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So I'm working on writing the finale of my 3 part campaign for my players. The problem is that I'm a little bit stuck, and I need some ideas. I'd appreciate some help! So, if you have a few minutes, read over the adventures and the plotlines my characters are currently dealing with, and give me some ideas of where I could take things!

The characters that I have to work with are NOT optimized by any stretch of the imagination. They're not powerhouse characters, but they have some Karma under their belt from 4 previous adventures. They have some nuyen resources to hire limited help in areas they are lacking. They also tend to not investigate too much on their own. I have to drop significant hints right in front of their noses to get them to investigate or question things. Keep this in mind when suggesting very complex plotlines. Yes, I know a big part of Shadowrun is unraveling complex plotlines, but they're newbies! (and so am I, I started GMing when they started playing!)

Characters consist of:
Weapon Specialist: He's unaugmented. His body is a shrine. He does the duel-SMG thing. Doesn't speak up usually unless shootin' needs to happen. He does OK for being unaugmented, but anyone with more than one IP kicks his butt.
Face: He's got Charisma up the wazooo AND is built to use it. He has almost no innate combat ability, but has an EDGE of 8, which he basically uses to get himself through combat. Usually whenever he spends an EDGE, and NPC dies.
Rigger: He is currently working on building an armored van for the group, and is the only one with augments. However, he's not armed to the teeth and hasn't had the nuyen to buy himself a lot of combat drones yet. Good in a fight.
Mage: He's a crow shaman. He loves using Control Actions and Shape Shift, along with summoning. That said, he's the most nervous mage in history. Hates astrally projecting, is always afraid a spirit is going to kill him.

The Story so far...

Adventure Part I: There is a huge metaplanar tear over the city of Seattle which is causing constant rain and thunderstorms. Consequently, large sections of Seattle are flooded and transportation is difficult. Life on the streets for the SINless is even tougher than usual, and Shadowrunners that can are using the bad weather to get away with more than usual. The runners are hired to deliver a message to a reclusive Shaman. What begins as a simple courier run turns into a wild goose chase when they discover the Shaman isn't in Seattle and is living in Vancouver. The team tracks down and hires a Coyote to get them out of the city. Once in Vancouver they track down the Shaman only to find out someone else has gotten to him first. They kill 3 members of another Shadowrunner team, but their target has already been kidnapped by the surviving 4th member. The team does manage to get some information from the Shaman's home that hadn't yet been taken. Among the information found is a tidbit that indicates the team's mage is next on a mysterious "hit list". The team investigates the Mr. Johnson that hired the team they killed to find out where they took the shaman. Turns out he's being taken to a safe house in San Francisco. After some trouble with their Coyote and some Ghouls, they cross the border back into Seattle and give Mr. Johnson the bad news.

Adventure Part II: The "Mystery List" contains several names... one of the players amongst them. The players don't seem to care too much WHY one of them is on a hit list, they're mainly concerned with what's coming. The team does some investigation and learns the identity of another team that's been hired to take care of the next people on the list. One of them is a troublemaking mage who is currently in Lonestar custody, but due to be released soon. The group is hired by the same Mr. Johnson to ensure that this man is released from custody and makes it to a safe house unharmed. The team decides the best course of action is to go on the offensive. They learn the identity of one of the rival team members, and literally catch him with his pants down. A huge firefight ensues in the team member's apartment flat. After a few grenades and some gunfire, the rival team member is dead, and the players have his comm-link, which they hope will have more information they need. The players weren't quick enough on the draw though. The rival team member managed to get a message out to his buddies before he ate a grenade. As the team escapes the building and dodges Lonestar who's come to investigate, they realize they're being tailed. A car chase and gun fight follows, lasting for several blocks. At the end, a well placed grenade from the rigger's assault rifle detonates the rival team's car, killing all on board... but not until after the players' car was totaled by gunfire. Leaving the SINer player who owned the car to deal with Lonestar, the rest of the players retreat. A few bribes and some favors called into some contacts later, and the SINer player is back on the street. With the rival team dead, the players are able to pick up the convict mage without too much trouble, and drop him off at the safehouse. The team learns that their employer is a secretive group of Shamans operating out of Seattle known as The Circle of 12. One of the circle's members has ties to a shaman who trained the player shaman of the group. The Circle of 12 hires the team to go to San Francisco and rescue the original kidnapped Shaman. They fear he's due to be moved to another location soon. The team catches a flight to San Francisco. With remarkably little leg-work or recon, the team breaks into the Safe House the shaman was reportedly delivered to. What looks like a 4 star restaurant and apartment building turned out to house a prison specially build for Mages in the basement. The whole operation is run by the Yellow Lotus. The team shoots their way past security guards, geeks the Mage guarding the whole thing, manages to crash the security node of the building using their Agent, grabs the Shaman, and gets out before the Yellow Lotus realizes what's going on. The Shaman they rescued claims he had very powerful magical artifacts in his possession when he was kidnapped. He makes the team help him track them down and pick them up before they head back to Seattle. The team tangles with an old chinese shaman on the edge of town the Yellow Lotus uses to guard such things. One dead Chinese man later, they're on the way back to Seattle. With the help of both Shamans the team rescued, as well as the player who was on the hit list, the Metaplanar rift over Seattle is sealed by ritual magic from the Circle of 12. While everyone in Seattle goes crazy trying to figure out who sealed the rift, and what caused it in the first place, the players spend some cash and karma.

Here's where I'm stuck.

Behind the scenes is a high up executive of Wuxing, and his Shaman in crime henchman. The metaplanar rift was the result of a magical experiment gone horribly wrong. The executive and his shaman have been channel metaplanar energy to attempt to create powerful artifacts which the executive can use to further rise to power inside the organization. The kidnappings were targeted kidnappings of shamans with specific metaplanar ritual magic which was necessary for this executive's experiments. Fortunately the players thwarted those plans. The problem now is that Wuxing suspects that this executive caused the metaplanar tear, and if the information ever became public, it would be a financial disaster for the entire company. Billions of Nuyen of damage was caused to Seattle, the other megacorps, and Wuxing's own holdings.

My idea currently is that I want the team to deal with a Mr. Johnson double-cross. They haven't had to deal with this yet. All their Johnsons have been way too friendly and upfront with them. I was going to have Wuxing learn the identies of the Shadowrunners that were working against them... and then hire those Shadowrunners to take out their own executive. At the same time, Wuxing will have a strike force ready to call in and kill any and all survivors, including the players. Simultaneously, the Circle of 12 is still concerned for the astral health of Seattle. They suspect that the executive's powerful shaman lackey is the real threat. The Circle of 12 will hire the players to take out this Shaman, and return to them any artifacts that he has. They suspect he has access to something very powerful which allowed him to create the tear.

So far I've written a situation where the executive, fearing for his future career at Wuxing, is coming to Seattle with his shaman henchman. He's masking his trip to Wuxing as a business meeting, but he's actually having meetings with another mega-corp to offer him asylum. He arrives in Seattle in 7 days, and he'll be in the city for 3 days. The team has that long to take out both him and his Shaman henchman, who won't necessarily always be in the same place at the same time.

However, I'm not really happy with this, and I have several problems.

How do I hint to the players they're dealing with a double-cross?
When they know they're going to be double-crossed, what do I give them to deal with it?
I've come up with some scenarios where they could target the executive (in the airport, on the road, in his apartment suite, and at a business meeting)
I'm not so sure what to do about the shaman henchman yet.

So the finish line I get to is that the players kill this executive from Wuxing that started all these troubles the players have been dealing with, they save the day by killing a dangerous, power hungry shaman, collect some Nuyen from everyone, cheer, and play the level up music.

I think it needs some serious spicing up, and I need some little side-quests in here.

Maybe someone else can think of a completely better finale to the campaign than I can. If you took the time to read all this, thanks!
I'd be careful about how easily you let on that it's a doublecross. Don't set up the meet at the Admiral Ackbar Cafe and Lounge, you know?

Here's an additional complication: Perhaps all this astral tinkering has attracted the attention of some sort of metaplanar threat or free spirit? That might also throw a monkey wrench into the works for Wuxing.
I'd run a quick run between now and the big run using the same Johnson. Make it something that they pull off rather handily. Not easy, but not too hard either. Have the Johnson play it striaght the whole time... decent pay, all the relevant information, backup extraction plan... thigns to make the players believe he's really on the level. In reality, the run is his way of determining their strengths and weaknesses, and building trust, so when he hires them for the next run they'll be compromised and caught off guard.
One quick Idea:
If the shamman the PC's rescued actually does have a powerful artifact he ought to also have enough juice to hire the runners to find out who kidnapped him and so they'll find out the double cross. This would be a legwork adventure which it sounds like your players need to practice if you can stand the frustration.

In doing the legwork one NPC could drop the hint that their target is going to Dissapear within 7 days. Puting a time limit on success makes legwork more fun for players.

You have a Rigger a Mage and a Face at your table this team is actualy BUILT for legwork. It sounds to me like the Rigger needs to know about spy bots. The shamman needs to learn how to use spirits. The Face needs to start doing his real job, (getting people to tell him thing's they'd never tell anyone else.)

[edit] if legwork doesn't sound fun think of the first half of every Jason Bourn and James Bond Movie. Legwork is Cool.

[edit 2] now that I'm actually thinking about this This really is a James bond movie. The Johnson is a super villan who has the power of astral rifts. The heroes are involved in the perifery of the plott until they find out that the Johnson is about to Jump to another corp where his power will give him a position where he'll actually be less restrained and more dangerous to everyone. It's not just about being double crossed it's about the necessity of stoping this guy!

And if you play it that way you don't really have to hit them over the head with it. Even if they fail to find him and discover the double cross he just continues to get more dangerous and occaisionaly pull the character's strings while they advance and it all comes to a head later. You can just keep him in your pocket and trade a small anti-climax now for a big climax later.

(HMMM. I think I just discovered TANTRIC SHADOWRUN!!!)
I read your write up - congrats on an interesting story. As far as ways to tip your players off to the deathtrap, I did have one idea...

In previous editions, a shaman's Totem was often played as a mentor or guide. You could easily add some mysterious visions and messages from Crow to whatever else they are able to dig up.

A few ideas:

Start by mentioning that the Shaman is having nightmares. He can't recall the details after awakening. On day one, just mention it in passing; day two mention that he woke up in a cold sweat four hours early and couldn't get back to sleep.

After softening him up with that, start narrating the nightmares. For instance, he is up in a tree, overlooking a river in a forest. A dead tree is snagged in the middle of a river; A crow is pearched on one of the limbs. An elk bursts out of the underbrush, running for its life, and wolves come running out of the forest after it. It splashes into the river, and wolves appear on the far bank. The wolf pack leaps into the river, tearing the Elk's throat out; but the river rises and they are swept downstream. The elk carcass catches on the dead tree, and the wolves are swept further downsteam and over a waterfall. The crow hops down and plucks out the elk's eye, and flys away; as the shaman looks back down he is in the river and being driven downstream.

The shaman is standing on the porch of his grandfather's home, and he is holding the sun in his hands. The sun becomes a roaring flame, and then becomes a burning torch. He is told to light the fire, and he enters the house. He walks to the fireplace and lights the kindling, and the fire springs up. The room fills with smoke, and he turns to the door to find the house is on fire. He looks out a window, and a crow is watching him from a tree branch. The flames rise, and the crow flies away.

The shaman is standing on a dirt road on a hill, overlooking a quiet village on a bay. The village looks Chinese, like something from a kung-fu trid. The shaman notes he is holding some sort of javelin or spear. An Eastern Dragon rises from the bay, and there is much shouting. A crow flies away. It crushes some buildings, and the shaman is terrified; he throws his spear, which sails hundreds of meters like a bird to strike at the beast. A great volley of spears and arrows fly out from the village, ripping its wing and bloodying its eye. It roars, and then two more eastern dragons appear. They twist through the sky and breathe fire and lightning at the wounded dragon, and it writhes in pain and dies. The village is scorched to cinders. The shaman looks up to see another gout of flame arching towards him.

The common thread is that the attackers are destroyed, but I'm not sure if your Shaman will put it together before the meet. Just a thought.

[EDIT] I almost forgot - to drive the point home, have Wuxing logos or colors or symbols appear in each dream sequence - the lotus flower drifts by on the river, the house has a lotus blossom in a vase, etc.
Thanks a lot for the additional ideas!

I really like the idea that was mentioned that the astral rift attracted the attention of a rather powerful free spirit. This free spirit could give some sort of assistance to the players, especially since one of the players sealed the metaplanar rift. The spirit might somehow use the players to get back at the shaman who caused the rift in the first place?

Here's a couple ideas I've come up with in terms of the double-cross and such.

- Originally I was going to have Mr. Johnson actually not KNOW that Wuxing was planning on eliminating the team. Wuxing tells Mr. Johnson to hire this specific team, and he simply obeys. Behind the scenes, Wuxing has it's own strike force prepared to go in as soon as the players make their move. I think this might be too difficult. How are they supposed to find out what Wuxing is doing? Instead it seems that Mr. Johnson should know what's going on. In fact, I think that might be the thing to use to tip off the players. Mr. Johnson is very interested in knowing exactly when and where the players are going to hit the executive. This might get the players to do some legwork to try and figure out just why exactly Mr. Johnson is so 'involved'.

- Another idea suggested involved the Shaman's crow spirit. The Shaman player does indeed have a mentor spririt, and I think I've under-utilized it. Once the players get the job, after a few days and some hints, if the players don't start investigating Mr. Johnson on their own, I could have the Crow spirit drop a little hint to the player shaman. Perhaps a dream or a vision, where he sees Mr. Johnson playing a game, using pieces that look like the players as pawns, only to see him "sacrifice" the pawns in order to win?

- I think the players need to have some sort of a miniature run before the executive arrives in Seattle. Maybe as part of their legwork, I need to have them break into a Wuxing facility in order to get information on what / where / why this executive is going to be in Seattle? Mr. Johnson doesn't want to give the runners everything on a plate, of course. This run would be the perfect opportunity for them to also verify that Wuxing has a strike team on standby.

- What do the players DO about the strike team? I'm still sort of stuck on this. They don't have immense nuyen resources to hire an army of goons to take out the strike team. The Circle of 12 is NOT going to want to get directly involved in anything that is going on. Maybe the players can make a deal with the previously mentioned Free Spirit?

- How does the team take on the evil Shaman henchman? I just picked up "Running Wild", so I think this might be the perfect opportunity to throw some cybernetic guard dogs or something similar at the players. They tangled with some Barghests earlier, but those are the only critters they've faced. They've gone up against a few spirits. I was thinking that this Shaman likely maintains a magical lodge in Seattle. Having his lodge in an underground facility guarded by a couple of spirits and come cybernetic enhanced animals might be good. But how do I plant that information where the players can find it?

Thanks for the help so far!

Number one advise to a new SR GM, get an NPC hacker to provide remote support.

Then you can have him provide clues to keep things going

He can also provide interesting tidbits that require legwork from them for follow up.

Make him good at his job and friendly to the group (reasonable rates to get them some good progs and encryption. that sort of thing).

He will either do piece work for a reasonable fee or take a share, but he has to work remote.

If they need to go in to an isolate black site, then they need to rig a comm connection for him.

The trick is make sure they know he has a lot of irons in the fire. He's very good, but always very busy and more than a little ADD.

So they have to tell him what to go look for and remember that he very literally minded so be careful what you ask for.
They do have a couple of hacker NPCs that they've used in the past, but not really actively on runs, more for legwork. This mission is going to have quite a large payout, so they might consider spending a little more nuyen than usual by actually hiring a hacker to help them on the run.

For runs, they have a level 6 Agent that they've used for very simplistic hacking such as "Unlock this door" or "Crash this node". Obviously the Agent has limitations, it usually manages to succeed at what it's doing, but usually also puts the node on alert and gets attacked at the same time.
I like the adventure you have going. I do have a suggestion, but it hinges on how much the players know about the identities of the executive and his pet shaman. Essentially, the run would be this:

The henchman shaman acts as the Johnson. He flies out a few days in advance, and upon landing in Seattle he hires the runners for a mission. Its not a stretch to say that the BBEG knows who the runner team is, so they could track down and hire them specifically. The team is hired to do an extraction, specifically to extract the exec who is behind the whole thing. He will have made arrangements with the new corp he is jumping ship to, and will use that occurrence as an opportunity to take out the running team that may know of his actions.

Meanwhile, the Circle of 12 has also requested that the runner group assist them in looking into the identity of the person responsible for the rift. In doing this, you create a situation where the running group is actively exposing the double-cross that they are about to fall victim of, but won't find out until you let them (contact returning with critical information at a dramatically appropriate moment).

This is a few runs at once. You have the legwork run going at the request of the Circle of 12, the "extraction" run they are hired for, and lastly when everything comes together you have them trying to survive an ambush at the "delivery" safehouse that the exec was to be delivered to. In addition, they could also be in a situation where after the run they need to arrange a meet with the "Johnson" to tie up that loose end.

That would sound kinda fun to me atleast...
QUOTE (Murrdox @ Oct 20 2009, 11:20 AM) *
They do have a couple of hacker NPCs that they've used in the past, but not really actively on runs, more for legwork. This mission is going to have quite a large payout, so they might consider spending a little more nuyen than usual by actually hiring a hacker to help them on the run.

For runs, they have a level 6 Agent that they've used for very simplistic hacking such as "Unlock this door" or "Crash this node". Obviously the Agent has limitations, it usually manages to succeed at what it's doing, but usually also puts the node on alert and gets attacked at the same time.

Well if you want them to do more legwork then user your hackers to put them on the trail to what they need rather than spoon feed it to them.

Remember Agents will rapidly degrade as they fall behind State of the Art.

Also having an NPC voice in the party (that you don't have to run during a combat) is very useful to keep things on track.

Here's the direction I'm going so far. I got a decent amount of writing done on this last night.

- If the team does any serious legwork on Mr Johnson, they'll find out his real name is Brad Wong, a known Wuxing associate. Brad has a bit of a bad reputation in the Shadows. He usually shows up at meets with 3 or more razorboys and a mage, and uses intimidation to get the team to agree to terms of the contract that are favorable to him. He also has a reputation for hiring Shadowrunners for particularly dangerous jobs. In fact, the Shadows were buzzing just a couple weeks ago when almost an entire team was wiped out. Only the hacker survived.

- If the team tries to track down the hacker, they'll find a man who goes by the name of Georgia. Brad Wong hired his group to do a data steal against an Aztechnology facility. Georgia won't take much probing to tell his story, he's still bitter over the loss of his friends. Everything was going just fine with the data steal. Georgia was hacking the system off-site through a remote drone his team brought into the facility and hooked up to the main node. After Georgia got the data, suddenly the Yakuza showed up. The team got trapped inside the facility as a huge firefight broke out, and the Yakuza used explosives to bring the building down. Turns out Mr. Johnson hired them to destroy the facility as cover for the data steal. Mr. Johnson didn't bother telling them about the Shadowrunner team involved though. Poor Georgia couldn't do anything but turn in the data and collect the payout.

- Georgia is more than willing to help the team out against either Brad Wong or Wuxing, for a very reasonable fee. He's even still got some Wuxing security codes that might come in handy. This will set the team up for a data-run against Wuxing to find out more details of the executive's trip. If they do well, they can find out: Specific hotel and travel itinerary for the executive, body-guard detail, his shaman is accompanying him, there is another mysteriously referred to "security detail" on call to watch his movements, and Wuxing suspects that he's going to defect.

From all this information, I think I can get the team to where I want them to be, at least as far as the executive is concerned. The next step is trying to figure out how I let them deal with the strike team that is set to pounce on them. I also still need to come up with something good for the Shaman part of the plotline, I definitely think I'm going to use the Free Spirit idea.

Thoughts or more ideas from other GMs would be appreciated!
Bumping this thread with information from additional ways I've decided to flesh this idea out some more, and some progress the players have made.

Progress - I decided to go ahead with the idea of the "Georgia" hacker from the last post that had his whole team wiped out in a previous run with this Mr. Johnson. There was a lot of great roleplaying going on during the meet with Mr. Johnson, and the players took the bait. They realized this Mr. Johnson is a real tight-ass, and that he's definitely a big fish, and decided to do some homework on him. Some searching on the Shadownet of the Matrix turned up the tidbit about Georgia and his team being wiped out. The team is going to work on getting in touch with him.

I'm currently fleshing out the run the Georgia will take the players on in order to dig up information on Wuxing, this executive, and Mr. Johnson. I'm planning it to be a fairly quick and simple data-grab.
- In order to get the information they need, the team will need to get Georgia access to one of Wuxing's security nodes.
- Georgia still has a few security codes on him that will enable the team to access a Wuxing office building. Georgia typically works off-site, but he has a remote drone that he'll pilot with the players. The players need to hook the drone up to the security node inside the office building, since it's cut-off from wireless access.
- The team can do some legwork to get some basic information about the office building they're breaking into. They'll also need doctored SINs while on the premises.
- Once inside the building the team will need to get past a couple of security checkpoints with the drone. They'll need to come up with a logical reason that they have a drone with them, or hide it somehow (The drone is a mini-drone, so it's portable but not necessarily easily concealable, about the size of a large briefcase).
- The team will need to find a way to eliminate the guards in the security room where the security node is connected.
- To throw a wrench into the mix, before the team can hook up the node to the drone, it turns out Georgia was a little hasty in his setup. He forgot to recharge the drone's powercell to it's transmitter. The team will have to find another power source, and plug it into the drone.

Once Georgia has gotten connected to the node, he picks up several pieces of information that will prove vital to the players.

- The executive's itinerary while in Seattle
- A list of the executive's body guards being provided by Wuxing
- Note that he's being accompanied by his Shaman henchmen.
- Details regarding a security detail on "standby" in Seattle.
- Details concerning a Seattle Wuxing executive John Lee who is overseeing the security detail.

John Lee is how I'm going to let the players bypass the double-cross... if they're careful.

Legwork on John Lee will turn up that he's a security VP that handles security for many of Wuxing's facilities, in addition to providing extra security for high profile meetings, and also defection prevention for Wuxing staff. He also has some interesting ties to the Yellow Lotus triad. Turns out his girlfriend is the sister of a Tim Reynolds, one of the Yellow Lotus elders.

John Lee's girlfriend will be the way to go for the players here. John tends to drop his guard around her quite often, and she's secretly been funneling information to the Yellow Lotus about Wuxing's dealings. She has no loyalty to John, she's just playing him as long as she can to ensure her legacy within the Triad. She also has a rather expensive drug addiction.

If the players can reach her, she's easily bribed with insider Wuxing information, or drugs. She's fond of Tempo, but lately it's been hard to come by. She can get the players the access codes to the communication channels used by the security detail. If used appropriately, a misdirected communication to the strike team should allow the players to successfully eliminate the executive and escape before the security team figures out what happened, and locates the site of the hit.

Comments? Ideas for Improvements?
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