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Kren Cooper
Good morning all, and welcome to update #170.
This week, I’m mostly grateful to my players for taking the hint! Splitting the party is something every GM has to deal with from time to time, and having people go off on their own or in a subset of the team to do stuff is something you have to accept – especially when due to plot or presentation it really makes sense for them to do so.
In this case however, I wanted to keep the team together so they can all go off to do the rescue mission together – not have Marius camped out at the workshop doing maintenance on the engines, while Aswon is having adventures in Hong Kong completely separately, and the rest of the team then go off to take on the triads together. Not only would it make entertaining 2 of the players much harder, but they’d miss out on the potential karma awards for doing stuff, and their skills would have to be covered by the rest of the team.
So – dropping hints to Marius that he can monitor the process remotely, and then having the NPC be polite but working around him was enough to send him back to the team, and it was even easier with Aswon…his contact just had to explain that she just doesn’t trust Kai that much! And, back he came too, so now they’re all together and can have the meeting with the Triad NPC.
The actual plot drop went smoothly – the players were ready to react, but didn’t jump the gun, and events were set in motion, the backstory has been teased, hints dropped and now they have the clear objective – their hosts son has been kidnapped and used for blackmail to get their host to come out of retirement for a big fight. We’re well on the way to a cracking 80s martial art movie plot! “No Retreat Blood Kid Sport Karate. Part II.” Or something like that… 😊
They’ve started to work on some magical tracking, psychometry and on the photos and investigate possible locations for the holding cell, which may get them somewhere at the start of next week, but they’re mostly going to have to do a bit of good old fashioned leg work to find some Triad members in the know, and then interrogate / intimidate them, or finesse them somehow – I suspect Tads and her Mind Probe spell is going to feature heavily.
That should lead them up the hierarchy until they find someone who has the actual location, at which point they can get hold of a borrowed transport and plan the rescue mission – while their host Chun has to prepare for the fight, just in case they don’t get the rescue done in time.
That’s all to come of course, and we’ll see how far through that chain we get on Tuesday coming.

As usual, here are the notes from the game session:
1. Monday 13/9/2060, Location: 22.22744, 114.24966, Time: 11:15
2. Matrix site details for Marius to remote monitor. Gets impression he is in the way somewhat. Hand sewing of a seat, painting perfect line in the studio next to them. Marius spots multi-cameras and palm/iris scanners. Spots hypercars in for repairs. Marius calls Nadia to fill her in, hong kong, do you want any shopping. Nadia a bit put out...
3. Rest of team back at the dojo
4. Description of fighters - Hunter looking for speed - Simi
5. Shimazu - Hakim for tumbles and jujitsu
6. Tads goes to kitchen to help stock up after discovering no weapons training. Chuns wife. Quiet, subdued, tired - is Tads after a snack? Replenish offer, confused, Tads does food stuffs
7. Kai - any athletics training. Rudi's class. Ask about Archery - no knowledge.
8. Aswon - goes to nature reserve, meditate, practice breathing.
9. Great lunch after Tads does lots of food prep. Hunter question eyebrow at Tads - nods - piles into food.
10. Positive vibes. Break for tea time, bad guy comes in, smoke, sneers,
11. Chun - take that outside. Nah, you probably want to shut up and listen...
12. Tads - magic fingers - pinch out the cigarette. Takes a drag, ruined mojo, you need to be ready to receive visitor. Checks for psychology from Shimazu (not good), Kinesics from Kai - massive success - blagging it.
13. Hunter prepares to shoot. Quiet enough to drop a pin and hear it.
14. Kai asks if tomorrow is when the room is being fumigated. Looks at Chuns body language - tense but wary
15. Shimazu checks the aura of the room - everyone ready to kick off. Shimazu goes to buffet table for food.
16. Chun says yes to the meeting, she can come, you should go. Hunter stands, noisy scrape, hand behind back.
17. He turns to leave, lights up - Tads puts out.
18. Hunter goes to grab cigarette, he ducks back, Hunter raises gun "no". Turns to Chun - you'll regret this, Hunter grabs the fag, messenger leaves, Hunter sits back down.
19. Chun calms students down, we'll listen to them. Tads tells the team in Russian "he was an underling; he didn't know either". Kai offers to help. Chun says he thinks they are triad, but no bother. Quiet for years. No local gang war. Negotiations last time about protection money, ended up a draw.
20. Shimazu asks Hunter to apologise to Chun for overstepping boundaries. Kai asks Chun if he can speak to students about the triads / protection rackets etc.
21. Chun - fine, no secrets, nothing to hide.
22. Tads sends text to Aswon, talk to Spook, ask about Wa Fan. Shimazu offers to be at the meet for Chun, as protection.
23. Kai talks to students. Get details of residential stays, no students involved with Triads
24. Kai sends info to Aswon. Kai asking about area - small seaside retreat.
25. Students frothing about encounter. Team armours up and gets heavier weapons. Aswon talk to spook to ask about triads. Tells Kai not to piss off the local triads, as we're here for a week.
26. Marius - we should stay out of the way, not draw attention to ourselves, so that if it escalates we can surprise them and do the battle elsewhere.
27. Tads checks LOS for potential meeting areas.
28. Aswon talks to spook, catches up, doesn't know the name Wa Fan, too low down the food chain. Blue Lotus on the up. Aswon asks about Chun - he has pull, she wants more info. One slight racist hassling, otherwise good night
29. Vadim training with one of the teams. Nicola does a training routine with Tads
30. Hunter does blindfold training taking assault rifle apart / back together.
31. Marius - working on the photographic memory next edge enhancement - series of mental exercises.
32. Tads herds people through the wards again at a suitable time.
33. Kai asks about getting into kids room for wards, asks wife, she asks Chun, all ok.
34. Hunter computer search on Blue lotus - 2 successes. Gets basic info. Team wondering what the link is - maybe gambling den, Tads - international students, people trafficking?
35. Spook to Aswon: Spook asks you to head back and just check up on the situation. Chun is a friend, and from what she's seen of the team, Kai doesn't always think long term / clearly, it seems. She'd much prefer to have a cooler head on scene to deal with things and let her know if *she* needs to do anything. Preferably that won't put her in the middle of a triad war, but you know... friends...
36. Tuesday morning - surf run, morning training. Kai goes to workshop. Asks Marcello about Wa Fan. Body language change, not so forthcoming, only mix a little, she not into cars, she's not a member of the country club up the road - but Marcello is. He demos bag of ash. Kai offers part payment - refused.
37. Aswon appears about 11am, tells Kai that he's come back to keep an eye on things for Spook. If you make things awkward for Chun, it does the same for Spook, the same for me, so lets not.
38. Some discussion about taking the fight away from Chuns to the triad if needed, Marius pushing the idea.
39. Wa Fan walks down the beach at lunchtime - lots of assensing, unintiated phys-ad, magical tattoo - defensive trigger+spell,
40. Kai rolls on magical societies and politics - diplomatic immunity, fear of oath tattoo.
41. Team monitoring / listening in. Tads covering the wife and baby. Aswon listening but watching out.
42. Intro in chinese, swap to english, you want the outsiders to listen to the business?
43. Throws pictures of Harley onto the deck, fight in a week, you lose, 6 or 7th round, then he comes back. Or else.
44. She turns and goes, Shimazu assenses Chun - pretty devastated. Examine photos, prison environment, some sign of a beating.
45. Team offer to help, need access to samples, info etc. Chun - sure.
46. Start asking about fight location, details of Chun, history. Aswon - but why him, specifically. Kai - ruin the rep of the dojo?
47. Explain to Nicola - possible back room warehouse, she will investigate.
48. Hunter search on Chun, 48 consecutive wins, some medical accident, retired, disappeared 8 years ago.
49. Ask about Harley - adopted son for 4 years.
50. Marius analyse the photos, secure storage, carful positioning, no identifying features / faces. Analyse photos for faint chemical traces - nothing revealing. Ask if Harley has med conditions - no. Ask where he might go in HK - raves, nothing special. Does he like cars? No, but 300 quid trainers.
51. Kai asks Hunter to go do a forensic search. Tads - no - magic search first.
52. Magic team except Kai toss the room and search for stuff. Find hair and fingernails - pass on the wank rag.
53. Browsing history - rave clubs and clothes shopping, no porn, female martial artists.
54. Plan for next week - ritual tracking.
55. Shimazu - psychometry on photos, 8,7,5,1
56. Aswon ask about a safe house - Chun doesn't have one. Aswon - start thinking about it.
57. Kai back to workshop. Checks - no sign of recognition when he mentions gossip.

The session plan:
Start with Marius - cover security, cleanliness, professionalism, make it clear he can/should leave them to sort the engine, he'll only make things slower. Also explain from initial assessment, that though they will come to an "arrangement" with Chun over the labour, the parts are likely to be expensive due to the specialist nature. Normally the job will cost about 600k - give Marius a clue to go check the CMC / damage control computer.
Give the rest of the team time for training montage / introductions - better descriptions of fighters.
Messenger arrives at tea-time to tell Chun they have Harley, and he will receive Wa Fan tomorrow, to find out what is going on. Messenger is low level flunky, unenhanced, bully boy, knows very little, chosen as an expendable asset, very unsure of themselves and trying to put a brave face on it. Has a badge with 49 on it. Also a flowering Blue Lotus neon tattoo on the breastbone
If interrogated, he works for Wa Fan, the local 415/Accounts master at the golf course. If Chun is involved he would favour listening to her at the meeting first, before getting heavy.
Chun - small town of 'Shek O' on the east side. (instagram, looking over the ropes)
Three sided building, training hall, living accommodation, central courtyard - just big enough for the tilt-wing to land in (very restricted terrain, mountain downdrafts, +6 TN)
Tilt-rotor value= 3million. Damage = 20%, so a book repair cost of 600k i.e. more than the team have. Chun can call in some favours to get some parts, access to tools etc. Pitch is as expensive, though if the team are willing to help out with some stuff around the temple, that would help.
Jobs on site - rewire, cleaning, plumbing, roof repairs, cleaning outside.
Gym is clean, but run down - lots of little jobs needed doing. Keeps meaning to, but always tomorrow. Too busy training.
Chun B6 Q7 S6 C5 I5 W3 R6 Init 4D6+6, CP 7. Human, mid 40s, friendly face, easy going, wheeler-dealer, positive energy, forgetful, slightly disorganised.
Kickboxing 10, all moves, Centering 8 (Counting), TKD 6, Wing chun 5, Instructor 8, Weight training 6, Athletics 8, Biotech 5, Mysticism 5, Tattoos 4
Phys-ad, Grade 5 (Masking, Improved Masking, Advanced Masking, Centering (S+A, Kickboxing), Improved ability Kickboxing 6(3), Increase reactions 3(5), Quick strike (3)
Married, two older children, newborn in the house. Quite westernised, but strong streak of historical culture / mysticism, covered in tattoos with "virtues" e.g Honour, Integrity, Fearlessness
Academy students:
• Harley, Human, Male, Anglo, early 20s, Chun's protege / adopted son
• Nicola, Human, Female, mid 20s, Anglo, senior PT / assistant instructor, A squad fighter / competitor with multiple competition wins. Mundane with top line physical stats
• Simi, Human, Male, late 20s, Carrib, A squad / assistant instructor. Physical adept with boosted fitness / martial arts
• Ismael, Elf, Male, mid 20s, Indian, A squad. Mundane with top line physical stats
• Rudi, Human, Male, late 20s, Kenyan, A squad. Mundane with top line physical stats
• Mikey, Troll, Male, late teens, Bulgarian, A squad. Physical adept with large physical boosts - B13, Q7, S16,
• Hakim, Dwarf, Male, early thirties, Nubian, A squad. Mundane with top line physical stats
• Anna, Female, late twenties, Korean, tall, A squad. Mundane with top line physical stats
• 24 assorted martial arts / K1 / boxing students, mostly very fit and several year veterens in their respective areas, on a 1-4 month residential stays
Blue Lotus Triad
Fe Wang - 49, initial messenger. Human, Male, 19, unenhanced, nervous, inexperienced.
Wa Fan - 415, accountant, runs Shek-O area, has been told to deliver the message that Chun needs to be ready to compete in a fight in a weeks time, and needs to make his loss convincing, or else. Works at the mini-golf as the manager.
Lo Han - 438, Shek-O senior member, commands the forty to fifty strong 49s in the area, and runs various trades/crafts. He told Wa Fan to sort out the meeting, but has not explained all the details yet. Works at the country club, where security is fair-good.
Lee Kee - 483, day to day manager, Lee Kee Store in Big Wave, next village north - 2km. Has a Force 4 hearth spirit bound to protect him by ritual
Blue Lotus in Shek-O, BTL trade, counterfeiting, prostitution are the main vices, with gambling around HK city.

Day 1 - welcome to the gym, examine the craft, arrange for experts to come. Chance to train, relax, explore a little. Nicola with a broken arm - get Tads to heal?
Day 2 - local fabricators come - agree to take the engines to their shop to work on them. Arrange students to carry the engines down the path to town to the workshop. Workshop has good security, should be safe to leave them there (also do luxury car repairs, some expensive cars from around the island).
Day 3 - Harley discovered kidnapped, Triads inform Chun about the fight, Chun stressed about the forthcoming Kumite / Harley / Family. Team encouraged to help find him. Local Blue Lotus Triad member leaning on Chun is Wa Fan, 'works' at the mini-golf
Kren Cooper
Good evening all,
Hope everyone is keeping well in whatever version of lockdown you’re facing… VITAS is still running rampant here, though the NHS is doing their best to vaccinate the country and doing a pretty good job now the government have stopped interfering.

This weeks story is now live, and has been added to the master document, and can be found at:

A little frustrating for some of the players this week – especially Tads, who tried Astral Tracking four times, but never made the target number required. They did do some good scouting though, and got a little bit more information – though I was fully expecting them to find some of the junior triad members and abduct them for a good mind probing!
Still, we have a workable plan for this week, that had a good chance of success, that should lead them to the next higher member of the triad at the country club, that does have some more relevant information that they can follow up on. That in turn should send them out onto the seas in a borrowed boat for a little adventure, and neatly lead them on to the rescue mission. At least I hope so…

Here's the notes from the session:
1. Monday 13/9/2060, Location: 22.22744, 114.24966, Time: 12:30
2. Kai at the garage having just spoken with Macello. Rest of team at the academy.
3. Shimazu explains his thoughts on psychometry. Aswon - thinks they are owing money to someone, act of desperation.
4. Kai calls - spotted Wa Fan at the mini golf. Dressed like an employee, giving orders to some other employee.
5. Aswon - weird, maybe a cover job. Used to launder money.
6. Kai describes her detailing the employee to do the painting on the entrance building. He will stay on obs for a bit.
7. 1 hour passes, first attempt fails - Vadim stunned. Maybe defended.
8. Hunter computer research - older but small triad, now on the up, gaining prestige, Marius thinks possibly from an infusion of cash.
9. Tads suggests looking for big fights to see where they might be asking Chun to fight.
10. Marius - once he agrees, he's probably going to fight, I get the impression personal honour, will keep his word.
11. Shimazu - so do we need to get him? Marius, yes, ideally before she comes back, my personal feeling.
12. Shimazu - can't we just go abduct her and mind probe her, take the initiative. As we'll be on the triads shit list regardless. Marius - that does commit us. Aswon - we can do that LOS.
13. General training with the instructors. Maintenance.
14. Another hour passes, 2nd attempt ends. Tads reports failure. Discussion about astral spotting. Aswon - Possibly get one of the phys-ads to be the spotter. Circle back around to mind probing Wa Fan.
15. Shimazu asks Chun if public / underground fight. Does he know which - no. Where are underground fights held? Psychology tests - Chun looks a bit shifty "could be anywhere". Chun describes typical underworld fight "as far as he knows".
16. Aswon suggests the mind probe more strongly, as a shortcut. Tads - need to find a spot, and she will probably know. Aswon - can't you alter her memory? Tads - I have to touch her. Aswon. Oh - never mind then...
17. Marius - other employees may know - worth a shot? We've all not been seen, might be doable. They may know of places that are suitable, that we can follow up with.
18. now 16:30, Marius looking for laws on personal drones. Nothing too onerous. Suggests going to do surveillance on the beach with the "toy" they got from the Tehran market. Borrow some clothes from students to disguise, go for a stroll.
19. Shimazu see if they can borrow transport - one of the instructors has a vespa, too small to share. Can't fit someone who can both ride and astrally perceive.
20. Try 3rd ritual, Aswon as spotter.
21. Marius spots ramps to underground front and back after setting up his bona fides. After a while spots the entrance name plate for the bar. Marius thinks its a bar run by the triads, with all sorts of vices available. Does more flying, spots no sign of window, but air vents, spots Kai watching the front.
22. Another hour passed, ritual failed, both slightly stunned. Marius - could a spirit search for him? Tads - yes, but blunt instrument, probably set off the alarm.
23. Marius - can we use a spirit to look for places that match what we know? Tads - too many places.
24. Kai reports in - getting dark, keeps being approached by a prostitute, thinks it's a lady boy... Probably going to come back soon. No sight of her for a while.
25. Wait until after dusk, stun gone, resummoned spirits, Tads checks out the bar astrally. Sleezes through ward after finding no holes
26. Main room, mixed emotions, people looking at blobs on the wall, find Wa-Fan, manifest in her room. Accounting, cigarette burning in ashtray, lots of chinese script on text. Surveil for 10 mins - just doing accountancy. Sleaze out.
27. 18:00, team back at academy, no stun.
28. Aswon suggests Hunter try tracking traffic from the bar, and see where it goes. While doing that, Aswon suggests another tracking ritual.
29. 4th tracking attempt, max roll 11 - unsuccessfull. Debate RR, use RR, no better. Both take L stun.
30. Hunter tries hacking - finds a stream of encrypted data heading to the country club, but also aware an enemy decker is zeroing in on him.
31. Wondering if the country club has underground cells. Thinking about drone recon - difficult after dusk, maybe best at dawn.
32. Tads goes for an astral check of the area looking for cells etc. Opulance, care for the grounds, quiet, upmarket, not find any matches for the cell. Widens search to the rest of the golf club, no joy, comes back and sulks.
33. Shimazu - do we know anyone at the country club? Tads- yes, Marcello. Kai confirms. Think about conversation with Marcello - mostly wants to keep his nose clean.
34. Tads sending out a GF spirit to search for a site that matches all criteria listed - not south facing, bars, concrete, overlooking shore etc etc. F5 GF sea spirit sent off, report back to rest of team, Tads goes to bed with serious stun.

35. Tuesday 14/9/2060, time 06:00 - Marius drone flight - give feeling of club, old money, top end luxury, high staff:guest ratio.
36. Report to chun at breakfast - can't find him. Chun: Can't find him or can't find him yet? Can you keep trying? Do you mind?
37. Kai has a "great idea" - know where she's coming from and too, at what time, knock her down, Tads help her up, mind probe her as that's happening.Aswon works out tactics - doable.
38. Marius checks back through footage trying to find her car, looks for cars that match her movement pattern. Narrows it down to perhaps 3 cars? Audi coupe, a BMW saloon, and a Chinese manufacture 4X4, Marius suggests putting an AoD tracker on each of those - Shimazu volunteers, 13 on stealth.
39. Stop there pending beach volleyball scene...
Kren Cooper
Good evening folks,
Well, another week, another session, another writeup – this weeks chapter has been added to

Before I dive into what happened this week, its question time. Just how much is it “fair” or “reasonable” to hit a player with, in terms of plot affecting / based around their character???

So, let’s start with some context… all of my group are adults, and most of them are in their 40s, and have been gaming for 3 decades. The only exception is Tom/Shimazu, who is in his 20s now, but grew up LARPing and around tabletop, and I would say is pretty mature. We’ve also been playing this particular game of Shadowrun for over 4 years now, and they’ve seen a wide variety of plots and NPCs, some of who have definitely been “black hats”, i.e. very clearly at the evil end of the spectrum.
Marius found out a little while ago that Nadia (NPC that they rescued in Azerbaijan) is now pregnant with his child, and after a little bit of RP with her, has reassured her that he will do the right thing by her, and he’s very happy…

I always had “plans” in mind for Nadia, potentially revolving around a couple of situations.
1) Nadia gets a certain way through the pregnancy, and due entirely to natural processes / bad luck, suffers a miscarriage. This prompts a change in her personality, becoming much more bitter / cynical / jaded, and leading her to becoming “harder” and developing more as a Shadowrunner, rather than a support character. Possibly to use as a drop-in in case one of the main team dies – either as a replacement character, or as a temp while we reach an appropriate point to drop in the players new character.
2) Nadia gets abducted by (insert bad guys here – whoever the team have annoyed most legitimately at the point in the timeline that his happens) and held for ransom. From here either:
a. The stress causes a miscarriage, as above
b. Nadia dies, the baby survives if there is prompt medical intervention from the team – landing the players with a situation of having a newborn to care for. Do they fess up to Nadias family and get the child adopted? Do they try to look after the baby themselves? Do they just get it fostered and move on?
c. Nadia survives, the baby dies at/just after birth due to complications from the rescue / situation. Somewhat similar to a, but potentially more of a rollercoaster than option a, causing a more violent personality change
d. Nadia is abducted but uses the skills she learnt from the team to escape / self-rescue, becoming more independent and slightly resentful of Marius who “wasn’t there for her”, even if that’s not his fault – who said life was fair. Potentially that gives him some strong RP too on trying to win her back
3) Nadia has the baby, but due to exposure from some chemical / agent, the baby has a severe disability. Nadia becomes very stressed, suffering post-natal depression, potentially going as far as self-harm, unless the team can intervene – after all they have trained psychologists as well as trauma surgeons to call upon.
4) Nadia has the baby, and discovers she’s one of lifes non-parents. She is completely detached from the baby, not having any feelings of affection for it. She grows to hate it because of the demands on her life, and also to hate herself because of how she feels (or rather doesn’t). How far could she go to deal with the “millstone around her neck”, and do the players catch her, or do they take her word about the “tragic accident”. As an extension to that, how would the team feel if they found out that bunch of people they brutally murdered didn’t actually kill Nadia/Marius’s child – Nadia lied, and abandoned the baby, and they killed a bunch of innocent people?
5) Just let Nadia have the baby in peace, and make her the “normal” trope. No bad shit happens, she stays at home with the baby, managing the base. It’s a relaxing place of calm and happiness for the team to come back to after missions.
So, a bunch of choices there. Some of them touching on areas that could be sensitive for people. All dealing with some adult themes… Certainly I feel that the team are adult enough to cope with them, and they could have strong impact on the game plot and story.
So, here’s the question – if you were playing in an adult themed, long running shadowrun game, and got hit with this plot stick… how would you view it. Is it strong, raw, emotional plot that gives you chance to RP real angst, sadness, anger, hatred, whatever emotion you feel, and to act as a turning point for your character development – for good or bad. Or is that bringing too much RL into your fantasy game, and you just want to smuggle chips across imaginary borders and shoot mafia goons in a high speed chase through downtown. Or is this something you’d be happy to do, but only after the GM had a 1-1 meeting with you to “prepare” you and discuss the impact on your character?
Genuinely interested in people’s thoughts and opinions – would love to read some comments and reasons.

But, back to the story at hand. The team set to this week with enacting the scene from Top Gun, having a beach volleyball game and managed to ambush the Triad Accountant and mind probe the hell out of her, learning the identity of her boss, so they can move up the chain. After that Tads tried another tracking ritual and managed a great roll – a 20+, so managed to get through the ward and locate Harley. Vadim set off in hot pursuit, but got an *awful* roll, meaning it will take him the full 6 hours to find him – so if he tried that, he’d run out of essence and die. Aww….sucks to be an NPC. Still, the team started following as well, leading them to Hong Kong and getting two of the team involved in a quick B&E job, chasing down alternate leads.
So, they’re getting some clues together and will soon discover the Triad have Harley locked away on a remote island, and can look at staging a rescue for him.
Here are the notes from the game session:

1. Thursday 16/9/2060, Location: 22.22744, 114.24966, Time 09:00
2. Kai goes to hide, Tads+Vadim ritual to find, Shimazu to search. 8 successes on search, using bow as material link
3. Astral search - Shimazu gets 5 successes, finds Kai in 3rd floor toilet.
4. Aswon - ask chun and the other fighters if his kid liked to gamble at all, even casually. No - Harley wasn't interested in gambling at all.
5. Hunter looking for Casinos that the blue lotus might have an interest in - 11+5, nothing that shows up on a basic search.
6. Talking with students and instructors on where Harley goes, favourite drinking spots.
7. Harley goes to 3 clubs in particular "Three stripes Central", "Retro Fever" and "Smooth moon", all reasonable nightspots in HK city.
8. Kai suggests looking into local police ops that might have targetted triads?
9. Aswon asks spook to look into 3 nightclubs and the closest casinos to see about triad links, enemies for the blue lotus.
10. Do they try one more tracking ritual? Discussion - probably not worth the risk from stun.
11. Go the volleyball scene, Hunter does the spike, 2 successes on 5s, Aswon does the dive, 5 successes on 5. Tads goes to offer a hand up. Makes charisma test to help, silhouetted against sun, casts mind probe F5, 5 successes
12. Gets all the details from Wa Fan, disenfranchised, angry, has costume.
13. Wa Fan moves on to the house, meets Chun, Kai and Shimazu. Delivers the message, and the tutu. Be ready to go to Macau in 4 days.
14. Aswon - we need to go find the boss maybe? Marius - find him, probe his mind and put a bullet in his head. Talk about going to Macau
15. Hunter nav check - 75 clicks to Macau, but possibly pirate infested waters -
16. tracking attempt 5, 1 X 21 rolled, silver thread leading towards HK. Vadim follows, gets 1 success - base time 6 hours. frown.gif
17. Kai asks about relatives - wife has a sister in mainland china, don't talk that often. Check - harley has no passport. Could they get him over there? Have to find a people smuggler.
18. Rest of team are gearing up. Shimazu and Marius borrow the moped to follow the trail as well. Trail up to HK city, crazy driving, follow the trail to Retro Fever then south towards Mount Cameron, to Bamboo grove apartments, 8 X linked 30 story apartments. F2 wards on apartments. R3 lock+case on outside of apartments, 15 seconds to get the case off, about 3 seconds, hit the service override button. Up the lift to the roof, trail goes up vertically. unable to follow. Marius reports back to the team with status.
19. Shimazu - psychology, possibly the snatch squad bought him here, passed over to a chopper team. Possibly the snatch squad lives here / nearby. Marius checks the local cameras, probably a security office onsite with a host.
20. Local security office, older man (50s), local security company, has a panic button but no monitor, taser baton. R4 maglock, on the super/manager/security officers cubby.
21. Tads worries about dragging heat back to Chun, warns them to mask up. Marius pulls off the case in his hand, over ride button, Go Shimazu! Shimazu runs in, quick draws pistol, sees old man drawing taser and dropping coffee. Shimazu shouts in mandarin "Drop it, hands up!" 11 on intimidate, fails WP check, drops taser baton and coffee which smashes. Polarise the front window hatch, cable tie the guy to his chair, move on to the computer system. Shimazu questions about choppers - guy passes fear test, says no air traffic.
22. Check computers, Marius gets 5 - security system has 50 hours of footage. Turn off the host, turn on - Marius watches the guy log in.
23. Shimazu checks for panic button - finds it. Holds the guy hands, gets the post it note, enter the password. Raid rebuild notice - possibly 4-5 hour scrub time. Take the host - mini tower PC. About 6 hours for shift change. Appealing look for a smoke. Light him up. Shimazu assenses - no longer terrified, resigned, seems happy not to be facing death. Back outside, on the scooter heading back to chuns.
24. Get back late afternoon, Vadim been gone for hours now, team back at Chuns.

Looking forward to hopefully reading some thoughts / comments on the question posted at the start.
Kren Cooper
Good morning all, hope you’ve had a good weekend.
The latest smuggler update is now published and added to the Book 6 PDF found at:
This week the players started out knowing that the magical trace had been successful (Yay – fifth time lucky – hard to argue when the mage gets a 23 on the success check, it would have to be a pretty tough ward / spirit concealment to stop that!), and were waiting for the second mage to do the track. Unfortunately, poor Vadim, the NPC, got an abysmal roll - getting only a single success. So, that means the full base time of 6 hours to locate the subject, and when you’ve only got 6 hours, that of course means you either die in the process, or give up some way short. I’d worked up a narrative of him setting off an alarm / getting spotted, which justified the slow progress, and he turned up back at the base with 2 minutes left before he ran out of essence, being grappled by spirits. If the players did nothing, or dithered, I was going to have him die and they could deal with the RP consequences of that. Well, Tads and Aswon would, while the rest of the team probably wouldn’t care…
But, when he made it back to the beach, and I’d impressed on the players that it was a time critical fight, Tads came up with probably the best solution she could in the time – put her shielding on him and then just blanket bomb the fight with a stunball – and hope she didn’t get a massive handful of 6s that explode into rolls high enough to actually take Vadim out. She didn’t, he was fine, and they got the info they needed – and Chun is now arranging a boat for them.
Beyond that they’ve confirmed to themselves (hopefully) that following the chain up from Wa Fan to Lo Han is the right thing to do, and will lead them to more info. If they do that, I’ll reinforce the data that he’s on an island, being looked after by another part of the Triad in one of 3-4 locations, being moved around to stop him being discovered. With any luck, they’ll get in the boat and go start chasing down those leads, trying to find him.
That should lead us onto the high seas for a few run ins with pirates / smugglers, maybe some engine trouble, a chance at stumbling across some paracritters hiding in the deep blue sea, and then lead on to the prison location where Harley is actually located for a good old fashioned island assault against an army of mooks armed with crap weapons.
After some of the recent fights vs things like the salamanders who had special attacks and were quite tough, I’m just going to throw wave after wave of cheap henchmen at them, lining up one at a time to engage the players and get trounced – provided they do a modicum of sensible planning and tactics. This should feel like a slog, with potentially them having to stop and loot ammo and be selective towards the end due to the extended nature of the fight – but reinforce that actually they’re pretty dangerous as a team, and a good cut above the low level gutter trash. The feel I’m going for is those 80s action flicks where the hero takes on a whole compound of goons, before a climactic showdown with the end of level baddie… Arnie, eat your heart out.
Island hopping should take some time, and if I can work it right, by the time they get Harley, Chun will already be heading to Macau for the fight, and they’ll have to hustle to catch up with him there, to flip over to the next 80s trope – the big martial arts showdown. As it happens, Jez / Aswon has hit my plan square on the head with his speculation – revealing that Harley is safe early in the fight (but not before) so as to cause maximum pain to the Triad plans.
Still not decided which way I’m going with Nadia in the future – only had a single person offer an opinion to the question raised, so will have to see how things go.

So, as usual, here are the notes from the session, so you can see where the story diverged from what actually happened around the (virtual) table…

1. Thursday 16/9/2060, Location: 22.22744, 114.24966, Time 18:58
2. Hunter computer check on recovered DVR - 50 hours of footage, shit quality. No leads, just normal life
3. Kai - is ritual still going, yes - we should end early. Aswon - won't bring him back, just removes trace. Explain tracking theory, time limit. Possible search in Macau using Tads - may lose 2. Kai, maybe close to the cut off time send spirits? Aswon - yeah.
4. Team wait, plan to have Aswon / shimazu up high on astral overwatch. Weather has turned, strong winds from the south and a heavy rainfall / gusting winds - not a storm, but not great.
5. Get to 5 hours, send spirits off to search for Vadim. After asking for likely locations, send to docks / warehouse.
6. 5:58 since Vadim went searching for Harley - big twitch, like a hit to the stomach
7. Vadim appears, being pursued by half a dozen spirits, F4 watchers X 5 and a F6 sea spirit, battering him just in sight of the academy. Vadims body starts to take damage inside to clue the alarm.
8. Aswon spots, radios through to Tads, cease ritual, get here, calls Vadim to him. Tads heads out physically. Others head out with guns in case spirits manifest. Kai stays with Vadims body, medkit ready. Tads shouts for everyone to get inside. Aswon spots what is attacking and that they are grappling. Tads gets out the front with M+H.
9. Tads puts shielding up and goes for Stunball,F5 cast at M, 6 successes vs watchers, 3 vs sea spirit vs 2 and 1, net of 4 and 2. Watchers take D, sea spirit takes S. Tads soaks. Tads goes to control - gets 5 successes, summoner gets 9 - attempt fails, tads drains.
10. Aswon sprints, takes the spirit out. Aswon - everyone in the ward, the summoner may be coming. Hunter picks up Tads and runs.
11. Tads mind link from Hunter to Vadim, so Hunter can use image link and project what he sees. Tads casts and takes L drain.
12. South to island, round in circles, south to another, round, south west, possible cell, trip alarm, spirits chasing him.
13. Aswon - feels like they are trying to make it difficult to track, astrally aware / potent enemies. Theorises moving from one safehouse to another.
14. Tads - can we check the buildings out, see if they're owned by the same corp for instance?
15. Kai - Lo Han is the next target then. Wa Fan is the firewall/cutout - doesn't know. Aswon - I think Tads is right, check out the buildings now we have a location in a few hours, once the alarm has gone down.
16. Plot route - Kai rolls smuggling, thinks its a weird journey. possibly the journey covered by a more routine flight. Aswon thinks it's weird going into the buildings - maybe under false intentions. Tads - were the photos staged? Shimazu, look at the photos, check body language.
17. Chun - is it ok to come out now? Everything ok? Tads - spirits, best to hide, ok to come out now. Dinner in 20 mins. Did you find him? Kai - some progress...Kai - some connecto to the island chains - do you know anything. Possible triad bases / informants. Do you need a boat? Yes - ok, I'll go make a call.
18. Kai summary - three threads. 1) Nightclub, cameras, people, snatch squad, 2) Mini-golf club/bar - paperwork/tech/people, 3) Lo Han - phones, computers, other people at the club.
19. Tads - surprised if 2 has more info, she's the accountant, she is probably the top and knows nothing. Aswon agrees. Tads - thread 4) hop down to the islands to recon. Kai - oh do that regardless. I think 1, limited info but it might be easy, not triad. Dwarf Lo Han - security issues.
20. Tads - we could neurostun him, then mind probe him - as long as he's not an overseer with minions. Wary of him being a cutout in the chain. He may have limited info.
21. Aswon - have we asked Chun if he knows Lo Han. Someone knows Chun and has it in for him. Kai - it does seem persona. Aswon - fight in a tutu or chop his son up, it's definitely personal. Hunter research chun's opponents. 11+7+4, working on list of 48 opponents. Tads - is the tutu linked in any way? Kai - is anyone good with gambling?
22. Tads - Shimazu, can you check the tutu psychometry in case it's personal. Try, get nothing - feels new, pristine. Kai - if he's wearing a tutu and he loses, how much will it damage his rep. Will look like a setup. Aswon - but he has to sell it and he's still a kickass fighter. Kai - ask about gambling - tripple ones, total botch. Investigate the fight commission. Marius explains how it would actually work - Kai suspicious.
23. Aswon - we need to do the reveal about round 3, suddenly change things up. Throw them off balance. Aswon - rather not put chun through anguish and just rescue the kid and NOT fuck over the triad, but have to take it. Possibility that Harley was in on it, but is now betrayed.
24. Head off for dinner, rest of students curious, get to chat to Chun, ask if harley has new friends recently - no. Kai name drops Lo Han. Talks about triads. Shimazu picks up moment of shame from chun, Hunter spots tension. Kai asks the wife for a rare ingredient - give her a hand. Ask her about Lo Han/Chun. Tells them Lo Han wanted Chun to keep fighting, Chun beat him. Convinces her that they are trying to get Harley back as #1 priority. Waves smelly stuff at rest of team "found it"
25. Marius - probe him and kill him, snatch and grab. KISS. Kai - it has merits. Marius - they decided to escalate, involve people, go beyond business. Aswon - justify with the killing from the betting. Using a personal edge to create a business opportunity. Don't get the triads after us. Knock him out, golf ball to the back of his head, leave him on the green, altered memory.
26. Tads - work out what the deal is with Chun, did he fight for the triads, what is the link. Aswon - yeah, Kai - get him to spill, interrogate him, get him to spill.
27. Kai and Shimazu take Chun for a walk, to talk to him. "Chun, noticed you tense with Lo Han...something upset you" Tells story broken nose, betting. One other person there, pulled a knife, you're next, took him to Hosp, Kai asks and gets permission for a mind link - does the link with Hunter, gets a picture. Lo Han permanently disfigured.
28. Tads - Lo Han feels like the next step. His house is probably protected - so maybe get him at work?
29. Can we get into the country club - probably, exclusive but security not too tight.
30. Check the nightclub for security people - Lo Han's minion
Kren Cooper
Morning all! Another week, another session, some more procrastination!
This weeks writeup can be found at as usual…
A weird session – we were a tiny bit late starting, but we didn’t seem to go off topic much – yet we really didn’t achieve very much at all. There was a lot of rehashing events from the last few weeks, and having what felt like the same conversations again (which I hope people will be glad to hear didn’t make it into the writeup!) before we made any progress moving forward. However, at least we’ve done a bunch of astral scouting and confirmed details, and they *know* Lo Han is at the club, lives there and where to find him. They’ve also cottoned on to the location of the fight, that it’s a very big deal and have a broad understanding of the Triad plan, and how they can mess it up. So – whether that actually translates into in game action, we’ll have to see.
With any luck, next Tuesday they’ll break into the Country Club, get Lo Han, mind probe him and find the next link in the chain, realise they need a boat and then head out to the island to go rescue Harley!
This actually puts us fairly close to the timescale I had planned for this segment of the campaign – so I guess I shouldn’t complain about them being what feels like a little slow at times!
13/09 Day 1 - welcome to the gym, examine the craft, arrange for experts to come. Chance to train, relax, explore a little. Nicola with a broken arm - get Tads to heal?
14/09 Day 2 - local fabricators come - agree to take the engines to their shop to work on them. Arrange students to carry the engines down the path to town to the workshop. Workshop has good security, should be safe to leave them there (also do luxury car repairs, some expensive cars from around the island) First messenger from Triads
15/09 Day 3 - Harley confirmed kidnapped, Triads inform Chun about the fight, Chun stressed about the forthcoming Kumite / Harley / Family. Team encouraged to help find him. Local Blue Triad member leaning on Chun is Wa Fan, 'works' at the mini-golf
16/09 Day 4 - Successful ritual to track Harley, failed search on the link - alerts the Triads. Vadim attacked and delayed on moving back.
17/09 Day 5 - Chasing down the Triads in town, leading to HK proper, work up the chain turning people until they get a lead
18/09 Day 6 - Boat out to Ngon Chong to rescue Harley - do surveillance, find him
19/09 Day 7 - Launch rescue attempt.
20/09 Day 8 (Monday fight night) Travel to Macau to the arena SW of the airport, with Harley safe, get to arena, see Chun getting battered, then when Harley is shown to be safe, he turns on the gas and steamrollers the opponent. Triad boss in the front row with senior enforcers, makes a move on Chun with firearms. Players decide if they want to intervene or not....
21/09 Day 9 - back to engines / other tasks
22/09 Day 10
23/09 Day 11 - engine repairs complete.

Here’s the notes from the session (you can see how few of them there are!
1. Friday 17/9/2060, Location: 22.22744, 114.24966, Time 06:00
2. Morning run - Kai and Marius not, all else go. Nicole leading, supremely fit.
3. Shit, shower, shave, breakfast, Tads tops up supplies.
4. Finish brekkie by 08:30
5. Tads - he's using a lot of resources to hold Harley, especially as he's a martial artist.
6. Aswon - but if they're using a cover, like a supply chopper, that may be no extra cost.
7. Tads - I'll take spirits with me this morning if we go exploring. Aswon - can you leave one? Take the rest, it makes sense.
8. Discussion about how magically powerful the blue lotus might be, they might know that spirits got to the beach. Wa Fan might have reported.
9. Kai - underworld politics check, if we disappear him, what will be the fallout? Probably police involvement, full forensics, big investigation. Marius in favour of killing everyone, Aswon - whoah, whoah - proportionate response.
10. Tads does a good look around the academy - 11,10,9 - all clear. She and Vadim go to do astral scouting
11. Marius goes scouting again with the drone - spots fence, easy climb up the cliffs,
12. Planning to get to the country club via woods / concealed route for ingress.
13. Marius suspects the country club is a front / owned by the Triad, provides influence over the rich and launder money.
14. Aswon - and he might not be the groundskeeper - just a cover. Maybe.
15. Tads+ Vadim scouting, find old coastal excavations, matches Vadims description,14 on stealth, don't get spotted, spot mage, assense, get Sig,
16. Spot the number of the store rooms, corridor out and up back to the island. Loop around, report in, head back, examine rest of buildings. Spot fishing village / local weaving, nothing interesting, no harley, back home.
17. 10:00 - all back together.
18. Last possible option - to check the night club, generally decided bad idea, likely to tip them off.
19. Aswon planning on getting in, worrying about Tads in - levitate+invis, worried about wards, Plan for Tads to go in about 9pm for scouting, pre a 1-2am actual insertion.
20. Marius - do we think the triad will not trust mages? Old school? Talk about Wa-fan being a phys-ad, having responsibility. Rest of team don't think so.
21. Kai - should we assume bodyguards? Aswon - yes, def. Shimazu - bodyguard check, probably light, defence in depth, doesn't go out much.
22. Tads goes for a scout. Apartment over office, F1 wards, spots secretary, assense - cyber skull, quiet secretary. Kai - maybe mind probe the secretary. Aswon, double mind/probe/alter memory duty for tads though... double exposure to risks. Marius agrees not to take the 2nd risk.
23. Sword stand at end of bed, box with F5-6 ward. One bed apartment, lots of art / tapestries.
24. Nicole raps at the door - need medical attention, Rudi has been knocked out
25. Healers go down, Tads reminds all to go through the wards, they do.
26. Rind Rudi in the gym, knocked out, shattered skull, D stun overflowed to M physical. Biotech from Kai/Shimazu, then Tads fixes all damage with 8 successes left over into time.
27. Kai taks Chun aside, check on how he is. He needs to sell it, needs to get into practice. Training with the instructors to get his edge back.
28. Tads offers to help with his dodge training. Aswon - are you willing to risk lethal damage, we don't have practice weapons,
29. Tads - who is he fighting - do we know? Aswon, we don't know. Thinks about it - know knows it's in Macau, get Hunter to do research, big fight in Macau, full bill, some deathmatch - now have the deadline / location. Aswon - may have to extract, from the arena. Marius gambling check - big legitimate betting.
30. Aswon - security will be extensive, if not especially tight. Marius - good camera coverage of the place.
31. Kai - underworld politics - they might not be planning on giving him back. Just one more job... just something to bear in mind.
32. Stop for the night, about midday in game
Kren Cooper
Good afternoon all. Episode 175 is published, and added to the end of Book 6:
This week, we finally got around to going to meet Lo Han – breaking into his onsite apartment after hours, knocking him out and then rifling his brain with mind probe – so the players finally discovered the instigator of the plan and some solid details on what is going on. From this they now have a really solid lead on the guy who actually shipped the kidnap victim out of Hong Kong, and if they go an interrogate him, they can find out which island he’s on and go stage a rescue! At least, that’s the plan…
We also had a weird experience – the bloodthirsty pacifist. Tads is played by Ali, who is normally a utility healer kind of player. She’s generally on the good side of the morality spectrum, plays lots of clerics, druids or healers, doesn’t like violence and prefers to find a diplomatic solution to problems and is very much story driven rather than combat focussed.
So, I knew I’d hit the NPC on the head when part way through the mental interrogation she looks straight up at the camera and says “I think we ought to kill this guy, in cold blood, right here and now.” And it was up to the rest of the team, the bloodthirsty baying mob normally to talk her out of it.
So, I decided to bake that into the narrative, having Tads display some issues about what she could see and experience during the probe, and setting up the character for future issues. While I was out walking the dog late one night, I was thinking about the scene, and I flashed back to the encounter with the Wolf tribe, where her totem turned up and manifested as they were due to be sacrificed, saving them and making the point that not all herd animals are prey… and then had a good long think about the nature of morality and such like.
After that, it was time to have a chat with Ali (which was fortunately easy to do, just ambush her one morning when out with the dog for walk #1 of the day) and talk to her about possible options for her character. What I outlined was a potential for some nudging from her totem, in certain very select situations, where suddenly she could go from her typical fairly quiet playstyle to a full on raving lunatic death machine, as she decides that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one, or that the best way to save the lives of people she cares about it to cast a high force extended area effect manaball with all the dice. *ALL* the dice. No, Ali, don’t save any for drain. Just kill. Good job, now fall over… *grin*
This would be somewhat poetic in a way I think – it was Ali who got the first kill of the campaign – moving the bridge over a river gorge with an illusion spell and sending a car full of people plummeting to their deaths – and a good reminder to the rest of the team that a high grade shaman is a dangerous foe, even if normally she’s all fluffly and light and carebears.
So, I outlined this to Ali, who is still considering the direction. I’m not going to force her down that route if she doesn’t want to, as I don’t want to mess with her character too much – at least not as long as she follows her totemic path anyway.
We’ll have to see how that goes.

As usual, here’s the notes from the session:

1. Friday 17/9/2060, Location: 22.22744, 114.24966, Time 12:00
2. Kai checks on Chun. Shimazu trains with Chun, determines he is a phys-add, penetrates masking. Explains to chun, Chun says he's not magic, just good. Where are we with getting Harley back? Kai - following up on stuff tonight.
3. Marius checked on engines, about 50% done, extensive list - Marius warns Kai this is likely to be expensive... then goes out with the drone to do more recon on the country club.
4. Aswon calls spook re getting into Japan. brief chat - updates her on progress, bribes too expensive - need some shadow source, I'll look into it. Spook will call back
5. First scouting about 10pm, Aswon and Hunter, climb checks vs 4s, then stealth check through the grounds - Aswon (5), Hunter (13). Get up the cliff, broken, but strong. Stealth over to building, hide and observe - Aswon 21, Hunter 15. Wait 30 mins runner, box, in the rain, heading to main building, assense, wait 30, guy comes back, 5 mins, leaves heads home in cheap electric 2 seater. 10 mins later Lo Han comes out. Brolly, up stairs on corner, in apartment, heating on, Aswon thinks he heard sound, music playing - Chinese percussive.Heat bloom spreads a bit. No visible outside security on windows.
6. 23:15, Lo Han goes to bed, apartment starting to cool. Wait until 12:30. Club still lit up and open, but quiet. Tads sleazes in, checks, he's asleep. Goes to Hunter and Aswon "he's asleep". Hunter sleazes up, lock is a Sheng Dong 2000R - fairly basic. Like the Sheng Dong 500 at the apartment, press on the top left corner. Str check, hits the override button, door pops.
7. Sneak in, Aswon trank patches, R6 four successes, well out.
8. Make sure Tads and Shimazu are both wearing very dark colours and have face and head covered, and ask Kai to ask his spirit to conceal us. Levitate up a lot, and then try and aim slowly down from a decent height to land outside the door of the apartment.
9. Aswon assesses sword (lots of 1s) tourist trap bling, sees the box, well made, qood quality.
10. Shimazu assesses sword, 3 successes - ceremonial, symbolic, not a war weapon, but very highly desired still.
11. Tads mind probes - 11 successes Gets the details of the plan, ask about the box. Ashes of grandparents, mark of respect. Sword, was his grandfathers, triad oaths. Details of setting up Wa Fan as the fall girl, who his boss is in Big Wave, plans for advancement.
12. Team discuss what to do - Marius, go to appartment 2709, Kai suggest spilling to Wa Fan, getting her to step over Lo Han, in exchange for keeping chun / team safe.
13. Tads gets from Lo Han he *hates* chun but is also *terrified* of him, full of self loathing and disdain for self, which fuels his hatred and rage.
14. Tads suggests just killing him (hesitantly) Aswon - be clear. Shimazu, we lose our leverage over Wa Fan then. Aswon - we need to stop Chun's kid being kidnapped, or the next person along will do the same again. Marius - not a threat, just make it a business transaction. If we remove Lo Han, Wa Fan will get the promotion. Shimazu - if the triads lose all this money, they'll kill Lo Han... aswon - true, let's not make a hasty decision. Get details of Lo Han and his contacts - lots of people. Tads suggests mind link to Hunter to hoover information. Magical common sense - might be suspicious. Alter memory might be needed. Aswon suggests chain of thoughts leading on to some dirt on key players.
15. Gets half a dozen bits of juicy info x-linked to hunter. Kai asks if he's banging anyone - just prostitutes, too ugly to score. No surveillance in the apartment. Tads - does he think his grandparents would be proud - yes, he's doubletalked into it. Get more details of how he's setting up Wa-Fan for a fall / minor part.
16. Drop mindlink, recast levitate, get out quietly, remove trank patch, all back to the base.
17. Hunter: before Aswaon and myself leave (last) we check the floor for marks we have made even if its to flatten the pile on the rugs/carpets
18. 12:45, back at Academy, all done.
19. Plan, get to the apartment with stuff hidden, break in and deal with.
QUOTE (Kren Cooper @ Feb 27 2021, 03:26 PM) *
I always had “plans” in mind for Nadia, potentially revolving around a couple of situations.

A bit belated here but what did you do with the Nadia situation?

Depending on the player and how attached they were to Nadia OOCly, I would have done 2b (Nadia dies, team rescues baby) or 5 (domestic bliss).

I like 2b personally because it's a genuine curveball. Could be humorous, could be a real complication for their lives previously in progress.

The "why do you play" question is very valid. I've had players who just want entertaining escapism and who don't want to think, and others who want to immerse themselves in the world and feel. It's a false dichotomy so I'll oversimplify and say that the in-person gaming leans toward escapism and the play-by-post gaming leans toward immersion.

That said, I always ask my players about their boundaries. Almost everyone is down for everything, but the one answer that comes up repeatedly is "no violence against children". I respect that and, as a father, would probably answer the same. As such, I personally would scratch any storylines where the baby comes to an untimely end.
Kren Cooper
QUOTE (Tecumseh @ Mar 25 2021, 11:30 PM) *
A bit belated here but what did you do with the Nadia situation?

Depending on the player and how attached they were to Nadia OOCly, I would have done 2b (Nadia dies, team rescues baby) or 5 (domestic bliss).

I like 2b personally because it's a genuine curveball. Could be humorous, could be a real complication for their lives previously in progress.

The "why do you play" question is very valid. I've had players who just want entertaining escapism and who don't want to think, and others who want to immerse themselves in the world and feel. It's a false dichotomy so I'll oversimplify and say that the in-person gaming leans toward escapism and the play-by-post gaming leans toward immersion.

That said, I always ask my players about their boundaries. Almost everyone is down for everything, but the one answer that comes up repeatedly is "no violence against children". I respect that and, as a father, would probably answer the same. As such, I personally would scratch any storylines where the baby comes to an untimely end.

Hi Tecumseh! Thanks for the question.
In terms of what has happened with Nadia - nothing yet. The pace of our game is quite slow - 176 sessions, over 4.3 years and we're on Day 292 of the campaign - so what I'm looking at doing is still in the future. Nadia is "due" about day 375, so still a little way to go.
I'm now looking at a variant of Option 2 involving Saeder Krupp. Marius is a "child prodigy" according to his back story, and he's taken Exceptional Attribute (Intelligence) as an edge, and is pushing his Int score up. So I thought... maybe he's not just naturally gifted... what if he's the result of some careful gene-tech experiments done by SK? And now they're pissed at him for leaving home? So... Nadia gets to have the baby, and experience option 5 - for a while. All is bliss, happiness and light, with the child growing up showing signs of exceptional intelligence and cognitive functions too, coming along really strongly. Run with that for a few months, let family life settle and play up how nice it is for Marius to come home to his wife and kid. And then have the SK hit team swoop down in the middle of the night, gas everyone at the ranch, and take the baby. And for a kicker, they take it back to Marius's parents - explaining how Marius was MIA, presumed KIA due to enemy corp action, but they managed to retrieve his son, and the corp loves them, and wants to raise the child, as a fitting legacy / memorial to Marius. The parents are both loyal SK wage slave scientists, so with a bit of DNA testing can confirm that the child is their grandchild - and will then raise it in the SK enclave they've now been moved to. And SK gets to continue their gene-tech research on raising intelligence, recouping some of the lost ground - and Lofwyr gets to spit in Marius's eye and prove he's not beyond his reach.
That should provide a nice "A" level threat / long term goal for Marius and Nadia, and remind them of the power and reach of the mega-corps and also split them on their dealings with Dragons - so far Aden is edging towards the friendly side of neutral, and they've taken a job from Ryumyo and Lung who are both ambivalent to the team - so having another great be on the "bad guy" list will be nice. At least for me... wink.gif

Interesting take on the approach to gaming. We used to do everything around the table until VITAS put a stop to that, and we shifted to online via Discord - but we've been playing the same games as before. The smuggler game is a slow burn campaign, with full consequences and hopefully all of the feels, while the Friday night Pink Mohawk is much more casual entertainment in a lower consequence environment where the real weird and wacky characters come out to play. Wednesday night is a Black Trenchcoat but with some much newer players, and is probably a half-way house. But for me personally I've not noticed any difference between in person and online - perhaps because I've never tried a forum / play by post style game...

But, thanks for the feedback and thoughts Tecumseh, it's great to get some feedback from another Player/GM, and someone looking in from the outside!

With that said - we return to our scheduled programming!
Good morning folks. Another week, another grind at the millstone, but another refreshing outing to the sixth world for our weekly escape from banality where we get to annoy dragons and curse immortal elves – this weeks writeup for session 176 is now published, and can be read at the end of

After pulling the information they needed from the local triad managers brain, they’ve unlocked the next chain in the links that will lead to Harley, and now have the details of the triad boss that arranged the kidnap and delivery – so they can now find out the location where he’s being kept.
With that sorted, the NPC Chun came through for them with a set of wheels, letting them make the journey into the city, to go raid the apartment block as a team. Stopping for some disguises on the way, they raided their stash and remembered that I’d given them a large container of Neurostun on the journey out of Japan – and that this was the perfect time to use it.
With a bit of astral scouting they determined there was a spirit in the apartment, and I had a moment of surprise – as did the rest of the team – when Shimazu mentioned that he wasn’t down will attacking it. Some RP followed, and the team had to “persuade” him to consider fighting it, and listen too and respect his beliefs. Didn’t see that coming, but it was nice to see the RP side of Shimazu coming through.
Once at the apartment complex, the actual break in went smoothly (as it should, security was not good), they got the gas hooked up, and Hunter managed to not botch the gas delivery with a re-roll and some karma spent (otherwise it could have been *really* embarrassing for them!), and we’re ready to do the break in to the apartment block. They need to deal with the spirit, but that shouldn’t be too hard, and then do another mind probe and decide how they’re going to handle the people there, then they can head back to Chun’s, drop off the van and get in the boat – heading for the secret island base of the triads on the rescue mission.
At least that’s my plan. What the players are going to do is anyone’s guess….
This brings us up to Day 5 in Shek-O, of my planned 11 day layover to get the bird fixed. That means they’ll be almost 50% of the way through the month, and should add a perception of time pressure to get round the rest of the volcanos, as well as a bit more respect for not flying through volcanic ash clouds!

As usual, here are the notes from the game session:
1. Saturday 18/9/2060, Location: 22.22744, 114.24966, Time 02:00
2. Sleep, exercise, breakfast, planning: Aswon - non-lethals and hollow-points, apartment walls might be paper thin. Maybe take out the whole apartment with neurostun - should be non-lethal. Check for allergies. Marius - I like this idea more. Kai - what's the antidote... just time. Marius - we need a van... Tads - can we hire one? If we're not doing anything bad in it? Aswon - absolutely we can. As long as we can tie it back to a SIN. Kai asks Chun. Chun suggests hire from the airport - Aswon, needs to be off the books ideally. Kai - can we do a vehicle mask? Tads, yes - but not at the same time as the mind probe. Marius - we need to get a van, get rid of the transponder. Team look at where the grid guide is / is compulsory. Some plans to stay on back roads, avoid grid-guide, mask and change appearance
3. Chun can get hold of a small panel van - 2 seats up front, separate rear, used for park maintenance - team accept, van will arrive 10:30
4. Kai - what info are we after then, and how loud? Tads - ideally, get Harleys location without them knowing we have it. Aswon - work out how to deliver neurostun. Tads suggests Kai has a chat with Chun re being an adept. Aswon - don't do it now, he doesn't need the crisis of faith this close to the fight. Tell him after. Shimazu check to think about - some kinds of advanced masking. Agree not to push it until after the fight.
5. Aswon think about how to introduce neurostun - probably via the HVAC given the quality of the apartment. Kai - priority then is to get info from the boss, can't wait until tonight based on time, have to go in daylight. Marius - do matrix search, uniform for HVAC engineers, get disguises, go in as workmen.
6. Hunter matrix search - looking for uniforms, Brown coveralls, velcro patch. Fairly standard gear.
7. Marius gets details for initial quote on repairs - 600k. Spook contacts Aswon - details of Harikona.
8. Team - shit, how do we get the money. Kai - maybe ask the dragons for cash, or bet on Chun, Aswon - do wards?
9. Aswon - and we want to be careful about how much we're relying on alter memory. And besides, I'm worried about Tads. Ngun Hai is likely to be just as bad as Lo Han. Tads - cull the heard. Marius - we need to be careful that killing him doesn't make them move Harley. Aswon - maybe use influence to treat Harley better as he's valuable. Kai - maybe we can still flip Wa-Fan. Aswon - that's all on you. Underworld politics for Kai - knows this will be very difficult.
10. Van arrives, small suzuki, separate cab, 30 mins work to disable the transponder or put in a switch.
11. Put up a F6 masking ward on the inside of the rear - 6 successes, 1 week, all successes into time, 1 hour. Marius 30 mins on transponder, Chun reminds them about the boat - agree to drive by to check it out.
12. Tads goes back to the island to check the Harley cells, see if he's been put back, and check 2709 to see if Ngun is there. Team has gone to get overalls and supplies, meet back up. Then Tads goes to scout 2709 - spots and sleazes alarm/masking ward in, spots the ancestor spirit - 9 vs 9 on stealth/spot, sleazes back out in nick of time, dogleg back to vehicle. Tads briefs team on astral complication. Aswon - shouldn't be too bad, bound to the apartment, probably guards against astral threats only - Tads estimates its a bit less powerful than Vadim. Plan is to leave Vadim in the van to guard it.
13. Kai - how do we deal with the spirit? Marius - weapon foci. Shimazu - spanner in the works, I'm not keen on actually attacking it. Aswon - can always try diplomacy, probably bound to an item or the house or something. Maybe Tads could try diplomacy, or threaten it with overwhelming force.
14. Kai - do we know of any offerings or anything like that we can use to appease the spirit once we've knocked the people out?
15. Shimazu - rolls on Shinto, probably set to defend, just don't attack.
16. City centre jam crash in the tunnel under the harbour - light traffic out here, good travel
17. Arrive around 12:30, get parked up ok, Hunter leans on case hits the reset button - Str check 27, into the insipid lobby, smells of piss, into the lift up to floor 27.
18. Check the stairs first - dirty, not well travelled, look for the riser cabinet, find it - same locks as downstairs, calls Hunter, pop the case open no problem. Into the utility cupboard - it's a shit tip, all unlabelled. Engineering roll - just a success, find 2709, 10 minutes to get into the HVAC
19. Spot the camera dome on the t-junction, Aswon prepares a gaffa blindfold for the dome. Tads checks the apartment out, gets a layout.
20. Quick scout - spirit is playing with the small child, mom is tidying, the blokes are watching trid. Tads sleazes
21. Aswon filters and listens for movement/people. Marius - we should stick to the plan, just plan for the spirit being more hostile. Aswon - can we fake up a parcel that needs a signature? Marius - just stick to the plan, what's the issue. Aswon - the spirt is almost certainly going to be hostile, it was playing with the kid. Shimazu - I don't want to have to deal with it, I would if it was simple, unthinking. Kai - they're not honourable, think about what they did. We try to keep the kids safe, not the adults, but we don't let the spirit deal with us. Aswon - knock on the door, claim a gas leak, Chemists roll - makes sense. Aswon thinking this is a good plan, depending on what the spirit does it still works. Kai as the medical expert for the gas company, while the team do the maintenance, and cover Tads while she does the business. Check with Shimazu - are you happy. Begrudging...
22. Hunter engineering test, 1+4, RR, still a 1, spend 1GK, starts working. Thumps and child stops yelling - gas is working.
23. Aswon leans around and puts gaffa on the camera
24. Stopping for the night.
Kren Cooper
Good evening everyone! I hope people are well, and ready for another dive into the sixth world – this week’s writeup for session 177 is now published, and can be read at the end of
A somewhat short session this week – we lots Hunter and Shimazu about half an hour before the end of the session when their home internet died completely, so with two people out (and given where we were in terms of the plot) it seemed like a really good place to call if for the night. Along with the assault on the apartment going like clockwork, with no complication, and a fair chunk of plot exposition / dump as they raided the NPCs head with the Mind Probe, it made for simple notes and a short(ish) writeup – only 7611 words this week.
The players have now got pretty much all of the jigsaw pieces in hand – they know why Chun is being blackmailed, by whom, who is helping, and have a broad understanding of the bad guys plans and how to foil them. They just need to get the location of Harley from the mage on the island so they can go stage a rescue, and then it’s time to rain on someone’s parade in a very major way.
Next week will be either a stealth insertion and very tactical takedown of the mage – or someone will get seen and it will go loud and get very messy I feel – a very binary swing. Even if it goes noisy, between Aswon and his sniper rifle, Hunter and his assault rifle and Tads backing them up with Great Form spirits, Shielding and big ass stunballs, I think it will all be over *very* quickly – there would just be a huge amount of forensic evidence left lying around to deal with.
Whichever way they go though, it will start a 2nd clock for the triads to realise that *something* is going on, and to try and work out what is happening – though I’m trying to put myself in their shoes of only seeing fragments / puzzle pieces, and not the whole picture.
The attack on Lo Han was pretty much perfect, leaving no real trace, and he’s not aware that he’s been grobbled. The raid on Ngun Hai was less subtle, but still left very little evidence – when he and his older sons wake up, they’ll only have the explanation of the spirit about the gas leak to go on, so it’s going to take them a while to work out what happened – especially with nothing stolen / taken from the apartment. They will start to investigate, but don’t really have anything to go on to direct their scope. When the mage gets taken down on the island, that will start to draw a line pointing at Harley, but even then it’s not going to be conclusive (probably) – so we’ll have to see just how subtle the players are…

Hopefully though, the players will get the information they need, and set off across the ocean to the fortress, make their assault in a somewhat stealthy fashion and sneak through the environment with a bit of tension, and eventually find Harley’s cell. Unfortunately, they’re not going to find Harley there… that should then kick off a loud and messy segment, eventually leading them to Macau and the sports complex, for a big showdown with the Triads and their big boss, trying to get Harley back to Chun and ending up with a massive fight in the ring. As they’ve now discovered that Chun is a phys-ad who’s managed to self-initiate to grade 5 without ever realising he’s a phys-ad, because everything is related to either masking (including our “advanced masking” metamagics from our house rules) and being absolutely kick-ass in his martial arts, they should have faith enough to sit back and watch Chun go to town on his opponent once he knows that Harley is safe.

So, with that said, as usual, here are the notes from the session:
Saturday 18/9/2060, Location: 22.273, 114.17243, Time 13:30
1. Waiting 2 minutes after turning on the aircon, after hearing thumps, Aswon puts patch on the camera, sends Kai forward. Kai bangs on door, "hello" in mandarin. "Is there anyone here? Someone get me a detector here!" Hunter cleaning in the cupboard with Marius, Aswon moving forward with Kai. Run through spiel, no answer. Kai tries door - Aswon tries the override trick, fails. Door opens on 2nd attempt with combat pool, but breaks and splits in two. Old man appears - are you doctors? Kai - I'm medically trained. In, work the plan. Who is the child? Sung Lang - ask about medical history - gets likes and dislikes described. 4 X triads knocked out, weapons draw. Mom has scalded legs, Aswon treats her. Calls spirit to help - MB check, she is hurt, I must help. Kai - the boy is fine - please watch him. Be careful about being sick, monitor him. Take him to a bedroom please.
2. Mind probe goes off 6 successes, then cleansed, Light stun on the cleanse. Gets all the details for the next part of the chain.
3. Biotech the scalds and then a f1 heal+cleanse
4. Grandpa is singing lullaby, Kai makes excuses and leaves. Call Marius forward to look at the lock, swap it with the one from apartment C. Takes one minute each lock each way. Aswon removes patch on the way out, as last man, back to the lifts. Marius wants to go down the stairs - Aswon, 27 floors? Marius - yeah, lift could get called on any floor. Floor 18, two people shooting up - let them finish, then go past. Down to bottom floor - distraction at north end of the mall, people arguing about a stolen handbag - Aswon - sounds like a distraction to me! Let's go. Down to the path, back to the van.
5. Marius - drives for the boat. Streets are bedlam, traffic jam is cleared, defensive driving. Head to the harbour, to the boat. Rainy and miserable, grey skies, weather steady for the next few hours. Vadim offers to take the van back and keep an eye on the tilt-wing.
6. At boatyard, about 15:00 Gummy fisherman - gives pin-hammer. "for persuading" - check the engine, red tape. Engines belching smoke, noisy, sounds rough, engine not well maintained. Test - tape is over the top of the carbouretter. Marius taps it twice.
7. Marius taking boat out - one success, heads out at about 11 knots.
8. Tads summons new F4 sea spirit, 5 services, for concealment.
9. Kai - plan for taking out enemy spirits with Shimazu/Aswon, everyone else stun the mage. What tricks might they have. Aswon - we think they're wujen, their sea spirit that was chasing Vadim.
10. Go out, hop from traffic to traffic to start, then deep water, heading direct to Eyan Rocky Island. Tads summons 4 F3 watchers, each with 8 hours.
11. Get 4/5 of the way there, engine splutters, hit it with the hammer. int test - works out it's a design flaw, can't be easily fixed. Get boat restarted, heading down to Eyun Rocky island. Hunter computer search for maps, heading for the jetty, use spirit concealment
12. Marius asks Tads to scout, where the water is at least 2.5m deep to go park the boat. She goes, finds 2 spots and the jetty. Decide on the north side of the island in the mini-bay. Handling check to bring the boat in ok on 6s. Fail, RR, 2 successes. Marius stays with boat.
13. Arrive at ridge line at about 18:00, 30 mins to dusk
Kren Cooper
Shadowrun cancelled tonight, on account of one family emergency and one dodgy chinese causing another family emergency... someone has apparently failed their toxin test.

But, that did give me a chance to update the last couple of chapters of my Shadowrun narrative, and get them published up to the two story sites - which are now up to date!

@Achrive Of Our Own:

Updates can now go straight onto there, and I'll link to the latest chapters so people can read online if they wish, rather than looking at the updated Book PDF.
Kren Cooper
Hi everyone - and welcome to another update for the Smuggler campaign. Episode 178 is now published, and can be found:-
Added to the end of Book 6:
The story at FanFiction:
The story at Achrive Of Our Own:

Here's the "behind the scenes" from this week’s run:
Unfortunately we were down a player this week – Hunter’s out of game controller having to work away from home, and being in some pre-historic dinosaur of a hotel without Wi-Fi! The mind boggles…
Still, we could crack and cover the team moving up across the island to the main buildings in the village, making their assault on the mage and getting to a position to mind-probe her and get the location of the fortress base where Harley was being held.
The team spotted the rudimentary sensors that covered the approach from the docks, and made the appropriate efforts to get past it, allowing them to approach the base undetected and strike at a time of their choosing. The players were being very cautious however, moving slowly and spending a lot of time discussing the plan, what they were going to do and how it was going to go down – more than I thought they would.
So, I tried to take a mental step back from the situation and think back to how the information had been presented – trying to see the situation from their fragmentary view point rather than from my “perfect knowledge” GM position. I knew that there was a single uninitiated mage with about 10 goons armed with basic AK assault rifles – absolutely no match for the team at all. They however were viewing it as potentially a very dangerous assault that might lead to the alarm being raised and further bad guys appearing, and were taking steps to avoid that…
So, I gave them a few subtle prods and pokes in places, but otherwise let them run with it, taking their time and planning the ambush – where in a sudden rush of over-excitement Aswon’s player went “all in” on his attack, perhaps forgetting that taser weapons can and will overflow to physical, and that he was probably catching his opponent flat footed and without access to her combat pool. With the advantage of reach on his weapon leading to a low target number, he got 16 net successes on his attack, and the damage easily went straight past deadly stun and through to deadly physical damage. Well, at least they dropped her in one hit, without the alarm being raised!
That changed the nature of the attack suddenly, with frantic attempts to stabilise her before she bled out, and Tads having to mind-probe a potentially dying victim, while they kept guard and then suddenly had the “pressure” of the guard change pushed on them as well. Still, they got the info, and now as soon as they exfiltrate the base, they can start to head back to the boat.

Next week, Marius will get some info to start the session off, spotting a burning boat on the horizon – a result of a pirate attack that will set the scene for some future actions and remind them they’re in dangerous waters, and they can hopefully set off to the fortress and reach the penultimate section of this little arc – breaking into the fortress dungeons to go and rescue Harley, and then head to Macau for the final showdown with the Blue Lotus Triad.

And as usual, here are the notes from the game session, to compare / contrast with the narrative:
1. Saturday 18/9/2060, Location: 21.90548, 114.05599, Time 18:30
2. Check the area, looking for sensors - Aswon spots a solar panel on the landbridge - about 20m from the path. Thinking ultrasound sensor, covering the path - Aswon suggests crawling down by the water to go around. Examine the vegetation, plan for spirits, Tads suggests getting to old fort and try to get there at dusk, then stop and resummon. Aswon counter suggests, wait until after dusk, summon, then go. Tads sends watcher to go find the device the panel is plugged into. finds, reports, they ask for other side, searches for 5mins then comes back with nothing. Sensor is only 13m from path. Kai asks Marius to keep an ear out for stuff.
3. 18 mins to dusk. Stealth checks. Hunter gets a 5, Aswon tries to aid. RR with combat pool to 10, approach under concealment, get past the ultrasound emitter at 1/2
4. Resummon swarm of small GF mountains and 1 big F5, 2 successes, drained. Aswon asks if they are going to search the old fort - Tads warns about the low force wards on each room. Tads scouts - fresh cargo in one room, but no occupants. Team moves up. Spots sentinel on top of the building, don't get spotted. Tads suggests using influence on him, asks Shimazu for advice on what to influence - he suggests to get out of the drizzle. Tads casts, 6 successes, drains ok. Cleansing signature fails, L drain (ignorable), fails again, drained, try 3 - fails, takes another L, decides to stop. 10 mins for stun.
5. Astral scouting, find the work houses, the guard shack, the moss processing lines, empty floor and the mages quarters - she was reading a magical text.
6. Return to body, rest 50 mins, try cleansing again.
7. Check the building out, windows don't open, no sign of external power, maybe on batteries. Spot the fire escape and entrances to each floor, no roof access.
8. Tads - do I try to cleanse, Iranians haven't found us yet, will the triads? Now inclined to leave it.
9. Discussion about getting up to the guard and neutralising him - Kai wants him out of action. Levitate, climb or fire escape.
10. Trank patch the guard, backup taser - Tads suggests stun ball might work as the influence went off well.
11. Marius tide coming in, constant adjustments on the boat, no sign of other traffic.
12. Rest of team spend an hour working round to the east, approaching the building. 20:00, 35m from building, Tads suggest sleep based on how long they have been going - Aswon does not like, Marius confirms.
13. Tads goes for a scout, spots her doing a survey of the ground floor, palpable aura of fear from the workforce, gets out without being seen.
14. Aswon and Shimazu, under concealment to roof. Tads confirms top level is empty. Shimazu spots fire escape is rusty as all hell. Aswon climbs up gecko, lowers rope, pulls Shimazu up. To doorway and down to floor 3, step wide to avoid footprints in the middle, check fire escape - bricked up. Aswon suggests just using a rope to get all up through the middle. Tads checks the other floors - bricked up too.
15. Guard hears/smells something, is surprised, gets double trank patched and goes down. Rest of team called up to roof. Hunter stays on roof and surveills, rest go down to floor 3. Check the layout, lurk by toilets and wait for Sui to come back.
16. Kais plan - go on a killing spree and wipe out the island guards, get the slaves free and scatter them. Aswon not keen on the plan, no need to kill the guards. Kai - wants to go stealthy, but if it goes wrong, have to suppress to get more time to get to the fortress.
17. Hunter finds guards kit and combat drugs, quick analysis - combat enhancer. The guard doesn't look like a user - reasonable teeth and complexion.
18. Team wait for Sui to come back up - Marius chuntering.
19. 35 mins wait, Aswon and Shimazu hear her coming up the stairs,
20. Taser staff attack - drops her and takes her straight out and overflows to D. Shimazu first aid - stabilise, deadly stun, deadly physical, loss 1 point magic. Hunter calls that a guard is leaving the shack, heading to the main building. Kai and Shimazu go for ambush.
21. Do mind probe, get details of island, Kot, some info on the triads.
22. Aswon - can we alter memory to something like a Yak clan? Leave an obvious trail...
Kren Cooper
Hi everyone - and welcome to another update for the Smuggler campaign. Episode 179 is now published, and can be found:-
Added to the end of Book 6:
The story at FanFiction:
The story at Achrive Of Our Own:

Here's the "behind the scenes" from this week's run:
Picking up from last weeks ambush, the team had to do some biotech rolls to stabilise the mage, deal with the approaching guard and then tidy up the crime scene – deciding what to do. I also seeded the ship on the horizon, with the players wondering about this for a moment, then setting it to one side as they (rightly) realised it wasn’t going to affect them and there wasn’t anything they could do with it – so it was best to concentrate on the situation at hand. The plan they came up with was pretty good, crafting a reasonable story for other people to discover that hid what had actually happened pretty well, and their exfiltration was ok too.
Once back on the boat, they were hit with another “random” engine stoppage, driving home the fact that the boat was unreliable – something that I’m going to probably need later on. With them heading to the fortress, now they have a location for Harley at the end of the breadcrumb trail, there was a fair bit of discussion and spit balling, while they crossed the 70km of open seas to reach the final location for this part of the run.
For a lot of this I was pretty quiet, listening to their plans and trying to work out what they’d remembered or inferred from the various bits of briefing, and what wild schemes they’d come up with that I’d have to deal with as a “plan” – or if they’d spotted any giant loopholes that I hadn’t!
After they’d had a while to discuss things though, it was time to move on, and I triggered the next phase with the speedboat coming out. Gratifyingly, once the first lines of dialogue were delivered, one of the players put 2 and 2 together and realised they were expecting a different boat, and that it was the probably the one they saw got taken out and destroyed by pirates, right at the start of the night – which meant that getting into the Fortress was probably now going to be quite easy, as they were assumed to be a delivery / collection boat. Getting out was likely to be a whole lot trickier though…
Next week we’ll handle the assault on the Fortress – I’m using as a base for the island, as it lets me get a couple of nice external photos and I can use Google Maps for an overhead view. Added onto this, I’ve snipped the plan into PowerPoint and added an underground “layer” of rooms and passages for the players to explore and stealth through, while looking for detention cell AA-23 (grin) and Harley…
So, there should be some sneaky exploring next week, and a rescue of Harley – then an escape from the island. This is where the boat may suffer a longer term casualty, so I can adjust the timing from them getting away from the fortress and arriving at Macau – where I want them to be arriving just as the fight is starting (assuming I can stage manage this ok!) for the most dramatic timing, and for Chun to play his second-wind card and begin his amazing reversal.
One of the things I am going to have to address is the team splitting up – at the moment they seem to be considering having Kai and Marius stay on the boat while the rest go on the rescue mission. I want them to go as a team, so that I don’t have to deal with a split party (the bane of most GM’s lives) and I can throw in more skill based challenges such as Maglocks for Marius to deal with, and some negotiations for Kai. I’m wondering if it’s best to try and guide them to making that decision themselves, or just have an OOC discussion pre game and say “look, it’s a group quest, and I’m letting you know there’s no downside to leaving the boat unguarded in this instance…” to avoid any straggling.

And as usual, here are the notes from the game session, to compare / contrast with the narrative:
1. Saturday 18/9/2060, Location: 21.90548, 114.05599, Time 21:45
2. First check - Marius, perception, gunfire, spot burning boat. Good rolls, hears gunfire, spots burning boat 2 mins later. Reports in - Aswon, you what? Clarifies.
3. Back to inside team - guard coming up stairs, unconscious mage. Tads casts treat, 5 successes, min time 1 min.
4. Tads suggest to put her in her room, Kai - quick ask around, general vote to deal with, only Tads dump and run. Aswon prepares to ambush. Stealth roll, max 8+spirit.
5. Guard hears something (16) - assumes it's the mage and apologies. Aswon hits, uses reach to put his number up. Hits for deadly stun overflow to light physical
6. Tads wants to cleanse signature - Aswon suggests waiting until just about to leave in case of drain. Tads - who has an idea about the "story" for alter memory.
7. Kai plans - guard upstairs possible drugs, guard on stairs - anything. Woman - could be anything. Alter memory on the mage and 2nd guard - 2nd guard "saved" the mage from the 1st guard - 1st guard went nuts from the combat drugs. Aswon - can we probe the guard to see if he has any history or feelings / suspicions?
8. Plan to stab the mage carefully (biotech roll) and leave the knife in as an obvious clue, Shimazu+Hunter roll security procedures - ok tests, make out possibly it was an attempted rape fuelled by drugs.
9. Backup guard: mind probe for a story that fits with rooftop guards character and alter memory that after he heard the noise he came round the corner and caught Roof guard standing over mage with a bloody knife. Chased him into toilets, scuffle, he bludgeoned roof guard but got slammed into the wall.
10. Roof guard: beaten with backup guards rifle, in toilets.
11. Her: fake reopening of stab would, lying in corridor.
12. Mind probe - check it wasn't a friendship between two guards
13. Cleansing of everything on backup guard at all costs. Shimazu biotech test, give the guard the inhaler while unconscious, then it's in his system - then beat him to death.
14. Drag him down, alter memory and cleanse, Sterilise, cleanse healing spell (failed, takes stun, HPT), stab the mage, inhaler in guard 1, Shimazu kill guard 1 with rifle bludgeon, plant guard 2 and bloody rifle in area.
15. Marius - fire is dying down, thinks about sending toy drone - too far and night time, does nothing.
16. All back up to the roof, rope down, Aswon comes last with Gecko crawl. Back out the way they came in, using vegetation and long way round. Tads sets watcher spirit on guard on the roof looking for guard alarms, come find her if alarm is raised. 30 mins down to the bottom of the hill, slow walk past the sensor, another 30 mins to get back to the bay and down the ropes, Aswon brings up the rear with the ropes. Big leap to the boat, safe landing.
17. Now nearly 23:00
18. Tads goes to examine boat wreckage - thinks she can find the location from the fuel slick / flotsam, nothing live though, heads back.
19. Aswon - so what's the blag? Kai - can we do a recon flight? Tads yes - I can cover with a vehicle mask, or invisible - but while we can hide physically, we'll glow magically. Kai - just want to know if there's active magical defences, spirits on guard etc.
20. Tads does a recon - perception 10+2X9s, stealth 5 - but doesn't get spotted, 2 F6 fire+1 F6 air elemental.
21. Tads suggests resting - been going all day, might be dangerous to move in now. Risk of them moving Harley,
22. Engine dies on boat, tries to fix - Marius default to rotorcraft B/R - rerolls, fails, tries again, fails. Hunter tries engineering - fails.
23. Tads gets a sea spirit to start pushing the boat towards the fortress, talk about possible defences on the island, 100 guards, lots of people. Might be Wujen on site - but elementals were seen, might be bound for a year. May ALSO be spirits / shamans there, but not seen. Tads - may have spare mages - Aswon, or might be equal opportunities. On a base that size, may have several phys-ads+shamen, based on odds. Could try to kill them, the mage won't necessarily know if they are banished / destroyed. Discuss water breathing potions, have at least a couple.
24. Kai - we need to work out a plan, but also the story, explain how he's gone and work out what they'll do in response. Aswon suggests a phantasm of a fast chopper/VTOL to "escape" noisily, and cover their own slower escape. Kai suggests shark attack. Tads - he needs to survive, so he can appear again later at home. Kai - that's for Chun to decide, we just need to save him.
25. Shimazu - put picture of Mount Fuji, very obviously Japanese, maybe ties to the Yakuza. Tads - suggest Kai stay with Marius on the boat to do blagging.
26. Elementals on perimeter patrols, always in sight of another one, about 50m up - so good lines of sight.
27. Ten minutes of discussion, try engine again, Marius starts her up.
28. Aswon thinks about elementals - likely orders, get Shimazu to help. RR - couple of successes. Probably "report all magical intruders, any physical intruders except in the harbour" Maybe more depending on the nature of the summoner.
29. Aswon expects they will send a boat to inspect us as soon as they get near the fortress. Continue to putter towards the fort. Potential plan to attach to the bottom of any inspection boat and ride in with them...
30. Aswon checks the potions out - magical compounds, worries they may make them ONLY breathe water for the duration, unknown duration.
31. About 12:30, perhaps 10 km short of the island, see a fast boat coming towards them. Aswon+Shimazu drink potions. Hunter on air tank. Tads drops the concealment on the boat. Kai asks for the water spirit to guard the swimmers. Patrol boat closes on them, circle.
32. Searchlight, megaphone "you're late, where have you been". Kai - "engine trouble", Voice - "get to the base, we've got cargo waiting." Circle around. Head back to the fortress. Tads - I guess that was the boat that was on fire - they think we're that boat.
33. 30 mins pass, get to sea wall around harbour, potions just wearing off.
34. Tads - we can fake engine trouble for not leaving on time - just don't hit the "right place"
Kren Cooper
Hi everyone - and welcome to another update for the Smuggler campaign. Episode 180 is now published, and can be found:-
Added to the end of Book 6:
The story at FanFiction:
The story at Achrive Of Our Own:

Here's the "behind the scenes" from this week's run:
Bwhaha. Bwhahahahah. Much grinning and maniacal laughing. But, I’m getting ahead of myself… we’ll come to that bit.
So, picking up from last week, the players were on their boat, just entering the fortress harbour. I think they were feeling a little out of control at this point, as the fortress had “snuck up on them” sooner than expected, and they hadn’t had a great deal of time to plan or prepare – which is exactly where I wanted them to feel. We’ve reached the stage of events where the clock is running in multiple different areas, and the plot is going to progress with our without them – so having that slight feeling of not being entirely in control or seeing the whole picture is exactly what I was aiming for!
Once they’d landed though and made initial contact, the first NPC having mouthed off at them and told them in no uncertain terms that this was not a friendly place to be, they had a chance to do a little recon and plan the assault. It was somewhat amusing to watch them coming up with a number of plans to then immediately shoot them down as they relied on active magical use up on the surface, which would of course trip the magical alarm – forcing them to fall back onto the old fashioned stealth and sneaking skills. Contrasting against that, as soon as they got underground (in air-con tunnels described as being just over 1 Bruce Willis in either dimension…) they got to power up and do an astral recon, quickly providing them with information on the facility – and then of course slapping them with fresh worries when they discovered the warded areas.
Stealthily crawling through tunnels and going for the quiet and safe option, they crept through the base, and I thought they were going to get to the security doors, Marius would work his magic on the lock, and in they’d go…
But no – they decided that finding the boss, slapping a rating 10 tranquiliser patch on him in his sleep, and then mind probing him for information was a MUCH better idea! This at least did give them easy access through the security systems, and also will lead to much confusion on the side of the badguys as they try to work out what is going on!
So, they finally make it into the prison cell area. We’re a little bit beyond our normal finishing time, but everyone is caught up in getting to Harley and getting the rescue done. They’re creeping stealthily forward, deal with the security – and then I describe the massive pool of blood covering the floor at the cell door.
All goes quiet for a moment, and I can see the crestfallen expressions on a couple of faces as they’re thinking “crap, we’re too late”. Then a babble of voices as they all try to work out what’s going on, and what they’re going to do about. Some investigation, and they quickly realise that not only is Harley not dead, but that he’s had the rudeness to bust himself out of prison, rather than waiting politely for the cavalry to turn up!
That’s where we called it for the night – it’s going to be interesting next week to see what happens when the alarm is raised and the base goes on high alert as a result of Harley’s trail of destruction through the base, leaving a bunch of mutilated corpses behind him. I’m especially looking forward to the look on their faces when they manage to make it back to their boat and find Harley there trying to steal it… 😊

And as usual, here are the notes from the game session, to compare / contrast with the narrative:
1. Saturday 18/9/2060, Location: 21.90548, 114.05599, Time 21:45
2. Tads recalls memory of Siu Wong - details of 1st warehouse / factory. Perception check, spot missile batteries and 1-2 guards per battery.
3. Launch weapon checks - combo surface+air missiles, quad shot, short range. Tads starts to mentally prepare trid-phantasm dodging escape route.
4. Check the spirits - ignoring the team boat entirely. SUT rolls, Angels wings
5. Check for boats - tied up on the harbour, 1 speedboat, the one they saw is not there.
6. Tads - Marius, can you take the tape off, marking the spot so we can fake the engine failing? Aswon - will just leave a clean X!
7. Lamp - flashing to Marius to go to the left end of harbour. Single guard at the moment.
8. Aswon - we can launch an assault, kill as we go, take out the SAMs, just deal with it. Or stealth it. Kai - how about we tell them we were followed, pirates out there, hired crew - don't speak Mandarin, going to kill them later. Tads - suggest Russian or Azerbaijani, English is likely to be a 2nd language.
9. Aswon - so are we staying on the boat, or sneaking off. Kai - yeah, just you sneak. Aswon, gets Spear and Purdey and goes over the side.
10. Hailed from the short - you, filthy dog, late, going to kill you, OTT. Senior guard comes out,
11. Kai waves for attention, senior guard comes, explains they were tailed, to the SW. Guards asks for type - a skiff. Ok - will tell the patrols. Another reason was engine troubles, dirty foreigners. Do you have tools? No - you'll have to fix it yourself. Pee over the side, dump oil over the side, What's your name? Xu. Loading 8-9 in the morning.
12. Aswon checks the hut for windows to the north, hut has a latch door. A dozen boats, 3 loading at the moment, standard cargo crates. No warded buildings. Aswon masks all his powers, works across to the hill and starts to dry off in cover. Look, find the 4th elemental, clockwise guards, Kai asks about water elementals, Tads - very likely, and I'll be out of my element, best to assume there is one there. Kai - can we send a magical watcher? Aswon - unlikely to report to summoner if it's on remote service. tads - probably to report to someone local, then deal with it. And they may have an earth elemental inside. Aswon - more likely a hearth, given the nature of the triads.
13. Thinking about sneaking into the fort, gecko crawl on the roof - prompts Tads memory of the inside of the fort, some cover but not good for travelling.
14. Aswon moves up, looking for sensors and systems, spots passive intrusion systems. Does some recon - spots NW tunnel, air con vents, comes back a bit to report.
15. Kai - musing about having a spirit get to another boat and do something to attract attention. Or make a physical distraction. Kai distracts the guards while the rest sneak over. Elementals pass every 2 mins, guards on a 10 min walk back and forth. Tads, watchers to snore, 1 to say in English "we're fixing the boats". Kai - can we set up a smoke grenade booby trap? 15 mins pass, one boat ready to depart, some issue, guards from shack move down.
16. Wait for the right spot in elemental rolls, sneak across stealth scores - Kai 14, Shimazu 10, Hunter 17, Marius 16, Tads 5 - perception check max = 4.
17. All up on the top, undetected. Check HVAC - big enough based on age and passive systems. Marius and Shimazu good rolls for defences, fungi and moulds
18. Get top cover off, HVAC drops 3m then curves to the north. Aswon scouts, tunnel is solid, noise coming from the source rooms. Risk an astral look, all quiet. Tads suggests she goes down to do full astral scout. Aswon filters noises out. Get basic layout of site. Spots 4 phys ads, uninitiated, not astrally perceiving. More recon, getting the rest of the layout mapped out.
19. Tads - can leave a spirit with a physical mask present to cover him being missing. Very cunning plan! Scout out accommodation areas, get the splits.
20. Aswon - tads, can you go, manifest, look physically at doors and assess. Spiral staircase in the middle, guard nook, guards on top smoking a spliff.
21. Come to the conclusion that the secure areas are on separate air-con systems. Thinking about going up the top to recce - remember the spirits, more risky.
22. Now about 3am, Hunter scouts up top, finds 2 X separate air con systems, Tads suggests chemical analysis to detect people inside, does, works well.
23. Suggest that Tads searches the one in the least occupied room to cut that out first. Check out the luxury suites - occupied except for one room. Plan to infiltrate physically, Shimazu as a guard so they can do mind probe. Astral scout, find Kot Siu Wong in his bunk. Check for maglocks - find the different maglock ratings / confinement rooms. Could take spirit in, ask it to materialise and hit the release button on Kot's room.
24. Tads and Shimazu stealth down to Kot's place, 11 each/ Get in ok past the guards, trank him, F2 - where is Harley, what is the code, who else is there. What are the security measures - retinal scan+code 9510357. Codes are stored in the security system in the 3C area.
25. Grab him, take him to the security door, wrapped in a trid phantasm. Casts F6 trid phantasm, 6 successes, cast in a wardrobe.
26. Get down into the security area, spot one door open, pool of blood. Aswon, adjust the camera view, to some doors,
27. Bloody footprint onto the exit, guard down, shattered ribs, definitely dead. Blood is 10-15 mins old. Trace back to main corridor, alert rest of team. Harley has not taken the guards gun - Marius and Hunter spot.
Kren Cooper
Hi everyone - and welcome to another update for the Smuggler campaign. Episode 181 is now published, and can be found:-
Added to the end of Book 6:
The story at FanFiction:
The story at Achrive Of Our Own:

Here's the "behind the scenes" from this week's run:
Picking up from the “cliffhanger” last week, the team started chasing down Harley, following the bloody footprints through the base and discovering some of the trail of bodies left behind during his escape. The team approached it just right in my opinion – still moving with stealth and caution, so they didn’t run around a corner into some goons and trigger a massive gunfight that was sure to rouse the whole base. What they didn’t know of course that there was a “clock” running, and that the alarm was going to go up soon regardless – either as the prison guards noticed the cell and bodies, or the guards on patrol in the main corridor was missed… and with every extra body that was left lying around, the odds increased that someone was going to notice something.
Of course when the alarm went off, stealth took a back seat, and they hustled back to the boat – just in time to see Harley attempting to steal their ride, and giving me a nice chuckle at their indignant and outraged responses.
The gun battle was predictably short and very one sided as the only guard that noticed Marius was obliterated, along with his partner before they could report in, and the team then worked out just how much of an offensive they needed to go on to balance their discoverability and chance to escape. With careful use of silenced weapons they managed to clear out the defences that could target them, and then used the trid-phantasm spell to distract everyone and cover their escape.
On that note – the illusion went off about as well as they could have asked. Ali got a big handful of successes – 8 in total – giving them a rock solid display with lots of extra details to sell the narrative, and against the average / pedestrian intelligence stats of the guards, it was thoroughly compelling.
Once they were away I gave them a nice calm journey back without any random encounters, and they were hoping to hand over Harley and be done – before the next twist hit them and they found that the Triads had already taken Chun over to the location for the fight.
So now they’re going to grab a bit of rest and then head over in plenty of time to resolve the issue with Chun and the Triad – or so they think. What’s actually going to happen is that a storm is going to hit the area making sailing / flying all but impossible for a while, running down that “spare” time on the clock, and leaving them with just enough time to get to Macau to arrive at the fight as it’s happening – so they can do a heroic entry scene, prove they have Harley and then watch the resulting fireworks as Chun demonstrates why he’s a martial arts master… or he will do once they’ve applied a bit of biotech and healing to get him back on his feet after the beating he’s been taking because he thinks he has to save his son’s life.
But, that’s to come – so it’s time to go make sure my maps and plans for the sports arena are ready, and the images I’ve repurposed from some UFC / Boxing competitions are ready to use as reference shots for the players, along with some crowd noises and cheers to help set the atmosphere.

And as usual, here are the notes from the game session, to compare / contrast with the narrative:
1. Sunday 19/9/2060, Location: 21.80191, 113.7303, Time 04:30
2. Following the bloody footprints, through the door, follow footprints to first hab area, perception checks -
3. Shimazu taking Kot Siu Wong with, Kai wants a hostage. Tads thinking he was going to be put back. Marius spots return footprints, points it out to people. Marius thinks it's a decoy trail. Tads mentions using a create water to remove bloodstains - rest of team think bad idea, take too long.
4. Kai - idea, drop spells, go astral, look for him. Manifest, stop him. Tads
5. Find guard at the next corner, battered.
6. Aswon - he's heading out, go, catch up with him, hide him with water breathing potion, just sleaze out..
7. Kai - someone fast run ahead, he's murdering everything in his path, Tads - go astral. Explains to rest, he wants to interrogate the guy for phat loot in the base, or bank accounts etc. Aswon not so keen, but goes along with.
8. Tads finds two fresh bodies on the spiral staircase, but has just missed Harley. When she's back, Kai asks for Kot to be mind-probed as they are leaving the base. Only 2 success on mind probe - basic details only on the warehouse, details of his personal accounts with siphoned funds. Tads relays details to Marius.
9. Alarm goes off, lights turn on, klaxxon sounding. Check weapons. Still keeping the body. Kai - last mindprobe, defence situation - massive violence response. Tads - hide him in a bush up top. Aswon, or leave him on the stairs as a distraction. Kai - take him up and out, stash outside. Aswon - if we find the kid and he wants to kill this guy, do we let him? Kai, don't think we can stop him!
10. Spot the elementals moving at speed, actively searching the perimeter. Look for tracks for Harley. Spot them heading for their own boat. Aswon in normal voice "Harley. Chun sent us, we're here to help"
11. Get to top of the hill, spot two more bodies at the guard shack, and Harley just climbing into their boat.
12. Kai+Shimazu to go and try to stop him. Aswon - try not to kill him Shimazu... Shimazu - it's alright, got plenty of filler.
13. Stealth check to get past guards on the missile battery. Marius RR, RR again, spotted by one guard. Shoots, one success - 9M, soaked.
14. Roll init
15. Shimazu 22 - runs to the shack - spots the guard down with same pattern of damage
16. Aswon 20 - shooting at MP guard. In the face, dead. Then crouches
17. Kai 19 - into the shack, grab the phone, random dials numbers
18. Hunter 18 - spots the missile battery turning towards the team. 60m away. Called shot face, single shot down.
19. Marius 13 - runs for the boat
20. Tads 13 - run for the boat
21. Marius -"Harley, stop fucking with my boat!" Martial arts stance, then looks confused. Marius jumps on to boat and shouts "get out of the way". Spots bloody foot and trainers.
22. Kai on phone to command room - "prisoner on top of island with the boss, get there now! Bang bang, cuts off the phone."
23. Marius starts the engine. - all good.
24. Kai to Aswon, wait 30 seconds for guard reactions, then vtol.
25. Hunter and Aswon, shooting at 2nd missile battery on sea wall, called shots. Both down.
26. Boat down at the end of the quay, mistaken identity, guards riddle the boat, gunfire explodes, spotted by team.
27. Harley "who the fuck are you and what are you doing"? Kai - "friends of your dad, here to rescue you, shush."
28. Hunter slapping grenade launcher on AR, Aswon unpacking the big gun.
29. Shimazu passes helmet to Harley and tells him to keep his head down.
30. Marius course - heading mostly towards the sea wall, but not hugging it as he's not a good pilot. Kai call for trid phantasm on the boat - shot down.
31. Hunter smokes - one to centre of docks, one to centre of island. Middle first, way off target, 2nd on target on the docks, lands near the doors. Big billows of smoke, mental shouting on the docks and more gunfire. Aswon takes out guard #1 on battery 3. Hunter gets big rifle out for Aswon
32. !roll 12d6 t4 !F5 Trid-phantasm of our old helicopter appearing out a ripple in the air, pulling up a Harley on a rope (keeping it all moving so they can't shoot him) and with armoured troopers at the doors with guns pointing out and down and firing, with Mount Fuji symbol on the sides. Prepare for starbursts to put off rockety things, as it'll turn once HArley is on the rope and speed off into the distance, ie, get smaller). Will be 2 D to drain - 8 x 2s. 8 successes Chopper on east side of island
33. Aswon Serious damage on the 2nd guard. Shoots, RR, takes out the 2nd guard.
34. Helicopter bungy guards, angel wings, door gunners, missile shoots, dodges, gaining height.
35. Hunter firing ex-ex grenades onto dock to add to confusion.
36. Speedboat casting off at the far end of the harbour. Aswon aims, counters all but waves, shooting at the speedboat. Takes it out with AV, catches fire, hard kill.
37. Missiles shooting at the chopper, elementals closing in to destroy, Tads tries to make it speed off and then "explode" in mid-air.
38. Marius pilots boat out through middle of channel, Tads manipulates spell to make chopper explode before spell dies.
39. Out and away, island still shooting and alarmed, escaped in the dark. Tads cleanse signature.
40. Harley looking amazed at Aswon/Hunter. Kai asked for story. Drugged in nightclub, trainers stolen. Never saw the boss, escaped
41. Kai - you need to behave, your family is in danger. Kai - they think you're dead, you need to keep quiet so you can surprise them. When did you last eat. Get him food, biotech (bruised foot), assense. Normal human, mundane, essence 6, nothing special. Kai asks Hunter to check for bugs.
42. Shimazu double checks Assense - non magical. Pretty stressed, understanably. Attuned to boots. Talks about swords, shares love of things.
43. Tads goes to sleep against the background noise of rambling about boots.
44. About 5am, about 5km south of the fortress. About 95km back to shek-o, skirting around the fortress visibility. Resummon at dawn, 5 hour journey back to Shek-o, no distractions Tads makes bananas for Harley. Dock back at Shek-o ok.
45. Tads - he shouldn't be "dead" to his family if we can help it, we can mask him. Marius - think Chun should go through with the fight, they can ask for proof of life, won't be able to produce. Aswon approves of Chun knowing.Kai don't want to call Chun - our phones are secure, his might not be.
46. Marius, get Chun into the tilt-wing - we can do encrypted call to the bird ok. Marius - chun has to go through with things to avoid them thinking the raid was to do with harley/chun.
47. Kai - ask Vadim to bring a box to put bad guys sword and Harleys shoes in, to avoid tracking rituals.
48. Tads tells Vadim to get Chun, he's gone to Macau, taken by the triads. Proof of life for Harley to his mom. Get number for Nicola.
49. Kai - let's get accountant to get us to the fight, we have info on the boss skimming money. Aswon concerned about it being a trap. 100km to macau, time to sleep and refuel, can still get there before fight. Shimazu psych - Chun will want proof of life, reassuring to see him. Plan disguise physical.
50. Kai planning to go talk to accountant lady, do betting, reveal dirty laundry. Aswon - absolutely not, don't tie us to Harley. Suggests going simple just want to bet. Leave the dirt as a parting gift. Kai - or try and turn her, Aswon - no, that places us at the scene. Just go and put a bet on him!
51. Vadim comes over with the van, get back, get some sleep, going to head back over in the boat.
Kren Cooper
Hi everyone - and welcome to another update for the Smuggler campaign. Episode 182 is now published, and can be found:-
Added to the end of Book 6:
The story at FanFiction:
The story at Archive Of Our Own:

Here's the "behind the scenes" from this week's run:
Well, it was the end of this little story arc – the climactic fight between Chun and the Triad in a packed sports arena under the eyes of millions. I was expecting it to have a bit more detail, but the story just seemed to turn into a monster of a writeup, We only played for the normal session duration, but I think because we were generally doing narrative play, and there was no combat and actually fairly few ability / skill checks, it went fairly quickly – and of course as the GM I was pushing the pace on this one to try and build an air of tension and drama, and because at this points events were taking place to a number of different timetables, some of which the players had very little control over.
With the convenient engine failure, the team arrived at the “nick of time” to the sports arena, and the NPC used their knowledge of big fights and how they were broadcast to shove people down towards the right plot path. I’d prewarned Kai’s player that he would be using his social skills and had to come up with a narrative to delay events, and that I would send him a series of notes with a direction / theme on for him to improv around. That gave him a bit of a chance to flex and really lean into his role, without having him just read from a script. In the notes were several *pause for GM narration* cues, so I knew he wouldn’t go rambling on for too long, and that let me either describe what was happening, or cut away to Hunter’s player to make a quick change on the computer as to what sound or visual effects to fire up from the arena system to tie in and help the story along.
Overall it seemed to work pretty well, and they got the idea that they needed to blind / overwhelm the audience so that nobody would notice the visual cue from the healing spell, and that let them get Chun back on his feet and in a position to win the fight. After the deed was done, it was perception checks all around, and then I slid the picture of Mr Kuro onto the screen that I was sharing. I think only Kai recognised it immediately, and his face was a picture – but the others caught on then, and then they realised they were in a really weird place… they’d cost the Triads a bunch of money and no small amount of prestige – but the Dragon who had given them the job was there, and he restrained the Triads from taking action… at least immediately. They bugged out pretty quickly afterwards, not wanting to risk anything, and by this point of the evening I was happy enough to give them a simple and easy journey back home.
The team made 190K from their gambling efforts, taking them to a total of about 470K in the bank – still well short of the 600K they need to fix the tilt-wing. However, Chun has also been pulling some strings behind the scenes, using his influence to help, and Spook (Aswon’s contact) and her friends have made out like absolute bandits, so he’s got a little bonus pay coming from that. It should be enough to give them the cash to pay for the repairs, and to cover fuel costs for the rest of the journey, but not much else – so they’ll need to be on the lookout for jobs as they carry on with the main Volcano job, just to build up that cash reserve again. Sounds like lots of plot opportunity to me!

We have reached a good point to award Karma, and based on the time since the last award (30 sessions!) and what they've achieved, they're in for a good chunk - everyone is due at least 20 I think, and probably a bit more. They've also got 3-4 days of downtime available while the engine repairs are finished, so there's time to initiate, learn some skills, do some training and even a little shopping. So - expect "training montage" in next weeks story writeup!! I'll also update the character sheets again, and republish those, updating the links on the first post if anyone is interested.

And as usual, here are the notes from the game session, to compare / contrast with the narrative:
1. Sunday 19/9/2060, Location: 22.22744, 114.24966, Time 11:00
2. Everyone to bed except Aswon, who does some stretches, in the yard near the t-bird. Tads asks about hiring a pilot for the boat, to keep Marius fresh. Aswon thinks it's dangerous, and would cost - pirate infested waters. Owner might blanche / want too much money. Marius goes to sleep in the bird, because he's been away too long... Tads herds everyone through the ward at least once.
3. Kai gets the number for Nicole from Mrs Chun. Kai calls Nicole, says hello, where is the boss, where are you, is it a ticket event, I can get you tickets. How did you get there - mention IDs, come in by boat.
4. Kai asks Tads for an astral flyby for recon. Tads takes Vadim. Dome is warded to F3 in pieces, 2 X F4 air elementals on long term patrol in astral.
5. Rain starts to intensify as time goes on, Aswon gets under cover and starts studyig the map. Checks the weather, tropical storm, 24 hour.
6. Rudi is instructor left behind. Aswon reminds Harley that he needs to lay low or risk bringing danger to people. Harley goes to a quiet dojo to train.
7. Weather kicks off, airport and ferries not open until midday monday - Marius
8. Tads suggest getting over by legitimate means, not taking gear. Aswon not keen, others nodding agreement.
9. Kai contacts Nicole - asking about betting. Where are you, trapped by storm. She has no idea about the betting, look on the matrix? Kai calls, she was waiting, got very wet - sounds pissed. Tell me you've got his lucky black belt? Kai goes to check if he has a lucky black belt. 3 tatty, one posh for grading. Call back, we have the lucky BB, good. Triads are holding Chun in a training area on site. Ask for some details.
10. Aswon asks what force spirit you would need to do a crossing in safety. Tads magic check, 11+8, needs at least F6 great form.
11. Kai asks Harley about betting - go on the matrix, legit IDs needed. Story, Man's fart / dead badger.
12. Aswon thinking about using their corp for the betting, long term IDs, not tied with recent events. Shimazu suggest spreading out over multiple bookies. Law checks - may trigger alerts from using the foundation.
13. Matrix check from Hunter - Chun is fighting, on the cards, fighting Wei Lei, odds are 2:1 and 16:1
14. Discussion about odds, fuel, slush fund, travel expenses. Working out how much they need for the tilt-wing, 600k + needed.
15. Tads - we can't even guarantee he'll win / lose - Chun, personal honour, will fight hard. Shimazu - he has to know, Aswon - not yet, may learn soon from Nicole, but all up in the air. Tads - we can invalidate the fight by revealing he's magic. Aswon - will ruin his rep, and we'd lose the money as he hasn't won.
16. Aswon calls spook, what do you know about the local fight scene. Describe the mix between high and low rollers. Please tell me you haven't fucked it up. Pissing down, but I have to see people. Appreciate a text if the wind is blowing in the right direction. Aswon - Nanosecond buyout, sure...
17. Break out the suits from when they went to see Kolkachev / cable car.
18. Ask Vivian/Harley if Chun can hear ultrasound - they have no idea. Ask for theme music - Enter the Dragon by the Sons of Thunder. Ask Hunter to download the song. Aswon - practice the chorus, to get his attention, getting crowd singing, then display placards.
19. Find the art supplies / t shirt printing. Make stuff up over night. Kai - spray painting skill. RSRT. Tads - chanting. Both successes
20. In the morning, storm is dying down, damage all up and down the coast. Tads finds pharmacy to get travel sickness tablets. Kai talks to Harley - there for one reason, just to convince your dad you're alive. Aswon asks for hair dye for Harley, reading glasses etc.
21. Kai explain to Vadim to stay and look after Vivian / the baby, keep them safe. Then gets Hunter to transcribe the details about Kot and his skimming to a data chip.
22. F5 great form, 3 services.
23. Marius getting out of the harbour on 10s, 1 success after spending 1GH. Kai calls Nicole to advise on the way. Aswon asks to book a harbour berth legit - using Kai's, get Hunter to do paperwork, filled in like a boss.
24. engine dies halfway over, takes about 30 mins to get back in action.
25. As they land, Nicole calls, fight has moved up - gives code phrase to shout out.
26. Aswon taser staff, Kai - no weapons, Marius - pistol, Shimazu - vibroknife, Hunter - pistol+knife, Tads - walking staff. Leave spirit conceal+guard boat. But approaching dusk
27. Outside is busy, Chun is getting battered, looks like he's losing, wearing tutu. Round 3. Distribute placards and credsticks. Spot Nicole, waves the team over. Nicole - need to do wax on, can you do without the light?
28. Kai asks about betting, it's important, get us in. Punches Harley, then turns and runs inside.
29. Points rest of team down to ringside, Hunter and Marius upstairs.
30. Nicole takes out security guard, Hunter grabs lanyard, up to media room. Nicole ready to charge the door - Hunter "stop" - multipass.
31. into the media room, Nicole takes out the 2nd guard.
32. Marius gun out, spots the silent alarm
33. Hunter get to work on the computer.
34. Back to gound team, end of round 5. Harley shouts to Simi, Tads closes to touching range.
35. Kai - son is safe, wife is protected. Rolls Biotech. Chun is on his last legs - won't last another round at this page
36. Aswon rushes off to find Bookie with Shimazu.
37. Kai goes for distraction - climbs up onto ropes, commanding voice, starts the song chant. 11 on Charisma - shout of "Chun Fu" - you all know him, the black dragon!
38. Shimazu, 1 bookies at Up to 50k bet at 2:1 (200k)
39. Aswon, 1 at Up to 30k bet at 3:1 (90k)
40. Tads does full serious heal, 2 success into time, drains ok.
41. Anger from the other side, ref coming over listening to comms, looking angry,
42. Aswon - do we want to get Harley out. Kai - no, let him see his dad win, then get him out.
43. Techy starts to help out Hunter.
44. Kai - spots Mr Kuro, in the vip box. Kai nods subtly, then throws more t-shirts into the crowd.
45. Marius - electronics test. 19m PPV. Going viral. Kai messages team to look for Lo Han / Wa Fan.
46. Aswon pushing out, trying to get Harley out - ok. Lo han gets thrown under the bus, by the old triad guy after Kuro gives a wave.
47. Marius gets Hunter on comms "time to get out" - thanks for help and cooperation, goodnight. Hunter "and that's how you do a show", leave with a flourish. Hunter to kai "where do you want us?" Kai to H - get to Aswon and get the money. Shimazu, get to Chun", shimazu hands bet slip over to Kai.
48. Past Dusk, Tads heads out to get back to boat and do spirits / concealed.
49. Collect on winnings, 190k.
50. Guard just recovering on the way back from the media room, knocked back out. Wipe the pass and put it back on him.
51. Message to Nicole, location of boat, talk about what to do.
52. Agree to take Harley back, meet up back at the academy. Ask Chun if he has number for Wa-Fan. No.
53. Spot a navy corvette on the way back, tail it and avoid pirates. All get back to Academy.
54. Kai heading to Wa Fan to "sell" the information about Kot in exchange for a discount at the repair shop.
Kren Cooper
Hi everyone - and welcome to another update for the Smuggler campaign. Episode 183 is now published, and can be found:-
Added to the end of Book 6:
The story at FanFiction:
The story at Archive Of Our Own:

Here's the "behind the scenes" from this week's run:
With the “Chun Fu” arc done, it was time to award karma for the team. After nearly 30 episodes from the last break, most of them were running low on rerolls, and they’d spent a bit of karma on some successes, so they were starting to feel the pinch. With a few days left over until the engines were ready, it was a good time to stop, take a breath and reflect on events – and get some good training time in.
I think the minimum karma award was 20, with the top end at 24 – so it was a good chunk that was very usable. It also puts everyone into Karma Pool 11, which is not bad going. Shimazu and Tads wanted to initiate, which pretty much tied them up for the duration, while the others had some skills to work on too, so there was a lot of discussion about what they wanted to do and a chunk of housekeeping on the night, with not so much RP (though there was some between Spook and Aswon, and Kai got to have a lovely chat with Wa Fan… I was just hoping he didn’t mess it up and get butchered for wandering into the Lions Den!) so fortunately that made a simple writeup.
They’ve ended up using a fair few days to get through this bit, so they’re under some time pressure now to crack on and get round the rest of the ring of fire and visit the other 10 volcanoes. In game it’s 25/09/60, and they have until 09/10/60 to get the job done – so as long as they can keep going at 1 volcano per day, they should be ok. No pressure at all…
Some of them will be very quick, and should be quite easy – there’s one in Japan in particular where they can land in the car-park and walk 100m up a nice path to get to the “volcano” to plant the token. There’s others though that are going to be a cast iron bitch – when they get to Alaska in the middle of a storm and find the temperature hitting -40, it’s going to be survival tests all round. Should all work out in the end though.

And as usual, here are the notes from the game session, to compare / contrast with the narrative:
1. Tuesday 21/9/2060, Location: 22.22744, 114.24966, Time 08:00
2. Landed back at Shek-O about 2am, Kai off to nightclub, rest back to the academy
3. Bouncer lets him in, still smartly dressed, bar + club quiet, asks for Wa Fan, is there a problem? Ask to see her, Kai from the Dojo. Comes back, points to a booths, take a seat. Kai goes to the next booth only. Comes over, good evening, you asked to see me. Just wanted a quick word, busy night. Did you see the fight - yes, interesting. come into some information, you've been straight with us. Have a look at this, she leans in and flirts/mesmarises him - bad perception check. Kai says I'll give you the info, tell you my problems see what you can do. I'll leave this with you - passes stick over. ASks what it is, it's details of embezzelment, for you to deal with quietly. Takes the stick, leans back, smiles. Kai - got any plans? Dinner? No - premature. Bodyguards have turned up and are staring. Kai finishes drink. "Lovely, hope to see you soon." Bows. Flick of the hand, bouncers part, Kai leaves.
4. In the morning, dawn prayers for Tads, then get Vadim to build F1 lodge for them both, takes until lunchtime. Astral quest with Vadim, F1 to reduce learning cost of a spell. Place of Magic (L-S), Knowledge (L-P), Citadel, 3 hour duration, end of day 1.
5. Start of day 2 - initiate. Firm quest idea for protection. 3rd person protection quest for Vadim as he does his quests, guarding against sniping spirits. Takes until the end of day 5
6. Text message from Spook, lunch today? Good night? Yes, for our consortium. Lots less stabby than when he last met her.
7. Harikona - human fixer, some links to the Yakuza, works with a variety of smugglers. Charges 10K.
8. Spook goes to do training. Aswon perception - rubbish roll, only gets "no more problem with those guys then?"
9. Kai calls H, to arrange transport, likely to be in the next few days. Asks Spook about a Talismonger nearby for astral ward materials
10. Weds 22 - no activity, no random encounters. Discussion about making money
11. Thurs 23 - no activity, engine on test overnight
12. Friday 24th - engines done, Chun ready to collect
13. HK Talismonger - Clara Wu Tsai, *.9 warding materials + spells
14. Kai goes to negotiate, Chun has done a deal, bill is only 500k. Aswon confirms to spook leaving in 24 hours.
15. Tads and Shimazu done Friday 24th. Engines arrive friday lunchtime. Engine refitting test, 18 hours, broke down to two shift, to leave saturday night. Check cash - 47.8k, no money for shopping.
16. Tads calls Clara, hellos, magical art stuff, want to visit. In for 1 day, high force ward team, who can vouch, spook, call back 20 mins
17. Group can do 2550 cubic meters in one go. 3 successes @F10
18. Wild magic test - 15, all auras are visible. Minor electronic corp
19. Saturday night, engines are all done, engines are 5% up on economy
Kren Cooper
Hi everyone - and welcome to another update for the Smuggler campaign. Episode 184 is now published, and can be found:-
The start of “Book 7”:
The story at FanFiction:
The story at Archive Of Our Own:

Here's the "behind the scenes" from this week's run:
Well, here we are at the start of another “book” - #6 had gotten to be 265k words, and with only 4 volcanos done, there was no way that was going to work for the rest of the arc. So, with the reasonably major “Chun” arc dealt with, and the two boxes of damage to the aircraft fixed (and 20% of the base value paid), that seemed like a pretty good break point.
Originally they’d said they were going to Taiwan, but changed their minds at the start of the session, heading to Shanghai instead after looking at the map of available routes and distances. That gave me a chance to drop the contact in with the Otaku, and also clue in Kai that one of his IDs was burnt – I’m not sure he’s really rationalised it in though – maybe one of the other team members will poke him when they read through the writeup. Unfortunately his ID had a flaw (using the system in Sprawl Survival Guide) and had hit the expiration date – fortunately it’s not his “good” ID, which is still solid.
Anyway, once they’d worked that out, refuelled and had take a job (just a delivery of a chip with some sensitive code on it that they didn’t want to send over the Matrix to their contact back in Seattle – let’s see if I can get them to drop that off at the arcology!) it was on to volcano #5.
My planning notes for #5 had this:
5. 32.65689, 128.84845: Volcano #5 - Fukue Island, Japan, 240m, steep but shallow, just up the hill from the playground
Arriving on an exceptionally clear day/night, which coincides with an astronomical event means the volcano is heaving with people with telescopes and cameras, and the nearby observatory is fully manned - chances of being spotted are incredibly high. Fukue island is at the perfect position to view the event, and people have travelled hundreds of miles for the optimum viewing experience, bringing in a lot of tourist income. The town has bought into the event and is having a "dark skies" night, with almost the entire area blacked out, to help. They have also rerouted commercial traffic, drones and non-essential air cabs (leaving only emergency services) to further cut down on pollution. As a result, any atmospheric aberrations (such as vehicle stealth, invisibility etc) are much more likely to be spotted. There are approx 400 tourists with high grade telescopes, cameras, video recorders and some astrally sensitive film cameras around to record the event.
So – it was very much a stealth job. They *did* do a search beforehand, but the rolls were not that great, getting only one result near the TN, and only one at that – so they got weather reports and some information about weather sites being heavily hit, but not the reason why. It was only when they got close – close enough to risk being spotted that they worked out what was going on and had to take emergency action. A bit of a scramble and a rework of the plan, and they found a reasonable route in to drop the token off safely.
In retrospect, I think I was probably too generous with giving them 1km from the volcano centre to play with. I should have cut this down by at least 50%, to force them to get closer to the centre and make it easier to throw realistic hurdles in their way – but it’s too late now, and just a lesson to learn for next time. Some of the drops might be quite easy as a result – but that’s ok, they can have a few nice wins. It just means that some of them (I’m thinking the one in Alaska particularly) are going to be a real bitch… The GM giveth, the GM taketh away.
The main thing I have to do now is go and really devour the section in the magic book about background count and mana warps. Their flight plan to the airport is going to take them almost directly over the centre of Nagasaki… I don’t see that as something too likely to happen again, and definitely want to have some element of that present itself, even if it’s just a narrative device.
Suggestions are very welcome on this one – I’m thinking at the moment that unless someone specifically warns Vadim, he may well be astrally perceiving as they fly through, and get a very nasty shock!

And as usual, here are the notes from the game session, to compare / contrast with the narrative:
1. Saturday 25/9/2060, Location: 22.22744, 114.24966, Time 21:00
2. Handling test to take off and leave Chun's - 2 successes, smooth takeoff,
3. Marius thoughts - Shanghai, refuel tank+reserve, volcano, volcano, refill from reserve, volcano, last of reserve, to top smuggler stop. Min time in Japan
4. Aswon - good, behind schedule. Heading for Shanghai - 2 hour flight time
5. Marius - will be a long hard day, 9-10 hours min, but then rest at the end. Kai checks with Tads on spirit summoning, dawn and dusk. Tads - can drop the tokens from a hover. Concern over the refuelling. (M) don't have to refuel at the actual volcano, can do it nearby
6. Looking at doing legit filing to get near local regional airport. Tads suggests medical cover as transplant transport. Hunter suggests NOTE flying and just drop it out of the back. Kai asks Shimazu - anything weird and mystical you have to do? S - no, just be respectful of people...
7. Tads - have we checked weather / atmospheric conditions - make sure we don't trash the engines again. Recap from Aswon on what went wrong the first time.
8. Aswon to Kai - can you get Harikona to do us paperwork for legit filing flight plans internal. Tads - Kai, can you contact the smuggler base to advise we are inbound.
9. Call Harikona - heading to Shanghai now, eta 2 hours, arrive Japan 2 hours later.
10. Tads asks for details of large flocking birds native to the area. Aswon confused. Tads - vehicle mask / concealment
11. Kai - bugged by date, checking for religious festivals etc. Check shinto religion and local knowledge - Hunter gets snippet about "snow monsters" in Volcano #6
12. Harikona comes back after 45 mins, "Short notice huh? Whatever..." flight details for Kumamoto airport - short diversion to get to the volcano from that course. Tads makes sure Vadim gets a copy of Harikona's contact details. Tads says to sort out contact for the Twin Peaks base, Aswon agrees, Kai says no - they don't need it. Tads disagrees - cites South African base. Aswon - ok, if that place can't refuel us, what is plan b? Work out they could, just, get back to Vladivostok.
13. Call Shanghai Noodles, get spectrum loading noise, repeats, passes to Marius. Repeats for 3rd time, then disconnects. Kai - Hunter, this one on you. Works out it's an analogue device, needs to write a custom program to communicate. 3 successes. Gets menu. Choose "arrange landing", maintenance y/n? N, Fuel y/n, Y, Enter fuel amount. Tanks+barrels 2600, Chooses JP5 Deluxe. Additional services y/n N. Disconnects.
14. Arriving Shanghai about 11pm. Kai checks weather - clear and quiet. Get astral look - BGC2-3, all built up. Great handling coming in. Split between ports, STOL runway. Analogue call, do you wish to land, y/N, Y, landing lights. Goons with AR on slings saunter towards the bird. Kai gets out, greet in Mandarin. Call out in English - "Designation?" User Kai Newfish registered, welcome to the noodles. Are we good to get out and check our vehicle? No additional services were requested. No, no, check it ourselves... no additional services requested! Fuel up - 13k. Physical check on the bird - all looks fine. Did we bug scan before we left? No, much shaking of heads. Run scans now.
15. Portly lank, greasy, otaku - designation, No additional services. Flying visit - humour detected. Laugh.wav. Menu available? Reputation insufficient for menu. Available for work? Yes... in the right direction. Insufficent rep for missions to that destination... awwww. K-additional information. Possible trip to west coast of UCAS. Query - possible location Seattle? Yes. Possible delivery 1kg, 3-4 weeks maximum. Reimbursement parameters. Payment proposal - 30k. Does this include positive reputation bonus? Pause... affirmative. Agreed! Gets thumb pad.
16. Reels off 2 fake IDs and identifies that Kai's #1 id from Ngo is now invalid.
17. Hunter computer check - thinks possible otaku, tied to Deus...
18. Fuelling finished, disappears back into container park, Otaku heads into office to get optical chip. Hunter warns rest of team.
19. Returns, with chip and package in small case. Aswon - is the package sensitive? Package should be fine in container. team ask for his designation - 25 characters. Aswon - can we call you "the noodles" Designation acceptable. Query - additional information required? Kai - no, we're just waiting on a call to get us to our next destination. Aswon - ask him if he's head of Harikona. Query - context. "electronic paperwork". High likelihood fixer, access to japan - reputation, strong. Kai - query on max time to delay here. 3 hours. From time of landing? Affirmative. Do we need to tell you before we leave - negative. Do we get cash on delivery - affirmative.
20. Getting on for midnight. Harikona calls back 12:45 with flight plan+details. Kai hands over to Hunter+Marius
21. Taking off around 01:00, 7 successes on takeoff, head east, stealth check 8+EDs+spirits - no detection.
22. Checking weather report again - Hunter picks up that there is a lot of traffic from Japan to the weather site. Details of astronomical event, queries from university departments etc.
23. No events on way over, checks. Marius spots the dark area from a way off. Shimazu spots a couple of hundred metahumans over the volcano.
24. Details on the blackout from computer search, looking south west. Marius plans to go past and loop around.
25. Marius stealth check on approach - sucks, reroll, still sucks, spend 1GK, gets a 10. Tads does a F7 vehicle mask - Light stun, 6 successes.
26. *nearly* get spotted - 20 vs 22, Land on the golf course, plant token in a tree.
Kren Cooper
Hi everyone - and welcome to another update for the Smuggler campaign. Episode 185 is now published, and can be found:-
Added to the end of Book 7:
The story at FanFiction:
The story at Archive Of Our Own:

Here's the "behind the scenes" from this week's run:
Got a bit of exposition this week, when I looked at the starting position for the evening, and where they were flying to – and it was *straight* over the middle of Nagasaki. I don’t think they’d looked at the map closely, and it was far too good an opportunity to miss out on. With a F10 ward on the tilt-wing, it wasn’t really going to do anything to them, but it was a good place for a spot of world building and to discuss the impact of things like Nukes. In the course of reading up on the Hiroshima/Nagasaki blasts to try and get some context, I was surprised to find out about “operation meetinghouse” – a firebombing strike on 9/10 March 1945 that actually caused more damage and casualties than either nuclear strike. 279 bombers dropped enough ordnance onto Tokyo to kill an estimated 100,000 people, destroy over a quarter of a million buildings and render more than a million people homeless – making it the most destructive raid in history. Despite doing “World War II” during history at school, I’d never heard of this, which just goes to show how much history is written by the victors and what rose tinted glasses we sometimes wear without knowing about it.
Anyway, eye opening reading of WW2 aside, they got past that with a little stun damage, and headed on to the airport, made a smooth landing and schmoozed their way past customs using the fake details from their contact. For 10K Nuyen I was happy to give them an easy visit, so no hassles forthcoming, and after refuelling they made plans to leave. A lucky spot from the tower controller required a bit of fast talking, but again they got through that with a reasonable story and were soon on their way.
Then of course, we roll for random encounters, and get a hit. Second roll to determine what type of random encounter and we get a “positive/beneficial” one. So, a legit flight they can shadow for ¾ of the journey, giving them smooth sailing and helping them get to volcano #6 just before dawn, without any issues.
Great stuff – they land, and go for a quick drop off, and I roll out the priestess to ask them to stop. They carry on, and just when I was thinking they were going to bug out quickly and we’d go to “plan B”, Shimazu decides to bite on the plot hook, and we do a quick swerve. So, they agree (very grudgingly) to delay for 12 hours while the Shinto priests do their ritual, which means that Shimazu got to meet the swordsmith, and find out a little history on his blade, as well as make a new contact.
Based on the clever sharing with the mind-link, I think the NPC is now much more inclined to let the players go with the sword, despite initially him being written as not wanting that (and there being a potential show down at the shrine with a bit of myfic guidance from the ancestors to persuade him to let Shimazu keep it… the whole thing was designed to be a bit of a push for Tom/Shimazu to see how he’d handle a conflict between loosing his weapon foci and alienating someone he should respect from a skill and cultural POV.)
This is one of the things I try to keep in the back of my mind when I’m writing the plot / adventure segments… that old maxim of “no plot survives first contact with the players intact”. That pesky free will nonsense, and self-determination. Sometimes you can put the players on rails, and take them to the action, and it’s entirely appropriate for the situation. Lofywr lands and tells the party to take a knee or die in a fiery blast, well, you’ve got those two options, and no you can’t sweet talk him out of it, or challenge him to Chess. You should know from his reputation that he’s not going to take any shit from you. But balanced against that is trying not to fall so in love with your plots that you push them through regardless of player actions, rendering them as nothing more than passengers in your creative vehicle, which ultimately sucks.
So, the “confrontation” between Shimazu and Isarroko is probably headed off by his pledge/promise/deed – but that also means that two of the party now have magical deeds hinging on defeating the horror, so that’s a thing that really is now pretty certain to happen. Which is going to be fun, because the horror escaped from the temple, and is actually hunting them, so it’ likely to be a lot sooner than the party realise, and on its terms, and not theirs!
All aboard the plot train. Choo choo, mother-frackers!

And as usual, here are the notes from the game session, to compare / contrast with the narrative:
1. Sunday 26/9/2060, Location: 32.67595, 128.87782, Time 02:52
2. 92km to Nagasaki, Kai 1, Aswon+Shimazu=3, feeling of doom. 15mins out from start,
3. Overflying Nagasaki, BGC=6. Aswon tells Shimazu to look astrally, Tads trys to shield, both soak 6L,
4. Magic background checks - Tads background on comet crash / Chernobyl, Shimazu - Nagasaki,
5. Ward being attacked by the BGC, spirits very unhappy and want to leave. Magic light - but some meetings happen. Tads asks about other areas - plot Hiroshima / Fukoshima
6. 11 successes on landing at Kumamoto, single airstrip, directed off at first taxiway, English with J accent. Hunter says he's staying hidden. Kai sculpted to look Japanese
7. 2 buggies approach, 1 police, one fuel bowser. Kai and Shimazu get out. One police, one airport officer, checks ID 1 X 11 vs 3 3s, all ok. Not disembarking cargo? No, ok, no customs inspection required. Back in buggy, head off.
8. Buy 920 litres at 3680.
9. 4am ready to go. 630km to next volcano. Planning illegal internal flights, stealth away from airport. Vehicle stealth=14, Vehicle mask spell, F7, 7 successes. Mask as Mitsuhama cargo chopper.
10. Angry voice - Mitsuhama, you do not have clearance. Marius thinks its a visual spot. Kai delegates to Shimazu. Aswon suggests "we have clearance, check your files". Etiquette test for Shimazu vs 3 - 2 success after RR.
11. Random encounter, yes, positive. Fed-ex chopper heading the right direction. Get in the blind spot, all the way to Osaka.
12. Get to local area, a little after 5am. Tads suggests refuel - generally felt not to be worth it yet.
13. Come in for landing. Handling check on 4s, As Aswon gets out, priestess appears. Aswon "Shimazu problem", heads off. Shimazu gets out, heads towards her. Her costume goes mental in the prop wash
14. "No, please stop, you're ruining everything!" Shimazu asks Marius to power down. He does. Aswon at ornamental flower bed.
15. "Please leave, don’t do anything, ruin the rededication." Aswon does phone tourist thing - in Japanese. Shimazu apologies, very sorry. She looks upset with Shimazu, heads over to the rock.
16. Aswon - it'll still be on the mountain, in the shrine though. Kai - maybe, maybe not, let's not risk it.
17. Swordsmith, 2 hander, 60 years old, out of woodland. Engines start to spool up. Shimazu following priestess. Kai gets out and stands by door observing swordsmith.
18. Priestess is searching the rockery. Shimazu arrives "can I help in any way"
19. "working for weeks, balancing harmony, please, don't. It's out of balance." Marius - get it back and find out how big their area is, find somewhere outside that area. Kai - yeah, try that.
20. Shimazu explains they need to leave it, close, anywhere they can put it. She spots it, Shimazu grabs it. Ask them not to pollute, but at least not until after sunset. Tads - can we give it to her.
21. Sword starts heading over. Ten minutes to dawn. Tads suggests leaving a spirit with it to drop at Dusk.
22. Kai to Shimazu - explain politely, ask her if we can park somewhere for 12 hours. Help with the ceremony? For being understanding.
23. At this point they spot she is not magically active, he is, spot the sword - not a weapon foci, positive emotion virgin telesma.
24. Shimazu heading to the chopper, she chats with sword. Then heads to Shimazu, blown about, Shimazu goes to her. She says "Isarroko says you can park in his workshop for 12 hours." Marius thinks about stealth and sleep, might be worth it.
25. Describes where workshop is, eyes fall to sword, speech tails off. Shimazu sees eyes go wide, psychology, recognises it's important.
26. "you obviously recognise this, let's have a chat afterwards." Sits on edge of doorway, grabs stanchion, Aswon offers a carabiner. Marius takes off, he talks them down to his workshop.
27. Aswon asks about snow beasts. Gets explanation.
28. Land, workshop expo, outside 1km.
29. Invited to join rituals, dawn and dusk mostly for sword. Introductions again.
30. Hunter stays hidden, Aswon helps fuel. Kai and Shimazu introduce.
31. Leaving the token in the bird, Shimazu, Kai, Tads, Vadim go up the hill with Sword. Tads lets spirits expire at dawn, does NOT summon new ones.
32. Tads checks astrally during ritual, centering, fluent with blade. two rounds, tea ceremony, singing and chanting.
33. Kai antiques check, two good rolls. Magical societies - very ritualistic, passed down. Wants to take part in tea ceremony and help out, talk after. Lots of antiques. Long ritual.
34. Refuelling goes ok. Marius and Hunter sleeping. Aswon on guard.
35. Tads, Shimazu and Vadim go with Isarroko into forge. Get background count / aspect.
36. Ask to see sword. Silk cloth, presents hands. Examines, wonder in eyes, where did you get it? "Working in Iran, "salvaged" better in the hands of someone who knows it's value.
37. It must be fate. Heads back to house. This is the little brother. Drop of blood on drawing.
38. Shimazu gets silks, examines. Explains GGGGGGgrandfather. Shimazu bows, lifesaver.
39. Asks to heat the blades. Shimazu asks about the blood. Heat both blades, shows the makers marks, its fate. You must have been bought here by destiny...
40. I need to make you a new weapon, you can't leave this here, a warrior without a weapons.
41. Shimazu - hey no. Absolutely no. Why?
42. Fate, reunite as a set. Shimazu offers to show him the mission. Asks Tads for mind-link. Shimazu's greatest hits - fighting spirits, werewolves, attunement, enchantment, bear, tiger shapeshifters, includes being beaten by the Jewish hit squad. End with the horror. Includes the dragons.
43. "I must think on this". Shimazu promises to get the blade back if he dies, his friends will bring it back. Shimazu offers to declare a deed to slay the horror in the family name of Isarroko.
Kren Cooper
Hi everyone - and welcome to another update for the Smuggler campaign. Episode 186 is now published, and can be found:-
Added to the end of Book 7:
The story at FanFiction:
The story at Archive Of Our Own:

Apologies for the slight delay on this one – I got a call that we had a system down at work at 10am Sunday morning, it all went a bit Pete Tong and I didn’t get home until 2am Monday morning… So I lost most of the Sunday that I normally use to publish and do this post in, and I’m trying to catch up on this and the other stuff before gaming tomorrow. Oh the joys of working with computers…

Anyway, here's the "behind the scenes" from this week's run:
We started off with the team still effectively split into three – a couple sleeping or avoiding the magical shenanigans, a couple with Isarroko in the smithy doing some RP there, and Kai at the top of the hill with Yani doing some RP with her. A slow night for the sleepers to start off with, but I had plans for later that I thought would liven things up a bit, so I didn’t rush through the RP section at the start.
Isarroko still wanted his sword back, but having been in the mind-link with Shimazu it was hard to argue about his needs and experience, so that made the situation far easier for them to deal with there, effectively diffusing a situation entirely. Kai seemed to get quite into the details of the tea ceremony and wanting to know more about Yani and the local priests, and stayed with her for the duration of the day.
By lunchtime I’d got the people awake all back together, doing stuff and taking part in the ceremony to some extent – Shimazu at least didn’t botch his edge weapons roll trying to slice the flame off of a candle, so that was all good. The description of the afternoon picked up pace a little now they were together, and there was less individual focus – but they remained respectful and let them finish their ceremonies, and got permission to plant the token.
With that out of the way they got back and could head up to the top of Japan – a nice long straight run, with loads of cover and concealment. I had a planned encounter in store for them, so didn’t roll for any randoms, just to keep things moving along nicely. At the suitable point there was an unexpected sensor check for Marius, which fortunately he did really well on, meaning he wasn’t entirely surprised with the enemy craft appeared out of nowhere, powering up their systems and going into pursuit. Some fancy flying, magical support and a few re-rolls later, and they were making their escape from the surface ship and it’s helicopter wing, and closing in on the volcano.
Having the ghost samurai appear as Hunter and Aswon were on the way down really emphasised how reliant they were on Tads for support / control, and that she in turn was reliant on Marius to keep her in a good position. All was good though, and the players got down to the car park without incident – ready to meet the ghosts at the start of the next episode. I’m thinking they’re expecting a fight, and hopefully will be pleasantly surprised when it turns into a smooth talky encounter – based on their respect and patience at the previous location.

And as usual, here are the notes from the game session, to compare / contrast with the narrative:
1. Sunday 26/9/2060, Location: 34.67969, 137.25001, Time 08:15
2. Yani will conduct cleansing rites and rituals around the peak all day, with a tea ceremony between each. Kai goes with, asks about the religion. Details about some tribal culture, walks around totems.
3. Isarroko starts working on a new sword, ASks Shimazu - S or R. Difficult to decide, I would go with R, hold myself accountable. Even though it would bring you less honour. Travelled quite far, short amout of time, greatest honour is what you bring to yourself, protect your friends, rely on your own values. Will you tell me of your clan? Toyahesa clan, people of bodyguards. Hired out as mercenaries, take pride in this. Choice of people to protect is not always what lines up with my ideals. Sometimes less honourable people that don't deserve. Asks for clan symbol, puts sword aside, makes clan symbol. Tads goes to snooze. Vadim asks about blacksmithing 101. Produces a clan symbol in an hour, presents to Shimazu, graciously accepted. After 1.5 hours I heads up the hill, Aswon stays, Tads snoozing with Marius and Hunter. Vadim stays too, takes watch from Aswon.
4. Up the hill, magic check, ritual is mostly intact, magical origins, would do "something" if she had talent. Kai asks what the significance of leaving the token - would mess with the chi, knocking things out of balance. Perception, mountain has been litter picked, all is natural and in balance. Ask Yani how long she's been doing this, 5 years, old priestess, passing down the old ways.
5. Candles, in a pattern, flame cutting, Isarroko asks Shimazu, does an excellent job - 4 successes. Get the BBQ on, then start walking around with local businessmen.
6. Rest of team wake up, get food. All quiet, nothing wrong at the quarry. Aswon downloads an ebook on local cuisine - Japanese dumplings.
7. Dusk, offerings to the ancestors, food+sake offerings. Yani tells Kai he can plant the thing. Kai asks if can come back - Yani says ok, you've been respectful. Kai offers to do deliveries to far away places - or just leave a business card. Yani takes a card, doesn't have any needs. She is outside her comfort zone.
8. Shimazu exchanges contact info with Isarroko, offers services. Thinks about apprenticeship, I tells S he needs to come back with tales of his honour to be considered.
9. Tads stays with Tilt wing but summons spirits. Shimazu puts rock in car park in original place. Say their goodbyes, head back. Take off,
10. Head up, discussion about geography, working the distances, Tads suggests most of the team refuel while the fitter runners go and plant the token.
11. No random encounters on way up.Avoid Toyota plant, thread between cities.
12. Marius gets a twitch on the sensors, not surprised, choppers light up+DDG, Marius drops to the water and screams at Tads - needs cover. Tads does trid phantasm. 7 successes, take an L, just projects "empty space"
13. Driving test - totally evades 1, 2nd just keeps a lock
14. Hunter EW roll, 5 - doesn't hurt. Spends 1 Karma, gets a success.
15. Next round. Lee wins by 2. throws off the DDG, but chopper A reacquires. Now goes for a climb, try to outpace the chopper. Tads offers to use a dragon illusion. Hunter suggests a ram, Tads needs 3 RR to manipulate
16. Fooled by illusion, Chopper B looses lock as he breaks left, DDG fooled. Chopper B locks on and pursues. Tads recalls illusion and tries again with empty sky bearing.
17. Marius radical manuever as he tries to throw lock from B. Chopper A gets a 25 - definitely reaquired. B and DDG still got nothing. Call in the open, stop moving or else.
18. Quick shouted discussion - send the spirits to attack the choppers, do a hard turn. Tads puts spell defence on choppers to go bug the choppers. Spirits scream by choppers, Marius does a corkscrew move. WP tests from everyone - Kai was going for a door gun, Kai flips and up and down, but all is ok. Streak across the ocean.
19. Kai calls twin peaks. do you have a bathroom? Of course, Do you have good for sale? Air or sea - air. Give eta, sign off.
20. Aswon checks astrally, looking for campers etc BGC towards nature.
21. Shimazu requests they land down from his vision, bird heading towards the top, then will go down to land for Shimazu. Hunter and Aswon levitated down. Aswon magical perception check - 6 successes, easily spots the ghosts of a dozen samurai stepping out of the trees. Tads drags them behind the chopper. 20-30 ghost samurai follow Aswon+Hunter. Check terrain, note GPS co-ords and then throw the token back towards the peak. Ghosts still following them down, all get to car park, landing.
Kren Cooper
Hi everyone - and welcome to another update for the Smuggler campaign. Episode 187 is now published, and can be found:-
Added to the end of Book 7:
The story at FanFiction:
The story at Archive Of Our Own:

Here's the "behind the scenes" from this week's run:
Well, the team were pretty respectful, polite and consider at Volcano #6, so Volcano #7 turned into “easy mode”. All they needed was for Shimazu to prove that he was either Samurai or Ronin, by any means and they got a “free pass” onto the mountain. Once he’d done that, planting the token was easy, and Shimazu even took the time to do some Psychometry on the way down at the shrine to get some idea of what was going on, finding out that it was an ancient battle site, and linked as part of a series of mountains. Unfortunately Hunter didn’t do well on his decking roll, so they didn’t get much more information than that.
Moving on from that, they got to the next smuggler stop, a slightly wonky and haphazard ex-oil rig. This is on the shore of a volcanic island, that has a dirty great big free spirit cabal living underground, ruled over by the Magma Queen. She has “envoys” who keep the oil rig safe and act as an interface to the outside world, collecting stories in a similar way to the Quoll at Volcano #2 – but while the Quoll was generally pretty laid back and wouldn’t actually harm people given a choice, the situation is very different here.
There are only a few metahumans here, and only the lead two characters know about the elementals, otherwise it appears like a normal smuggler base. However, prime quality telesma can be obtained if you have the favour of the local spirits, making it a great place to stock up.
If the players “bite”, and tell some more good stories, they may be able to get onto the island and do a bit of talismongering which would be really good for them cash wise – but I don’t know if they’ll just want to push on. It’s possible they could earn a trip underground, but that would be tough going – but may reward them even more handsomely! I suspect it will be a gas stop, grab a few choice items and then head north again, towards a combat in Yakut.

And as usual, here are the notes from the game session, to compare / contrast with the narrative:
1. Sunday 26/9/2060, Location: 43.43853, 142.659, Time 21:52
2. Hunter share check - 10% of original value.
3. Hunter and Aswon land, unclip. Shimazu approaches ghosts with hand on sword. Bows. Ghosts come through the gate. Silent, point "away".
4. Rabbit comes, terrified, stone in mouth. Ghost leaves the body, withers and dies.
5. Aswon says "ask for permission". Shimazu does. They point again. Tads tries to look astrally - ghosts, chain, tied to a place/purpose. She assenses, mix of F5+6, 30 in number, even split
6. "We have a duty from our great lord to place this stone and for it not to be disturbed for some time." Listens, scoffs, points off the mountain. Shimazu challenges to a dual. "since neither can agree, must complete tasks, test one another." Adds terms. Ghost shakes head, shows clan symbol. Shakes and points. Shimazu shows his clan symbol. Reaches for him, bitter cold, leeches into his hand. Examines, ghosts split into 2 rows. Clan society roll - ronin and samurai. Shimazu bows, walks one step forward, sword tunnel. Aswon steps forward. Ghosts fade away as Shimazu passes.
7. Hunter shoots up after them - Aswon wary, racial background - but he goes anyway.
8. Aswon suggests all the way to the top unless they find a shrine. Others agree. Aswon finds a light coloured rock on the way up to hide the token under. Up to the top, collapsed dome, find a spot, turn and descend. Another 90mins down, 1am. Go examine the shrine.
9. Kai calls twin peaks, advises they will be light.
10. Psychometry on shrine, old battle, link to a dozen other mountains, including volcano #6 link to older medieval version of quarry. Ask Hunter for research. Poor roll, no real detail. Needs a more dedicated host / site.
11. Tads summons fresh spirits to top up. Marius takes off, stealth roll of 15+spirit+ED - evades japan border no problem
12. Fly up the Kuril Islands. Tads suggests going through the "skins" used in Russia and lock them out, for now.
13. Spot the 4 cones, approach closer, astral scan, worries about ash clouds. Geology rolls - fluffed from both Tads and Hunter. No further info.
14. Spot the platform, washed up by the beach, noticeable slope to it. Kai calls for landing permission, get told either - one big, one small.
15. Handling check landing 7.5 degree slope, Astral checks - half a dozen F4+5 watchers, couple of free spirits one earth, one fire.
16. Rusty, broken, shored up, no safety rails - all used to shore up other bits. Waved to admin block, knock on the door. Wait for the chockers, follow them in. Sign to control room
17. "New fish"? "Yes, I am Aswon. We need fuel for craft and barrels. We have cred, this is good yes?" "Maybe, it depends." Aswon talks about possible jobs to UCAS. "people that own this place like stories" - "are they all ethereal like?" "Oh no!" Aswon looks astral. Spots geode. Tell story here? No - story in a different room, but pay me cred for fuel.
18. total travelled = 2335, 9340 nuyen
19. one bunker room cleared, active hermetic circle, f7. Kanai stomps in, ruined effect, cowled, not masking. "Are you here for the story"? "I'll listen, but I'm not the one you're telling it to." Aswon tells a story about the quoll - moderate details. Contrast difference / similarities between here and the quoll. 15 minute story. Charisma check - 17,9,3
20. "they are happy with your story, you can buy additional things" "oh? Like what?" goes through telesma, magic spells, hermetic, not shamanic, tads on a mission, oh she set the alarm off, yes, sorry about that. No offence meant. "so telesma, from the island?" Yes, very lucky - I'd like to live somewhere like this.
21. Aswon calls for Shimazu, who comes, silent, traceless walk. Surprised, roll for init
22. Shimazu 16, Aswon 23, Kanai 8. "Aswon - wait! Friendly" Shimazu goes into a fighting stance, hand on sword but doesn't engage. Casts spell on Shimazu, levitate, F6, 12 successes, slams Shimazu back into the wall. "You didn't tell me you'd bought one of THEM!"
23. "what, Japanese, or samurai?" Shimazu, not leaving without an apology. Aswon - sorry, didn’t' warn him about friend, apologies with both. Reveals he's an albino oni. Aswon calls for Hunter.
24. Shimazu - your attitude is more likely to cause a problem than your race. Shimazu hand off sword, Hunter arrives. "You travel together." "yes, touch hand to shoulder, we shared rooms and stuff.
25. Apologies to Shimazu, had bad dealings with "our" people. Shimazu - it's ok. Sorry you had to go through that.
26. Tads astral check - 13+12+stuff. All high, Shapeshifter eagles and rocs, volcano buzzards. Gets back, asks Vadim to catch her up. Vadim asks for a combat formula to help kill people.
27. Tads tells vadim if he wants a spell he has to go buy it himself. "I go to shop now." Vadim and Tads come into rig, get lost, Hunter goes to rescue.
28. Go to magic shop and browse. Aswon asks about magic rock, explains why. If you have good stories, we can make arrangements! I am Aswon, I have many good stories.
29. Aswon eying up a sapphire for Germaine... 400Ny
Kren Cooper
Hi everyone - and welcome to another update for the Smuggler campaign. Episode 188 is now published, and can be found:-
Added to the end of Book 7:
The story at FanFiction:
The story at Archive Of Our Own:

Here's the "behind the scenes" from this week's run:
So, having presented them with the opportunity to purchase cheap telesma, I wanted to see what they’d do – get stuff for the future and hope they didn’t need the cash, or buy some stuff to flip at the next couple of smuggler bases? Turns out they wanted the gold and are looking at Orichalcum, so it certainly seems that Tads has some downtime in mind for some future point…
A quick charisma check later (and Kai does have Charisma 8 as the face character, so he normally does pretty well), and they got an offer to go meet the boss… which generated just enough interest to distract them from just flying out. Off they went to the island, down into the tunnels and down to Molten Core… I mean the volcanic cavern far below. Certainly not an encounter inspired from Vanilla World of Warcraft. No siree. Definitely didn’t use some fan art of Molten core as a visual guide posted in the discord channel. Nope – not me. Ok, totally me… but still, Ali (Tads) didn’t comment in game (she did ask me after) and none of the rest of the team commented – two of them played WoW but casually, so I don’t think they even got the connection.
And then they got *horribly* confused when the free lava elemental inexplicably became hostile and very shouty at them, and called all his buddies, and made it look like we were about to roll initiative. Very confused. Genuine headscratching from the team as they tried to work out what had triggered them. I made a couple of magic background checks, but unfortunately for them they didn’t get the TN required.
So – what happened? Well, the lava queen had “divination” as well as “wealth” as a power, and just didn’t get a great roll. Signs uncertain. Future unclear. Lots of explosions though. And apparently 2+2=5. So while the Pacific Ring of Fire will go all sideways after the mission is done – that’s about a year away in the future, way after they’ve finished and after the dragons have had time to claim their volcanos their minions “won” and have messed about with the mana lines. However it’s a pretty cataclysmic event, so I figured the backwards ripple from something like that should be pretty traumatic to witness. If the players figure it out though, hopefully it will stick in the mind that the NPCs can mess up / get it wrong too though…
It was never meant to devolve into a combat situation though – the players would probably have gotten utterly spanked if they’d started something, so that’s a good thing. But for a few minutes, they *thought* it was all going sideways and that they were going to get into a horrible mess, so there was some tension and excitement as well as some genuine “WTAF?” expressions.
With the situation defused somewhat and the Lava Queen going away to think about what she’d done and realise that maybe things weren’t as clear cut, she had to complete on her deal with Kai for the 2 Karma he’d paid her. For a Force 9 free spirit with spirit energy of 6, that works out at a very healthy 200K+ in a month of precious stuff they can make. So, I figured a bunch of gold should do nicely, and that’s how the players got 8 more units of talismanic gold to cart around. If Tads does get a month or two off to go enchanting crazy, she’s potentially going to end up with a metric ton of Orichalcum, which will be interesting. Hopefully by that point through, we’ll be further through the plot line, they’ll have a few new contacts and the idea of putting level 4 EDs on the tilt wing might occur to them – in which case they’ll need a few million Nuyen!
The magma queen was stated as: F9 SE6 fire elemental with Divination, Wealth, Aura Masking, Human Form backed up by 3 X F7 SE5 fire elementals (Sorcery, Hidden Life), 2 X F6 SP5 Earth elementals (Astral Gateway, Possession),(Astral Gateway, Dispelling, Human Form, Aura Masking, Dispelling, Hidden Life), (Aura Masking, Human Form, Sorcery) , and a bunch of air/water elementals as well. Special effects in her lava chamber / underground layer.
I also dangled the “teleport” mechanic at the end, knowing full well that it would confuse Jez/Aswon – as he knows full well, that I know that in SR there is no teleport magic. I saw the look on his face over the web-cam as he tried to work out what was going on, and then him just decide to leave it – at least for now.
What I have is the two earth elementals form a linked pair, with their astral gateways “in sync”. Mechanically, the players went on an astral quest at Rating 1, where the goal (even though they didn’t consciously know it) was to find the other gateway. As long as both elementals are in Magic X 1000 m of each other, the power works ok. It’s a bit of a work around, but also hopefully a really interesting mechanic that *could* work without breaking the rules of magic design.
Long term, I have plans for the players to return to Twin Peaks, and to be beset by potentially stronger and more numerous enemies – at least until the players can start astral gatewaying their way around the island, behind enemy lines and sow absolute havok upon their foes, hopefully having a really good time in the process. Sort of like the first time you play a shoot em up after finding a cheat code and just wail on the bad guys for shits and giggles…
Anyway, with a bunch of loot, a full tank of gas and a bit of a rest, they’re ready to head towards Yakut and the next volcano, which will include a climb (the peak is above the flight ceiling for the aircraft) and almost certainly a fight with some critters. So, Shadowrun being what it is, expect another writeup coming up that covers about 9 seconds of real time progress in 8000 words / 2 hours of gameplay….

And as usual, here are the notes from the game session, to compare / contrast with the narrative:
1. Sunday 26/9/2060, Location: 43.43853, 142.659, Time 22:48
2. In the magic shop, deciding what to buy. Talking about the journey up north - about 3 hours. Tads says not dawn/dusk due to spirits. Aswon - ahh, but neither do they. Kai - night not the best for us, helps the spirits / critters.
3. Look at distances to zebra/battle barge. Aswon - good chance of being magically spotted, so maybe normal stealth, they have low tech, avoid magic concealment. Some talk about mid-air refuelling - too complex.
4. Aiming for 4am departure for a pre-dawn border crossing.
5. Tads raises idea of buying gold, turning into Orich - downtime, 1 month. Maybe front Aslik. Otherwise go for Gems - easier to sell. Or contact Aslick/Germain/Ludmilla and offer to get stuff if they pay. Aswon - Aslik I think, Ludmilla is poisons/toxins, Germaine is antiques.
6. Tads - does Nadia have spare cash? We can adjust cash flow maybe? Marius pipes up - he has 15K. Aswon has 5k Marius checks with Nadia - no spare cash spent on engineering workshops, radar reflectors and other base upgrades.
7. 20k+food offers for supplies, negotiation roll, net of 2 - offers 2 X raw gold(7500), 8 X precious gems (3000), 4 X silver (900) - or with only 4 gems and 0 silver, but an introduction to the elemental queen. Kai goes for the introduction. Marius in bed, all the rest going for the meeting.
8. Kanai gives supplies to Tads, ushers out of room and melts the door closed. Tads asks about metal fatigue.
9. Down into the depths, into a leg, out into the air 25m above the water, arcane chanting - Japanese rolls, Shimazu gets some idea of ancient Japanese offshoot. Air elemental drift down towards island. Twin peaks description, view of lava tube / vent.
10. Kanai takes to lava tube, sends team down, take turns towards brighter light.
11. Kai texts Marius "door code is 4422 if we don't come back"
12. Heat, light, roaring, 0.5km underground, 20mins in - keep going down, into lava chamber.
13. Disembodied voice "who dares entered hallowed hall". BGC=1 (elemental). This is Kai, meeting with boss, team new fish. Lava Elemental appears
14. LE "What do you want". K "we are people of trading, wish to speak to boss about making money".
15. LE "so that is what you want, money?" "In general yes, I'm in it for the adventure, but they like money", general grumblings from rest of team. Aswon - not just the money, we like the telesma, like the oni, he said we should speak to you. Kai - we also like the money though.
16. Spirit manifests, laughs, what can we call you, laugh stops - names have power. Give me a respectful name, "forge". Help the people outside and bring them stuff, we can trade with things from here. And we do like stories. Tads - need to introduce you to something. Kai - is there anything you want? Give me some of your essence, I'll give you shiny rocks.
17. Tads tries conjuring test to improve ratio - fails, no RR. Takes 2 karma from Kai via story - quick recap about meeting in Chechen camp.
18. Wealth roll for spirit 6d6 roll = 23. All kicks off - "what will you do, harbinger of destruction" "random chaos, do bad stuff to bad people, good stuff to good people" "what are you doing to have such fate wrapped around you?" "working for a few dragons" Elementals close in around you. Shimazu explains about ghosts from last volcano, just in case.
19. Aswon steps in front of Kai - angry voice, recites all the good stuff they have done - horror, ranch, - hand near the face, soak 2M - takes an L, blistered nose. Kai - what's offending you so badly. Aswon - plus, stopped a fight, Kunai was going to attack Shimazu, would have gone bad.
20. "the task you are on, will bring great destruction - you must tell us what you are doing." confusion about Which tasks - elemental says visions of destruction. Aswon explains about game tokens, one moon. Clarifies time scale and start time.
21. "You're doing this because you're being paid, not because you want to." "Technically, made it clear we couldn't refuse, but then yeah, being paid" Aswon circles back to warlord, rules of the team, no trafficking. Professional.
22. Elemental comes back up, "what form of payment do you want?", Gold?Gold is good? Charisma roll off, Kai wins by 2.
23. vomits up 8 units of gold
24. Kai - if we come back to tell you how the story is that good. Tads asks if she can talk to Forge. 2 questions, will pay you for 1 of the, We're going to kill a horror. Offers karma for help. Magic weapons, but not Aswon - that's better used elsewhere. 2nd question - can I levitate the gold if it's too hot.
25. "you should leave now, we have preparations to make", earth elemental astral gateway - Aswon no no no, where does that take us. To the metal thing. Ok, Aswon going first. Kai thanks Forge. "Ok, go now." Double tunnel back, on the rig, 23:30
26. 8 more units of raw gold.
27. Go find Chiaki, Tads creates food. List of construction equipment / spares / parts given.
28. Resting until 4am.
Kren Cooper
Hi everyone - and welcome to another update for the Smuggler campaign. Episode 189 is now published, and can be found:-
Added to the end of Book 7:
The story at FanFiction:
The story at Archive Of Our Own:

Here's the "behind the scenes" from this week's run:
So, here we are at volcano number 8 of 14 – over the half-way point, but also with more than half the mission time elapsed, and the team quite low on funds after getting the engines fixed. Still, we should be good to ending on track, and depending on what I hit them with, we may have a little tension towards the end. I *must* remember to shift the date forward as they head east across the Aleutian islands though, as they cross the international date line, and see if that worries them (it won’t make a difference, the time limit is all mythical in it’s reasoning, and based on the lunar cycle – they *think* that’s the case, but they don’t *know* that’s the case…)
Volcano 8 is a “fight challenge”, and was going to throw some more Yakut shapeshifters at them to try and cause some issues. However, rolling on the weather chart saw them hitting a big storm, and that cut down perception tests on both sides, and it ended up with them slipping by the Yakut forces, with neither side being any the wiser. I thought about having them turn up, but in the end went with just the natural critters present on the mountains instead, which still gave them a combat – even if it wasn’t that dangerous. Good job really, as they decided to split the party again…
The first creature they encountered were “Snow Thumpers” – or as the team christened them “Thunder-bunnies”. I’d given them their sonic thunderclap ability as a defensive measure, throwing up a smoke screen in effect to allow them to escape a predator, and to provide some potential alarm with avalanches. I wanted the players to see the ability first off, then be aware of what could happen for when they encountered more.
Snow Thumpers: Large arctic hares with a drum-hoof paracritter ability. When fleeing from predators they can leap into the air and slam their back legs together to make a sonic attack, that can also cause avalanches. Make a to hit using Reaction, vs TN4, number of successes = the Strength of the sonic attack. Sonic attack ignores Ballistic/impact armour, starts at L damage.
B2, Q5*4, S2, I1/3,W2, C2, R4, Init 1D6+4, Claw attack 2L, Sonic attack #L
Next up was their predators – a nice slinky, snow leopard. To make these guys a threat I used a fairly generic big-cat profile with some wickedly sharp claws, but then gave them a first-round-only combat bonus, a massive +3 reach bonus in the first attack as they “pounce” on their prey super-fast. It certainly caught Aswon off guard, who normally enjoys the reach advantage with his spear. Once they’d got past that though, they were not that tough or hard to defeat.
Snow Leopards: Pounce attack - counts as Reach 3 on charge turn
B4, Q6 *4, S4, I2/4, W2, C2, R5, Init 2D6+5, Claw attack 7M half impact armour

The next attack was some Volcano Buzzards – designed to be able to swoop in from whatever direction they were most vulnerable in, and cause some hassle with their fire-breath attack. Part of this was also showing Aswon his new ability unlocked with his last investment of Karma into his magical spear – fire protection. The buzzards also had a nasty disease that while not being *that* likely to kill directly, would stop natural healing until the disease was purged, which makes anything else that happens much more deadly – especially if it stretches out over a week or so while they are struggling to fight off the pathogen.
Volcano Buzzards: Have a flame breath attack they use when they charge - as part of the charge attack they trigger a 6M flame attack on reaction, against TN4 just before the combat is resolved.
B3, Q4 *3, S3, I1/3, W3, C1, R4, Init 1D6+4, Claw attack 6M, then beak attack 4M with a disease check (affects on a 5+, causes necrosis - Natural body test each dawn re 6, needing > 5 total success or inflict L damage. No natural healing while necrotic plague infected)
I also had Rocs and Shapeshifter Eagles specced up, with the Eagle using control spells to send the Rocs in using tactics and co-ordination – but as said above, they ended up just not seeing the team due to situational modifiers on the perception check. Hey – even the bad guys have off days….
Regarding the magical spear – Aswon has now unlocked the 2nd “level” of his item, after hitting two milestones and investing two lots of 5 karam. His spear now grants him shielding 2, and also reduces the power of fire attacks by 6 before factoring in armour. He’s still got 3 further unlocks to go, each one granting an additional power (and the bonuses are tied to the level, so by level 5 he’ll have shielding 5 and -15 power to fire attacks: it was designed as a weapon to allow Immortal elves to hunt dragons, so that should make a little sense.)
Kai also has his “campaign special” – the purple crystal shard which sank into his body up in the Yakut tundra has enhanced his commanding voice style power, allowing him to dominate a person with a much lower willpower than himself – though I don’t think he’s realised yet, and I’ve not pushed the point… waiting for a few more of the team to get their goodies.
Next up is Marius and Shimazu to get their shiny toys… Marius will get a lead to follow up on first, that will hopefully intrigue him but also represent some risk for the team as well, while Shimazu has a big set piece coming up at the end of the Volcano mission that I’m *hoping* will give him some epic roleplay. When they’re done, then Hunter and Tads will get their bits next, when they get back to see Aden. Hopefully. I mean who knows… the team might decide to go somewhere else…

And as usual, here are the notes from the game session, to compare / contrast with the narrative:
1. Monday 27/9/60, Location:45.80892, 149.91525, Time 04:00
2. Handling check take off at 4am, all good. Random encounter check = 1. Aswon spots BGC2 ahead storm. Aswon gets Tads to check it out - common sense. Aswon puts shielding on via spear, Tads uses Resistance.
3. Kai puts on wetsuit and parachute, gets quickness modifier. Looking for landing point
4. Marius flying above NOTE level due to weather - Aswon suggests going higher, into the clouds due to the BGC as masking.
5. Sensor check - finds some moorland at the top of a watershed just south of the lake, check for magic stuff. Check magic area on landing.
6. Aswon, Shimazu and Hunter on guard, Tads on overwatch. Kai and Vadim go to refuel. Kai takes off the wetsuit on landing. Survival roll - Aswon gets a good roll+warning. 20 mins to refuel. Now about 6:30, almost as dawn.
7. Tads and Aswon do a gear check on everyone to make sure layers are present. Tads waits for dawn to summon spirits.
8. Check for Aswons burnt nose - full 24 hours to heal. Lolz...
9. check topography, look at landing on SW from Aswons side - away from wind, keep engines clean. Marius favours #1, easier to land sheltered by the wind. Marius heading for #2 and doing scouting. Visibility dropped to 100-150m
10. Athletics (climbing) / survival rolls - bad weather, nobody professional will be out.
11. Plan to bring tilt-wing in to blow snow away from from ground to expose bare rock, Tads to use shape earth to flatten the area. 1 success on cast due to BGC of 2, slow cast but ok. Handling check from Marius - 4 success, all fine.
12. Landed, looking at about 2km horizontally, 600m climb. Decide who is going - Hunter, Shimazu and Aswon. Tads planning to go with astrally - Aswon warns about risk. Kai staying, getting door guns ready, Vadim on optics.
13. Aswon first, checking depth of snow, looking out for fissures / lava crusts etc. Marius checks for electronics noise - dead. Tads cleanses quickly, then projects out and around, dog leg to come in from overhead to scout. Magical perception - spots nothing (bunch of 3s), heads back, follows team.
14. Perception tests - spot the pair of thumpers running across path from R to L, then another comes, slam - hunter reaction check and dodges, others all saw it. Goes for Aswon, puts his TN up. Aswon has init. Beats aswon by 1 - soaked, knockdown test passed. Angry kitty
15. Kitty 15, Aswon 22, Shimazu 21, Hunter 19, Tads 33
16. Shimazu goes first - beheads with 15 successes. Tads checks for more astrally - sees lots of thumpers.
17. Hunter shoots burst, 5 successes, hits for 14D, it gets 1, buys 1, 2nd burst. Kills it. Rabbits kick off thunderclaps
18. Aswon covers the blood stains from the bullet ridden one, drags under a thorn bush/ covers in snow. Move on...
19. Tads spots 3 X Volcano Buzzards, heading in. Tads manifests and warns. 1 heads to carcasses, 2 head to group.
20. Aswon 17, Hunter 13, Shimazu 23, Tads 43, Buzzards 20 - Shimazu hold action, Tads holding,
21. One swoops towards Aswon/Hunter, goes for Aswon. One for Shimazu/Tads, one for buffet. Aswon gets fireballed, dodges most of it. Fire shield up - soaks 2m, snow flashes to steam around him. Aswon beats it by 4,
22. One hits Shimazu, 1 on dodge, 7m hit half impact, soaked. Shimazu beheads it as it comes in.
23. Hunter - burst on the wounded one, takes it down. 3rd one tries to take the prey. Team moves on.
24. Sound of explosions rolls down the hill to the tilt wing, Marius calls to check, Aswon "exploding rabbits, fire breathing birds, we're all fine here."
25. 40 mins, athletics test ok, climbers cairn, get token planted, turn and head back. Back to the tilt wing for about 08:30. Corpses had gone.
26. Heading east to the battle barge, no change in weather conditions.
Kren Cooper
Hi everyone - and welcome to another update for the Smuggler campaign. Episode 190 is now published, and can be found:-
Added to the end of Book 7:
The story at FanFiction:
The story at Archive Of Our Own:

Here's the "behind the scenes" from this week's run:
So, another week done, another smuggler base discovered. This one is based off of a snippet I found on Wikipedia, detailing the mass graves for Japanese troops on the Attu Island, one of the few “attacks on American soil” during WWII. Combined with that, I’d read a post about how downed submarines are referred to as “on patrol” rather than “lost at sea”. So, the idea was to combine the two into a weird magical ghost shanty town. An old Russian naval commander was leading a salvage operation to recover loot from an old cruiser that sunk after ramming a civilian vessel during a storm. Ghosts from the nearby island were making that all kinds of difficult, and were feeding on his crew. Just as all looked lost, the Captain decided to go down with dignity and style, and was defending his bridge in his old dress uniform, decked out in his hero medals. Throwing a snappy salute at the ghosts as they closed in, the sole survivor accepted his fate and paid his respects to the ghosts of the naval officers coming to eat his soul… but they realised that he was “one of them” and spared his life. He took over the ship, and turned it into a shrine for those “on patrol”, giving them a place to be remembered, and started collecting scraps from other wrecks, bringing them back to his base and drawing more and more ghosts to the site, slowly warping astral space. In exchange they protected the wrecks, guarding his operation and helping him survive, and then prosper.
With that background, I did a bit of digging and found a bunch of naval superstitions (mostly just wanting to wind the team up – you should have seen the looks on their faces when during the session I pointed at Tads and said “well, you’re going to be a problem obviously” – I think they were read to kick off over the perceived “insult”. But with some strangeness there, lots of ghosts from all kinds of navies through more than a century of war and peace to show them, hopefully it was going to be a “memorable” place.
And I don’t know why, but it seemed to really get to them – so they didn’t split the party, not even once, and did a very quick visit before bailing out, not picking up on pretty much any of the back story! Players…. Pah!. Well, I’m sure they’ll be back at some point, and maybe we can reveal some more of the story then. One of the things I might do is drop in an “artefact” – a bit of salvage dug up from another wreck somewhere, that has a ghost chained to it, and see if they make the connection – or maybe make a reference to something like that happening on Shadowland for Hunter to discover. We shall see…
Still, they got on well with the base, have earnt a little rep with their delivery of 10 kilos of magically created sirloin steak, and are on the way to the next volcano – which incidentally will take them straight over the Rat Islands, where they’re going to come across another horrible mana warp site – the site of the Cannikin underground nuclear test – the US largest underground nuke detonation which took place on 6/11/1971 – with an equivalent power of 5Mt of TNT, 400 times more powerful than Hiroshima. The blast caused a 7.0 earthquake after detonation in the 1800m deep shaft!
There you go… now you have a “thing I learnt” for today too… 😊

And as usual, here are the notes from the game session, to compare / contrast with the narrative:
1. Monday 27/9/60, Location:55.81334, 160.37626, Time 08:50
2. 900km to Battle barge. Weather crap, and worsening. 1 hour 40 minutes at cruising speed. Aswon maintaining Shielding, centering / meditating on what happened with the spear.
3. Tads - negotiate with Kai over gold, wants to commission new spells, don't have Nuyen, but do have gold. Kai - it's my soul gold! How much do you need? Tads, don't know yet, it's the people back home, going to take a while, but wanted to get you thinking about it. Maybe 10k per spell at the top end, F8 treat spell for instance, mind of the pack. Kai looking at timing for getting back - 2-3 weeks. Hopefully getting paid when job finishes. Hunter - don't think we need to get back to Japan?
4. Kai gets in touch with battle barge.
5. Marius notes poorer performance. Weather getting worse (awful roll from Kai).Marius tells Kai about needs for insulation stuff, Kai contacts Battle bArge for space heaters / additives. Told the market is open when they arrive. Aswon - visions of hands thrust into fire, working blades, deflecting fireballs, scales glowing brightly. Not black hands - all slender and pointy.
6. Arrive 10:30. Kai spots equally strong but different BGC. Marius doesn't notice much, just gets weird wave patterns. Call, get told to land in the opening when you see it. Marius spots the bridge, pre-crash. Marius complains about not having a normal landing spot - test for landing. Into the hanger, 32m wide, 60m long. Only craft there. Voice - landing officer will come to you, wait on the ship." Kai opens back doors. Marius spots poor state of repair of hanger.
7. "Permission to come aboard", strides up, salutes, Lt Rakonovich. Can I meet your captain and see your crew. Captain - maybe Marius? If you are the team leader, you are the captain. Frowns at Tads, gets names. I am Aswon! Looks at Tads, obviously you're a problem. Passes over fake beard. Some confusion. Tads casts physical mask. Rules, no women on board - Aswon, superstition or rule. Yes! When the bells toll, pay respects. Don't start fights.
8. How do we pay respects? You'll understand, just be respectful. Explains layout, contamination warning. Contamination with what? Radiation. Is garlic allowed? Confused yes.
9. Aswon asks - is this a ship? Yes, bulk tanker. Kai asks for fuelling. Sorts out, 5k. Hunter asks about guns - fine to carry, don't damage the ship. Aswon whispers in Kai's ears - can we "uninvite" him. Salute and leaves. Kai checks astrally, guy is essence 4, run down - but spots half a dozen ghosts in/out of the bulkhead. Checks with the LT., Ghosts everywhere, just don't break the rules.
10. Team heading to the market - all going, staying together. Through into rear compartment, people doing work, racks, tools, doing small work. 3 guys, put work aside, Marius walks up and asks for cold weather supplies. In luck, there is some gear. Hunter spots small equipment being fixed. Find some heaters, some chemical additives. Hunter suggests trading for fresh food. Interested in trade for food when steak is mentioned. Bell chimes, Nangalla-402, bell chimes, carry on. Market seller from other side asks if they want porn / drugs.
11. Shimazu and Kai go over to look at drugs. Some hospital supplies / drug manufacturing. Some anti-venom, non refrigerated. How much? 1 box - 2k. Nah...
12. Tads asks for magic supplies, gets directed to guy #3. expendable foci, fetishes and warding materials. Look for guns/ammo - yes, last guy has that.
13. Spot two groups of ghosts having a punch up. Aswon can see two different uniforms, not sure what is what. Get close, see half the ghosts are Japanese. Make sure weapon foci are turned off... squeeze past.
14. Back to tilt wing, make some steaks, fruit, fresh veg, milk. Head back to negotiate for kit - offers 1K Nuyen value for a box of food. Call for the Captains. Salutes and introductions. Kai checks with "pantry manager" if they have more. Kai offers more food, and water - asks how many decalitres. Tads offers to decant water if they have a portable container. Shimazu psych - bulk buyers/sellers. Kai smuggler check - nexus spot.
15. Tads goes to make food, sack cart and plastic container turns up for water.
16. Aswon checks for rifle ammo - in 50 cal, normal only. In assault rifle they have standard, ex-ex and HP.
17. Ex-Ex 100 per 10, in a box of 5000 - too much. Pays 2k for 2 boxes of 500 50 cal rounds.
18. Planning on leaving again.
19. Fox islands, 1200 km, then 1400km to Anchorage.
20. Takeoff clearance, Kai asks Shimazu to check for ghosts. Spot the cook, whistling, pursued by interested ghosts.
21. Handling check for takeoff. 10, all good.
Kren Cooper
Two players couldn't make it tonight, so the game was cancelled - so no writeup / BTS post this week. Hopefully we'll be back next week with Episode 191 and the arrival of the team at "Ivan's Bay" on the Fox Islands.
Kren Cooper
Hi everyone - and welcome to another update for the Smuggler campaign. Episode 191 is now published, and can be found:-
Added to the end of Book 7:
The story at FanFiction:
The story at Archive Of Our Own:

Here's the "behind the scenes" from this week's run:
Investigating the village before doing the drop-off was a good call - not that the players know it. It gave them a really good nights rest, and a chance to make some good contacts, which should do well for them in the future. It’s also provided them with some special ammo – and the knowledge that there is another team in the area, on the volcano they want to visit, and that they also have mages and a sniper with a BFG.
The “enemy” team are a bunch of Shadowrunners sent to the island to talismonger and pick up some rare items for their boss. They’re typical Seattle punks though – without any wilderness survival skills, trying to get through this on brute force and ignorance, and throwing Nuyen at problems in the hope they’ll go away – so they have “all the gear and no idea”. The team may be able to use that to their advantage, if they put 2 and 2 together.
I’m waiting for the Smuggler team to realise who they’re up against, at which point I’m no doubt going to get some abuse as well, and possibly some sprained eyeballs… the team is built on a bunch of our “Pink Mohawk” characters from our Friday night games!
The enemy team is made up of:
Dak, a Wakayambi elf mage (who was the one Aswon was mistaken for) – who constantly used his magic to try and influence and control those around him. A badly min-maxed caster (Body and Strength of 1 – they’re going to take their toll in the cold!) he managed to make it to Grade 5 before he got gunned down for pissing off too many people. He doesn’t have any really offensive spells – it was all about the influence, control thoughts, mind probe and alter memory style magic with him, but he does have Invoking and a full stable of great form elementals to do his bidding.
Boris, a Russian Dwarf. Aligned with the Vory, Boris is an assassin, highly skilled with his sniper rifle (The Ex-Wife) and his pistol (Baby), sturdy, tough and quiet. Armed with his own 50 cal rifle and a mag of 10 APFSDS rounds, he represents a very serious through to the tilt-wing.
Nicole, a Canadian lumberjack rigger, she’s a hard-drinking, hard-fighting, hard-partying kinda girl, armoured and resilient with a whole bunch of defensive Cyber and Bioware, and a mean right hook. She’s driving the team about on a big skidoo, and has some drones for scouting and force multiplication.
Jawa, an Indonesian Boar Shaman with the catchphrase “Go big or go home”, he’s the main magical firepower for the team, with reasonable force Powerballs, Fireballs and Manaballs, along with a bunch of other combat / elemental manipulation spells, as well as Bullet Barriers and Levitate spells on a sustaining foci. He tends to shoot first, and cast at Deadly by default, so he’s likely to kick off straight away – though hitting a force 10 ward is likely going to slow him down a bit. A grade 3 mage with Invoking and Channelling, he’s also got some spirits to throw into the mix.
And last of all is Ursula, a UCAS Bear Shaman – who was run by Ali, currently playing Tads. A somewhat pacifist healer / support, she also made it to Grade 5, and will be providing a lot of defence to the runner team with her shielding. She lacks direct offensive spells, but with high force Shape Earth, Trid Phantasm, Improved Invisibility and Healing spells, she’s no pushover either. She’s also going to have at least one powerful spirit with her.
So, the smugger team slightly outnumber the runners – they both have some hefty weapons and potent mojo. Fortunately, the runner team have some handicaps based on how they are going to be played (which is how they were played in the Pink Mohawk game - often with their dicks, not their brains), and it’s entirely possible that they’ll make some stupid mistakes. Either that, or I’ll be looking to continue the campaign with some *very* different characters!
It’ll be fine. Honest.
On the subject of the “APFSDS ammo” – this is one of the house rules we’ve added to our 3.5 system. We reworked the ammo and damage system a little to smooth out the power curve – it has made things more complex, but allows greater granularity and threat ranges though.
In the base 3rd edition rules, you had normal ammo which was countered by ballistic armour. Then you moved up to APDS – which only counted half the armour. Once you were in a vehicle though, all damage was halved and staged down one level against gunfire. The answer to that was AV ammo – which ignored the halving/staging rule – but also only counted half of the vehicles armour too. As it was generally the more powerful guns that people got AV ammo for, that meant that unless you were in something *seriously* armoured, the armour was pretty much irrelevant, and shooting at stuff with AV just killed expensive vehicles very dead. Great for the players shooting NPCs, devastating for the player riggers when being shot at!

So, we reworked the damage charts and types a little:
Normal ammo – reduced by ballistic armour as normal
APDS – reduced by ballistic armour at half rating, as normal.
“SABOT” and “Super-Sabot” rounds – reduced the value of ballistic armour by a modifier first, then act like normal ammo. This only really comes into effect when shooting against hardened / milspec armour, but can alter what rounds automatically bounce off, and what needs to be soaked – but without degrading the armour entirely.
AV rounds – the anti-vehicle rounds ignore the staging and halfing of power when shooting at drones and vehicles, but targets get their *full* armour now against these rounds, meaning that a shot against a lone star cruiser doesn’t just auto-kill it. It’s still likely to cripple it, but it’s no longer a sure thing, and if the players vehicles get hit, they’ve got a chance to try and evade and bug out with serious damage.
APFSDS – the real military top end stuff, this now does what AV used to – penetrate armour and make big booms (but has a street index and availability target number to match) Getting hold of this was a “big deal” for Aswon and gives him some really massive firepower – but only ten shots, so I feel that he’s going to horde it and be very careful about when and how it’s used.
Overall, the slight increase in complexity seems to work for us (after all, 3rd is quite crunchy anyway, and we have a nice, coloured chart that shows the breakdown of all the rounds and covers the rules, and gave us room for additional things like “magna-explosive rounds” – for when Ex-Ex just isn’t boom enough…

And as usual, here are the notes from the game session, to compare / contrast with the narrative:
1. Monday 27/9/60, Location:55.81334, 160.37626, Time 12:25
2. Spot boomer surfacing next to superstructure, cranes deploying to offload cargo - Lt Rakonovich asks if they want to reland to look at the latest cargo?
3. If they do - saviour kits and medpack resupply at 75% book no SI, auto-surgery unit, supplies for doc-wagon/crash cart... all from Catco branded boxes.
4. Kai asks if we should stop - Marius, no money, no space, no time.
5. Quick discussion - agree to go over the islands. Computer check for Hunter re Ivans bay. Basic details.
6. See large pod of killer whales hunting. Lead one has enhanced senses - assense and analyse
7. Fly over spike, Marius doesn't feel anything, all others do to at least a certain extent.
8. 430km to Rat islands and the blast zone - 47mins
9. 850km to Fox islands and next stop - 94mins
10. No other vehicle traffic visible in the area, do a stol landing to conserve fuel. Park right in the corner, good handling check
11. Tads asks about crew rest, based on how long they've been going. Marius says he'll powernap while they do the
12. Aswon - does anyone know anything about Athabaskan council.
13. Tads - should we go do volcano first, then rest. Aswon - will look sus now we've landed I think. Aswon merc check - nothing happening here. Magic background - NAN stuff.
14. Tads - can barter food for accomodation? 300m walk to the village. Everyone head to village. Tads - no, let me go scout first, magical perception check, spots F2-3 wards with rune inscribed. comes back to team. Reports - "be polite",
15. 2nd house, door open, who are you, native first, then english, Tads greeted in Nenet, looking for fuel and accommodation, directed down to store / blue roof / on the bay.
16. Tads deliberate assense of the wards. Hunter not prey, carnivore
17. Reaction check on 6s - Aswon 3, Hunter 1, Shimazu 1, Tads 1, Marius 2, Kai 1.
18. Store = 4, all surprised. Hits, wins by 3, does a 7S hit, 1 soak, RR, 5, take a light. "oh god, so sorry"
19. Sword drawn, inch from nose - ok, I started that, but take that out of my face please, sword away.
20. Got a beer? On the house, is the other person a dick, chance of 2 X 2m tall black people very low.
21. Magic users - check, tn4, get all the successes - all info.
22. Anyone got an issue with dogs? Reveals wolf. "other than not being kicked in the face, what do you need?" "fuel, rest / accom please". Tads - food stuff. Looks at tads, what totem. Elk+Wolverine. Clarifies magic food, explains why. Phone call, fuel in a few hours. What kind of sleeping accomod - basic. Hunter - will there be a shower? Yep.
23. Look around the store - news about the other team, local shamen - polar bear. Meet at neutral turf,
24. Other team turned up yesterday, didnt get the warning about burial sites. Get info about mesmer.
25. Offers extra services, leads to the back, wolf out of the way - Hunter, "wanna play with the puppy". Sends hunter over with jerky
26. Works through list of hot gear. Aswon buys the gyrojet ammo, rifle super-sabot
27. Work through list, work out that other team have a rifle+bought one box already.
28. Team purchase AV+APFSDS from team funds.
29. Kai says "what can we do for you?" Asks for med supplies, can get ammo no problem, also need electronics. Ask what type of meds. - Cold / slashing injuries / infections.
30. Taken to a house, recent death of family, still lived in. Drop magic to get in.
31. Doctors do hearts and minds and minor surgeries, Aswon and Hunter listen for languages. Marius gets some info on fuel deliveres and weather. Confirms if the team wants to meet the shaman, do you have something specific to discuss, they can be crotchety.
32. Tads - just being polite.
33. Team sleep, hot showers, eat properly.
34. Aswon does stretches with team, compulsory.
35. Weds 29th, work out they are over the international date line.
36. Visit the store, swap contact details,
37. See polar bear shaman, respectful nods, nods back and bows. Head for tilt-wing. Get in the air, check as they get near volcano for Marius and Shimazu.
38. Team get spotted, spirits coming, spotted the skiddo and team concealed with magic.
Kren Cooper
Hi everyone - and welcome to another update for the Smuggler campaign. Episode 192 is now published, and can be found:-
Added to the end of Book 7:
The story at FanFiction:
The story at Archive Of Our Own:

Here's the "behind the scenes" from this week's run:
So, another fight – and of course, this being Shadowrun and quite a “crunchy” system that meant most of the 2 hour session to get the fight resolved. However, I don’t think we actually rolled initiative at all, for any player or NPC. With one team being on the ground, and one in the tilt-wing, separated by 700m+, it didn’t seem reasonable to go to that level of micro-management. Instead I went through the list – initially starting with just Marius and Shimazu, as they were the only ones able to “do” anything meaningful – be that dodging fireballs or spotting threats. As players declared they were heading to doors, deploying guns, or doing anything else I slotted them into the list based on an average mental initiative. In some ways this boosted the lower players and penalised the fastest ones who didn’t get their multiple actions per turn – but this also affected the enemy team in much the same way. It also made the combat go a lot faster than it otherwise would have, and kept people more involved.
The only time the enemy got to the chopper was when the spirits / elementals arrived, which let Shimazu get involved with a bit of close combat – handily winning his early fights (though earth elementals imbued with extra reach were a nasty surprise for him!) and otherwise between stealth rolls, photovoltaic paint, spirit concealment and illusion spells, they managed to stay out of sight of the other team – luckily. They were very much aware though that if the enemy sniper HAD managed to get a lock on them, they would most likely have been shot down in short order, as he had a magazine of the super-hot ammo too.
The writeup also differs from the normal a little, in that it contains information that the players didn’t directly see or experience – what happened to the enemy rigger and mages. However, based on the aftermath, I think they could have easily reconstructed the events and worked out what must have happened from the outcome, and besides – I thought it was too amusing to pass up.
As often happens in Shadowrun, once one side starts to lose the fight, it quickly turns into an avalanche, and the runners started to lose badly – but were then offered a chance to surrender, which they took. I was half expecting the live team to land and interrogate / talk to the runner (at which point their identities would have been clear and no doubt I would have taken some abuse!) team. If they had, then the runners would have passed on the details of some contacts in Seattle – contacts the team are lacking at the moment. As it turns out, they didn’t, and it felt during the discussion that they might have got close to just icing all of them which is quite unusual for this team… in the end they left them alone and the phrase was uttered “chances are we’ll never see them again anyway”.
Oh really? *grin*. We’ll see about that!
After dealing with the enemy team, the token was a piece of cake, and we managed to get that done before calling it a night as they headed off towards Anchorage and the next smuggler stop.
That’s 9 of 14 volcanos done – but they have potentially the hardest ones to come, and the find a number of peaks that tower well above the flight ceiling for the tilt-wing, requiring overland treks of several kilometres in storms and icy conditions, with a couple of different challenges to face.
And as usual, here are the notes from the game session, to compare / contrast with the narrative:
1. Wednesday 29/9/60, Location:53.12637, -168.67578, Time 08:21
2. One F5 GF sky + 2 G6 GF Earth closing in on craft, enemy team concealed by spirit+imp invisibilty - all spotted by Shimazu. Tads transfers to shielding. Spot F7-8 firebolt comes up, Marius dodges, misses by <5m, cast at D. Kai heads for door guns. Tads suggest swapping with Shimazu to attack the illusion, while Shimazu gets ready with sword. Kai gets strapped in with parachute on.
3. Tads assenses concealment spells and thinks - suggests Shimazu to port side door to give them a way in, and slice+dice. Works out it's a F6 trid-phantasm. Aswon puts shielding on aircraft. Tads dispel attempt on trid phantasm - failed but drained. Hunter doesn't spot the drones launching.
4. Tads spots a F5-6 powerball inbound, but bounces off the shielding. Marius calls for fire. Kai blindfires into area, 10 rounds, misses. Aswon goes to rear ramp and straps in. Gets 1 spot on the enemy team. Skidoo+flankers, 1 sniper looking but not locked on.
5. Earth elemental appears near Shimazu, S wins by 1, RR, wins by 8, 11D, no soak, dies. Realises that the summoner is at least G4 to get +1 reach. Kai fires again - narrowly misses. Hunter electronics - fails. Marius spots a pair of small rotordrones emerging from the trid-phantasm. Hunter jacks out, and heads to rear door with AR + grenades.
6. Tads magic fingers poke in the eye to Nicole, one success, surprised, skidoo wavers. Kai fires - misses, Aswon centres+fires at drone, takes out one drone which starts to spiral down. Marius electronics check - 3 X 16s, gets a lock on enemy rigger (fuckers!) Gets a sniff of the sniper looking for them
7. Tads spots the rest of the elementals coming as a pack. EE and SS attack Shimazu. Shimazu QS, takes out the earth elemental. SS comes in to attack, Shimazu slices that one too.
8. Aswon suppressive ahead of the skidoo - 10 round burst. Tads tries to banish, wins by 1. Kai - fires and misses, Hunter spots Jawa, fires and hits (1) soaks with buying/rr, hit with 2nd burst, buys to take a moderate. out of GK
9. Skidoo does a 180, snaps Dak, looses concentration, trid drops, reveals all. Perception checks, spots Boris+Ursula. Tads finishes popping EE.
10. 2 EE+ 1FE in front of Shimazu, QS the FE, beats by 5, dead. Both EE attack Shimazu - 1st, base hit, 8S soaking 2S - ok. 2nd attacks, wins by 7, RR again, wins by 6, buys 1, soaking 9D, soaking, RR, takes a Light
11. Marius tries to infiltrate their comms - 1 X 11, gets on. thick Nigerian - shoot them. Russian - I can't see them!
12. Aswon - 6 round burst, centres tn6, hits for 15D, 4 on the soak, takes an M, driven back a few metres but not knocked down.
13. Hunter, on Ursuala, 2 hits - dodge, 2nd burst, does an S
14. Vadim ties up one of the EE with banishing - draw, Shimazu one on one with EE, does an S.
15. Boris looks - can't see still. Nicole goes mad on evasive driving, Ursula white flag trid phantasm.
16. Shimazu multistrikes. Takes out serious wounded one, then on Vadims
17. Marius - sends a surrender message in English
18. Aswon - pause fire, wait for action
19. Hunter - pause, aim at white flag.
20. Vadim - beats elemental by 1, down to 4. Tads pops it.
21. Kai - stop firing and change face to not Chinese - try local aleut
22. Nicole - you shot my drone! M - not me personally, but you did fire first. N - if I stand down, you'll guarantee my safety? M - if you stand down, we'll let you leave and just be on our way. Nicole stops spinning, mages in a mess on the rope.
23. Kai message - we have your sigs, don't try anything in town. Adds, we can supply medical aid at a reasonable rate.
24. Do not penetrate Ursulas masking. tries again. Aswon and Tads go, penetrate.
25. No response from the enemy team, New Fish leave them alone. Spot Nicole kneel on Daks neck while bioteching Jawa.
26. Kai - sends message to town that dak is taken out, not going to be bothering them anymore.
27. Team discussion about going to help, asking bear shaman for help, look around the area, don't spot anything unusual, fly on.
28. Aswon spots a golden glow as they just go over the top of the volcano, but they find a landing spot and plant token ok.
29. 1436km to the Ice Box, about 3.5 hours flight time.
30. Hunter - research on the Ice box,
Kren Cooper
Hi everyone - and welcome to another update for the Smuggler campaign. Episode 193 is now published, and can be found:-
Added to the end of Book 7:
The story at FanFiction:
The story at Archive Of Our Own:

Here's the "behind the scenes" from this week's run:
We missed last week as one player was on holiday and another got called into work – not a lot we could do about that, and it gave me a free weekend last week which made a nice change 😊
But, back at it now, and the players encountered some fun stuff – first off was the Ares launch facility at Kodiak Island, which just happened to be lofting a rocket into orbit as the team were passing close by, resulting in an AWACs and full fighter wing being up and on guard for intruders. They’ve got this place marked on the map now, and that should hopefully help when they’re offered some missions as part of the comet race in 2064, and should have an understanding of the kind of team they’re going to be up against. But, for now they have a big bubble on the map marked “stay clear”. Then of course, on coming in close to the smuggler base they pick up an encrypted SOS message from a decker based there, who had been kidnapped by a mega-corp. There was some discussion amongst the team as they tried to work out if they should get involved or not, but in the end they chanced it and have made a very valuable contact. Iceman will provide them with a lot of information on smuggler bases all up and down the UCAS (pretty much most of the places mentioned in Smuggler Havens) and that will give them massive fuel bubbles all across the UCAS and NAN – which helps push the plot forward for some of the stuff I have planned.
It doesn’t get them rep with any of the places of course – just the contact info to be able to find them and make use of their facilities as a “basic” customer, and the rest will have to work from there. Given Kai’s normal tendency to offer to take on side missions, I’m sure life will be interesting for them – my aim is to throw enough interesting and lucrative stuff at them in the UCAS to keep them busy for a while, while Nadia is getting closer and closer to her due date and being more and more demanding to Marius to come home… am curious to see if the team will side with him, if Marius will just fly off one day with the tilt-wing (or even more of an extreme, leave it parked somewhere and fly home commercial so he can be there for the birth!) or if the pressure of work will keep him away.
Aden will also be getting back to the team, his patience having run out waiting for them, and with some news – the horror is no longer in the temple back near Tashkent, but has escaped and is on the loose – and now he expects them to track it down and deal with it. Aswon will of course bite on this one – he struck a deal and declared a deed on it, and Shimazu was involved too. With 1/3 of the team magically obliged to follow up, and Tads invested in sorting out the situation as well, that’s going to create some interesting dynamics to deal with too.
Of course, first we have a few more volcanos to deal with, and they’re coming up to the most physically challenging ones, some of which are *way* over their flight ceiling and will require a significant climb in arctic conditions. I think the rerolls are going to get used thick and fast for some of the team as they start having to deal with glaciers and storms!

And as usual, here are the notes from the game session, to compare / contrast with the narrative:
1. Wednesday 29/9/60, Location:53.12637, -168.67578, Time 08:47
2. Weather overcast, not actively raining, cold from wind chill. Tads asks what food to create - Aswon suggests steak for high protein. After 30 mins, reveal info from Hunter. Kai asks for clarity on the sea route to Seattle - in case they need the bird shipping - 3000km, but slow. Tads asks about going via Panama Canal the other way around. Marius - most will go via rail to east coast, rather than through canal. Aswon suggests looking when closer to the end.
3. Sensor check for Marius - no hits, RR, still no hits. Gets picked up by fighter, moves into position. Broadcast in the blind - state details or be fired upon. Aswon suggests putting on the dodgy transponder and claiming some kind of error. Marius ensures EDs are off, Kai on the radio. "sorry, given our equipment a kick. Do we need to turn or adjust heading or speed. Advise to go to 350 degrees. Quick conflab. "Our destination is anchorage, how far out, low on fuel" Advise 75km north, then turn east. Agrees, roger that. Checks on the comms. UCAS accent, military, professional. Map out diversion - not a volcano, no, move on. At top of the diversion, pick up the AWACS.
4. Call ahead, get advice on how to come in, skim the waves from the north.
5. General alert - from the AWACS - launch imminent. Aswon - is there a space base here? AWACS goes onto full broadcast, max power. Thinks... Polar geo-sync orbit launch.
6. Fly through high terrain, canyons, get to north of Anchorage. Just coming in to land, detect the SOS signal, analyse and work out what it is, 30kph, land based. Slow and come in on final, Tads projects and goes looking for suspicious stuff. Finds the bulldog going down the perimeter road. Check in front / behind. Marius sends a signal back in a similar style. Tads merges with body, reports in. Bulldog is about 700m south, at 30kph. Kai asks for accidents on the van. Tads doesn't want to in case it stops a getaway. Kai suspects a kidnapping. Tads sends a spirit off to accident it. Reports back after 20 seconds "balloon burst!". Kai - Get one of the bikes out and asks for a drone to be prepped. Tads nags at people to make sure they are appropriately dressed. Team "gear up". Tads gets behind Shimazu. Rest of team run after the. Kai asks his spirit for a count on the van occupants. Aswon asks for concealment. Message from the spirit - 3 people, 1 changing wheel, 2 on guard with guns. Hunter is riding the bike, Kai behind him. Get to edge of base, spot van
7. Aswon goes vertical up container pile and draws LOS on the van. Tads offers to astral scout. Aswon checks van - thinks not security variant, no run-flats. About 11am. Grotty but not actively raining. Tads finds somewhere to wedge herself in a corner by containers, shouts to Shimazu not to forget her, astrally project and checks out the van - not obvious magicaly active, no open door. Less than 1 min to finish the wheel change. Goes to back, spots hogtied guy. Heads back out. Manifests to Kai "stop them", then heads back to body. Kai steps out with paper to survey the containers and then "notices" them. One at the front raises SMG and Aswon shoots him - instant kill. 2nd guy shoots under the van, hits Kai 9S - soaks with armour, just. Passes knockdown, gets hit with 2nd burst, one on the soak, RR, gets 3. Loses a little toe, skips away in pain.
8. Tads takes a spirit to go snap the cable ties holding the guy in teh back of the van.
9. Shimazu draws gun, about 20-30 seconds away - athletics test on 4s - 2 successes, puts a sprint on. Aswon spots the situation and reports in to Marius. Drone is heading over, 20 seconds too. Aswon spots someone trying to get into the van on the leeward side. Aswon shoots at the window to let them know he has them in LOS. Round shatters on the window, minor cosmetic damage. Kai treats his own wound once in cover. Aswon swops to ex-ex clip. Marius shoots at the engine block - 2 X 3 round bursts EX-EX. Marius does S+M to the vehicle. Tads "you've got friends outside" - mountain spirit breaks bonds, Tads assigns to guard him. Guy tries to get circulation back. Tads asks spirit to kick the back doors open, then
10. Hunter kills the one shooting at Kai after rolling out quickly. Aswon spots the driver bailing out and running for the trees.
11. Marius shoots the driver, does S+M.
12. Hostage skids around corner to face Shimazu - Shimazu points pistol, get down, get in the corner. Compliance. Hands on knees, breathing heavily, watches Shimazu. Marius recovers drone. Ask Hunter to put bodies in the van. Tads and Aswon close to assist - strip them of supplies+boots for Kai.
13. Hunter - driver is Japanese, still alive, driver refuses to speak to Hunter, Shimazu approaches. "devil, back to the island", pink froth spit. Shimazu cocks the revolver, loud and obvious. Driver turns and crawls to the woodline. Shimazu goes around to in front, you have no honour. Guy makes WP test, manages to stand up. Turns and ignores Shimazu staggers down road. Kai orders to drag to treeline and strip him. Spits in Shimazu's face, won't comply, your kind should be killed. Shimazu pulls taser, shoots, overflows to physical, moderate - one box of overflow. Tads runs over to mind probe. Shimazu biotech - fails. Tads mind probs - gets details on the extraction. Kai biotechs and stabilises on deadly.
14. Marius - why are we keeping him alive. Just kill him - it's Mitsuhama. All kinds of bad, they will come after us. Maybe has headware memory. Just kill him.
15. Assense, he does have cyber in his head. Tads asks about resale value of cyber - is it like magic? Aswon - bleugh, don't want to deal with those kinds of people. Get the van off the road and destroy everything. Recover guns and ammo, then head back to the Ice Box with. Kai offers a gun to Iceman66 - nah, I use a keyboard. Aswon - so how are you with paperwork - like international border crossings. Let's get back to the cabin and we can discuss.
16. Heading back to the port.
Kren Cooper
Hi everyone - and welcome to another update for the Smuggler campaign. Episode 194 is now published, and can be found:-
Added to the end of Book 7:
The story at FanFiction:
The story at Archive Of Our Own:

Here's the "behind the scenes" from this week's run:
So, the team rescued Iceman from the clutches of Mitsuhama, and made a really good and useful contact. Although Ice is normally very mercenary, he recognised that they saved him from a very unpleasant end and repaid them with some information – fuel stops all across the north American continent that should make getting around much easier, along with a little bit of information on border crossings. Along with the couple of places they already knew about, that’s given them very good coverage for overlapping fuel ranges, as well as providers of cargo and supplies.
I provided a graphic of the fuel ranges to show before and after, and there were some appreciative noises from the team, so they at least recognised how useful that was – more on that later!
After refuelling and a chat they decided to push on, making out of Anchorage without issue and getting up into the mountains into steadily worsening conditions. As they landed and I described the figure coming out of the snow to meet them, both Hunter and Marius’s player did the mock-face palm style move going “oh great – more myffic stuff!” I think they’ve both accepted that there is weird stuff going on with the team by now though… and I’m really looking forward to the end of this mission and the start of the net phase, where Marius is going to come across some tech as a result of the mythic shenanigans, and see what his reaction is.
Still, they met with the contact, and met the “challenge” for this volcano – which was to talk diplomatically with an outsider and describe their two employers, without being too revealing or judgemental (in case their words catch up with them – because hey, Dragons) and let them form an opinion on which side to support.
And towards the end, Shimazu is doing some psychometry and I decided that is was a good time to throw some RP at him. So, this afternoon I need to write a steamy love scene about the betrothal necklace that he’s looking at, with some very suggestive descriptions to throw at Tom, and see how much he would want to reveal as Shimazu. Character building… 😊
So, that’s the session activity covered – onto some other stuff.
First of all, this weeks writeup took me 300 minutes to produce, giving me a word rate of 35.42 words per minute. Not the fastest typer out there, but not too bad for creative writing I think. It does tend to chew up most of a day, around walking the dog, cooking food and other bits of weekend activity like the shopping. Some weeks I really get into the flow and words just tumble out (episode 182 springs to mind – somehow that one ended up being twice as long as all the others from the same session time. Stuff just needed to be said it seems!), and other weeks I find myself writing for 20-30 minutes and then just closing Word and going to do something else instead for a bit. I’ve learnt by now that if for some reason I’m just not feeling creative or like it’s a chore, to put it down and walk away – trying to force it just makes it worse. And somehow, I’ve always managed to hit the deadline, even if it’s got very close! I used to just leave Word open and come back to write or add some stuff, have a think, go have dinner, come back add some more etc… but around episode 99 I started making the effort to only have the document open while I was working on it, so that the edit time was somewhere near accurate. I extrapolated backwards from that point to episode 1 based on my average WPM and the word count from the earlier episodes to get some rough data. With today’s episode taken into account, I’ve got a rough overall edit time of 680 hours… eek.
The other thing to mention is the wonderful site at
They’ve got a bunch of other map functions, but the circle tool is the one I make use of, as it serves a very particular purpose. When I was planning out the current mission, I took the max fuel range of the aircraft under ideal conditions and then halved that to allow for “out and back” style missions. Then using that range, I plotted a circle over every known smuggler base / stop that the team have contact with, to give me a visual representation of the coverage they had. From the early episodes they had multiple bases around the middle east and southern Russia, giving them lots of options, with the circles spreading out as they moved further away.
When I was prepping for the volcano missions, I could then use these circles to plot out where I needed to drop a smuggler base in to allow them to refuel, which provided about 20 locations that I needed to create. Sometimes I put stuff out of the way or off to one side to “force” a detour for plot exposition or side quest reasons, or just because life isn’t always neat and handy. The team always have the option of trying to file legit paperwork and jumping through hoops to use a regular airport and run the risk of official entanglement of course, and they’ve made the decision to sacrifice a considerable part of their cargo bay to the extra fuel barrels to effectively double their range as long as they can stop somewhere and manually refuel. However, the fuel circles really help with planning out what’s going on in future sessions, and hopefully keeps things consistent and smooth in terms of story.
In my tracking database, next to every smuggler stop is a code showing the type of stop and colour, which matches the hex code of the circles on the map that I use:
Green(Home Base) 1AFF00
Yellow(Smuggler Stop) FFFCD4
Grey(Fuel arrangements) DADBD9
Red(Hostile/burnt) DB4242
Orange(Neutral stop) FFB866
Purple(Civilian Airport) CF0FFF (need to add these, based on where they have visited)
The URL is horrible to look at, but if you break it down in a text editor you can see the repeating sections where it lists the co-ordinates, size, colour, border, fill transparency and various other snippets of code used to generate the image.
The map for my team, as at the end of session 194 looks like this (you may need to go full screen and adjust the camera position for some reason, it keeps defaulting to off the map...):
this link

And as usual, here are the notes from the game session, to compare / contrast with the narrative:
1. Wednesday 29/9/60, Location:61.24288, -149.8819, Time 11:08
2. Travelled 1622km since takeoff at Ivan's bay. Fuel cost = 6488 Nuyen
3. Get to containers. R8 maglock, but thin walls on containers. Meet Randy, description check for the teeth, inside is like a dosshouse, smells of BO
4. Hunter - every branch on the ugly tree? "Yep!"
5. Turns to Ice, where you been - back of a van, long story, new friends. Fair enough - what do you need?
6. Kai - fuel, we have food to trade. Aswon - local knowledge, I am Aswon. RR - have some drugs, some weapons, most of our other stuff went west a few days ago on a sub.
7. Fuel cost discusses - that's cheap. Hunter geology roll, local output. Tads=nothing.
8. Kai - mentions that he's heard of Iceman on the "inter-shadows"... Hunter is on there, likes to swap pokemon or something. Move Kai to the side, asks Hunter for his handle. Avatar is shining knight, handle "XX_Bourne_XX". Grateful for you help, what are you doing over here. Hunter "just on a job." Give me something to work with, I can help you out with some info. Go talk to your boss and clear stuff.
9. Aswon - working down the UCAS, few stops, not penetrating secure facilities. "Right, let me send you a message" Get the info, Hunter maps out the bases, team "ahhh!"
10. Kai talks smuggling routes, Aswon makes sure to share the Iranian stop. Start talking about border crossings - Tsimshin, rough border, Salish, not too bad. Tir tough, feet wet, Cal free very variable. Kai asks for stuff to bring back - Cal Hots, Kai asks about personal requirements - nothing really.
11. I66 asks if they are stopping at Buck Palace or El Diablo. Told yes. Warns about Buck Palace - get Tuxes, play along, learn how to make a martini. El Diablo - watch your back, keep your guns hot, don't leave anything unguarded.
12. Look at route, plan for breaks, work out how far they can get per day, still relatively fresh. Next peak is 5200m, Nav roll for Hunter. RR, 2nd RR, estimates 4.5km to nearest point on the hill.
13. Biotech and Survival rolls - altitude sickness, need external O2 or time to aclimatise. Tads - possibly levitate, but its slow. Estimate 12-15kph, but issues with LOS. Check weather, big front to the south, hundreds of klicks across.
14. Ask Icemand about scuba tanks - I don't have one, but we can find one. Does it have to be scuba or just air supply. Pitches Elmendorf - Aswon - no. Kai - what? That's right up our street! Aswon - no time, can't get arrested or get injuries! Back to plan A - get there, aclimatise, then get up and down quick.
15. Hunter search on the volcano, not active - but cascasdes. Gets good roll, some tribal info: Its name in Tlingit is Yasʼéitʼaa Shaa, meaning "mountain behind Icy Bay", and is occasionally called Shaa Tlein "Big Mountain" by the Yakutat Tlingit. It is one of the most important crests of the Kwaashkʼiḵwáan clan since they used it as a guide during their journey down the Copper River. Mount Fairweather at the apex of the British Columbia and Alaska borders at the head of the Alaska Panhandle is known as Tsalx̱aan, it is said this mountain and Yasʼéitʼaa Shaa (Mt. St. Elias) were originally next to each other but had an argument and separated. Their children, the mountains in between the two peaks, are called Tsalx̱aan Yátxʼi ("Children of Tsalxaan")
16. Aswon - good think about how difficult this is, very serious, changeable.
17. Tads makes good steaks and food. Randy asks if he wants to buy some chips - Kai, always interested, Ultimate Cage Fight 9, Kai redirects to Hunter. Sold. Bulk deal, 10-12 for 100 nuyen. Sold. Iceman shaking head. Offers more - declined.
18. Check with team - decline the run into the airbase. Some regrets, but time pressure.
19. Plot course on landward/interior side to avoid worst winds, stealth 4, EDs on + spirits, not spotted leaving Anchorage, 1 hours flight towards #10
20. Flyu across, some bgc but all managed, small isolated extraction lumps. Lots of biodiversity, little sign of man made interference.
21. Engines start to struggle, Marius finds a place to settle, great handling check. About 4.75km from drop point.
22. Perception checks as they come in. Not quite make it, white-out. Hunter changes skin to white, warded door is on the leeward side. Kai - starts to do fuel. Tads looking for quolls - spots the Eskimo, tells Kai to turn and face.
23. Aswon tells Kai to say hello, good roll on Athabaskan. Finally, you're here! I've got some shelter. Do you want to come and talk? Kai - got some other people. Marius takes over refuelling with Hunter. Shimazu, Aswon, Tads and Kai go to talk to Eskimo. Tads checks for magical activity.
24. Indian - Kutara Snowpiercer, tribal shaman, middle age, eskimo gear and appearance, G3 shaman, alter temp, guard spirits, snow-walking, gets basic info + F6 spirit on guard. Into cave, lights fire, alter temp 20 degrees. Spread out furs
25. "Spirits guard and protect you, welcome to my camp, be safe and one with nature." Spirit guards the entrance. Kai does introductions. You expecting us? In a chopper, coming today?
26. Tells of vision quest, make welcome, guidance. Sense of two powerfull entities. One is good, the other bad,
27. Reveal some of the mission, dropping token, but not playing the game. Asks for info. Kai - suspect its dragons.
28. Know someone is coming, but Who to aid, who to hinder. Tads thinks about sharing memories. Aswon - no. Too much revealed, confidentiality, sorry, no offense.
29. Aswon - Ryumyo and Lung, two eastern dragons. Ah, I don't know them, can you tell me. One Japanese, one Chinese. Beyond that I don't know. Stay out of it?
30. Spirits said that we would make a choice. Suggest planting and letting him know, so he can interview them.
31. Kai - can't say which philosophy is better or worse. Commlink open, Marius listening. Dragons roll, 9,5,4. Go for Lung, more inclined to be mindful, though he's still a dragon and we're beneath him, he works generally better. Tyrant or philosphy king.
32. Aswon - Ryumo will send a japanese team, probably, Lung a chinese team or maybe multicultural.
33. Kutara gives summary, leaning towards Lung. Clarify about location and using it as a bargaining chip. Tads - have to ask you not to move it after placement. Have to know where it is to avoid it being moved *sly grin*. Kai - and then if we get interrogated, we're covered and all have the right answer... General agreement.
34. Tells them to get their gear and rest, too late in the day to attempt the peak. All move in with gear.
35. Aswon shares magical stories with the shaman and talks about magical compounds. Tads talks spell design. Tell him about Shimazu Psychometry, done nothing but give him nosebleeds. Pulls out necklace of polar bear fangs.
Kren Cooper
Hi everyone - and welcome to another update for the Smuggler campaign. Episode 195 is now published, and can be found:-
Added to the end of Book 7:
The story at FanFiction:
The story at Archive Of Our Own:

Here's the "behind the scenes" from this week's run:
An early update this week, as I’m away at “The Gathering” a large (normally) LARP event over the weekend. We’ll just have to see how Covid affects turnout and the event as a whole. But, with me being away until Monday afternoon I wasn’t going to get much chance to type up the notes/story, so two late nights Wednesday and Thursday managed to get it sorted – fortunately it was a relatively “quiet” week for the characters.
Shimazu doing Psychometry on the necklace came close to the end of the session, and that gave me a convenient place to pause for the evening, and chance to write up his results. I spent a little while on that, trying to strike a balance between making sure that the events were conveyed clearly enough to invoke emotional responses and feelings, yet not being either clear and unambiguous (as it’s emotional content from quite some time ago, and I don’t want to ‘break’ the technique, nor so detailed or gratuitous as to bother people. Hopefully it strikes the right balance…
Certainly Tom (Shimazu) seemed to enjoy the chance to RP a bit, describing to the team over discord his characters tears and oath – at this point none of the rest of the team were aware of what was going on, so they were all working on trust for the character (I’d sent the message to Tom via email during the week in-between sessions, so he had chance to process and work out what he was doing, and to reword it if needed if he was going to retell the events from his own POV) – but they all seemed to support him in his declaration.
A few psychology tests and some Willpower tests from the NPC later, and they’d managed to draw him out of his shell a little, and make sure he was ready to go the following day. That was resolved with some quickness and athletic tests for each “leg” of the journey over the ice and rocks, and some body/strength tests for overcoming the wind on the approach to the summit, which cost them a few rerolls to make sure they managed it without falls or injury. Shimazu is down to 1 RR remaining and 3 good karma now until the next award, so he might need to be a little careful, Marius has 5 left and all the rest have 6+ so a little leeway for them to take some risks or do some hero stuff.

And now they’re primed and in position to head to the next volcano, where they’re going to get battered by the storm, and run into someone – purely by chance – that Shimazu might be very interested in “having words with”. What are they odds? It’s a million to one shot… but it might, just work…

Who’d a thunk it.

And as usual, here are the notes from the game session, to compare / contrast with the narrative:
1. Wednesday 29/9/60, Location:60.31944, -141.09447, Time 15:47
2. Shimazu pulls out of trance, few tears. Was she your wife? Nods. You were a lucky man, Kutara starts to cry. Did you know who did it? Did it? Was it an accident. Looked for weeks. Crescent shaped scar - know him? No. They killed you wife. Will you share with me? Asks Tads - can I choose what to show him. She confirms. Casts Mindlink ok. Shows face of the killer, shares feelings of the gift.
3. Kutara - please, show me everything. If you know something. S - it's not new info, won't help you find him, only bring you pain. Do you still wish to see it. Shimazu shares the 2nd half. Stops mindlink, quiet thank you, goes to corner of the cave and pulls up knees and rocks. S - I have no words of solace for you, but if I see him, I'll bring him to justice. Didn't see it, but felt it. No one should have to experience that. Mood very down.
4. Shimazu to rest of team - if I meet this man, regardless of repercussions, I'll bring him to justice. Aswon looks and nods. Aswon suggests hunter search for him, if he's an anglo he's probably findable on the matrix.
5. Hunter sleeps, Aswon thinks about it - no, we should make Kutara happier. Ask him - want to hear some stories. Kutara tries to put on a brave face. Tads - tells him about the Dragonspine. Aswon - car crash in Constantinople and the undercover agents. Tads - the quoll. Random stories. Shimazu starts to tell the Nadia story - others give him a funny look, he carries on regardless. 12+9 on a WP test for Kutara to snap out of it - well, that works. Then mentions Gwoks.
6. Ask him about hazards on the mountain - fairly standard stuff. Tads spends more time swapping info on alter temp+food.
7. Tads wonders about visiting the quoll, but then thinks about the risks of mana storms. Decides not to.
8. Thursday morning at dawn. Everyone in good shape. Aswon, Hunter, Shimazu and Kutara as guide going, Tads staying back with Kai, Vadim and Marius. Shimazu will do Legolas impressions, Tads and Vadim doing 55 min shifts to get up the mountain.
9. 1st leg - Q6 checks, all good. Flares, snow blind minor. Get to first crevasse, climb checks, all good. 2nd leg - Aswon ok, uses 2 of survival pool to get 1 each for Shimazu and Hunter. Body tests as they come into the wind - all ok, all fine. Inside, push on to ravine, plant token, take photos.
10. (image used for description of the area/view from the summit)
11. Kutara examines with a huh. Aswon thinks he's seen something, no - just random walk.
12. Heading down. Body 6 tests from wind - Hunter ok, RR, others ok. Shimazu slides. Athletics 4s back across the crevasse, Hunter only 1, pulls rope loose. Piton pulls loose, slams into rock, shatters. Last leg, Hunter ok, Aswon none, uses last of pool, Shimazu RR, ok.
13. Trip went smooth and fast, get back to chopper. Left at 8am, get back 4pm.
14. Aswon - how strange, coincidence, fancy meeting you here! Give him the teams contact details. Get details of twin forks+landmarks, can pass messages via tribal council, slowly.
15. Eyes of the eagle watch over you, handshakes, hug Shimazu
16. They ask about next volcano, edge of Tsimshin, Kutara doesn't know anything about it.
17. Start prepping the bird, some discussion in team about where to stop, refuel, tsimshin etc.
18. Marius good takeoff, backtrack, come back on ocean side. As you are flying south the weather is closing in fast.
19. Fly south to Fredrick sound, 480km, land and refuel. 100 km west of volcano 11
Kren Cooper
No game this week, so no story update Saturday/Sunday. Hopefully back to it next week as normal.
Kren Cooper
Hi everyone - and welcome to another update for the Smuggler campaign. Episode 196 is now published, and can be found:-
Added to the end of Book 7:
The story at FanFiction:
The story at Archive Of Our Own:

Here's the "behind the scenes" from this week's run:
So, volcano #11, a peak above the flight ceiling of their chopper, and one that would require an overland hike to reach – they have a couple like this on the American side, giving them a physical challenge.
However, the main ‘challenge’ for this peak was a snow-battle. A Mitsuhama / Tsimshin border patrol craft had gone down, taken out by an EMP weapon stationed by Haida rebels on a known patrol path – just an hour before the team turned up. The weapon had just enough charge left to zorch the chopper, sending it out of control and down, where it hit the top of the Mitsuhama chopper at the last moment, causing it to crash at a funny angle.

Original stats:
Near final, they round a canyon turn and get pinged by an EMP cannon that blasts them, causing "stun" to the vehicle, sending them down. Reaction check on 8s to work out how to control the craft with half the electronics down. The EMP does 4 points of "stun" to the vehicle, then a Handling check on 8s+any leftover EMP mods to set her down gently. Failing the handling check will crash them causing Moderate damage to the bird. If the handling check is passed, they come down for an auto-rotate landing but *sitll* hit the other teams bird, spinning them out and sending them into a snow wall. Lots of blown fuses and systems that need resetting / repriming / checking.
The other team will be alerted by the impact and launch an assault, fearing that it's rebels, launching an assault - just as dusk hits. The combat starts with half a dozen rounds punching through the fuselage doing cosmetic damage only
  • 5 X Tsimshin paramilitary troops
  • B5 Q5 S5 I4 C2 W4 R4(cool.gif, CP6, Init 8+3D6. All armoured in 6/4 winter armour in police style/colours. All equipped with Wired reflexes 2, Smartlink-1, Eyes with LL, FC, Implanted R3 tactical systems and radio
  • Sergeant has 8M rifle with 1 clip APDS, 1 clip Ex-Ex, 2 clips Reg, 1 X IR smoke grenade, 1 X IPE Offensive
  • 3 Troopers with 7M non-suppressed SMGs with folding stock, 1 clips APDS, 1 clip Ex-Ex, 2 clips Reg, 1 X IR smoke grenade, 1 X IPE Offensive
  • 1 Heavy trooper with FA only LMG on a deluxe gyromount giving a total of 8RC, 1 X 50 round box of Ex-Ex, 1 box of reg, 1 X IR smoke grenade, 1 X IPE Offensive
  • Rigger pilot, Dead, strapped in the cockpit

Mitsubishi Border Patrol chopper, Mod 2: Attack chopper chassis. Handle 5, Speed 275, Accel 18, Body 5, Armour 6, Sig 2, Auto 3, Pilot 1, Sensor 4, Cargo 50, Load 1000, Seating 1+5, Entry 1d+b+side, Fuel Avgas 3000 litre, Econ 0.2km/l, S/B-, L/T Vtol, Chass Attack Helicopter, SI 3, Avail 24/2m, Cost 2m

Clearly, a whole bunch of contrivance here, and making use of the situation to try and ‘force’ a different style of fight on the team. Originally I’d planned to have the EMP hit just as it hit dusk, to rob the team of the spirits and stop their use, making them rely on their own abilities a bit more, but they players thought of that and didn’t leave the ground until dusk – so that wasn’t an option.
Instead, I went with the craft going into a “flat spin”, subjecting those in the back to some pretty harsh g-forces and making body tests all round, giving those that failed some very quick healing stun modifiers.

Fortunately from a GM perspective, that included Tads, so spirits were off the board for the first few rounds of combat. This was somewhat inspired by a Tom Scott video where he got to have a go in a centrifuge – check out for more info. But, that was really useful for showing how quickly you can go from being “ok” to having drool pour out of your lip whilst you flop around helplessly – and equally how quickly you can recover back to being compus mentus again.
Landing the chopper at an angle also negated the heavy firepower from the door gun, restricting it to a mobile fight between two teams.

The Mitsuhama squad were armed with reasonable body armour and guns, had some APDS ammo to be a significant threat but moreover had planted some sensors around the area after crashing and were all plugged into their battletac systems, giving them good co-ordination, and letting them fight cohesively.
Both sides were on horrific modifiers for the weather, pushing everyone up to about +6 to hit or do anything, so a lot of the gunfire was much less effective than normal – on both sides. The patrol force were competent, within a point or two of the smuggler team, but they lacked the karma pool and re-rolls of the players, which allowed them to get the upper hand.

I was pretty surprised when Tom / Shimazu went for the combat drugs – he obviously felt the situation was a lot more dire than I did, and decided he needed an edge. Well, I was happy to oblige and got him to make a few rolls, watching the happy little smile on his face as he instantly got more initiative and combat strength.
The “X-49” combat drug was obtained from Ludmilla back at the dam in Russia, and they had no idea what it did – so it was a risky move on his part. For your information though, here’s what the drug does:
Gives +1D6 init, +4 strength, +2 reaction, pain resistance 5 for 1D6 minutes, -1 to any ranged attacks due to shaking. Melee hits against enemies also cause Str/2(M) against the user from muscle tears. When effects wear off, soak Str(S) on body, and take +1 "jitters" for 1D6X10 minutes to all actions
We also need to have a look at making an addiction test for poor Shimazu at the start of next week, and see if he has a bit of a hunger for more jam… 😉

And as usual, here are the notes from the game session, to compare / contrast with the narrative:
1. Thursday 30/9/60, Location:57.29336, -133.81481, Time 18:11
2. Check map, go through terrain and how close they can get, about 5km walk up canyon. Discuss astral scout from 1km from landing spot, or sending drone in to map it out.
3. Team waiting for dusk. F3 GF staying with Tads, F5 storm spirit on the bird.
4. Inland, up to plateau, flying around, then Marius checks - 3+1RR on reaction, then good handling getting 2.
5. Body/WP 8 test for those in the back. Hits the non-sensor thing, pancakes. Hunter Int test 5s, passes, close brush with death.
6. 40 degree angle, bad display. Aswon asseses, Tads greyed out, then bullets hit.
7. Aswon back ramp, Kai trying to open port(top) door athletics 6 check-fail. Shimazu get shield and helmet, Hunter release, ask Vadim to scout as Tads is out. Marius working on repairing the craft system
8. Aswon spots a "thing", big, angular, wrong for environment. Filters the storm out, has a listen. Kai manages to get gun up and on duty,
9. Tads - sends spirits out to accident guns up to 200m out.
10. #3 and #5 spot Aswon, #3 shoots and hits Aswon twice, tries to dodge, matches 2 hits, soaks 5S, gets 2,RR, takes a L,
11. Roll for init.
12. Shimazu 23
13. MCT 23
14. Tads 21
15. Aswon 18
16. Hunter 15
17. Kai 14
18. Marius 11
19. Shimazu asks for concealment, drops shield. Aswon thinks - maybe blind fire.
20. Bad guys speculative fire at Aswon, misses.
21. Tads - sends spirits, 1 to Shimazu.
22. Shimazu out and runs towards bad guys, cops for 1 round from the LMG, soaking on 2s - soaked (just),
23. Aswon, pop up perception check on 8s, buy 1, aim for the face on the LMG. 1 hit, takes a moderate. Trying to dive for cover.
24. Hunter, targets #3, takes some damage
25. Kai, suppressive / at the "thing". Miss, RR, hits something and penetrates.
26. Marius, looking at drone start-up. Realises it's not going to work, moves to V/T
27. Shimazu back on feet, running to thing
28. Tads, projects with spirit
29. Aswon, centres to avoid penalties, runs to south west, get around cone of fire
30. Hunter hits 3 again, does S, puts him on his ass.
31. Kai, continue to hit thing, miss, RR, miss
32. Marius - s/b on VTOL drone
33. Shimazu good look around for a simple, gets close enough to attack chopper, free action "stop shooting the thing"
34. MCT #1,2 and 4 all spot Shimazu. 1 shoots, 1 on the dodge, hit for 10D, 3,RR 5=soak. 2nd burst, 10S, 7+1 bought=soaked. #4 shoots, hits, Shimazu takes a moderate. Pain resistance active (1)
35. Tads scouts, gets in the chopper
36. Tads 46
37. Aswon 25
38. MCT 21
39. Shimazu 21
40. Kai 17
41. Marius 15
42. Hunter 12
43. Shimazu quick strike - runs to flanking position around chopper to break LOS.
44. Tads - spots dead pilot, asseses area and works out why
45. Aswon - shoots at LMG, in the face, dead
46. #3 shoots at Hunter, base hit, 2S soaked ok.
47. Marius gets drone out of back door
48. Hunter grenade launcher at back of chopper, scatters, hit the two after shimazu
49. Tads - manifest at Shimazu, they crashed, pilot dead, please relay
50. Aswon - runs forward, lost sight of all targets, goes faster
51. Shimazu - ignores Tads, pops X-49. Init +6+2r, now on 28s. Runs down far side of chopper
52. Kai - more suppressing fire to keep heads down
53. Marius - VT drone up, perception check - lots of snow.
54. Hunter - back to full auto on closest target, #2 wounded by grenade blast
55. Tads - back to body
56. Aswon, spots 3-5, shoots at 3,
57. #4 tries to go for Shimazu at PB range, spirits jam gun, no response.
58. Shimazu, full stab #4, 21 dice attack, 15d end result. eviscerated. Takes an L from muscle tears
59. last guy down under combined assault from the rest of the team.
60. Check Shimazu over
61. Marius scout the area out. Nothing moving. Check chopper - trashed on crash, distress beacon on,
62. Hunter scavenging ammo, Kai checking bodies. Marius checking electronics, Aswon following orders. Tads gets spirits to drag bodies back into chopper. Check Shimazu for damage. (4 boxes) Tads heals.
63. Spot the crescent shape scar man, Kai photos him before Shimazu shoots him in the face.
64. Drugs wear off - moderate wound. Tads shapes earth to right the tilt-wing, then heals ok
65. Stopping for the night, and stopping for the night.

Kren Cooper
Hi everyone - and welcome to another update for the Smuggler campaign. Episode 197 is now published, and can be found:-
Added to the end of Book 7:
The story at FanFiction:
The story at Archive Of Our Own:

Here's the "behind the scenes" from this week's run:
Now that combat was concluded, and the enemy team was dealt with, the team had chance to take stock and work out what was wrong with the bird. Normally in a crash, the vehicle would be taking boxes of damage that would need to be fixed – but that would cripple the team unless I threw them a Deus Ex Machina, which I really don’t want to do. The tilt-wing has a “book” value of just over 3 million, thanks to the radar absorbent materials and countermeasures built into it – so every box of damage done will cost 300k to repair, and they just don’t have that kind of cash at the moment.

So instead, what I did was inflict a bunch of “stress” on the vehicle. This doesn’t directly cause failure, but it’s the next closest thing – when the vehicle has to pull crazy stunts, I can ask for a stress check, and with having taken 11 points of stress it will almost certainly fail, and that WILL cause damage, and cost them a third of a million Nuyen… they’ll know this, so they’ll be strongly incentivised to fix it. That doesn’t cost a great deal, but it will chew up precious time, and needs some decent facilities to do it in. So that probably means Seattle, where I can set them up for some nice encounters and introduce my next wave of NPCs and side quests. Sorted!

So, with the vehicle plan in the bag, these were my notes for the situation they faced:
• 1km horizontally and 300m vertically from the drop zone, 1.5 / 450m to be "safe" and well inside.
• Winds at 90-100 kph, temp at -40, -60-70 with wind chill.
• Survival check: Arctic 8, weather +4, Winter gear -2, full rations -2, Exertion +1, shelter -1 = 8s
• 1d6 -successes = boxes of stun to allocate around
• Weather eases a little at 4am, to 50-60 and -35, -50
• Eye of the first weather system crosses at 9am, wind 10, -20/-25
• Far side strikes by midday, rises back to 50-60kph and -35/-50
• Maintains for the next 3 days as further systems press in.
• Athletics test vs 5s to get to dropzone and back before storm hits, or risk exposure / hypothermia.
• Vehicle can be made ready to fly by midday, and if they depart quickly can fly back down to sea level in the eye of the storm with minimal risk - though they have to go past the EMP cannon area (which is now defunct)
• 1175 km journey out to sea, past Tsimshin and down to Volcano 12 on the north edge of Salish - Silverthrone Mountain, Or 400km to Buck Palace

Pretty simple really – it was make it clear the weather was gnarly, and give them a little downtime trapped in their tilt-wing with few options, giving them a survival check to cope with the crushing cold. They got a few successes on the test, but not enough to counter the 6 boxes of stun the team had to take, and it ended up with everyone but Marius and Tads on a light stun. They picked up on the window of opportunity that the “eye” gave them, and as expected Hunter and Aswon as the two best climbers headed off to do the plant, with astral overwatch.
The team did obsess a bit more than I expected about the EMP, especially after they’d found it and determined it was dead – still wanting to investigate it and discussing the implications. As far as possible, I hurried them along and made it fairly easy to get to and take care of, as I knew I had my volunteer NPC waiting to connect up to Discord, and didn’t want to leave her hanging.
With the token planted, the team back onboard and them up in the air, I made it as easy as I could for them to exfiltrate the area, describing how they retraced their steps and didn’t run into any issues, and then they took a very wide route around Tsimshin, avoiding the Buck Palace smuggler stop entirely and heading for the next location. I rolled a massive handful of 1’s and 2’s for the Salish border surveillance, so there wasn’t any fudging needed there! And soon enough the team landed up at their chosen site, and I could message my NPC to get her to join the chat channel.

My guest, Sarah, had changed her avatar to a bunny rabbit, and had also renamed herself as “Harmless Innocuous Rabbit” – and joined the channel quietly. This caught some of the players off guard as they weren’t paying attention to the Discord window – in particular Tads/Ali, who jumped in her chair when Sarah spoke for the first time, causing some mirth.
From setting the scene and dealing with the initial confusion and realisation from the team that someone down there was capable of not only casting a Force 11 trid-phantasm, but also masking the spell, and then using one of our home brew extended metamagic techniques to actually give off false readings about the spell, sobering the magical side of the team up immediately, only took a minute or two, and it gave Sarah a chance to listen to the team chatter and work out who was who. Once they were down on the ground and the team headed over to start negotiations, I could take a back seat and just hammer away furiously on the note taking as they chatted away. I think there was only two occasions where I needed to send a whisper to the NPC to try and either emphasise a point or direct them a certain way, so from my point of view it worked really well.

During the negotiations, Kai/Fozzy promised to do a whole bunch of work for free, causing the mentioned quintuple face-palm and lots of grumbling from the team about him being Captain SideQuest, all of which slid of his back like water off a duck… he loves dragging the team into plot and trouble, and is completely unrepentant.
So, the team planted another token, and are just about on their way to Seattle now, having also decided to bypass the Cascade Orks. So, it’s time to dust off a whole bunch of NPCs from our Pink Mohawk and Black Trenchcoat campaigns to make guest appearances!

And as usual, here are the notes from the game session, to compare / contrast with the narrative:
1. Thursday 30/9/60, Location:57.39995, -132.32567, Time 18:46
2. Start with addiction test for Shimazu - failed both. Oh dear.... we'll come back to that later.
3. Cover off the weather, B/R test for Marius to assess the craft - 4-5 hours work. Navigation test from Hunter. Shimazu sleeping after drugs, feeling a bit drained. Kai asks Tads how watchers would be in the storm - snow blocks their sight, but unaffected by cold. Kai asks Hunter to check enemy team electronics. Not great roll (defaulting) - but looks like no signal got out. Some queued up - review and delete. Think about crescent shaped mark, magical group - nothing.
4. Marius - more important, we got shot down with an EMP. Someone has an EMP! Aswon - analyse your footage first before we leave. Kai - use a spirit to find the EMP. Tads outlines chances, lots of negging. Look for man-made / powerful critters, in the canyon. Hit through concealment and resistance. Aswon - more likely to be EMP. Think about critters, check for scorch marks. Starboard side. Think maybe it's locals that hate Tsimshin, we want to be friends - check with Kai. K agrees.
5. Tads finds EMP cannon, whisker sensor, all dead. Checks other side, nothing there. Check for more elsewhere. Tads mindlink to share canon details with Marius.
6. Kai thinking about why it's there. Aswon - border protection, anti-smuggler.
7. Get the bird fixed over a few hours. Set watchers out for tripwires.
8. Eases a little at 4am, to 50-60 and -35, -50. Threaten to get Vadim to dig out - don't fuck with mother nature.
9. Survival check: Arctic 8, weather +4, Winter gear -2, full rations -2, Exertion +1, shelter -1 = 8s. 2 success 4 boxes of stun - Hunter, Aswon, Kai, Shimazu - Tads+Marius ok.
10. Tads offers to levitate up, Aswon says too risky, nobody solo. Tads+Vadim doing astral cover.
11. Aswon and Hunter go, test vs 6s, Aswon 3, Hunter 0 RR 2. Up smooth, cairn, plant the token, down safe, back by 11:00
12. Marius goes to check the EMP. Athletics ok - find it. 2nd gen old miltech, disconnect batteries, back to bird. Top up fuel. Work out the sensor trip mechanism.
13. Handling check for heading down - fly down a-ok. Bypass buck palace, out to sea, round to next 1170 km to SS. Cross border fine, not anywhere near.
14. Head up to silverthorne, Aswon on sensors, sensor check - spots GSD "arctic hares". Compare to thumper hares at previous locations - no they were normal size. Tads - spots F11 trid phantasm, get sig, what sig? Check - hasn't penetrated Masking.
15. Aswon - don't like that the fates are taking more an interest in this the further round we get...
16. Land a bit over from the bunny, far enough away to avoid being a threat. Tads creates carrots, hands to Kai.
17. Gear up, Kai goes out unarmed. Tads heads out with staff. Aswon gets 50 cal ready. Shimazu goes out too. Hunter hands AV to Aswon, puts APDS in his rifle. Aswon suggests using Ex-Ex.
18. "What are you doing on my mountain?" K - that's a long story, got time to explain? Go on and try. K-excellent. Like to point out they're armed but I have carrots and mean you no harm. Keep trying! Have a task, to plant something small and innocuous on your mountain, don't want to destroy/steal/damage anything at all. What is your task? K-Gets out token, this has to go up there. Done several, this is one on our route. What does it do? K-someone has to collect it. Tads - it's a game, for other people. What people. K-that's more complex. Keep going with your story. K - we're mercs, we do various jobs, hired but not with achoice by powerful beings to do this, didn't want to check how powerful, like you - our mage was a little bit scared of you, so we're being respectful. That is sensible. Hunter looks outraged.
19. K - can I ask about you name. Tads - no, ask what they want to be called by, not their name. She's a clever one, I like her. Call me Ice-maiden. K-nice not to be attacked by you. Yet, maybe... so you want to leave a token for your game. K - so yeah, but we can pay, by doing you some favours or tasks maybe... rest of team facepalm.
20. C (Crunch/Carrot/Ice-Maiden) - where do you stand with corps. K-mostly avoid them because they don't like our ethics, unless they're employing us. C-good. Your plane - interesting, what kind of fuel are you using. M - high octane jet fuel. C-have you considered low sulphur fuel. stops polluting my mountain. K - honest, but no idea. Pilot likes efficiency. We can consider it... Tads - maybe we can commit to look at better options that are less polluting options. K - we have dones things for ecological groups and awareness before. C - interesting. Shimazu doesn't even leave footsteps, very good on fuel miles. Kai - I use a bow and arrow, try not to use gunpowder. Even Hunter doesn't use too much ammo. C - tell me about this gun? K - I'll let Hunter tell you about his gun. Argument. Tell the rabbit. My name is Ice maiden.
21. Aswon relays info about Hunters gun.C- sounds like an advanced prototype of an Alpha. Hunter, raises eyebrow. K - is this your real form (politely) C - are you sure you're ready? K - yeah, I am, not sure about the rest.
22. K - Ice maiden has invited you out. fairly certain we're not going to get eaten. Why not come out. Aswon - want me to bring my cannon? K - leave the guns, come out, she's not ripped my head off, all pleasant so far. Aswon leaves gun, grabs spear. All out into the snow.
23. Description of dragon as she transforms. Tads - oooh, you're pretty! C-thank you. K - bows politely, nice to meet you, Likewise. Shimazu bows. Marius death stare at Kai. Tads offers alternate food - C, I'm fine. So - you want to leave this token and leave. K - yeah. C-and you said you'd pay any price. Kai - yeah...I did; pick your team member! C- no, but I need people to do things for me. Aswon - we're working for powerful beings though, we'll help but we're on a schedule, we don't want to bring trouble to your door that might hurt you. C - I won't delay you, but I will find you if you don't come back.
24. Aswon - but we have a job after that for another powerful being after that. So we don't want to get into trouble.
25. Tads - and I'd love to chat to find out if I can get help with one of their problems. C-I have minions with phones, we can co-ordinate and communicate. Kai - business card.
26. C - and respectful lady, I'd be happy to help if you can tell me about this powerful being and your problem.
27. Tads - we found a thing, 1/3 of the way around the world couldn't fight it, could only rescue, one of your colleagues has tasked us to rid the world of this creatures. Really want to know about their weaknesses, they're terrifying. Hey, don't ask, don't get.
28. C - take a breath. Describe the thing. T - many tentacles, subterranean temple. Tentacles in chest, sucking the life force from people. Needs strong magic to escape we think. C - "Sounds like an eldritch horror... that's an unpleasant thing. Hmm... maybe I should have a think about that... can chat more when you come back..."
29. Aswon - we have to do that next. C - I might have info you need. Kai - we'll come back that way then. Aswon - ahh, that's decided is it. K - yep. We need info about the horror, it makes sense. Aswon - research, yeah, makes sense.
30. K - pretty sure we can only die once. Probably. C- mmmmmm. K - what may we do for you Ice maiden. C-I need competent people in my employ, and you have an interesting work ethic. If you will do jobs for me, you can leave your token.
31. T - there's some jobs we won't do, murdering children for instance. Hunter gets token from Kai, starts to head off, about 2.5km, Aswon - you coming. Yeah, one more thing. We can work for you, but we can't work ONLY for you."
32. C - you can tell him (points to Aswons backs) that I never asked for exclusivity.
33. K - is there anything you need urgently, because otherwise I'll accept a deal and we can do some work in the future. But can come back once we've done our job to discuss. Kai mentions going to Seattle - C - ah Seattle? Ok, if you can find me 3-4 deckers willing to work for anonymous Johnson. K - have to be Seattle? C - preferably. K - act as middlemen? C - very much so.
34. Marius - does not know anything about Ice Maiden at all. Kai offers refreshments to IM. Have you had a truffle for a while? Tads - makes truffle 6 success. C- best truffle I've had in a long time. T - I have another offer for you if interested. I can show you the creature in the cave if you want to see. C-poker face. Def looks like a horror.
35. C- you have a lot of work to do. I'll get my minion to contact you, call them when you get to Seattle. K - you have our card, 24/7. C - yeah, if I like. K - nothing up there that will eat them is there? C - nothing that their shiny weapon can't deal with - but don't kill anything under my protection. Tads notices that astral space is pristine. Kai goes to make small talk - IM takes off, glides off to keep half an eye on Hunter/Aswon.
36. Discussion between H and A, minions, power hungry, H-got in a fight with something.
37. Soon as the team is back, takes off and heads south - heading to a improv landing spot to refuel and straight on to Seattle, bypass the cascades.

Kren Cooper
Hi everyone - and welcome to another update for the Smuggler campaign. Episode 198 is now published, and can be found:-
Added to the end of Book 7:
The story at FanFiction:
The story at Archive Of Our Own:

Sorry for the delay on this one – I’m actually writing this in the Netherlands at the moment, where I’m on holiday at our delayed World of Warcraft guild meet – pretending it’s March 2020… having a very relaxing time with friends though, playing a few Shadowrun 1-shots, running a live tabletop version of my Wednesday night “Ebon Flame” Shadowrun game (EF is our WoW guild, on the Moonglade server, FWIW), playing the Shadowrun Sprawl board game from Catalyst (pretty good and very enjoyable) along with our regular guildmeet games like Battlestar Galactica, Arkham Horror, Cards Against Humanity, Flux, Dobble, Avalon, Secret Hitler and more. Anyway, I digress… we’re still here, so there was no game on Tuesday, so don’t expect a writeup on Saturday/Sunday this week – we’ll just be getting back into the UK and trying to catch up and get ready for work on Monday. There is a game scheduled on Tuesday 5th, so hopefully the next update will be Sun 11th.

Here's the "behind the scenes" from this week's run:
Having taken the job from Ice Maiden (with all the face palming that included) we started off with two of the runners heading up the mountain to plant the token, and the rest back at the tilt-wing. The two heading up the mountain had a fairly easy athletics test, but no chance of random encounters – right in the middle of her domain, Ice Maiden has complete control over what is going on, and had a couple of spirits clearing a path for them – she wants to make sure they can do their thing, so she has some implied leverage over them for gaining their help in the outside world.
The team back at the tilt-wing had a good chat, coming up with lots of things for Hunter to do when he got back (for which they’d have to wait of course, as a result of which the notes are somewhat jumbled as they asked for info on the next sections of the flight and then got delayed answers. They had a bit of a brief panic when they checked the date and discovered they had less than 6 days to finish the job – but then relaxed a little when they also realised they have 2 volcanoes left to do, and only 4 hours flying to get them both done – assuming of course that everything went well and in straight lights.
Note. Everything is not going to go well, or in straight lines for them… 😉
With the bird very carefully refuelled, they have more than enough to get down to Seattle, and there was a lot of discussion about how to get into the Metroplex – realising that the Cascade Orks were their best bet for running the border, but also the biggest threat to having the shirts stolen from their backs. In the end they decided to head out to sea, and then fly in over the international shipping route, dodging between boats and skimming the waves, even though the route was narrow and they were in full view of the Salish sensor posts. Thanks to the Stealth Roll, Spirit Concealment and EDs on the bird, they made it – just, and got into Seattle, then immediately did a hard “nope” on going direct to Everett as a random roll had the Carrier battle group getting ready to sail to do a bit of flag waving for the UCAS and preserve the freedom of the seas – so their electronics was all up, creating a bubble of “I don’t care about your concealment, we will see you” with that much flux to throw at things. So they came in further south, and worked their way through the crazy air corridors of Seattle up towards their destination – which turned out to be a disused church, now turned into a homeless refuge, which also doubles as a Shadowrunner Haunt. Here they met their first contact “Rad” – a decker from our Friday night Pink Mohawk Campaign, who was happy to give them their first side quest for Seattle. I’m using a whole bunch of the characters from our PM game who are scattered across Seattle to either throw a bit of Shade at players (having them meet their own opinionated crazy toons and have to deal with them as NPCs), as an Homage, or just because they’re fully fleshed characters with stat sheets already written up and well documented which saves me a butt-tonne of work. I’m also “stealing” a bunch of locations from our PM and Black Trenchcoat games for the same reasons.
So, having met Rad and taken on his little quest to dig a hole for his data-centre he wants to set up (the characters actual goal in our PM game as well – can’t see any reason why stuff can’t flow both ways!) they worked out that’s going to take a day to do using up some of their precious time. However it will let Marius get to work on fixing the 11 stress points on the vehicle using the facilities there. They’ve also got a few other contacts to chase up to get in touch with additional deckers to help fulfil Ice Maidens requirements.
From there, with full tanks, they’re going on one more hop down to Cal-Free and the last volcano, and we’ll be at the end of this little mission and can start the next part of the arc which I’m really looking forward to – got some big and very well known NPCs to roll out, some more unique gear/rewards for the team, and some more world plot to entangle them in, before they get a break from major events and get to go back home to see Nadia and the baby, and maybe do some actual smuggling somewhere!

And as usual, here are the notes from the game session, to compare / contrast with the narrative:

1. Thursday 30/9/60, Location:51.50211, -126.14977, Time 14:37
2. Assumed that team have (carefully) refuelled the chopper from the barrels while Aswon and Hunter are returning. Now 2457km from Anchorace, so with 1800l from the barrels, they've used 657l from main tanks, leaving 1150. About 550km south to Seattle.
3. Kai checking border procedures+smuggling routes
4. Double border details, both sides some hostility. Smuggling - cascade orks, some risks.
5. Kai - ask Hunter to search for civy airports that won't ask questions, Hunter yeah, also checking flight rules. Good roll on rules, only ok on airports.
6. Aswon - can ask spook but FOAFOAF - no trust. Maybe Germaine. Tell her we're in Seattle, it's kinda exotic, can ask her if she wants anything. Tads - anything small! A - prefer germaine, rather than spook, exposing her too much.
7. Kai - do we want to get in touch with Shaman to let him know about the crescent shape dude? Team generally agrees, brief message+location. Kai suggest putting location of chopper on Shadowland for scavengers to go for a chopper. Aswon - no, keep it our secret!
8. Kai about to send basic message, had to fight, they're dead. Tads offers to go and relay message to tribe directly. Do both.
9. Marius doing some repairs. Tads relayed, tribe was warned.
10. Ice supplies a decker contact - puppet. Have to negotiate with the boss, give address for Dantes, talk with him, warns about idiosyncracies.
11. Hunter - flight rules, complex, air corridors, loads of corporate no fly zones, mix of rules, very complex. Cost for a brief licence = 5k
12. Also checking with Iceman66 about Seattle. Brief hellos, hey, I'm a decker, arcology, Warns about vehicle appearing like a security vehicle. Steers towards one provider as more reliable.
13. Almost no private strips in seattle, surrounded by international borders, most airports are legit and clean.
14. Discussion about land or sea borders - Kai prefers sea, trusts Marius. Wants to message Germaine to see about contacts.
15. Marius thinks about delivery, reminds everyone chip. Kai calls - "hey chummer, whatever you need, I can get for you!" K - we have a delivery for you. Just need somewhere to land, paperwork light. R-avoid imperial entanglements. K - yeah, R - what kind of craft. K - gives clearance. R - gives co-ords, near I5
16. Ordered the transponder details - BUY IT NOW!
17. Fang nibbles Rads ear, gotta go chummer.
18. Team look at last two volcanoes - 55km from Seattle to Rainer, 1100 down to Diablo. Far away from Shasta (Jez looked suspicious), 250km from Bust.
19. Lots of discussion about rainier - diablo, end up agreeing salish-ute-bust-calfree as better options.
20. Transponder package arrives, Hunter passes to Marius. Ares TR55C - lucky roll, find colour map and Tads checks for vehicle masks.
21. Takeoff, heading south, crossing the border themselves, warning Rad and asking for fuel. Hunter looks for local taxi colours.
22. Clear out to sea, get pinged once ont he way in, EDs work, in over the shipping
23. Same thing over the UCAS border.
24. Get near everett, carrier is up, avoid that widely.
25. Close on the church, BGC 2, call Rad and advise, clearing the car park, spot Rad, runners with AR/SMGs around. Spool down the engines.
26. Rad approaches, Kai face sculpts to be more elven. Kai, Shimazu get out, Hunter cover from the door. Tads shielding up.
27. Reaction checks on 5 for 3 outside. Hunter and Kai surprised, Shimazu reacts, draws sword and points. Welcome to seattle - now duck! Shoots drone with laser.
28. K - rad, as in radiation? No, radical, radiant. Radtabulous. So, you have something for me? K - we certainly do - do we need to move, go somewhere quiet. No, it's all cool. Kai gets the package, Rad calls for fuel.
29. Tads checks astrally - F3 GF spirits on perimeter, F5 city spirit on guard. Tads gets signature.
30. Rad - longshot, but do you have anyone good with a Komatetsu LD-45 electric backhoe. Tads - might want to talk to their shaman on the way back! Marius - can look at the LD-45, over to the vehicle bay. Rad "so how much do you think you can excavate in a day"
31. What's wrong with it? Nothing. Just need a driver. Talk about excavation. Hunter - gotta hide the spoil. yeah eyah, just chuck it on the river. Think about it, not a problem, will take a day.
32. About 16:30 now, fuel tanker pulls into the car park. 15.5k for fuel including barrels.
33. Agree to do the dig, spend 1 day, plan to fix the bird. Rad very happy, starts calling on people. Tads wants ML, Rad woah - calls Fang, agree to do the ML, spills the plan. Tads sends back warding details. How much will this cost me? Refers to Kai.
34. Kai we need someone with talents - I am very talented - I've heard that, glances at Fang, no response. Kai reveals need for decker, F2F meets etc. Gives numbers for 4 best deckers in Seattle. Perception check - passed. Discuss 4 numbers, different times of days.
35. Get to work...
Kren Cooper
Hi everyone - and welcome to another update for the Smuggler campaign. Episode 199 is now published, and can be found:-
Added to the end of Book 7:
The story at FanFiction:
The story at Archive Of Our Own:

Here's the "behind the scenes" from this week's run:
I had a quick word with two of the players before this weeks run – Tads and Marius – explaining to them that it was likely to be a very quiet week for them, due to player actions / plot. Lee (Marius) normally paints miniatures while he’s playing, so he was quite happy to sit and listen to the developments from the rest of the team, and Ali (Tads) also seemed happy enough to sit and listen, and take a more passive part. So, once the night started, I got both of them set on their long-term tasks – fixing the stress on the tilt-wing and doing the digging for the secret underground lair, to get them and any dice rolls needed out of the way. With that taken care of, they could pretty much relax and enjoy their podcast and crack on with stuff to entertain their hands while they listened, and I could focus on the other 4 players.

And what were they up to? Well, they were running slap bang square in the face into my other campaigns – kinda sorta. They were starting from the “Church of Sin”, the current location of the Pink Mohawk game I run on Friday, and had bumped into a bunch of the player characters from there (Rad, Fang, Mace, Monk, Archie are all current played characters, whilst Kenedy is an NPC) – using those characters and their back stories to provide plot / rationale for interactions. So why not extend this in a cinematic universe kind of way?

So, of they went, travelling down to the low class area of Black Diamond and Dantes Nightclub (whose tag line is ‘No, not that one, we’re the other one’).
This used to be the prime bar/fixer location for Pink Mohawk before ‘the incident’ and the reset of the world. But in the smuggler game world, none of that happens which gives me a ready made den of iniquity, with floor plans and another stable of 30+ runners with their own little tweaks and foibles, and things to amuse or upset the players. It was interesting from my POV to see how the players reacted to this – trying hard not to let their out of game knowledge of the location (once they’d realised that was where they were going – I didn’t make it clear until they arrived and I started to describe the location) affect their thinking – aware that I could well have changed crucial details to keep them on their toes.
So they got to meet Jeff the handsy misogynist bouncer (a constant source of irritation to the PM female characters to keep them on their toes), Tiny the enormous troll bouncer (who could mostly be relied upon to keep Jeff in check, and was a solid and dependable source of support for most of the characters at some point or another, The Puppet – the fixer who ran the club – who was a very high force ally spirit for the figure in the robe that was always next to them, Dantes the bar man (playing on the trope of high level retired adventurer who’d gone to be a tavern keeper instead), and a bunch of the PM characters – Swoop an Owl Shapeshifter, Nikolai a high level skillwires character with only a tiny shred of essence left, Boris the Russian sniper who they did encounter up in the Aleutians (and they killed his best friend Daq – but fortunately Boris didn’t know that, or there would have been a kicking off due!) with the chance of more.

But – they played it cool, and got to meet the Twins, a pair of very talented but horribly juvenile young idiots with a bit of a sex-addiction problem (again, a running theme in the old PM campaign with some characters being giant enablers, some just ignoring and some actively trying to reign them in…)
With Rad and the Twins onboard through, they have two good deckers in Seattle, and a lead on the third. If they head off down to Tacoma in the morning they can meet Grungi the fixer, who in turn will introduce them to CAD, giving them the three they need – and giving Marius a chance to meet “Nim”, another rigger at the Church. This 12 year old Japanese girl is a remarkably proficient orphaned rigger, and can help him get rid of another stress point on the vehicle, while Tads finishes off the underground excavation. And of course that means I can drop a couple of breadcrumbs amongst the three groups to see if I can tempt them on a bit of a side quest – which I’m expecting them not to take on, due to the pressing deadline for their main job. But – players…. So we’ll see.

And as usual, here are the notes from the game session, to compare / contrast with the narrative:
1. Thursday 30/9/60, Location:51.50211, -126.14977, Time 17:45
2. Move the tilt-wing into the hanger. Tonka comes over - what you doing. M - needs repair work. Do you want a hand - do you know much about tilt wings, no - but I got vehicles and electronics, shows toys, ooh - condor, I'll go get my toolbox. Check, Condor fucked, ping pong table, gets to work.
3. Rad approaches with Kenedy, Mace, Monk, Fang+construction gear, does intro, ready to start work on the construction. Tads chats with Fang about possible spell learning. Fang observing Tads, reserved, not quite hostile.
4. Marius starts work, RR, gets 2 on complimentary - 8 hours, 1 stress point gone.
5. Kai+Shimazu going to hunt down deckers. Tads mentions that she wants some research done, Kai says he wants last 2 volcanoes doing as well. Check Hunters Meds, he's going to rest. Look at address - 70km south. Tads suggests negotiating for vehicle based loans based on digging. Rad agrees to SUV loan, break it you pay for it, otherwise FOC.
6. Check location, plan route down to Black Diamond, arrange via text with puppet for 22:00. "Tell the bouncers when you get here..." Kai - unarmoured, no weapons. Shimazu armoured vest, ruger in the car, sword+vibroknife, Aswon - wild hunt jumpsuit no armour vest, Purdey in the case, extendable stun spear. Hunter - form fit, armour vest, ares monosword, pistol smg in the car.
7. Clear run down to Black Diamond, spot the Raging Panthers, crowd with batons / small pistols, lots of orks, club gear, some blue collar. Discussion about what to take in - Aswon to Hunter - one or the other, not both items. Get to the front, spot Jeff, visual checks, Hunter spots weapon scanner in front door arch. Shimazu spots people being afraid of the bouncer, especially the women.
8. Spot the bikes with the panther faces, individual but same styles. Kai checks - never heard of them. Look around local area, get basic description, doesn't stand out in car park. Kai asks spirit to stay in car and guard it, Shimazu leaves sword in car, takes vibroknife, asks his spirit to guard it. Aswon conceal Purdey, stay in car.
9. Round corner, spot Tiny out with Jeff. Kai approaches. Starts to speak, Jeff sends to back of queue, Tiny interrupts, takes into the club. Start to check weapon. wave off - behave, show AR. Flick coat back. What's your name - tiny, hellos. Basic layout of club and description, Aswon astral perception - spots F8 air elemental doing zoomies. Also about a dozen mage/phys-ads just minding their own business. Panthers near the dj booth, about 40.
10. Find a booth, Kai goes to the bar. Bottles, draughts, weirds shit up the top. Kai drops 200 nuyen to give the gangers a round of beer, "we like the bikes, we appreciate good machinery". Dante - want something special. Soft drinks, working evening. Where are you sitting. Send bar maid over. Soft drinks+basket of fries.
11. Aswon filter out music, hearing dampeners, listens. Get details of blood sport fighting from table next to him. 3 others all spot Nikolai staring at them. Swapping chip, continues to stare. Dj swap over, crowd toilets or bar, Kai - Shimazu if he goes to the loo, do you want to check him out? Serving waitress sends them to corner room. Heidi. Into the puppet room. Hello. Aswon pauses - that's weird. Invited to sit. Kai laughs politely at the "take a seat" joke. Hunter standing behind, rest sit.
12. I'm the puppet, what can I do for you? Kai - need services, pointing in your direction. Hand over to Hunter. Straight talking. Send next door - few minutes. Kai - just one minor question. guy in combat fatigues. narrow it down. Chiphead - ahh, ignore him just don't look like you're ignoring him.
13. Door opening abruptly, twins walk in, weapons drawn. They have milkshakes, "awright dudes". Kai - intro. Names - ahh, "you scheming bastards, fuckers, proper names." Pull decks out, pass to Hunter, explain mission.
14. Aswon - are you good? We're better than good, we're funny. Is that better, oh yeah - star haven't caught us yet. Aswon - what can we do to test them - connect to Marius. Give them rough details. Quick decking run. Crash cart cover, to the salish. Rest of the way? That's gonna cost. How much - 5k. Kai - what do you like? Hentai porn. That's to shock us - really , what do you want to do? Live cut to bunraku parlour...
15. Credstick, 5k, sort out flight clearance. Outside, Nikolai gone, spot swoop. Kai penetrates Masking.
16. Spot Boris on the way out, rifle case, smell, quick assess, keeps going. Kai asks Hunter to check car. Aswon says can we drive away a bit first. Kai - no, check for bombs. Check the car, spirit search, clean. All back in. Team heads out. 22:35. Keep an eye out for tails, uneventful journey back. Back to the church for 01:30ish. Tads pretty filthy. Marius tired been dressing cables.
17. Tonka has fixed the condor, frankenstein monster, 6 stress points. Download crashcart colours and decals, program into the tilt-wing.
18. RAD will dig up details on Grungi's bar down in Tacoma and pass to Tads, to pass on to the rest of the team.
Kren Cooper
Hi everyone - and welcome to another update for the Smuggler campaign. Episode 200 is now published, and can be found:-
Added to the end of Book 7:
The story at FanFiction:
The story at Archive Of Our Own:

Here's the "behind the scenes" from this week's run:
I was hoping that the team was going to spend perhaps another day in Seattle – spending some time to visit the second location (Grungi’s bar, down in Tacoma) where they could meet a 2nd fixer by the name of “Trophy”, and through him get at his resident decker “CAD” – but they decided to do that on the way back. That cut short the time, so I shelved the other plot encounter for the moment, and just threw in one more of the Pink Mohawk Runners, to give them chance to get rid of another stress point on the tilt-wing. It’s still highly stressed, though undamaged – but they’re aware of the risks now.
They’ve also bumped into April Sanders, the ex-Docwagon EMT who has asked for help getting medical gear – again I wondered if we were going for a quick raid on a hospital or clinic somewhere, but they decided to save that until they’ve finished the current job. That meant we were just about ready to go, and they could head off towards Rainier and bump into encounter #13 – some hostile, unreasonable Lava Elementals. This “challenge” is all about the magical combat, with the team having to decide on if they stay mobile in the air and rely on Tads and Vadim, or land so they can bring Shimazu and Aswon into the fight as well. They’ve gone for the latter, so next session is going to delve into some combat fairly quickly, as the elementals start laying down fireballs on the “away team” as they climb the mountain. Aswon will get some protection from his spear and the fire reduction it gives, but the other two are going to have to rely on their armour and body stats, so we could end up with them getting a little scorched. It might also persuade Tads (and Vadim) to leave the safety of the tilt-wing and speed up the mountain on a levitate spell to add some fire support or defensive capabilities.
The encounter won’t be too tough though, and once they’re done and back down the mountain into comms range, they can pick up the next set of flight clearances from the Twins, and head down to Mount Diablo in Cal-Free.
Mount Diablo. Doesn’t sound at all ominous does it…. *grin*

And as usual, here are the notes from the game session, to compare / contrast with the narrative:
1. Friday 1/10/2060, Location:51.50211, -126.14977, Time 07:38
2. Aswon up first, wakes tads - perception check, Nim sneaks in. Both fail, hear something round the tilt wing - pincer movement. Stroking craft. I am Aswon. don't scratch/break - never hear the last of it. Will polish. Cat approachs - assenses. Drone cat. "that's impressive. Marius will want to talk to you." exchange details a little. Aswon makes oatmeal, then gives cookie. Quietly eats, watches, observes everything. Marius wakes Kai wakes. Handoff to Kai. Do you live here, where's your parents. No just me. Where are YOUR parents. Tibet. All the way other side of the world. How old are you. Suspicious. Pointy teeth. Shows teeth. You're not Marius then. Impressive aircraft.
3. Why hasn't he swapped the sub-processors on the landing gear? Lost me at I want to know. Marius should be along in a moment. Live here now? Yeah in the church. What's the cat called? Why? Kyosho. Did you build the cat? Why. Me and my dad built it. It's very good. Kai spots moment of vulnerability. Rest of team getting up, getting food from Aswon.
4. Tads heads off to find Rad and finish digging. Kai warns Marius. Aswon and Shimazu and Hunter go do exercise / sparring. Tads drops hints, limited time, sooner the better.
5. Outside team spot a few runners coming back from a late night. General waves / hellos.
6. Nim talking to Marius. Shiny - all good, apart from the saggy bits. Having to undergo some repairs. You know stuff about vehicles - yeah, they make sense. Talk a bit about drones, wanna see my barghest. Goes to car, spots the exercise "cool", gets the Barghest. Back towards tent. Marius compliments on quality. Talks about Dalmation, too loud, fuel use. Spot mods in the car.
7. Landing processor - why not a Renraku model 4. Marius B/R test. 68 pin socket, 70 pin socket. It is! two pins too many. she explains the extra pins. 1/10 price. Flex hands, ask permission, tightens up some loose cable. "do you want a hand", you can help. Starts work with tiny little hands.
8. Hunter does research - good roll, gets all data. Assess - if it goes up, they're all dead. But minor tremors could be bad and create hazards. Kai - will it have BGC. Aswon - long time ago, should be ok. If it's got one, it's probably natural. Check flight ceilings for craft and drones. Kai thinking of leaving about 12-1pm. Aswon thinking about oxygen - looking for local clinics if easy to find. Find April, discuss O2 masks, 2k Nuyen. Aswon goes to get Kai, Kai starts negotiation, wants more supplies. April - sure. But you need to get me the cash to pay for people to steal me replacements. She explains story about kid dying from infection from broken tooth. Anything for the next 2-3 hours? You can go do a clinic over? Kai - maybe on the way back... Kai offers to hire for 2k and bring med gear. Bites his hand off. Kai goes on rounds with her. Sees the state of medical care and the work she's doing. Asks about relationships and who is organising the digging.
9. Marius takes another stress point off the vehicle, down to 9. Marius offers to take Nim with him, offers to pay her 1500 nuyen to cover her costs. Ahh - but I have jobs lined up. Hops from foot to foot. Marius - got an hour to decide.
10. Tads finishes digs, including the tunnels.
11. Approaching 1pm, All jobs finishd, Vadim has been off talking with people in the church for several hours. Wheels up. 45 minutes down through Seattle towards Pullyup. Healthy altitude over volcanic ash.
12. Get clearance for border crossing under medical flight. Tads - guard spirit for clean air. good environment. round to NE.
13. Shiumazu on optics - magical perception check. Spots it, gets angry vibes - warns team. Assenses. gets good success, magic background. Spirits engage, start volleying fireballs. Aswon puts shielding on the bird. Fireballs coming, Marius dodges, drops down behind ridge lines to break LOS. Assumes fireballs can damage them. Tads puts shielding up on bird, Aswon concentrates on trying to put fire resistance on the tilt-wing.
14. Kai - Tads, do you think they can be negotiated with. Tads - maybe, but I'm not going on my own. K - what about with Vadim? T - still no, might lose both of us. Aswon - bad idea.
15. Hunter looks for different landing spot - Anvil Rock. Aswon - it's named, might be sacred. Magic background for all possible users - spirits may detect their presence.
16. Aswon - we need to fight on the ground, we have more power there. Can't be fighting in the air.
17. Anvil rock, at flight ceiling, pvp to look like rocks. Coming in to land, conjuring test for Tads - 12 successes, spirits don't want to be here. Hostility, ask if they can go. Tads sends spirits back to metaplane.
18. Marius brings in for a smooth landing, all good.
19. Shimazu, Aswon and Hunter going, suggest taking one of the mages - Vadim. Kai on door gun. Tads staying - doesn't want to fight at all, but will stay with craft in case Kai messes up.
20. Team start to climb up the mountain, disappearing into the low clouds. Shimazu carrying the oxygen. 2.75km walk, climbing 1000m vertically, taking camping supplies.
Kren Cooper
Hi everyone - and welcome to another update for the Smuggler campaign. Episode 201 is now published, and can be found:-
Added to the end of Book 7:
The story at FanFiction:
The story at Archive Of Our Own:

Here's the "behind the scenes" from this week's run:
Well, the original brief for volcano #13 was “A bunch of chaotic evil lava elementals will try to take out the steam-bags invading their territory - just because.” So that’s what we got. The air barrage at the end of the previous week let them know there were hostiles in the area and forced them to plan B for their landing location, giving them a bigger and harder walk to get to the drop zone. But, in true player style, they still decided to split the party – though at least they took 3 of them, rather than the normal 2.
I’d expanded the repertoire of the elementals a little to ensure that they could be a challenge / threat to all of the players, and ensure that there was some risk, and not just pointless soak rolls:
  • Force 6 Lava spirits, personal domain for banishing but not for their other powers.
  • Basic attack = 6M lava storm (fireball), with 12m diameter
  • Focussed attack = 6D lava storm (fireball), with 3m diameter
  • Lance attack = 9S lava lance (firebolt), single target

So, with their double force for banishing, that stops them from just being popped out of existence in a few rounds with no risk, and it gives them a big AoE at moderate damage to make people dodge and soak an “easy” attack, a smaller Aoe that by virtue of being at Deadly requires a luckier soak or more combat pool thrown at it, and then a higher power but lesser damage attack to cut through the heavily armoured types.
I’d worked out a random number to roll for (d3+2), given them a karma pool of 1, and then worked out the distance up the slope to make the players just far enough away that they were out of line of sight and easy physical reach (even Tads would take 10 combat turns to levitate up there physically), but well inside radio range, and trivially easy to get to in astral space.
The fight went well, damage was taken, Tads felts she had to go and help astrally which tipped the balance, and Shimazu took a pretty hefty hit and went down. That in turn bought the rest of the team up with the med-kits and to do some physical healing, and got them all together.
Of course, now they were all together – and had bought up some of the big guns, I was faced with the next decision – should there be another wave?
I did some very quick math-hammer in my head, and went with no. If more appeared, there was likely to be a giant stunball go off – and as a Grade 6 mage, Tads has enough dice to throw that that to make it stick unless she was *really* unlucky. And that’s what karma rerolls are for. So, they’d either be disrupted very badly, or at least all moderately stunned – which would make them far less effective on the attack, while Shimazu and Aswon sprinted at them again with weapon foci. Marius would be pretty immune to their attacks with vehicle staging, and Hunter would be much more effective with the sniper rifle due to the higher base power. So what I’d get would be a lot of dice rolling, with very little drama or tension. So instead, I went without, but took a little time describing the ascent and descent, keeping them guessing on if there would be another ambush.
Once they were back through, they got down off the mountain as quickly as possible, then started to head south. Lots of flavour description as they flew over the Salish, including some of the higher-tech stuff like the solar farms, then down to the border with Ute, and a little fun crossing that… just the way the dice go, both the Salish side and the Ute side, with sensors 3 and 2 respectively, both got a bunch of exploding 6s and got a hit on the tilt-wing! Of course, with the Eds mounted on there, they didn’t get the threshold to get a lock, so the players managed to get away, but did see the Tir stick their oar in as well, reminding them about the much higher tech and nasty neighbour.
Getting across the Ute was plain sailing – I didn’t want to throw anything random in, and was happy to let them get to the next smuggler stop and a place to bed down safely for the night and refuel, to keep pushing the story forward. This “mission” – i.e. the job for the 2 dragons putting tokens on the volcanoes – started back in episode 156 – so they’ve been doing this for nearly a year of real time. I think that’s been milked more than long enough, and it’s time to move on to something else soon!!!
So, they get to the Oak shamans grove, get to see the evidence of his earlier divining metamagic (will this bunch of yahoos screw me over?) and make him a nice juicy steak to get on his good side. He’s got some chips to sell, as well as the fuel, though they don’t have a lot of cash to be actually smuggling with at the moment. A quick jaunt down to El Diablo for the last drop, and then I’m expecting them to be working their way back to Seattle to finish sorting out the deckers for Ice Maiden and working out what they’re doing next. Though I’m going to ask them I think next session, just to make sure they aren’t planning on invading Aztlan or something equally batshit crazy…

And as usual, here are the notes from the game session, to compare / contrast with the narrative:
1. Friday 1/10/2060, Location:46.82987, -121.72613, Time 14:11
2. 120m along, 40m up from tilt wing, 3 spirits appear 30m away
3. Hunter 16, Aswon 19, Shimazu 19, 3 X Spirits 16
4. Aswon, release from rope, sprint towards combat. Athletics test to go faster(6)=2, sprint. Moves to 28m/turn.
5. Shimazu, release, charge, sprint, Q(5)=3, 27m/turn.
6. 1st spirit target Aswon, lava storm, hits, soaking 2m
7. 2nd spirit targets Shimazu, misses
8. 3rd on Hunter, 2 successes=6S, 3S after armour, soaked
9. Hunter - fires full auto, spangs.
10. Kai grabs medpack, gets ready with door gun.
11. Tads asks vadim to keep watch, goes astral
12. Aswon+Shimazu continue to close.
13. Spirits, 1st on Aswon, 2 successes, Aswon dodges-fail. 2D soak (not enough dice) takes an L
14. 2nd misses Shimazu
15. 3rd targets Shimazu - base hit, 3d soak, 4 combat pool: soaked, just.
16. Hunter, change mags to APDS.
17. End of round, reroll init.
18. Tads 47, Shimazu 21, Aswon 22, Hunter 19
19. Shimazu uses combat power to go first, net of 2, uses GK takes a Mod
20. Tads - assenses, about F6, evil, irrational, unreasonable, personal domain vs powers
21. Aswon stabs #1, net 4, 10S, use 1 GK, takes a Mod
22. Hunter - APDS full auto, spang
23. Tads 37, attack with Shimazu, net of 9. Does D stun+M physical, disrupts and gone.
24. Aswon 12, continue combat, net of 6, 10D, disrupts
25. Shimazu 11, attack #3, net of 3, 9S damage, two on soak, takes a mod
26. Hunter 9, run towards Aswon
27. Spirit does lava lance, hits 9S, 6S soak on 7 body, takes an S
28. Tads 27, attack #3, 7 net, disrupted. Out of combat time.
29. Marius gets tracked drone ready. Others get into cold weather gear. Plan to get drone heading up on tracks.
30. Tads - if we go up the mountain, I can be back to the tilt wing in a split second, it's warded, should be sort of safe.
31. Hunter - bring up Aswons sniper rifle? Aswon - that should work, but it's damm heavy. Can you use? Hunter - yes. A-ok, you can carry it and you're responsible for it.
32. Med-Team get up to first team. Tads heals Aswon, then Shimazu. H,A+K notice Shimazu has a combat injector clenched tightly in his hand
33. Head up hill, all make athletics tests/handling checks ok. Plant token in a crack
34. All back down the hill ok, checks ok, back to tilt-wing.
35. Put Shimazu on the optics, take off, Aswon mugs at Hunter to check the other auto-injectors.
36. Kai biotech test, reflecting on 1st use of combat drugs - get bsae bonus +1d6 init, +4 str, +2 reaction.
37. Heading east and then south towards the border. Team talking about the horror, potions, combat delivery mechanisms, trying to drug it and leave it, then wait for it's comedown period.
38. When into cell range, call from the twins - cover as a crop duster. Work out they can fly that slow, no real fuel hit.
39. 2 hours to UTE border, rough details of overflying area. Some spirits.
40. Talk about border crossing - Kai gives details, talk about Big Dance route
41. Marius choosing to go for stealth crossing, no spirit concealment (but ready). Stealth 10. Three way tickle.
42. Heading down across Ute, scorching through the dusk, up and over ridgelines.
43. "Bust" What. "Bust?" Coming in, next few hours, I'm kai. "What are you carrying" Not much, some fresh foods. Looking to maybe buy. "Sure"
44. Slip across the border, up the valley, into old Oak growth.
45. Call, Bust, we're here. Aim for the lights -
46. Land, spot Trevlar, assense - get his grade, not masking, wood spirit. Probably wujen after discussion from team.
47. Kai thinks about magical societies - nothing. Strips down to basics, heads out. "Hi, Trogdor, what you got to sell then?" We got bits and bobs, and some food. "sounds like a free dinner, come to the camp fire, you got time to wait until the morning for fuel" Ask for anything that would offend the stop. "Dont damage / pollute, don't be dicks."
48. Big stone circle, small fire, pitcher of water.
49. Kai - ask about the place. "It's my grove". No wards or lodge. Perception check on 10s. Aswon, Tads, Hunter, spot vague outline of tilt-wing.
50. Tads makes food.
Kren Cooper
Additional update - I've just emailed out the latest story chapter to the players, and as we're getting near the end of this very long and torturous mission, I also wanted to find out what they're up to - so I sent out this email to them as well, trying to find out what their intentions are. I'll update the thread with their responses, and hopefully get a better idea of what is going through their minds!

Latest smuggler write-up attached.

On the basis that you're now coming up to the end of the volcano mission, I'd like to find out what your general intentions are please, at least from an OOC basis.

Assume for the moment that you get to the last volcano and deal with whatever challenge / situation / scenario is there, get the token planted and get away without any deaths or losing the tilt-wing, from my POV the situation is:

1) You're due a reasonable size payout from the Mr Black and Mr White who gave you the job in Japan.

2) You're due a karma award for everything that has happened since episode 183 (the end of the Hong Kong / Chun + Harley arc). There's going to be a bunch of mission Karma of course, but you may want to think about things you've done for personal awards ahead of time . smile.gif

3) You have recruited 2 deckers for Ice Maiden, and have contact details for a 3rd back in Seattle. She wanted "three or four", and hinted at helping with information on fighting the Horror.

4) You have an outstanding arrangement with Aden to go deal with the Horror in the underground temple, which two of the group have declared deeds for.

5) There's something about an amusement park, that's apparently important to someone....

6) You do have the one shot deal with Maersk for shipping yourselves and cargo somewhere, that could get you across the pacific if required. Or the atlantic if you went the other way...

7) Nadia is now about 7 months pregnant, just FYI Lee

cool.gif The tilt-wing still has 9 points of stress, and needs another 2 weeks worth of work to get it back into A1 condition. The blimp also needs another 5 days, in a workshop.

9) Vadim will also probably want to initiate, and needs some time in a woodland / forest area somewhere to get in touch with his totem

So you'll have a chunk of cash, and be down in Cal-free. My expectation is something along the lines of:

Fill up the tanks at Bust, then head back to Seattle via Ute > Salish > Metroplex. Head to the Church
Marius works on the tilt-wing a bit more during the day, while others go do any shopping etc
Get to the last contact you have and recruit a 3rd decker.
Decide if you want to play safe and get a 4th decker, arrange that if needed.
Look for replacement armour for those that have had it trashed (I'm thinking mainly Shimazu here after the lava lance attack), or upgrades whilst in Seattle on the basis that it should have just about anything you want
Head back to Ice-Maiden to deliver info, and get any help from the dragon re fighting the horror.
Work back over towards Tashkent and the temple, to go deal with the horror, and get Aden off your back.
Get back to the ranch in time for Marius to be there for Nadia when she gives birth
Decide what to do from there...

However, it's your story, and you're in charge of what you want to do. But if you can give me an idea of what you're thinking, I've got more prep time to try and deliver a better experience.

So, what'cha thinking?
Kren Cooper
Hi everyone - and welcome to another update for the Smuggler campaign. Episode 203 is now published, and can be found:-
Added to the end of Book 7:
The story at FanFiction:
The story at Archive Of Our Own:

Here's the "behind the scenes" from this week's run:
Ugh – bit of a stressful session. Home broadband crapped out on Monday afternoon, dropping my VPN to work and giving us really slow and laggy responses – fortunately close enough to the end of the day to not be an issue. Fault in the area, the ISP had a message on the fault line, nothing we could do so we found other stuff to do. Still bad on Tuesday, including into the evening – so we were getting lag induced robotic voices, stuttering, freezing video and other such nasties, which made the session harder to run anyway (though slightly easier when Ali/Tads and I turned our video off to cut down on the outbound bandwidth a little.
And then, just to make life more interesting, Dice Maiden (our dice rolling bot of choice in Discord) decided to pack up it’s knitting and stop rolling dice – fortunately at about 20:30, so most of the way through the session.
Still – I think that’s the first time in 2 years or so of remote gaming that we’ve had technical difficulties like that, so it’s not too bad.

Anyway – back to the game. They’d landed in the Shamans grove, a massive stand of mature Oak trees, where oak trees have no right to be. But, the players seemed fine with this, didn’t enquire, or make a fuss about it. Ok – not a problem. Potentially that side-quest / thread can be rolled out again later on.
There was some discussion about the chips, money, future plans and so forth, but most of that was of an out of character nature, confirming details rather than an IC chat, so it wasn’t germane to the story – hence the relatively “light” number of notes shown below. But they bought some stuff, got some rest, got refuelled and then on their way in the morning.
The encounter with the jet fighters was random, just to add some colour to the session – an Ares recon flight had gotten a little too close to the Japancorps in San-Fran, and was being pursued by 3 fighters from Sato’s defence force, just trying to hint at the tensions in the area. All the team had to do was “practice the art of not being seen” – and fortunately with spirit support and a good stealth roll, along with the EDs on the craft, that was doable.
Then we got to Volcano #14 – El Diablo. There was a chunk of Wikipedia article I’d pasted into the chat as Hunter’s research, and of course they’d zeroed in on it being JUST the right time to hit “the march of the tarantulas” – which combined with the name and some wind-up-grinning I’d been doing made them very paranoid. Very paranoid indeed. So they were flummoxed when I asked them if they just wanted to set down in the car-park and hide the token under a bench, or a bin or something like that…
Each Volcano you see I’d written up and tried to work on a different challenge, to test certain skills or behaviour.
#1 - natural elements, bad weather, St Elmos Fire
#2 - neutral non-human NPC to persuade / diplome with (the Quoll spirit)
#3 – Japan-corp strip mining, and prisoner workforce trying to escape – Huk Rebels
#4 – Salamanders attacking the party in a mob – straight combat encounter
#5 – Astronomical event with hundreds of sky-watchers – stealth tests
#6 – Shinto priests wanting the area undisturbed, begging the players not to interfere – balance diplomacy vs time
#7 – the fallout from #6, depending on their attitude and behaviour dictates their reaction here
#8 – Yakut Shapeshifters – a fight, but leaving anyone alive to report back will earn the team more displeasure from the Awakened nation.
#9 – Shadowrunner team out talismongering, think the players are stealing their stuff
#10 – The native shaman on a vision quest, wanting to know if he should help Lung or Ryumyo’s forces
#11 – Mitsuhama border patrol crashed, and the EMP cannon that took them down, brings down the players in the same spot
#12 – Ice Maiden – a young dragon seeking to recruit “agents” and build up her power base
#13 – Lava elementals on Mount Rainier, who will attack and try to destroy the team
#14 – and what was the challenge for the last volcano? Fear and suspicion! My initial notes read as: “There's nothing here. It's a cake-walk. Nothing of note. Lots of tension though... and suspicion. This is their freebie to finish on an easy note.” I figured after none of the other volcanos being easy, they’d be very suspicious and would be waiting for the other shoe to drop. And they were!
Still, with that done, they were ready to head back north. It was at this point that I tried to do a few random rolls and checks for the border crossings, and Dice Maiden decided not to play nice – so I decided ‘what the hell’ – let’s go narrative, get the team back to Seattle, and give them their pay and a week of downtime to fix the bird, get a meeting in with the other decker, and do some shopping and spell learning.
Besides, that puts them in one place long enough for me to trigger the next plot-line. At the least convenient moment, when they’re furthest away from the ward on the tilt-wing, one of them is going to be the subject of some ritual tracking, and then they’re going to get a message from Aiden, informing them that their mission has changed, and he has new instructions for them.
And these are non-negotiable… they have enough time to gear up a little and finish off some stuff, then they have to be in the Sioux nation in 15 days time. Just long enough to learn some spells and initiate maybe, but then we’re on to the next major plot arc, a new unique item/ability for two of the team, and probably the start of book 8!

And as usual, here are the notes from the game session, to compare / contrast with the narrative:
1. Friday 1/10/2060, Location:39.39222, -120.30863, Time 19:45
2. Kai biotech test on Shimazu, spot tiny little bit of agitation.
3. Aswon asks about putting hammock up, Trogdor is ok with that.
4. Look at route to Diablo, decide dogleg. Look at amount of land for Japanese occupation force
5. Kai asks about stopping on the way back, wants to get job done.
6. Buy 50 standard recordings, 2 dir-x = 3k, +fuel of 8250 = 27k left
7. Tads looking for spells - rolled up: Alter Temp(7), Fix(4), Cure disease(5), Detox(cool.gif, Treat(11), Heal (6), Silence (9), Stealth(3), Lightning bolt(11), Fix, Makeover (6), Manabolt (9) - Tads turns them all down.
8. Saturday 2/10/2060, 08:00, summon spirits, fuel bird, plot route.
9. Random encounter, double 1, Ares fast mover being chased by 3 Mitsubishi fighters. None of them see the bird. Marius spots the flight and takes evasive. Shimazu spots some high force spells.
10. Lead plane spots SOMETHING with a 25, 2 of the chase planes also get 1 hit. Ares breaks high and right, Jap corps break left, high g forces. Shimazu spots the wards on the planes.
11. Jap plane fire missile, pop chaff and flares, misses Ares, slides past the bird. Ares heads north on the deck at 100m mach 1.5, fooling the japs who get lost behind him about 10-15km.
12. Fly on, all quiet.
13. Hunter analyses footage - 3 X mitsubishi, 1 X ares
14. Close on the top, car park has 2 cars, about 200m from the top. Look around, go into a hover, levitate Shimazu out to a tree to plant. Plant in a tree in a shallow slice, then back aboard, back to Bust.
15. Back east, avoid the fire in the barn, back into the mountains, Kai calls the number.
16. Female voice, hello "good evening. it's kai, we've done, awaiting instructions" please hold. "you've finished, authorised to release payments. "in seattle, in a day or two" reference? No, just Mr Kai.
17. Work out fuel range, how much cash left, how much they can spend on spell formula.
18. Back to Bust, no med supplies. Talk to Trogdor about spells, has he designed some, purchased others.
19. Shimazu sneaks off to recover some drugs
20. Much discussion about what spells to buy and how much cash they need at a reserve.
21. Kai asks about archery / arrows - does he have anything to do with that. Nope.
22. wait for dusk, fly back to seattle.
23. Sunday 1am, get back to the church. Kai calls contact to arrange meet. Aswon pitches in re stress / time.
Kren Cooper
I did get some feedback from my players as well by email and on our discord channel. Pasted below in case it's of interest or so you can see their thinking.

First response from Jez / Aswon:
I'm not going to reply all cos I just don't think this is a convo that'll work via email! But the sorts of things I'm likely to bring up when the in game conversations arise so you can decide how you want to handle it, below. Might be worth starting a few threaded conversations in Discord with titles like:
Intel to gather
Sourcing Deckers
Getting Home from Ice Maiden
Dealing with the horror

That might be taking things too far. I dunno. I do know if I took it upon myself to do it no-one would pay any attention so if you think it's a good idea you'll have to!

Anyway my/aswon's thoughts on the points raised:

1) You're due a reasonable size payout from the Mr Black and Mr White who gave you the job in Japan.

a. We’ll see how much we have left after expenses, eh? smile.gif Can't plan in detail till we've repaired the bird and planned our route (and subsequent cost in fuel if necessary) home really.

2) You're due a karma award for everything that has happened since episode 183 (the end of the Hong Kong / Chun + Harley arc). There's going to be a bunch of mission Karma of course, but you may want to think about things you've done for personal awards ahead of time . smile.gif

a. Damn, all I have noted down since last award is thinking of a test for the deckers – though actually that leads me back to the next point on the list see below.

b. Everything else I've done has just been Aswon being Aswon, I don't think there's been anything particularly dramatic or unusual that he's done.

c. I'll have to have a think, maybe reread some write ups.

3) You have recruited 2 deckers for Ice Maiden, and have contact details for a 3rd back in Seattle. She wanted "three or four", and hinted at helping with information on fighting the Horror.

a. Suggest to Kai using our own money if necessary to get each of these deckers to do something for us that we’d consider difficult.

b. Then not only do we hopefully get useful things – gear, intel, ID, transpoder codes, smuggler routes, permanent access to certain databases, whatever - we can report back with some confidence or caveats, and can possibly say to ice maiden: look we know you probably don’t have “nuyen”, but we *did* use our own resources for this… as a way to either get some other form of wealth or information from her.

4) You have an outstanding arrangement with Aden to go deal with the Horror in the underground temple, which two of the group have declared deeds for.

a. We should ask him and Ice-Maiden about ways to weaken the horror first, even if only temporarily.

b. We also should reach out to the team we rescued and tell them we’re going back to deal with it. Do they want revenge/satisfaction? End of the day, they have some nice toys, and that gives us options. Also Aswon gets to see his French sniper crush.

5) There's something about an amusement park, that's apparently important to someone....

a. OK. I’m not against this, not really. But…

b. It has to be either when we have a job in the area without another one we’re lined up and on the clock for, or when we have enough reserve cash and options to go over there entirely for ourselves – and that means waiting until we’ve dealt with the horror, and, I would suggest, the birth if marius tells us about it before we get home and find out the hard way.

c. We could, however, any time Hunter has the time and matrix access to do this – possibly even as soon as Seattle - start researching what happened, local stories and all of that. Intel gathering generally costs us nothing but time, and we’re going to need it if we’re going to deal with a haunting permanently.

6) You do have the one shot deal with Maersk for shipping yourselves and cargo somewhere, that could get you across the pacific if required. Or the atlantic if you went the other way...

a. Kai’s call.

b. I understand he wants to work back around pacrim, unless we can get a Maersk ship from the Athabaskan council port back to somewhere useful.

c. As long as he has a plan for how we fund another 10 refuels without us getting home already broke again, Aswon doesn’t care.

7) Nadia is now about 7 months pregnant, just FYI Lee

a. Unless Marius tells us this, we cannot plan for it.

b. When he does tell us, Aswon will take the view that regardless of whether marius wants to get home in time, Nadia is part of the team and he thinks the team should aim to get there in time and not leave her alone to deal with this. From his point of view if it is agreed that this is the course of action, then that presents two immediate concerns that need resolving before a course of action can be determined: do we deal with the horror now at the fastest speed we can manage, possibly rushing it, or do we get in touch with Aden and say up front that we'll be waiting x more months until [birth + 1 week or so] before we will be able to start. Jez can predict Marius' reaction to involving a dragon in the birth of his child even as far as letting the dragon even know he has a child, particularly a specific dragon all common knowledge suggests gives absolutely no shits about metahumanity except as food or slaves. Aswon on the other hand will see it as a simple matter of resolving conflicting duties by bouncing it up the current chain of command: if we are to get home in time, we must either deal with the horror very quickly or we must deal with the dragon. If we cannot do the one, we must do the other.

cool.gif The tilt-wing still has 9 points of stress, and needs another 2 weeks worth of work to get it back into A1 condition. The blimp also needs another 5 days, in a workshop.

a. Ok well I’m in favour of the Seattle option in the list below to address this, for sure.

9) Vadim will also probably want to initiate, and needs some time in a woodland / forest area somewhere to get in touch with his totem.

a. Fort Lewis/Snohomish/Everett reserve, here we come!

From Andrew / Kai:
From a personal pov - I would prefer to fly back the same route we came (pinching off at the appropriate point to get the best route back to out town base). From where we are it should be easy to get supplies that the various contacts were in “need” of to help pay for fuel on the way back.

Seattle certainly could offer a lot of the resources/places to get things fixed (although being back in Russia may help with some of the parts (is the bugger Russian/Chinese or something? - would bring back over the water to fix be better?). Stress points in general sound bad.

A day or so in Seattle minimum to sort extra deckers for the dragon (and do we have any more digging to do?)

From Lees memory - did we have to go back to Japan to be paid?

From Lee / Marius
I just want to get back as soon as possible,
The free ride with Maersk would probably be easier given the fuel costs and amount of stress. Across the Atlantic would probably be faster. For Marius it is about speed. Definitely no more detours or side quests. I want downtime, training and we need to look at our kit requirements.

Response from Kai
Depends entirely on the opportunity/speed of the ship (and the chances of something happening on a journey are slip on a ship … but out in the ocean, it becomes very very life and death)

Follow on from Aswon
It's the cost as well: each hop we do we have to net around ten k in cargo or we're just shedding cash. A massive maersk ship will have armed guards and defences which makes us safer and if there's a particularly high threat incident we might even score some combat pay or another favour if they're attacked on route.

Also, a big storm is just as much if not more danger to us in the air with our low flight ceiling (as we have already come close to several times), compared to a massive ship at sea using a main shipping line which is already going to be a known quantity in terms of risk/cost ratio or the corps wouldn't be using it.

We have made a deal to go back up to Athabaska to meet ice maiden so we have to do that far. But there's a massive corp port right there where we can probably hop a ship possibly all the way back to Suez along a major route (i.e. safest for cost/risk for a corp).

Our bird will be faster *if* we can stop trade fuel go every time and never need repairs or money. A free ship ride might be slower but I think far more predictable and won't cost us 50-60k in fuel.

This of course is why we have a hunter. Let the logistics expert work out the likely trade off for us.

Another way to look at it is that we don't intend to make this a regular route I don't think, so we don't actually need the contacts/stopover points?

Response from Gus / Hunter
I’m with Marius in the speed and I’m for cashing in the the one shot free taxi ride on a massive ship tbh.
For Hunter the dealings with the fooking gold dragon needs doing as soon as we can.
Details for the deckers for the ice dragon could possibly be passed over to her contacts so that’s one less meeting with a scaly bugger.
An ocean voyage sounds really good about now for Hunter lots of time to train 😉
Kren Cooper
Also, Jez / Aswon threw together some costs to try and identify how much the team should be charging for jobs, posting out his throughts to our Discord channel:

Jez (Aswon): @Kai El Capitan Sidequest:

For approximate pricing of jobs, I have done some maths. Bottom line: when you're agreeing to stuff, your rough rule of thumb is:

START AT: Y60 per km, before danger pay and similar.

NO LESS than Y31 per km, before danger pay and similar.

Y30.95/km is our base line operational maintenance cost per km including fuel before cargo, our food, nadia's schemes, ammo, bribes, and all the rest. Less than this and we're not just making no profit, but we'd be starving to death if we didn't have Tads.

More to follow in the reply. The point is: does that sound like a workable finger in the air bit of maths for you?
[9:23 AM] Jez (Aswon): Maths to explain all this:

The Y31 per km is also the effective running cost of the vessel per km when empty.

We actually only have about 1000Kg of the 3500kg and about 50CF of the 300CF available in the bird after putting us and all our gear in the bird, that Y30 per km has to cover, meaning we have to make a profit on 1000kg and 50CF of space.

My suggested price of Y60/km should therefore be good enough for you to go negotiate with, and if you can get close to it we can be reasonably sure we will make some money.

When you have Hunter with you and you can turn to him and casually say "run the numbers on this and get me a price would you" whilst you carry on with your patter, then the actual numbers for a specific load should be calculated like this:

(0.61Y per CF per km) + (0.03Y per kg per km) seems like a good formula to use to estimate when quoting a job. This would mean small stuff would be very cheap, large or heavy stuff quite expensive. And that seems... right?

That is our specific optempo of 30.95/50CF plus 30.95/1000Kg, meaning we're basically charging based on a proportion of our precious cargo weight and volume.

It is a bit of double counting: this is on purpose so you (Kai) always have a high figure to start from. We know it's slightly over priced, which means you can follow your instincts and compromise on the prices... without leaving us destitute 🙂

I hope this was useful!
[9:35 AM] Jez (Aswon): Some rough examples:

Shoebox of calhots from Calfree to Anchorage: approx 0.5CF, 0.5kg, 3000 km. Y915+Y45+ value of the goods. That's about a 1K premium on the chips for shipping, plus whatever extra we want to put on top. Entirely reasonable.

Ship a body 3 armoured drone the same distance however and we're talking about 14CF and about 750kg. That's going to be 25.6K + 67.5 or 94K or so.

"But that's outrageous! If I had ID I could buy that local for only about a 10K premium!"
"So ka. But you don't have the ID, and we don't have the fuel, food for our emaciated pilot or medication for my poor disabled dog at home. You know how it is. I tell you what we'll fetch it for you at cost, let's say 60K. But we want some of that [special ammo/riggerware/whatever). "

...we get our 2 fuel stops covered and can guarantee about 30K profit, which is two more fuel stops worth of cash. If they actually take our first offer without negotiating then that's another 30K on the top... and we could have afforded to go lower if we really liked the contact or it was a favour.

It makes us seem expensive (because it is) but at the same time also seem very reasonable and open to discussion and goods/favours in kind as trade offs, with our main selling points actually being: we are fast, we can be very quiet, we're prepared for a scrap if we need it and provided we can get fuel at regular intervals we'll literally go cross continental for you.
[2:01 PM] Kren: 🙂 Nice one Jez. I would also factor in something as an overall modifier to cover world events. You may not have realised it, but with the mission you did to take out the Fuchi pipeline along with the other team getting their oil declared contaminated, that drove supply down considerably, and the price per barrel up - which quickly impacted at the fuel pumps, and made your next 2-3 fuel stops cost several grand more...
[10:23 AM] Jez (Aswon): The costs I've come up with here are meant to allow for running costs and fuel averages we've seen over the campaign thus far, with some safety margin built in. It's to give our main negotiator an immediate rule of thumb for where 'profitable' actually starts. Specific job & world conditions are to my mind just points to negotiate the specific job around?
[10:25 AM] Kren: Fair enough
[10:26 AM] Jez (Aswon): Just to specifically talk about fuel costs vs the figures I've got above:

We buy fuel on the spot and as a campaign aren't really using 'optempo': we could include the fuel as an extra: at the rates we've been paying its approx 10K per 1000km, or Y10/km. If we want to be sure then we could say Y40/km is our absolute floor, simply to prevent Kai from offering deals that are too sweet.

...But to some extent I already planned for this:

- Y60/km figure is around twice what our optempo should be (Y30.95/km) if fuel costs were abstracted.
- In our campaign fuel is not abstracted and it's not really clear how much of an optempo calculation is supposed to be fuel. But we can be confident some of the Y10/km is covered.
- This is why I said Y30/km is the absolute floor: if we don't take damage or stress, and the trip is quick, then Y30/km will still cover the Y10/km in fuel we're spending. For the right client/package/sob story anyway.
- I double-counted package mass and space to give us lots of wiggle room around that, because of the unknown. I could've done some averaging, but likely we'd have been flying on margins far too often.

Where fuel suddenly shoots up in price mid-job due to world events then as long as it doesn't double or triple, if we've used the values above we should still turn a profit. World events that are already happening at the start are something Kai would factor for in the negotiation, make sense?
[10:27 AM] Jez (Aswon): #ThingsILearnedWatchingMartin
Kren Cooper
Hi everyone - and welcome to another update for the Smuggler campaign. Episode 203 is now published, and can be found:-
Added to the end of Book 7:
The story at FanFiction:
The story at Archive Of Our Own:

Here's the "behind the scenes" from this week's run:
So – the Pacific Rim job is done, and the team have planted 14 tokens on a variety of volcanos over the 14 thousand kilometre run, with a few days to spare. Ryumyo and Lung will now send their squads out to hunt and find each one, with the first to claim the token “taking” the volcano and it’s ley line / power lines for themselves. Of course, Ryumyo is going to concentrate on the ones near Japan, while Lung looks elsewhere, and that will directly lead to the earthquakes and events of the Year of the Comet. As this was a major plotline and milestone, and it had been 20 play sessions since the last Karma award, it was time to through some cookies out.
At least having the notes and the writeups makes this a relatively easy task to go back through the sessions and note down karma-worthy tasks and quotes, and to check on activity – and the players did very well out of this! The Karma awards were:
Aswon 30, Hunter 28, Kai 26, Marius 26, Shimazu 25, Tads 25 (and Vadim and Nadia got a boost in abilities to keep them in the same league, if not the same division). That puts most of them around the 200+ karma range, so they’ve got a fair bit of power now
As important of course is the karma pool refresh, and the knowledge that they’d soon get their million Nuyen payday – so the players started to plan out spending the cash to get some replacement gear for what they’ve lost and a few upgrades, and then also plan what skills they want to try and learn. Two of the group (Aswon and Shimazu) can’t initiate as they’ve declared ‘deeds’ of killing the Horror (or at least dealing with it), but Kai and Tads could if they wished, and of course everyone can raise skills and attributes.
They’ve also lined up their last meeting with a decker to satisfy Ice Maiden’s request, and should get that done without issue, and be ready to head home then - they’re busy making plans for getting back to the ranch, working out which route to take, either cashing in their favour with Maersk for a free trip on a boat, or if they’re going to smuggle goods back around the Pac-Rim, and fly back, trying to do enough biz to cover the fuel costs.
None of which matters really, because that’s not what’s going to happen. Events are in motion which will head them off on a tangent and see them heading into Sioux lands for a meeting soon, and a chance to meet some very interesting people!
I’d also spoken with both of the people who’d played the two dragons back at the start of this arc, and while only one of them had availability to pop into the session and have a chat with the players, the other was able to record some voice clips for me and send them over, which I could then play back – both dragons effectively saying “well done, you’ve proved yourself competent, we’ll be in touch later to use you again” – the price of doing a good job! Of course, doing a bad job would mostly get you eaten… so they’re probably ahead.

And as usual, here are the notes from the game session, to compare / contrast with the narrative:
1. Sunday 3/10/2060, Location:51.50211, -126.14977, Time 00:53
2. Karma award - A30, H28, K26, M26, S25, T25
3. Sleep until morning, spirits, running, breakfast
4. Marius calls Nadia, doing repairs, wants to get home as soon as possible. She's now running the hotel, they're rubbish as business.
5. Just at the end of breakfast - messages from Neil - clip #3 then #2. Line goes dead. Kai says thank you anyway, just in case.
6. Kai calls the number, different voice, good evening. Call to finalise payment. Outside the space needle. Dusk tomorrow evening. Lovely, ok. Yellow handkerchief+red poppy
7. Marius working on the bird.
8. Tads wants spell formula, custom design from either Aslick or Popov; Hunter wants a big hand gun. Talk to rad, explain re elementals.
9. Marius asks Kai "what's cheap in seattle" Discuss fix spell and use, especially for small drones / components
10. Kai phone call, congrats are in order, you've survived. Appreciate the efforts your team has gone to furthering our aims. You and your team have peaked my interest. Will be watching with great interest. | that's flattering and frightening at the same time. |I'm sure you will do great things, will speak to you in the future, and you won't disappoint me *menace* | No, of course we won't. | I hope the renumeration will be satisfactory, and that you stay in fine health.|I'm sure you'll get in touch when you need me. | Maybe not personally, but you never know. Hangup.
11. Kai - puts on tinfoil hat. Goes back to talking about shopping.
12. Talk about enchanting armour, difficulty based on modern materials
13. Rad comes back with a gyro-jet, 2.5k, it's "clean". 5 clips of reg ammo, 3k. Agree to deal.
14. Shimazu asks for APDS / AV - can't get hold. Asks for down payment for 3-4 weeks, refuse.
15. Nim comes over to Marius to help out. Brings him a toolkit
16. Aswon - wild hunt jumpsuit+massage lining+ 3 points chem seal+ 2 thermal masking, 6k per suit.
17. Aswon looks for helmets with 1/1 helmets with detachable gas masks for 350 Ny each - 8
18. Look for armoured suits. Conservative suits, 2.5k each. Choice of fabrics and options for the "corp team", suits from Batumi. Flash pack pockets. Choice of 2 scabards, angled and flush.
19. 2 X Ghillie suits (aswon+hunter) @ 300 each
20. New anti-coagulants for Hunter - but not from April. Aswon refuses to do a job with no recon, and they need some downtime.
21. Marius fails to remove stress point - RR, fails again, 1GK gets a 9 one success, but Nim does 2. Stress = 7
22. Monday - Nim gets 2, Marius 1, stress=5.
23. Taxi down to Grungis "no drifters". Description of grungi. Gets beers, 4%, poor quality but drinkable. Soy-oinks. "Make your tail go curly". To Hunter - "did you get the number" confusion, truck that ran over his face. Rotting teeth+belch. "Are you grungi"? Yea, my place, pretty sweet huh. Looking for work - ahh, one of those. Get beer for trophy. "don't make a mess in my bar". Hunter - why would you notice?
24. Trophy - toilets through there, unless you're looking for something else. Hunter passes beer over. You come recommended. Rad - oh, green mohawk, yeah, know him. Hunter, looking for deckers. Phone, speed dial #4, explains out of town, 1k fee, passes phone over. Intro to CAD. Kai explains, not taking a fee. CAD confused. What's in it for you. It's not all about money. CAD freaked out a little, but ok. Shimazu spots trophy drop into astral. Shimazu assenses gets massive success - g2 phys-ad. Shimazu drops masking for just a second. Trophy reacts with some surprise. Kai carries on conversation. Face to face meet - what? Are you mental? Meat space? Face to face? Like.. touching? 1 hour, Tacoma mall, floor 4, outside Mcronalds. Chocolate milkshake with sprinkles. Offers job to team, critter recovery. Shimazu says in the city only. Kai asks for age on CAD.
Kren Cooper
Hi everyone - and welcome to another update for the Smuggler campaign. Episode 204 is now published, and can be found:-
Added to the end of Book 7:
The story at FanFiction:
The story at Archive Of Our Own:

Here's the "behind the scenes" from this week's run:
Fairly straight-forward this week, and mostly concentrating on the actions of 4 of the team – with Marius back at the Church fixing the bird, while Tads desperately tried to cram some astral quests in with someone who could teach her spells before they left. Of course, I was sitting here all smug knowing that “plans were afoot”…
Finishing off the meet with Trophy was fairly straight-forward, and hopefully conveyed how paranoid / weirded out the man who lives mostly in the matrix was with having to have a physical meet. They also discovered that one of Kai’s ID has now expired – the result of a flaw in creation which gave it an expiry date.
The pickup for their pay at the Space Needle was simple enough, as benefits what happens when two great dragons want something to happen and stop bickering with each other – and here’s where I failed to take into account Kai’s ID being burnt. Thankfully caught it after a prompt from my better half, and modified the writeup to fit (as Kai wouldn’t have access to the shell company they set up, with the linked ID now no longer valid) with Aswon doing the validation. Still, that’s all good and I’m sure they can get around that.
With the mission around the rim done, it’s now time to send them on the next major plot development, so I needed to get them into Sioux territory – so Aden’s done a ritual to track them down. The players helpfully obliged by having some of them well away from the tilt-wing and that pesky Force 10 ward, and with Tads and Vadim being otherwise engaged, they had no real way to stop it. Then it was a matter of trying to have some tension with it building up as they drove back to the church, before the drake arrived to deliver the message – rather than Iranian clerics or Azzie Blood mages which is what they were expecting.
The team seemed very surprised with the news that the Horror has escaped, and it threw all their plans into disarray – but with two of the teams having declared a deed for dealing with it and being unable to initiate until they complete that, it’s pretty much a sure thing that they’ll be off to sort it out.
Maisey – one of the two Pink Mohawk characters they’ve interacted with at the training centre - was from the Sioux, so she’s going to be a handy conduit for info about the place to Aswon (who has been told to go read the Sioux chapter from the NAN book to remind him of the details and regard most of that as common knowledge now)
After working out how long they needed for the maintenance on the tilt-wing and spell learning, we settled on about 5 days to do some downtime and a quick training montage, so we’ll advance the calendar a little next session. While sorting out the downtime, Kai’s player Fozzy finally bowed to pressure from the group and decided to not only initiate again, but also to bond the weapon foci they got from the Jewish hit-team, which also meant buying edged weapons 1… which left him with one good karma!!!
And that’s why they’re going to go do a raid on the hospital before they depart, to see if they can earn one or two more, just in case…

And as usual, here are the notes from the game session, to compare / contrast with the narrative:
1. Monday 4/10/2060, Location:51.50211, -126.14977, Time 15:00
2. Team get in a cab to Tacoma mall - 8km,
3. Get to tac mall, into area ok, to atrium, multi-level slides, entertainers, spot Cad, assense, check area, Kai gets food including chocolate shake with sprinkles.
4. Arms under table, doing something, suspicious. Checks drink+id, sits Kai down. Team feels like they're being watched (especially Aswon). Get expanded description, "ok, I'm here, what's so important" K-traditional, working for someone, verification. CAD - ok, all done then yeah, I can go home now? Kai - no, can you meet the client| does trophy know them. | Paranoid when Kai says not the only one watching. Kai - it's all fine. What do you enjoy doing? |Are you serious? I just play games, nothing illegal.| Excellent - you pass the first test. | How much do you charge | depends on the travel. | Asks for demo - gets security footage from mall. | Anything you don't like? | Dying. We done here then? |Yeah, swap details, down payment. Hunter explains more about the job.
5. Cad goes to leave, leaves calling card behind - transparent plastic with light grey text. Team finishes food, takes card, leaves.
6. Checks out archery shop - Kai's ID fails. Aswon scans then pays on cert stick. Hunter computer check. Advises Kai to try stick elsewhere - comes up invalid.
7. Call another cab, drive 40km up to space needle. Kai's ID fails to scan.
8. At space needle, heavy security, Aswon puts his hat on... totally untraceable (!)
9. Spot girl selling plushie dragons. Astral see F10 air elementals on guard, + a few watcher spirits, some people brushing them off. Bimble around until dusk, then head to stall.
10. "You seek dragon, plushie dragon, 10 nuyen!" I'm kai by the way. This dragon no good for you. Swaps, "enjoy your dragon" Kai can feel credstick in the centre. Finds credstick inside - Ebony certified.
11. Look for souvenir ashop, find ATM. Look for grimy area - none. All sparkly clean. Deposit money to the holding company. Kai - sudden thought, is NAdia going to spot this? Aswon - maybe. Kai - I'm scared of her.. Aswon - sign of a good office manager. Realise she's not on that account. Kai gets a receipt. Puts cred stick in the bin. Aswon hassles him about shares...Kai buys a space needle souvenir for Nadia...
12. Back in a cab to head to Church, WP check for Aswon in cab on the way back. Shimazu checks out his aura - being tracked. Call Marius to advise might be coming in hot. Try to call Tads, get Vadim - might need help. Might need to get back to the church. Aswon looking for places with wards - just in case. Just approaching the church, builds to a crescendo, call for Vadim.
13. Drake arrives - looks down at Aswon - "ahh, there you are." "You're looking for me? I am Aswon!"
14. Delivers message. Aswon - do you have any more details? No, just the messenger. Are you going? Yes! We said we would.
15. Vadim - was that a tiny dragon?
16. Hunter checks location - 1600km
17. Sourcing PEM 4 (40k), Decrypt 4 (90k) for Marius to allow hacking. Also willing for 5/6s
18. Tads orders spells from Aslik / Popov. Talks to Gavin as well.
19. Kai - 5 days to initiate
20. Hunter - WP training
21. Aswon - Body training, small unit tactics
22. Shimazu - WP training
23. Tads - spell learning (5 hours+4 hours for shapechange), teach Fang a few spells (1 day), learn increase attribute 3 (2 days)+teaching Vadim (1 day) Shopping with Gavin - limited armour (7), Fix (7)
24. Marius - fixing the bird
25. Training montage talk to Maisy about Sioux culture.
26. Scoping out targets for April - Kaiser Everett hospital with attached doc-wagon response pad. Mid size clinic/small hospital
27. Providence medical centre, western Everett - big 6 story hospital, multiple wings, big car park
28. Everett primary clinic, large clinic/small hospital, separate car park
29. Team discuss types of break in / blags. Do some recon on targets 2 and 3 in the evenings.
30. Team will decide on which target to hit post recon.
Kren Cooper
Hi everyone - and welcome to another update for the Smuggler campaign. Episode 205 is now published, and can be found:-
Added to the end of Book 7:
The story at FanFiction:
The story at Archive Of Our Own:

Here's the "behind the scenes" from this week's run:
So, with Kai down to only a sliver of good karma, the team decided to meta-game a tiny bit, and do a quick run on a hospital to make April and the people at the church happy, and see if they could earn themselves a couple of points of good karma, to help them in the fight against the horror. As they’ve got a week to fill, I’m actually ok with that, and it seems to make sense for them in-game as well. And what they don’t know is that it’s unfortunately not going to help them – the Horror, having escaped from its tomb now has a wider range of powers, one of which is inspired by the dragons “Twist Fate” power – and he’s going to dick with their karma anyway (or at least try… - if they can make the essence check target number, then good for them – and they get to be smug while everyone else in the team suffers)
So – they needed a run on a hospital, so over to Google maps I went, found 3 sites close to the location of the Church and threw together 3 quick bios for them based on what I thought was reasonable from a casual watch / walk by and a cursory matrix search.
The location information was:
Kaiser Health Centre+Doc Wagon station, 47.97793, -122.19146. Ares owned
Just off the I-5, fronting onto Maple street, with Pacific Avenue to the south and Hewitt Avenue to the north, with Pine Street to the west
Very small hospital / large clinic, 5 story building with 3 story facility over 2 story parking
This facility fulfils basic physical and medical equipment accessibility standards.
This provider is Preferred In-Network. Summit PPO members who get care from a Preferred In-Network provider will have the lowest out-of-pocket costs. Refer to your Evidence of Coverage for more information.
Additional providers and pharmacies are available to Summit PPO members at a higher cost through regional and national networks
Virtual Plus - Connect Network members Your costs may be higher if you receive in-person care without a referral.
Departments: Cardiology, General Internal Medicine, General Surgery, Injection Room, Laboratory, Nephrology, Occupational Therapy, Oncology, Orthopaedics, Pharmacy, Radiology, Women's Health Care
To the north side of the hospital is an attached facility owned and operated by Doc-Wagon, home to two air-response units. One is a Boeing chopper for urgent care transfer, one is an Osprey for HTR recovery.
Doc-Wagon have electrified fences topped with razor wire, decent cameras and night lights, good quality maglocks and are protected by a F3 ward.
The hospital is staffed with Bulldog security, a local Everett firm that provides security and investigative services - according to their matrix site, they provide forensic and investigation services FOC after a security breach - 'A Bulldog doesn't let go!' The hospital has reasonable camera coverage, modern maglocks and a screamer card / tags for the staff.
27 Doctors and 43 nurses, 61 ancillary and admin staff.

Providence Regional Medical Center, 47.97566, -122.21713. Secret Mitsuhama facility
eight block campus between Pacific Avenue and 33rd Street, then Kromer Avenue and Nassau Street
Large hospital, 7 story main building with 5 story annexe, two six story car parks. Hospital has roof helipad and Level II Trauma centre.
Matrix site lists numerous ways to "give" along with considerable religious rhetoric and reference to the "Sisters of Providence".
Main departments: Trauma / Emergency centre, Family Maternity Centre, Children's Centre, Heart and Vascular Care, Neuroscience Institute, Surgical services, Neurosurgery, Diagnostic Imaging Services, Hospice Care Centre, Clinical Research, Rehabilitation Services
Often handles urgent care patients from the docks, railroad, Boeing and sports centres
Hospital relies on city based Lone Star services and internal manpower for most security, with only CCTV being contracted out to a local IT firm - Managed Technology LLC. Security seems generally very light, with code-lock doors and the CCTV system looks a little older than usual.
84 Doctors, 219 Nursing staff and 691 Research, ancillary and admin staff.

Everett primary clinic, 47.96558, -122.20883
Two block area between Rucker Avenue and Colby Avenue, and 39th and 40th Street
Large clinic/small hospital, separate car park. Part of Optum Health Care (Yamatetsu)
Urgent Walk-in Care M-F 7:30-19:00, S+S 08:00-17:00
Walk-in clinic visits are billed as office visits, not as ER or urgent care center visits. Please check with your health plan to find out how walk-in visits are covered.
Departments: Urgent care, ENT, Cardiology, Musculoskeletal medicine, Obstetrics and family medicine, Ophthalmology, Podiatry, Rheumatology and arthritis, Urology
Hospital uses Blue Shield security, mostly retired cops / service personnel, generally somewhat elderly with a focus on experience, customer care and decent gear.
Security uses CCTV with on-site monitoring, and the building is rigged - many of the elderly patients are moved about on robotic gurney drones.
17 Doctors, 58 Nurses, 38 Ancillary staff and volunteers, bunch of robots/autobots
All of the text was “inspired by” (read: shamelessly adapted from) the real world locations, so the range of services fitted with the size of the location, and then I just finger in the air guessed on the number of staff. All of the data was put into powerpoint, some google maps + street view images added, then the whole lot output as a PDF and uploaded to the players for them to read through and discuss.
I tried to put a bit of emphasis on the locations, making them feel slightly different to get over that each would have a different challenge:
#1 – Doc Wagon are very well trained and equipped, and do work closely with the facility, and there was a high chance they would get involved with a HTR team, probably leading to some kind of fight.
#2 – The large number of staff especially researchers indicated that there were projects going on – and Mitsuhama have a hidden floor underground where grisly experiments and organ harvesting is going on, that they would probably have run into – just by chance, you understand.
#3 – Has an active rigger network that would have been a workout for Marius and provided scope for MIJI and other electronic warfare fun if they’d chosen to go that way, or they could have (and what they appear to be doing) used magic to work around the technology, saying to Marius “what can we do that would affect you in the worst way?” and rely on his expertise to get around the obstacles. The guards here are *very* experienced, and setting off the alarm will have them meeting crosses between Casey Rieback and Cohen the Barbarian. Mostly because it’s funny, and I’d love to see the look on Shimazu’s face if he comes across some seventy year old dude that also has quickstrike and slaps him across the face with a bedpan…
They were right in the depths of planning some very complicated stuff when I rolled for a random encounter, got a “good” result (I normally do random rolls on a D6 – a 1 indicates a random happening, 2-6 all quiet. Sometimes I roll a dice and ask a player to roll a dice, and if they match that means a random encounter. Sometimes I ask someone to roll a D6 at the start of the night and make a note of the number and that becomes the “hot” number for the night. Keeps things interesting. And, once I’ve rolled for a random, then unless I have some pre-planned tables or events, it’s normally another D6 roll ranging from 1=awful to 6=very helpful actually – so sometimes it’s a good thing to get a random encounter) and had a couple of trolleys being sent back over to the urgent care building.
Very quickly they threw their plan in the bin, ran with a new plan and had 3 of the team infiltrate the building by tailgating the trolleys, and sent Kai in the front door. So, next week while he does distraction duty, the three of them get to pillage the ICU and run away with some phat loot. 😊
Then we can get on with heading up to Ice Maiden for some “help against the horror” – which they still have no idea what form this will take, before heading off to Sioux to meet up with some big names – Ehran, Harlequin, Frosty and Damian Knight. At which point they should feel like they are WELL into deep water and in a lot of trouble. At least I hope so!

And as usual, here are the notes from the game session, to compare / contrast with the narrative:
Saturday 9/10/2060, Location:47.96859, -122.19593, Time 07:00
1. Kai - don't like doc-wagon, too heavily armed. Aswon - not all of them, just the HTRs. Favour the small one, Marius is more stubborn than their rigger, I bet. Just have to be quick. But doesn't like Bulldog - forensic=bad
2. Tads - big one, external CCTV cover, we can deal with that maybe with Marius/Hunter
3. Aswon - also depends on what we steal and the value. Can try to get into the IT place and scout it remotely.
4. Kai - not sure about the ward on the small one as well. ASwon - nah, should be fine. Low force. We can all sleaze that.
5. Marius - depends how long after we do this we leave the area, and how far aware we are as well. Aswon - yeah, we'll be up to Ice Maiden then over to the horror quick enough
6. Tads - Aswon you'll be the hardest to hide of course, we can all disguise much easier than you.
7. Aswon yeah - another one about the one guarded by lone star, need to be careful which sins we use and get tagged in the area of a crime / incident.
8. Marius - find a senior exec, shanghai them and get invited in. Aswon - not sure if we have time. 7 days to get to sioux, and we need to get to Ice Maiden and then act on what she shares with us.
9. Tads - want to go non-lethal as a first choice.
10. Marius - DEA pharmacy spot check? Not sure if that's a practical thing. Some discussion about using Kai to get in as a blag.
11. Tads - find out what local pub the security uses for a brush past mind probe. Shimazu - that's probably near their base, not near the clinic.
12. Tads - can we gather info on their network if we get Marius inside their rigger network. Marius - just need to get
13. Kai - clarification on how mind probe works / how long it takes
14. Marius checks on Optum - owned >50% by Yamatetsu
15. Plan to go scout out Everett Primary clinic, Aswon confused about urgent care vs office visit costs, Shimazu and Kai explain about costs for treatment
16. Tads - feeling guilty, can we not just buy some stuff and donate it to April?
17. Team go for a walk-by.
18. Pharmacy - extended hours 7:00-00:00
19. Kai - suggest getting maintenance staff keys / swipe cards for access everywhere.
20. Recon walk by - reasonable CCSS, good coverage, probably has a rigger on site or active at all times (Shimazu confirms)
21. Guard, PSS,e-holster with alarm, G'morning. I am aswon.
22. Tads - could we offer to ward the place? Aswon, like it - maybe steal stuff while there.
23. Plotting to get into the smoking area, mind probes for info, working out who to send in - probably Kai, Tads and Marius, while other 3 stay outside / be ready for a distraction or decoy.
24. Then discussion on going in for a recon with a fake injury / ailment. Disguise Hunter and Shimazu as fighters?
25. Tads suggest - spirit / accident / locks - then Marius+co come in as "maintenance"
26. Marius - all go in, 3 visible, 4 hidden, get in and then steal the stuff from the trolleys. Plan seems to go down well - then modify to great form spirits concealment. Do an astral scout. Find warded cupboard, suite and room with high force wards
27. Marius - cover the small movement with the big movement. Hunter medicine check
28. Kai - go in with "famous" clinic, want to go low-profile. Hunter queries - why would you be here? Change plan - no blood, go with concussions instead.
29. Robotic gurney goes past, open top, yellow beacons - now's a good chance to go in.
30. Tads does F1 imp invis - Marius first. drains, drops and recasts raising from 3 to 6. Shimazu 2nd, 8 successes, drain ok. Aswon 3rd, 1 success. Drops and recasts. 3 success. Takes a light.
31. Marius slides in after the gurney, leaf, get the others in, dark corridor, go listen. Go left and listen.
32. Hunter pre-search for common drugs and equipoment - 3 successes. Starts to drizzle. Kai changes face / tone, head to front door, feigning concussion and claiming to be important / discrete
33. Inside they listen, left door is a ward being cleaned, right door is quiet, high pitched 'charging' whine.
34. Go for the cleaners as the rigger will be sensing movement already.
35. Find manual over-ride and wait for cleaners to go and then get the door open to head in, just as Kai is getting to the front door.

Kren Cooper
Alas - no smuggler update this week, two players down and as we're in the middle of the raid on the hospital and both of them had very relevant skills, I pushed the session back to next week.

So - instead, a question - in two parts.
A) I've had several occasions now where I've had guest NPCs join our session - notably the two dragons that gave them the Ring of Fire job, and the younger dragon 'Ice Maiden'. Given the stylised nature of the writeup - can you tell that they were "live" people playing the NPCs, or not?
B) If your GM (assuming you're not a forever GM - in which case, my sympathies, here - have a cookie) bought in someone to play a big NPC role for you to interact with, would it enhance your game? If not, can you explain why?

Hopefully back to normal for next week, but I'd love to see some thoughts and opinions on the question!
A) It's been a while, but I don't recall thinking that they must have been played by players rather than the GM... maybe if I re-read those parts?
B) Complicated. We sorely lack players, so anyone willing to come to the table, I'd much prefer they stayed for more than a bit part. That said, in an ideal world, I think it could be awesome as a way to emphasize the importance and individuality of the Big Bad NPC.
How would one go about becoming an NPC with legs in such a long campaign, especially without having read the whole story?
Kren Cooper
QUOTE (pbangarth @ Nov 26 2021, 11:14 PM) *
How would one go about becoming an NPC with legs in such a long campaign, especially without having read the whole story?

Depends on the level of involvement you would like!

If you just wanted to share a favourite character concept or NPC from your own table, then just fire the details over and I'll try to stitch them into the game and give them some story and impact on the game world, and bring them to life in our canon - for better or worse.

If on the other hand you fancy a more active role, and could be on Discord on a Tuesday night between 19:00-21:00 UK time, then I'd welcome a 'live appearance' and interaction. I mean, pretty much the same thing as above - let me know the concept and I'll work out where we can slot things in, then we can go to town with exposing my bunch of reprobates to a complete unknown player to them (and me, I suppose!) and make them pay attention to what's going on. Fun fun fun!
QUOTE (Kren Cooper @ Nov 30 2021, 05:43 PM) *
Depends on the level of involvement you would like!

If you just wanted to share a favourite character concept or NPC from your own table, then just fire the details over and I'll try to stitch them into the game and give them some story and impact on the game world, and bring them to life in our canon - for better or worse.

If on the other hand you fancy a more active role, and could be on Discord on a Tuesday night between 19:00-21:00 UK time, then I'd welcome a 'live appearance' and interaction. I mean, pretty much the same thing as above - let me know the concept and I'll work out where we can slot things in, then we can go to town with exposing my bunch of reprobates to a complete unknown player to them (and me, I suppose!) and make them pay attention to what's going on. Fun fun fun!

Fun, indeed. I've never been on Discord, so I'll check it out.

Most of the PCs I've played were in 4th edition, so I would have to rejig one for your campaign. If you PM me what might be fun for your group (archetype, experience, where they are at the moment, etc.) I bet I could whip somebody up.
Kren Cooper
Hi everyone - and welcome to another update for the Smuggler campaign. Episode 206 is now published, and can be found:-
Added to the end of Book 7:
The story at FanFiction:
The story at Archive Of Our Own:

Here's the "behind the scenes" from this week's run:
We started off just at the start of the heist, with half the team in the clinic, invisible having managed to get in through the drone entrance, and just waiting for the cleaners to depart. Once inside there was a little fun and games as they realised they couldn’t see each other thanks the separate invisibility spells, but with encrypted throat microphones and ear buds, they could work around that ok – it just needed a bit of thought.
The heist itself went smoothly – some rating 5 locks with anti-tamper 1 were tough, but not beyond Marius, and their invisibility let them wander the facility at opening time without any real trouble. They correctly identified that trying to work on the lock on the main storage downstairs would leave them exposed, so they moved to the upstairs store at the end of the corridor, giving them time to work on the entry ok without being disturbed.
Once inside, having a couple of team members with a high biotech skill they could work out what the optimum mix of value/size/portability was, and steal only the ‘good stuff’, filling up several backpacks with high end drugs, surgical equipment and the like.
Coming back downstairs I rolled for a random encounter, got a hit and then a ‘good’ variant, so they got a distraction in the form of little Billy and his horribly broken arm. I though they were chancing it rolling out a machine from the ward while there were two staff in, but some low perception rolls from them and a good stealth roll from Aswon let them get away with it, and soon they were on the way out with a massive stash of good stuff.
The orks in the pickup truck chasing after Kai was another little random event – no ulterior motive here, they just saw an out of towner walking down a cul-de-sac and through they could roll him, but then got a surprise when backup turned up very quickly and fled for their lives!
Towards the end of the evening, I sprang the Vadim surprise on them – none of them were expecting that, and Tads in particular got quite stubborn about it, much to my amusement, as she argued with the rest of the team. I’d been planning this for some time – Fang the local shaman had left Amazonia to come to Seattle to investigate some Dark Plot ™ that was threatening the land down there, and it seemed fitting to have him suddenly roped into her plans – as well as getting the NPC out from under the teams feet and making it easier to manage. They can also bump into him later to see how he’s getting on, and what’s going on in Seattle.
Despite saying that I wanted the NPC out of the way, we then had another join the team, at least in the very short term, with Maisie coming along at least as far as Sioux to act as a guide and help steer them around, and to serve her own needs / purpose as well.
We ended the night just arriving back with Ice Maiden, and that seemed like a good place to call it. I’ve already arranged with my friend Sarah to be online at the start of Tuesday nights session to reprise her roll as the ‘bunny of unusual size’ and to give them some information on what’s coming up, give them a reward for helping her with the deckers, and to send them on their way again.
That gives them a few days before they’re due at the next location, so I’m expecting them to get back into Seattle and have another 3-4 days of training time as needed that we’ll probably just ‘montage’ past, before they run the border and head over to their date with destiny!

And as usual, here are the notes from the game session, to compare / contrast with the narrative:
  1. Saturday 9/10/2060, Location:47.96859, -122.19593, Time 08:00
  2. Kai just approaching front door, Shimazu, Marius and Aswon in tunnel just about to go into ward, Hunter and Tads out on street waiting
  3. 3 some into ward and look around, spot nurses lounge (admin+coffee)
  4. Kai into front, nervous looks. Clerical staff, greet, Kai - need assistance, blathers a bit, tries to calm him down, claims to be a little bit famous. Tablet, terms and conditions, font size, daytime TV.
  5. M+A explore downstairs, R4-5 med stores, head upstairs up the stairs - avoid ramp (rigger),
  6. Upstairs door - 4 success on R5 maglock AT1, 1 min to get the case off.
  7. Electronics test 4 success, in 15 seconds - very up to date firmware.
  8. Biotech test for Kai and Shimazu to describe what to grab. Peel off RFID tags. Use surgical gloves.
  9. Random roll for value - 8 X 10K.
  10. Case back on easily and AT re-engaged.
  11. Little billy, broken arm, into trauma wing. Internox, nurse going to trauma. Check over arm, start to treat.
  12. Look, spot machines, conflab, go for the ultrasound. Back to ward A, get the ultrasound machine packed. Hunter reminds them to check it for RFID
  13. Kai provides distraction to help get them out of reception.
  14. Back out to Tads and drop spells. Zig zag back to the church.
  15. Kai hangs back to spot tails, rest move on - check again for RFIDs.
  16. Orks come around corner - run towards Kai, drawing coshes.
  17. Spot Shimazu, Hunter and Aswon charging them, pass int check and run back to the truck.
  18. Team pursue and make sure they leave, get a good look at them. Uneventful back to the church.
  19. Kai and Tads go to see April. "What have you broken now?" Nothing - found some things on the street. Unpack supplies. "You know I can't pay for that" Yeah, it's fine - you looked after us. Happy holidays!
  20. April calls for Grimmy - we got surgery to do today.
  21. 09:00 2nd breakfast, Shimazu and Kai assist with Biotech/surgery, Tads does magical healing. Tads looks for Vadim, nowhere to be found. Aswon "wasn't he off with the local shaman doing initiation?"
  22. Shimazu goes off to collect the suits and bits and pieces. Tads checks Fang's lodge, two bodies laid out comfortably. Tads heads off to go see Ice-Maiden, search takes 30 mins, heads back to team.
  23. Maisie offers to escort team to Sioux in exchange for some help legitimising her ID.
  24. Final prep and packing, getting ready to head north to Ice-Maiden.
  25. Vadim comes back with Fang. Asks to speak to Tads and Kai. Explains he wants to stay, mystic quest. Texts his mom. Tads queries on his demob date. Team gives him some basic gear and 5k cash. Tads suggests calling the brigadier to make things go smoothly and keep him up to date. Team describe him as being on learning quest / detached duty. Tads goes to chat with Fang and appraises her of the situation.
  26. Tads wants to talk to the captain, Kai doesn't. Could end up in international trouble. Tads not happy about leaving him, her responsibility. Refuses to go without talking to the Captain. Marius photo memory - recounts situation. Thinking - should not mention Vadim, creates a loose thread.
  27. Leaving, Vadim on phone to mother, fang in view, who's that?
  28. Whoopy cushion - Hunter spots, wraps a smoke grenade, gotcha in Russian. Hunter gets a smoke, wraps in the cushion and rolls to Vadims feet as they take off.
  29. Smooth journey up to the mountain, arrive no problem. Marius grumbling about the place. Rabbit sitting in the meadow again.
  30. Marius staying aboard but on comms, Maisie staying on board with Hunter. All the rest wander over.

Kren Cooper
Surprise post session post - milestone achieved!

Tonight was the 5th Anniversary of our Shadowrun game.

We're on session 207, so we've kept up a pretty good track record for the games, and not missed that many sessions - which for a bunch of mostly adults with families and jobs and all that baggage is pretty good going.

My narrative writeup has turned into a sprawling behemoth, and is likely to top 1.5 million words with this weeks session written up. My tracking spreadsheet now has hundreds of NPCs and locations in, lists of weird magical effects, calculators for ranges and fuel costs of the different vehicles, lists of the fake identities used by the team and which crimes on what continents they are linked to, and so far 28 more rival teams to compete against.

This is by far and away the most effort I've put into any TTRPG game ever as a GM, and after 5 years of play, we're still not up to the 1 year mark in the game. I think it's the most involved storyline I've ever run, and I'm hoping the players are enjoying it as much as I'm having fun planning it out.

So to mark this occasion, with a bit of help from several spouses I arranged for everyone to get some birthday cake to celebrate. Players either had a parcel hidden for them in their gaming room, or delivered to them to all arrive at the same time, and we had a brief stop of the game for people to examine their goodies, and for me to say "Happy cake day everyone!"

Photo of happy players!
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