So I'm starting a new campaign next Tuesday. SR3 ruleset, low starting power (Sum to 6, no gear over Availability 4) so that the PCs experience the transition between low/no-tech ne'er-do-wells and professional runners. Basically, they'll be just proficient and equipped enough to be at the beginning of a specialty, rather than near the mid/high end, and encouraged to consistently upgrade as they can scrape together the cash.

For an additional change, instead of instituting a major story arc from the get-go, I'm going to try and see if we can get an emergent story to come out of what I'm calling a "mission web." At its most basic, the mission web will be a semi-randomized set of runs that go in and out of availability, categorized into major groups (wetwork, retrieval, reconnaissance, destruction, etc) and set as Corp A vs Corp B (vs Corp C, Corp D, etc, as necessary), with appropriate obfuscation applied (false flag, anonymous employer, secret subsidiaries, etc) and then a chance for a number of twists (double-cross, extra runner team, etc).

From there, I'm going to build something of a reputation/notoriety matrix of all the factions that the PCs cross paths with (not necessarily quantified), and modify it as the group makes friends/enemies or impresses/disappoints potential employers. Roughly exampled, let's say the team is hired by Cross to steal a widget from a GunStuff, Inc (a secret subsidiary of Ares) truck. While they're setting up to ambush the truck, they discover that they're in the middle of Ancients territory, and decide to make a deal with the Ancients to deliver them everything on the truck that isn't the widget. The team stops the truck, caps the driver for simplicity, and grabs the cargo. They then find out that there's 50k nuyen worth of gun parts in the truck, and decide to renege on their deal with the Ancients. They get chased by the Ancients, but make it safely out. At the end of it, they're noted as being reliable (+reputation), bloody(+notoriety), wanted for a serious beatdown by the Ancients (along with bad word of mouth in gang land, which may be a plus when dealing with people who don't like the Ancients so -Ancients/allies +enemies), and Ares is looking for the people who hit their subsidiary (which if they run afoul of an Ares subsidiary again soon might lead them into some serious trouble).

Now part of this is going to lead to positive/negative TN modifiers in negotiations, higher or lower offered payouts, availability of contacts/gear based on how much heat they're under, and so on, and statuses will decline back toward neutral over time (except if they make an extreme impression). As a group, this will make them have to balance risk/reward working for various corps knowing (or not knowing) they could be getting too visible or making too strong enemies who might want retribution, as well as making them take down-time and lie low for awhile if things are too hot. The more skewed the various factions are, the more likely that someone's going to interfere with them between missions -- say, by crashing a weapons deal, or going after contacts.

The introduction is something I'm calling Milk Run. Each runner is hired individually (for 1250 nuyen, 500 now and 750 later) to sit on a truck that's running foodstuffs (milk included) from a central distribution center out to a corporate children's camp. The truck's route passes the Barrens, and the last truck got robbed by go-gangers. They figure a little muscle will discourage another robbery -- they think someone might be leaking the route. The ride is only about 2 hours long, and the runners need the money for rent. In the middle of the drive, the truck stops.

The driver is faking robberies, and selling the cargo to the go-gang for quick cash, which he needs to pay off some gambling debts. The go-gang is there for muscle and transportation, with the real deal being run by a street doc who's in with the gang and is getting real food and other basic supplies cheap, to help the gang and various unfortunates in the gang's territory.

The driver will try to bribe them to walk off (which will make it harder for them when trying to get additional work). Alternately they might uncover why he's doing it and try to help him (possibly by taking action against the guy he owes money) and net a contact and some cash.

The street doc will appeal to their altruism -- the supplies are going mostly to help people in need -- and if they decide to help just for the warm fuzzies, they'll get a Street Doc contact and become liked by the gang and general street population.

They can kill everyone and keep the truck moving, just taking the offered deal, which will net them some antagonism from the gangs and possibly the guy the driver owes money.

They might turn in the driver, netting them a sizable cash bonus.

In any case, the driver probably loses his job, and might seek out the runners to help him with his debt problems.

Anyway, that was my total brain dump. Thoughts? Suggestions?