The most recent game master tip with Wil Wheaton over at The Mary Sue is about giving your players interesting moral choices. This is something I have a bit of a personal interest in, because I try to implement it as much as possible in my own campaigns. A good example is from Trail of Cthulhu, where the investigators confronted a demented serial killer called Smile who had an NPC important to one of the players captive. Smile demanded that the investigators cut off a hand on camera in front of her, but the players chose to take a rather different and extremely dark path to solve the problem.
Now that I have got used to how Shadowrun as a system works, I can start to push how I make Runs and the overall complexity. In the first two sessions of this campaign I have run, most of the operation took place at a single area and was designed to be concluded within around 3-4 hours. Now I started to push what I could do with Shadowrun and make Runs that were more complex, had more moving parts and most importantly – more investigative elements. One of the key elements of Shadowrun, even if it can involve rolling a lot of dice, is preparation and a longer Run with more elements I felt would help reward the players for thinking creatively about problems.
Additionally, rather like the pacing I found with Trail of Cthulhu a longer Run also lets me introduce more NPCs, then have the actual time to roleplay them into memorable interesting characters. A “One and done” system usually means constraining what my players can do into a very “Here is the run, just focus on doing it” kind of attitude and that makes life fairly difficult to do anything else. By taking two sessions I do extend out the campaign a lot, but I get some additional depth and time to build NPCs. Both of these are very important to me and the way I run my games, so this was the first of the more complicated Runs I introduced to the Shadowrunners.
Corporate Party Crashing
For the second session of this Shadowrun game, I wanted to get back to what I felt made Shadowrun special and not “railroad” the procedures as much. Here I gave much more control over the way this run played out to my players, notably by having them decide how to approach the Mr. Juan (Johnson) and then on their approach. To begin with, I discussed some of the things they should consider buying like Fake SINs (to hide who they really were) and relevant equipment. Then it was onto the actual game and I was most interested in how this run would play out.
The basic scenario was that the Mr. Juan wanted the shadowrunners to infiltrate a high end corporate party held by Aztechnology. Here, a brilliant geneticist called Dr. Taryn Sims had been finally let out of her secure facility to attend this particular event, which presented a unique opportunity for the Mr. Juan to “extract” her and renegotiate her contract. It’s worth noting that in shadowrun once you are “employed” by a megacorporation that employment tends to be entirely on their terms. If you’re especially valuable to the corp in some way, they are never going to actually let you go and you might as well be working for them for life.
Hence why other corporations tend to hire shadowrunners to go and “renegotiate” these particular employees employment contracts.