Welcome to the Data Haven

•December 2, 2008 • 13 Comments

Hello chummers.  😉

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

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

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

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

J.

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

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Demons of a Fallen God Pt 1 – Buried Treasure (Shadowrun)

•July 27, 2018 • Leave a Comment

This is the introductory adventure for the first of two ongoing Shadowrun campaigns.  For this campaign, I have the distinct pleasure of running a game for an all-female player group.  As the story unfolds, all information on the story can be found posted here.

The team is rallied by Jaeger, the Fractured fixer, in regards to some work needing to be done for the company.  He asks the team to get together at the barracks to discuss the details at 20:00 (8pm).

Scene 1 – Assemble the Troops

The barracks for the Fractured are an old motel and bar that the mercenary company maintains, where many of the motel rooms have been converted into an armory, sleeping quarters and technological infrastructure for a rally point and basic needs for the outfit.

Jaeger is at the bar, nursing a drink when the team arrives.  He leaves the bottle of Russian vodka on the bar, if the runners want to help themselves and once everyone has gathered, Jaeger settles onto a bar stool and addresses the company.

“Good day, everyone.  I apologize for bringing everyone here on such short notice, but the matter I need resolved is a matter of some importance and immediacy.  Before signing on with the Fractured, I kept boltholes that contained the spoils of old jobs… things I couldn’t sell at the time because they were too hot, so I buried it until things cooled off.  However, in a couple of cases, I wasn’t able to return to collect the goods, due to not being welcome within the country any longer. I recently learned that one of my old storehouses is about to be knocked down and turned into a new corporate facility and I’m pretty sure I have some data there that is worthwhile to our company.

“Therefore, I’m asking you to go to Prague to retrieve two old data drives.  These are from well before the days of wireless tech, so you’re going to have to find the case they’re in and physically bring me the drives.  I don’t want any of the potential data falling into the hands of a corp, just in case anything on those drives is even remotely relevant. I can pay you each 6,000¥ for the trouble, or I can owe you one, if you don’t need the cash right away.”

Jaeger really doesn’t recall what is on those drives, but he’s not about to let his spoils fall back into the hands of corporations after he went to the trouble of stealing it from them in the first place.

Jaeger can negotiate some, but the money for this job is his own personal funds, so his flexibility is less than it might be normally.  Once the runners sign on, he provides the team with GPS coordinates for his old storage space and tells them that Proteus is the company breaking ground over his old squat.

“You should be able to access the area through some maintenance tunnels at Malo-Stranska Station.  Most of the area should be sealed off due to the Proteus development, but do try to keep a low profile so not to draw corporate attention.  With luck, you can find the drives and get them out of there before Proteus even knows they exist.”

Jaeger will set the team up with the method of transit into the Czech Republic that they want to use.

Matrix:  Should the team want to get a head start on legwork for the job, they will have some Noise modifiers to deal with.  While still in the Ukraine, they will need to jump from UkraiNet onto the Czech Grid, plus the Noise modifier is 9 or 10 (8 from distance between HQ and Prague and 1 or 2 for city inference, depending on where the team is at the time of the search).

Scene 2 – The Melting Pot

Prague is known as the Golden City of the Czech Republic.  A beacon of tolerance, education and culture. Overseen by the great dragon Schwartzkopf, the area is a beacon of prosperity and corporate moderation in the face of corporate dominated Germany to the west and the war ravaged areas of Eastern Europe to the southeast.  Racial tolerance in the city is some of the best in all of Europe and Charles University is one of the most advanced magical institutions in the world, thanks to Schwartzkopf himself lecturing on the subject in his true form.

Away from the classic architecture, in the western part of the downtown center is the corporate district.  Jammed together in towering skyscrapers, each trying to out-do the last, many of the more tolerant corporations have offices here:  Evo, Ares, Saeder Krupp and Aztechnology all have subsidiaries, as well as many AA corps, including Spinrad Industries and Proteus AG.

Like any city with a thriving corporate sector, the city is under heavy construction all over.  In order to maintain the appearance of the city, as much of the city overhaul is masked to not cloud the city’s history or cause significant traffic delays as possible.  Whether the runners drive around town or rely on the transit system, they will find several portions of the city inaccessible due to restoration or expansion.

The area around Malo-Stranska station is one of those areas.  Proteus has cleared out several older buildings that housed smaller business in order to expand their influence in the city.  When the foundation they wished to put in place interfered with the underground tunnel network that the metro used, the company paused to negotiate with the dragon on sealing off the old tunnels to allow the renovations to continue.  While the negotiations are underway, other areas of the construction continue to progress, but Proteus stands at the ready for when they get the green light.

The runners have a couple of ways to proceed:  infiltrate the Proteus construction site to where they are nearing Jaeger’s old bolthole and access it from there, or go in through the subway, access the tunnels and try and slip into Proteus from there.

In both areas, Proteus has guards on the ground (in the subway station, they are notified when the tunnels are entered, but have no jurisdiction beyond Proteus’ land claim).  The surveillance is more prevalent in the subway, but security is thicker in the compound to compensate for the lack of infrastructure.

If the runners can circumvent security in one way or another, they will find an old maintenance closet that has been retired due to newer infrastructure.  Behind one of the electrical panels, they find a makeshift room made from the interior of derelict server cases. A moldy old cot sits in one corner, as well as a few old sidearms with bullets for them.  While almost everything here appears undisturbed, the paydata they were sent to retrieve is not here.

Whether through hacking the nearby hosts, interrogating a soldier or some other viable investigation, they learn that one of the Proteus archaeologists that discovered the site had found the room, and made off with something inside for appraisal.  The runners will need to investigate to track the man down and where he went to fence the data.

Matrix:  The Czech Local Grid is sculpted to appear as a vast landscape, dotted with rivers, mountains and small villages.  At its center is a large 17th century citadel representing Prague.  Each village represents a city of the country, but the capital shows as a radiant city of gold.  Tourist areas outside of the cities can be found in the ways of small icons dotting the landscape.  Once accessed any of the cities appear as a large park area, ringed with assorted buildings according to their functions (shops, government, corporations not on their own grid, etc).

Prague Transportation Authority

The government host of Prague is rendered like a traditional public building from days past.  The walls and floors are marble and granite, large analog clocks loom overhead to tell the time in the city’s local time zone and a Czech flag hang prominently just above the eye level.  The air smells of musty old paper. The various branches of government each have a doorway off the main corridor. While entering the lobby is open access for all, many branches of government are not open for all to see.  Stepping into any of the branches except the tourism division requires at least a Mark. The transit authority is not the most dangerous node on the host and like many government systems, they would rather leave the intrepid hacker alive for questioning, rather than putting them to death.

Icons for files are rendered as old-style manilla folders, employees are rendered as humanoid clerks, with their profile image superimposed on their face and IC appear as faceless men in security guard uniforms.

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

Security Protocol – Patrol IC running at all times, Junior security officer on regular patrols

Once an alarm has been triggered, IC activates in this order: Probe, Scramble, Track, Jammer, Marker, Crash.  If an IC is crashed, the host will reboot the IC before moving on to the next stage. A security spider will log on after 3+1d6 combat rounds after the alarm is triggered.

Proteus AG

Being a AA corporation, Proteus has its field office well defended.  Using their standard iconography, the Proteus host gives a Jules Verne vibe to the node, with an underwater shining citadel with gleaming white structures, schools of colorful fish out every window and a feeling of expansive comfort and prosperity.  Every space feels grand in design; no tight quarters or narrow hallways and company slogans and ads are splashed over every available surface in the host’s atrium, should they enter that way. However, once the alarm has been raised, the host changes to be darker, more menacing.  The walls seem tighter, the water outside gets darker and more menacing and the temperature falls as the sunlight no longer seems to penetrate so deeply.

Icons for files or devices are rendered as technological parallels, taking on an old embellished nautical theme.  Employees are rendered as smiling versions of themselves, wearing Proteus uniforms. Probe IC appear as a middle aged gentleman with a pistol on his hip.  Once the alarm has triggered, they take on the form of Proteus security, or carnivorous aquatic life.

Host Rating 8
Standard Configuration – Attack 8, Data Processing 9, Sleaze 10, Firewall 11

Security Protocol – Patrol IC running at all times, 2 Junior security officer logged on at all times.

Once an alarm has been triggered, IC activates in this order: Probe, Track, Tar Baby, Marker, Shocker, Crash and Killer.  If an IC program is crashed, it will move to the next stage before reloading the crashed program. A security spider will log on after 1d6/2 combat rounds after the alarm is triggered.

Scene 3 – Bones of the Old

After some digging on the part of the runners, they learn that one of Proteus’ employees had found the bolthole in the subway and found the old drives.  However, the Proteus middle manager was uninterested in the ancient technology and so the opportunistic employee went in search of a buyer.

Armed with the name Otto Kohler, the team’s hacker (or a hired decker) can search the Czech grid for the man and hack his commlink to learn his destination (or merely run an active trace on the commcode and follow him).  Digging into the man’s commlink reveals both his destination (the Kutna Hora Ossuary) and who he is dealing with (a Vory fence).

The Bone Cathedral is 70 km east of Prague and was chosen due to its seemingly aberrant trait… spirits fear the place due to the bones of the dead seemingly being able to imprison spirits within its walls.  In order to prevent astral spying, the local Vory have taken a shine to the place, much to the chagrin of the clergy. Being in the center of a massive graveyard, people come and go all the time, both to visit the ancient site, but pay respects to the dead on what has been deemed holy earth.

When the runners enter the ossuary, the astral space here feels strange and, if the runners come at night, a faint astral glow seems to line the outer walls.  Spirits in the service of the team magicians will tell their summoners of their distaste for the place and ask politely if they could not be summoned within the site.  The transaction is in progress when they arrive, with Kohler and the fence kneeling before the cross amidst the bone “bells” and several armed Vory guards standing around the outside of the small space.  The bone walls, floor and chandelier create an eerie atmosphere that even the runners can feel and the air temperature is a few degrees cooler here. The ossuary has a handful of other worshipers, all waiting to have a chance to pray at the morbid altar.

Shooting up the ancient building will earn the runners notoriety in some circles, but the Vory have no issues bringing weapons to bear if the runners go to interfere.  Given the tight quarters of the ossuary itself, runners may opt to wait in the graveyard to ambush the Vory thugs as they exit the site, but the innocent citizenry at the site could panic if gunfire breaks out and the authorities will certainly be notified, putting the runners on the clock before the police arrive.

Once they retrieve the hard drives, they will need to flee the scene before the police or further Vory descend on them.  They will need to find a way to lose any pursuers they have and arrange a return to the Ukraine. Once they return to Kiev, Jaeger pays them what he promised, if they wanted the cash, or he will keep their favor in mind for the future.  He tells the runners to hang onto the hard drives until he can get a hold of the required hardware to extract the data.

Matrix:  With Kohler’s commlink being the primary focus of this scene, the runners will need to be on the Czech grid to locate his commlink.  Kohler is using an Erika Elite (DR 4), so breaching the firewall shouldn’t be too difficult and aside from alerting him that the device has been breached, there is no defense against intrusion.  Noise is 6 while inside Prague, dropping to 5 outside the city limits (5 from distance, 1 or 0 for wireless traffic).

Should the runners want to hack the Ossuary, the old medieval building only has minor Matrix infrastructure set up and mainly for tourists.  The PAN controlling the Ossuary consists of a DR 5 device that controls the ARO of the site (mostly historic billboards about the site and they are all within the chapel and graveyard, not in the Ossuary) and a DR 6 device that controls the environmental effects (heat or A/C in the chapel, lights etc).

Vory Thugs
B4 A5 R4 S4 W4 L3 I4 C3  Init 8+1D6

Physical Limit 5, Mental Limit 5, Social Limit 6

Armor 9

Skills: Automatics 5, Blades 5, Intimidation 6, Perception 2, Pistols 4, Unarmed 6
Qualities: Toughness

HK-227 (SMG, Acc 5(7), 7P, SA/BF/FA, (1), 28(c), Stock, Smartgun, Integral Sound Suppressor)
Lined Coat (9)
Knife
Renraku Sensei Commlink
Optics – Contact Lens 2 (Image Link, Smartlink)

>> Gotta like it when you can do a job in a nice place like Prague, as opposed to some war-torn shithole.
>> Xia

>> War-torn shitholes have perks… you don’t need to worry about police showing up when you start shooting in a war zone.
>> Park

>> Your rules about when it’s OK to shoot people are interesting.
>> Squirrel

>> Oh God, when did they get here?
>> Xia

>> You can’t keep Squirrel out of anything for long.  We’ll just need to keep them contained until needed in Prague, or we also won’t be welcome back when this is done…
>> Park

A New High (Shadowrun)

•July 6, 2018 • Leave a Comment

The runners are contacted by the highest Loyalty underworld contact they have (Mafia/Yakuza/Triad/Vory).  If they don’t know any underworld contacts, their fixer will make that connection for them. The meet location will vary, depending on who the runners are meeting with.

Scene 1 – Paranoia Runs Rampant

Once a meet arrangement has been made, the runners find themselves being pat down, swept and astrally inspected before being allowed to even see Mr. Johnson.  Runners who try to circumvent these measures will be met with deadly force, if they persist on getting in without a search.

Once past the checkpoint, Mr. Johnson apologizes.  “I’m sorry for the heightened security, my friends… recent events have forced me to take some precautions.  A new drug is hitting the streets…normally, when new merchandise arrives we wait and see how it performs and then decide whether to get into the business or crush it.  However, this particular drug has motivated us to act quickly to stop its manufacture.”

“The new drug is a derivative of Guts they’re calling Elev8.  While Guts makes a person fearless, Elev8 also impedes the part of the brain that applies logic and general common sense.  Since this drug hit the streets a week ago, there has been three attempts to overthrow local bosses and five attempts to trigger turf wars with rival syndicates.  We’re not in the business of causing bloodbaths. If this drug continues to circulate, the problem won’t remain behind closed doors for long. I’m willing to pay you 10,000¥ a piece to investigate the manufacture of this drug and put a stop to it.”

Mr. Johnson is one of a few bosses in their organization that survived an assassination attempt by someone who thought they could do better, while under the influence of Elev8.  Rather than risk his position any further, Mr. Johnson wants this drug put to bed.

Mr. Johnson is willing to negotiate to some extent.  Once the runners have agreed to take the job, Mr. Johnson tells them that the man that tried to kill him was gunned down, but another would-be assassin of another boss was taken alive.  He can provide the runners with the location of where the man is being held, in case they’d like to question him. If the runners agree, he’ll give them a personal token they can show when they get to the BNSF Railyard (Burlington North and Santa Fe) train car where the man is being kept.

Matrix:  The Emerald City grid is not likely to be too far away, regardless of where the runners meetup with Mr. Johnson.  The host of the place they meet at will vary, but it is likely to be a low-to-mid range host with moderate defenses overall.

Scene 2 – Catching a Train

The BNSF (Burlington Northern Santa Fe) Railyard is an old railyard, dating back to before the Awakening.  Much of the modern infrastructure is missing here, reducing the once great rail system to a shuttle service around the metroplex.  The old structures show their age, but everything is serviceable and trains run out of the yard on the regular.

It’s also the domain of the O’Malley family and the service lines hold several train cars that are in need of repair in some way shape or form.  Inside of an insulated refrigerator car is the man who wanted to move up the ranks. The guards outside will tell the runners to move along and that the service yard is off limits, but when they see the Johnson’s calling card, they let the runners pass and tell them to step into the fridge.

Inside is a bloodied man in a stained suit strung up from the ceiling by his wrists.  Upon seeing the runners, he immediately begins taunting them, daring them to take their best shot and bragging how he’s going to be the biggest man in all of Seattle.  Viewing his astral signature, a mage can see that he’s still running high on Elev8. Torture and intimidation don’t work, as the man is truly fearless. The runners can hang around until the drug runs out, cast a spell like Detox or do a Logic+Medicine (2) test to flush the drug out of his system before they can get any genuine answers.

As the drug is removed from his blood stream, the gravity of what he’s done will sink in, as will the pain of his recent “questioning”.  When pressed for where he got the drug, he’s quick to offer up his dealer and her usual haunt.

If the runners engage in torture during this scene, feel free to award them Notoriety at the story’s end.

Matrix:  The BNSF host showcases the glory days of the rail company, focusing on the history as one of the largest rail empires in the old United States.  A pristine version of the railyard spreads out before them, with old diesel orange engines stationed facing outwards towards the various geographical regions they deliver to.  Each train links to another part of the network, where as the storage yard details storage fees and with the correct password, details what is currently being held in the yard.

The iconography here shows users in BNSF coveralls and hardhats, while security appear as old time rail security guards.  IC manifests as humanoid constructs made out of railroad materials and move like jerky, stop-motion movie monsters. That said, they are still effective in curtailing intruding deckers.

Host Rating 7

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

Patrol IC is online and running at all times.  When triggered, IC activates in the order: Probe, Killer, Acid, Marker, Catapult, Track, Jammer and Blaster.  Probe and Killer will always get rebooted if bricked, but will otherwise continue down the line. A security decker will log on after 1D6/2 (round up) rounds once an alarm is triggered.

Scene 3 – Rage Contagion

The mobster gave up his dealer, a Chinese woman named Lan Yin and said that she works out of a residential district near the docks.  When the runners arrive, they find the area under a Knight Errant lockdown. Drones circle the area and an AR cordon has been erected over a couple city blocks.  The local toughs, who normally play it low key, got their hands on a sample of Elev8 and they’re exploring all of their delusions of grandeur.

Some are locked into firefights with the police, others are duking it out with each other, others still are exploiting the locals and terrorizing the area.  Navigating the landscape will not be simple, with the police being jumpy and any local being a potential threat.

Lan Yin’s turf is the local pharmacy, where she is selling some less than prescription goods over the counter.  The pharmacy is being overturned by a gang of local goons, looking for another hit. The gangers will fight dirty and to the death.  Lan Yin is in the back room, nursing a gunshot wound and slowly dragging herself to the exit. The first runner through the door will be faced with a pistol shot that narrowly misses from the wounded pharmacist.

Once pacified, Yin tells the runners that her distributor was selling this new product that would make people “feel like God”.  She interpreted that as a new high, not as giving them a God-complex, so she sold a lot of it. With a new resentment for her distributor, she will easily tell them where to find the distribution center.  It’s a fastener warehouse on the northern edge of the neighbourhood.

Scene 4 – Spread the Wealth

The warehouse is a large concrete and metal building with vaulted ceilings and reinforced metal shelves that stretch to the rafters.  Workers are busily moving crates around using forklifts, getting large unmarked containers down from the highest levels and collecting them in the middle of the warehouse floor.

The distributor has been taken over by his clientele.  His dealers (save for Yin) were sampling the merchandise and they’ve decided to cut out the middleman and take over the business.  Some of the crates are filled with dead rivals, while others hold merchandise (not Elev8, but other street narcotics). If the runners make their presence known, the dealer and their crew will try to play it cool as they move towards cover and weapons.  Once they feel they’re in a good position, they will attack.

Other dealers may start filtering in to claim the warehouse as numbers trickle down, so the runners may continue to have new problems arrive.  The distributor is bunkered into a hidden room off of his command center. The command center features extensive computers wired together in a rat’s nest and several dead gangers.  Roof turrets are responsible for the death, controlled from the panic room.

Either the drug distributor himself or the computers can tell the runners about an abandoned pharmaceutical manufacturing building where the Elev8 was being created in.

Matrix:  The system of the distribution center is unsophisticated and has no bells or whistles.  A rudimentary cataloging system tracks the totals for each product (the drugs are not tracked here) and all orders are sorted in a queue for service.  The distributor has some Gen1 hardware he’s rigged up to house his real company data, but it isn’t wirelessly active and will require a hardline into the network.

Host Rating 5

Attack 5, Sleaze 6, Data Processing 8, Firewall 7

Patrol IC is online and running at all times.  When triggered, IC activates in the order: Probe, Killer, Acid, Marker, Catapult, Track, Jammer and Blaster.  Probe and Killer will always get rebooted if bricked, but will otherwise continue down the line. A security decker will log on after 1D6/2 (round up) rounds once an alarm is triggered.

Scene 5 – Cleaning up the Mess

The old pharma business is an old dilapidated structure, whose sign has faded with age, but the proud proclamation that they had been a subsidiary of Fuchi can still be made out.  The interior doesn’t look much better. Gang tags, garbage and a smell of squatters fills the building. Despite the evidence of recent inhabitants, none of the locals appear to be here anymore.  The scurry of rats is the only movement the team is aware of.

Astrally, the building has the normal amount of astral hazing for a squatter’s haunt, but it increases with a feeling of death as they near the building’s center.  They can detect one human life at the building’s heart, who exudes an aura of mild panic.

The middle rooms of the building are shrouded in plastic tarps.  Beyond the tarps are rooms that stink heavily of disinfectant. Flat surfaces have been cleared for working with chemicals and the old scientific equipment discarded with the building has been refurbished and put back to work.  Throughout the workspace, fresh blood has been splattered and the bodies of the workforce lay in still expanding pools of blood. The people here appear to be the local unemployed, put to work in packing pills.

Moving past the rooms of dead workers, they enter what appears to have been the packing area.  The last person left alive in this building is here, pouring gasoline over powder from broken pills.  He is heavily tattooed and wearing an armored vest rigged with explosives. If given the chance to speak, he speaks with a muddled Eastern European accent.  He will talk about the experiment being over and that the runners will never learn anything from the site.

His explosive vest has redundant safeties on it, as there are explosives set up all around the building.  If he hits the detonator, it doesn’t trigger just the vest, but will bring the building down as well. If the signal is jammed, all the explosives lose connection with each other and will detonate independently.  All runners inside the building are buried in rubble as the building comes down on them. If the vest explodes, any runners too close will need to resist damage normally.

Runners outside the explosion can rush into the blast site to rescue teammates, though Knight Errant will arrive very quickly.

End Part 1

Scene 6 – Digging Out

The destruction of the pharmaceutical building will draw a lot of attention, drawing in news drones, police and gawkers alike.  If any of the team were not in the building when it collapsed, they may opt to try and get their teammates out before there are too many onlookers.  Otherwise, the runners find themselves buried in rubble and have to claw their way out or, if badly injured, await rescue.

If the runners are still there when the police arrive, they will be looking at a lot of questions and suspicion.  If they manage to slip away before the police arrive, they may still have drones to contend with, as the media will want to be the ones who break the story and police drones will want to keep track of all suspects.

Runners will need to keep their faces concealed to avoid being captured on camera, unless they’re too badly injured to make their own escape.

(if runners are captured, it may require an extra scene, or a whole extra run to break them out)

Scene 7 – Tracking the Bomber

The man that blew himself up to conceal evidence is dead or in Knight Errant custody, depending on how the runners conducted themselves.  If the runners were able to capture the man’s likeness, they can conduct some legwork to find out who they were dealing with and where he’s been over the past few days.

The man is named Temel Reis and he is a Balkan extremist, who is wanted for several bombings throughout Greece, Turkey and the war-torn Balkans.  His ideology has shifted in recent years, from being strongly anti-Muslim. Originally targeting mosques and Muslim associated enterprises, he had learned that not all Muslims were the enemy, as many Christians were equally, if not more, power-hungry and corrupt.  His focus went from being anti religion to anti-power and he joined several radical anarchist groups in Eastern Europe.

The man in the blast was not Temel Reis, but rather a protege surgically modified to look like him.  Reis has decided to try to take down the corporations, as they are the pinnacle of rampant power and aims to work through like minded pawns.

Either via the Matrix or appropriate contacts, the runners can find evidence of Reis arriving in Seattle via private aircraft and visiting several locations around the city, the former pharmaceutical building included.  The main place Reis frequents is the local branch of Equity; an anarchist activist group. Not known for violence, Equity preaches an experiment in “controlled anarchy”… allowing the people equal say in how business is conducted, rather than advocating for the abolition of all power structures.

Other stops are places for acquiring the ingredients needed for the drug, or explosives.  The main places for the runners to investigate would be the private airstrip and the Equity building.

Scene 8 – Bypassing Customs

The private airstrip that Reis used to get into Seattle is owned by Sofia Volkov, a commercial real estate broker, potential Vory member and wealthy heiress to an Ukranian magnate.  The Bellevue estate is surrounded by a stonework wall and wrought iron fence. The service staff are moving around, doing their daily work, but all seem to be on edge.

If prompted with any force, the staff says that the entire estate has been taken hostage by Reis’ people.  The plane is being guarded, as all the Elev8 manufactured at the now-destroyed facility has been loaded on the plane and ready for distribution.  The runners may take it upon themselves to destroy the plane, or alert Knight Errant, but the staff tells them that Madame Volkov and her family will be put to death if anyone interferes with the plane or its contents.

The runners could potentially free Sofia and her staff if they’re particularly careful at which point Sofia will handle the situation in Ukraine with a couple of phone calls.  With the grounds back under control, the runners could make themselves a very powerful ally.

If the runners can get to Sofia, she tells them that Reis used her family in Ukraine as leverage to be allowed to land his plane in the city and once on the ground, his personal guard took over her home.  She vows to find out who Reis is working with and have them torn down for his transgressions.

Scene 9 – Equity in Treatment

The Equity building is a nondescript brown brick building that resembles an old community center than the base of operations for an anarchist organization.  Their logo, a group of people on equal footing with fists raised, looms over the door into the lobby. The door itself has a simple black equal sign on the door.

The interior is a modestly decorated lobby with simple AR overlaying the walls, outlining Equity’s mission statement:  the dissolution of monolithic corporations and bringing the world to a state of equal economic footing.

The man behind the counter is more than happy to try and recruit the runners.  He will start with small talk and then slowly introduce the group’s rhetoric into the conversation, talking about the average disparity between senior corporate officials and the those that do the actual work that keeps the corporate machine running.

The moment the runners start asking questions about Equity as a movement, the man’s words become more measured, stating that while they advocate for the equity in pay and rights, they would not advocate the use of violence to obtain their goals.  Why endanger those they aim to help? If asked about Temel Reis, the man says that he has no idea who that is.

Upon being shown the man’s face, the man will admit to recognizing the face, but not the name.  If asked what Reis was after, the man says he doesn’t know and that he met with the senior members of the organization.

While the runners busy themselves at the front desk, the senior members have keyed keywords into the security equipment at the front desk and if not disabled, they overhear the conversation the runners are having after Reis’ name is dropped.  In response to the inquiries, the president of Equity Seattle will attempt to sneak out the back door to avoid the thrashing he’s expecting.

If the runners are prepared for this, they can corner the man easily, otherwise, they may need to chase/follow him so they can talk to him about his meeting with Reis.  Under very little pressure, the man confesses that Reis came to him with a plan to bring the corporations down a peg and just needed some able bodied people to do the work.  Equity’s members tend to be those the corps have trodden on, so many unemployed members jumped at the chance to lash out at the companies that laid them off.

In hearing about the building explosion, the president worried about being implicated in the explosion and made plans to flee the country.  He volunteers that there is a second building where the drug is being made and he hopes they can save those people from a second explosion.

Scene 10 – Evening the Odds

The second building is an open warehouse that Reis’ men have taken over.  There are drones in the air on patrol around the outside of the building (MCT Fly-Spy) watching for anyone taking too great an interest in the building.  The interior has been set up with several rows of tables, covered in old scientific equipment where people are working hard at meeting quota while armed guards patrol the room behind them.

The runners will require a certain amount of finesse here.  The guards won’t hesitate to take hostages or shoot the civilians if they feel cornered.  The civilians will either run for any open doors or duck under the tables once bullets start to fly.

If the runners are already banged up from the explosion or taking out Reis’ plane, feel free to have a civilian lend assistance in the form of a distraction or breaking free from being taken hostage.

Either by interrogating one of the guards or plundering their commlink, the runners learn that Reis and his cohorts have ties to Black Crescent back in Constantinople, which is where the formula for making Elev8 originated.  But for now, the runners have flushed the Elev8 ring out of the city and can get paid by their contact.

>> Great another brain-bender hitting the streets.  Didn’t we just do this with Tempo?
>> Corsair

>> Ugh, that Tempo debacle… anyone know who’s behind this one?  KondOrchid and the Cartels got torn down huge after tempo.  You’d think people would learn…
>> Havik

>> This one isn’t spirit inhabitation at least.  This is just pure chemical imbalance.
>> Hel

>> And you would know this how, exactly?
>> Burn

>> The spirits have told me.  I don’t expect your dull mind to understand.
>> Hel

>> Uh guys, before you guys get banned, I’m curious… if all the big underworld boys want this product off the street, then who’s distributing it?
>> Glasgow

Hostile Nature (Shadowrun)

•June 1, 2018 • Leave a Comment

This was an adventure I ran at the Phantasm: Spring Equinox Convention in 2018.

The runners are contacted through their usual channels in regards to a data plant and steal.  If they’re willing to hear out Mr. Johnson, they would like to meet with them at the Seattle Aquarium at 8PM.

Scene 1 – Beneath the Waves

The Seattle Aquarium sits on the water’s edge of the Downtown area.  The area doesn’t see much traffic outside of tourists and aquatic life enthusiasts, which helps with the privacy required for a meeting.  One of the viewing domes has been sectioned off by aquarium personnel, but when they ask where to find Mr. Johnson, they are allowed entrance to the closed off section.

The room is a half-sphere, with the waters of Puget Sound are all around them.  Normally, the aquarium does a solid job of keeping the waters around the aquarium clear, but today the water is marred with a potent algae bloom and the mutated wildlife that frequents the Sound are parading in front of the glass, gobbling up the thick soup.

Guards stand on either side of the entrance to the bubble and a woman stands with her arms behind her back, scowling at the greenish-brown water.  “It’s truly amazing how much damage we’ve done to the ecosystem, isn’t it?”

Whether one of the runners responds or not, she turns to face them, revealing an attractive, elven face with several tattoos on her cheekbones, earlobes and on the left side of her neck.  “I’m glad you came on limited notice. I have need of your team’s skills. Evo maintains a security animal training facility within the city limits. While they claim that everything is above board, we’ve obtained word that they’re conducting inhumane experiments on their animals.  No corporate business inspector is going to find anything, so we want your team to go into the facility, plug this optical chip (while holding up a chip) into one of their machines, so we can monitor their experiments and then steal a list of anything they’ve done in that building that violates ethical guidelines, so that we can expose them for what they’re doing.  If you can pull it off, we’re willing to pay your team 10,000¥ apiece.”

Ms. Johnson is Ava Doyle, an operative from the ALF (Awakened Liberation Front), a green activist group that works to free awakened life forms from “enslavement” by the corporations.  She wants to know about the number of creatures being experimented on. The ALF has an additional agenda that they have not told her about…

If the runners agree to the terms (she is open to some limited negotiations), she smiles and nods.  “Thank you for doing the right thing. The Evo facility we’d like you to dig up intelligence on is on McNeill Island in Outremer.  The chip will continue to harvest data on their operations and send us intelligence on the regular that we can act on. But we also want to know what research they’re conducting on the creatures on the regular, which will likely require you to gain access to their R&D machine, which my people feel will be behind a faraday cage.”

“We’ll know when the chip has been plugged in, but we’ll arrange delivery once you have the clandestine project data.”

She will do her best to answer any further questions the runners might have, but she has been purposefully been kept in the dark in a few key areas.

Ms. Johnson / Ava Doyle
Eco-Activist & Public Face of the ALF
Possible Sources – Corporate Connections, Fixers, Green Activist Groups

1/2 – She’s one good-looking woman… shame about the tattoos.  Her name is Ava Doyle and she’s one of those outspoken tree-hugger types.

2/4 – I hear she’s with GreenPeace.  She’s got some weight behind her and has organized several rather poignant rallies over the past couple years.

4/7 – Ava is a little more outspoken than a simple GreenPeace advocate.  She’s actually a member of the ALF. Whenever one of her peaceful little rallies fails to generate enough interest, the company she picketed tends to have some form of “accident”.

7/11 – Threatening families of geneticists, property destruction and engineered accidents haven’t delivered the message yet.  Word is that the ALF are stepping up their agenda… and soon.

McNeill Island
Private Island in Seattle City Limits
Possible Sources – Corporate Connections, Fixers, Municipal Government

1/2 – McNeill Island?  It’s a little spit of land off the coast in Puget Sound.  One the Metroplex’s largest prisons is on the island.

2/4 – The island opened its doors to private development, in recent years.  A few housing developments have been built on the island but buyers have been scarce, due to the prison’s presence.

4/7 – More recently, the land on McNeill was snatched up by a couple corporations:  Ares and Evo. They’ve developed the land to support the prison system, “in the interests of protecting the residents of McNeill Island”.

7/11 – The Ares compound on the island is little more than a better-armed precinct that supplements prison security.  The Evo compound is a research complex, developing treatments for inmates with mental disorders, as well as a small guard animal training site, for use at the prison.

Matrix:  The Seattle grid is open and available to anyone within the Aquarium with no appreciable Noise.  The host for the Aquarium is low defense, unless they intend to get into the security system or the environmental controls for the livestock.  Most of the functions direct the user to each exhibit and allow you to locate registered users anywhere in the building.

Scene 2 – An Island of Murderers and Thieves

McNeill isn’t a large island.  There are two official ways onto the island.  There are two sets of docks: the one Knight Errant controls and uses for prisoner transfers and the private marina of the island’s residents.  The beaches of the island are patrolled on the regular by Knight Errant to try and prevent illegal access onto the island.

The western side of the island is dominated by corporate buildings and the large city prison.  The area is heavily patrolled by drones, metahumans and guard dogs, being dotted by chainlink fences, razorwire and checkpoints.  The eastern part of the island is made up of private residences, buffered inland by forest with activate-on-demand security measures for detaining escaped convicts.

The runners will need to keep a low profile here, to avoid tripping security for as long as possible.  The heaviest concentration of forces is (naturally) at the prison. The Evo compound is a large two story building that does nothing to hide its affiliations.  The grounds are heavily guarded by drones, and guard pairs of one metahuman and one guard dog. Biodrones dot the perimeter, offering reconnaissance rather than offensive security.  If the runners fail to notice the biodrones, the interior will be alerted to the runners presence and they will set up a trap.

This scene is abstract.  The runners main goal here will be getting onto the island and into the Evo compound undetected.  However, the island outside the residential district is crawling with Knight Errant. Do not make it easy for the runners to gain access…

The Evo compound grounds should have spirits on patrol and the building warded to keep out snoops.  

Matrix:  Thanks to a relay station being installed in the residential district, the Emerald City grid is accessible here with no Noise.  There are two hosts here that the runners will likely take note of. The first belongs to the prison… while the job shouldn’t take them there, if they wish to create a diversion by prison break or something, use the following:

Seattle Prison

Host Rating 10
Attack 12, Sleaze 11, Data Processing 10, Firewall 13

Patrol IC and two spiders in the system at all times.

The system will play nice in the public areas, where visitors can speak with inmates and such, but upon accessing systems not available to outsiders, the system immediately scans the user for authenticity and if the scan fails, it launches Black IC as well as Sparky and Acid.  If an intruder is detected in an area they should not access, they will not hesitate to kill the decker.

The node is rendered as a clean lobby in the public district, but the restricted area is a wide, never ending cellblock.

The other noteworthy system would be Evo themselves.  From the outside, they can only see the public face of the complex.  While it’s not designed for public tours, they still have put up a believable facade for people to believe they’re just a medical research facility.

Evo Research Building

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

Patrol IC and two spiders in the system at all times.

The system is a clean, clinical looking area, looking as it does on the average trideo pharmaceutical commercial.  A smiling woman walks around the space, giving visitors a tour of all their popular brands and talking about forthcoming research.  The research server is not available from here, but a decker might be able to find items like delivery schedules for supplies, or a list of personnel.

Upon a decker being detected, the IC activates in the order:  Probe, Scramble, Killer, Binder, Acid, Blaster, Marker and Sparky.  If an IC is crashed, it will continue down the order, rather than rebooting the fallen icon.  Two additional spiders will login (3+1D6) Combat Turns after the alarm sounds.

Scene 3 – Little Shop of Horrors

Once inside the lab, the environment they see will depend on how they approached the center.  If no alarms have sounded, the lab is busy with technicians bustling to their assorted work stations.  The receptionist will be surprised to see anyone walking in, as they are not a place for walk-in visitors.  They have visual records of all planned visitors and they do not submit to surprise inspections. If the runners play a traditional plot for gaining access, they will be led into an area where they’ll be sealed in and detained for questioning.

If alarms have sounded, they’ll find the area devoid of metahuman presence.  Once the majority (if not all) of the team is inside, armored shutters will seal them in and warn them that the authorities have been dispatched.  That they should lay down their weapons and surrender. The personnel have been locked down in the labs, to keep them safe from the terrorists breaking into the building (also sealing in their most sensitive pharmaceutical knowledge).

In either case, on the surface, the lab is exactly what it sounds like on paper: a pharmaceutical research lab and animal training facility.  The computers in the building indicate that the research is all above board and all the ethical standards are being strictly adhered to. While runners may have ethical issues with animal testing, the animals here have been certified as being treated with as much respect as possible when being used for laboratory testing.

Loading the chip provided by Ms. Johnson into any of the machines will work, although a lab terminal is preferable.  On top of broadcasting information back to the ALF on the shipment of animals in or out of the facility, it also opens a backdoor for a team of ALF deckers to infiltrate the system.

Once the runners gain access to the lower level, concealed in the 120 block of offices, the Faraday seal on the lower labs is sealed, allowing both the runners and the ALF team into the system.  The secured elevator will likely require a decker’s touch to get moving, but once they’re in the lower level, many of the security measures assume that they have the required clearance.

The lower level is a myriad of genetics labs, surgical bays and heavily reinforced kennels.  Down here is where they conduct their research into the domesticating of paranormal animals and the creation of chimerics.  There are two levels of horror, where disfigured and monstrous creatures are designed, tamed and sold, unless they prove unstable, in which case they are destroyed and fed to the more successful specimens.  On the upper monstrosity lab, there is a door that is locked unless the building suffers a catastrophic failure, in which case it unlocks and the people can use the escape hatch to climb to safety, in a remote corner of the training pen.

It’s while the runners explore these labs that the ALF team makes an unscheduled interruption.  They hack into the security system and unlock all the pens, while releasing an ultrasonic tone throughout the labs, to cause the animals discomfort.  The deckers make a proclamation that “mother nature will take vengeance for the sins they’ve committed here” before killing the power. The runners will need to battle their way through the darkness, while being hunted by rampant creatures before trying to give the authorities the slip.

I found the floorplan for a modern two story research building to represent the pharmaceutical lab on the upper level and my own layout for the underground portions.  Use a building scope that is suitable to your own group.

I used several guard creatures from sourcebooks to reflect the animals being experimented on.  I used Dogs, Hellhounds and Basilisks from the SR5 Core book, as well as Fenrir Wolves, Junkyard Dogs and SkySpy biodrones from Howling Shadows.  Two modified animals of my own creation are below, but feel free to make nastier creations for your own group. 

Securicat

Using the statline for a basic house cat (Howling Shadows), they also feature several genetic modifications, designed to prevent home invaders from stealing anything of value.  Should testing prove successful, these cats could find their way into homes of key executives that aren’t “dog people”.

Genetic Modifications:  Improved Intuition (+50%), Biotoxin Alteration (Anesthetic (6S Inhalation)), Wall Climbing

Urban Infiltrators

Using the basic statline for a Raccoon (Howling Shadows), this creature has been modified to serve as reconnaissance in urban environments.  Genetic modifications and augmentations allow the animal to better elude capture all while tracking its quarry with all the animal’s usual cunning.

Genetic Modifications:  Defensive Secretion (-1 to all tests after contact), Natural Weapon (Claws, 2P, AP -1)

Augmentations:  TRACES (Recognizes threats, weapons and knows to seek cover:  +2 to Melee and defense tests), Orientation Goad (allows the creature to be crudely “steered”), Cybereyes Rating 1 (Image Link, Camera, Low Light, Vision Enhancement 2)

>> I hate working in Outremer.  My rigger isn’t solid with a boat and those islands are locked up tight.  Be prepared for heavy resistance.
>> Havik

>> Not to mention there’s a prison out there, so Knight Errant’s presence is already ramped up.  Non-stealthy teams won’t have far to travel after they’ve been arrested…
>> Sentry

>> Seems like a lot of work to do some tree-hugging, hippie shit.  What’s the catch here?
>> Burn

>> I think there is more to the agenda here than trying to give Evo a slap on the wrist.  But isn’t there always?
>> Dakota

Containing the Disaster

•May 23, 2018 • 1 Comment

So… I have a problem.

I have been very fortunate over the 20 years I’ve been a GameMaster to have no shortage of players.  Through this hobby, I have met some truly fantastic people and spent innumerable hours immersed in alternate universes, laughing and telling stories of the fantastic.

I’m finally getting traction under my feet again on the creative side, working on a massive campaign that could take years to complete.  Plus, I endeavor to keep my GM for Hire business running, to explore new avenues for creativity.

All of that said, an old problem is rearing its ugly head again:  group in-fighting.  The last time this came up, I lost several players, including my wife, whom I love gaming with.  Now I’m faced with a group of players who are unhappy with how events unfold at the table and I’m once again faced with the very real possibility of losing very good players.

Ultimately, some boils down to personality conflict, which is almost unavoidable to varying degrees.  Differing expectations at the table in what players want from their games is also a factor and I try to balance that when I develop my material.  One thing that comes up and has for a long while is what some have come to refer as “alpha gaming”; where one or more players try to direct the action for the whole group.

I will admit that I’ve been complicit in this to a certain degree… years ago, I got extremely frustrated with my games never finishing due to players going way off-track.  I enlisted my players at the time to try to help crack the whip to keep things moving forward.  Now I think some of that “prodding to progress the story” has led to a habit of directing.

New (or quieter) players, rather than being allowed to ask for help, are now simply being told what to do.  Because I’m used to how things are, I’ve grown blind to it and I’ve done nothing to prevent it from happening.  With the GM missing the signs of discontent, I’ve now got a fractured group of players…

So for the GMs out there, or even players who have witnessed this sort of thing… what kind of active measures can you suggest be implemented at the table so that the quieter players get their fair say, without muting the dominant voices.  Taking into consideration that Captain Oblivious (me) may not notice players getting frustrated… combat timers, weighted rewards for spotlight hoggers… have you seen anything that works?

Friendship is Optional (Shadowrun)

•May 3, 2018 • Leave a Comment

This run was written with a “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic” slant to it.  It was meant to be a parody using centaur Shadowrunners who were very much not team players.  It was run for the Spring Phantasm 2018 convention and is patently ridiculous.  You have been warned.

The team is contacted by the clan leader’s aide and asked to report to the city hall to meet with the Alpha Chad.

Scene 1 – Chadtown

The town of Chadron, Nebraska is a town that capped out around 7000 citizens at its peak and fell with the outbreak of VITAS and was outright abandoned when the Sioux nation was formed and the white man was forced out, the remaining population moving to Rapid City, 100 miles North.  When centaurs were recognized as a sentient race, the Sioux Nation awarded the centaurs the town of Chadron and the northeast corner of the Nebraska National Forest as their own land to develop as they saw fit. After decades of sitting empty, the town had begun to crumble and was certainly not built with centaurs in mind, but they’ve made it work.

The larger buildings, like the city hall and state college still stand, as they were large enough to house the creatures, where others were modified to serve as shops.  Chadron had always served as a trading post and its old role has been resumed. Many of the centaurs live in the woods and use the town for commerce, but some call it home.  With the faded paint on the signage, the town was initially incorrectly called Chadtown and the name has stuck, even calling the leader Chad as a title.

As the runners walk into the city hall, they see two city guardsmen standing astride the Chad.  The Chad nods in thanks to those assembled. “I appreciate you coming. Our colony has been prospering for many years now.  However, in recent weeks, many of our number have gone missing without a trace. The forest has been getting more sparse in fresh game of late and our hunters have had to travel further into the forest to find food.  I fear that some have traveled too far and were detained by the Sioux military for leaving our designated area. If they have fallen prey to detention, I need our hunters returned to us, lest we become reliant on human charity.  So, I have sent for you to locate our people and bring them home.”

Chad has no intention of paying them, as they’re expected to want to help out of civic duty.  If they demand payment, Chad will seem surprised but eventually capitulate and offer them a modest sum.

Once any terms have been set, Chad will wave them along, wishing them luck.  He recommends one of two routes heading south. If they want to follow the same route the others took, they can cross into the forest, or they can take the old Hwy 385, or Gold Rush Highway that runs through the old forest, if they would rather take a more direct route to the Southern forest.

Matrix:  The DakotaNet is a nondescript network with barely any sculpting.  Icons are individually sculpted, but the grid itself is a simple black void with two crossed tomahawks as the symbol for the grid.  Chadron has access to the Matrix for any intrepid enough to log in.

Scene 2 – The Road South

The way South is fraught with peril, regardless of whichever way the Heroes choose to travel.  The Gold Rush Highway, is four lanes of asphalt running through the old National Park and serves as a main artery through the area.  Walking along the road will surely garner attention of the travellers-by, which could lead to some frantic phone calls to the local authorities or simply gawking as people may not have seen a centaur before.

Traveling through the forest presents other challenges.  The rough terrain will make the journey slower, plus the Awakening has taken what was hillsides and canyons with trees, into a bristling forest over rocky terrain.  This thick cover has turned the old park into a safe haven for smugglers and as a result the Sioux Wildcats still patrol these lands, despite the rule that the land belongs to the centaurs.

The centaurs can cause their own trouble well enough, but some things that the team can run into are:  Sioux patrols, who feel like treating the centaurs as unthinking creatures; free spirits of the forest, who don’t take kindly to trespassers; or smugglers who have set down in the woods to hide from patrols.  None of these are likely to be swayed by words and are likely to pick a fight, so use these foes as needed to keep the runners on their toes.

As they go further South, greater Sioux presence will be felt, in the form of more frequent patrols from drones.  However, they will eventually stumble their way into a vast man-made clearing.

Scene 3 – Unicorns for All!

The clearing shows tree stumps and the lumber has been cut to make a crude paddock.  In the paddock runs several wild horses, who stay close to their own enclave, which centers on a unicorn.  There are three unicorns in the paddock and the herds are overseen by several of the centaurs they’ve been sent to retrieve.

The centaurs in the paddock will turn when they hear themselves called, but their features are slack-jawed and will attack when approached.  They don’t seem to speak or recognize words, just showing a feral rage.

Off to the side of the paddock is an old forest ranger station, including a lookout tower.  The interior has been all but gutted and a strange smell fills the air… like old stagnant air, though the building definitely appears to be lived in.  If a light is shone into the room, they will see a centaur with pitch black eyes in the center of the room. Flanked by three Sioux soldiers, he grins broadly.  The centaur in the room is a former member of their clan, who was exiled for attempting to forcibly become Chad. He is a potent Necro mage with three summoned spirits in the bodies of the Sioux guards (one looks nearly normal, the second is a humanoid shaped section of fallen tree and the third is a humanoid form made of ashes.  Using his magic, he aims to retake Chadron for himself.

David Pale Spirit
Necro Mage Initiate

B7 A4 R4 S7 W6 L4 I5 C3  Ess 6 Magic 8* Edge 4

Init = 9 + 1D6, Astral Init = 10 + 3D6, Drain = 10 dice

Skills:  Spellcasting 7, Ritual Spellcasting 9, Counterspelling 7, Assensing 7, Perception 5, Alchemy 6, Unarmed 4, Astral Combat 6

Spells:  Necro Summoning (Corpse), Necro Summoning (Rot), Necro Summoning (Palefire), Manabolt, Rot (A), Armor (A), Death Replay, Whisper of Bones (Ritual), Agony, Foreboding, Flamethrower

Metamagics:  Necromancy, Efficient Ritual

Gear:  Armor Jacket (12), 75 Reagents

All Necro Spirits are Force 5 (see Forbidden Arcana).

Further examining the ranger station reveals the bones of centaurs amongst the refuse.  It appears that their bodies were used to create the spirits they had fought. Knowing that all the members of the clan are dead, the runners can return to Chadtown to tell Alpha Chad the sad news.

>> Wait, let me get this straight… there’s an enclave of centaurs in the Sioux Nation and they have their own runners?  Wouldn’t they stick out in a crowd?
>> Bael

>> Hell yeah, they would.  That’s why they are the enforcers for their enclave, rather than proper Shadowrunners.
>> Wildcat

>> They must be pretty bored most of the time… I can’t think there’s too much going on around there…
>> Zero

>> They find things to do.  The alternative for that band of wackos wouldn’t be pretty…
>> Wildcat

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.

J.