Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Shadowrun: Stealth is Paramount - 13/02/2013

There’s something which needs to be pointed out here. Up until now these sessions? They’ve all been elaborately planned to keep us on track. If there’s one thing our GM is superhumanly good at it’s preventing the story going completely off the rails or getting out from under his control.

Con the police into raiding a man’s house? He can keep the game going.

Completely botch a recon mission to the point where machineguns are chewing up the ground around the party and two members are forced to take a suicidal dive towards the ground hundreds of meters below? He’ll find a way to keep things on track.

Use an accent related joke to turn an important enemy NPC into a pirate and promptly take advantage of his sudden change in background? The story somehow keeps progressing as planned.

This isn’t to say he’s railroading, far from it, just that he’s very good at adaptability and keeping up with us when things start to go wrong. This session? This is what happens when the party is let off the chain and he doesn’t have a plan to cover the next three hours. The sorts of things which usually only happen when I’m trying to run a game.

Well we began this one right where the last one ended off. Having secured a favour from the cloning facility by blowing up their rival they needed to now get a genetic sample for their use. They just had the slight problem of needing to get it within the next eleven hours or so in order to have the cloned body ready in time for their operation. Speeding away in the jeep the two set off at high speed towards… somewhere. Yeah we opened this up with them speeding along at 120 mph when they had no real objective to go to yet.

Feeling they’d need everyone involved and that being able to be turned invisible would be of help, Killbo phoned Leona to try and rope her into the operation. This being Killbo he didn’t so much try to explain things as say “Witch? We need to get sperm, are you in?” You can probably imagine her reaction. As Killbo explained that they actually did need her and no this was not a joke, Amoral got to work on what he did best: Stuff with computers.

Searching for sperm-banks and cross-referencing them with those present in Japan, Amoral started to narrow down the facilities to a few where the scientist’s genetics might be held in. All we’d managed to previously know was that twenty-two years ago he’d donated sperm during his student days. This actually proved to be an easy task as, upon contacting the company under false pretences and a fake name, he found that there were seven samples which matched the criteria of the scientist.

After exhausting several other options and with Killbo proving to be of no help, Amoral opted to hack through the matrix and into their database. This was the one day the dice decided to hate him however and while successfully hacking inside, he set off multiple alarms alerting the system to his presence. Which proceeded to run a trace program frantically searching for whoever was trying to rip out files with the precision and subtlety of a meat-tenderiser.

Thankfully for us the dice hated the computer even more than they did Amoral and it glitched badly, starting to instead track the commercial airline which few right over our heads at that exact moment. The plane was apparently one Wilson was on-board, trying to smuggle himself out of the country after having escaped he police. I’m not sure if the GM was joking or not.

With the little more time we’d been bought, Amoral made an edit check to completely erase himself from the access before the system overcame its chase criteria to further throw it off and try to hide his presence. The system registered this as a form of corruption it had detected and started to reboot. For those not in the know, few worse things can happen to a technomancer than a system rebooting while they’re in it. With this taking place, Amoral copied the Seattle section of their database and metaphorically mashed his thumb on the “log out” option. Just about managing to drop with only normal bio-feedback for his actions.

Killbo, still brazenly breaking the speed limit and driving like a madman while this hacking took place, glanced back in time to see two things. Amoral uploading the data for where the sperm bank likely was into his GPS, and Leona driving behind them. This is notable as Leona was driving a scooter after the vehicle easily doing around a hundred.

Leona signalled them to stop. Killbo failed to notice this.
Leona repeatedly flashed her lights jerking her thumb over to one side of the road. Killbo saw her and waved back.
Leona yelled, with the same volume and intensity as a megaphone “Stop the fucking car you maniac!” Killbo leaned over and opened the passenger door for her to, apparently, drive into the vehicle.
After being yelled at more that she couldn’t park her scooter in the car, and some very lucky rolls, Killbo pulled a 180 degree skid turn into a parking space coming into an instant stop outside a pub.

After Leona boarded the vehicle we got to work in discussing our plan of attack and learned just where we were going to have to infiltrate: A guarded Renraku extra-territorial facility which served as a storage complex for various medical equipment and supplies. In other words to get just one small part of our plan done we were effectively going to be stealthily infiltrating the stronghold of a major corporate power. Ain’t life just grand?

After coming up with a vague plan of attack (I.E. don’t get seen and try to get caught, seen or make any loud noises) we headed for the facility leaving Leona’s scooter behind. Which was apparently not a scooter at all but some possessed demon-thing with an eye where the headlight should have been. Twenty minutes later we’d abandoned the jeep a few streets from the facility and sidled up to the exterior fence.

Ignoring the various signs of “Pass this line, it’s Renraku time” we managed to figure out that the first place we needed to head to was about ten feet from us. We also learned from Leona that there was another ward in place to prevent her crossing. Fun fact – the reason she can’t cross through them is that, unlike most magic users she can’t shift out to go undetected and not set them off because she was a shapeshifter. She could however make Killbo and Amoral invisible.

Walking up to the fence, the amazing invisible Killbo proceeded to silently chainsaw through it (hey it’d worked once that night hadn’t it?) and create a hole big enough to crouch through. The two were directly in front of their first target: the facility’s office. A one room shed which was used to keep records of their stock, have meetings with potential clients and record some of the security footage from its exterior cameras. Using his laser eye he cut a square hole through the back window and just about managed to catch the pane of glass as it feel out.

It was about this time, a good thirty seconds into sneaking inside, that everything went to hell.
A patrolling guard rounded the corner and, despite incredible odds stacked against him, actually managed to spot the pane of glass floating in the air. Having a few seconds to decide upon his action before the guard properly reacted, Killbo opted to make up for his relative competence in his last infiltration mission with bloodshed. Dramatically leaping down from the window, holding the glass in his robot hand as a sword he brought it round and sliced the guard’s head off Connor Macleod style. Apparently the laser gave it one hell of an edge. The called shot to his neck combined with some high rolls meant that the glass went right through him and the guard’s cranium hit the tarmac, bouncing away. While managing to avoid the cameras, barely considering our initial plan to drag the corpse right past the camera and outside the fence, the duo hide it in the office. Kicking the guard’s head in the open hole, Amoral dragged the corpse inside (after a few failed rolls) and dumped him out of sight.

Realising that a missing person might be reason for concern, Amoral then summoned a data sprite and hacked the guard’s comlink. Having recorded the guard’s few words prior to Killbo going medieval on him, he made the sprite edit the programmed replies and “everything’s okay” calls in varying tones to help keep up appearances. Making use of his long neglected explosive foam as a glue Killbo plastered the edges of the frame with the stuff and then pushed it back into the hole. He then shoved a remote detonator into the foam because, well he’s the explosives dwarf what else did you expect him to do.

Finding the computer terminal they needed, Amoral set to work on hacking into it while Killbo borrowed a torch to start rooting through the place for the ward’s focus. Well oddly enough a light suddenly appearing in an unused pitch black room at night was enough to get someone’s attention. Seconds later a guard was rattling keys in the lock trying to get inside.

With no furniture available, Amoral hid behind the door to stay out of sight. Quickly ripping off the focus, Killbo took the far less sensible root and rolled under the desk. Directly atop the bleeding beheaded corpse which Amoral had hidden there. Oddly enough it wasn’t Killbo who ended up worse with this situation, while he was having blood seep into his clothing the guard leapt in the door action movie style and slammed it into Amoral’s face. Somehow missing that the door slamming was slightly softened the guard looked about, pinned the focus back onto the wall and walked back out shrugging his shoulders. A few seconds later Leona made her presence known, having come through as she’d sensed the wards coming down.

Spending a few seconds regrouping and deciding upon their actions, and learning from Amoral’s few seconds of hacking that what they needed was in Warhouse 7, they tried to get things back on track. This went a bit wrong when Leona disappeared under the table and sewed the corpse back together. Then resurrected him as a zombie via watcher, sending the very bloody, staggering mess of what was left of Bob the guard to continue his patrol route with the sprite covering the voice. Unable to stop this happening, the group rushed out the door and headed for the warehouse while invisible to try and get everything done before the other guards discovered the walking corpse.

Things then took another turn for the worse when, upon reading the exterior of the warehouse Amoral glitched badly while trying to detect any interior alarms within the warehouse started to see nothing but alarm systems and bears within. Learning this supposedly reliable recon info, Killbo started to kneel in front of the door and pick the lock, ready to take cover from any bear-defences within. He critically glitched. Apparently being so loud in his efforts it could be hears from meters around, a guard promptly came running over and inspected the lock, seeing the thin metal spikes sticking out of it. Guessing people could be breaking in, he called other guards over and alerted them to this problem. He then smelt blood, very fresh and very much human, nearby and heavy breathing.

Backing off very quietly before the guards right next to them realised the intruders were within punching distance, Leona went on her own initiative and ordered Bob the zombie guard to open fire on his nearby compatriots. At exactly the time the sprite casually announced “everything’s just fine” in his voice. Knowing that any efforts at trying to be subtle were long gone, Killbo broke out the flashbangs and lobbed them at the nearby guards, taking most of them out of the fight. At exactly the time they went off we overheard this exchange from the other side of the base:

“Oh my god! Bob’s head has been stitched on!"
“He’s a zombie!”

Actually I take it back, this is when everything really went to shit.

Leaping atop the unconscious guards, Leona stabbed them to death and brought them back as more zombies. Sending the army of the walking dead over to keep the guards busy, Amoral similarly dropped all pretences of being stealthy and hacked into the guard’s com. system. As they desperately tried to contact everyone else for help, AKA proper soldiers, they were deafened by the theme to Gao Gai Gar. With the guards’ coordination gone and a flesh devouring horrors upon them, the shadowrunners shot out the lock and sprinted inside.
Grabbing the nearest tray Killbo started searching for the sample they were looking for. Eventually finding it, surprisingly quickly, he joined in with the raging guard-zombie melee. Crouching some distance from the warehouse he began providing covering fire with his grenade launcher he attempted to make their meat shield last a little longer.

Not to be outdone Leona decided to leave no trace of them being there via a Firelight Bomb. A powerful fiery, explosive spell with sixteen dice worth of overall damage it could inflict. The GM added edge and by the time she was finished Leona had ended up with nineteen successes, and a total of thirty four damage. To give some context, this was slightly more firepower than a heavy mortar round in Shadowrun.

Having not enough magic to keep everyone hidden, Killbo became visible as they ran like every dragon on the planet was after them out of the facility. Also sending her snake familiar off to do more damage, and destroy any camera footage of us being there, Leona then destroyed the office shed we had initially stuck into because it was in the way of our escape route.

By about this time the guards had overcome the armed zombies and had started to come after us, firing as they came. Shooting a laser pistol over his shoulder, Amoral was eventually hit by SMG fire in return and took enough physical damage to down him. Doubling back to help him, Leona transformed into a lion and began legging it to the exit with him on her back. Seeing that conventional bullets had done little to dissuade the guards, Killbo broke out his grenade launcher arm again and began firing several times at the nearest mob. Hitting one guard in the face with a high explosive grenade and badly wounding several behind him the dwarf brought them a few seconds breathing room. Then adding a few more because, well, they’d already effectively invaded a colony of a major power and set it on fire, they might as well have gone all the way.

Managing to reach their car without any Renraku attack helicopters chasing after them, somehow, Killbo hit down on the accelerator and sped away from the scene of the crime as fast as he possibly could. Likely drinking heavily after realising just who they’ve managed to single handily piss off in the absolute worst way possible short of personally attacking the corporation’s board members.

Eventually pulling into a back alley, listening to the sirens fill the cold night, they began using Leona’s suddenly returned familiar to root out the sample they needed and patch up wounds. After about twenty minutes of this and finding what they needed, Leona and Amoral turned up outside the cloning facility we had brokered our deal with and finished our exchange. Both Leona and the head of the facility stopping to remark in surprise at the sudden explosive fire which had put one of their major rival’s briefly out of business.

So by the end of this a large chunk of Seattle was either on fire or in ruins. The sort of extensive ruination you get when Godzilla and his buddies Death, War, Famine and Pestilence decide to go for late night drinking in downtown Tokyo. With cloned meat and body parts raining from the sky, hundreds of people now out of work, Renraku having been on the receiving end of an attack performed with the speed and ruthless efficiency usually only found with the Spetsnaz, everyone headed for home and lay low for a couple of days. Some additional points of notoriety added to their character sheers and their local town having suffered a good 54,000,000 nuyen of property damage we inflicted in one night.
And as one final note the new SIN I.D.s arrived, with a minor joke turning Killbo's one into "Doctor John Smith of Holistic Medicine",

And somehow, just somehow, this managed to be one of the less destructive sessions we’ve played in a long time.

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Shadowrun and all related characters and media are owned by FASA Corporation, Fantasy Productions and Catalyst Games Labs.

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