Friday, April 20, 2018

Session Report – Code Name: Parrot T-Rex – Sessions 5 and 6


[Oops!  Our router died so I spent a weekend without internet access.  I typed this up but couldn't post it (I do all my writing in Word) and then forgot once the week started and the repair guy replaced our router.  Mea culpa!]

[These sessions happened June 19th and June 26th, 2017, and were run by the New GM.  After writing up Session 5, I saw how short it was and how short Session 6 would be, so I decided to combine them.]


PCs
Baelthor – male human mage with a loud mouth
Void – female night elf physical adept B&E specialist, a shadow that blends in easily
Killroy – male human street samurai, specializes in hand-to-hand combat (and apparently machineguns)
Sin – male human rigger, knows exactly the wrong thing to say and says it
Wren – male human that registers as an elf, no explanation as to why
Prometheus – male human street samurai, handy with any firearm

NPCs
Bookie – male elf alcoholic hacker, favors whiskey with a whiskey chaser
The Fin – female human con artist and gambler from India, by way of Russia, posh and elegant
Dai – male human fixer who operates in Cara’Sir, recommended by The Fin


June 30, 2076
7:23 AM
The team would spend the day establishing their cover story.  Bookie, as Dr. Reynold, called Dr. Valdi, the inside man in New Dawn Technologies, to meet for lunch.  The cover story for this meeting was that Reynold and Valdi were old college friends meeting to catch up.  Dr. Valdi picked a place off the New Dawn Technologies campus and agreed to me Bookie there at Noon.

Prometheus and Void took the list of significant Post-Awakening North American Elvish Architecture sites and started scouting them out for filming.  Two of these sites “happened” to be adjacent to the New Dawn Technologies campus, allowing for unobtrusive scouting of that site.  This led to the realization that the group was going to need another mage for the level of magical support that was needed.

Noon
Bookie met Dr. Valdi for lunch.  They spent some time “catching up” [actually explaining Bookie’s cover ID to Dr. Valdi], during which Bookie dropped the correct code words to indicate he was a safe contact.  After they ate, Bookie explained the team was in Cara’Sir and working out a plan for the extraction and Dr. Valdi should go about his business normally.  Dr. Valdi asked if Dr. Reynold would like a tour of the facilities and Bookie accepted.  He was wearing one of Sin’s FlySpies, so everything would be recorded and added to a virtual model the team could plan off of later.  The two of them went back to the New Dawn Technologies campus and Bookie received a tour of the interior as Dr. Valdi’s guest.

3:17 PM
Prometheus and Void returned to the Windsong Corporate Apartments.  Prometheus contacted The Fin and asked if she could recommend an available mage in Cara’Sir, preferably an elf of some sort.  She said she had “an elf of some sort” who would be perfect and arranged a meeting at one of the few barbeque joints in Cara’Sir.

4:30 PM
Bookie returned from his tour and relayed some of the security items Dr. Valdi had given him.  In the evenings, the main halls of the research building's first floors had basilisks wandering them, from 8:00 PM until 5:00 AM.  Each hall section was locked off and had a single trained basilisk wandering it.  Further, during the day 310 biodrones flew around the campus, disguised as part of the large bird population.  Finally, cockatrices roamed the campus at night.  This was far from good news.

5:23 PM
Prometheus and Void met Wren at the barbeque joint.  Wren was an elf…except he had round ears, round eyes, and…holy shit, he’s actually human!  Void later confided to Prometheus that Wren felt like an elf to her and if it wasn’t for her Shadowrunner attention to detail [read: paranoia], she wouldn’t have noticed he wasn’t.

Void outlined the rough edges of the job to Wren and asked if it was something he was interested in.  Wren said he was interested and they discussed what he could bring to the table.  His spell selection included infiltration spells, surveillance spells, and some offensive spells.  This was exactly the mix the team would need and so Wren was brought on board.

The trio headed over to the safe house at the Windsong and Wren was introduced to the rest of the team.  The details of the job were explained to him and the team started discussing their next steps.  The team decided more information was needed on New Dawn Technologies’ physical site security.  Ms. Johnson was contacted and a set of wireless video cameras and recording equipment were requested.  Ms. Johnson said she could get the equipment to the team by 9:00AM, which was good enough for the team.

July 1, 2076
9:00 AM
A set of all-weather, low-light capable, video cameras and a receiver set arrived at the apartment office from a local retailer.  Void went down and signed for it in Dr. Reynold’s name.  Sin did a quick check on the cameras and set them for encrypted transmission.  Void spent the next two hours deploying them in hidden locations with a clear view of the east end of the New Dawn Technologies campus.  Sin set them to record for the next 48 hours.

The team spent the next two days in character as their cover, driving all over the city investigating Post-Awakening North American Elvish Architecture sites.

July 3, 2076
Noon
After a morning filming Bookie pretend to be too drunk to record architecture lectures [very successfully I might add], the team returned to the safe house to review the recordings of the New Dawn Technologies campus.  What they learned wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t great, either.

The video confirmed that cockatrices roamed the campus at night, but they were confined to the perimeter by a series of fences.  Further, the biodrones were only active during the day.  At night they all returned to roost in hutches on the other side of the campus from the labs the teams was interested in.

One thing the video showed that Dr. Valdi had not mentioned were video drones on the rooftop perimeters of the buildings.  The drones moved back and forth along a guidewire all night, providing regular, but not total, video coverage of the grounds around each building.  On the plus side, they appeared to be wireless, so Bookie should be able to hack into them, but only one at a time.

This was going to take some serious planning.

End of Sessions

[There was much more to the discussion between Bookie and Dr. Valdi, but I wasn’t involved and didn’t get much in the way of notes because I was helping the new player finish up his character, Wren.  Wren’s player is a friend of mine from back when I ran a game store and was one of my employees until he went into IT for better money (retail doesn’t pay that well and I eventually followed that path as well).  His job recently transferred him to a site near where I live and my wife and I had a spare room, so he moved in with us and became available for the game.  (He is not the first roommate we’ve had and the amount he kicks in helps with bills.)]

[We started late for Session 6 and it was mostly an information dump by New GM, so a separate write-up would have been very short.  Therefore, I combined sessions 5 and 6.]



Session 7 (not yet written)
Session 8 (not yet written)
Session 9 (not yet written)
Session 10 (not yet written)
Session 11 (not yet written)
Session 12 (not yet written)
Session 13 (not yet written)
Session 14 (not yet written)


Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Session Report – Barrowmaze – Session 1

[I’ve had a hankering to run a fantasy campaign for a while.  I have an idea for a campaign set in the Holy Roman Empire around 1640, but the system I want to use is new to me: Adventure, Conqueror, King System.  It has been nearly a decade since the last time I even looked at a BECMI-based system and I never actually ran or played Basic D&D when it was being published.  I played ADVANCED Dungeons and Dragons, not BASIC.   As a result, while I’ve read the rules, I’m still learning them just slightly ahead of the players, most of whom started D&D with 3.0/3.5.  One player also played 1st edition, but, like me, hasn’t looked at the rules for decades.]

[So before I run my politics and adventure campaign, I’m running Barrowmaze as a warm-up.  I have the Labyrinth Lord version, which should need the least amount of translation to run under ACKS.  So far, it’s just AC changes (I think LL uses THAC0 while ACKS just adds monster AC to player To Hit for a target number on a d20), but monster selection has been limited so far.  I’ll need to spend a little time to prep ahead, but it shouldn’t be onerous.  I wish ACKS was in Hero Lab, it would make this easier.]

[One other note – I will be the only GM for this.  The Other GM might decide to run something else in ACKS later, but Barrowmaze is all me.]

[OK, two other notes - Barrowmaze write-ups will appear on Tuesdays, a week after the game happens, while the Shadowrun write-ups will appear on Thursdays until I catch up to where we switched games.  This will take about 20 more entries, including this Thursday's posting.  What happens after that depends on where I am in 4-5 months.  Meanwhile, the job hunt continues...]

PCs
Brock – male Dwarven Vaultguard, exploring Barrowmaze for the loot
Tripp – male human Thief, exploring Barrowmaze for the loot
Harkyn – gender fluid Elven Nightblade [yes, I said “elf” twice, 😉], also exploring Barrowmaze for the loot
Radagast – male human Mage, exploring Barrowm…you know the rest
Brother Thaddeus – male human Cleric, pillaging pagan tombs for the glory of St. Ygg! [Read: “exploring Barrowmaze for the loot”]

NPCs
Norman – male human guide, hired to lead the adventurers to Barrowmaze but not fight
[Generated using Meatshields!]


Monday, April 1, 23rd year of the reign of King Shurik the Nimble
In the village of Helix, a recently arrived group of adventurers [Brother Thaddeus is local, but met the rest on his return to town from being ordained in the Church of St. Ygg] are ready for adventure, but none of them knew exactly where the Barrowmaze was, other than “a half day south of Helix, in the marsh”.  Not wanting to get lost in the marshes, they decided to hire a guide from the Mercenary Guild.

While waiting to talk with Osen, the guildmaster, the group overheard another adventuring group, the Boon Companions, finalize their contract.  It became clear that the Boon Companions were paying an “adjusted” rate for their hirelings that was higher than normal.  The adventurers took this to mean the Boon Companions were weak and a small level of smack talk happened between the two groups as the Boon Companions left. [Rival adventuring group, established organically: Check!]

Tripp was able to bargain Osen down in cost an extra 10% in price.  The group hired a guide for only 4sp/day with a 5gp Death Benefit if the guide died while working with the group, death benefit as a deposit to be refunded at the end of the contract [Tripp happily fronted the money himself].  The good deal might have been because Osen recognized Brother Thaddeus as a fellow local and cut the group a deal [but was really because Osen rolled a 1 while Tripp was bargaining - not necessarily the rules as written, but I like to check to see how things go for NPCs in the negotiations].  Osen gossiped with the group some about the Boon Companions, who have a reputation for getting their hirelings killed a little too often, and then agreed to have Norman meet the group early at the Brazen Strumpet the next day.

Tuesday, April 2, 23rd year of the reign of King Shurik the Nimble
The group ate a breakfast of fruit, bread, and some nuts with a small beer to wash it down at the Brazen Strumpet.  Norman arrived on time about an hour after dawn, just as they were finishing.  After introductions, they headed south out of Helix, into the Barrowmoor.

Four hours or so later, a little after Noon, the group entered the slightly raised field that Barrowmaze was under.  There were dozens of barrow mounds scattered across the field, but even at mid-day, there was a mist on the field that obscured the far half or so of the field.  And it was quiet.  No bird song or insect noises could be heard, despite the surrounding marshes.  An overgrown pathway, lined with small stone cairns, led toward a large central mound, encircled with standing stones.

The group discussed with Norman how long they could stay and still make it back to Helix safely.  Norman suggested they had about 4-5 hours before thy needed to leave.  It would still be daylight when they left, but the area was known to be more dangerous once the sun set.  This seemed a prudent plan to the group.

Consulting a partial map of the nearer barrows they bought back in Helix [and I lifted from here], the group decided to apply The Left Hand Rule, and approached the first barrow on the left [Barrow #1 as it turned out].  Twenty noisy minutes later, Brock’s sledge hammer cracked open the stone slab sealing the barrow.  Descending into the single-roomed barrow, the group found two skeletons laid out on stone slabs.  Each had an amphorae and a bowl with gold coins.  Tripp scooped the handful of coins from each bowl into a sack, but left the amphorae until later.  They were very fragile and he had nothing to safely pack them in.  Brock scattered some soil on the steps down to the barrow so he could tell if someone entered the barrow while the group was looting a different barrow.

At this point the group took a rest.  Breaking into the barrow and thoroughly searching it had taken 50 minutes, so a rest was needed [ACKS rules require a 1 Turn rest after 5 Turns of dungeon activity].  During the rest, they worked out they could easily check another three barrows before needing to leave, possibly four if they were all single-chamber barrows like the first one.

After the rest, the group went over to the next barrow on the left [Barrow #2].  Brock spent another 20 minutes hammering away at the sealing slab of stone before cracking the barrow open.  [My random encounter die liked the players and again rolled no noise-generated encounters.]  Down in the barrow was a single chamber with a large stone sarcophagus.  Brock, Tripp, and Radagast used crowbars to pry the lid off and over, releasing the zombie within!  Brock and Tripp dropped their crowbars and drew weapons to attack, Tripp taking two points of damage for his troubles [the zombie rolled high for initiative and tied Tripp in initiative order].  Radagast tagged the zombie with a magic missile spell on his action.  Then Brother Thaddeus called upon the power of St. Ygg and compelled the zombie to flee.  The zombie fled to cower in a corner [the PCs were between it and the exit], while the adventurers pelted it with ranged attacks and quickly destroyed it.

Brother Thaddeus used his healing knowledge to place the sloppiest bandage on Tripp’s wound [he rolled terrible on his proficiency check].  It probably stopped the bleeding.  Amongst the treasure found, Radagast identified a magical ring of protection [+1] and the group unanimously agreed that the unarmored mage needed it the most.

Back up on the surface, the group took an early rest and then headed over to the next barrow mound [#3 for those following along at home].  This barrow had clearly been looted already, but out of habit, the group searched anyways and found a gold ring missed by the previous looters.  The adventurers were confused as to why the ring had been missed, but accepted their good fortune and headed on to the next barrow, ahead of schedule.  There was some discussion of when the Boon Companions might arrive and the group estimated they had another hour or so alone here at the site.  [This wasn’t accurate, but the PCs didn’t know that.]

Brock hammered away at the slab sealing this barrow until it was broken.  The group entered the barrow, leaving Norman and Harkyn at the surface as lookouts in what was quickly becoming a standard operating procedure.  Just as Brock, Tripp, and Radagast started searching the single chamber, Norman and Harkyn came running down the stairs, saying a patrol of six skeletons, apparently attracted by the noise, was right behind them!

The adventurers took defensive positions with Brock at the base of the stairs to bottle up the skeletons, backed by Brother Thaddeus.  The rest took cover behind the single stone sarcophagus, bows and spells at the ready.  When the skeletons came down the stairs, they were limited to two at a time.  The group concentrated attacks on the first skeleton, destroying it, then Brother Thaddeus once again called down the power of St. Ygg and compelled the skeletons to flee.

This gave the adventurers just enough time to search and loot the barrow, taking some bottles of antique perfume, and then hoof it to the next barrow.  This barrow was off the edge of their map, but close enough to get to and set up with ranged weapons.  As the skeleton patrol marched back to the recently abandoned barrow, Tripp started plinking them with arrows.  The patrol turned and marched at the adventurers, but with 100 feet of clear space to attack the patrol from range, the adventurers destroyed all of the skeletons before the skeletons could close for melee.

The adventurers rested a bit and retrieved what arrows and darts they could.  [I could not find rules for this in ACKS, so I improvised a 50% chance of recovery.  Anything rolling over 50 on the percentile dice was unusable or lost, the higher the result the less useful and more likely completely lost the missile.]  Tripp retrieved about half of his arrows, but Radagast lost both darts he had thrown.

After breaking into the barrow under their feet, they discovered this barrow had more than one chamber.  The main chamber had twenty alcoves carved into the walls with a stone door to the left and the right, plus an iron statue straight ahead.  Starting to run low on time for the day’s exploration, the group held off examining the alcoves and instead forced open the door on the left.  The door led to a room with well over 100 alcoves carved into the walls.  Calling in Harkyn, the group started searching all the alcoves in this room and the first room.  With all five adventurers searching, it took 40 minutes to find all the loot in these two rooms, including: a pouch with some platinum pieces in it, an electrum goblet, some holy writs, 200 in loose electrum pieces, and a dagger of throwing [+1 and returns to the hand of the thrower after being thrown].

It was now about two hours or so before sunset and Norman strongly suggested it was time to go, before really dangerous things rose.  The group agreed.  Brock spread out some soil on the steps for evidence anyone else entered the barrow while the adventurers were gone [there was still that door to the right to open and they wanted to investigate the statue more].

The group walked back over to the first barrow to pick up the amphorae they had left behind.  In the eerie silence of the field, they noticed that they did not hear the sound of any other adventurers hammering their way into any of the barrows.  They made note of this, but were now in a hurry to leave before it got dark.  They found the first barrow undisturbed and retrieved the two amphorae there.  Then they headed north, back into the Barrowmoor and to Helix.

The group arrived back in Helix two hours after sundown, having lit their way with torches and Tripp’s lantern.  They bought drinks and a fine meal at the Brazen Strumpet to celebrate their first foray and good fortune.  [I should have rolled for an encounter on their way back, but forgot to do so.  I've made a note for next session to do that.]

Wednesday, April 3, 23rd year of the reign of King Shurik the Nimble
The group sold off most of the items they retrieved from the barrows the previous day, which took some time, and split the proceeds.  [It was getting late, so we just glossed over this part and awarded XP.  Next time I may make them role-play it out more.]  Tripp also spent the day resting and healing up from his zombie wound.

End of Session


[Observation about Barrowmaze as a product:  It could use a once over by a professional copy editor.  The organization is good in general, but falls down in a few places.  Two examples: 

  1. In the gazetteer portion on Ironguard Motte, it says “Ironguard Motte offers all the services available in Helix in addition to…”.  This would be fine if Helix had been described already, but the section on Helix is AFTER the section on Ironguard Motte.  This is a document flow issue – good flow helps the reader, irregular flow can leave the reader wondering what they’re missing.  
  2. Travel from Helix to Barrowmaze is in a south-southwest direction.  The map of the field containing Barrowmaze assumes the adventurers start in the southwest corner.  For this to happen, the adventurers would need to circle around the field for no good reason and approach from the opposite side.  Adventurers from Helix would much more likely arrive on the north-northeast edge of the map, which would have them stumble onto something they should NOT find until much later.  SPOILERS.  This is a gaffe from not comparing the two maps together and verifying which direction the PCs will arrive from.

A professional copy editor would have caught both of those and similar issues and either fixed them or marked them for the writer to address (and then verified they got fixed in the next edit).]

[Incidentally, 1) could easily be fixed by putting the Helix section first or listing out the services, and 2) could have been fixed by reversing the direction of the compass rose (and checking the text to reverse any cardinal directions mentioned in descriptions) or rotating the map 180 degrees and flipping the labels right-side up (then checking the text for cardinal directions and reversing them).]

[This is a relatively small issue, but it makes some use of the material more difficult than necessary and runs throughout the document.  Page number references in the text for tables that appear in the back of the book (200 pages later) would have been very helpful as well.  Numbering the tables is helpful, but if the reader doesn’t know where those tables are, it’s not as helpful as you’d hope.  Also, bookmarks in the PDF for at least the basic chapter headings and major subsections would be a god-send.]

[All that said, the content is good so far and I’m excited to keep running it.  It has a good balance between complexity and ease of use I need.  I don’t feel I need to spend days working out what happens next and how the giant complex set of machinery moves between sessions.  It really hits that sweet spot.  I also like some other behind the scenes things it details out, but my players read this blog, so SPOILERS.  I’ll talk about them in later blogs, once the players are aware of them.]

[Oh!  But the rival adventuring parties are an excellent feature.  The PCs have already met the Boon Companions and started talking smack about them.  I plan on having fun with that.  Heh. Heh. Heh.]


Session 2 [Not yet written]

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Session Report – Code Name: Parrot T-Rex – Session 4

[This session happened May 29th, 2017, and was run by the New GM.]

PCs
Void – female night elf physical adept B&E specialist, a shadow that blends in easily
Sin – male human rigger, knows exactly the wrong thing to say and says it
Prometheus – male human street samurai, handy with any firearm
Baelthor – male human mage with a loud mouth
Killroy – male human street samurai, specializes in hand-to-hand combat (and apparently machineguns)

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


June 29, 2076
[NOTE: A correction to the last set of session notes – Killroy was travelling as a bodyguard, not as a grad student.  My error.]

The team arrived at the Seattle train station to take the bullet train to Cara’Sir in Tir Tairngire.  [Yes, I know the bullet train officially does not have any stops between Seattle and San Francisco.  Here it does.]  The team was carrying their new false IDs and nothing that couldn’t be excused with a license.  Except Prometheus, who had a couple modifications that were patently illegal, notably his Dynamic Handprints.  Everything else was packed away in Sin’s GMC Bulldog, which was smuggled across the border the previous night and should be waiting in Cara’Sir already.

The ride to Cara’Sir was barely 15 minutes in length.  Paranoia spiked amongst the player characters at Customs.  It was observed that the entire set of Customs personnel was replaced just before the PCs got to the front of the line.  When Customs wanted to shuttle the Awakened player characters [Baelthor and Void] to a separate room for magical scanning, Killroy insisted, as their bodyguard, he go with them.  This caused a snarl until the Customs supervisor OK’d it.  The three were led to a side room, given a cursory scan by a Customs mage, and then sent on.

The other spot of trouble was with Prometheus, who declared his “medical augments” and then provided licenses for the most obvious ones.  The Customs agent asked why he needed Orthoskin, bone lacing, and muscle replacement.  Prometheus simply replied, “I’m a bodyguard.  Those are the result of occupational hazards.”  The agent was non-plussed at the response, but decided to reluctantly accept the response and let Prometheus pass.  [We’re pretty certain that Ms. Johnson was to thank for the relatively easy time we had getting through Customs.  This made us even more paranoid about her intentions.]

Once through Customs, the team hired a taxi to take them to Bertucci’s, the only Italian place in Cara’Sir.  The Fin had arranged for a local fixer she knew to meet them there.  At Bertucci’s, the team was escorted to a reserved table where this gentleman was waiting:

[Image borrowed from the Internet]

He introduced himself as Dai, their local facilitator.  Prometheus asked for an update on the competing teams and Dai promised he would get that to Prometheus by the end of the day.  The team then ate while Dai provided them with an overview of how things were in Cara’Sir.

After the meal, the group headed to the east side of Cara’Sir, to the Windsong Corporate Apartments.  “Dr. Rithrandir” [Bookie] had a suite of rooms reserved as the team’s base of operations for the filming project.  The suite was on the 4th floor and conveniently had a view of the New Dawn Technologies campus, about a mile away.  Bookie immediately set to scanning the suite for listening devices while Baelthor started assensing for any kind of spirits or magic.  Both came up empty.

While waiting for the suite to be cleared, Sin found a comfortable chair and went looking for his Bulldog via his RCC.  He located it in a parking lot near the Columbia River.  Sin jumped in it and activated the sensor rig.  No one was inside it or in the immediate vicinity, so he started it up and drove it out of the parking lot.  Still a bit paranoid, he parked it in a different lot a couple miles away from the Windsong Apartments and jacked out.  He then had Dai drive him over to Bulldog and scanned it for bugs.  He found three he had not planted himself.

Sin then hooked into his own bugs and checked the recorded video.  He found recordings of the smugglers looking around inside the Bulldog and finding one of the smuggling compartments inside it.  Rather than take anything, they decided to plant bugs and see who they might be able to blackmail.  Sin contacted Bookie and explained the situation.  Bookie jacked into the Matrix and scoped out the bugs there.  The bugs were low-grade, so he hacked them [disabling a data bomb in one of them] and programmed them to send a fixed image of the interior with lighting changes for the time of day and the weather.  Bookie then followed the bugs’ transmit signal to a location on Hayden Island where the smugglers were based.  Bookie sleazed into their security system and set up a back door for later use.

While Bookie was doing that, Sin cleared the bugs from the Bulldog and drove it over to the Windsong Apartments.  He and Killroy then moved the team’s extra-legal gear out of the Bulldog and into the apartment suite.

End of Session

[This session took more time to cover less material than the New GM expected, mostly due to player paranoia.  That said, we achieved getting to the job site and set up, feeling mostly secure.]


Session 1
Sessions 2 and 3

Sessions 5 and 6
Session 7 (not yet written)
Session 8 (not yet written)
Session 9 (not yet written)
Session 10 (not yet written)
Session 11 (not yet written)
Session 12 (not yet written)
Session 13 (not yet written)
Session 14 (not yet written)

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Session Report – Code Name: Parrot T-Rex – Sessions 2 and 3

[These sessions happened May 15th and May 22nd, 2017, and were run by the New GM.  They were primarily planning sessions, so I’m combining them into one session report.]

PCs
Void – female night elf physical adept B&E specialist, a shadow that blends in easily
Sin – male human rigger, knows exactly the wrong thing to say and says it
Prometheus – male human street samurai, handy with any firearm
Baelthor – male human mage with a loud mouth
Killroy – male human street samurai, specializes in hand-to-hand combat (and apparently machineguns)

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


June 21-28, 2076

As the team would be scouting out locations in Cara’Sir and was primarily human, a cover story was necessary, one that would put the only two elves in the Pleiades Group (Bookie and Void) in charge.  Neither spoke Sperethiel, Void was actually a night elf [with blue fur and everything], and Bookie was a drunken decker with almost no people skills, so some coaching was in order once the cover story was worked out.

After a brainstorming session, the team settled on an academic cover story.  The team would pose as architecture students traveling on a university field trip to study Post-Awakening North American Elvish Architecture with the goal to record a lecture series for the University.  Bookie would be posing as the tenured professor who was a hot mess (small stretch for Bookie) and Void as his beleaguered graduate student Teaching Assistant who had to do all the hard work and make apologies for the professor’s faux pas.  Sin would be a film student serving as a cheap AV person, recording the “lectures” using camera drones.  Killroy and Baelthor would pose as grad students assisting the professor and Prometheus would be the university appointed bodyguard for the entire group (playing to Prometheus’ limited repertoire).

With a believable cover story, work went into planning the necessary support and training.  The Fin provided a crash course in Sperethiel to Void and Bookie, focusing on collegiate and architecture terms [taught to Rank 3].  False IDs were requested of Ms. Johnson with specific academic backgrounds.  Bribes were paid to the Administrars Office of the University of Washington to list the false IDs as students and faculty for the next month, at which point the IDs would disappear from the system.  The IDs broke down as follows:

  • Bookie – Dr. Reynold Rithrandir, Professor in the School of Architecture
  • Void – Feyre Orman, Teaching Assistant in the School of Architecture
  • Baelthor – Jeff Summers, Architecture grad student
  • Killroy – Neal Schon, Architecture grad student
  • Sin – Rando Parker, Cinema and Media Studies student
  • Prometheus – Argus Mori, professional bodyguard (with licenses)

Sin put together two sets of vehicle requests.  The first was to have his GMC Bulldog smuggled into Cara’Sir to avoid any customs questions regarding the highly illegal modifications made to it [not to mention the two Steel Lynx combat drones stored within].  The second was to have modified Dodge Rhino available and ready in Prague for the second job.  Prometheus tacked on a request for 10 additional AV missiles for his Aztechnology Striker.  Neither expected to get everything they asked for, but it never hurt to ask.  Additional gear requests were compiled and submitted to give Ms. Johnson time to get everything in place.

Bookie did some matrix research on modern architecture in Cara’Sir so the team would have a believable itinerary of buildings to “scout” and then view for the “class recordings.”  He and Void went over these and made notes of points they needed to be able to talk about on each building, in Sperethiel.  The entire team went over maps of Cara’Sir and the Check Republic to plan travel routes and counter-measures.  When maps of the New Dawn Technologies campus became available, those were gone over for infiltration routes.  These maps listed cockatrices and basilisks as part of the living security at night, plus a large flock of modified crows wired for sight and sound and plugged in to corporate security.  Joy.

It was quickly decided that the paragoose was going to be more trouble than it was worth, and dangerous as well.  It was immediately dropped from the To Do list for the job.

Near the end of this period, paranoia started settling in.  All communication with the target was being handled by her assistant, Dr. Valdi, and we only had his word she wanted to leave.  It was possible Dr. Valdi wanted to leave but could only arrange an extraction if Dr. O’Seahnasaigh was the primary.  Some research uncovered that Dr. O’Seahnasaigh was directly related to the ownership of New Dawn Technologies, but the only non-elf, which led to questions about her motivations and if she actually had any.  The hellhound dachshunds were going to be an issue and carefully calibrated NeuroStun dosages would be important to avoid accidentally killing any of them.  Considering the amount of support Ms. Johnson was supplying, the team gave hard thought to what she might not be telling them and what kind of nasty surprises they were likely to face.

By June 28th, all planning that could be done was done.  All equipment requests were in, the false IDs were available, and Bookie and Void were as crammed full of Sperethiel as their brains would allow.  The next day the team would board the train to Cara’Sir.

End of Session

[We did a lot of talking over these two sessions.  We worked out plans on how to get in, how to get out, what to do if the job was a setup, what to do if Dr. O’Seahnasaigh had no idea she was going to be extracted, and thoughts on the delivery job.  We decided that we were going to do the job whether or not Dr. O’Seahnasaigh was in the know.  We modified our plans so it didn’t matter if she wanted to go or not, limiting our exposure.  We eventually reached a point where we needed to stop and wait until we were on site and could get actual eyes on before we could finalize our plans.]


Session 1

Session 4
Sessions 5 and 6
Session 7 (not yet written)
Session 8 (not yet written)
Session 9 (not yet written)
Session 10 (not yet written)
Session 11 (not yet written)
Session 12 (not yet written)
Session 13 (not yet written)
Session 14 (not yet written)

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Session Report – Code Name: Parrot T-Rex – Session 1

[This session happened April 24th, 2017, and features a new GM, The Fin’s player.  She had an idea for a run and neither I nor the Other GM had a strong desire to run next, so voila! New GM.]

[It took us a session or two to name this run, so if the name does not make sense to you, wait a couple of sessions and hopefully you’ll see why we named it this.  Incidentally, the names listed for the runs are not always the name the GM running it titled it (except mine, because tyranny of the keyboard and such), but the name the players came up with to refer to the run.  So the name of this run is NOT what New GM called it but what I called it while taking notes during the game.  Blame me if you don’t like the name – I’m not going to change it, but at least you will be complaining to the correct person.]

PCs
Void – female night elf physical adept B&E specialist, a shadow that blends in easily
Sin – male human rigger, knows exactly the wrong thing to say and says it
Killroy – male human street samurai, specializes in hand-to-hand combat (and apparently machineguns)
Prometheus – male human street samurai, handy with any firearm

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


Wednesday, June 17, 2076
Void was contacted by Mr. Wo, her sponsor to The Ascended Lodge.  Word had come to him of a job The Ascended Lodge would like to see accomplished.  The Masters had discussed the issue and decided that Void and her…associates would represent the Lodge in this matter.  Void accepted this assignment and was told to meet Ms. Johnson on the 20th.  [The time and location data is shamefully missing from my notes, but particulars were actually given.]

Void contacted The Fin and told The Fin that there was a job offer for the Pleiades Group, with a meeting scheduled on the 20th.  Void also explained that she personally would like this job to happen, would The Fin handle negotiations?  The Fin agreed and received the meeting particulars.  She also sent out an alert to the Pleiades membership that a job was on tap and for members to report their availability starting the 20th.

Saturday, June 20, 2076
The Fin, with Void and Killroy physically and the rest of the Pleiades Group watching via Fly-Spy, met Ms. Johnson.  Ms. Johnson is a short human woman with tall pretty-boy bodyguards, whom she mostly ignores.  There is minimal small talk and Ms. Johnson outlines the job basics:

  • The first job is an extraction job in Tir Tairngire, requiring the extraction of a doctor and her 8 “family members” [pets] from a research facility, plus the acquisition of all the project data files and taking biosamples from the research animals.  The team is to destroy the lab on the way out.  Bonus objectives include extracting the lab assistant and grabbing a specific unique creature.  Support for the job included transportation into Tir Tairngire, along with false passports and visas.  Delivery was to the local airport and pay was 300,000¥ plus 50,000¥ for each bonus objective.  The team could take up to two weeks to perform the job from a certain date.
  • The second job was optional, but was to escort and deliver the target to a facility on a different continent.  Air travel and additional equipment would supplied at the receiving airport for a land transport phase measured in hours.  Pay for this job was 250,000¥ and could take up to an additional week as long as it was successful.

If the Pleiades Group accepted the job or jobs, additional details would be provided as necessary.

The Fin started negotiating for better pay based on the first job actually being multiple jobs rolled up in one and if Ms. Johnson wanted all of them done, she was going to have to pay for all of them.  She was able [through a fairly amazing set of rolls done at the table in front of the players] to talk Ms. Johnson up to 500,000¥ for the base job and 70,000¥ for each bonus objective.  However, Ms. Johnson used the same tactic on the second job [that is was clearly a single job] and would not budge on the pay at all.  Sensing she had pushed Ms. Johnson as far as she could, The Fin accepted both jobs and asked for the details.

Job 1 would take place in Cara’Sir [Portland], starting June 29th, and involve extracting Dr. Sorcha O’Seahnasaigh from the research labs on New Dawn Technologies campus, a company that specializes in creating new breeds of para-animals.  Dr. O’Seahnasaigh is a human working for an elf-owned and run corporation.  Her research assistant, Dr. Loracan Valdi, is also Ms. Johnson’s inside man and point of contact, who indicated Dr. O’Seahnasaigh was willing to leave and what her conditions were.  Dr. O’Seahnasaigh’s “family members” were 8 dachshund hell hounds crossbreeds.  [Void was very unenthusiastic about this –she had a bad experience with hell hounds in Everybody Needs Somebody.]  On top of that, the biosamples were to be taken from 15 different experimental para-animals in two different labs in adjacent but connected buildings.  The team would need to grab all files related to the code name PURPLE CARROT and eliminate any system back-ups and destroy the lab equipment.

Bonus objective one was extracting Dr. Valdi along with Dr. O’Seahnasaigh.  He was ready to leave and acting as Dr. O’Seahnasaigh point of contact as she is under tighter scrutiny.  Plus, her family owned the corporation and they would notice if she was acting weird.  Bonus objective two is a paragoose named Siren.  It had to be rendered unconscious for transport or its voice weapon would damage/destroy the extraction plane during transport.

Delivery of all components would be to the Cara’Sir corporate airport about 3 miles north of the NDT campus.  A hyperjet would be waiting to receive everything.

Job 2 started with getting on the hyperjet and flying to the Czech Republic with the cargo.  The hyperjet would land at Prague International Airport and the team would have to escort everything to an address in Brno.

In Cara’Sir, there would be two other teams, backed by competing corporations attempting to extract Dr. O’Seahnasaigh as well.  Current intel suggested the competing extraction teams were aiming for an extraction on or after the 13th of July.  The competing corporations were Marsh Genetic Innovation and Telestrian.  Additionally, in the Czech Republic, additional opposition would be expected by Freeman Health Manufacturing (FHM) and Zenith Astrotech (ZAT) [those with strong memories might recall those two corporations have appeared already in this campaign].  Their operatives were likely to attempt an intercept between Prague and Brno.

The good news that Ms. Johnson would supply passports valid for the time of the job for whatever cover identities the team used to enter Tir Tairngire, passcards for the lab building on the NDT campus, basic maps of the campus, training on the proper method of taking the biosamples (including the sampling gear), and a vehicle with equipment resupply in Prague.

At the end of the meeting, The Fin and Ms. Johnson worked out communication details, shook hands, and left separately.  The rest of the team, back at the Pleiades Group office, immediately started brainstorming ideas for a plan to achieve the large amount of work they had just taken on.  This included working out a cover story for operating in Tir Tairngire that put the team’s two elves in charge (Bookie and Void, neither of whom knew Sperethiel, the national language of where we were going) and start a Needed Equipment list.

End of Session

[Every time the New GM gave us a new detail or part of the job, we frantically wrote it down, asking, “there’s more!?”  Once she stopped and we’d agreed to the jobs we were like, “Holy crap! How are we going to do all that?”  The answer turned out to be “take the next two sessions to plan the job.”  I might combine sessions 2 and 3 into a single write-up to speed that along.]


Sessions 2 and 3
Session 4
Sessions 5 and 6
Session 7 (not yet written)
Session 8 (not yet written)
Session 9 (not yet written)
Session 10 (not yet written)
Session 11 (not yet written)
Session 12 (not yet written)
Session 13 (not yet written)
Session 14 (not yet written)

Monday, March 26, 2018

Status Update - Know anyone hiring an experienced tech writer?

So last Monday (the 19th) the company I worked for did a re-organization and a Reduction in Force and I was part of the force that was reduced.  They laid off about 5% of the company workforce from top to bottom.  I'm glad I'd written parts 3 and 4 of Butcher's Bill already and had them set to auto-post or they'd never gone live last week.

So I'm looking for a new job again.  If you know of anyone in the Houston, Texas area hiring tech writers, please let me know as I'd like to be employed again, soonest.  I've worked in the Oil and Gas industry and the Software industry for a SaaS (security as a service) company, so I'm familiar with the lingo in both areas and have a great deal of experience as a tech writer, both working solo and as part of a team.  Any help would be appreciated.

In the meantime, I'll continue posting my session notes and have Session 1 of Code Name: Parrot T-Rex done and set to auto-post on Thursday.

Later!

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Session Report – Butcher’s Bill – Session 4

[This session happened April 17th, 2017, almost a month after the last session due to a variety of reasons.  The Other GM was running.  This is a short session.]


PCs
Void – female night elf physical adept B&E specialist, a shadow that blends in easily
Sin – male human rigger, knows exactly the wrong thing to say and says it
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
Baelthor – male human mage with a loud mouth, preaching the anti-corporate word

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


Monday, June 15, 2076
[Same day, right after Session 3 left off.]
Void called in to Prometheus to report that she now knew of a secret backway onto Council Island.  Prometheus shared what the rest of the group had learned from questioning Twareg and the other two.  They discussed whether or not Void should pursue further and decided that it should still be safe enough to find out where Dawg went on Council Island.  Void used her Facial Sculpt power to shape her face into one of those on the passports she had [taken from the security checkpoint last session].

Bookie was contacted and asked to hack the Council Island Public Security camera system to track someone for 5,000¥.  Bookie accepted the job and hacked into the system.  In the video archive he found the recording of Dawg surfacing from the tunnel and then “followed” him in the recordings to the Lava Java Café.  Bookie switched to the live feed to verify that Dawg was still there.  He was, but he was now talking to a woman in a NAN military uniform.  Bookie called back to the Pleiades Group and reported what he had discovered.

Prometheus, Void, The Fin, Sin, and Baelthor held a quick conference call to discuss the situation.  If the NAN military was involved, this was much more than sending a message to the Disassemblers.  It was decided that Void would move to a point where she could physically watch the Lava Java Café while The Fin contacted Svetlana and asked for additional instructions.

Svetlana was very interested to learn that the entire attack was a false flag operation by the NAN.  She asked for all the data the Pleiades Group had put together and the three gangers, in exchange for which she would consider the job done.  The Vory would deal with Dawg themselves, now that they knew who his true masters were.

Pay was split 6 ways after paying Bookie’s fee: one share for Prometheus, Void, The Fin, Sin, and Baelthor and one share to the Pleiades Group General Fund.

End of Session


[So that ended quickly.  I had forgotten how short that session was until I started writing it up.  The next run, Operation: Parrot T-Rex, was run by The Fin’s player and was a bit more epic in scope and takes the Pleiades Group outside Seattle for the first time.]

[I don’t remember if I mentioned it before, but the group splits the pay by shares and always adds a share to the Pleiades Group General Fund.  The Fund pays for the office (a Middle lifestyle) and any incidentals or special equipment needed for a Pleiades Group run.  We found it was easier to handle it as a share rather than making characters give money back from their pay.  All the characters recognize the value of having a central fund so personal profits are not eaten up by job expenses.  We also keep a pool of reagents available for any of the spellcasters to access.  No reason to have a run fail because the mage passes out from Drain or because the spirit wants a bribe to talk.]


Session 1
Session 2
Session 3

Monday, March 19, 2018

Session Report – Butcher’s Bill – Session 3

[This session happened March 13th, 2017.  The Other GM was running.]

[Apologies for this write-up being late.  A major project at work is nearing its release and our department is short-handed for reasons, so we’re slammed with work.  Plus, it’s allergy season here and my sinuses are trying to either explode or melt off my face, so bleh.  I’m writing this session and the next, concluding session on the same day for a dual release this week to make up for the miss last week.  Look for Session 4 on Thursday.]


PCs
Void – female night elf physical adept B&E specialist, a shadow that blends in easily
Sin – male human rigger, knows exactly the wrong thing to say and says it
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

NPC’d
Baelthor – male human mage with a loud mouth, preaching the anti-corporate word


Monday, June 15, 2076
[Same day, right after last session left off.]
Void rode the motorcycle through the tunnel, which curved down and then to a more southerly direction.  After riding for 10-15 minutes [my notes don't indicate how long exactly, it might have been as long as 30 minutes], she came up to an underground checkpoint.  Judicious use of her martial arts and stealth took out the three metahumans on guard duty.  They had no ID on them nor any identifying logos or emblems on their clothing, but they were better equipped than a gang like the Disassemblers could normally manage.  Suspicious.  Searching the checkpoint, she found a selection of passports in a secured drawer [secured for normal people] and took them.

There was another motorcycle parked at the checkpoint and it showed signs of very recent use.  The main tunnel continued south, but on the other side of the checkpoint was a short pedestrian tunnel.  Void checked the camera displays to verify her bike was hidden and that the way ahead was clear.  She left the guards tied up in the back room of the check point and followed the short tunnel.  At the end was a built-in ladder, up to a hatch.  [Side Note: If I was the GM running this, I would have put an AR display of the outside here as a secure way to verify it was safe to open the hatch.  There might have been one, but Void has no AR display and so would not have seen one if one existed.]

Void climbed up the ladder and cracked open the hatch to see where she was.  She appeared to be behind a small building in a concealed alcove outside.  Not seeing anyone at all, she climbed out to get a better idea of where she was.  Quickly getting her bearings, she realized she was in the secure area on Council Island!  This strongly suggested Dawg was a NAN agent of some sort, not just a member of the Disassemblers.  [Dun-dun-DUUUUN!]

~*~

While Void had her underground adventure, Prometheus was driven [remotely] by Sin over to the Double-Tap Saloon, where Ganger #2 [later identified as Twareg, so I’m going to call him Twareg from this point for ease of reference] had gone to ground.  Inside the bar, Prometheus found Twareg and a friend sitting at a back table, drinking and somewhat celebrating.  Prometheus verified Twareg’s identity by showing the ganger a still of Twareg from the Teahouse attack and asking, “Is this you?”

Twareg busted a big grin and confirmed it was, asking Prometheus if he was a fan.  Prometheus replied he was not, but he knew a lady who was and would like to meet Twareg, would he come with?  Twareg and his friend got excited and both agreed to come with Prometheus.  Prometheus attempted to clarify the invitation was for Twareg only, but the friend insisted he was the one who “took out the guys outside.”  Prometheus paused, then apologized for attempting to exclude the friend and invited him along as well.  [Prometheus was fairly certain that Svetlana would want the person who actually killed her people to be included in “the message”, so he yielded the point.  If the fool wanted to get killed with his friend, who was Prometheus to deny him his desire?]  Both gangers wanted to finish their drinks before leaving as it was “the good stuff.”  Prometheus shrugged and sat at their table while they finished their drinks before all three left the bar and got into the car.

Once they arrived at the warehouse [the safe house used in Under the Mountain], Prometheus pulled his Ares Alpha out of the trunk and walked Twareg and his friend inside.  Twareg thought he had finally made the bigtime and was excited - Prometheus did not correct him.  Waiting inside the warehouse was The Fin and Baelthor.  Twareg recognized them from the attack and finally realized he was in danger.  Twareg drew his Ares Crusader pistol, only to have Prometheus shoot it out of his hand.  The friend raised his hands to surrender and Twareg joined him.

The Fin sat them in chairs and started questioning them about the attack on the Teahouse.  [This is when Twareg’s name was learned.]  As it turned out, they were not part of the Disassemblers gang, but wannabes.  Dawg had hired them with the promise of money and membership in the gang.

At this point, Sin showed up in person with one of his drones carrying the other “Disassembler”, unconscious.  After applying some smelling salts to wake him, the third man admitted he was a mercenary hired by Dawg for the job.  All three still had the credsticks Dawg paid them with and offered them as proof.  The Fin took the credsticks and checked the balances.  [My notes don’t indicate how much they had been paid, but it wasn’t a lot, maybe 3,000¥.]  She then commented on how little they had been paid for staging an attack on the Vory.  All three were clearly shocked to learn who their targets had been.

End of Session

[Sin captured the mercenary during this session, but I don’t have notes on the details.  The apartments he went to were where the mercenary lived.  I seem to recall Sin sent in Susan with a load of Stick-n-Shock and a load of APDS.  The Stick-n-Shock turned out to be all that was necessary.]

[There was also a discussion on where to take the gangers once we had them.  We decided that the safe house from the previous run would probably still be empty, so that’s what we used.  It is possible Twareg and the other two were ziptied to the chairs they were sitting in, but I don’t quite remember and my notes don’t say.  I need to start recording those details or do the write up sooner than a year after the game session.]


Session 1
Session 2

Session 4 [Not written yet]