Archive for the 'Shadowrun: Seattle' Category

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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26
Nov
14

Seattle Mission 26: Checkmate

SEATTLE MISSION 26: CHECKMATE
Written by: ???           Played on: 26 Apr 2014
PREVIOUS: Mission 25: The Jewel of Memory – Part 2
NEXT: Shadowrun: Denver – Campaign Conclusion

The six, Father Antenor’s creations such as they may be, trained for over a month in our care in Tir Tairngire, preparing for what was to come. In the grand scheme of time, a month is nothing and woefully inadequate time to prepare for what must be done, but such is the speed this Sixth Age acts in that we must move swiftly to capitalize on the situation.

My days have been spent coordinating the states and corporations who saw to the success of our plan, though at a great cost to all. Lofwyr’s fleet, provided by Saeder-Krupp, made the long voyage from Europe under absolute secrecy. Haulpa’s resistance fighters massed in the jungles south of Aztlan. It would be too much to hope that Father Antenor missed all of the signs, only enough to keep him guessing as to our true plan.

It was a desperate gamble to place all of our hopes in the arms of mortals, though it is so often from their ranks that the great changes of the ages are born. Indeed, even Antenor was once mortal, a shamen of a remote, mountain tribe of no consequence in the Fourth Age. Still we risked much to achieve our ends and we will pay for our actions one way or another.

We met them aboard the SKS Lowfyr, the newest super carrier and crowning jewel of the Saeder-Krupp fleet as the battle group moved into position with the small Tir Tairngire fleet and troop carriers. Lowfyr joined us in the bottom decks along with Lona Shalandalan and Zutal Meraerth.

Lona and Zutal have served as the stewards of Gwynedd’s Shield for the last thousand years and have served the order for nearly an Age. They have grown to become powerful mages and Dunkelzahn felt they were worthy of our greatest secrets, though the others disagreed. I am uncertain. They have served this world faithfully and know some of the darkest threats that face it, but they do not know all of them and I am afraid that none ever should.

Overhead, the assault on Aztlan began while the four of us spun magic, tracing the lines of magic leading back to Father Antenor’s hold. It took time to unweave the layers of magic intertwined with Astral space, but we were born from its threads and none are better suited to the work than we.

The Marahal team, as the elf Marius occasionally referred to the group, along with an assault team of a dozen Tir Tairngire Black Dagger Ghosts left immediately with the artifacts and our last prayers while we took to the fight to the Aztlan forces, keeping them occupied and unable to respond to Antenor’s orders or requests for assistance.

Captain Jorel reported that the insertion, a HALO jump through withering anti-aircraft fire, went off smoothly, though the tilt wing cargo plane they were aboard succumbed to enemy fire and crashed in the desert. Artillery bombardments from the coast and several bombing runs had weakened the base and left its defenses in shambles. The Marahal team was able to use the Ghosts as a decoy, infiltrating through another part of the facility and flanking the defenders. Together they were able to breach to the center of the stronghold.

The Captain was unable to tell me more as his team covered their retreat while the Marahal team entered to face Father Antenor. His apologies were most unnecessary as our connection with the Scrolls of Ak’lear and the Jewel of Memory are entwined with their creation. All of the five Great Dragons were well aware of the events that transpired in that room and all too familiar with the same events that occurred in the Fifth Age.

When the artifacts were created and invoked against Xiuhcoatl, an army a million strong was rallied against his forces in order to reach the great beast. Even with seven great dragons, the battle was very nearly lost and dark things were encountered within the great rift.

Xiuhcoatl’s power was great and though only a fraction of it was conferred to Father Antenor, it is enough that none us would face him alone or on his own terms, so he has kept us at a safe distance all these millennia. Even with the artifacts stripping him of the chaotic powers of Xiuhcoatl, we fear what we might find within the great rift even more. The conflux of energy between the rift and our own energies might be enough to let the terrible Horrors of the deep metaplanes into this world.

Father Antenor has already hastened their time in this age with the deaths of Dunkelzahn, Ghostwalker and the orchestration of the Great Ghost Dance, hastening the influx of mana back into the world and setting the stage for the greatest of Xiuhcoatl’s minions.

The Marahal team successfully engaged the artifact before Father Antenor and his followers could stop them. As they discovered, the completion of the ritual resulted in a surge of Astral energy, collapsing the layers of the physical world into the overlapping metaplanes, all fallen into a singularity of twisting and tearing energy. There they faced an ever changing, twisting labyrinth of corridors through Astral space and the dangers of the ever changing planes surrounding them. Trapped with them within the singularity, somewhere amongst the flux and surge of energy, was Father Antenor and his men.

Antenor likely held the advantage still, given his age, experience with the deep metaplanes and with Xiuhcoatl’s magic. Even so, the twisting energies of the singularity disrupted the other worldly power of Xiuhcoatl, just as it did to the beast when we faced him. Just like that last battle, Antenor was no doubt still dangerous, containing plenty of his own, innate magical ability.

Miraculously, through it all, the Marahal team was able to find and engage Father Antenor and eventually eked out victory. As the artifact’s connection to the embodiment of Xiuhcoatl’s power was severed, the conflux of Astral planes began to collapse. The team was able to find their way free and flee the facility as the rift grew into a stable vortex, marking the site of their great battle like the one atop the council chambers in Denver and the rift in Washington D.C. marking the deaths of two other incredible powers.

They returned, expecting I suppose to be greeted by trumpets and universal good tidings, but that is not the way this world works. Perhaps not the way it has ever worked. Even in death, Father Antenor’s machinations continue to be felt and there are penalties to be paid for our actions, however just.

News agencies, powerful in ways only Dunkelzahn truly appreciated, have condemned the combined surprise attack on Aztlan, gathering public opinion against us. Even in Tir Tairngire, the citizens have already begun to rise up, protesting their government’s actions even though they do not understand their importance.

The forces of Amazonia continue to invade north into Aztlan, though the country has counterattacked into the PCC where Tir forces were granted safe passage. Aztechnology has been lending their corporate backing to near global backing from the population. The CAS felt the time was right to reopen old wounds and attacked Tir Tairngire, claiming much of the southern territory while troops were occupied abroad.

Our intelligence assets are still investigating, but a series of explosions and attacks were perpetrated in Seattle, Moscow, London, Sydney and numerous other capitals and major cities around the world hours after the war began. Public blame has been levied at EarthFirst! following the release of a number of videos, purporting to be members of the organization acting with the support of Tir Tairngire. Gwynedd’s Shield has already begun to cover up and sever our connection with the organization, but it is only a matter of time before the news outlets uncover some missed detail connecting us with them and circumstantially proving we were the source of the attacks. Likely they were teams activated by Father Antenor in a last ditch bid to distract our attention and discredit our cause. He has been more than successful, even if it did not prevent his death.

Even Saeder-Krupp is not beyond reproach. With their involvement in the condemned attacks on Aztlan. The Corporate Court is arranging a vote and it is expected that, but this time tomorrow, it will strip the court seat and AAA status from Saeder-Krupp and name another representative. As one of the few organizations not controlled by Father Antenor’s pawns, this is a terrible loss that will allow the corporations to expand their power unchecked and without our influence.

In the end, we are weaker than we have been in a long time and suffered great setbacks, but not without great victories. If nothing else can be said of today’s actions, it is this:

The last great pawn of Xiuhcoatl in this world, Father Antenor, is dead. Though his plans and machinations live on and must be chased down, a great blow has been dealt against the forces of Chaos. Mortals have once again proven that they are capable of the most extraordinary feats and well suited to protect this world of theirs. We owe the Marahal team for everything we have earned today.

I place this message and the full contents of my memories of today’s events within the Jewel of Memory, hoping that it may never be required again. But if it should, may the events and hardships encountered be both a warning and encouragement to those who wield this power in the future in defense of this world against the Entity of Chaos.

In addition to the events described above of the characters’ struggles, they were also notified, upon their return, that a great number of friends had been caught up in the last month. As Father Antenor scoured the world trying to find them, a number of the contacts they networked with most often and most recently were swept up and ultimately killed. Most painful among them was the death of their former employer and friend, Raven in Denver.

PREVIOUS: Mission 25: The Jewel of Memory – Part 2
NEXT: Shadowrun: Denver – Campaign Conclusion
25
Nov
14

Seattle Mission 25: The Jewel of Memory – Part 2

SEATTLE MISSION 25: THE JEWEL OF MEMORY – PART 2
Written by: Marius           Played on: 12 Apr 2014
PREVIOUS: Mission 25: The Jewel of Memory – Part 1
NEXT: Mission 26: Checkmate

After taking the drones apart, we explore the facility. The bottom floor is deserted. We find the stairwell and ascend. The second floor is a barracks facility, bunks, showers. The second floor shows signs of recent use, but is empty.

We move to the third floor, but three men with lasers take out the spy fly drone we send ahead. Cho, her drones, and I get in the elevator and press the button for floor three. We hold the doors until after Wheeler has thrown a grenade up the stairs, trying to exit while they are distracted. He takes laser fire in response.

This is the first time I’ve thrown a heavy contingent of Deckers against the party. Generally, I refrain from too many hacking related enemies, even though it is a staple of the genre, as we specifically chose to ignore 4th Editions complicated hacking rules when we first began.

It would be unfair to punish them with Matrix attacks if they had no defense against it, so I was originally planning to use the Decker’s defensively. Shutting down the elevator, managing building security, etc. It was only when Cho began trying to hack directly against them and their security that I had them take direct action against the team.

In the elevator, Cho and I are trapped between floors when the elevator is suddenly shut down externally. I shoot out the camera and begin prying open the doors. Wheeler’s grenade goes off and we hear sporadic gunfire. “One down,” Wheeler says. More gunfire.

“Wheeler’s down!” Chekov yells. “Might as well drop that invisibility spell.” I continue to try and open the elevators. Cho squeezes out and draws her sniper rifle and fires, I don’t know who she was shooting at, or what the result was. Continuing to try and pry the doors open I am working up quite the sweat.

“You are going to die in here,” Jackie says. “You are running out of air.”

“That’s ludicrous, the door is ajar.” The elf replies.

“Yeah, but your armor is blocking your air. And you can’t bandage your wounds without taking it off. you are not under fire, you should take it off.”

“Perhaps you are right, Jackie.” the elf says. “If I can take care of some of the fatigue with stim patches, I could probably pry the door open.” Marius begins stripping off his armor.

“Better take off everything to check for other wounds.” Jackie recommends.

“Good idea, buddy.” The elf replies. Unbenkownst to Marius at the time, Wheeler drained the remaining two deckers of essence while they were in VR. The elevator doors finally open after the team calls the elevator up to the floor. They are quire surprised to find a naked elf inside.

We spend a few minutes bandaging each other. Bear performs magical healing on the party as well. I put my armor back on and Chekov covers the lobby while we head up to the next floor.

On the fifth floor we find a space where the command staff would occupy. Double doors separate us from the unsearched space. “Something big happened recently, we are going to be facing one powerful blood mage.” Bear informs us.

The room is opulently appointed. The nicest stuff has been ripped off, but the room is still nice. The room is smokey with thick pillars. Nothing is immediately seen until a man in full Azatlan combat armor greets us from the head of the room. “Father said to expect you.”

“It’s no use, you are outnumbered by a superior force. Surrender.” Marius says

“Yeah that’s going to work…” Jackie says. The blood mage just laughs.

“Have it your way,” Marius says, taking aim at the man’s head he opens fire, missing. The mage erects a physical barrier and summons two blood spirits. The rest of us make attacks, having no effect. I duplicate that same attack again, missing again. Chekov calls spirits fourth to fight the blood spirits. Another armored guy bursts out of one of the offices wielding a gun. Bear loses an arrow striking the blood mage on the edge of his neck as the barrier finally drops. He goes down in a hurry.

Use of Edge and a lucky roll can sometimes take all the teeth out of an encounter.

“Drop your weapons!” I say to the two guys who burst out of the offices.

“Just shoot them!” Jackie yells. “They are not going to drop their weapons”

“Fine, have it your way,” I say back to Jackie, as I open fire on one of the guys. Two three round burst strike center mass but fail to drop the street samurai. A second guard comes running out with a sword, but the blow bounces off my armor.

Chekhov runs to the fallen mage Itztli while Jade defends him from nearby attackers. Chekov delivers a massive axe blow to the fallen mage, his skull is split in twain. At that moment, the cranial bomb the man had implanted goes off, covering Chekov and Jade in gore, and pain.

Of course, some encounters have teeth whether the enemy is up or down. It is apparently common practice and specifically mentioned in Itztli’s character bio in Dawn of the Artifacts that Aztlan blood mages are equipped with cranial bombs set to go off when their biomonitor flat lines, preventing recovery of their bodies. This makes for a sticky situation when the killing blow comes from an up close and personal axe strike to the head.

I light up the man with the sword with the under-barrel flamethrower. He attacks Bear while in full flame. I get shot with a laser rifle from elsewhere, but Wheeler quickly kills the guy. Bear kills the guy with the sword that I set on fire. Cho fires a burst at one of the other guys, missing. Jade fights off one of the blood spirits. Chekov, miraculously still on his feet despite an explosion to his face, casts a mana bolt at a guy. Soon, all is quiet.

We are able to find the artifact after some searching, the same artifact we stole so long ago and, coincidentally, encountered by Wheeler’s great-great-great-grandfather so long ago.

In addition to stealing the artifact for the Triad, Wheeler recognized a sketch of the artifact after finishing the WWII journal passed down to him from his father.

We grab some guns on the way out and make it back to the SSC without incident. We stow our gear in bags and head south to Tir Tangier. We head to the border of the nation where we are the most wanted people in the country. Unsurprisingly, we are immediately taken into custody. Mage cuffs are placed on the mages, headware jammers are placed on us and we spend a significant amount  of time face down on the asphalt.

People keep coming in and pulling rank. We have been passed through custody of about six different officers by the end. We are black bagged and shoved into a vehicle which travels for several hours. We walk a few miles at one point to another vehicle. Finally, we are placed in a building and made to wait several hours.

The bags are removed and we find we are in a luxurious mansion. Zutal is entering the room and immediately has us uncuffed. He asks us to follow him so we can meet some others. They are very interested in our remaining tatoo, indicating they may be able to back track to Father Antenor via the tattoos using a ritual. Among them are a few members of the Council of Princes and the High Prince of Tir Tairngire.

The Scrolls of Ak’Le’Ar that Father Antenor originally sent us to obtain are brought out. One of the women named Lona, identified as the leader of an organization known as Gwynedd’s Shield, takes the scrolls.

The other woman speaks briefly, “We must not combine the artifacts until it is time, it will give away our purpose. I will return to Amazonia to prepare our forces to aid the Tir in war on Azatlan.” She walks out to the balcony, transforming into a feathered dragon and leaps off. That was Haulpa, the leader of Amazonia.

Zutal turns to us. “You will train with Lona. Together, we will take this fight to Father Antenor.”

The end of the log got a little rushed and sparse on details. After turning themselves in, the team met the leaders of the organization known as Gwynedd’s Shield and the answers to a lot of questions.

Gwynedd’s Shield has stood against Father Antenor, his forces and the forces of his master since the Third Age. Their own name, Father Antenor’s name, the name of his organization and the name of the great evil he represents have changed multiple time throughout the ages. Sometimes as part of the evolution of language throughout the ages and other times deliberately when they were forced to hide

Most recently, the great evil Father Antenor was aligned with was that known as Xiuhcoatl, the Aztec fire deity. By this point, especially with the revelation of Haulpa before, the players had put together that our small side game of D&D between Denver and Seattle was actually a part of the same story-line, introducing the dragons and the evil they sought to stop.

In that game, the players worked with Haulpa and the other great dragons to stop Malak Al-Maut in his bid to return and drive the world into chaos. Their actions would end up severing the world from its Divine Chord and ultimately cause the end of the First Age of magic, implying the source of the cycle of magic that continued through the modern era.

Ultimately, the remains of Malak Al-Maut was defeated and banished in the Third Age by the combined forces of the dragons and the metahumans of the world at great cost. His power persisted, however, and his greatest general, Father Antenor, lived on throughout the ages, gathering power, resources and knowledge, working tireless to unravel the secrets to resurrecting his defeated master and end the dragon’s ability to defeat him again.

To that end, he organized the death of two great dragons, Dunkelzahn who died years prior in Shadowrun lore and Ghostwalker whom the team delivered to his end, ensured the original seven dragons would never again be able to fabricate the tools of Malak Al-Maut’s destruction. His attempts to destroy the remaining artifacts would have ensured their victory could never be achieved again.

Due to the team’s choices, the artifacts were reunited and could instead be used to strip Father Antenor of the considerable power granted to him by his master. Though he would still be a dangerous, powerful mage, the team would at least have a chance at defeating him. Organizing with the Tir Tairngire government and the forces of Amazonia, a war was in the works that would create the opening the team needed to reach him in Azatlan.

PREVIOUS: Mission 25: The Jewel of Memory – Part 1
NEXT: Mission 26: Checkmate
24
Nov
14

Seattle Mission 25: The Jewel of Memory – Part 1

SEATTLE MISSION 25: THE JEWEL OF MEMORY – PART 1
Written by: Marius           Played on: 12 Apr 2014
PREVIOUS: Mission 24: The Viper That Stings
NEXT: Mission 25: The Jewel of Memory – Part 2

We get hooked up with a guy named “Streets” through Raven. We secure a place for a week, and decide we are going to move every week. The place is in the SSC. We spend our second week in a new location before finally getting the call we’re waiting for.

“Good evening,” Zutal greets us. “As we discussed the last time we met, you have expressed an interest in proving you are no friend to Father Antenor. We lost a very important artifact known as the Jewel of Memory. It was on it’s way from Loftwyr when it was intercepted. I will send you a copy of the footage of the team that stole it.”

We review the footage for all of 30 seconds before we realize the team was us, and Zutal knows it. It was transferred into their custody through the Triad after we stole it for Hui Cheng Shun. “We have been exhausting every avenue of intelligence trying to locate it. Every time we find it they move it. This time, however, we are close. We know Father Antenor has to wait for certain astrological phenomena to line up before his ritual will work. With two of the seven great dragons that created it dead, we could not re-create the magic that built the artifact. We need to get the artifact back. We know the artifact is in a barrens warehouse, guarded by a bloodmage named Itztli.”

Itztli is the same Azatlan blood-mage who foiled the team and Frosty when they tried to recover the Sextant of Worlds.

Zutal gives us a contact with the Ancients Elf biker gang. I speak with a woman named Sting who agrees to get us some gear, a coyote, and help with an extraction.

We meet the ancients at a clubhouse in the barrens. They have a group of a dozen on standby for our extraction. “Zutal specifically asked me to keep an eye on you. I have a gift for you of sorts. This is a trophy taken from a long time ago. She hands over the Kingpin Rifle.

This was another custom weapon I had created for the team. I was really trying to push weapons and styles that the players didn’t frequently use, in this case an exotic under-barrel weapon and full auto machine gun, to provoke the occasional new play style. The stat sheet can be downloaded here.

We roll up on an Ares warehouse, it features thick, heavy plasticrete construction. It looks like the place could withstand an explosion. The facility is surrounded by a ten foot plasticrete wall. There is an aluminum gate blocking the opening. There are plasticrete pillars that are in place to block vehicles. The building has some window slits in the corners, it was clearly designed with defense in mind. It has a military vibe. None of the windows open, or are blown out. There are probably firing ports present. Floating above the roofline there are six, light aerial drones keeping a lookout.

“Hey chummer,” It’s Jackie, he has called me and my commlink has auto answered for some reason.

Though his player knows, Marius hasn’t quite put together that he’s a crackpot yet. It makes for hilarity.

“Not now Jackie, I’m on a job.”

“That’s what I want to talk to you about. You need to ditch those stun grenades sir. I happen to know the team inside that warehouse will be shooting to kill, they know you are coming and they have been instructed to use APDS and blood magic against you.”

“How do you know about any of this?”

“I have a man in Father Antenor’s crew. Trust me, go in heavy.”

“Ok, Jackie… Thanks for the heads up. Look about last time…”

“Don’t worry about it. Friends don’t let things like that come between each other. Remember, I’m the only one you can trust.”

Marius turns his attention back to the team channel as Wheeler goes over the wall and begins to speak. “Looks like this facility used to be a Knight Errant barracks and training ground.  Yeah, this looks reaaal military. Looks like it has not been used for that in quite some time however.” There is a long pause before he continues. “We got three hostiles. Military grade armor and laser rifles. One of them has an assault cannon. We have a few vans outside, a few armored SUVs too. One of the SUVs is blocking the gate, we will not be able to get our bikes through. I’m at the front door. It does not look real fortified, but I’m going to plant demo anyway.”

I notice Bear is freaking out, I go over and try to console him.

Bear has succumbed to his PTSD roll and is just beginning to lose it.

“Marius,” It’s Jackie. “I’m going to try and hack the door for you. Be ready.”

“Jackie, don’t fuck around. We have a plan.”

“Your plan probably sucks, besides, you do things the pussy way. And I already have access to the node, odd, there is someone else here… whatever. I’m gonna send a few data spikes his way. Shit, this not working. I got booted by a spider. Sorry bro”

“No worries, Cho opened it.” At that moment, Cho drops her commlink as it sparks to pieces. Her icon drops from the group chat. I no longer have awareness of her location on my AR compass.

Cho decided to try to use her commlink for some light hacking, despite not having much in the way of skills and be grossly under equipped on the hardware side. With some generous use of Edge, she was able to get in, but not before alerting hackers who made quick work of her light equipment.

“Frag out,” Wheeler whispers over comms. “Shit they heard it.” The three men dive for cover inside the complex while I drop the first drone with two three round burst of fire. Cho grabs Chekov’s commlink and begins going to work trying to hack into her own drones that she lost control of along with her commlink. Chekov casts a spell, I feel even more armored than before as a bluish glow surrounds me.

“Marius, you look like a giant tank, you need to get in there and help out your friend. He is going to get killed.”

“How do you know? Are you here somewhere?” The elf asks in return.

“I hacked back onto the node, I have grabbed the security feed. Your vampire friend is in major trouble.He is being fired at by an assault cannon.”

“Who? I don’t know any vampires.” I stammer, drying to bluff Jackie.

“Whatever, you can tell by looking at him. He just shot a guy, but he needs your help. Put Kingpin to use! KILL! KILL!”

Marius is sprinting towards the sounds of gunfire, “Shut the frag up! I’m on my dreking way, Wheeler.” Marius runs up and throws his rifle over the van’s hood. Checkov leans up against the wall nearby. Wheeler pops up and takes a few shots, dropping the man with the cannon. He takes some fire from a laser rifle. Marius unleashes a ten round burst dropping one of the riflemen.

Wheeler drops the last rifleman, drops a grenade at the corner of the building and runs away. The two guards round the corner, one drops to a knee and takes aim. I open the armored SUV, it has a concealed weapon mount. “Jackie, can you crack into this vehicle and control it?” Jackie says he cannot. “Alright, I’m going to disable it.” About that time I see outside the window that a grenade has gone off, shredding the guy kneeling over it.

I exit the SUV into the courtyard, and ready my grenade launcher to take out the SUV and it’s rigger controlled gun. As I am lining up the shot, I see Bear charge past the van and leap at Jade slashing with both blades. Spirit combat and gunfire are erupting behind me. “Bear, watch the friendly fire buddy, that’s Jade.”

“Clearly he has gone mad, he is going to kill you next. You better take him out while you can.” Jackie laughs.

“Shut the fuck up, Jackie.” I say, as I grenade the fuck out of the van. Turrets burst forth from three other SUVs. ”Frag me to death,” Marius says aloud. The elf is sprayed down with a full auto burst from one of the gunnery rigs. Walking casually forward through the hail of automatic gunfire, I let fly two grenades at the offending van. They detonate, but the target remains. Gunfire erupts inside the building, grenades are going off outside, turrets are belching fire, laser fire rains down from the 4th floor windows, pandemonium reigns. Those of us outside sprint for the lobby, figuring the drones will be more forgiving than the turrets and lasers. The turrets outside continue to pulverize the doorway.

PREVIOUS: Mission 24: The Viper That Stings
NEXT: Mission 25: The Jewel of Memory – Part 2
24
Nov
14

Seattle Mission 24: The Viper That Stings

SEATTLE MISSION 24: THE VIPER THAT STINGS
Written by: Marius           Played on: 25 Mar 2014
PREVIOUS: Mission 23: Every Man’s Devil – Part 4
NEXT: Mission 25: The Jewel of Memory – Part 1

Yet to be written…

Eventually this placeholder post will be replaced with a final log entry (once a player writes it). The major plot points were:

Having decided to accompany Father Antenor, they are taken to a secret facility somewhere in the Aztlan dessert. After some time, they are finally called upon to complete their first mission as a demonstration of their commitment. 

They must capture one of the leaders of the forces opposing them, who ordered the attacks on the team and Father Antenor in Seattle. By any means necessary, they must interrogate him and discover the location of an artifact known as the Scrolls of Ak’Le’Ar. Once the location has been discovered, they must kill him and return with the information to Father Antenor.

The only problem is that he is hiding out in the capital building of the Tir Tairngire and their target turns out to be none other than Zutal mage, the elf they met on their very first day in Seattle.

The team finds a coyote who will run the Tir border with their gear and makes it into Portland. After several days of reconnaissance, they eventually determine a plan to get in with limited gear that can pass through the MAD detectors. Wheeler, unfortunately, is detected as an unregistered Vampire and is taken into custody.

The others get through security into the restricted areas and are eventually able to track down and rescue Wheeler, but not before an alarm is raised. They disguise themselves as security, procuring their weapons, and head off to find Zutal.

They find him hidden away in one of the High Princes’ chambers, but are discovered, ending in a firefight between a small team of security and his personal bodyguard. They kill the others and manage to sedate Zutal. Through luck and creative thinking, they are able to escape, but have to leave their van and a large supply of their gear behind.

They get back out of the Tir the same way they got in, but rouse and drug Zutal for the interrogation enroute. Eventually, under the influence of drugs, reveals the location of the scrolls with Haulpa, the great dragon who rules over Amazonia. They also decide they would rather be on Zutal’s side and help to take down Father Antenor. Despite just attacking him, the team manages to convince Zutal to at least trust them a little bit.

He is released and they go into hiding while he plans a test of their true loyalty.

PREVIOUS: Mission 23: Every Man’s Devil – Part 4
NEXT: Mission 25: The Jewel of Memory – Part 1
21
Nov
14

Seattle Mission 23: Every Man’s Devil – Part 4

SEATTLE MISSION 23: EVERY MAN’S DEVIL – PART 4
Written by: Bear           Played on: 01 Mar 2014
PREVIOUS: Mission 23: Every Man’s Devil – Part 4
NEXT: Mission 24: The Viper That Stings

As we walked the short distance Mr. Johnson again speaks, “I’ve been pleased with your performance. I would like to offer you all a more permanent position. You see, we are a group that is dedicated to changing the status quo.”

It was at that moment when a robed man stepped from the chopper, he walked with an ornate staff and a large medallion hung around his neck, both ordained with a dragon. The staff had a golden dragon coiled along the shaft beneath a headpiece. The headpiece was unmistakable. The house, earth, sea and sky seemed to revolve around the winged beast in the medallion. The very image that has been burned into my new family, and I; the malevolence that has haunted my dreams, more so since it is the last that remains.

The other shoe! It is dropping! The robed man was recognized by a few of them as one they had met before in Denver.

The recognition hits each of us in turn as the man bows his head and offers the staff to Mr. Johnson. Dumb-founded, we all fail to react as Mr. Johnson nods to the robed man and turns to face us, “You see, the six of you have been on my mind for a while now. You have left many holes within my organization over the last few years, and even though you consistently evade our wishes, you have proven yourselves useful. I believe that each of you will be able to fill those jobs.”

He glanced across us, “The head of national security, a new general, leaders and protectors of those who rule the streets, and even those who watch over the wilds. You may think that you have cleared my side of my pawns, my knights, my bishops, my rooks, and even my queen. But there are more pieces to put into play. Those fools that you have cleared were just that, fools; stuck in their ways of thinking. All they wanted was power. They were driven by the sins of man, lusting for power and glory. But not you, no, the six of you are different. Together we can usher in a new age upon this planet. I would have you work for me, give you control where those who have fallen failed me, failed all of us. Don’t you see? Together we can help protect and defend the lives of countless people. You have proven yourselves time, and again to be survivors, each of you understands what is most important in this world. Even more so, you continue to surprise and prove your usefulness.”

He paused and is met with stark silence. For years we have fought, struggled, each of us has been moments from death. We’ve done regrettable deeds, lost friends and family, we’ve left a path of destruction in our wake and all he can say is that we’re ‘useful’? Why can’t we speak? Each of us was frozen in a moment of shock to not only be face-to-face, but to have just protected and shared our lives, with the conductor of our misfortunate lives.

“Ah. It seems, that quite reasonably, you are looking for a sign of faith. I assure you, that I mean you no harm, my name, is Father Antenor. I can assure you that there is great knowledge that comes with age, and I have seen this world… turn, a time, or two.” He picks his words carefully, but with practiced grace.

That was when the realization struck. We regained our ground and told the ‘father’ that we would not work for him. But I couldn’t help but see the glint in Wheeler and Marius’ eyes. They could be a UCAS General and Ares CEO respectively, if only they signed the dotted line.

Antenor’s eyes locked on to mine and in my head I told him that there was nothing he could offer me. To which he replied, “I could even bring back those who have been lost,” and images of my family and tribe flooded my mind.

Father Antenor made tempting offers for each of them. For Marius, it was the chance to take control of and institute the changes he desired so much in a AAA corp. For Bear, it was the possibility of reuniting with his family, though he could not be sure that such a miracle would be possible.

From there, things got very tense, although the voices of my family drowned-out much of what was said.

Where Wheeler and Marius were interested to see what Antenor had in mind, Cho and Jade refused. I was unsure of what to do until Antenor made it clear. “Very well, I would hate to lose the two of you, but it is your choice to stay here.” With that about a dozen men with heavy weaponry trained their guns on the two un-armed women while other guards offered rifles to Wheeler, Marius and myself, “Or you can come with us.”

The standoff was tense but the two outcomes were clear. Either, get in the chopper with Antenor, or gun down each other here in the hills.

“I need to know more” Cho said, her eyes staring fiercely at Antenor.

With a sigh, the Father began, “A long time ago, before dragons, it was people who ruled over this planet, men and women who ruled themselves. Then the dragons descended on this world and sought to seize power and take rule. Those times were dark, the masses rose up and were slain, but then there rose a power, strong enough to defeat the dragons. But before it could be used, the dragons sent that power out of the world. Our goal is simple, my organization and I seek to recover that power.”

Total bullshit. “How are we to trust you?” I asked, “You are responsible for so much of the darkness that looms inside each of us.”

Father Antenor looked to his open palms “Yes, this is…somewhat true, and I cannot undo what has been done. But you must agree. The years have made each of you strong. Your skills have been forged in the crucible of these struggles. It has made you useful. I can see that you, young dwarf, cannot be bought with money or status. But I could put you in a position to sway the way things are. My organization will leave the native tribes alone, and you could stop all other interference as well. Be both Bear and Eagle, watching over your kin and stopping those who wish them harm; maintaining their old ways, and traditions in peace. Can you do that on your own? Can you save them all?”

With those last words I heard the echoes of my broken promises. I knew what I had to fight for, I had no choice, I needed to know more.

“That’s all well and good,” thumped Jade. “But I do not trust you. Tell us more about this organization. You cause so much hurt, but you know the breadth of my wrath if you cross us.”

“The details of the power we seek and our organization will be revealed as necessary. But you know this. My offer is not given lightly. And it should not be accepted lightly either. There is no room for weakness, fear, or failure.” All signs of the lighthearted man we drove with were gone; this was a man of darkness who was, very clearly no ordinary man.

We agree and say that we will come, for now. Wheeler, Marius and I reluctantly remove our armor, disarm, and head to the helicopter. But Jade and Cho stand defiant. “Ladies?” inquired Father Antenor, “You must realize that there are many details that I’ve shared with you, if you do not come, there is only one other option.”

Realizing that it was worth dying for, but bullheaded to the end, Cho asks one final question, “What is the name of your organization?”

After a deep breath, Father Antenor obliges, “We have gone by many, but now we are known as The Smoking Mirror.”

With that, through clenched teeth Cho gives-in and Jade follows her lead. Their anger is palpable but they relinquish their equipment and the sense of tension on the look-out point drops, like the sun in the west. All of that was over their shit? Fucking women, that’s all they seem to care about sometimes, and even though Antenor swore our belongings would be returned, I couldn’t help but worry I wouldn’t see Claw or Talon again. But there was something darker in the two ladies, they didn’t like being taken.

Neither did the rest of us, we all get it. This man and his group cannot be trusted. With any luck, we will crumble it just like we’ve done before. But for now, Antenor forced our hand. Personally, I wasn’t about to die for my possessions and it was clear that Father Antenor had bigger things in mind for us and didn’t want to lose his investments. Even though we seemed to be but cogs in the machinery, we had value to him; and him, us. I wanted the information stored in this cruel man’s head. Besides, if push came to shove, we could easily bring down a chopper from the inside without the use of our gear.

We came to a temporary agreement and started toward the chopper. Father Antenor turned and faced the robed man who had handed him the staff, “Bishop Andraste, see that our guests are comfortable.” Once inside the engine kicks on, the blades spin, all electronic transmissions dropped-off and the windows went dark. Noticing our reactions to this, the Bishops assured us, “No worries friends its standard security. Secrecy, after all, is our greatest weapon.”

With that, we began to rise into the crisp spring evening air, to the unknown, to our future.

There was a lot of great role-playing all around in this scene. I was ready for a lot of different ways this scene could have played out, from the team jumping straight to a shootout to accepting his offer wholeheartedly. I didn’t actually have any real idea of how it would play out, but I didn’t actually expect that they would go with him. When confronted with the catalyst of their misfortune, it was hard to know what to expect from this group!

The role-playing went both ways, between the team and Father Antenor and even among themselves. The group was fairly evenly divided on what to do, with Marius and Wheeler being most interested in pursuing these opportunities and Jade and Cho being most set against it. Suggesting to the former two that they might have to kill their compatriots if they could not be convinced really brought it to a head, but also displayed the team’s inherent loyalty to each other… even though Wheeler did seem to be giving it some honest consideration.

Though he started out relegated to a couple of side missions, Mr. Johnson was always intended to be revealed as the source of their troubles.  Originally I hadn’t planned to introduce him until late in the campaign, but during play I realized this wouldn’t make for a very impactful reveal. When I had the opportunity, I instead introduced him during those earlier missions as he took a personal interest in them and setting the stage for this session’s big twist.

PREVIOUS: Mission 23: Every Man’s Devil – Part 4
NEXT: Mission 24: The Viper That Stings
20
Nov
14

Seattle Mission 23: Every Man’s Devil – Part 3

SEATTLE MISSION 23: EVERY MAN’S DEVIL – PART 3
Written by: Bear           Played on: 01 Mar 2014
PREVIOUS: Mission 23: Every Man’s Devil – Part 2
NEXT: Mission 23: Every Man’s Devil – Part 4

“What about you my silent, brooding friend?” Mr Johnson’s eyes stare right through me, I’m not sure what it is, not magic, I would sense it. This man is trust worthy, his clear shining eyes locked on mine.

I hesitated. I’ve been so fueled by hatred and vengeance; I’ve accepted that there is no future in that. My death is unavoidable, however long the spirits have deemed to prolong it. What future do I have?

“I. These people. My friends. My family. They are my future. Maybe, one day I will rejoin with those I have lost, but not until I’m sure that this family of mine is safe, and I can one day be free again.”

All the while the old man grinned, his face slightly creased. He must be older than he looks, but there’s no real way to know.

“It is good to hear that even in the hearts of those deemed the lost shadows of the city; beats the dreams of better days. It is dreams that determine the quality of your life.” Mr. Johnson proclaimed

“Ladno…” breathed out Chekhov.

“Ladno deystvitel’no moy drug,” the man responded.

Marius then got up on his soapbox, “To be honest, I wouldn’t want to stop at running security. If I could have it my way, I’d bring the mega-corps down a peg-or-two, loosen their stranglehold they have on the people of this planet. Maybe, just maybe there could be a better future than, what there is now…”

With a nod, Chekhov turns to Mr. Johnson, “You keep talking about change, vut change do you vant?”

“Me? I just want to make the world better, I’d like to see the balance restored.”

The conversation continued like this for about an hour. That is, until Wheeler broke in, “Uh, guys. Hate to interrupt, but I think we’ve got company.”

With that we all turned around to see two large vans like ours and several motorcycles, tactically fanned-out and gaining on us. They are rocking the same bright green and black of the Ancients, a primarily elf gang known for their presence along the West coast. Without hesitation, we prepared to take these bastards down. Today was not a good day to die; too bad they didn’t know that.

The attacking crew was likely expecting the small arms fire we used back in Seattle. Jade kicked open the back doors of the van unleashing full-auto fire into our pursuers. At the same time, Cho and Marius arm themselves with grenade launchers, lean out the windows and unload hell. The first volley of blasts wreath both vans in flames, but they continue following. One of the cycles tries to pass, but Wheeler cuts him off, activating the exterior security, the shock seizes-up the driver, sending him and his rider tumbling in the street, they would’ve been fine but their allies did not adjust their course and with a slight bump, the two men were stains.

Another cycle pulled right past me, I could see his eyes dimmly through the tinted glass of his helmet, he raised a barrel, and the blood began to drum in my ears as I felt his aura, and his body turned to stone. Unfortunately, his rider didn’t notice until they met with a car that had been abandoned on the shoulder, shattering the driver and sending the rider soaring on fatal wings.

Wheeler, regularly calm behind the could be heard muttering, “Shit-shit-shit-shit…” as one of the vans pulled up on our right, opposite me, and slid open its side door revealing a mounted machine gun, aimed right at us. Our van’s armor absorbs most of the full-auto fire. That was when the second van pulls along our left, its door swings open, with a soldier aiming a missile launcher center mass.

A collective, “HIT THE BREAKS!” echoes in the van, Wheeler responds. Just in time, as the rocket flies right across the windshield, leaving a streak of smoke. Taking the opportunity, Marius fires another grenade, this time inside the van with the mounted gun, his aim is true and the inside of the van fills with smoke and gunfire. It seemed like the gunner was holding down the trigger on the then un-mounted weapon. The vehicle quickly veered into a ditch where it came to a violent rest, engulfed in flames. The remaining cycles open fire on us, luckily no one is hurt, not seriously at least.

Through the gunfire Wheeler, who holds all of our lives in his hands can still be heard, “Oh-shit-oh-fuck-oh-shit-damn-balls-fuck-ass-shit-shit-shit…”

With an unwavering calmness, Mr. Johnson asked Wheeler, “I thought you’d be used to this. Isn’t this what you do?”

“Combat driving? Yes.” Wheeler slams the van into another bike, sending its riders off the road. “Fucking Rockets and heavy machine gun fire? Not so much.”

Jade distributes lead vaccinations to the passengers in the van to our left, it still follows although much less boldly. Cho follows up, launching another grenade, it hits right behind the guy who fired the rocket sending him flying into the street where he is disassembled. Fire breaks out, and it seemed like they had extra rockets in the van, as the small flames, smoke and metal were suddenly replaced with a flash and dark cloud of destruction. I get a bead on another cycle trying to pass on my side; I fired an exploding arrow directly at the handlebars. The blast sent the drivers hands up as the handles were removed from the bike, which promptly spun-out, sending the two gangers sliding along the shoulder, slamming their fists against the pavement as we sped away.

At that moment, the spirit that Chekhov had summoned earlier was released at one of the bikes. Holding the cycle, the spirit was dispelled, but not before dismounting the two gangers and trashing their ride. The last few gangers get off some lucky shots, hitting both Wheeler and myself. With a few final, well-placed shots Marius shredded the front tire of one of the cycles, sending the riders spinning down the road.

Jade’s wild full-auto fire makes an impact and gives the rest of us open shots. Cho, still using her trusted grenade launcher, blasts one of the bikes. The impact of the grenade knocked the driver off the bike right before the explosive released its full destructive force, sending both riders’ remains soaring. With one bike left, I leveled a final explosive arrow right on the fork. Claw guides me and the arrow hits its target, separating the front end from the rest of the bike. There’s no question, both men are no more; at least I saved two lives today.

With no more vehicles following we take a few moments to reload and sound off.

“We’re not done yet.” Cho said calmly raising-up her sniper rifle, “I’ve got two drones closing on our six.”

BAM!… BAM!…

“Scratch that, we’re clear.” The two drones bounce, peppering the road behind us with who knows how much nuyen.

In the silence I can hear the labored breathing of Wheeler. He said he could keep driving, so Marius moves to the back and I ride shotgun. I take a look at his wounds, its strange to see flesh where there was only recently nothing but machinery. I focus on his strange new aura and hear drums, as I feel his wounds, and hear a child laughing I begin to mend Alan’s most recent wound, a deep scratch from a bear. No. That was Keenai, my son doesn’t have to cry, not anymore. His hollow, dead eyes stare into mine. Then he screams. “What the FUCK Bear!?! I thought you were healing me?” Wheeler yelled as his splintered ribs snapped back into place and the three bullets lodged in him bored their way out. That was weird.

“That was pretty rough, but thanks. Hey, you okay buddy?” the sharp-tooth asked.

“I’m fine. Why?”

“Well you know, it’s been a stressful day, you haven’t been around lately, we never chat anymore, and then there’s those holes inside you that are staining the upholstery.”

“Wait. What?” Looking down, he was right. I could feel the warm wash of blood working its way down my left arm and chest. I remove the rounds and close the wounds and do my best to wipe off the blood. It’s truly strange just how accustomed I’ve gotten to getting shot. I wonder if that’s a good or bad thing, as I fiddle with the rounds that tried to take my life.

“Well, that was exciting.” Mr. Johnson said after we were all healed and reloaded.

From there, we continued into the night and the wilds of the Salish-Sidhe, Mr. Johnson striking-up conversations regarding our respective lives, ambitions, and opinions on the world all the while. Eventually Wheeler slowed, as we rounded a bend. By that point we were deep inside the Winache National Forest. We arrived at the overlook where an impressive helicopter waited, suited, rifle wielding guards patrolled the area.

“Ah, we’ve arrived. These are my men. Thank you very much for the pleasant ride, and stimulating conversation. It has been wonderful to get to know each one of you. Will you please escort me to the helicopter?” Although he started pleasant, his tone shifted as he requested this of us. It felt more like an order.

“I’m fine here.” Wheeler responds, sticking to the driver’s seat.

With a sideways glance, Mr. Johnson says, “I insist.”

PREVIOUS: Mission 23: Every Man’s Devil – Part 2
NEXT: Mission 23: Every Man’s Devil – Part 4



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