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?”


Change of Venue (Shadowrun)

•January 8, 2018 • Leave a Comment

This adventure has been written as direct sequel to Instant Fame.

The runners are contacted by their fixer about an extraction job.  Mr Johnson is known to the fixer as a long time operator in the shadows, but hasn’t worked with him directly.  The fixer does nothing to hide from them that the Johnson is from Horizon.  If the runners are willing to work with him, Mr. Johnson would like to meet with them personally at the Evergreen Arboretum at 8PM.

Scene 1 – A Walk in the Park

The arboretum is mostly deserted in the late evening, but a handful of nature lovers still walk the park.  The air carries a slight chill in most of the park, but there are areas that are climate controlled in order to support non-indigenous plants.  One of the climate controlled areas is closed to foot traffic, yet it’s this part of the park that the runners are invited to.

Mr. Johnson is an athletic man of mixed heritage, but a trained eye can pick a mix of Latino and Native American features.  Casually dressed, yet still meticulous in his image, he offers his hand in greeting.  Whether any runner takes the offered hand or not, he smiles broadly and motions for them to walk with him.

“I thought a stroll through one of the more beautiful locations in this city would be a welcome change from a noisy nightclub or pretentious restaurant, wouldn’t you agree?”

Mr. Johnson will make small talk with whomever is walking with him and after a while, he finally gets down to business.  “To the matter at hand… I am associated with Pathfinder Multimedia.  It’s my job to locate underused talent and bring them into our family, where they can truly shine.  We’ve seen such an actor, being used for Amalgamated Studios’ woefully substandard reality programming.  Since they are going to be filming here in Seattle in a couple of days, I’d like you to tail them, learn their routines and once they wrap up filming, bring them into the Horizon family.  We’re willing to pay 7,000¥ apiece for this task.  Does this sound like something you can accomplish?”

Mr. Johnson is William Baldwin and does indeed work for Pathfinder.  Amalgamated got good ratings on its “GOD is Watching” show in Toronto.  Much of that was the spectacle that Michaela McCarthy provided on the show.  Amalgamated aims to use her in all their shows, in order to ride the ratings wave.  Pathfinder wants to nip it in the bud.

If the runners sign on, he smiles broadly.  “Superb!  You have a couple of days to prepare for their arrival.  Apparently, the actress is local to the area.  Her name is Michaela McCarthy and is apparently quite the handful.  However, professionals such as yourselves should have no issues containing a small time actor, I’m sure.”

Mr Johnson is willing to negotiate some on the net worth, distribution and resources for payment and will answer any questions he has the answers for.  Once he is no longer required, he will take his leave of them and let them plan their task.

Mr. Johnson/William Baldwin
Pathfinder Multimedia Executive
Possible Sources – Corporate Connections (especially Horizon), Fixers, Shadow Community

1/2 – One look at his smarmy face and business suit… the guy works for Horizon, hands down.
2/4 – The guy’s name is William Baldwin, a “casting department” executive.  He is known as a talent scout, but has black op leanings.
4/7 – He’s had several social modifications done, including cosmetic refinements, tailored pheromones and some other procedures Horizon has not disclosed.  He is a master of PR and spin doctoring.
7/11 – While it is believed that Baldwin has been with the company for years now, his history as a talent scout only stretches back about three years.  What capacity he served in before that has been buried in red tape.

Michaela McCarthy
Capo’s Daughter
Possible Sources – Mafia Contacts, Snohomish Underworld Figures, Party Scene
1/2 – Michaela is a curvy, blonde (not naturally) dwarf woman with a sense of entitlement and little common sense.  Her special breed of rich girl snobbery was recently showcased on the reality show, GOD is Watching.
2/4 – She is known to have her old man, Capo Colm McCarthy, wrapped around her finger.  She has spent thousands of his money on cosmetic surgery, lavish parties and jetsetting vacations.  The Capo plays that he has a lot of money, but she spends it nearly as fast as he can bring it in.
4/7 – Rumour has it that she has slept with many of her Dad’s loyal soldiers and those the Capo catches get promoted so he can watch them more closely.
7/11 – Since appearing on the trid and her continued casting in other Amalgamated shows, her party lifestyle has been starting to spiral out of control.  Her spending hasn’t slowed any but it isn’t the mob’s money any longer, which has gained a sigh of relief from her father.

Matrix:  The Matrix system here is pretty rudimentary and cameras are the most pervasive security measure, watching for people trying to steal telesma or threaten the life here.  There are no security aside from any Knight Errant in the area.  The Arboretum’s network is a low rating network that is only patrolled if an alarm is triggered.  The network gives them access to the camera feeds, irrigation system and other mostly-passive systems.

Scene 2 – Laying Out the Red Carpet

The runners have a couple of days before Michaela arrives back in Seattle.  The runners may take any number of approaches for preparing for her arrival.

They can easily determine that she lives in Snohomish and will be spending most of her time in the downtown core, during the filming of the Incredible Roadtrip.  Any who investigate Michaela may also learn about some of her favorite night spots from her partying years.

Security in the area that the filming is taking place has been stepped up as Amalgamated Studios gets set pieces set up in various locations around the downtown core (University of Washington, ACHE and Infinity).  Bribing members of the crew can reveal that the cast will be spending their evenings (Seattle Hilton), although Michaela will spend a lot of her off camera time out on the town.

This scene will require some improvisation, as the players could do as much, or as little planning as they feel they require.  If they are ambitious enough to break into Amalgamated Studios, they can learn about the route they aim to take (roughly) once filming begins:

Sea-Tac Airport → ACHE → Infinity → Hilton

Hilton → U-Dub → Everett Docks → Boat to Athabaskan Council

They can also potentially learn about the drones assigned to each team of competitors or the AoD tracker bugs that have placed on each racer, so the Studio can see where lost racers might be found.

Matrix:  The local Emerald City grid should be familiar to the runners.  The Amalgamated Studios Host however, should they try to gain access, is likely to be a new experience for them.  The host is rendered as a Hollywood Studio backlot, with large murals depicting everything from classic Westerns, to sci-fi planetscapes.  Images within these murals correspond to various aspects of the host’s systems (the sheriff’s office as security, moon rocks as coming projects, the studio itself as a list employees, etc).  IC here is rendered to show as studio security guards.

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

Patrol IC and one spider in the system at all times.

Once the alarm has been raised, the IC activates as Probe, Scramble, Track, Jammer, Marker and Crash.  The system will always reboot Probe and Scramble if they are bricked, before moving down the line.

Scene 3 – Off the Planned Path

With whatever planning the runners have laid out, they have the couple of days of filming that Michaela’s in town for to actually have her slip from the radar.  Her flight sets down in Sea-Tac at 7:19am and she is out the door by 8 to set out on this leg of the race.

From when they touch down in Seattle, the contestants race for the downtown core, to the base of the Needle (approximately an hour for someone unfamiliar with the city).

The first challenge sees them having to collect items around the ACHE, based on clues provided at the base of the Space Needle.  The challenge comes from the sheer scope of the ACHE Shopping Complex, which is 300 square city blocks, spread over three stories of mall.  The ACHE is always very busy, but is also saturated in cameras and security.  Michaela gets to the ACHE for 8:42 and completes the challenge with her teammate at 12:13 (with a narrow lead over the nearest competition).

The drive to Infinity from the ACHE is only half an hour or so with traffic, likely less.  However, once they arrive, the challenge tells them that they can’t enter the club until 6pm and before they go inside, they need to pick up items from local shops in the area.  Michaela’s knowledge of the area allows them to gather their supplies quickly and even stop off at a local restaurant to get some food before returning to Infinity with plenty of time.

Once the doors open, the teams burst through the doors into the nightclub, to find the dance floor a dizzying array of laser lights, smoke effects and holographic images of celebrities, politicians and random people.  They have to find the image of the person who they feel goes with the items they collected.  However, the holograms don’t stay in one place forever, so if they don’t commit right away, they may have to search all over again.  Every wrong guess forces them to wait on departure for a given interval.  Michaela’s team starts right at 6 and finishes the challenge at 6:45 with a ten minute delay.

From Infinity, the teams have to race to the Hilton (approximately 20 minutes).  From there, they need to follow signs within the hotel to get up to the rooftop to overlook the city skyline where they check in for the day.  Michaela’s team is first, reaching the rooftop of the tall hotel by 7:36.

Once all teams have arrived at the Hilton rooftop, the participants are treated to a large dinner and assigned rooms within the Hilton.  The show wraps up shooting around 9 o’clock and all actors are expected to retire for the evening, but Michaela only stays in her room for about 45 minutes before slipping out and hitting the party scene.  While the filming drone doesn’t stay with her outside of filming hours, the AoD tracking device is still on her.  In time, security will notice she has left her room and dispatch Knight Errant to collect her, as per a clause in her contract.

She frequents a couple of nightclubs where her mob friends can watch over her before slipping away once again and going to less savory establishment to indulge in bad habits she has indulged in far more often since being out from under her father’s gaze.  After she’s done at the nightclubs, she finds a local drug den and binges on Novacoke and Bliss before renting a few joyboys for the night.  Around 2am, Knight Errant raid the building to make some token arrests and drag Michaela back to the Hilton before questions can be asked.

Still not fully down after her evening bender, Michaela is really off her game when the second day of filming begins at 9am.  The teams are expected to head northward toward University of Washington (half an hour with morning traffic) and perform in an academic challenge, bouncing around the University grounds, which Michaela struggles with, losing her lead from the day before and falling to the middle of the pack.  She and her teammate arrive at 9:35 and don’t leave until 10:52.

From U-Dub the teams race to the Everett Docks (just over an hour’s drive).  Once there, one of the team members has to bungee jump off a freight crane over Puget Sound to be allowed to board a freighter in the harbor.  Michaela sits this one out, still recovering from her bender.  Once they board the freighter, they have to search the various decks for parts of a key.  Once they have all the pieces, they have to figure out how to assemble it and use it to unlock a “smuggler’s hold” aboard the freighter (in honor of Seattle’s Shadowrunning reputation) where they will “stowaway” as the freighter makes its way to Anchorage.  Michaela’s team arrives at the docks for 12:08 and her teammate completes the bungee jump by 12:42.  As they search the freighter for the key components, they will find all the pieces and be stowed away by 2:57.

Once all the teams have arrived, the last team is sent home and the rest are assigned berths in the ship and given a tour of the essentials.  The ship leaves Seattle at 6pm.  If the runners haven’t stolen her away by this point, either the job is scrubbed, or they will have to try again in Alaska.

Once they have Michaela, they will need to contact Mr. Johnson and arrange a drop point for their prize.  If they didn’t learn of the AoD device on her, Knight Errant will be on them quickly.  The AoD tracker is built into a bracelet all contestants are wearing.  The bracelet is only to be broken in the case of a team resigning or being ejected from the show.  If they break the band outside of filming schedule, the production team will be immediately alerted to her absence and use astral tracking to find her.  The runners will need to take precautions to cover the abduction or risk a face off with the local police.  Plus, if Michaela is sober and carries her commlink, she doesn’t want her 15 minutes of fame ending early and will alert her father in a pinch.

If the runners haven’t covered their tracks well enough and Knight Errant crashes the handoff with Mr. Johnson, Horizon will be very displeased…

Matrix:  The local Emerald City grid should be familiar to the runners.  However, there are many ways the runners could go about conducting surveillance and capturing Michaela.  Some of the following hosts could be encountered, depending on where an intrepid decker might decide to make their move.

ACHE Shopping Complex – The host for the ACHE has been done up to look like the interior of the complex, with glitz and bright lights, perfume in the air and a bustling series of shoppers who always seem to get out of the browser’s way as they move about.  Subsystems are set up as shops along the hallway, with each system rendered as a different corner of the mall.  IC and spiders use a mall cop theme to their icons.

Host Rating: 6
Attack: 6, Sleaze 7, Data Processing 8, Firewall 9

Patrol IC and one spider in the system at all times.

Once the alarm has been raised, the IC activates as Probe, Scramble, Track, Jammer, Marker and Crash.  The system will always reboot Probe and Scramble if they are bricked, before moving down the line.

GridGuide – The traffic control network for the city is rendered like a long stretch of road, lit with neon green lights.  The user sits at an intersection, as if waiting for traffic lights to change.  Different systems correspond to different aspects of the system’s appearance.  Security are the buildings off the side of the road.  Traffic control systems are linked to the traffic signal.  Locating a specific vehicle on the system is through a manhole cover to a dizzying series of pipes, where liquid metal pulses move through the pipes, reflecting each vehicle.  Spiders manifest as police cars whereas IC sees liquid metal seep up from the road and take on shapes depending on the type of IC.

Host Rating: 9
Attack: 11, Sleaze 9, Data Processing 10, Firewall 12

Patrol IC and two spiders in the system at all times, one in traffic control and the other in the command paths.

Once the alarm has been raised, the IC activates as Probe, Scramble, Killer, Binder, Acid, Blaster, Marker and Sparky.  The system will always continue moving down the line, rather than rebooting previous IC.  Two additional spiders will log in if the battle drags on.

>> Hey, I love this show!  Some of the eating challenges are really gross though…
>> Watcher

>> This may be bottom-rung trid we’re talking about here, but this is still a highly visible extraction.  If you can get rid of the pervasive camera presence and exploit the black out, avoiding becoming a celebrity yourself, you’ll live longer.
>> Wraith

>> These damned travelling shows are ramshackle productions that need to roll in and out of town pretty quickly.  They will need extra hands for setup and tear down… a low-key way to get eyes on the areas they’ll be filming, if you’re not afraid of a little physical labour.  You’re welcome.
>> Havik

Data Haven Podcast Episode 002 – Anatomy of a Shadowrun

•December 15, 2017 • Leave a Comment

So, after a year of no progress, I threw my hat back into the podcast ring, taking into mind suggestions I received along the way.  Hopefully, this episode will be a bit more fluid than the previous episode and that the content will be helpful to any aspiring GMs out there.

The Meet = 1:17
Legwork = 5:43
The Run = 10:16
The Hand-Off = 15:33
Applying the Principles = 19:02

As always, I’m interested in suggestions for future episodes or ways you feel this podcast can improve.  I hope you enjoy.


Loss of Appetite (Shadowrun)

•November 13, 2017 • Leave a Comment

This adventure was run for Phantasm 2017 as a one-shot.

The runners are contacted by their fixer and told that he has a lead on a job centered on sabotage.  If the runners want to hear the details, they can meet with Mr. Johnson at Takuri’s for 7PM.

Scene 1 – A Late Dinner

Takuri’s is a high end restaurant where the elite Japanese corporate types take clients to be wined and dined.  There is no getting in without a reservation.  Luckily for the runners, there is a reservation for Johnson, but the runners are forced to wait until the precise time of the meet to be brought in beyond the entrance (and if they haven’t dressed the part, they will be asked to wait outside).

The inside of the restaurant is done up in the latest Neo-Tokyo style, with open spaces with a view into the kitchen, faux rice paper walls and the latest decor style in the Shinto spirit as the best restaurants in Neo-Tokyo.  The runners are led through the restaurant (in a hurry if the runners are not socially blended) to a private dining room in the back.  The room is done up in the style of old daimyos; feudal lords of the samurai clans from Japan’s ancient past.  The classic art style on the walls depict victory in battle, the arts of poetry and calligraphy, paying tribute to the kami.  Upon entry, they see several cooks setting trays of food in front of a radiant Japanese woman with long flowing black hair and perfect posture, kneeling on a tatami mat facing the door.  Several guards in full body armor stand in the corners of the room, watching the runners intently.

The woman pulls out a personalized pair of chopsticks and helps herself to some of the sushi on the plates before her.  She elegantly places a piece in her mouth and slowly chews the food before a slight smile crosses her lips and she nods to the cooks.  They deeply bow and leave the room.  Finishing her mouthful, she opens her eyes and surveys the runners before her.  She remains impassive as she studies them before she motions to the mat across for her.

“Please.  Join me,” she says in unaccented English.  Her eyes look to the guards, who bow and leave the room, closing the door behind them.  As the runners sit down, Ms. Johnson studies them closely watching body language and etiquette.  She will disapprove of any runner that immediately dives into the food, rather than waiting for an invitation.  As she takes several pieces of food for herself and pours herself hot water for her green tea.  Once she has arranged her plate, she places her chopsticks down and bows.  “There is more here than I could eat alone.  Please, help yourselves.”

Once again, she observes the runners’ demeanor to determine their character.  Once everyone has filled their plates, she raises her glass and sips her tea.  “Shall we conduct our business?”

Between mouthfuls of exquisite Japanese cuisine, Ms. Johnson provides them with the details.  “My employer would like to recruit a team for the purpose of sabotaging rival merchandise.  There is a substantial amount of merchandise to be sabotaged, but there is to be minimal additional collateral damage done to the site.  We aim to set them back, not create a vendetta.  Does this sound like a task your team can complete?”

Once she has been reassured that they are the team for the job, she continues.  “Very well.  On the edge of Snohomish, along Highway 522, there is a large plantation owned by Nature-Taste, a large agricultural corporation.  This plantation grows several foodstuffs that are used by the city as well as several other local recipients.  What we would like you to disrupt is their substantial mushroom growing operation.  Much of the… more needy populace eats foods made primarily from soy, mushroom or krill.  Nature-Taste provides the lion’s share of the local mushroom crop.  We want to see one crop not make it to market.  Much more than one crop’s loss would see a food shortage in the city and I know you wouldn’t want that on your conscious… therefore, sabotage only the crop, not the equipment.  Also see to it that, the sabotaged crop will not go to market and cause an incident.  Since we are aware that this task has more conditions than your profession tends to prefer, we are willing to offer 10,000¥ apiece for the job.”

Ms. Johnson is Ayaka Ikeda, a local Shiawase recruiter.  With the Megacorporate Audit in full swing, Shiawase is looking to maneuver themselves into a more advantageous position at the expense of one of the seemingly untouchable competitors:  Aztechnology.  The Azzies have controlled much of the food stuffs market for a long while, but the Az-Am War and the battle with Sirrurg weakened them badly.  Shiawase isn’t above kicking them while they’re down to try to seize more of the food market.

Ms. Johnson is willing to negotiate some on the price, but only to a maximum of 12,000¥.  Once the runners have agreed, Ms. Johnson bows and thanks them.  She provides them with a commcode to reach her once the work has been completed and she will excuse herself, inviting them to enjoy the food and then walking out, collecting her bodyguards along the way.

Matrix:  The node of Takuri’s is tailored to look like an ancient Japanese castle on the exterior, but from within it looks like a pristine and empty version of the restaurant.  While the clean veneer of the node focuses on the establishment as a business, providing a means to place reservations, pre-order meals or view the menu and chefs scheduled to appear, a skilled decker can get into the system to review bookings or use the subtly concealed cameras to eavesdrop on the clientele.

Host Rating 4 – Attack 4, Sleaze 5, Data Processing 6, Firewall 8

The system is independently owned, which prohibits the inclusion of the more nasty methods of protection available to corporate hosts.  Patrol IC is running at all times (faceless icon in a black chef’s uniform) and there are no spiders monitoring the system.  IC is activated in the order of:  Probe, Scramble, Track, Jammer, Marker and Crash.  Probe and Scramble are rebooted if crashed.  The goal is to crash the intruder via Scramble, or Tracing them and reporting them to Knight Errant.

Ms. Johnson aka Ayaka Ikeda
Shiawase Black Ops Recruiter
Possible Sources – Corporate Connections (especially Shiawase), Fixers, Shadow Community

1/2 – I’ve seen her face before… Ayaka Ikeda.  Shiawase suit, if I recall correctly.  If I’m not mistaken, she works in PR.

2/4 – Ikeda’s not in PR, she’s in shadow ops.  She’s been in the Seattle game for a while.  No nonsense chica and she tows the company line hard.

4/7 – She’s very observant and looks for all sorts of tells during meetings and deliveries to locate weaknesses in the people she’s interviewing.  She doesn’t tolerate exploitable weakness and if she feels you are a risk, she will either not hire you, or tie off loose ends before things can be traced back to the company

7/11 – Her reputation is clean… depending who you ask.  She has never expressly betrayed a team during the meet or on delivery.  However, there are rumours that several teams that completed the task requested, but did so in a manner she disapproved of, ended up having accidents in the weeks that followed that (of course) could not be traced back to Shiawase.

Scene 2 – Going to the Farm

Nature-Taste is a massive farming enclave just North of the highway, off Elliott Road as Ms. Johnson told them.  The entire property is spread out over 800 acres, straddling the Snohomish River.  15 acres of that have been designated for mushroom farming which are away from the main entrance to the compound.

The West bank is the predominant part of the complex, where the company grows their largest crops, such as soy and wheat, but it also houses the corporate complex (just off the main gate), the water purification center (to filter the extra crap flowing in from Redmond), as well as the mushroom farm.  The East bank are the “specialty” crops, such as vegetables, fruit, as well as out-of-area crops growing within greenhouses.

The site has primarily subtle defenses on the surface.  The outer perimeter is ringed in a 12ft chain link fence, topped in razor wire (5P Damage), where the fence is inlaid with proximity wire.  If the runners simply attempt to scale the fence, they will quickly find themselves tracked by drones.  Airborne drones serves as eyes in the sky with LTA drones far above the grounds and roto drones on near-ground recon.  In a pinch the drones that maintain the fields overnight double as a set of eyes on the ground.  At the peak of each hill is a light tower that shines down over the fields at night or in overcast conditions, but these towers also contain cameras and motion sensor suites.

While there is no on site magical presence, if an alarm is triggered, spirits can be requested, which arrive on the premises quickly.  Security is typically equipped with non-lethal methods of detaining suspects, but are capable of ramping up their defenses if they feel it is warranted.

Areas of open terrain, such as the roads that run through the complex, the bridge over the Snohomish or the interior of the buildings, the guards can request defensive shutters be raised to use as cover.  Guards have access to guard animals as well, relying on the Aztechnology standard of trained Jaguars, which specialize in running down and incapacitating foes.  If a hostile mage is detected, they have a small detachment of hellhounds that can be deployed to aid in detection and intimidation. <stats for these guard animals can be found in the SR5 Core book>

Personnel on the ground are limited, due to the sheer amount of ground to cover, but lookouts are posted on top of the corporate complex with long range weapons, if needed.  In the corporate building, there are more personnel, including several security spiders and deckers.  A fleet of security vehicles are available should the local garrison need to be deployed.

The front gate of the complex is open during the day, though they will need to stop for a credentials check by security.  At night the gate is locked and is only opened for recognized vehicles and a personalized entry code.

Nature-Taste is not currently hiring and has a staggered guard rotation every four hours.  They handle their own HVAC maintenance and use registered Aztechnology providers for their agricultural supplies.

Matrix:  The Nature-Taste host is designed to look like an old school farmer’s market.  Blue skies overhead with a few clouds and a perfect breeze roll through the system as automated systems populate the node, looking like eager buyers.  The scent of honey and fresh produce is carried on the breeze.  Samples of the food are on display and with full simsense immersion, you can taste the freshly prepared vegetables and fruit.  Users can order food deliveries and bulk orders from the automated merchants.

Beyond the facade of the marketplace, the artificial shoppers hide the backdoor into the main system, where they can gain access to either Operations or Personnel.  Operations govern security and the maintenance of the crops, where personnel is more human resources info, payroll and employee dossiers.  The Operations system resembles the interior of the corporate complex, while the Personnel node looks like a cozy HR executive’s office.

Operations:  Host Rating 9

Attack: 10, Sleaze: 9, Data Processing: 12, Firewall: 11
Patrol IC is always running.  Other IC activates in the following order:  Killer, Marker, Scramble, Acid, Jammer, Blaster, Binder, Crash, Sparky, Black.  If one is bricked, it carries on before rebooting.  If the alarm persists for 4 rounds, two deckers will arrive.

Personnel:  Host Rating 6

Attack: 6, Sleaze: 7, Data Processing: 8, Firewall: 9
Patrol IC and one decker is always running.  Other IC activates in the following order:  Killer, Probe, Bloodhound, Marker, Blaster, Binder, Black.  If one is bricked, it will reboot the bricked IC before progressing.  If the alarm persists for 4 rounds, one more decker will arrive.

Scene 3 – Putting the Fun in Fungi

The mushroom farm is nestled not far from the banks of the Snohomish and the water treatment plant.  Each building is the size of an airport hangar, with 12 buildings in all, in addition to the oversight building.  With mushrooms having an average growth cycle of 60 days, the dozen building are divided into three groups:  Just planted, mid-growth and harvest.  The runners can use their discretion as to which of these batches they wish to sabotage (though the batch ready for the harvest may be the hardest, as they are already being collected and may require physical destruction).

Each growth center is two-thirds farm space and the rest for the complex needs.  The farm itself can be partitioned off in the case of contaminants being introduced to one portion of the crop.  The personnel in the farms are botanists and caretakers, not security.  They will alert security at the first signs of intruders or risk to their crop.

The oversight building monitors the environmental settings for each of the dozen buildings (but cannot issue blanket commands), as well as ensuring the water being sent to each building has sufficient purity.  Security and farming foremen frequent the building, but in low numbers.

The environmental controls within each of the farms can increase the temperatures to oven-like temperatures in the case of sterilization being required between crops or rival plant spores being detected.  This can double as a security measure, as the partition can be lowered and the temperature raised for hostile intruders.  Using this heat sterilization automatically triggers an alarm.  The sprinkler systems can be used to release more than just water into the main farm system (however, this is done only under dire circumstances, as it ruins the crop).  This countermeasure also triggers an alarm.

As a safeguard against toxins being introduced into the water at the oversight building, in each bank of mushrooms, there are a couple of genetically engineered mushrooms included that where the other mushrooms compete for the water, this species is a toxin sponge.  The mushroom is a horrible looking thing and the larger it grows, the more intoxicants it pulls from the water.  Slight poisonings will not work.

With the safeguards in place, the runners will need to find ways to destroy four hangars worth of mushrooms without getting detected.  The Matrix system is the same as in Scene 2.  If an alarm is triggered, the runners will have a fight to escape the complex.

>> So… we’re getting paid to ruin some exec’s salad?  Seems like some pretty petty revenge.
>> Havik

>> You have to look deeper than what’s being sabotaged here.  This is all about controlling market share without causing an incident.  Sabotage too little and Nature Taste’s market share won’t be impacted enough.  Destroy too much and Shiawase won’t be able to fill the void, leading to a public incident that will draw media attention.  This is a precision op, not scorched earth.  Combine that with Shiwase’s zero tolerance for mistakes and you’ve got a fine line to walk.
>> Wraith

>> Well, my enthusiasm for this job just went down some…
>> Havik

>> Remain mindful that this impacts the lower class in all Seattle.  Food shortages can be very dangerous and if Shiawase’s product is inferior, you could have the welfare of thousands on your conscious…
>> Tunnel Rat

On the Graves of Old Monsters (Shadowrun)

•October 6, 2017 • Leave a Comment

I ran this particular run for Phantasm in the Fall of 2017.  I treated the main adversaries as if they were Horrors of old, but if you don’t treat the Earthdawn universe as if it were connected, feel free to create your own spirits to serve as the main threat.

Scene 1 – Meeting Mr. Johnson

The runners are contacted by their fixer and offered a job where the location of meet is wherever is convenient for them, as Mr. Johnson wishes to have a digital meeting as opposed to meeting them in person.  They are told to log into a custom node that the fixer will provide to them for 8PM.

Give the runners enough time to gather together in the case of Computer Illiterate characters who cringe at the idea of logging into a Matrix system.

Wherever the runners log in from, when the log into the custom node provided to them by their fixer, they find themselves in a dank and dark dungeon.  The coding for the node seems somewhat incomplete, as while there are effects such as the cold air and the stink of mildew and rot, the textures seem off and details such as what lies beyond the windows are incomplete or generic.

At 8 o’clock on the dot an icon morphs out of the shadows, looming over them in the figure of the grim reaper.  The skull face looks over the assembled runners and nods.  A heavily distorted voice says, “Good.  I’m glad you were able to come.  I have need of capable people who can complete a task for me and your team came highly recommended.”

“There is a new corporate structure currently being built in Auburn that my colleagues would like to see halted.  However, the means I would like to see it halted has been…inconvenienced of late.  What I require is two-fold.  First, you must rescue an associate of mine from his captors… she has the knowledge required to disrupt the construction.  Once you have liberated her, you must protect her while she sets up the disruption.  Once the second task is complete and you have escaped, contact us to receive payment.  Questions?”

Mr. Johnson is with the Brotherhood of Darkness, a magical society that uses dark magics against darker foes.  The site the corporate building is being built on is the former site of the Frontier Frankie’s the runners dealt with before.  The manasphere there is already a mess, and they aim to amplify that substantially, to slow the construction to a crawl.

When the inevitable question of payment arises, he offers the runners 6500¥ each for the job.  He will negotiate some on the price, but won’t go over 9,000¥.  Once the runners agree to the terms, Mr. Johnson’s icon nods.

“Very well.  Your first task is to liberate a friend from the address I’m sending you.  The person you’re after is Kayleigh Alexander… she’s a ne’er do well like yourselves, but she has some knowledge we asked her to acquire that will help with the main objective of the mission.  Once you’ve freed her, you’ll go to this next address and sabotage the construction there with her assistance.  Is there anything else?”

Mr. Johnson will give them as much information as he is comfortable doing.  He will not reveal his affiliations (and if he detects that the runners are trying to ascertain information about him, the call will be immediately terminated), nor will he clarify anything pertaining to what Kayleigh Alexander was doing to get arrested.

Once the runners have had their questions answered, Mr. Johnson hands them the address of where Kayleigh is being held and a commcode to reach him at once they’ve liberated her.

Kayleigh Alexander
Black Mage / Criminal
Possible Sources – Shadowrunners, Magical Societies

1/2 – Kayleigh Alexander is a registered UCAS citizen as a magical consultant on paper.  However, the far-too-perfect history is a good sign that her SIN is a solid fake.

2/4 – Ran the shadows as Lore for many years before retiring into freelancing.  Her magic had been focused on misdirection rather than overt combat and ran with several teams before retiring.

4/7 – Having done extensive initiation over the years, her most recent efforts seem to be theft jobs.  Many of her recent targets have been museums and corporate sponsored archaeological digs.  No one has seen her fence the items she steals, which leads people to believe she is hoarding these relics for something.

7/11 – She is stealing what she steals as she’s on a retainer from some hidden organization.  She needs to make rent somehow and sitting on dusty artifacts won’t pay the bills.

Scene 2 – Military Resistance

The address given to the runners is the corner of Coolidge Avenue and Adams Street in Fort Lewis… the location of the Fort Lewis Stockades.  The strategy the runners choose to employ will likely depend greatly on the knowledge that she isn’t being held by a corporation, but rather the UCAS military.

Being a military prison and dealing with a known, potent mage, Kayleigh has been thrown into a deep dark hole to be forgotten.  Most prisoners get put to work keeping the Interstate (I-5) serviced, but mages can’t be trusted outside of their warded cages.  The runners will need to figure out a way into the stockade to free Kayleigh.

The mages are kept underground, magemasked and cuffed, the entire area warded, as well as each cell to prevent magical collusion.  

Leave the options open as to how the runners gain access to the building and how they get down to the high security detention area.  If the runners can successfully free Kayleigh, she will be a bit jumpy at first after being magemasked for a long while.  Once they get her on an even keel, she tells them that before she can leave she needs to get the object that was confiscated from her when she was arrested.  The artifact holds the power she would need to execute the ritual.

Once they retrieve the artifact (a battered chunk of stone with undecipherable writing) they will need to break out with countless UCAS soldiers converging on their position.

Scene 3 – Grave Underestimation

After freeing Kayleigh and escaping capture from the UCAS Army, the runners are likely to place a call to Mr. Johnson to let him know about the successful rescue of his preferred mage.  He congratulates them on a job well done and tells them to swing by a cemetery on Reid Road to get the final piece of the puzzle before heading on to the address in Auburn.

The cemetery is a relatively new one, with orderly headstones and plaques in tight, organized rows, designed in direct response to the shedim threat, where only ash is interred, rather than actual bodies.

Kayleigh seems to know exactly where she’s headed, walking toward a wall of plaques where memorials are set up for loved ones where remains weren’t to be buried at all.  She searches amongsts the many plaques until she comes to one labelled “Emmett Quill”.  Planting her palm against the plaque she does a hard twist with her wrist and the plaque pops off revealing a hidden compartment.  Reaching in, she pulls out a rolled up piece of paper.  As she grabs the paper, the cemetery fills with the beams of flashlights and several soldiers surround the area, demanding the surrender of both the scroll and the artifact.  Kayleigh staunchly refuses and if the runners stand with her, they will be stuck in a firefight with well-equipped soldiers.

These soldiers are from Wuxing, as the ritual written down on the scroll Kayleigh carries was locked away by the corporation years before but it was recently stolen by Kayleigh’s benefactors, the Brotherhood of Darkness.  Since the theft, Wuxing has been tracking it down, trying to locate it before it is put to use.  They recently located the transporter of the scroll and tortured where it was hidden from the man, but they didn’t know exactly where on the grounds.  So they’ve been staking it out, waiting for the pick up.

If the runners successfully make a Perception+Intuition(4) test upon arriving at the cemetery, they might get a hint that something is off before the ambush.  Wuxing’s men will relentlessly pursue the runners so long as they have the scroll.

Scene 4 – Unleashing the Darkness

Once they have eluded their hunters, when they head to Mr. Johnson’s address, if any runners have previously done “One Night at Frankie’s”, they find themselves at the old address, which has thankfully been torn down at last.  The foundation has been dug out and the supports for the building that will now stand here have been erected.  Kayleigh tells the runners that she needs to get to the center of the foundation and set up the ritual.  They will need to make sure site security doesn’t interfere with the ritual once it begins.

Kayleigh has Efficient Ritual and Geomancy, so she attunes the space first and the ritual will take roughly three hours to complete once it begins.  Between Neo-Net and Wuxing, the runners should be challenged in keeping Kayleigh from being attacked.

If the ritual is disrupted, the magical backlash will mutilate Kayleigh’s body, but the materials will still be usable.  The runners will need to decide if one of them will take over the casting or abort.  If the ritual completes, the artifact shatters and orbs of darkness whirl around the building’s infrastructure.  One of them strikes Kayleigh in the chest and a dark haze fills the building’s foundation.  The runners hear screaming before squelching and the sound of concrete being torn apart.  The remaining orbs scatter around the construction site and take on humanoid forms, wielding large swords of obsidian.  They study the runners with curiousity and make no moves at first.

If the runners do nothing, they walk over to construction equipment and study it for a time before merging with them, amongst the same dark haze as the building foundation.  If the runners attack, the Knights will defend themselves, attempting to slay the runners and use their bodies as vessels.

The spirit that killed Kayleigh emerges from the ground as a blend of concrete, rebar and flesh.  The other Knights that merged will be made of whatever they touched.  If a runner or Wuxing soldier was unfortunate enough to be touched, the Knight becomes a demonic being resembling whomever they touched.

Much like bug spirits, these things die once their chosen vessel has been disrupted.  Being magical abominations, any spirits the runners summon are quite eager to destroy these creatures.  After the battle, not only is the site in ruin, but the background count is horribly corrupted.

After the spirits are destroyed, when the runners call up Mr. Johnson, he expresses sorrow about Kayleigh’s death and confusion about how the ritual went down.  In order to “buy the runner’s discretion”, he offers an additional 2,000¥ without prompting.

>> Now see… this is more my speed.  Blowing up corporate territory is what I do best.
>> Burn

>> If only it were so simple.  Look at the area’s history.  There’s more at play here than simply knocking down some building supports.
>> Arktik

>> Plus take a close look at the hired help.  She’s not exactly a lone wolf either.  She has her own allegiances that tells anyone willing to look that something
>> Heretic

Instant Fame (Shadowrun)

•September 5, 2017 • 1 Comment

The runners are contacted by their fixer and told of a job that could create some valuable allies, if they’re willing to work for the Johnson.  Mr. J wants to meet with them personally at the Snohomish Sheraton at 9PM.

Scene 1 – Not Trying to Hide

The Sheraton in Snohomish has seen better days.  The building shows its age with old style lit up sign (that barely lights up anymore), weathered brick facade and derelict pool.  The inside isn’t much better than the outside, with faded, stained wood and peeling paint in places.  The teenager behind the counter looks incredibly bored, typing with her friends on her commlink.  If the runners ask to see Mr. Johnson, she rolls her eyes, thumbs over her shoulder toward the dining hall and says “He’s in the dining room…”

The dining room is dimly lit and smells heavily of carpet cleaner and disinfectant.  Mixed with the pungent stink of overzealous cleaning is the smell of cheap cigar smoke.  Several bodyguards sit around the room with submachine guns at their sides, making no effort to conceal their arsenal.  Sitting at a large table is a slim dwarven man with the cheap cigar clamped in his teeth.  “Welcome!  Please, help yourself to the bar.  I gave the staff the night off.”

Mr. Johnson is a man who likes to parade his station by dressing well and showing his manicured nails and neatly trimmed goatee, but the hotel and his cigars showcase that he’s a cheapskate.  The bodyguards are definitely wary of the runners and their hands never stray far from their weapons.

Once the runners are seated, the dwarven Johnson looks around the table as he takes a long drag from his cigar.  “All right, I’m not going to beat around the bush.  My daughter, Michaela, is huge fan of that trid show… you know the one with all the people who scheme against each other… *snaps his fingers* GOD is Watching!  That’s the one.  Yeah, she’s a big fan.  She wants to be on it and after three seasons, her applications still keep getting refused.  I want you to make sure she’s on it this year.  I don’t care how you do it, just make it happen.  My princess deserves a turn in the spotlight.”

Mr. Johnson is Colm McCarthy, a Capo in the Finnegan family.  A small time slumlord and drug peddler, he likes to think of himself as a big shot in Snohomish.  He makes a profit off the backs of independent farmers and local shopkeepers and then hoards his wealth, trying to raise his visible station.

When asked about the amount of payment, he shrugs.  “I dunno, I’m just asking you to make a few threats to a few key people.  I figure 4,000¥ each oughta cover it.”

He will be a frugal negotiator, but will offer up (100¥ * number of runners) per net success.  Each dollar he coughs up is almost physically painful, but the one thing he loves more than his wealth is his daughter.

Once the runners sign on, he claps his hands and rubs them together.  “Perfect!  They’re supposed to be filming this season in Toronto.  So, go and find the people who call the shots and make it happen.  When Michaela gets that phone call, you get paid.”

If the runners balk at the idea of ponying up for their plane tickets, Mr. Johnson will mumble about them “bleeding him dry” and offer them an advance on the job of 1,000¥ apiece to buy the tickets.

Mr. Johnson (Colm McCarthy)
Finnegan Family Capo
Possible Sources – Mafia Contacts, Snohomish Underworld Figures
1/2 – Mr. Johnson is Colm McCarthy.  He’s a two-bit slum lord and drug dealer, turned Finnegan Capo due to his ability to bleed people dry.
2/4 – Capo McCarthy is one of the few Mafiosos in Snohomish and as a result, he likes to play up his position.  When compared to the major city centers, McCarthy’s name is rarely mentioned.
4/7 – His bodyguards are very loyal, as he pays them far better than other Soldatis in his employ.  Only employees that go above and beyond get promoted to McCarthy’s entourage.  Many Soldatis see assignments to McCarthy’s detail as a punishment, as shaking down farmers is hardly glamorous work.
7/11 – McCarthy has a few weaknesses that can be exploited in a pinch: his daughter Michaela is the center of his world and she could be used as leverage.  He has also been holding out on La Familia, as he has undisclosed greenhouses of drugs being grown, of which he keeps the profits for himself.

Michaela McCarthy
Capo’s Daughter
Possible Sources – Mafia Contacts, Snohomish Underworld Figures, Party Scene
1/2 – Michaela is a curvy, blonde (not naturally) dwarf woman with a sense of entitlement and little common sense.
2/4 – She is known to have her old man wrapped around her finger.  She has spent thousands of his money on cosmetic surgery, lavish parties and jetsetting vacations.  The Capo plays that he has a lot of money, but she spends it nearly as fast as he can bring it in.
4/7 – Rumour has it that she has slept with many of her Dad’s loyal soldiers and those the Capo catches get promoted so he can watch them more closely.
7/11 – Word on the street in Snohomish is that Michaela’s spending has been getting worse all the time and McCarthy is starting to struggle to make his regular payments.  Getting Michaela onto her favourite show will get her out of Seattle for at least a month and with her gone, he will have a chance to try and balance the books.

GOD Is Watching
Reality Trid Show
Possible Sources – Pop Culture (almost any contact or Matrix Search will yield results)
1 – “GOD Is Watching” is a reality show in a vein of the old TV show “Big Brother” from Amalgamated Studios, like most overly-trodden ideas.  People from across the globe are tossed together into a house/hotel and are asked to perform often-silly activities to compete with their fellow residents.
2 – The hosting city is chosen by lottery and the location dictates things like Native tongue and the theme of the challenges the players have to accomplish.  The three dimensional layout of the building is available at all times and viewers can view the action in VR as if they were in the middle of the show.
4 – The ratings for the last couple of episodes were the highest yet, but the cities chosen where Delhi and Shanghai, so the populations of those regions caused the ratings to spike.  The producers of the show are worried about how a season based in Toronto will fare in comparison.
6 – In an effort to boost the ratings, the show is to take place at Casa Loma, a Gothic style castle in the heart of the city.  The games will take on a similar medieval theme on the show.  However, the producers are having issues with getting the permits from the city, as the site will not be available for the public to view for over a month, costing the city much needed revenue.

Scene 2 – Hollywood North

With the flight being domestic between Seattle and Toronto, unless the runners do something truly outlandish at the airport, the trip should be of little consequence.  Pearson Airport is the third busiest airport in the UCAS, only slower than SeaTac and JFK.  With the rapid escalation the city saw when California went independant, Pearson is not a well designed airport.  After a couple of hours, the runners finally have their belongings and step out into the busy city.

This scene will be vastly freeform, as the runners could pursue multiple avenues of investigation while in Toronto.  The producers of “GOD Is Watching” are put up in the Ritz-Carlton hotel in the heart of the city, so to access their personal data or strong-arm the people making the casting choices, the runners may choose to infiltrate the hotel.  They may pay a visit to Casa Loma to scope out the pending set and corner some of the staff.  They may try to bribe city officials to reject the permits to draw targets out into the open.

Amalgamated Studios has a small studio in Toronto under the Global Studios umbrella.  Serving primarily as an ad company, the company serves as the main bank roller for local filming.  The runners may choose to go after the studio itself to gain information about the casting process.

The studio receives thousands of applications from around the world, of which they choose 12 people to be on the show.  They weigh things like language barriers, personality profiles (overall amicable, but with room enough for conflict), appearance and retaining the appearance of a world demographic.

Matrix: The Toronto grid has been beautifully sculpted to look like the city during the summer; bright blue skies and warm sun during the day, or the Toronto skyline lit up with the CN Tower prominently visible and spotlights rising up into a starry sky.  Numerous tourist attractions can be viewed by accessing the CN Tower.  Filming schedules and night spots can be found by accessing the spotlights while towers in the skyline allow users to access everything from hotels, banking, jobs and boat tours on Lake Ontario.

Intrepid visitors could go to the less glitzy side of the node to find access to the Toronto’s largest illegal export: BTLs.  Runners might be able to hang around to gain access to the GreatLakesNet, the shadow network that runs in secret throughout the city.

Amalgamated Studios
“A” Rated Media Corporation
Possible Sources – Corporate Contacts, Trid Pirates
1/2 – Amalgamated Studios was once the largest media conglomerate in the world.  Owned most of Hollywood until Crash 2.0 wiped out every bit of film they had shot in the past year.  They lost millions and had to reshoot everything.  As their subsidiaries went broke, Horizon bought them up.
2/4 – After falling from a AA megacorp to barely clinging to A status, they repurposed what few studios they had left to keep themselves afloat.  They film advertisements, reality shows, nature documentaries and even porn now.
4/7 – With the past few seasons of “GOD Is Watching” breaking ratings records, they’ve had several instances of rival studios trying to steal top talent from both cast and crew.  Since it’s one of the few money makers they have going on at the moment, they’ve taken to hiring Lone Star to protect their assets during filming sessions.
7/10 – Horizon has been causing enough interference for Amalgamated in recent productions, that there are rumours that branches of AS are starting to get into more risque practices and airing more controversial material, to save themselves from being completely barred by their long-time rival.

Scene 3 – Path of Resistance

Depending on the path the runners have taken, they are likely to encounter resistance.  The type of resistance they are likely to encounter may vary.  The most likely obstacle they will run into will be in the form of Lone Star, who has been brought in as personal security to protect the production crew and writers for the next season from Horizon-sponsored attacks.

Lone Star has to use non-lethal force in areas like Casa Loma or the Ritz-Carlton, as they are public venues with a risk for civilian casualties, but if the runners are caught on Amalgamated Studios property, Lone Star is free to use whatever force they deem appropriate.

Other forms of resistance could be:

  • Toronto Police getting involved during altercations around Casa Loma, having a pissing match over jurisdictions with Lone Star
  • If the runners snoop around Global Studios enough, they could uncover the BTL operation in the back lot of the studio.  While it arms the runners with solid blackmail material they can use on the producers, it can draw the ire of the local Triad operation funding the operation
  • A double-edged sword could be that the casting director’s hotel has been leaked to the press and as a result a mob of wannabe stars are swarming the hotel, trying to get past security to offer “private auditions”.  While it is keeping Lone Star very busy, it has also heightened their security and their sensitivity to every passerby.
  • City officials responsible for providing the permits to use Casa Loma are currently involved in a bidding war between Amalgamated Studios, local interests whose business is tied to the successful operation of Casa Loma and those who wish to see the show fail.  If the runners try to bribe the officials, but underbid considerably, the officials may notify interested parties about runners getting involved.

These are not the limit to the resistance that can be thrown at the runners, but could be used in a pinch.  Once the runners have overcome the obstacles presented and convince the casting director to use Michaela for his show, they had better oversee the phone call to Mr. Johnson, because if the candidacy is not validated in the runner’s presence, the job is ultimately failed.

>> This is some bottom-rung shit here, my friends.  Rigging a reality show for some two-bit Mafioso?  Really?
>> Skeptik

>> You might want to watch what you say.  There are certain people here who might take offence to your tone…
>> Pentito

>> Can we not have this conversation devolve into petty threats?  Anyone have anything useful to contribute?
>> EyeSpy

>> Just be careful… you have a stingy employer first of all.  You have a company desperate to cling to their fleeting status, who have hired Lone Star as security, who are equally desperate to not lose any more ground to Knight Errant.  Then there’s the viper’s nest that Toronto’s media climate has become.  Expect to be backstabbed and short-changed… welcome to Hollywood…
>> Fade

The Shadow of Elterwig Manor (7th Sea 2nd Ed)

•July 4, 2017 • Leave a Comment

This is the first game of 7th Sea’s newest incarnation that I ran at a convention.  Overall, the game went pretty well, given that I had only GMed the system twice before then…

Scene 1 – A Town in Need

The Heroes have been on the road for several days when they arrive in the town of Pratchig in Northern Eisen.  The Posen region of Eisen saw the least amount of conflict in the Thirty Years War, so travelling across the Northern portions of the country allowed them to see the best Eisen had to offer.  After visiting Posen, the road turned south and took them into the forest town they now look upon.

Pratchig is a small town, that still shows signs of the past war, but is getting back onto its feet.  The surrounding forest has been pushed back, cleared for supplies in the repairs and to cultivate additional farmland to help meet national demand.  Despite the harsh landscape and the post-war conditions, the Heroes are greeted warmly by those in town.

The Heroes are free to walk around town, get some warm food (albeit simple) and a dry place to rest their heads.  Unless they actively alienate the townsfolk by antagonising them or preaching the Vatacine faith, the people here are kind but tired.  As they talk to the townspeople, they hear tales of the city’s young adults disappearing in the night.  If they inquire, they are told to talk to the mayor about the situation, if they are interested in helping.

The Mayor is no nobleman, but rather a retired soldier who saw fit to try and make an attempt to undo the damage he had had a part in during the war.  When asked about the missing people, he is saddened that many of their young people have disappeared over the past several weeks.  They have searched the woods for them, but there is never a trace left behind.  Repair efforts on the city have stalled without the strongest, most able-bodied people to help out.  He offers the Heroes a reward if they could lend a hand and try to locate their people.

The villagers talk about a village to the south, where the woods have grown dark and its people reclusive.  While they have few dealings with the people of Elterwig, it is the first place the villagers recommend they check.

Scene 2 – Town of Shadows

The road south from Pratchig is clear and well worn, showing signs that armies used this road to try to cover their movements under the forest canopy.  As they continue down the road, the trees get thicker and loom over the road.  Evidence of graves of fallen soldiers are present along the road and the air noticeably chills as a fog creeps in.

Depending on what time of day the Heroes arrive, the town is quite different.  During the day, the townsfolk are out and attempting to reinforce their homes, rather than trying to rebuild the village.  They are extremely suspicious of outsiders and their reactions range from dismissive to outright hostile.  Public spaces, such as inns and taverns have all but fallen into disrepair and the innkeeper of the village will need to be persuaded to even rent them a room for the night.  The town has a general tone of fear and people will be extremely reluctant to tell them anything for fear of what might happen to their loved ones.

At night, the town is practically boarded up in the face of some undescribed horror.  If the Heroes arrive in the middle of the night, they can find the plague that hunts the villagers in the streets, but if they showed up in the day and either camped outside the village or stayed in the inn, they will quickly discover what the village of Elterwig fears; the bodies of the fallen soldiers from the war sweep into the village and attempt to drag away any who had not defended themselves adequately.

There is one Strength six Brute Squad per player of undead men and women who move more agilely than one might expect.  They have the traits of Nocturnal and Unliving.

Once the Heroes have defeated the undead hordes, the villagers, who watched from their windows, praying for the Heroes to win, will emerge and thank them for saving them from the scourge, but warn that there are always more to come.  They will be far more supportive to the Heroes, once they’ve proved their mettle.

Scene 3 – The Darkness on the Hill

The village of Elterwig don’t know exactly what is going on and what has brought the dead back to haunt their village, but they suspect that it has something to do with the reclusive mayor of the town, Dirk Volker von Maier.

Mayor von Maier saw much of his family killed in the war and after the war ended, the stark conditions left behind saw his wife fall ill and eventually succumb to her poor health.  After his wife died, he was almost never seen in town again.  But sightings of the dead started to occur and increase in frequency.  The mayoral residence is a manor on top of the hill on the village’s east side.  No one has successfully visited the house since the dead started stealing away the villagers.

A cold rain begins to fall as the Heroes near the manor.  The house is dark without signs of movement on the property.  Nearing the house reveals the truth… the dead guard the grounds as newer victims of the mayor burst out of the flower beds around the property.  These are similar to the ones the Heroes faced in the village.

Inside the house, they find the place to be devoid of presence.  Dust has not settled in, however, and they are confronted by abominations created as part of a twisted experiment, where human and animal have been blended (humans with wolf’s head, bipedal insect people and other chimeras).  All chimeras are Villains with Strength 5 and the quality Fearsome.  The insectoid men also possess the quality Chitinous.

The exception to this is the body of von Maier’s wife, who looks as she once did, but with pale skin and sunken eyes.  She is guarded by one of the chimeras, but she acts cheerful and asks them if they will be staying for dinner.

With the chimeras under control, the Heroes will need to head to the basement to meet the mayor.

Scene 4 – The Man Behind the Madness

The basement of the mayor’s manor is a stark contrast to the main level.  Where the main part of the house is upkept to maintain a normal appearance, the basement does little to mask the downward spiral the man has taken.  Part of the basement has been converted to a prison where the captured villagers are held until they are needed or die from starvation, at which point they are used for parts for experiments or drafted into his collection staff.

Books outlining insane magics litter the room, demonstrating that the man is experimenting in the darkest side of Hexenwerk.  The central part of the basement is the mayor’s lab, where he is found grinding up body parts for his next round of experiments.

“You!  You are not supposed to be here.  Bewachen!  Deal with them!”

A mountain of flesh and bone staggers out of a hidden room to the side of the lab.  An amalgam of several human bodies, the creature turns what might be a merge of face and torso to the Heroes and lets out a guttural roar before lurching towards the Heroes.

Dirk von Maier – Strength 3, Influence 5
The mayor is not a fighter.  He has a slight build and appears malnourished.  Wearing a bloody smock, he has no armor to speak of.  If any of the Heroes avoid Bewachen and come for him, he has several prepared Unguents on his work space.  He coats poison on his blade that causes severe hallucinations to any he strikes.  He will also snatch up a dose of Black Broth and gulp it down, retching slightly before his body ripples in rapid muscle expansion.  Confident in his new power, he will forgo the sword and attack hand to hand, if he is allowed to consume the potion.

Bewachen – Strength 10
Forged from several victims being spliced together, Bewachen (German for Guard) is a lumbering beast of pure damage.  Unintelligent, it unleashes its anger on whatever it is instructed to or anything that causes it pain.  Has the Monstrous Qualities of Fearsome and Powerful.

With both Bewachen and von Maier defeated, the Heroes can free the prisoners and receive their reward for rescuing people (Wealth 2 per Hero).

The Silence of the Haven

•June 19, 2017 • 1 Comment

So, I haven’t posted anything for a couple of months… truth being told, not a lot has been written in that time.  Life has been busy in all the wrong ways lately when it comes to gaming.

So, I got laid off back in February and while one might think that all the free time that provides would prove ideal for writing, the crappy job market where I am has forced me to spend as many hours as possible on the job search.

Not helping matters was the complete and utter derailment of my most recent campaign.  I mentioned my most recent project on my New Years post, where I built a 10+ part campaign that was going to travel the globe with a collective team of runners… well, I got 1.75 runs into the material before the players left the core plot behind and got further and further away from where they needed to be to progress the plot.  So after months of trying to think of a way to get the campaign back on the rails, but general consensus, the campaign is being shelved.  The characters are currently in the back of SWAT vehicles and on the road to be disappeared and so it goes, I guess.

I will probably re-tool the campaign in the future and try again with another group… fix the limitations I wrote into the story arc and see if the next group of players will jump through more than one of my hoops.

What that means for the Data Haven is that there really isn’t anything for me to add to the site, as I plan on reworking what has been written, and will eventually write the other 80% of the plot… so rather than players reading what is to come, I will keep the campaign close to the vest.

I do have one run I will post soon that I recently wrote up for a one-off, plus I have a blueprint for a shorter, less ambitious plot arc that will hopefully not trigger my players’ acute sense of paranoia.

With luck, I will start having new material to post in the near future.