Here we have a campaign log for the first five or so sessions of the latest ShadowRun campaign, from the point of view of one of the players.
Episode 1: The Meet-n-Greet
(Or, Concentrated Loonies in a Can)
After receiving a mission from his superiors at Mitsuhama, Eric Moore decided to give his contact Makio Yen a visit. He was probably going to need help investigating the extremely strange disappearances inside the corporate compound and occurring around the city. Makio eventually acceded to putting out a call, though only after claiming there was no-one available at all. About the only known Shadowrunner who might be interested was a certain Stanley Sticks, known to be a Physical Adept or something.
Eric arranged a meeting with Mr. Sticks, who brought along Kimiko Nelson, a former British spy and counter-terrorist agent – someone who could surely help out a lot on this kind of mission. After receiving the message, Kimiko then had to deal with her housemate. She didn’t know she had a housemate until then, and apparently hadn’t noticed the various home repairs her masterful ninja friend performed.
Wait? The ninja had been living there for three months? Anyway, Kimiko came along to the meet, and the ninja was not far behind. Everyone assumed that someone else hired him, and he tagged along since the pay was good. Also, he obviously knew Kimiko from somewhere, although neither one really talked about it.
The team promptly settled on an external lead about vanishing gangs, and explored around the Barrens. We located some gang turf which was changing hands due to the previous owners simply going away one night. After a little investigation, we located their turf (an abandoned factory) and explored around, stealing some trivial goodies as we did so.
Then… we called the cops.
Well, we hadn’t done anything wrong, had ample documentary evidence, and were investigating the same angle, and had determined that the killer was likely some freak mage sacrificing people in gruesome mass murders.
Fortunately, the cops were understanding if unhappy. Though unhappy about our involvement, they did let slip more than a few tidbits, and a little data searching discovered the rest. They believed there were probably four murderers or rings around kakking people, with the vanished people being anything from squatters to corp brats.
Episode 2: Adventures in Astral Spaaaaaaaaaace!
(Or, Feet of Cyber)
Having come up against a bit of a dead end (literally) that way, the party decided to go back to Square One and investigate missing Mitsuhama children. With some cross referencing, we easily figured out they shared certain interests, like magic. We then proceeded to put tracking on current suspects, spying on them in their rooms. Whenever anything odd happened, we could know.
After noting that the kids had used their computers and then vanished (with no unusual activity being recorded, the ninja came up with the brilliant plan to watch for keyboard strokes which didn’t match the computer activity. Bingo. Everyone snuck off and observed the kidnapping in action. Someone was sending Watchers – powerful, for Watchers – to communicate as an overlay on the computer screen. Guessed the enemy was using astral magic to steal them away (whoa!), the party arranged to watch the kids being stolen away and try to trace them back to the source to rescue the others.
Well, we succeeded in a manner of speaking. Eric Moore stopped one kidnapping (by tackling a kid with his huge cyberbody) while Mr. Sticks tailed after another. Of course, that one was zooming through Astral Space, so it was a matter of just watching where they went for as long as possib – Oooooohhh. Never mind. Mr. Sticks just set off flying as fast as the spirit could go, and tailed it right to the source, of sorts. The rest of the gang followed in a company helo.
Things quickly went bad. One team (Kimiko, Sticks, and Samael) entered the main building, where they found the awful results of a massacre and magical ritual, and a gaping heart of chaos leading to the swirling realms of Madness and Possibility (well, the metaplanes anyway). Ah.
That was impressive and scary. They were swiftly attacked by ghosts who kept trying to attack them, although the ghosts were quite incapable of harming anyone. Aside from the many skeletons on the ground, there appeared to be incinerated bodies. Samael set a water spirit through the gateway, whereupon a much more powerful fire spirit came out. It immediately took off like a rocket, with Stanley Sticks in hot pursuit.
Eric and the Ninja went off to the nearby building to investigate a large heat source, perhaps people packed together somehow? They found, however, magically infested hobos strong enough to rip steal apart, and who could spit acid… who were guarding an entire bulging ant mound full of the things. They wanted to eat the ninja’s spirit.
There was a fight. It wasn’t pretty. The ninja was down his enhancements, and Eric got hit savagely, hard enough to buckle his body plating. Not good! The rest of the team arrive in time to help, particularly Samael and especially Kimiko, who shot some and dropped some explosives into the “Ant Nest” to block up the hole.
Finally, some groups responded to Eric’s frantic cries over the radio, which alerted Renraku, Mitsuhama, and the Military. All of them came in, with Lone Star probably following, but the military arrived first and declared its authority via martial law, and firing missiles at anything they didn’t like. Nobody argued.
Specifically, they argued with everyone, including the party, over the super-bums, until said monsters burst from the ground hurling rocks like small missiles. The military responded with actual missiles. Hilarity ensued.
Interlude: Holy Frag!
(Or, A Reptile Spirit in the Hand is Worth… Nothing, Because it’s Incredibly Dangerous)
Flying after the fire spirit, Stanley Sticks zoomed all the way to South America. They attracted so much attention the Amazonian military sent a jet after then, as well as an Astrally Projecting mage. The mage was very curious as to what exactly, was going on, but it wasn’t too hard to convince him the random roaming fire spirit and crazy superman didn’t particularly mean any harm. The spirit soon stopped at an ancient ruin, whereupon he bragged about his mighty powers and mighty city (neither of which were all that impressive anymore). He/She seemed to have no idea of technology beyond spears or cultures beyond small city-state, and assumed he would be worshipped as a living god. He tried to recruit Mr. Sticks as high priest, which Mr. Sticks happily declined (being more powerful than the “god” anyhow). Stanley then sent him off to mess with the Japanese, apparently because it was funny, and set off for home.
The Amazonian mage was speechless at the stupid.
With the battle over, it was time for some investigation. Kimiko found a computer, which she fiddled with and robbed of the hard drive. This was the diary and logfiles of the experimenters, and contained basic information on the leaders, as well as the very lowest data on the ritual itself. Actually reproducing it would require a lot of development, but the fundamental genius was all there.
Pretty much everyone immediately tried to grab a copy to sell or hand over to their personal friends.
However, for the moment, the party set up some wards around the warphole and explained the situation to the military, who were neither pleased nor all that understanding. Things did not improve when a psycho half-feral pair of kids wanged a couple soldiers, or when Zheung Bao’s darkness covered Eric’s eyes in a nightmarish vision of the hell world which the absolute worst possible version of the Earth could have been. (Eric panicked and nearly threw himself into the portal, saved only by the timely intervention of Mr. Sticks.)
Having thus wrecked things, the party returned to Mitsuhama and rested.
After a few upgrades to handle those spirits, they went in search of Copper, one of those who had been in the ritual, and who had apparently gotten out alive. Mr. Sticks used his contacts to figure out he’d been assassinating people for cold cash (and had become much more powerful). Stanley then used his contacts to arrange a meet with Copper.
The meet went down at a Renton baseball field, at a minor-league game. Eric would stay out of sight, while the team would, well, meet Copper and have popcorn. Kimiko was going to stay behind as well, in order for the team to be able to ambush him on the way out. Things did not go well, in manner of speaking.
Copper turned out to be wholly emotionless. In act, he didn’t even blink at strange events, including people punching through the pavement to hand him messages. The meeting mostly went off alright, with Stanley offering a fake mission and asking Copper to see if it would be possible.
Copper went down the carpark, where Kimiko had sabotaged his engine by removing the spark plugs. He was not amused. Kimiko mouthed off, Copper took away her coffee, she tried to shoot him, and then Copper tossed her five miles away into the bay.
However, Copper turned out to be most reasonable after that, so things worked out. He was slightly annoyed (maybe) after being told there was no assassination mission, but was most willing to offer advice about the Insect Spirits. In fact, he confirmed they were Inspect Spirits at all. We offered to hire him for that job, and he agreed to be available when we needed. He also pointed us toward the next insect hive… and “Hive” turned out to be all too accurate.
Episode 3: A Total Buzz-Kill
(Or, The Queen-Bee Strikes Back, Repeatedly and Hard)
With Copper’s information in hand, we prepared for a heavy shitstorm of destruction. The last attack had gone badly, with us being unprepared and forced to call in aid at the last minute. That wouldn’t happen again, because we’d go in with heavy armaments. This entailed contacting Lone Star and the military again, so we could have prior support and their goodies. The party would go in with lots of neurostun, wrapped in gas masks and chemsuits, and armed to the teeth with guns, explosives, and grenades.
And so we went off to visit a random block, with a church, electronics stores, apartments, battered women’s shelter, and youth house. Hey, this is Shadowrun. You never know what will happen when you visit a battered women’s shelter!
The party first did a thorough sweep of any bolt holes or escape tunnels, eventually concluding they hadn’t cut through into the storm drains. There were extensive unconnected tunnels, however, and it wasn’t hard to imagine them using those. Still, we didn’t know what kind of insects we might be encountering, so it was unwise to assume they were hanging out underground.
With the authorities, as well as several curious corporations taking up outside positions, it was time to move in. We swept into the area and decided to look for magically-active or magically-distorted individuals, since Zheung Bao and Samael had seen their twisted astral forms earlier.
That quickly worked out. The party spellcasters all quickly spotted insect spirits working in the local simsense arcade, ushering customers in and selling them on programs. This was a very good way to find new “members” to induct.
The party went in as customers, and amusingly, the insects didn’t really notice much out of the ordinary. Kimiko was a customer, as was Zheung Bao. Eric pretended to guard Zheung Bao, while Samael and Stanley waited outside. Everyone looked around for the origin of the insects. In fact, it appeared they were gathering mystic energy to put into people from the backroom, so that must be where the Queen was.
Eric called the group into action and tried to go into he backroom, where he found… two young girls, who were obviously not one of the Queen hosts from the original experiment. Well, shit. Particularly since the Insects – apparently Bee spirits – were now hot and angry and ready to rumble.
This wouldn’t have been so bad, with Eric, Stanley, and Kimiko involved (Samael somehow wandered off and Zheung Bao was locked into the program), except that these spirits were able to use a basic stun spell. One, or even two or three, was no problem. A dozen, on the other hand, were able to spam attacks until the party started going down. Still, they were individually weak, and through the liberal use of superflash, neurostun, and punching, the party barely prevailed (if on the edge of collapse). Zheung Bao turned the tide when he finally managed to log out and chucked a neurostun grenade of his own.
On a happy note, there were no casualties at all except for the poor man who lived above the simsense store. He wound up with a bullet in the foot courtesy of a stray round from Kimiko.
With Lone Star and the military, the party sent the prisoners into extremely secure custody for interrogation (and likely death). Unfortunately, the two girls turned out to simply be holders of magical energy. The Queen was elsewhere, and it was time to take the block apart looking.
That didn’t take long. After a few minutes to catch out breath and get some medical treatment, the party fanned out to look for bug spirits. Stanley started flying to watch things. Samael scouted around the ground, along with Zheung Bao and Kimiko. Kimiko investigated the large electronics store by making a purchase just before close. He noted the store’s employees were young, like the bugs at the simsense arcade, and were very intent on running some program on their computers. He then ran a fiber-optic cable into the electronics store to peer inside, and saw the employees were continuing in their computer work. It was very odd, and very suspicious.
Samael was the first to spot the enemy, a girl who was dual natured. Or was that an insect spirit at all? No one ever found out, because the kid shot her… with a glue gun.. and then left with her parents after giving Samael the raspberry. Suddenly snipers started popping out on the roofs of most of the buildings. Samael was the first to spot one, and was promptly shot for his efforts; Stanley was able to locate all of then quickly from above, however.
Kimiko went after the sniper, but got a little too enthusiastic. The sniper had planted explosives and bombed the stairs, shooting Kimiko over to the simsense arcade roof. Eric, still recovering from the earlier battle, called in a medical helicopter and warned the army about what was going on. While Kimiko was in evac, the military started moving in a few troops in APC’s. Zheung Bao and Stanley went up to the roof to handle getting Kimiko onto the chopper. Eric, meanwhile, was hit by a sniper (to no effect) when went everything went to hell.
While the APC’s crashed into the battered women’s shelter (which was mostly empty and had a sniper on the roof), military drones flew overhead. This was good. However, before you could blink twice, mini-drones started popping out all over the place, as the insects’ defense network came online. They also began heavy jamming and blocked off most transmissions. The sniper on the shelter took a suicide dive; one APC only barely survived the blast, but the soldiers inside were still alive and well.
Eric tried to get the attention of the drones and took a flying leap half the block into the youth center, which he then seeded with incendiary grenades (it was abandoned right now anyway). Some drones came through and crashed around. Zheung Bao and Stanley used a shaped-charge explosive to pop a hole into the basement of the simsense arcade, as they discovered there was a way into the insect hive there. They discovered a tunnel with lots of explosive supplies. The ninja and Mr. Sticks handily smacked around the insects there, and considered how best to open the heavy security door in place over the tunnel.
Samael was investigating the church, and found a way down. There he spotted many insects running around, but they didn’t consider his “puddle of water form” a distinct threat. The bugs were preparing a tough defense, with numerous mines and a suicide soldier or two to blow up the tunnel if things went south. Samael stayed behind and chatted with a couple (or rather, he chatted while they threatened to kill him if he didn’t leave). Samael then simply banished one, although the other was able to drive off the puddle of water. The remaining insect blew the tunnel, and Samael was forced to retreat into a crypt or burn to death, and as he was on the border of death, retreat seemed like a good plan anyway.
The military commander (temporarily played by Kimiko’s player) got a little panicked by the sudden appearance of a well-equipped paramilitary in Seattle, and tried to order around more soldiers than he had. Despite the confusion, then troops were taking control of the area nicely and even blocked off a possible escape route. The initial surprise drone shock caused trouble, but Eric took a flying leap onto the electronics store roof and smashed the enemy’s communications gear. Combined with a light mortar attack of Neurostun, the tide was quickly turning.
Eric then joined Stanley and Zheung Bao, and together they quickly cleared the tunnel, with a little help courtesy of the ninja’s darkness spirit. No puny insect was going to stop it! The trio soon located the central hive in an abandoned subway station, and decided to simply explode it. They handed the darkness spirit a handful of incendiaries and almost 30 kilos of C-12, taken from the insect’s own stash. And then it was time to run.
Hilarity ensued, and happily even the above-ground block was mostly spared.
In the aftermath, things mostly went pretty easily. The remaining insects were quickly rounded up, the electronics store was well looted for an ample cash bonus, and the innocents on the block more or less all survived quite nicely. The only downside was that most of the corporations in the city now knew something very, very bad was up and were quite freaked that the military was shooting off weapons in ordinary neighborhoods. Secrecy wouldn’t be kept for long, but hopefully it would be enough to take out the last Queen before he or she could run. Kimiko made a full recovery and soon got back on her feet, and Samael healed nicely once she escaped from the locked crypt.