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> Curse you sudden but inevitable betrayal!
FuelDrop
post Aug 5 2013, 01:23 PM
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Mr Johnson backstabs the runners.
The situation is as old as running itself, and is a very real risk. But really, that's just the cost of doing business.

So, how do you handle such situations? Have you got a favorite method of the Jonson screwing the runners over?

My personal theory is that the most common version would simply be the Johnson disappearing with the payment after the job is done. It works best if the job is an assassination or the like, where no hand-over is necessary. However, this is hardly the only way for the Jonson to screw the PCs over in a way that makes sense and probably won't get them killed... though to be fair many PCs will move heaven and earth to get revenge on a backstabbing Mr J.

Any favorites you want to share?
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ShadowDragon8685
post Aug 5 2013, 01:36 PM
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Professional Johnsons don't usually screw over the hired help. That was common back in the '50s, but more and more groups wised up, spread the word - and sought payback. The professional screwers quickly realized that they were screwing over people whose job it was to take on impossible odds and succeed, and they were giving them both financial and personal motivation to hunt them down and castrate them with a captive ghoul.

It's the unprofessional ones you have to worry about; the ones who, for instance, are not satisfied with the result of a 'run because they failed to specify something they wanted. For instance, the dog owner who was raising a breeding stud which got dognapped, hires a 'Runner to get him back, only to realize that the dognappers had him fixed, and refuses to pay.
Or the Johnsons who don't specify that they want a run done clean, and the group goes Pink Mohawk, or the ones who don't specify that they want a run done dirty, and they get blackhats who do the job without any evidence left behind.
Or the Johnsons who simply lack the means to pay, and the group didn't think to demand proof of ability to pay up-front. That can burn a group, too, but it can also turn into an asset; trading a lump-sum payment for an installment plan and a contact who owes you his ass for not violenceing him up the moment you learned he was stiffing you.

If a Pro Johnson decides to screw the group, however, it's usually going to be for reasons of personal greed. The company gives him X amount to get the job done, a briefcase full of credsticks or corp scrip or whatever. At that point, the money has been marked off the company books; it's gone. The Company isn't getting it back. They've taken a gamble.
If the Johnson gets a group to do it cheap and pays them off, he gets to pocket the rest. If he gets a group to do it and screws them entirely, he gets to keep everything but their down-payment. That's the up-side, so if the job is, say, an assassination, or a sabotage mission - any time something isn't being handed over to the Johnson - this is going to be a worry, especially if the Johnson's from out-of-town.
On the other hand, this is a good reason for the 'Runners to come after them, and 'Runners tend to do their legwork on the Johnson. He is the one they'll come after if they get shafted.


Actually, that's a good idea for a 'Run. Say your group's in Seattle, have their Fixer offer them a job from a Fixer in the UK, who got the job from a 'Runner team. The foreign team was screwed out of their money by a Johnson from Seattle. They aren't offering much financial remuneration, but what they are offering is up front, and all their intel on the J, whom they know to be a Seattleite. They want the Seattle team to track him down, give him a very sharp, ballistic lesson in why you don't screw a 'Runner team over, and the Seattle team's payment for the job is satisfaction that there's one less screwer in the 'bis and anything and everything they can take from the Johnson, up to and including organlegging his ass if they feel like it.
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Blade
post Aug 5 2013, 01:37 PM
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Johnson calls the runner during the run, but after they've already done enough to get in trouble:

"Sorry, but the project has been canned and the funding has been cut. You can keep the advance payment. And please don't shoot the manager: I'm not getting my fees either."
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ShadowDragon8685
post Aug 5 2013, 01:41 PM
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My favorite "screw" on my players, though?


The Johnson was a non-pro Johnson posing as a Pro. He was a CrashCart trauma surgeon masquerading as a DocWagon Johnson. He hired them to fix the Seattle LTG, undoing another team's work that rigged things so that DocWagon calls reached CrashCart but were delayed in the system before getting to DocWagon. He offered them some payment and DW Basic contracts, but when they did the job, he revealed who he was and said he hadn't got the money, but he could rig them up with CrashCart basic contracts that would probably hold for at least one use.

They were unhappy, but after talking it over they decided that instead of beating the shite out of him, he was now their bitch. He was going to pay them thrice the agreed-upon amount in installments out of his salary, and he wouldn't be refusing their calls. He managed to bargain them into discounting the price of anything he managed to swipe and hand over - whatever it was, whether just a trauma patch here or there, or a full Savior Medkit - from what he owed them, and they felt this to be acceptable.

So, they barely made the rent financially, but they did get themselves a high-Loyalty contact in the form of a tramua surgeon. Not a bad deal.
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ShadowDragon8685
post Aug 5 2013, 01:41 PM
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QUOTE (Blade @ Aug 5 2013, 08:37 AM) *
Johnson calls the runner during the run, but after they've already done enough to get in trouble:

"Sorry, but the project has been canned and the funding has been cut. You can keep the advance payment. And please don't shoot the manager: I'm not getting my fees either."


That's a good one, but it doesn't really fit with what I know about how the Pro Johnson works. So that would probably be a non-Pro?
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Shortstraw
post Aug 5 2013, 02:27 PM
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I have been running S3 missions and one of my players is convinced that one of the fixers Peace Man is betraying them constantly. Whenever things have gone pear shaped Peace Man had either knowledge or involvement in the incident and it has been great watching him try to catch Peace Man in the act (especially since he isn't doing anything).
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Darquewing
post Aug 5 2013, 02:41 PM
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I've only let a Johnson screw over a team directly once, but that was because he thought the team wasn't going to make it out alive. Of course it helped that he was having them run against his own corp. making it look like MCT was trying to steal from the Azzies. No one managed to figure out who their Johnson really was beforehand.

At one point, even I thought they might not live through it, but I managed to squeeze in a lucky break or two without them suspecting I was being lenient. Only lost one runner by then end. They wanted to reroll anyhow, so that one got to go out with a handful of grenades in a tight hallway. Glasses were raised and a moment of silence given before revenge plans were in the works.

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Lionhearted
post Aug 5 2013, 03:00 PM
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Usually if you want the Johnson to screw them over... Make sure the Johnson got bigger guns.
I had my players get hung out dry by their Evo subsidiary sugar daddy, left them to die in a run against an Ares facility, manage to get out alive only to witness their HQ go up in flames...
It served to drag them into the shadows, teach them that even the 'nicest' megacorp will not raise an eyebrow to betray them and give them something to strive for (IMG:style_emoticons/default/smile.gif)
(and they would have been totally dead if their stand-in fixer didn't decide to turncoat and help them out, ah wee mohawks, you'll soon learn)
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Medicineman
post Aug 5 2013, 04:58 PM
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QUOTE (FuelDrop @ Aug 5 2013, 08:23 AM) *
Mr Johnson backstabs the runners.
The situation is as old as running itself, and is a very real risk. But really, that's just the cost of doing business.

So, how do you handle such situations? Have you got a favorite method of the Jonson screwing the runners over?

My personal theory is that the most common version would simply be the Johnson disappearing with the payment after the job is done. It works best if the job is an assassination or the like, where no hand-over is necessary. However, this is hardly the only way for the Jonson to screw the PCs over in a way that makes sense and probably won't get them killed... though to be fair many PCs will move heaven and earth to get revenge on a backstabbing Mr J.

Any favorites you want to share?

We had a gamemaster like You once
He screwed us once, twice
after that we as Players got together and ingame our Chars refused to do ANY Runs without Full Payment in advance
(This Gamemaster was a spoiled Brat and once he realised he couln't fool and Cheat us any more lost interest and after two more Runs he disappeared from Our Table)

with a steadfast Dance
Medicineman
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Ruby
post Aug 5 2013, 05:00 PM
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I haven't screwed over my players yet but I could do it insanely easily. The various Johnsons that've hired them so far are really the same person who has Master of 1000 faces (among other appropriate adept powers) and masking with a few levels of initiation. So far the players haven't caught on to this. Basically one identity screws them over, changes to a new one and bam, reuse the players for a new scheme.
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ShadowDragon8685
post Aug 5 2013, 05:44 PM
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Johnson doublecrosses should be very few, and far between, especially if they're of the "pay you in bullets" variety. Play that card too often, and the players will become paranoid and drag your game down doing double, triple, and quadruple layers of legwork on the Johnson when they could, and should, be spending the time and resources doing legwork on their targets. Or worse, they might decide not to take jobs from Johnsons at all, and just go freelancing.
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Wakshaani
post Aug 5 2013, 05:57 PM
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Johnson the Betrayer is a cliche that should be used very, very sparingly. If you're going to do it, you'll probably want to put all kinds of red flags up so the players can see it on teh way and deal with it. (He's offering how much for this run? Okay, clearly he's not going to pay us when it's over. That's just stupid levels of cash.)

Johnson Made a BooBoo, however, is fine and dandy. "There were ten guards instead of two? My bad, the intel wasn't checked like it should have been." *grumble* "Fine, here's a bonus for your trouble."

Your Fixer's job is to make sur ethat Johnson's on the up and up, and vice versa. When one burns the other, word gets out and they become persona non grata, which is death for anyone whose entire business is based on networking.
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Backgammon
post Aug 5 2013, 06:34 PM
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QUOTE (Medicineman @ Aug 5 2013, 12:58 PM) *
We had a gamemaster like You once
He screwed us once, twice
after that we as Players got together and ingame our Chars refused to do ANY Runs without Full Payment in advance
(This Gamemaster was a spoiled Brat and once he realised he couln't fool and Cheat us any more lost interest and after two more Runs he disappeared from Our Table)

with a steadfast Dance
Medicineman


Out of curiosity, was the GM paying the runs with his own money? Like, why did he care??
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Medicineman
post Aug 5 2013, 06:43 PM
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I can only guess ,but I think he got much fun from cheating our Chars out of their Payment.
IIRC (Its been quite some Time) he was kind of Happy or excited when he/Mr J got away without Paying our Runners.

JahtaHey
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Lionhearted
post Aug 5 2013, 06:49 PM
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Some people got the weird perception that there's two teams in RPG's, in so the GM is in his view 'winning' when the players are 'losing'...
Tis fairly common, some handle it better then others... Some GM's can make their competitive nature into fun and interesting challenges, other just walk all over the players with their boosted egos...
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Backgammon
post Aug 5 2013, 07:10 PM
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That's one of the more extreme examples I've heard of though. Sad.
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Oracle
post Aug 5 2013, 07:19 PM
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QUOTE (Medicineman @ Aug 5 2013, 08:43 PM) *
I can only guess ,but I think he got much fun from cheating our Chars out of their Payment.
IIRC (Its been quite some Time) he was kind of Happy or excited when he/Mr J got away without Paying our Runners.


That GM didn't live in Hanover, did he?
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Tanegar
post Aug 5 2013, 07:24 PM
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QUOTE (ShadowDragon8685 @ Aug 5 2013, 09:36 AM) *
'Runners tend to do their legwork on the Johnson.

That hasn't been my experience. My players don't do legwork at all, on anything or anyone. I've dropped every hint I can think of that their primary Johnson has heavy secrets, and they either won't take the bait or don't realize that it is bait. I resorted to tying her into one of the PCs' backstory and spoonfeeding details of her identity to the player, and still nothing.
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ShadowDragon8685
post Aug 5 2013, 08:02 PM
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QUOTE (Tanegar @ Aug 5 2013, 03:24 PM) *
That hasn't been my experience. My players don't do legwork at all, on anything or anyone. I've dropped every hint I can think of that their primary Johnson has heavy secrets, and they either won't take the bait or don't realize that it is bait. I resorted to tying her into one of the PCs' backstory and spoonfeeding details of her identity to the player, and still nothing.


At that point, I'd suggest smacking them hard with a Johnson Doublecross - one they should have seen coming a mile away, by having the Johnson set them up specifically, on behalf of someone they've crossed. And don't make it anything hard to find, either - any basic legwork on this guy should find out that he's tied heavily to someone who wants to hurt them, and owes that guy a big debt. If they completely screw the legwork pooch, have their fixer or someone call them at the last minute, screaming at them to bail and dumping the details, then berate the living hell out of them for not doing any legwork on the guy.



For example... If the players have done On the Run and successfully kept the disk out of Shangri-la's hands.
First clue: The Fixer says they were requested specifically for this run, owing to their proven efficacy.
Second clue: the 'run is another music-related 'run, low difficulty; someone wants you to grab a very new Shangri-la singer, simple extraction, pay is generous but not outrageous.
Second-and-a-half clue: Doing any serious legwork into the singer they're after will reveal that he was a nobody before a week ago, and oddly enough none of their contacts can find anyone who will admit to having seen them sing in person.
Third clue: the Johnson introduces himself and slips up, giving his real name before saying "But you may call me... Mr. Johnson." Also, searching on his face will reveal his name as well.
Fourth clue: any Matrix searching on the guy reveals that he's married to Ark Tarkasian's sister-in-law, and finds social media pics of him and Ari taking business at some kind of family get-together in CalFree.
Fifth clue: Real digging into the guy will reveal that he got fired for a nasty substance abuse problem a few years back, and Ari paid out-of-pocket to have him detox'd and hired him back; he works for Shangri-la.
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Vegetaman
post Aug 5 2013, 11:57 PM
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I did this one before... Show up at the meeting place to find Mr. Johnson dead with a bullet to the back of the head. Lying in a pool of blood.

And nobody comes to jump the runners. And in about 2 minutes of them wasting time, they hear Lone Star sirens headed their way...

EDIT:

To be fair, I guess that isn't quite Mr. Johnson betrayal, as it could be many things such as... Another team of runners fragged him for some reason... Corporate turned on him (he was double dipping or selling secrets on the side)... Or maybe he faked his own death?
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