Monday, June 29, 2015

Shadowrun Report – Everybody Needs Somebody – Session 1

[This session happened on June 22nd.  It starts slow and builds.  Also, to quote Void’s player: “Hellhounds suck.”]

Player Characters

The Fin – female human con artist and gambler from India, by way of Russia, posh and elegant
Sin – male human rigger, knows exactly the wrong thing to say and says it
Bookie – male elf alcoholic hacker, favors whiskey with a whiskey chaser
Killroy – male human street samurai, specializes in hand-to-hand combat (and apparently machineguns)
Void – female human physical adept B&E specialist, a shadow that blends in easily
Murdoc – male elf kilt-wearing street mage, at home with the hobos

NPC’d Characters

Prometheus – male human street samurai, handy with any firearm

Monday, January 6, 2076
8:00 AM
Void, having just finished her early morning workout, received a phone call from her decker contact, Scottie Jim.  A decker friend had to ditch his cyberdeck and needed someone else to pick it up before Knight Errant found it.  Void asked if Knight Errant was active in the area.  Scottie Jim eventually admitted they were actively searching the area and the decker friend had just been grabbed by Knight Errant.  The pay for the job was 9000¥ upon safe deliver of the cyberdeck to Scottie Jim.

Void agreed to do the job and asked where the cyberdeck was located.  Scottie Jim said it was at 13424 WA-99, in Everett.  It was hidden in a storage area for used/abandoned construction cranes and landing gear, back behind a Jimmy Jack’s parking lot.  There was a chain-link fence and some guard dogs, which would likely be patrolling the yard.  Void was in Downtown, so she told Scottie Jim it would take her about 30 minutes to get there, but she was on her way.  Scottie Jim sent her some satellite shots of the site, with an arrow pointing at the garage where the cyberdeck was hidden in a trash barrel.

Void hopped onto her motorcycle, wearing her chameleon suit as it looked enough like a set of biker protective gear to not draw attention.  She also had a satchel to put the cyberdeck in to hide it from Knight Errant once she had it.  The only weapons she had on her were her throwing knives – combat was not her thing.

8:30 AM
Void arrived and parked her motorcycle back behind the Jimmy Jack’s, near the fenced-in yard.  She had passed through a police blockade to the south to get here, but Knight Errant did not seem too concerned about people trying to get into the area they were searching, more about people trying to leave.  Working out her path in, Void noticed that the fence was not electrified, did have some barbed wire on the top, and had some “Beware of Dogs” signs attached to it.  On the far side of the gate she noticed a sign announcing this was a security animal training company and back on the property she spotted some dogs.  Not just dogs, but hellhounds, recognizing the coal-black pelts from descriptions she’d heard.

Void’s plan was to climb the fence and make her way across the yard either walking across the top of equipment stored on site or jumping from equipment to equipment.  This would allow her to avoid being on the ground with the dogs.  Flowing like liquid shadow, Void was able to get up over the fence and on a tree in the yard, but the branch was rotten and broke under her.  [She rolled a glitch on the Athletics check after acing the Sneaking test.]  The noise the tree made caught the attention of some of the dogs, who padded over to investigate.  Void quickly and silently scrambled up onto the adjacent folded crane unit and avoided the dog’s attention.  [She has the Adept power Traceless Walk, which was enough to keep the hellhounds from catching her scent.]

Void ran along the top of the folded crane to the end furthest along.  She then scouted out the various distances she would have to jump to make the next leg of her path.  The garage roof was a little farther than she was certain to make, but an RV with a blue tarp covering most of its roof was well within her capacities and from there she could easily make the garage roof.

Void backed up on the folded crane and then got a running start for her leap.  She sailed gracefully across the 15-meter horizontal distance and the accompanying 12-meter drop, landing squarely on top of the RV.  During her leap, Void was able to spot a group of aerial drones sweeping the trailer park adjacent to the property she was breaking into.  She estimated she still had several minutes before they got to this property.  Unfortunately, the RV she landed on did not have a solid roof underneath the tarp and so she sank down into the RV as the tarp sank under her weight.  [Remember: 12-meter vertical drop during the leap – Traceless Walk won’t help you with that.]

Falling into the RV did two things: it alerted the hellhounds, which started barking furiously as they zeroed in on the RV, and it disturbed whatever was in cages inside the RV.  Void heard scales slithering and things moving in cages.  Muttering, “Snakes.  Why did it have to be snakes?”, Void ran up the tarp [Traceless Walk again] and leapt over to the roof of the garage.  [FYI: Those weren’t snakes.]

By this time, the hellhounds were on to Void.  They knew she was on the garage and barked furiously while standing in front of the open-door garage.  All six of them.  From the roof peak Void could see the Knight Errant drones were sweeping in this direction and had concerns they might have audio sensors and be attracted by the dogs barking.  She slid down the side away from the drones and started using her throwing knives to pry up roofing tiles and then start (quietly) hacking an opening in the roof she could squeeze through.  Due to her escape artist training, the hole did not have to be too large and she was able to gain access after just a few minutes.

Before squeezing in, Void visually checked the interior.  She saw empty wire kennels along the north wall, old machine tools scattered along the south wall, and an empty expanse of concrete in the center.  The roof was supports by a wooden substructure made of A-frames.  A single metal ceiling support stood in the center of the large two-vehicle repair garage and next to it was the only 80-gallon metal drum in the entire garage.  Void could just see inside that it was a trash can – the place where the cyberdeck was hidden!

8:45 AM
While Void was slowly climbing down the metal to avoid drawing the attention of the hellhounds, Sin was back as his place and received a call from Kaylee, his mechanic.

Kaylee had a rush delivery job for Sin.  A fellow rigger was holed up in the north garage of the Everett Beacon Mall and needed someone to show up, pick up a package (a satchel with a Rosa Digital logo on the side), and take it to the Tacoma Ferry Terminal.  The pay for the job was 18,000¥ and would have some corporate interference, so Sin should bring someone with, like, a shotgun, to ride shotgun, but he needed to get going now.  The meet was at 9:10.

Sin accepted the job and immediately called Killroy, asking where Killroy was.  Killroy was at The Gun Club, where he was teaching The Fin how to shoot better.  Unfortunately, The Gun Club was in Tacoma, the opposite direction Sin had to go.  After a short, barely coherent conversation, Sin hung up and called Prometheus.  Prometheus was in a part of Renton that was close to a freeway and close to where Sin was, so he told Prometheus to get to the street corner with weapons and Sin would be right there to pick him up.  Prometheus, not having anything better to do, grabbed his gym bag of guns and went to wait on the corner.  Sin arrived minutes later and picked up Prometheus.  [Prometheus still does not know how he ended up in the panel van – one moment he was standing at the corner, the next he was clinging to the seat inside Sin’s panel van while the van accelerated away.]

8:50 AM
Void had climbed down to and in the barrel in the garage and found the cyberdeck she was looking for without the hell hounds being any the wiser.  She put the cyberdeck into her satchel and then climbed back to the roof substructure.  Before climbing back through the hole in the roof, she paused to look through to see what she could see.  Her hunch paid off as one of the Knight Errant drones was just passing over the garage.  It paused and then backed up as the operator noticed the freshly made hole in the roof.

Cursing under her breath, Void looked down for a way out of the garage that did not involve going through the open front doors, right past the barking hellhounds.  She spied a normal-sized back door and climbed back down to the floor and picked the dead-bolt lock to exit out the back.  There was a gap in foliage cover between the back door and the trees near the back fence and Void had the bad luck to be spotted by a second Knight Errant drone as she ran across that gap.

Ejecting stealth for speed, Void ran part way up the chain-link fence and attempted to leap over the barbed wire on top.  [She glitched.]  Slippage on the fence meant she ended leaping into the barbed wire and somewhat clumsily rolling over it and falling to the ground on the other side.  Her chameleon suit protected her from the barbed wire and the fall, but the noise attracted the attention of the hellhounds.

As Void regained her feet, she saw three hellhounds come pelting around the corner of the garage.  Feeling somewhat safe for having the fence between her and the dogs, Void took a moment to catch her breath and work out where the Knight Errant drones were.

This is when Void learned that hellhounds breathe fire.  At range.

The lead hellhound stopped barking and opened its mouth wide as flames poured out under pressure, freely passing through the chain-link fence, and splashing across Void.  Even with Void’s combat sense, she took the brunt of the elemental attack and her chameleon suit started to melt onto her.  [Really poor rolls on the Defensive and Armor rolls.  She took 7P damage after all was said and done.]

Now in immense pain, Void ran, ran for all she was worth as her motorcycle was on the opposite side of the property.  She barely escaped the hellhounds, only doing so by accidentally straying outside the boundary the hellhounds were allowed to burn due to their training.  She could hear sirens as Knight Errant patrol cars approached from the south, so she rode her motorcycle north until Doc Wagon pulled her over to treat her.  During her short ride north she called The Fin and explained 1) “hellhounds suck” and 2) she would like some help avoiding Knight Errant patrol cars in Everett.  The Fin told her to find someplace to hold up until she and Killroy could get there.

9:10 AM
Sin and Prometheus arrived at the northern parking garage, second level, and were looking for their contact.  As Sin came around a corner, he saw some corporate troop types in body armor stop beating someone and walk away, one of the troops carrying a satchel with a Rosa Digital logo on the side.

Sin accelerated and attempted to run over the guy carrying the satchel, but the corporate troops responded with surprising agility and avoided the vehicular attack.  Rather than respond in kind, the leader of the corporate troops ordered them to pile into a Rover Model 2075, which they did.  The driver of the Rover then started to pull away.  That was all Sin needed and he started chasing the Rover through the parking garage with Prometheus and the troopers exchanging gunfire.

After some fancy maneuvering (and cutting across two rows of parked cars), Sin ended up in front of the fleeing Rover, where he hit the brake.  He then ordered Susan to deploy out the back of the panel van and engage.

The corporate troops leaned out the sides of the Rover to bring their Ares Alpha assault rifles to bear.  Their attitude shifted rapidly when Susan, Sin’s Steel Lynx with a bright and shiny machine gun, rolled out the back of the panel van and started firing.  The driver of the Rover attempted to flee by driving backwards, but clipped a car on his left and plowed into a parked Mercury Comet on his right.

A ferocious gunfight broke out between the corporate troopers and Susan with Sin jumped in.  [Prometheus was watching Sin’s panel truck and unconscious body.]  At the end of the gunfight, 5 of the corporate troops were dead and the rest running for their lives.  Susan needed a new paint job, but was otherwise unharmed.  [Sin’s player used 4 Edge during this fight to keep Susan from taking any damage.]  Sin collected the satchel and the bodies of the dead troopers (to sell for parts and cybernetics).  Once those were loaded in the panel van, Sin and Prometheus drove back to see if their contact was still alive.

Their contact was alive, but very injured.  He had a Doc Wagon contract, but couldn’t finish the job.  He told Sin to take the satchel to the Tacoma Ferry Terminal and turn it over to a dwarf in a green suit, going by the name of Mr. Johnson.  The dwarf would pay them 36,000¥ upon delivery and all the money was theirs as his team had no use for money anymore.

9:15 AM
Void was beside the road, still being treated by Doc Wagon as a Knight Errant patrol car approached.  Just before it would have pulled over, it’s red and blue lights came on and it accelerated north.  Void could hear over the Doc Wagon team’s radio that there was something going on at the Everett Beacon Mall.  Void started to relax a bit, feeling safer.  Or maybe it was the pain meds finally kicking in.

9:27 AM
Murdoc woke up to his commlink ringing.  It was Gino’s tone, so Murdoc answered.  Gino had a deadbeat mage deep into him for a lot of deep weed and the prick wasn’t returning calls anymore.  Gino explained he’d pay 3000¥ for Murdoc to go over there, kick the door down, and explain to Mr. Ariston Mirabeau in no uncertain terms that he was to pay Gino all the money he owed Gino ASAP.  Gino also told Murdoc he could keep any deep weed he found at Mirabeau’s – Mirabeau would pay for it, one way or another.  Murdoc got the address and started climbing out of bed.

End of Session

[So this run is a bit of an experiment in overlapping runs and obligations.  One thing I’ve learned barely a third of the way in is that I spaced things too far apart.  I’m tightening the timeline for the rest to get a greater sense of overlap and a need for time management on the players’ part.]

[I also learned that newer players may understand that something called a hellhound is bad and should be avoided, they might not be aware that they can breathe fire.  This eliminated metagaming during the hellhound encounter, but I ended up scaling the encounter back to avoid massacring a PC due to lack of in-game knowledge.  As often as hellhounds are used as security animals, I think people living in the Shadowrun universe would know something like “hellhounds breathe fire” as common knowledge.]

Session 2

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Shadowrun Report – A Dwarf in Need – Session 6

[This session happened on June 8th.  It could easily be subtitled: “Ethics-schmethics – what we need is a patsy!”]

Player Characters

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

NPC’d Characters

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

Tuesday, December 31, 2075
1:00 AM to 7:00 AM
Void and Bookie spent the time since the midnight meeting making copies of all the car keys they had access to for Sam’s car collection.  Several members of the team have expectations that soon many of those cars would belong to them.  [For reasons that will become apparent, this is not likely to happen.]

8:00 AM
Preparing for the end of the job, The Pleiades Group started sanitizing the suites they had taken over in the client’s home, doing their best to remove all traces of their presence.  Personal gear was packed up and moved into Sin’s GMC Bulldog while Prometheus, still awake due to Long Haul, kept watch on the video monitors.

After all the packing was over, Sin “innocently” checked which cars in Sam’s collection were equipped for rigging.  Sam's mechanic noticed part way through, but Sin was able to out-argue him.  Sin used this opportunity to test the keys Void and Bookie had made.

11:00 AM
The protection job ended.  The Fin met with Sam to confirm this and get sign-off on the work from Sam (knowing what kind of person Sam is).  Sam agreed that the main contract and both bonus contracts were satisfactorily completed and authorized payment.

The Group decamped, taking with them the bodies of the two dead runners (preserved since Saturday in the walk-in freezer).  The Fin made arrangements with Svetlana, her wetworks fixer to harvest the bodies for cyberware.  The payoff for the Group would be minimal (10% value), but it would build some business rapport between The Fin and Svetlana.  Sin and Prometheus dropped the bodies off at the location Svetlana specified while the rest of the Group returned to their homes.

4:00 PM
Prometheus arrived at his Uncle’s home and retrieved the Christmas present from his sister.  It was a gun rack for storing rifles.  Prometheus contemplated where he will put it in his apartment and what to put in it.

6:00 PM
Back at his apartment, the Long Haul wore off and Prometheus slept.  For 26 hours.

7:00 PM
The Fin paid Sin 1000¥ out of the company fund to have Susan watch over Prometheus while he sleeps.  This caused some minor drama at the apartment building, but Prometheus’s uncle owns the building and solves the problem by having a potted plant put on top of Susan and claiming the drone is a planter.  No one wants to argue the point.

The Fin set up a meeting Friday at 2:00 PM with Shek Wei Zhe to discuss how soon the arrangement between the Triads and Sam will become a problem for Sam’s descendants.  The delay in the meeting is because she wanted Prometheus on overwatch for her if things get awkward with the Triad underboss.

Wednesday, January 1, 2076
8:00 PM
Prometheus awakened.  After smoothing things over with his uncle regarding the drone tank with the machinegun parked in the hall, Prometheus called The Fin to find out the status of the hit on Sam.  She updated Prometheus about when the meeting with Shek Wei Zhe will happen.  Prometheus suggested that the hit should happen the next day, if at all possible, and he would start the planning.  This is what The Fin had been hoping for as hits are not part of her repertoire.

The Next Several Hours
Prometheus called Bookie to get Sam’s schedule for the rest of the week, particularly Saturday, and asked Bookie to look through Sam’s records for a convenient scapegoat for the hit, preferably a recent business deal not associated with the Triad building.  Bookie still had access to Sam’s calendar and the only time Sam would be out of his home was for a dinner meeting with a representative of FHM.  After spending some time searching through Sam’s records (from a convenient copy Bookie had made while he had access), Bookie came up empty for a likely patsy.  Prometheus decided that Sam’s mechanic would have to do as several necessary elements are already in place (motive and access).

Prometheus had Bookie hack Sam’s system anew to get the mechanic’s schedule for Saturday.  The mechanic would be visiting family in Everett, about an hour and a half away from Sam’s home.  Perfect.

Thursday, January 2, 2076
Prometheus had Murdoc physically mask The Fin to look like Sam’s mechanic.  At the same time, Prometheus had Void sneak into Sam’s home and steal the mechanic’s ID and then give it to The Fin.  The Fin, impersonating the mechanic, went to a hunting goods store and purchased a Remington 950 hunting rifle and some ammunition.  Using the mechanics real ID, this is not a problem and the license paperwork was quickly handled.  Afterward, The Fin gave the ID back to Void, who returned it, the mechanic completely unaware it had gone wandering.

Prometheus spent a couple hours scouting the surroundings of the restaurant Sam would be eating at on Saturday.  He was looking for a position that could see the entrance but not be easily observed from nearby buildings, that has a good muddy patch for Sin to leave a tire tread imprint in, and multiple exit routes, one of which is easily viewable from the entrance to the restaurant.  He found the perfect spot across the street and half a block down.  Prometheus then arranged with Sin where to put the car he would be “borrowing” from Sam’s collection.  The car being one of Sam’s is important as it will have fresh fingerprints belonging to the mechanic on them, particularly the driver’s door and the trunk lid.  [When Prometheus was searching the vehicles for hidden runners, he didn’t bother closing any of the doors or trunks.  The mechanic had complained bitterly about it the next day as he had to close all 50-60 of them himself.]

In the afternoon, Prometheus took the recently purchased Remington 950 hunting rifle into the Redmond Barrens to shoot a box of ammunition through it.  After the box of regular ammunition, Prometheus fired a single APDS shot through the rifle and left the empty cartridge in the gun.  That night he had Void lift one of the mechanic’s thumbprints and place it on the end of the spent cartridge in the rifle.  The rifle was now an excellent prop with which to frame the mechanic.

Friday, January 3, 2076
The Fin met with Shek Wei Zhe (with Killroy as her bodyguard and Prometheus providing sniper overwatch).  The meeting went quickly, with the Triad underboss agreeing to pay 45,000¥ for the “issue transference”.

After the meeting, when The Fin explained that the Triad’s only needed a photo to prove Sam was dead, Prometheus suddenly remembered that the Mafia wanted the ring on Sam’s right index finger and the current plan had no way to get the ring.  Whoops!  Some quick brainstorming led to an addition to the plan: Killroy would be nearby, disguised as a homeless person, and step in right after the shots to clip Sam’s finger (and the ring) off and hustle out of there while the witnesses were still cowering.  Not optimal, but it would get the job done.

Saturday, January 4, 2076
Bookie hacked the necessary street cameras to find out what color of coat the mechanic was wearing when he left to visit his family.  Prometheus found the electrochromic settings on his armored jacket to match the color and saved them for later.  Two hours before the shooting, Prometheus went to the site and hid.  He had the prop rifle with him, so it would pick up traces of the rooftop for Knight Errant to find later.

An hour before the shooting, The Fin called the mechanic, posing as Sam, and ordered the mechanic back to the garage immediately or he was fired.  Bookie spoofed the caller ID so it looked like the call was actually from Sam.  Used to these types of tantrums, the mechanic got into his car and started the drive back to Sam’s house.  To keep the mechanic from actually arriving, Bookie hacked the controls of a vehicle ahead of the mechanic and attempted to cause a traffic slow down.  This was the first time he’d ever tried this and failed spectacularly [critical glitch].  Instead of just causing a traffic slow down, Bookie plowed the vehicle into two others, causing all three to wreck.  This brought traffic to an instant stand-still – so, yea?

Sin remotely accessed one of the distinctive vehicles in Sam’s garage and, with Bookie controlling the automated garage systems, drove the car out of the house and to the agreed parking spot near Prometheus’s sniper nest.  Prometheus came down, waited a moment for Sin to pop the trunk, laid the prop rifle down in the trunk, and closed the trunk [wearing gloves, naturally].  Prometheus then returned to his sniper position, where his own rifle waited.  Prometheus removed the sound suppressor from the rifle and resumed waiting.

Killroy, having been disguised by The Fin and given a Lone Star tattoo on his face to cover his scar, arrived in the vicinity about 30 minutes before the shooting was to happen.  He did his best to stay out of sight down a nearby alley so no one would call Knight Errant on him before the shooting.

Sin put one of his Lockheed Optic-X2 drones shadowing Sam house so the Group would know when to expect Sam’s arrival at the restaurant.

The Shooting
Sam arrived at the restaurant precisely on time, his driver dropping him off at the front door.  Sam took two steps before Prometheus fired.  The first two rounds of APDS ammunition hit Sam in the left torso, just under the arm, and in the head.  After that, Prometheus fired another eight rounds as fast as his synaptic boosters let him, not worried about accuracy but to avoid the impression that this was a professional hit.  The rapid sounds of the rifle firing caused all of the civilians within hearing distance to drop for cover.

Twelve seconds later, Prometheus stopped firing and left the sniper’s nest, sliding down a ladder on the backside of the building, landing right next to the “borrowed” car.  Sin popped the door open and Prometheus slapped the door closed with his gloved hand, providing an audio illusion of someone getting into the car.  Sin then floored the gas, zipping out the alley in full view of anyone near the restaurant’s entrance.  Sin let the car fishtail a bit on purpose and then drove away as fast as the car could go, driving directly back to Sam’s home to return the car to its proper parking spot.  Prometheus left the alley the other way, completely hidden from the restaurant witnesses and changing the color of his clothing to blend in.

In the meantime, Killroy stepped out of the alley adjacent to the restaurant, walked up to Sam’s body, and used a pair of pruning shears to remove Sam’s right index finger, along with the needed ring.  He then bellowed incoherently at the people nearby and ran off.  At the same time, The Fin was calling the mechanic as Sam, telling the mechanic that Sam had worked out the problem and he better not show up and claim pay on a day off.  Sighing, the mechanic worked his way out of the traffic jam and started driving back to his family’s home.

Later that night on the news was a small story about a local lawyer being gunned down by a homeless man who then drove off in an expensive roadster.  Knight Errant was investigating and had no comment at this time.

End of Session

[So, Prometheus’s thoughts were to provide Knight Errant with a trail of bread crumbs that led to a plausible suspect for Sam’s murder.  The mechanic was very distantly related to someone Sam had ruined in the past, but the PCs had eliminated him as a suspect when looking into Sam’s enemies.  This would be enough to satisfy Knight Errant and allow The Pleiades Group to fade back into the shadows.]

[Knight Errant would likely investigate Sam’s employees as suspects and learn that one of them had recently purchased a hunting rifle of the approximate caliber that Sam had been shot by.  Witnesses, or more likely traffic cameras, would describe the vehicle speeding away from the scene of the crime, leading Knight Errant to find the same vehicle in Sam’s garage with mud on the under carriage matching mud in the alley.  Knight Errant would also be able to find a tire print in the alley that matched one of the car’s tires.  One warrant later they’d find the prop rifle, recently fired, grit from the shooting location on it, and the cartridge of a single APDS shell still in it with the mechanic’s thumb print on it.]

[The mechanic’s alibi would be he was stuck in traffic, having been called back to work.  At this point Knight Errant might notice some discrepancies.  The mechanic’s car does register in the traffic control system as having been stuck in the traffic at the time of the shooting.  Also, third cousin, twice removed, is not a very close familial relation, bringing motive into question.  In the real world, a good lawyer could get the mechanic cleared.  In the Shadowrun world…not so much.  As the first and only suspect (not counting the homeless man angle), it is quite likely that Knight Errant will latch onto the mechanic as a quick victory against crime, suppress contrary evidence, and put him away for decades.  Shadowrun is a harsh realm.]

[Incidentally, pay for the run worked out to 20,000¥ per runner from Sam, with 15,000¥ (the expense account) going into the Pleiades Group kitty.  The money from the Mafia and the Triad for killing Sam came out to 12,000¥ ] per runner, with 1000¥ going into the Pleiades Group kitty.]

Session 1

Session 5

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Busy Life Delaying Posting

Due to a two-part birthday and the very unexpected and sudden death of a friend, on top of a surge of work at the Day Job, plus the writing of the new run (which is more intricate than the previous runs), I've gotten behind on writing for my blog.  It happens, but I've now missed two postings and I wanted folks to know why.

I have the run notes for the final session of A Dwarf in Need and the first session of Everybody Needs Somebody, which I am GM-ing.

I'll have Session 6 of A Dwarf in Need up this week, probably tomorrow (Wednesday).  Session 1 of Everybody Needs Somebody (this week's game session) will post at its usual time and date next Monday morning.


Monday, June 8, 2015

Shadowrun Report – A Dwarf in Need – Session 5

[This session happened on June 1st.  So those ethics questions in mention last time?  The group doubled-down on the stakes this session.]

Player Characters

Void – female human physical adept B&E specialist, a shadow that blends in easily
Murdoc – male elf kilt-wearing street mage, at home with the hobos
Prometheus – male human street samurai, handy with any firearm
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
Sin – male human rigger, knows exactly the wrong thing to say and says it

NPC’d Characters

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

Sunday, December 29, 2075
7:00 PM
The grenade in the moving truck exploded with great force, (mostly) contained by the walls of the truck.  A gout of flame and fury erupted from the rear of the truck, but Prometheus was well under cover and not affected.  Sin’s duelist drone inside the hidden compartment in the truck was slightly scorched but the damage was all cosmetic.

Realizing that with the team deployed to protect Sam and find the threat in the garage, Bookie in the group’s HQ was exposed, The Fin ordered Sin to send Susan (Sin’s Steel Lynx tank drone, armed with a machine gun) to protect Bookie.  Sin ordered the drone to do so immediately and, with a squeal of tires, it rushed through the underground passage between the underground garage and the under floors of the home, sending house staff scrambling out of the way.

Sin ordered Prometheus to search the garage for any more intruders.  She also sent Void to assist in the search and to avoid having Prometheus damage the collection of expensive cars in the garage.  [The Fin was already considering some of those cars hers.]  Prometheus, backed up by Sin’s duelist drone quickly searched the other three moving trucks parked in the garage by entering them and slicing the back of the cargo areas open.  Finding no hidden compartments, Prometheus was ready to start searching the sports cars.  Void arrived just as Prometheus was about to smash open a window on a Bugatti to access the truck release lever.  “Wait!” she called out.  Prometheus paused and Void tried the door handle.  It was unlocked.  “Hunh.  You’re good,” was Prometheus’ only reply before reaching in to pull the truck release.

Meanwhile, Sin launched his Lockheed Optic-X2 (with thermographic sensors) to look for unexplained heat sources in the large, cavernous garage.  After several minutes of searching he located a person-sized heat source deeper in the garage.  Sin informed Prometheus and Void of this and the three-member search team (Prometheus, Void, and Sin's duelist) started moving toward the heat source.  Moving his flying drone to get a better look at the heat source, Sin was able to determine it was underneath one of the vehicles in the collection.

Prometheus stopped advancing and laid down between two cars in the row to get a line-of-sight on the heat source.  With the telescopic and low-light modifications in his cybereyes, Prometheus was able to recognize the person hiding as a decker [who was busily rebooting her deck after jacking out at the end of the duel with Bookie].  Prometheus took aim and fired a short burst from his SCK Model 100 submachine gun.  Prometheus hit the decker, but failed to kill her.  [I made a lousy roll and barely hit.]

The decker, realizing she was exposed, scrambled up from under the vehicle and took cover behind one of the tires.  [The car was jacked up similar to a monster truck, but without the grossly over-sized tires.]  Sin’s duelist drone and Void rushed the place where the decker was hiding and the duelist quickly killed the decker.  By the time Prometheus caught up, Void had searched the body of the elf woman, finding a Hermes Chariot cyberdeck, a Fichetti 600 Security pistol, some chewing gum, and the empty wrappers of some power bars.  Prometheus reported this back to The Fin and then he and Void resumed searching the garage to clear it of threats.

Elsewhere, Killroy had located the steward and attempted to question her.  Long-story-short, she ended up unconscious and Killroy had to carry her back to the group HQ.  The Fin had Killroy come swap guard position on Sam with her so she could wake up and question the steward.  The Fin attached a med kit to the steward and let it do its thing.  The med kit treated her concussion and reported the steward would wake up in three hours.

Having finished clearing the garage, Prometheus and Void returned to the group HQ and turned the elf’s cyberdeck over to Bookie.  Bookie hacked into the cyberdeck and started sorting through the data it contained.  This took some time, but he was able to eventually determine that there was a third member of the runner team the decker and rigger belonged to and they were scheduled to meet up with their client Monday at midnight in a soccer field.  [The GM didn't give us the exact location, so I don't have it, but it didn't seem to be very far away from Sam's home.]

With no other active threats, the group relaxed security so Sam could continue going about his business.

Monday, December 30, 2075
1:00 PM
Alarms in the house started going off in a pattern that suggested a home invasion.  Prometheus immediately checked the monitors from all of Sin’s drones, looking for the threat.  He saw none, but noticed one of the drones appeared on a control panel, jumping up and down on the controls.  Prometheus asked where that drone was and Sin, with some embarrassment in his voice, admitted it was inside Sam’s safe room.  Prometheus immediately stopped caring about the alarm and asked Sin to withdraw the drone so the alarm would stop going off.

Meanwhile, The Fin moved into the room Sam was in to provide direct security only to find him looking confusedly at his commlink.  It seemed to be showing that Sam was in the safe room, which he clearly wasn’t.  At this point Prometheus informed The Fin over the group channel that it was a false alarm due to Sin sending a drone into the safe room and Sin was now withdrawing the drone.  On Sam’s commlink, the screen blinked and then cleared and the alarm stopped.  Sam shrugged and went back to doing what he had been doing.  The Fin left the room and then had words with Sin about the situation.

Murdoc, Void, and Prometheus went to the client meeting at the soccer field the other runner team had with their client.  Murdoc was using physical mask to appear as the female elf decker, Prometheus was hidden in the attic of a nearby refreshment stand with his sniper rifle, and Void was covering an expected avenue of retreat the client might make use of if things turned violent.

At the meeting time, a car with three people in it arrived.  One was a very well dressed human in a suit, the other two were burly orcs, also in suits, but not as high quality.  Prometheus recognized these three as members of the Seattle mafia, although he could not identify exactly which family they belonged to.

[At this point Void’s player asked if we were going to get paid twice for killing Sam after the protection job was done.  I said, “Yes.  Yes we are.”]

Murdoc started the conversation with, “The mission was compromised – your team is dead.”  This made the mobster cautious, but he only said he was disappointed.  Murdoc then asked when the contract was due and what did it pay?  After some additional talking (including showing photographic proof the other team was dead), the mobster seemed to be willing to accept a new team, but wanted proof we were good enough to do the job.  Prometheus asked Murdoc to have the mobster hold his hat up.  Murdoc relayed the request.  When the mobster did so, Prometheus shot a hole through the crown in such a way that the hole would not be seen when the mobster put the hat back on.  [I used Edge before the roll, adding four dice, and had several 6’s explode, providing 11 successes.  It turned out to be a good shot.]

Accepting the demonstration, the mobster said the job was worth 40,000¥ and required both photographic proof of death and the ring on Sam’s right index finger.  The mobster then gave Murdoc a card with a contact number and told Murdoc to contact him after the job was done to arrange a payment meeting.

End of Session

[I think the thing with the drone in the safe room was at Void's request, but I stepped away from the table for a moment and missed the reason for it.]

Session 1
Session 4

Session 6

Friday, June 5, 2015

Champions Pre-Campaign Data 1 – Superhero Timeline

I will be running a Champions campaign soon, starting in September of this year.  Rather than start from scratch, I am dusting off my previous campaign, The Bold and The Determined, and doing a re-tread as that campaign barely touched my notes.

In this world, metahumans only became public knowledge in 1995 when the news captured video of a superhero/supervillain fight for the first time.  There had been people with powers before this point, but few in number and kept hidden by government forces “to keep the Public from panicking.”

For the campaign, here are certain significant events the PCs should know about:
1995 - March
The Guardian Incident happens in California. The public learns people with powers exist, including supervillain Lord Synthetic and the superhero Guardian.  Both clash periodically over the next 20 years.

2004 - February
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources founds Special Unit One – the first government-sponsored team of superheroes.  While little was expected of them, the team does well and earns the respect of police in Maryland.

2005 - January-March
The “Cape-KRAKEN War” happens.  A series of events led to escalating violent conflicts between the superheroes in Baltimore and a previously unknown organization named KRAKEN.  Eventually deaths occurred on both sides.  Superheroes across the Mid-Atlantic Region worked with police to eliminate KRAKEN.  After the “war’s” conclusion, Special Unit One was moved to from Capitol City to Baltimore to re-establish the public's trust in superheroes.

2005 - April
PRIMUS was dragged into the light by a concerted effort by the FBI, the CIA, the NSA, and the DIA [because they were tired of being blamed for everything PRIMUS was doing].  PRIMUS agents were identified as the “men in black” keeping the existence of metahumans secret since the late 1950’s.  Public outrage at PRIMUS, their activities, and their methods ensued.

2005 - May
First televised VIPER attack.  PRIMUS releases data showing VIPER has been active in the United States for nearly 10 years.

2009 - March
The superhero group SABRE is founded by Max Powers*,  the owner and CEO of Futuretech Systems.  The group is established in the Futuretech Systems Tower in Capitol City, which is renamed SABRE Tower.  Max Powers also established the SABRE Response Teams (SRTs), whose jobs are to minimize collateral damage (by getting bystanders safely out of the way) and get repairs to the city under way.  [This later part was required by the City Council before they would make the zoning changes to allow SABRE to operate in the city.]

Campaign Starts

*This was a PC in the previous campaign, whom I am keeping as an NPC.  I mention this to avoid being blamed for the name.

VIPER is a mainstay of Champions campaigns as THE villain agency.  I played with the idea of reskinning VIPER to be KRAKEN, but hero universes thrive on multiple villainous agencies, so I decided to keep them separate entities and get VIPER out in front of the other agencies in play by having them show up in the timeline.  There are other groups out there, some deep in the shadows...

Monday, June 1, 2015

Combat Cheat Sheet – Vehicle Chase Combat Sequence

[There was no game last week, so no session report this week.  Instead, here is the much belated Vehicle Chase cheat sheet.]

This expands on the terse description of determining the combat sequence in the Shadowrun 5th Edition rulebook.  Where they went for compactness, this version goes for clarity.

Terms and Requirements:
This cheat sheet refers to Piloting skills as Piloting skills, not Vehicle Skills, as that is what appears on character sheets.

Vehicle Test = Piloting Skill + Reaction [Handling] Test

The threshold is determined by the difficulty of the situation, see p. 199 for the
Vehicle Test Threshold Table (ranges from 1 to 4).
The threshold is modified by Terrain Modifiers (p. 201)
Piloting by AR raises the limit by 1.
Piloting by VR raises the limit by 2.

Controlling a Vehicle

Drivers must spend at least one Complex Action in each Combat Turn driving the
vehicle or it becomes Uncontrolled at the end of the Combat Turn.
Uncontrolled vehicles apply a -2 die modifier on all actions taken inside the vehicle.
The pilot has one Combat Turn to regain control (by spending a Complex Action) or:
o The Autopilot takes over (if the vehicle has a Pilot rating)
o The vehicle continues on last course with no defense roll against attacks

Chase Combat Process (p. 203)

1.   Determine Environment

Option 1: Speed Environment
Option 2: Handling Environment
Changes at GM discretion

2. Establish relative Chase Ranges for vehicles
See Chase Range Table, p. 204
3. Roll Initiative
Vehicle moves at driver’s initiative
4. Take actions in initiative order
Drivers may perform Chase Actions (below and p. 204) or regular Combat Actions
 (p. 205)
Passengers may only perform regular Combat Actions (p. 205)

Chase Actions
Limits are based on current Chase Environment (Speed or Handling), which dictates which vehicle attribute is the limit.

Catch-up/Break Away (any range)
Driver makes a Reaction + Piloting skill [Environment]
o The threshold is in the Vehicle Test Threshold Table (p. 199)
o Remember to apply Terrain Modifiers (p. 201)
For each Net Hit, the driver may shift one Range category closer or farther away to the
limit of the vehicle’s Acceleration
If the driver shifts past Extreme range, the pursuer must make a Reaction + Piloting
skill [Environment] with the same threshold as just made to stay within sight.

Cut Off (Short range only)
Acting vehicle seeks to make target crash
Opposed Reaction + Piloting skill [Handling*] Test (that’s the vehicle’s Handling
If attacker gets more Net Hits, target must make a Vehicle Test with a threshold =
number of net hits to avoid crashing (see Crashes, p. 201, for effects of crashing)

Ram (Short range only)
Acting vehicle seeks to ram the target
Opposed Reaction + Piloting skill [Environment] Test
If attacker gets more Net Hits, the vehicles have collided.
o Target takes Damage = attacking vehicles Body + Net Hits
o Attacking vehicle takes damage = its Body/2

Stunt (any range)
This covers any other crazy action the driver thinks will shake pursuit.
1. The GM sets a threshold based on the Environment (p. 201) and the difficulty of the
 maneuver (p. 199).
2. The Driver rolls Reaction + Piloting skill [Environment]
Fails: vehicle is out of control (-2 die penalty on all actions inside the vehicle). The
vehicle could crash, slow, or do whatever the GM thinks appropriate.
Succeeds: Pursuer must now make a Vehicle Test to maintain range
o Pursuer Fails: range increases by one category.
o If already at Extreme, fleeing vehicle escapes.

Other Notes:
Passengers attacking suffer a -2 die penalty to all attack rolls.
Vehicles attacked in combat roll Driver’s Reaction + Intuition as Defense.
Drones attacked in combat roll Rigger’s Pilot + Autosoft [Handling] as Defense.
See p. 266 if the Rigger is jumped in.
Evasive Driving = Full Defense for vehicle combat.
o -10 to Initiative
o Add Intuition to Defense pool
o Requires a Free Action to do
o May not be done vs. Ram attacks
Called Shot can be used to knock out specific vehicle components.
o Target component is destroyed.
o Each shot out tire invokes a -2 die penalty to Vehicle Tests
See p. 205 for attacking passengers in vehicles.