Sunday, December 7, 2014

Shadowrun News Reports - November 7 to November 13

This is a listing of news blurbs that happen between the last run and the next one.  The next run starts November 13 (in-game), so the final news item is a little early, but it will come out during play and I don't want to list it in the actual session report.

Astute readers will notice that AIPE appears in a previous post.

Thursday, November 7, 2075

(Seattle Metroplex) Alvarez Integrated Power Equipment (AIPE) announced today a new line of micronized power cells, the Energin line of products.  Providing twice the power over the same lifespan, the new line will provide greatly expanded possibilities for cybernetics and many types of portable electronics.  Pricing on these new power cells is “commensurate with their expanded capabilities”.  No word on how this will affect manufacturers who use AIPE power cells.

Monday, November 11, 2075

(Seattle Metroplex) Knight Errant announced today several raids on organized crime fronts in the Everett District took place over the Veteran’s Day weekend.  Unnamed sources say the raids were against several known Triad fronts and were triggered by the anonymous delivery of evidence in the form of financial records belonging to the Eighty-Eights criminal organization.

Tuesday, November 12, 2075

(Seattle Metroplex) Alvarez Integrated Power Equipment (AIPE) announced today the pricing schema for the Energin line of micronized power cells.  The pricing is slightly higher than their previous line and rumor has it that they have also eliminated their discount system for cyberware manufacturers.  AIPE stock values increased significantly after the announcement.

Wednesday, November 13, 2075

(Seattle Metroplex) gang violence flared up overnight in the Everett District.  The Knight Errant Gang Taskforce reports that members of a Vietnamese gang known as the 19 Hatchets were targeted by an unknown group and many of the gang members were killed, including their leader, known as Buddy Mak.  Many, including Buddy Mak, were killed at a “party house” the gang maintained at 1905 Hoyt Avenue.  “Someone was surely angry at the 19 Hatchets,” a member of Knight Errant said, speaking anonymously as they were not authorized to comment on the case.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Session Report - Mak Attack 03

Player Characters

The Fin – female human con artist and gambler from India, by way of Russia (low level physical adept), posh and elegant

Void – female human physical adept B&E specialist, a shadow that blends in easily

Murdock – male elf kilt-wearing street mage, at home with the hobos

Sin – male human rigger, knows exactly the wrong thing to say and says it

Killroy – male human street samurai, specializes in hand-to-hand combat



Tuesday, November 5, 2075

The team met at later the same night at Ebey’s Bar in Exile in Everett to plan.  Having thoroughly scouted out the target site (Golden Arms Massage), the best option seems to be a quiet insertion with Void breaking in on her own.  Murdock had spells to make Void invisible and the center of a small zone of silence.  This should get here in and out without being seen or heard.  He would need to be in a place where he could keep an eye on things magically, so it was decided he would be at the What the Pho food cart cater corner from the target.

In order to improve Void’s odds at not being interrupted, The Fin decided that a distraction in the front lobby to pull in the bouncers from the security room would be a good idea.  No on in the current crew would be able to do the job correctly, so she called in a street samurai she knew, Killroy.  She offered him 1000¥ to cause a scene in the lobby for 10-15 minutes.  He eagerly took the opportunity.

[Killroy’s player missed the first two sessions but was here for this one, so we meta-talked out what would be the best way to integrate him and this plan is what came of it.]

To support Killroy and keep better eyes on things, Sin would now place his Fly-Spy drones to observe the security room and the window to the counting room.  The Fin would keep an eye on his body while he was jumped into his drones.  The panel truck would be parked a block west of the target, out of sight but allowing access to the team if they needed to run for it.  Go Time was set at 7:15pm, Thursday.  The team then dispersed to rest and make final preparations for the run.

Thursday, November 7, 2075

Murdock and Void arrived at “Hobo Alley” at 6:30pm.  Murdock ate some psyche, a designer stimulant prized by magicians.  Once it kicked in, he cast an improved invisibility spell on Void, making her unseeable.  He then cast silence on her, setting the radius to 2 m [Force 2].  Murdock then wandered over to What the Pho to get some pho, concentrating on maintaining the two spells.  Void waited in “Hobo Alley” until it was time, observant yet detached due to the psyche.

Sin and The Fin were in position in Sin’s panel truck at 7:00pm and Sin’s Fly-Spys were in place by 7:10pm.  The video output from the drones was displayed on monitors in the panel truck so The Fin could track things and provide updates to the team via Image Links.  [The updates had to be visual, i.e., text, as Void would not be able to hear anything and Killroy did not have an internal commlink.]

On his way over to the target, Killroy picked up some cheap vodka and splashed it on him.  [A shot may also have been imbibed.]  He then took walked over to Golden Arms with a slight stagger in his walk.  He timed things so he arrived just before 7:15pm.

Void left Hobo Alley, made her way across the busy street [gracefully avoiding vehicles that could not see her], and leapt from the sidewalk to atop the fence to atop the neon sign just in front of the windows to the counting room.  Sin was aware of her arrival when his drone’s audio feed suddenly went silent.  Void started slowly bypassing the windows security.

Down in the lobby, Killroy started boisterously asking for “services”.  The staff tried to work with him [they spotted a potential sucker], but as he started getting louder and handed over an empty gold credstick to pay for the services, the matron discretely pressed a button to summon the bouncers.

Sin, through his drones,  saw the bouncers set down their mahjongg pieces and head downstairs and warned The Fin.  The Fin updated Killroy and Void via text messages that the bouncers were deploying.  Killroy stopped escalating the issue in the lobby, maintaining his current level of belligerence to keep the bouncers focused on him but not ready to pull out their hatchets.

By this point Void had bypassed the window security.  She opened one of the windows and entered the empty counting room.  She closed the window behind her and then stepped over to the locker.  She used a maglock passkey to easily open the maglock on the locker [the maglock critically glitched].  She spent just under 30 seconds swapping out the good credsticks for tampered ones.  When she went to re-secure the locker, she discovered the maglock was now broken.  She quickly and expertly opened it, cleaned out the filthy interior, and reassembled it.  This fixed the maglock and she was able to re-lock the locker.  Void then exited the room through the window, re-closed it, and reset the window security.

Once Sin’s drones showed the counting room’s window open and close again, The Fin texted Killroy that he could now wind it up and leave.  Killroy stopped being so belligerent and let the bouncers “convince” him to leave.  Sin recalled his drones to the panel truck and prepped to drive the team away.

Void’s exit was delayed due to an inopportune pub-crawl group of 30 civilians moving by on the sidewalk Void wanted to jump down onto.  Void was not concerned about them seeing her, but the two-meter radius silence spell would likely cause a ruckus amongst the pub-crawlers and might draw attention, so she waited.  Murdock could see her astrally waiting and updated The Fin on Void’s situation.  Void waited for five minutes for the small herd to pass and the sidewalk to clear.  She then hopped down from the sign to the sidewalk.  She then made her way to the panel truck.  Murdock slurped down the last of his pho and then made his way to the panel truck as well.

The team rode back to Ebey’s.  The Fin took a taxi from Ebey’s to the Helping Hands Thrift Store over in Snohomish while the rest of the team got pre-celebration drinks.  At the thrift shop, The Fin directed the taxi to the back of the building, where she delivered the goods to the orc with chromed tusks, providing the correct pass-phrase.  She then took the taxi back to Ebey’s.  On the way, 16,000¥ was deposited into her account, 12,000¥ for the job and 4000¥ as a bonus.

Back at Ebey’s, The Fin paid Killroy his 1000¥, paid Void, Sin, and Murdock 3333¥, and pocketed a cool 5001¥ herself.  Drinks were then purchased and consumed by the team.  Repeatedly.

End of Session


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Session Report - Mak Attack 02

Player Characters

The Fin – female human con artist and gambler from India, by way of Russia (low level physical adept), posh and elegant

Void – female human physical adept B&E specialist, a shadow that blends in easily

Murdock – male elf kilt-wearing street mage, at home with the hobos

Sin – male human rigger, knows exactly the wrong thing to say and says it


Tuesday, November 5, 2075

Having spent the previous day gathering information on the target, the team met at Ebey’s Bar in Exile in Everett at 3:00 pm to share what they learned.  [Sin’s damaged Fly-Spy eventually returned to him and he dropped it off to get it repaired earlier in the morning.]

The Fin was able to get a basic blueprint of the massage parlor through one of her contacts.  Using that schematic, the rest of the team added the details of what they had learned.  The recorded video feed from Sin’s drones provided important data, identifying the upstairs room looking out on 19th Street as a counting room for drugs and money.  In that room was a standing locker, anchored to the floor and wall, with a quality maglock.  Void was able to identify the model of maglock and is confident she can crack it.

Void shared that the back of the building was not thermographically shielded and that she had identified a bathroom and a massage room downstairs and a locker room upstairs.  She also confirmed that the external security for the second floor was tighter than that of the first floor and she saw some opportunities to get in close and not be seen.  She was also planning on going to the site for a massage to get a feel for how busy the place would be when the job went down.

Murdock related what he learned through the air spirit, identifying over half the rooms on the first floor.  He suggested he send another spirit in to look at the second floor as one of the rooms up there was still unidentified (the front room, overlooking Hoyt Street).  The Fin agreed and set the time for the next meeting at 11:00pm that night.

The Fin wanted to put eyes on the place herself, so she rode over with Sin in Sin’s panel truck.  She would provide some additional security for Sin’s body while he was jumped in to his drones.

The team (minus Void) was in position shortly after 6:00pm.  The Fin (dressed down for the neighborhood) walked the two blocks from Sin’s truck to the food truck cater-corner from the massage parlor.  [The food truck specialized in Vietnamese food and was named “What’s That Pho?”]  As the sun had already set, she was able to notice the lights were on in the front upstairs room.  She observed them shut off after a bit, but saw no one in particular leave the building besides a massage customer or two.

Void meanwhile was exiting a taxi at a bar near the naval station.  She walked over to the corner near the exit from the Administration Building and caught a different cab to take over to Golden Arms Massage.  She was dressed in civilian clothes, but had her hair done up to meet UCAS Naval Regulations.  At the massage parlor, she stated this business had been recommended to her and she wanted to sample the services as she would be stationed here for a couple years.  This lit up nuyen signs in the staff’s eyes and, after reviewing the options, Void received a quality massage treatment lasting an hour.

Having observed Void arrive, The Fin finished her pho, grabbed some to go for Sin, and walked back to the truck.  Sin was glad for the pho and after slurping some down, sent out his remaining Fly-Spy drone.  Once it arrived, he investigated the windows for the front upstairs room.  He located a spot where the mirror treatment on the windows was spotty and was able to get an idea of what was in the room.  He saw a business desk with a chair in front of and behind it, a carpet, and not much else as the room was dark and his drone had no light amplification.  He recalled the drone to wait for Murdock to do his thing.

Returning to the hobo alley, Murdock summoned an air spirit.  He was in better form [i.e., he spent a point of Edge] and was able to command three services from the spirit.  He sent the spirit over to the house to investigate the upstairs rooms.  Murdock was able to confirm the room overlooking 19th Street was the counting room and the locker contained the credsticks the team was hired to swap out.  The front room turned out to be an office with a large oriental dragon painted on the wall facing the desk.  The desk contained some pistols and ammunition, some shotgun shells, a data terminal, and some miscellaneous office supplies.  While the spirit was there, the four bruisers from the security room headed downstairs and Murdock expended a second service to get the air spirit to follow them.  He was nervous someone had noticed the spirit and the goons were coming after him, but they were just responding to a belligerent customer of the massage parlor downstairs.

Having checked the upstairs rooms (and the attic spaces – where the spirit found a long dead body), Murdock expended the third and final service having the air spirit investigate the shack outside.  IT appeared to Murdock to be a private party room with one man being entertained by two women.  There were also stashes of novacoke and deep weed.  Completing the last of the required services, the spirit returned to its home realm.

End of Session

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Session Report - Mak Attack 01

Player Characters

The Fin – female human con artist and gambler from India, by way of Russia (low level physical adept), posh and elegant
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
Sin – male human rigger, knows exactly the wrong thing to say and says it


Monday, November 4, 2075
Aswari Rai, known as The Fin in shadowrunning circles, received a call from Oreg Zabin, a local fixer she has worked with before.  Oreg asked if she was busy.  When she said she was not, he asked her to meet him at the Frelika Tearoom in the Bothell neighborhood in Bellvue at 4:00 pm.  After looking up the location on GridGuide, The Fin dressed appropriately, then hired a private car to take her there.

The Frelika Teahouse is a stand-alone building in a boutique area in Bothell, near the Bellvue border with Snohomish.  Aswari used astral perception to see what there was to see and found little in the way of magic in use.  Going in, she noticed a watcher spirit inside the front door, apparently keeping an eye on the register area, but no other magic.  She also spotted Oreg across the main room, sitting in a booth in the far corner, where she joined him.

After Aswari placed her order for a chai tea, Oreg started explained the job in broad strokes to see if it was a job The Fin was interested in.  The job was a “switch” – replacing one thing for another – in this case one set of credsticks with another, doctored set.  The job would pay 12,000 nuyen, with a possible bonus and had to be done this Thursday, between 6:00pm and 10:00pm.  After the waitress delivered her tea, Aswari said she was interested, so Oreg started providing the particulars.

The chips to be taken were in a massage parlor in Everett named “Golden Arms Massage”, run by a street gang.  There would be 30-34 standard credsticks full of money on the premises.  Aswari and whatever team she assembled were to replace the full credsticks with a doctored set with no one the wiser.  If push came to shove, taking the full credsticks was the priority, but there would be no bonus.  The full credsticks were to be delivered to the Helping Hands Thrift Store in the Kennard Corner neighborhood of the Snohomish District, “just up 527 from here.”  The credsticks must be in a sealed, opaque container and given to an orc with chromed tusks along with the pass phrase “These are Mahjong pieces for Carlos.”  Payment would be deposited in Aswari’s account no more than two hours after confirmation of delivery.

After trying unsuccessfully to talk Oreg up on the price, Aswari agreed to the terms of the job.  Oreg slid a decorative chocolates box across the table to Aswari, containing 36 doctored credsticks.  The two then finished their tea, making non-business related small talk.

Relatively new to Seattle, Aswari put in calls as The Fin to the team she previously worked with on a job for Oreg.  She was able to contact Void, Murdoc, and Sin and arranged a meeting, but Prometheus and Killroy were both unavailable, leaving the team without combat specialists.  Maybe the job wouldn’t need them.  The group of runners met at the restaurant Harajuku in Renton.  It had private tables with screen doors, so they could speak with some privacy, even if Aswari knew she’d have to tip well due the personalities being invited.

Once the four runners were assembled, The Fin explained the job and the details.  The only thing she changed was the pay-out: she quoted the job as only being 10,000 nuyen and the other three took her at her word [no one made the check to spot the lie].  Having two and a half days before the job could be performed, they agreed to each investigate the target and meet again at a place in Everett tomorrow [Tuesday].

Looking up the address, the group was able to get both a satellite view and a street view of the building the massage parlor was in [which I provided as handouts, using screen shots from Google Maps].  The massage parlor is built inside a refurbished small two-story house on the corner of 19th and Hoyt.  Knowing what to look for, Void, Sin, and Murdoc went there to individually scout out the site.  The area is five blocks off of the naval yard and full of establishments catering to off-duty sailors: massage parlors, bars, cheap food places, and rooms available by the hour.

Murdoc fit in well with the local low-life and took up a position cattycorner from Golden Arms Massage.  He could see that there was steady traffic for the business through the front door, with parking out front.  Gang-sign on the building indicated a gang known as “The 19’s” or something ran the place, but he couldn't remember their affiliation.  He also noticed that there seemed to be more discrete business happening at the back gate.  The building also had no visible wards, but a watcher spirit sitting atop the shed inside the fenced in backyard.

Void circled the building at a distance, using her enhanced goggles and contact lenses to get a look at the building’s physical security.  The lower floor did not seem to have much in the way of security other than heat shielding in the walls so her thermographic vision could not see to the interior.  There were also two goons at the front door acting as bouncers.  The upstairs was also shielded on the front and sides and she was able to spot security on the upstairs windows.  While moving to investigate the back yard area she was spotted.  The goon at the back gate, an orc, called her over and demanded to know what she was doing there and was she a cop?

Void stalled and used the time to get a slightly better view of the back of the building and the back yard.  She noticed the heat shielding was not present on the back of the house and she identified the back room upstairs as a locker room and the two back rooms downstairs as a massage room (on the left) and a bathroom (on the right).  She then answered the goon with, “Do I look like a cop?”  The goon said “I dunno.  Turn around.”  She did so and sensed the danger she was in as the goon pulled a club to hit her over the head with.  She immediately bolted and ran.  The guard was not expecting that and could do nothing as she was out of sight before he even took his first step.

In the meantime, Sin had found a relatively private spot to park his vehicle and sent one of his MCT Fly-Spy drones to go scout out the target.  He observed Void’s run-in with the goon at the back gate, but saw her get away and continued with his scouting.  He recognized the gang-sign on the building as belonging to “The 19 Hatchets”, a Vietnamese gang.  Flying around the building, he had the drone approach from the south, so he could look at the side of the building not exposed to a street.  He started checking the two windows near the back and found each opened onto a different, small massage room, each barely larger than the massage table and both in use.  He then flew up to the upstairs set of windows.  These were treated to be reflective, but he lucked out and found a corner where the glass was still mostly transparent.  The room he could see into contained four burly men sitting at a table playing mahjong and a fifth person jacked in to a small security station.  The monitors at the security station showed camera views from inside the house, but Sin could not see enough detail to work out exactly where in the house they were.  He parked his drone there to keep an eye on things.

Sin then launched a second drone to scout further.  He decided to try the upper window on the north side of the house (facing 19th St.).  He clearly spotted the security system, but while looking for a gap in the window treatment, he apparently had drawn the attention of people inside.  The window suddenly opened and a ganger with a shoe was poised to smash his drone.  Sin glanced at the room and then was barely able to get out of the drone in time to avoid dumpshock when the drone was smashed.  He had been recording the entire time, so he still had video of the room interior, showing a counting table, two gangers, and an equipment locker with a fancy lock on it.

At about this time, Murdoc decided to summon an air spirit and send it in to scout out the interior of the building.  He looked around to find a secluded spot to perform his summoning, but the best he could find was an out of the way spot occupied by some hobos willing to share an overturned milk crate with him.  Murdoc took what he could get.  His first to summonings failed [I rolled the limit resisting him on the first try and he rolled poorly on the second try, barely matching my single success].  This seemed to confirm to the hobos that Murdoc was a harmless crazy and they stopped paying him any attention.  On Murdoc’s third try, he got an air spirit to respond and sent it in to scout and report what it saw while it was inside the massage parlor.

The spirit reported the two goons at the door.  Just inside the door, it reported a lobby area with two couches, a register, a person at the register, and a watcher spirit watching the register.  This spooked Murdoc a bit, not knowing what the watcher spirit was orders were, he had the air spirit just move in a straight line through the building and out the back, as if going through the building was incidental.  The spirit agreed.  The next room back was a massage room where the customer was getting more than a massage.  The next room was a massage room, also occupied.  Next was a set of stairs going up, then a very small massage room, followed by another very small massage room, and then it was out the back and done with its service, so it took off.

End of Session

Friday, October 10, 2014

Microscope on: The History of the 4th Corporate War – COMPLETE

This past Monday we finished running Microscope for the backdrop to our next campaign.  With five players (six actually, due to a sit-in player who missed the first two rounds), we filled the table with 3x5 cards.  Six is really too many for Microscope as it becomes difficult to come up with enough characters to believably run a scene without it seeming crowded.  Five players is on the edge, but do-able, and four seems optimal, especially when learning the game.  The phrase “I don’t know what to create” came up often.

Also, I introduced mechanical teleportation to the Shadowrun world, which I may seriously regret later.  That’s on me, wanting to wrap a scene up and grasping at straws.  It has significant repercussions in the last two periods.  We also learned how necessary it is to NOT create events that are open-ended when you are trying to establish something.  Saying someone hires shadowrunners to do something is NOT the same as saying hired shadowrunners did something.  BIG difference there.

Items added in the last session have [NEW] at the end of the entry.

So here is the final version of:

The History of the 4th Corporate War

Period 1: Two corporations vie for control of a third corporation (Dark).

Event: Zenith AstroTech starts investigating technological teleportation, labeling the effort Project: Burma. [NEW]

Event: Freeman Health Manufacturing (FHM) decides with some effort that they must acquire Alvarez Integrated Power Equipment (AIPE) and dominate their industry (Light).

Scene: Why did FHM need to acquire AIPE?
AIPE manufactures a micronized power cell used in all FHM cyberware and it is a significant percentage of the cost of the cyberware.  Recently, AIPE introduced an upgraded version of this power cell, but eliminated a historical discount on sales to FHM.  Alexandria Crowe, CEO of FHM, called a meeting of FHM’s VP of Procurement, FHM’s majority stockholder, and a representative from AIPE to discuss the situation.  In this meeting, AIPE’s representative confirmed the discount had been eliminated and that next year prices were likely to rise again.  At this point, Ms. Crowe decided that in order to control costs and preserve FHM’s profit margin, FHM needed to stage a hostile takeover of AIPE, immediately. (Light)

Event: After the takeover of AIPE, FHM raises the costs of the entire AIPE product line to external customers in order to recoup the cost of the takeover.  Internal customers, like FHM’s cyberware division, get the power cells at cost instead of the pre-takeover wholesale prices.  This allows FHM to keep their own retail prices low while sticking it to their competitors. (Dark)

Event: Tom Riddle, CEO of Riddle Netics – a FHM competitor, is outraged at the major price hike for AIPE components, components which are vital to their own products. (Dark) [Note: In hindsight, this event was not so much of an event and should have been expanded on, but it worked at the time.]

Event: Riddle Netics hires shadowrunners to steal samples and schematics of critical AIPE products. (Light)

Event: FHM uses new AIPE profits to bid on Aquamatics, a water purification company in need of a cash infusion to update and expand its facilities.  Getting wind of this, Riddle Netics enters a competing bid. (Dark)

[Arguably, this action completes this Period, but I think there is still room for shadowrunning shenanigans to happen.  There should be some good room to maneuver here in the campaign.]

Period 2: The initial corporations start calling in allies. (Light)

Event: FHM hires shadowrunners to plant evidence that Riddle Netics is using poor people as test subjects. (Dark)

Event: FHM spurs a class riot at the HQ of Riddle Netics. (Dark)  [This was probably a shadowrun of some sort.]

Event: Zenith AstroTech announces they are forming a joint venture with Riddle Netics to raise the bid for Aquamatics. (Light)  [This spikes the price of Aquamatics stock, increasing the cost to purchase the company.]

Scene: Why would Zenith AstroTech support Riddle Netics?
At a public gala, representatives and CEOs of Riddle Netics, Zenith AstroTech, Rosa Digital, Diagnostic Radiomation, and the Bank of Burma fell to talking over drinks and hors d’oeuvres.  Riddle Netics and Diagnostic Radiomation were being directly hurt by FHM raising AIPE prices, as were friends and associates of Zenith AstroTech and Rosa Digital.  Discussion turned to the possibility of taking some sort of direct action against FHM.  The representative of the Bank of Burma excused herself at this point.  The CEO of Zenith AstroTech suggested raising the cost of the Aquamatics purchase.  The representative of Diagnostic Radiomation then suggested removal of Aquamatics critical equipment right after the purchase was finalized would also cost FHM.  The group agreed to put some off-budget resources together to make these things happen. (Light)  [Yes, this is the beginning of a shadow war.  Why do you ask?]

Event: Riddle Netics sends shadowrunners to silence the representative for the Bank of Burma. (Dark) [NEW]  [This is very open-ended and should have given the actual result of the event.]

Event: In order to fund the escalating conflict with Riddle Netics, FHM borrows money and opens several lines of credit with Spanish Brokerage, a corporate bank headquartered in Hong Kong. (Light)

Event: FHM agents start infiltrating the corporate governance of Zenith AstroTech. (Light) [NEW]

Event: FHM infiltrators hire shadowrunners to start slowly eliminating Zenith AstroTech executives, creating openings for the infiltrators to move up into. (Dark) [NEW]

[These last two events created a whole new wrinkle in the FHM-ZAT conflict and changed our perspective on events already established later in the timeline. Hail Hydra!]

Event: Just before the bidding war for Aquamatics completes, Zenith AstroTech publicly announces it has rethought its position and no longer supports Riddle Netics’s bid for Aquamatics. This allows FHM to purchase Aquamatics (albeit at a significantly elevated price from their original bid) and causes Riddle Netics stock to plummet. (Dark) [NEW]

Period 3: The Conflict Escalates. (Dark)

[We discussed the need to change this to a period and not an event and then did so with full agreement around the table.]

Event: Shadowrunners hired by Zenith AstroTech raid the Aquamatics manufacturing facility in Egypt and it gets out of hand. (Light)

Event: The Aquamatics manufacturing facility in Egypt is completely destroyed.  Prices of water purification tablets and filters immediately skyrocket in Egypt, leaving the poor masses without affordable potable water across most of the country. (Dark)

Event: Lack of affordable potable water among the poor causes class riots across Egypt. (Dark)

Event: Shadowrunners hired by FHM successfully eliminate all Riddle Netics executives. (Light) [NEW]  [This event benefited from our realization of how to write more concise and less open-ended events.]

Event: Spanish Brokerage, seeing FHM hemorrhaging money and not wanting to lose the large amounts of capital loaned to FHM, decides to call in all loans and credit made to FHM. (Dark)

Event: Zenith AstroTech buys the remains of Aquamatics in Egypt at a cut-rate price, allowing FHM to just barely pay off the loans. (Dark)

Event: To recoup costs, Zenith AstroTech shuts down all Aquamatics operations in Egypt, lays off all remaining employees, and ships out anything not nailed down to sell as scrap, causing an immediate recession in Egypt. (Dark)

[The last two events were put on one card as I allowed the player to dictate more than I should have, but it was late and I had to work the next day.  After discussion this session, we all agreed it was best to split the single card into two events.]

Event: Zenith AstroTech diverts funds from scrapping Aquamatics into Project: Burma. (Light) [NEW]

Period 4: The conflict goes orbital. (Light)

Event: FHM offices in Burma targeted by shadowrunners – an entire city block is destroyed when the building collapses. (Light)

Event: FHM hires shadowrunner to get proof/evidence Riddle Netics and Zenith AstroTech were responsible for the attack on their Burma office. (Light)

Event: FHM releases evidence showing Riddle Netics and Zenith AstroTech were responsible for the attack on their Burma office. (Light)  [Whether or not it is true is a matter for some discussion…]

Event: Zenith AstroTech moves its headquarters to a newly finished orbital facility. (Dark) [NEW]

Event: Aztechnology sends shadowrunners to attack the Zenith AstroTech orbital facility. (Dark)

Scene: Why did Aztechnology send shadowrunners to attack the Zenith AstroTech orbital facility?
The scene takes place after the attack on the orbital facility.  In attendance are: the Assistant Head of Projects, Local Head of Station Security, The Lone Survivor (of the attack), the Lead Investigator, the Insurance Claims Adjustor, and a Reclamations Expert.  After asking many questions, some things are determined: the shadowrunners hacked into the isolated Projects Mainframe, the Head of Projects is missing, and the X-9 prototype is missing.  Station Security shows the Head of Projects last tracked entering a shuttle at the conclusion of the attack on the station, along with the attackers.  The prototype is located floating just outside of the station – telemetry shows a successful (if unscheduled) teleportation as a result of a short to the system (caused by the attackers shooting up the place).  The conclusion is that the attack was a data theft of the teleportation design specs and extraction of the Head of Projects, probably planned by the (now ex-)Head of projects. (Light) [NEW]

Event: Government(s) send in troops. (Dark)  [The specifics were never determined.]

Period 5: The conflict goes teleportational. (a.k.a., The Burma Wars) (Light) [NEW]

Event: Zenith AstroTech holds a tech conference to unveil the Technological Teleportation Device (TTD).  In the shadows, however, rumors swirling about the ZAT orbital attack tag the device with a different name: the Burma Drive. (Dark) [NEW]

Event: FHM stages a failed attempt to steal the TTD technology as part of their long-term strategy. (Light) [NEW]

Event: Aztechnology uses the data from the ZAT orbital attack to reverse engineer the Project: Burma technology. (Light) [NEW]

Event: Aztechnology uses Burma Drives to attack Amazonia, renewing the war between Aztlan and Amazonia. (Dark) [NEW]

Event: The other AAA corporations use front companies to secure Project: Burma technology from either Zenith AstroTech or Aztechnology as the opportunities arise. (Light) [NEW]

Event: Corporations that are not able to buy, beg, or borrow TTDs hire shadowrunners to steal them. (Light) [NEW]

Period 6: One side wins the corporate war. (Dark)

[Renumbered due to the introduction of a new Period.]

Event: The last remaining original Zenith AstroTech executive hires shadowrunners to eliminate the FHM infiltrators. (Light) [NEW]  [I was sloppy creating this event – I should have said the hired shadowrunners eliminated the infiltrators.  This led to the next player creating a counter event, below.]

Event: The FHM infiltrators, under attack, hire shadowrunners to eliminate the final Zenith AstroTech executive. (Light) [NEW] [Luckily, the next player made the same mistake as I did, allowing me to create a counter-counter event.]

Event: ZAT shadowrunners eliminate the last of the FHM infiltrators. (Dark) [NEW]  [Thus ends the bloodiest boardroom battle for control of a company.]

Event: Zenith AstroTech purchases controlling interest in FHM. (Light) [NEW]

Event: Zenith AstroTech petitions the Corporate Court for extraterritoriality status. (Light) [NEW]

Event: The Corporate Court heavily restricts use of Burma drives as they threaten the stability of just about everybody. (Light) [NEW]

Event: Zenith AstroTech granted extraterritoriality status by the Corporate Court, ending the corporate war.

Afterword

That should provide a solid backdrop for a Shadowrun campaign.  My only regret is the introduction of the teleportation technology, which is on me.  I shouldn’t have forced things and come up with something more in the Shadowrun genre.  

While it came about because of my poor wording, I like the resulting battle royal between the last of the original ZAT executives and the FHM infiltrators via shadowrunner proxies.  The FHM infiltrators job was to secretly take control of FHM, wait until FHM sabotaged its own stock value, buy up FHM as a “hostile” takeover, and bring over all of the FHM executives in on the plan.  This would have given FHM a new, favorable face as ZAT and access to all of ZAT’s cutting edge tech, jettisoning all the negative baggage FHM had accumulated.  It almost happened, too.

Later!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Microscope on: The History of the 4th Corporate War

My Monday night group is looking to put together a campaign to run when a player is missing from the regular game.  In the past we defaulted to board games when a player (or the GM) was missing and we could not progress the story.  After missing almost all of June and July this year to that, we decided to do something different and start up a second game for those emergencies.

After some discussion, we decided we wanted to run “something  cyberpunk-y”.  We looked at the several systems available and settled on Shadowrun 5th Edition as available and I’d heard good things about it from a friend actively running it.  I would have preferred Cyberpunk 2020, but it’s way out of print and I don’t recall hearing positive reviews of the 3rd edition release.

So having settled on a game system, we decided to use Microscope to generate a background story for us to run against.  The time scale we envision is technically too short for Microscope, but we decided to give it a spin and see what we get.  So far we’ve been enjoying the game.

The first session was me explaining the rules and going through the start-up, selecting the first Focus, and the Lens adding an Event and a nested Scene to show everyone how it works.  This past Monday we went through two complete rounds around the table and started the third Focus.  Next week we’ll finish that round and get through the last two players having a turn as the Lens.  That should give us enough background to run a short campaign in and add extra frisson when we perform runs that are events in the timeline we created.

In order to keep things straight in my head, I’m converting the notecards into a text-based timeline and I thought I’d share it here.  This isn’t an actual play as I’m just going to run down the timeline, not what was added each round (mostly because we didn’t make note of that).

Microscope has the players set up a Palette, a list of things that should be in the timeline and a list of things that are not allowed.  For this timeline, we selected the following:

Yes: Orbital action, Government intervention, and Class riots

No: Dragons do not get involved, no nukes, Organized Crime does not choose a side, No wanton environmental destruction

So without further ado: 


The History of the 4th Corporate War


Period 1: Two corporations vie for control of a third corporation (Dark).

Event: Freeman Health Manufacturing (FHM) decides with some effort that they must acquire Alvarez Integrated Power Equipment (AIPE) and dominate their industry (Light).

Scene: Why did FHM need to acquire AIPE?
AIPE manufactures a micronized power cell used in all FHM cyberware and it is a significant percentage of the cost of the cyberware.  Recently, AIPE introduced an upgraded version of this power cell, but eliminated a historical discount on sales to FHM.  Alexandria Crowe, CEO of FHM, called a meeting of FHM’s VP of Procurement, FHM’s majority stockholder, and a representative from AIPE to discuss the situation.  In this meeting, AIPE’s representative confirmed the discount had been eliminated and that next year prices were likely to rise again.  At this point, Ms. Crowe decided that in order to control costs and preserve FHM’s profit margin, FHM needed to stage a hostile takeover of AIPE, immediately. (Light)

Event: After the takeover of AIPE, FHM raises the costs of the entire AIPE product line to external customers in order to recoup the cost of the takeover.  Internal customers, like FHM’s cyberware division, get the power cells at cost instead of the pre-takeover wholesale prices.  This allows FHM to keep their own retail prices low while sticking it to their competitors. (Dark)

Event: Tom Riddle, CEO of Riddle Netics – a FHM competitor, is outraged at the major price hike for AIPE components, components which are vital to their own products. (Dark) [Note: In hindsight, this event was not so much of an event and should have been expanded on, but it worked at the time.]

Event: Riddle Netics hires shadowrunners to steal samples and schematics of critical AIPE products. (Light)

Event: FHM uses new AIPE profits to bid on Aquamatics, a water purification company in need of a cash infusion to update and expand its facilities.  Getting wind of this, Riddle Netics enters a competing bid. (Dark)

[Arguably, this action completes this Period, but I think there is still room for shadowrunning shenanigans to happen.  We’ll have to see if this period is returned to in the next session.]

Period 2: The initial corporations start calling in allies. (Light)

Event: FHM hires shadowrunners to plant evidence that Riddle Netics is using poor people as test subjects. (Dark)

Event: FHM spurs a class riot at the HQ of Riddle Netics. (Dark)  [This was probably a shadowrun of some sort.]

Event: Zenith AstroTech announces they are forming a joint venture with Riddle Netics to raise the bid for Aquamatics. (Light)  [This spikes the price of Aquamatics stock, increasing the cost to purchase the company.]

Scene: Why would Zenith AstroTech support Riddle Netics?
At a public gala, representatives and CEOs of Riddle Netics, Zenith AstroTech, Rosa Digital, Diagnostic Radiomation, and the Bank of Burma fell to talking over drinks and hors d’oeuvres.  Riddle Netics and Diagnostic Radiomation were being directly hurt by FHM raising AIPE prices, as were friends and associates of Zenith AstroTech and Rosa Digital.  Discussion turned to the possibility of taking some sort of direct action against FHM.  The representative of the Bank of Burma excused herself at this point.  The CEO of Zenith AstroTech suggested raising the cost of the Aquamatics purchase.  The representative of Diagnostic Radiomation then suggested removal of Aquamatics critical equipment right after the purchase was finalized would also cost FHM.  The group agreed to put some off-budget resources together to make these things happen. (Light)  [Yes, this is the beginning of a shadow war.  Why do you ask?]

Event: In order to fund the escalating conflict with Riddle Netics, FHM borrows money and opens several lines of credit with Spanish Brokerage, a corporate bank headquartered in Hong Kong.

Period 3: The war heats up. (Dark)

[I’ve changed this as the original text was more appropriate for an event.  I’ll note where that text gets re-inserted.]

Event: Shadowrunners hired by Zenith AstroTech raid the Aquamatics manufacturing facility in Egypt and it gets out of hand. (Light)

Event: The Aquamatics manufacturing facility in Egypt is completely destroyed.  Prices of water purification tablets and filters immediately skyrocket in Egypt, leaving the poor masses without affordable potable water across most of the country. (Dark)

Event: Lack of affordable potable water among the poor causes class riots across Egypt. (Dark)

[The riots are the re-inserted text.]

Event: Spanish Brokerage, seeing FHM hemorrhaging money and not wanting to lose the large amounts of capital loaned to FHM, decides to call in all loans and credit made to FHM. (Dark)

Event: Zenith AstroTech buys the remains of Aquamatics in Egypt at a cut-rate price, allowing FHM to just barely pay off the loans. (Dark)

Event: To recoup costs, Zenith AstroTech shuts down all Aquamatics operations in Egypt, lays off all remaining employees, and ships out anything not nailed down to sell as scrap, causing an immediate recession in Egypt. (Dark)

[The last two events were put on one card as I allowed the player to dictate more than I should have, but it was late and I had to work the next day.]

Period 4: The conflict goes orbital. (Light)

Event: FHM offices in Burma targeted by shadowrunners – an entire city block is destroyed when the building collapses. (Light)

Event: FHM hires shadowrunner to get proof/evidence Riddle Netics and Zenith AstroTech were responsible for the attack on their Burma office. (Light)

Event: FHM releases evidence showing Riddle Netics and Zenith AstroTech were responsible for the attack on their Burma office. (Light)  [Whether or not it is true is a matter for some discussion…]

Event: Aztechnology sends shadowrunners to attack the Zenith AstroTech orbital facility. (Dark)  [Why this was done has yet to be determined.]

Event: Government(s) send in troops. (Dark)  [Again, the specifics are still to be determined.]

Period 5: One side wins the corporate war. (Dark)

[Nothing added here yet, but this should probably end with the Corporate Court handing down a ruling, ending the war.]


That’s where we are now.  I’ll provide updates after the next session.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Maps for a Friend's 8-Year Old Son

A friend of mine's 8-year old son spontaneously decided to draw a map of a fantasy world.  He asked on G+ if anyone could make it "professional".  I like making maps.  A lot.  But I'm not a professional at it - I just like dinking around with it.  So I said "yes."

This is the Raw version.

I'm using Illustrator 10 to create the new version because A) I own a copy and B) I want to de-rust my skills with it.  So I traced all the lines and added the country names.  (Yes, there is a "Kingdom of Pron" on the map.  The 8-year old probably doesn't get the reference.)

Then it needed rivers.  And a couple things on the map looked significant, so I named them.  Then I needed to show why some of the political boundaries existed (rivers, forest edges, defensive works, etc.), so I added a few more rivers.  And some mountains.  And some forests.  And some more mountains.  Now it looks like this:
Updated Version

Then I wanted to have a basic map without all the colors of the political divisions.  Luckily, Illustrator has layers, so I could do this easily.  The terrain map looks like this:
Terrain Only Map

The next step is to do a hexagon grid overlay and a few other tweaks required by my perfectionism.  Then I have to find a way to export it to .SVG format that keeps the fonts.  That way they can zoom in and things won't be pixilated.

The end result will be a map my friend can used to teach his son RPGs, a map his son designed and will know all the names.  That is a great dad.  How could I not help?

Later!