Monday, November 30, 2015

Session Report – Sam’s Run – Session 1

[This session happened November 24th and is the first actual session of this run.  About a third was The Fin and the GM off to the side setting things in motion and the rest was character interviews.]

Baelthor – male human mage with a loud mouth, preaching the anti-corporate word
Seul-ki – androgynous human from Korea, a laconic expert with swords
Ash – male human car shaman/rigger, speaks in the third person and follows The Spirit of The Road
Roadrunner – female elf, a twitchy rigger with a need for speed who self-identifies as an orc
Krombopulos Michael – male orc physical adept, is a major fanboy of “The Elf in a Gecko Suit”, AKA, Void
Limbsaw – female human street samurai with a monofilament chainsaw, works body disposal on the side

Alfonz – male elf decker, works as a lawyer as his day job

Sunday, March 1, 2076
The Fin, still wanting personal possession of several cars in the estate of “Sam”, the Mr. Johnson (and ultimate target) of A Dwarf in Need.  She had a plan to steal all of the vehicles and sell off the ones she didn’t want to recoup her costs and show a hefty profit.  She finally felt she had enough spare nuyen to finance the run on her own, so she started asking around for the expertise she needed.  She went to her Vory contact, Svetlana, asking for a bent lawyer.  Svetlana put her into contact with Alfonz.

The Fin hired Alfonz to look into the estate of Robert Khordaldrum (AKA, Sam) to determine its status and the current location of the vehicle collection attached to the estate.  Alfonz reported back that the estate had another week to two weeks before everything goes to auction as Robert Khordaldrum had no will nor heirs to place claims on any of his property.  On paper, the vehicles show as still in the underground garage on his home property.

Realizing her time was short to grab the vehicles, she went to her mechanic contacts, Wheels (hired based on a recommendation from Prometheus) and Kaylee (met through Sin).  The Fin explained she had a job and needed help putting it together.  The Fin offered a finder’s fee for help locating:

  • High end car carriers
  • Chop shops able to handle plates and VINs
  • Smuggler contacts to move high end vehicles overseas
  • A container vessel captained by a person with negotiable morals
  • A team of shadowrunners: 2 muscle, 1 B&E specialist, a mage or shaman, and some riggers, all of whom have first-rate driving skills

While Wheels and Kaylee started looking for what The Fin requested, The Fin contacted Bookie and asked him to place some discrete ads on the Dark Net, advertising a single run of black market, high-end vehicles for immediate sale, serious buyers only.  She also had Bookie set up a separate contact point and bounce it to her commlink so buyers would not have her actual commlink number.

Wheels reported back that he had the car carriers lined up and word was out that Mr. Johnson was hiring shadowrunners.  Kaylee reported she had secure loading locations for the car carriers to be loaded and locations for short-term discrete storage of vehicles, near the docks (necessary as the job would take place over three to four days).

Fin rented a back room at Ebey’s Bar in Exile in Everett and started holding interviews, posing as Mr. Johnson’s fixer.  Out of a total of 36 interviews, The Fin hired eight runners: Ash, Krombopulos “Krom” Michael, Limbsaw, Alfonz (as a decker), Baelthor, Seul-ki, Lord Bowler (NPC rigger contact of Ash’s), and Roadrunner (PC rigger contact of Ash’s).  All of the runners had quality driving skills and/or other skills necessary for the job.  The Fin set a date for the runners to meet and get the low down on the job.

End of Session

[Krombopulos Michael’s fanboy crush on Void wasn’t planned, but it made sense once his character was finished and explained to the group.  Void’s nickname of “The Elf in a Gecko Suit” was how the media reported her during the Monkey Business run.  She has Blandness and regularly wears a chameleon suit, so this was how witness’s vague memories were reported in an easy to remember sound bite.  Krombopulos Michael has the Elf Poser negative quality, even though that is normally restricted to Humans Only.  It was too strong a story element to let the rules get in the way.]

[Note that the above does mean that the group has an elf orc-poser and an orc elf-poser.  Along with an androgynous Korean sword saint, a cyber-ed shaman who speaks in the third person, a street samurai with a chainsaw, and a lawyer who does rigging on the side, The Fin has a typical odd-ball group of runners that represents the cream of what first time fixers have access to.  Think about the 26 other runners she turned away as not good enough or too strange and what that implies about them.]

[The real run will kick off on Wednesday, March 4, 2076.  It will be Ash Wednesday.  My character is excited about that, for obvious reasons.  Oh, and yes, I did speak in third person while role-playing Ash.  It took a couple of tries for The Fin's player to keep a straight face while talking to Ash.  Much fun.]

Session 2

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Game Report: Axis and Allies Global 1940 Game

I played a day-long game of the Axis and Allies Global 1940 game by Avalon Hill (sold through Wizards of the Coast) with three other players today.  We started with a rules review at 1:00 PM, started the actual game somewhere between 1:30 and 2:00 (probably closer to 2:00), and played until Midnight.  We had four players (of the up to six the game is designed for).  We got 5 turns done and called it.  We then did a post-game dissection of the experience.

Post Game Discussion
The first thing we all agreed on was that we had fun and were willing to play again.  We are already talking about when we might be able to get together again.

The second thing was that the poor sap stuck playing all three Axis Powers is over-loaded.  We need either a 5th player or to divide the sides differently.  We feel that ideally the Global version of the game should be played with five players.  Failing that, we think dividing it so Player 1 has Germany and Italy; Player 2 has Japan; Player 3 has Soviet Union, United States, and China; and Player 4 has United Kingdom, ANZAC, and France, is probably a better distribution of the load than the distribution the game lists.

We also were hampered by learning the new twists of the rules over the original Milton Bradley version we had all played previously.  Attack and defense strengths were tweaked in some places and the addition of new unit types and the Air and Naval Bases changed several strategies and ways to think about things in the game.

I feel this version of Axis and Allies did a good job of emulating the real war without straight-jacketing the players.  Adding Italy to the game had meaning and caused the Mediterranean and North African Campaigns to happen for good reasons.  In the original version of Axis and Allies, Germany tended to ignore Africa once the initial units there were destroyed and focused all of its concentration and units and IPCs (money) on the meat grinder that was the invasion of the Soviet Union.  By splitting off Italy and giving them goals (through the bonus IPCs they could get in the National Objectives and Bonus Income section of rules), that part of the emulation of the actual history actually happened.

On the flip side, ANZAC seemed of limited value and a waste of time.  They spent most of the game doing nothing with barely any income.  After later review, we decided that the UK/ANZAC player’s misunderstanding of some key rules and not having played the UK before (and by extension ANZAC) caused this issue.  We think that in the next game, ANZAC will be a more significant force and will do something to help the Allies cause early in the game as opposed to being a back water.

Turn 5 was when the really interesting things started to happen.  The United States was getting involved in North Africa, the real heavy fighting between Germany and the Soviet Union was happening, and the Axis Powers were closing in on victory on the Pacific board (Japan had 4 of the 6 Victory Cities on the Pacific board the Axis needed to win and were closing in on the 5th).

Finally, we all agreed that the next game will go faster.  Once you’ve played through the game once, you have a better understanding of what is a good plan for the Power you are playing, your decision-making process becomes faster (as you know what options are actually useful), and you have a plan to follow (as opposed to making it up as you go along).  This was an expected learning.

In summary, this was a fun (if long) game for us and we will play it again.  There is very good game design in this version of Axis and Allies and we heartily recommend it.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Parks and Wrecks - Chapter 2: Antarctic Sidestep

Chapter 0 – Dramatis Personae

May 26, 1934 (Probably), Unknown Location
Darkness and pain took us just as we dispersed to deal with the crisis.  When the darkness ended, we found ourselves, along with a number of innocent bystanders, in a 20 ft x 20 ft cell made of iron bars running from floor to ceiling.  It was dark, but not the absolute lack of sensation that had previously gripped us.

After activating a couple of lucky lighters (mine and Kurt’s), we notice that Riley was missing, we are still armed (those of us accustomed to carrying pistols…plus Kurt and his coach gun of all things), and it is cold.  Cold enough that motion is necessary to stay warm.

We checked the two solid doors to the cell (each opposite the other) and looked around beyond the bars.  The room we were in was twice the size of the cell, with the cell in the exact center of the chamber.  The bars were set close enough even Bak Mu could not squeeze through and the locks were placed on the doors such that Simone could not get to adequately position her hands to pick them.  This did not stop her from trying.

After a short time, the electric lights in the room activated and three men entered the room, wearing the black uniforms with silver piping of the Schattenkreis!  They were talking amongst themselves and appeared to be surprised by our presence as they were not expecting anyone this soon.  One of them got close enough to the cell that Jack could grab him and he did so, pulling the guard against the bars of the cell.  They only spoke German, so I did most of the talking on our part.  They decided to abandon their fellow guard and run to raise the alarm.  Kurt and I stopped them by shooting them before they could clear the door.  Meanwhile, Bak Mu reached around and relieved the guard Jack had pinned of his keys.  Bak Mu then unlocked the adjacent cell door (just as Simone finally finished picking the lock on the other door).

Jack and Kurt relieved all three guards of their pistols and spare clips of ammunition while Bak Mu performed first aid on the bystanders to wake them up before hypothermia set in.  (This place is cold and we “just left” early summer temperatures.)

We started exploring at this point.  While most of the hallways are standard size, there is a set that are twice this size, which we avoid as they are trafficked by Schattenkreis troops.  We found a submarine pen large enough for two submarines.  We clocked some guards and rescued a scientist-type, who explained that the scientists in the base were kidnapped and brought here.  They have lost track of time as the base is underground and always cold.  We decided that simply escaping was not going to be possible, so we started methodically working our way through the base, taking out cultists/guards as we came to them.

We found the barracks for the troops and the personal rooms of The Key, the resident mad scientist, and Frau Nyx, the woman who escaped us in Australia.  In The Key’s room was a desk crammed full of papers – handwritten notes of projects he was working on.  All of them, pressed in like geologic layers.  We pulled them out and dumped them into bags for Riley to look over later as we were in a hurry at the time.  In Frau Nyx’s room we learned she was the head of the base and that she had an amber skull hidden away.  I took the skull, not because I think it is valuable, but because she does.  At some point here Helen and Simone changed clothes from summer dresses to Schattenkreis officer uniforms, probably from Frau Nyx’s armoire, I no longer remember the exact timing.

After further exploration of the base, we discovered a surface access point – a square room with several cold weather suits hanging on the walls and a ladder up to a hatch in the ceiling.  Jack put on the cold weather gear and climbed up.  He reported an observation post of some sort, exposed to the elements.  There was a blizzard going on, preventing Jack from seeing very far around, let alone the stars to try and determine where we were.

Searching further, we then found a screening room with a wet bar (I'll let you guess which cowboy located the alcohol), but otherwise empty.  Next to it was a lab with several scientists working on various projects.  We announced we were liberating them, but one of the scientists objected and pulled a gun.  He went down quickly.  Another of the scientists introduced himself as Robert Thompson.  He was kidnapped by the Schattenkreis in October of 1932.  He was tired of being locked up and was ready to actively help us.

After that we found the room where the Schattenkreis tested The Machine we faced in Australia.  It was adjacent to the power plant for the entire base.  The power plant not only looked dangerous, it was dangerous.  The two operators explained to us that without constant attention and adjustments the power plant would shut down, probably catastrophically.  We left them to their work.

Kurt and Bak Mu split off to reconnoiter ahead (and take down some guards).  They found the garage of the base, some sort of large cavern with a surface exit.  There were a small number of snowmobiles and a single, tracked motor.  There were not enough vehicles (or protective clothing) for the large group of people we needed to rescue, so we continued searching the base.

We backtracked to the (now) empty testing room, which had a set of stairs up to the control room for the submarine pen.  From there we could see the rest of the goons in the base.  They were pulling up barrels from an underwater location.  (We later discovered the barrels are full of heavy water stolen from the Hall of Science at the World’s Fair.)  We worked out a plan to rush the goons and take the base.  After a brief skirmish (really, it was that quick) all the Schattenkreis goons were dead and the base was ours!

We’ve gathered up all the bystanders and scientists in the screening room and are discussing how to escape as a group.

We talked a lot and this is the best plan we have: we are going to use the remaining submarine in the base to escape through the underwater portal.  We think we have a five minute window for to sail out from the last adjustment to the power plant to when it catastrophically fails and the portal collapses.  One of the bystanders has some (very limited, it turns out) ability to drive a submarine – he was an engineer who once worked on a British submarine and watched it being piloted.  (I very much miss Riley right now.)  We also plan on detonating some dynamite in the control room using an improvised timing device using the heat from the film projector bulb and some copper wire.  No, I do not feel that is safe in any way, but it is the best we can do with what we have.

I’ll be honest, this is not the best plan we’ve ever come up with and I’m somewhat dubious we’ll make it out alive.  We don’t know if the gate will remain stable long enough for us to travel through it (assuming our “submarine commander” can get the sub into it without sinking in the first place).  We’re lining up the submarine now, under a bridge that spans the pen so the power plant operators have the shortest route to get to the sub.  Also so we don’t have to steer the sub while escaping.  We also don't know what will happen when the power plant fails or if/when the dynamite will detonate.  I’m not optimistic.

[In Chinese] Tsai Su, If we don’t make it and you somehow get this, know I love you and always will.
Andrew Ezekial Crawley

(Even Later)
[Handwriting is rough at first but improves quickly.]

  1. My pessimism was unfounded – we made it through the portal.  Somehow.
  2. Passing through a dimensional gate is not instantaneous.
  3. Looking through the periscope of a submarine while traversing inter-dimensional space is not recommended.  The human mind cannot hold it all and overloads in a most unpleasant manner.  Also, Human languages are inadequate to describe what is seen - I know 16 languages and do not have the words.

I recovered my senses to find us in Lake Michigan, just offshore from the World’s Fair.  Looking through the periscope we can see the giant copper robot just starting its attack on the Fair.

Yes, I wrote that correctly - "just starting".

We were at the Schattenkreis base for at least six hours, possibly longer, but have returned at best minutes after we were abducted.

I am going to need a stiff drink once this day is over.

End of Session

Chapter 1

Chapter 3

Monday, November 23, 2015

Corporate Security Handbook - Excerpt: Astral Projection

[The other GM was not able to attend the session last week due to "work related issues", so we continued with character creation and entering the characters into Hero Lab, which is awesome for checking characters are valid and nothing was missed.]

[As a result of nothing session report-wise to post this week, I'm posting an excerpt form a book I'm writing: The Corporate Security Handbook.  This is a look at actual corporate security as it exists now in the real world and then extrapolations as to how Shadowrun changes this.  I'm still in the brain-dump stage of writing at this point, approaching 80-90% complete.  This is what I have so far for Astral Projection and how it interacts with security in Shadowrun 5th Edition.]

Astral Projection

Astral projection can could be a game-breaker for security, but 5th Edition has neatly addressed the issue.  In past editions, those astrally projecting could move about freely and look around, stopped only by living things or being underground.  As a result, there was an escalating arms race between those using astral projection and those defending against it that led to downtown buildings covered in ivy or windows with thin layers of living bacteria.  This clashed with the color text of immense, sleek skyscrapers and arcologies towering over the urban landscape.  For research and exploratory projects to be secure from roving astral eyes, the buildings either have to be short (no more than 10 stories) so they can be covered with living plans or have glass outer structures and hope the bacteria don’t die off from UV exposure (from sunlight).

5th Edition elegantly side-steps this and provides more role-playing opportunities.

Mages in 5th Edition can astrally project, but cannot fully physically manifest back into the world away from their bodies.  This means they can only see things from the astral side, where things like posters of information or monitor screens are just shadows with no differentiation for ink – they are essentially blank slates astrally.  On top of that, with the heavy use of AR, the data and images don’t even physically manifest anymore, rendering them invisible to the astral traveler.

What mages can do is manifest psychically to one or more individuals of their choice and communicate with them.  They can see each other (or at least each other’s astral manifestation) and talk, but the mage is still astral and cannot read anything lying around.  This can make for some interesting role-playing opportunities as the mage provides critical information to someone in a crowd, a crowd that cannot intercept or eavesdrop on the information exchange in any physical way.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Session Report – Sam’s Run – Session 0

[This session happened November 9th.]

The next run is going to be different from previous runs in that one of the main player characters will be the Mr. Johnson for a secondary team of runners.  Therefore, we spent the session building discussing what the run would require and building new characters to cover that.  We also decided each player would build a character different from their primary to keep people out of a gaming rut.  This also provides a chance for players to learn new sections of the rules.

The source of the run is back in run number 5: A Dwarf in Need.  The client (and eventual target), Sam, owned a collection of 65 vehicles, many of which were antiques or merely high-end prestige cars.  Once The Fin saw them, her heart was set on owning several of them.  Not making enough money as a shadowrunner to simply buy them, she decided to take a page from the Mr. Johnson Playbook and hire shadowrunners to steal them for her.  To make the job pay for itself plus show a nice profit, she plans on having runners steal the entire collection, which she will sell off to buyers on the dark net or chop shops in Seattle able to handle the action.

This is not a run she wants the Pleiades Group associated with as it clashes with the group's growing reputation as quality shadowrunners for hire.  If clients even thought that the Pleiades Group might use jobs to scout for potential valuables to steal like common criminals, they would think twice about hiring the Group.  So plausible deniability requires a whole separate crew…

We are still sticking with the Shadowrun 5th Edition Core Rules and none of the additional books for character builds.  We didn’t finish all the characters at the session, particularly names, but this is what we have on tap:

Ash – human male mage/rigger
Ash is a “car shaman” who follows the “spirit of the road”.  He sacrificed two points of Essence/Magic for some alpha-grade augmentations: a Rating 1 Control Rig, a Rating 1 Synaptic Booster, and a Rating 2 Muscle Toner along with a standard Cat’s Eyes bioware upgrade.  He bought back his lost two points of Magic and starts with 5 spells: Silence, Physical Mask, Improved Invisibility, Detect Law Enforcement Badge, and Detect Security System.

Ash is smuggler, running cargoes across the North Plains and the Rocky Mountains in a Rover Model 2072, crossing the borders of the UCAS, the Sioux Nation, the Salish-Shidhe Council, and the Seattle Metroplex.  Ash was raised on the border between the UCAS and the Sioux Nation and speaks both English and Lakota as a native-speaker.  Rumor has it that Ash once served in the military (stories vary on whether it was the UCAS or Sioux military) and received his augmentations before his magic manifested.  His augmentations somewhat interfere with his magic and as a result his astral signature is weaker than normal and fades quickly (Astral Chameleon).  One or the other also seems to have affected his mind and Ash only speaks of himself in the third person.  He also has a Moderate addiction to Long Haul, a side effect of both his profession and his magical calling.  [As the amount of backstory suggests, this is my character.]

Roadrunner – elf female rigger raised by orcs
Roadrunner (known as Tweety to her family only) is a straight up rigger with a serious need for speed, both on the road and in person.

Roadrunner’s parents were killed when she was very young in a spasm of anti-metahuman violence that claimed the lives of a number of metahuman types.  As a result, she was raised by orcs and self-identifies as an orc (Orc Poser negative quality), to the extent she’s had tusks implanted.  She is a rough and tumble person due to her upbringing and her need for speed is rooted here – punch the other person first and they have a painful bloody nose to deal with before they can hit back.  Played by The Fin's player.

Krombopulos "Krom" Michael – orc male physical adept B&E specialist with a thing for elves
Krom (as nearly everyone calls him) specializes in bypassing security systems and will be necessary for reconnaissance and access to the site of the job.  He’s an Elf Poser - don’t know why yet, but he and Roadrunner should get along like cats and dogs.

[His player is still developing Krombopulos's personality and back ground.  Played by Sin’s player]

Limbsaw – human female street samurai
Limbsaw has Japanese/American ancestry.  Her preferred weapons are a monofilament chainsaw and an Ares Alpha.  Street gangs in her neighborhood have a "Limbsaw Identification" knowledge skill so they don't hassle the wrong woman and end up nick-named "Lefty".  She works as a body disposal expert on the side and requires clients supply the plastic drop-cloths.  Played by Void's player.

Seuo-ki – androgynous human swordperson
Seuo-ki is Korean and carries a sword that Seuo-ki is an expert with.  Seuo-ki wanders the mean streets searching for Seuo-ki's next paycheck.

[Seuo-ki is played by Murdoc's player and will develop personality during play.]

Alfonz – human male Decker/Lawyer
Alfonz is either a lawyer who fell into decking or a decker who learned enough about the system to practice law.  Either way, he’s for hire and will help with title transfers and stalling the probate court.

[Full details to be updated once I have them – played by Killroy’s player and GM for the run, which allows us to NPC decking and speed that way up]

The last two PCs are entirely unknown right now as the players couldn’t make the game session and are building their characters between sessions.  I'll post them here once I have information on them.

Session 1 [Not Yet Written]

UPDATE: Added Seuo-ki and updated Limbsaw and Krombopulos Michael.  11/17.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Session Report – Valkyrie Ride – Session 4

[This session happened November 3rd.  Things got complicated and panicky for a while.]


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
Void – female human 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)
Bookie – male elf alcoholic hacker, favors whiskey with a whiskey chaser
Murdoc – male elf kilt-wearing street mage, at home with the hobos


Prometheus – male human street samurai, handy with any firearm

Thursday, February 27, 2076 [The Action Continues]
Having just slain Jasper Spears, the dwarf target on the team’s hit list, Killroy beheaded the dwarf and took stills using the Image Link in his cyber eyes.  Void retrieved her throwing knives while Murdoc continued to suppress the astral signature of the spell he had just cast.  [As the only one who could clearly hear outside the silence bubble, Murdoc was the only one allowed to make a hearing Perception check to notice the group had been noticed.  He failed to roll enough hits AND glitched, so what happened next was a bit of a surprise.  It wasn’t the last for the night.]

Killroy rapidly left the room to get into position to attack the next office down the hall while Void started bagging the body for later transport.  Killroy’s movement led to him stepping outside the silence bubble, just as the third target, Dexter Baldwin, stepped out of his office to check on Jasper.  Dexter, upon seeing an blood-spattered obvious shadowrunner with a katana in the hallway, dropped his Defiance EX Shocker taser pistol and drew his Colt America L36 pistol, loaded with APDS rounds.  Killroy did his best to cut off the hand holding the pistol to avoid triggering the building lockdown, but Dexter was equally determined to not lose that hand and kept it just out of Killroy’s reach [Dexter used Edge and rolled very well].  Dexter then tried to kill Killroy with the pistol, but Killroy stepped aside just enough to avoid being hit, but he could do nothing about the sound of the gunshot [Killroy used Edge to not get shot].  The gunshot alerted Murdoc to happenings in the hallway and he stepped out into the hallway and forward enough to bring Dexter and Killroy into the two-meter radius of the silence bubble, but the damage had been done.  Security alarms went off, lights started flashing, and everyone heard the sound of the armored security gates rolling down into place on the exterior of the building.  Leaving the building had just become much, much harder.

Killroy was able to hit and kill Dexter on his next attempt.  With the alarm tripped, the need for silence was gone and Killroy sheathed his sword and pulled out his Ares Crusader machine pistol [named “Steve”].  Time was now critical and he still had two more targets to kill.  Looking ahead with Astral Sight, Murdoc noticed an air elemental hovering over the door, but only said, “Heads up,” out loud.

Killroy charged forward to the edge of the alcove that held the doors to the last two outer offices.  Listening, he heard individuals moving around in each office, preparing weapons.  Knowing the occupant of the corner office was Awakened with Astral Sight [from Murdoc’s previous astral scouting trip], Killroy lobbed one of the last two NeuroStun IX gas grenades he had into the office.  Immediately after, a young Chinese woman, Marie Chang, stepped into the doorway in front of Killroy [not the corner office, the one next to it], and fired a short burst from her Colt America L36, tagging Killroy.  Killroy’s armor and augmentations absorbed most of the damage, but not all of it.  [He took 2 Stun here, which was critical later.]  Then the air elemental manifested out of the corner office door and attempted to engulf Killroy.  Being warned by Murdoc kept Killroy from being surprised and engulfed [plus he spent Edge to improve his defense roll as being engulfed by an air elemental is no bueno].

Meanwhile, Void finished bagging the dwarf’s body and moved to the hallway to see what was going on.  Prometheus switched from his Defiance EX Shocker to his SCK Model 100 submachine gun and continued to cover the door the HRT would have to come out of, knowing they would show up soon.  Murdoc moved down to the corner where Killroy was so he could see into the offices to cast spells as needed.

At this point, several things happened almost at once.  A grenade popped out of the corner office and landed at Killroy’s feet.  Killroy identified it as a smoke grenade and kicked it into Marie Chang’s office while near simultaneously shooting a single shot from his machine pistol at the air elemental, disrupting it completely [another Edge point spent to good effect].  Murdoc cast a lightning bolt over Killroy’s shoulder to hit Marie, injuring her.  Then Althea Leafhawk, the last of the five targets, bolted out of the corner office through the space the air elemental had previously occupied, ran past Killroy at the door and Murdoc at the corner, continuing down the connecting hallway.  [To clarify, she ran down the other end of the “L” of corridors, not towards Prometheus and Void.]

Void immediately gave pursuit, her Physical Adept powers allowing her to reach the corner and move well past it in less than a second.  Killroy stayed with his current target and attacked Marie, but missed.  Murdoc recklessly cast lightning bolt twice at the same time [which seemed to improve his casting], seriously injuring Marie.  Marie took this as a good time to flee, staggering past Killroy and Murdoc, back down the way they had come – right towards Prometheus.  Prometheus fired his SCK Model 100 and, surprisingly, missed.

Marie fell down anyway.

While Prometheus was looking down the hallway at Killroy and Murdoc, confused as to what had just happened, Murdoc’s eyes rolled back into his head and he suddenly slumped to the floor, followed quickly by Killroy.  The NeuroStun IX gas from Killroy’s gas grenade was filling that entire corner of the floor!  [Killroy would have avoided falling unconscious from the gas for the first round, except Marie’s hit had done juuuust enough damage that he was KO’d by the gas.  Tense faces all around the table at this point.]

Void chased Althea down, just as Althea slammed [and locked] the door to an executive office at the end of the hallway.  Void paused to take in the situation and review an AR map of the floor.  According to the map, Althea was trapped in that office with no way out, but Void was not one of the heavy-hitters of the group and was leery about pressing on by herself.  Void could just hear the elf woman yelling at building security, apparently through a commlink.  She clearly heard the words “shoot through the walls” being used and informed Prometheus over her commlink.  Prometheus thanked her for the warning, taking the time to put a bullet into Marie as a coup de’grace before picking a more defensible spot to cover the door to the HRT ready room.

The HRT team made their presence known by shooting through the wall – the wall between their ready room and the executive office Althea was in.  Void heard the overfire make spak-spak-spak noises as the bullets passed through the office walls just to her left.  Deciding the hallway was way too exposed when facing assault rifles but unable to retreat due to the NeuroStun IX gas, she instead leapt up into the crawl space above the dropped ceiling tiles, neatly replacing the tile she pushed out of the way behind her so there was no sign of which way she went.  Up in the crawl space, Void discovered that most of the walls on the floor did not extend all of the way up to the next floor.  Taking advantage of this, she moved forward, her Light Body power allowing her to walk on the dropped ceiling without breaking through.

Once over the executive office, she heard Althea and the head of the HRT squad discussing tactics.  Althea wanted the attackers dead, but thought that the team attacking might be the Pleiades Group, which suggested caution.  [Hearing this, the players became excited that their characters were starting to get known.]  The HRT sergeant decided they were safe enough for now and called for backup.  Shortly after, Void heard him report to Althea that additional HRT squads would arrive in 2-3 minutes.  He then ordered two of his troopers to hold the ready room door while the rest would hold the executive office.  Void relayed all of this to Prometheus.

Prometheus, no longer forced to wait to shoot the HRT squad when they moved out, started shooting any cameras and security sensors he could see, partially to blind security and partially to convince the HRT squad that the attack was still active so they would stay put.  Then he remembered he had his grapple gun and used it to fish Murdoc and Killroy from the gassed corner.  Once out of the area of the gas, they both started to recover.  They were awake but disoriented within 30 seconds [which is also when the gas dissipated].

After briefing Murdoc and Killroy as to the current situation, Prometheus took the last NeuroStun grenade down the hall and closer to Void so she could drop it into the executive office.  She silently moved over to Prometheus and retrieved the grenade from him.  She then quietly returned and dropped the grenade into the executive suite.  It quickly knocked out Althea and the three HRT troops in the office.  It took some time to reach the other two in the ready room and those troopers made panicked calls to building security before passing out.  Void re-boosted her strength, lifted a drop-ceiling panel, and threw two knives into Althea, killing her.  Void then took a picture of the dead elf with her commlink and replaced the panel.  [NeuroStun is heavier than air, so once it stopped actively expanding she was relatively safe.]

Once again awake, if not fully recovered, Killroy took immediately to opening an escape route through an outer-wall conference room.  The original plan had been to use his katana to break open one of the exterior windows so the team could rappel down to the ground and have Sin drive them away in a waiting car.  With the security shutters down, that plan was no longer certain.  He was able to break the glass with ease, but the metal shutters were another matter.  His first two attempts were very promising, but then he ran out of gas and could not completely open an escape route.  [He burned his last Edge on his first two attempts, removing the limits and make his 6’s explode, but was 2 points shy of breaking through.  After that, none of his weapons could do enough damage to get past the armor of the armored shutters.]

The group discussed their options quickly, as they knew more HRT squads were on the way and they were starting to feel very trapped.  The only option was to wait for the NeuroStun IX in with the HRT squad on this floor to dissipate, go in, take some of their assault rifles, and use those to blast the rest of the way through the armored shutters.  This left a much narrowed window of escape before the rest of the HRT squads arrived, but it was better than doing nothing.

While waiting for the gas to dissipate, Void put Dexter and Marie into body bags while Killroy and Prometheus prepared.  Allowing a few extra seconds for the gas to disperse, Killroy kicked open the door to the executive office.  He and Prometheus entered the office and each grabbed an assault rifle from one of the slumbering troopers.  Killroy immediately ran back to the conference room and used the underslung grenade launcher to blast through the remaining metal shutters.  Prometheus took the time to drag the dead elf back with him to Void, who retrieved her knives from the body before bagging it.

With the metal shutters now breached, Killroy and Prometheus looked outside to see how bad the situation was.  There were several news drones hovering in the area and an increasing number of Knight Errant patrol cars were accumulating at the base of the building.  Rappelling down and simply driving away was no longer an option.  Prometheus used his internal commlink to call Sin [His cyber-commlink has a high enough rating that the jammers on the building exterior did not completely block it] and tell him to come back with the Ares Venture – it was the only way they could escape now.  Sin agreed and turned the smuggling craft around before going to maximum thrust.  No longer needing to “fly casual”, he was able to reduce the estimated time back to the building to 3 minutes.  The HRT teams would arrive on the 12th floor in 1 minute or less.

To buy the needed time for Sin to arrive, Killroy and Prometheus took the assault rifles, opened up the elevator doors for each of the three elevators [two regular and one freight],  and launched grenades at the approaching elevators.  They did not destroy the cars or kill the approaching HRT squads, but they did damage the cables and guides, triggering the automatic safety breaks and stopping the cars completely.  Void used her locksmithing skills to break the locks on both stairwells in the locked position.  The team then fell back to the conference room where the breach was and waited.  [Much in-game sweating happened here.]

Sin arrived in the Ares Venture just before the HRT teams could make it to the floor the shadowrunners were on.  The team loaded the 5 bodies and then themselves into the modified aircraft while the HRT squads were attempting to break down the stairwell doors.  Knight Errant was able to get spotlights on the aircraft from the ground, brilliantly lighting up the sides so the message “Fuck the Po-Po,” painted tall on both sides, was readable for at least a mile around.

Once the team was on board, Sin immediately flew the craft away.  To discourage media and police drones from following, Killroy and Prometheus used the stolen assault rifles to shoot several of the tailing drones out of the sky.  The rest decided to veer off after four drones were destroyed this way.  After another 5 minutes of nap-of-the-earth flying [to avoid being tracked by radar], the overburdened aircraft returned to the warehouse hangar and landed.  The team disembarked with the bodies and quickly left the area in a “borrowed” van.

The kill shot photos of the targets were sent to The Fin so she could forward them to Numbers as proof the job was done.  The Fin was at Pier 62, creating plausible deniability for herself and attempting to ignore the media stunt showing on the AR TV displays.  Surprisingly (to The Fin anyway), Numbers was expecting her call and already knew the job was done.  After arranging payment, submitting the [padded] expense report, and dispersal of funds to the group, The Fin paid more attention to what was on all the AR television displays.  Apparently, an attack had happened at a Federated-Boeing office building and the attackers had escaped in an Ares Venture with the words “Fuck the Po-Po” clearly painted on the sides.  Video of the aircraft was on every local station and starting to appear on some of the national stations.

The Fin ordered a bottle of a particularly strong alcohol and started drinking it.

End of session

[This session ran long, which made work the next morning somewhat painful, but we wrapped the run.  I think we were starting to get a little punch-drunk at the end because having our stealth-based team escaping in a VTOL with “Fuck the Po-Po” painted on the sides where the police and the media could clearly see it was uproariously funny to the entire group.]

[This was a close thing for the PCs.  The addition of the air elemental threw a wrench into the players’ plans, but not as expected.  Instead of mixing it up with Killroy, it kept him from closing the door to the corner office before the gas grenade went off, with near disastrous effect on the attack team.]

[The aftermath of this attack will start a second corporate conflict in Seattle, this one between Federated-Boeing and Sikorsky.  Sikorsky wanted some quiet payback for the killing of their Johnson at the Tacoma Ferry Terminal, what they got was a media spectacle.  Sikorsky but won't back down from what happened as it just made the reputation of an exec or two inside the company and Federated-Boeing cannot shrug off the attack without a loss of reputation.  Federated-Boeing HAS to strike back at Sikorsky, but it will take time as their entire local cadre of Johnsons just got very dead.  They will have to bring in new people to re-establish their street connections and get that ball rolling again.  Plus, they need to plug the holes in their security and check to see if there are any others beyond the ones used on this run.  There will be some new job openings in Facilities Security very, very soon.]

Session 1
Session 2
Session 3

Monday, November 2, 2015

Shadowrun Report – Valkyrie Ride – Session 3

[This session happened October 26th.  NOTE: At some point this run (I can’t remember exactly which session) Murdoc cast a quickened Improve Reaction spell upon himself at Force 3, so he will be unusually high in the initiative order, let alone for a Mage.]


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
Void – female human 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)
Bookie – male elf alcoholic hacker, favors whiskey with a whiskey chaser
Murdoc – male elf kilt-wearing street mage, at home with the hobos


Prometheus – male human street samurai, handy with any firearm

Thursday, February 27, 2076
As part of last minute preparations, Sin contacted Kaylee and asked if she could arrange a rigged 6-person vehicle for him by 7:00 PM today.  Kaylee asked how long would he need it and would he be returning it, to which Sin replied “3-4 hours” and “Yes”.  Kaylee told him it would cost 3000¥, up front, but she would have a vehicle available.  Sin transferred the money and Kaylee told him she’d call with the location and access codes when the vehicle was ready.

The Fin, meanwhile, was branching out into creative bookkeeping.  She intended to leave as little of the expense money on the table after the run and was putting together inflated invoices for the equipment the Group purchased for this run.  It occurred to her that Bookie had not mentioned paying coldpulse for the data she helped him acquire, so The Fin asked him what he’d paid coldpulse.  Bookie was confused and said “nothing” – he’d just asked for her help.  The Fin asked again and again Bookie said “nothing”.  When The Fin asked a third time, it finally occurred to Bookie she was asking him to name an amount she could put on the expense budget, so he said “5000¥”.  The Fin adjusted that number upwards for a nice profit margin and added it to the expense report for reimbursement by Mr. Johnson.  Bookie promptly sent coldpulse 5000¥ and a message that there was no additional work for her, but the introduction to the datahaven was worthwhile.

3:00 PM
Bookie arrived at the Federated-Boeing building in a cleaning crew jumpsuit and entered using the cleaning crew smart card.  He was questioned by the security guard about being late, but told the guard he’d been called in on his day off to clean “a shitstorm” from one of the restrooms.  The guard waved him through and wished him luck.  Bookie then ducked into a restroom to shuck the cleaning crew jumpsuit, packing it away into a satchel (which also contained a spray can of fecal odor), and took a hit of Psyche.  He then took the elevator up to the third floor.

The third floor was almost entirely one large cube farm.  Moving like he belonged there [3 hits on 5 dice for Etiquette], Bookie walked the sparsely occupied cubes until he found an empty one that was isolated from any of the occupied cubes.  He then pulled out his cyberdeck and connected directly into the cubes network interface.  The interface was dead.  Sigh.  [Modern corporations disable network connections in unused offices and cubes to avoid this exact scenario and I see no reason for corporations in 2076 to have stopped the practice.]

Bookie left that cube and located an empty cube with an occupied adjacent cube.  This was a little less secure physically, but he could tap into the live access point of the adjacent cube.  Opening the rear kickplate of the cube, Bookie improvised a connection to the live access point for the adjacent cube without disrupting the signal [5 hits on his Hardware check].  The added benefit of this setup was that network security would identify his access point as belonging to the wageslave in the adjacent cube, not an unauthorized access from an empty cube.  [Turns out, this was important.]  He then accessed the local host directly.

The host interior was designed to look like an airport.  The terminal area was the general access portion of the host.  Near that were hangars that represented different data repositories.  Across the “airfield” was a second set of hangar constructs behind a fence.  These has a skunk icon on them, which Bookie recalled reading was the sign for the BR@T Skunkworks, the top secret projects the corporation was working on.  He immediately headed over there.

Getting into the Skunkworks area was surprisingly easy for Bookie, as was accessing the first hangar he came to.  The interior looked like an aircraft manufacturing plant with schematics of experimental planes hanging from the assembly line.  Not certain what he was looking at [other than paydata], Bookie carefully examined the first prototype schematic for a data bomb before attempting to copy the data.  [He rolled terribly.]  This is when things started going against him.

Hidden in the data was indeed a data bomb, which detonated and triggered an alarm when Bookie attempted to copy the file.  The biofeedback from detonation nearly knocked Bookie unconscious.  As a Patrol IC rezzed up, Bookie quickly changed his icon to look like that of the wageslave whose access he was piggybacking.  The Patrol IC immediately located him and alerted the host.  Bookie took the moment to copy the (now unprotected) datafile, knowing the Patrol IC itself could not hurt him.  Then the host rezzed up a Tar Baby IC.

Bookie ran.

Fleeing to the access point, Bookie had planned to copy the datafile to the wageslave’s equipment to further incriminate him or her, but he was unable to hide from the pursuing Patrol IC and was forced to jack out while still in VR.  He was able to avoid passing out from the dumpshock, but was still seriously disoriented by the dumpshock and suffering the effects of the databomb.  Additionally, he could hear the corporate employee’s in the cube farm starting to respond to the data alarms.

Wiping the blood from his nose, Bookie staggered to the restroom.  He could tell a few people noticed him, but no one attempted to stop him.  Inside the restroom he splashed water on his face to clean up and try to regain some focus.  He remembered that the door to the Electrical room was across the hallway from the restroom and the service elevator was in there.  He thought he might be able to escape that way, but he had to move quickly.

Taking some deep breathes to steady himself, he exited the restroom and stepped to the Electrical room door.  Using the cleaning crew smart card, Bookie was able to enter the room, but the card got caught in the reader as he was trying to close the door and snapped in two [the effect of a glitch on the Etiquette roll to look calm].  With nothing to do for it, Bookie pulled out the cleaning crew jump suit and summoned the freight elevator.

While riding down in the elevator, Bookie liberally sprayed himself with the fecal odor spray as part of his cover story.  On the ground floor, security was alert, but the odor wafting from Bookie both backed his story and kept anyone from wanting to stand near him long enough to question him in detail.  He was waved out of the building along with his smell.

5:00 PM
Sin, Void, Killroy, Murdoc, and Prometheus arrived at the address Kaylee supplied for the Ares Venture.  The location was an old warehouse with a retractable roof.  Inside was the aircraft.  It was obviously a smuggler’s craft – it was stripped down for maximum cargo weight and painted flat black with “Fuck the Po-Po” in white on both sides.  It was immediately obvious why Kaylee insisted the craft not be flown while the sun was up – Knight Errant being likely to take a dim view of the message painted on it.  Sin started a pre-flight walk around, taking his time about it due to the modified nature of the aircraft.  The rest of the group checked the parachutes and then settled in to wait.

7:00 PM
Sin received a phone call from Kaylee, providing the location and access codes to an old Renault-Fiat Grand Caravan [a minivan].  It was configured as a service vehicle, so there were no side windows behind the front seats, which met Sin’s needs perfectly.  He drove it to a family-style restaurant near where the run was going to happen and parked it for later use.

7:30 PM
Void, Killroy, Murdoc, and Prometheus loaded into the Ares Venture, ready to go.  Sin retracted the roof, climbed into his GMC Bulldog, and remotely piloted the Venture up and out of the warehouse.  The aircraft mostly disappeared in the overcast sky, only the thrusters giving it away.

8:00 PM
“Flying casually”, Sin placed the Ares Venture 610 meters [a little over 2000 ft] above the roof of the Federated-Boeing building.  With a tight window to avoid looking suspicious, Void, Killroy, Murdoc, and Prometheus promptly jumped out of the craft, Murdoc parachuting in tandem with Void.  With surprisingly little trouble [due to great rolls and the liberal use of Edge by Killroy and Prometheus], they all landed on the roof of the southern stairwell and gathered up their parachutes before any motion detectors were tripped.

While the others applied catalyst sticks to the stealth parachutes, Void tried to spoof the video camera watching the door to the stairs.  After three minutes of trying, she admitted defeat.  Killroy suggested he just cut through the roof with his katana.  To avoid unnecessary noise, Murdoc cast his silence spell [at Force 2 to keep the area of effect to a manageable two-meter radius].  Killroy then cut through the roof and (after Void checked for any additional security in the stairwell) the group dropped into the stairs.

8:20 PM
Having quietly descended 8 floors, Killroy opened the door to the 12th floor.  He heard some talking, possibly telephone conversations, in the direction of their targets.  The elevator lobby was empty and the door to the HRT team waiting area was closed.  He saw the door to the first target office was partially open.  Killroy stepped back inside the silence globe Murdoc was maintaining and reported what he had seen.

The team moved out, Killroy and Void in the lead, followed by Murdoc, with Prometheus behind, watching the rear.  Killroy and Void got into position first.  Listening to the woman’s telephone conversation, Killroy realized he’d heard that kind of talk before – she was a Johnson!  He filed that away for later.  Murdoc then moved into place just close enough that the office door was now in the silence globe.

Killroy rushed into the room, katana drawn.  Sitting at the desk, facing away from the door was Lakeisha Erickson, who had just put her call on hold.  She was just turning back to face her desk when Killroy attacked, killing her in one blow.  Void was ready to assist in the kill, but instead unrolled a body bag and started putting the suddenly dead woman into it.  She did nothing to clean up the spreading pool of blood.

Killroy immediately dashed out of the office to the door of the next one, signaling for Murdoc to follow.  Murdoc attempted to hop the receptionist’s desk instead of walking around it, but it took two tries to do so.  While Murdoc was attempting to get into position, Killroy listened to the next target’s conversation.  The male in this office also seemed to be a Johnson.  Murdoc finally moved into position, Killroy kicked the partially opened door the rest of the way open, and attacked the male in the office, Jasper Spears.

The dwarf, although surprised and injured, was able to draw his Defiance EX Shocker and shoot at Killroy, but missed widely.  Realizing the dwarf was not dead, Murdoc stepped forward to get sight of him and cast a stun bolt on Jasper.  Void, finished bagging the first dead body, rapidly moved to the second office, boosting her strength before throwing a knife into Jasper.  Killroy followed with a second katana attack, which the dwarf mostly shrugged due to his armor and augmentations, allowing Void to get the fatal blow in with a second thrown blade.  In the interim, Murdoc suppressed the astral signature of his spell to reduce the amount of evidence left behind.

End of session

[Matrix running takes more time than I planned, every time.  As a result, we had to end the session mid-run.  I need to put together a cheat sheet for data bombs that walks through the process of setting them, looking for them, disarming them, and them detonating and how that is handled.  It took way too much time for me to locate the correct rolls, extending the time it took to do Bookie’s data run.]

[Next session will be the end of this run.  No, really, it will be.  Probably.]

Session 1
Session 2

Session 4