Friday, May 22, 2015

RPG LEGO Mapping Project - Scale Is Important!

In addition to the Shadowrun campaign in which I am a co-GM, I'm supposed to be putting together a superhero campaign using the HERO System, 5th Revised Edition.  [We never updated to 6th edition due to cost and the fact that 5th Rev. Ed. works fine for us.]  The schedule for when the campaign was supposed to start went south when my laptop hard drive crashed last year.  I've spent the intervening time reassembling my campaign note.  Luckily I had a copy of the Illustrator file of my city map saved elsewhere.

One of the things I was having issues grappling with was what the city looked like.  What does the topography mandate?  What kind of and how many skyscrapers does the city have?  How far can a non-flying hero cover on foot without having to run through crowds at street level?

I've lived most of my life in Houston, Texas, which is one of the most sprawling cities in North America.  The city has no natural boundaries and has grown like an amoeba as a result.  [The Greater Houston metropolitan area has a larger urban area than the state of Rhode Island has in total - 1295 sq. mi. to 1212 sq. mi., respectively.]  It also has no zoning AND NEVER WILL, thank you very much.  This makes it very unlike other major metropolitan centers.

The city I'm trying to create, Capital City, is in Maryland, on the US East Coast and has some history and some geographical constraints.  It should feel like an East Coast city and I'm not really certain how that would look - so I'm making a model.

Out of LEGO.

I pulled down some free topological maps from the USGS for the area I'm using [the Port Tobacco and La Plata maps, in case you are interested] and imported them into Adobe Illustrator.  I then ungrouped everything and started removing topo lines that were not a multiple of 50 feet (that is, I kept 0, 50, 100, 150, 200, etc.).  [Did I mention the USGS puts out really good PDF maps?  They do - they are layered and fairly easy to work with in Illustrator.]  Oh, except for the La Plata, because those people have to be special and did their lines in 20-foot increments instead of 10-foot ones like all the other maps.  Read up on the history of the area and you'll see what I mean.  Freakin' arsonists.

That gave me a simplified topographical map of the area and I used the Illustrator Grid function to put a grid on the whole thing.  I set the grid to four boxes per inch and now had the whole area squared off.  I then looked at the topographical lines and stuck a number on each grid square it a "1" covering from 0-50 feet, a "2" for 51-100 feet, and so forth.

Then I took a huge grey baseplate [LEGO piece 10701] and stacked green 2x2 bricks on it, with one brick going in a grid square with a "1", and two bricks stacked in a grid square with a "2", and so forth.  Until I ran out of green 2x2 bricks.  I then went to the local LEGO store [Houston now has three of them and one of them is fairly close] and bought a tall cup of green 2x2s off the Pick-a-Brick wall.  And then went back and bought another.  And then another.  AND THEN ANOTHER.  I think in two more, I'll have finally covered the first plate.  Only two more plates to go...

[NOTE: this is flat out the cheapest way to buy new LEGO bricks.  For $16.00 I get over 100 bricks.  I haven't counted exactly how many per tall cup, but I verified it was over 80 bricks, which puts it at lower than the $0.20 per brick cost of ordering them individually on line.  I'm about ready to buy a box of them from the store, but buying them one tall cup at a time lets me get them as I have spare money and I get to add to the map more often.  Budgets...]

This gave me a real visual as to what the terrain looked like.  The vertical scale is exaggerated [by a little more than 10 to 1 it turns out], but it lets me see what I'm dealing with and sparks my imagination as to what kind of buildings would go where and how roads would properly flow (or not flow as the case may be).  Then I built some micro-scale buildings to put on the map to start getting an idea of what the city might look like and it really clicked for me and the players I showed it to.

Then I checked the scale and realized that at this scale, a 1x1 spot on the map was 480 x 480 ft in size.  City blocks in downtown Houston and Portland are 260 x 260 ft, meaning that the smallest buildings I had put on the map were about 4 city blocks in size.


So, for the moment, I am building just a topo map of part of Maryland, which will give me a good idea of what Capital City is built on.  This is important as it turns out I think I put the airport either on some hills or the main runways facing hills and if so, I'll need to fix that.  Plus the depth of the subway may need some adjustment in some areas.  Later I can take it apart and build specific areas (like Downtown) at a scale where the microbuildings will be the right size.  I'll have enough bricks by then.

I still have no idea how to handle zoning - it's so unnatural to me.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Shadowrun Report – A Dwarf in Need – Session 3

[This session happened on May 11.]

Player Characters

Void – female human physical adept B&E specialist, a shadow that blends in easily
Murdoc – male elf kilt-wearing street mage, at home with the hobos
Prometheus – male human street samurai, handy with any firearm
Bookie – male elf alcoholic hacker, favors whiskey with a whiskey chaser
The Fin – female human con artist and gambler from India, by way of Russia, posh and elegant
Sin – male human rigger, knows exactly the wrong thing to say and says it

NPC’d Characters

Killroy – male human street samurai, specializes in hand-to-hand combat (and apparently machineguns)

Evening, Thursday, December 26, 2075
Location: The Pleiades Group offices in Queen Anne’s Hill neighborhood, Downtown district

With a deal to broker with the sub-boss of the Eighty-Eights and the authority to do so, the group now needed to locate said sub-boss in order to broker the deal.  At first no one had any idea on how to track down a Triad sub-boss.  Then Prometheus volunteered he might have a contact he could call.  The Fin asked that he give his contract a try, soonest.

Prometheus stepped into one of the unused rooms, closed the door behind him, and called Tomiko Hayashi, an undercover cop working for Knight Errant…and his older sister.  When Tomiko answered, Prometheus replied, “It’s me.”  She immediately asked back, “Which ‘me’ is calling?”  She knows what kind of work Prometheus might do, but as long as he never comes to Knight Errant’s attention, she can treat him as family and not a criminal.  [This is one of the major reasons Prometheus prefers to work as a sniper – fewer witnesses who can identify him and get him in trouble with his big sister.]

Prometheus explained to his sister that he had a friend who needed to talk to someone that her employers might keep track of, Shek Wei Zhe.  Tomiko recognized Shek Wei Zhe’s name and questioned why her brother needed to talk to a Triad sub-boss.  Prometheus explained that his friend had a legitimate business deal to broker, but time was critical, “Talking only – nothing illegal.”  Tomiko agreed to check and promised to get back to Prometheus in an hour and a half.  Remembering that it was the day after Christmas, he wished her “Merry Christmas” and hung up.  Then he remembered he hadn't got her a gift.

While waiting for the call-back from Tomiko, Prometheus pulled Bookie aside and asked Bookie to hack into Amazon and create a gift card for T. Hayashi, but date it so it showed a purchase date of two days ago.  Bookie asked why he would do that and, after a pause, Prometheus replied, “Because I have the 1000¥ right here.”  [See after the End of Session for a detailed comment.]  Bookie accepted that answer and set about hacking the Amazon Gift Card system and retroactively buying a card two days ago.  Rather than transfer the funds, he hacked the system to create a 1000¥ card from nothing and sent it (two days ago) to the number Prometheus provided and pocketed the money Prometheus gave him.  [How could this possibly go bad?]

Just before Tomiko called back [exactly one minute before, according to the GM], Bookie had the gift card created and sent with a purchase date of December 24.  Prometheus answered Tomiko’s call and she gave him Shek Wei Zhe’s current location – an underground casino in Snohomish.  She then added, “Your Christmas gift is at Uncle Luke’s,” to which Prometheus replied, “I didn't know what to get you, so I got you a gift card from Amazon – has it arrived yet?”  In the back ground Prometheus could hear the ‘ding’ of Tomiko’s commlink.  She checked the message and said, “It just arrived.”  “It must have been caught up in the last minute crush,” Prometheus said before hanging up.

After Prometheus hung up, he shared Shek Wei Zhe’s location with The Fin.  The Fin wanted protection when going into a casino looking for Shek Wei Zhe, but not so much Shek Wei Zhe wouldn't meet with her.  So she took Killroy as her official bodyguard and Prometheus and Void as hidden back-ups.  Sin would be monitoring feeds from the Fly-Spy he put on each of the four going to the meet.  He and Bookie stayed at the office with Bookie accessing video feeds where available near and in the casino and Murdoc protecting their bodies.

A block from the casino’s location, Void and Prometheus got out of the car and moved on foot to get into support positions in case things went bad.  Sin, jumped into the car from the office, drove the car the rest of the way.  The Fin was dressed to the nines (along with a physical disguise to change her appearance enough to avoid direct identification) and moved like a casino pro [which her backstory supports].  After passing through the weapons check [it was an underground casino, not a legitimate one], The Fin asked to speak with the manager.

The manager came over and asked how he could be of service.  The Fin introduced herself as Ms. Rai and explained she was here to make a business proposal to Shek Wei Zhe, but had never met the man and did not know his face.  She asked the manager if he could make a formal introduction as Shek Wei Zhe should be most interested in the business deal.  With The Fin pouring on all the charm, the manager said that Shek Wei Zhe was occupied right now, but would be available in 30 minutes.  Would the lady like to wait at one of the tables until then?  The Fin agreed and sat down at a baccarat table.

Thirty minutes later (and up 2000¥), The Fin and her bodyguard (Killroy) were escorted to a small private room in the back.  Sitting behind a table was a very pretty young man who greeted her.  Sensing that this couldn't possibly be a sub-boss of the Eighty-Eights, The Fin asked if he was Shek Wei Zhe.  The very pretty young man asked what business she had that needed to be discussed.  The Fin explained she was representing the current owner of the property at 25738 Polk Street and had an offer for Shek Wei Zhe that would allow his organization to re-occupy the property.  She then asked again if the very pretty young man was Shek Wei Zhe.  A voice from the corner of the room answered, saying, “He is not, but I am.”  

Shek Wei Zhe then dropped the invisibility spell and stepped forward from the corner he had been waiting in.  He was an older man with a more worn appearance.  He and The Fin negotiated for the next 15 minutes.  At the end, Shek Wei Zhe was only willing to pay Sam 52,500¥ a month for ‘rent’ and hush money and no more (2500¥ less than the minimum Sam would accept).  The Fin suggested this might just be a short term problem with Sam and that possibly a new deal could be arranged with Sam’s descendants.  This caught Shek Wei Zhe’s attention and he openly wondered when this issue might become a problem for Sam’s descendants.  The Fin replied, “No sooner than Tuesday.”  Shek Wei Zhe then asked The Fin if she knew anyone who might be available for such a job.  The Fin admitted knowing a group who could do the work, but they were under contract until Tuesday.  Shek Wei Zhe thought about it and then agreed to pay 55,000¥ this month, due to this new information and the possibility of it being a short term arrangement.  He also said he has a job for Ms. Rai’s friends “once they have completed their current contract.”

The Fin returned to Sam’s place to present the agreement and get Sam’s signature on the appropriate papers.  She also discussed with him the bonus monies on the contract and that The Pleiades Group had achieved both conditions and wanted confirmation they would get paid, even though the main part of the contract had not actually started yet.  Sam agreed, but the bonus monies will not be paid until the end of the main contract (the protection job).  This was acceptable to The Fin.

[At this point we backtracked in time to allow Murdoc’s player to use the three preparation days to wrangle some spirit support.  It didn’t go well and he only ended up with a single Force 5 Fire Spirit.  Turn’s out it didn’t go well because we were rolling too many dice for opposed summoning test, so we’ll have to re-do those rolls again.  Sigh.]

11:00 AM, Friday, December 27, 2075

The Pleiades Group arrived at Sam’s place in Bellevue to officially start the protection job.  Prometheus was wearing the Green Mohawk Dude earring to disguise himself, The Fin and Void were physically disguised, and Murdoc was physically masked to look like a “hot babe”.

End of Session

[When Bookie’s player asked why he’d hack Amazon for Prometheus, everyone around the table stopped to see how I’d have Prometheus answer.  My first thought was “Because I am heavily armed and know where you sleep.”  Then I realized that, while Prometheus would normally use that as his reply, he would have a different answer for people he works with and I had to think up a different answer on the spot.  The GM stated he thought Prometheus was going to mention he was heavily armed and I answered “It was the first answer, but Prometheus wouldn’t say that to teammates, so he had to come up with a different answer – hence the pause,” and everyone at the table laughed.  This is how I know I’ve successfully developed Prometheus’ personality and gotten it across to the other players – they have a feel for what he might do or say.]

[Before this session, I sat down with another (long-time) Shadowrun GM and we discussed the ethics of the situation and what were the likely consequences of the PCs either taking a job to whack Sam after this job was over or selling paydata on the improved defenses.  There is a good chance that the Pleiades Group could earn a point in Notoriety as a result and Svetlana’s loyalty (the Fixer who brokered the job originally) to The Fin might drop, either temporarily or permanently.  Mitigating factors are the limited number of people who would know (Sam, Shek Wei Zhe, and Svetlana) and the low likelihood of the two who lived to talk about it.  It depends on how good a client Sam was for Svetlana and whether or not she thought The Fin might be angry at her for possibly setting The Fin up against the Eighty-Eights.  This is a good ethical quandary for the players to work their way through and I’m eager to see how things play out.]

Session 1
Session 2

Session 4 [Not yet Live]

EDIT: corrected the date the game happened.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Shadowrun Report – A Dwarf in Need – Session 2

[This session happened on May 4, 2015 (Star wars Day).  Two players could not make the game, so we did mostly in-game prep work.  As a result of the role play, we really started dis-liking the client.]

Player Characters

Void – female human physical adept B&E specialist, a shadow that blends in easily
Bookie – male elf alcoholic hacker, favors whiskey with a whiskey chaser
Prometheus – male human street samurai, handy with any firearm
The Fin – female human con artist and gambler from India, by way of Russia, posh and elegant

NPC’d Characters

Killroy – male human street samurai, specializes in hand-to-hand combat (and apparently machineguns)
Sin – male human rigger, knows exactly the wrong thing to say and says it
Murdoc – male elf kilt-wearing street mage, at home with the hobos

Tuesday, December 24, 2075
With the job accepted, several members of the Pleiades Group started investigating the situation at the client’s home.  Void checked onsite security by sneaking on site to physically inspect all access points and locks – without alerting the current security people that she was doing so or to expect her.  She made notes as to what kinds of upgrades would be necessary once the Group was officially on the job.  Prometheus prowled the area around Sam’s house (often on other people’s property), looking for possible sniper positions able to target Sam’s guards.  He found several good ones and some iffy ones, but made note of all of them.

Wednesday, December 25, 2075
Prometheus spent Christmas Day moving from sniper position to sniper position, popping Sam’s guards with rubber bullets until they took proper cover and stopped standing out in the open.  This took most of the day.  By this time the guards knew a new security team was prepping to move in, so Knight Errant was never called in as a result and Doc Wagon doesn’t handle bruised egos.

Thursday, December 26, 2075
The Fin and Prometheus spent time tracking down the beef between the Eighty-Eights and Sam.  The two made a surprisingly effective team, working their way through the Metroplex’s hit man community.
The Story:
The Eighty-Eights were evicted from their primary building in Snohomish by Sam.  The Eighty-Eights sub-boss involved is Shek Wei Zhe and he knows Sam as Robert Khordaldrum.  The Eighty-Eights and Sam may have done business in the past and the Eighty-Eights are of the opinion Sam knew that the building was theirs.  On top of this, there is supposed to be a regional Triad meeting happening there on December 30th and the Eighty-Eights will lose major face if they cannot host the meeting properly in their own building.  Few know about the eviction and the Eighty-Eights want it to stay that way.
Sensing an opportunity, The Fin asked Sam for a meeting to find out what Sam’s beef is with the Eighty-Eights.  After dinner they talked.  Sam wanted the building to put a hotel there.  He knew the Eighty-Eights were there, but that’s why he hired the Pleiades Group: he wanted them to whack the necessary Eighty-Eights to make the problem go away.  As The Fin was broadcasting the meeting to the rest of the Group, this statement was recorded.

The Fin asked what it would take to get Sam to agree to let the Eighty-Eights resume occupancy of the building.  He was expecting to make a profit on the new hotel of 50,000¥ a month, so he’d accept that plus 10% as hush money.  The Fin asked if he would authorize her to make that deal and he agreed, drawing up a legal document allowing her to negotiate with “the previous tenants”.

During this entire conversation, Sam was abrasive and verging on abusive and the entire Group saw and heard him.  This led to speculation on whether or not the Group could complete this contract and then get paid by the Eighty-Eights to either whack Sam or sell paydata to them on the improved security features and access codes.

End of Session

Session 1

Session 3 [Not yet Live]

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Combat Cheat Sheet - Physical Combat Sequence

[Due to a trade conference this week and the game not making last week due to all sorts of things, this week is only this cheat sheet.  We did play Session 2 of "A Dwarf in Need" this week, so there will be a proper write-up next week and a cheat sheet on vehicle chases.]

This expands on the terse description of determining the combat sequence in the Shadowrun 5th Edition rulebook.  Where they went for compactness, this version goes for clarity.

Physical Combat Sequence
Shadowrun, 5th Ed.

Process (p. 173)
1. Declare
        a. Attacker declares attack (Step 3.A on the Initiative Sequence)
        b. Defender declares type of Defense:
                • Standard Defense Test (Reaction + Intuition)
                 Block: Melee only, -5 Initiative, add Unarmed Combat dice to this Defense
                 Perry: Melee only, -5 Initiative, add melee weapon skill dice to this Defense
                 Dodge: -5 Initiative, add Gymnastics dice to this Defense Test
                 Full Defense: -10 Initiative, add Willpower to all Defense Tests for entire
                        Combat Turn
2. Attack
        a. Attacker rolls their Combat Skill + Attribute ± modifiers [Limit]
        b. Apply Wound (p169), Environmental (p175), Recoil (p175), and Situational (p176)
3. Defend
        a. Roll Defense Test (based on declared defense in Step 1.b) and apply Wound,
                Environmental, and Situational modifiers.  Compare to the Attack Roll:
                 Attacker > Defender: Attacker hits
                 Attacker = Defender: Grazing Hit – no damage, but contact was made. Touch
                        attacks happen.
                 Attacker < Defender: Attacker missed
        b. If Attacker hit:
                i. Add the Attacker’s net hits to the weapon’s damage
                ii. Apply the attacks AP (if any) to the Defender’s armor for a modified armor
                        value (AV)
                iii. Compare the modified damage to the modified AV:
                         If Damage ≥ Armor: Physical damage is done
                         If Damage < Armor: Stun damage is done
                iv. If the modified AV > 0, the Defender rolls Body + modified AV to soak damage
                v. If the modified AV ≤ 0, the Defender only rolls Body to soak damage
                vi. Each Hit rolled by the Defender reduces the damage taken by 1.  If the damage
                        is reduced to 0, the attack bounced.
4. Apply Effect
        a. For each point of damage that made it through, fill one box on the Defenders
                Condition Monitor.
                 Wound modifiers for each filled row on the Condition Monitor now take effect.
                 If damage taken from a single attack > Physical limit, the target is knocked
                 Knockdown is automatic if the target takes ≥ 10 boxes of damage.

Shooting at a Running character has a -2 die penalty
Shooting at a Sprinting target has a -4 die penalty
Combat Actions table: p163
Matrix Actions table: p214
Magic Actions table: p276

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Shadowrun Report – A Dwarf in Need – Session 1

[This session happened on April 20, 2015.  Once again switching to the other GM as he had an idea for a run and I didn’t.  Bookie’s player is wrapping up a semester at college and so should be back by the time we play session 2, so he was ghosted in as an NPC.  Sin’s player was also wrapped up in some classwork and could not attend, but is expected to be available for later sessions, so he was ghosted as well.]

Player Characters

Murdoc – male elf kilt-wearing street mage, at home with the hobos
Prometheus – male human street samurai, handy with any firearm
The Fin – female human con artist and gambler from India, by way of Russia, posh and elegant
Void – female human physical adept B&E specialist, a shadow that blends in easily

NPC’d Characters

Killroy – male human street samurai, specializes in hand-to-hand combat (and apparently machineguns)
Bookie – male elf alcoholic hacker, favors whiskey with a whiskey chaser
Sin – male human rigger, knows exactly the wrong thing to say and says it

Tuesday, December 24, 2075
The Fin received an early afternoon call from Svetlana Sabelanskya, her wetwork contact.  Svetlana asked if The Fin could put together a crew for some protection work starting in three days.  The Fin said it was very likely she could, depending on pay and the “fun” factor.  Svetlana indicated the “fun” potential could be quite high.  Svetlana then asked for a list of names and descriptions once The Fin had the team together so the client would know who they would be meeting.  The Fin agreed to supply this information and then started calling the other members of the Pleiades Group.

After contacting the rest of the Group and confirming they were available, The Fin sent Svetlana the list, but explained that only she, The Fin would be physically present.  The rest of the Group would be attending virtually so as to avoid crowding the client (and to avoid having several loose cannons present).  Svetlana arranged the meeting at a posh restaurant with private dining areas.

The Fin met later that afternoon with the client, a dwarf who said she could call him “Sam”.  Sam told her he makes his money by sniffing out other peoples deals and then swooping in to close the deal.  As a result, he doesn’t make many friends and collects the occasional death threat.  He recently received a death threat he is taking serious as it was delivered attached to his butler by a knife in the butler’s back.  Inside Sam’s home.

Sam was fairly certain this was in relation to a recent business deal he sniped.  He didn’t know it at the time, but a branch of the Triad’s were the losers in the deal.  The day after closing the deal the death threat and dead butler appeared, so he was fairly certain who the aggrieved party was.  [NOTE: Sam was pretty relaxed about all this and didn’t seem terribly concerned.  The players found this odd, but perhaps that’s just the kind of person he is.]

The main job was to protect Sam for four days, starting Friday, with an option to extend the contract if Sam wishes to do so.  The Pleiades Group would get paid 70,000¥ on Day 4 and the value of the extension would be something similar.  Sam also offered some additional money for two side jobs.  The first was 35,000¥ to find out what the deal is: is there a bounty on Sam, has a hitman been hired, is a Triad officer trying to save face, or what.  The second side job was another 35,000¥ to “fix the situation”.

The group relayed a series of questions for Sam through The Fin:

  • How soon can we show up?  Now.
  • Who’s protecting Sam now? “some people” – Northbridge Security Group, a private security firm.  Northbridge’s point of contact is Robert Kovacic [pronounced “Ko-va-chik”]
  • Does Northbridge know they are being replaced?  Not yet.
  • Will Sam let them know?  Yes
  • When?  Tonight
  • What time Friday does the job actually start?  11:00am [Sam was initially vague, but the players pressed for a specific time.]

The Fin negotiated with Sam for some up-front money and a half the base pay in escrow until Friday, in case Sam gets killed before 11:00am Friday.  Sam easily agrees to both conditions, immediately providing a credstick with 15,000¥ on it for expenses.  [Some might say “suspiciously easy”.]

After a short side discussion amongst the Group, The Fin accepted the job on behalf of the Pleiades Group.  Sam then delivered data relevant to the job: blueprints to his home, the address of the same, and the relevant information he had on the Triads he thought were after him.  The Fin quickly transmitted this data to Bookie so the rest of the Group could start looking it over.

Sam then asked The Fin if she wanted a tour of his home.  She said she did, so they left the restaurant.  Sam was driven in his own vehicle while The Fin drove hers.  Sam’s place was in a nice part of Bellevue with large grounds, especially in relation to the portion of the house above ground.  The Group, watching through The Fin’s video feed, noticed the following:

  • The property was fenced with metal anti-scaling fencing and the top appeared to be electrified.
  • There was a security gate with a guard, but the guard shack was actually back from the gate, with only a camera and an intercom terminal at the gate itself.
  • The gate was controlled electronically from the guard shack.
  • The property was landscaped with low flower beds and skinny trees with no foliage lower than 6 feet, providing excellent fields of fire from the house.
  • The driveway went from the gate to both the house and a stand-alone garage.
  • The driveway formed an oval in front of the house.
  • The garage appeared to be a standard 6-car garage, but the blueprints showed it connected via a car lift to an underground garage that seems to hold a large car collection.
  • There was no covered connection between the garage and the house above ground (although there was a path).  On the blueprints, the primary connection between the garage and the house appeared to be underground.

The Fin was directed by the gate guard to park in front of the house, which she did.  After a few minutes, Sam opened the door for her and proceeded to show her around the house.  [The GM left his player handouts at home, so we kind of skimmed over this part, knowing we’d have the actual maps in the next session.]  The above ground portion of the house was two floors plus fined attic space, with the servants housed on the second floor and in the finished attic space.  The ground floor was designed for entertaining.

Below ground were three more floors, each with a footprint significantly larger than the above ground floors.  The top floor was the main kitchen and guest rooms, plus a passage to the car collection under the garage.  The middle floor was living and entertainment area, while the bottom floor was all Sam’s bedroom, clothes closets, huge bathroom, a few opulent guest rooms, and his panic room.  According to the blueprints, there were several concealed passages and actual slides allowing access to the panic room from the upper floors.  These passages were sized for dwarves and would be claustrophobic to anyone taller.

According to Sam, he had a household staff of 60 people, half of whom were house security.  Northbridge Security Group also had an average of 20 people on site to increase security.

While The Fin was getting the tour, the rest of the Group went over the data provided and what Sam was sharing.  Prometheus came to be of the opinion that Sam wasn’t hiring the Pleiades Group for security, but to “fix the problem,” but doing so in a way that no one could accuse him of hiring people to attack the Triads.

End of Session

[The Fin got to see the knife and the threat found in the previous butler’s back.  She was able to determine which branch of the Triad’s seemed to be targeting Sam and it was not the branch Sam thought it was.  I didn’t capture this in my notes, but I remember it happening as I started looking to see if it was the same branch the players messed with back in Mak Attack (the Eighty-Eights).  I’ll update this part when I get a chance to confer with the other players.]

[Additionally, there was no game April 27th as the GM and Void's player were at a Jazz Festival.  We had a movie night and watched Big Hero 6 and then played a game of King of New York instead.]

Session 2 [Not yet Live]

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Combat Cheat Sheet – Initiative Sequence

We’ve caught up to the game with my Session Reports, so I have to slow down posting those to once a week.  My goal is to get them posted Tuesday of the following week.  This means the session report for this week’s game will post Tuesday of next week.  Thursday’s will cover other things I have ready to post.

Today’s posting is one of the cheat sheets I put together to get combat correct as I’m learning the system.  It covers the Physical Initiative Sequence – next week I’ll post the one for the Physical Combat Sequence.

The rulebook has a great deal of material to cover and so has to condense many things into as small a package as possible.  As a result, some sections are particularly dense and it is easy to miss things, some of which can be very important.  I plan on putting together something similar for Matrix combat and Magic combat.  I’ll probably put together a supplemental on Rigger combat as it overlaps Physical combat and Matrix combat (or appears to – it might not once I dig into it).  Once I have them all done, I’ll make a PDF and post it in the downloads widget.

NOTE: my HTML formatting skills are not my strongest skills - I'm a Word guru.  The Word file has much better formatting than I can get here.  The PDFs will have the superior formatting.

Physical Initiative Sequence
Shadowrun, 5th Ed.


  • Initiative is rolled each Combat Turn
  • Initiative is changed by wound modifiers as they happen (meaning as you are wounded, your initiative drops immediately).
  • Initiative suffers a -10 modifier for the first Combat Turn if you enter combat after it has started.
  • You can spend Edge to automatically go first this Combat Turn.  This does not change your initiative roll otherwise.
  • You can spend Edge to roll 5d6 as part of your initiative roll for a single Combat Turn.

Process (p. 158)

1.     Roll Initiative:
        a. See Initiative Attribute Chart on p159 for attributes and base initiative dice for each type of initiative.
2. Begin Initiative Pass
        a. Highest to lowest
        b. Ties broken by ERIC: Edge, Reaction, Intuition, Coin toss
3. Begin Action Phase
        • Taking a Delayed Action is declared here, plus if going before, after, or the same time as an acting character. (p161)
        • Actions taken in a Delayed Action are at -1 die.
        a. Declare Actions (p163)
                • 2 Simple actions or
                • 1 Complex action plus 1 Free action (Free actions can be saved until later)
        b. Resolve Actions
                • Walk = Agility x2
                • Run = Agility x4
                • Sprinting is a Running+Strength[Physical] test.  Maximum # of Sprinting tests = Running/2, minimum of 1
4. Repeat Step 3 for the rest of the characters in this Initiative Pass.
        a. Once every character has gone, subtract 10 from all initiative totals.
        b. Begin a new Initiative Pass at Step 2 for all characters that still have a positive Initiative total.
5. When all characters have an initiative total of 0 or less, Return to Step 1 for the next combat turn (assuming there is one).


  • Running characters take a -2 die penalty for all tasks except a Running skill check.
  • Shooting at a Running character has a -2 die penalty
  • Shooting at a Sprinting target has a -4 die penalty
  • Combat Actions table: p163
  • Matrix Actions table: p214
  • Magic Actions table: p276

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Shadowrun Report – Monkey Business – Session 4

[This session happened on April 6, 2015.  This session was after-effects and wrap-up of the Monkey Business run.  The report is late as I was ill this weekend and had a power outage due to a hail storm.  Fun times.]

Player Characters

The Fin – female human con artist and gambler from India, by way of Russia, posh and elegant
Killroy – male human street samurai, specializes in hand-to-hand combat (and apparently machineguns)
Void – female human physical adept B&E specialist, a shadow that blends in easily
Murdoc – male elf kilt-wearing street mage, at home with the hobos

NPC’d Characters

Sin – male human rigger, knows exactly the wrong thing to say and says it
Bookie – male elf alcoholic hacker, favors whiskey with a whiskey chaser
Prometheus – male human street samurai, handy with any firearm

Tuesday, December 10, 2075

KONG Eyewitness News

For two hours last night, from 6:00 until 8:00, a group of people brazenly attacked a local chain of restaurants across the Seattle Metroplex in a series of lightning raids, in some cases quite literally.  Monkey Burger! restaurants across the heart of the metroplex were attacked by an unknown number of assailants.  Eye witnesses claim several two-person teams of attackers either broke in during the dinner rush or attacked from the drive-through lane.  In either case, the attackers targeted cooking ranges and cold storage workstations, damaging them beyond repair 

Knight Errant is still investigating the bizarre series of attacks, which included weapons such as machine guns, high caliber rifles, chainsaws, drone-mounted katanas, and even lightning!  As of this time, no group has stepped forward to present believable claims for the rampage.  Knight Errant has assembled a series of images of the attackers, compiled from security footage, pictures taken by by-standers, and artist’s renderings from eye-witness accounts.

At least one group consisted of mages.  This group left a trail of rampage featured lightning bolts, invisible people, and what police are certain was the disguise of a vehicle through magical means.  These images show the two mage suspects police are looking for:

  • [Picture of Murdoc in his Aryan yuppie disguise]
  • [Picture of The Fin with just her physical make-up]

They were using these disguises:

  • [Green Mohawk dude sitting at driving wheel]
  • [Faceless business man in a bowler sitting in passenger seat]

Police believe these two used magical masks and therefore these might not be their true faces.  A Knight Errant Mage Hunter unit is investing the attack sites for magical signatures.

A second team, dubbed “Bonnie and Clyde” attacked with either a chainsaw or a heavily customized assault rifle.

  • [Picture of a woman and a man from above at a backdoor. The woman has a chainsaw, the man an assault rifle.]
  • [Picture of Killroy in disguise standing inside near a freezer, shooting Vera at something off camera.]

Knight Errant suspects these two to be proficient in burglary due to the ease with which they bypassed the door security.  If you see either of these two individuals or this weapon [several shots of "Vera" appear on screen], do not approach them as they are considered extremely dangerous.

Finally, Knight Errant is also looking for the person or persons who controlled the following drones [pictures of Sin’s dualist drones and “Susan”].  Little is known about them, but one of the drones was stopped by Monkey Burger! security [video of downed drone lying on the ground is shown] and Knight Errant is examining it for clues as to its owner.  The Lynx drone had an illegal machinegun modification and is of special interest to Knight Errant.

The burning down of one of the two Monkey Burger! locations in the University District is considered to be an unrelated event and that story can be followed HERE [hyperlink to “The People’s Glorious Revolution – Or Is It?”].

Knight Errant considers all of these individuals to be extremely dangerous.  If you have any information about them or see them, do not approach them – call Knight Errant’s CrimeStoppers tip line immediately and you could win a reward!

End of News Report

In addition to the above news report, all of the local stations were featuring coverage of the Monkey Burger! attacks and news teams were waiting at the remaining untouched locations, which were inside other businesses.  In many cases, these other businesses either closed early or insisted that the Monkey Burger! locations closed to avoid damage to property and people.  Knight Errant security drones and officers were also dispatched to many locations.  These factors combined with the low payout per location convinced the team to call it a night.

Bookie edited all the video footage the team had collected to that only the attacks appear and no one’s face or name is recorded.  He then gave the files to The Fin, who passed them on to Svetlana, the fixer.  By Noon, payment of 35,000¥ was deposited in The Fin’s account and the money dispersed to the team, earning each 5000¥ for the night’s work.

The Fin had the Bugatti cleaned and detailed before returning it to the dealership.  Sin bought Void and Killroy steak dinners for completing his portion of the run.  Void and Killroy also had their Supra cleaned and even filled up the tank before returning it to the location they stole it from.

Murdoc, deciding that his current false ID may be blown, went to Gino, his drug dealer, to get a news false SIN and mage’s license.  This takes 12 days of downtime before both are ready.  He now has ID that says he is Damarius Abiah, a 30-something human woman of Persian ancestry.  He plans on using physical mask to make himself look like the ID.  [Surely nothing could go wrong with this plan.]

Void purchased a dead average-looking Suzuki Mirage so she has personal transportation.  Later, The Fin professionally introduces Void to Svetlana as an asset.  Even later The Fin introduces Killroy to Svetlana, also as an asset.  [This opens up the possibility of Void or Killroy picking up Svetlana as a contact.]

Prometheus spent some downtime increasing his Long Arms and Sneaking Active Skills, adding Throwing Weapons (by practicing throwing grenades), and even increased his knowledge of Sperethiel beyond just the cuss words and insults.  He still speaks it in a monotone that makes elf ears droop.

During this downtime, a news story appears indicating that AIPE had to transfer corporate funds to its New Foods! division to cover repairs and lost income from the Monkey Burger! chain of restaurants so as to keep the New Foods! Division afloat.

End of Session

The other item of business that was settled was in what parts of Seattle do the characters live.  Sin and Bookie’s players were not available, so those still need to be determined, but here’s the rest:

  • The Fin: Rosemont Beach in Bellevue
  • Killroy: Kent in Renton
  • Void: White Center in Downtown
  • Murdoc: Milton in Tacoma
  • Prometheus: East Renton Highlands in Renton

In addition, the locations of the following three places was narrowed down:

  • Pleiades Group offices: Queen Anne Hill in Downtown
  • The Ascended Lodge, to which Void is Pledged: International District in Downtown
  • The Pacific Lodge, to which The Fin is looking to join: Bainbridge Island in Outremer

Session 1

Session 3, Part 2