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.


>>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?”

Shadows Over Las Vegas – Patch of Sand (#Shadowrun)

•December 14, 2021 • Leave a Comment

It’s been a week and a half since the bank heist when Zaray calls up Hugh.  “Hey buddy… listen, I’ve got a friend who needs a team.  Payment’s unusual, but I think it’ll work for ya.  If you’re interested, come by Rena’s House of Pancakes and Bondage around 9PM.  Show up hungry.”

Scene 1 – Strange Bedfellows

Rena’s House of Pancakes and Bondage is a well known spot in Vegas in the shadowrunner community.  Rena is an incredible pancake chef and a renowned dominatrix, but she is also a well-established fixer.  Often the patrons here are affiliated with the shadow community.  The location is still open to the public, as Rena’s pancakes are known as the best in the city, despite the strange pairing.

Zaray is in the forward lounge, which spares the visitors from the bondage portion of the restaurant, save for the scantily clad waitstaff, wearing the bare minimum of leather and vinyl they can get away with.  Zaray is hitting on one of the waitresses when the team shows up for the meet, at which point, their fixer turns his attention to them, freeing the waitress.

“I’ve taken the liberty of ordering us a huge stack of pancakes.  We’ll get down to business when they get delivered,” he says, rubbing his hands with anticipation.  Being used to working with shadowrunners, the pancakes are delivered right at 9 for the group to dive into.

As Zaray loads up his plate, he starts into his spiel.  “So, Rena had some extra work she didn’t have the people to deal with… naturally, she turned to me,” he says, looking chuffed with himself.  “In any case, our client needs some new digs.  Something to do with his mentor or something.  In any case, he’s found the perfect place… but someone already lives there.  They refuse to sell, so our client wants to be more forceful.  He wants you to strongarm the owner into turning over the deed to the property, preferably without destroying the residence in the process.  In exchange, he offers you his current property, which he no longer wants, which you can use as a safehouse.  The place is off the books, so it can’t be traced by bank records.  Overall, not a bad deal.  Whatcha think?”

The deal here is legitimate.  The team is going to be given a piece of property as payment.  The details on who they are going after are fuzzy for good reason…

If the runners agree to the terms, Zaray flashes them a thumbs up with a mouthful of pancakes.  After he’s able to swallow, he says “Fantastic!  I’ll let Rena know.  Here’s the address… good luck!”

Zaray will tell them that the house is outright owned by the current resident, but he will hesitate to tell them that the owner is a Koshari boss…

Matrix:  The primary network they access is PuebNet, represented by a dreamcatcher rimmed by idols from each of the tribes that make up the nation.  The iconography here is simple, a vast prairie with rolling hills and deserts, each landscape varying slightly depending on the city you log in from.  For Vegas, the prairie is split by bright lights, a long road and large stacks of poker chips.  The old Welcome to Paradise sign standing prominently over everything.

Scene 2 – The Home of the Rich and Powerful

On the Northwest side of Vegas are a large subdivision of larger properties that back onto the Mojave.  The address the runners were provided are one of these larger homes:  a large, designer home with a manicured lawn backing onto red sand and scrub brush.

The home is owned by a man simply called Raven.  His birth name is a traditional Zuni name that he often gets butchered when others try.  His piercing dark eyes and jet black hair led to the nickname.  He is cold and calculating, which has not endeared him to his neighbours.  He doesn’t fraternize with the others in his neighbourhood, so information about his life is scarce.

He has an entourage on site that protects him, including his spiritualist, who is a mage.  There is physical security in place as well, that protects the property itself.

Security Features include:  hidden cameras, wireless signal dampening (Noise 2), flash-paks, wards, barrier spells, spirits

Once the runners have subdued the Koshari boss, he will direct the runners to a key that opens a storage unit.  The deed is stored in that location.  The storage unit is in the city’s west end, in Spring Valley.

Scene 3 – Stealing from the Underworld

Spring Valley is its usual quiet and unassuming self when the runners show up in the local U-Stor-It storage facility.  With row upon row of climate controlled storage units there is plenty of personal property here that is at risk should things go sideways.  Naturally, the Koshari units are well guarded, so of course things can go any direction.

The guards on duty are supposed to be notified whenever a unit is going to be accessed, so showing up unannounced is going to raise the alarm pretty quickly and cover will be light in each of the hallways.  The Koshari are going to rely heavily on spirits, drones and hit and run maneuvers until help arrives.

Security consist of guards armed with SMGs with Frangible rounds, as well as a small assortment of on-site drones, with a Force 4 Water Spirit on call should the alarm be raised.

Once inside the storage unit, they will find an assortment of contents:  drugs, guns, magical goods and a heavy safe that contains the deed as well as several other important documents.  Keep track of what the runners steal… the Koshari will take great offense if they make off with too many items.

The other items of note are:

  • A Force 3 Power Focus, cursed with an imp that redirects a portion of the spell cast through it back at the caster
  • A PSG Enforcer (pg 39 Street Lethal) sniper rifle that is wanted by PuebSec for a handful of police assassinations

Both items are locked away in a signal proof and sealed container in the storage unit.

Once they acquire the deed and escape, they will receive a digital “key” to a condo in Paradise that they are welcome to do with as they please.

>> There’s plenty of cheap real estate on Vegas’s outskirts… why displace the rightful owner of a house? Sounds like a recipe for making enemies.
>> Ty Qun

>> Mentors want what they want… there must be something about that house. Still, I agree with you. The current owner is not going to be thrilled about being driven out of his home. Especially if the rumours on the ownership are true.
>> Desert Striker

>> Certainly not wanting to make enemies that would make living in Vegas trickier. It’s already quite the place for backstabbing.
>> Media Junker

A Quick Review – The Adventurer

•November 24, 2021 • Leave a Comment

So, as a distraction from writing the same stuff repeatedly and wanting to try something new, I looked into a so-called solo RPG called “The Adventurer“. I say so-called simply because it doesn’t really have a lot of the trappings of an RPG and is more like a mechanic for adaptive storytelling, which is still a very useful skill for GMs and players alike in order to tell more fleshed out stories. For $5, it wasn’t exactly a steep price to pay for a little writing experiment.

The game is an exercise in journaling. Boiled down to its essence, you are writing a journal for an adventurer that is on some sort of quest. What kind of quest? Whatever type you want. What setting? Pretty much anything you’d like. You simply choose a setting and write until you feel the journey has reached a satisfying conclusion. All you need to play is a notebook/laptop to record your journal entries and a standard deck of playing cards.

You split the deck up according to the instructions in the rulebook (a real quick read, I might add) and depending on what you draw, it randomly provides you the location, people, things and obstacles they encounter along the way. You simply adapt the prompts provided to the story you’ve chosen to tell and write that day’s entry. That’s pretty much the gist of it.

Overall, I like the simple mechanic of the game and it could very easily help with generating elements of a character backstory or take a walk through your chosen setting through the eyes of someone who resides there. There are also optional rules for generating the world you’re part of at random. You use the same deck of cards (divvied up differently than when you’re playing) to divine the state of the world, using yes/no questions or more open-ended questions via concept prompts. My first attempt at using it, I decided to try something purely random and I’ll post the results of my game below. If you’re looking for writing ideas, you could easily spend more for a less efficient system. Check it out and try your hand at chronicling a long journey through the unknown.

The Road Home

I’ve included the divination questions I used to develop a rough idea of my setting, followed by the journal entries afterwards. Hopefully, it’s an enjoyable read.

Is it warm out? – No

Is there snow? – Yes

Am I in civilization? – No

Is there magic in the world? – No

Is the nearest Kingdom friendly? – Yes

Am I a criminal? – No

Am I a soldier? – Yes

Was I on the winning side of a battle? – No

What am I seeking? – My Family

Have I been travelling long? – No

What was the war over? – Broken Trust

12 December 1578 – Waxing Crescent

It’s been a couple of days since the New Moon.  Things have been quiet since this past morn, which leads me to believe that my suspicions were true:  that last great clash may have signalled the end of the conflict.  I hope that the war has ended… enough have died on both sides.  I never agreed with King Hydon’s justifications for the war in the first place, but he is my King and I obey him in all things.  This conflict cost us heavily… many of my battle brothers will not be returning to their wives.  Even my days as a Knight of the Lunar Order are likely at an end, as the wounds I suffered have robbed me of much of the strength of my left arm.

This damnable snow has slowed my progress, but I can now see the glow of the lights of my home on the horizon.  A week of travel should see the city gates before me and then to my loving Catherine.  For now, I must gather more wood for the fire if I don’t wish to freeze through the night.

13 December 1578 – Waxing Crescent

I was fortunate today.  I came across a small farmers village… a couple of farmsteads and barns.  The people and livestock had moved on, likely in response to the war, though there were a couple of chickens left behind.  I managed to track a fox that was hunting the stupid birds and despite my wounded arm, I managed to trap and kill the creature.  Between the fox and the chickens, I have food to carry me through the next few days and the fox’s pelt will help my armour to not be as cold against my skin.

The farmers even left some grain in their silo.  Between the stone fireplace and a straw bed, I believe I will sleep better tonight than I have in a week.  It delayed my trip home, but it was a much needed respite.

14 December 1578 – Waxing Crescent

I knew my luck wouldn’t hold.  I am still hunkered down in the farmer’s house.  It snowed heavily through the day, to the point that the road was invisible to my sight and there were no stars to guide me.

My supplies have also been reduced, as a traveling merchant found this place much as I did.  He was wary of me initially, but when I offered him some of my game, he offered up some wine he was peddling.  He says his name is Ivan and he came from the East.  I have never been that way, but from what he tells me he has traveled far and this sort of weather is common.  I welcome the company, but I long to be heading home.

16 December 1578 – First Quarter

Something is not right.  I parted from Ivan at dawn yesterday and made my way through the deep snow once the clouds had parted and I could navigate by the sun and stars.  The journey has been slow and the air sharp.  In addition, there has been no shelter since I left the cottage, so I am exhausted.

I have found a newer battlefield.

It appears that the forces of King Ledea continued to press forward after my forces were defeated.  I don’t know how we didn’t cross paths, but I suppose if I had, I might be dead.  There are not many dead here from Ledea’s army, so I must assume Hydon’s men were quickly routed.  I made shelter by an overturned cart to break the wind, in order to start a fire.  In searching the battlefield, I found a small wooden box addressed to a Winnea.  I suppose I will try to locate its owner when I get back to the city.  I have also made a new friend:  an old dog.  Perhaps it belonged to a soldier before, but I found it scavenging for food.  I offered it some chicken and now it clings to me like it has known me its entire life.  No mind, I appreciate the company.  Especially if I’m going to see more signs of conflict in the coming days.

18 December 1578 – Waxing Gibbous

I found an old shed built by the riverbank.  Judging by the smell of it, a fisherman uses the space for cleaning what he catches.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that his equipment is here.  Not that it would matter much if he had.  I never had the knack for fishing and the river is vastly frozen over.  It gives me a place out of the wind at least.

I’ve named the old dog Jake.  He seems to like the name… or at least he comes when I shout it, if nothing else.  He may be an old boy, but he is proving useful.  He seems quite skilled at catching small game.  It’s not much, but we got to have roasted rabbit tonight for a change of pace.

As the sun was setting, a stranger came up the road from the direction I was heading.  I tried to get him to stop, but he was in a hurry.  He stopped long enough to note my armour and he thrust a tome into my hands, saying it would be safer with me.  It is to my embarrassment that I could not tell him that I was never taught to read, but he did not linger and continued down the road.  I had hoped to hear news of the battle.

20 December 1578 – Waxing Gibbous

It is with a heavy heart that I pen these words.  Hawksburg has fallen.

I can see the city from where I rest tonight and the palace is ablaze.  It seems that Ledea would not be assuaged.  Knowing King Hydon as I do, he would not have yielded.  He was always headstrong and stubborn… It was his headstrong actions that kicked off the war.  He felt Ledea would make no noise if Hydon snatched some of the allied King’s land to feed his people.  Rather than simply stealing the land, he could have worked out a deal with Ledea… but Hydon said that would show weakness and his method showed guile.  He was a fool.

I desperately want to push onward to the city, but I am tired, hungry and sore.  If Ledea’s soldiers remain, I would be in no position to fight, should it come to that.  I think my wound from the battle is getting worse as it aches all the time and the smell is off-putting to say the least.  I had found sanctuary in a Temple of the Moon for the night, but the priest had been inflicted with a grievous injury.  He bade me welcome all the same, but there was nothing I could do to help him.  I said the Eternal Night Litany for him as he slipped from this world.  It seemed to bring him some peace in his final moments.

It appears that the holy text from the temple is missing and on reflection, I realized that the book that was thrust upon me by the stranger appears to be the missing book.  The stranger was likely the one who murdered the priest and stole the book, only to realize it was not worth the trouble when he ran into a Knight of the Order.

21 December 1578 – Full Moon

Hawksburg is my home, though it feels strangely foreign today.  I walked through the city gates, seeing the splintered remains everywhere and the smoldering wreckage of the library straight ahead.  The local Governor kneeled before a large number of the soldiers of Orewell and Ledea’s flag flew over the city square.  The Governor was in the midst of ceding the city to their new ruler.

It was only a matter of time before I was noticed walking into the city and the soldiers surrounded me.  I was hardly in any position to offer a fight.  They stripped me of my weapon, armour and regalia.  After sleeping in my battered plate for a week, I welcomed its removal.  They let me hang onto Jake at least.  The box I found was taken and while they say they would locate the owner, I don’t put much stock in the words of conquerors.

I’ve been allowed to keep my journal and a quill to pen this bitter homecoming.  They have sent for a doctor to treat my arm and provided me with a bucket of water to wash with while I rest in jail for the night.  I hope they will see that I am no threat, so I might return home.  The guards refuse to tell me which parts of the city saw fighting, so I don’t foresee much sleep for myself tonight.

22 December 1578 – Full Moon

This may be my last entry.  Recording my journey home has been one thing I could lean on day after day to keep the solitude at bay.  Today, the doctor came and said that he needed to operate or my injury could still kill me.  However, I demanded to be allowed to see my wife before the surgeon does what he must.  I can tell the wound festers and must be cared for, but if I should die in the treatment, I want the journey to matter.

I went to our favourite park in the city’s lower quarter.  Mercifully, much of the area had been spared in the conflict, though the monument to King Hydon has been unceremoniously toppled into the snow.  Despite the aftermath of battle all around, the local children made sculptures in the snow.  It was heartwarming to see something untouched by war.

Then she was there.  My Catherine.  She stepped into the park and spotted me, favouring my right side and streaked in dirt from the road, but alive.  She ran across the park and despite the smell my wound gave off, she wrapped her arms around me and hugged me tight.  Most of the men of the city had not returned and she had felt that the same fate had befallen me.  Though it hurt to do so, I hugged her tightly, kissed her and told her that thoughts of her carried me home.  I promised to return to her after my injury is treated, though I am skeptical.  Many men do not recover from these sorts of infections.  I expect days of pain ahead, and if I emerge out the other side I hope to spend my remaining days in Catherine’s embrace.

A Glimpse of Normality

•October 28, 2021 • Leave a Comment

It’s been a long and quiet summer here this year. With the ongoing pandemic, it hasn’t exactly been conducive to gaming, though I have tried to get in some board games in when I can. I still don’t have an ongoing Shadowrun campaign, scheduling for 7th Sea has been extremely difficult and I’ve run a few sessions of Ten Candles to help fill the void… the fact of the matter is, there is still a lot of caution and mistrust around regarding vaccination status and risk vs reward.

So, with the added caution, it was some reservation that I agreed to attend my favourite local convention, Phantasm when it opened its doors in mid-October. With all of the COVID precautions in place I opted to still attend. It was a very different vibe than past conventions… Phantasm has always been a smaller gaming con, but the main gaming room was downright spacious this time around, with tables spaced apart for social distancing. All players were masked and proof of vaccination at the door also helped to curtail the population. It was also only a single day affair as opposed to a full weekend event.

Whether it was just from being able to indulge in my nerdiness, socializing on a larger scale for the first time in over a year or seeing faces I had grown accustomed to only seeing on social media… it was great to go out and enjoy something that (for me) was normal. Sure, everyone was masked and many of the people I enjoy chatting with were unable to justify the long drive for a single day. At the same time, I got to sit down with a mix of old friends and fresh faces, play Shadowrun, 7th Sea and Ten Candles in an absolute binge of GMing, junk food and fraternization.

As an added bonus, I even won the convention’s Hammer of Plot, their storyteller of the year award. It’s nice to know that sporadically gaming over Discord hasn’t dampened my ability to busy a table with a crisis of the moment. It gives me hope that we can adjust to the reality we’ve been thrust into with this pandemic and return to a new normal.

I have plans for the future… a new Shadowrun game that will be mostly improv, low-prep and player-steered. I’m excited to try my hands at Blades in the Dark, which I recently picked up and have high hopes for, as well as blowing the dust off my board game shelf more frequently going forward. As we settle back into our new normal, I will need to find a new personal comfort zone. Before the pandemic, I was able to host game nights every Friday night. Since then, I have divorced, moved and seen my professional life change. My Friday’s are no longer feasible. With luck though, I will find a new way to regularly indulge in my favourite hobbies, that fits within my new life.

Once we’re out the other side of COVID, I have so much gaming to do…

Shadows Over Las Vegas – A Vegas Classic (#Shadowrun)

•October 28, 2021 • Leave a Comment

A week after the call to the Mojave, Grifter is called by Mr. Johnson.  “Hey Grifter.  You remember Mr. Chen?  He was impressed by your team’s performance and would like to hire you again.  Would you be willing to meet under the same conditions as before?  A team rep at the Nugget for 7:30 tonight?”

Scene 1 – A Tour of Fremont Street

The Nugget has undergone several overhauls over the years and it is the nicest stop on Fremont Street, though it is still outclassed by the massive resorts along the Strip.  The street is still quite busy, but regardless of the foot traffic a limo pulls up at 7:30 sharp.  A chauffeur gets out, rounds the vehicle and pulls the curbside rear door open.  Addressing the chosen runner he motions into the back of the car.

Sitting in the back is a manicured Chinese man.  He looks bored by the whole situation, wearing a handful of gold rings on his fingers and a crisp suit that likely costs more than the team member’s rent for the year.  “Welcome.  Please, help yourself to the bar.”  The man motions to the driver and the limo pulls away from the curb.

“I must admit… your team surprised me last time.  You were very efficient in completing your task and throwing off suspicion.  Making that fool Lasseter take the fall for everything was very clever.  So, there is another matter I need taken care of in town, in order to secure my company’s future here in Vegas.  It is, regrettably, not overly subtle…”

“In the tradition of this city, I need you to rob a bank.  A specific bank…Nevada State Bank and Trust.  It’s an old institution, but I would not assume that their security is that old.  There is a safety deposit box I require and I am not the…shall we say, rightful owner.  I want the box delivered to me, undamaged and sealed.  Anything else your team can liberate can be considered a bonus.  I would request you take a few extra boxes, so the true target of the theft is obscured.  Since there is a risk to your team for something so… old-fashioned… I’m offering your team 12,000¥ apiece.”

Chen genuinely needs what’s in the safety deposit box for his plans.  He feels that since the team were such overachievers, they could have a chance to pull off the job.

If the team signs on, Chen steeples his fingers and smiles.  “Perfect!  The safety deposit box I am after is B-31.  I want the box delivered undamaged… obtaining the key would be nice, but ultimately unnecessary.  Anything else you manage to steal is yours to do with as you wish.”

Mr. Chen will field questions about what they’re transporting:  it’s not explosive, not particularly fragile, but that if the seal on the box is broken, the contents will be useless and they won’t get paid.

Mr. Chen
Black Ops Recruiter
Possible Sources – Corporate Contacts, Shadowrunner Contacts
2/3 – The only name that exists for this man is Wu Lei Chen.  He has only existed since about 7 years ago.  All previous records of him have been deleted.
4/6 – His stomping grounds are in Hong Kong.  He works for the Pacific Prosperity Group.  No idea why the PPG is interested in an inland desert city.
6/8 – Several AA corps that are part of the PPG have been expanding into Europe of late.  This could be tied to the expansion of the shipping network.
8/10 – Chen is pulling his weight around for Wuxing this time around…

Nevada State Bank and Trust
Financial Company
Possible Sources – Corporate Connections, Financial Sector Contacts
2/3 – Nevada State is an owned subsidiary of the Pueblo Corporate Council.  The national government purchased the bank from the old Ute government.  Many of the former Ute citizens bank through the company.
4/6 – The bank is one of the few organizations in Las Vegas that still maintains a vault for physical items like art, gold and sculptures/artifacts.
6/8 – PuebSec themselves serves as the on site security.  While equipped to deal with minor threats, they will bring in reinforcements quickly.
8/10 – Their security system was recently updated to include new features that are inaccessible from the main Matrix system.

Matrix:  The primary network they access is PuebNet, represented by a dreamcatcher rimmed by idols from each of the tribes that make up the nation.  The iconography here is simple, a vast prairie with rolling hills and deserts, each landscape varying slightly depending on the city you log in from.  For Vegas, the prairie is split by bright lights, a long road and large stacks of poker chips.  The old Welcome to Paradise sign standing prominently over everything.  The Noise on Fremont Street confers a penalty of 3.

Scene 2 – The State of Finances

Nevada State has a few branches in Las Vegas, but the branch they’ve been hired to hit is the branch in Sunrise.  It’s a single story bank location that caters to those who come and go from the Strip to deposit winnings, or withdraw money to gamble with, so the bank is often busy and is open later than most banks in the city.

There is a security guard stationed at every entrance in and out of the bank and the building has a two-layer ward:  a ward preventing astral recon and a second protecting the vault.  Cameras are very prevalent throughout the bank with pressure plates in key places.  Retractable, armoured shutters protect the tellers and the passage to the vault at the first sign of trouble.

The Matrix Host within the bank is interleaved… there are three separate security systems, each overlapping in coverage.  Suppressing the cameras can be possible, but at the risk of exposure, while suppressing three separate systems.  Some security measures, such as the shutters, are manual and cannot be retracted by the security grid.  If one system detects a breach, the other supporting systems will go to an alert.  Turrets, armed with gel rounds, will take out any intruders they detect.

Inside the vault, a bound air spirit has been tasked to prevent any unrecognized aura from escaping the vault.  The vault also has safeguards preventing the early removal of safety deposit boxes, by having injector tips at the corners to inject Narcoject into the would-be thief.  All security measures are designed to be non-lethal.

Scene 3 – The Heist

The bank is a modernized affair, with active AROs, marble floors and clean decor.  The digital side of the bank will be somewhat suppressed if they choose to break in after dark, but security is cleanly integrated into the facade of the building.

The runners have two different environments to contend with, depending on when they break in.  Going in during the day will draw more public attention, provide hostages and mean that security’s response will need to be more measured.  Going in after dark means that security will be more prevalent and will show little restraint in attempting to subdue them.

Security Guards using average to above average stat lines.

Lone Star Castle Guards (as per Rigger 5)

Features:  Light Weapon mount with Ares Predator V, Targeting Autosoft (3), Smartsoft, Smartsafety bracelets

Armed with: Smartgun, Stick’n’Shock Rounds – (6S(e) DV, -6 AP Total)

MCT Gun Turrets (as per Rigger 5)

Features: Standard Weapon Mount with SCK Model 100 mounted

Armed with:  Smartgun, Folding Stock, Gel Rounds – (8S, +1AP Total)

Bound Force 6 Spirit of Air

Additional Powers:  Elemental Attack, Fear

Force 5 Spirit of Man

Additional Power:  Control Thoughts

Assuming the runners can subdue security, access the vault and get to the safety deposit box that Mr. Chen wanted, they will have to get away from PuebSec.  

Matrix:  Nevada State Bank is an old institution, pre-dating the Awakening, the Great Ghost Dance and the split of the NAN.  That said, after all of those events took place, the Ute Nation held a referendum (as they always did) and the public opted to keep the name.  It remained a separate entity as a private bank until the Crash of 64, when they lost most of their digital records and much of their clientele’s recorded wealth.  The resulting lawsuits left the bank bereft of capital and when the Ute Nation similarly collapsed and was absorbed by the PCC, the bank was bought into by the government.  Saved from extinction, the company now has branches all throughout the PCC.

After the Crash, the bank kept most of their desert themed system untouched, save for switching the Ute iconography for Zuni and Hopi.  The “plains” look of the system walks the user through the different landscapes the PCC tribes call home.  Icons are designed to fit into a tribal village motif, with personal icons appearing as classic Natives in traditional garb, while IC and security icons sport streaked warpaint made of flowing code.

Host Rating: 8
ASDF Ratings:  Attack 9, Sleaze 8, Data Processing 10, Firewall 11

Security Processing:  Patrol IC is running all the time.  One standard Security Spider online at all times.

Once the alarm is raised, IC activates in the following order:  Probe, Black IC, Sparky, Killer and Track.  If an IC gets bricked, a new version of the IC is rebooted rather than moving to the next.  If the system is being overrun, one new Troubleshooter logs on after 2D6 turns.  Their priority will be to lock down the system any way they can.

Scene 4 – In Hot Pursuit

With the heist complete, odds are the alarm was raised and if PuebSec isn’t already on scene, they will converge on them shortly.The reinforcements will come in the form of cars, motorcycles, spirits and a helicopter.

Police Reinforcements have a slightly better than average statline.

Buell Spartan Motorcycle (as per Rigger 5)

Dodge Charger (as per Rigger 5)

Additional Features:  Rear-facing Road Strip Ejectors (6 Zapper Strips) (10S(e) Damage to Vehicle), paired forward-facing AK-97.

Loaded with APDS (-6 AP Total) and Smartlink (+2 Acc)

The motorcycle cops are just trying to keep an eye on the car, to relay location.  If pressed, the motorcycle cops will attempt to shoot the car with their sidearms, which have tracker rounds in them.

If the runners can shake their tail and escape the police, they will need to lay low for a while and potentially ditch their car to avoid PuebSec.  Good to his word, Mr. Chen will pay them for the delivery of the safety deposit box, whenever they choose to do the hand-off.

>> You have to be insane or desperate to try and rob a bank these days. Which is Mr. Johnson?
>> Mercury

>> I’m gonna go with the latter. The stuff he’s after is hard to come by, stores well and doesn’t need to be accessed much. He pretty has to go in and get it.
>> Dine

>> You know what Mr. J is after do you?
>> Haz-Matt

>> Yes.
>> Dine

>> Care to enlighten us?
>> Haz-Matt

>> No.
>> Dine

A Quick Review: Ex Novo

•June 3, 2021 • Leave a Comment

After hearing about an interesting RPG that could be run solo, as well as in groups, I took a look at a simple system released by Sharkbomb Studios. The game is called Ex Novo and I first heard about it from a YouTube video, where solo RPGs for the pandemic were discussed.

The idea of a solo RPG was intriguing, but I wasn’t sure it was something for me. The idea of Ex Novo, of a city-building RPG, really struck me though and being only $10 for the PDF, I though it would be an interesting experiment, if nothing else. Having played around with the system, it can lead to some satisfying results.

The Game

The game, at its basic premise, is simple. Select a setting (fantasy, sci-fi, etc), the size of the city and how long the city has stood. Then the players either choose or randomly determine the geography, where the initial city was founded and why. Who runs the city and what factions make up the city’s elite.

With the situation of the founding created, the players then roll on a series of tables to discover the events that shaped the city’s growth and expansion. The game encourages making choices in the city’s lifespan that are fixed past events that were pivotal in the growth of a city, if the city is part of an existing campaign and there are core plot points that require certain events in the city’s history. The use of citizen and power points allows the group to track which factions have the most influence, as well as determining city density.

The system is vastly comprised of random dice roll tables, with ‘what-if’ questions for each result to guide the player(s) into figuring out how each event might manifest in the culture they’ve created


The game is mechanically simple. It recommends a pencil and paper for drawing the layout of the land, tokens to represent citizens and power as well as 3d6 to handle all the rolls in the game. Cue cards can be useful in recording the different factions that govern the city. The group works together to decide what the land looks like, how it is divided up and the initial factions that run the land. Using this handful of tools and a series of tables, the group tells the story of the rise of this city.

The entire rulebook is less than 50 pages and most of that are tables. The game is very rules-light and the only real limitation is the creativity of the group.

The Book

The book is a simple PDF, comprised vastly of tables and sparing artwork. The artwork is simple linework, which for the system of building a city using hand-drawn maps, the artwork showcasing that the maps don’t have to be an elaborate affair is appropriate. The editing is clean and pretty clear (I wasn’t very clear on how power tokens worked after my first read-through). It is simple and not overly elaborate, which is well-suited for a $10 game.


There aren’t characters to Ex Novo per se. The factions and citizens of the city may count, or the facets that make up your city. The city itself is probably the closest amalgam to a character, and its factions, districts and people are simply elements of its personality.

Final Thoughts

I enjoyed my first run through of Ex Novo. It proved to be an interesting thought experiment exercise and I see a lot of potential for use in conjunction with other systems. Ultimately, that is how I used it for my initial experiment and it fit well into the system I was using.

In my current 7th Sea campaign, the players encountered an old ruined Mayan city, partially buried in an ancient lava flow. They explored the ancient temples and found it to be some form of holy site. By adventure’s end, they realized that the island’s reputation of being cursed seemed vastly overstated and opted to build a base of operations for reaching out into the Western Atabean. As a thought exercise, I used Ex Novo to design what the city was like before the catastrophe that brought the city to its end. It took about two hours and seeing how the city rose from a humble settlement to a medium-to-large urban center was interesting. I now have an idea of what other mysteries lay waiting for the players as they excavate and claim the island for themselves.

I could see this being a powerful tool for GMs running their own homebrew settings, where, as an extension of a group’s Session Zero, the group could work together to develop the city that would form the center of the campaign, building the tapestry that they will call home and having a hand in shaping who their characters are, based on the world the group has built for themselves.

If you enjoy world building and designing your own world, I think that the $10 you would spend to pick up Ex Novo could be money well spent. Seeing how my doomed Mayan city came out, I see myself using this system again to flesh out the world as my pirates explore the New World in 7th Sea, or a settlement on an outer rim world in Firefly. The applications for the system are quite expansive in a hobby about creating all new worlds.

Shadows Over Las Vegas – The Past Comes Back (#Shadowrun)

•June 3, 2021 • Leave a Comment

This was the fifth entry in the Las Vegas campaign.

The team is contacted by Brick-Base.  He asks them to meet him in the alley behind The VIP Room that evening at 10PM.  If asked for details on the job, he says that the job is investigation and destruction based.

Scene 1 – Quick and Dirty

The VIP Room is a second-rate dance club just off of Fremont Street, with cheap beer and dollar slots for those who had already spent most of their money on the Strip.  It’s also where Brick-Base works his day job as a bouncer: a role no one in the city would question why a troll worked the Downtown area.

Right around the 10PM mark, Brick-Base takes his break and steps into the back alley.  After lighting up a cigar and taking a heavy pull off of the massive Cuban clamped in his jaw, he turns to the assembled team and whether all are present or not, he gets down to business.

“I don’t get much time for my break, so let’s get down to it.  I got a call this evening from a Mr. Johnson who has a task they claim is urgent.  They’ve received some intel about some dicey magic rituals going on outside the city limits in the Mojave.  They want you to investigate the site, look for signs of magic use and, if you find any, destroy the site to prevent any further magical contamination.  Due to the risk of going to the Mojave and the short timeframe, Mr. Johnson is offering 15,000¥ apiece.  Are you interested?”

While Brick-Base doesn’t know this, the job is a setup.  Mr. Johnson has authorized Brick-Base to negotiate with no upper limit on the pay, so long as the team agrees to the terms.

Once the team is on board, Brick-Base will provide the team with GPS coordinates of the site in question.  “Legwork will be difficult on this job… the site is caught up in the weird magic out there… even satellite imagery is unreliable.  Best of luck out there.”

Matrix:  The primary network they access is PuebNet, represented by a dreamcatcher rimmed by idols from each of the tribes that make up the nation.  The iconography here is simple, a vast prairie with rolling hills and deserts, each landscape varying slightly depending on the city you log in from.  For Vegas, the prairie is split by bright lights, a long road and large stacks of poker chips.  The old Welcome to Paradise sign standing prominently over everything.  The area around Fremont Street is on the fringe of the spam zone surrounding the Strip.  The area has a Noise modifier of 4.

Scene 2 – Into the Desert

The Mojave has sprawled in the past decade, making it much larger and the dominant feature South of the city.  Barriers have been erected along the sides of I-15S to prevent the blowing sands from burying one of the main arteries and or out of the city.  However, once the runners have driven an hour and half outside of Las Vegas, they arrive in a small desert town called Baker, that has been all but erased by the desert wind.  Turning North on the old Death Valley Road can only get them so far before the road is too buried in red-yellow sand for vehicles to proceed.  The rest of the journey Northward will have to be on foot.  Blowing sand makes the journey difficult to see more than a couple meters away.

As they near the structure that corresponds to the GPS coordinates they were given, they see an animal trot out of the blowing sand.  The animal seems unperturbed by the whirling sand and as it sets its eyes on the runners, they hear a voice in their head.

“Travelers… you do not belong here.  Return to your caves of metal and stone.  You are not of the desert.”

If the runners do not heed the spirit’s warning, it declares:  “Very well.  If you will not leave my dominion, I shall force you out.”  It de-materializes and summons creatures of the desert to push the runners out.

Deathrattle, Nova Scorpion and Coyote from Running Wild

Free Beast Spirit (Force 6)

Extra Skill: Sorcery

Chosen Optional Powers:  Concealment, Venom

Free Spirit Abilities:  Vessel Trading (Force * 2 vs Int + Will), Banishing Resistance

Once they have bested the free beast spirit, they are free to enter the building, which is labeled as the Hopi’sinom Kiho (Hopi Tribal Heritage Center).

Scene 3 – Rival Faith

The Hopi Tribal Heritage Center is a sandstone building decorated in tribal artwork and imagery, devoted to their relationship with the Mojave and the surrounding lands.  However, the building appears dormant, as sand has built up against the side of the building and a single car sits in the parking lot, seemingly forgotten save for a blind, designed to try and keep the bulk of the sand out of the car’s inner workings.

Inside the building is equally deserted, though the building looks more like a tourist trap, with information on the history of the Hopi people, cheap tribal-looking merchandise and vials of desert sand for people to “carry the spirit of the Hopi people with them”.

The basement looks a little different, as it is not set up for tourists, but more to serve as a community center for indigenous peoples.  A large ritual circle has been erected in the middle of the main room and the back room is warded (a magical lodge).  Inside the lodge is an elderly Hopi man, reading a book of folklore.  He seems both delighted and shocked to see someone in the building.

“Hello!  Tatam!  Is there something I can help you find?”

If asked about the circle in the main room (in case it hasn’t already been assensed), he tells them that it is used for telling tales of their people and not magic.  The magical lodge he resides in is used by their membership to help them reach out to their ancestors.  Hopefully, they will learn that he is just a kindly old man and they’ve been duped.

In the main room, smoke grenades are thrown in and the basement begins to fill with thermal smoke.  A group of radical Christian thugs, led by a zealot of a hitman enter the room and begin to hunt for any “redskins” as well as Parallel, as per their contract.

Zealots are low level thugs, used to bolster their numbers

The Apostle

Christian-Themed Assassin

B6(8)  A5(7)  R6(10)[11]  S6(8)  W4(6)  L3  I5(7)  C3  Edge 4  Ess 0.04

Init 11+1D6 (18+5D6), PL 8(13), ML 5(7), SL 4(5)

Qualities:  Toughness, Guts, Exceptional Reaction, Tough as Nails 2, Addiction (Severe, Jazz), Code of Honor (Religious Doctrine), Prejudice (Radical, Non-Christians)

Skills:  Acting 4, Athletics 3, Close Combat 5, Firearms 3, Perception 4 (6), Sneaking 5, Demolitions 4, Throwing Weapons 5, Pilot Groundcraft 4, Gunnery 3, Archery 5

Augmentations (all Alpha Grade):  Reaction Enhancers 3, Wired Reflexes 2, Aluminum Bone Lacing, Cybereyes 4 ( Low-Light, Smartlink, Vision Enhancement 2, Flare Compensation, Vision Mag, Thermographic), Ultrasound Sensor 6, Cerebellum Booster 2, Adrenaline Pump, Cortex Bomb (Area)

Gear:  Light Security Armour with Helmet (18) [Shock Weave, ChemSeal, Chem Protect 3, gas Mask Skinlink], Commlink Rating 6, Grapple Gun, 1 dose of Jazz
Weapons: Unarmed (Acc 8(13), 10P, Reach 0, AP 0), Ares One Monosword (Blade, Acc 5, 11P, Reach 1, AP -3)

Heavy Crossbow (Archery, Acc 5(7), 10P, AP -3, SA, RC 0, Ammo 4m, Added Smartlink), 50 Barbed Bolts, 50 Incendiary Bolts

The cybernetic monster of man may explode, but it’s possible his commlink survives, to tell them of a contract on their collective lives.  On being set up for an ambush, the runners will want to likely reach out to Brick-Base.  Upon following up, their fixer tells them that the employer’s credit was no good (transaction originally looked like it went through, but they just discovered that the cred was forged) and they have since ghosted.  Brick-Base provides them with commcode that called him with the job.  If Blue Screen backtraces the call, it points them in the direction of Boulder City.

Scene 4 – Tracking Down the Deadbeat

The area that the signal draws them to is just a couple blocks from where Parallel grew up.  The building is an old Christian Church that has fallen into disrepair with the return of the Native American shamanism to the area.  Our Lady of the Sacred Word is an old chapel that has been spray painted by a few teenagers in recent years.  The signal that the runners traced is still active inside.

When they step inside, they find the desecrated interior filled with gang tags, empty bottles of booze and spent condoms.  The large Christ on the Cross at the head of the Church has been tagged with a swirly moustache and a pirate eye patch, as well as several anti-corp and anti-government slogans on the walls.  At the prayer rail is a single man, an empty bottle at his side and when he hears the runners approaching, he rises to his feet on unsteady legs.  He has an Ares Predator V in his hand, held in a sloppy grip.

“So… you survived.”  When he turns around, Parallel recognizes him as Michael Baker, the father of one of the people that he accidentally killed when his magic wasn’t controlled.  “Came to exact your revenge on me, have you?  Maybe do what you should have back then, hellspawn?”

He motions around to the Church and the state of it.  “Do you see what you and those like you have done?  You have sent this entire society into a pit of depravity.  Even the Pope… the man seen as most holy, condones your kind.  Now this is the state of the Lord’s work… so please.  Kill me… take your petty revenge and allow me to have a hope of seeing my son again.”

He stands arms wide, expecting to be cut down in cold blood.  If the runners don’t kill him, he will try to antagonize them with insults and shooting at them.  If they don’t kill him, he will later commit suicide, rather than carrying on.

>> You couldn’t pay me to go into the Mojave… too much there trying to kill you.
>> Havik

>> You’re a shadowrunner… we always have things trying to kill us. What is so special about the desert compared to drones, spirits and dragons trying to murder us?
>> Overture

>> Predictability. I know corpsec will shoot me dead, that a mage will burn me alive or a dragon will eat me. The desert will just make you disappear and kill you for sport.
>> Havik

>> You speak like the desert has a mind of its own.
>> Overture

>> Well spotted.
>> Havik

A Quick Review: Into the Black

•April 28, 2021 • Leave a Comment

Out of curiousity, I picked up a small, independent RPG book by a small Canadian publisher named Monkey’s Paw Games. The game is called Into the Black and I first heard about it from the website Dicebreaker in a recent post they made. They described Into the Black as:

“Into The Black is a lightweight RPG love letter to Mass Effect without the military trappings”

So I was intrigued. Being only $10 CDN for the PDF on DriveThruRPG, I figured why the hell not? Now, it is an “ashcan copy”, meaning that the book is likely going to change further with playthroughs, editing, etc. Still, I was curious enough to drop the cash and take a look.

The Game

When DB said the game was a love letter to Mass Effect, they were not kidding. There are many elements from the Mass Effect games that are very clearly incorporated into the setting. The lack of political/military trappings is where the game distances itself from Mass Effect. There is no Commander Shepherd, no Reapers, no Cerberus… at least, not unless you want there to be.

The basic premise of the game is: at some point, your life, body and/or skills became the property of one large interplanetary corporation and they tend to collect rather violently. Your best bet is to head into deep space to try and avoid the collectors. Between you and your crew, you owe one million credits and you need to work off your debts in order to gain your freedom.

That’s about all that’s written in stone. The rest of the setting and story is up to the group.


The game is extremely simplistic, needing only a D20 and a few D6s. The game is rules light and improv heavy, so if you’re a fan of mechanical games, then this may not be the system for you. The system uses a mechanical system called PinkHack, which is a roll-under system (roll a D20 and try to be lower than your attribute/skill level). In terms of building a campaign, you can plan out every detail of your star cluster, or let fate decide using random tables.

The entire rulebook, including rules, character creation, setting and random tables is less than 100 pages, so getting started is likely to be pretty quick.

The Book

Being a slap-dash sort of PDF, the book is exactly what you might expect. The rules are not overly coherent in the book and may take some “reading between the lines” to get what they’re aiming at. With the exception of the chapter intro pages, the art in the book is not professional and likely placeholders for final artwork, should the full product come to light.


Character creation is really simple in the book. There are only three classes and six races. The choices you make are few and if you are really up for a challenge, you can let fate decide, as there are random generation tables for all parts of creation after race. The gear you choose and the powers you select will vary depending on your class, race and Vocation (what you did before you fled the company).

Once the team has been made, then you pick a ship that you might have stolen in order to escape. Naturally, different ships have different strengths and becomes an extension of the crew.

Finally, after the crew and ship have been chosen, there is a random creation process for developing a star cluster that you will try to survive in. As part of a prospective Session 0, you get a blank piece of paper for each sector and drop a small number of d6 on it. Where they land determines the position relative to the star and the number showing determines whether it’s a planet, space station or empty space. So every time you play a campaign, the space you explore will be different and random.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I think Into the Black has a lot of promise. Playing it as it exists today, it will take a GM that is very comfortable flying by the seat of their pants, as there is virtually no setting to build from. It is a long series of random tables to generate the universe around the players and govern that universe’s responses to their actions.

I’m not a huge fan of the use of D20s (as I have stated in the past), but this one has a different approach, where improving your attributes and skills make a marked difference in the odds of success (every rank in a skill is a 5% better likelihood of success). I do like the random universe creation and the light mechanics of the game. As much as I love Shadowrun, not every system needs weighty mechanics to enforce their game’s laws.

The game has a flexible enough mechanic to allow for epic battles against impossible foes (like Reapers), for cat-and-mouse games of avoiding your debtors, while paying the bills (like Firefly), deep space exploration or any combination in between. If you’re looking for a mechanic-light sci-fi space game, for only $10 you could definitely do far worse than Into the Black.

Shadows Over Las Vegas – Running a Few Errands (#Shadowrun)

•April 28, 2021 • Leave a Comment

The team is called up by Brick-Base and opens with the wish that they have set aside their differences and are ready to work.  He wants to meet with them back at the Classic to discuss more work.  He wants them to arrive for 8PM.

Scene 1 – Back Again

The Classic is a brick and mortar restaurant in the Downtown core styled in mid-20th century Vegas.  The place looks like an old diner with the wait staff carrying on that aesthetic.  The media system pipes classic Rat Pack music and the place completely and shamelessly cashes in on old Vegas nostalgia.

Brick-Base is nursing a large black soykaf when they arrive.  His demeanor is business-like and he looks tired.  Grifter will get confronted in the diner by a thug who recognizes Grifter (due to Tough and Targeted).  Assuming the violence didn’t escalate too much, once the team gathers, he takes a hard swallow of his coffee and gets down to business.

“All right, I’ve got a line on some work.  I’m going to be upfront with you guys… I don’t like this guy.  He’s scum of the Earth, as far as I’m concerned, but his money is good.  That said, he’s got a series of errands that need doing and he’s looking for competent individuals who don’t mind their hands getting dirty.  Are you still interested in hearing the details?”

If yes,

“OK, the first task involves breaking up a pirating operation and stealing a specific file from their archive.  Once you have the file, he has two targets within that file that he wants you to raid.  He will provide you an unmarked vehicle and you’re to smash an underground lab, followed by knocking off some smugglers.  Once you have his shopping list, you’re to drive the car to an address in Henderson, park the car and walk away.  Your payment of 8,000¥ apiece will follow.”

If no,

“Yeah, I agree.  Fuck that guy.  Instead of that job, I can offer you an alternative.  I have some old associates who are looking for a protection racket for some precious cargo.  You keep their vehicles rubber side down and they’ll reward you.  They might even have a follow-up task for you after for some extra cred.  They’re willing to pay 5,000¥ each for the protection detail.”

Essentially, the two jobs are the two sides of the same coin.  Both costs are negotiable at a rate of 500¥ per net hit.

Once the runners have opted into one job or another, Brick-Base will provide them the details of their choice.  If they chose to take the original job:

“All right, here is the location for a tech support company in North Vegas.  Place is called Bahaitee Gahni (pih-ah-hah-eye-teh kah-nee)… it’s Shoshone for ‘Three Houses’.  Not a big shop, but run by the Comanche.  These guys used to run this city and they still have their fingers in a lot of pots.  They have dug up intelligence on their rivals and Mr. Johnson wants it.  Break in, steal their black ops data and send it over to me.  Then, after review, Mr. J will tell you which targets he’d like you to hit next.”

If they took the backup job:

“All right, there is a delivery truck that is going to depart from the Nellis-North Vegas border from the NaturaVat plant there.  They aim to travel through North Vegas to Sunrise, through Sunrise into Henderson, where the truck is going to disappear from GridGuide.  You need to ensure the truck makes it to Henderson in one piece.  Once the truck is off the grid, I will send you GPS coordinates for a building in Henderson.  Rumour has it that it is being used to distribute some nasty shit into the city.  Go in, destroy any contraband you find and kill anyone protecting it.  I’ll add another 3,000¥ apiece to the job if you wreck the joint.”

Bahaitee Gahni (Three Houses)
Tech Support Company
Possible Sources – Corporate Connections, Long-Term Las Vegas Contacts
2/3 – Three Houses is an old tech support company that actually managed to survive the Crash, unlike the nation that used to house it.  I suppose they made good money when all the local tech crashed and burned…
4/6 – They are traditionalist in the Ute kind of way… if you’re not Native, don’t even try
6/8 – They know their way around and can service all sorts of hardware, even going back to before the Crash.  They have earned a few really solid contracts.
8/10 – They are a Comanche front and harvest data from client machines as a means of extortion and data mining.

Food Manufacturing Company
Possible Sources – Corporate Connections, Conspiracy Theorists
2/3 – NaturaVat is an Aztechnology subsidiary that specializes in the mass production of cheap foodstuffs.
4/6 – Many of the Midwest’s food banks and shelters rely on the soy slurry these guys churn out in bulk.
6/8 – Conspiracy nuts think that NaturaVat puts chemicals in the soy to make the poor buy their products.  There have never been any convincing articles put out that refutes the claim.
8/10 – Aztechnology have done their best to distance themselves from the brand, as the Aztec association might damage sales in many areas where Aztlan is viewed as the enemy.

Matrix:  The primary network they access is PuebNet, represented by a dreamcatcher rimmed by idols from each of the tribes that make up the nation.  The iconography here is simple, a vast prairie with rolling hills and deserts, each landscape varying slightly depending on the city you log in from.  For Vegas, the prairie is split by bright lights, a long road and large stacks of poker chips.  The old Welcome to Paradise sign standing prominently over everything.

Scene 2 – The Old Boss

In the suburbs that make up North Vegas, the runners will find a two story small business draped in Ute symbols with the name Bahaitee Gahni written proudly on the side of the building.  The windows have been coloured a parchment colour with Shoshone symbols and words about pride, tradition and heritage.

The building is a legitimate business during the daylight hours, offering tech support to local residents (catering to those of Native American descent).  Their night hour businesses outside of customer support are harvesting information from machines brought in for service and going mining for details using them.  They specialize in blackmail, extortion and the sale of sensitive information.

As a result, armed security is far more prevalent at night, as customers should not be in the shop after hours.  Personal security is decent and Matrix security is naturally high.

Their black ops file is encrypted and data bombed, but when liberated it details all underworld operations that they were unable to dig up, including a Koshari drug manufacturing ring and smugglers running guns through the city that were illegally sold out of Nellis.  Other noteworthy items are a list of bribes made to city officials and a planned excursion for a Verontesse Sottocapo.

Matrix:  The Three Houses host clings to the old ideals of the Ute Nation.  The host resembles an old Native American camp, with three central teepees that make up the heart of the camp.  There are three tribes being represented by the structures:  Comanche, Shoshone and Ute.  All have a root dialect around the Shoshone language and due to the old staunch anti-Anglo mentality of the old nation, nothing is translated for the layman.

The iconography is based on the old plains Native appearance, with general users as villagers, security icons as warriors and IC as the spirits of nature that walk the Mojave as guidance and enforcers of the American will.

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

Security Processing:  Patrol IC is running all the time.  One Security Spider online at all times.

Once the alarm is raised, IC activates in the following order:  Probe, Black IC, Sparky, Killer and Track.  If an IC gets bricked, a new version of the IC is rebooted rather than moving to the next.  If the system is being overrun, a new Troubleshooter logs on after 2D6 turns.

Scene 3 – Competition from Outside

A group of independent smugglers have picked up a shipment of guns that have been smuggled off of Howling Coyote Army Base and aim to run the guns into Henderson into the hands of “interested parties”.  Mr. Johnson wants the runners to hijack the guns, while the alternate employer wants to protect them from the Verontesse.

The route leaves the NaturaVat factory on the border of Nellis, where the goods are concealed beneath large containers of unflavoured soy slurry for delivery to the local food banks and homeless shelters in Henderson.  From the parking lot, it will head out into North Vegas and go around the city center to drive through Sunrise, before avoiding the highway and taking the ill-advised route into Henderson proper.

If the runners are performing the raid, they will get to choose where to hit the delivery, but if the runners are protecting it, the Verontesse will make their move starting in Sunrise.  They will attempt to hack the van to break down as they slip off the grid, just inside of Henderson.  The attack will be a multi-vectored approach, with spirits, drones and support troops, who will opt to destroy the cargo, rather than allow them to reach their destination.


B4  A5  R4  S4  W4  L4  I4  C3  Edge 4

Init 8+1D6, PL 6, ML 6, SL 6

Qualities:  Toughness, Made Man

Skills:  Automatic 5, Blades 5, Intimidation 6, Perception 3, Pistols 4, Unarmed 5

Gear:  Armour Jacket (12), Commlink Rating 3

Weapons: Unarmed (Acc 6, 4S, Reach 0, AP 0), Knife (Blade, Acc 5, 5P, Reach 0, AP -1)

Colt Cobra TZ-120 (SMG, Acc 4(5), 7P, AP 0, All Modes, RC 2(3), Ammo 32c)

If the runners secure the guns either by loading them into the provided vehicle, or ensuring safe passage, they receive their new orders, which will take them deeper into Henderson.

Scene 4 – The New Bosses

The tenement houses that make up the bulk of Henderson are nondescript monoliths without windows or doors, stained red by the rain.  It’s in one of these old derelicts that the Koshari have set up a drug lab, where they can cook up narcotics without the chemical stench offending the neighbours.

As the runners explore the area, they will run into a ghoul warren, which they will need to deal with before they find the lab itself.  The lab is defended with turrets (to ward off the ghouls) and soldiers to keep the desperate away from the merchandise.


B4  A5  R4  S4  W5  L3  I4  C3  Edge 4

Init 8+1D6, PL 6, ML 5, SL 6

Qualities:  Toughness

Skills:  Automatic 5, Blades 5, Intimidation 6, Perception 3, Pistols 4, Unarmed 5

Gear:  Armour Jacket (12), Commlink Rating 3

Weapons: Unarmed (Acc 6, 4S, Reach 0, AP 0), Knife (Blade, Acc 5, 5P, Reach 0, AP -1)

Colt M23 (Ass. Rifle, Acc 4(5), 9P, AP -2, All Modes, RC 2, Ammo 40c, Added Laser Sight, Gas-Vent II)

The Koshari are manufacturing e3 and Betameth here and they will either need to acquire the goods or destroy them, depending on their employer.

With the lab disrupted, they can either park the car at the agreed upon location, or provide evidence to Brick-Base as to the job’s completion.

>> Cleaning up the streets ain’t such a bad job, chummer.
>> Proletariat

>> True, though the area around Henderson… it’s like cleaning a glass of water before pouring it into the sewers.
>> Skye

>> Well, let’s clear this one up: this isn’t about Henderson. As always, it’s making sure the shit in Henderson doesn’t drift northward into where the money is. Someone merely noticed that the toilet was backing up and is going to do a little plunging before it becomes everyone’s mess to clean up.
>> Desert Flower

Contributing to the Silence (or “Why I’m Happy to not have a home Campaign”) (#Shadowrun)

•February 27, 2021 • Leave a Comment

One of the reasons I haven’t posted a lot here after October was the lack of a home campaign going on. I’m running several games of Shadowrun in both 5th and 6th Edition as part of Heroes for Hire but I wasn’t really running anything for my home group. After the collapse of the previous campaign (and feeling a little penned in by it, truth being told) I was disheartened by (yet another) campaign’s failure. After that frustration passed and the success of my ongoing campaigns with American players convinced me that I could pull it off (my longest running campaign through Heroes is the longest campaign I’ve run ever), I started feeling obligated to think about Shadowrun campaign.

That was part of the problem… I felt obligated.

I had this feeling that it was expected of me by my friends to put something together and keep them entertained. It was never something that anyone has actually demanded of me, it was just this feeling I’ve had… I’ve wrestled with this particular issue before and I have on and off for years. I feel I have to run something. I’m the GM… what do I contribute when I’m not providing entertainment?

Isn’t running a campaign that I’m being paid for running a game that I’m obligated to do? Well… yes… yes it is. So if I’m obligated, why are these campaigns so enjoyable for me to run? It’s the same system, the same rules, the same setting that I’ve run countless times over the years. There’s one major difference: the players.

I am blessed to have such a large and diverse group of friends, many who have been gaming with me for a long time. And by gaming with me for all that time, they’ve likely played a metric ton of Shadowrun. It’s been my bread and butter for 20 years. As players who have gamed with me that long, I think my players have gotten jaded. There is nothing I can throw at them that they haven’t seen before. While characters may come and go, that player knowledge always creeps in. “Oh, we’re up against X? OK, we just need to do A, B and C and we’ll be golden…”

The approach is formulaic, even when newbie characters, who may have heard about insect spirits in the tabloids, seemingly know what to do when confronted by them and are immune to the fear that should paralyze them. The threats of the world are predictable for the players and their responses to them are predictable for me… so the game ends up feeling hollow.

All of the groups that have hired me are starved for Shadowrun. They’ve heard about it and want to try it, haven’t played since 2nd/3rd Edition, or simply want a change from D&D. For these groups, everything is new. They are fumbling their way through discovering who their character is, reacting to the abominations of the world with the sheer horror they deserve and they aim to tell a story with their friends rather than figure out which puzzle has been put before them again.

So, does this mean I won’t be running Shadowrun locally anymore? No way… I love the game and it will definitely rise again. However, I will not bow to obligation. I will wait until I’m struck by a story I want to tell and tell it the way I want to tell it. I will try to present something that maybe they won’t be able to predict. To that end, I will abstain from running a local Shadowrun game… lord knows I know a few other systems. I’m currently running a 7th Sea campaign with a much different mix of players and I am have a great time exploring the expanded world there, with players who actively pursue their own stories with fervor. I’ve had ideas for Ten Candles, Valiant and Monsterpunk… there are so many possibilities for new stories to tell. They simply need to be viewed through a different lens for now.

Shadows Over Las Vegas – Out of Reach (#Shadowrun)

•February 26, 2021 • Leave a Comment

It’s been about a week since the clean escape from DSI and redirecting blame among other parties.  Hugh gets a call from Zaray and it’s instantly apparent he wants something.  “Heeeey, Handy-man.  I’ve got a line on some work and I think your crew are ideal for it.  Meet me at 8:30 tonight in North Vegas?  Buy you guys a shawarma at the Shawarma Shack…”

Scene 1 – Bribing with Food

As promised, Zaray is at the dive food stall that is the Shawarma Shack.  The food is tasty, if a little dry and the ambiance is what you’d expect from a food truck, but the area is essentially an empty parking lot.  While the vegetables are somewhat fresh, any protein is typically spiced soy… the ork and troll one seasoned with Ghost Pepper, so it “tastes like something”.

Once everyone has their food, Zaray starts talking around a mouthful of shawarma.  “All right, here’s the deal… some European high roller is coming to town tomorrow night.  Guy by the name of Claude Vidal… some rich fucker from Marseilles.  He wants to blow his load in Vegas and naturally the PCC wants him to as well.  However, this poncy Frenchman has chosen to spend his money at Planet Horizon, which rubs a few people the wrong way, given everything Horizon has done to this town.  There are rumours that this guy Vidal is being targeted for assassination by some of the locals and it would create some bad blood with the rich old worlders if some aristocrat dies on our soil…”

Zaray takes another mouthful of shawarma before continuing.  “Naturally, Vidal has refused a protection detail, for fear of it cramping his style.  So PuebSec wants to pay you some of their good government money to go where they can’t… into the casino on the Strip.  They want you guys to thwart any attempts to kill Vidal as well as finding out who’s trying to kill him.  They are willing to pay you guys 6,000¥ apiece to keep Vidal alive, doubling it if you put an end to the people behind it.  They’ll want a commcode from one of you so that if they respond to a call of gunshots, they can delay accordingly if you’re doing their jobs for them… though I do recommend you use something you don’t mind ditching afterwards… so, what do you guys think?”

Zaray may be cavalier in his methods, but he wouldn’t bring it to the team unless he felt it was legit.  He won’t negotiate much on cost, seeing as he already feels the runners are being overpaid.

Once the team signs on, Zaray gives them a thumbs up.  “Excellent.  I’ll let the cops know they’ve hired themselves some criminals.  They love being reminded of that.  Once you guys know a commcode you’re willing to give the cops, let me know and I’ll pass it along.  Good hunting.”

Claude Vidal
French Aristocrat
Possible Sources – Celebrity Gossip Contacts, European Contacts
2/3 – Claude Vidal is one of those people who is famous because they have old money.  He can tie their family line back to pre-Republic nobility and for that he is famous.
4/6 – He managed to emerge unscathed with the Project Omen debacle, as when the nobility conspired to topple the Republic, he wanted no part of it.  Many conspiracy theories still place him amongst the conspirators.
6/8 – He is a bachelor and fervent player.  Unlike much of the French aristocracy, he isn’t hung up on keeping the family name alive.  He is one for enjoying life to the fullest.  That said there are several outstanding paternity suits…
8/10 – The French Republic is still mending fences with the upper class and Vidal is the face of those efforts.  His death would be dangerous to the rebuild efforts, but the government can’t convince him to make himself so available.

Matrix:  The primary network they access is PuebNet, represented by a dreamcatcher rimmed by idols from each of the tribes that make up the nation.  The iconography here is simple, a vast prairie with rolling hills and deserts, each landscape varying slightly depending on the city you log in from.  For Vegas, the prairie is split by bright lights, a long road and large stacks of poker chips.  The old Welcome to Paradise sign standing prominently over everything.  The Noise in North Vegas is only 1.

Scene 2 – Preparing for Arrival

The runners have roughly 24 hours to prepare for Vidal’s arrival.  Unfortunately, they don’t have a lot to go on.

If the runners choose to check out Planet Horizon prior to Claude’s arrival, they will find that the resort casino is very well guarded.  Horizon doesn’t mess around when it comes to the safety of their guests.  First off, there is a dress code… if they don’t look the part, they don’t get in.  If you aren’t a member on one of Horizon’s social media platforms and actively broadcasting, you don’t get past the doors.

The resort is spread over three towers, each one is themed for different forms of media, spanning 150 years.  One for the towers is focused on music, another on TV and trideo and the third on feature films.  If a hacker is able to get into the casino’s system, they can learn that Claude is staying in the movie third of the casino.

The casino is chock full of the latest in sensor technology.  MADs, chemsniffers, cameras, motion detectors in sensitive areas and ultrasound projectors are just some of the precautions put in place to protect the patrons here.  They have a high-level mage on call who watches for signs of magical manipulation and a security rigger, trained to recognize the signs of technomancer manipulation of the game machines.

Because this is a Horizon establishment, they enforce their own security here and they often look to incapacitate on the floor before dragging off for interrogation and potential disappearing, if need be.

The area around Planet Horizon is wall-to-wall people at any hour of the night and the spam zone of the Strip hits a prospective hacker on the street with a painful -8 Noise penalty, but inside the casino, the Strip is cut out and the only system available is that of the casino.  Horizon armed guards keep the entrance way clear, especially when a VIP is being escorted in.  The streets are so crowded and the casinos so highly guarded, that the odds of assassination by shooting on the way in are very low.

Scene 3 – Arrival at Planet Horizon

When Claude rolls up at the entrance to Planet Horizon, a crowd of royalty groupies are there to greet him and he receives their praise with a laugh and a sweeping bow.  His personal security urge him indoors, but he can’t help but posture a short while longer before stepping inside.

Once he is in the casino, he gets checked into his hotel room and leaves the bulk of his travel necessities in a safe in his room before he returns to the casino floor.  He heads to the banker to convert a sizable amount of coin into chips before heading to the Baccarat tables.

There are three ways assassins will attempt to kill Claude Vidal:

The first will be a subtle attempt by an adept capable of changing her features.  She will watch to see which waitress is serving Vidal and then take on her identity to deliver a drink poisoned using smuggled in supplies.  She has a birthmark/tattoo that serves a visual clue that it’s not the same person.


Chameleon Assassin
B3  A6  R4  S3  W4  L4  I5  C5  Edge 4 Magic 5
Init 9+1D6, PL 5, ML 6, SL 8

Qualities:  Blandness

Skills:  Acting Group 4, Athletics Group 4, Blades 3, Unarmed 4, Pistols 3, Disguise 4, Palming 3, Sneaking 5, Negotiation 3, Etiquette 3, Perception 4

Knowledge Skills: English (Native), Zuni 4, Hopi 4, Spanish 4, Kinesics 3, Meditation 3

Powers:  Facial Sculpt 4, Melanin Control, Keratin Control, Killing Hands, Voice Control 1, Flexibility 2, Cloak, Inertia Strike, Penetrating Strike 2

Metamagic:  Masking

Gear:  FFBA (8), Waitress uniform, Commlink Rating 4

Weapons: Unarmed (Acc 5, 3S/3P, Reach 0, AP -2)

The second comes in a two-part ruse.  One is an absolutely gorgeous dryad woman, who comes on to Claude hard and is all over him.  She does her best to keep her eyes on him the whole time (to a notable extent).  Anyone with knowledge in magic may recognize the behaviour of a magical ritual spotter and will need to locate the connection to the casting mage.  A teammate will have a matter of hours to track down the caster and kill him.  His spirits will attempt to buy him time to finish the ritual.


Dryad Eye Candy and Spotter
B3  A4  R4  S3  W4  L3  I5  C8  Edge 3 Ess 4.9
Init 9+1D6, PL 5, ML 5, SL 13

Qualities:  Catlike, Glamour, Low-Light Vision, First impression, Symbiosis, Creature of Comfort, Distinctive Style, Moderate Addiction (Alcohol)

Skills:  Acting Group 5, Athletics Group 3, Close Combat Group 3, Pistols 3, Stealth Group 3, Influence Group 6

Knowledge Skills: English (Native), Spanish 4, Seduction 5, Psychology 4, Magical Theory 3

Augmentations:  Tailored Pheromones 2, Toxin Extractor 3, Vocal Range Enhancer, Silky Skin, Clean Metabolism

Gear:  Moonsilver Nightgown (7), Commlink Rating 4

Weapons: Unarmed (Acc 5, 3S, Reach 0, AP 0)


Ritual Caster
B6  A4  R3(6)  S6(9)  W7  L3  I5  C4  Edge 3 Magic 6
Init 8+1D6 (11+2D6), Astral Init 10+2D6, PL 7(10), ML 6, SL 7, AL 7

Qualities:  Thermographic Vision, Toxin/Pathogen Resistance, Astral Chameleon, Made Man, Prejudice (Mundanes, Outspoken)

Skills:  Clubs 4, Unarmed 4, Blades 6, Conjuring Group 5, Sorcery Group 6, Stealth Group 3, Astral Combat 4, Assensing 5, Perception 4, Negotiation 3, Intimidation 3, Con 3

Knowledge Skills: English (Native), Spirits 5, Magical Theory 5, Talismonger Shops 4, Mojave Hot Spots 2

Spells:  Prodigal Spell ®, Death Touch, Imbue ®, Manabolt, Clairvoyance, Combat Sense, Demolish Gun, Mind Probe, Melt Armour, Increase Reflexes, Increase Strength, Resist Pain, Armour, Sight Removal, Ward ®, Homunculus ® 

Metamagic:  Masking, Extended Masking, Efficient Ritual

Gear:  Armored Jacket (12), Bonded Sustaining Focus 3 * 2,Commlink Rating 4

Weapons: Unarmed (Acc 7(10), 6(9)S, Reach 0, AP 0), Imbued Combat Axe (Acc 7, 14P, Reach 2, AP -4)

The final attempt will come from a massive troll that has been busily playing games all evening in the casino.  When all attempts to be subtle have failed, he will blithely walk over to the table and smash Vidal’s head into the table, before winding up to make a killing blow.  The runners will need to be fast to stop the troll for long enough that casino security can intervene and take the troll down.


Massive Troll Enforcer  (the name is a Zuni cannibal demon)
B11  A4  R3  S10  W3  L2  I3  C3  Edge 2
Init 6+1D6, PL 12, ML 4, SL 5(7)

Qualities:  Exceptional Body, Adrenaline Surge, Did You Just Call Me Dumb?, In Debt, Distinctive Style

Skills:  Acting Group 3(4), Athletics Group 3, Close Combat Group 6, Firearms Group 4, Perception 3

Knowledge Skills: English (Native), Zuni 4, Poker 3, Koshari Establishments 3

Gear:  Armante Suit (8), Commlink Rating 4

Weapons: Knucks (Acc 12, 11P, Reach 1, AP 0)

If the runners are able to interrogate or acquire a commlink from the assassins, they can learn who sent them to kill Vidal and subsequently, where the Koshari boss calls home.

Scene 4 – Stopping the Bankroll

Once a trace has been run on the Koshari boss that has ordered the death of Vidal, the runners find themselves in North Vegas at a mechanic’s shop that doubles as a chop shop.  At this time of night, the legitimate side of the business is closed and the activities within are illegal, so the Koshari won’t wait to open fire on anyone who spots them hacking apart cars.  Collateral damage here is not an issue, so the runners can be let off the chain.

Some may carry Cobra SMGs (Acc 4(5), 7P, 0AP, All, 2(3)RC, 32c) or Defiance T-250 (Acc 4, 10P, -1AP, SS/SA, 5m), instead of the Black Scorpions.  The Boss carries a tomahawk (Acc 6, Reach 1, 5P, – 2AP) and Warhawk (Acc 5, 9P, -2AP, SS, 6cy)

With Vidal safe and the Koshari behind it dead, the runners can get in touch with Zaray and arrange for payment.

>> Trying to finish a job in a casino on the Strip? Are you mental?
>> Baroque

>> Actually, as a bodyguard, your job is easier, since casino security is on your side (for a change).
>> Candid

>> What doesn’t make your job easier is that this guy Vidal has made several enemies with deep pockets. Expect some talented people to make the attempt.
>> Scope