team (always a short lived endeavour) she tends to work as an advance scout, arriving well in advance of the team in order to lay the groundwork for their arrival with a combination of carefully placed resources (weapons, stolen security badges, etc.) and sabotaged defenses (guards who mysteriously fail to show up for their shift leaving security short-handed). Once the team starts their infiltration she supports them from afar using a combination of spirits and astral over-watch.

Focused on her own survival above all else, if a job is going south Clash will walk away once it is clear that the odds have turned against her.

Tactics

Clash always operates with a pair of bound spirits to support her. The spirit of man will have standing instructions to immediately use the accident power on any group that attacks her. Whereas the spirit of beasts has instructions to engage any group who attacks her starting with their magical support (if any) and then picking off the physically weakest (low strength/body) of the group before moving on to the stronger members. After the initial use of the accident power the spirit of man will use Decrease Willpower on the physically strongest (high strength/body) member of the attacking group in preparation for a Control Actions spell from Clash. Clash will then use Control Actions or Mob Mind in the most destructive manner she can think up and then try to escape in the confusion. She will never stick around in a direct confrontation and will run away at the first opportunity, often using levitate to escape from seemingly impossible locations (tall buildings, dead ends, etc.).

Deadline – Adept Assassin

Bod 4, Agi 7, Rea 5, Str 3, Cha 4, Int 5, Log 1, Will 3
Edge 3, Ess 6, Magic 6

Physical 5, Mental 4, Social 6

Skills

Exotic Melee Weapon (Monowhip) 6, Longarms 6, Gymnastics 6, Sneaking 6, Perception 3, Etiquette 3, Throwing Weapons 2, Con 2, Impersonation 2, Performance 2

Qualities

Exceptional Attribute (Agility), Distinctive Style, SINner (Criminal), Allergy (Moderate, Uncommon)

Qi Focus 4 (Bonded)

Powers

Critical Strike 6, Improved Reflexes 2, Improved Combat Ability (Monowhip)

Gear

Monofilament Whip (with Hidden Arm Slide)
Ares Desert Strike (Imaging Scope, Shock Pad, Smartgun – External, Silencer)
Spare Clips: 3
APDS Rounds: 20

Chameleon Suit – Nonconductivity 3, Thermal Damping 6
Helmet – With Low-Light, Thermographic and Flare Compensation

Commlink: Transys Avalon

Gas Mask

Gecko Tape Gloves

Low Lifestyle

Personality

Deadline is a noted assassin in Europe and loves the thrill of the hunt. The only reason he left his original hunting grounds is evade capture and eventually, he will return to further his legend and terrorize the people who dare whisper his name. Clash approached him with a job offer to help eliminate key targets too dangerous for the mage to approach and he jumped at the opportunity to hunt superior game.

While having some respectable training as a sniper, Deadline prefers the up close kill with his monowhip. He relishes in stalking close to his prey, unsuspected and killing them in a single blow. He sees himself as untouchable and his ego can interfere with the task at hand, especially when hunting a specific target.

Tactics

Deadline is a lone wolf, who works with Clash and her team solely as a means to get access to choice prey. When dealing with Deadline, the bait and ambush technique works well, so long as the bait is either agile or can endure a possible monowhip attack. Deadline is quick, so anything that keeps the adept unaware or on the ropes will be the adept’s downfall. Deadline uses stealth to get in close, using the technology he possesses to find the route of attack that will disrupt line of sight as long as possible. He will then leap into the fray and aim for a quick decapitation to prevent his location from being betrayed.

KaBoom – Arsonist

Bod 4, Agi 5, Rea 4, Str 4, Cha 3, Int 4, Log 5, Will 3
Edge 5, Ess 2.3

Physical 6, Mental 6, Social 4

Skills

Demolitions 6, Gymnastics 5, Running 5, Swimming 5, Automatics 4, Throwing Weapons 4, Clubs 4, Chemistry 4, Hardware 4, Sneaking 4, Unarmed Combat 3, Perception 3, Survival (Urban) 2(4)

Qualities

Analytical Mind, Home Ground (Puyallup, Street Politics), Bad Rep, SINner (Criminal)

Implants

Cybereyes 3 (Flare Compensation, Low-Light, Smartlink, Thermographic Vision, Vision Enhancement 2, Vision Magnification)
Cyberears 2 (Audio Enhancement 3, Damper, Select Sound Filter 2, Spatial Recognizer)
Wired Reflexes 1
CyberGun – SMG

Gear

Extendable Baton
Ares Crusader II (Gas-Vent II, Smartgun – Internal, Concealable Holster)
HK-227 (Integral Sound Suppressor, Retractable Stock, Smartgun – Internal)
Spare Clips: 2 Crusader, 2 HK-227
Regular Pistol Rounds: 40
Explosive Pistol Rounds: 40
Regular SMG Rounds: 40
Hollow Point SMG Rounds: 40

5 Flash-Bang Grenades
5 High Explosive Grenades
9kg Rating 6 Foam Explosives
10 Detonator Caps

Armor Jacket

Commlink: Hermes Ikon

Fake ID 4 with Fake License 4 for Possession of a Firearm, Conceal & Carry Firearms, Non-Civilian Cybernetics)

Low Lifestyle

Personality

KaBoom is insane. He is a raving pyromaniac who sees explosions and the resulting carnage as an art form and that he is an accomplished artist . Once a member of the Chulos in Puyallup, the gang has increased the distance they maintain when dealing with KaBoom. His penchant for artistic flair and pure destruction caught Clash’s attention and she felt she could use his skills to wipe out her foes when they drew too close.

It is unclear where KaBoom learned to handle explosives, but he is rather skilled at it. He is a mid-range fighter, using automatic weaponry in a spray and pray mentality. Ideally, he’ll have had time to rig the place with a few charges and lure the enemy into the blast radius with a fighting withdrawal. He is not above going out in a suicide bombing if backed into a corner.

Tactics

KaBoom may be nuts, but he’s not an idiot. He prefers to rig the place he is defending with charges either to kill the intended target outright, or bring down the surrounding environment for the most possible damage. He will coax his opponents into the range of one of his pre-set charges and set them off, using the chaos that follows for him to move in and finish off any survivors with a hail of bullets.

>> Aww, some poor wageslave lost their kid.  Ain’t that a shame.  They aren’t offering enough for me to care.
>> Burn

>> While I’m not quite so mercenary as our ork friend here, I have to agree there’s very little to go on.  I mean, they named their son Percy.  Are we sure he didn’t just run away?
>> Skeptik

>> I dunno, the area around the hospital went a little nuts around the time of this kid’s disappearance.  Anyone know why he was in the hospital in the first place?
>>  Jestyr

>> An unspecified psychotic episode.  Details are a bit sketchy and right when doctors were starting to piece together events, this kid gets taken.  I think there’s something going on with this kid and someone wanted to disappear the kid before too many people figured it out.
>> Torrent

The Obligatory Excuse Post

•January 31, 2014 • 2 Comments

So, I haven’t posted anything in a while…

It’s not like I haven’t wanted to… honest.  I do have a couple runs worth of stuff to post, though gaming over the past couple months has been exceptionally sporadic.  Truth be told, my personal life got a tad busy and I have had an impressive lack of free time.  With the coming weeks, as I ramp up for my first Convention of 2014, I hope to post material more frequently going forward.  Despite opting to shelf the game, I find myself working on new CthulhuTech material, so I may have another one of those to post too.

Who knew?

Hope everyone had a happy new year and Christmas and the month of January… damn I suck…

New material soon.  Promise!

J.

Lost in the Sands (Shadowrun)

•November 20, 2013 • Leave a Comment

This adventure was designed for the 2013 Convention season and was run as a high-energy one-off to introduce players to the new Edition.

The team is contacted by their fixer for a job abroad.  The pay is promised as ‘competitive’ and the team will be compensated in both equipment and cash.  If they are interested in hearing the details, Mr. Johnson has a private room booked at Club Penumbra for 9PM.

Scene 1 – The Meet

Club Penumbra is subdued in comparison to most of the nightspots in the metroplex, but there are still enough people to allow the runners to fade into the crowd.  Of the private rooms in the back, only one is booked tonight, so finding where they are to meet Mr. Johnson is straightforward.

At the appointed time, the runners can go in and meet their employer.  He is a Caucasian man with a laid back attitude and a movie star smile.  “Hey guys!  Come on in and grab a chair.  Anyone want anything before we begin?”

Once the team has settled in, Mr Johnson maintains his casual demeanor, but his words carry the weight of his request.  “All right, down to business.  I don’t know if any of you are fans of the Desert Wars pay-per-view specials, but the original series is still the most popular.  Ares won the latest round of the Desert Wars and it was due to a prototype drone they deployed, they’ve called the Shrike.  It is a high-speed, low altitude reconnaissance drone that is equipped with an aerosol launcher.  While it is likely to be used as a gas crowd suppression unit, they used the drone to great effect in the Desert Wars to spray enemy units with RFID tags, to allow them to track enemy movements and ambush them accordingly.  However, during manoeuvres, a Shrike got shot and went down with the RFID dispersal unit still on board.  We want you to find that drone and retrieve what remains of it or its payload.

“During the off-season corporate soldiers are not allowed into the Sahara, which is where you come in.  We will equip you with the basics for survival in the desert and direct you to a nearby town where you can acquire a desert guide.  They will take you into the desert and take you to likely places of salvage and trade, so you can acquire the drone.  For this retrieval mission, I’m willing to pay you 12,000¥ apiece, plus you can keep the equipment we provide for your desert tour.”

Mr. Johnson works for Ares and is honest about wanting to retrieve the drone.  The drone, on top of the RFID dispersal unit, contains a state of the art sensor system, above what a drone of that size could typically use.  It’s the sensor unit he doesn’t want their rivals to acquire.  He is willing to negotiate a small amount prior to the mission, but on paper it is a simple retrieval mission.  Only the environment is the complication.

Once the runners take the job, Mr. Johnson smiles broadly.  “Excellent!  We will fly you out by private charter, so you can bring any reasonable equipment with you.  You’ll be flown out to Tunisia and then you’ll sail by ship into the ruins of Tripoli, where you should be able to slip into the desert unnoticed.  Your equipment will be given to you on the ship out of Tunisia.  Best of luck out there.”

Matrix – Club Penumbra’s ARO has a heavy outer space theme.  Despite how busy the club is, the Noise Level of the interior of the club is 0.  Once the runners browse outside of the club, they are subject to distance penalties and crossing grids, if applicable.

Scene 2 – Entering the Sahara

The runners can bring any weapons they can conceal going into the airport (they may be able to bypass customs, but belt-fed guns are still going to raise alarms).  The flight, aside from being long, is uneventful.  Once aboard the small ship in the Tunisian harbour, a humourless man of obvious military upbringing hands out equipment to the runners.

  • There is a desert camouflage suit (12 Armor) that has been modified with insulation and environmental seals.  They are given a helmet with polarized HUD (+2 Armor) and fabric to seal the wind out from their neck.
  • An environmentally sealed Ares Predator V to keep the sand from getting into the weapon and causing it to jam.
  • A cooled canteen for storing water.
  • Water purification tablets and radiation pills (even though Libya was nuked roughly 65 years before, there are still pockets of fallout in the desert).

The soldier tells them to head toward the town of Al Qaryah (about 300km south of Tripoli) to meet a guide named Rashad and acquire last minute supplies.

Al Qaryah is little more than a ghost town, filled with merchants and entrepreneurs who have opened restaurants and shops catering to the soldiers in town for the Desert Wars.  The air is full of the sounds of commerce and smells of local cuisine.  Corporate logos from each of the Big Ten are present here and soldiers from rival companies seem to be willing to rub shoulders at this particular watering hole.  The runners will need to be careful not to mention the salvage operation in the Sahara near corporate soldiers, or find themselves being detained by the forces stationed here.

In a remote bar on the outside of the village, they find a hovel that soldiers don’t frequent.  The runners will find it recommended by those who don’t dare enter the desert.  Inside the meet a man named Rashad, who has been weathered considerably but is vastly regarded as one of the best guides in the country.  For a fee of 2000¥, he will take them where they need to go.  Upon leaving the bar, a group of Saeder-Krupp soldiers accost the runners and their guide, calling out the guide for leading yet more people into the desert.  Leave it to the runners to decide if they choose to resolve the matter diplomatically or with violence.

Matrix – What remains of Libya was absorbed by Egypt after being nuked.  While Egypt has its own grid, they have not extended the grid into Libya fully.  Access is spotty at the best of times.  Within Tripoli, where the corps have established a port, the Egypt grid is accessible.  The ARO looks like the architecture of ancient Egypt.  Noise is 2, due to outdated hardware piping in the Matrix.  Outside of Tripoli, the Egyptian grid is only accessible by bootleg retransmitters.  Noise is 6 in Al Qaryah.  Outside Al Qaryah, in the desert, Noise as high as 14 due to there being no infrastructure at all.

Scene 3 – The Sandy Wastes

Leaving behind the small desert town, the runners are faced with the extremes of the desert; scorching hot during the day and very cold at night.  Rashad turns out to be a good guide and highlights several tricks he has learned over the years for finding waypoints through the desert.  While GPS devices work in the desert, all satellite images of the Sahara have been blocked, to prevent teams from gaining an unfair advantage during the events.  The Bedouin have placed buoys in the sand that record everything from wind movements, sand depths and any passersby.  Rashad knows the encryption key to these buoys and uses them to trace the movements of the nomad encampments through the desert.  After two days in the desert (see Hazard Pay for rules on exposure), the group finally happens upon the Bedouin encampment.  They are set up along the shores of an oasis; roughly a dozen tents have been erected.  There are people patrolling the camp’s outskirts and the runners can make out what appears to be a scrap heap at the heart of the camp, where the nomads have set up a bartering shop.

If the runners show up to deal, the Bedouin refuse to deal with them, because they detest Rashad.  They refer to him as a blasphemer and that he split off from their band to form his own group.  If the team presses Rashad, he tells them that he decided that there was more money in being a guide than a junk dealer he those who agreed with him left the group.  It will take a solid Negotiation roll to be allowed into the camp.  If it comes down to a fight, the nomads are Professional Level 1 as per the Core Book, but instead of pistols, possess Automatics and are armed with AK-97s:

If the runners either defeat the Bedouin easily, or manage to Negotiate with them a rival runner team descends on the camp, after something else the Bedouin have supposedly unearthed.  The runners should be at least Professional Rating 4.

Low Tier Runner Team (Grunts)

Agi 4(6), Bod 4, Rea 5(6), Str 4, Cha 3, Int 5, Log 3, Will 5

Ess 6, Edg 3, Init 10(11) + 1D6(2D6)

Phys 6             Ment 6             Soc 6

Skills:  Athletics 4, Close Combat 6, Pistols 5, Automatics 7, Perception 6, Sneaking 5, Survival 5

Augmentations: Cybereyes (with flare compensation, smartlink, low-light), Muscle Toner, Wired 1

Gear:  AK-97 (smartlink, shock pad and gas-vent 2), Ares Predator V, Erika Elite, Armor Vest with insulation

For an added quirk, through in some local wildlife.  It is an oasis after all and all desert life is drawn to water (options are scorpions, snakes, camels and paranorms like Nova Scorpions or Sand Chameleons).

After clearing out the camp of hostiles, if the Bedouin are alive and willing (or incapacitated and forced to talk), they tell the runners they don’t have the drone they’re after, but gives them directions and guideposts to another location to the southeast.  They can provide guideposts to line the way.  If the runners killed everything that moved, Rashad will find some information in the tent of the camp elder.

The journey to the second site can be fraught with perils previously unused at the Bedouin camp (runners/corp team, paracritters, having to cross irradiated dunes, etc) at GM discretion.

The alternate site is strewn about the sand without much organization.  The area is at the edge of a rocky outcropping, leading into a series of rocky chasms.  The winds have shaped the dunes into a bowl-like clearing.  The wreckage here is typically larger than the Bedouin salvage yard, including half a downed attack helicopter.  Searching the field will reveal a few things to the astute:

The drone they’re after is here.  They are not alone, but these junk collectors act like predators stalking prey.  There is a strange magical presence here, that with an assensing test over the site, any magicians will notice an eerie, off-feeling power and a coppery taste in the back of their throat.

This band of junk collectors are working with a blood mage, who is slaughtering trespassers in order to power magical rituals to conceal the site from Desert Wars groups.  When the runners find the Shrike, they also find a band of Renraku soldiers laying dead around the drone.  The hunters attack when the runners find what their after.  If the runners are being cautious and keeping their eyes on the surrounding dunes and rocks, the enemy mage will craft illusions to keep the runners off their guard.

The enemy mage is their guide Rashad.  He is a high level blood mage and his last ritual is running out of fuel.  He has lured the runners here in order to kill them and use their lives to power the illusion that conceals the site during the PPV specials.

Using the stats for the Bedouin nomads, replace pistols with Longarms and increase the skill to 5.  They nomads are using weathered Ruger 100s to snipe the runners from the rocks surrounding the site and from under the sand behind them.  Once the grunts are wearing out, Rashad unleashes his Dust Storm spell and raises the dead Renraku soldiers as Homunculi.

Bedouin Blood Mage – Rashad

Agi 5, Bod 3, Rea 4, Str 2, Cha 3, Int 5, Log 3, Will 5

Ess 6, Edg 4, Mag 6, Init 9 + 1D6

Grade 4 Initiate – Masking, Sacrifice, Flexible Signature, Centering

Physical – 4                 Mental – 6                               Social – 6

Qualities

High Pain Tolerance

Reduced Sight (one eye)

Wanted

Moderate Addiction (Psyche)

Prejudice (Caucasian, Biased)

Skills

Spellcasting 9                                                  Egyptian Theology 7

Counterspelling 9                                            Anatomy 7

Summoning 9                                                  Magic Theory 9

Binding 7                                                        Local Area Knowledge (Sahara) 7

Blades 7                                                          Arabic N

Assensing 7                                                     Ancient Egyptian 4

Perception 7                                                    English 7

Survival 4

Navigation 4

Tracking 4

Spells

Hydrate, Rot, Sandblast, Detox, Trid Phantasm (aka Mirage), Mist (aka Dust Storm), Increase Reflexes, Shape Earth

Gear

Egyptian Ceremonial Knife (Apotropaic)

Renraku Sensei w/ AR Gloves, Biometric Reader, Subvocal Mic

Armor Clothing

Desert Goggles, Desert Tent, Desert Survival Kit, Snake Mesh Socks, Thermal Air Bag (all from Hazard Pay)

Image Link, Vision Enhancement 3 (in Desert Goggles)

Squatter Lifestyle

Rashad will kill any runner whom he can, but will try to incapacitate any magically active runners, as they will fuel the ritual for longer.  Once the team has dealt with their assailants and finished off their duplicitous guide, they will need to harvest what they can from the drone (hopefully getting what the Johnson wanted) and then they will have to find their way out of the desert without a guide before they expire from the elements.

They could possibly make some extra cred from offering up the location of the drone graveyard to any corp with a stake in the next Desert Wars.

>> What’s so important about a flying aerosol container that warrants sending runners into the fuckin’ desert?
>> Burn

>> A few friends of mine in the corporate sector tell me there’s some sweet hardware packed into that casing that isn’t even on the market yet.  Something that could bankrupt some poor R&D middle manager in a real hurry if the competition got it.
>> Phantom

>> I’ve seen enough of the Desert Wars to know that the Sahara isn’t just some boring lump of blowing sand.  There’s a lot that can go wrong out there, even if you’re properly prepared.  I’ll stick to the hazards I’m used to here in the city, thank you…
>> Wraith

>> Seen or participated in, Wraith?
>> <Anonymous User>

Green Plan (Shadowrun)

•October 15, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Scene 1 –Meeting the Employer

The runners are contacted by their fixer and tells them that he has a lead on a high-profile protection gig that could open up some doors in the corporate sector. If they are willing to meet with Mr. Johnson, he would like to meet them at Club Penumbra for 8PM.

Club Penumbra is quieter than many of the clubs in Seattle these days, but the place still sees quite a bit of runner activity. Stepping inside, a local group is on the stage with a blend of electronic music and spoken word. Mr. Johnson doesn’t show up until a few minutes before the meet is scheduled to begin. Flanked by a couple professional bodyguards, Mr. Johnson’s demeanour is one of projected confidence, though anyone trained in reading body language shows that this is an act and the man is extremely nervous.

He settles into a chair that faces the main exit with his bodyguards covering his back and he gets straight down to business with the runners. “Your fixer assures me that your team is professional in their conduct, so I will get right down to it. There are certain criminal elements in this city that are unhappy with how a recent product of my employer’s worked. As a result, death threats have been made against several people in the company, myself included. However, where others have been sent threatening messages, the threats made in my direction have continued and escalated. Out family pet was recently butchered and notes have been left at my children’s school. I am therefore forced to assume that threats against me are very real. The company has assured me that they will keep my family and I safe, but I have concerns about a public meeting I am expected to attend tomorrow. I will leave my family’s security to the company, but my personal safety, I would like to hire additional security to be certain. To hire you for 24 hours of protection, starting tomorrow morning at 6AM, I would pay you each 8,000¥. I hope that the threats have escalated as far as they are going to and you will make easy money for a dull day, but I must be sure. Will you take the job?”

Mr. Johnson is a man named Damian Rodriguez, a PR executive for Aztechnology. It’s his job to smooth things over with the general public when Aztechnology gets bad press in the Seattle region. The poorly received product he refers to is a type of fertilizer made by Austrafarm, one of their subsidiaries. The fertilizer created greater yields from crops, as promised, but when it reached the ground water, the by-product was toxic to the local fish. Many in the ecological circles have vocally protested and some orchestrated shadow ops to leak evidence to the media, that Aztech knew about the toxic properties, but launched the product anyways, hoping only to sell the product to inland farmers, but naturally retailers were happy to sell the item to anyone who would pay.

If any deckers in the group learn of who Rodriguez works for and of the environmental violation being held over their head, they could use that (and his desperation) against him to leverage a little more money out of him, however, this private security detail is coming out of his own pocket, so his means are limited.

If the team signs on, he nods in appreciation. “Thank you. Meet me at the Glaston Motel on 8th Street for 6AM sharp tomorrow morning. I will provide instruction on where we are expected at that time.

Matrix: The ARO of the Penumbra is an outer space theme, with everything that is a part of the club tied into the theme Noise level from the club is insignificant, so the only Noise modifier will be due to distance from the hack source.

Mr. Johnson (Damian Rodriguez)
Threshold – Matrix (1), Corporate (1)

1 – Mr. J’s name is Damian Rodriguez. He’s a PR firefighter for Aztechnology.
2 – Local to Seattle, he is a master of spin doctoring and downplaying Aztechnology’s travesties in the public eye.
3 – Normally put to work on the company’s military campaigns, he is out of his element in dealing with an environmental disaster.
5 – Local environmental activists have been targeting Rodriguez due to his aim to sweep this latest breach under the rug.

Austrafarm Incident
Threshold – Matrix (1), Environmental (1)

1 – Austrafarm worked on a new fertilizer that ended up being toxic when introduced to the water table. Despite producing greater yields to farmers, the product is due to be pulled from the market for reevaluation.
2 – Evidence has been leaked to the media that shows the upper executives at Aztechnology knew of the environmental impacts, but launched anyways.
3 – Aztechnology is preparing a media blitz for their new product in consumer goods to distract the public from the incident, while their PR team goes to work.
4 – Some say Aztechnology will continue to sell the product privately in very small quantities to the target farmers, away from major water sources.
5 – Austrafarm has been targeted by threats of a terrorist attack for their role in designing the product (though they didn’t have a hand in its public sale).

Scene 2 – Public Dismissal

The Glaston Motel is a coffin motel; a far-cry from what Mr. Johnson is likely accustomed to. It is a sure sign of the level of paranoia the man has reached in terms of his safety. He is escorted out by his bodyguards, and is led to a waiting car. If the runners insist on Mr. Johnson riding with them, the guards reluctantly agree, but will follow close behind in their own vehicle.

The Seattle Metroplex Convention Center is where Damian is giving his press conference to the media and the public. There will be large civilian presence in the building, which will complicate matters should violence ensue.

It turns out that Mr. Johnson’s fears are justified. The local TerraFirst cell has been activated and sent to wipe out Aztechnology’s spokesman. If they succeed, they will put the Aztechnology executives into a state of fear. If they fail… well, they’ll have a diversion for what else they have planned.

There are three cell members in the crowd. One is a simple gunman, who will go for a gun taped under a chair and try to put a bullet in Mr. Johnson during the Q&A session. The second is an eagle shaman, who has replaced a member of the Aztechnology security staff and will exploit the chaos created by the gunman’s failed attempt. The third is a member of the convention center’s staff, who has arranged for explosives to be set up along the escape route that Mr. Johnson is likely to take.

The fight should be chaotic, as the people in the center attempt to flee once the fighting starts, breaking up lines of fire and causing enough distractions that the runners may be hard pressed to both keep Mr. Johnson safe and deal with the assailants. If the runners are able to detain one of the would-be assassins, they can check the commlinks of those detained and if they can crack the encryption, find evidence of a plot to steal a truck. Hacking the tag associated with the note, they can learn more about the plan.

Terrafirst has stolen a tanker truck full of the contraband fertilizer, rigged it with explosives and it is currently on the road, heading for the Aztechnology building where many who received the death threats work. The truck is moving through several busy neighbourhoods on route to its ultimate destination, in order to dissuade anyone from assaulting the truck.

Unfortunately for the runners, the Johnson’s family was relocated to the facility in order to provide protection for them and with the amount of fertilizer in the truck, the blast will destroy more than just the compound. The vehicle has been wirelessly disabled, so they can’t hack it remotely. Sending a spirit would spook the terrorists to trigger the panic button that would destroy the truck early. It falls to the team to try and stop the truck before it arrives.

If the runners threaten to walk away, as it wasn’t part of the original contract, Mr. Johnson will plead with them to save his family, offer them as much as he can (an additional 2,000¥ each) and offer them each a favour in the future. However, this will likely earn them notoriety, knowing that the blast could kill hundreds but walking away anyways.

Matrix: The runners can gain access to the host of the SMCC just by asking Aztech security. They won’t be thrilled opening up the system to runners, but they aren’t willing to sacrifice Damian’s safety either. If the runners use the SMCC host to try and pull any information not relevant to their current job, the system will revoke their privileges and unleash IC on them.

Host Rating 7
Attack 8, Sleaze 7, Data Processing 9, Firewall 10

Available IC: Acid, Blaster, Crash, Jammer, Killer, Patrol, Probe, Track

Scene 3 – Rolling Bomb

The runners have the route the truck is taking through Seattle, but they don’t have real idea of how far along they are along the route. As they set out, the truck is already about halfway to the target. It will pass through a residential neighbourhood and a busy commercial district before smashing through the gate at Aztechnology and exploding in a disastrous manner. The truck is being escorted by two motorcycles and two sedans with gunmen on board. The passenger of the truck is armed with a grenade launcher and has services from a loaned spirit (a toxic earth spirit (Sludge), though the passenger doesn’t know the spirit’s true nature).

If the driver feels he has no recourse, he will hit the panic button installed in the dashboard to blow up the truck. With luck, the runners will stop the truck first, or have a capable decker to prevent the transmitter from sending the signal. If the panic button is pressed and the truck doesn’t explode, the driver will set the autopilot (which means the truck then runs wirelessly) and head out to manually trigger the device. If the runners shoot him, there is no one left on the truck to stop the vehicle and they will need to get aboard the runaway vehicle to ensure it doesn’t arrive at its destination.

As long as the Johnson isn’t killed and the truck doesn’t explode, the runners will get paid what they were promised.

Conestoga Trailblazer with Trailer
Hand -3, Speed 3/2, Accel 1, Bod 20, Armor 10, Pilot 2, Sensor 1, Seats 3

For the TerraFirst members protecting the tanker, use the Gangers and Street Scum stats, though substitute the pistols skill for Automatics.

Sludge Spirit (Force 5)

B: 8, A: 4, R: 7, S: 8, C: 5, I: 5, L: 5, W: 5, Ess 5, Mag: 5
Init: 12 + 2D6

Skills: Assensing, Astral Combat, Dodge, Exotic Ranged Weapon, Perception, Unarmed Combat
Powers: Astral Form, Anaphylaxis, Binding, Engulf, Materialization, Movement, Sapience, Search

Optional Power: Accident

Anaphylaxis – Causes a system-wide allergic reaction. Treat as an inhalation vector toxin attack With Speed: Immediate and Damage 8P. Armor does not help, but air filtration devices will. If the damage is not fully resisted, the victim goes into anaphylactic shock: muscle spasms and systemic failure unless treated. The target takes an additional box of damage every turn until they die from cardiovascular breakdown unless treated by First Aid (2) with the appropriate medication, or an Antidote, Detox or Heal Spell.

>> Do I really care about some corporate dweeb and his family getting killed?  Bout time one of em saw things from our side.
>> Burn

>> Heart of gold, like always, Burn.  His money’s as good as anyone else’s.  Why should one person be held responsible for his company’s mistake?
>> Glasgow

>> That’s just it… holding some PR rep responsible makes no sense.  There’s something else going on here…
>> Pyramid Watcher

Trojan Horse – Preying on the Weak (Shadowrun)

•September 3, 2013 • Leave a Comment

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.

Desire” BTLs
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 – Full Detail of Main Level

Casino - Public Floorplan (Player Handout)

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

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?
>> Glitch

>> 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.
>> Skeptik

>> 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.
>> Havik

>> How do you know how addictive they are?  Talking from experience?
>> Penitant

SR5 – My first game

•August 18, 2013 • 2 Comments

So, I ran my first session of SR5 on Friday evening.  It went fairly well, all things considered.  It was a playtest for a convention I’m running an event at in a month’s time and I wanted to test both the game and the demo characters I designed.  With 8 players showing up, it was a bit tough to wrangle everyone, but the event was completed and I got some feedback on stuff that needs refinement.

As for the system, it felt very much like 4th for the bulk of the experience.  It wasn’t until combat broke out when people began to struggle with the new initiative system.  The game was Matrix light (they were in a very remote location, but I did get to work on the new Matrix rules somewhat and they worked out fairly well.  The character I designed as an Alchemist got to try out his  talents somewhat and the potential for Alchemy made a few people really take notice of its potential.

The notes for the game that was run will be posted once those who will be attending the convention have had a chance to play it (no spoilers, guys…), but I am running another SR5 game next week and a subsequent one the week after that.  I will start posting material for the new Edition soon.  I have also been working on reference sheets for GMs to use until they can acquire the core book in hard copy.  I may post those here once I am done compiling the document.

As I learn more about the system, I will update my thoughts on the new mechanics in greater detail.

J.

Shadowrun 5th Edition – A Chapter by Chapter Review

•July 24, 2013 • 5 Comments

So, after getting my hands on my PDF copy of the new Shadowrun 5th Edition Core Book, I’ve been eagerly reading my way through the book to see what this latest Edition has to offer.  I am very pleased to say that it offers quite a lot to the fans of the setting and corrects a couple of things I was finding with the already-impressive Fourth Edition that were bothering me.

Art and Layout

I’m no artist, so I’m hardly one to critique the talents of the artists involved, but I can honestly say the artwork in SR5 is some of the best to date.  Some of the older pieces they’ve recycled are not my favourites, but the new colour artwork is gritty and emotional and really captures the original feel of the game I fell in love with.  The book is well laid out (the tables in the Street gear section are often in odd places, due to the sheer volume of items) and while there are a few typos along the way, there are far worse culprits for that in Catalyst’s past that I can overlook a couple of proofreading mistakes.  The material is in a logical progression and the full colour book shows great production value.

Crunch vs Fluff

This was one of the places I felt strangely letdown by the latest Edition.  The rules are solid and concise and not too divergent from the previous Edition.  But the lack of flavour text struck me as odd after 15 years as a GM.  The lack of conversation interjecting the rules and the gloss-over on the history struck me as unusual, as all previous Editions gave a full rundown on the alternate history of the setting, but if you haven’t read Storm Front, or the pre-published adventures from 4th, there wasn’t much explanation of the metaplot of the past Edition (nothing about tempo, little about the Amazonian/Aztec conflict, or the fallout amongst the dragons).  I would have liked to see a better recap here.  Although there is an inherent sense of humour through the rules (which does help), the banter between runners over gear, ideology and ego is missed.

Chapter Breakdown:

Life in the Sixth World

This chapter is a breakdown of the core concepts of Shadowrun:  Magic, Matrix and Megacorps.  It gives a breakdown of the power players and what sets each one apart from the other.  There isn’t as much depth here as I would like, but I’m a very detail oriented person and I have several Editions worth of old sourcebooks to fall back on.  As a new GM though, I think I would have preferred a greater view into the core of each of the Big Ten and the events that shaped those companies, as well as a greater profile of the major nations of the world.

Shadowrun Concepts

For those who are familiar with SR4, there aren’t a lot of major changes in the overall mechanics of the game.  All tests are still based on Attribute and Skill and modifiers change the number of dice in your pool, rather than a target number.  However, the biggest change comes in the form of limits.  There are three new calculated “attributes” for your Physical, Mental and Social Limits.  These are based on your attributes and serve as your maximum for tests tied to that limit.  With Skills now ranging from 1-12, you can amass some staggering dice pools, but if your attributes are too low, you won’t be able to keep enough successes to really shine.  I like this limitation, as it is possible with enough specializations, implants and gear modifications to get some ridiculous dice pools in SR4 and a good roll will take down a dragon with a light pistol.  Limits help keep some of that astounding luck in check.  There are changes within Initiative, Magic and Matrix as well, but I will touch on those later.

Creating a Shadowrunner

In previous Editions, I was not a fan of the Priority system for character building.  I found it too limited and made some characters very difficult (try to make a troll mage in SR3 using priority build without being broke, for example).  However, I must say, I really like the character creation system in SR5.  It uses the priority build method, but allows some flexibility in each category (You don’t have to choose race as Priority A to play a troll, for example… Both A or B will suit).  By having certain categories fall into a range of priorities, you can better tailor your power level.  With the Karma pool for final customization, you can adjust for that category that fell just a little under where you wanted.  It’s flexible, but doesn’t allow for the insane builds you can muster in SR4’s point buy system.  With Contacts and Skills increasing in spread (from 1-6 to 1-12), it keeps runners from starting the game with CEOs as contacts, or being a world class marksman from day one, which I am pleased to see.  I plan on playing around within this chapter extensively…

Skills

Not many changes here, save for what has already been mentioned (doubling the range of skill levels).  A few skills have been re-labeled, a few have been elaborated on and a few new ones have been introduced.  I’m quite happy with the skill sets and I’m glad to see them remain familiar.

Combat

Combat has changed (for the better, in my opinion) in the way the Initiative system operates.  Gone is the Initiative Pass system and now everything is tracked by Initiative Score.  What used to be Initiative 8 with 2 Initiative Passes is now 8 + 2D6.  Each round uses 10 points from your score, but the other actions you take in defense can also deplete your score tally.  Do you conserve your points to have a second action, or burn the points to hit the deck?  It injects tactical decisions into each combat and makes you think whether or not you want to risk crossing that open space or keep your head down.

With the new limits, there is a certain amount of calculated gains.  Edge has a few new uses that allows you to ignore limits for a single roll, which can make for some dramatic moments, which I think will make for a more interesting game overall.  Armor has been simplified (single rating, rather than ballistic vs impact) and weapons now have an Accuracy rating, that serves as a secondary limit (you’re only as good as your gear).  While tracking the flow of Initiative may be a little trickier, I feel the fluid environment of a battlefield will be better reflected with the new system.

The Matrix

The Matrix is where the largest changes have occurred in the transition from the last Edition.  Mechanically, all tests are handled the same as always (Att+Skill) [Limit], but the overall feel of the matrix has more in common with SR3 than SR4.  The corporations all got together and agreed “Hackers are bad, mmmkay?” and founded the Grid Overwatch Division (GOD… no delusions of grandeur here…)  Now every action you take in the Matrix brings the reach of GOD ever-closer to you (and you don’t want that).  You’re on borrowed time the moment you do anything illegal, so need to ensure that you have a game plan when you jack in.

You can no longer make any character into a hacker with a decent enough commlink.  With GOD’s new security systems, a basic commlink can’t even breach simple security.  You need a cyberdeck, as in the days of old and the old term “decker” has had an overdue dusting off.  Decks are more dynamic than in the old ACIFS days, but the ratings of your deck serve as your limits within the Matrix, so you need good hardware, good skills and your Logic factors more into Matrix based tests than it did in SR4.  While the re-introduction of the cyberdeck adds a layer of complication to the Matrix that wasn’t present in SR4, but it makes the matrix a very dangerous place and provides the possibility for better tension in game.  Deckers are once again a specialist and the feel is SR3, but the control of the game flow is SR4.  The best of both worlds, in my opinion.

Riggers

No longer just a subsection of the Wireless Chapter, Riggers have seen them get a chapter of their own.  Similar to the Matrix, the riggers have gone a little retro, going back to something akin to SR3 in terms of their connectivity with their rides.  A Control Rig is indispensable and if you plan on commanding squads of drones (isn’t that why you play a rigger?), you will need to buy a Rigger Control Centre to keep everything running smoothly.  With the new Matrix infrastructure, it is much harder for the runners to break into a spider’s web and make off with every drone in the place, as vehicle ownership can only be modified with a Hardware check (which means taking this traceable piece back to a quiet place where you can do your handiwork and hope the owner doesn’t find you first).  Makes drones something the runners won’t necessarily instantly monetize on sight…

Magic

Magic is what distinguishes Shadowrun from other cyberpunk style games and compared to SR4, it works very similarly.  There are some changes worth noting.  Ritual Spellcasting has become more accessible, as rituals can be performed solo and some rituals can be performed quickly.  The variety of rituals is refreshing.  Conjuring is vastly unchanged from the previous version, with one major exception:  spirits have lost immunity to normal weapons, which makes them much easier to kill*.  The big addition to magic is a third skill group called Enchanting.  It includes three skills:  Alchemy, Artificing and Disenchanting.  These govern the creation and destruction of magical goods and reagents.  This governs building foci, destroying foci and creating Alchemical Goods that work like magical devices and trinkets.  It’s a flavourful addition that I am a definite fan off that works similar to the Anchoring Metamagic did in previous versions.  Drain codes have been adjusted to make mana-based combat spells more in line with other spells.  While I will miss the additional traditions and adept powers from Street Magic, the changes are good enough that I can easily bide my time until the next magic supplement is ready.

* since writing the review, I have realized (and been notified) that spirits do still have Immunity to Normal Weapons, it just listed as a separate ability, but as part of their Materialization power (which means projecting mages who materialize also have the same benefit).  It’s what I get for reviewing the book so quickly, I guess…

GM Advice

This chapter has some pretty good suggestions for people who have never designed or run a game before.  There is no wrong or right way to make a run, but there is some solid guidelines here and can serve as a decent foundation for finding your own style.  The run hook generator is very simplistic, but could work in a pinch.  The assorted security measures and SOP that security might take with a team if inbound Shadowrunners will help GMs keep their players on their toes.  The importance of having a SIN in society is laid out well and I was happy to see the costs of Fake IDs go up, as they shouldn’t be tossed around indiscriminately.  I was also pleasantly surprised to see guidelines for run payouts in net worth and Karma.  Establishing a baseline pay grade has been an item that seems to have varied from Edition to Edition, but seeing a calculation method here works for me.

Helps and Hindrances

This is very similar to the Friends and Foes Chapter of SR4.  Grunts haven’t changed and some baseline NPCs look on par with their SR4 equivalents.  Contacts have changed slightly, for the better.  Connection Ratings now span 1-12, but Loyalty remains from 1-6.  It gives greater breadth in the Contact’s ability to make connections and the mechanic they’ve used for both the Contact’s availability and the costs of their services seems more fluid now.  The mechanic for favours with Contacts should open up many more job opportunities for the runners, when their corporate buddy calls in that favour you owe him for allowing you access to that research lab last week…

The critter section is roughly the same as in SR4.  The rules for diseases and toxins work well, though the mechanic for addiction has changed.  Each drug has its own addiction level (not all drugs are created equal) and getting hooked (or weened off) could be a genuine struggle for the runner.  A welcome flavour piece for those habitual Kamikaze users…

Street Gear

The gear listing is about on par with SR4, with a few new entries and weapons gleaned from later supplements like Gun Heaven.  The big change one will see here is the fear factor… all the damage codes have gone up.  Health has not.  So, be warned that the gutter punk with the crappy pistol can still kill you quite handily.  Armor ratings are higher as well, but dodging/parrying/blocking are all subject to your physical limits, so more dice may not save you.  If you were an “Arsenal” addict, as my players were, you may feel restricted by the gear listing, but the changes to the equipment (Accuracy values, wireless functionality, etc) means that there are enough new features that old equipment has some neat tricks now.

Overall

As a whole, I love the new Edition.  I would have liked to see more fluff to the book, but the mechanical revisions are almost an exact answer to what was bothering me with 4th Edition.  The new Matrix will have a bit of a learning curve, but I enjoy the challenge.  Definitely a 9/10.  Great job, Catalyst!

I welcome questions, opinions etc.  Anyone else read the new Edition?

 
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