Shadowrun, for those who don’t know of it, is a long standing RPG game set in the dystopian future cyberpunk earth. Mixing magic with Blade Runner style downtrodden future-tech (sans the sentient humanoid robots) it emphasises upon the corporate wars which exist with each one trying to steal the secrets of the other. To accomplish this, and for plausible deniability, they utilise shadowrunners, teams of freelance espionage agents of varying skill which steal, assassinate, destroy and bankrupt whoever they’re paid to deal with.
Being fans of Dark Heresy in all its glory it was only natural that myself and a group of friends try it. And a few months ago we did just that, acting out the most obvious and least subtle of thefts. Sent to steal information by a Mr. Johnson from the soon to be defunct minor genetic corporation Zainou in Norway, the team managed to scout out the place and sneak inside under the guise of being security consultants.
The shadowrunners themselves consisted of:
“Amoral Ray” a mecha obsessed physically unfit technomancer living in a van and building warmachines out of junk.
Venne, a troll and a former member of the military. GMPC and unsurprisingly overpowered troubleshooter. The team’s usual sniper and anti-vehicle individual. Job title: Versatile Humanoid Artillery.
And “Killbo” Fraggins, dwarf drunkard and former bank robber along-side other humorously named people. Muscle, paranoid explosives expert and stealth operative. Cybernetically enhanced in his arm, eyes and ears.
Most of that campaign’s events would go better detailed elsewhere but in no particular order they contained:
- A running gun battle through an airport against equal rights terrorists.
- Two drunken rampages.
- The burning down of offices after framing said equalist terrorists.
- One forest fire while fighting a vengeful beast spirit, followed by surviving jumping off of a cliff without a parachute.
- Several violent back alley gunfights.
- The construction of Armageddon on wheels.
- The word’s first successful infiltration via opera.
- A basement nerd fight between hackers involving the spirit of a pirate.
- The parking lot fist-fight, involving two oiled up men dueling while singing, ending with one of them being junp-kicked through a car. A fight so violent it ended with the GM taking a sledgehammer to a D6.
- A running gun battle with a corporate made combat cyborg capable of taking out tanks.
- An invasion of Red Samurai followed by grand theft auto of their helicopters and a chase.
- Nazi gold.
While many of these events are well worth telling, the fourth from the bottom especially, what is relevant to our story is this – The shadowrunners helped to secure the escape of one fleeing scientist in exchange for information which might help them get inside and that they were successful in cleaning out their databanks. Naturally one highly destructive data theft which involved mass killings and leaving half the facility on fire was not enough for us so a few months down the line our GM brought up another plot for us to run through.
Our story for this one begins several months after that incident, in which the characters drifted apart. Amoral sold his mecha for fitness classes (and became an elf apparently), Killbo went on the run and hid out in Chicago (yes, as dangerous and dumb as it sounds) and Venn abandoned shadowrunning entirely to join a PMC. Unfortunately for two of them, Mr. Johnson was not yet done with the group and soon they were called back to meet him.
Greeting them in a small café, Johnson outlined what he needed in his usual brazen way. They had found a great deal more than expected in the stolen files and were hiring the team to recruit others to help them make full use of the information. The team’s mission? Convince several scientists his company wanted to join them, assassinate others trying to join their rival in Aztechnology and ensure the survival of a certain scientist the group had last helped flee from Norway. Months after being on the run, her old company had found her and sent assassins to silence any knowledge they had of their projects. Joining Amoral and Killbo was a new GMPC, Leona, an African magician rather conspicuously sitting with a python around her shoulders. I only mention her nationality because the GM kept using an accent for her lines.
We were promptly told we had 20 minutes to save her and would never reach her by car. At which point one of Johnson’s personal helicopters arrived, landing on the roof of the café to take us to the location. One small detail I’d forgotten to mention was Killbo’s continued paranoia, in that while he’d not walked in armed to the teeth he’d arrived in the most robust civilian clothing he had – namely the tuxedo worn from last time. As a result when an immaculately dressed man with a pistol, a beautiful dangerous woman with a snake and a gadgeteer genius boarded the helicopter and flew off, it was to a billion James Bond jokes.
Eventually landing ten minutes later on the road outside of the abandoned apartments she was hold up in, the group sneaked inside and began probing the exterior for weak points. While the rest of the group was fairly competent at this, Killbo’s innate paranoia meant he checked every single step and door for explosives. By the time we finally got a decent way inside, the spec ops unit they’d sent had arrived on the roof via helicopter. Unfortunately for them their target had gotten the foresight to place traps on the roof, and two dived headlong into a tripwire which promptly went boom.
Things got from bad to worse for the hired killers as Amoral’s drones got involved unleashing supressing fire via minigun slowing down the team until Killbo could reach the target. Upon finding the terrified scientist (and getting a bullet in the shoulder for his troubles) the two began running for the ground level with massive explosions sounding from above. As the drones were forced to pull back, after blowing a hole through multiple floors with a railgun round and barely missing the two fleeing within.
Unfortunately the luckless spec ops agents raced down the stairway only for Killbo to hear them standing on the floor directly above. Cries of “WHAT THE HELL-!?!“ were heard as the dwarf ricocheted a high explosive grenade around the corner, up one floor and directly between the two. Unfortunately for the luckless scientist and shadowrunning muscle, this got the attention of their lieutenant who promptly began sprinting downstairs. And their drones. Crashing in through the windows, a drone armed with AV rounds appeared and riddled the dwarf with bullets, blowing chunks out of him and taking off over half his health in the opening two shots.
Amoral then decided to take matters into his own hands and did the only sensible thing he could: Michael Bay the building.
You see, he’d been wired into the apartment’s systems for a while and aside from screwing with CCTV footage, he’d been looking into each system’s nodes. One of the things he'd accessed was the metric tons of TNT wired into its every doorway and window. A large stack of which the enemy drone was now hovering over. One command later, those inside were blown backwards by a big blast of light, goodbye went the dangerously destructive drone, one entire side of the apartments and several major structural supports. It began to very loudly creak and tilt inwards.
Well surprise, surprise being stuck in a collapsing building was not part of the escape plan and Killbo promptly grabs the scientist, fires his grappling hook into the ground and abseils out. Hurling himself out of the now exploded side of the apartment blocks, hitting the ground and then running like hell along with the others as everything went boom. Diving into Amoral’s car (he ordered it to head there as a way out early on) Killbo was healed up by Leona and headed for an abandoned train station to meet up with Johnson.
Meeting up with Johnson, the man’s limousine promptly pulls up just as they arrive and along with caviar, coffee and vast quantities of fine alcohol he gives further details about their mission. Because he’s just that kind of guy. After listing their target’s names, associates, a potential undercover situation and the dangers of both an uprising and a major figure at the science conference they are to infiltrate; he leaves.
With his job done for the night, the chauffeur asks them if they need a lift anywhere then promptly tells them to get the hell out of his car and walk. Departing from the vehicle, having looted practically everything inside with Killbo clinking slightly from the sheer number of booze he took and Leona having smuggled out the coffee machine somehow, they go their separate ways. To plan, to rest, to prepare and get ready to begin their work after that day’s explosively violent escape.
Unluckily for the lot of them, the night was not over yet.
On his way home, Killbo is ambushed in a dark alley and as he’s cold cocked across the head hears the words “’ello Fraggins.”
Walking up one hour later he find himself in a warehouse surrounded by dwarves, two of them very familiar to him. Old members of his gang Balrog and Gundalf. Yes this entire theme thing was based upon the joke name of one character, how did you guess?
Having double crossed them before they could enact their planned double crossing of him, Balrog is back with a vengeance demanding the money from their last raid and Gundalf looking for excuses to break Killbo’s neck. Tied to a chair and with all his guns removed, the shadowrunner was left only with his concealed grenade launcher robot arm (inoperable due to the ropes), eye laser tool and wits. Or rather what little brain cells could pass for wits, being a person whose tactics seemed to revolve around “punch and/or shoot it until it stops being a problem” or “bluff/sing while bluffing then shoot it”.
Trying a few tactics to escape such as getting Balrog close enough to threaten to take him out with grenades he has in his arm, trying to laser him in the brain only to realise he was wearing mirrored shades (at night no less); he eventually manages to come up with a way of getting outside help. Under the guise of getting in contact with the private account he establishes, he gets a comlink off of one of the goons and messages the two other shadowrunners. With Balrog quickly backing out of range of the grenades before Killbo can use them and Gundalf being effectively illiterate, he is left to freely message lots of details to them. Mostly by buying time via distracting the two via continual filibustering, misdirection and getting them into arguments with one another.
Luck seemed to be on our heroes’ side as when Amoral tracked the signal it was originating from right next door to his residence. Better yet Balrog’s goons were not the brightest bunch, not even bothering to patrol the area just openly stand outside the door with shotguns. This left him largely free to scout out the area and put a spanner in the works, especially when Leona arrived minutes later and made them both invisible. Being a man with miniature drones and Gundalf being bionicised from head to brass balls, Amoral’s first natural instinct was to send in a microdrone with nanites to hack the man’s arm. Becoming more and more suspicious, Balrog was none the less highly surprised when, in mid demand for his cash, Gundalf’s gun arm jerked away from his captive’s head and loosed a blast into his leg.
With their boss rolling on the ground and screaming something along the lines of “Shoot the bearded bastard!” Killbo was quick to take advantage and upon passing a composure roll yelled “You heard him shoot Gundalf!” With the criminal mastermind rolling on the ground in pain, the minions blasting away at the dwarf terminator as he took cover behind the luckless Killbo, the world exploded. Amoral’s truck blew in one wall, crushing two dwarves and deploying drones with the technomancer himself following behind it. Those not caught in the path of the wheeled incarnation of death and storm of bullets were promptly set screaming on fire; with Leona releasing what can only be described as a small solar flare upon the mob.
Still secured to the chair, Killbo proceeded to take on both his former comrades. Getting his bionic arm free and made Balrog’s day worse via punching in the wounded leg. Gundalf then returned the favour, punching Killbo partway across the warehouse. As Balrog snuck away (due to the GM wanting him to survive to be a reoccurring enemy), and with most of the dwarves now vaporised or riddled with bullets, that just left the two dorf cyborgs fighting one another. Well, with Gundalf being built to punch-in bank doors and Killbo being someone whose inbuilt laser could have trouble opening a can on the good day, this is about as one sided as you could imagine.
Managing to make use of his grenade launcher, getting one in Gundalf’s mouth mid villain rant only to have him somehow survive, it quickly devolved into a fistfight. Or rather what would be a fist fight if Killbo knew how not to fight dirty and Gundalf didn’t have a sledgehammer. Lobbing his still booze ridden jacket over the cyborg’s face, Killbo promptly lasered it, showering the goon with exploding alcohol. Something which did little more than enrage him and give Gundalf burning attacks. Well, that and force Killbo to shirt-rip Kirk style as what was left of his tux caught alight as well.
Clearly on the losing end despite getting a few good shots in, and Amoral deciding that due to anime laws this should be settled between the two of them thus staying out of it, Leona decided to take matters into her own hands. Summoning a beast spirit and having it immediately possess Killbo to turn the odds in his favour.
Now as a brief aside to explain something which happened next, everyone involved in this was using Chummer to keep track of characters. It was easier than rewriting character sheets after all and solved a few issues of keeping track of the status of multiple NPCs but it had caused a few glitches and errors in the past. Well that was what happened here. We noticed that the program was freezing up, taking a long time and generally had a lot of problems. We then realised that it was trying to make Killbo possess the spirit. Well as a result of this we decided something special was to happen.
Despite glowing red, apparently having claws now and looking like something the Warp would spit out on a bad day; Killbo still possessed total control of his body. Well, as well as this power-up giving the stealth berserker the ability to shrug off point blank blasts, it boosted his strength to the point where he could hit like a jackhammer. The end result of this was Gundalf being machine-gun punched across the room and several inches into the corrugated steel wall behind him. Also with Killbo leaving some scars for him to remember, in the form of a several inch deep fist-mark into the man’s steel chest and lasering graffiti into his back.
With corpses littering the ground, most of the room on fire and violently elaborate fistfight having taken place, the usual for us now, the team departs before any police can arrive and to actually get on with the job they are being paid to do.