Seattle Side Mission 11: When Ghouls Attack

Written by: Wheeler           Played on: 08 Jun 2013
PREVIOUS: Side Mission 10 – Recruitment – Part 5
NEXT: Mission 20 – Operation Aimless Dog

Our day starts like normal. An old contact calls and says they found some work for us in our area. “Meet at The Hole in the Wall.” Logan tells us. “Mrs. Johnson will be there mid-afternoon.“ We gather our belongings and make our way to the location indicated.

The Hole in the Wall really stands up to its name; kind of a shoddy place where it seems a fight is always seconds away from starting. After making our way around a pair of dwarves quarreling over who gets the girl, we find Mrs. Johnson sitting in the back of the room all alone at a table looking pretty scared and out of place. Mrs. Johnson is a female ork who goes by the name of Traci Doyle and it quickly becomes apparent that she doesn’t belong in the shadows.

Again we are met with more of the norm as she tells us about the job and pay. “My brother Darnell has gone missing,” she says, starting to tear up. He was on his way home from work and never showed up. The police say they found some of his clothes and his bike at the place that he was taken, but they haven’t been able to find anything else.”

At this point we start talking money and Mrs. Johnson again shows how innocent she is by offering us half of the money up front for the job. We never get that much up front. The offer is 25,000¥ to find her missing brother; we don’t even have to bring him back, she just wants closure.

This bit was, contrary to the norm, largely free form. Ms Doyle was not a savvy Johnson and, as the players mentioned at the time, it wouldn’t have taken them much to convince her to part with the entire sum up front and then to walk away from the mission without doing anything. Fortunately, I could be pretty sure they wouldn’t do that since that would have left us an evening without a mission prepared and, as characters and players, its something I knew they wouldn’t feel right about doing. If they had, though, they could have gotten away with it, though there would have been other forms of fallout. Word gets around pretty quick about teams that take money and run.

At this point we agree to the work and start asking questions trying to glean as much as we can about the subject. You know, the normal five: Where, When, Who, Why, How. We don’t find out much, but it gives us enough to go on. We head to where Darnell lives and look around a bit. Nothing interesting here. Then we drive to where he works, skipping the place he was supposedly kidnapped by ghouls. Again, nothing interesting.

We drive to the place where the police found his stuff and start searching around. We get a major lead when Chekhov turns into a bloodhound and starts searching around. The first thing is a finger under the dumpster up against the wall of the alley. Then a trail leading down the alley into some abandoned housing complex.

This is where things take a turn to the dark side. As we progress deeper into the complex following the trail of a person we don’t know, the whole area seems to start pressing down on us, telling us we should leave and that we don’t belong. The further we go, the harder it tries to push us out. We each take our turns telling the party why we shouldn’t be there, but the others always talk us out of it and we press on.

After a little while more, some us start hallucinating, at least I think. We start seeing shadows reaching out trying to pull us into a void that is so deep it can’t really be explained. Imagine if there were nothing, no ground, no sky, no air, not even thoughts; just nothing.

Eventually, the team put together through knowledge tests and prior experiences that they were entering the edges of an Astral Rift, a physically manifested gateway from this plane of existence to another. Given all of that they still had not idea what plane of existence they were exploring.

Avoiding the cracks into nothing, we continue to make our way deeper and deeper into the complex. Eventually we come to a room where we find nine people and a worm, kinda. There are six people on their knees seemingly praying to this worm thing. Around the room stand three others who seem to be watching over the ritual. Now this worm thing isn’t really a worm. Its huge, bigger than anyone in the room, with metal bits covering parts of its face and mouth. The worm is slowly making its way out of the nothingness that I described earlier. As we draw near, we can feel it trying to draw our very souls out.

This is where all hell breaks loose. We spot our target on his knees losing his soul from the worm in the void at about the same time that the three standing “people” notice us. “Kill them! They must not keep Master from this world!” one hisses. They all turn and start attacking us.

Our team unleashes into the group with Marius going after the leader with round after round of stick and shock, while I hammer the worm with my new Panther Assault Cannon. Jade also turns and shoots the worm with her massive Ruger Super Warhawk, but it seems to have no effect. At this point the giant worm of doom unleashes six small scaly things that start skittering across the room to attack us. This day just gets better and better.

Spells start flying, shots ring out, and chaos ensues. We eventually down the three guys attacking us, but not before Jade takes a serious scratch from one of them. She later describes it less by the pain and more by the feeling of her soul being torn away. At this point we turn on the worm and try to push it back into the void. No matter what we throw at it, nothing seems to affect it until something again goes wrong.

The team really had no idea what they were facing and, since many of them read this, I won’t spoil it here, but you’re welcome to guess in the comments. I’ve had a lot of fun digging into the more arcane and obscure elements of the Shadowrun world for this campaign, including elements from previous editions that aren’t reflected as much in the Catalyst Games versions of the books.

Without stating outright what they were facing, the creatures they faced were particularly nasty. I wasn’t sure how powerful they should be against the party, guaguing that kind of difficulty for combat encounters in Shadowrun has never been the rules strong suit, so I went fairly light with two of the creatures being only Force 1 versions and the leader being a Force 3. I probably could have gone harder on them, but even with just the three of them, they proved pretty resilient to the team’s attack. The fact that they ignored damage below a certain threshold, regenerated damage every round and had auras and attacks that actually drained Karma points from the characters made them pretty terrifying. Attacking hit points might scare a character, but attacking the character’s experience point pool will terrify most players.

The worm was largely set dressing, though represented a very powerful creature. It did not attack them directly, but did provide a steady stream of smaller creatures. I ended up stating these a little weak as well and, in retrospect, should have made them tougher and more dangerous. Of course, if they had gotten to the point where they failed to stop the worm from entering the world or had gotten close enough to its teeth, they would have been in for a world of hurt.

Cho attempts to throw a grenade down the throat of the worm, but misses and the grenade falls right in front of it at the feet of the six people giving their lives to the worm. A few seconds later when the grenade goes off, it instantly kills all six of the people including our target but that also closes the portal pulling the worm from hell back into the void. The darkness disappears and we find ourselves in the basement of the complex.

We make our way back out to the streets and get a hold of Mrs. Johnson. We meet her at a friendlier place, seeing as how she shouldn’t be in the shadows. We explain what happened to her brother, lying a bit since we don’t think she would understand the full scale of what just happened. The team feels bad for her and decided to let her keep the second half of her money so she can leave town and start a new life somewhere else. Not the most financially sound thing we have ever done, but doing a bit of good every once in awhile goes a long way in dispelling the void that starts to form around people in our line of work.

PREVIOUS: Side Mission 10 – Recruitment – Part 5
NEXT: Mission 20 – Operation Aimless Dog

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