Thursday, July 29, 2010

Shadowrun Campaign Journal #2

The party started the night in Mr. White’s warehouse, licking their wounds from the previous encounter. Both Puppy and Phil the Kill had serious injuries so they decided to hole up a while and do some healing. Mr. White did some computer recon to learn about the fallout over the shootout at Morpheus’ Throne. Apparently the police thought it was the work of some amateurs considering the haphazard way that everything seemed to go down. The party seemed to get a kick out of that, especially since the police were right. There was a mention of some military grade weaponry used in the fracas, this seemed to be of some concern to the local police force.

After a couple of days of laying low they decided to contact Zapper and get their payment for killing Handsome Dick. Phil and Katsin met up with a grim faced Zapper who had some bad news for them. First, he informed them that they had all been had by his employer. The “Aztechnology” corp man does not exist, Zapper thought the whole thing was a setup and that there was no money for any of them. Someone just wanted Handsome Dick, and perhaps all of the Silver Streaks, dead. Secondly, he played them some video footage on a small player of the incident with the Silver Streaks. Clear as day they watched Mr. White unload with the autocannon, reducing some gang members to red mist and tearing apart a section of a building in a hail of lead. There was also footage of the inside of the bar showing the rest of the crew doing work. Zapper told them that the footage was going to be released to the police unless the party cooperated with the wishes of the mysterious client. Zapper apologized to the group and assured them that he had no part in this and was very sorry that they were being manipulated this way. After a perception test Katsin believed him, but the party seems unlikely to ever trust Zapper again.

With the blackmail in place the party was assigned a new job. In the Outer Edge section of Seattle (the same area that housed the once semi-prominent Silver Streaks) there is a drug dealer named Dark Cloud. He is to be killed. They were given the address of his warehouse but not much else. Now is where things started to get interesting…

Shadowrun is a very different game than D&D. Aside from the worlds and the rules, they are also played very differently. For the most part D&D is a structured, linear game. Even in sandbox style campaigns the party moves from A to B, killing and looting along the way. Dungeons usually have one entrance, the party has an overall goal and actions are somewhat dictated by the moral compass of alignment. Not so in Shadowrun, which is a game that the players have a lot more say over how events occur. For the first adventure I purposely gave the party a very clean, narrative path to follow. They were hired to kill somebody, they knew where to find him and how to get there. They went to that place and killed him. It was meant to be a tutorial in a sense. Now, however, it was up to them to create what happened next.

They were confronted with a couple of issues and regrouped at Mr. White’s safehouse to go over their options. They were being blackmailed by an unknown person and they were contacted for another assassination job. Those were about the only certains that were going on. Since none of them had ever played Shadowrun before they were fairly unfamiliar with what their characters were capable of and how to conduct business in the fast paced futuristic world of cyberpunk mayhem. I tried to help them out by letting them know about their capabilities, I explained their contacts to them and occasionally helped them out with some other info. But I love listening to players scheme and plan and was more than content to sit back and see what they came up with. Which was not much. They tried driving slowly through the neighborhood but that yielded little other than a trip to Long John Silver’s and a conversation with a bum. Phil the Kill staked out the drug dealers hideout for a couple of days from a nearby tenement and gleaned some info about Dark Cloud’s day to day operations in moving around the street drug Rush. He also had a radio transmission intercepted and wound up killing two gunmen who came after him.

But the central issue remained. What were they doing? Were they trying to locate their blackmailer? Were they going to kill the drug dealer, and if so, then what? How would they keep Mr. White’s itchy trigger finger off the autocannon? So many questions to be answered. Eventually they started hitting up their contacts, which is what I was hoping they would do. Puppy called his buddy over at Lone Star, a man named Burbank that he knew from bodyguard work. He plugged him for some info on the Outer Edge neighborhood and learned about the drug trade in the area. Phil pulled in a favor from a city official named Masterson, and Katsin paid a visit to his talismonger named Spooky Sal, a bear shaman with a little shop. All their legwork yielded some clues and they were able to piece together that a dude named Trashcan Man was back in town. A raccoon shaman, Trashy had left Seattle a couple of years back after living in the Outer Edge for a while. The rumor was that he had returned to the area. Katsin has some magical theory knowledge and knew that raccoon shamans are typically greedy and covetous. They threw all this info in a pot and came up with the following conclusions. Trashcan Man, being the greedy man that he is, came back to town and wanted his old neighborhood back. He tricked the party into wiping out the Silver Streaks (the gang that now occupied the region) and now was blackmailing them into killing the local drug lord. Seemed like a solid conclusion. But how do they flush him out?

The majority of the night was spent brainstorming ideas, very little actually happened. I found it to be fun, I hope that they did as well. Previous to the first session I had told them that Shadowrun is a game that invites lots of planning, and this sort of stuff is what I was referring to. It is completely up to the party how they want to accomplish a particular goal, which can be both exciting and horrifying (for players and GM). The party also needs to decide what their goals are, there are no goblins robbing traveling merchants around here. The idea that there is an enemy out there is sort of scary for them when they have no idea where he is.

I also really enjoy GMing Shadowrun, it is such an open world that I feel like I can do anything I want with it and the spontaneity of it all keeps me on my toes. Plus, there is a really exciting element to it because of the potential for massive explosions, deadly guns, and a hefty bodycount. Who doesn’t like that?

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