Arx Tennebrosae

Chapter 2, Session 1

Arx Tennebrosae

Yesterday was the first official session of Chapter 2, and the beginning of the PC’s adventures in Seattle. Despite the fact that we’re playing in 5th edition, which takes place following the stormy events surrounding Governor Brackhaven and Proposition 23, I decided to modify the game timeline a bit, because I really want the PCs to experience all the fun and terror that is Seattle going through serious political upheaval.

In our previous (Chapter 1 epilogue) session, the Komodo had called in a favor with an old acquaintance who operated as a smuggler throughout North America and Europe. With the help of his heavy cargo VTOL, the entire group managed to make their way from Blacksburg to Seattle within the space of a few days, detouring briefly to stop in Denver.

Theo, looking for any information he could find about his missing ex-girlfriend brought the group along on a trip to his old dive-bar haunt. There, he questioned some of his old acquaintances, finding nothing except that his old flame had disappeared around the same time he did. Though the player was (I think) more than satisfied with the outcome, the character (poor Theo) was crushed by the news. He joined his friends around the table and settled in for a night of commiseration and drinking.

Speaking of drinking, 3-Chop (formerly Longshadow – rechristened due to his method of retrieving a guard’s hand for use on a fingerprint scanner two sessions previously) indulged in his alcohol addiction and bought several hundred Y worth of fine whiskey, and drank most of it. Then, he managed to get himself into a drunken game of darts with several of the other bar patrons. He won, barely, but his display attracted the attention of a newcomer, going by the name of Nyx (a new PC, played by a regular player who wanted a new character – his old character departed after chapter 1 completed).

Nyx displayed an unfortunate lack of Shadowrunner etiquette and simply plopped down in front of the group, announcing that he was new and wanted to join them. He was, in fact, very nearly executed by the party right then and there. Fortunately, he managed to convince them to give him a chance, and was told that if he wanted in, he should find his way to Seattle and see about landing the group a job (they were sitting on no prospects and not-much money at the time).

Unfortunately for Nyx, he had opted to take the “Bad Rep” flaw at character creation, and several of the other PCs picked up on this, and came to the conclusion that Nyx was the common denominator across a series of runs where something always seemed to go wrong. I genuinely worry that this is going to result in some unfortunate PvP relatively soon.

Following this confrontation, the PCs hopped back on the plane and wound up landing in Seatac airport early in the morning. That’s where we left off the epilogue game – with the players covered in oily rain, without any place to stay, crashing in a warehouse owned by 3-Chop’s wife.

Chapter 2 started with a smaller group than usual – only Longhaul and Theo were present, with Nyx still riding in from Seattle. Nyx was true to his word, though, and while driving called up a fixer contact of his in Seattle, and asked for a job. The Fixer acquiesced, and Nyx was put in touch with a crotchety, cybered-up mage named (appropriately) Burnout.

Nyx, Burnout, Longhaul and Theo met up at Merciless Ming’s noodle joint to go over the details of the run. It seemed straightforward enough – pick up a package from one contact within Seattle’s Ork Underground, and drop it off at a dead drop somewhere else in the Underground. The Fixer assured the group it was a milk run, though the pay was appropriately slim.

The group set out right away – there was no time to waste. Burnout used his thug-life knowledge skill to suss out some information about the territory they’d be operating in, determining that it was “Red Striper” territory – a gang not especially notable for violence or crime – just another group of thugs in the Underground.

A side note here… I really love knowledge skills. They make Shadowrun really come alive to me, and there’s nothing like the look of satisfaction on a player’s face when their clever use of an obscure skill provides some useful piece of knowledge. I’m such a fan that I’ve actually taken to awarding knowledge skills directly, in addition to karma, as rewards for clever though on the part of enterprising players.

The pickup went easily enough – the crew made it into the Underground without incident, bypassing the throng of tourists and guards, and making their way to a convenience store off the beaten path. Longhaul used the enhanced sensors of his spy-fly drone to examine the package once they had it, and determined that it contained a sizeable power source, but nothing further. The group paused momentarily to consider the information, then collectively shrugged and headed deeper into the Underground.

There was a brief, tense moment when the PCs encountered the Red Stripers at the edge of their territory. Burnout defused the tension, however, with a quick, generous application of cash, and the group passed not only unmolested, but with the gangers’ blessing. The dropoff point was between a crumbling residential building, and a shady BTL den. Burnout, suffering from BTL addiction had to fight off the urge to pop in for “just a moment,” but his desire to be quickly paid by their fixer trumped any desire to get high, and their mission completed, the group departed.

All was not well, however. As they boarded the subway to head back out of this corner of the Underground, a distant ‘boom’ echoed through the tunnels. Longhaul, instantly suspicious, sent his Spy-Fly back to check out the dead drop. It was immediately apparent that a bomb had detonated at or very near the drop location, and the PCs quickly reached the conclusion that they had been unwittingly duped into planting a terrorist’s bomb in the Underground.

Though they received their pay, they left the run dejected. Burnout departed, vowing to track down the scum who had played him for a fool, and offering to share any information he dug up with the PCs, if they wanted in on any sort of revenge. Longhaul and Theo thanked him, grabbed his com-code, and headed for their warehouse. Nyx asked if he could come along, but was forcefully rejected, and told to find his own place to stay – it was quite clear that both Longhaul and Theo blamed him for the outcome of the run, and that thoughts of his bad reputation had returned to haunt them with a vengeance. We ended with Longhaul and Theo, drunk and stoned on Zen, as Gypsy returned to find them in their sorry state. She tried to sober them up as best she could, but eventually left to avoid the stench of booze and hobo-stink, and told them to call her when they awoke.

End Session.

Notes:
- I’m personally very happy with the way this session turned out. I think both the players and the characters were a bit down in the dumps, but honestly that’s fine. Shadowrun is not a game where you win every encounter, and the moral high ground is a luxury that few can afford to take.

- I’m a bit worried about Nyx’s integration with the group, given how upset Longhaul and Theo were. I’ve vowed not to interfere in PvP as long as it makes sense and isn’t driven by out-of-character concerns. We’ll see how this plays out next Saturday.

- Burnout was being played by Steve this session. He graciously volunteered to create the character, play him on today’s run, then donate him for use as a contact / personality for the world.

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