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> Feedback Request: On the Run sequel
Wesley Street
post Apr 20 2011, 01:24 PM
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So I'm going to put my nuts on the chopping block here and ask you Dumpshockies for some feedback. I've put together a synopsis for a sequel to "On the Run" that I plan to use with my players. It utilizes NPCs and the MacGuffin from the published adventure and also has shout-outs to "One Stage Before", "Dark Angel", and the first "Threats" book from 2nd ed. This sequel assumes that the disc was delivered to JetBlack's people and not to Darius, the original Johnson. My questions are:
- would this adventure be fun for you to participate in as a player?
- do you see any continuity or canon conflicts (assume this adventure takes place in October of 2070)?
- does the adventure make sense? If not, what changes would you make?
- is there anything that seems really stupid and what would you suggest to change it?
- what else would you add to make the adventure more engaging or interesting for players?

Thanks in advance for any feedback!

QUOTE
Setup
In London exists a hermetic order of well-heeled Britons known as the Ordo Maximus. To the public and the majority of its members, the Ordo is simply a social club for those who wish to study and dabble in magic. However the Ordo’s actual leadership consists of a half-dozen (or more) powerful and influential vampires. While the Ordo quietly promotes a vampire-as-victim mentality to the public through third-party channels, it secretly funds dangerous biomagical research into vampiric pawns and new strains of HMHVV – strains that could be released at the Ordo’s sole discretion and could be used to create new vampires with all their strengths and none of their weaknesses. With this kind of power the Ordo could become the new masters of the world.

Romeo and Risa Zafayan were born in Romania in 1995. As infants their family immigrated to the United States to escape ethnic cleansing in Eastern Europe. Within their family genetics lay a dormant strain of HMHVV that Awakened in 2016. At first the two then-Boston College students believed they were suffering from an allergic reaction… until they attacked their doctors and began feeding on them. Using the cover of the Ghost Dance War, they fled to London where the Ordo took them in and trained them in the ways of the vampire. The siblings returned to Seattle in the ‘40s.
Already an accomplished rocker on the Seattle scene, the musician JetBlack became a 21st century Elvis at the age of 18 when he signed with Caravan Productions. He paved the way for other acts like Concrete Dreams, Maria Mercurial, The Shadows and other major stars from the 2040s. Despite his musical accolades he had terrible business sense. He spiraled into depression and the more gothic themes crept into his music. In 2048 as he contemplated suicide Romeo Zafayan offered him a chance at immortality. JetBlack accepted the offer and was infected with HMHVV.

He realized his mistake too late. As he would never age it became too risky to continue performing in the public eye; he risked the wrath of vampire hunters and groupies also seeking immortality. He chose what he thought would be the only honorable path; he abandoned his career and faked his own death. Before doing so, he recorded one last set of seven songs at the now-defunct Carrion Studios. These recordings were lost and never released to the public.

JetBlack continued to act as patron and security coordinator for The Shadows until the band broke apart in 2063. Throughout the early 2050s he led the Nightstalkers, a small go-gang consisting of willing blood and essence donors. His magical abilities grew as he researched mystical cures for his vampirism. After the second Crash, he realized his love for music never left him. He began composing and producing music using highly processed vocals and the disguise of a virtual idoru under the watchful eye of his aide-de-camp, Risa. The Carrion Studio sessions, on old-style minidisc, were eventually recovered in 2070 though an encrypted second layer of data was discovered on the ’48 recordings.

The second, encrypted layer from the Carrion Studio sessions contained JetBlack’s last testament; an autobiographical tell-all revealing his decision to seek immortality and his life immediately after infection. Within the recording, he reveals that the vampire who infected him suggested, if he wished to couple his immortality with true power, he seek those such as himself in the Ordo Maximus. Too terrified to leave the Seattle Metroplex, JetBlack chose to hide and build a new life in his home town. He never made the trip to London.

Enter Martin de Vries, Th.D. A self-proclaimed vampire and vampire hunter he has written several books about the Ordo over the years, such as Shadows at Noon, which have been dismissed as crack-pottery (thanks to the Ordo’s agents in the megacorp controlled media). However portions of JetBlack’s autobiography were decrypted, stolen, and delivered to de Vries by one of JetBlack’s confidants. While de Vries has enough to begin an investigation (and more fuel for suspicion) it’s nothing conclusive. If he could obtain the entire autobiography, his life’s work would be justified and the Ordo’s true nature revealed to the public. The council of the Ordo Maximus has also obtained the partial copy of the autobiography. They are now aware that they have a potential ally in JetBlack and seek to recruit him. His vanity and weakness for the spotlight could be manipulated to their advantage. A Jim Morrison-level celebrity revealing his personal fear of persecution could play on sympathies and serve as a powerful motivator to sway public opinion in a pro-vampire direction.

Events
The PC’s fixer arranges a sundown meeting at a Tacoma McHugh’s with their new Mr. Johnson, one Martin de Vries. De Vries presents choppy excerpts of a video blog entry from June 24, 2048. In the v-blog, legendary rocker JetBlack makes the following remark: “…as I suffered he told me that if I wanted to seek true power to couple with immortality I should seek the Ordo Maximus…”. De Vries does not know who delivered this file to his email address but he believes that JetBlack was referencing de Vries’ enemies. If de Vries could get a copy of the uncorrupted file it could shed light on the Ordo’s plans. He pays half of a modest retainer and daily fee up front.

In four segments of the video, JetBlack provides verbal clues that the PCs can follow:
1. He pauses and calls out to someone off camera, “I’ll be there in a moment, Delphia.”
2. He states, “…after my Romeo changed me I knew there would be grave, grave consequences…”
3. He states, “…I’ve been bouncing around names in my head. One is ‘The Nightstalkers’.” He laughs. “It’s a little corny but it has that certain je ne c’est quoi…”
4. He states, “…Lew Allenby was always a friend and he treated me well, even after signing me…”

At some point during their investigations, presumably after rescuing Delphia (see below), the PCs receive a call from their fixer – another Johnson is looking to meet with the PCs at La Maison d’Indochine and is currently holding a table for them. If the PCs accept and arrive, they are greeted by Darius St. George, a Music A&R with Seattle’s Xanadu Studios and a well known troll in the Seattle music scene. Xanadu Studios, no longer a target of Yakuza shake-downs, has grown to a respectable mid-sized label thanks to a group of London investors. St. George is secretly an agent of the Ordo Maximus. He hired a team of shadowrunners to track down Delphia after he received a copy of the JetBlack v-blog files. When the PCs beat them to her he decided they would serve as better pointmen in the search for the file and canceled the shadowrunners’ contract. He matches de Vries’ offer plus 25% after negotiations and asks the PCs to deliver the files only to him and to make no copies.

1. Utilizing research and contacts should lead the PCs to the Delphia, former legendary music engineer and now a BTL addict. The PCs track Delphia to her Touristville apartment in Redmond. She’s been abducted by the Yellow Lotus Triad – their Lodge Master is a bit miffed about a bad batch of snuff BTLs she provided. After tracking and rescuing her, the paranoid Delphia is convinced that the PCs are Lone Star and tries to make a run for it. Once the PCs restrain her and get her talking she will reveal that she was the engineer on JetBlack’s last recording session in June of 2048 at Carrion. After the session, the rocker asked her to add a basic video track to one of the discs. She never watched the track and JetBlack took all the copies of the recording session with him. She mentions that earlier in the year another group was looking for copies of that last recording but she doesn’t know what became of them. She also knows that one of JetBlack’s former friends, Marli Bremerton, lives in Seattle in the Magnolia area.

Unlike her fellow ex-bandmates in The Shadows, Marli was extremely intelligent and resourceful. Knowing that her music career might not last forever she earned a Computer Science degree from U-Dub before the band broke up and she was hit with SURGE. She now serves as a Matrix expert for JetBlack as a thank you for his years of patronage and security. While she doesn’t know where JetBlack is, she did move vast sums of money for him from Carib League banking accounts to the UCAS – in the neighborhood of 6,000,000 nuyen. The final installation arrived in July of 2069. However, Marli isn’t going to give up this information easily. She’s loyal to JetBlack – and she lives in a house filled with apparitions, phantoms and specters… and a mage niece who keeps the ghosts in check. When all else fails, Lone Star can be called in to take care of trespassers.

2. If the PCs investigate JetBlack’s grave in Greenwood Cemetery in Renton (also home to 20th century rock legend Jimi Hendrix) they will find a tasteful monument with flowers left by followers as well as temporary “in memory” AR tags. The grave itself offers no clues until the PCs exhume the body (which should be no easy task). What they find in the coffin appears to be the skeletal remains of another male… who also appears to have been a vampire. Using whatever means available, such as Martin de Vries Seattle lab if need be, the PCs should be able to identify the twenty-year old remains as that of Romeo Zafayan – brother of Risa, JetBlack’s aide-de-camp [though the PCs won’t learn of the sibling relationship until later, if at all]). Romeo did not die from “natural” causes; he was purposefully exposed to sunlight which killed him. Amongst Zafayan’s belongings on his person is a pinky ring with a heraldic emblem – the symbol of the Ordo Maximus.

A little legwork will reveal that during the 2040s, Romeo worked as a shadow real-estate broker, trading homes and properties in a quasi-legal or very illegal fashion. As many of his clients preferred to buy and sell anonymously, Romeo maintained a database of properties that could be purchased without the legal paper trail.

The secret database remained active even after Romeo’s death. Romeo granted JetBlack access to the database which he used to purchase Thornewood Castle for 3,000,000 nuyen in 2069.

Romeo’s partner, Ezekiel Red Crow, is in semi-retirement, and still oversees the database. While Red Crow worked with Romeo for years, the two almost never met face-to-face. The database sits on a black Matrix server in the Elven District, run by Chaos Engine, the infamous Matrix gang, and guarded by soldiers from the Ancients who have been contracted as muscle. If the PCs can access the database, they can pull Romeo’s listings.

3. Following up on the name “The Nightstalkers” leads the PCs to the name of a go-gang hired to act as security for an event in The Partyzone two nights in the future. The Partyzone is a decades old tradition amongst the more civilized of Seattle’s gang and “outsider” population, such as changelings and ghouls. Located in South Tacoma, the Partyzone is simply a vacant lot surrounded by abandoned and low-rent apartment buildings and thrift stores. At night street residents from all over Seattle gather to rock out and let down their guard. If the PCs offer to assist The Nightstalkers they’ll be more inclined to answer whatever questions they may have. During the event, a group of White Resistance boot boys attack the gathering. If the PCs pitch in to help protect the band and civilians, the Nightstalkers will agree to escort them to their leader, Flicker – if they can do them a favor. The White Resistance has been making peoples’ lives a living hell and need to be disposed of. If the PCs succeed in burning them off their Pullayup farm, the Nightstalkers will assist how they can.

The Nightstalkers’ headquarters is an abandoned fire station in the Bitter Creek neighborhood of Seattle, north of the downtown core, on Palatine Avenue North. The PCs meet Flicker, the Nightstalkers current leader, who informs the PCs that while Jetblack ran the gang in the ‘50s, he handed the reigns over to another ganger named Blaze. Blaze gave the reigns to Flicker a couple of years ago. In ‘69, JB indicated that he wanted to move back into making music and needed legitimate security. He put out a 1,000,000 corporate contract with Knight Errant last year to take over his personal protection under a pseudonym. However the Nightstalkers still act as JB’s eyes on the streets, reporting directly to Risa.

4. Following up on the name Allenby, the PCs will discover the following: Lew Allenby grew up a street kid, like JetBlack, but instead of joining a gang, he joined a band. Over the years he moved into management, built his own company called Caravan Productions and signed JetBlack and other bands like The Shadows to his label. Allenby was murdered by rival Jonathan Teague of Highstar Entertainment (a Seattle-based Mitsuhama subsidiary) but Teague eventually met his demise at the hands of JetBlack and the Nightstalkers. Despite the bloodshed the rudderless Caravan was bought out and JetBlack’s music became the property of Highstar. Highstar has an entire secured Matrix node dedicated to the former rocker’s recordings including rehearsal sessions and unedited interviews. If the PCs do a run on Highstar and gain access to the interviews, they will discover that JetBlack has always purchased his synthax of choice, a highly customized 9-string Telekinetic GR1119-KG, from Seattle-based music equipment maker Psi 2000.

Psi 2000 is still in business and operating in Seattle. If the PCs are able to coerce or schmooze the factory owner they will discover that a guitar identical to JetBlack’s choice synthax was ordered from an anonymous purchaser and delivered to a Tacoma warehouse last year. If the PCs investigate the warehouse they will discover that the synthax not only passed through last year, but 2,000,000 in music and Matrix processing equipment, including an idoru motion-capture and generation platform, came in and went out in the same shipment.
After following up all of their leads, the PCs should be able to deduce which of the residences from Romeo’s listings belongs to JetBlack. And if JetBlack is there it’s safe to say that the files are probably there as well.

At some point either during or immediately after the data gathering, the shadowrun team hired by Darius, angry for losing out on their contract to the PCs, ambushes them and attempts to eliminate them.

JetBlack has taken up residence in Thornewood Castle on the shores of American Lake in Tacoma. The Tudor Gothic castle itself is nearly 500 years old. In 1907 one of the Tacoma founders had the mansion dismantled from its original site in England and shipped overseas. The castle itself is concrete, brick and steel. The interiors are brick, oak paneling with oak staircases, and medieval stained glass with red brick facing on the exterior. It sits on three acres of grounds and lakefront including a sunken English garden, sculpted fountains, loggia, and a private dock and beach. The castle itself is 27,000 square feet of living space under one roof consisting of 54 rooms including 22 bedrooms and 22 baths.

JetBlack has hired a Knight Errant security squad as well as an executive security detail. Once the PCs by-pass them and find JB’s recording studio they will discover Risa waiting for them. She hands the data disc to the runners without resistance. If questioned she informs them that it was she who leaked the footage – though she’s acting on her own, the Ordo Maximus has grown tired of powerful vampires like JetBlack hiding in the shadows and behind virtual idoru in fear. Through her actions she’s forcing JetBlack to acknowledge to the public that he is indeed still alive and to take his place in the arms of his fans. However JetBlack escaped the castle after the PCs broke in and has gone to ground.
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Fyndhal
post Apr 20 2011, 04:52 PM
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The wrap up seems kind of off. Risa's motivation seems self-defeating -- if the OM was ready for public exposure of that level, it would be a significantly larger event than presented here. It could also be done faster and with less chance of failure using more direct means. Instead, Risa is using shadow agents who may or may not use the information as she intends and in the process directly involving someone they've spent copious amounts of time and nuyen discrediting.

The individual steps seem good, but the ending would leave me scratching my head and ultimately dissatisfied.
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Wesley Street
post Apr 20 2011, 07:07 PM
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Good point. I will re-think my approach to the conclusion. Thanks for the feedback. (IMG:style_emoticons/default/smile.gif)
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graymagiker
post Apr 27 2011, 01:27 AM
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I like it, I think there is lots of potential.

It does seem a little like only one option for the characters is presented. Starting with:

QUOTE (Wesley Street)
his sequel assumes that the disc was delivered to JetBlack's people and not to Darius, the original Johnson.


That is fine if it is being run as an independent run, ie not with any of characters that ran On the Run. My group could not play it as written, as they gave the disk to someone else entirely. More generally I have herd lots of groups on here mention that they did not give the disk to Jet Black. Perhaps the scenario could start with the disk being mysteriously missing again, as so often happens in the shadows.

Second a little more guidance as to if the characters do not accept St. George's offer. Most of the plot can continue, but what happens at the meet when they return it to either St George or Martin de Vries
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