Shadowrun: Pitcairn and Hitoshi Gilespi

   The Pitcairn Islands – population 72 as of 2020 – were spared much of the disasters of the early twenty-first century through sheer isolation. VITAS never reached the islands. No dragons, magicians, or other major manifestations of magic appeared there. A few, minor, awakened plants and small animals showed up, but they were hardly noticeable. There weren’t very many base species there to begin with. A few seagoing oddities were noted, but such trivialities paled besides the near-loss of contact with the outside world.

   In 2016, Great Britain transferred it’s interest in the islands to Benne Carstairs, who later (in 2018) declared them a nation, built a small office there as “corporate headquarters”, and used the place as a tax shelter. Given that he provided a power plant (a small nuclear naval design), hired a doctor, set up a better satellite link, and provided basic supplies, the islanders made no objection. Unfortunately, with the rise of the megacorporations and their special legal privileges, using a puppet state as your corporate headquarters was no longer much of an advantage – and, where it was useful, there were many much less remote and awkward small states to use. In 2034, the Pitciarn Islands were auctioned off, and passed through the hands of a succession of absentee landlords including Sultan Abdulhamid, who placed a small power plant and desalination plant to supplement rainwater cachement on Henderson Island and banished a number of inconvenient or bothersome relatives and offspring there. They survived his assassination since the few who knew of their existence couldn’t be bothered going that far to kill them. Despite these capital improvements the value of the Islands was considered problematic, and affairs reached a nadir in 2054, when their current owner bet the islands (population 118) in a high-stakes poker game against a note for 118,000 NY, a small yacht, and a collection of ancient papyrus scrolls of doubtful provenance and unknown value and lost them to Hitoshi Gilespi. Hitoshi, perhaps with somewhat grandiose ideas about the value of owning his own country, spent the money on hiring a small cargo ship and loading it with some supplies and set off to claim his new property and become an international political figure.

   Pitcairn Island is further from any continental landmass than any other inhabited island. The nearest islands are in French Polynesia, roughly to the WNW: the isolated Gambier Islands are 330 miles away, the Acteon Group of the Tuamotu Islands are 450 miles away, and Tahiti and the rest of the Society Islands are a mere 1,300 miles off. Easter Island is about the same distance in the opposite direction. Pitcairn is usually reached by a thirty-hour boat trip from Mangareva in the Gambiers.

   The Pitcairn Island Group includes four separate “islands” (the two Atolls are each made up of several very small islands – heaps of sand, shells, and coral debris built up on top of a larger coral reef). The climate is subtropical and the ecology relatively simple; the islands simply are not large enough to support all that many species.

  • Pitcairn: Volcanic, 1.8 square miles, maximum elevation of 1145 feet, rocky coastline with cliffs, one small and semi-navigable (accessible by small boats only) bay, forest, scrub, and cultivated areas. As of 2054, Population 97. The economy is based on gardening, fishing, carving curios for sale to passing ships (relatively rare these days) and selling postage stamps to collectors.
  • Ducie: Atoll, .27 square miles, 340 miles east of Pitcairn, Maximum elevation 13 feet, forested. Currently uninhabited.
  • Henderson: Uplifted Coral Island, 14.4 square miles, 120 miles NE of Pitcairn, maximum elevation of 110 feet, undercut 50-foot coastal cliffs, three small beaches on the northern side. No natural source of fresh water, extremely rugged, forested. Current population 21 (technically, since the succeeding Sultan sold the island and contents, the inhabitants are Hitoshi’s property). The economy is based on gardening, keeping a small number of cattle (drastically limited due to the freshwater shortage), coastal fishing, and the gathering of small amounts of magical telesma, since the island is very nearly untouched.
  • Oeno: Atoll, .25 square miles, 89 miles NW of Pitcairn, maximum elevation of 16 feet, small amounts of fresh water available. Palm forest and scrub. Oeno is traditionally used as a “vacation island” and source of coconuts and palm fronds (for handicrafts such as baskets) by the inhabitants of Pitcairn. Unfortunately, it cannot support a sizable group year-round since the water supply is very limited and takes months to recover between visits.

   Here we have a preliminary character sheet for Hitoshi Gilespi, the current owner of the Pitcairn Island Group. The player means to expand things considerably, or so I’ve been told.

Hitoshi Gilespi

   Hitoshi, and his twin sister Hitomi, moved in with their grandmother Maylinde when they were not quite twelve, shortly after the (apparently; who can ever be sure?) accidental death of their mother Tanelith (she never would talk about their father much, and neither will most of their other relatives). Both possessed some magical talent, but took opposing approaches after Tanelith died; Hitomi turned outwards, latching onto everyone around her. Hitoshi withdrew into his own darkened world, connecting with others only to manipulate them.

   Hitoshi turned out to possess a remarkable memory, as well as a knack for initiation – doing so before even learning more than the basics of a few spells – and for astral quests, which served him well in his studies. Unfortunately, he lacked the sheer mental fortitude to endure actually casting very many spells in a row – but he mastered a great many of them and got into college rather early.

   Spending all that time among far older people didn’t help him connect socially. He also saw that the world was simply not being run very well. It wasn’t long before he concluded that most of the people in it were complete idiots, and that it would all work a great deal better if he was in charge. Soon, he was starting to take action to get in charge – searching for terrible spells, mystic secrets, and exploring the depths of the metaplanes. He also managed to acquire an astounding – and blatantly illegal – amount of Karma by providing specialized magical services on the streets.

   He linked up with “Alex” – a fox-shapeshifter with (like most predatory shapeshifters) few human-style scruples. Seizing control of an appropriate powerbase sounded good to him as well. So did some rummaging around in obscure museums and libraries. There were a lot of rumors about the magic of ancient egypt.

   Disappointingly, the scrolls they ran across turned out to be fairly worthless magically – but they sufficed for a poker stake while they were following up on some other rumors in Madagascar. Pitcairn turned out to be a good deal smaller than Hitoshi had imagined it – but it was a start.

   Basic Expenditures: Magic 24 (Master Magician/Treesnake* Shaman), Race 12 (Elf), Resources 30 (3000 KNY), Skills -2 (25 active skill points), and Attributes 0 (18 attribute points).

*Treesnake is a minor variant on Snake: Rather than +2 dice with a particular spirit of the land or of man, they get +1 die with Spirits of the Sky. Otherwise +2 dice with Detection, Health, and Illusion spells, -1 die for any spellcasting during combat.

   Basic Attributes: Body 3 (1 before Karma), Quickness 4 (3 before racial modifiers), Strength 3 (1 before Karma), Intelligence 6, Willpower 3, Charisma 6 (4 before racial modifiers), Essence 6, Magic 5, Reaction 5, Initiative 5+2d6.

   To represent experience in the campaign, I’m providing +4 skill points which may be spent to raise initial skills (to a maximum of eight) and +2 Karma Pool. These bonuses have been included below.

   Dice Pools:

  • Astral Combat Pool: 7d
  • Combat Pool: 6d
  • Spell Pool: 7d
  • Initiate Magic Pool: 4d
  • Karma Pool: 3

   Edges:

  • Overspending on basic expenditures (4): +4 basic priority points.
  • Day Job (0): Runs the Pitcairn Islands. This has Major Responsibilities (running everything and fixing emergencies, -3), extremely useful perks (access to Telesma, minor diplomatic access that allows him to a political influence skill), and lets him issue credentials and live on the island for free (+3), but no salary (Pitcairn Island has no money, 0).
  • State of the Art (2): He has access to advanced spells.
  • Reduced Target Number/-4 on Astral Quest target numbers (4):
  • Bonus Dice/+1 for magical operations (Very Common, Major, 4):
  • Geneware (6): -1 BI (2), with Bonus Effects (2), Takes no stress and does not detect as artificial (2) although he must pay full price for it since it requires special training. Mnemonic Enhancer III (+3d to Memory tests, +3d to Language tests, +1d to all knowledge skill tests, -3 on the Karma cost of learning Skills and Spells, and +3 on his initial intelligence-based skill multipliers), Synaptic Accelerator I (+1d6 Initiative).
  • Grant Total: 20.

   Flaws:

  • Miser (-3):
  • Low Pain Tolerance (-4):
  • Sensitive System (-2):
  • Detailed Background (-4)*:
  • Addiction (Power, Common/Moderate, -3*):
  • Psychological Quirk (Thinks he can run things better than anyone else, Constant/Mild, -4*):
  • Grand Total: -20.
    • *Exempt from over-limit halving due to use as GM plot hooks.

   Resource Expenditures:

  • Second ID (75k): Hephaestion Medraut. A somewhat shady mage and dealer in obscure artifacts and information. The first name was chosen for it’s historical significance as the name of Alexander the Great’s childhood friend and closest associate – a suggestion of Alex’s. The last name is the original Celtic form of “Mordred” (which should need no further explanation for anyone who knows Hitoshi, given his nature).
  • “Small” (technically “Large”, but extremely inconvenient) Base (125k): The Pitcairn Islands.
  • Followers (200k):
  • Reputation (30k):
  • 10,000 NY Income with Complications (250k):
  • L3 Contact (200k):
  • Grab bag (150k):
  • Special Training (See Edges, 120k):
  • Diplomatic Connections (25k):
  • Political Connections (25k):
  • Utility Helicopter (used, 100k)
  • 68 Karma Points (1700k):

   Skills:

  • Initial Active Skills (25 + 4 bonus): Sorcery 8, Conjuration 8, Administration 6, Leadership 6, Negotiation 1.
    • Karma Purchases: Astral Perception 3 (3) Negotiation 4 (6), and Performance 3 (3).
  • Initial Knowledge Skills (Bases + 48): Magic Theory 6, Spirit Lore 6, Sociology 6, Current Events 6, Psychology 6, History 6, Spellcraft 6, (Country) Lore 6, Civics and Law 6, Logic 6.
  • Initial Languages (18): English 4, Japanese 3, French 3, Spanish 2, and Ancient Egyptian 6 with the related Read / Write skills at half those values.
  • Irrelevant Skills (12): Cooking 6, Gambling 6.

   Karma Expenditures (93 Karma Available): Skills (12), Initiate II (25), Body to 3 (10), Strength to 3 (10), 36 Spells at Force 10 (-6 per for Astral Quests, -3 per for Mnemonic Enhancer = 36).

Initiate Powers: Metaplanar Access (He has been using Astral Quests rated at 6 – for him, effectively 2 – to reduce his spell costs), Circuiting (may spend successes to give appropriate spells a duration in hours, although this is easily broken), Sortilege (gain an initiate magic pool of 2+Initiate Level dice for use on any magical operation), Bloodbinding (May make a spell permanent and unbreakable by giving up a point of magic to it permanently), Centering (may use ancient Egyptian as a complimentary skill for sorcery), and Divination.

   Spellcasting: Normally 8d (Sorcery Skill) + 3d (Centering in Ancient Egyptian) + 1d (Edge) +2d with Detection, Health, and Illusion spells -1d if spellcasting in combat. Note that he only has a base of 3d for his Drain resistance tests; he has very good spells, but can’t cast too many of them in a row unless he saves most of his dice pools for it. Of course, with that many dice to cast with anyway, he can afford to do that.

   Spells: (Base Drain target number = Force/2, plus modifiers).

  • Orator’s Aura: Permanently bloodbound, cast at Force 10, with 10 successes, +10 dice to all Social Skill Rolls.
  • Combat Spells: Manabolt (Target Will, Drain [Damage Level]), Mindslayer (Target Will, Drain S)
  • Detection Spells: Catalog (Target 6, Drain +1/M), Clairaudience (Target 6, Drain M), Clairvoyance (Target 6, Drain M), Empathy (Target 4, Drain M), Mindlink (Target Will, Drain S), Mind Probe (Target Will, Drain S), Night Vision (Target 6, Drain +1/M).
  • Health Spells: Antidote (Target Toxin Power, Drain [Toxin Damage Level]), Cure Disease (Target Disease Power, Drain [Disease Damage Level]), Heal (Target 10-Essence, Drain [Damage Level]), Hyper-sexuality (Target 10-Essence, Drain +3/L), Forget (Target Will, Drain +4/S), Hypersenses (Target 10-Essence, Drain +1/M), Increase Will (target Will, Drain +1/M), Unguarded Tongue (Target Will, Drain L).
  • Illusion Spells: Agony (Target Will, Drain M), Entrancement (Target 4, Drain L), Improved Invisibility (Target 4, Drain +1/M), Mass Agony (Target Will, Drain S), Physical Mask (Target 4, Drain +1/M), Visions Noir (Target 4, Drain +2/M),
  • Manipulation Spells: Armor (Target 6, Drain +2/M), Astral Armor (Target 6, Drain +1/M), Clean (Target 4, +1/M), Control Thoughts (Target Will, Drain +1/S), Create Food (Target 4, Drain +1/S), Fashion (Target 6, Drain +1/L), Fireball (Target 4, Drain +1/[Damage Level+2]), Fix (Target Object Resistance, Drain S), Lightning Bolt (Target 4, Drain +1/[Damage Level +1]), Magic Fingers (Target 6, Drain +2/M), Mana Barrier (Target 6, Drain +1/S), Physical Barrier (Target 6, Drain +2/S), Shapechange (Target Body, Drain +1/M).

   Contacts:

   L1- Seanan Flynn. A 37-year old Irishman with high mental stats and quickness, but low charisma. He’s a prominent member of the underworld and a decent magician. Hitoshi doesn’t care much for him, but he’s been helpful in the past and doesn’t really have any reservations about doing anything illegal, so Hitoshi tries to stay on good terms with him. Seanan’s a bit bipolar, with a somewhat dark sense of humor that Hitoshi finds annoying and somewhat disturbing. He was the first person to teach Hitoshi some of the less reputable uses for spells.

   L1- Basil Gifford. A british Archmage in his late 60’s, with a powerful mind but weakening body. Basil was Hitoshi’s college magic professor. He was one of Hitoshi’s favorite professors in college, and the man had a soft spot for the cranky little sorcerer. He’s a surprisingly good-natured man, and he was the first person at the university to notice that Alex was a shapeshifter. He knows a great deal about all sorts of things, from history to random mythology. He’s very wise in the ways of politics. He and Hitoshi aren’t often in touch much anymore, but Hitoshi occasionally asks the man for advice, and he’s always happy to oblige. Notably, the man is not aware of Hitoshi’s current political position – and may very well have a few issues with it. He taught Hitoshi some of the more powerful spells he knows.

   L3- Hadassah “Sal” Salazar. A 33-year-old latino woman with lots of cyberware, high physical stats, high willpower, and low charisma. A guard – ok, pretty much THE guard – who worked for Hitoshi’s predecessor on the Pitcairn Islands. She’d become quite fond of the islands and the islanders – it’s both a relaxed and lovely place – and she didn’t particularly care for her employer; he didn’t really give a damn about the place. She’s been pleasantly surprised to find that Hitoshi – or Hephaestion – actually takes an interest in the islands and in running things, even if he is a manipulative youngster and a bit overambitious. Despite his Machiavellian policies and “cult of personality” approach, he seemed to be genuinely trying to improve the place. She’s actually been putting her heart into her bodyguard and administrative-assistant work.

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