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Mostly Flesh and Steel: I, Spy.

Very recently with some of my games I have had a little bit of turnover in players, with some entering and leaving different groups. This session of Mostly Flesh and Steel saw the addition of two new player characters to the group, Found the Adept* and Junior the Street Samurai. Of course, last time I called in a couple of players who have gone on to subsequently join the game but I gave them pregen characters. As I happened to have the beginner box handy, I used both Coydog and Sledge for this, just to get them into the game ASAP. It worked pretty well but now left me in a bit of conundrum: What did I do to introduce them?

Ultimately after some discussion I just did the cheap and easy option, especially with two player characters away for this session. Found and Junior joined the team, while Nanna went and helped extract the wounded mage Raijin. This made enough sense verisimilitude wise that it didn’t feel like a big kludge or “Suddenly Coydog and Sledge disappear with these two other fellows!” sort of thing. I took control over both Coydog and Sledge for the session, so that I could keep them out of the action or just use them in a support role. It’s important IMO as the GM when taking over NPCs friendly with the party, to make sure that it’s always the characters of the players driving the plot and making important decisions in the group.

Besides, there was a certain Shaman with wounded kneecaps to take of and ask some tough questions too.

Found and Junior were “late” call ins that the runners had as a backup in case something went wrong. So the two runners who were extracted (Nanna and Raijin, whose players told me they couldn’t come) had brought them in to help before leaving as they were in the area (Shadowrunner’s frequently visit the Vertical Desolation Zone to get or do illegal things). As a result, with Nanna and her various psychotropic cookies out of the picture for this session, it came down to the newest members of the party in Junior and Found to do the interrogation. It’s worth noting that Coydog would have been suitable at this, but as I was controlling her (as the GM) I decided that it would be better to let the runners do the talking.

Tier was not exactly talkative, even while injured and being threatened by some heavily armed Shadowrunners. Found used an interesting spell called “Suggestion” to give her the impression that she was actually aiding friends of Saberfyre and I ruled this greatly improved their chances of the resulting negotiation/con checks. After convincing Tier they were friends and weren’t going to just slaughter Saberfyre outright, she gave up the rigger’s location in an abandoned pent house on one of the other multiplexes.

Heading over to the other building it was now Radical Edwards time to shine in this game, because the natural enemy of the rigger in Shadowrun is the decker. So for those of you not entirely familiar with Shadowrun, Riggers and Deckers are both occupied by characters who use the matrix to improve their reactions, control other devices and do cool “Cyberpunk stuff”. A rigger is a very physical version of the decker, using their cyberware and matrix connections to control vehicles in meatspace more effectively than any pilot could. They literally “Jump in” to the machines they control and basically embody them, greatly improving the vehicles effectiveness.

This is in contrast to the decker, who hacks, manipulates and otherwise changes the virtual reality world called the “Matrix” (like a 3D spacial internet) to their will. Most importantly, the decker can find devices that are operating through the matrix and hijack, damage or otherwise make them do things that the owner doesn’t want them to do. Naturally, because the rigger relies on physical drones that are connected to her through the matrix, this makes a decker an extreme threat to them as the decker could steal drones, brick the riggers equipment (destroy over the matrix by sending damaging data) or just generally make life incredibly difficult.

Sitting in position over the apartment, Radical Edward entered VR and began using matrix perception to spot the numerous silent icons from below. This cautious approach, while the others slowly floated down to the open area of the penthouse with the outdoor pool – now covered in lime and weird green scum – paid off hugely. Radical Edward discovered that there were several traps around the building, which amounted to jury rigged flash bang grenades with motion sensors. Anyone who had gone charging in there via the front door or through the back door from the pool would have got a nasty surprise. After adding some marks to the main device they were slaved to and deactivating them, she continued to have a look around the apartment.

This discovered the icons of several other things running silent, including what looked to be Saberfyres RCC (Rigger Control Console), several other drones and an unknown individual with a heavily smart linked firearm. Here taking their time really paid off, because Radical Edward set up the soon to occur firefight perfectly by successfully putting a mark on the RCC (and all the drones slaved to it as a result). This told them where all the drones were and where Saberfyre was precisely in the apartment (putting a mark on something gives away its physical location as well). So when the runners burst in there were few surprises and Edward started things off by sending damaging data straight to the RCC – Trying to brick it!Naturally this started off the fight with a bang, plus a series of pops and sparks as well for that matter. The RCC took a massive 7 points of damage to its matrix condition modifier, leaving it nearly broken and giving Saberfyre some extreme penalties on doing anything at all. Likewise Found, Coydogs Air Spirit (Force 8 summon, took only 1 physical doing so as well) and Junior went in physically. This resulted in a fierce lounge room firefight, but it soon became apparent that Saberfyre had an interesting quirk: None of her drones or even her boyfriend (Joyride, the guy armed with the smartlinked guns) were armed lethally. Only gel rounds and flash bangs in these guns.The drones were not able to put up a competent fight early on, due to Radical Edward getting the advantage in the matrix so early on and hence successfully bricking the RCC. This also inflicted a great deal of extremely painful dump shock on Saberfyre, essentially meaning she was direly injured for the rest of the fight too. The drones on their own “Dog brains” put up some resistance, but were soon shot to bits with explosive rounds or destroyed by lightning/air elemental beat down. Just wanting the carnage to stop and acknowledging that fighting was going to be pointless, Saberfyre called out to Joyride to stop fighting and for the Runners to agree not to shoot him – she would surrender.Naturally the runners were curious about the situation and wanted to talk to her, where the truth of the matter came out. Saberfyre was no terrorist, but she had been the victim of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, notably with a spy camera. She had seen something that Shiawase didn’t want known: A group of their Miltech assassin’s going into the apartments of a high ranking Wuxing executive and wasting him (and his family). This kind of footage, had she successfully got it off the badly damaged drones brain in time, would have caused a massive falling out between the megacorporations. It would have given Wuxing all the excuse and public support it needed, to further drive out the influence of the Japanese megacorporations in Shanghai.This is why the Mr. Wong so desperately wanted the data off that drone.Here is where I just left the players to make up their mind how to handle the situation. They could have just shot Saberfyre and Joyride then and there in cold blood, took the drone and got paid. On the other hand, I wondered if they would be more altruistic than that and maybe try to aid her in getting leverage or at least the megacorporation off her back. The decision came down to giving her a chance to get out of Shanghai instead of executing her, but they were taking the drone intact and without tampering with the data themselves. In essence, they prioritized the job first, but at least gave Saberfyre and Joyride a running start over the soon to pursue Miltech (Shiawase securities) forces.I had actually been wondering what the result of this Run would be since I initially wrote it several weeks ago and was very intrigued by their decision. With the drone sold onto the Mr. Wong and Saberfyre dealt with as any further threat or leak, the run was now over and they definitely got their pay day. But like every decision, some consequences are not always clear and the same can be said for the benefits they may have received as well…

*You might remember her from a certain other Shadowrun one shot.