Shadowrun 5E “Not With a Whimper” Session 2 Report

Our first Shadowrun 5E role-playing adventure continues with tense negotiations and a bombing investigation.

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Note that since my players will read these I have to avoid spoilers and background information while the current mission is still in session. Look for our epilogue episode and write-up for more in-depth analysis and feedback.

Watch our sessions live on twitch.tv/gorbash722 every Sunday night beginning at 9:30pm Central!

Read the Session 1 Report

Our sophomore session for our very first Shadowrun adventure picked up during the briefest of down times. My players were attempting to question their new captive and get the DocWagon vehicle started when they were accosted by a roving band of Halloweeners. This was set up as a semi-randomized battle with three main outcomes – 1) the players fight off the gangers, 2) the players talk them down or negotiate or, 3) the players drive away.

Given the aggressive tendencies of my players I predicted we would go with outcome 1, but when the players decided to try and drive away (which would’ve been a very difficult Pilot Ground Craft test), I had the lead ganger grow impatient with his knocking, ripping the rear doors off the vehicle and having everyone roll for initiative (I rolled an astonishing 8 success for his test to open the doors).

The elf adept, who also acts as the group’s face with superior social skills, acted first thanks to his crazy high initiative score, and he immediately decided to bargain with the lead ganger. This actually segued us into outcome 2, and the elf quickly negotiated for their release. The Halloweeners wanted the fancy vehicle, so after a successful negotiation test, I allowed them to trade the vehicle for their lives. To my surprise the players accepted, gingerly stepping out of the vehicle and practically waving goodbye as they strode down the path with their NPC captive, avoiding an entire battle.

Shadowrun Now Without a Whimper Scene 3

Without their vehicle and stranded in a bad neighborhood my contingency plan kicked in, and I had an NPC we previously met in the bar roll up in an armored truck to help out her boss. Jeremiah Redd was still being protected by the runners through this grand mess and he finally got a chance to give the actual mission to this new rag-tag team: investigate the now destroyed bar and figure out who was behind the bombing.

The investigation allowed me to reuse the previous scene pf the half-destroyed bar, which was wonderfully helpful to cut down on building and crafting in Roll20. Also I spent a lot of time building that scene and was damn proud of it!

I layered in a bunch of clues that the players could’ve found throughout the bar and tried to leave this section much more open. They approached cautiously, which I had warned them about, though I had no intention of including any combat in this scene. Up till now the entire adventure had been a series of crazy events and I wanted to give them some down time and use investigation skills and inference rather than social and combat skills. They also got a fun chance to actually talk to each other and formally meet each other’s characters.

A combination of Perception, Demolitions, and Hacking skills lead to the rear alleyway, a barely functioning security camera, and a blown out car registered to a Jay-T’s Automotive. The players did the right thing in calling up Redd once they collected some evidence, though I had Sue-Z pick up the comm and had a fun bit of mysterious role-playing.

Shadowrun Now Without a Whimper Scene 4

At this point the players made it a bit farther than I expected them to this session, mainly as they had avoided a potentially lengthy combat sequence earlier! They made it to Jay-T’s, a set that had numerous entrances with an emphasis on a stealthy approach.

Disappointingly, the runners immediately went for the front door and disabled the lock and alarm using a combination of Locksmith and Hacking. The elf adept stealthed his way inside with 2 hits on 9 dice, but I rolled a killer 3 hits on only 4 dice on the nearby video camera on the opposed Perception check. Feeling bad I gave the player a chance to do one action before the camera swiveled over and spotted him. He dove into the room behind a shelf but rolled only 1 success, and the camera spotted him, tripping the alarm and activating a pair of roto drones.

Combat in Shadowrun has a lot of annoying complexities. Tons of environmental and range modifiers come into play, as well as melee attacks, cyberdeck hacking, spells, etc. It’s overwhelming and we’re all definitely still learning, so any combat sequence takes us quite awhile. I’m sure we played things wrong (indeed some times realizing on the next round) but the Roll20 character sheets help kept the pace flowing for the most part.

The drones were all offense and no defense and that was definitely reflected in the brutal and fast combat sequence. One drone did some significant stun damage to both the elf and the troll while the other was dispatched in an Edge-boosted roll from the Street Samurai’s rifle. In a funny moment the elf had his revenge by killing the other done with his knife.

I was very thankful that I wrote down a bunch of notes as drone stats are slightly different than metahuman foes. I was able to use a character sheet for the roto-drones with all the appropriate programs and stats which helped immensely. Even then I was scrambling to figure out what their defense was versus the decker’s hacking attempts.

Although the runners were in the middle of a hostile environment, one that was now aware of their presence, we had to take a break there as we’d gone past our normal cut-off time of midnight. We had to look up a lot more rules in this session, particularly pertaining to combat modifiers and Matrix hacking. I need to get more familiar with how deckers operate and also which rules we actually want to use as I’m pretty sure we weren’t playing the decker correctly in terms of hacking into the Matrix and using the VR Initiative.

The adventure should wrap up next week, and depending on time we may just do the epilogue and recap portion as part of that session.

Shadowrun 5E “Not With a Whimper” Session 1 Report

For our first Shadowrun role-playing session I throw our street-level runners in the middle of some good old-fashioned gang warfare, cyberpunk style.

Note that since my players will read these I have to avoid spoilers and background information while the current mission is still in session. Look for our epilogue episode and write-up for more in-depth analysis and feedback.

Watch our sessions live on twitch.tv/gorbash722 every Sunday night beginning at 9:30pm Central!

Last month I teased a return to online, live streaming tabletop role-playing, and last night marked our first official session in the wonderful world of Shadowrun. It was also the first time I GM’d a session outside of the Quick Start beginner mission.

Although a bit overwhelming, I decided to write our first mission from scratch. I have a bunch of well-written and interesting missions to pick from various source books and I plan on eventually using them either mostly verbatim or heavily borrowing their themes in the future. For our first mission, however, I wanted something that would introduce our new players into the world of Shadowrun, provide an action-packed introduction, and throw our street-level runners in the middle of some good old-fashioned gang warfare.

So our runners all coincidentally found each other at a bar, and then I had a bomb go off.

The resulting chaos and destruction provided many opportunities for role-playing, and I was pleased to see that everyone snapped into hero mode and tried to help the injured NPCs. I didn’t put too much prep time into this initial scenario, allowing the players to guide the action, and I came up with random injuries and deaths for NPCs on the fly.

Redd's Bar

Most importantly the players rescued Jeremiah Redd, the owner of the bar, and followed him into the awaiting DocWagon vehicle to receive treatment and hear his job offer. I had a contingency plan in case they didn’t want to enter but thankfully we could go with my initial plans. This lead to an interesting close-range fight inside the moving all-terrain ambulance as our DocWagon medics turned out to be hostile.

The feaux medics were horribly outnumbered (only three total, and one was driving the whole time) so I figured it would be a fairly quick outcome. Combat lasted longer than I expected, and when the shotgun wielder emerged from the cockpit and nearly killed the runners’ beefy troll shaman in a single blast, I was growing worried. Thankfully the player used an Edge point to re-roll the fails, and managed to cut the damage in half. The rest of the team sprang into action raining down bullets and leaping with knives, while the decker smartly attempted to wrest control of the vehicle.

The uniquely crammed quarters proved interesting but sadly I hadn’t built a proper map or grid, instead using a stock photo of the vehicle. I certainly didn’t expect combat to be as long or involved as it ended up being, and we were just moving tokens around a picture. I did have a pretty good grasp of how the inside looked, and could describe the area and situation after each initiative pass.

Doc Wagon Vehicle

Surprisingly the players were not nearly as violent as I expected, attempting to reason with their foes and trying to get them to surrender. I didn’t expect that, and the enemies were having none of it, fighting to the bloody end (which they quickly received). The driver finally surrendered after a successful Charisma check and looked behind him to see the runners standing over his fallen comrades. The decker brought the vehicle to a stop after it had nearly careened out of control (I was very close to crashing the players – they nearly gave control back to the driver to make him pull over and stop the car – ha!)

We ended our session right as the vehicle came to a stop at an unknown location, with one of the foes still alive. It’ll be interesting to see what information they can pry from their captive, and see what Redd has to say about all this. It’s been a rollercoaster ride so far and the players have barely had a chance to even talk to each other yet (they made their characters separately), which was part of the plan. I anticipate that this run will take another two sessions based on how far they got, and so far seemed like everyone has really enjoyed it. Kudos to Roll20 for being such an easy to use system, and the amazingly convenient built-in character sheets that handle tons of macros and details so we can focus on the fun.

Watch our sessions live on twitch.tv/gorbash722 every Sunday night beginning at 9:30pm Central!

 

Introducing Our New Weekly Shadowrun Tabletop Role-Playing Adventures!

Last year my friends and I gathered together with the power of Skype, Roll20, Google Sheets and .PDFs to fulfill a longstanding desire to play tabletop role-playing adventures over the internet.

We’re all in our 30s and my closest friend lives 200 miles away, with the farthest living several states over. We see each other about once a year during a glorious New Year’s Eve get together where we mostly play board games.

Shadowrun 5eDespite our love of everything nerdy and game-y we missed out on playing traditional pen and paper role-playing games growing up. I was the only one with any experience with Dungeons and Dragons (2nd edition) and even I’d only played a handful of sessions.

We started up an official weekly, live streamed role-playing group playing Pathfinder last year, and it was an absolute blast. Unfortunately over the course of a few months we only got through one complete dungeon crawl and were halfway through a second adventure before our GM dropped out due to personal reasons.

Fast-forward several months and we’re back ready to tackle the awesome virtual role-playing utility that is Roll20 and go on more adventures, with two major changes. First, I’ll be the Gamemaster! Our old GM is still MIA and I’ve always fancied myself the creative story-teller type. Also as a stay at home dad and part time writer I generally have the most time among my friends to devote to this venture.

The second big difference is we’ll be playing Shadowrun Fifth Edition. Even while we were in the midst of playing Pathfinder (which is basically just DnD) I talked about how If I tried my hand at being GM, I’d definitely do Shadowrun.

Shadowrun anniversary cover

Though it has existed since the 80s I’d only tangentially heard of Shadowrun growing up. I had seen the box art of the old Genesis and SNES games but never played them. I thought the cyberpunk motif was cool but at the time was balls-deep into the fantasy worlds of Dragonlance, Discworld and the Forgotten Realms.

It wasn’t until Harebrained Schemes ran their successful Kickstarter project to create a new tactical Shadowrun game that I began to take interest. While I didn’t back it at the time, I bought and played it right when it came out in the Summer of 2013 – sneaking it onto my backlog gaming schedule.

I loved that game, but even more I loved that universe and the concept of urban fantasy + cyberpunk. Dystopian mega-corporations ruling the world, whole sections of cities run by gangs, easy access to drugs and weapons – it was all very much 80s sci-fi and I adored it.

We read through the Quick Start Rules and got together to choose from the pre-generated characters and learn about the game. I crafted the one-module beginner adventure (Food Fight) in Roll20 and we had our first session last week. I didn’t live stream it as it was still very much a learning experience for everyone involved and didn’t want the added distraction. But I did record and upload it to my YouTube channel in case anyone wants to go back and see Where It All Began.

Next everyone will be creating their own characters and we’ll spend our next session going over character creation for the first time. Since one of our runners will be taking a lengthy vacation at the end of March, we won’t be officially starting our weekly live streams until April.

The plan is to live stream every Sunday evening starting at about 9:30pm Central and running for 2-3 hours on my twitch channel. I also plan on uploading each session to YouTube (broken up into easier size chunks if I have time) as well as recapping them here on my blog.

I really look forward to this fun new way to hang out with friends and family every week, and I’d like to keep it up for as long as we have fun with it. See you in the shadows, chummer.