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?”


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. 


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.


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