Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Session Report – Sam’s Run – Session 2

[This session happened December 14th and was the final session of this run.  My notes are a bit sketchy and it took longer than anticipated to sit down and write this, so it may be a bit thin on detail compared to other write-ups.]

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
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
Krombopulos Michael – male orc physical adept, is a major fanboy of “The Elf in a Gecko Suit”

Bee – Hired by The Fin to stand in for a gate guard
Lord Bowler – part of the driving crew hired by The Fin

Wednesday, March 4, 2076, 5:30 PM – Ash Wednesday
Having learned that the guard shift changed at 10:00 PM, meaning new guards would be showing up for duty before the run was complete, the team discussed options.  The team decided the easiest would be to have Alfonz hack the security company’s system and re-assign the scheduled guards to other posts at a slightly later time.  Alfonz hacked the system and sent them all to posts in Everett at 11:00 PM.  This would buy us some safety time in case it was needed.  [Spoilers: It was.]

The crew of impromptu car thieves rode up to the location of the target car collection in Bellevue, riding in an old model minivan with Lord Bowler at the wheel.  Lord Bowler stopped the minivan a block short of the target and let Krombopulos Michael out.

Krom went ahead on foot, keeping out of the sight of the gate guard at the target home.  Krom then jumped the fence and sidled up to the back of the guard shack.  He silently bypassed the card-reader lock on the door to the guard shack and rolled a NeuroStun X grenade into the guard shack, closing the door behind the grenade.  Seconds later the guard fell to the floor.  Krom contacted the team via micro-transceiver, signaling it was safe to approach.

Lord Bowler drove the minivan up to the front gate and let the rest of the team out.  By this point the NeuroStun X had dissipated inside the guard shack and Krom had the door open again.  Bee, wearing a close facsimile of the guard uniform took the unconscious guard’s equipment belt and badge and put them on.  She then stepped into the guard shack to stand watch while the heist was in action.  Lord Bowler left to wait at the first drop-off point.  There were five drop-off points set up in discrete locations various distances from the target, each with a car carrier ready to receive merchandise.  Lord Bowler’s job was to shuttle drivers back to the target after they deposited a car at the various carriers.

Meanwhile, Baelthor took two more grenades of NeuroStun X to the walking guard patrol, guided by Alfonz, who had control of the house security cameras.  Baelthor popped the “spoons” of the grenades and walked directly up to the guards, ignoring their orders to halt.  By the time the guards realized what Baelthor was up to, the gas was knocking them out.  [Edge was spent here to get this to go smoothly.]  Baelthor’s freakish immunity to the stuff protected him from the effects of the gas.  Once the gas dispersed, he called over the stronger members of the team to help drag the unconscious guards into the garage.

Inside the garage were a personnel elevator and a cargo elevator large enough to move three full-sized cars at a time.  Off to one side is an equipment area and the unconscious guards are all stashed there, bound by zip-ties and duct tape.  Limbsaw would spend most of the heist there watching the guards, he two monofilament chainsaws prominently displayed to keep them from getting ideas.  Seul-ki stayed with her in case something unexpected happened and fools needed to be cut down.

Two levels down was the storage lot for the 50+ vehicles to be stolen.  There was a round of appreciative whistles for the collection when the team stepped out of the elevator.  Ash and Roadrunner started moving out the cars – first two sets of modern cars able to use GridGuide to drive themselves to the first car carrier, then a classic car each to directly drive.  An hour later, they had performed this trick twice, filling up the first carrier with twelve cars.  This maintained the pace necessary to get all of the cars out by 10:00 PM, when traffic would die down and the exotic cars would stand out more.

Deciding to chance a large wave of cars to speed things up, over the next hour, Ash and Roadrunner sent out every remaining rigged vehicle with the exception of the damaged moving trucks and the two Nissan Hound helicopters.  Those would all go out in the final round as the chance of those being noticed by Knight Errant (or the neighbors) was highest.  This cleared 15 cars in just under an hour, leaving just over half the collection still in the garage.

As the next wave was being brought up, an angry man in pajamas and a robe walked up and started arguing with Bee about the cars leaving illegally.  Bee couldn’t talk the guy down and asked for help.  Looking through the security cameras, Alfonz recognized the man as one of the Assistant District Attorneys for Seattle.  Alfonz contact the man via commlink and the two talked.  The ADA was angry as one of the cars he tried to buy off of “Sam” [the deceased owner] had just driven out of the neighborhood and he knew the cars were supposed to still be in escrow.  After further negotiations, it turned out his anger could be quenched for 10,000¥.  Alfonz contacted The Fin to get approval for the expense and she gave it.  Alfonz transferred funds to an account the ADA supplied and the matter was resolved.

Due to the lack of rigged cars, the team was only able to get 3 cars out this round.  Ash did the numbers and realized that, at their current rate, they would miss the 10:00 PM deadline to get all the cars.  Gambling on security in order to make the run, Seul-ki was left guarding the guards alone and Baelthor and Krom was brought off of the response team to increase the number of drivers to five.  This increased the number of cars in motion enough that the last pass would just empty the garage just before the security company realized something was up, even allowing the helicopters 30 minutes to warm up.

To hide the helicopters while they prepped, the damaged moving trucks were brought up and positioned in a perimeter to obscure the driveway.  Then the helicopters were brought up and their rotor blades unfolded.  Ash and Baelthor each cast and maintained Silence and sat in one helicopter each as the helicopters were warmed up by Roadrunner.  This hid the whine of the engines and the thwop-thwop-thwop sound of the rotor blades.  The last sports cars were brought up and readied for a quick escape while the team waited on the helicopters.

Once the helicopters were ready to fly, the trucks were sent away using GridGuide.  Roadrunner remotely piloted the first helicopter away with Baelthor in it, maintaining his Silent spell.  Once it was far enough away it would not be noticeable, she set it to auto-pilot and jumped back to her body.  Ash had to leave the second helicopter to drive the last sports car away, so the sound of the helicopter spinning at full thrust suddenly broke across the neighborhood, setting off car- and house-alarms as the noise rattled windows.  Roadrunner piloted the helicopter away as quickly as she could, putting as much distance as she could between herself and the first 9-1-1 calls.  Ash took a moment to spray paint “Fuck the Po-Po” in black on the driveway before speeding away in the last sports car, heading out through the rear entrance of the of the neighborhood, just as the distant sounds of sirens could be heard approaching the front entrance.

Thursday, March 5, 2076
With the stolen vehicles stored away in safe garages until they were sold off or in the process of being sold, the team was paid by The Fin, along with a 1000¥ bonus for doing the job with style and no blood-shed.

End of Session

[So the session ran a bit long as we were trying to complete the run in a single game session.  If we’d been willing to split it to a second session, the GM could have thrown in some complicating incidents like car chases while we were stealing the cars.  Having a go-ganger pull up to one of the drivers in a hot rod and rev the engine for a race would have suckered in Roadrunner.  Another way to go would have had a street gang try to carjack one of the classic sports cars and the driver trying to get away.]

[This entire run was driven (pardon the pun) by The Fin wanting more cash than the regular runs were providing, plus her desire to own some of the cars from Sam’s collection.  She had to put together a small stake to pay the runners from, which is why it took nearly two months before she put the run into motion.  She also had to lean on her contacts to get a pool of lower end shadowrunners to pull from and access to car carriers to move the stolen vehicles en mass.  The pay-off for the run was an unqualified success as The Fin personally pulled in a six-figured profit after the run was over.  I’m hoping this will inspire the other players to start working on side-runs for their own characters.]

[Plus, it was fun playing a different type of character for a change, which everyone seemed to enjoy.  We made characters that were very different from our primary characters to try out different things.]

Session 1

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Parks and Wrecks - Chapter 3: Three Titans

[This session happened Saturday, November 14, and is a different gaming group than the Shadowrun group.  This group runs using the HERO System (Champions) and only plays once a month.]

Chapter 0 – Dramatis Personae

May 26, 1934, 21:01, Chicago, The Ambassador East Hotel
I’ve eaten dinner and had several stiff drinks.  By the clock on the wall I’ve been awake 15 hours, but I know it’s been longer.  We were in the Schattenkreis base for more than half a day, meaning I’m approaching 24 hours of consciousness, most of it requiring strenuous activity.  As long as the day had been before we returned in the stolen submarine, the 30 minutes that followed felt longer.

The submarine had been barely within the control of the engineer “driving” it.  Shortly after we arrived in Lake Michigan, an enormous explosion happened behind the submarine.  It was fortunate that we were pointed at the shore when we exited the portal – the explosion pushed the submarine to shore instead of rolling it.  Our immediate suspicion was that the explosion was an attack of some sort, but in hindsight it was clearly the gate to the Schattenkreis base collapsing or exploding, possibly both.

With the submarine more or less grounded on the rocky shore adjacent to the World’s Fair, evacuation of the boat was our priority.  We worked as a team to get all the innocent bystanders and rescued scientists safely to shore and then we dispersed to deal with the treat of the Copper Robot as each of us felt we could.  Helen and Simone headed to the Sky Bridge to deal with the Arcturus Star atop the central tower, Bak Mu started treating the injured by the passing of the enormous Copper Robot on the Midway, Kurt headed off to the nearby animal exhibit, possibly to find a mount, and I lost track of Jack.

Riley had not yet marshaled the US Army Robot to fight the Copper Robot.  The Copper Robot was about to step out of the Southern Lagoon on the far side.  I arrived at the near shore of the Lagoon, thinking furiously.  I came up with several options to go after the Copper Robot and quickly discarded most of them as too dangerous, too uncertain, or both.  I settled on attempting to use the Key of Solomon to freeze the Lagoon and hopefully trap the Copper Robot in the Lagoon long enough for Riley to arrive.

I stretched my hands out to the Lagoon and called upon the waters to freeze, trapping the “metal man”.  Not certain what to expect, I was pleased when the water nearest me immediately froze and the effect quickly spread.  I continued chanting my command to the water, focusing my concentration to will the waters to obey me.  To be honest, I’m not entirely certain it was necessary to continue chanting, but I did so.

As rime ice covered the surface of the Lagoon and started to thicken, the temperature of the air started dropping noticeably.  Unfortunately, this took longer than I had and the Copper Robot stepped out of the Lagoon before the entire thing froze solid.  A pillar of ice started rising from the center of the freezing Lagoon.  Intrigued by this, I continued to chant, hoping I was maintaining some semblance of control.  The pillar manifested arms and legs, cold radiating from it in waves.

At some point around here, Riley arrived, piloting the US Army Robot (which he later named “The ‘Merican” – who can fathom engineers and their naming schema).  He started trading blows with the Copper Robot, the Army Robot using a giant spinning blade, the Copper Robot shooting bolts of lightning from the enormous lightning rod attached to its back.  Then the ice being animated and stepped ashore to join the fray.  (I later learned Bak Mu was also involved, but, due to the distance, I could not see him.)

I was slightly distracted at this point as Kurt rode by on the back of an adult grizzly bear.  (I challenge anyone to say they would not have been distracted by such a thing.  I will call them a liar if they are able to do so with a straight face.)  The bear was apparently Jack in a new form and Kurt wanted to know where to go.  I pointed him at the Hall of Religion while attempting to maintain my chant.

I think this is where things started to go awry in relation to my control of the ice being as it started attacking the US Army Robot instead of the Copper Robot.  Its punches did little, but then it started summoning a blizzard around it.  I later learned that this bypassed what defenses the US Army Robot provided Riley.  An alternate theory is that Mr. Parks was in the area and usurped some measure of control from what may have been a djin from me.  We later found some evidence he had been in the area, but his control over djin is very speculative at this point.

Seeing the ice being was not doing what I wanted, I used the Key of Solomon to dispel it and then made my way to the Hall of Religion.  The ice being started slowly dispersing.

I later learned that Simone and Helen had made their way up to the giant, star-shaped light on top of the center tower of the Sky Bridge.  There they found two members of the Schattenkreis protecting the light.  Coincidentally, both Simone and Helen were still wearing the Schattenkreis uniforms stolen from the submarine base (the uniforms were much warmer than the summer dresses they arrived wearing at the Antarctic base).  This allowed Simone and Helen to bluff their way into control of the situation.  When Simone used the controls to shut off the Arcturus Star, the goons attacked anyways (the Star refused to deactivate).  Helen shot out the kneecap of one and shot the other in the shoulder, breaking his collar bone.  She ordered them to sit and they did.  Simone and Helen then took turns shooting at the heavy glass of the Arcturus Star itself until they shattered it.

This, of course, caused it to explode.

Simone and Helen were injured in the blast, but not killed – the two Schattenkreis goons were not so lucky.  The explosion had another effect on the goons – the World’s Fair maintenance uniforms they had been wearing turned into leather armor.  Whatever glamour had changed its appearance had failed.  The ladies decided to leave before actual maintenance workers and/or security guards arrived.

Just as the ladies were destroying the Arcturus Star, Riley was able to sever one of the arms off the Copper Robot.  The robot exploded into a shower of components seconds later.  I’m fairly certain that it was the ladies destroying the Arcturus Star that caused the Copper Robot to fall to pieces, Riley claims it was his actions that did the trick.  I’ve chosen to not press the matter as the ice being I summoned nearly killed both he and Bak Mu from the cold during the three-way fight.

Shortly after this point (I’m uncertain of the timing as I was busy running and not looking at my watch), Kurt, Jack, and I discovered that the sarcophagus lid was missing.  The Hall of religion was empty of spectators due to swarms of bees that had suddenly arrived.  The cold air side-effect of the ice being’s blizzard had driven the bees dormant, so the three of us were able to enter the Hall safely.  There were a lot of bees.

Following traces of the sarcophagus lid being dragged, we discovered a hidden maintenance door in the display room.  We pressed on and ended at the receiving dock for the Hall of Religion, where the tracks disappeared.  We followed the pavement from the receiving dock to the main road of the Fair.  There we looked around for a truck that might carry the stone sarcophagus lid.  We spotted one just down past the Hall of Science.  Grasping at straws, we ran to that truck.  It was damaged by electrical attacks from the Copper Robot that had missed Riley in the Army Robot.

Riley arrived at the truck at the same time as we did, wanting to use it to haul away the remains of the Copper Robot before the authorities arrived to take control of the situation.  The four of us opened the back of the truck, guns drawn.  Inside were just some barrels of heavy water, not the sarcophagus we were looking for.  I was dejected – Parks had gotten away with the sarcophagus and we never got our shot at him.

Riley and I got into the front of the truck to go get the remains of the Copper Robot.  In the front we found two bitter trophies: the coat and cane of G. P. Solomon, a.k.a. Mr. George Parks.  We had been that close.

Someone suggested that the Schattenkreis base had docking facilities for TWO submarines and we had stolen and crashed only ONE of them.  Riley drove the truck to the Fair’s docks as quickly as he could.  Once there we scanned the waters and Kurt was able to spot a periscope just as it submerged below the waters.  Kurt and Riley started arguing about whether to steal a boat or a sea plane to track the submarine.  I ended the argument by stating, “They’ve escaped.  We’ll try again next time.”

Then our entire team focused on assisting with the cleanup of the attack.  Riley was able to stash the Copper Robot’s arm he had cut off at the AEC Pyramid before the actual Army arrived and confiscated everything else.  It turned out that Riley had decked the Army Specialist exhibiting the Army Robot and then woke him up after the fighting was over, congratulating the Specialist on a job well done.  Bak Mu and Kurt started providing medical assistance, setting up the lobby of the AEC Pyramid as a medical triage area.  This tied the company’s name to the relief efforts, which no doubt scored us points with our employers.

After the sun set and the relief efforts were over, the team and Miss Decker secured a private room at The Pump Room for dinner and to compare notes.  Doing so brought the following to light:

  • The armor the Schattenkreis goons had been wearing was elven armor from the court of the Dark Elf King.
  • There were “fleshy bits” in the Copper Robot wreckage – suggestive of brain in a jar control system?
  • Telling the complete story of the robots and the elves to the newer members of the team, I realized that the makers of the giant robots are the Schattenkreis, not the dark Elves.  However, Dark Elf technology/magic involved somehow.  There is now the suggestion that Mr. Parks is working with the Schattenkreis/Dark Elf alliance.
  • Bak Mu pointed out that the submarine base was likely not the only base the Schattenkreis have and many people are missing from the Fair.  Perhaps the Schattenkreis are now kidnapping people for control components for more giant robots.

Miss Decker had several observations and recommendations.

  • Djin legends do not suggest they can control minds, so Helen’s family are more likely being blackmailed/threatened.
  • She suggested we needed to research Mr. Parks before going after him again.
  • She acknowledged that the Company may have some responsibility for the situation and offered to count the team’s activities involving tracking down Mr. Parks to be business related, meaning we were on the payroll and not doing this on our own.  We took her up on it

Tomorrow most of us are heading to New York City to start researching Mr. Parks.  Kurt made noises indicating he will be heading directly to New Mexico to scout out the doings of Solomon Industries and their tower site at Chaco Canyon.

Now to sleep.  It has been a tiring day and there is more work to do tomorrow.

End of Session

Chapter 1
Chapter 2

Aftermath and Research [Not Written Yet]

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Posting Delay due to End of Year Busy-ness

A combination of work getting really busy for me and several major social events recently means it won't be until Thursday morning before I get a posting up for this week.

On top of that, the Shadowrun Co-GM is a retail store manager in the computer games industry, so he's been swamped at HIS work the last two weeks and missed the last two game sessions.  As a result, Session 2 of Sam's Run hasn't actually happened yet.

So, that means this week's post will be Chapter 3 of the Pulp HERO Parks and Wrecks adventure, titled: Three Titans.  I'm not certain what next week's will be.  We did a research session this past weekend (one of my social events) and gathered a lot of information, which allowed us to determine which way we are going next, but the GM won't be ready to run again until June or July.  This is a combo of needing to do the setting research for the high level of verisimilitude she provides plus being a high school teacher.  Either way, I'm not certain that I can spin an entertaining story covering everything we did when a research montage would cover it better.  We'll see.