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Long time no see for Dumpshock. I'm looking at running Harlequin's Back for my group. They do like epic adventures and this is probably the best example of that in Shadowrun. In line with that, however, I'd like to change the ending. They never actually destroy the bridge, they just set a guard on it (Thayla). I'd like to see it actually destroyed. Canonically, that wouldn't happen until the Dragonheart Trilogy, when Dunkelzahn sacrifices himself to empower an artifact that can do so.

Does anyone have any suggestions for some other means to destroy the bridge? I'm ok with a longer running campaign, in this case. So if this expands to the group and Harlequin crossing paths with Big D and finding a method for doing this that doesn't result in him dying, that would be even better. (I should note that to this day, I'm still miffed about FASA killing off Dunkelzahn, so that would be a double win as far as I'm concerned.)

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Basically, Harlequin's Back is a serie of metaphorical adventures chained together into an astral quest to free a magical entity, Thayla, and restore her powers. Thayla is arbitrarily powerful enough to prevent the horrors from crossing the bridge at the end of Harlequin's Back, then arbitraly no longer powerful enough to continue doing so once Aztlan blood mages retrieved an(equally arbitrarily powerful) artifact at the beginning of the Dragonheart trilogy.

It's not just author's fiat all along, it's author's fiat that does not interract with the rest of the setting. Thayla's ability to guard the bridge or not has no particular implication on whether Aden could destroy Tehran, Deus defend the arcology or Ares Macrotechnology takes over Cross Applied Technologies. As far as I remember, we were not ever told who or what Thayla is. For all purposes and intents, she could be replaced with a talking chainlock that throws lightning and the entire plot would work just the same. And if one was just as arbitrarily decide she was powerful enough to destroy the bridge once for all, the "only" actual consequence is the Dragonheart trilogy not happening - which of course in turn prevents the Watergate rift from happening, Kyle Haeffner from becoming president, Ghostwalker from returning...
Stopping the Watergate rift from happening and Ghostwalker from returning? Let me amend my previous statement - that would be a quadruple win.

I have thought of one idea, however. After pouring over The Ancient Files, I see that Amazonia has their own locus. Add some extra steps to meet with Big D, use the Amazonian Locus to empower the Dragon Heart, somehow trash/disable/interfere with the Azzie locus, then destroy the bridge, and that would be a great ending. The adventure gets even more epic in scope, and less time is spent on long, drawn-out astral quests (which non-magicians just love to be stuck on).
I want to play in your campaign.
QUOTE (Lionesque @ Oct 2 2021, 02:37 AM) *
I want to play in your campaign.

Sorry, we play in person, not online. frown.gif
IMHO, if what you're looking for is epicness, Harlequin's Back weakpoint is The Masquerade ending the string of astral quests. While that chapter has all the symbols and metaphors, it is a lot less epic than Aftermath or the The Impossible Dream.

Besides, I'm not too fond of the "twist" that leads to The Masquerade. The story actively misleads the players from the start into believing the bird has all of Thayla's powers. There is just no reason for the players to think otherwise, or, that as far as metaphors and symbols are concerned, the bird *is not* Thayla. It really just boils down to "Sorry Mario, Your princess is in another metaphor!"

If I was to play Harlequin's Back now, I would have the runners sent back to Harlequin at the end of The Impossible Dream with just the cage, with Harlequin breaking down over the cage being empty... Then the cage opens the way to Thayla's actual prison, in The Masquerade And it's after they freed Thayla that they can enter her kingdom and retrieve the bird, the devastated hometown and the fight with the warden from the chapter "The Songbird" making a much more epic final astral quest before returning to the bridge.

That being said, a twist may comes in hand in your case if you want to add an extra mile to the campaign. As it is, the astral quest is the core element of Harlequin's Back. If you slap an extra adventure to, for exemple, search a locus in Amazonia at the end, the astral quest would no longer be the core, but just the first half of the story (and so would require to write from scratch the second half to be just as epic).
So a twist may be what you need for the runners to abandon the astral quest halfway, go back to the real world, and return finishing it once they have all the required elements for the final victory (sorta making like, "yeah, plenty of groups finished that campaign in a way that resulted in Dunkelzahn's death, but this time *you* do get that one chance to do things right").

One idea would be to end the astral quest at the time of "The Bridge Part Two" with the bird (canon version) or the empty cage (my version) and a broken down Harlequin. After the runners wake up, they're contacted by Jane to "find a way to help" Harlequin continue resisting. They go to Amazonia, they supercharge the locus or whatever, and during the process of defeating Aztlan blood mages and Aztechnology Jaguard guards, they discover the true identity of Darke (or encounter him physically). And that plus the extra mojo is what allow the runners to start The Masquerade.

Another idea would be to require, for the runners to reenter the astral realm, to reach the physical location of the Ghost Dance circle (unlike the first time, where Harlequin "drove" them there as the quest started). And that could mean first locating one of the surviving member of Howling Coyote's inner circle in the NAN before Darke's henchmen find him (that's probably an extra adventure I'd scheduled for my players, who are not very knowledgeable about SR lore, as a way to introduce them what the Ghost Dance is and why it matters).
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