Don’t Rest Your Head meets Shadowrun
February 10, 2008
Don’t Sleep on the Run
A.K.A. “You put your Insomnia in my Shadowrun!”
Ryan Macklin and I had a blast tromping through the Shadowrun world using slightly altered mechanics from Don’t Rest Your Head for a couple nights. We began by discussing what we knew of the two games. Ryan was pretty knowledgeable about the drivers behind the dice in Don’t Rest Your Head (DRYH), but he’d never actually played Shadowrun (his experience was Cyberpunk 20202). I was familiar with DRYH after having run it twice, I was very comfy in the 1st and 2nd editions of Shadowrun having played several short campaigns of it during college, and I’d even played in a Shadowcoil game a few months back (Shadowrun setting + Mortal Coil rules = FUN).
PREP and MECHANICS:
First, we discussed the aspects of Shadowrun that we wanted to have in the game. I wanted the magic meets machine aspect, the meet with Mr. Johnson to get the run along with some negotiation about how many nuyen we’d be paid. Then, we talked about how Shadowrun “always” had bad intel, something always goes wrong with the plan and you were lucky if Mr. Johnson actually paid the team.
Once we had the framework for how a run would look, Ryan immediately began hacking the dice. In the end, Discipline dice remained Discipline dice, representing the skill of the runner. Exhaustion dice became Complication dice, meaning that when you take dice from this pool, the Mission became more complicated. In play, Complication dice were called Mission dice. Madness dice became Tech/Magic dice. I thought the idea of Magic as Madness mapped pretty well, and Tech would be short circuit, which didn’t map as well. Honestly, this hacking was much more up Ryan’s alley. I think I let him down a bit during this discussion.
We also tweaked the Five Questions of character creation. We changed the first two questions to make sense in the Shadowrun world.
- Why are you doing this run?
- What happened on your last run?
During this chat, I asked Ryan if he minded if I created the entire team. He was happy to let me run with that. I answered all Five Questions for each team member:
PC: Trebor “Zombie” Walks
(Human Street Samurai)
1. I’m doing this run because we need the cred for Dawn’s operation. She needs some reconstruction and a new cybernetic arm. I have my eye on a nice Series 4 arm that will look nice and make her feel complete again. I just can’t handle looking into her shamed eyes again.
2. On the last run, we were doing a snatch and grab. Dawn broke the ice on the safe from the “safety” of the hallway outside the office, I opened the safe and grabbed the discs, but she’d missed a pressure-sensitive alarm inside the safe itself. What was a sneak-thief type of run became a mad dash for the exits. I thought we got out clean, with Krux laying down suppressive fire from the alley, but as we made it outside, some rigger must have laid down a pop-up turret we missed. Dawn was hit in her right shoulder by a shot from a panzer cannon. It blew her arm straight off, messed up her face, too. We trashed the turret and rabbitted, got her to a street doc and she’s okay to walk around now.
3. On the surface, I’m all muscle, dermal plating, ramrod straight, military style. When I drop the irises from my cybereyes, I can intimidate with the best of them.
4. Beneath, I’m a guy who cares for his team and wants to get just enough cred for us to retire. This isn’t the life I’ve chosen, but if I can just stay alive and good for a few more runs, we’ll all be set. The damage to Dawn has shaken me a bit, it cut close to the bone. I deeply care for Liara, but I’m unsure where she is about me. I got my cybernetics from agreeing to some experimental tests while I was in UCAS. The wiring was too much for me, I went catatonic. I was mustered out and dropped into a nowhere med facility to rot. But, a shaman reached out to me and talked me through the pain and I learned how to fight the lockup. It isn’t perfect, sometimes I “break down”,
as it were. But, I can do things most sammies can’t, so I guess it’s an even trade.
5. My path is a fine line between dangerous runs and quiet time hanging out with the team. If things work out well, I’ll retire on a private island in the Pacific with Liara. If I’m not careful, I’ll be
the next meat puppy on the wagon. In the end, Trebor will make enough nuyen to retire on an island, but he’ll loose everyone on the team he cares for while getting there.
NPC: Liara O’Shaunessey
(Elf Combat Mage)
1. I say I’m doing the run for Dawn’s new arm and her surgery, but deep down, I also know I need her to owe me. I need her to find out where my son is, because she’s the best decker I know.
2. On the last run, I was charged with sentry duty outside. When Krux came out blazing, I tensed up. I was so focused on the street that I completely missed the popup turret. I did toast it quick and I did stabilize Dawn, though.
3. Liara is a lithe and beautiful elf who wears lots of fetishes and rune-covered robes when on a run (unless undercover). Shhe has dark red hair, long pointed ears, and a gentle sway in her walk.
4. Deep down, Liara is a Shadowrunner specifically to find the son that was stolen from her by her corporate executive uncle. He is some prophesized next great magus, but Liara doesn’t care. Liara hasn’t told anyone, not even Zombie, about this yet. Liara joined Zombie’s team after they did a blind date run for Aztechnology. She likes his style. She is close to telling Zombie about her son, but not while Dawn is messed up, it would only complicate things.
5. Liara’s path is to find her son, but discover he doesn’t want to be taken away. When she finds out he doesn’t want her love, she will be forever crushed and suicidal.
NPC: Sammael “Krux” Wetsel
(Troll Street Samurai)
1. We need the cred for Dawn. Once she is prettied up, maybe she’ll look at me differently. Plus, Treb.. I mean, Zombie, thinks it will be good payout.
2. I fragged it. I let Dawn get wasted. She means so much to me. I will crush a hunnert heads to make the cred for her to get better. I wish she wasn’t on this run, though. She’s so weak.
3. Krux is a big, toothy, ape-armed brute. He was born a normal human kid, lived in the shadow of his older cousin Trebor who was a solider for UCAS with lots of medals. Once Krux turned sixteen, he goblinized. His family wasn’t policlubbers, but they weren’t accepting of their second son being a troll. Trebor took Krux in. Krux insisted on learning the trade of being a sammy.
4. When Sammael was rejected by his parents, his older brother and his grandparents, it crushed him. He is desperate for their approval, but he knows it will never come. He took the name Krux and hunted down his cousin, Trebor. He found Trebor even though he’d become a Shadowrunner. Krux convinced Trebor to let him join the team a few runs back. He works hard to be good at his job. Krux wants his team to respect him, but more than anything, he wants someone to love him for who he is. He never thought much of Dawn before since she was pretty neutral to him. But seeing her face all fragged has got it into Krux’s head that once she gets surgery, she will see Krux with new eyes and that has made him fall for her bad. Truly, he hasn’t
fallen for her, but he’s convinced himself that he has.
5. Krux is in bad shape emotionally. He’s an eighteen year He craves attention and he will fall for the first human woman who gives him any attention at all.
NPC: Horace “Temple” Templeton
1. It’s just another run. I better get my cut. My damn van took some heat for that. If these guys were sharper, we wouldn’t even be doing this. I need a better team. Liara’s hot, though.
2. I was sitting in the alley, using some drones to scout about. I found several sentries, I tapped into the Lone Star sec system and diverted them. I hand-held these bums out the door. Krux slipped, Liara was off her game, and Dawn paid the price for it.
3. Temple is obsessed with his technology. He hates pretty much anything organic. Temple often responds to conversations via text replies rather than bothering to speak. When he does speak, it is often through one of his drones mechanical voice boxes. Temple almost never leaves his van, a souped-up classic van that looks rough and old on the outside, but is supreme on the inside.
4. Temple is a dick. He’s never liked or got along with any of his former teams, much less his current. He’s a freelancer, jumping from team to team. He joined this team when Zombie boosted him from a paddywagon. But that was four jobs ago, so Temple feels they’re pretty much even. He won’t actively work against his crew, but he’s looking for a better deal.
5. Temple‘s path is to dive deeper and deeper into his tech until there’s nothing human left of him.
Dawn “DawnStar” Tronsin
1. I need to get a new arm. More than that, I hate how ugly I am… but I’ve been checking out some of the plastic surgery vids, and I think I just might some badass lemonade out of this lemon.
2. I missed that safe alarm, but I swear it was an offline trip. It wasn’t my damn fault that Zombie set it off, he was careless. Like I’m some dragon and he can just up and trust me to catch everything for him and he can just cruise? I mean, drek, I wasn’t even in the room, just watching on a couple sensors against the downloaded schematics. And then after dropping some sec ops boys, we bust out onto the street. Krux dashes out first, trying to take the fire like he always does… that boy is crazy, looking to get killed. I skulk out while Zombie comes out high, but that fragging turret chooses me for a target! Like, I’m a hundred pounds soaking wet and the AI chooses to blow my damn arm and face off! Of all the rotten luck.
3. Dawn is an attractive but not beautiful skinny girl with dirty blonde hair and periwinkle eyes. After the last run, she is now scarred across half her face from horrid burns, missing her right arm
and shoulder-bone, and has third degree burns across her right torso down to her thigh just stopping above her knee. She wears a facemask of a beautiful porcelain doll and a big trenchcoat that swallows her up. Dawn is a great decker, but she is also very proud of her talents. It is never her fault. Unless it is good. Then, totally her fault.
4. Dawn is a clever girl, always looking for an angle. She doesn’t trust easily and usually deals best with other deckers. Dawn likes to post on the net under a pseduonym about her Shadowruns. She changes just enough to keep things untraceable, but a part of her wants people
to know how wiz she is. Dawn joined the team along with Liara after they did a run for Aztechnology. Dawn thought Krux was funny and Zombie was pretty slick, so she talked Liara into joining up with them.
5. Dawn’s path is to be caught. One day she will post up just a little too much intel on one of her decking exploits, piss off the wrong corp, and become a liability. Hopefully, Zombie won’t be around when that happens, because they’ll take him down, too.
I got really excited after creating the team, so then I typed up a Relationship Map for them:
Zombie’s thoughts about the team:
* Liara – “She’s beautiful and capable of raining down Hell on our enemies, but she’s still green. All of her training was VR sim before she took that first blind date job with Aztechnology when I
met her. There’s this sad look in her eyes. I am attracted to her, but I wouldn’t act on it while we’re still Running together.” * Krux – “He’s dangerous. He overcompensates and if he weren’t family, I’d kick him off the team. He tries too hard and takes too many risks to try and play the hero. It will get him killed. But, I also feel sorry for him and I’m the only family he has left.”
* DawnStar – “I feel awful about her injuries. She carries herself well, she’s a wiz on the net and since she doesn’t need to type with her headware, it’s not like she’s a liability on the team. She’s a little cocky, but I don’t mind the swagger.”
* Temple – “This guy is a potential liability for us. He is great at his job, but he has no commitment to the team. I expect him to cut and run if things get nasty again.”
Liara’s thoughts about the team:
* Zombie – “He is very skillful. I think he is attracted to me, but I can’t afford to trust another man right now. I may have to use that to convince him to help me get back my son down the road.”
* Krux – “He is truly impressive. I’ve never known a troll, and this one scares me. I can’t believe how brave he is. I think he would take a bullet for any of us.”
* DawnStar – “I started ShadowRunning to get close to her. I followed her to Zombie’s team. I need her to find my son. I’d burn the rest of them to make that happen.”
* Temple – “He is a sad thing, running from living people to his machines. I pity him.”
Krux’s thoughts about the team:
* Zombie – “I owe him everything. He took me in when nobody else would. He’s good people. I get worried when he sleeps at night and its like he drops into a coma. I know he has trouble with his
* Liara – “She is so out of my league. I’m glad to have another metahuman on the team, but man she makes me look so much uglier. She has this pic of a little baby that she keeps hidden in her
pocket secretary that I saw her mooning over once.”
* DawnStar – “So much has changed between us since the accident. I think she knows what its like to be ugly. I can’t wait to help her get better. I know she sees the real me now.”
* Temple – “This guy is insanely smart. I like how he treats me just like the rest of the team. Hs toys and his tech are fun to watch.”
DawnStar’s thoughts about the team:
* Zombie – “I jumped teams to work with him. He’s tough and sharp, but Krux is his weakness. Krux may get us all killed. Still though, their antics make for good stories.”
* Liara – “I am so jealous of her beauty, but man is she dumb. I’m not sure why she’s always following me around and complimenting me. Maybe I should let her know I’m not interested in girls… or elves for that matter.”
* Krux – “He has a good heart; he cares for the team and wants to protect us. But he’s also bull-headed and pretty much suicidal. I count him as a friend, but one of those friends you like to hang out with but occasionally they get too drunk or they get in trouble and you have to bail them out… you know, one of those kinds of friends.”
* Temple – “I really hate this guy. I mean, I guess he’s a good example of how tech goes wrong, but damn, stink much? When he sells us out, I think it will make for a great story.”
Temple‘s thoughts about the team:
* “These guys all suck. If they weren’t so stupid, I wouldn’t have to get my drones fixed all the time. If I could make this kind of cred doing anything else, I would. I would burn these guys for a
better deal… as long as I can do it without them coming back at me later.”
I didn’t come up with the Complication Talent (read Exhaustion talent) for the NPCs, but during the first session, Ryan asked what Zombie’s was. I replied Zombie’s talent was “It just so happens… I was trained for this.” Ryan found it amusing, so we rolled with it.
Ryan kicked it off with us heading to a meet with Mr. Johnson. We met in a club right in the downtown chic of Seattle. Zombie, Krux and Liara entered the club and went to a back room filled with camarillas (small meeting rooms). There, they met Mr. Johnson, a dwarf with a German accent. Mr. Johnson confirmed the Run we’d already semi-negotiated (I didn’t want a protracted haggle at the start, so we agreed the fixer drew up most of the details). The team was to head into Quartz Labs, plant a virus to take down the security systems, grab a chemical sample, store it in a special container Mr. Johnson gave us, and take the sample out. Mr. Johnson also threw in an offer of a bonus if we completed the run ahead of schedule within the next 24 hours. Zombie got him to up the bonus from 25% to 32% and we agreed to look into doing the run faster but wouldn’t commit to it.
As we left the meeting and made our way out of the club, a pair of troll gangers stopped us. Ryan asked me to describe them, so I cribbed an old gang a buddy once used – The Hat Reds. The Hat Reds were a gang originally called simply The Hatreds, but years of illiteracy and leadership changes later, they became the Hat Reds. All gang members wore Red Hats as their gang colors. The Hat Reds had a beef with Zombie, and things escalated very quickly. I succeeded at the conflict, but Pain dominated. Zombie took a hit in his cyberarm, but the team took down the Hat Reds quickly and left the club while ensuring the bouncers knew the Hat Reds started it all.
Temple the Rigger picked up the group and took them to scout Quartz Labs. Quartz was located in the boonies, nestled in the dead zone between three different arcologies (one being an Aztechnology Arcology). We hoped this gave the lab a false sense of security since they were in the penumbra of so many corp sec teams. Zombie asked Temple to let him out a bit early so he could walk up close and get a good view of the facility.
But before you knew it, a corp security car came rolling up. Zombie was walking towards Quartz by a place that appeared to be a water treatment plant when they came up and started asking questions. Zombie tried to play drunk and asked for directions to a nearby Circle K, and didn’t fight them when they asked him to get in the car to get a ride. Zombie used his comm. to broadcast this to the team, giving them directions to the mart. When he arrived, several other cars were there, and things looked grim. And this was before we even caught a whiff of fragging Quartz!
The corp sec team talked amongst themselves about needing to get my PC back to somewhere, and it sounded as if they knew something about Zombie. We rolled a conflict about my escape when Temple got the van close. I won the conflict and Discipline dominated, so I narrated that Zombie hopped over the hood of one car and dove into the open door of the van and they drove off. Ryan added that Temple smashed a car on the way in and pushed it so that it became a roadblock for the other cars. We got away clean.
So then back to the run. We drove up to get visual on Quartz and began monitoring communications and noting perimeters, cameras, guards, etc. We picked up a call for pizza from the guards. Zombie bit on the opportunity and intercepted the pizza delivery vehicle well before they got to their destination. The driver was a fairly pretty Latina who’d had animalistic plastic surgery (cat whiskers and cat eyes). Zombie offered her a few hundred nuyen to deliver the pizza and forget they ever met. She agreed and even gave Zombie her work shirt.
Zombie pulled up to the front door to deliver the pizza, hoping to distract the guards so DawnStar the Decker could deck into the security system. Once Zombie entered the front lobby, he knew something weird was up. Three guards, two of them had some weird pink coloration to their eyes and were acting really drugged out. The third was hyped up and freaked out by his coworkers. Zombie tried buying some time for DawnStar to deck in, but the two odd guards started hitting on him… and not in an attempt to hurt him. They kept asking Zombie if he wanted to party. Before DawnStar finished her work, zombie beat down the three guards in short order. As the lucid guard fell unconscious, DawnStar called over the comm., “Okay, we’re in, Zom, you can do your stuff.”
Liara the Combat Mage, Krux the Troll Street Samurai and DawnStar joined Zombie in the lobby. DawnStar decked into the main security system while Zombie gave the area a once over. The team quickly found out there had been a chemical spill. Was this enough to deter Zombie and his intrepid crew? Heck no!
Zombie and Liara put on hazmat suits they found in the facility (using a floorplan DawnStar pulled up). Krux stayed in the lobby with DawnStar running watchdog on the matrix. Temple kept a couple drones patrolling. The team entered the main lab and the moment they open the door, DawnStar hears the whir of an autocannon. It Just So Happened that Zombie had been trained for this kind of thing, so I took a Mission die and used the minor talent. The turret was toast. I succeeded at the roll and Discipline dominated, so I took off a Mission die. As the smoke settled from the firefight, DawnStar began yelling over the comm.: “That’s not supposed to be in the system, and I don’t know what it is. It’s coming right towards you!”… and so ended the first game session
The second session began with Zombie calming DawnStar down so the mission could continue. Zombie and Liara then began examining a chemical spill in the lab area. The chemical was pink, came up hotter than boiling water on Zombie’s infra-red and it was moving. As Liara was trying to divine what the chemical was exactly, GM asked for a roll.
I rolled for Liara. She didn’t succeed and Magic dominated. As Ryan began describing how things went awry, he shared with me that he was thinking of the pink chemical stuff to be some kind of (and I’m quoting here) “weird magi-tech sentient demon drug,” which was freaking cool. So, the pink stuff started invading Liara’s mind. She was hit by a glob of the stuff. It covered her face and although she was protected by the hazmat gear, she still began freaking out a bit. When Ryan asked how Liara would react, I described her casting a fire spell to burn the stuff off as her Fight reaction. Zombie ducked and covered until she calmed down a bit. The sprinklers went off and then melted as Liara let forth the fire.
Once she finally calmed down a bit, they moved on even though Liara seemed shaken. They made it to the server room without further incident. Zombie called for Krux and DawnStar to join them and he made his way back to the room where they first saw the demon drug.
In this room, something started calling to Zombie by his “real name” Trebor (the name Liara believed was his real name) with an androgynous voice. As Krux and DawnStar came into the room, the pink demon drug stuff started reappearing and Liara started acting weird, taking off her hazmat helmet and trying to make out with Zombie.
I ended up rolling a conflict for Liara to shake off the domination of the demon drug. She succeeded, but Pain dominated (and Ryan said he’d had it come in later). The demon drug formed into a version of Liara and began calling to Trebor and asking him what was going on. Zombie ordered Krux to carry DawnStar out of the building and to enter the server room from shipping (DawnStar informed Zombie it would take at least five minutes to get there).
Liara tried to convince Zombie she could take the demon drug down, but he saw the demon drug was about to try to toss fire at her in kind, so Zombie grabbed the real Liara and they ran. The conflict was if Zombie could make it to a safe place down the corridor before the demon drug version of Liara sent a fireball at him (upped to 7 dice of Pain). It Just So Happened that Zombie was trained for fighting combat mages, so I used the minor talent to have a minimum success of 2 dice (Mission was at two by then) and used a couple Tech dice. Pain dominated again (giving Ryan three Coins of Despair).
Zombie crashed through a side door to avoid the fireball, tossing Liara ahead of him. But his cyberarm injury from the tussle with the Red Hats acted up and his arm powered down. We had a cool moment of geekiness as we described back and forth the readouts Zombie got on his cyberarm (Ryan described it as a “pain report” that I got on the damage). I then commented that Zombie realized he’d be spending more money fixing their own stuff damaged during the mission than they would make for DawnStar’s operation. I proclaimed to Ryan, “I’m effin stealing stuff!” To which Ryan replied, “I think that I’m encouraging that.”
Zombie checked in with his decker on their progress as Liara drove the demon drug (which looked even more elfish now). DawnStar informed Zombie that the room he’d entered had some Nephandus Chloride. DS explained that much like how salt destroys slugs, this chemical was like “demon salt”… or at least she thought so. Temple’s drone asked to hold the jar of the stuff.
The team headed out to make their way back to the server room. The drone led the way and started intoning: “Shoot jar! Shoot jar! Shoot jar!” Zombie heard what sounded like another fireball coming from what Ryan gleefully called “Crazy Demon Drug Liara”. So I told Ryan Zombie would run past the drone down the hall with Liara in tow and half turn back to fire his Ares Predator over his shoulder and destroy the jar. Ryan proclaimed 8 Pain coming. I said Zombie was “trained for this” and planned to use the minor talent to ensure minimum successes. Ryan bragged that he was due to roll well, so I “amped it up”, added a Mission (Complication) Die and rolled 3 Tech, 3 Mission and 3 Discipline for 5 rolled successes plus 3 automatic. Ryan spent two Coins of Despair to give me two 6s in Mission Dice and it then dominated… but Ryan didn’t tell me how things got worse (I wondered how much worse it could get… I found out).
We made it to the server room, met up with DawnStar and Krux and waited as the decker jacked in and began installing the virus. That’s when the hazmat alarms went off, the doors closed and halon started pouring in the room, the fire extinguisher that sucks all the air out of a room. Our hazmat suits weren’t vacuum suits, so we were in trouble. Zombie ordered Liara to use some magic to create a bubble of air for the team or stop up the holes. This was a Pain 6 roll. Discipline 3, Mission 4 and 3 Magic = 5 successes with Pain barely dominating. We briefly discussed the mechanics as Ryan felt they didn’t map to a team environment and that it would cost two coins of hope to reduce Mission dice. I countered that the NPCs had been adding to the Mission together, so it was pretty equal and Ryan agreed.
It was decided that the Pain effect was that the bubble wasn’t big enough for everyone. Krux was too big for the air bubble, so he was left outside as the air was sucked out. Zombie began yelling at DawnStar to shut down the halon as Krux fell to his knees and began coughing. The previous Mission dice kept her from responding, so I spent two Coins of Hope to drop the Mission down to 2. As Liara stood, her arms outstretched holding the halon back, Zombie hunched over DawnStar trying to get her out of her reverie. He brushed his hand across DawnStar’s cheek like a mother would a babe, and DawnStar jacked out, dropped the system and remarked, “Z, we’re kinda fragged.”
As Zombie walked over to help Krux get air back in his lungs, he retorted, “You just now realized that?” DawnStar told the team that she didn’t think a specimen was anywhere to be found that the mission was a set-up. Ryan asked me who we did our last run against and I told him it was Saeder-Krupp. Zombie’s mobile comm rang. It was the German Mr. Johnson who gave us the job. He told us coolly, “The money that you have earned this evening has been wired to your next-of-kin… and I thought that you should know that this is what you get when you mess with The Conglomerate.”
Zombie hung up on Mr. Johnson and told the team to slot and run. DawnStar (DS) reminded the team about Crazy Demon Drug Liara (CDDL) and that Quartz was right on top of the water treatment facility. She also revealed that the virus just unlocked all doors leading to the main line. Zombie, Liara and Krux started to head out with DawnStar hanging back to monitor and advise. DS jacked into Zombie briefly to give him some data on Quartz. The team headed towards CDDL’s location and DS gave Zombie picture-in-picture with data as they traveled. Ryan informed me that the upcoming conflict would be at a 10 or so.
The Runners entered a huge area with gigantic boilers and pipes and water spilling out everywhere. Zombie called out to the thing and it turned attention to him. Liara began a banishing spell as Zombie slowly walked towards Crazy Demon Drug Liara. It called Zombie “Trebor” again and asked for help. Zombie held its attention while Liara continued incantations. The Demon told Zombie it was so dry, it needed to hold him. She stopped trying to rip open a boiler and started walking to Zombie (who was loading incendiary rounds). She formed into a perfect version of a naked Liara (which Zombie “filed for later”) and told Zombie with sadness in her voice (which sounded just like Liara now): “Trebor, I’m alone.” As Zombie raised his gun and started to fire, he replied, “That’s a shame.”
Liara fired off the banishing spell, (3 Discipline, 3 Mission as I took a major effect and added a die and 6… yes, 6 Magic Dice for 10 rolled successes plus the 3 automatic). The game stopped for a few minutes as I scrabbled to use my camera phone to take a picture of the awesome that was my roll. Then, Ryan spent two Coins of Despair to make Magic dominate. I chose the second Fight response. Liara banished the crazy demon drug, but then, as Ryan described it, she went Dark Phoenix and told us to run.
The rest of the team beat feet and made it to Temple’s van. Zombie had the team hide out and wait. The building goes up in a fireball as we drove off. Within a few minutes, some Lone Star “magi-SWAT” teams showed up. With no sign or communication from Liara, Zombie called it and the team left. Mission over.
A few weeks later, Zombie was in a local park away from the neon lights of Seattle, leaning against a fence and looking out over a pond. DawnStar called and let Zombie know that The Conglomerate was some pretty big behind the scenes group. She also let him know that with the stuff the team took off the Quartz mainframe and the pay for the run (Mr. Johnson was good on his contract after all), DawnStar would be able to get her operations and Zombie could replace his cyberarm.
After the call ended, Zombie felt someone leaning on the fence near him. He turned to see Liara. Liara explained that she’d found out that her son’s DNA was somehow in the thing that wasn’t really a demon and now she’s found her son. She told Zombie she’d be leaving the team “to go be a mom, now”. Zombie told her he understood. The two kissed goodbye, and Liara disappeared in a puff of smoke (not something she’d ever done before).
NON-MECHANICAL PLAY NOTES:
* The first game session didn’t completely click with us for a couple reasons. First, there was a communication gap. Ryan and I have gamed together over Skype before with no problem, but we just weren’t in synch that night. Another was that one story element that played differently than I expected was Ryan’s push for some horror. I had trouble adjusting to his cues. None of this was a mechanical problem and the rules didn’t hinder play. But as this is a play challenge, I thought it was worth noting.
* As we played, Ryan began giving more and more of a voice to the NPC Temple. Ryan would have Temple join in conversations by using one of his drones’ voice boxes. Temple’s smart aleck comments were very amusing. Imagine a robotic Kevin Smith character. I especially like it when Temple called the rest of the team “meatbags”.
* Ryan’s “troll voice” for Krux was mack daddy cool.
* Playing troupe style was much more fun than I expected. I normally play one character and react and act pretty much in character, so taking a step back and using the team was interesting.
HOW THE RULES WORKED:
* Hot damn was it nice having a quick combat system for Shadowrun, no astral travel and no matrix.
* My favorite mechanics part of the game was the fact that in play, I had my NPCs amping up the Mission (Complication) dice to make rolls while as a PC, Zombie focused on reducing Mission dice (like a good team leader should). I guess I was violating the Czege Principle by playing my own opposition, but it didn’t feel wrong with the troupe-style play we were doing.
* Ryan did a great job of throwing in Complications and Magic/Tech problems when either pool dominated. It either happened as part of the narration of the roll result, or soon after. I found that the “soon after” was dang unnerving because I didn’t know how it was going to come back at me… but it did.
* Using Magic/Tech as Madness dice worked pretty well, too. Zombie had one tech failure, and that resulted in problems with his cyberarm. The Magic backlashes for Liara were spectacular and interesting as heck.
* Playing a team with Don’t Rest Your Head rules doesn’t work perfectly. Teamwork wasn’t really an option.
WHAT I RATE IT:
I’d give the challenge a 7.5 out of 10. The second session was a solid 8 for sure, though.