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Darren Watts

Quote of the Week from my gaming group...

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Yesterday at work I was telling a friend (L) about the CoC solo, stand-alone adventure. He's part of a Pathfinder table. Another guy from the table was also in the pod. We will call the second man "J".

 

Me: I had exactly 1 hit point left and was peddling like crazy away from the cultists. No way am I looking back over my shoulder.

 

J: Wait. What? Cultists and bicycles? That makes no sense.

 

L: Did you ever play Paperboy on the old NES.

 

J (confused): Original NES? Yes, I did.

 

L: That was a hard game. If you missed the box, people would unsubscribe from your route.

 

J (still confused): What has this to do with cultists?

 

L: In Paperboy 2, the unsubscribers and those for whom you break a window join together in a cult. Frank's been doing some retro gaming lately.

 

And I'm thinking, "The Cult of Shattered Glass actually sounds like a CoC cult."

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Finishing up Songs of Summoning:

 

In my games, I ask each player to provide at least 5 NPCs to flesh out their own world a bit.  These aren't DNPCs; the only dangerous situations they get into are typically off-screen.  I allow the PCs to use them as pseudo-Contacts, just like you would any friend or family member.  And I use them to advance the plot at times.

 

Nexus and Circe each provided way more than 5 NPCs, and Nexus (who plays and sings in a band) decided that her four bandmates were all low-level supers. (The band is named Paranormal.)  If she was trying to get her own mini-super team to help fight crime, she's going to be disappointed...

 

Nexus arrives at the Paradise Rock Club, approaching the back door, and sees her bandmates running away down the alley/street, screaming in terror.  She stops the last one.

 

Nexus:  Stop!  Calm down!  What's wrong?  What's going on?

Bandmate:  We showed up to set up... and they were there already!  He... he's huge!  I thought he was going to rip my arms off!!!  (screams in terror and runs off)

Nexus:  (shakes her head sadly)  My band is a bunch of pansy-boys.

 

Circe walks in the front door to see the patrons of the club all standing around staring at Road Kill up on stage as they launch into their hit song (topped the charts at #546), "I Say Screw You."

 

GM:  What they lack in quality, they make up for in 'loud.'

Circe:  (turns one of her regular club patrons to face her)  What is going on here?
Misc. Person:  (drooling slightly)  Band.  They good.

GM:  (OOC) Game-wise, you're looking at the effects of an area-effect Drain of INT, EGO, and PRE. 

Circe:  So that's how they get fans.

GM:  Which might also explain Nexus' bandmates running away when Ted glared at them.

Honey Badger:  Running away like pansy-boys.  (When Nexus glares at him)  Hey, you're the one who said it.  I'm just repeating what you called them.

 

Pops teleports to the Paradise Rock Club, sees that only half the team there, and disappears to collect the rest.  He starts with Malarky, who is riding his bicycle there as fast as he can pedal.

 

Pops:  I appear next to Malarky, grab him off the bike, and teleport both of us back to the club.

Malarky:  Hey!  What about my bike!

Pops:  Oh, boo hoo.  If it gets stolen or wrecked, I'll buy you a new one.

 

Honey Badger arrives at the back of the club.

 

Honey Badger:  I pick up the guitar one of Nexus' pansy-boys left behind.

Nexus:  Hey, that doesn't belong to you!

Honey Badger:  It does now.

 

As Road Kill finished up their song, to scattered applause from the brain-numbed audience, Honey Badger walks up to the stage with the guitar in hand.

 

Screech:  Hey, we already told you twerps, we're rockin' the Paradise tonight!

Honey Badger:  Oh, Honey Badger doesn't play.  Honey Badger was wondering if you guys would sign this guitar.  Road Kill is one of Honey Badger's favorite bands.  (under his breath)  To beat up.

 

The band members are all more than happy to sign the guitar for a fan.  (Well, Ted just puts a big "X" on it.)  It works as a nice distraction so the rest of the team can start herding out the audience and reduce the number of innocent bystanders.  But before too long...

 

Heavy Metal:  Aright, folks, we're going to do one of our new numbers, we're sure you're going to like it.  It's called The Bazaar.

(The band launches into a haunting, vaguely creepy song.)

Shadowboxer:  Watch out, everybody.  It was during their new songs that creatures started popping up.

(The heroes redouble their efforts to get the audience outside.)

 

GM:  Is anybody attacking Road Kill?

Honey Badger:  Not yet.  We want to get the people out of here first.

GM:  Which way are you sending them -- out the front, or out the back?

Malarky:  Out the front.  We don't want to take them past Road Kill.  (getting suspicious)  Why?  Do I see anything out the front windows?

GM:  No.  But anybody toward the back of the club will hear screaming from outside.  (pulls out 5" tall cardboard character standup with a picture of a Flying Polyp printed on it, setting it on the map outside the club's back door.

 

The heroes begin attacking the members of Road Kill, even though the summoning is complete.

 

GM:  Anybody going outside to deal with that?  (points at the Flying Polyp)

Pops:  Hell no.  I already fought one of those.

Circe:  No, you fought one of these.  (picks up normal-size character standup of the Star Vampire)  That (points to the Flying Polyp) is Big Momma, wondering what happened to Junior.

 

Pops teleports Axeman outside, where the guitarist is promptly picked up by the creature.  Screaming in terror, Axeman hurls his guitar/axe at it, somehow managing to miss it entirely.  The creature responds by trying to stuff Axeman down one of its sharp-toothed maws.

Malarky:  He prooooobably should have kept that.  Might have been useful.

Pops:  Well, now the beastie has a chew toy.

 

(Drat.  Work interrupts.  Will try to finish tonight or tomorrow)

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Finishing off Songs of Summoning (for real this time)

 

Maker is outside, worried about taking on the creature.

 

Shadowboxer:  (points to a series of arced lines on the map)  Just hide under one of these balconies.

Malarky:  Those aren't balconies.  They're curved walls.  (turns his PC around to show a satellite overhead view of the back side of the club and smiles at the GM.)  Don't you just love Google Maps?  (proceeds to get the street view from that alleyway)  Here, Maker, this is what you see back there...

 

Circe goes outside and tries mind-blasting the creature, exposing her to its Insane Thoughts (a mental damage shield that drains her EGO and PRE).

 

Circe:  Ewwww!  You would not believe what is going on in that thing's mind!  I am not doing that again!

 

The creature grabs Maker and Circe with its tentacles, but before it can try to eat either one, Pops teleports them back into the club.  Maker begins flying back outside to confront the creature.

 

Pops:  Remember, just one save per person!  Go back out there at your own risk.

 

Back inside, Screech had put up a force barrier around the stage, with himself, Ted, and Heavy Metal inside, protected from the heroes' attacks.

 

Nexus:  We need to get past that barrier.

Honey Badger:  Easy.  (Makes rude gestures and disparaging comments at Ted, who proceeds to smash a hole through the barrier to take on the hero brick.)  See?  Problem solved.

 

Once most of Road Kill was down, the heroes were trying to figure out what do to against the creature.  Most of their attacks were bouncing off.

 

GM:  (to Nexus)  Aren't you going to try attacking it?

Nexus:  If Honey Badger throwing a dumpster at it didn't hurt it, my puny elemental magic blast isn't going to do much.

GM:  (looks down at creature's character sheet, where the Damage Reduction has the limitation "Doesn't work vs. Magic" and shrugs)  Your choice.

 

Nexus finally blasts it, causing it to scream in agony.

 

Nexus:  Hey, guys!  It's vulnerable to cold!  Should I try fire next?
Several other heroes:  NO!!  Freeze the #$&@!&@#!

 

The heroes figure out that someone gave the "lyrics" (summoning incantations) to Heavy Metal, and they try to figure out how to keep Road Kill from unintentionally summoning more other-worldly creatures in the future.

 

Malarky:  Could Circe mind-control them not to play those songs ever again?

GM:  Maybe.  She does have a Mind Control with Cumulative on it.  But they're contrary enough that dropping those songs might not be something they're inclined to do, so the control may break at some point.

Malarky:  Any way I can alter the magic so the summoning just wouldn't work?

GM:  I suppose Circe could mind control Heavy Metal to "fix" some of the lyrics...

Malarky:  (smiles)  Yeah.  "Those new songs are good and all, Heavy Metal -- but couldn't you come up with better lyrics on your own?"

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The shadowrunners were an ork/troll group. Against stereotype, they specialized in stealth, subtlety, bluff, illusion, deception and misdirection.

 

Cast of characters: 

Dent: ork, rat shaman

No-Step: ork, snake shaman, healer

Byte Force: ork, decker, chemist

Eye Spy: ork, rigger, drones, paramedic

Audacity Jane: ork, combat, stealth, security systems

Happy Jack: troll, combat, disguise, negotiator

 

Dreamchipper - Interlude (information gathering)

This module was previously described by Drhoz (here).

 

Happy Jack: "I'm going to go talk to the Lone Star records clerk that Byte Force and I recruited."

Byte Force: "Well ... he doesn't know that he's been recruited."

No-Step: "How do you recruit someone without him noticing?"

Happy Jack: "We bribed him."

Byte Force: "... but he doesn't know that he's been bribed yet."

No-Step: "Why is he going to do something for a bribe that he doesn't know about?"

Happy Jack: "Because I'm going to use that bribe to blackmail him."

 

Chester, the records clerk: (answering his apartment door) "How may I help you, patrolman."

Happy Jack: (disguised as a Lone Star patrolman) "Are you the owner of a gold 2046 Ford Americar in the parking garage?"

Chester: (alarmed) "Why? What happened to it?"

Happy Jack: "There was a minor collision. Would you mind coming and looking at the damage?"

They took the elevator to the parking garage.

Chester: (looking at his car) "Where's the damage?"

Happy Jack: (handing Chester a piece of paper) "Actually, I wanted you to look at this bank statement of yours."

Chester: (barely glancing at it) "This isn't my bank."

Happy Jack: "True ... but it's your daughter's account. It has your daughter's money in it. That money has been used to pay your daughter's medical bills. And since your daughter is too young to work, that looks rather suspicious."

Chester: "Wait! What?" (slowly dawning realization) "Are you saying that I'm a dirty cop?"

Happy Jack: "No. I'm saying that you're being framed."

Chester: "Oh..."

Happy Jack: "Because I'm the one who is framing you."

Chester: "WHAT?!?"

Happy Jack: "So you can either give me the information that I want, and continue to pay your daughter's bills, or you can explain to your superiors why you accepted my bribes for three months before mentioning anything to them."

Chester pulled his gun and shot Jack. The armor jacket stopped the bullet.

Happy Jack: (smacking the gun out of Chester's hand) "Attempted murder. That's very illegal. More illegal than bribery. Good thing we caught that on tape."

Eye Spy: (over the radio link) "We didn't catch that on tape."

Audacity Jane: (to Eye Spy) "Chester doesn't know that."

 

Chester: "What do you want from me?"

Happy Jack: (handing Chester a burner phone) "I want to know about every joygirl, joyboy, escort or other sex trade worker murdered since Saturday."

Chester: "Why?"

Happy Jack: "I've been hired to catch the person committing the murders."

Chester: "You're blackmailing me into helping you stop a murderer? But that's something I don't mind doing."

Happy Jack: "See. It's your lucky day. You're getting paid to do a good deed."

 

The gunshot had attracted the attention of the building security.

 

security guard: (running up with a drawn gun) "What's going on here?"

Chester: "Uh ..."

Happy Jack: "Chester dropped his gun and had an accidental discharge."

Chester: "..."

security guard: "..."

Happy Jack: "I wrote him a citation for that." (pause) "Better be careful with your gun, or I'll be writing a second citation."

security guard: "..."

 

Later...

 

Happy Jack: "That went perfectly."

Dent: "Perfectly? You paid Chester for that information, and you probably could have gotten it for free."

Happy Jack: "I didn't want to get it for free. I wanted him to take the nuyen."

Dent: "WHAT?!?"

Happy Jack: "This morning, it only looked like Chester was taking bribes. Now, he is knowingly taking bribes. That means we're making progress in our relationship."

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Having neatly bypassed the vast bulk of the last adventure, Astronauta Peligroso and his gringo allies wait for the other boot to drop. If whatever is on the disk is worthy of multiple shadowrunning teams, death threats, and multilevel encryption, it seems certain that there will be ramifications. Especially since Oracle copied everything on the disk so he can decrypt it later. On the other hand, the pay for the job, and the bonus selling backdoor entry to Nabo's phone, is enough to tide us all over for another month (the other big difference between this campaign and the 2050 one is the GM isn't making the same mistake with huge paychecks – we really will be living hand-to-mouth). But we do check how that other team react when they learn how they were duped – they've left town in a hurry. This is somewhat worrying – evidently our actions have annoyed somebody dangerous. But hey, at least we have good music to listen to while we wait. The Carrion reference on the disc might refer to a major recording studio in Seattle. They were very big in the 40s. And the artist Jet Black and Loomis' dad were in one of the top ten bands ever to come out of the city (Weldun suggested The Butterfly Effect – Begins Here as the kind of thing on the disc, and the GM agreed).

Supper at the Ork with the Gold Tooth Tavern, named after a particularly recalcitrant poster in the front window. They do a good egg-and-spam flavoured soy.

Ripper K: *sings* Spam spam spam spam, spam spam spam spam, SPAAAAM wonderful spam

Ocelot gets a call – we've got another job lined up! An urgent rescue of another team who are under siege a few blocks away.

GM: It's six minutes away
Oracle: F**ck it, I'm driving.
Ripper K: This is Seattle 2070 traffic, it's probably six minutes on foot too.
Oracle: You're assuming I'm staying on the roads.

GM: You roll up to the co-ordinates.
Ripper K: nooo, we roll up to the corner of the block and cautiously look around.

But the abandoned residential area is deserted. There WAS a battle here, judging by the totalled vehicles and storefront. Perhaps not surprising – any competent shadowrun team could trash a neighbourhood in 60 seconds. Or, as Boots observes, 6. But weirdly – the inside of the vehicle and the actual store are pristine. Not a drop of blood to be seen.

Ripper K: This is weird
Astronauta: I want out.

But before we leave the obviously unnatural scene, the luchadore gets a hissed message from a ghostly figure asking us to wait. The ghost soon realises that it's dead and freaks out.

Ghost: I'm sorry, this is my first time being dead.

Apparently the ghost wants us to finish the job his team just got killed doing. Find a missing woman. Although most of the information they've found so far is still inside their late decker's head.

Ripper K: I'm not feeling a very great motivation here.

The ghost has about 6 hours before he disperses.

Ocelot: Time enough for revenge.
Astronauta: 'Let's see how many spirits I can summon in 6 hours' ' I really hated that guy – time to f**k him up'

Astronauta: Of course we have to help him! He asked for help!
Ripper K: Ah, of course. The Luchadore Code.

At least we have a few clues, including the clean-up team that so rapidly cleansed the site of evidence and bodies – the shadow company Discrete Disposal. Hopefully we can find the body of the dead team's hacker, and get the pay data they had stolen out of her cranial circuits, before the bodies get sold to the organleggers or something. The front for the 'waste disposal' company is a nearly featureless concrete cube out in one of the industrial parks. That complicates things, as does the horrible psychic atmosphere of the place.

Ripper K: So, do they have anything set up for corpse disposal on the premises? A pig pen, or giant woodchipper?

Van's character Giant Dad has been replaced by a more rounded Boots, a son of Labrat, who used to be the face for the Ork Underground to keep the underground safe and the inhabitants from killing each other.

Oracle OoC: By 2070 the Ork Underground is part of the Seattle tourist scene.
Ocelot: So, good job!
Astronauta: And then you got bored and took up shadowrunning.

Boots, Ocelot and Ripper head in to have a polite chat with a building full of 'clean-up guys', while the other get ready to hotwire one of their disposal trucks and ram the door. Their director of operations - Mr Black -seems a bit suspicious that we're there for an inspection. Perhaps because of the late hour, but probably because he's already paid off everybody involved. Oracle's empathy software, monitoring the camera feeds from our gear, notes that the director isn't sweating. Or breathing. He doesn't have a pulse, either.

Oracle: Percentage chance Zombie, percentage chance Xombie, percentage chance Shadim …
Ocelot : Percentage chance F**k If I Know

Back we do talk our into an inspection tour, while Astronauta and Oracle pour over the feeds looking for holes in their security. Which is rather formidable, at least on the physical plane. The door to the basement incinerators, for example, is massively over-engineered, and guarded. And the guard alarmingly is happy about letting us in to look around....

Ripper K: I brace myself for the sudden and inevitable betrayal.

Ripper K: Bit dark in here, isn't it?
Mr Black: I'm afraid my biomass-processing employees have issues with bright lighting
Ripper K: And that doesn't sound ominous at ALL.

What Mr Black doesn't know is that we can see the piles of body parts and feasting ghouls perfectly well. And our associates outside are poised to strike the moment the door gets slammed behind us.

Ripper K OoC: Have you finished hotwiring the truck?
Astronauta OoC: Why? I'm just going to walk in.
Boots OoC: That's probably equivalent to driving a truck through the wall.

And if Astronauta Peligroso IS the star of this luchadore flick, then waiting until his allies are in trouble and then bursting in through the door is entirely in character. Just wait until he starts bursting in through skylights!

Mr Black is immune to bullets, but happily is not immune to being punched in the throat by Ripper.

GM: He was standing there laughing off the gunfire, and then gets sucker-punched by the orca. If he was a mundane, you probably would have punched his head clean off.

Ripper is reluctant to punch the ghouls however – it's common knowledge ghoul bites spread HMHV virus.

Ripper K: I don't want to punch one in the face and then have to pick his teeth out of my knuckles.

Oracle sends in his drones, running the Thunderrun script – i.e. Shoot everything that isn't a friendly, then escort the friendlies out again. Boots and Oracle back up and shoot as many ghouls as they can, until Oracle's drones can get here to open the door.

Oracle: *facepalm* It's now painfully obvious where most of my data comes from – one of the bodies in your Heads Up Display lights up with a Miracle Shooter objective marker.

Oracle throws up inside his own helmet when he gets a RL look at the pile of half-eaten human remains. The rest of us are pretty green too. But at least we can find the bodies we're after. Or the heads at least. The amulet we're after is in here too, but searching for it is a exercise in horror. Sadly, Seattle is one of the few cities that DOESN'T have a standing bounty on ghouls. And Mr Black ghosted out while we were preoccupied. Boots walks up to the reception desk, stinking of blood and death, where the receptionist is cowering. She was just lucky the drones when in through the hole Astronauta made, and thus she didn't fall victim to the Thunderrun script.

Boots: I find this establishment unacceptable. You might want to start sending your resume around.

Oracle is rather alarmed to learn that the data in the cranial circuitry pertains to Project Icarus, a medical program with a 30% success rate – and 70% fatality rate. He debates whether or not to tell the others.

Oracle: If there were any secondary files I'd be burning them right now!

Oracle: How well do I know you guys? Do any of you play Miracle Shooter? Because I got banned for bringing Tac-net ware to matches.

Oracle is most concerned because he was a designer baby that came from the same line of research – hence all his gibbering as he went through the files. If somebody figures out he's involved in this job, they might come after HIM. The invoice for over a thousand body bags, and two genetic stabilisers, is also worthy of incoherent comment. Especially since the address attached is a high school closed in the 40s. It's also suggestive that the woman we're tracking down is pregnant, and both she and her husband, the original client, are magically active. Magical Mr. Johnsons?

Boots: They have magical johnsons.

The old school doesn't have any of the power supply a secret lab might need. Oracle's drones search for heat plumes – and there's a big one coming out from one of the roof vents.

Oracle: If you don't mind I'll stay in the van.
Boots: Just send in your drones Betty and Veronica
Oracle: What?
Boots: Your drones, Minnie and May
Oracle: I've told you before – Tweedledee and Tweedledum
Boots: Yeah, that's right – Dick and Tracey.

We kick in the door and a promptly overwhelmed by a sensation of Imminent Doom. The scent of unpleasant chemicals, IV fluids, and discarded mediware doesn't help.

Boots: Hey Oracle... just thought I should give you the heads up – I'm on the edge of losing my shit here.
Oracle: Yeah, I can tell from your biomonitors.

We turn to find a young elf girl with long black hair hanging over her face.

Boots: WeHaveALuchadoreYourArgumentIsInvalid!!!!!! Nacho boy, punch her through a wall!

Now most of us are overwhelmed by a desire to protect her. This is probably a Very Bad Sign. Ocelot sprays the room with shotgun taser pellets.

Ripper K: The f**k??
Boots: Ocelot, Jesus!
Oracle: Jesus Chr- wait... what was I thinking about?

Oracle, now the girl is well and truly unconscious, is now rather alarmed that the girl is some kind of force-aged clone of the foetus, or something, is relieved to see no resemblance to the parents.

Ocelot: That WOULD have been difficult to explain...

Boots wants to drop the young girl off at Greenlight's home - 'Aunty Sam's place'. The roomful of drugged expectant mothers is considerably more distressing, especially with the evidence of experimental surgery, and wouldn't fit in Aunty Sam's flat, either. Oracle refills his helmet.

Oracle: I didn't think I had any more to give! *dry-heaving noises over the TacNet.*
Ripper K: So, do we tell the police about this????

Even more fucked up, the set-up is designed to turn magically inclined children into Toxic Shamans, of the kind patronised by toxic spirits like Mr Black. Shamans like the invisible one in the ward, who hits us with a Panic spell, steps on a test tube, and gets a positive hail of bullets for his pains. A pity he's just a kid too, but since he's invisible, how could we tell? Dozens of women pregnant with toxic mages, and possessed children, is WAY beyond our pay grade. Boots calls a relative at the Draco Foundation.

Boots: Hi Uncle Inkubus, it's your favourite nephew.
Inkubus: Be more specific.

Oracle calls his own fixer, the one that called in the rescue.

Oracle: We found her. She's hooked up to a Valkyrie unit.
Ulysses: What the fuck did they do to her?
Oracle: I know, you don't want to know, and the Johnson needs to know.

Oracle warms up one of his custom drones – a Knight Errant high speed pursuit drone that he's turned into a one-man ambulance. That still has a tire-damage strip ejector. Knight Errant, who recently took over the Seattle Police contract from Lone Star, will be quite pleased to clear up all these missing persons cases, and hopefully forward any other rewards our way. The reward is substantial – and well-deserved. For one thing if we hadn't been very lucky in which party members were where, half of us could have been killed at four different places in the mission. For example, Oracle and Boots wouldn't have got out alive from the ghoul room, if Ripper hadn't been a Physical Adept. But what if Black comes back?

Boots: If he keeps starting shit I'll call Uncle Inkubus and we'll summon the ultimate Spirit of Man – Captain Planet.
Ocelot: But we'd need to summon five lesser spirits first.
Boots: Wind! Water! Chrome!

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Black Crusade : The Thirteen of Thrones
The heretics continue their scheme on the bankrupt planet of Sinophia - the scheme being "convince the Governor's son to enact a daemonic ritual against his father, get the now insane Governor to close the starport out of fear of retribution from the sector capitol, and then have the Sinophian nobility impeach the Governor and have him replaced by his son". On most planets, this plan would be insane, but Sinophia is so utterly hopeless that the Imperium has pretty much given up on the place, and minor political situations like this change of power probably won't even draw comment for decades. Of course, if anybody figures out heretics were involved then they certainly WILL draw comment, that comment being in the form of assassins, inquisitors, and battleships.

Discussing ways to stop Skerrit from getting the group in trouble again.

Digna: We must keep him under supervision at all times.
GM: Or possibly one of those child harnesses, with a leash.

The decide to make their final play against the heir during one of the interminable services at the Basilica, after finagling an invitation to the Governor's family box overlooking the huddled masses praying the Emperor below.

GM: So... you're going to seduce Evandus Junior to Chaos... during a church service. Slaanesh WILL be pleased.
Eniek OoC: 'I need a wheelbarrow.' 'Why?' 'For my balls'

GM: The constant rain drips through the ceiling of the cathedral, onto the supplicants beneath. That's because somebody stole the lead off the roof.

Lord-Captain Daniels is puzzled by a conversation between tech-priests.

Daniels: 'I'm going to taint your sample pool'?
Digna: I love it when you talk dirty.

Digna also prods the Mechanicum into political activity. Getting them to agree that fitting the governor with mind-control implants is a good idea is not necessarily heresy - it's merely a reflection of the poor opinion the Priests of Mars have of meatbags.

Tech-priest: +++ The Government. Of This World. Is Inefficient. It Is. Most Vexatious. +++
Digna: +++ Perhaps if the Governor were fitted with with Volitor Circuits? +++
Tech-priest: +++ Yes. +++ That would remove. Many. Of the. Inefficiencies ++++

But with the heir convinced, and getting him to come out to Digna's base alone (despite the objections of his bodyguards) the ritual is enacted. Governor Evandus is doomed to a spiral of insanity, with everything around him causing fear. It might taken a while, but Archimedes feeding him nightmares of Calixian Commissars coming from the sector capitol to investigate his failures are unlikely to help his mental equilibrium. Time to start turning up the heat, by planting rumours among the populace.

Digna: It's a pity none of us are barbers – they gossip to ANYBODY

Eventually they hear that the Governor has gone to his retreat in the highlands, until the balance of his humours can be restored.

Digna: 'in my considered medical opinion – he be crazy, yo.'

The shielding of the governor from his increasing paranoia means they'll have to go up to the highlands themselves to keep up the telepathic pressure. Since the retreat is surrounded by a huge hunting reserve, they can always lean on the heir to get them an invitation. Digna acknowledges that this plan has merit, and promptly assumes it for her own.

GM: 'That was an excellent idea of mine you just had'

Of course, it being midwinter, there isn't much to hunt (and if Skerrit is right, somebody is psychically hunting THEM).

GM: Put fox ears and a tail on Skerrit and hunt him.
Digna: Nah - he'd just outrun them.

Archimedes: How long should we keep this up for?
GM: *gestures at Skerrit* Just ask the pasteboard princess to read the cards for you. He is the party's precog, after all.

The hunting lodge is as comfortable as might be hoped, but not as luxurious as the mansion proper.

GM: And you only have five servants to assist you.
Daniels: Yeah – roughing it.

But even after the Governor shuts the starport, the nobility won't play ball. They're too proud to admit that anything is wrong, even though the closure affects them far more than it affects the underclasses.

Noble: Sinophia has weathered worse than this.
Digna: It's good that you're showing solidarity with the common man.
Noble: *splutters with outrage, and goes off to push a motion of censure against the governor in the Clockwork Court.*
Digna OoC: The Sir Humphrey Appleby School of Ministerial Management >:)

The plan a success, what next? Perhaps get involved in the logistical side of the Fringe War, against the Severian Dominate separatists? Bringing back regiments of troops from the front, to furlough on Sinophia, is a good way to make yourself important, as well as an excuse to bring lots and lots of heavily armed men to Sinophia. And even the front can't be that dangerous to experienced characters, surely?

Daniels: I can see their general from here – his pauldrons are three meters high

The new governor releases the material required to get Daniels' ship repaired and under way again. He didn't take much persuasion.

Digna: Not only under our thumb but very eager to see the back of us.

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The shadowrunners were an ork/troll group. Against stereotype, they specialized in stealth, subtlety, bluff, illusion, deception and misdirection.

 

Cast of characters: 

Dent: ork, rat shaman

No-Step: ork, snake shaman, healer

Byte Force: ork, decker, chemist

Eye Spy: ork, rigger, drones, paramedic

Audacity Jane: ork, combat, stealth, security systems

Happy Jack: troll, combat, disguise, negotiator

Griffin  (NPC): a street samurai; using the Jack the Ripper dreamchip

 

Dreamchipper - Hooker, Line & Sinker

This module was previously described by Drhoz (here).

 

In order to find Griffin (and the Jack the Ripper dreamchip), the team searched through the information provided by the Lone Star records clerk....

 

Six joygirls and joyboys had been murdered in one small Redmond neighborhood. One the first night; two the second; three the third.

Byte Force: "So he's either going to kill four or five tonight."

Eye Spy: "Five?"

Byte Force: "It might be a Fibonacci sequence."

Eye Spy: "I have no idea what you just said."

 

The murders had all taken place in the same small neighborhood in the Redmond Barrens. The victims had been primarily human, but also one ork and one dwarf.

 

Dent: "No elves or trolls?"

Happy Jack: "Other than the dwarf, it matches the racial and economic demographics of Redmond." (pause) "It seems that Griffin is just hitting targets of opportunity."

Eye Spy: "So we finally found someone in Redmond who isn't racially biased ... a serial killer."

 

The murder weapon was always cybernetic hand razors. First the throat was cut, then the bodies were swiftly dissected.

 

Audacity Jane: "Messy."

No-Step: "You don't approve."

Audacity Jane: (shrugging) "I don't particularly care. I'm not the one cleaning up after him."

 

Eye Spy: "We don't even know what Griffin looks like."

Dent: "Yes we do. I used Mind Probe on Tee Hee, Cooperman and Val."

No-Step: "That's wonderful. So what does he look like?"

Dent: "Human, average sized or maybe a little smaller, brown hair, black cybereyes, normal looking otherwise."

Audacity Jane: "That's reeeally helpful."

Dent: "I'll recognize him when I see him."

No-Step: "That doesn't help much if one of us sees him."

 

This challenge was solved with concealed microcams which would feed pictures to Dent, allowing him to confirm Griffin's identity. There were, however, other problems to be solved.

 

Audacity Jane: "There are a lot of other joygirls and joyboys in the area. We could put out bait for a week before we catch him."

No-Step: "What if we warn them to stay off the street? Tell them it's too dangerous?"

Happy Jack: "Many of them will need to eat or feed an addiction. They will be out anyway, hoping for the best."

No-Step: "We could offer to protect them for free. Get them all in one place. That would make it safer."

Happy Jack: "That's a good idea ... except they would be too suspicious of 'free' protection. I'll charge them 10 nuyen a trick for protection."

Dent: "Jack's going to be a pimp."

Happy Jack: "Yep. I'll blend right in."

 

As one of the best hand-to-hand combatants, Jane was the obvious bait. No-Step would use his Physical Mask spell to conceal the amount of armor she was wearing.

 

No-Step: "I can make her the best-looking joygirl in the neighborhood."

Happy Jack: "Make her one of the ugliest. Griffin doesn't seem to care about looks, but potential customers will."

No-Step: "Right." (suggestively to Jane) "What are you going to do with actual customers?"

Dent: "Service with a smile!"

Audacity Jane: "No. I'm going to give them the Sprawl Special."

Dent: "As I said, service with a smile."

Audacity Jane: (ignoring Dent) "That's where I knock them out, tie them up, rob them, then dump them in the alley behind me." (grinning evily Dent) "And after doing that, I will be smiling."

Eye Spy: "Hey Dent, do you want to be her first customer?"

 

Dent would wander the neighborhood invisibly, using the city sprit's Search power to look for Griffin.

 

Eye Spy: "What if Griffin sees him?"

Dent: "Nobody is going to see me."

Byte Force: "Griffin is going after joygirls and joyboys. Dent looks homeless."

Dent: "I do not look homeless."

Happy Jack: "Well, you smell homeless ... and it will just take a quick wardrobe change to make you look that way too."

 

Eye Spy and Byte Force would cruise the neighborhood, letting the real joyboys and joygirls know where Jack was providing protection.

 

Eye Spy: "What should we do if we spot Griffin?"

Audacity Jane: "Vehicular homicide."

 

It was a dark and foggy night.

 

Dent: "Why can't we get this kind of weather when we're pulling a B&E job?"

 

Life as a working girl....

 

well dressed pedestrian: "Hate to bother you, but are you going my way?"

Audacity Jane: "Honey, I may be a streetwalker, but I don't actually go for walks with people." (pause) "Are there any other services you're interested in?"

 

Life as a pimp....

 

potential customer: (as Jack peered at him so the microcam could take a picture) "Why are you looking at me that way?"

Happy Jack: "I memorize your face. If you damage joyboy, I know who to collect damages from."

potential customer: "Collect damages? Like in court?"

Happy Jack: "Like ripperdoc bill, lost wages."

potential customer: (giggling nervously) "I don't carry that kind of money with me."

Happy Jack: "That okay. You have headware. I just sell used headware."

potential customer: (scoffing) "It would take a skilled surgeon and a clinic to remove my headware."

Happy Jack: "Nah. I take your head to techie. He remove headware and clean it off. No damage to headware."

potential customer: (aghast) "That would kill me!"

Happy Jack: "Well ... don't damage joyboy ... unless you can afford damages."

 

The team members patrolling the neighborhood had sent a number of joygirls/joyboys over to Happy Jack's block. They had also run across the cooling corpses of two girls who hadn't accepted the offer of protection.

 

man with glowing cybereyes: "Nasty night. I hate this weather. Don't know why I put up with it."

Audacity Jane: "Because you live here." (pause) "But I'm sure you didn't come out here just to talk about the weather."

man with glowing cybereyes / Griffin: (popping out hand razors and slashing at Jane) "Die. Die, Tramp. Die!"

Audacity Jane: (punching Griffin with her shock glove) "Not a tramp.... Not going to die."

 

After Dent had arrived at the scene...

 

Audacity Jane: (pointing at Griffin's glowing cybereyes) "You said his cybereyes were black. Do those look black to you?"

Dent: (looking at the shiners appearing under Griffin's cybereyes) "Yes. Yes they do."

 

After Griffin had been subdued and the dreamchip removed....

 

Eye Spy: "I'm not entirely certain, but I think Griffin's going to be permanently catatonic."

Happy Jack: "This leaves us with an ethical dilemma."

Audacity Jane: "What ethical dilemma? We sell him to the organ leggers."

Happy Jack: "Alternatively, we could recruit more informants by delivering him to the joygirls and joyboys. I'm sure they want to celebrate his capture ... and every good party needs a piñata."

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The shadowrunners were an ork/troll group. Against stereotype, they specialized in stealth, subtlety, bluff, illusion, deception and misdirection.

 

Cast of characters: 

Dent: ork, rat shaman

No-Step: ork, snake shaman, healer

Byte Force: ork, decker, chemist

Eye Spy: ork, rigger, drones, paramedic

Audacity Jane: ork, combat, stealth, security systems

Jonathan Bridges / Happy Jack: troll, combat, disguise, negotiator

Urlan Manes (NPC): President/CEO of Global Technologies; hired the team to recover stolen goods

Roxanne Wunter (NPC): Senior VP at Global; Urlan's liaison to the team

Thomas Martelli (NPC): Senior VP at Global; Urlan's rival

 

Dreamchipper - Fixing the Meeting

This module was previously described by Drhoz (here).

 

The team had recovered all three chips about 30 hours before the deadline. A decision was made to wait another 12 hours before giving Urlan Manes and Roxanne Wunter the good news.

 

Dent: "Why are we waiting? Is this going to give us some negotiating leverage?"

No-Step: "No. We're going to have to run some kind of op to ensure that Martelli wins. I'd prefer to get a full eight hours of sleep before that happens."

 

Once rested, the team met to brainstorm a way to turn the tables on Urlan and Roxanne.

 

No-Step: "We'll need to come up with something exceptionally subtle. Otherwise Urlan and Roxanne will suspect that we were behind it."

Audacity Jane: "Why would we have to be subtle? After Roxanne leaves her meeting with Jack, we grab her and hold her until after the meeting. Urlan will be missing his chips again, and he'll be missing one of his VPs."

No-Step: "And who besides us will know about the meeting?"

Happy Jack: "Martelli found out about the other meeting. He's the person who will benefit most. He'll be the main suspect. He'll have plausible deniability, but they will suspect that he is behind it. And to a certain extent, they will be right."

Eye Spy: "But everyone knows that Jonathan Bridges works with a bunch of orks."

Byte Force: "Urlan and Roxanne might not. They've never met any of us."

Happy Jack: "Jonathan Bridges' team is made of orks and trolls. Guess who works with a team of just orks? Martelli."

 

Byte Force: "Martelli could be the weak link. He's met you before. If you negotiate with him, he could put two and two together."

Happy Jack: "I won't be negotiating with him. While I'm meeting with Roxanne, one of you will contact Martelli." (pause) "No-Step has the skills to pull it off. And if Martelli refuses to take his call, No-Step can just project astrally."

Audacity Jane: "No-Step doesn't lie nearly as well as you do."

Happy Jack: "But he likes to sell win-win solutions. And that's exactly what we're doing with Martelli."

No-Step: "What should I do if Martelli flat-out refuses to reach a deal?"

Happy Jack: "Then he loses to Urlan. Stupidity is its own reward."

 

Surprisingly, Urlan and Roxanne wanted to wait until early Friday morning, hours before the shareholders' meeting, to collect the dreamchips. As before, they both attended and they both arrived early. They also brought an extra attendee.

 

Dent: "Their guest looks like a techie, but he has two bodyguards that look like retired military."

Eye Spy: "And there's a military vehicle parked a block away, with 8 more people in it. I think it's a trap."

Happy Jack: "I think it's their buyer. The army is supposed to be buying these things. Those bodyguards are probably active soldiers at Fort Lewis. The techie is probably an officer or a specialist."

Audacity Jane: "So, do we have to take on a squad of soldiers to get the chips back?"

No-Step: "Why would we? If we abduct Urlan and Roxanne, they can't announce to the shareholders that they saved their pet project."

 

Just before Jonathan Bridges went into the meeting...

 

Jonathan Bridges: "No-Step, I have one piece of advice for your negotiation."

No-Step: "And what might that be?"

Jonathan Bridges: "You like to beat around the bush when you negotiate. Martelli is blunt."

No-Step: "So what course of action would you advise?"

Jonathan Bridges: "At the beginning, be blunt enough to get his attention. Then you can beat around the bush all you want."

 

No-Step: "And I have one piece of advice for your meeting."

Jonathan Bridges: "What's that?"

No-Step: "You're going in without back-up this time. Try not to get killed."

 

As Jonathan Bridges entered the back bar...

 

Roxanne's bodyguard: "I see that you're still traveling with invisible bodyguards."

Jonathan Bridges: "There are two generally accepted strategies for bodyguards. One is to have obvious bodyguards. The better strategy is to have obvious bodyguards for show, and inconspicuous bodyguards to provide the real protection."

Roxanne's bodyguard: "And you think it's even better to do without the obvious bodyguards entirely?"

Jonathan Bridges: "No. I am my obvious bodyguard."

 

And No-Step made his call to Martelli's private phone number....

 

Thomas Martelli Jr.: "Who are you and what do you want?"

No-Step: "You are about to lose control of your daddy's company ... again."

Thomas Martelli Jr.: "WHAT !!"

Audacity Jane: (under her breath to Dent) "Yep. That was blunt enough."

No-Step: "Do I have your undivided attention? Splendid. Mr. Urlan Manes has recovered his stolen property. I'm sure he is looking forward to announcing that to the shareholders in a few hours."

Thomas Martelli Jr.: "Who are you?"

No-Step: "I'm in a position to make Mr. Manes and Ms. Wunter late to the meeting. Very late. Days late. And I can also ensure Tee Hee gets delivered to you, rather than them. Does that interest you?"

Thomas Martelli Jr.: "And what's in it for you?"

No-Step: "Coincidentally, that was going to be my question to you. What is in it for me?"

 

The team planned to capture Urlan and Roxanne when they reached their helicopter. The first step, while they were still in the meeting, was to capture the helicopter pilot.

 

No-Step: "This is going to be complicated. That helicopter is heavily armored. In this neighborhood, the pilot is sure to keep the doors locked. And if he sees trouble, all he has to do is get on the radio before we're able to stop him."

Dent: "I bet you 5,000 nuyen that I can get the pilot out the helicopter without him warning the others. I don't even need any help from any of you."

Audacity Jane: "I'm not going to let you blow this mission just so you can flex your ego."

Dent: (whispering his plan to Jane) "I'll cast silence so he can't say anything over the radio. Then I'll have my city spirit materialize inside the helicopter and use its Fear power."

Audacity Jane: (to No-Step) "I'll bet you 10,000 nuyen that Dent can do it."

Unsurprisingly, No-Step declined to take the bet.

 

No-Step disguised Eye Spy as the pilot, so Urlan and Roxanne's bodyguards wouldn't realize anything was wrong when they returned to the helicopter.

 

Dent: "Where is the best place for us to hide for the ambush?"

Audacity Jane: "I'm going to hide inside the helicopter. It's the one place in this neighborhood that the bodyguards will consider 'safe', so they won't be prepared to defend against an attack from that direction."

 

No-Step used his city spirit's Concealment power to hide Jane inside the helicopter. Nobody realized she was there until Roxanne and Urlan had boarded the helicopter ... and Jane had shot them with narcojet darts.

 

Audacity Jane: (to the bodyguards) "Hi there. I'm using your boss as a human shield."

 

Eye Spy forced the bodyguards' hand by taking the helicopter up into a hover 5 meters over the tarmac. The bodyguards had to jump and climb to try to get into the 'escaping' helicopter.

 

Audacity Jane: (seeing a bodyguard struggling to hold his gun, climb into the helicopter, and shoot simultaneously) "Let me guess ... your training didn't cover this?"

 

Dent wanted to steal the helicopter, which led to a disagreement.

 

Dent: "We could sell it for at least another 100,000 nuyen."

Eye Spy: "It's too easy to track, especially in a city."

Audacity Jane: "And we don't steal from our current employer."

Dent: "Urlan is our ex-employer. He's fair game."

Audacity Jane: "The helicopter belongs to Global, not Urlan. Martelli is our current employer, and in a few hours, he should control Global."

 

Eye Spy programmed the autopilot to fly the helicopter (and the unconscious pilot and bodyguards) back to Global.

 

No-Step: "They're going to have an interesting afternoon of debriefings."

Eye Spy: "It could be worse. They could be dead."

Happy Jack: "Spoken like someone who has never experienced a corporate 'debriefing'."

 

No-Step met with Martelli at the docks to hand over Tee Hee and get paid.

 

No-Step: (manifesting out of the Astral to where he could be seen and heard) "Good evening, Mr. Martelli. Congratulations on your coup at the shareholders meeting."

Thomas Martelli Jr.: "Cut the drek. Where is my decker?"

Audacity Jane stepped out of the shadows and opened the doors of one of the containers, revealing Tee Hee.

Thomas Martelli Jr.: "Nice ... but I'm thinking we should renegotiate our deal."

No-Step: "We completed our portion in full."

Thomas Martelli Jr.: "You're going to turn Urlan and Roxanne over directly to me. For that, you get half of the remaining fee. Otherwise, there's nothing stopping me from killing your razor and taking what I want."

No-Step: "Actually, there are several things preventing you from doing that."

Thomas Martelli Jr.: "Like what?"

No-Step: "First, Tee Hee's belt is made of detcord. If you try to avoid paying, you will no longer be playing with a full decker."

Thomas Martelli Jr.: "..."

No-Step: "Second, there are three heavy weapons aimed at you and your compatriots."

Audacity Jane: "I'm sure you're bullet-proof, but we don't particularly care."

Thomas Martelli Jr.: "..."

Audacity Jane: "And third, I'm wearing a heart monitor that's linked to a dead-man switch. If I die, you boys get to find out where I hid the fuel-air explosive."

No-Step: "The rest of our precautions will remain a surprise."

Audacity Jane: "A girl's got to have her secrets."

Thomas Martelli Jr.: (bursting out laughing) "I like you. We have to do business again sometime."

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So one of my players creates a new superhero called Doctor Enigma, with a long and storied history and an archenemy called The Black Scarab. On his character sheet, it says "Hunted by the Black Scarab." This means pretty much, the guy is bound to show up every so often and make the hero's life completely miserable.
 
The relationship between the characters was meant to be adversarial but cordial, in a sort of "I really do apologize for throwing you into that pit of snakes."
 
"And I am sorry for crushing your leg with that log," etc.
 
Also integral to the story is the fact that Doctor Enigma and the Black Scarab were in love with the same woman, and Esmerelda chose Doctor Enigma. Doctor Enigma didn't age. Esmerelda did.
 
So he's young and handsome, and she's elderly and on her deathbed. Not so great.
 
But wait. There's more. So the heroes encounter The Black Scarab, and he tells Doctor Enigma that he's dying. The player flips out. He's like "how?"
 
The villain says "The ring makes me immortal. It doesn't make me immune to neurological disorders or, unfortunately, Lou Gerihg's disease. So I am looking for a successor."
 
They talk for a bit, exchange cordialities, and the villain leaves. An occult plot happens, during which time the Black Scarab is not present.
 
So Doctor Enigma gets back to his mansion to discover this heap of ash in his easy chair, along with this note.
 
"Dear Doctor Enigma,'
 
      I must apologize for the unfortunate state in which you find me, but if you are reading this, I am dead. There could truly only be one worthy successor for the power of the Black Scarab, and so I have given it's power to our Esmerelda. I am certain that this gift will be looked upon in the manner in which it was intended.
 
Farewell, old enemy,

 
The Black Scarab."
 
Player: THAT (Censored)! Not only did he restore my wife to health, which I have been unable to do, not only did he turn my own wife against me, and make me incapable of harming my greatest enemy in any way, but now he's DEAD, and I can't do anything about it! And on top of it, the son of a (consored) died in my favorite easy chair!
 

So now she's young and attractive, but irredeemably evil! Ooops. Fortunately, the players ALL love this twist, regardless of how mean it is. (And it is pretty mean.)

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The shadowrunners were an ork/troll group. Against stereotype, they specialized in stealth, subtlety, bluff, illusion, deception and misdirection.

 

Cast of characters: 

Dent: ork, rat shaman

No-Step: ork, snake shaman, healer

Byte Force: ork, decker, chemist

Eye Spy: ork, rigger, drones, paramedic

Audacity Jane: ork, combat, stealth, security systems

Happy Jack: troll, combat, disguise, negotiator

Sandii (NPC): a fixer who put the team in touch with Mr. Johnson

Mr. Johnson (NPC): the ubiquitous alias used by/for people hiring shadowrunners

Young Elven Technologists (YET): An elven policlub that tried to refute common stereotypes about elves.

Lancelot Windtree (NPC): An elven mage who tried to embody every stereotype of elves ... particularly the negative ones.

 

YET Another Party

This module was previously described by Drhoz (here).

 

According to Sandii, Mr. Johnson wanted to meet at a Young Elven Technologists party. One drawback of being an ork/troll team ... it's hard to pass for elves.

 

A little research led to the discovery that YET's party was intended to allow them to meet and recruit elven deckers. Due to recent threats, however, they had hired additional, heavily-armed security.

 

Byte Force: (laughing) "You won't believe who YET hired for security." (pause) "Troll street samurai."

 

Astral reconnaissance showed one elven mage at the party. He didn't appear to be magickal security, since he was doing nothing to actually make the building more secure. On the other hand, he didn't appear to be a guest, because he looked like he would rather be anywhere else....

 

Lancelot Windtree: (to street samurai Jack) "Get out of my way, you oaf!"

street samurai Jack: (looking confused) "No .... I troll. You elf."

Lancelot Windtree: "I said oaf, not elf."

street samurai Jack: (looking more confused) "What is elf-not-elf?"

 

Surprisingly, Mr. Johnson was able to recognize Happy Jack, despite his disguise.

 

Mr. Johnson: (quietly to street samurai Jack) "Hello. I'm Mr. Johnson."

street samuria Jack: (quietly) "Let's go somewhere more private."

Jack grabbed Mr. Johnson by the shoulder and walked him out the back door.

street samuria Jack: (loudly) "I think you had too much to drink. You need to go outside and sober up."

 

Outside....

 

Mr. Johnson: "The Young Elven Technologists have committed a number of atrocities that have gone unpunished. It is up to you to correct this."

street samurai Jack: "Are you asking us to punish them proportional to their crimes, or are you asking us to commit atrocities on them that are greater than the ones they've committed on others?"

Mr. Johnson: (sounding genuinely curious) "Does the latter bother you?"

street samurai Jack: "Balanced justice is a very tricky and subjective thing. Excess is far easier to manage." (long pause) "And since we intend to go unpunished for whatever activities we commit on your behalf, we'd prefer to avoid having you hire a team to 'correct' that later."

 

YET did computer programming for other companies, and had used that privileged position to install backdoors into a number of computer systems. It then used those backdoors to siphon funds from its ex-clients.

 

Audacity Jane (ooc): That's his idea of an atrocity?

 

Mr. Johnson had a very specific idea of how to get justice.

  • Hack into YET's network and steal the backdoors.
  • Leave a copy of the backdoor passcodes, and another document, in the suite of Ehran the Scribe ... located inside YET's building.
  • Use another copy of the backdoor passcodes to enter the system of Dassurn Securities, one of YET's clients.
  • Unleash a piece of software inside Dassurn's network.
 

The kicker ... the run had to be completed by the following night, because that would leave YET no time to fix things before Dassurn audited its books the following morning.

 

The bigger kicker ... all of the hacking had to be done from inside YET's building.

 

Mr. Johnson: "All paths must lead directly to the Young Elven Technologists' doorstep ... especially if things go sour."

street samurai Jack: "If you want paths leading to their door, we'll make a point to blaze a few."

 

Since the party was being held in the same building where the run would occur, Jack decided to return and do some scouting. That plan was revised when the team noticed a disturbance by the front door.

 

elf who looked exactly like Mr. Johnson: "But I tell you, I am Lee Corbin!"

Happy Jack: (over the radio link as he walked away) "It looks like Mr. Johnson pulled one of our tricks. He came looking like someone else."

No-Step: "I assensed him. His aura was mundane, and there were no spells on him. Did he do that with makeup?"

Happy Jack: "It would be extremely difficult. Maybe impossible. He was a very distinctive looking elf."

Dent: "I think we just got hired by an initiate. They can mask their auras. But why would an initiate that powerful need us for a run?"

Byte Force: "He needs a decker." (pause) "Some problems can't be solved by magic."

Dent: "They can if you use enough of it."

 

The envelope that the team was going to leave in Ehran's suite was of particular interest.

 

Byte Force: "The last time we left an envelope behind, it was a page of Ehran's book in the lap of a dead elf-poser. This can't be a coincidence."

No-Step: "Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action."

 

The envelope was sealed with wax.

 

No-Step: "This is an old-school way to know if someone was reading your mail. If the wax seal is broken, you know that someone read the mail."

Eye Spy: "So we can't look at it without someone noticing?"

No-Step: "There's an old school ways to bypass it. Use an extremely thin, heated wire to separate the wax from the paper. When you're done, reheat the back of the wax seal until it starts to melt and stick it back on the paper. Monomolecular wire should be perfect."

Byte Force: "I didn't realize monomolecular wire was 'old school'."

 

No-Step: "Wear gloves when you handle the letter."

Audacity Jane: "Fingerprints."

No-Step: "That too. But mostly because contact poison is another 'old school' technique."

 

Byte Force: "There's no poison on the page in the envelope, but I've seen it before." (pause) "It's from that book we stole from the troll Baron in Germany."

Audacity Jane: "We left a metal attache case there."

Dent: "Three times. That's enemy action."

Happy Jack: "@#$%! We didn't try to conceal our appearance for that German mission. And we were under heavy surveillance.  Someone could tie all these jobs to us."

Eye Spy: "Great. Mr. Johnson is going to get us killed." (pause) "I suppose there's a bright side. We have a repeat customer."

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Black Crusade : The Ace of Discordia
In which the PCs, in Lord-Captain Daniels' ship the Obsidian Resolve, are heading towards the Fringe War. The war in question is complicated by the three-dimensional nature of interplanetary warfare, the use of warp routes to bypass the enemy, and fact that it's a three-way meatgrinder between human separatists, Orks, and an Imperium that won't commit sufficient forces to the front because it's a useful excuse to divert massive amounts of troops to the secret Jericho Reach front on the far side of the Galaxy. Naturally, Dark Eldar raiders and Chaos cultists can't help dipping their wick in either. In the case of the PCs, they want to start bringing Imperial regiments back to Sinophia, on furlough, AND start smuggling materiel to the separatists. But I do get them to come up with a few regiments from the Only War 40K RPG system first.

GM: The reason I want you to make a regiment or two is because I want you to be emotionally invested in what happens next.

Eniek's Player: This regiment you want us to make – is it going to be on our side?
GM: I'm not saying. *evil grin*
Eniek's Player: Fuck! Now it can't be too OP.
Digna's Player: Yes, I remember my reaction when you said the Millennial Warden Space Marines were operating in the area – because I remember how good I'd made them
GM: You can be quite certain you'll be running into Millennial Wardens in this campaign too.
Digna's Player: Fuuuuuuck.

They will be encountering the 1st Temisian Mechanised Infantry, a regiment Weldun created for the Deathwatch RPG game.

Digna's Player: We do not want to run up against these guys. “What's that coming over the hill? It looks like a land raider....... fuck, run!”

The others look like they'll be amusing as allies or antagonists too - they include the Tallarn 288th Rapid Recon – a buggy mounted scout unit; the 8th Longshot Artillery – very long-range precision artillery unit with forward observers with tracked bomb drones; a Guerrilla warfare regiment who like nothing better than sneaking in close for assassinations; a troop of Feral World skirmishers; and specialist Electrovox troopers who tap enemy comms, cut of lines of command, and pick off the units they just isolated. They already had the regiment they'd made for the Only War game they're already playing in - a unit of suspiciously well-equipped Dragoons riding giant alien cats that are faster than Dark Eldar jetbikes. Their habit of keeping the cats in barracks does not endear them to the other regiments.

Most amusing of all, a unit of Ogryn Drop Troops. Not very many of them, but mostly because of their tendency to wander off after a battle.

Digna: The biggest problem is trying to round them all up again afterwards XD
GM: That and the claustrophobia. Trying to get them onto the planes in the first place - Ogryns don't like confined spaces. 'It's dark in dere!'
Eniek: They don't much like falling through the sky much either XD

The nearest staging planet for the war is Cauldron, in an unusual system with two pair of Double Worlds - large rocky worlds with huge moons, and all four with biospheres. All of them are almost uninhabitably hot, however, thanks to their proximity to their red giant sun, and only one is verdant - Cauldron itself. Cauldron has additional problems - repeated attempts to settle the world over the millennia have been foiled by the effect the planet has on higher technology.

Digna: Wait, the planet is anathema to technology and they're using it as a staging post for the Fringe War? What complete IDIOT... wait..... what BRILLIANT cultist set that up?

What reason will Digna give her superiors for leaving Sinophia and heading the front?

GM: Tell them you heard reports the Sinophian tech-priests were planning to fit the governor with volitor circuits?

Eniek: Will we shortly be acquired a number of people that won't be missed. But fret not - I won't be taking them from the crew
Digna: How very considerate. And we will be shipping wounded soldiers around soon enough.
GM: 'I'm sorry Major, this patient just died - I'll have him taken down to the morgue.' 'What's that screaming?' 'Air released from the corpse - happens all the time'
Daniels: 'And that one?' 'Vox-ghost'

Maintaining morale on the Obsidian Resolve.

GM: And the Melodium plays 'Everything Is Awesome' on perpetual loop?

The Sinophia nobility are invited to contribute to the war effort, and more to the point, open trade with the war economy. Their response is to deliver thousands of Sinophian Highland sheep to the spaceport. This raises all sorts of problems for the cultists, who are really not planning on shipping livestock.

GM: Live Sheep Exports.

GM: No, LIVE Sheep, not LOVE sheep.
Digna: I dunno, you hear things about soldiers...

Eniek: I can see it now. 'Sir, the Gellar Field has weakened!''Where?' 'In the vicinity of the main cargo hold' ' .... great.'
GM: And the deranged daemon-possessed sheep go berserk, attacking the crew and biting through chain-halberds...

Eniek: The Imperium is surprising liberal about some things.
GM: Unless you're screwing xenos. So as long as they're not ALIEN sheep...

Rather than try and keep the sheep alive, they instead just opt to open the airlocks.

GM: Freeze-dried mutton.

Skerrit reads the cards and gets a puzzling glimpse of the future - apparently the Imperial forces on Cauldron are near to crumbling, the PCs most important weapon will be money, their plot will be complicated by aliens, and, apparently, 'The Lord Of Blood Will Do Your Bidding'.

And of course the Imperial authorities, such as the Navy ships patrolling the Cauldron system, will react badly to rogue psykers like Skerrit. He hides, while the others give the naval officers a tour of the ship.

Skerrit: I'm in a different part of the ship.
Daniels: And this is the lavatory... which is currently occupied.

Sheep slaughtering traditions.

Daniels: We had to point the ship towards Mecca as we did it.
Digna: Mars.
Eniek: Mecca, Mars, Terra...
GM: It's all the same direction from this far out

It's not safe to keep the Obsidian Resolve in a low orbit - the giant moon makes orbits unstable. Of course, given Digna is from the Lathes, three forge worlds orbiting each other, she's not much concerned.

Digna: Ah, a normal system, gravitationally.

What isn't normal is being shot down as their lander is overflying a large expanse of supposedly unoccupied jungle. At least the missile didn't actually explode, but it still cripples their vehicle. The lander goes down hard, in what turns out to be deep swamp, but only the pilot and Skerrit are casualties.

GM: You shouldn't be able to see the back of your own knee.
Skerrit: I'm glad I'm in too much shock to feel this.
Daniels: There's going to be nothing left of him after all the patching up you have to do.
Digna: Skeleton next.
Eniek: He's going to be my first test subject for fleshgrafting.
Daniels: Willing, too.
Eniek: On the other hand, if you're NOT willing I get a bonus to the rolls.

Skerrit: How are you going to replace my skeleton?
Digna: We freeze each section, liquify the bones, and replace them with metal.
Skerrit: D:

Digna OoC: If I can get a grav-plate from the Lathe Worlds and Stasis Field with a timer from Belacane, i can make a doomsday weapon. Up, down, up, down, up, down.
GM: An what will you call it - Mjölnir?
Digna OoC: Yup.

Digna: Our pilot is becoming one with the local ecosystem.

Digna: This is what happens when we don't sacrifice to the Lord of Fate before a mission.

Digna tests the depths of the swamp while Eniek prepares a raft - Cauldron's gravity is too high for either of them to just hover the others to shore.

GM: Something pulls hard on your mechadendrite.
Digna: Apparently I can go fishing with this.

A few shots scare off the giant armour-plated salamanders, and the wreck sinks into the morass with appropriate blooping noises.

Digna: Well, you've lost a lander, Daniels.
Daniels: And a pilot.
Digna: You've lost a lander. Pilots are easier to come by than Aquila Landers.

They now face a march of at least one hundred miles to the Imperial base on Cauldron, with no idea of what is lurking between them and safety. This should be fun... for me at least.

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The envelope that the team was going to leave in Ehran's suite was of particular interest.

 
Byte Force: "The last time we left an envelope behind, it was a page of Ehran's book in the lap of a dead elf-poser. This can't be a coincidence."
No-Step: "Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action."
 
The envelope was sealed with wax.
 
No-Step: "This is an old-school way to know if someone was reading your mail. If the wax seal is broken, you know that someone read the mail."
Eye Spy: "So we can't look at it without someone noticing?"
No-Step: "There's an old school ways to bypass it. Use an extremely thin, heated wire to separate the wax from the paper. When you're done, reheat the back of the wax seal until it starts to melt and stick it back on the paper. Monomolecular wire should be perfect."
Byte Force: "I didn't realize monomolecular wire was 'old school'."
 
No-Step: "Wear gloves when you handle the letter."
Audacity Jane: "Fingerprints."
No-Step: "That too. But mostly because contact poison is another 'old school' technique."
 
Byte Force: "There's no poison on the page in the envelope, but I've seen it before." (pause) "It's from that book we stole from the troll Baron in Germany."
Audacity Jane: "We left a metal attache case there."
Dent: "Three times. That's enemy action."
Happy Jack: "@#$%! We didn't try to conceal our appearance for that German mission. And we were under heavy surveillance.  Someone could tie all these jobs to us."
Eye Spy: "Great. Mr. Johnson is going to get us killed." (pause) "I suppose there's a bright side. We have a repeat customer."

 

 

We never did find out what that was all about - we retired the characters before it all came home to roost. Ah well.

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D&D continues, with a trip back to town to find out more about the political angles of the situation, before we head off to meet a druid for info on the land surrounding King Gurnt's stronghold. These sessions tend to be shorter than the others, mostly because they come at the end of particularly exhausting six-day weeks, including overtime. I must be insane.

Urlon: We really need a Wand of Cure Light Wounds
Kavorog: 'Cleric in a Can'

We do stop by that dragon's lair for a chat - befriending it now might pay off later.

GM: You're an elf – you can live long enough to ride the dragon into battle one day. And you're a gnome, you might live long enough... to grow up.

Directions to certain dubious businesses in town.

Lamech: Just across the road from the Teamster's Union. And that new bridge.

Urlon: We think they've been kidnapped by the goblin king.
Dwarf: What, David Bowie?

Lamech: I hear the other dragonborn got exiled for something he did to a kobold.
Ryck: Why would he get kicked out of town for that?
Lamech: It's more what he DID with the kobold.
Urlon: We should have made Kavorog tell us why he got kicked out of town.
Lamech: Eh - If we sit around telling everybody everything we've done we'll be here all week.

GM: You have a name for your adventuring company yet?
Lamech: 'The Bastards of Carnage'

A warning sign at the deserted village where the druid hangs out – beware of plant monsters, and zombies.

All: …....
Lamech: Well, at least somebody hung around long enough to actually put up the sign.

We are indeed attacked by plant monsters - how to respond?

GM: You could put it in a pot and teach it to dance

GM: That would be the unluckiest monster in the game. 'We're being attacked by a giant marijuana golem' 'Cool man'

Lamech uses Shatter on the twig creature hordes.

Lamech: Matchsticks

GM: Say it with flowers – give her a triffid.

But since the explosion will have roused anything in the village, we flee to the nearest building to take advantage of the narrow access. And discover the zombies are in the buildings.

Lamech: I thought the undead were supposed to be outside the building trying to get in!

After the ensuing carnage and bastardry, the druid turns up in the doorway - unwise given we're still buzzing with adrenaline.

Lamech: He's lucky he didn't get shot in the face, frankly.

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And the other Shadowrun 2070 game, where an alternate version of Ripper and an entirely different team of runners are still slogging through the mysterious music disc adventure, and trying to find out just how trouble they're in, and is there any other way we can make a profit on this job?

Ryleigh: 'For Enlightenment, Seek out Absent Friends...' Absent Friends... like dead people... something buried in a cemetary instead of a body?
Dr. Rubicante: Maybe we have to trap a ghost.
Shirley Temple: Ghosts are just free anscestor spirits
Ryleigh: I'm no ghosthunter.
Dr. Rubicante: Not my expertise anyway.
Ripper K: McCartney is actually dead - it's obvious

Dr. Rubicante: The only musical knowledge I have are of smash hits from the early 2000s and Harry Potter movie OSTs.

At least searching the web helps, even if Ares Macrotech bought out Google years ago.

Dr. Rubicante: I'm going to walk around while Aresearching "Jet Black and the Shadows". I'm somewhat thrilled that in 50 years, 'googling' is still as effective as ever.

It occurs to Ripper that this whole mystery may be a scheme whereby the vanished JetBlack can be tracked down by his former bandmates. The misogynistic elf in the party suggests we question the woman who won the auction, and that Ripper impersonated at the disastrous hand-off.

Dr. Rubicante: If all else fails, rut what we need out of her. Women love being overpowered by men with big dicks. Excepting lesbians, of course.
Ryleigh: That's what I call a stereotype.
Dr. Rubicante: Have you ever been with a woman?
Ryleigh: No.
Dr. Rubicante: That is exactly how my wife was.
Ripper K: That's why she divorced you then?
Dr. Rubicante: She's dead.
Ripper K: huh. You must have been cuckolded by somebody REALLY hung then.

Who was that woman, anyway? One of JetBlack's former coworkers?

GM: Corp decker. Ties to music collectors and industry. Looks like she was just the highest bidder. You'll be nice enough to return the hundreds of thousands of nuyen she paid for the disc since you had access to Loomis' commlink, and thus the other end of that transaction, won't you?
Ripper K: hundreds of THOUSANDS????
Ryleigh: Jacking Nuyen only seems advisable if it can't be traced back to our wallets.
Ripper K: We could freaking retire
Dr. Rubicante: Not me... a drop in the bucket.
Ripper K: Ok, does anybody alive actually know we were there?
Dr. Rubicante: Dooooes anyone have a proxy wallet we can use?
GM: Be nice, I'd like to not have the runners find a way to retire before the end of the first adventure
Ripper K: Um... she did get a glimpse of my face...
Ryleigh: You know.. I'd think she'd be suspicous if she wakes up to find a misfit group working together and guesses at our occupation.
Ripper K: and with that much at stake she could probably hire her own team to hunt me down...
Dr. Rubicante: I could use some good karma.
Ripper K: maybe there's a finder's fee for keeping her alive?
Ryleigh: if Ripper wasn't our Face... I'd suggest him playing dead while someone interrogates her.
Shirley Temple: Ransoming corp citizens in most corporate zones is an immediate death sentence
Dr. Rubicante: There had better be. Not only did you 'save' her, we're returning her cash... We can always donate it all to charity.
Ripper K: snerk
Ryleigh: All we do need is money laundry. Using a 'charity' isn't a bad idea...
Dr. Rubicante: Donating the money gives us karma, right? 8D
Shirley Temple: "...we see you used the corporate black ops fund to donate to a.........aging and retired big dicked porno stars fund......care to explain?"
Dr. Rubicante: "We're trying to cure gingers."
Ryleigh: Let's buy a carwash....
GM: Returning it would get you more, since, y'know, not ruining a woman's life
Dr. Rubicante: Well, let's not ruin the poor woman's life, I guess.
Shirley Temple: hmm, default on our current johnson for a finders fee from the elf lady. hard choices
Ryleigh: Since she's seen Ripper's face and we don't want her after him... maybe we should convince her he's dead and someone pretends he found her unconscious
Shirley Temple: the doorman saw the orca.
Dr. Rubicante: The doorman's still alive, right? I forget. People exploded.
GM: yes, the doorman saw EVERYONE.
Dr. Rubicante: Did he like my outfit?
GM: *sigh*

Ripper K: I suppose I could go wait for her to wake up, and catch her as she tries to flee town ahead of the corp assassins

Perhaps we should go question JetBlack's surviving bandmates, including one Marli? But the graveyard first - it's the appropriate time of night, and an opportunity to needle Rubicante.

Ripper K: Seems like a good idea - Marli must be nearly your age by now, Vell - eldsters need their sleep. And when we go by the graveyard we can visit all your friends.

Ripper K: This is a very badly laid out cemetery
Dr. Rubicante: Pretty though.
Ripper K: Unless the earthquakes shuffled all the headstones around?
Dr. Rubicante: Pretty spooky.
Ripper K: Good thing we don't live in San Francisco, or we'd have to drive out to Colma
Ryleigh: JB supposedly was someone famous... so the memorial stone should be fancy and easily visible.
Dr. Rubicante: Those aren't headstones. Those are each a single, flesh-eating animal.

Ripper K examines the nearest headstone.

Ripper K: 'Not Dead, Merely Sleeping' You're not fooling anybody, lady
Ryleigh: "Here lies Johnny Yeast. Pardon me for not rising."
Hogfather: "Here lies Lester Moore. Four slugs from a 44, no Les, no more."

HiscockTombstone.jpg
Ripper: Wow, it needed a six-foot plot? I suddenly feel inadequate

Dr. Rubicante: "Here lies Verne Anchors, who died as he was born; crying and covered in his mother's blood."

GM: It's just a cemetary, dude.
Ripper K: *starts ticking off his fingers * vampires, ghosts, ghouls -
Dr. Rubicante: WHAR
Ripper K: behind you!
Shirley Temple: Shush cetacean beefcake, you'll bring us bad luck
GM: BRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAINS naw, i'm kidding.
Shirley Temple: No brains here, just a bunch of frat members partying in a graveyard on a drunken dare
Hogfather: So, they really keep dead bodies here? Isn't that... just an invitation for grave robbers?

The JetBlack Memorial reads, “The stars shine brightest onthe blackest of nights.” It is also covered with flowers, mementos, and notes from admirers, even twenty-two years later. Considerable time is wasted searching the memorial for clues.

Shirley Temple: You, Spirit, check underneath and report back the content
Hogfather: Much better than digging it up
GM: Watcher Spirit comes back seconds later. "Lots of Dirt, Miss!" *poof*
Ripper K: hmm
Dr. Rubicante: "Klaatu... verata... nikto."
Ripper K: Anybody know what the Dwarvish for Friend is?

Eventually the GM admits the entire graveyard scene was a waste of time, and distraction.

Hogfather: OF COURSE! The graveyard was a giant aquarium, it all makes sense now.

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We never did find out what that was all about - we retired the characters before it all came home to roost.

 

I've been a little torn about whether to go into the rest of that series of adventures, because I don't want to give any spoilers if you end up un-retiring the characters.

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The shadowrunners were an ork/troll group. Against stereotype, they specialized in stealth, subtlety, bluff, illusion, deception and misdirection.

 

Cast of characters:

Dent: ork, rat shaman

No-Step: ork, snake shaman, healer

Byte Force: ork, decker, chemist

Eye Spy: ork, rigger, drones, paramedic

Audacity Jane: ork, combat, stealth, security systems

Happy Jack: troll, combat, disguise, negotiator

Young Elven Technologists (YET): An elven policlub that tried to refute common stereotypes about elves.

Lancelot Windtree (NPC): An elven mage who tried to embody every stereotype of elves ... particularly the negative ones.

 

Are They Framed YET

This module was previously described by Drhoz (here).

 

The team had been hired to do a run against the Young Elven Technologists to frame them for a crime nearly identical to the ones they had been getting away with. In order to perfect the frame, the decking had to be done from inside YET's building.

 

Planning the mission....

 

Happy Jack: "This mission has the best chance of succeeding if we can get in and out without them even knowing we were there."

Audacity Jane: "So we wait until tomorrow night."

Byte Force: "No. We should do it this morning, between 5am and 7am. I don't know any deckers that get up that early." (pause) "Though I do know a few who stay up that late."

 

Dent: (to Byte Force) "I keep telling you, you need to become a combat decker. Learn some infiltration skills."

Byte Force: "Why would I waste my time learning those?"

Dent: "For jobs like these. We have to sneak you inside YET's building so you can do the run from there."

Byte Force: "I found it more useful to invent this little device." (holds up his 'device') "You can sneak into their building, plug it into a dataport, and it will look like that's where my cyberdeck is located."

Audacity Jane: "What is it?"

Byte Force: "It's a complex invention known as 'an antenna'."

 

Audacity Jane: "I can get us in through the back door."

Happy Jack: "Don't go in there. Use the front door instead."

Audacity Jane: "Why?"

Happy Jack: "The back door is in the kitchen. You'll run into anyone who has the munchies."

Dent: "Not everyone eats like you do, Jack."

Happy Jack: "Okay. I'll revise that. You'll run into one of the troll street samurai who has the munchies."

Audacity Jane: "I'll get us in through the front door."

 

Dent and No-Step did thorough astral reconnaisance of YET's building.

 

No-Step: "... and we weren't able to learn the layout of Ehran's suite, because the walls are magickally warded, so we can't get in."

Eye Spy: "If you can't get in, how can you be sure that it's Ehran's suite?"

Dent: "It's the only room in the living areas that they bothered to put a ward around."

 

Eye Spy's drones were able to contribute to the scouting, since a massive skylight allowed her to see into the indoor gardens that filled one third of the building.

 

Dent: "I thought YET was trying to refute elven stereotypes."

 

Dent and Jane had no difficulty getting into YET's building, sneaking through the indoor garden, slipping upstairs, and getting into Ehran's quarters.

 

Dent: (whispered over the radio link) "This is like taking candy from a baby."

Byte Force: "Obviously you've never tried to take candy from a baby. They may not put up a fight, but they make a big fuss."

 

Byte Force's run through YET's system went smoothly, which was suprising, given that it was created and populated by a group of deckers. After finding the backdoor passcode to Dassurn, Byte Force began his run into Dassurn's system ... while still plugged in to the dataport in Ehran's suite.

 

Even on a smooth run, things can get complicated in a hurry.

 

Eye Spy: "A group of people just pulled up on motorcycles outside the building. There's ten of them."

Audacity Jane: "Are they coming into the building?"

Eye Spy: "They're parking and getting off their motorcycles. They're moderately armed ... submachine guns." (long pause) "Make that heavily armed. One has a rocket launcher!"

 

Audacity Jane: "Is Byte Force still doing his run?"

Eye Spy: "Yes."

Audacity Jane: "Drek. He probably doesn't even know he needs to hurry." (pause) "Jack, as soon as Byte Force is done with the run, we may need a diversion to get out of here."

Happy Jack: "Okay."

[bOOOOM]

The building shook. Plaster cracked and dust fell from the walls and ceiling.

Audacity Jane: "That's too soon!"

Dent: "We're not ready to go yet!"

Happy Jack: "That wasn't me."

Eye Spy: "The guy with the rocket launcher blew a hole in the front of the building." (pause) "And they just ran in through the hole."

 

Happy Jack had been sitting in an alley across the street, disguised as a homeless troll. Listening to the shooting and shouting coming from YET's building, he picked up an important detail.

 

Happy Jack: "They're the Association Para-Noblis. Those elf posers who kill real elves for not being elven enough."

No-Step: "I was hoping we had ruined them."

Happy Jack: "Well ... there are only ten of them left."

 

Deep inside Dassurn's network, Byte Force triggered Mr. Johnson's program, which immediately began draining all of Dassurn's liquid assets. After watching a moment in awe, Byte Force raced over to a nearby Trace and Report security program.

Byte Force: (slapping the Trace and Report program with his avatar's tail) "Wakey, wakey!"

 

Byte Force: (jacking out of the matrix) "Mission accomplished. Grab my antenna and sneak back out. Don't forget to lock Ehran's door behind you."

Audacity Jane: "We'd love to do just that, but the exit is blocked. Most of the elves and trolls are covering the garden from the balcony. The rest are covering the stairs. We would have to pass through a raging gun battle."

No-Step: "Can you use smoke or invisibility to get past them?"

Dent: "YET has two elven mages. They'll be able to assence us."

 

And one of the elven mages was making his presence known....

 

Lancelot Windtree: (yelling at the troll street samurai) "Why are you staying up here? Go down and shoot them."

troll street samurai: "That's a stupid tactic."

Lancelot Windtree: "You're too stupid for tactics. That's why we hired you."

Audacity Jane: (quietly to Dent) "I forsee a 'friendly fire' episode in that elf's future."

 

The exit may have been blocked, but there were other options....

 

Audacity Jane: "I have detcord. I'll just make a new exit."

Happy Jack: "Don't. If you make an exit, they will know you were inside. I'll make the exit from out here."

No-Step: "They will still know we were here if you blow a hole in the building."

Happy Jack: "The APN posers already blew one hole in the building. Who is going to assume that somebody else made the second hole?"

 

Jack blew a hole into the room across the hall from Ehran's. After Dent and Jane climbed down out of the hole and ran for cover, Dent couldn't stop giggling.

 

Audacity Jane: "I think he's suffering from hysteria."

No-Step: "I'll slap him out of it."

Audacity Jane: "We can take turns."

Eye Spy: "What about the APN? Are we just going to leave them?"

Dent: (still giggling) "I already took care of them."

Everyone stared at Dent.

Dent: "Before I left the building, I gave one final order to the hearth spirit. I told him to wait one minute, then use his Accident power on them."

Eye Spy: "I hope its a really serious accident."

[bOOOM]

No-Step: "I'm guessing it was ... because I've never seen a 'minor' accident involving a rocket launcher."

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The shadowrunners were an ork/troll group. Against stereotype, they specialized in stealth, subtlety, bluff, illusion, deception and misdirection.

 

Cast of characters: 

Dent: ork, rat shaman

No-Step / Investigator Davis: ork, snake shaman, healer

Byte Force: ork, decker, chemist

Eye Spy: ork, rigger, drones, paramedic

Audacity Jane: ork, combat, stealth, security systems

Jonathan Bridges / Happy Jack / Detective Williams: troll, combat, disguise, negotiator

Noggin (NPC): a fixer with contacts at Renraku

Danial Simpson (NPC): a pudgy, middle-aged junior exec at Renraku

Victoria Delling (NPC): the missing girl with the missing gift

 

Missing Blood - Part 1

 

Noggin: "There's a junior exec at Renraku who needs a personal job done. I checked him out for you. He's clean as an elven baby's bottom. He's never dealt with runners before, and I'm sure he never thought he'd need their resources."

Jonathan Bridges: "If he's that clean, how did he become a corporate exec?"

Noggin: "Nepotism."

 

Noggin: "He wants this quiet. Real quiet. He wouldn't give me the specifics. Just that he gave a present to a girl, and now the girl is missing and he needs the present back."

Jonathan Bridges: "Is this the kind of 'quiet' where the job is done with a minimum of fuss? ... Or the kind where we 'silence' the girl and everyone she may have told about the exec's indiscretion?"

 

Jonathan Bridges met with Danial Simpson in the Renraku Arcology parking garage.

 

Danial Simpson had given Victoria Delling, his mistress, a unique necklace. His wife found the receipt and demanded an explanation. Danial panicked and said it was an anniversary present. Danial needed the team to find the necklace and return it in three days, so he could give it to his wife.

 

And the nepotism played a part in Simpson's predicament. His father-in-law had given him his job.

 

Danial Simpson: "I'm offering you 6,000 nuyen for the return of the necklace. I'm prepared to pay 2,000 nuyen now, and the remainder when we meet Friday evening."

Jonathan Bridges: "6,000 nuyen total? My suit costs more than that."

Danial Simpson: "Um ... ah ... I realize you may be accustomed to receiving more than that, but this should be a simple job."

Jonathan Bridges: "If Ms. Delling is still in the Seattle area and still in possession of the necklace, it will be a reasonably simple job." (pause) "If she's fled to another country, we could spend more than that on travel fees." (pause) "And based on what you've told me, it sounds even more likely that she has dumped the necklace. If she has a copy of the receipt, then she might sell it to a legitimate dealer ... and they would store something of that value in a vault."

Danial Simpson: "Well, you could keep anything else you stole from the vault...."

Jonathan Bridges: "If I want to break into vaults and keep the contents as pay, I can do that easily enough without bothering to find the vault your necklace is in."

 

Jonathan Bridges: "If Victoria doesn't have a receipt, then people most willing to touch a unique item like this would be organized crime ... the mafia, yakuza, maybe a Seoulpa gang."

Danial Simpson: "Um ... well ... I can't offer you more than that. My wife is now suspicious of me, and she's paying attention to my finances. She's going to notice if I pay much more money than that."

 

The matter of pay was resolved when Danial agreed to become a contact and feed Jonathan any useful information he heard.

 

Victoria had stopped taking Danial's calls. A quick astral recon of her apartment in the Barrens showed that she had cleared out of there as well.

 

Happy Jack: "I'm going to disguise myself as a Detective Williams from Lone Star when I interview her friends and neighbors."

Audacity Jane: "And pretend you're officially investigating a theft? I doubt they'll rat her out."

Happy Jack: (grinning) "I'm more subtle than that. I believe she was a witness to a crime. I'm trying to find her and interview her." (pause) "And hopefully I can find her before the murderer does...."

 

According to the landlord, a friend of Victoria's had called to say she needed to move out suddenly, due to a death in the family. A moving van showed up the next day and collected all of her belongings.

 

The landlord was able to direct "Detective Williams" to Mr. Denton, a neighbor Victoria was friends with. Mr. Denton was a troll with 18 cats.

 

Mr. Denton: "Feel free to push them out of the way and take a seat. They don't mind."

Detective Williams: (looking at the cat hair covering every surface in the apartment) "No thanks. I'd rather not turn my jacket into a fur coat."

 

According to Mr. Denton, Victoria left her cat with him, saying she'd be gone for two days. It had now been four days, she hadn't returned, and the movers hadn't collected her cat. Therefore, he was convinced that something terrible had happened to her.

 

But he was able to provide some leads to other people.

 

Mr. Denton: "She was into tarot cards. She went to a Madame Ulishia regularly. I think the whole thing is silly, of course, but then I live with dozens of cats to keep me sane."

Eye Spy (ooc): Living with dozens of cats is a sign of sanity?

 

Mr. Denton: "There was something else she mentioned when I first met her. A policlub she had just joined."

Detective Williams: "I'll go out on a limb and guess that it wasn't Humanis Policlub."

 

Mr. Denton didn't like policlubs in general, so they never discussed it again. And he couldn't remember which policlub. But he did know that she was employed by the policlub.

 

No-Step: (coming back from astral recon) "He likes to talk to his cats."

Eye Spy: "Being nuts will do that."

No-Step: "It may be nuts, but it's useful. People don't bother lying to their cats." (pause) "He's genuinely concerned about her. More importantly, he didn't pick up the phone and try to warn Victoria about us."

 

Astral recon at the fortune teller's did not go as smoothly.

 

No-Step: "Crap! She's a practioner. And she assenced me while I was in there."

Dent: "She's not going to believe you're Lone Star, Jack."

Happy Jack / Detective Williams: "Yes she will. No-Step, disguise yourself like you're from Lone Star's paranormal investigatons division. You're going to be Investigator Davis, assisting me in my investigation."

Dent: "We won't be able to spy on her afterwards."

Eye Spy: "You can't. I can. I'll have a drone use a laser mike. You magick types tend to forget about tech solutions ... and I bet she will as well."

 

Madame Ulishia was a harder nut to crack than the landlord or Mr. Denton.

 

Madame Ulishia: "I never give out confidential about the people who come to me ... unless its very important." (long pause) "How important is it to you."

Happy Jack realized she was looking for a bribe.

Detective Williams: "It's important enough to get you thrown in jail for obstruction of justice if I even think you're withholding information." (pause) "And if you're unfamiliar with the special precautions taken when we incarcerate someone who is magickally active, I'm sure Investigator Davis would be happy to fill you in."

 

Madame Ulishia: "I read in the cards that someone was following Victoria. She confirmed it. Then last week, Detective Bambra, a private investigator, came in and starting asking questions about her. I suspected that he was the one following her, so I told him nothing."

Detective Williams: "Did you bother to call us about this suspicious individual who was stalking your client?"

Madame Ulishia: "You?"

Detective Williams: "Us. Lone Star."

Madame Ulishia: "Um ... no."

 

Madame Ulishia didn't know anything about the policlub that Victoria belonged to, or anything about her employer.

 

No-Step: (after they left Madame Ulishia's) "What were you going to do if she had called Lone Star about that Detective Bambra."

Happy Jack: "Is she eavesdropping astrally?"

No-Step: (astrally assencing the area) "No."

Happy Jack: "I was going to come back later, tell her that there was no record of her ever making that call, and accuse her of interfering with our investigation. Use that accusation to rattle more information out of her."

No-Step: "But what if she actually had called? Wouldn't she know you were lying?"

Happy Jack: "Do you think Lone Star's call center always properly logs each call?"

Eye Spy: "I don't think there's a call center on the planet that does that."

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The shadowrunners were an ork/troll group. Against stereotype, they specialized in stealth, subtlety, bluff, illusion, deception and misdirection.

 

Cast of characters: 

Dent: ork, rat shaman

No-Step: ork, snake shaman, healer

Byte Force: ork, decker, chemist

Eye Spy: ork, rigger, drones, paramedic

Audacity Jane: ork, combat, stealth, security systems

Happy Jack: troll, combat, disguise, negotiator

Danial Simpson (NPC): a pudgy, middle-aged junior exec at Renraku; employing the team for this job

Victoria Delling (NPC): the missing girl with the missing gift

Detective Bambra (NPC): a private investigator

 

Missing Blood, part 2 - Gang Banging

 

Danial Simpson had hired the team to find a missing necklace (called "Blood"). The necklace was in the possession of his missing mistress (Victoria Delling). The missing woman had been stalked by a private investigator (Detective Bambra) ... who possibly could be found ... and whose office they had definitely found.

 

Astral recon showed that his office was unoccupied, so Dent and Jane went to break in.

 

Happy Jack: "Let's keep an eye on those gang members. They seem very suspicious to me."

GM: (rolling dice) They seem unusually cheerful and self-confident for gang members, but they're not otherwise suspicious.

Byte Force: "Gang members are common in the Barrens. It would be more suspicious if this area was gang free."

Happy Jack: "Gangs are common in the Barrens, but those three are sitting in a Eurocar Westwind. That's a very pricey ride for poor Barrens kids."

Eye Spy: "It could be stolen."

Happy Jack: "Then why aren't they joyriding it or stripping it? That's normal behavior for gang members."

 

Detective Bambra's office was full of useful clues.

 

Audacity Jane: (over the radio link) "The PI wasn't stalking Victoria. He was stalking Simpson. He has a bunch of audio chips for each case, and one set is labeled 'The Simpson Affair'."

Byte Force: "Can you make a copy of them?"

Dent: "We don't have the time or equipment to make copies. Do you want us to just take them?"

Byte Force: "If we take them, he'll know we're onto him."

Happy Jack: "Clean out all of the chips for every case and his electronic equipment. That way he can't be sure which case is involved, or if it was just simple theft."

Dent: "And it gives us more stuff to fence."

 

Happy Jack: "Heads up. The gang members just got out of their car and are heading into the same building you're in."

Dent: "See if you can figure out where they're going."

Aided by a hearth spirit's Concealment, Denta and Jane hid in the office. After a couple minutes, the gang members burst in with drawn machine pistols.

gang member #1: (crashing in through the door) "The Iceman cometh, dudes!"

The gang members looked around in confusion at the apparently empty office.

gang member #2: "Where did Bambra's muscle go?"

There was a loud racket from down the hall as Happy Jack charged up the stairwell.

gang member #3: "Oh drek! They're behind us!"

As the gang members turned to charge back into the hall, Jane and Dent opened fire into their backs with narcojet pistols.

 

Audacity Jane: (as Jack charged into the office) "What are you doing up here?"

Happy Jack: (gesturing at the unconscious gang members) "I came to help you with these guys."

Dent: (snickering) "Help do what with them?"

Happy Jack: "Help carry them down to the van, apparently."

 

Eye Spy: (watching everything get packed into the van) "With all the junk you're..."

No-Step: (interrupting) "Evidence, not junk."

Eye Spy: "...evidence you're loading, there won't be enough room for all of you."

No-Step: "Don't worry. There's one more piece of evidence. It definitely won't fit in the van. And it will solve our little space issue."

Eye Spy: "I have no idea what you're talking about."

Dent: "That made no sense."

No-Step: (gesturing at the Eurocar Westwind) "That's the piece of evidence I'm referring to."

Audacity Jane: "And like the gang members, we can sell it for parts when we're done with it."

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The shadowrunners were an ork/troll group. Against stereotype, they specialized in stealth, subtlety, bluff, illusion, deception and misdirection.

 

Cast of characters: 

Dent: ork, rat shaman

No-Step: ork, snake shaman, healer

Byte Force: ork, decker, chemist

Eye Spy: ork, rigger, drones, paramedic

Audacity Jane: ork, combat, stealth, security systems

Happy Jack: troll, combat, disguise, negotiator

Danial Simpson (NPC): a pudgy, middle-aged junior exec at Renraku; employing the team for this job

Victoria Delling (NPC): the missing girl with the missing gift

Detective Bambra (NPC): a private investigator

Madame Ulishia (NPC): a fortune teller who fingered Detective Bambra as Victoria's stalker

 

Missing Blood, part 3 - Getting a Clue

 

The team had collected a load of evidence from Detective Bambra's office: audio chips, video chips, five unconscious gang members ... even their gear was providing clues.

 

Audacity Jane: "These gang kids are using APDS ammo. How are they getting their hands on that? I can barely get my hands on it."

Happy Jack: "We don't have that hard of a time getting it."

Audacity Jane: "Well, no ... but that's because you had Ares pay us in crates of it. I'm fairly certain that these kids aren't getting it the same way."

 

Dent: (after doing a Mind Probe) "These gang members all belong to the Universal Brotherhood. One of the leaders in the local chapterhouse sent them to kill the private investigator."

Happy Jack: "What? The Universal Brotherhood is that group that runs the soup kitchens. Why would they send out a hit squad? Did he poison their soup?"

Dent: "They were told that he was causing trouble for the Universal Brotherhood."

Audacity Jane: "That still doesn't make much sense. Charitable organizations don't resort to violence, even when they should."

Byte Force: "It's hard to get donations if you have a reputation for violence."

Audacity Jane: "Really? I've always found that a reputation for violence makes fundraising easier."

No-Step: "Charities don't function like protection rackets."

Audacity Jane: "That's why protection rackets raise more money than charities."

 

The discussion digressed onto various shadowrunners methods of "raising money for charities."

 

Dent: "I've noticed something weird about these gang members. On a subconscious level, they're the happiest and most self-confident people I've ever Mind Probed. They're surprisingly well adjusted, given their background."

No-Step: "Do you even know anyone who is happy, confident and well adjusted?"

Eye Spy: "Jack is happy."

Happy Jack: "I'm probably not well-adjusted, though."

Audacity Jane: "I'm well-adjusted."

Everyone turned and stared at Jane.

Eye Spy: "Yeah ... riiiiiight."

Audacity Jane: "I'm not all wishy-washy or angst-ridden. I'm perfectly happy with who I am and what I do."

No-Step: "That's because you're amoral and remorseless. That's not the same as being 'well-adjusted'."

 

Byte Force: "The old troll with the cats and the fortune teller both made a comment about Victoria. They said she was becoming more self-confident. Maybe there's some connection between her growing self-confidence and the gang members' self-confidence."

Dent: (after doing another Mind Probe) "They're more self-confident because of what they're learning from the Universal Brotherhood ... but it sounds like a bunch of hippy, flaky gibberish to me."

Byte Force: "You might be able to produce that kind of effect with subtle doses of pharmaceuticals."

Happy Jack: "Brainwashing techniques could do it."

Eye Spy: "What about magick?"

No-Step: "It could do it, but we would be able to see the magickal signature in their auras."

Happy Jack: (laughing) "That's life in 2051. We found six people who are happy and confident, so we're absolutely convinced that it's a sinister plot."

 

Private Detective Bambra's audio chips (which he dictated his notes on) provided some very different information.

 

Byte Force: "Bambra was hired by Danial Simpson's wife. She suspected that he was having an affair."

No-Step: "Even if we recover the necklace, she's probably going to keep digging."

Byte Force: "She may not need to keep digging. Bambra had her plant a bug on Danial's phone."

 

Bambra had used the tap on Danial's phone to download a vidphone message that Victoria had left for Danial. It seemed likely that Danial had never seen this message.

 

Victoria's recorded message: "I'll be gone for a day or two. I just wanted you to know that I'm all right. I also ... wanted to thank you again so much for the necklace."

Dent: "He is so busted."

 

Victoria's recorded message: "... Madame Ulishia has told me that this is something I shouldn't pass up. She said to me, 'Victoria Delling, this is your moment. Seize it!' So I'm going to."

No-Step: "I believe the fortune teller had a little more information than she let on."

Audacity Jane: (to Happy Jack) "It looks like your detective disguise didn't get the cooperation that you expected it to."

Happy Jack: "I warned that woman about withholding information from me."

No-Step: "You told her you'd arrest her. But you're not really with Lone Star. You can't carry out that threat."

Happy Jack: "Of course I can. It's just called an abduction instead of an arrest when I carry it out."

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The shadowrunners were an ork/troll group. Against stereotype, they specialized in stealth, subtlety, bluff, illusion, deception and misdirection.

 

Cast of characters: 

Dent: ork, rat shaman

No-Step: ork, snake shaman, healer

Byte Force: ork, decker, chemist

Eye Spy: ork, rigger, drones, paramedic

Audacity Jane: ork, combat, stealth, security systems

Jonathan Bridges / Happy Jack: troll, combat, disguise, negotiator

Danial Simpson (NPC): a pudgy, middle-aged junior exec at Renraku

Victoria Delling (NPC): the missing girl with the missing gift

Madame Ulishia (NPC): a fortune teller that Victoria had regularly visited

 

Missing Blood, part 4 - Miss Fortune Teller

 

Danial Simpson had hired the team to find a missing necklace (called "Blood"). The necklace was in the possession of his missing mistress (Victoria Delling). Madame Ulishia had sent the team chasing a red herring, even though she clearly knew more about Victoria's disappearance. Since it was the middle of the night, the team decided to confront her immediately.

 

No-Step: "I think we're rushing into this. We don't have any idea what kind of defensive preparations she could have."

Happy Jack: "Assume she's a shaman. What kind of defenses would she have?"

No-Step: "She'll have a hearth spirit. Maybe a weak watcher."

Dent: "Maybe an ally spirit."

Happy Jack: "And if she's a hermetic mage?"

Dent: "She'll have one or more elemental spirits instead of a hearth spirit. The rest will be the same."

Happy Jack: "Gee. It took you a whole 10 seconds to figure out her magickal defenses."

 

The team planned to do a careful recon before entering ... but as they approached the door they heard a cry of pain and breaking glass from inside.

 

Audacity Jane: (quietly over the radio link) "The front door is ajar. The latch is broken." (pause) "Frag. Do we go in blind?"

Happy Jack: "No."

Happy Jack casually strolled in front of the big picture window in the front of Madame Ulishia's shop/home and looked in.

Dent: "The blinds are closed, Genius."

Happy Jack: "And I have thermographic vision."

 

Happy Jack: "Two people down on the floor. A third is crouched over one of them."

Audacity Jane: "The two on the floor ... alive?"

Happy Jack: "They're warm ... so either alive or recently alive."

 

No-Step's watcher spirit started making a racket in the back room.

Happy Jack: "Number three just charged into the back. The other two didn't twitch."

Jane eased open the front door, stepped inside, and came face-to-face with a fourth person ... who was coming out of the other back room.

Audacity Jane: "Oops?"

 

The people in Madame Ulishia's had large, weird teeth ... and they preferred unarmed combat over using weapons.

 

Audacity Jane: (retreating back into the street) "What are they? Some type of vampire? Physical adepts?"

Dent: "Oh **** me! They're possessed by ant spirits!"

Happy Jack: (smacking one with the haft of his naginata) "Didn't anyone tell you ... don't bring an ant to a troll fight."

 

Dent and No-Step's city spirits killed the ant spirits. Unlike the ant-possessed humans they had encountered previously (here and here), these could pass for humans with weird cyberware/bioware.

 

Dent summoned a hearth spirit inside Madame Ulishia's, which immediately caused some consternation.

Eye Spy: "What the **** is that?"

No-Step: "Your spirit looks like The Fly decided to dress up like Carnac the Great."

Dent: "I think my conjuration is bugged."

 

The hearth spirit was somewhat recalcitrant, but eventually helped Dent by locating a clue (a handwritten journal).

Dent: "Whoever wrote this journal talks about her queen and her host's body. I think it was written by an insect spirit possessing someone's body."

Byte Force: "What was Madame Ulishia doing with an ant spirit's journal?"

Dent: (astrally inspecting Madame Ulishia's corpse) "I think she was possessed by spirit. Not an ant spirit, but something similar."

No-Step: "That's impossible. I saw her astral form earlier. She was a normal human."

Audacity Jane: (examining the corpse) "And I don't see any insect-like mutations."

Dent: "Some spirits can mask their auras and look human. Maybe Ulishia was one of those?"

 

This revelation started driving the normally paranoid shadowrunners to new heights of paranoia.

 

Dent: "We don't have any way to detect someone like Ulishia."

No-Step: "They could replace someone we know, and we might not be able to tell."

Eye Spy: "Maybe they already have!"

Dent: "Maybe we can invent a spell to detect them?"

Happy Jack: "Use brute force."

Audacity Jane: "You mean, 'Kill them all and let the gods sort them out'?"

Happy Jack: "Not exactly." (pause) "Normal people can't be attacked from the astral, and mages and shamans can only be attacked from the astral when they're astrally assencing or projecting, right?"

Dent: "That's the only way they can be directly attacked. There are still ways to indirectly attack them."

Happy Jack: "Okay. And spirits are always present on the astral, even when they're physically manifesting, right? They can't avoid being in the astral?"

No-Step: "That's correct."

Happy Jack: "So you can attack a normal person astrally. If they're really a normal person, there's no effect. If they fall over dead, you know that they're actually possessed by something."

Dent and No-Step thought this over.

Happy Jack: "And if you warn a mage or shaman about what you're about to do, and then they fall over dead, then you know they were either possessed by something, or they're too dumb to live."

 

The team had also taken custody of three catatonic ex-hosts of ant spirits.

 

Audacity Jane: "I don't think these guys are worth much. Organ-leggers don't have a market for mutated parts."

Happy Jack: "Let's keep them alive for a little while anyway."

Dent: "That's dangerous. The other ant spirits may be able to track these bodies down."

Happy Jack: "Really? That could be helpful."

Dent: "How is that helpful?"

Happy Jack: "We can stow them in a safehouse and use them as bait."

Eye Spy: "We could put tracking devices on them."

Audacity Jane: "I could rig booby traps."

No-Step: "I think 'safehouse' may be a bit of a misnomer under these circumstances."

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The shadowrunners were an ork/troll group. Against stereotype, they specialized in stealth, subtlety, bluff, illusion, deception and misdirection.

 

Cast of characters: 

Dent: ork, rat shaman

No-Step: ork, snake shaman, healer

Byte Force: ork, decker, chemist

Eye Spy: ork, rigger, drones, paramedic

Audacity Jane: ork, combat, stealth, security systems

Happy Jack: troll, combat, disguise, negotiator

Danial Simpson (NPC): a pudgy, middle-aged junior exec at Renraku

Victoria Delling (NPC): the missing girl with the missing gift

Detective Bambra (NPC): a private investigator

Madame Ulishia (NPC): a fortune teller; had been possessed by an insect spirit and slain by ant spirits

Universal Brotherhood ("UB"): a charitable fringe religious organization

 

Missing Blood, part 5 - Tying it Together

 

  1. The Universal Brotherhood had tried to kill Detective Bambra.
  2. Detective Bambra had been hired to find evidence of Danial Simpson's affair.
  3. Danial Simpson had an affair with Victoria Delling, until she disappeared with an expensive necklace.
  4. Victoria Delling had regularly visited Madame Ulishia, who had encouraged Victoria to do whatever caused her to disappear.
  5. Madame Ulishia was actually possessed by an insect spirit (but not an ant spirit) and had been killed by people possessed by ant spirits.
 

No-Step: "We need to figure out how this all fits together."

Eye Spy: "At the moment, I'd like to know how any of this fits together."

 

Byte Force: "I'm going to take a run against the Universal Brotherhood's network. Is there anything specific you think I should look for?"

Happy Jack: "Any references to Bambra, any references to Victoria Delling, any references to Danial Simpson, any references to Madame Ulishia, or any references that would indicate insect spirits."

Byte Force: "You think all of those are tied to the Universal Brotherhood?"

Happy Jack: "No. But this is more like the 'shotgun' method of evidence gathering. Put enough stuff in the air, and you might get a hit."

Audacity Jane: "That technique works as poorly for evidence as it does for marksmanship."

Happy Jack: "If you think it works poorly for hitting a target, then you're not using a big enough shotgun."

 

Some time later, Byte Force completed his run on the UB's system. The most important information was an eight page exposé on the Universal Brotherhood, plus eighty pages of background notes.

 

The summarized exposé and notes:

  • The Universal Brotherhood was controlled by insect spirits, or more accurately, the queens.
  • These insect spirits included ant spirits, fly spirits, termite spirits, wasp spirits, and possibly others.
  • The UB had over 35,000 members (counting both normal people and insect-possessed people), over one hundred million nuyen in annual cash flow, and was growing rapidly.
  • The majority of UB members were normal people who were ignorant of the organization's true nature.
  • Unwitting members were duped into becoming voluntary hosts for insect spirits.
  • Through its members, the UB had influence in almost every major corporation and other powerful group, including Lone Star.
  • The reporters who wrote the exposé had been killed. The UB had successfully prevented the story from being released, covered up the crime and the exposé, and even found and blown up a local Shadowland hub to keep this secret.
 

The other information discovered:

  • Victoria Delling was a member of the UB, and was undergoing the process of "initiation" (possession).
  • The missing necklace was being stored in a vault in the UB's Redmond chapterhouse.
  • Madame Ulishia had been an initiated member and a recruiter for the UB.
  • Hours after hiring the team to find the necklace, Danial Simpson had attended his first UB meeting.
 

Eye Spy: "We are so screwed."

Audacity Jane: (grimly) "As soon as the Universal Brotherhood realizes we have this information, they're going to come after us with everything they have."

Happy Jack: "So far they don't know we have the information. They don't even suspect we have it. From this point forward, we're now under black-ops rules. No trails lead back to us."

Byte Force: "But there will be a trail leading back to us."

Happy Jack: "How? Were you spotted in their system?"

Byte Force: "No. The necklace. Blood. After we give it back to Danial, someone at the UB will eventually realize that his wife's necklace is the same as the one that used to be in their possession. They can trace the necklace to Danial. They can trace Danial to Noggin. They can trace Noggin to you...."

Happy Jack: "That trail only exists if Simpson gets his necklace back. At this point, I'm in favor of returning the 2,000 nuyen advance. It's certainly not worth 6,000 nuyen to connect ourselves back to this mess."

 

Dent: "If we're not getting the necklace back, what are we doing?"

No-Step: "We have to go public with this information."

Byte Force: "That didn't turn out that well for the two reporters."

Happy Jack: "This whole report sounds like a crackpot conspiracy theory. The only reason it sounds plausible to us is because of that whole Euphoria affair ... and because of the possessed guys who attacked Ulishia."

Eye Spy: "So you're saying that people won't believe us if we tell the truth. What's your solution? Lie to them?"

Happy Jack: "Let's convince people the UB is lying to them."

Audacity Jane: "I'm not seeing the difference."

Happy Jack: "Just wait."

No-Step: "I hate it when you give that answer."

GM: Not as much as I do.

 

No-Step: "We need to warn Danial Simpson somehow."

Audacity Jane: "Why should we risk ourselves to warn him?"

No-Step: "If we don't, the UB will get control over a Renraku executive."

Happy Jack: "There's an easier way to solve that problem. Can you fake being Detective Bambra well enough to fool Mrs. Simpson?"

No-Step: "I only have a few pictures to work off of, and that's generally not enough." (pause) "But if I look like I've been beaten up, with some bruises on my face and some swelling, I should be able to pass."

Happy Jack: "Perfect. Pretend to be Bambra, give Mrs. Simpson the disk of Victoria's vidphone message, she divorces Danial, and her father fires Danial. The UB may still have a hold of him, but he'll no longer be a junior exec."

 

Byte Force: "I think we need to start by hitting the Redmond chapterhouse."

Dent: "Why there?"

Byte Force: "The necklace is being stored there."

Happy Jack: "We're not returning it to Danial."

Byte Force: "I know, but if No-Step, posing as the detective, returns it to Mrs. Simpson, they will follow the trail back to him, not us."

Audacity Jane: "Since they're already trying to kill him, they could end up shooting him before they get the chance to interrogate him."

Happy Jack: "Even if they do interrogate him, they won't get much out of him besides screams and pleas for mercy."

 

No-Step: "I realize the strategic value of pinning our actions on somebody else, but I can't just let someone be horribly tortured by insect spirits in order to save ourselves."

Happy Jack: "I'll make you a deal. If we get a lead on Bambra, we'll make sure that doesn't happen to him." (looking around at the rest of the group) "If we can find Bambra without leaving any evidence that leads back to us, does everyone agree that's a reasonable compromise."

Audacity Jane: "Sure. Lone Star will find his corpse in a back alley. The UB's search for us will hit a literal dead end."

Happy Jack: "I was going to suggest slipping him enough money so he could lead them on a wild goose chase across the continent ... but your suggestion works just as well."

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The shadowrunners were an ork/troll group. Against stereotype, they specialized in stealth, subtlety, bluff, illusion, deception and misdirection.

 

Cast of characters: 

Dent: ork, rat shaman

No-Step: ork, snake shaman, healer

Byte Force: ork, decker, chemist

Eye Spy: ork, rigger, drones, paramedic

Audacity Jane: ork, combat, stealth, security systems

Happy Jack: troll, combat, disguise, negotiator

Madame Ulishia (NPC): a fortune teller; had been possessed by an insect spirit and slain by ant spirits

Universal Brotherhood ("UB"): a charitable fringe religious organization

 

Missing Blood, part 6 - The Best Laid Plans

 

The Universal Brotherhood was secretly being controlled by insect spirits. The team had decided to start by taking out the UB's Redmond chapterhouse.

 

Planning the assault:

 

Byte Force: "The UB doesn't have any security systems that connect to the Matrix ... or any other security systems for that matter. I can run a simultaneous assault against their system in order to get at their money, but that's about the extent of it."

Dent: "That's an extremely valuable contribution."

Byte Force: "It might also be a deadly one. If one of their members is connected in the banking business, they could tie that money to us."

Happy Jack: "That's what money laundering is for. We may give up most of the money, but it becomes nearly impossible to track the money to us."

No-Step: "If they have a person inside the bank, they could find the money launderer as easily as they could find us. I'm sure they'd be willing to torture information out of him."

Happy Jack: "That's why I intend to launder the money through the Yakuza. If the UB wants to tangle with the Yaks in order to get to us, I'm willing to let them start a war."

 

Audacity Jane: (to Dent and No-Step) "Are you sending in spirits like you did when we went after Euphoria?"

Dent: "We can't send in city spirits. It's a hearth spirit domain."

No-Step: "I don't want to summon a hearth spirit in there. We'd get something worse than that abomination you summoned at Madame Ulishia's."

Dent: "And there's a ward around the building, which would keep watcher spirits out."

Happy Jack: "Does it keep them out forever, or do they have to break through it?"

Dent: "They have to break through it ... which is going to alert whomever put it up."

Audacity Jane: "That's fine. If they're busy defending the ward against your spirits, then they're not protecting the targets inside from me."

 

Happy Jack: "I think we need to brainstorm different tricks and tactics to use against them."

Audacity Jane: "We do that for every job."

Happy Jack: "Yes ... but this time is different. According to the investigative reporters, there are over 400 chapterhouses. That means we'll be hitting the UB more than once."

Byte Force: "You think they'll learn our habits."

Dent: "Wait ... Is this all we're going to do from now on? We could spend years fighting them without wiping them out."

Happy Jack: "Consider that incentive to brainstorm some alternate ways to bring them down."

Dent: "..."

 

Byte Force: "I combed through the UB's membership roles for the Redmond chapterhouse. I think they have about 16 security guards per shift. Ex-gang members and ex-street samurai wannabes. No serious muscle."

No-Step: "What about human form insect spirits?"

Byte Force: "That's the good news. Other than Madame Ulishia, they only have one other human form in this chapterhouse. Her name is Judy. She works at the information desk in front."

Audacity Jane: "I think Judy is about to become the victim of random street violence."

Happy Jack: "Or become a casualty of a fatal workplace accident."

 

Audacity Jane: "So are we sneaking in through one of the upper floors?"

Happy Jack: "I'd rather go in through the soup kitchen."

Audacity Jane: "Any excuse for you to play dress up."

Happy Jack: "The homeless carry a lot of crap around with them. That means we can sneak a lot of gear in while looking just like everyone else."

Dent: "But you only get to pull that trick once. After that they'll install security scanners and put more security in the soup kitchens."

Happy Jack: "Yep. Even a basic scanner will set them back 15,000 nuyen. Multiply it by 400 chapterhouses. That's a nice little hit to their cash flow."

No-Step: "That's not much compared to how much nuyen they're pulling in."

Happy Jack: "A few million nuyen here, a few million there ... pretty soon it starts adding up to some real money."

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