Thursday, September 21, 2017

Novel Update

So a quick update because I haven't updated often enough.

I've heard back from the Atlas Games and they said I could publish my novel as fanfic with no problem, but they wanted a publication proposal if I was planning to publish for sales so they could work out a licensing deal.  That is not inconsequential.

So I've been putting together the proposal, which forced me to start getting much more specific about my publication plans.  I plan on sending my proposal in on Monday (September 25th) and then we'll see what they say.

In the meantime, this has lifted a huge writer's block off me and I'm pushing forward on the story.  Funny how having permission from the IP owners frees up those creative juices, isn't it?

That's it for now.


Thursday, August 31, 2017

Harvey

First, let me say that I was very fortunate in that Harvey was mostly a big rain storm that just wouldn't stop.  Houston is occasionally prone to events I call "The Week That It Rained," which are different than actual tropical cyclones.  These are heavy and long lasting rain events where, it rains for a week or more, usually flooding some part of the Houston or another.  For me, Harvey felt like one of those events - it rained a lot and was overcast for a week, but except for two small power outages (one for 30 minutes and one for 2 hours), I wasn't particularly in danger, nor was my property.  The area I live in only received 21 inches (53.3 cm), or about half a year of rain, over the four days Harvey threatened.

Not everyone was that lucky.

One of my friends lives in the (upside) vicinity of the Addicks Reservoir and faced mandatory evacuation Tuesday.  He's now in Austin at his brother-in-laws place with his wife and two kids.  My in-laws' neighborhood became an island, with all roads in flooded at some point.  This happened to several other friends as well, whose homes became islands as the streets flooded in their neighborhoods.  For some this was expected as it is how their neighborhood deals with heavy rains.  For others, this was the first time it ever happened.  Rainfall levels ranged from 30-50 inches (76-127 cm) over the four days of the storm, depending on where in the Houston area they live [I can't find the official map right now].

At this moment, no one I know personally had water in their home, but that may change as some were evacuated and haven't been back to check yet.  I attribute this statistical anomaly to the fact that most of my friends are long term Houston residents and researched what potential flood plain their home might be on before buying.  Most of us are on the 500+ year flood plain, which is as high as regulations require designating.  I suspect that might change in the next couple of years.

You might have seen pictures online showing flooded freeways with Downtown in the background [I can't find the image I've seen now and it's late enough I have to pack it in for work tomorrow].  One of my routes to work goes through that area.  It is clear now and I'm going in to the office tomorrow for the first time since Harvey approached the coast last Friday.  The biggest flooding was on the south-southwest-west sides of town and those parts of those areas will have water for up to two weeks or so as the rivers slowly empty.  Most of the bayous are already way down, with the notable exception of Buffalo Bayou, which is being fed by the release of waters from the Addicks and Barker reservoirs [to avoid complete failure of their retaining walls].

That's it for this week.  I hope to have something more game related for next week.

Later!

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

On the Edge CCG Game Day

This past weekend I held a On the Edge CCG game day at my place.  I supplied all the cards, folks just had to show up ready to learn a new game.  After various scheduling twists and turns I ended up with four people attending (including myself).

The first round was played using pre-built decks.  The decks were:

  • Mad Science! : a deck based on the Gladstein conspiracy supported by a Dog Face contingent, because all mad science should have monkeys involved (in this case, Attack Baboons).  The deck has plenty of Fringe gear and conditions to boost characters.
  • Hermetic Aries : a deck using the Hermetic magic-based conspiracy boosted by Aries gang muscle, because Hermetics have pull but are pretty weak by themselves.
  • Big Government : a deck pulling from the C&I, the DBI, and the CPC.  Pretty strong, but requires an additional Resource or two to get its characters out.
  • Beginners Deck : a deck based on the example deck in the OTE User’s Guide.  The base deck is weak and unable to win, so I tweaked it a bit – it is still the weakest of the four pre-built decks.  This is the deck I used in the teaching round.


The advantage of teaching with themed decks is that they work immediately (barring a bad shuffle).  They show the benefits of having characters and resources that support each other in play and reduce the number of duplicate characters, avoiding the need to discard characters due to uniqueness, which would be frustrating to new players.  I should also note that these decks were all ~40 cards each.

The first game ended with the Big Government deck winning after a slow start.  In hindsight, the slow start may have helped.  By the time the Big Government player was finally able to get characters in play, the other three players had beat each other’s’ conspiracies down.  This left the Big Government conspiracy in a position of strength, able to smackdown or resist the other conspiracies’ attacks.  It was a good game and everyone had fun, even though it ran long.

Once that game finished, I passed out decks and boosters from the Burger Box starter set.  This gave everyone a Standard starter deck, 2 Standard boosters, and 2 boosters each from the Arcana, Cut-Ups, and Shadows expansions.  This gave everyone a pool of 140 cards to build a deck with.  We did not trade between players before the first game, each player building their deck as a solo exercise.  As a result, all four of us had the Aries gang in our deck (they are common cards).  This produced some frustration for all of us during the second game, especially for those of us who were unable to get them in play quickly enough.

After the second game (first one with the self-built decks), we all re-tooled our decks to fix their deficiencies.  One player doubled down on the Aries gang.  Two of us jettisoned the Aries gang entirely and replaced them with different factions, borrowing cards from other players to make it happen.  I added in the Kergillian faction [aliens conspiring to take over the world with implants, ala Triffids] and the other player chose the Throckmorton faction as she had both the Throckmorton Device and Angela Reyes [a conspiracy based on sub-quantum interference in reality from the future by the Device making sure it is made so it can give control of the world to Clyde Throckmorton, currently a humble bug exterminator].  I’ve played using the Kergillians before, but I’ve never seen anyone field the Throckmortons before, so I was interested in seeing how that worked out.  The fourth player dropped the Hermetics from his deck and focused more on non-Hermetic Astral cards as he had few cards that supported the Hermetics specifically.  I should note he was playing with a 60-card deck to the 40-card decks the rest of us were using – it seemed to be no more or less effective than our decks.

The third game was quicker and ended once I was finally able to get my Kergillians in play, especially Fabrissa Melors, whose Surprise ability coupled with a Hostility Channeler allowed me to efficiently pop the heavy hitters and blockers the other players were fielding, exposing their pullers to easy attack.  My late start also meant that the other conspiracies were running on fumes after battering each other early.  I’m beginning to think that not doing anything but bringing out Resources for the first 4-5 turns may be a winning strategy in a 4-player game.

After a dinner break and a few more tweaks to the decks, we played a fourth game.  We were pretty even in Influence and felt we had time until the Throckmorton player brought out Angela Reyes and flipped her to bring out the Throckmorton Device in one turn.  The Throckmorton Device is a Resource that can generate Pull for Influence (victory points).  None of us had anything in our decks to go after resources, so all she had to do each turn was crank the Device for an Influence and wait until the inevitable happened.  Suddenly the table was on a count-down!  We thrashed and flailed, but, long-story-short, we were only able to stop each other from winning before she did.  After that game was over, anti-Resource cards were quietly slipped into the rest of our decks “for next time”.

After the fourth game, we started cleaning up and talking about what folks thought of the game.  Everyone enjoyed playing and we scheduled a repeat in October [I don’t want to have them too often to avoid burnout].  We also noticed that certain cards always showed up in our hands.  The Throckmorton player always seemed to draw Atavism: Ninja early from her deck and Rain of Walrus seemed to always be in my starting hand [I used it in games 2 and 4 to great effect].

I really liked the limited resource environment.  Players had to field what they could, not necessarily what they wanted.  At later events, my shoe boxes of cards will be available to pull from, so certain cards will likely disappear from play because there are better choices and that will be a little sad.  On the other hand, I’m able to play a CCG I really like again for the first time in over 20 years, so I have that going for me.  😊

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Personal Update

Two items of news:

  1. Have not heard back from Atlas Games on getting permission to write in their IP since the initial inquiry.  I'm hoping sending my draft as a writing sample was not a mistake.  I was up front that it was a draft and not a polished piece of work, but I still have a niggling worry about it.
  2. I was in the hospital for arrhythmia three days last week.
That second item is what I'm writing about here.

Tuesday night at 2:30 AM (so really early Wednesday morning) I awoke from a dream with my heart racing and occasionally pounding in my chest.  My wife was just coming to bed and I was wide awake, so I got up and sat on the living room couch, hoping my body would calm down and I could go back to sleep.  I dozed a bit, but at 5:00, my wife came out and asked if I was OK.

I really didn't know.

We talked a bit and tried a few things that are supposed to help fix an irregular heart beat and they didn't work.  At 6:30, we decided to get me to an urgent care facility.

[Note: not all urgent care facilities are open 24 hours a day.  Some only open at 9:00 AM, like the closest one to our house.  They are all over the place where I live, so I checked online with my phone for the next closest one that was affiliated with a hospital and went there.]

I checked in to the urgent care facility and they hooked me up to get readings from my heart.  I couldn't see the readouts, but the doctor and the nurses put on faces that outwardly said "You should keep calm as we can fix this," but inwardly said, "Holy Shit this looks serious."  Based on what they saw, my atria were "spazzing out" and firing randomly while my ventricles worked overtime to keep my blood circulating.

They started me on an IV drip and a bit later added another medicine, trying to get my heart back to a sinus rhythm [the "lub-dub" everyone is familiar with] and slow it down.  They also wheeled in a defibrillator and put two large patches on me, one over my heart and one under it on my back, "just in case".  As the saying goes, "Prepare for the worst, hope for the best."

Because of where the defibrillator sat at the foot of my bed/chair/seat thing, I could see my pulse rate readings.  They varied anywhere between 98 and 174, rapidly switching and hitting random numbers in between.  Occasionally, I'd get a solid thump or two in my chest.  I sent some texts to my family to let them know something was up.  My mom called back and we talked, but the nurses asked me to stop talking on the phone as it was negatively impacting my blood pressure and heart rate.

The ER doctor told me that. as I had not responded immediately to the IV drip, they were going to transfer me to the hospital.  Some short time later [I really have no idea how long], they arrived and hooked up a different set of electrodes to me [their equipment was not compatible to the urgent care facility's], asked me the standard set of questions [Any pain? Any shortness of breath? Any allergies? Any alcohol use? Any smoking? - all "no" by the way], and helped me switch over to their trolley.  [That's not the right word, but is how it felt.  I'm 6-foot tall and had to concentrate to keep my flip-flops from falling off.]

The ambulance ride wasn't special but beat walking - the guys did a good job keeping it low key.  I'm glad it was early morning as the A/C was not the strongest and the guy riding in back with me said the interior got way to hot in the afternoons.  When we got to the hospital, they wheeled me up to one room, but not my room.  My room number had been changed while they were coming to pick me up, so their paperwork was dated.  While one of the guys sorted it out with the nurses, the other guy printed out the current reading of my EKG as they rarely got to see someone in that stage - usually it was later when things went critical.  I'm was fine with being an educational experience and did not really think about the unstated part of what he said.

As an aside, I had no chest pain and was breathing fine.  Mostly, the situation was distracting.  My concentration was pretty short-term as every 10-20 seconds my heart would make a big thump or what felt like a gurgle, which is VERY distracting.

They sorted out my correct room number and took me up to the 7th floor, where I had a corner room.  They attached ANOTHER set of contact to me for their machine, which was a small pack that wirelessly transmitted the data to the monitoring station.  So with five contacts per monitoring device, I had 15 of the contact points stuck to me at this point.  They did take the defibrillator patches off, which was a good sign.

Once I was settled in, texts went out to friends and family and I started having visitors.  The docs upped my dosage of the IV drip and gave me shots of another drug through my IV connections.  [Yes, plural, as they stuck me on the back of both hands.  Did I mention I have a thing about needles?  I totally do.]  Most of Wednesday was chatting with friends and family while waiting for my heart to get its act together.  If it didn't, they'd have to a procedure to shock my heart into sinus rhythm.  I'd be unconscious as it would be very painful.  It was scheduled for 1:00 PM on Thursday.

Around 10:00 PM, the last person finally left (my mom) and I got some sleep.  When the nurses came in at 11:30 PM to take my blood pressure again [done every 4 hours], they told me my heart had slipped back into sinus rhythm.  Now they had to get my blood pressure down.  That took another two days before the medicines brought it down far enough the doctor would discharge me.

So after dinner on Friday, I got to leave and come home.  I'm on four medicines and need to make follow-up appointments with my primary doctor and the attending cardiologist.  I'll participate in a sleep study, as sleep apnea can trigger this and my diet now radically reduces the amount of sodium I can have.

Saturday morning it finally hit me how close I came to dying.  Writing this on Sunday is still hard.  I've had to pause several times to de-stress while writing this.  In fact, I'm stopping here for now.  I'll do an edit later - I just needed to get this written so I can think about other things.

Later!

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Nervous Part of Writing in Someone Else's IP

I've been working on a series of short stories recently.  More correctly, I've resumed writing on a series of short stories.  I wrote the first short story and half the second in 2009 as part of NaNoWriMo that year and set it aside when I got to a point where I didn't know where the plot went next.  It was a good writing experiment, starting with the characters and a setting and seeing where things went as I wrote, but around 32,000 words I lost plot focus and never came back to it.  In the intervening time, I wrote a full sci-fi novel [which needs a revision so it is a story and not a sequence of events] and I started writing this blog, which kept the writing juices flowing.

A friend of mine [who was also a reader on my sci-fi novel] reads a lot of material online that is sold through Amazon Prime Reading.  Last month, he asked when I was going to finish my novel as it was as good if not better than what he was reading there, even without revisions.  That was going to take some time [plus the source files died in a hard drive crash, so I'd have to rebuild it from a PDF], so I showed him the first chapter of my 2009 short story.  He liked it and had to share it with his wife who was curious what had him laughing so much.  Now he's clamoring for chapter 2, so I'm working on that because a series of short stories feels less daunting than a re-write of a full novel.

The tricksey part is that the short stories are set in someone else's IP [not Shadowrun, because I know someone will wonder].  Today I used their online system to ask "Hey, I'd like to do this cool thing that is set in your IP, how can I get this to happen without receiving a Cease and Desist or stripping out the cool background?"  Now I have to wait to see if they respond and if they respond with anything more than "No."  I'm hoping they'll at least ask to see a writing sample as I think I can make a case from that.  The writing is good, but some spots need to be tightened up/built out to smooth some plot points out.  We'll see.  In the mean time, I'm nervous.

The Shadowrun game is still running.  One of the players asked to take a crack at running and put together the current run.  She's piling on a ton of complications and we're pretty sure the Johnson lied to us about a few important things, but we are still a "Go!" for the mission.  I'm not certain how I'm going to write it up as there has been tons of planning, which is boring, but this is one of the toughest nuts we've had to crack.

Later!

Friday, June 2, 2017

Session Report – Woodchipper – Job Six: Ludovic’s Hell, Part 5

[This job happened March 21st, May 2nd, May 9th, May 23rd, June 6th, June 20th, June 27th, July 18th, July 25th, August 8th, and August 22nd.  This part covers events related to this run during (in-game) April 7th and 8th (and two weeks beyond), 2076.  This is the final part of this run and the end of the Woodchipper arc.]


PCs Involved
The Fin – female human con artist and gambler from India, by way of Russia, posh and elegant
Killroy – male human street samurai, specializes in hand-to-hand combat (and apparently machineguns)
Seul-ki – androgynous human from Korea, a laconic expert with swords
Bookie – male elf alcoholic hacker, favors whiskey with a whiskey chaser

NPC’d
Ash – male human car shaman/rigger, speaks in the third person and follows The Spirit of The Road


Tuesday, 7 April 2076
4:00 PM
Bookie, looking to use some of Vic’s expense account to cover a side project, used the backdoor he put into Vic’s commlink to access it.  He discovered that all of the attached corporate accounts were shut down.  Checking around on the commlink, Bookie realized it was active and so opened the feed so he could listen in.  He immediately started recording the conversation.

Vic was in the middle of an argument with his boss and a HR representative of Chaney Paragon Technology [Vic’s employer].  Vic is in the process of being fired due to misappropriation of funds [all the unexplained charges on his expense account, made by Bookie] and apparently prepping to be extracted to a company in Japan [the one-way ticket to Hiroshima and the funeral wreath sent to Vic’s boss saying “Sorry for your loss”, both also purchased by Bookie in Vic’s name].  The HR rep also brought up that, for someone supposedly being hunted by shadowrunners, he seems suspiciously alive after a dozen “attempts” on his life.  Vic really had no coherent response for any of the accusations other than “It’s not my fault” and “I’m not doing this”.  The conversation ended with Vic being fired and and the HR person advising him to not return to the office – the forms and his personal belongings would be mailed to him.

Laughing to himself, Bookie sent a copy of the conversation to Ash, Killroy, and Seul-ki.  He then opened a new bottle of whiskey and, after a celebratory drink or two, got back to what he’d been doing.


Wednesday, 8 April 2076
5:00 AM
Starting early, Seul-ki used the tracking device to locate Vic.  She was expecting him to either be in Bellevue or back at his apartment in Downtown.  Either area would have an elevated security presence, so she wanted time to plan her pass at Vic.  Instead of either of those places, she located him in the Sea Tac airport.

Seul-ki contacted Bookie and asked him to look through the security cameras and locate Vic.  If Bookie could determine why Vic was there, even better.  Bookie sleazed into the Sea-Tac security host, taking care to stay in the lower security portions of the host to delay being spotted.  He made use of the camera system’s facial recognition software to locate Vic in the JAL VIP Lounge, along with two bodyguards.  Vic was also obviously drunk.  Cross-referencing Vic’s SIN with the ticketing system for JAL, Bookie discovered that Vic had moved the date on the one-way ticket to Hiroshima forward one day and appeared ready to fly out this morning.  Bookie related this information back to Seul-ki and quietly jacked out.  Running hosts made him sweat.  And thirsty.  And, hey, here’s a bottle of good whiskey that isn’t entirely empty!

Seul-ki accessed the public information about the flight Vic would take in approximately three hours and then called Ash.  This was going to require some assistance to pull off.

7:55 AM
Ash pulled the delivery truck he was remotely driving to the side of the road to wait [physically, Ash was just under five kilometers to the northeast, just inside Tacoma and adjacent to the 518].  The road in question was a block from the perimeter fence to Sea-Tac.  The delivery truck had a padded “bumper” welded to the back of it, the kind used to avoid damaging a loading dock.  An experienced delivery man would have commented on how low the padding went and then shrugged it off as amateurs.

Inside the delivery truck, Seul-ki was attaching banner mounts to the rear frame of a high-speed motorcycle the two had stolen an hour ago.  Seul-ki would initially hold the long banner pole like a lance once she deployed from the truck, but would insert it into the banner mounts once on Sea-Tac property.  An additional package was stored in one of the motorcycle’s saddle bags.  Bookie monitored Vic’s movements inside the airport and the status of the JAL flight Vic was taking.  Finally, Sin had been called in and navigated a FlySpy drone through the airport and into Vic’s vicinity.  [That last would have taken a while to play out, so I just allowed it at the cost of an Edge.  Sin has the skills but it would have killed too much game time for a run his player was only incidentally involved in.]

8:00 AM
Bookie announced over the commlinks that Vic was in motion, heading to the gate for his flight.

8:10 AM
Bookie confirmed Vic was on the flight.  He also reported that Vic’s two bodyguards left him at the gate once he started boarding.

8:30 AM
Bookie announced that the plane was finally backing away from the gate.

8:35 AM
Bookie announced that the plane was taxiing to the end of the runway and was 4th in line to take off.

8:43 AM
Bookie announced that the plane was next to take off.  This launched Ash into action, if not motion.  He gunned the delivery truck’s engine and drove at the Sea-Tac perimeter at high speed.  Once close, he warned Seul-ki to hang on and whipped the truck around into a sliding reversal of direction [bootlegger reverse for players of Car Wars], using the left over momentum to bring the back of the truck right up to the concrete wall surrounding Sea-Tac.  He then backed up the truck until the “bumpers” contacted with the wall, the pressure triggers inside them detonating the over-sized breaching charges also concealed within the “bumpers”.

The breaching charges did their job and blasted a hole through the concrete security wall.  Ash triggered the auto-retract on the delivery trucks back door, exposing Seul-ki on the motorcycle to the newly blasted entrance to the Sea-Tac grounds.  Seul-ki started the motorcycle, revved its engine to the red line, and jumped it out of the truck, through the breach, and across the grounds towards the runway.  Once Ash was certain Seul-ki was out of the truck, he auto-closed the back door and set Grid Guide to drive the truck to Fort Lewis.  He then jumped out and let it go.

Back on the Sea-Tac grounds, Seul-ki stuck the banner pole in the banner mounts and sped towards the JAL flight Vic was on.  The pilot on that flight, alerted by the tower, throttled forward, and started take-off.  In the distance, security vehicles scrambled onto the tarmac by the same alarms, vectored towards Seul-ki, who was now driving the motorcycle parallel to the accelerating jumbo jet.

Inside the jet, Sin had placed his drone in a spot to observe Vic on the plane [Edge was spent to make it happen].  Some of the passengers in the cabin noticed the person on the motorcycle riding next to the plane and started talking about it.  Vic ignored them until Seul-ki unfurled the banner.  Painted on the banner in big block letters was the message:

VIC, SORRY FOR YOUR LOSSES!

When someone on the plane asked, “Who’s Vic?” Vic sat bolt upright and looked around.  He pushed another passenger out of the way to see out the window, just in time to see Seul-ki pull a 10 pound kettleball out of the saddlebag and fling it up and over her shoulder…

…and directly into the Number 4 engine intake!

Several things happened at once: 

  • Vic screamed in a high-pitched voice, “They found me!”;
  • Seul-ki peeled away from the jet before it sucked in the banner (and her along with it); and
  • The 10 pound kettleball pounded through the jet engine, shattering the turbine and killing the engine, which spat out blade fragments, smoke, and flames.

The jet was already past the go/no go point and starting to lift off, so the pilot pushed the remaining engines past their capacities for a little extra lift to avoid crashing immediately back to the ground and threw the control stick to the side to lean on engines 1 and 2.  Inside the passenger cabin people were screaming and trying to stay in their seats in the steeply tilting aircraft, none screaming louder or more hysterically than Vic.  Sin captured it on through his FlySpy.

Seul-ki had reversed course, driving the stolen motorcycle as fast as she could, aiming at the breach in the wall.  Behind her, every security vehicle the Metroplex Guard had available pursued her.  Outside the grounds, every Lone Star patrol vehicle in the area was scrambling to get to the west side of the airport to box “the terrorist” in.  [Due to this being an airport, no aerial drones were aloft per Federal Law.]

Seul-ki hit a convenient drainage ditch just right and caught enough air to pass through the breach in the wall [Edge was spent to make the roll and Seul-ki’s player rolled very well].  Seul-ki then called The Fin, asking for immediate passage out of the UCAS and back to Korea, no questions asked and leaving within the next 30 minutes.  When The Fin asked why, Seul-ki replied, “No questions!  Just get it paid for soonest and don’t check the news until it’s done!”  With a sinking feeling, The Fin made quick calls while Seul-ki dodged and avoided the closing Lone Star and Knight Errant patrol cars and drones, slowly heading north towards the docks.  [This is where the last of Seul-ki's Edge was spent.]

Meanwhile, the JAL jumbo jet was heading north-northwest and losing altitude, trailing smoke and flaming engine parts.  The pilot called a priority emergency landing on state highway 509.  Grid Guide [part of the emergency response network] immediately cleared the 509 of all automated traffic.  Those few vehicles being manually driven quickly noticed they were the only vehicles on the rapidly emptying road and followed suit.

As the jet approached the ground, the pilot struggled to level the craft some to avoid dragging the port wing and crashing into any of the buildings or tumbling the plane.  With a heroic effort [the GM used Edge for the NPC and rolled well in front of the players], the pilot was able to slam the plane down on its landing gear near the center of the highway and reversed its engines.  The wings immediately started clipping light poles and signage, either knocking them down or losing parts of the wings in the process, streaming jet fuel behind the craft.

After one overpass inspired hop, the plane came to a stop.  The pilot activated all emergency escape devices and ordered the passengers off the plane immediately.  Wisely, he did not mention the highly likely chance the plane was about to erupt into a huge fireball, preventing further panic and slowing escape even further.  [Sin flew his FlySpy out during the chaos.]  By a miracle, all the passengers were off the plane [and mostly under some cover] when the fuel finally ignited and exploded the plane.  The explosion was spectacular and caught on camera by every local news drone and VTOL in the city.

Before that footage was seen by the majority of the city, The Fin secured passage for Seul-ki out of the country on a cargo ship out in Puget Sound.  The Fin directed Seul-ki to a spot where Sin’s submarine was waiting.  Seul-ki ran the motorcycle into Elliot Bay and swam over to the waiting submarine.  Once she was inside and the sub was sealed up, Sin carefully drove it to the waiting cargo vessel.  On the side of the ship away from the city, Sin surfaced the submarine and Seul-ki hailed for permission to come aboard.  She ran up the side of the ship, rather than wait for them to throw down a line or a ladder.  Three weeks later she disembarked in Korea.

[Note: per the game system, water blocks a lot of signal (creates noise ratings at 1 per centimeter of salt water), so the submarine has an antennae up along the periscope.  Therefore, as long as the antennae tip is above the surface, a rigger can jump into the sub and control it through their RCC.  Sin was doing this.]

At the same time Seul-ki was throwing the kettleball into the jet engine, Ash was rapidly driving his car across Renton on the 169, heading for the border crossing.  He crossed into the Salish-Sidhe minutes before the border was sealed and kept driving away from the Metroplex, a column of black smoke rising in his rearview mirror.  At the next rest stop, he switched over to his Lakota ID and dry-swallowed a dose of Long Haul.  He then kept driving east, following the Spirit of the Road.


Thursday, 9 April 2076
1:00 PM
The Fin was in a back corner of the mostly empty Ferapont Tea in the Alki neighborhood of Downtown, waiting for the dwarf calling himself “Mr. Johnson” to arrive.  The Fin had left the message for the end-of-job contact yesterday afternoon, while the media blitz over the attack on the JAL flight was just getting started.  She had a small wager with herself that the dwarf wouldn’t show, but at 1:00 PM exactly he stepped into the teashop.

He walked directly over to The Fin’s table, attempting to hide the shakes in his knees.  “He knows the airplane crash is a result of what he paid for,” she thought to herself.  “Good.”  When he got to the table, before he could speak, she politely said to him, “Good afternoon, Mr. Johnson.  Thank you for meeting with me.  Please, have a seat.  Would you like some tea?”

“Uh, no.  No thank you,” he replied as he sat down.  “You indicated the work was done,” he asked hesitantly.

“Yes,” The Fin answered cool and politely.  She slid a disposable viewer across the table to the dwarf.  “If you would activate the file on this viewer, you will see the requested proof of completeness.”

The dwarf took the viewer and activated the file, cradling the viewer to himself so only he could see the display.  As the fearful images of Vic’s face started displaying, the dwarf’s face betrayed some satisfaction at Vic’s obvious fear.  As the images continued to scroll past and Vic’s fear deepened turned to terror, the dwarf’s face shifted to an expression of horrified fascination.  When the final images flashed and disappeared, the dwarf covered his mouth with one hand and quietly set the viewer down, his face a mixture of shame and fear at what he had caused.

“Are you satisfied we have completed the job to your satisfaction,” The Fin asked the dwarf with a gentle but firm voice.  The dwarf was clearly a civilian and had not realized what he had unleashed.  In his defense, The Fin had not realized how badly this job was going to spin out of control either and was scheduled to leave Seattle herself within two hours due to the amount of heat the final act of this job had generated.  The dwarf responded to her by nodding and sliding two silver credsticks across the table to her.

After verifying the contents of the credsticks and putting them away, The Fin spoke again.  “Mr. Johnson,” she asked in the same gentle but firm voice.  He looked at her, the fear and shame still in his eyes.  “A bit of free advice: if you ever consider hiring someone from the shadows again, be careful what you ask for and be more specific in what you want.”  The dwarf nodded, slowly at first and then more emphatically.  “I also recommend a strong drink in your near future.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I have other places to be.”  She then got up and left the dwarf sitting alone at the table.

~*~

Starting immediately after the plane crash and continuing over the next several days of intense news coverage, the corporations involved quickly started playing the Blame Game.  JAL blamed Sea-Tac for the incident and filed law suits against the airport management company and the Metroplex.  Sea-Tac claimed it was not their fault as the Metroplex guard allowed a terrorist to get onto the tarmac and attack the plane.  The Metroplex Guard claimed that exterior security was Lone Star’s responsibility and they were to blame for allowing the terrorists access to the exterior wall.  When the target of the attack was identified, Chaney Paragon Technologies was blamed by four corporations for not warning anyone he was the target of terrorists.

Chaney Paragon announced that Ludovic Areceneaux’s employment with them had been terminated the day before the attack on recommendation from Knight Errant, who advised them that the attacks were fake and merely a ploy to cover an illegal attempt to break contract and change employers.  Their PR flak also provided a complete list of events involving Vic, including recordings of Knight Errant representatives downplaying the seriousness of the events.  The media, smelling blood, quickly dug up videos of the listed events, spelling out the link between several recently infamous events.  When the witness statement from the street attack involving a custom assault rifle surfaced, the media tied these attacks to the attacks on the now-defunct Monkey Burger franchises earlier in the year.  JAL, Sea-Tac, the Metroplex Guard, Lone Star, and Chaney Paragon all filed large law suits against Knight Errant for allowing a cell of terrorists to run rampant in the city, questioning their competence.  As more information came to light, there were public calls to cancel Knight Errant’s security contract with the Metroplex.

To counteract all of this seriously damaging press, Knight Errant stripped every spare officer from cities across North America and shipped them to Seattle, massively upping the manpower available in the Metroplex.  Knight Errant then cancelled all leave in the Metroplex and started a massive crackdown on all crime in the city.  Any and every lead was followed, looking for the terrorists.  Anyone even vaguely suspected of criminal activity was arrested and hauled in.

For the next two weeks it was impossible to perform any shadowrunning in the Metroplex without Knight Errant piling all over it and arresting everyone.  The usual bribes were no good as Knight Errant was more concerned with saving its reputation rather than doing any kind of business.  The jails filled up and the court system became clogged to near immobility.  This period became known as The Heat, and every criminal and shadowrunner knew a friend or contact pinched by Knight Errant during this period.

Gradually, the extra Knight Errant personnel were returned to their home posts as crime rates everywhere else rose during The Heat.  The corporate lawsuits were gradually settled in the Corporate Court, with Knight Errant found responsible for three-quarters of the total damages and compensations from the plane attack and Lone Star and the UCAS (as the ultimate backers of the Metroplex Guard) splitting the remaining quarter between them.  Chaney Paragon was excused from paying reparations, but would have to eat the costs from all other events relating to the attacks on Ludovic Areceneaux.  Chaney Paragon considered the corporation to have gotten off lightly.

~*~

Knight Errant was never able to locate the “terrorists” who attacked Sea-Tac as those worthies were long gone and laying low far away from Seattle.

End of Run


[That wraps up the Woodchipper arc of runs.  The goal of Woodchipper was to throw as much work at The Fin as I could until she had to start turning jobs down or shuttling work to other fixers.  I got very close to this, but it made it difficult for me as the GM to keep track of things and I started missing meetings that were supposed to happen, and I could not ding the players for missing meetings I forgot about.]

[Additionally, this kind of overlapping series of runs made it difficult to stop so the other GM could take over, so I somewhat arbitrarily cut off the flow of jobs, so it will probably be the last time I run something like this.  Another run like Everybody Needs Somebody [http://bugbearsforbreakfast.blogspot.com/2015/06/shadowrun-report-everybody-needs.html], however is very likely.]

[It will be another two weeks before I post another blog entry due to my birthday and events surrounding that cutting into my writing time.  It will most likely be Monkey Burger 3, the next major run after Woodchipper.  Until then, Later!]


[Links will follow, out of time tonight.]

Friday, May 26, 2017

Session Report – Woodchipper – Job Six: Ludovic’s Hell, Part 4

[This job happened March 21st, May 2nd, May 9th, May 23rd, June 6th, June 20th, June 27th, July 18th, July 25th, August 8th, and August 22nd.  This part covers events related to this run during (in-game) April 7th, 2076.]

[I cheated during this part.  See the after notes.]

PCs Involved
The Fin – female human con artist and gambler from India, by way of Russia, posh and elegant
Killroy – male human street samurai, specializes in hand-to-hand combat (and apparently machineguns)
Seul-ki – androgynous human from Korea, a laconic expert with swords
Bookie – male elf alcoholic hacker, favors whiskey with a whiskey chaser

NPC’d
Ash – male human car shaman/rigger, speaks in the third person and follows The Spirit of The Road


Tuesday, April 7, 2076
Morning
Killroy spent some time tracking down Vic’s current hiding place, finally locating him on an estate in Bellevue.  Killroy spent another hour scouting the area, trying to avoid drawing the attention of Knight Errant or any of the private security working the area.  Killroy determined that this would be a standard sniper shot but for two things: an armored atmospheric dome covering the entire estate, protecting the grounds from acid rain, and a landscaped 12-m tall berm across the back of the 2-acre lot, blocking all line of sight to the back of the estate.

Stumped, Killroy went back to Downtown and conference-called Ash and Seul-ki to discuss options.  Eventually Bookie was added to the conversation and asked to provide a floorplan of the estate from the Metroplex Records Department.  Bookie traded paydata with his data contact Rick to get the plans and the trio poured over them.

The mansion had a plush saferoom on the second floor in the east wing of the building surrounded by bedrooms with armored walls.  The good news was that most of the back walls were bullet-resistant glass and it was possible to line up a shot through a doorway to target the saferoom walls directly – assuming one could hover seven meters off the ground in the backyard while ground security shot at you.

After some brainstorming, the most viable plan was to high-jack a Knight Errant VTOL gunship, fly it over to the estate, and use its firepower to blow through the dome and then the interior walls of the mansion.  [Yes, THAT was the most plausible and viable plan.]

1:25 PM
Bookie hacked into the flight computers of the three VTOLs Knight Errant had prepped for flight at the Kelsey Creek Rapid Response Station.  In two of them, he placed data bombs set to go off when the pilots attempted to access the flight systems.  In the third one, he copied the remote access codes and passwords and sent them to Ash and Killroy.  Ash entered the access code and password into his RCC and activated a connection with the VTOL.  The signal noise wasn’t too bad and Ash jumped into the VTOL.  He then started running an abbreviated activation and lift-off procedure.

Knight Errant Flight Control immediately noticed the unscheduled activity and dispatched a spider to regain control of the VTOL.  This is what Bookie had been waiting for and Bookie ambushed the spider, bricking the spiders deck and forcing  dump-shock on the spider.  This gave Ash the time he needed to rev the VTOL’s engines and take off, heading towards the estate Vic was hiding in.  The on-duty pilots for the other two VTOLs scrambled into their units, jacked in, and activated the flight systems, triggering the large data bombs Bookie had planted.  Unprepared for this, the pilots were knocked out by the Matrix blasts and dumped back into reality.

Unknown to Ash, a second spider was sent to reclaim the pirated VTOL.  Bookie and this spider got into a tagging contest in the Matrix.  Fairly evenly matched, they fought to land a tag on each other and to remove any tags the other landed before it could be exploited.  This took longer than either expected.  Finally, the spider bet heavy on landing a single tag on Bookie and stuck it.  Bookie tried to land enough tags to gain control over the spider’s deck and just barely failed [he was totally out of Edge by this point].  The spider hit Bookie with a Data Spike that bricked Bookie’s Excalibur and abruptly dumped Bookie from the Matrix.  The dump-shock left Bookie unconscious with some blood leaking from his nose, completely unable to warn Ash and Killroy.

Meanwhile, Ash brought the VTOL screaming into proximity with Killroy and hovering behind the target estate.  With the proper access code and password, Killroy used his smart-link to remotely access the VTOL’s weaponry.  [Due to range limitations, Killroy was parked nearby.  With the greater range available to a RCC, Ash was parked half a kilometer away, midway between the estate and the Kelsey Creek Rapid Response Station.]  Killroy switched the machine gun from the gel rounds hopper to the APDS rounds hopper and started blasting a hole in the atmospheric dome covering the estate.  Six seconds later and they were in.  [The dome had a high armor value but low body to represent they needed to be relatively light while providing protection from the weather and random bird strikes.]

Ash swung the VTOL around so Killroy could rake the windows that made up the back wall of the mansion with the machine gun.  The windows were tougher than the dome [easier to support the weight], so Ash placed the VTOL into the optimal place to shoot at the safe room and Killroy started drilling into the mansion with the machine gun.

After another nine seconds, Killroy could see into the safe room through the breach the APDS ammunition had blasted, neatly dividing the safe room area in half with the hail of bullets.  Not wanting to accidentally kill Vic, Killroy took the time to switch back to the gel round hopper for the machine gun.  During this brief pause in fire, a bodyguard hauled Vic from the closed side of the safe room to the side with the door, clearly looking to escape.

Killroy directed Ash to drift left so he could get another shot at Vic through the hallway the safe room door eventually led to.  Ash started to comply when he noticed the internal communications equipment in the VTOL suddenly activate on its own.  A Knight Errant spider had tracked down the stolen VTOL and was checking to see if anyone was in it.  Ash immediately flipped the VTOL on its back, killed the engine, and jumped out of it [to avoid dumpshock].  The VTOL, barely eight meters off the ground, crashed hard into an outdoor grill, releasing gas from the grill and fuel from the VTOL.  A random spark a few seconds later [due to the spider attempting to reactivate the unit to locate it] ignited the mixture with a theatrical fireball and explosion.  The resulting fire started rapidly filling the atmospheric shell with black, acrid smoke.

Killroy quickly drove away from the immediate vicinity, taking time to avoid being tailed.  Ash, much further away from the now smoke-filled dome, was able to be more casual about leaving, taking the time to stop for some fast food to share with Killroy back at the office.

~*~

[And this is the first point where I cheated - I hand-waved my characters pass at Vic.  See below for why.]

End of Part 4


[My character, Ash, was supposed to do the next pass on Vic, but in the Real World it was August and my severance package from getting laid off at the end of February was finished paying out and I hadn’t landed a new job yet, despite seriously looking since May.  Unemployment was paying half of what I’d been making and we were looking at needing to sell the house in a couple of months while we still had control and could get a good price for it.  So, yeah, I was feeling depression and I hand-waved Ash’s pass because I really couldn’t think creatively at this point.]

[Luckily for me, in mid-August I received an awesome job offer, working for a company I wanted to work for and for a salary I wanted.  I ended up only being on Unemployment for one month and with some reorganizing of the bills by the very capable Mrs. Bugbears for Breakfast, we made it through August alive.  Barely, but alive.]


The other jobs in this run are:

Overview
ZAT SIN Codes
Aquamatics Schematics
The Mendoza Hit
Yak Money
MoM Defense
Ludovic’s Hell - Part 1
Ludovic’s Hell - Part 2
Ludovic’s Hell - Part 3

Ludovic’s Hell - Part 5