Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Session Report – Urban Surfin’ – Session 8: Dinner with a Show

[This session happened March 7th.  Bookie’s player missed this session.  Job search stuff has started interfering with my writing time, hence the erratic updates.  I’m working to smooth that out.  Who knew having too much free time was as detrimental to writing as not having enough?]

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
The Fin – female human con artist and gambler from India, by way of Russia, posh and elegant

Bookie – male elf alcoholic hacker, favors whiskey with a whiskey chaser
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

Wednesday, March 25, 2076
Six days after leaving a message in a drop box, the client finally contacted The Fin and arranged a meet at 4:00 PM at The Aurora in Renton.  [The Aurora is a shadowrunner-friendly bar near the border between the Renton and Auburn districts.]  The team placed several RFID markers on the prototype package and covered them with promotional stickers from the band Frog Overkill [Murdoc supplied the stickers].  This somewhat obscured the fact that the package was a compact gun case.

The team arrived at the bar early to scope the place out and prepare for the meeting.  Murdoc used Physical Mask to assume his Damaris disguise [attractive human woman of Iranian descent] and Clairvoyance to observe the entire bar.  Void sat in a different part of the bar to keep an eye on the staff and Murdoc [clairvoyance allows Murdoc to view the bar from a movable point remote from his body, but keeps him from seeing with his own eyes].  Prometheus took up a point on top of the building across the street with his sniper rifle at the ready.  The Fin arrived carrying the package just before 4:00 PM with Killroy as a bodyguard.  The Fin took a seat with Void and the team waited.

At 4:00 PM, a Porsche Aguilar arrived and a human in his 30’s, dressed down for the bar, got out of the passenger side and entered the bar.  After a quick look around, he sat at the bar.  Shortly after that, The Fin was brought a drink “with the compliments of the gentleman at the bar”.  The Fin considered declining the drink, but Void pointed out it was likely Mr. Johnson providing a reason for them to sit and talk.  Conceding the point, The Fin accepted the drink and then walked over to the bar with the drink and the case.

After discretely confirming each other’s reason for meeting, Mr. Johnson and The Fin made small talk over a dinner of chicken-fried steak at the bar.  Mr. Johnson suggested that The Fin provide a credstick with some room to “pay” for the meal.  Slightly peeved at this, The Fin none-the-less slid an empty platinum credstick across the bar to the bartender.  When the credstick returned, The Fin checked the balance on it: 190,000¥.  Nice.

Satisfied that The Fin was satisfied with the amount on the credstick, Mr. Johnson stood up, picking up the case by its handle.  He thanked her for delivering the package and complimented the professionalism of the Pleiades Group in taking the effort to do so.  He then left.

End of Session

[This was a short but necessary session, wrapping up the run.  Looking ahead, several significant events on the 4th Corporate War timeline are happening, so I scrolled back time to introduce them in the next session.  The events would only minorly interest the player characters, but the players will know that things are heating up in the background.]

[The next “run” is named Woodchipper, which I am running.  It will be busy and hectic for the characters, especially The Fin, who is stretching her wings as a Fixer.]

Session 1
Session 7

Monday, April 18, 2016

Session Report – Urban Surfin’ – Session 7: Surf’s Up!

[This session happened February 29th.  Sin’s player started taking evening classes and temporarily dropped from the group, so he is an NPC for the rest of the run.]

Bookie – male elf alcoholic hacker, favors whiskey with a whiskey chaser
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

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

Thursday, March 19, 2076
Early the morning of the run, Bookie accessed the Ares Macrotechnology Motor Pool systems to verify the previously targeted vehicles were still assigned to the vehicle requests matching the times Mr. Johnson supplied.  They were, so the job was “Go”.  The team split into three groups: Void and Murdoc in the “Team A” vehicle (a recently “borrowed” GMC Commodore with tinted windows) jumped into by Sin.  Prometheus and Killroy, as Team B, took a non-descript Nissan-Chrysler Jackrabbit to a point in Issaquah that would allow them to intercept the target easily if Plan A failed and Plan B was needed.  Sin was in his GMC Bulldog at a mid-point to reduce distance noise, with The Fin there to protect his body while he was jumped into the other vehicles.  Bookie and coldpulse were in the Matrix, waiting to do their part.

The primary target, with an “O” spray-painted on its roof in UV-only paint was given the code name “Hugs”, with the secondary target vehicle (having an “X” on it) designated “Kisses”.

8:40 AM
Sin flew one of his Lockheed Optic-X2s modified to pick up the RFID tags Void placed on the target vehicles earlier in the week.  He found nothing, meaning the tags had been located and removed.  This was not unexpected and had been planned for.  The team hoped it would boost the overconfidence of Ares personnel.  As a result, Sin sent out his other Optic X2 and put both on “racetrack” orbits between the parking garage in Bellevue and the R&D lab in Everett, looking for the target vehicles.

10:04 AM
Both target vehicles were detected in route to the R&D Lab, the invisible UV markings still on them.  After being loaded, both convoys headed south towards the testing range in Renton, “Hugs” taking an easterly route, “Kisses” a westerly one.  Team A moved east on 522 to intercept “Hugs” just north of the Snohomish border with Redmond.

Once Team A was in position, Murdoc cast invisibility on Void.  She then climbed onto the top of their car and Sin was given the go to move alongside “Hugs”.  Once Team A was adjacent to “Hugs”, Bookie hacked its rigging system and forced a reboot, dumping the Ares rigger hard.  Sin then took control of “Hugs”, using the access codes Bookie had collected earlier in the week.  The NeuroStun X device hidden in the AC unit was triggered as Void gracefully made the jump between the two vehicles.  Due to the light rain, the gecko-tape gear she was wearing wasn’t much help, but Void ended up not needing it.

After a minute [to let the NeuroStun X dissipate], Sin rolled down one of the windows on “Hugs”.  Void peeked in to verify the driver and security guards were all knocked out and found an Ares Duelist drone embedded into the car as a back-up driver!  This was unexpected.  Void contacted Bookie and coldpulse and asked them to brick the drone pilot, which they quickly did.  Bookie had Void wait while he checked the card for any hidden cameras inside “Hugs”.  He found the AR signal of one camera and bricked it before signaling “all clear”.

Void then climbed into “Hugs” and located the gun case that was the target of the run.  She slipped it into the canvas carrying bag she had with her – Murdoc’s invisibility spell now covered the gun case.  She then shouldered the bag and climbed back onto the roof.  Once on top, she signaled Sin to bring over the team car so she could leave “Hugs”.  Sin set the auto-pilot on “Hugs” to continue to the testing range in Renton and jumped back into the GMC Commodore.  He brought it up alongside “Hugs” and Void leapt back to the Commodore.  Sin then took the next right and calmly drove the Commodore away from the target and to where his GMC Bulldog was parked.  Void opened the gun case [after disabling a NeuroStun gas trap attached to the latch] to verify a prototype was actually in the case and it wasn’t a decoy.  There was a disassembled assault rifle of a kind she did not recognize inside, which was good enough.  Team B was told to stand down as the job was a success.  Void re-armed the NeuroStun trap before re-closing the case.  The client was paying for the case, not a safed case.

Prometheus and Killroy drove to the drop-off point to set up to cover The Fin’s the meeting with Mr. Johnson.  The meeting was to take place in a small greenspace between a small shopping center in Bellevue and the adjacent parking garage.  Killroy took a position on the top floor of the parking garage; Prometheus took one down the alley behind the shopping center, remaining in the Jackrabbit.

3:00 PM
The Fin, with the package (still in the canvas bag) sat down next to a suited exec on the only bench in the greenspace.  After a perfunctory greeting, the exec passed The Fin a platinum credstick and The Fin nudged the canvas bag to the exec.  The Fin then got up and walked away, checking the value on the credstick.  The pay was correct, but an AR message was also attached.  The Fin opened it and it was a short note that said:
“Good work.  I’m not who you were expecting, but I recognize good talent when I see it.  Expect to hear from me in the near future with some work.”
The exec wasn’t the client, but an Ares man!  The first words out of The Fin’s mouth were said over the Pleiades Group comm network: “Shoot him.”

Prometheus immediately obeyed and clipped the exec (who was walking towards the parking garage with the case) with an APDS round from his Remington 950 sniper rifle.  This dropped the exec without killing him [below average roll on damage], but also triggered a return shot from a hidden Ares sniper on the second floor of the parking garage!  [Prometheus has a terrible Perception skill and really needs a spotter to work with him.]  The Ares sniper hit Prometheus in a weak part of his armored clothing, doing significant damage [my defensive and armor rolls were very poor and Prometheus took 5 points of Physical Damage out of the 10 he has].

Prometheus, being the mostly cyber-machine he was, ignored the Ares sniper and shot at the exec again, specifically the trapped case release.  This triggered the NeuroStun trap in the gas, knocking out the exec and keeping him from leaving under his own power.  A second shot from the Ares sniper was absorbed by Prometheus’ armored clothing [I rolled much, much better], but aggravated Prometheus.  Prometheus dropped his Remington into his lap in the Jackrabbit and pulled the Aztechnology Striker out of the backseat.  Prometheus then put the loaded anti-vehicular missile into the concrete pillar right behind the Ares sniper.  It was hard to tell which killed the sniper first: the explosion or the spray of concrete shrapnel.  With all known hostiles stopped, Prometheus pulled out his CelGene Medkit [Rating 4] and then attached and activated it. He started quickly and carefully following the medkit’s expert systems instructions to deal with his gunshot wound.  [I rolled well enough to reduce the 5 points of Physical damage by 2 points.]

Meanwhile, Killroy was rapidly running down the stairs from the roof of the parking garage.  With the sniper dealt with, Killroy instead retrieved the gun case from the exec [Killroy’s body armor is chemically sealed, so he was not affected by the NeuroStun gas].  The Fin left an AR note with the Ares exec explaining the team were professionals and were hired to deliver the case to the client, not him, but in the future the team would have no problem providing the same level of professional service for him.  She then had Killroy trigger the exec’s DocWagon bracelet before the group left the area.

4:00 PM
The Fin dropped a careful message into a drop-box for Mr. Johnson, explaining the group had the package and still wished to deliver it to complete the contract.  [It would be several days (and another game session) before a reply was received.]

6:00 PM
All the local news channels had an article about the unusual explosion at a Bellevue shopping center.  Knight Errant was reporting it to be an unusually energetic stress fracture in one of the load bearing pillars of the parking garage.  City inspectors were checking the rest of the parking garage to verify it was completely safe.  The only reported injuries were a local business man and his bodyguard who appeared to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

End of Session

[And this is why we did all that planning and prep-work before the actual run – it made the run quick and as safe as possible for the PCs.  We were happy to have the quiet Plan A succeed and to not need the extremely noisy and violent Plan B.  Still, having the necessary equipment turned out to be handy for dealing with the Ares sniper.]

[We’re not certain how the Ares exec is going to handle us taking his money but not handing over the goods.  We were not expecting the client to be taken out before the hand-over of the package.  On the plus side, we are getting paid twice for the job.]

Session 1
Session 6

Session 8: The Conclusion

Friday, April 15, 2016

Status Update

So I'm finally over my last cold and my Spring allergies are finally settling down, so I'm able to get some writing done again.

Session 7 of Urban Surfin' will post Monday morning on the 18th.  I plan to have Session 8, the final one for that run, post later in the week.  The exact date will vary depending on too many things for me to make a strong guess beyond "after Tuesday".  

The following Monday (the 25th) will be SABRE Issue #3, Act 1.  This will catch me up with the session reports for the monthly Champions game.  The next game for that is in late May, so there will be a delay before Act 2 of Issue #3 happens and gets posted.

After THAT, I have session notes for the first session of Woodchipper, the next Shadowrun game.  The Fin has been putting her contact information out there as a fixer and that is starting to bring some work, maybe more than the Pleiades Group can handle at one time.  We'll see how that plays out.  Session 1 happened March 21st and for several reasons dealing with me we haven't actually played since then.  Session 2 should happen April 18th and we'll get back on our regular gaming schedule after that.

Finally, if anyone knows of a company in the Houston area looking to hire a Tech Writer with 15+ years experience, please let me know as I'm in the market for a new job.  Thanks!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

SABRE, Issue #2 – Act 2: The Hunt is ONT

[This session happened March 5, 2016, and continues Issue #2 from the previous game.  Due to an error on my part, The Terrapin Avenger’s player didn’t know we were playing on that day, so his character faded into the background for this session.  Sorry, Bryan.]

Mars – super-powered ex-professional wrestler
Mnemesys – teleporting martial artist with no official name, yet
Black Light – light manipulator with withering attacks
Sentinel – combat armor-wearing inventor
The White Shade – mentalist with a Pulp style
Aces – the team’s “Sorcerer Superb”

The Terrapin Avenger –model and spokesman for TURTLE Armor™ line of battlesuit products
Max Power – President and CEO of FutureTech Systems and sponsor of SABRE
Chance Morway – PR representative for SABRE
Detective Alana Petrey – Detective in the CCPD Metahuman Crimes Division

Thursday, January 19th, 2012, Capitol City
The day after the kidnapping of Professor Bates and the attempted theft of the codex with him, The White Shade discussed the German prisoners captured on the University of Southern Maryland campus with Detective Petrey of the Capitol City PD metahuman Crimes Division.  Detective Petrey asked what evidence did SABRE have on the Germans, as most of what CCPD had was circumstantial.  The suspects were claiming they were just visiting the university before being attacked by the superheroes, without provocation.  The suspects were: Marko Nacht [the red-headed leader], Gunther Metz, and Eckhard Breiner.  When shown the video of the other members of their group dragging away Professor Bates, the Germans suggested that perhaps the professor had been attacked by the heroes as well and their friends were merely taking him to a hospital for medical treatment.  They also demanded to speak with someone from the German Embassy in Washington, D.C., and CCPD had contacted the Embassy.

The White Shade told Detective Petrey about the recording from Aces communicator where the Germans threatened both Professor Bates and Professor Wilson.* [*Secretly the super hero Aces! –Ed.]  The White Shade offered to have the recording sent over and Detective Petrey accepted the offer, stating the recording would allow the case to proceed and help prove to the German Embassy that the suspects were actually criminals.

Later in the morning, Aces met with forensics experts from the CCPD [to maintain proper chain of evidence] in the evidence vault in SABRE Tower.  Under their watchful gaze [and SABRE Tower Security’s], Aces started reading through the codex, looking for a reason for the attempted theft and the kidnapping.  A few hours in, Aces received a call on the phone his secret ID uses.  He stepped into a private area to change back into Professor Wilson via a spell and answered the phone.  A man with a German accent started explaining that he had Professor Bates, but Professor Wilson cut him off, demanding proof that Professor Bates was alive and then hanging up on the kidnapper.  He then transformed back into Aces and returned to the Evidence Vault to resume reading the codex.  [The Evidence Vault is a large, well-lit chamber with armored walls, an armored door with serious locks, and a display table for viewing evidence.  It also has several cameras, to prove continuity of the chain of evidence, and can be filled with knock-out gas at a moment’s notice.]

Thirty minutes later, a faxed picture of Professor Bates holding today’s paper arrived at SABRE Tower.  The members of SABRE were called together to the meeting room to discuss the situation.  Aces attended via speaker phone.  During the discussion, a call for Max came in from the kidnappers.  The White Shade volunteered to take the call and handle the negotiations and Max accepted her offer.  The White Shade answered the call [on a different phone than the one Aces was listening in on] and used her interaction skills to keep the kidnappers on the line for a trace and to subtly pump them for information [use of the Conversation skill].  The White Shade was able to pick up that the Germans were part of a group named the ONT, they seemed to be improvising, and that they did not care about the physical condition of the codex, only that they got it back soonest.  The exchange was set for Midnight at the Haridover Building, at 8705 King Edward Place in the Brickberg district of Capitol City.  Professor Wilson was to bring the codex, alone, and deposit it in the mail chute in the building’s lobby.  Professor Bates will be released shortly after.

Aces recognized the ONT by reputation as a magically active sinister group in Europe.  Mnemesys remembered more from his days as a PRIMUS agent.  Mnemesys remembered ONT stood for Order of the New Templars and that they were part of a larger group known as DEMON, a criminal organization apparently seeking dominion over the world through magical means.  DEMON has a cellular structure, with each cell utilizing whatever magic works for them.  The ONT specializes in Rune Magic, which explained the anti-teleport runes on the History Building the previous day.

The call was traced to a land line in the Monastery Hill district.  Black Light volunteered to go investigate but needed a lift to get there quickly.  Sentinel volunteered to fly her there, so they took off from the SABRE Tower roof, Sentinel holding an invisible Black Light.  Sentinel flew over and past the Monastery Hill district and an invisible Black Light dropped away to locate the source of the call.

The source of the call. [Image from The Creepy Casefiles of Margo Maloo webcomic, used without permission.]

Black Light flew around the house that was the source of the call to investigate it.  She observed what she believed to be magical alarms and/or traps on all the doors and windows.  While trying to decide what to do next, she observed one of the German thugs they were looking for exit the building and start walking away.  She pursued him closely, trusting in her invisibility to keep her safe.  The thug walked deeper into the Monastery Hill district.  As the thug entered Little Marrakesh, the streets became narrower and started having sun shades covering them [see below] and Black Light had to follow him closer to avoid losing him.

Little Marrakesh, Monastery Hill District, Capitol City – notice slats providing street shade

Black Light followed the thug through a narrow side alley to a small, square courtyard.  The thug walked to a small door and knocked.  A speak easy opened and a voice asked for the password.  Black Light moved in close to hear the password and heard, “She’s here, drop the nets.”  Realizing this was a trap, Black Light tried to fly up and away, but a fine and anchored net she had not seen dropped on her and gas started filling the courtyard – she was captured!  An hour later SABRE received a faxed picture of an unconscious Black Light with the day’s newspaper being held in front of her.  It was the same chair and wall as in the picture of Professor Bates.

While Black Light was being led off into the trap deeper in Monastery Hill, Mnemesys arrived at the townhouse that was the source of the call.  He also observed what appeared to be magical security on the doors and windows.  He set up a surveillance spot across the street from the unusual town home and waited.  Once the faxed photo of Black Light arrived at SABRE Tower, Sentinel rigged up the radar unit on his battlesuit to treat SABRE communicators as transponders [comic book physics – go with it].  He then flew over the Monastery Hill area and determined that Black Light was being held at a different location than the one Mnemesys was observing.

Mars suggested that as they could not locate where Professor Bates was and the kidnappers had made no additional demands after capturing Black Light, the group instead go to the exchange location and set up an ambush there for the kidnappers.  This plan was quickly agreed upon.

9:00 PM
Mars, Aces, and The White Shade arrived at the Haridover Building, which was an old four-story, brick-faced, office building that is now abandoned [like large parts of Brickberg].  They entered the building through the service entrance doors in the back, which led down to the basement.  They explored the basement a bit until they found the Mail Room, where the mail chute would deposit mail into a hopper.  This was clearly where the Germans would set up.  Inside this room they spotted a trap door leading to a brick-covered tunnel and explored that.  The tunnel led to an old iron door that was obviously barred on this side.  After standing around and trying to decide what to do next, they heard the loud and distinct sound of a city subway car go by in an adjacent tunnel, just on the other side of the metal door!

The trio returned to the building basement and re-closed the trap door, confident they knew how the Germans planned on escaping.  They located a storage room across the hall from the Mail Room and Mars and The White Shade hid themselves there.  Aces returned to SABRE Tower and magically duplicated the codex.  Mnemesys maintained surveillance at the town home in Monastery Hill and Sentinel did periodic aerial sweeps across the city to keep track of Black Light’s position [and to make certain no one else disappeared].

10:00 PM
During one of his flyovers, Sentinel reported a team of toughs walking up to the Haridover Building, led by one of the Germans [still wearing his distinctive Euro-style fashionable suit].  The toughs started setting up equipment in the building, including wireless video cameras.  One of the toughs discovered Mars and White Shade hiding in the store room, but a quick mental illusion by White Shade convinced him that he was mistaken.

11:30 PM
Sentinel detected that Black Light was in motion, heading towards the exchange point in a SUV.  Sentinel flew over to Mnemesys and picked him up.  The two of them followed the SUV to a place two blocks from the exchange point.  There the occupants exited the SUV and walked over to the back entrance to the Haridover Building.  Mnemesys and Sentinel could see the second German leading this group and a blind-folded Professor Bates.  They could not see Black Light directly, but a noticeably strong tough was lugging a person-sized duffle bag that likely contained Black Light.  Mars and The White Shade noticed the group enter the building and then the Mail Room, but could not get a good look at them without exposing their own position [and White Shade REALLY wanted to get a line of sight on them].

Sentinel noticed that several of the rooms in the building were blacked out to everything in the sensor suite in his armor and reported this.  Aces and Mnemesys postulated that runes were being used to do that to obscure which rooms had snipers in them.

Aces, as Professor Wilson, arrived at the front of the Haridover building in a SABRE Response Vehicle with a driver and the duplicate codex.  Professor Wilson exited the SUV and walked up the steps to the main lobby of the building.  The lobby was dark, but a voice called out for him to stop and to place the codex into the mail chute on the wall to his left.  He did so.

Down in the basement, as soon as he heard one of the toughs state he had the codex, Mars charged through the wall of the storage room, across the hall, and into the doorway of the Mail Room, bellowing for the toughs to “SURRENDER NOW OR FACE THE MIGHT OF MARS!”  [This was a Presence Attack made by Mars on all the toughs, which achieved the maximum effect on the Presence Attack Table.  And the player bellowed it at volume, at the table, for extra effect.]

Everyone in the Mail Room was stunned by this turn of events [and the volume Mars made his demands in].  While they were standing there gob-smacked, White Shade stepped up through the large hole Mars had made in the wall and placed an Improvised Telekinetic Barrier over the trap door to the subway, blocking off all routes of escape.  Once the toughs found their voices, all the locals immediately surrendered.  The two Germans used their bronze wands to destroy the [duplicate] codex and then demanded to be arrested.  Above ground, Sentinel and Mnemesys took out the mooks with sub-machine guns ready to snipe out the upper floors.  This included the tough hiding in the lobby attempting to shoot up Professor Wilson.  [Sentinel also took a moment to suggest to Max Power via SABRE radio that Max buy the building quickly before anyone made a claim based on the damages Mars was doing in the basement.  Max concurred.]

Once the heroes verified they had rescued all of the hostages and bound up all the toughs, they called in the CCPD to take possession of the criminals for processing.  Max (now the new owner of a slightly damaged abandoned office building in Brickberg) and White Shade discussed what to do with the codex and agreed that the best thing would be to let the ONT continue to think they destroyed the codex and turn the real one over to the German government as a national treasure, one they should keep secret.  Max called people he knew at the State Department to get the diplomatic ball rolling.

Friday, January 20th, 2012
10:00 AM
The White Shade and Mars attended the dedication ceremony for the Star-Spangled Singer Memorial Statue in Baltimore’s Druid Hill Park.  Also in attendance were:

  • Indigo Flame (the event organizer) – she is a local solo hero (energy projector)
  • Ivette J. Miller – she is the Head of the Friends of the Singer Charity (Normal)
  • Senator Catherine E. Pugh – she represents District 40 in the Maryland Senate (Normal)
  • Walker – she is from Special Unit One in Annapolis (animal-based shape shifter)
  • Fire Ant – he is from Special Unit One in Annapolis (pyrokinetic)
  • Dr. Katana – she is from the Damocles Society in Virginia (British accent, martial artist)
  • Dr. Shield – he is from the Damocles Society in Virginia (force field projector)
  • Moonsword – she is from the Sentinels in Washington, D.C. (super mage)
  • A small crowd of 30-40 Baltimore citizens who were either personally helped by the Star-Spangled Singer or were superhero boosters/groupies

There was also a small crowd of protesters off to one side, about 20 of them.  Baltimore PD had the protesters contained in a taped-off area and were standing by in case the protesters got rowdy, but they were not expecting any real trouble – after all, members of Special Unit One were there.  Signs in the crowd included:

  • “Heroes” aren’t COPS!  COPS are COPS!
  • REAL Humans NOT metahumans!
  • Beware the coming threat!
  • Remember the REAL victims!
  • Major Victory was a THUG!

The event consisted of a short ceremony where Indigo Flame, Ivette Miller, and Senator Catherine E. Pugh stood up on a low stage next to the draped statue and made a speech.  Once the senator finished her speech, the drape was removed from the statue, revealing the life-sized bronze underneath.  The crowd respectfully applauded and the event finished.

8:00 PM
All of SABRE attended the WWE event at the Reyes Aerobank Arena in Capitol City, making use of the VIP box seats Mars was gifted and shared with the team.  A good time was had by all.

End of Session

[Thus ended Issue #2 of SABRE.  This issue had much more in it than Issue #1 as I had a better idea what the characters looked like and how they would interact.  Everyone had something to do that contributed to the overall story and everyone got time in the spotlight.]

[Story-wise, this issue was self-contained, as will be the next couple or so.  I prefer to start this style of campaign relatively low-key until the players get a feel for their characters and knock all the design kinks out.  Plus, it gives me a chance to see the characters in action and spot where things might be broken and need some fixing.  This is the HERO System, so sometimes unusual interactions between powers and actions can lead to unexpected results that are disruptive to the game.  Luckily for me, my players are willing to work with me and are learning to trust I won’t mess them over.]

Issue #1

Issue #2, Part 1

Issue #3 [Not Yet Written]

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Session Report – Urban Surfin’ – Session 6: Garage Work

[This session happened February 15th.  Sin’s player started taking evening classes at this point and has temporarily dropped from the group.  That said, our plans required Sin, so he became an NPC for the rest of the run.]

Bookie – male elf alcoholic hacker, favors whiskey with a whiskey chaser
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

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

Saturday, March 14, 2076
Bookie used the temporary User ID he created in the Ares system to access the Ares vehicle fleet subsystem.  While the R&D subsystem was nearly impenetrable, the vehicle pool was a much easier nut to crack.  Bookie searched the vehicle request database, looking for vehicles matching the descriptions supplied by Mr. Johnson being requested on the target date.  He found two sets of vehicles match the descriptions Mr. Johnson provided: Set A was checked out from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM and Set B from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.  Bookie was also able to locate the rigging access codes for the vehicles and quickly copied them to his cyberdeck.

The vehicles were currently at the corporate fleet garage in the Bothell neighborhood of Bellevue.  After discussing options and possibilities, the group decided Set A was the most likely to be the carrier group for the prototype with Set B carrying technicians to and from the testing range.  That said, it might be a ruse, so it would be best to plant a NeuroStun dispenser in both “carry” cars and to leave all of the security vehicles alone.  Void and Prometheus went to the garage to scope out the physical security there while Sin and Bookie fabricated A/C parts with remote-trigger NeuroStun dispensers hidden inside.

The vehicle pool garage turned out to be a multi-story parking garage with horizontal slats to protect the vehicles from acid rain without totally enclosing the garage.  The first floor seemed to be set up for vehicle maintenance with the remaining 7 floors simply parking.  The roof had no parking but could be used as a landing pad for helicopters and vectored thrust vehicles.  From the top of a nearby building, Prometheus used the telescopic enhancements in his Nikon eyes to carefully scan the roof security, sending the video feed to Void’s Hermes Ikon commlink.  Through the video feed Void spotted the motion sensors and cameras that comprised the roof security system and determined there was a small gap in the sensor overlap relatively near the door to the stairs down.  She had Prometheus re-scan that area and the additional video confirmed the gap existed.  Prometheus stated he could place a grapple at the top of that gap, allowing Void to access the roof via zipline.

Sunday, March 15, 2076
Void spent half the day with Sin learning about automobile engines and how to replace A/C components so she can attach the altered components by herself [she spent the day and the Karma necessary to get Rank 1 in Automotive Mechanics].  Prometheus spent the day in the Redmond Barrens practicing the grapple shot on some abandoned buildings.

That night, a small team consisting of Void, Prometheus, and Murdoc made their way back to the launching point.  Bookie was online and provided access to the security camera feeds from the parking garage to the rest of the team.  Murdoc cast invisibility on Void while Prometheus used his grapple gun to attach a line of stealth rope to the garage.  Checking the security feed, Void waited until the patrolling guards were on the lowest floors before zipping across to the garage.

Once on the roof of the garage, Void deactivated the motion detector covering the door to the stairs down.  She next tied off the zipline and retrieved the grapple.  She then stepped through the door and started on her way down.  Unfortunately, the guard on monitor duty noticed that door open slightly and then close and sent a patrol guard up to check it out.  [This was a mistake on our part – we forgot to have Bookie loop the video.]  This put a crimp in the plan as Prometheus wanted to leave the zipline in place in case Void needed backup.  With a guard on his way up, Prometheus had no choice but to apply the catalyst stick to the zipline to remove the evidence.  Bookie warned Void that a guard was on his way up the stairs and Void ducked out of the stairwell to let the guard go by.  Once he had, she continued down to the second floor where the first car was parked.

The rest of the team monitored the patrol guard who found nothing suspicious and reported an “all-clear” back to the rest of the guards.  The guard then continued his rounds, with Void receiving quiet updates as to his position while she swapped out the first car’s A/C component for the doctored one.  Once that was done, she used a fold-out template to spray-paint a symbol on the roof with the UV paint.  She also planted two RFID transponders on the vehicle.  These were mostly distractions to make the security people feel they foiled something.  Once Void completed doctoring the first target vehicle, she went up a floor to where the second vehicle was parked and repeated the whole process.

Two hours after arriving, with both target vehicles tagged and modified, Void was ready to leave.  [The process took some time as she had to pause work whenever a guard patrol was on the floor she where she was working.]  Void worked her way back down to the second floor and worked past the weather slats protecting the interior of the parking garage.  She safely leapt from that vantage point, across the fence surrounding the garage, to the street beyond.  [Physical adepts can leap far!]  She then walked to the waiting escape vehicle, where she found Prometheus and Murdoc already inside the vehicle.  Prometheus drove the group back to the Pleiades Group office.

March 16-18, 2076
The team spent the next three days scouting potential routes the target convoy might take from the Ares lab in Everett to the testing ground in Renton, looking for good spots to initiate an ambush.

End of Session

[Typed up, this was fairly short, but it kept us busy for the evening.  Next session we start the actual run, all our planning and preparation in place and ready to face the enemy.]

[Placing the NeuroStun dispensers in the actual A/C system was something we came up with while talking over the job, looking for potential failure points in our plan.  Having Void introduce the NeuroStun via a hole in the roof was the chanciest part of our plan with the highest likelihood of alerting any security inside the vehicle to her presence on the roof.  By placing the dispenser inside the A/C with a remote trigger, we no longer needed to worry about any of that.]

[We actually spend a lot of time planning and talking out modifications to the plan, making sure everyone is involved.  Shadowrun has so many moving parts rule-wise it is important that the entire team be involved with the planning so nothing gets missed.  I estimate we spend 3-4 hours talking, planning, and gathering information (in character) to every hour of pulling off the job our characters are getting paid to perform.  As a result, our success rate is high and everyone has some idea of what to do if/when things go pear-shaped.]

Session 1
Session 5

Session 7 [Not Yet Written]

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Session Report – Urban Surfin’ – Session 5: Construction Gig

[This session happened February 8th.  I was ill (the rough beginning of two and a half weeks of a cold) and missed this session.  As a result, I only have some bullet points as to what the players remembered the next week, so this will be short.]

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

Killroy – male human street samurai, specializes in hand-to-hand combat (and apparently machineguns)
Prometheus – male human street samurai, handy with any firearm

Friday Night, March 13-14, 2076
Bookie performed a datarun against the Ares Macrotechnology host with coldpulse backing him up [coldpulse is a NPC decker periodically hired by the Pleiades Group to keep Bookie alive on the matrix].  The first thing Bookie did was establish a temporary User ID in the system with strong administrative rights.  It would only last for a week, but that’s all he was going to need it for.  Bookie was able to determine that all the data on the prototype was kept is a separate, stand-alone system only accessible by R&D personnel on-site.

[Prometheus faded into the background for the next bit as I was not at the session but there was no story reason for Prometheus to disappear.]

Void, Killroy, Murdoc, and Prometheus rode in the van Sin was remotely driving to the construction site the team had targeted for their raid.  One of the unconscious Troll Killers kept waking up from the NeuroStun gas, but Void decked him twice to keep him unconscious.

At the construction site, Murdoc cast Physical Mask on Void and Killroy to make them appear like the unconscious gangers.  The two then leapt off the roof of the van and over the fence around the construction site.  Killroy used Stick-n-Shock ammo to KO two security guards.  Void broke into the office for the keys to a bulldozer.  [I think the team stole the bulldozer and sold it, but my notes don’t confirm that.]  In addition to the equipment the team specifically wanted (the power-actuated fastener tool, concrete spikes for it, and some thermite to dispose of evidence later) 2800¥ of other tools were stolen and gang sign was sprayed about the place.  The unconscious gangers were then planted on the site for Knight Errant to find later “in the act” and the team left.

The team also purchased some UV paint and the filters necessary so the camera on a Lockheed Optic-X2 drone can see the paint.

End of Session

[As promised, that was short.  Here we see the difference between a recap with notes and one without any notes, just the players’ memories.  The next write-up will be more detailed as I have actual notes to go from.]

Session 1
Session 4

Session 6

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

SABRE, Issue #2: Books and Beat Downs

[This session happened February 27, 2016, and is the second session with the newly revitalized superhero group SABRE.]

Mars – super-powered ex-professional wrestler
Mnemesys – teleporting martial artist with no official name, yet
Black Light – light manipulator with withering attacks
The Terrapin Avenger –model and spokesman for TURTLE Armor™ line of battlesuit products
Sentinel – combat armor-wearing inventor
The White Shade – mentalist with a Pulp style
Aces – the team’s “Sorcerer Superb”

Max Powers – President and CEO of FutureTech Systems and sponsor of SABRE
Chance Morway – PR representative for SABRE
Detective Alana Petrey – Detective in the CCPD Metahuman Crimes Division

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012, Capitol City
A few days earlier, The White Shade received an invitation to the memorial service for The Star-Spangled Singer, the first victim in the Cape-KRAKEN War two years ago.  A life-sized statue would be dedicated at the ceremony on the 20th.  The White Shade agreed to be there and since then calls from the press for her started coming in.  Most of the calls focused on her previous relationship with the martyred hero Victory Eagle and whether or not White Shade was dating again.  Secretly knowing that Victory Eagle’s death was not as heroic as everyone else believes, White Shade found she really could not deal with these kinds of questions.  She asked the team’s PR representative, Chance Morway, to field the calls for her.  As the invites included a “+1”, White Shade started giving thought to who she might invite that wouldn’t immediately start insinuating questions from the press.

As a result of the video footage of the team’s fight with the Pistolero Brothers (see Issue #1 for the exciting details! –ed.), DanCo., The Terrapin Avenger’s sponsor, insisted on a mandatory upgrade to the defensive capabilities of the TURTLE Armor the Avenger wears.  They sent the Avenger’s personal field technician, Stan Volkov, to deliver the upgrade that morning and to run a system diagnostic test on the suit.  This test took up the rest of the 17th.  The Terrapin Avenger and Stan spent most of the day discussing what new weapon and defensive options were being worked on back in R&D and which might benefit the Terrapin Avenger most.

Sentinel had a morning meeting with Agent Rick Dicker, his liaison with the US Marshals Service.  Agent Dicker asked that Sentinel be a little more careful about invoking the US Marshals Service when working as a member of SABRE.  While Sentinel is still a deputy US Marshal, no one else on SABRE is and sometimes local law enforcement gets territorial about cases.  Agent Dicker also praised Sentinel for the team’s quick work taking down the Pistolero Brothers the previous week, pointing out that the Pistolero’s themselves had arranged for the traffic copters to be right there.  Instead of getting evidence they are “the real deal”, they provided all the evidence necessary to convict them for the armored car robbery.

In the afternoon, Mnemesys received a call from Nancy Nicholson at the DA’s office.  She told him that all of the evidence from the Howard Payne case had disappeared from the evidence locker a couple of days ago.  Worse, Payne’s lawyers seemed to be aware of it as they asked to see some of it.  When the evidence could not be produced, they immediately filed a motion to have the case dismissed.  The DA had to let it go as now the only evidence against Payne is Mnemesys’ testimony and a teleporting superhero with a bomb disposal history as the only witness would make it way too easy for the defense to instill a reasonable doubt in any jury.  The Capitol City PD Internal Affairs Department is aggressively looking into the disappearance.

Mnemesys decided to go over to the City Jail to pay Payne a visit before the mercenary bomber was let free, but Payne refused to see him.  Mnemesys decided to spend the next several days dropping in so Payne would know Mnemesys was watching.  [It wasn’t creepy or anything at all.]

Mars received notice that a WWE Smackdown event would be happening at the Rayes Aerobank Arena in Capitol City on the 20th and the WWE wanted Mars to do some interviews and color commentary at the event.  Mars readily agreed (being an ex-WWE member) and started working out the schedule for the pre-event interviews.  The WWE provided Mars with a number of tickets and VIP passes for the event, enough that Mars “and his team” could view the event from a box seating suite.  Later in the day, White Shade asked Mars if he would attend the memorial service for the Star-Spangled Singer with her on the 20th.  A quick comparison of schedules showed that both could attend the memorial service that morning and get back to Capitol City in time for the promotional work for the Smackdown that night.  Mars agreed and White Shade was relieved to have a safe “+1” to take to the service.

In her secret ID as Julie Burton, Black Light was setting up her next experiment at the Luneburg Optics Building on the University of Southern Maryland Main Campus in Capitol City.  This experiment was a preparatory experiment for her primary investigation into using light waves for epigenetic manipulation of cancer cells in order to force the body to correctly identify cancer cells as foreign bodies in need of destruction.  Set up for the experiment would take several days, even with the small team of grad students at her disposal.

Aces, in his secret ID as Professor William “Bill” Watson, was contacted by a colleague from Germany, Professor Maximillian Bates of Bielefeld University.  Professor Bates had an 8th century codex on Saxon pagan practices that he needed authenticated before he could get funding for a restoration and would Professor Wilson be available tomorrow to look at the codex?  Not having anything pressing on his schedule, Aces agreed to Professor Bates’ request and they agreed to meet at 9:00 AM the next day (the 18th).

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012, Capitol City, University District, 9:00 AM
Professor Bates arrived at the office of Professor Wilson (Aces) at precisely 9:00 AM, announcing himself with a firm knock on the door.  Professor Wilson’s office is on the Ground floor of the History Building on the University of Southern Maryland Main Campus.  Due to the hilly nature of the terrain, this floor is below ground on the east end of the building, where the main entrance is, but at ground level on the west end.

After an initial greeting, Professor Bates pulled the codex he wished Professor Wilson to authenticate out of a satchel.  It was in a hard-shelled carrying container, which the professor opened.  Inside, wrapped in protective plastic was the codex.  While unwrapping the codex, Professor Bates explained that the codex was found in a private book collection that was recently donated to Bielefeld University.  The inventory indicated a few stone figurines belonged with the codex, and Professor Bates had those with him as well.  The codex appeared to be a previously unknown compilation of letters by Alcuin (a preeminent 8th century scholar in the court of Charlemagne).

Just as Professor Wilson was finally getting a chance to look at the codex, he heard the door to his office quietly open and someone attempting to be quiet enter the office.  Pretending to not notice, Professor Wilson (with gloved hands) picked up the codex and turned in his chair so he could see the door out of the corner of his eye.  Three men were standing there, two in black and one in brown, one of the ones in black was quietly closing the door.  The man in brown, who also had red hair with a single white streak, spoke with a slight German accent, saying “Good morning, professors.  I will be taking the codex from you now.  We can do this the easy way or the hard way, but the hard way involves the two of you learning if the American health system is as good as its reputation.”  He smiled at his own witticism.

Professor Wilson carefully turned back to his desk to set the codex back down in the plastic wrapping.  While doing so, he covertly triggered the SABRE communicator in his jacket pocket, knowing the signal was monitored back at SABRE Tower.  Maybe he could stall long enough for someone on the team to arrive…

Back at SABRE Tower, the PA system chimed and all members of SABRE in the building were requested to go to the Communications Center, a message that repeated twice more.  Inside the Tower were White Shade, Terrapin Avenger, Mnemesys, and Sentinel (who was doing maintenance on his armor suit).  White Shade, Terrapin Avenger, and Mnemesys went to the Communications Center while Sentinel used the intercom to listen in while reassembling his armor.

The Tech on duty explained he was receiving signal from Aces’ communicator and was hearing a threatening conversation.  White Shade asked for him to play it on the speakers and the team heard a German voice saying, “Thank you for accepting the easy way as I have doubts about the efficiency of the American health system.  Take the codex.”  White Shade asked the tech where Aces’ communicator was and the tech pointed to a map of the city on a monitor with a flashing light at the University of Southern Maryland.  Tapping a couple of buttons zoomed in the map to show just the university campus, with the blinking light in the History Building.

After a quick consultation with Mnemesys and Terrapin Avenger, White Shade issued orders, Mnemesys would teleport her and Terrapin Avenger to the University, Sentinel would follow as soon as he and his suit were ready, and the Duty Technician would contact Black Light and Mars to alert them to the situation.  Mnemesys, Terrapin Avenger, and White Shade then headed to the roof so Mnemesys could see the university to teleport them there.

Meanwhile, one of the German thugs wrapped the codex back into the plastic and retrieved it from the two professors.  During the scene Professor Bates whispered to Professor Wilson that he knew someone was following him but not who, which was why he came to the States.  Professor Bates was not able to elaborate on that confession before the thugs moved too close to whisper safely.  Once the thugs had the codex they left quietly, without harming either professor.  After giving them a 30-count to leave, Professor Wilson moved to the door and peeked outside – no sight of the thugs.  He told Professor Bates they should split up so they wouldn’t both be caught in case they ran into the thugs again.  He directed Professor east, telling him more students would be that way and should negate any potential violence.  Once Professor Bates was out of sight, Professor Wilson ducked back into his office, said Three Words of Power, and transformed into Aces.

Aces attempted to teleport to the main entrance of the History Building so he could capture the thugs before they got too far.  His teleportation spell failed.  Completely failed.  He tried it again and got nothing.  This started freaking Aces out – he thought his powers had no limits but his imagination!

After a couple of teleport hops, Mnemesys, White Shade and the Terrapin Avenger arrived at the front entrance to the History Building.  Classes were in session, so there were very few students wandering the campus at that moment.  The trio looked around for Professor Wilson’s office (Aces had finally gotten on the communicator and blurted out bad guys had stolen a book from Professor Wilson).  Mnemesys and Terrapin Avenger noticed a directory just inside the front doors and the trio moved in.  Mnemesys also noticed a rune written in ink beside the door, but didn’t give it immediate thought, having no context to put it in.  Inside, while Mnemesys and Terrapin Avenger were looking at the directory, White Shade noticed a man in black clothes step around a corner, notice the heroes, and then immediately turn back, waving off someone back around the corner.  White Shade threw a mental entangle at the person and alerted her compatriots.

Several miles away, Mars was giving a promotional interview for the WWE when a female voice called out, “Hey, Mars! Heads up!”  Mars was then slammed by a Cacophonic Blast from Katerwaller, a female villain from his rogues gallery.  While Mars is very strong and has the bone structure to support that strength, he is vulnerable to sound-based attacks, like everything in Katerwaller’s arsenal.  Additionally, Mars will not strike a woman, a hold-over from his upbringing.  Recognizing what kind of trouble he was in, Mars immediately put in a call for help over his SABRE communicator.

Sentinel, finally in his armor, knew that Mars almost never calls for help, so if he was, Mars really needed it.  He acknowledged Mars’ request and informed the rest of the team that he was going to the arena instead of the university.

Back at the university, Mnemesys attempted to teleport to the hallway corner so he could see what was going on there and couldn’t teleport.  This surprised him but did not stop him, so he ran to the corner instead.  Around the corner was the man White Shade has paralyzed.  Way down the hallway, running towards the doors at the far end, was another man in black and a red-headed man in brown.  Terrapin Avenger stepped around the corner and fired an Expanding Plasti-web ™ from his Ballistic Polymer Multigun ™.  This wrapped the two fleeing individuals in quick-hardening polymer strands that hardened immediately.

The man White Shade paralyzed broke free of the mental entangle, but was knocked unconscious by Terrapin Avenger.  Mnemesys, suddenly linking the rune outside the door with his inability to teleport went back outside and used a rag to erase the rune.

Inside, the red-headed man suddenly broke free of the polymer bonds, catching Terrapin Avenger and White Shade by surprise.  He ran to the far door with White Shade flying in pursuit and alerting Mnemesys to the issue.  Mnemesys teleported to the far end of the building, finding the red-headed man just outside the History building.  Mnemesys ordered the man to surrender.  Instead the man pulled a bronze wand from inside his coat and fired a lightning bolt at Mnemesys.  Mnemesys performed a passing teleporting throw on the man, dropping him back inside the History Building.  Terrapin avenger, down at the far end of the hallway popped another shot into the red-headed man to keep him down.  [This was a bit excessive.]  Aces finally showed up once the fight was over, just in time for campus security to also show up and try to arrest everyone.

Back over at the arena, Mars and Sentinel knocked out Katerwaller, but Mars took more than he gave in the fight, with several broken bones and swaths of disrupted tissue.  Aces was called for and a quick teleport later was using healing magic to repair the damage to Mars’ body.

White Shade worked with the police once the Metahuman Crimes Division arrived.  White Shade and Detective Petrey, the head of the MCD, collected statements and both noticed that the statements from Aces and Professor Wilson (once he finally showed up) did not match up very well.  They also reviewed video tape, discovering that there had been two more men in black suits in the building and they had kidnapped Professor Bates while the fight had been happening in the building.

End of Session

[After the game, we discussed how things went.  The players were pleased with the story and how things played out.  I was very pleased with the overall level of role play and specifically by Mars, Aces, and White Shade.  Both Aces and White Shade have their own reasons to be a bit paranoid, each having secrets to hide.  Mars faced an adversary he was particularly vulnerable to and responded appropriately.]

[In future games, I think I’m going to require any power with the Mega Scale advantage also have the Additional Time disadvantage with a minimum additional time of 1 minute.  Mega Scale teleport (Mnemesys and Aces) and Mega Scale Flight (Sentinel) means that the heroes arrive at any scene almost as soon as they are aware of it.  This causes problems with certain types of story elements and tropes and is vaguely dissatisfying to me as the GM.  Plus, it tends to lead to “hurry up and tell my character where the action is so I can get in on it” activities, which complicates scenes and nullifies what may have been a spotlight scene for the character who found the action.  The opposite (the characters can never get to a crime scene before the villains are long gone) is also no good.  I’ll have to experiment some more and have the villains adjust to what the heroes can do.]

[Also, Katerwaller can create a wall of pure sound, hence her name.  She was designed specifically to be an occasional foil for Mars without having to roll out something that would crush the rest of the heroes.  That’s still coming.  ;) ]

Issue #1

Issue #2, Act 2