Lost in the Sands (Shadowrun)

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

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

Scene 1 – The Meet

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scene 2 – Entering the Sahara

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scene 3 – The Sandy Wastes

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

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

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

Low Tier Runner Team (Grunts)

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

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

Phys 6             Ment 6             Soc 6

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bedouin Blood Mage – Rashad

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

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

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

Physical – 4                 Mental – 6                               Social – 6


High Pain Tolerance

Reduced Sight (one eye)


Moderate Addiction (Psyche)

Prejudice (Caucasian, Biased)


Spellcasting 9                                                  Egyptian Theology 7

Counterspelling 9                                            Anatomy 7

Summoning 9                                                  Magic Theory 9

Binding 7                                                        Local Area Knowledge (Sahara) 7

Blades 7                                                          Arabic N

Assensing 7                                                     Ancient Egyptian 4

Perception 7                                                    English 7

Survival 4

Navigation 4

Tracking 4


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


Egyptian Ceremonial Knife (Apotropaic)

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

Armor Clothing

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

Image Link, Vision Enhancement 3 (in Desert Goggles)

Squatter Lifestyle

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ by 1nsomniac on November 20, 2013.

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