Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Session Report – Woodchipper – Job Two: Aquamatics Schematics

[This job mostly happened May 2nd.  It is not the only thing that happened during this game session, but Bookie’s player took an innovative short-cut to getting the job done.]

PCs Involved
Bookie – male elf alcoholic hacker, favors whiskey with a whiskey chaser
The Fin – female human con artist and gambler from India, by way of Russia, posh and elegant


Monday, March 30, 2076
The Fin received a call at 9:30 AM from Shisou Tomodachi (one of Void’s contacts and someone The Fin had done business with before), asking for a meet at Marfreles, a discrete bar in the Kent neighborhood of Renton.  The Fin was still getting dressed, trying to make the 10:00 AM meeting with Zeus in the East Renton Highlands.  Quickly calculating the drive times, she agreed to meeting Tomodachi-san at 11:00 AM.  She then proceeded to her meeting with Zeus (see Job One: ZAT SIN Codes).

11:00 AM – Marfreles
Marfreles was literally just opening to the public when The Fin walked in at 11:00 AM on the dot.  The bar had low lighting, played classical music at a high enough volume that hearing other people’s conversations is nigh impossible [without a quality Select Sound Filter in your cyberear], and had, instead of chairs and tables, plush couches and low coffee tables.  Sitting at a round [rare] booth under the stairs to the upper balcony was Shisou Tomodachi, already deep in business.  [Being a regular has its privileges.]

After ordering a drink at the bar, The Fin walked over to Tomodachi’s table.  He noticed her approach and unhurriedly shutdown the various AR windows he had open.  The Fin noticed the crisp blink of static as she entered the area of a white noise generator hidden at the table.  [Normally the white noise generator would be redundant in a club with loud music, even classical music, but a select sound filter can filter out the music, making the white noise generator a back-up for privacy.]

After exchanging pleasantries, Tomodachi stated his client “requests the complete schematics of the Aquamatics plant in Cairo.  There is some urgency as the job needs to be completed by Friday [April 3rd].  Payment will be made upon delivery of the schematics to me.  The job pays 30,000¥ with a bonus for not tipping off Aquamatics.”  The Fin haggled the base fee up to 32,000¥ due to the short timeline, but accepted the job otherwise.

After the meeting (and some very necessary lunch), The Fin contacted Bookie and, after clarifying this was a job separate from the one Void would be talking with him about later, explained the job and its payout of 28,000¥, plus a potential bonus for being quiet.  Bookie accepted the job, even though he wasn’t certain where he’d get the schematics.  He’d need to think about it.

Tuesday, March 31, 2076
After drinking it over, er, “thinking” it over, Bookie came to the conclusion he didn’t have enough information to actually track down the data.  What he did have was paydata swiped from Ares during a previous run [see Urban Surfin’, Session 5] and Rick, a contact who ran a datahaven.  Bookie headed over to Rick’s CafĂ© Americain on the Matrix.  In the entry vestibule Bookie reset his icon to the 1940’s dress code and the black and white color palette required for entry.

Inside, back in the casino area, sitting at a table playing chess with himself was Rick.  [Yes, he does look like Bogart.]  Bookie walked over and was recognized by Rick.   Rick waved Bookie over into a seat.  “Whatta ya’ got, kid?”

Bookie explained he wanted to swap some Ares paydata for the complete schematics of the Aquamatics plant in Cairo.  Rick’s icon pulled out a small black book from an interior jacket pocket and thumbed through it.  After a moment he said, “I’ve got the goods, kid.  Is your half up to the bargain?”  Bookie slid some folded up papers across the table for Rick to look at [data packets being rendered as folded pages inside the datahaven].  Rick partly opened the papers and politely scanned just the headers.  Rick gave a little smile before wiping it from his mouth with the back of a hand.  “Yeah, kid.  This should do nicely.  In fact, I think I owe you one.”  Rick pulled a page out of his little notebook, folded it, and placed a poker chip on top of it.  “Here’s what you’re looking for and hold onto the chip until you want to call it in.”  Bookie took both.  After a quick glance at the data he thanked Rick and left.

Once clear of the datahaven and with his icon reset to normal, Bookie contacted The Fin and told her he had the schematics she asked for.  He sent her the file and she forwarded it along to Tomodachi.  A little over an hour later, the 32,000¥ pay arrived in The Fin’s Pleiades Group account, followed several hours later by the 10,000¥ bonus.  The Fin forwarded 28,000¥ plus 6,000¥ as a bonus to Bookie, who was very satisfied with the large pay for the little effort.

End of Run

[While the players know that The Fin’s player is shaving money off the job pay, they also know this is not unusual for fixers to do and have no problems with it.  Their characters might feel a little different if they learned of it, but The Fin keeps bringing in the jobs and the pay, so they have no reason to argue about it.]

[Technically, Ludovic’s Hell is the next job taken chronologically, but it lasts almost the entire span of the Woodchipper, so I’m going to do it last.  I’m not certain this is the best way to do it, but you’ll see the escalation of events more clearly.  For similar reasons, MoM Defense, which is contracted after that is moved out of sequence as it both lasts longer than the other jobs and is the shortest due to events in Ludovic’s Hell.  Therefore, the next job to be written up is The Mendoza Hit.]

The other jobs are:


The Mendoza Hit (Not Written Yet)
Yak Money (Not Written Yet)
MoM Defense (Not Written Yet)
Ludovic’s Hell (A.K.A., “Well that escalated quickly”) (Not Written Yet)

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Session Report – Woodchipper – Job One: ZAT SIN Codes

[This job happened March 21st, April 18th, and May 2nd.  These are sequential game sessions, so clearly we missed several scheduled game dates for various reasons.]

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

Prometheus – male human street samurai, handy with any firearm

Monday, March 30, 2076
The Fin received a call shortly before 9:00 AM from Prometheus, warning here to expect a call from his uncle, Zeus, at 9:00.  A business call.  The Fin quickly kicked out her bed guest and set her commlink to show a static picture, not a live image.  She just finished changing the settings when the commlink rang.  It was Zeus, requesting a meeting at Kovac’s Delicatessen (in the East Renton Highlands) in an hour.

The Fin agreed to the meeting and immediately showered and dressed.  She set the Grid Guide to the meeting location and applied her make-up and finished her hair as her S-K Bentley Concordat drove itself to the meeting.  She arrived with just minutes to spare.
Once Marco, the boy who opens the front door, let The Fin into the closed delicatessen and walked her back to Zeus’s table, Zeus got to the point.  “The client needs certain data from a corporate secure data vault that can only be accessed on site and requires a valid smart card with matching biometric data.  The job must be done by this Friday.  The client can provide a valid smart card, but your people will need to work out how to match it – the server it will be checked against is the same server you want to access – quite the conundrum.  The job pays 78,000¥ for successful completion.  There is another 36,000¥ if you do this with subtlety and there is no evidence the job was done.”

With no other work for the Pleiades Group on the schedule, The Fin accepted the job and provided a drop box address for the smart card.  As this was an infiltration job, The Fin contacted Void and made Void the team lead for the job.  The Fin explained the job, that it paid 68,000¥ [that’s not a typo, The Fin skimmed 10,000¥ off the top], and that Void could bring in whoever she wanted, but the payout was fixed.  Void accepted this without question.
Void contacted Bookie and left a message for Murdoc that there was work.  Shortly after 5:00 PM, they met at Club Telepathy, a decker bar in the Leschi neighborhood in Downtown [Murdoc had only recently woken up for the "day"].  Bookie pulled the data off the smart card and used it to put together public data about the card’s owner.  The owner was Toni Rivera: she has round violet eyes that are like two amethysts and a pointed chin. Her luxurious, wavy, brown hair is short and is worn in an impractical style. She is tall and has an athletic build. Her skin is light-colored. Bookie also located her address in Greenwood.  Skimming the matrix site for the condo provided a very small selection of floorplans.

After some planning, they settled on using a hidden vomit gas dispenser to cause Toni to call in sick.  Void would then go in, Physically Masked as Toni by Murdoc and backed by Bookie via micro transceiver.   Once inside, Void would get the data and then leave, claiming to be ill.

Void contacted Sarah, her fence, to get some vomit gas.  It only takes Sarah an hour to track down enough for Void’s needs.

Monday, March 30, 2076
Void placed herself among some architectural decoration of a building across the street and spent the day observing Toni Rivera’s condo, a mid-rise residential condominium.  In the morning Void watched Toni go through her morning routine and take an Emerald City Cab to work at ZAT.  At Noon, Void broke into Toni’s condo to scout the interior.  Based on what she observed, Void had Bookie assemble a matrix-activated gas sprayer.  It took Bookie 30 minutes to assemble one and send it to Void.  Later in the afternoon, Void broke back into Toni’s condo and hid the dispenser in one of the vents in the living room.

Wednesday, April 1, ~7:00 AM
As Toni was going about her morning routine, Void triggered the vomit gas dispenser.  Once she received a whiff of the vomit gas (and revisited her breakfast), Toni called in sick.  Bookie grabbed the outbound call and redirected it to The Fin.  The Fin posed as a temp receptionist, telling Toni that something was going around and a policy note said to stay home for the day.  Toni bought the story hook, line, and sinker, and crawled back into bed.  Another dose when she got back up made sure Toni stayed in bed.

Murdoc used Physical Mask to make Void look like Toni.  Void went into the building, got the data, and got out fairly easily.  Void sent the data to The Fin, who sent it to the agreed upon data drop.  Payment was deposited within the hour and The Fin turned over 100,000¥ [68,000¥ base plus 32,000¥ bonus for subtlety – again, no typo – The Fin skimmed some money off the top] to Void to distribute.  Void divides it into five shares: one each for The Fin, Bookie, and Murdoc and (at The Fin’s recommendation) two for herself as the one who went into the building and did the job.  Bookie and Murdoc agreed with the reasoning – it was still a lot of money for little threat to them.
End of Run

[This was a fairly straight forward run and the players did enough planning that no major hitches happened during this run.  Other runes happening at the same time were starting to become…interesting.]

The other jobs are:
The Mendoza Hit (Not Written Yet)
Yak Money (Not Written Yet)
MoM Defense (Not Written Yet)
Ludovic’s Hell (A.K.A., “Well that escalated quickly”) (Not Written Yet)

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Session Report – Woodchipper – Overview

This “run” was unusual in that, instead of a single large job, there were originally 11 jobs.  The Fin’s player wanted to branch out into becoming a fixer and so seeded the Dark Matrix with ads, offering discreet intervention services.  As a result, a series of smaller jobs for a variety of client types appeared, right on top of each other, all due sometime in the next week or two (with one exception).  This necessitated a wider pool of shadowrunners, including the players’ secondary characters.

Once I had rolled out Job Nine in two days of contacts, I realized that I’d probably bitten off more than I could chew in a timely fashion.  Additionally, with the press of jobs, the big-ticket, show-case job where the players had an in-game month to complete for big money was being lost in the weeds.  As a result, I skipped handing out Job Eight as it was derivative of an earlier run.  I then dropped Jobs Ten and Eleven – they were not going to show up until later in the month and I’ll just recycle them for a later run.  Finally, I talked with the players and deferred the big-ticket job: Monkey Burger 3.  Monkey Burger 3 (MB3) ties into the metaplot and is large enough the players should have time to get creative, so pulling that to be the next run was an easy sell.

This left a total of 7 jobs, each with different requirements and each with a different mix of runners involved.  As a result, I’m going to post a summary of each job individually instead of chronologically.  Void and Bookie will appear in most of the jobs as their skill sets were very much in demand.  This led to Bookie notably running out of Edge several times.

The Jobs are:

  • ZAT SIN Codes
  • Aquamatics Schematics
  • The Mendoza Hit (Not Written Yet)
  • Yak Money (Not Written Yet)
  • AIPE Accident (Not Written Yet)
  • MoM Defense (Not Written Yet)
  • Ludovic’s Hell (A.K.A., “Well that escalated quickly”) (Not Written Yet)

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Food Truck Thursday – Offbeat Eatz

This week’s food truck was on time and already taking orders when Coworker R and I arrived, so no disappointments like last week.  The truck was as purple as her hair, which I and the guys in the food truck commented on.  Game on!

Food Truck: Offbeat Eatz

Price Points: $10-$16 per person (chicken sandwiches on the lower end, burgers on the higher end)

Cuisine: grilled chicken sandwiches and burgers, fries optional (but recommended)

The Review:
My original plan was to get a burger and Coworker R was “just going to look”.  Both of those plans failed once we were in front of the truck.  The chalkboard beside the order window announced today’s special: cheese steak sandwich with fries.  Immediately my order was the cheese steak – burgers can wait.  (I’m a sucker for a good cheese steak sandwich.)  Coworker R looked at the pictures of the chicken sandwiches and suddenly she was in line right behind me.

The cheese steak sandwich was both tasty and of good size.  The meat had caramelized onions in it, along with some jalapenos, and sweet pink onions on top.  I removed the onions from on top as onions and I disagreed, but the onions inside were necessary to the proper flavoring of the meat, so they stayed.

This was a good cheese steak sandwich.  The jalapenos gave a good pop of heat when I got to them.  I would have liked more jalapenos as I didn’t notice them until I was half way through the sandwich.  Your mileage may vary.  The fries were good, with an even coating of just the right amount of salt – enough so you notice but not so much it dominates.  My only complaint was that I wanted more fries when I was done.  Coworker R had the same complaint.

Some of the specialty chicken sandwiches looked like they may have had too many toppings, so Coworker R got the standard chicken sandwich.  She liked it but has gotten the same grilled chicken sandwich, at the same price, elsewhere and been equally happy.  Also, the pickles were sweet pickles, which she does not care for.  Your mileage may vary.  We speculated that the specialty grilled chicken sandwiches may have been more wow than the basic one.

Definitely do again and worth the money for the beef options – the basic chicken option was more neutral.  Next time I’ll get one of the burgers for a more consistent baseline of comparison with the other food trucks I’ve eaten at, but man, I’m a sucker for a good cheese steak sandwich.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Food Truck Thursday – Cuban Spot

This week’s food truck was supposed to show up at 11:00 AM, so I and several co-workers went down at 11:00 to beat the lines. 

There was no food truck.

We waited 15 minutes and then Coworker R and I decided to bail as we were hungry.  I picked up the vindaloo at the local sandwich shop (they have an Indian restaurant deliver meals for re-sale each day) and ate my lunch.  It was filling and just the right amount of spicy.  Once back to my desk, I saw an email that the food truck was not going to show until Noon, with no explanation.  Too late to do me any good.

Food Truck: Cuban Spot (their menu)

Price Points: $10-$12 per person

Cuisine: sandwiches and burgers with Cuban spices and toppings

The Review:
Co-worker C got the Cuban Burger and went on and on about how good it was, rubbing it in.  Folks from other departments who share the area with us also got ½ burgers and said they were very tasty and way filling.  The burgers all smelled incredible.  I regretted spending my budget on the vindaloo.


Assuming they show up on time, I am still willing to eat at this truck based purely on how good the food smelled.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Food Truck Thursday – D’Lish Curbside

[My new employers (more on that in a later post) just initiated Food Truck Thursdays here at the office.  They’ve arranged for a different food truck to be here at the office each Thursday for at least the month of September.  I’m going to review them as a way to get back into regular posting here on the blog.]

Food trucks are still growing as a thing here in Houston, which has the largest non-judgemental food market in the country.  We don’t care whether or not your last restaurant succeeded or failed, we just want to know if what you’re doing right now is any good.  Today’s food truck does very well.

Food Truck: D’Lish Curbside
Price Point: $10+ per person, $3.00 more if you want fries with that

Cuisine (from their website):
"We're the Creators of the TEX-ified Southern Comfort & Gulf Coast Seafood Poutine Style Fries. We also Specialize in Specialty Burgers & Sandwiches, D'Lishified Bowls & Tacos with a Special Twist."
The Review:
I had the Fried Chicken and Bacon Sandwich (burger) with a side order of fries.  The sandwich (burger) had a dollop of white gravy on it, meaning once you start eating on it, you cannot set it back down.  This is not a problem as once I started eating on it, I didn’t want to stop.  The sandwich (burger) had just the right amount of crunch, from both the chicken and the bacon.  The chicken had a low batter-to-chicken ratio, meaning there was plenty of chicken to eat.  The bacon was crispy without going overboard and there was a noticeable amount of it.  This was a very tasty sandwich (burger).

[I keep calling this a sandwich (burger) because, while called a sandwich, it was served on a burger roll.]

Coworker R had the Krazy Korean Ribeye Steak Sandwich.  She was actually craving Banh mih, but she found this to be a good alternate.  (She’s still craving Banh mih, so it wasn’t a complete substitute for that.)  She found the thinly sliced steak was marinated in a very tasty Korean sauce of some sort which the sriracha aioli complemented very well.

We both had the fries, which were thick cut and tossed with a spice mix of some sort.  It had a taste of heat to it, but we both agreed the fries needed more seasoning.  That said, they were good fries, freshly cooked – they were still hot after walking back to my desk and after eating my sandwich (burger).

We went just as the food truck was opening and the line was only 5-6 people.  Other co-workers went after we returned and reported the line was 20+ people deep.  They went back 30 minutes later and the line was still 20+ people deep (a different 20 people of course).  They aren’t back after a third try and my lunch hour is over, so no report from them.  Maybe I’ll do a supplemental later.


Very satisfying and filling with a reasonable price (for food trucks).
I will eat at this truck again.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Job Hunting Blues

My apologies for the long drought of material - job hunting and spousal dental surgery has kept me in a place where writing has been impossible.  I'm starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel, so writing will happen again in the near future, but probably not until August.

In the meantime, the weekly Shadowrun game has continued and I have plenty of notes from that to convert in to proper summaries and the Champions game is stuttering, but the current Issue should complete this month.  I'm also distracted by the New Shiney of a D&D 5E campaign set in the Holy Roman Empire, circa 1648.  I like the idea of running a game in a semi-historical setting and the Holy Roman Empire is a wonderfully fragmented mess of states, each vying for power while scrupulously avoiding being gobbled up by the larger powers.  In 1648 the Thirty-Years War has just concluded and the Germanic states are decimated, providing a post-apocalyptic setting with a thin veneer of civilization on top.  Should be fun.