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!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Epikydes Underground and Maturation Rates Among Fantasy Rates

Having finished the introductory short story and started outlining the next story (which will be longer, but not Robert Jordan-longer), I'm thinking over things in the short story.

Right now I'm thinking about Epikydes's age.  He is half elven (on his father's side), which traditionally means he has a longer lifespan than humans, so he should look younger than his age.  That said, does a longer total lifespan mean an equally longer amount of time to reach physical maturity?  I don't think so.  If it did, elf children wouldn't have the "Terrible Twos" but the "Terrible Twenties".

That said, I could see childhood up to puberty being developmentally similar across the standard fantasy races with a differential not appearing until puberty.  Put another way, the longer lived races would be teenagers for a longer period.  This time would be no longer than twice human standard (who reach physical maturity between 21 and 25 years of age) and proportional among the other races based on total expected lifespans.  So elves wouldn't reach total physical maturity until roughly 35 years old and dwarves somewhere between 28 and 30 years of age.  So in my story, Epikydes claims to be 18, but looks 15 or 16 to Fadeyka.

Thinking about some of the backstory I want Epikydes to have, I'm not certain that's enough time.  In my mind's eye, Epikydes "ended his apprenticeship" around age 12, just before puberty (although the numbers in the text imply 13-14, or just after puberty).  Medieval and Renaissance children (especially in the working classes) grew up quick, even if physical maturity lagged, so Epikydes was able to "learn what I had to in order to…do what I had to do."  After that, he would have wandered several years, learning from the School of Hard Knocks, until he started his adventuring career properly around age 16 or so.

This means Epikydes had only about 2 years of adventuring, including the couple of months to decipher the dagger script in Aurelius's journal and then do the research to locate the places mentioned in it.  I really want this period to be 8 months or so, leaving about 16 months for adventuring and achieving his current level of competence.

I think the next round of edits will move Epikydes's age to 20 and clean up the implied time since he "ended his apprenticeship".  (Which wasn't pretty or pleasant and marked Epikydes in several ways.)  I think this will make some of the scenes in the next part flow better, particularly the introduction of the paladin.

That part's going to be fun - I'm looking forward to writing it.

Oh! Also, I'm switching posting date to Wednesdays.  It works better for my schedule and I should have done it a while ago.  It will still post in the morning at 7:00 CST.  This week will be an exception - this is the post for this week.

Later!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Epikydes Underground - Chapter Five

After that, Fadeyka conceded my point and apologized for laughing at me.  While I appreciated the apology, not having to keep that particular secret anymore was much more of a relief.  We pulled out a couple bags of coins (I had promised Fadeyka there was treasure here), a magical rope (which we used to get back down to the laboratory), and Thorn, a dagger that, in addition to being magical, was part of a set eight daggers and my entire reason for traveling here.  I then retrieved my Guild badge from a resting place inside the door and we reclosed the vault.  Despite the thickness and age of the stone door, it still swung easily and silently.

As we were climbing back down to the laboratory, we heard the sounds of the approaching dwerro.  I retrieved the rope (it can untie itself on command) and we started heading towards the surface exit as quietly and as quickly as we could.  We eventually lost the dwerro, but stayed as silent as possible until we reached the surface again, just in case.  This meant we had little time or opportunity to talk along the way.

We were bone tired by the time we reached the surface and it was night, but our sense of security was greatly replenished.  “OK, Epikydes, it’s ‘later’ now,” Fadeyka started.  “Tell me about the badge.”

We were walking through the surface ruins above the dwarven halls.  The ruins were a mixture of old human and dwarven architectural styles with trees and shrubs growing rampant around them now.  The old dwarven roads resisted the grass growing through them, but anyplace the road had been damaged was now a thick clump of shrubbery.

“I found it with Aurelius’s remains, along with his journal, this coat, and the star blade,” I answered.  “A group of us were dealing with a goblin uprising that turned out to be a front for a cult working out of an old keep, something Aurelius had been looking into as well.  Apparently Aurelius was discovered and heavily wounded in a fight, but escaped, only to die in a side passage under the keep, where we found him.  I didn’t know what the badge was at first, but held onto it until we dealt with the cult.”

“Afterwards, I started reading through the journal and found all these extra notes and passages written in a dagger-script.  I was curious and spent time deciphering the dagger-script.  It took a while, but it was worth it.  Aurelius was the last surviving Guild-Captain, entrusted with the continuation of the guild.”

“Then why was he traveling up here in the north?” Fadeyka asked.  “Why not use one of the guild vaults and establish a new guild hall somewhere where there are plenty of people?”

“I don’t know,” I answered.  “The journal starts with his travels north, but never gives a reason for them.  I think at some point he either had to or wanted to leave the south, but he never states why.”

“Hmph,” was Fadeyka’s reply.  “What about the dagger then?”

“Somehow they either grant access to or lead to the main guildhall, I’m not certain which,” I replied.  “I do know there are eight of them and they need to be together to do whatever they do.”

“So you plan to find all eight?” Fadeyka asked.

“Yes.”

We walked a bit further while Fadeyka thought something over.  She seemed to come to a conclusion and then said, “Count me in.  This is exactly the sort of thing Armea Gris would assist in.”

“Really?” I asked, somewhat hopefully.  “You don’t have to.”

“No, I don’t have to,” Fadeyka replied, “But I want to.  Until now I haven’t really found my calling here in the north and was starting to think I’d have to return to the temple having merely traveled.  This is much more of a real adventure and Armea Gris is the Adventuring Goddess of Magic, not the Traveling Goddess of Magic.  So,” she turned to look at me as we kept walking, “Where to next?"

I thought about it before answering.  "As far as I can tell, Aurelius's journal places the next nearest dagger in the tombs at Upal Molotok," I replied.

"In the tombs," Fadeyka said.

"Yes," I replied.

"At Upal Molotok," she continued.

"Yes," I replied.

"The closed dwarven city of Upal Molotok."

"Yes," I replied, drawing out the syllable a bit peevishly.

"In the tombs at Upal Molotok, home to the ghosts of Upal Molotok, the undead citizens of the closed dwarven city of Upal Molotok."  Clearly Fadeyka was skeptical about this plan of action.

"Yes, all of that," I said gesturing my hand to indicate all of what she had said.

"And how do you plan on entering the sacred district of a closed dwarven city?  I suspect they will take exception to us telling them we're only there to desecrate a crypt and take a long buried dagger."  There was clearly sarcasm and disbelief in Fadeyka’s voice.

"I know a paladin who can get us in," I said lightly.

Fadeyka quickened her step to get in front of me and then turned and stopped in my path, one hand out.  "Wait.  You know a paladin who...no, never mind that.  What kind of paladin would help us break into a crypt?"  She put her hands on her hips.

I took a deep breath and let it out slowly.  "He's a paladin in the service of the Queen of Winter Twilight."

"The Queen of Winter Twilight..."  Fadeyka said half to herself while looking down, mulling over the unusual attribute.  It took her a moment as I had translated the goddess’s elven name into the common tongue.  Then Fadeyka took in a short breath and looked up at me.  "That's Marsuda Wasala, Goddess of the Underworld," she said accusingly.  "There are no paladins in Her service.  Paladins tend to fight people in Her service.  Just thinking about a paladin in Her service makes my head itch."  She was actually scratching her head.

"Actually, there is at least one," I countered, holding one finger up in lecture mode.  "He was part of a group I worked with last year."

Fadeyka stared at me, arms still on hips, clearly trying to determine if I was making this up.  After a minute or two, she looked down and said to herself, "Travel takes us to new places to learn new things."  I'm pretty certain she was quoting scripture from her faith.  She sighed, looked back up at me, and said, "Fine.  Let's go meet your friend.  The paladin.  Who serves the Goddess of the Underworld."  She turned and we resumed walking to the edge of the ruins where (hopefully) our horses were still corralled.

After a couple of minutes, she turned and asked, "Where are we going to find this paladin?"

"If he's still in Aldmerrow, he’ll probably be at Markel’s Taphouse," I answered.

She stopped again.  "We're going to find a paladin in a tavern."  It wasn't really a question, more of a statement of disbelief.

"Yep," I said, a bit of glee in my voice at her reaction.  "In a tavern."  I did my best to hide my grin as I caught up to her, but I could tell it was leaking out a bit.

"You're buying the first round," Fadeyka said as she resumed walking.  "And if there is no paladin of the Goddess of the Underworld there, you're buying all the rounds."

"Agreed," I replied.  "But if he is there, you buy all three of us the steak dinner."

"Deal!" she said, stopping walking just long enough so we could shake hands on it.  We then continued walking to get to our horses, each satisfied with the bet we had just made.

Chapter One
Chapter Two
Chapter Three
Chapter Four

Copyright Patrick J. Walsh 2014. All rights reserved.