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Maybe someone remember, but some time ago (in the late days of the previous forum) I exposed an idea on the case of Lars J. Matthews in Dunkelzahn's Will.

QUOTE (Dunkelzahn's Will)
"For a period of ten days beginning on 14 February 2057, Lars J. Matthews will cease to possess any legal status. He will be stripped of all evidence of legal existence, including SIN, credstick, DocWagon contract, bank accounts and so on. To the individual or group who ends Lars J. Matthews' physical existence during those ten days, I leave all of Matthews' assets and 1 million nuyen for a job well done. If Mr. Matthews survives and can prove his identity, his legal status and all possession will be restored to him. Haven't you heard ? Never deal with a dragon, Lars."

(since last time somebody asked what was the problem, I remind Dunkelzahn died in August 2057, six month too late for this to be applied the way most people would understand it ; I wanted to see if something could be made to classify this as something else than a mistake)

I finally came up with a adventure based on it. The idea itself wasn't simple, it got overcomplicated. I dropped the idea of making the full SR-format adventure (too much work) and opted for the track-format instead, though I already made the introduction short story. As a result of the format it's a bit short and compressed on some explanations. I might also have forgot to explain some things that became obvious to me. And it's worse since it a run heavy on investigations with little combat encounters (the Legwork chapter would have been the core, would I had make it). Without combat it also lacks a real Climax, but for now I feel stucked with its development. And it's probably full of typos and errors biggrin.gif

Since it wouldn't fit at all in my current campaign, I doubt I will play or playtest it anytime soon. So it ends here directly nyahnyah.gif

NB - I set it up mainly in New Orleans but it can be easily adapted to happen in Seattle (or Miami, my other choice, with the Everglades replacing the Bayou).

It starts here:


In a second, Matthews vanished from the sidewalk. They were three, plus one driving the van, and seemingly the operation's leader waiting inside. The eyes of the team's mage lightened as he realized. "Boss, he's trying to..."

"I know. He's booby-trapped. Cortical bomb, I expected something along these lines. Taking me with you, tell me, you romanticized our rivalry that much ?" The three henchmen were increasingly disturbed by the apparent lack of reaction from their boss.

Matthews was smiling, in spite of the intense effort he was doing. "Your mind-sucker won't block me forever. I thought azzie magic hurt more than that."

"As I said, I was expecting a trick of some sort. So we do switch to a plan B."


Dunkelzahn was scouring the colossal amount of data gathered over months all over the world. In spite of massive investments in research in expert systems, the dragon remained himself the best analyst of his own organization. There must have been one element, something that wasn't considered relevant, not correctly related to the rest, places, people, dates.

Whoever was behind, he was very careful, spreading information altered just enough to misguide all interpretation. Yet, all the profiles of Matthews, including those from Aztechnology, were dismissing the possibility to return him. But there were still other means to manipulate somebody.

Other agents Dunkelzahn sent directly in the area since had all transmitted alarming reports. All those trick allowed the enemy to gain time, a lot of time. He has been too confident, he shouldn't had run for the White House. And he wouldn't have he if had knew.

The key he was searching for was the list of passengers flying to Atlanta airport. One of them was... Of course, here was the mean, the manipulation. He brought back all the information, and it somewhat reassured him that nothing let guess it. Every data registered in Matthews life seemed perfectly normal for someone of his profession, the use of his credit cards or his car movements. There was no way to tell. Dunkelzahn smiled. In spite of the complexity, with resources 0 and 1 weren't the hardest thing to forge.

"Open file test." The computer reacted to the voice and displayed the content of the file on the screen. "New item." As he had configured the file, it automatically selected a random position within to put the new article. Dunkelzahn stopped, reread the reports, trying to estimate when it happened. "For a period... beginning on 14 February 2057... insert... for a period a ten days beginning on... back... Lars J. Matthews will cease to possess any legal status. He will be stripped of all evidence of legal existence. Including SIN, credstick, DocWagon contract, bank accounts... and so on. To the individual or group who ends Lars J. Matthews' existence... physical existence... during those ten days, I leave all of Matthews' assets and one million nuyen for a job well done."

It worth it. Whoever did that was a real master of subterfuge. So do Dunkelzahn was. "Haven't you heard, Lars? Never deal with a dragon." He though twice too. "Insert... for a job well done. If Mr. Matthews survives and can prove his identity, his legal status and all possessions will be restored to him. Haven't you heard? Never deal with a dragon, Lars. End." If that part was to be put in use, then Matthews really deserved it. Dunkelzahn reread and smiled. Maybe not very clear, though it would anyway require cleverness to resolve it too. It stayed a bit more difficult for him to make an idea as clear for a computer than it would for an human, thanks to telepathy. He would rewrite it later, when he would have the time. "Alright. Save and close file. And compose a phone call for the CEO of Lith International."

Then another report drew his attention, one that just arrived. Dunkelzahn had officially won the special 2057 UCAS presidential election. Would he ever enter the White House as the President was a matter of time, a timing it was too late to control.

MAY 2063

If the universe had to be ordered some way, Robert Sizemore could have been the complete opposite of a mighty great Dragon elected president of the UCAS. Well, first, Bob was still alive. But something came to link them five years after Dunkelzahn's death when he found that skeleton in the bayou.



As a shareholder of Ares Macrotechnology, the Great Dragon Dunkelzahn was regularly using the corporation's "special service" for his own interest. Back in 2057, he was paying a special attention to operations conduced by Aztechnology in Aztlan to find an artifact called "Locus." For that reason some of his agents contacted Lars J. Matthews, a former SINless runner that Ares Intelligence hired as an expert of Aztechnology Corporate Security (ACS) operating procedures.

However the ACS got wind of this very early and managed to abduct Matthews before he even started to work on that. Because Matthews was prepared to blow himself up with a bomb implanted in his cortex, they killed him and used the service of an individual specialized in assuming the identity of other person. A team of elite deckers modified Matthews' SIN files to have every details matching with the "new" Matthews, and added false records and images of him on surveillance camera to cover up the hours during which the exchange took place. Once this was done, the false Matthews started his work, passing false information to Dunkelzahn's agents. It was only a subtle misinformation which, combined with other operations, made Dunkelzahn think Aztechnology operations were a lot less advanced than they were.

Dunkelzahn started to understand only short before his death, but none of his Matrix investigation uncovered anything. Recognizing the efforts put in that domain by the ACS, he decided to have all those Matrix data erased, leaving only physical evidence to establish what happened, be it the replacement of Matthews or his recruitment as a double agent by the ACS. He left in his will a request for somebody to investigate the affair, but with clumsy wording. Dragons are more used to direct telepathy or having month or years to rework their text...


Through the usual channels, Mr. Clark Andrews, a lawyer and fixer in touch with the UCAS political arena, hires the runners to obtain anyhow (theft, corruption or blackmailing, as they can) the police records concerning a body recently found near Thibodaux in Louisiana and hand them to a reporter of Washington FDC, Douglas Cordell. He specifically wants the runners to frighten Cordell a bit, by faking a men-in-black attempt to retrieve the documents during the exchange or something similar.

Event 1

After a fisherman found the body in the bayou, the local authorities used Lone Star services for an identification. Various samplings were sent to LS Forensic Center, near Atlanta. They identified the man as being Lars J. Matthews, an employee of a subsidiary of Ares, Lith International. He disappeared in August 2057. The death is dated back to a similar length, six years, more or less. As the victim was a megacorporate employee, the case was then handed to the Department of Domestic Investigation. So the runners can find data interesting them in the Sheriff Office in Thibodaux, the LSFC near Atlanta or the DDI offices in New Orleans.

Event 2

Already contacted by a contact working with the Johnson, Cordell is ready to meet the runners anywhere they want, though preferably in Washington FDC or in Virginia if they want to stay in the CAS.

In the days following, Cordell will make the headlines. Dunkelzahn promised in his Will one million nuyens for the people who would end Lars J. Matthews' physical life, to be paid by the Draco Fundation. A major scandal will hit the Vice-President Nadja Daviar on the accusation that she might have paid, as the Chairman of the Draco Fundation, the murderer of Lars J. Matthews.

Eventually, if the runners let too much evidence behind them, some media could make their headline on the "yet-unidentified assassins of Matthews who tries to cover their track." Should they be in trouble or ready to accept nuyen, they will be contacted by Mr. J. Johnson for a new job. He wants them to investigate the agenda of Lars J. Matthews in New Orleans between the 14 and the 24 February 2057, several years ago. Mr. Johnson's working for Cross Applied Technologies and wants to see if any of Matthews' colleagues, including one who defected and now work for Cross, get nervous as some people (the runners) are about to discover who gave Matthews to the ACS. For that purpose, Mr. Johnson will spread in the runners' back the rumor that they stole an implant extracted from Matthews' body that contain very incriminating data for the traitor.

Event 3

As Dunkelzahn said in his Will, all data about Lars J. Matthews between 14 and 24 February 2057 have disappeared. His bank, his telecom company and the GridGuide have no trace of any events. By contacting conspiracy amateurs interested in that affair, or searching directly the Matrix, there is still one track to follow: Dunkelzahn simply had video surveillance erased, not replaced. It left a serie of "hole" which indicate where Matthews was supposed to be. Simply, nobody can prove it.

With a bit of legwork, the runners can discover Matthews real activities as an Ares Intelligence agents and his expertise concerning Aztechnology. The bullet extracted from Matthews body can also be linked very unofficially to other operations of the ACS.

Through a mix of Matrix search and contacts with the conspiracies theorists who take a special interest in that affair since 2057, the runners may locate those holes. Among all the possible dead end, Matthews is supposed to have been on a square, recorded from at least seven different angles. However all of them comes from Aztechnology-related buildings: a Stuffer Shack fast-food, a local bank owned by the American Trade Bank, itself owned by BANCOMEXT and in the end by Aztechnology, a residence whose security is maintained by another subsidiary of Aztechnology, and one empty building bought by Aztechnology in late January 2057 and sold in April. And short after Matthews shows up at the other side of Downtown, a bit quicker than even the best Rigger could do. It's a bit more reasonable if Matthews came from the place he went before "Aztechnology plaza", a restaurant in the French quarter.

If the runners dig very deep or simply ask the worst conspiracy geeks, they will also find the same restaurant had a problem with a precious bottle of French wine absent from both their stock and their accountancy. Of course Matthews did pay and drink it (with somebody else), but that payment was erased by Dunkelzahn.

In front the same restaurant, there's a van. His driver can be identified as Ray Martinez, at the time an ACS agent. The same import-export company, ADMS Trading Co., employed Martinez and registered the van. Martinez is now retired and unemployed. The runner can still find and interrogate him. Among the warehouses owned by ADMS in New Orleans, one was formerly known as "The Clinic" in the shadows, the place where the ACS provided new identity or even new face to people it had to move out of North America, at least between 2051 and 2056. And the dust and bleach in the coagulation of Matthews' bleeding matches what you could find in "The Clinic" area at least when it was still under use. It seems the ACS reactivated "The Clinic" once.


"The Clinic" had been emptied a long time (in 2057 precisely). Visiting the place, the runners will find the tiled room where surgery was performed, the former computer room with power and telco plugs on the walls, the empty wardrobe, and so on. There's even a small piece where the people who wouldn't be evacuated were executed. It should be a creepy visit with the electricity off and several years of dust of everywhere.

At this point, Mr. Johnson will have reach his goals, admitting the absence of reaction from their defector and acquiring some interesting info as well.


One of the issue there is that there is no way to know if the body found in Thibodaux was the real Lars J. Matthews. To identify him the Lone Star used the genetic data from his SIN, which were modified. Either the false Matthews left, and all the data were restored ; or the ACS decided to suppress him. In that case it's well possible that Matthews is still alive, held by the ACS somewhere. But for the moment, he is legally dead, and upon his contract with Ares/Lith International, all his assets reverted to his employer, which in turn signed a promissory notes to Dunkelzahn. The runners may want to claim the prize of those assets : a country house and an apartment in Louisiana, several cars and about one millions nuyen, with one million more added by the wyrm (Dunkelzahn cheat a bit however, as the erased data of February 57 included several hefty payments he made to Matthews). But the Draco Fundation will hardly accept to pay them as long as the scandal goes on in Washington. The revelation of Matthews and Ares Intelligence activities will save a bit of Daviar reputation but stirs a diplomatic crisis with the CAS and Aztlan, impacting the Presidential election.

Although the runners can only make guess about it for now, the one who gave Matthews to the ACS was the same that he met at the restaurant and drink that costly bottle of wine with him. He isn't an Ares Intelligence agent or a regular contact of Matthews, but one of Dunkelzahn own network who Matthews met to discuss the funding of his activities for the dragon. But this traitor inside of the dragon's own servants is another story...
Large Mike

... so.... long...

Is there a cliff notes version?
very slick, very interesting. i like how you played with the will, using the tendency towards foresight and long-term thinking against a dragon, for once.
Lovly read there Nath. Always wondered as to the reasons why Dunklezahn would do that to someone. Didn't notice the date signifacance tho.
Talia Invierno
Very nice smile.gif (Posting here at least in part to draw my GM's attention to this grinbig.gif )

Just a question for the canon-ers: wasn't there a canon resolution to what had become of Matthews, even before Dunkelzahn's death? (Which is not to say that a death certificate and - as you note, Nath, even a body - means that this actual person is dead.)
QUOTE (Talia Invierno)
Very nice smile.gif Just a question for the canon-ers: wasn't there a canon resolution to what had become of Matthews, even before Dunkelzahn's death?

No canon resolution I have ever seen mentioned the times the topic was brought on DSF. That's what prompted me to write something. I can personnaly attest it only for a bunch of 1st and 3rd edition sourcebooks. Ancient History has nothing. If there's something, it's burried really deep. But maybe there will be something in the "Revised Will" to appear on ... someday. Adam may know.

And thanks for your attention smile.gif
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