27
Nov
14

Shadowrun: Seattle – Campaign Conclusion

SHADOWRUN: SEATTLE – CAMPAIGN CONCLUSION
PREVIOUS: Mission 26: Checkmate
NEXT: Shadowrun: Seattle – Home

That’s the end of season two of our Shadowrun campaign. It ran a lot longer than I expected it to, with nearly twice as many sessions and runs completed than in the first season in Denver. Our adventures together spanned an additional three years, representing five years in total with the characters our new group started with in Denver. That alone is incredible to me and we have been very fortunate to have such a stable and regular group to build this story together.

Though things have gotten a lot busier for me in my regular life, I continually look forward to our game nights. The players have each come a long way as a group and I have gathered a lot of experience as a GM. I still have a little bit more in store for this ongoing campaign, the players and the characters, but more on that later.

Denver was really a street level campaign. Though the team got involved in higher level things as time went on, it was largely the street level that captured the look and feel of the Shadowrun world. With this campaign, they already had a lot of experience and consequently, things escalated quickly into world spanning events and conflicts. More of fantasy heroes type genre conventions.

On one hand, this was fun in its own rights, but a number of players did point out that it got away from some of the core draw of the Shadowrun universe. Going forward, we’ll be trying to address some of that, though we do find ourselves in an interesting situation where the characters can outgrow their world.

By the end of this campaign, each of the players had grown powerful enough and obtained enough gear that, short of intentionally stripping them of their assets in a Metroid-sequal event, they were incredibly resilient. Gangers, even in mass, were no problem. Knight Errant, unless equipped to the gills and throwing hundreds of thousands of nuyen of equipment at them, were similarly outgunned. The military started having sufficient assets to deal with them and certainly dragons and other high power, high stat characters like Father Antenor could go toe-to-toe with them, but most common foes were no longer a threat.

This did force an emphasis on role-playing and made me come up with interesting situations and moral questions to try and throw at the players rather than being combat focused. Often I would threaten their contacts more-so than them, such as capturing Detrius and placing him in a precarious situation. The danger was in losing something else they cared about, not their own safety.

But when things did devolve to combat, which is really part of the fun, it was difficult to ever make the players really feel like they were threatened. Consequently, that made street level play unattainable while constantly throwing military grade enemies against them felt out of touch with the setting.

This is a power-creep issue faced by a number of games and I won’t solve it here, but it makes for a compelling argument for shorter campaigns with characters of limited scope. In an ongoing campaign, those characters and their choices can continue to have effects on the world, even becoming NPCs encountered in follow up campaigns or even make occasional appearances for high level play. This is what we will be doing in season three of our campaign.

When I first started sketching out this season during the Denver campaign, my writing was a lot more linear and less open ended. While I tried not to railroad the players, I felt pretty confident about the choices they would make and where things would end up. This campaign taught me to open up those expectations as the players frequently bucked those plans.

Over time the end opened up to the point that I didn’t even exactly know what direction this campaign would go or what would be in store for the next season. Though it did end up where I expected, with the defeat of Father Antenor, it didn’t get their as I thought it would. That they even considered his offer and went with him had me making plans in case they decided to end the campaign in support of him instead of defeating him.

While that is definitely no longer the case, I did end up putting together a lot of ideas of where that might go. Whatever their altruistic intents, they were siding with evil and I intended to manipulate them as much as possible with the corrupting influence it brings. Whether they succumbed to temptation or resisted and rebelled would have formed the basis of the next season.

For Marius, he intended to take over Ares and to make it a more wholesome, accountable company, pushing to eliminate extraterritoriality laws, shady business practices and use of Shadowrunners. I planned to manipulate those intents by creating a little side game for him where he managed the company’s practices. Over time, he would face numerous decisions and difficulties, corporate assets being absorbed by other companies, attacks from rival companies and shadow teams, declining profits, a work force that didn’t feel safe, etc. My goal, if he couldn’t resist my tempting, would be to try and twist the player into making some of the same decisions as a businessman that he had detested as a Shadowrunner, becoming the evil he resented so much.

For Bear, I did fully intend on reuniting him with his family, as Father Antenor would have that unholy power. But he would suffer for it. Such a ritual would not come cheap, requiring Bear to gather all sorts of artifacts and materials  as well as, eventually, sacrifices. Little by little, my intent was to manipulate him into blood magic. Finally, whether the family he wanted would be whole after such an experience was still in question.

Those two were the most thought out, though I was beginning to lay the groundwork for the others as well, trying to find equally tempting and corrupting elements to include. With Wheeler, encouraging his decent into uncaring violence as a Vampire. With Cho, embracing some of her pyschotic tendencies that had begun to manifest, particularly with the knives she took from Levi. Which Chekhov, perhaps convincing him to destroy the Druidic orders he loved so much. Finally Jade, who might be convinced to attract and raise displaced youth to become effective pawns in Father Antenor’s machinations.

In the end, the intent was to see if they would march themselves into damnation and the fate of the world along with them, or if they would finally see the error of their ways and find some way to stop Father Antenor and his increasing power base.

Sadly, we’ll never get to see how that would have turned out, as they did decide to turn on him in the end. But there is plenty more to look forward to!

We’re on a slight hiatus right now while I get things ready for season three. We’re taking a break by having each of the players take a turn behind the GM screen to run a session or two for the group. When that is done, we’ll explore a new campaign arc that will get back to the street level roots, explore the upside down world the team left of in and even visit some rarely explored Shadowrun settings.

Next up, is ???!

– Geoff

PREVIOUS: Mission 26: Checkmate
NEXT: Shadowrun: Seattle – Home
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