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Denicalis
I'm working on a game that is going to involve some prison time for one of my players, who happens to be a mage. I'm going to put him up in Blackstone (SOTA 64, pg 93). The book says that Blackstone exists on a manawarp, and I quote:

QUOTE
Blackstone's manawarp seems to induce a range of emotional effects from depression to catatonia, making for a docile population.


I'm working on what other interesting encounters I can use in it, and could use a few suggestions. The book says that it's mostly mages and adepts, with some "really nasty mundane fraggers." I'm trying to make it a really dark, wicked place. A real Arkham vibe.

Also, what level of background count/manawarp would you suggest?
The Jopp
Concidering the population I would imagine that the value has increased due to the emotional emanations from the inmates, increasing the background count a little. Most regular mages in SR4 have 1-3 in magic, the corp trained and above average runners have around 4-5.

Then we have the hardcases with magic of 6+.

I would imagine that the prison itself have a fluctuating background count (with the manawarp included) depending on where you are.

Isolation cells: 6+
High Sec: 6
Showers: 5+ (Someone dropped the soap?)
Recreational areas: 4+
Cells: 3+
Guard areas and office area: 2+

I would also imagine that certain areas most likely have some protection against the emotional effects from the manawarp. This could be for taking care of prisoners who behave in a good manner. Solutions could be shielded rooms with strong defenses from adept powers and spellcasting but allowing the prisoner a little calm through simsense to remove the constant depression, fear, angst and other emotions flooding the place.

I would imagine that the guards themselves would protect themselves with simsense to counter the effect of the manawarp so that you donít have suicidal and extremely violent guards that the prison cannot actually trust (you DONíT want to have a loose cannon with a gun inside a prison).

I know itís a rather dystopian and dark future in SR4 and the prison system is probably harsh, but I cannot truly envision it as a dead end as it is a prison, people will be released one day which means that they should still be a functional human, and too much time in that place without any relief from itís effects.
ThreeGee
First, I'd advise carefully reading the Background Count rules in SM p117-118.

The effects of background count have changed since earlier editions and seem far more dangerous. A background count of 6 is enough to make most adepts and mages into basically mundanes unable to perform any magic at all.

I recently ran an adventure in the East Anglia Stinkfens. Background count 2 rising to 3 and 4 in the final scene. My party mages almost refused to take part when they found out the effect of even this level had on their casting.
The Jopp
QUOTE (ThreeGee)
First, I'd advise carefully reading the Background rules in SM p117-118.

The effects of background count have changed since earlier editions and seem far more dangerous. Firstly a background count of 6 is enough to make most adepts and mages into basically mundanes unable to perform any magic at all.

I recently ran and adventure in the East Anglia Stinkfens. Background count 2 rising to 3 and 4 in the final scene. My party mages almost refused to take part in the adventure when they found out the effect of even this level had on their casting.

Hmm, im not surprised if my numbers are off as i'm no usre about the actual rules (I was thinking more in a dicepool reduction). Seriously though Ė if the inmates cannot use magic, would those who runs the prison it really care? The inmates are less dangerous if they cannot perform magic.

They interesting thing is that the power level would change if they all became (basically) mundane inside, raw power would be the rule of thumb and that would be mob bosses with connections and leverage over others, and their followers and individuals who can fight (usually well trained adepts).
ThreeGee
Under the new rules there are three effects for PC's to consider.

Firstly the awakened individuals magic rating is reduced by the background count. This effects all force limits, dice pools and reduces adepts powers. If this reduces the magic attribute to 0 then they lose access to magic for the duration.

Secondly, the background count is added to the base force for all magical drain tests.

Additionally all non-aspected spirits, foci, wards etc. have their force reduced by the background count.

It's scarily dangerous, particularly for mages who are relying on foci. They're own Magic is reduced and that of the foci they're using.
knasser

I had an idea for a "Prison Run" a while ago, though the players are in no way ready for it. I may write it up depending on both time and the feedback I get on my last adventure. But basically, yes - background count makes a big difference. But bear in mind that in the prison environment, samurai will also be deprived of many of their better toys. Cyberware inhibitors, wired reflexes set to "off." In a lot of ways, there's a power reduction across the whole team. Adepts are possibly the hardest hit as background count affects their abilities, also.

And as to Ally Spirits...
hyzmarca
7-10 is good. It'll allow them to reliably neutralize initiates up to grade 4. Mana warp begins at 7, so that's the prison's bare minimum
nathanross
From how it sounded in SOTA: 2064, Blackstone is the magical prison. Dont play it easy on them.

Also remember that the bad part isnt that you cant use magic, it's that they brainwash you with BTLs 24/7. If you really want to be cruel, implant a datajack and hook them up to hot sim. Maybe even throw in a cranial bomb. I know that if I had a dangerous mage under my watch, I'd make him as harmless as possible, and would not take any chances. Magic is a scary thing, afterall.

QUOTE (The Jopp @ Posted on Apr 27 2007, 03:21 AM)
I know itís a rather dystopian and dark future in SR4 and the prison system is probably harsh, but I cannot truly envision it as a dead end as it is a prison, people will be released one day which means that they should still be a functional human, and too much time in that place without any relief from itís effects.

I have to disagree, I think that if anything is the end of a character, Blackstone should be. You are right, they will get out, but they wont be the same person. I would treat Blackstone as a huge wall that the runners have a 1/1000 chance of actually making. Instead, the runners should try to spring their mage before he gets there, either on transit or in a minor jail before court. No point in allowing the PCs to run over everything, they have to remember that there are always bigger boys.

Though, what kind of dice rolls would you require for them to retain their sanity and fake subordination (to be released). If he/she/they succeed, you could allow them out with a paroll officer, data jack and cranial bomb in case they ever step out of line. Not character death, but a chance for some roleplaying.
Backgammon
The OP states that that going to Blackstone is part of the campaign - i.e. not just a consequence of getting caught. The GM will have to provide a way for the runner to get out - job offer from a corp after a few days ("Now that you,ve had a taste of life here, let me ask you this: are you willing to take a dangerouns job from us, or spend the rest of your life here. The choice is yours") or some plot hook like that. Rescue from teamates is possible too, assuming thats part of the plot... Im saying, nothing but what the GM has planned will get a PC out of Blackstone.

But I agree, if the character spends too much time there, he wont die, no, but he will be wrecked nearly to the point of being unplayable.
hyzmarca
You see, that's where I disagree. I think the level of mental disturbance and outright insanity that would be caused by a long stay in Blackstone would make a character ever more playable.
The Jopp
One way to actually reduce the (possible risk) of madness amongst inmates would be to induce an amotional track.

Regular simsense could be used on ALL inmates through trodes to keep them docile and keep them (reasonable) sane. The tech is available in SR4 and would be cheap when bought in bulk.

With the tech level in SR4 they might very well have changed their modus operandi on their inmates to keep them docile so drugs might be something they have removed.
Backgammon
QUOTE (hyzmarca)
You see, that's where I disagree. I think the level of mental disturbance and outright insanity that would be caused by a long stay in Blackstone would make a character ever more playable.

Yeah, ok. Depends on where you want to go with your character, though.
Backgammon
QUOTE (The Jopp)
One way to actually reduce the (possible risk) of madness amongst inmates would be to induce an amotional track.

Regular simsense could be used on ALL inmates through trodes to keep them docile and keep them (reasonable) sane. The tech is available in SR4 and would be cheap when bought in bulk.

With the tech level in SR4 they might very well have changed their modus operandi on their inmates to keep them docile so drugs might be something they have removed.

Assuming your in prison that cares about releasing sane people.

Blackstone is not a prison people come out of. They dont care if you go insane. Besides, the whole point of Blackstone is that its built on a natural inhibitor to magical talent - that way you specifically dont have to invest in alternative magical-control methods, like simsense, magemasks, drugs, etc.

The idea of Blackstone is take the meanest, badest, more unrepenting awakened threats and throw them in there and throw away the key. No visitors, no parole, no rehabilitation. Just suffering for the wrongs you`ve done and isolation from civilisation (and a pool of test subjects and suicide run volunteers for corps and governements).
Shrike30
I think you'd see guards coming in and out on longer (but more spaced-out) shifts to work here. Think something like 3 12-hour shifts in a week, with a lot of downtime to recharge, and good pay to keep them there.

Or, you could go the other way, and say they pull involuntary overtime all the time, are underpaid, and generally hostile... and that's before the effects of sitting in a giant mana warp catch up to them... vegm.gif
hyzmarca
There is little profit in employing metahuman guards. It is so much more efficient to just create an unbeatable perimeter of automated guns and airdrop food in every week. You could even have the drone guns programed to perform maintenance on each other so that no human presence is necessary.
TheRedRightHand
^Exactly what I was going to say. Why have metahuman guards at all? Do all the "guarding" by drones, Hackers and robots.

Hell most prisons nowdays don't allow guards walking in amongst the cells & cons to carry guns because they would never risk letting a prisoner get a hold of a gun. All the gun carrying guards are behinds fences, walls, etc... so there is no chance of a prisoner getting a hold of a firearm.

In the future they could just use drones to do the rounds. No need for head counts because all the cons have implants that track their movements/locations inside, etc...

No, there is no need for guards inside at all, in fact it is more dangerous to have them in there because it could make for hostage situations. No one will care if the cons take a damn drone hostage.
2bit
Do the dementors know about this place?
fistandantilus4.0
Apparently. The poster in SOTA 64 was ' Sirius'
Whipstitch
QUOTE (TheRedRightHand @ Apr 27 2007, 06:46 PM)
No, there is no need for guards inside at all, in fact it is more dangerous to have them in there because it could make for hostage situations. No one will care if the cons take a damn drone hostage.

The beauty of that approach becomes even more apparent when you consider resistance thresholds. As has been said, it is doubtful that many mages will be able to cast at all in Blackstone, much less have the juice available to net the hits required to affect processed objects. Sure, there's indirect spells that can work around that kind of thing, but no one can deny that magic simply isn't the most efficient way of dealing with drones and heavy steel doors in the first place. If you can cast at an effective Force 4 in Blackstone, well, my hat's off to you.
Demon_Bob
Prisons should be nice open areas. No stone walls, no barbed wire. No guards wondering about and around inmates. Drones of all sizes, but not with guns near the inmates, just a few around the perimeter. Nice little lockable rooms for the inmates. Cameras all over the place. Food Drops. Inmates would be required to maintain the compound. Cortex bombs in all the inmates that go off if the perimeter is breached, or rules are broken. Not just one in each but 2 or 3 for warning purposes. Much more cost effective that way.
Jack Kain
I actually see the true maximum prisons would be almost total sim sense. When in their cells they'd be locked into the prison program. With out the capacity to run programs they'd have no way to manipulate the environment to their advantage unless they happened to be a technomancer but they can give them more traditional cells.

Machinery can take care of food and waste and you spend 30 years in a virtual prison over the course of 10.
Magic accounts for little when locked in hot sim.

Technomancers could be a problem as they wouldn't require programs and their sprites could reek havoc. But they can use more traditional cells that are blocked from computer access.
fistandantilus4.0
QUOTE (Demon_Bob)
Cortex bombs in all the inmates that go off if the perimeter is breached, or rules are broken. Not just one in each but 2 or 3 for warning purposes. Much more cost effective that way.

What movie was that? There was some 80's flick where all the inmates had explosive collars, and everyone was linked to one other person. If they wandered a certain distance away from their "partner", they'd both blow. So the prisoners controlled it's own escape attempts.

Of course the movie centered around some wrongfully accused guy, and some hot girl that he somehow found out was his "partner", so all they had to do was wander out together yaddy-yaddy ya.... still an interesting premise... until they ruined it.
TheRedRightHand
Hmmm... well The Running Man had collars like that at the beginning. And the main guy was wrongfully accused and there was a "hot girl" (by 80's standards) but they wern't linked together.

Not sure if that is the film you mean.

Another good prison movie is "No Escape" for a lord-of-the-flies type maximum sec. prison.

And this new movie out this week looks to be like both movies put together (with a little "Battle Royal" thrown in) it's called The Condemned or something like that. Looks really bad.
mfb
you're probably thinking of Fortress. am i alone in thinking that Christopher Lambert is probably the most Shadowrun-y actor ever? pretty much any movie he's in, you can draw some sort of inspiration from or parallel to SR.
hyzmarca
Rutgar Hauer, actually. The movie is called Deadlock or Wedlock, depending on where it is playing. Deadlock is far more common.

fistandantilus4.0
mfb, no on the first one, yes on the second. You are the only one. biggrin.gif

Even if a lot of his movies could tie in, I just can't fit ... Christopher... Lambert in ... tooo..... ugh, nope, can't even say it.

I think hyzmarca got it.
KarmaInferno
There were two different versions of the movie Deadlock made. One is entitled "Deadlock 2" but is really a remake, as none of the original stars reprise their roles and it basically retells the same story, with different details.

The first starred Rutger Hauer and Mimi Rogers.

The second starred Nia Peeples and Esai Morales

I remember one of the movies (don't remember which) where one of the paired escaped prisoners gets trapped in an elevator going down, with her partner outside the elevator. There was a wild scramble as the outside partner ran, fell, and tumbled down stairs, out a window onto a window washer's rig, down ropes, etc to try and stay within "safe" range of the partner inside the elevator.

Fortress had a similar concept, except it was an implant instead of a collar, and it was tuned to proximity of areas rather than another inmate. Walk anywhere you're not supposed to and you get hit with excruciating pain. Walk further, or refuse to come back to the safe areas, it kills you.

You know what this thread made me think of immediately when I started reading it? The Shalebridge Cradle level of the game Thief Deadly Shadows. About the creepiest damn sequence in a video game I've ever seen. I can easily see Astral space in the prison being like Shalebridge.


-karma
Ravor
Care to go into detail about the level?
KarmaInferno
The game is otherwise a fantasy setting with elements of steam-tech, about a master thief (the player) caught up in evil plots by multiple factions each seeking domination over The City.

In short, the Shalebridge Cradle was a prison. And an insane asylum. And an orphanage. And for a while, it was all of these things at the same time. The level of horror and misery of the inhabitants over the decades warped and twisted the very essence of the prison into a malevolent entity. A long ago fire caused the place to be closed down, but nobody over the years has been willing to take over the property. Nobody really even wants to go near it.

And as it would happen, take a guess where the game's plotline takes you into the heart of?.

There's an article originally printed in PC Gamer magazine that does a really good breakdown and analysis of the level. The author has a PDF of the article available here:

http://gillen.cream.org/wordpress_html/?page_id=618


-karma
ThreeGee
QUOTE
The Shalebridge Cradle level of the game Thief Deadly Shadows. About the creepiest damn sequence in a video game I've ever seen.


My personal favourite level in any first-person I've played. I love the blankness of the warders.
2bit
oh god, and I didn't get that far in the game... now I have to dig it up. god, i love Thief.
KarmaInferno
I sound like a damn advertisement for the game, but if you want a copy it's available via direct download through Steam:

http://www.steampowered.com/v/index.php?ar...ppId=6980&cc=US

It's that good.

I really have to go put together a nice gaming scenario where the PC have to go into a haunted asylum. <rubs hands wickedly>


-karma
Therumancer
Shades of John Saul anyone?

That said I would point out that in SR they have more or less been snuffing prisoners on live TV since 2050 at least, so the idea of "humane treatment of prisoners" is pretty much dead. When it comes to the Sinless, there is no reason to even put them into prison unless you intend to be a sadist, it's easier to just shoot them and forget about it, especially if they are dangerous. The Sinless are non-entities and not having a SIN is basically a death penelty crime if you become inconveinent.

At any rate, the only problem with "Blackstone Prison" and sending a SR PC there is justifying why anyone would bother assuming the PC is a Shadowrunner. If they are going to bother destroying him is pretty much the point.

-

Honestly though, going by what I've read in things like the old "Shadowbeat" supplement, if the Corps don't snuff him they are more likely to want to profit off his demise. It's likely he'll wind up the "star" on the latest broadcast from Aztlan (even if another corp is sponsoring it) with the draw that they are going to kill a "real" Shadowrunner. In the process outing his identity so even if he does somehow survive, his enemies (like say if he did something like cast an "Orgasm" spell on someone important's daugher and the guy took it that seriously) will make short work of him.

If the guy is a mage there are other ways to lock out his magical abillity. Books like "Lone Star" (which I have mixed opinions of) introduced hoods and stuff to prevent people from casting spells.

Or more to the point, they can just do some illicit cyber-surgery on him. I mean the guy has probably spent most of his Karma and stuff on his magic. If they say implant him with bone lacing, muscle replacement, and a datajack and drop his essence down below 1... well, magic just became a lot more difficult for this guy (impossible if he's not an initiate). You don't even have to use good grade stuff, rusty junk bought for 10% of the regular value from a bunch of ghoul Cybersnatchers (installed with the teethmarks still present) will do for this, if it malfunctions 50% of the time, so much the better! smile.gif

At any rate, being caught as a Shadowrunner is never pleasant, and this is why I imagine most of them never surrender if they are sane. Here are some suggestions for the fate of captured Shadowrunners that aren't just tortured and shot in the back of the head:

LIVE ON DEATHSAT 4!!! Fresh from Aztlan! For your Viewing Pleasure!

Noon:

On a gladiatorial deathmatch show, some poor goober Shadowrunner (probably a former mage) is brought out with cheap cyberware and the persona chip of a 'tough guy' permanantly soldered into his new (if a bit rusty) Datajack. He is allowed to talk trash before the new "Jobber" is messily dismembered by an up and coming contender looking to fight the champ.

Wow! If this guy just tore apart the infamous Shadowrunner that easily in a REAL Deathmatch, he must be something! The champ had better watch out!

One O' Clock: The poor shadowrunner is brought out with a bodysculpt, vat grown muscles (preettty) and a chip soldered into his jack that reverses his pain and pleasure centers. He is then tied up in a torture chamber as two leather clad hotties come out and pleasure and torture him with reversed feeds. He expires during the orgasmic finale. Discount simchips (albeit not BTL quality as they are legal) of this televised event are then sold for only $20 nuyen apiece to the sicko snuff crowd.

Two O' Clock: As above, but it's the gay version.

Three O' Clock: Time to reenact the "Running Man" accuratly, including the rigged contest! Well sort of. They solder a chip with an imprint taken from a starved and terrified housecat and turn the poor Shadowrunner/Prisoner loose in the desert/swamp/jungle/urban arena and then send out the team of competing corperate gladiators (each sponsored by a differant corp) to see who can kill him first after a 10 minute lead. Bonus prizes are of course awarded for creative sadism in bringing the prey down, despite it primarly being a race.


Okay, now granted the UCAS might not ever admit to this kind of thing, and transmissions from "Deathsat 4" only come in via pirate broadcasts. But corps are multinational (including Lone Star) and are going to do their profitable prisoner disposal overseas (or so they claim).

Now granted, the corps can just have some sec guy taser a random Sinless dude and drag him back for Cosmetic modification to fill out these shows, but when they have a shadowrunner who failed to break into a compound who is stupid enough to get caught or better yet surrender (heh) it lets them send a message to people who mess with the corp.

>>>----Therumancer--->































hyzmarca
Hmm. I'm pretty sure that the vast majority of gladitorial pponets that a prisoner will face are puny 2s across the board augmented human wage slaves who want some extra money to pay for their kid's braces. The entire point of the competition is that everyman challengers fight heavily armored prisoners for a chance at cash and prizes.
Its the same with Golden glory. The contestants are wage slave volunteers who are willing to risk life and limb for a chance to win money.
From that perspective, being a prison gladiator is a cushy gig. The entire point is to make sure the contestants never have a chance to win anything so it will be stacked in the prisoners' favor.
Therumancer
Actually Hyzmarca, the entire point of gladiatorial bloodsports has been the same throughout history: The joy of watching people die, oftentimes painfully.

That's what the audience wants, and in this case we're dealing with a dangerous Shadowrunner who they have no real reason to want to keep alive. 99.9% of the time their just going to put a bullet in the guy and call it a day. I mean all of the things I've said in other threads about Shadowrunners are why when you've got one, you don't take any chances.

That .1% of the time, usually justified by the GM wanting to give the PC a chance to escape (or more logically, be rescued by the other PCs) the corp is looking to cash in with a public execution, or send a message.

In all my examples it's pretty consistant, the PC dies. He's not given a chance or allowed to 'put up a fight'. He's disposed of, albeit in a creative, yet fairly sadistic, fashion.

Otherwise, I'd tend to agree. In many deathmatches they want to develop "names" that people will bet on. But they usually lead up to these things by "Feeding" people to the victors they want, in order to generate hype. That way there is interest when the two "names" fight. Sending a guy in there to die to the champ is a way of executing someone, and if the dude is a Shadowrunner, well being fed that guy helps pump up the rep.

As I mentioned, with the "Sims" and "personality chips", all they really need is meat. I'd imagine your typical corp doesn't just use prisoners, but also just goes and randomly abducts SINLESS off the street, slots them with whatever personality overwrite they want, and then watches them go "Splat".

For snuffporn, it's relatively cheap and easy to cosmetically modify someone (especially if the person is only seen on camera). If your not doing Simsense tie ins, you might as well cheaply mod some Sinless waif, runaway, or bag lady, and use them for the porn chopping block. In the case above they were being a little elaborate about it... because it's a Shadowrunner. The idea is word will get out in the Shadows (like they want it to) that you don't mess with MCT or Renraku or Aztechnology or whatever or else THIS is what happens. They don't capture Shadowrunners too often (by the nature of the job) so... smile.gif

I figure the expensive/elaborate simsense snuffporn is what they need the "quality" merchandise from the slave traders and such from. Not to mention the normal stuff where noone dies which actually makes up the majority of it (the subject was executions).

>>>----Therumancer--->




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