Monday, August 24, 2015

Shadowrun Report – Implants – Session 1

[This session happened on August 17th and is directly related to the metaplot of the campaign.  See the Timeline.]


Player Characters

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)
Void – female human physical adept B&E specialist, a shadow that blends in easily
Murdoc – male elf kilt-wearing street mage, at home with the hobos


NPC’d Characters

Bookie – male elf alcoholic hacker, favors whiskey with a whiskey chaser
Prometheus – male human street samurai, handy with any firearm


Friday, February 10, 2076
At 8:58 in the morning, The Fin received a text from Prometheus, warning her he had given her phone number to his uncle, who would be calling soon.  She asked back which name Prometheus had given his uncle and Prometheus replied “Pleiades”.  The Fin immediately told her bed guest to get out.

At exactly 9:00 AM, The Fin’s commlink rang and she answered.  A voice with a Mediterranean accent stated he was Zeus and he had work for The Pleiades Group – could she meet him at Kovac’s Delicatessen in an hour.  The Fin said she could and Zeus hung up.  While she dressed, The Fin had her commlink locate Kovac’s Delicatessen and plot the fastest route there.

The Fin arrived at Kovac’s Delicatessen just before 10:00 AM, finding the delicatessen closed.  As she approached the door, a 12-13-year-old boy opened it and asked her business.  The Fin stated she was from the Pleiades Group and had a meeting here.  The boy smiled, but then remembered this was business and put his serious face back on before saying, “Please, come in.”  His name turned out to be Marco.

Inside, The Fin was escorted to a back room between the seating area and the kitchen, where she found an older gentleman in a well-worn suit going through a physical ledger.  The man was human with a debonair Mediterranean look, his once dark hair mostly white.  He closed the ledger before rising and introducing himself as Zeus.  The Fin introduced herself as Aswari Rai.  Zeus then got immediately to business.

His client had requested the Pleiades Group by name for the job, so Zeus was giving them first crack at it.  The details were:

  • Insert two computer agents into two terminals inside a corporate office building without anyone knowing the terminals have been used.
  • The terminals are in different rooms on different floors of the same building.  The building has heavy anti-WiFi defenses so it cannot be done at a distance.
  • The agents are on two different data sticks.  Both take about 5 minutes to run and will tell you when they are done.
  • The job has to be completed by 5:00 AM on the 12th (Wednesday), so they have 42 hours to get the job done.
  • Payment is 65,000¥ upon return of the datasticks and verification the agents ran successfully.  Delivery will be at 6:00 AM on the 12th.

The Fin wanted more details, but Zeus would not supply them until she agreed to the job.  Not pleased by this, The Fin eventually relented and accepted the job.  Zeus immediately gave her the rest of the details:

  • The target is RiddleNetics, maker of HVAC air quality and filtration systems.
  • The location is one of their smaller facilities on the border of Renton with Redmond: 1700 NW Gilman Blvd, Issaquah, Seattle
  • Zeus provided maps of the relevant floors of the target building.  They were marked with the locations of the two target data terminals: in the Server Room (4th floor) and the Research Archive (5th floor).  The maps also showed the patrol routes of the guards and their nightly schedule.
  • There is also a bonus job that pays 65,000¥ if any significant paydata on the RiddleNetics bid for Aquamatics is delivered.  The data is minimally useful if RiddleNetics knows it has been taken, so if the team gets caught, pay is only 10% for both jobs.
  • Payment will be made at Jack’s Box Seats, a sports bar in Bellevue at 3179 156th Ave SE.  Payment is AFTER the client has received the datasticks and verified the agents ran properly.

The Fin spent some additional time negotiating for additional pay due to the short timeline and was able to increase the pay for the primary job to 67,100¥.  Negotiations on the payout for the bonus needed to wait until they actually found something.  Marco escorted her back out of the shop.

After the meeting finished, The Fin texted the entire Pleiades Group, telling them the group had a job and to immediately meet at the office.  The entire group was assembled at the office by 11:00 AM (although Murdoc was somewhat groggy and Bookie smelled of whiskey).  After explaining the job, The Fin tasked Bookie with assembling a quick file on the target, RiddleNetics.  Sin sent some of his drones to go scout out the building and the area around it.  He noticed that floors 2-5 had jammers active, creating more noise than he could cut through, even after optimizing his rig for that.  Additionally, those floors had tempered glass and he could not see in during the day, although he got reasonable images of the handful of exterior balconies and the maglocks on the access doors.  The vents he would have normally sent a Fly-Spy in through had high-tensile steel meshes protecting them.  Murdoc headed out to the building to check it for magical defenses and later reported they appeared to be minimal.

At this point planning of the run started.  Sin suggested a HA-LO (High Altitude-Low Opening) jump from a commandeered passenger jet.  Killroy quickly vetoed that as too complex.  The group quickly focused on using a zipline from an adjacent building to access a corner pocket balcony on the 4th floor [pocket balcony = a balcony that is barely larger than one square meter, almost decorative in nature].  As the tallest buildings in the vicinity were only five stories tall, the ride on the zipline would not be the quickest.  To avoid being seen during the slow ride, Murdoc would make those going in invisible.  This mandated a small insertion group [due to the cost of maintaining multiple spells by Murdoc], which eventually was fixed to Bookie, Void, and Killroy.  Bookie to access the RiddleNetics system from inside to look for the requested paydata, Killroy to keep him safe [and out of self-inflicted trouble], and Void to actually deploy the computer agents.

For minimal time traveling in building, after Void handles the agent insertion on the 4th floor, she will run up the exterior wall of the building to the 5th floor pocket balcony and re-enter the building there.  The Records Archive is very near the 5th floor office and after dealing with it Void can drop a rappelling stealth line down from the 5th floor pocket balcony that all three can use to escape the building.  Sin will pilot up a vehicle to the corner at just that time [but not his panel truck – it is starting to be recognized].  Application of a catalyst stick will eliminate the incriminating rappelling line and the team can leave the area quickly.  Meanwhile, the observation team (Prometheus, Murdoc, and The Fin) will decamp from the building across the street and leave via a second vehicle.

With a reasonably solid plan ready, the team dispersed and went about handling necessary preparations.  [Notably, Prometheus took Void to a place in the Redmond Barrens where she can practice running up a wall from one balcony to the next.  Adept powers or not, this was a move she wanted to practice before performing it at height.]

End of Session


[Next session will probably be the entire actual run as this run is not very complex.  This is due to it being a metaplot run where the goal is very defined and requires leaving no evidence.  This is the first hostile action in what becomes the 4th Corporate War.  Things will start heating up and getting bloody after this.]


Session 2 [Not Yet Written]

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Parks and Wrecks - Arrival and Start of the 1934 World’s Fair

Chapter 0 – Dramatis Personae

May 25, 1934, 20:09, Chicago
We are pulling in to Chicago now on the fastest train on which I’ve ever traveled, the Zephyr.  We left Denver this morning at 7:04 AM and have arrived slightly over 13 hours later!  A day-and-a-half to two-day trip shortened to one day – very impressive.  Additionally, according to the reporters onboard, we arrived nearly two hours earlier than expected!

I was originally put off by riding on a promotional run from Denver to Chicago, but the timing was good due to our late start back in San Francisco.  The train is impressive and extremely clean, this being its first public run, traveling from one end of the CB&Q lines to the other.  It was much more comfortable than any of the air transports we would have flown on and faster as well.  I even had time and quiet to catch up on my correspondence.

We should arrive at the Ambassador East Hotel in time for a late dinner at The Pump Room, the in-house restaurant.  Helen and Simone seem eager to see Chicago’s nightlife, but I am more concerned with how Adventure Earth has arranged our rooms at the hotel so I can avoid rooming with Kurt and his snoring.

22:28, Ambassador East Hotel
Mixed news – we each have our own room at The Ambassador, but Miss Decker has made this a working vacation.  Envelopes were awaiting each member of the team at the hotel (although Helen received a second letter as well – apparently personal in nature).  Over the next three days we are to attend the World’s Fair and hand out company flyers to prospective clients for the company’s services.  Miss Decker has decided to make the request Jack, Kurt, and I made for access to the Fair as part of our vacation into a promotional effort for the Adventure Earth Company.  I cannot really fault her for this nor complain – employment with the company has directly benefitted me and my family plus brought me into contact with the love of my life.  The least I can do is promote the company when they are enabling our hunt for Mr. George Parks.

Speaking of whom, the hotel has copies of the official guide book for the fair in the lobby and I secured one.  Looking through it, there are two entries I feel compelled to follow: the Temple of Solomon and the Solomon Industries presentation.  Mr. Parks made off with Ring of the Djinn, the Seal of Solomon, and the Key of Solomon from the tomb of Emperor Menelik, the son of King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.  With no less than two Solomon references here at the fair on top of Menelik’s actual sarcophagus on display, I feel certain we will meet Mr. Parks again and this time he will not escape us.


May 26, 1934, 8:14 AM, Ambassador East Hotel
The team discussed our plans over breakfast.  We all agreed that the first thing we should do is present ourselves at the Adventure Earth Company Pyramid (the company pavilion at the fair) and meet with Miss Decker.  The last telegraph I have from her indicates we are to discuss the team’s standing with the company and I very much want to discuss whether or not delivering Mr. Parks (albeit trussed up by Kurt) will repair our reputation and standing within the company or merely seal it.

I attempted to suggest the team plan on meeting again at 3:00 PM, but Helen indicated she has a personal meeting at 2:00 PM and is taking Simone with her to it.  When I asked for an alternate time, Helen stated she was not certain how long her meeting would take and so she could not commit to a specific time.  I am very curious and puzzled by this, but Helen does not seem willing to share what this personal matter is and I must respect her privacy.  If it becomes something I or the rest of the team might help with, I trust she will ask.

9:28 AM, Lobby of the AEC Pyramid
Our meeting with Miss Decker was brief, but not perfunctory, which is good.  We took separate paths to get to the meeting and Kurt never arrived.  I entered through the 23rd Street entrance, but missed the exhibitor’s side entrance, so I was delayed by the crowds pressing in through the entrance.  Girls were handing out commemorative stamped pennies on chain necklaces to everyone entering, which explained the turgid entry.  I was afraid of being the last to arrive, but the others rode the Sky Car across the park, which delayed them enough that we arrived mostly together, minus Kurt.

I will admit that I did not miss Kurt until Miss Decker explained we would all be representing Adventure Earth Company while attending the fair and should be on our best behavior as a result.  Once those words left her mouth, I immediately looked for Kurt to see if he had been drinking and discovered he was missing.  Miss Decker rather unfairly ribbed me for losing another person, but I wisely avoided rising to the bait.  When I asked Miss Decker if there was any value to bringing in Mr. Parks, she said the company could use the good press of recovering one of the three clients lost over the last year, so please do so if the possibility exists.  This also means we have to do so in a way that will not reflect badly on the company once the press finds out, so I have to remember to tell Kurt we want Mr. Parks alive and with no obvious injuries.  He will be most disappointed.

11:02 AM, Hall of Science
Jack, Riley, and I went into the Temple of Solomon exhibit, which is directly adjacent to the AEC pyramid.  (Helen and Simone went off together and Bak Mu headed towards Soldier Field, perhaps to locate Kurt.)  Inside the temple, the lecturer was just starting a tour, so I tagged along.  As things progressed, it became clear he has a very strong knowledge of Biblical Scholarship, but his actual historical knowledge was lacking.  I politely corrected some of his lecture based on my own experiences in the Middle East, doing my best to add to his lecture, not weaken it.  After the lecture we fell to talking and I ended up staying longer than planned.

Jack took the time to look around the exhibit more thoroughly than normally allowed (he looked behind the displays and such) and reported back nothing we were looking for was here.  Mr. Stein asked what we were looking for and I admitted the sarcophagus of Solomon display.  He informed us it was in the Hall of Religion, which has better security than the Midway, where the Temple of Solomon display was located.  We exchanged contact information and he invited me to “break in on” his lectures any time.

Our plan from there was to pass through the Hall of Science, letting Riley investigate that location, while Jack and I made our way to the Hall of Religion.  That plan was delayed once we walked into the courtyard in front of the Hall of Science – there was a giant robot standing in the center of the courtyard, painted Army green.

The robot was obviously modeled on the one we fought in Svartalfheim (see Halls of the Mountain Kings for details).  Jack and I stopped in our tracks and started commenting on it.  Riley quickly realized we had seen one of these before and asked questions about it.  I answered his questions (mostly) however I wasn’t really paying attention to him but to the robot.  It was taller than the Iron Man of Svartalfheim and the head was different in shape and had a thick bundle of cables emerging from it that went over to a gas generator and control panel carried by an Army specialist standing to the side.  The three of us went over and talked to the young soldier.  After I accidentally indicated I knew more about the robot design than the engineer assigned to operate it, he and Riley fell to talking about it.  This was a prototype and wasn’t completely finished, hence the control panel and separate generator.

The Army fellow is now running the next demonstration for the crowd and Riley is watching how he controls it.  Part of me is very worried that this might be necessary knowledge.  That said, I’d rather not steal property of the United States Army from the center of the World’s Fair – I’m certain Miss Decker would very much consider that reason for termination of our employment contracts.

11:28 AM, Outside the Hall of Science
After the demonstration, we went into the Hall of Science (with Riley demanding he and I discuss the robot in detail this evening).  Just before we were to take our leave of Riley, Jack and I spotted a workman with a tattoo of the Black Sun on his arm step into a service door between two exhibits.  A Schattenkreis agent in the Hall of Science while a robot based on their stolen plans was on display outside the Hall was too much of a coincidence.  After a short discussion we went in pursuit, Riley tagging along behind us.

The door led to a service corridor behind the exhibit displays.  There were many people wearing the service uniform of the Fair going to and fro, but Jack and I spotted our quarry exit an exterior door down to the left.  We moved in pursuit, but were stopped by a service manager asking why we were there.  We explained we were AEC employees looking for the Solomon exhibit and were a bit lost – with all the witnesses, what more could we do?  He escorted us over to a wall map and took the time to explain how we could get to the Hall of Religion from there.  We thanked him and then exited the building through the door the Schattenkreis agent had exited.

This door led to a service bay for unloading…whatever needed to be unloaded.  We could no longer see the agent.  We could see a service truck slowly leaving the area, heading towards the Midway.  Jack has left to give chase while Riley and I wait here in case the agent merely ducked aside.  I’ve lost sight of Jack and the truck in the crowds.

UPDATE: Jack lost the truck in the Midway area.  We have no trail to follow, so we have to revert to our original plan.  This event is still ominous.

2:07 PM, Lagoon Theatre
We (Jack, Kurt, Bak Mu, Riley, and I) are sitting at a table in the Lagoon Theatre, waiting for the Solomon Company presentation to begin, so I’m updating my journal while I wait.  Kurt, of course, is drinking the free beer.  I’m pretending I didn’t notice Bak Mu pass his own beer coin to Kurt.

Our trip inside the Hall of Religion was somewhat chaotic due to the large crowds inside.  Lacking any signage indicating where the Solomon exhibit could be found, I had Riley give me a lift so I could see over the crowd.  There seemed to be a larger crowd in one direction and, deciding that the “actual” sarcophagus of King Solomon would be a big draw, we headed in that direction.

The crowd turned out to be for the Hall of Wonders inside the Hall of Religion.  A sign outside listing the “wonders” inside included the Tomb of Solomon.  There was a large crowd around a display in the entrance to the Hall of Wonders, so I worked my way in to see what was drawing the crowd.  I had feared it was the sarcophagus lid with the Key of Solomon ur language displayed, but my fears were unfounded – it was just the Antioch Chalice being touted as the Holy Grail.  Having recently held the chalice the myths are based on in my own hands a little over a month ago [see Big Trouble in San Francisco], I was overly, and verbally, dismissive of the Antioch Chalice, which drew the attention of a member of the crowd.  He started asking questions and I…I slipped into professor mode and started answering his questions (I kept to “official” history, avoiding any mention of the secret history I’ve learned while working for Adventure Earth).  Riley herded me along, but the man kept up and asked me what I knew about the displays as we went past them and I kept answering him.  (I skipped the part where we planted the Crystal Skull in the Mayan ruins in British Honduras.  Miss Mitchell-Hedges still does not know that her father paid us to plant it for her to find and she will not learn it from me, even indirectly.)

Once we arrived at the “Tomb of Solomon”, I will say I was impressed.  The Adventure Earth Company had created a very believable facsimile of the actual tomb, right down to the hieroglyphs on the pedestal.  The English translations were well done, but noticeably omitted that this was actually the tomb of Menelik, Solomon’s son by the Queen of Sheba, and not Solomon himself.  Showmanship at its finest.  To my eternal thanks, the sarcophagus lid was closed on the sarcophagus, the secret language hidden away.

The hanger-on from the Antioch Chalice was still with us and asking about the tomb, so I resumed answering his questions, which drew the attention of others in the crowd and I spent the better part of an hour and a half lecturing and answering questions.  During this time I occasionally noticed Jack taking pictures with a camera.  He’d been there when we discovered the tomb, so I knew he wasn’t taking pictures of the exhibit.  I eventually realized he was taking pictures of the people in the exhibit (which he later confirmed).

Eventually Riley, who had been paying attention to the time, herded me out of the Hall so we could make the Solomon Company demonstration.  When we arrived at the Lagoon Theatre there was already a long line.  We spotted Helen and Simone at the head of the line (they do tend to stand out).  The fact that they were at the head of the line was not surprising at all, but that Helen’s personal meeting was here was surprising.

Just inside the doors, those entering were given beer coins to redeem at the bar for the promised free beer.  Attendees were also asked if they wanted to join a mailing list to be kept up to date on the Solomon project, which is a building project in Arizona.  I choose not to give my name and address, but Kurt and Bak Mu did, so I should be able to keep up to date through them if it becomes necessary.

Speaking of Kurt, he arrived mostly on time and only slightly inebriated.  Apparently he roped himself into signing up for events at the rodeo – I mean “the ranch and farm exhibition” – after discovering his rival was already signed up for them.  Said rival then offered to buy lunch and drinks at the lunch break, probably knowing Kurt’s weakness to alcohol.  I’m not surprised that Kurt was distracted by this and am pleased it wasn’t just the opportunity to drink, but I’m still disappointed he failed to show at the meeting with Miss Decker.

The presentation is starting.  More later.

2:30 PM, Lagoon Theatre
Well, that was…interesting?  The Solomon Company is building a very tall building with residences, stores, offices, and other necessities like gardens inside of it.  The speaker, introduced as the Voice of Solomon, made numerous Biblical Tower of Babel references in his speech – a suspicious number of them.  To say the building is oddly shaped is an understatement – it is very tall and thin, built on the edge of a canyon, has a twist to it so the top is 45° off-set from the base, and the top is a tall, pointed pyramid with slightly concave surfaces.  Riley says there are so many things wrong with it as a building he doesn’t know where to start.  This leads me to think that maybe it isn’t a building but something else.  Kurt asked Riley if it could be spun and launched like a bullet, paralleling my own thinking.  Riley is still flabbergasted from the question.  I’m glad Kurt asked it.

There is a commotion outside – we’re going to investigate.

[The game session did not end at this point, but it also did not end at a point where Andrew could make another journal entry.  Therefore, the following happened, but Andrew won’t get a chance to actually write it down until sometime next session.]

(Shortly After)
The commotion outside was people screaming over by the Hall of Religion – screaming loud enough that we could hear them while inside a building over 2000 feet away.  Many people were milling about, so I climbed a lamp post to get a better view, looking towards the Hall of Science.  I was very concerned the Schattenkreis were stealing the Army robot, but from my new vantage point I could see the robot where it belonged and immobile.

Looking elsewhere, I could just see people in motion near the Hall of Religion, apparently fleeing the building.  As a group, we all started heading towards the Hall of Religion, Helen and Simone joining us again.  Kurt stole a bicycle and headed on with the rest of us following as best we could.

Once we cleared the Hall of Science we started facing people running in the opposite direction, away from the Hall of Religion.  The crowd was sticking to the promenade, so I circled to the left and ran along the edge of the South Lagoon, behind the exhibition buildings lining the lagoon.  This provided me with an excellent view of a storm materializing over Lake Michigan.  Not forming – materializing.

Then things got worse.

A giant copper-colored robot surfaced from the lake, directly under the storm.  It was nearly identical to the Iron Man of Svartalfheim, but larger, marking it as a new collaboration between the Dark Elves and the Schattenkreis.  And this time operating on US soil – this would not stand!  Also, the reports in the papers of missing cobalt beryllium copper and other exotic metals now made sense.

I had stopped running at this point, between the Christian Science Monitor building and the South Lagoon shore when Kurt rode back up.  His words were, “The Cat says we have to break the star and the lamps because the pointy-eared varmints are up to it again.”

By “The Cat” he meant Long Ears, the horse-sized black cat that assisted us in defeating the Dark Elves (who he was referring to when he said “pointy-eared varmints”) back in Svartalfheim.  I knew what he meant when he said the star – the Fair had touted the Arcturus Beacon, lit by the star itself and shaped like a star, sitting on top one of the support tower of the Sky Car.  I didn’t understand “the lamps” so I asked and he indicated decorative lamps of a particular style that were scattered all across the acres of fairgrounds.  I asked how many we had to destroy and he said “As many as we can.”  I don’t doubt it needs to be done, but it looking like random vandalism afterward concerns me.

Masks are going to be a necessity.

End of Session

[I'll have discussion of which dates were modified in-game for story purposes in a later post.]

Chapter 2 [Not Written Yet]


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Parks and Wrecks - Chapter 0: Dramatis Personae

Main Characters

Andrew Ezekial Crawley – red hair, blue eyes, average height, Andrew is a Ph.D. and teaches part time at Boston University.  He has worked on many archaeological digs over the past five years and has more field experience than most professional archaeologists.  Andrew has access to a secret language of power, but only minimal control.  So far.

Jack Thompson – tall, short blonde hair, safari clothes and boots, Jack is a Big Game Hunter and ex-French Foreign Legionnaire.  He excels at tracking and his quarry rarely escapes, man or beast – especially when he transforms into a mountain lion.

Kurt Morison – brown hair, tall and lanky, Kurt is the quintessential cowboy, from his beat up hat all the way down to his well-worn pair of boots.  He is quick with a gun and able to ride any beast that can support his weight.  He is also surprisingly adept and blending in and tailing people.

Simone Chevalier – a light skinned, blonde, blue-eyed bombshell pretty woman, always dressed most fashionably and her hair is never mussed.  Simone is a natural skeptic, having learned how charlatans and stage magicians performed their tricks at an early age.

Bak Mu Suzhen – a white-haired, grey-eyed Chinese man and ancient master of Bak Mei Kung Fu.

Helen A. V. B. Whitney – Medium height, red hair, green eyes, and always fashionably dressed.  Helen is one of the first women to graduate from Oxford, one of the first women to earn a Ph.D.  Her family is some of the oldest money in the United States and she has social contacts to spare.

Riley Burrell – a very good looking man with dark hair and rogue-ish smile.  He is a small legend in the aircraft industry and prides himself on his ability to drive or pilot any craft.


Supporting Cast
Colonel Yarborough – Owner of the Adventure Earth Company, the Colonel is apparently well-connected and has extensive resources at his command.  His company provides safaris and excursions to exotic parts of the globe for the wealthy, usually with a twist or a side-job for his employees.  He is rarely seen by the employees of his company, usually only on their first day with the company.

Amanda Decker – A young, shapely, blonde woman, she is Colonel Yarborough’s personal assistant, and employee’s main point of contact.  She also introduces the clients to the team that will be arranging whatever excursion the client is paying for.

Pamela – Secretary at the New York Office of Adventure Earth Company

The Chrysler Building – location of the New York Office of Adventure Earth Company

The Client
None – but this is a working vacation.

Chapter 1 [To Be Posted]

Monday, August 17, 2015

Shadowrun Skip Week

There's no session report this week as there was no game last week.  We took a week off to watch BIG HERO 6 and RED.  We watched Big Hero 6 as one of the players missed it the last time we showed it for those who missed it in the theater.  It is a very enjoyable movie and good superhero idea fodder, especially the city of San Fransokyo.

We watched Red as it is very relevant for Shadowrun inspiration and most of the group had not seen it.  I consider it part of my Gamer Geek Educational Series of movie showings.  I host one or two a year, taking a whole Saturday to show movies based on a theme and all relevant source material to gamer culture (and here I mean pen-and-paper RPG games).

Later this week I'll be posting a recap of the latest session of Pulp Hero game I'm in.  I used to post session reports for it on a couple different forums (Paizo and Fear the Boot) and then the GM didn't run for three years for valid reasons.  She resumed the game early this year, but I'm just now getting back into writing up session reports as in-character journal entries.  You can read an early one here: The Kilimanjaro Safari.  That adventure is relevant to the current one, Parks and Wrecks, and will explain the older characters' motivations.  [I'll make that a link once I have the blog posting up.]  Also, I usually make the names for the adventures as the GM doesn't always tell us what they are as they have clues in them, so if the adventure name seems corny - that's probably me, not her.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Shadowrun Report – Clean Up, Aisle Sin – Session 2

[This session happened on August 3rd and is the end of the run.  Read on for the odd happenings.]


Player Characters

Void – female human physical adept B&E specialist, a shadow that blends in easily
Bookie – male elf alcoholic hacker, favors whiskey with a whiskey chaser
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
Sin – male human rigger, knows exactly the wrong thing to say and says it


NPC’d Characters

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


Friday, January 10, 2076
Mid-Afternoon
The group started sorting through the data files Bookie and Coldpulse had lifted from the Knight Errant Forensics Lab.

Going through Detective Mannix’s notes, the first thing we found was a not saying: “Meet me at this chat room at 2:00 AM” and a Matrix address.  The timestamp implied it was added DURING the time Bookie and Coldpulse were stealing the file.  Paranoia levels were starting to run high at this point.

The group quickly worked out that Knight Errant's leading theory is that the incident at the Tacoma Ferry Terminal was somehow gang related.  The dwarf was shot by the person on the Boathouse roof, who also shot the person meeting with the dwarf.  They think the person meeting with the dwarf was able to shoot the sniper despite being seriously wounded and then escaped in a vehicle.  None of the security cameras at the ferry terminal covered any of the action nor which vehicle the third person left in as several vehicles left at that time and none of those have a wounded person driving.  They clearly have no idea Prometheus was involved.

Concerned that the sniper might have cybernetics that would allow a recording to be stored on him, the group shifted focus to the case file from the coroner’s office.  It was immediately clear (if you know what to look for) that the report has been altered, redacting the cybernetics listing and identity of the sniper.  Bookie checked the file and worked out that Detective Mannix himself had altered the file.  This suggested some level of corporate involvement, probably by Federated-Boeing, to avoid being publicly involved.

The file on the dwarf had also been tampered with.  The name listed was Donald Micsapper, and most of the rest of the data from his SIN has been deleted.  This was both disturbing and comforting – neither corporation involved wants to be linked to this and would rather it disappear as gang activity.  They have the pull to get evidence squashed and altered by the investigating detective.  This means they will probably not push Knight Errant to actually find Sin.  We hope.

The group started discussing options on how to eliminate the blood evidence.  It was quickly decided that the most certain method was to infiltrate the Forensics Office and do it ourselves and by “ourselves” we meant “Void would do it”.

Bookie hacked back into the system and retrieved a floorplan of the Forensics Office and secured access to the security camera system.  The offices close at 5:00 PM, so we decided to wait until 7:00 PM before breaking in.  Things would be quiet and the security guards would be settling to some serious slacking by then.

7:00 PM
Void, now invisible by way of a spell from Murdoc and with one of Sin’s Fly-Spies riding passenger, ran up a side wall of the Forensics Office and lightly jumped down into to fenced off back area of the building.  She picked the lock to enter the back door, with Bookie looping the video feed so the door opening by itself was never recorded.  Void then made her way into the evidence storage area (bypassing a guard walking the hallway).  The only trouble she faced was opening the mag-locks in order to bypass them – it had been so long since they had seen maintenance that they tended to make popping noises when the case was removed [which was the only reasonable explanation for the very low Sneaking checks Void made].

Once in the lab, Void found all of the blood evidence for Sin’s case and dumped it into a sink, along with any other vials that happened to be on the same sample rack.  She then poured ammonia down the drain with the blood and spritzed the inside of the vials themselves with ammonia.  Satisfied she had spoiled the DNA evidence, she then went about obscuring exactly which case she was interested in by swapping labels on a couple dozen vials.  She refilled the vials she had emptied with tap water and put them back.  [Life would suck for the lab technicians in the morning.]

After relocking the cabinets, Void exited the lab and attempted to leave out the back.  Unfortunately, three of the five guards on duty were loitering in the hallway here, chatting about sports.  Void would have to walk right among them to get by and she was not confident the invisibility spell would hold against that kind of direct observance.  Looking at the AR map of the building (provided by Bookie), she backed around a corner and debated attempting the front doors.  There was a guard at a desk there and he’d notice the door opening as she left, assuming the door was unlocked.  If the front doors were locked there was no way she could pick one without that being noticed and all five guards going alert.

Speaking of the fifth guard, at this point he walked in through the front door.  This indicated the door was unlocked, so Void started psyching herself up to boldly walk out through the front door.

Then the fifth guard shot the desk guard with a heavy pistol!

The rest of the Pleiades Group was watching the video feeds as Bookie was streaming them to the team.  This made everyone sit up.  Prometheus recognized non-lethal Stick-n-Shock ammunition being used and he relayed this to Void through Bookie.  The Fin then told Bookie to focus in on the fifth guard’s face.  She and Prometheus recognized him as a Mafia hitter (in fact, Prometheus had worked with him before and had his phone number).  Prometheus told Void to stay out of the guy’s way as he was not police.  Bookie asked if he should delete the close up video of the guy’s face and Prometheus said yes and please loop the data so he doesn’t appear while in the building.

The mob hitter (Rocko) made his way to where the guards were loitering in the back hallway.  He chatted at them as he approached and then shot them all with the Stick-n-Shock ammo.  Void then walked towards the front to exit the building.  Prometheus texted Rocko to let him know a friendly was leaving the building and that the video was being looped so Rocko would not appear on camera.  Rocko texted back “Thanks”.  Void walked out of the building, recovered her motorcycle, and drove away.

Saturday, January 11, 2076
2:00 AM
Bookie went to the chatroom the note in Detective Mannix's casefile had indicated.  Coldpulse was backing him up.  With paranoia running high, Bookie stealthed into the chatroom while running silent.  The only thing in the chatroom was an ARO sign saying, “That was a mistake.”  Its timestamp was right after Void exited the Forensics Lab.  Bookie immediately jacked out.

End of Session


[So, that wasn’t suspicious at all.]

[The players think that the ARO in the chatroom suggests that the other decker is corporate, not Knight Errant, but we don’t know who the decker might work for.  As this was the end of this run (by the other GM) and I’m running the next run, the PCs won’t find out for some time, if ever at all.]

[As I’ll be running the next run, I asked how much time the players want to scroll forward.  They were all interested in letting at least a month go by so they could heal/finish initiating/get restricted gear that was on order.  Therefore, the next run will occur on or after February 11th, 2076.  This works for me as well as the meta-plot with the 4th Corporate war will enter a new phase at the end of January when RiddleNetics starts counter-bidding against FHM’s acquisition of Aquamatics, a water filtration company with large contracts in the Middle East but suffering from inadequate funding to update and expand its facilities.  FHM, newly flush with cash, doesn’t like this at all - time to hire shadowrunners!]

[Also, there will be no game next week as we are taking a cultural break to watch Movies Gamers Should Know.  Most of the group hasn’t seen the movie RED, starting Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, Morgan Freeman, and John Malkovich, and really, it’s a movie about retired government shadowrunners so it should be required viewing for anyone playing a cyberpunk-style game.  After that we’ll watch Big Hero Six as one of the group hasn’t seen it and the rest of us are very willing to see it again - it's good fun!.  As a result, I’ll have to write up something else for the post on the 17th.  I think I still have a cheat sheet I haven't typed up yet, so that may be what gets posted.]


Session 1

Monday, August 3, 2015

Shadowrun Report – Clean Up, Aisle Sin – Session 1

[This session happened on July 27th and is the start of a new run.  This one looks to be a slow boil kind of run as opposed to the pell-mell nature of the previous one.  I expect complications to set in as we go along.]

Player Characters

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


NPC’d Characters

Murdoc – male elf kilt-wearing street mage, at home with the hobos
Killroy – male human street samurai, specializes in hand-to-hand combat (and apparently machineguns)


Friday, January 10, 2076
At 10:00 am, Prometheus received a call from his uncle (known as Zeus in the criminal underworld), asking if he (Prometheus) had done any work recently at the Tacoma Ferry Terminal.  Prometheus admitted he had escorting a friend there on Monday, “riding shotgun, as it were”.  Zeus warned that Knight Errant apparently had collected a large blood sample from the parking lot and was actively looking for the “donor”.  Prometheus thanked his uncle and then stated he needed to hang up as he had two calls to make.

First, Prometheus called Sin and warned him that Knight Errant had blood evidence from the ferry terminal and was looking for him.  At first Sin was not concerned as his DNA wasn’t in any system, but Prometheus reminded him that the blood would allow mages to locate him.  Then…Sin was concerned.  Sin stated he did not know what to do next and Prometheus told Sin that his next call was to The Fin, who should be able to put together a plan.

Prometheus’ next call was indeed to The Fin.  The Fin was…exasperated at the situation, but agreed that things needed to get done to save Sin or else the Pleiades Group would also be compromised.  The Fin decided that first she needed more data and the only way to get that was to hack Knight Errant’s Forensics Node.  She called Bookie and asked what he’d need to do the job.  Bookie was good on equipment, but what he really needed was another decker to back him up in case things went sour.  The Fin questioned Bookie extensively about exactly what he needed and where they might do a quick recruiting run.  After getting that information, The Fin posted AR ads in several decker hangouts, posing as a fixer brokering an immanent job for Mr. Johnson.  She received four responses and, after interviews with Bookie backing her up via commlink, she selected Coldpulse, a female dwarven decker with solid Matrix combat capabilities (something Bookie was severely lacking in).

Meanwhile, Prometheus did his own investigation of the situation by checking the news feeds for recent articles on the Tacoma Ferry Terminal.  He found: “Killer Hobo Strikes Again!”  The story reported that another important business man had been shot in the head with a high caliber weapon in a public place with witnesses reporting a hobo fleeing the scene.  The story had been locally big earlier in the week, but the reporters were now waiting for Knight Errant to feed them more of the story.  There was an artist's sketch of the hobo, but it didn't look like Sin at all.

Checking early reports, Prometheus was able to get the name of the detective investigating the scene (Detective Brett Mannix), which he forwarded to Bookie and The Fin.  Prometheus also noted that there was no mention at all of the sniper on the roof of the Boathouse and that Knight Errant was referring to Sin as “the suspect” and not a potential witness or victim.  Clearly there was corporate influence at work here.  Prometheus was also bothered that two unrelated shootings he happened to be at (read: was one of the shooters at) were being linked in the media.

Bookie and Coldpulse went to scout out the Knight Errant Forensics Node.  They were able to get in and look around with minimal difficulty [Coldpulse had to spend Edge to make it happen for her].  Inside they located Detective Mannix’s notes and copied them.  From the notes they got the case number and used that to track down the case data from Forensics.  They copied that data [after Coldpulse spotted a data bomb that Bookie missed] and then quietly exited the Matrix.

End of Session

[Coldpulse’s rolls were done by Void’s player, as Void was never called in to help with the situation.  I suspect we’ll need her once we find out what’s in the data files Bookie and Coldpulse copied.  The current plan is to destroy or hide the blood samples through bureaucratic shuffling, preferably destroying the blood.  That assumes all of it is still in the forensics lab.  We’ll also want to alter the data records so Knight Errant loses us.]

[We also want to find out which corporation(s) has taken interest in this and how big their stake is.  If they want some justice for their dead employees, we’ll need to find a patsy or other way to deflect them away from us in a serious way, which will be a run of its own.]

[As I said at the top, this run is going to be a slow boil kind of run.  It looks simple right now, but I have faith that my co-GM has something up his sleeve here.  We should find out in Session 2.  Murdoc’s player missed this session and we missed him greatly.  Hopefully he will make session 2 as we really need his knowledge – both character and player.]



Session 2 [Not Written Yet]


Thursday, July 30, 2015

Capitol City Neighborhood Descriptions

[This is a set of short descriptions of the districts in Capitol City, Maryland, fictional site of my superhero campaign.]

Bayside
Bayside is on the eastern side of Port Tobacco River, from where it widens into a bay south to Chapel Point State Park.  Bayside is the fancy retail district of the city, home of the Capitol City Yacht Club, and site to some of the most expensive high-rise apartments and condominiums in the city.  The district shares police with Riviera and these police consider themselves elite and privileged, which occasionally causes friction with police from other districts.

Brandywine
Bordered by Willis, Brickberg, Vale, and Monastery Hill, this neighborhood is the long-time home to the city's working poor and those working in the Medical Center.  Brandywine technically includes the Chinatown district, but the reality is that Chinatown operates independent of Brandywine.

A line of high-rise residential blocks along the border with Brickberg are informally known as Mudtown.  Unofficial city history claims these were built to block all sight of La Plata from the homes of the wealthy and powerful in Riviera.  Some rivalries die hard.

Brentland
Home to the middle and upper management of the docks plus employees of the Burgess Creek Power Plant.

Brickberg
This district is full of brick-covered brownstones, giving it its name.  Originally home to the working classes, this part of the city fell on hard times in the '60s.  The district is now slowly undergoing a revival, with urban renewal starting along the border with Bayside and moving east across the neighborhood.

Retail and property flipping dominates this district, with small technology-oriented start-ups seeded into the mix.  Restaurants and bars of varying quality are found throughout the district, from old school dives to high-end micro-brew establishments.

Chinatown
Originally on the far eastern fringe of town, Chinatown was home to the area's early Chinese population.  The area's population grew in the '40s and spread to the neighborhood's current borders before running into Brandywine.  Brandywine claims Chinatown is part of it, but the reality has always been very different.

Docks, East
The East Docks are home to the city's heavier shipping concerns and the approaches are dredged regularly.  This district has close ties to the manufacturing concerns in Willis and several links to the main rail line through the city.

Companies that ship goods up and down the Eastern Seaboard are headquartered here or have major offices here.  There are also some light manufacturing concerns in the district.

Docks, West
The West Docks contains the city's two shipyards, light freight docks and warehouses, and recreational launches.  Those not wealthy or well-connected enough to be part of the Capitol City Yacht Club belong to the Goose Creek Water Sports Club, which is based in the West Docks.

Coastal shipping, ship-making, warehousing, and the Goose Creek Water Sports Club keep the West Docks alive and humming during the day.  There is also a nautical-themed nightclub scene along the border with Brentland.

Downtown
Downtown has a hub of high-rise buildings centered on Rose Hill, where SABRE Tower is located,  and all of the city governmental offices nestled on the banks of Hoghole Run.

Banking, corporate headquarters, and insurance companies fill up the high-rise buildings.  There are many expensive apartment buildings and condominiums along with the retail infrastructure to support them.  There are also several 4-5 star hotels in this district.

Mcconchie
Mcconchie is home to the working lower class on the west side of the city.  Many residents work in West Docks or the infrastructure support jobs (read: janitorial services) in Downtown.

Monastery Hill
Monastery Hill is the district in Capitol City where all the really weird stuff seems to happen. The people who live there are insular, mostly of Eastern European stock, and keep many of their old beliefs and superstitions.

As the district is adjacent to University, students at the University of Southern Maryland seeking very cheap lodgings rent rooms along the western edge of this district.  Periodically, teenagers from Turkey Hill make their way into the northern fringe of this district, mostly looking for a place to eat and to annoy their parents (and, incidentally, the locals).

Morgan's Corner
Morgan's Corner is home to the upper middle class, with the majority of residents working as mid- to upper-management in Downtown, Museum Square (in Vale), or University.

Pomfret
Pomfret is mostly residential and home to a mix of lower middle class and upper lower class working at the airport or in the city.

Riley
Riley is a mix of residential and commercial use and home to many middle-class subdivisions.  The people who live here work in a variety of jobs across the city, making use of the subway system to get to and from work.  The William G Harding International Airport is adjacent to this district, but separate from it.

Riviera
Riviera is comprised of large estates and is home to the wealthiest and most influential people in the city.  Think of it as a very large gated community with its own bylaws and private security.

The only subway station in the neighborhood is also the headquarters of Riviera Security, the neighborhood security service.  Riviera Security mans the gated entrances to the neighborhood (including the subway station) and patrols the neighborhood in late-model electric automobiles that are quick and quiet (so they don't disturb the residents).

Turkey Hill
Turkey Hill is home to the middle class, including commuters to Downtown and University employees.  Teenagers here go into Monastery Hill to eat at the various ethnic restaurants, but usually just to annoy their parents.

The eastern edge of Turkey Hills is zoned as light industrial and contains several computer and electronics manufacturing plants, including those belonging to Futuretech Systems (sponsors of SABRE).  The western side is mostly residential with some commercial parks on the border with Pomfret.

University
The University District is where the University of Southern Maryland Main Campus is located, along with housing for the students and faculty, businesses supporting the campus and campus activities, and student-founded start-up businesses.

Vale
The area between Downtown, Morgan's Corner, Brandywine, and Brickberg, this mostly low-lying neighborhood is the long-time home to those working in downtown but not wealthy enough to live there.

A variety of businesses are found in Vale, including legal firms, detective agencies, the city power company, and most of the city's museums, found in the Museum Square hilly area adjacent to Morgan’s Corner.

Willis
Willis is home to the city's medium to heavy industry and a lot of the working poor on the east side of the city.  A strong anti-metahuman sentiment exists in this district.

Willis is the industrial manufacturing portion of Capitol City.  There are several railway spurs here, including a major one going into the East Docks district.  There are also processing and bottling facilities for a variety of products in the district.