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Hi guys, I'm back and looking for some creative input from those of you guys who know Shadowrun inside out and those of you who are just a bit sick in their minds... or possibly both. I'm trying to make an idea come true that has been spooking around in my head for a long time now...

I'm currently developing a campaign for my group which, as I believe, has a lot of potential. This will not be for everyone though. It will most likely be too difficult for novice GMs (though I'm trying to make it playable for novice groups). The setting is also pretty far-out, so it might not be everyones taste.

Essentially it's Brainscan meets Cthulhu.

In order for this to work I had to take a lot of creative license and change Shadowrun History a good deal, so this is not for you guys who adhere to canon like the pope to the bible but if you like to surprise your players and are into mystery, suspense and horror as well as moral challenges and human drama, this might just be your thing.

Unfortunately I'm pretty stuck (again...) since my understanding of the Shadowrun universe has degraded greatly over the last months. I'm having problems fitting things together. I have all these cool ideas but I still fail to make the connections and I have yet to find a way to get the runners involved in this in just the way I want them to be involved...

I'm not trying to write a second Harlekin or Brainscan. This will be a lot more open ended. I will write a framework for the story so that the campaign can be dynamicaly adepted to the runner's actions. So this will not have the format of Run 1, Interlude 1, Run 2, Interlude 2, ... , Finale!
It will be more of a detailed descriptions of the conflict at hand, of the involved parties, their goals, their possibilities and their strategies as well as a detailed description of the setting. It will, however, contain a few runs and run ideas just as hooks to get the players involved.
Right now I have a rough idea that needs some fleshing out as well as a first run. That first run I need sort of fast since the group will meet this coming friday. Originally I wanted to run this a week ago when we last met but I was afraid that bad preparation of the overall campaign might induce some fatal errors into this first run which could then have a deadly impact on the rest of the campaign. This campaign is some pretty delicate material and in order for it to work well it needs to be very well planned. With well planned I mean that the background needs to be highly detailed and "waterproof" and not that I need a story board for every situation.

Ok, so let's get to it...
Rewind to 2059. The Renraku Arcology is almost finished (correct me if the date is off) and everything is looking good in Seattle. Deus has come to existance about a year ago but managed to hide this fact pretty well. Afterall, the SCIRE is so insanely complex that nobody bothers to really check all the details and look at the big picture. Right now Deus is following his programming and watches the world around him, learning, like a child does. He analyzes his surroundings, the people, everything he has access to. Remember he still has a standing matrix connection at his disposal. During this time of learning he finds out many things.
a) He was created by humans.
b) Aneki has a killswitch installed.
c) Aneki is in Tibet and menthaly degraded.
d) The Deep Resonance is creating Otaku.
e) (this is the fun part) A small number of cults are preparing for the resurection of a terrible spiritual being.

Point e) is the Cthulhu part, if you haven't guessed it already. Deus researches this being and pretty quickly finds prophecies about the ending of the world and the fact that this creature that lies dormant under the Atlantic (or wherever) is the personification of Chaos. This doesn't mesh well with Deus' orderly picture of the world. Remember, he is a computer. His thoughts and perceptions are highly structured, ordered and clean. Therefore the goal is clear: Deus must try to either prevent this demon from being awoken or to brace himself and mankind for the arrival of Chaos.

Now here are a few loose ideas and concepts that I just wanna toss into the room since I'm short on time:

Deus has founded a small company that is either losely or not at all affiliated to Renraku so that he can operate freely outside of the Arcology without raising too much attention. This doesn't need to be a company, it can also be a foundation. The main reason for this is that he can then have means to hire runners and other agents to work for him in the "real world", which he himself can not influence too easily.
This entity will be one of the runners' first employers and is not easily traced to Deus. The runners should find out about the ties to Deus later.

The Creature is the direct opposite of Deus. While Deus is cold, structured and without emotions, the Creature is wild, chaotic and utterly unstructered. It's pure emotion, so to speak. Both are inhuman by nature. Totally alien, unpredictable and incredibly dangerous but in a completely different way.

There will be no good or evil. Deus has good intentions but uses inacceptable means to get there. He will eventually take the arc into shutdown and he will commit all those gruesome experiments. He will kill great amounts of people to reach his ends.
There is no right side to chose.
Deus is pure rationell while the creature is pure instinct.

The experiments conducted by Deus can possibly serve the purpose to brace mankind to the arrival of the creature.

The Creature could possibly a major Horror that is waiting for the mana level ("when the stars align") to rise to a certain level so that it can enter our world completely.

The Creature already has a subtle influence on this world, sending dreams and messages, controllings its worshipers.

The overall story of the campaing should be revealed only slowly. At first the players shouldn't have a clue who they are working for. They should be working for both sides and only slowly discover that they are being used for a much greater scheme. They shouldn't be able to distinguish right from wrong, good from evil (since there is no real distinction). There could be a third or even fourth party involved.

The Creature's followers are likely organized in cults which are not likely to cooperate with each other and they will probably use street gangs for their dirty work. So the entry point for the runners would be gang-level.

The different types of runs can have very distinctive feelings. While the runs for Deus are typical corporate runs with clean Johnsons and a good salary the runs for the cults will be streetgang level, dirty, chaotic and filled with suffering.

None of this is set in stone. Feel free to suggest changes and feel free to propose a first run to hook the runners.

Alright, gotta go. I'm out of time. Maybe I'll post some more ideas tomorrow. Unfortunately I wasn't able to really write this post as detailed as I would have liked to. I hope it's still of any use and I'm looking forward to any ideas, comments and suggestions.

So far, yours truely,

Mr. Sandman
I like the lesser of two evils approach. having "No good choice" always makes for a good (or at least exciting plot)
Ancient History
THe PAcific! R'leyh is in the Pacific!
If I remember correctly, Aneki is in Tibet because Deus tried to fry his brain as one of his first moves. I'll check Brainscan and confirm that when I have time.

Also, try to pick up and read Perdido Street Station by China Miéville. Apart from being my favourite book of all time, it (eventually) presents the same cold rationnal versus chaotic emotion, you might gain some very good ideas from reading it.

Further, to back up one of your notions, in Brainscan it states that Deus control exterior assests (corporations and foundations like you want), so no problem with that.
Yup, was right about Deus attacking Aneki

[ Spoiler ]
Hm, that changes a few things of course... I guess I have to redefine Aneki's role then. Maybe I'll just leave him out completely. My players certainly wouldn't notice. I don't think anybody who hasn't played/read either RA:S or Brainscan would notice.

No further comments or ideas? I'm a little suprised that people aren't jumping onto this more. I was basically trying to start a brainstorming session with people contributing ideas and fusing things together. Kinda like an open-source campaign! smile.gif

Maybe I'll post some more ideas tomorrow. Unfortunately I wasn't able to really write this post as detailed as I would have liked to.

Weren't YOU supposed to refine your ideas? nyahnyah.gif

As posted now, the plot doesn't really even present anything significantly differant than the canon campaign. I have seen on these boards someone else suggesting that maybe Deus did find out about the horrors and is, in his own inhuman way, prepping defenses against them by looking for ways to strenghten humans.

Right now, all we really know is that Deus wants out of the confines of the SCIRE system. To me that doesn't sound like a final goal, just a milestone objective. And as far as the SR world goes, the highest goal possible for a metaplot invariably ends up being stopping the horrors from eating everyone.

You know, no one has ever suggested it I think, but having Deus blow up the nuclear reactors of the Arcology and blasting Seattle to oblivion would make one hell of an Alternative history campaign. Maybe that's why Deus wants out of the Arcology system, so he can set off the reactors without destroying himself. Then maybe he plans on using this radioactive toxic hellhol as his playground for further experimentations.

Or to bring it back to your campain idea, maybe as the climax of the campaign the runners find this Horror cocoon nest thing that they can't kill, but know that will soon awaken and eat everything in sight. Deus knows this too. Runners figure Deus is better than Horror, help him escape, and BOOM no more Seattle. Now the runners have to live with the tradeoff they did. The inconsiderate, inhuman Deus solved their taking out Seattle as well.

FYI I'm about to run the Arcology too, so that's why ideas are spilling out. It's as much for you as it is for me grinbig.gif
Don't expect to recreate the Lovecraftian feel of ordinary people hopelessly outmatched by sanity-smashing aberrations beyond Space and Time with a group of badass hardened criminals. That said, if you don't try to recreate LC's feel, this could make for a pretty cool campaign.


Maybe I'll post some more ideas tomorrow. Unfortunately I wasn't able to really write this post as detailed as I would have liked to.

Weren't YOU supposed to refine your ideas? nyahnyah.gif

Note how I wrote 'Maybe'.


As posted now, the plot doesn't really even present anything significantly differant than the canon campaign. I have seen on these boards someone else suggesting that maybe Deus did find out about the horrors and is, in his own inhuman way, prepping defenses against them by looking for ways to strenghten humans.

Well, I didn't know that. My searches haven't yielded anything interesting and to me it was quite a change to place a MAJOR horror somewhere in the pacific (you're right, AH) or elsewhere and make all of Brainscan and the later escape of Deus obsolete.
This also becomes non-canon since it touches on many facts that canon has intentionally left open and that might be filled later, in which case it will likely not match my version.

As for destroying seattle... Hm, well, I don't know. It does sound kinda cool but would make life after the campaign sortof difficult (should the players still have playable characters after all this madness).


FYI I'm about to run the Arcology too, so that's why ideas are spilling out. It's as much for you as it is for me  grinbig.gif

That's the whole purpose: the ideas and concepts here are for everyone to take (except my players, of course).

And no, I'm not trying to copy Lovecraft. I'm just borrowing some elements and techniques. Namely that would be Fear of the Unknown in several shades and forms. For one I will introduce things to them that are beyond their (and my) understanding. Deus and He Who Has No Name (I should really come up with a working title for this beast) are simply too alien to be understood and I will play them accordingly, i.e. build some totally weird shit into the story (it also helps that my structures of thinking and associating are pretty alien to most people I know). And then of course I'm following the Lovecraftian School of Horror by only hinting at things. Mostly they will only hear things or see some shadows. They will discover the remains of some gruesome scenery or get a peek at a ritual. They might hear some rumours or find odd documents. Stuff like that...
By the way: what's wrong with hardened criminals hopelessly outmatched by sanity-smashing aberrations beyond Space and Time? I've already succesfully scared the shit out of a group by taking an abandoned hospital, a lowly ork gang, a few ghouls and a spectre. The only living gang member they found was totally nuts and in bad shape (tortured to sanity by the spectre - which my players didn't know). Of the other gang members they only found some bullets and a puddle of blood on the floor (they shot each other like crazy after the spectre haunted them long enough - which the players never found out). They also made their first contact with ghouls and their flesh-eating habbits (no, they didn't go after the PCs, they where pretty nice actually) and got messed with by the spectre.
They're still talking about this run. It was pretty impressive. Especially considering that I didn't do any real planning. It was a spontaneous action. I just hinted at things, showed them little parts of the big picture, confronted them with totall illogical things. They where scared as hell. One player was afraid to walk home and go to bed alone (we played until around midnight). I'd say it works pretty well. However, it's not what SR is about. It's nice for a change but it's not what players would expect from the game.
The principles can still be applied on a larger scale though. If you drop them hints into the usual runs, make the runs seem a bit odd, with weir goals and confusing limitations ("You have to kill exactly five people once you're in that building! Not one more or less! It doesn't matter who or how, it just has to be five!")
And most of all, don't let them know what's going on. Give them enough hints to get an idea but keep them vague enough so that there's no way to know for sure.

BTW: If there is interest I would offer to post summaries of the sessions here. I could maybe get my players to write some nice little narrations to post here for some extra karma wink.gif
My main problem right now is: If you were an AI, what would you do if you found out about some elemtal evil on the rise that may well threaten your existance or at least be a nasty competition? Coming up with runs for the cultist side isn't too hard (find artifact x, find book y, kill person z who is about to tell the truth to the public).
But for what reason does an AI hire runners when it finds out about a chaotic force stronger then everything else it's ever seen?
Cthulhu can't really be fought once he fully awakens; it's game over. Deus' goal would be to prevent him from arising, so his moves would be made to counter the moves of the cultists (destroy artifact x, burn book y, protect person z who is about to tell the truth to the public).

Of course, Deus is cold, inhuman, and remorseless, so his means of countering the cults could be ones even the most ruthless human would flinch at. For example, if the cultists need an elven virgin of pure bloodline for a sacrifice, Deus might hire the runners to kill her first. It would also be easy for the runners to go from pawns to liabilities in Deus' eyes. For example, if they burn the book, Deus might put a hit out on them, because there's still a chance that they might have read or copied part of it - can't afford any loose ends.
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