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Okay, I'm new to Shadowrun, but I've read the 4th ed book twice all the way through, and I think I have a decent grasp.

I have a group of players with 2 characters already made, and they've given me ideas to work with.

One is an Elven Mystic Adept named Sinnamon who's mentor spirit is the Dark King. Her tradition is of the "death is a necessary, and natural part of life" influence, somewhat morbid, but a "good" character. No spellcasting ability to speak of, but is decent with spirits (Air, Man, Beasts, Fire). She has some Kinesics and a lot of social skills, and would likely end up being the diplomat of the group. She has a non-criminal SIN, and ran away from her family life in one of the Tir's (probably Tairngire). She's also a member of the Ancients. (This may change)

The other is an Orkish Technomancer. The player wanted him brain-wiped and unable to remember anything beyond waking up in an alley with a knife in his thigh.

This was actually a blessing. I've recently been reading a sci-fi/fantasy novel called "Heroes Die" In which the main character is the member of a Class system on a future earth. They've figured out how to send people to an honest to god fantasy world. For entertainment they train "Actors" and send them to Overworld for adventures that are experienced by "jacked in" customers. The actors and Overworld are put through some horrible stuff in the name of entertainment.

I wanted to go with this idea for a campaign arc and the Orkish character as well. His mind wipe being party of a contract to enter the slums as a Shadowrunner. He's got a high cap recordeing device in his noggin and a loyal, experimental drone named Cursor (also memory wiped), and I'm thinking there's some sleasy big wig at a major Simsense studio that's manipulating things here and there to make the Ork's life a living hell and get a helluva Simsense series in the process.

Now, I just need to flesh the concept out. Any ideas, good folks of dumpshock?

I had an elven go-ganger (member of the Ancients, of course) character whose girlfriend turned out to be a walking, talking, simsense recorder. She died in some random gang violence with the Spikes, which left him completely devastated. There was another simsense recorder plant, so his angst didn't go unrecorded. Later he made a jaunt to Tir Tairngire where he discovered he was an unknowing and unwitting simsense heartthrob. He went through a few situations that would fit yours very well. I originally planned to write his trials and tribulations as a short story (since at the time I wasn't running SR but wanted to keep my hand in creating plots, etc, and a modern day 'reluctant Robin Hood' story seemed to be pretty feasible) but it's just as good if real players get to go through some of the agony instead.

My first twist is that at some point, Sinnamon (and the other runners) starts noticing people are copping various aspects of her style. And then she should spot someone who's trying to look JUST like her. That right there should get their blood boiling. Of course, the high point occurs when one of the 'copies' dresses Sinnamon down (again, or any of the other runners) for not looking much like Sinnamon at all, "...and as leader of the Sinnamon fan club (Seattle Chapter) we'd never let anyone join who has done such a drekky job at emulating our heroine! What is that, a homemade costume?" or another person with a personafix'd version of the simchip tries to tell Sinnamon that the simchipped copy is the REAL Sinnamon... "And I don't appreciate poseurs like you copping my style! What is that, a homemade costume?*"

Make the simsense only available to the wealthier citizens at first. This keeps your game going instead of suddenly grinding to a halt the second the runners see 'Bob the Ork's Massive Aztechnology Adventure!!' chips for sale a week after they finished the run against Aztechnology. But at some point, pirated versions (with the original company's identification removed) will hit the streets and then all hell will break loose.

The good news is that suddenly, it's really easy to be a shadowrunner when a decent chunk of the population is doing their best to look, act, and dress just like you. The bad news is runners aren't supposed to have fanclubs, have screaming fanboys or fangirls chase them around, and things like that. It's going to be mortifying (or REALLY confusing) if a security guard spots them during a run, and then... "Freeze! Don't move, you're unauthorized intruders and you're about to be... hey... wait, I know you!! You guys are the best!! Can I have your autograph? My wife's not going to believe this!" However, this can work for a quick-thinking runner as well. "Sure, sure, we'll give you an autograph, but we have to redo the scene first. This time, act like we snuck right by you. Later on, we'll come back and take a group picture with you to prove to your wife we were here, okay?"

This then begs the question of 'who the hell is making all this money off my life and selling it for profit which I'm not seeing a dime of in compensation?' And that should really get the ball rolling. Of course, you can space out the search for the truth with other, non-related runs, but throw tidbits here and there. After a while, though, most of the party's contacts and friends will want nothing to do with them. What fixer wants to continue working with the runners who sold him that nifty gizmo stolen from Aztechnology when he finds out they not only recorded him buying it, but then splashed his face and the evidence of the crime all over?

Now on to a different tack, you could always run it that the experimental simsense system in the ork's head is designed to be undetectable, so a wageslave manager could in theory 'jack in' to a random employee to ensure they're maintaining the proper company loyalty, remaining efficient, etc. Kind of like the ability managers have right now to see exactly what it is that their employees have on their computer screen. The simsense chip angle is just to cover operational costs and prove the system works. Once the simchips have made the rounds and proven the tech, the group now not only has to escape before their existence is removed to avoid any 'complications', but figure out who among them is the wired individual. Maybe the flight of the runners becomes box office gold, and they decide to keep chasing them until sales of the chips drops below a certain threshold?

Another twist (if you go with the above angle) is that unknown to the higher ups, the system has a small 'undocumented feature' that when the manager does 'jack in' to monitor the ork and record the raw simsignal, the result is that when the ork sleeps, he has vivid dreams of being the manager, knowing his secrets, seeing his family, etc. That twist is a huge RP headache unless your player is really really good. "Man, I dreamed I had to give a presentation to Director Nakamura, and the damn assistant of mine brought me the weekly data, not the monthly... and it was for sales of a discontinued product line, not our hottest seller! And then my wife cooked me a pretty lousy meal, and I found out my kid is failing modern history! Isn't that wild!? Last Wednesday I dreamed it was our anniversary and she wore this little lacy number... and... why are you all staring at me?"

But if company A is using the team to showcase this new monitoring simsense rig, and company B decides they'd like a look at the hardware in question...

I think you can have a lot of fun with this, and after it's all said and done the runners can ditch their SINs and spend a couple grand on facial reconstruction surgery... because after they go through all that hell together they should be a pretty solid team!

*from such comments, legendary quotes are born. Remember Escape from LA? "Nice boots! I thought you'd be taller?" Or such gems as "I have a bad feeling about this!"
Having slept on it, I'd modify my above scenario in a small way.

If you can have a chip in your commlink that can digitally alter the entire matrix to look like whatever you want, we can assume digital editing is also pretty powerful as well.

So if Sinnamon the elven mystic adept and Bob the ork technomancer and company make a run on Aztechnology, and the next week the new simsense megahit shows Sugar the elven mystic adept and Dave the ork technomancer making a run on Renraku, the characters might chalk it off to odd coincidence. After their first run, make casual mention a new simsense phenomenon has the streets buzzing. A few runs later, mention how successful this new franchise is. Again, the players might just consider it background noise, game filler of some sort. But if one of the characters slots the latest chip, the part when the secguards had them cornered and Sugar says 'watch out, I'm going to do X to those secgoons!' and that's what Sinnamon said on their run, isn't that an eerie coincidence? Or maybe the fact that Sugar's actions are damn near word for word and gesture for gesture like Sinnamon's, or that the run went down JUST like theirs but in a different corp, how odd is that?

I'd also set the runners up that their bestest buddy fixer, you know, the one that keeps relaying these great job offers from a myriad of Johnsons ? Yeah, he's the sleazy simsense producer. The Johnsons are all fakes, and then when all hell breaks loose, the fixer won't be the one fingered for recording everything, it must be that last bastard Johnson. Or maybe the one before that... or the one before that? I usually use fixers as intermediaries, the old standby of 'you meet a Johnson in a bar' works, but your fixer has a better idea what you're capable of and can steer good work your way.. plus he gets a commission for the job and a bonus if all goes well.

So have the fixer offer the team some nice software upgrades to their commlinks. Or have the technomancer hack access and plant a benign virus that sends untapped data (cybereyes are always on, but are they transmitting the data to the rest of the team?) to the ork's commlink. That way, baseline emotion tracks can be overlaid for the individuals who don't have sim modules on their commlinks. And any information the commlink can relay helps spoof character point of view (POV) for the editors later on.

Keep in mind the best option is to have the sleazy producer rename the fake simteam, but in close enough of a parody (Sinnamon to Sugar, etc) and with the barest level of name changes, clothing changes, etc. The simsense techs will also be able to ensure that the simsense is not always recorded from one POV only, they can use the hacked commlink signals to shift camera angles so it can always show different POVs, and if there's no other option, they can record data from an external source after the fact, have some people act as placeholders, and overlay the guards.

Example: Bob's pov is the main (and only) POV, so in addition to the simactors needed to overlay emotion tracks for the rest of the team, they decide to do a bullet-time-esque pan around the whole party showing everyone's point of view when a security team is closing fast. Thanks to the main POV of Bob, the simsense editors can establish where everyone's standing, work out the relative differences in height for POV changes, and then have actors on a blue screen approach a series of trid cameras, setup in place (adjusted for height) to reflect the individual runner. Bam, overlay the actual (or edited) guard images on the actors, and you can have a 360 degree pan showing each runner's POV (with accompanying emotion track relative to the severity of the situation) and if the runners ever slot the chip, they would be led to believe that each one of them is recording simsense.

"Wait!" They may cry, "It must be our commlinks... or gear X, or gear Y! That's how they're doing this!" Well, not only do they have a great fixer who can help them out in any way they need with new gear, but that fixer also can hear and see what they're planning in order to keep his rep up by getting them new killer app commlinks (or whatever) in barely any time at all!!

The corps the teams run against could be in on it as well, if the intent is to sell a new kind of simrig that lets employers in on what their employee is thinking, or feeling, or planning. The fixer would set up a job that for all intents and purposes is real, but the corp target could scrub the location clean and leave junk paydata that's worthless but nets the runners their pay. That means the response is real, the run seems real, but minimal damage (a few dead guards at most) is done.

Meanwhile, the sleazy simsense producer is cutting new emotive tracks to spend an 'intimate evening' as Sugar or with her or whatever. Plus the company's marketing the 'Sugar power mage skirt', you know, the one the barghest ripped a chunk out of? Or the 'Dave the Ork' style combat jacket, etc. Any edit then has to be minor, so eventually, the characters might notice that now the parodied characters are dressed just like them. Maybe a quick pan didn't warrant facial editing, so there's a real shot of the team? After all that, the sheer indignity of the situation should have the characters ready to explode. I'd love to see their faces as this is all going on... if only you could film the sessions, that'd be a real twist!

I'd say you have a really good hook. I'm not great at the minor details, but I do have some ability to metaplot. Hope this helped!
I was only able to read your posts, and I gotta run for work, but I just wanted to let you know this is gold sir!

I muchly appreciate the effort.
You're welcome, it was a good hook to start with. I'm just so burned on the traditional cliche of 'Assemble a team. Infiltrate building. Recover the target. Exit quickly. Turn over item. Fence remaining goods. Drink heavily. Repeat.' I keep trying to find/create decent metaplots with twists that keep the game fun for all, but don't end up looking like the X-files meets Paranoia written by M. Night Shyamalan.

I also apologize for jumping on this so fast with so much info that it might have discouraged others from contributing with ideas that could have been even better.
Damn, Sterling! That's genious...

Wish I could use this with my group...hmm...
snowRaven, most runners have forgotten the very important rule about upgrading/implanting cyberware... make sure there's someone you trust watching the procedure.

Your setup is easy. In the next run, have your Sammy pick up a bit of wiz new tech he or she's been after for a while. When they hit their street doc, if he or she doesn't have a friend stand overwatch... you're in business. The implant in question can be added to the surgical procedure, and I'd wager it wouldn't be a noticeable problem overall. "Why is my head shaved and sutured when I wanted a new cyberarm?" Hell if they get the new limb, put the device IN the limb.

If a friend does stand overwatch, have the doc try to tell them that 'being there significantly increases the risk of infection or complication' once the patient is unconscious. If that doesn't work, if the surgery is particularly invasive, have them make a composure check. Sure, a runner sees some messy situations, but a friend opened up to the breastbone/spine/skull is another thing entirely. If a limb is being fitted with cyber replacement, the bone saw should be enough to warrant a composure check. The smell of the saw cutting up and heating bone, the shrill scream as the saw is cutting through... the sight of a limb being removed should be seriously unnerving.

If there's no need (or drive) for new tech, a serious wound or broken piece of cyberware sets this up very nicely. One ganger with a monofilament whip and a severed limb later...

Then take what I've written above and run screaming with it. I think the whole concept of a runner who has worked hard to make a name for themselves to suddenly be confronted by a slew of near carbon copies... it's just maddening.
It'd have to be fixed along with a broken piece of existing 'ware, for this group (they're all magically active - though one has tons of cyber as well).

I did something similar with their previous group, however, courtesy of Shadowrun: Missions. One of the team - a catholic-based mage - was caught on tape doing apparently good deeds (it was the first run of the old Missions, where they protect the pavilion in the park) and he was dubbed 'The Samaritan of Seattle' - things like that kept popping up, and after another botched missions run where the antagonist had prepared for a show based on the runners and made action figures, that antagonist decided to make money off of the Samaritan reputation and made an animated show featuring the runners, selling the puppets etc.

It did cause some problems for them, and was a lot of fun, but then the whole Crash 2.0 came and the campaign ended after that.

But, I think I should reintroduce the Amnesia Quality from last edition - some of my players were fond of that, and it opens for SO many glorious opportunities vegm.gif
Indeed, Raven, indeed.

Are the Missions worth looking at, btw?

Okay, Sinnamon has a Stripper contact. And unless one of the other players unbuilt characters ends up with a better contact, the stripper's going to be the weasel. Sinnamon's player has a soft spot for strippers, so, this should work well.

She'll be the one working for the sleasy Simsense director (of Viscera Media Group). The company deals in a lot of porn and splatterpunk, and they're looking to break into more legitimate, mainstream stuff that'll sell like hotcakes to the non-running public (probably big in the wage-slave arcologies, and to young, aspiring Runners)

I love the idea of the player having dream-sequences of some Corp employee. The guy playing the Ork has been a great GM for years, so he'll be fine.

The next time they take out some sec-goons they'll find some VISCERA swag on them. I'm going to play this nice and slow at first, and probably make it about a 20 session arc. We've had one quick and dirty session to get everyone aquainted with the rules, and the runners now have a contact to a very kindly orkish street doc. She sort of looks out for the local area, so she'll be a great way to pull their strings, too.

So, thank you very kindly, Sterling. I'm working these themes into my next session plan, though subtley at first. I think my players are going to get a kick out of it all.
Well personally I like the Shadowrun Missions, although I tend to heavily modify them to suit my campaign which I refuse to base in Denver.

The only thing is, don't take anything they claim to be Canon, otherwise the entire world really does revolve around the PCs, including how hard it is to cross borders and what commlink magically appears next to Joe WageSLAVE's bed each morning.
QUOTE (RooksGambit)
So, thank you very kindly, Sterling. I'm working these themes into my next session plan, though subtley at first. I think my players are going to get a kick out of it all.

Again, it was my pleasure to help out. If you don't mind posting a few updates on the arc every so often, I'd appreciate it. My curiosity is getting the better of me and I'm interested to see how it all turns out.

Actually, I'm kind of jealous, to be honest. Now that I'm better at these kinds of plots, my core group knows me too well to let something like this go on for long. I'm not complaining; they've worked together well as players and the group is pretty tight. It's a couple of the players from my SR1/2 group plus some new ones, as the original group split then split again, and as life happened some moved away or fell out of contact.

I'd love to run weekly or even biweekly again, but monthly is all the time that fatherhood and other real life issues seem to allow.
I'm glad to see your more concerned with your kids than Shadowrun! However, here's hoping you find a way for a bit of extra gaming time here and there. A man that takes care of his responsibilities deserves a break now and again.

Yeah, I have no problem posting some updates. Unless Actual Play threads are frowned upon at Dumpshock, I'll probably do one or have one of my players do one from a character POV.

Thanks for the input Ravor, I'm going to look at some of the Missions for some ideas on runs and such. Not only am I new to SR, I'm also a virgin GM, so I can use all the help I can get.
No, we love.gif War Story Threads, so by all means, post whatever you've got.

As for general advice, well remember that you ultimately control the table, as DM it's your job to firmly but fairly make the call whenever someone tries to do something that the rules either don't cover or aren't remembered. Be very careful to walk the razor thin line between being a Dragon and a Push Over. but above all else remember that its a game and as long as everyone at the table is having fun then don't worry about the crazy ramblings of Dumpshockers, we tend to be rather ... rough around the edges at times.

Oh, and remember that as DM, you rule the RulesAsWritten, don't let the RAW rule you.
I've got a couple of little suggestions (but knowing my tendency for long-windedness I'm betting it won't be quick little suggestions...

First, you have to be VERY subtle when dropping the hints. If you're too heavy-handed with it, it'll feel like a slap in the face with a cluehammer. If you're going to hint about the new sim sensation sweeping the nation, make sure you throw in a lot about pop culture in general. Otherwise, the players will wonder what's so damn important about some stupid sim. If you can, grab one or both of the State of the Art books or the Sprawl Survival Guide (which I suggest as standard reading for ANY Shadowrun player and especially for GMs even if the rules are out of date as there is just SOOO much great setting info in there) for 3rd Edition for some background or, if you can find it in the used bin at your gaming store or on ebay, the first edition sourcebook Shadowbeat. The rules will be mostly useless to you running a 4th Ed game, but it will be VERY worth it in background material. Talk about the renovations done to Club Penumbra, the Orksploitation rock scene, the mundane boring sim put out by <insert random company here> that somehow topped the sales charts. That way when you mention a sim that shares similarities with their most recent run, it won't feel out of place in the game.

Second, another clue you can drop is have your ork have some lost time. I mean the simsense recordings are all well and good, but if they're stuck in his headware memory, it's not going to do the corp any good. There was an old piece of cyberware called a memory inhibitor or something and I'm not sure if it's in 4th yet or not, but it basically let someone with proper access turn it on and you'd act normally until it was turned off, after which you'd remember nothing from when it was on. Combine this with some sort of compulsion to make a dump.

How do you reveal such a thing? Maybe when the players are having to hole up somewhere -- stuck in a squat in the Barrens while they're sitting on the executive they were ordered to sit on until the shareholder's meeting is over and the Johnson finishes his takeover bid. Send the person playing the ork to get some pizza or something, just get him out of the room. The best way to do this is pass him a note so that the others think something secret is going on between you and him, making them suspicious. Tell the others that all of a sudden, the ork throws a hissy fit and leaves, then comes back about an hour and a half later. Have them address any further questions to the player.

When the player gets back, the other players are going to ask "Where did you go?" Let them try to figure it out amongst themselves and do not offer any help explaining the situation.

Heh, told you it'd get long winded nyahnyah.gif

The Abstruse One
That is -very- helpful Abstruse.

I would not have thought to pepper the first couple of adventures with a proliferation of SR's various media. I -would- have used the cluehammer. So, the advice is gold!

The game is tomorrow evening. If I get the opprotunity tomorrow night, I'll drop by here and start an Actual Play thread.

It's going to be difficult for me to find any books for the moment, or buy them, for that matter. If anyone could point out any online resources (outside of Dumpshock and it's sattelites, obviously), that would be helpful.

Thanks for all the support so far, guys, it's muchly appreciated.
Your best bet would be your local gaming store's used bin as well as ebay. Also, I don't know if this chain is nationwide or not, but here in Austin there's a bunch of bookstores called Half Price Books that sell exclusively used books and usually have a half decent selection of RPG books for $5-15 a pop.

The best books that are not rulebooks IMO to pick up solely for the flavor are Sprawl Survival Guide, State of the Art 2063 and 2064, and then one of the books best for your personal tastes (any of the Shadows of... or Target:... books for geographic areas, Dragons of the Sixth World if you like dragons, the Tir sourcebooks if you like elfland (though the Tir Tairnegire book is now horribly out of date since they had a revolution and overthrew the government), Shadowbeat for media stuff, Cybertechnology for cyberware gear (again, stats are useless in 4th but the flavor text REALLY helps), etc.)

If you're planning to play a long-running game, I'd strongly suggest picking up these books to help you out. Some of the older books were also made available as .pdf downloads from some sites which are linked on the website. I'm sure someone out there has made illegal copies of the books and posted them online, but that would be highly illegal and immoral and I would strongly say not to do that (or at least don't be stupid enough to talk about it on a forum where people who work for the company visit regularly).

Back to the topic at hand...basically, you want to avoid the cluehammer as much as possible. Don't drop any hints the first game and possibly the second, but start setting things up by talking about the media stuff. A good way to do this is have one of their regular contacts (possibly their fixer) by a HUGE simsense geek who won't shut up about his new favorite sims. By the third game, have him go on his normal rant about what he's seen, then have him drop the name of the sim the players are starring in. "I just got this new one today, but I haven't checked it out yet." On the fourth adventure, have them see flyers for the new sim series (but if you do this, make sure to describe similar flyers for other stuff). Then just keep getting a little more obvious and a little more obvious until they click on it themselves.

But make sure that before you drop a hint about the sim, make SURE that you've set them up before. Don't describe a demo in a window of the Stuffer Shack unless you've done one for another sim. Also, don't stop doing them after you've dropped the hint either. Have the fixer keep ranting about new sims ("Oh, have you seen the new one with Peter Jacobs and Jessica Farnsworth? It's PG-rated family crap, but there's one spot where you play little Johnny Hanks and Jessica leans down and gives you a big comforting hug after his parents are killed and your face goes RIGHT between those gorgeous boobs of hers! You've GOT to check it out! I've had to replace my chip three times now because I keep burning out those few data sectors!"). If you drop a flyer on them, make sure they see flyers and posters for other stuff afterwards.

Whatever you do, just keep getting a little more obvious and a little more obvious and see if they get it on their own. If, after about 8 or 10 hints and they haven't gotten it, then bring out the cluehammer and bash them over the head. The looks on their faces if they haven't gotten it but realize they could've figured it out if they'd tried will be PRICELESS!

The Abstruse One
I wouldn't worry about the data dumping, there's a couple ways around it. While you could have the signal 'broadcast' constantly, that's going to be noticed at some point. Another option is that when the ork goes to sleep, the module dumps the data. I'm pretty certain a simrig would easily detect the deep sleep state, and the rules about memory storage (infinite, or close to) and data transfer rate (really fragging fast) means the whole day's activity could be uploaded in say, five minutes. If the rest of the team has their commlinks compromised to also feed the ork (main node) data, that microburst transmission could occur via piggybacking normal signals or just as a low level background transfer. It's not like it is today where when I share the net with my wife and if she does something data intensive my connection suffers. They could be constantly broadcasting (even encrypted) and the chances it would interfere with their normal commlink usage would be nearly nil. The broadcasting might get them in trouble if they're trying to be stealthy and set their pans to 'hidden', as the local node would wonder why there's a constant stream of data traffic from an unknown source.

Abstruce neatly covered what I'd missed, and did it well, too.
You could also have a hint of chicks/guys hitting on them at a club, treating them like a celebrity. Have the fan of the appropriate sex talk about all their exploits (make sure it's stuff people might've heard through the grapevine) and try to play it off as them having great reps on the street. This is a bit of a cluehammer hint though because you'd have to flat out lie to them and direct their thinking if you don't put it in JUST the right context, so you might want to save this for one of the later hints.

The Abstruse One
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