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dAtkRaK
Hey folks. New to this board and new to game mastering. I wanted to post the opening scene to a Shadowrun campaign I'm getting ready to run (the first campaign of any type I've ever run; long time player, though) and see if you all had any constructive criticism or tips you could offer. Anywho, tell me what you think. Don't spare my feelings - rejection letters from Asimov and Playboy have given me a tough skin. wink.gif

In order for the players to get the feeling like they are participating in a movie, the following sections in brackets will actually be read; the "fourth pane" will be removed once the players get into it. Enjoy.

[Opening Scene. Night. The Boston Sprawl is dressed for the evening in sodium lamps like baleful orange jewels and the constant motion of vehicles. The street is a dirty place, removed from the protected corporate enclaves nestled in the skies of impossibly large skyscrapers. On the street, the mass mills about. They flow in stilted queues, going and leaving, but moving on forever. Outside the 78th and 500th Street Stuffershack (#BDC093820-A) there is a man crumpled and disregarded, surrounded by other crumpled and discarded remains. He reeks of sweat and urine, feces and rotten food and is almost lost in a sea of Styrofoam cups. He would be unnoticeable but for two details: one of those Styrofoam cups he holds and shakes, lightly with the jingle of near-useless money chits. And he is talking. Mumbling, more, but with intensity and rhythm, with rhetorical power. He speaks the utter truth, and the only thing that is real]

BUM
The Here, the Pulse, the Urban Waste, in the Big City, here the shadow is solid, man. Itís got the life, ya know, got the full beating heart of man and you, you wagers and gangers, you mages and sages, you the blood, walkiní down streets laid out for order, all in vain. The jive, she talks, she walks but she donít sing no more, sing nothiní but beeps and electronic fuzz. Snow, the used to call it, but snow donít fall on this place no more. There ainít no more white, just like we forgot what black is. Itís all gone gray, the color drained away and itís all gone gray like the shadows. Like our faces.

[There is a heavy thunk as something much larger than the usual chits. The bum ceases his rant and gropes amongst cigarette butts and chicken bones and chits before pulling out a small, black credstick. He frowns, and presses the button. The readout lights his face with a wan red glow, barely perceivable among the flashing lights of the world around him. His eyes widen, and then he pulls himself from his trash warren and silently pockets the money.]

BUM
Havenít seen you around in a while, my man. The Jungian Priests have started beef with The Brookline Horde. It also looks like Genghis Rex has been murdered, probably by either The Supers or Wolenstoneís Riders. Thatíll start a war. Itís gettiní bad out here, bub. Bad as bad can be. Blood is coming out of the walls, man. I hope you know what youíre doing.

[A gravely voice issues from the darkness. The bum isnít sure what darkness, exactly, because patches of shadow are a prevalent feature down here. But itís there, somewhere.]

WRAITH
Trust me, Wanderer. [The voice takes on an oddly musical quality] Kaelífara Haros.

[High above, perched on the gothic ledge of an older Boston building, the shape of a man surveys the landscape and speaks, softly. Itís not to himself, thatís obvious.]

We will open a new franchise today, especially since the previous six have been such a success. The war goes and goes, and never seems to end. There are days when I wonder if I will live to see its conclusion, but then I remember that I must be there. It is my destiny. It gives me hope that it will happen soon. The web has gotten vastly more complicated since the last time we talked. I start to fear Iíve lost track of which strand goes where.

[A voice as vast and ancient as the Appalachians responds.]

VOICE
Enough of that. The Web wills, my friend, as the Web wills. Everything will come to fruition in due time. We have more pressing matters to discuss, anyway. Most notably, The Poseidon Gambit. Where are our people on thatÖ?

[The voice trails off and we leave the man and the disembodied voice perched high above the Boston Metroplex to talk of clandestine things. East and south, the old I-95 route between Boston and D.C. has long been superseded by high-speed underground maglevís and unmanned public ground-ferries, though the road still exists for adventurous travelers who want the ďscenicĒ route. Half way between Boston and D.C., however, adventurous and scenic become dangerous and disgusting. The city portion (which ceases to be heavily populated around Bridgeport on the Boston side and Elizabeth on the D.C. side) thins out around the aforementioned major traffic routes. To the east lies the Warehouse Warrens and this eventually gives over to the Waste. New York, levelled back in the early part of the 21st century by earthquakes, a tidal wave and a nuclear explosion, isnít so much ďabandonedĒ as it is ďgiven overĒ to time and the vagrancies of humanity. The place is a literal wasteland. The parts not still underwater are either left to roving ghoul pacts or given over to enterprising smugglers andÖ worse things that haunt those blasted skyscrapers and abandoned buildings. It is truly a humbling sight. Humanity of the 20th Century had been filled with so much arrogance and pride, and nowÖ with the loss of her greatest city, her shining jewel, lovingly crafted automaton, she is now a resigned race of people, huddled woefully against the caustic acid rains now beginning to fall over a seemingly abandoned warehouse on the Boston side of the Warrens.

From above, the area is as dark and foreboding as the surrounded landscape. Furtive shadows flit in and out of blasted or poorly maintained buildings accompanied by the occasional slide of crumbling cement, a low growl, or the rare harsh whine of a passing VTOL craft. The place seems low tech, forgotten by the constant crescendo of technology, down on the ground, as acid rain sizzles balefully on the tattered and abused asphalt at the corner of Joliet Ave. and Flicker St. The five of you, whether smoothly or roughly, have managed to arrive at this place at very nearly the same time. The address you received is the broken down husk of a warehouse before you. It isnít even all that large.]

[[Instruct the characters to make a perception check with an emphasis on sight. 2 Successes will reveal a small wooden sign, almost too small to see, posted right outside of a gaping maw that may have once been a doorway. 3 will reveal its message, scrawled hastily and long ago in white paint thatís going more towards dull brown these days: ďTrespassers Will Be Shot.]]

[[Pause here for character interaction and decision. When the group crosses the threshold:]]

[Suddenly, and without warning, the night explodes in color, light and sound. What was a sagging and rusted chain link fence surrounding the ruined warehouse is now gleaming and silvered, at least 16ft. high and bathed in regular patches of a strange blue light being cast by motionless balls of either flame or electricity or something else entirely. It is a double-layer fence, and the intervening three or so feet of space between the two fences is spider webbed with countless strands of what must be monofilament wire. The fence itself is crowned with a mixture of razor and monofilament wires. There is but one opening in the fence and it is being flanked by two monstrous and obviously heavily enhanced guards. A finger as fat as a bratwurst lowers mirrored shades. The troll regards the group of you two large and obviously augmented eyes. After a secondís deliberation through subvocal microphone, he nods and gestures with a gargantuan arm vaguely in the direction of the entrance to what has become, sense crossing the threshold, a squat and nondescript building of uniform gray with no markings or indications on the outside. Guards of various types stroll through irregular and random patrols around the yard outside the building. Only a chance reflection of queer blue light reveals the flash of several sniper scopes only just now moving their aim off of you and back on to their regular posts. As you approach the door, wide, solid steel and without handle, it rises swiftly and silently revealing a nondescript metal corridor leading straight across to a T-Junction. At the end of the corridor (roughly twenty five feet) a human woman, about 5í10Ē, stands at attention with an assault carbine held at parade rest.]

[[As the characters move down the corridor, have them roll another Perception check. Hearing and Smell specializations will help. 4 Successes will reveal either a slight whirring sound or the mere tang of ozone. Anyone with Security Procedures above a 3 with that knowledge will know they are being scanned by several different devices.]]

SANDRA
Welcome to The Warehouse. Follow me.
eidolon
First, Welcome to Dumpshock

Pretty sweet. I think it'll work great to set the tone of your game.

Only one thing as far as tips goes right now though,

players...will...not...appreciate...it.

I hope to be wrong in your group's case, but 90% of players glaze over and zone out when the GM starts reading, sadly.

Since it's the opening, you've got an edge in that it's telling them what's going on and setting the scene. But for future sessions, my advice is to avoid too much "GM telling/reading story" stuff, and try to fit it in during the session in spurts of flavor and setting.

dAtkRaK
Sigh. I know. My group is typically more story-oriented than most, but all the same... I hate to be read to, as well. (All the same, there are two guys in our group that would zone out anything that didn't have something to do with dice rolls; they don't care about story, just the standard power and treasure acruement... we wouldn't have them, but beggars can't be chosers, right?) Our usual GM is, literally, a story-telling god. The guy can come up with some of the most intense plots and characters just off the cuff. I don't have that talent. I stumble on my words and get tripped up when I have to do it extemporaneously.

Preferably, this would be the only thing that I'd be reading to them, and hopefully I'll have given myself enough notes that I can work semi-improv. But I'm just not good enough at the improv thing to rely on it completely.

Which is a good point. Anyone got any good tips on how to improve the improv?
Fortune
You would probably get much more response to this if it were posted in the Shadowrun section. wink.gif
fistandantilus4.0
I agree wink.gif

BTW, usually if I have something I need read, to get more player participation, I usually have a player read it. Sticks better that way too.

The other thing you could try is to make a copy for each player and just have them read it to themselves. That way they don't have the disconnect many people get from listening to others read.

I like the mood that it sets, and works good for an introduction, giving some of the feel, and some examples of the common tech. I'd say just try to stay consitent with the mood you're creating at the beginning. It's tough to keep a consitent overwhelming gloom without players eventually getting bumbed out by it, unless they're in to that sort of thing. Or if you're going for a "this is the barrens, this is how it is here", just make sure you give some explanation when they go to other areas.
dAtkRaK
QUOTE
BTW, usually if I have something I need read, to get more player participation, I usually have a player read it. Sticks better that way too.

The other thing you could try is to make a copy for each player and just have them read it to themselves. That way they don't have the disconnect many people get from listening to others read.


Generally speaking, I'd agree with you. They're already going to have a wealth of handouts. That probably could use some qualification. This campaign is sort of a revisiting of older characters' stories and their impacts, that we played back in SR2 and 3 (2052 - 2056), updated for today. So now they all have these power bases and "concerted efforts," and the current characters are sort of like, you know, peons in the overarching organization.

I digress.

The point is, they're already going to have all these handouts explaining what's been happening with the main story line leading up to 2070 and all that. People to Know and Places to Go types of things, that sort of stuff. I guess we tend to be pretty story oriented.

At any rate, the aforementioned GM (who's playing a character in this campaign) and I were having this discussion on the lost art of storytelling, and I guess we want to try and recapture that. Granted, once the characters start moving and interacting, a lot of the reading would go out the window. I guess I just thought it would be cool to slowly paint on the layers of the story, starting with a style that is almost like someone reading a screenplay or a script and developing up to, in those first few moments, the actual interactive game.

That said, I have a really great storyline planned and, at least what I think, is some pretty cool ideas to make the whole experience more immersive. But I still am going to have trouble with the improvisation. So, any tips in that area would be more than helpful. As far as the piece I posted, I guess I'm really looking for ways in which it is anachronistic or ways in which it rubs against the grain of the Shadowrun setting.
fistandantilus4.0
Only two things I was thinking about:

After the NY earthquake, a lot was rebuilt. NY is a corp city, and Boston was the new stock exchange, so a lot would have been built up there (except the slums of course).

Second, the meet, monowire is expensive, and so are a lot of snipers. Unless they have a good reason to have this high of security for the meet, they probably woulnd't have that much. And as a player, unless I was getting some serious nuyen.gif , I wouldn't walk in to a situation like that.
Adam
Something that you might try, instead of just reading it at the gaming sesssion, is reading it -- or having someone else read it -- and recording it, then playing back the recording. It might put them in a different mood, as they won't exactly be listening to the GM read "boxed text."
dAtkRaK
QUOTE (fistandantilus3.0)
Only two things I was thinking about:

After the NY earthquake, a lot was rebuilt. NY is a corp city, and Boston was the new stock exchange, so a lot would have been built up there (except the slums of course).

Second, the meet, monowire is expensive, and so are a lot of snipers. Unless they have a good reason to have this high of security for the meet, they probably woulnd't have that much. And as a player, unless I was getting some serious nuyen.gif , I wouldn't walk in to a situation like that.

New York: Yeah, that I did know. We sort of unanimously decided to keep it as a wasteland for a particular story element. I probably should have prefaced that a little. My bad.

The monowire and snipers: It is expensive, and there actually is a good reason for it. This isn't a "meet" in the traditional sense. The characters are getting invited to join a group of sorts.

Adam: That is actually a freaking awesome idea. And I have a friend who is a radio personality down here who just might do the trick. Thank you for that.

The Crack
Draconis
QUOTE (Adam @ Nov 2 2006, 11:22 PM)
Something that you might try, instead of just reading it at the gaming sesssion, is reading it -- or having someone else read it -- and recording it, then playing back the recording. It might put them in a different mood, as they won't exactly be listening to the GM read "boxed text."

"Your mission if you choose to accept it......" biggrin.gif
"This tape will self destruct in 5 seconds."
Dog
Clearly, you have an excellent grasp of the language.

It might be a bit much, though. From out here, I couldn't tell what was the relevant info and what was for colour. If that was exposition, it's a lot of information to process all at once or remember for later. If it was just for mood, it seemed a little wordy. Don't use ten words when five will do, and all that.

You obviously have two sections to deal with. I'd address one section one way and switch up for the other. (like do a recording of the conversation between the bum and the darkness-guy, then go into narration for the second-person info.) You could even present the first part a couple of days before your first gaming sesssion.

If this is your campaign intro, you might want to make it more about the PC's. Start with a simple encounter to introduce them to one-another. They don't want to feel like passengers, no matter how good a driver you are.

But the imagery is great. You obviously have a rockin' clear vision of your sixth world. Good of you to share it.
dAtkRaK
QUOTE (Dog)
Clearly, you have an excellent grasp of the language.

It might be a bit much, though. From out here, I couldn't tell what was the relevant info and what was for colour. If that was exposition, it's a lot of information to process all at once or remember for later. If it was just for mood, it seemed a little wordy. Don't use ten words when five will do, and all that.

You obviously have two sections to deal with. I'd address one section one way and switch up for the other. (like do a recording of the conversation between the bum and the darkness-guy, then go into narration for the second-person info.) You could even present the first part a couple of days before your first gaming sesssion.

If this is your campaign intro, you might want to make it more about the PC's. Start with a simple encounter to introduce them to one-another. They don't want to feel like passengers, no matter how good a driver you are.

But the imagery is great. You obviously have a rockin' clear vision of your sixth world. Good of you to share it.

The characters will actually get these one on one sessions prior to this opening that we call "preambles." In the preamble, they will make their way to the spot at which I reference them in the opening ("and the five of you, whether roughly or smoothly, have made it to this point.")

But yeah, I get what your saying. I do tend to be a little verbose.
warrior_allanon
i only read the first little bit of it but i only have one thing to say


damn i wish i was able to play in your game
Black Jack Rackham
If I might interject my own 2.9876012 nuyen worth. It is, indeed good writing, and I also agree that your players will zone out. That is, if you leave them nothing to do within the reading of it. If you break it up, allowing them to interact more with the scene, you might find they pay more attention.

Mark
2bit
stand up and wave your arms a bit while reading it; give them something to look at.
fistandantilus4.0
wavey.gif
Draconis
Hey every GM is entitled to the occasional "Cinematic", just don't make it so long that the players wish they could press the "start" button and skip the rest.
Set the scene but don't write it completely out. That's the difference between interactive roleplaying and writing a novel.
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