Shadowrun 5E “The Bodyguards” Session 6 Report

The stealthy infiltration devolves into a bloody shootout and knife fight in the foyer of the mansion as the runners wrap up the adventure.

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

Read “The Bodyguards” Session 1 Report
Read “The Bodyguards” Session 2 Report
Read “The Bodyguards” Session 3 Report
Read “The Bodyguards” Session 4 Report
Read “The Bodyguards” Session 5 Report

After two shortened sessions in a row, we were prepared to dive into a normal length session and really make some progress stealthily infiltrating the Yamoto villa. I’m pleased to say that, despite the mission devolving into one big combat sequence, we were able to complete the mission. It did take a very lengthy and extended session, thanks to my wife (who plays Mauta) being on vacation and off work this week. Three and a half hours later and my players have secured the evidence, making all new friends, and all new enemies.

The session began right in the middle of the action. The party had split up: Saren had infiltrated the guard house outside the community gate and downloaded the floor plans. Mauta, pretending to be captured singer Lana Grace, had been taken inside the house to an upstairs bedroom. Falkirk and Ursev parked the van inside the garage and began snooping around the first floor.

They quickly realized the house was crawling with guards, though none of them were actively patrolling at the time. I inserted a few scripted events to get the ball rolling and create a heightened sense of urgency. Lana’s mother would attempt to talk with her, and Lana’s father would return home also expecting to see his forcibly returned daughter.

The players had such an impressive plan to get in, but clearly no plan once they were actually inside. They explored a bit – I was pleased that one of them found a hidden passage in the wine cabinet I had included. But they never came close to discovering the office or the computer with the evidence.

Mauta was in trouble upstairs, and she opted to shimmy down the balcony and escape, narrowly avoiding the attention of a patrolling bio-engineered guard dog. At that time Saren used an Edge point to roll under an approaching car and let it drag her to the entrance of the house.

Once the parents were upstairs banging on the door, the players decided to unleash a sneak attack on the guard in the foyer. It did not go well, with both missing and/or failing to take the guard out in one blow. Likewise Saren tried to sneak out from the car but was spotted by a nearby guard. Roll for initiative!

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Once the guards took their first move the jig was up as they radioed for intruders. The foyer quickly turned into a bloodbath as bullets flew, knives parried, and some serious damage was done to both runners and guards. The guards were fairly strong for random NPCs, rolling 10 total dice for their attack and 8 for defense, and the party ended up having to fight about half a dozen of them, though their staggered appearance helped immensely.

I also had a ‘boss monster,’ a heavily augmented cyberwarrior named Shinjen. He nearly killed Ursev in one blow, but the troll shaman responded in kind with a heavy attack by his battle axe. Ursev was able to deflect the following killing blow, then use an Edge point to finish him off.

Everyone sustained heavy amounts of damage but miraculously came away from the fight unscathed. I was honestly surprised as I thought a frontal assault would be suicidal. It did help that they were only ever fighting 3 or 4 at a time. Oh and Saren had to deal with a Cujo situation as he jumped in the car outside to avoid being eaten by the guard dog.

That extended fight felt suitably climactic, so when the players went upstairs to confront the parents, they quickly acquiesced. To their credit my players did a fine bit of role-playing their exhaustion and bloodied-ness, and I let them talk to the parents without any social skill tests. They downloaded the Yamoto’s Yakuza involvement evidence and bugged the hell out of there.

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For the end it was a question of whom to turn the evidence into. One of the recurring game concepts in the pre-made Shadowrun adventures I’ve read is to give the players multiple interested parties and let them decide whom to ultimately turn their McGuffin to. I liked this concept so I quickly inserted an authoritative figure that had staked out the Yamotos. Identifying herself as Ms. Johnson, she offered the players cash reward to hand over any evidence to her so she can take them down and strike a real bow to the Yakuza in the Seattle area.

Of course the players were already working for Lana Grace, stealing the evidence to give her blackmail leverage she can use to keep her parents from every reaching out to her again. I enjoyed the little dilemma that occurred at the end as the players deliberated. Keep in mind this was after over three hours, yet everyone was enjoyable debating the ethics and ramification of their choice.

Ultimately they decided to stick with Lana. They copied the data and told Ms. Johnson to give them 24 hours – an interesting monkey wrench that I could use for the next mission. Returning to a grateful Lana gave them about the same amount of money, which surprisingly they didn’t try to negotiate higher for. Maybe they took my not-so-subtle hint that acting selfishly/money-grubbing would naturally come with less of a karma payout (Shadowrun’s system of experience/skill points).

I’ll go over what worked and what didn’t during our recap episode next week, and it should be an interesting one. This adventure was much more open-ended than the previous two I wrote. It was essentially compromised of two major areas where multiple events happened, but mostly were a chance to let the players loose and see what they did. I’m not sure if it’s this group or my own methods of railroading them during the fist two missions, but they definitely seemed like they required a firm guiding hand in order to advance. Still, I felt like it was a fun mission, especially the first half which was fraught with nifty role-playing opportunities. See next week for my full recap and breakdown of “The Bodyguards.”

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

Shadowrun 5E “The Bodyguards” Session 5 Report

The runners split up to stealthily infiltrate a Yakuza-infested two-story mansion.

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

Read “The Bodyguards” Session 1 Report
Read “The Bodyguards” Session 2 Report
Read “The Bodyguards” Session 3 Report
Read “The Bodyguards” Session 4 Report

Building elaborate maps within Roll20 isn’t necessarily my forte, and I constantly worried this last week if I’d bitten off more than I could chew. The concert hall was a very large area full of multiple events transpiring, but that was only the first part of the adventure. After my players got their second mission to steal some blackmail evidence from a mansion, I had to actually build the two-story mansion.

Thankfully I found a pretty great resource at eplans.com, where I could download a lovely palatial floor plan to use as the basis for my map. After that it was a matter of filling in the various rooms using Roll20’s art, as well as creating a large circular driveway outside.

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Since the players were tasked with a stealthy infiltration, it was difficult to know how they’d approach the map, and I needed to have all two stories filled out and ready to go by the time we started our session Sunday evening.

I enjoyed the players’ plan to get inside – disguising as the sole surviving member of the kidnappers, and pretending another to be the captured singer. The party split up in some really interesting ways. Saran stayed back at the gated community entrance to get inside the guard house and download information. The rest of the crew met up with a Yakuza crime boss outside the house who took Mauta – whom they thought was the unconscious singer, inside to an upstairs bedroom.

I was playing hardball as the crime boss but surprisingly my players weren’t really rising to the social bait, instead opting to play it safe and willing to turn around and try another method. I softened up by letting their captured and mind-controlled NPC ally speak up with a suggestion to get them into the garage (we need gas!). Thus Falkirk and Ursev began in the downstairs garage.

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This lead to a somewhat stressful and haphazard ordeal as everyone wanted to do things at once, and I had to switch between three different scenes in Roll20. Saran knocked out the guard and got the floor plan info (which I quickly created handouts for, but only he had access to), Mauta escaped the bedroom and began snooping around the upstairs balcony. Ursev used Clairvoyance to look into the surrounding rooms, while Falkirk acted uncharacteristically bold and began searching room to room.

Thus far nobody has met up with a guard yet and been found out, and their reconnaissance has been pretty effective. That said they’re also kind of terrible at formulating a plan and working together. The team’s dysfunction has become a bit of a running joke, and I’m becoming more inclined that maybe I do need to railroad them through the missions as I’d done before. Giving them a large map and letting them explore has proved interesting but it’s clear they are used to reacting to events I put in place, rather than being proactive at the task at hand.

Next week we should be able to return to a full length session. This mission is taking far longer than I anticipated thanks to two weeks of half-length sessions, but if anything it’s given me more time to prepare and that’s never a bad thing. I anticipate my players should be able to complete the adventure next week, unless things go absolutely upside down and they have to fight their way out of the complex. Which could always happen….

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

Shadowrun 5E “The Bodyguards” Session 4 Report

The runners concoct an elaborate plan to infiltrate the mansion of some Yakuza leaders.

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

Read “The Bodyguards” Session 1 Report
Read “The Bodyguards” Session 2 Report
Read “The Bodyguards” Session 3 Report

Due to an annoying bout of illness we had to have a shorter session than usual. Tabletop role-playing can be a lot of fun but can also be quite time-consuming. When we originally started with Pathfinder we had lengthy four hour sessions every week that went late into the night. Since I took over as GM with Shadowrun, we do 2-3 hour sessions, and while we still get a lot done, combat can slow things down considerably. As can only going for an hour because I was running a fever.

Of course the advantage for having a shorter session is it allows me more prep time. This adventure particularly requires three very large, carefully sculpted scenes in Roll20. Unlike the previous mission where I shepherded the players along a series of small scenes, I’ve given them much more freedom on how to approach these areas.

In last night’s session it was fun for me to mostly sit back and watch my players formulate the best plan for infiltrating a mansion. They’d received a new mission after preventing singer Lana Grace’s capture at the concert performance – a snatch and grab of blackmail-able evidence from her parents’ villa. My players had discussed things a bit toward the end of last week’s session, so I knew they wanted to try and use their newly captured foes to their advantage. I thought of just straight up denying them that path with a myriad of ways, but wanted to see where it would lead.

As one player pointed out, it did unfortunately lead me to do some of the work for them. After their troll shaman cast Control Thoughts on the one captive that was willing to work for them, I set up the plan going forward. I did get some instruction from the players on how to handle things, so it ended up being a fun bit of collaboration.

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The plan was to have their team’s face dress up in the full body uniform of the would-be kidnappers, while another teammate pretended to be the unconscious Lana Grace. The others would hide in the back of the van. I was impressed with the plan so I generally let it go without a hitch.

Well there was one little hitch. I introduced a third party that also wanted their hands on some hard evidence of the Yamotos’ Yakuza involvement. The players readily accepted the aid of a “Ms. Johnson” and agreed to help bring her back the information she needed. It’ll be interesting to see whom the players ultimately end up helping, as well as how they handle a stealthy infiltration.

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

Shadowrun 5E “The Bodyguards” Session 3 Report

The runners fend off a sudden kidnapping strike force in the middle of a psychedelic concert performance.

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

Read “The Bodyguards” Session 1 Report
Read “The Bodyguards” Session 2 Report

If last week’s seemingly random events surrounding a rock concert resulted in hilarious shenanigans, this week was much more focused and down to business. The role-playing and fun random characters were neat distractions but I still had to move the story forward, and for that I had to unleash a squad of stealthy hit-men into the venue.

The players’ main job as temp security guards were to protect the star attraction – indie singer Lana Grace. Unfortunately for them her talents extended to both her musical ability as well as some latent magical skills that resulted in the players entering a euphoric high while she performed.

During the performance my anti-runner team got into place, and all hell broke loose once they hit her with a tranq dart from the catwalks. A pair emerged onto the catwalks to grab her and fend off the players. Another cast an illusory spell on a dragon statue on stage making it seemingly spring to life and panic the crowd below, and another set off a bomb in the backstage bathrooms to cement their getaway. Roll for initiative!

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They didn’t get too far. I had written outcomes for the two possibilities of Lana getting kidnapped or being rescued, and the runners made fairly short work of the foes. Thus far I feel like I may be babying my players a bit as most encounters have felt like a piece of cake from my point of view, with little to no damage being sustained by the players.

In this case the kidnapping team were loaded with nonlethal rounds and were mainly trying to snatch and grab, so they were more interested in running than fighting. They were also unprepared for the players being there at all, so while they were equipped to handle some resistance, the players took them down fairly easily.

Even a fairly small combat encounter can take awhile in Shadowrun, and this one got a bit annoying as all but one of them went down quickly, while the last one was hopelessly outnumbered and outgunned and mainly just tried to flee – not terribly climatic! More exciting was Falkirk tazing one on a catwalk then having to roll Gymnastics to catch the falling unconscious Lana!

After the break the players got a surprising explanation from Lana herself after she came to, and her unfortunate past and parents’ ties with the Yakuza. At this point I was running out of material that I had prepared so I kind of sped things along. The adventure ends up becoming a Two in One. The initial job offer of working security for one show is technically over, but now the players have been hired by Lana herself to retrieve some blackmail-worthy evidence on her parents to use as leverage.

To do so they’ll need to get into her parent’s well-guarded mansion for their own smash-and-grab scenario. I was delighted to find my players already discussing different tactics on how to get in – including using their captured adversaries to gain access. Looking forward to it!

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

Shadowrun 5E “The Bodyguards” Session 2 Report

Everything that can go wrong will go wrong when our shadowrunners work security at a rock concert in our funniest session yet.

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

Read “The Bodyguards” Session 1 Report

For our third Shadowrun adventure I really wanted to try something different. Our previous mission was very combat heavy as I shuffled my runners from scene to scene as they made their journey to downtown Seattle. This time I created a single, gigantic scene in Roll20 where multiple events transpire – and only a few involve actual combat.

In our previous session the runners had purchased eqiupment and scoped out the location of the warehouse-turned-concert hall The Dragon’s Maw. They’d been hired as temporary security guards to beef up the staff for an indie rock label and their star performing artist – Lana Grace. One night only, and anything can happen.

As a GM I like to overplan as much I can so I’m at least somewhat prepared for any unexpected things my players do. I also shepherd them somewhat, and even within a single scene I had events happening all around them to replicate the feel of being part of a security team. Since the players all split up to handle different tasks and areas, I also switched around to make sure I didn’t focus on any one player or situation for too long, and made sure everyone got to do something.

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Before the opening band even took the stage I had a salvo of events lined up to take place. Most of them were just little side story kernels with a few notes. I was stepping a bit out of my comfort zone by having to ad-lib much of the specific dialogue and events, but it ended up being a hell of a lot of fun – I don’t think we’ve laughed so much and so hard in an adventure yet, and I was complimented on my voice acting (having a young child you read to every day helps immensely with this).

The folks backstage had to screen backstage passers to get into see Lana, a fun an direct way to screen people and use skills like Perception to find weapons and Judge Intentions to see how they were acting. I planted some questionable folks, some earnest ones, and even a creepy vampire – whom was totally allowed inside and subsequently had to be fought and put down! The dance floor area involved people trying to sneak backstage (which lead to a funny confrontation between the unstable decker of the group), and a drug peddler that was high on his own supply. The players guarding the entrance had to deal with a ticket scalper.

Most of these events were heavy on the role-playing and light on skill checks, and only the vampire ended up having any actual combat. It was a fun chance to let loose with some play acting and everyone ended up having a really fun time with it. Once the warm-up band took the stage I had a few more events transpire – like a streaker trying to run onto the stage.

All these mini-events ended up taking up all our time for the session, and we ended before our star actually hit the stage. I was nervous going into this session how well this system of seemingly random events would pan out, and if I ‘d be able to handle multiple things happening at once with the party split up. It ended up working out really well, and I’m pleased to see everyone having fun on a much more role-playing heavy session. Tune in next time to see if any more shenanigans arise when the star takes the stage!

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

Shadowrun 5E “The Bodyguards” Session 1 Report

A new adventure kicks off as our runners are tasked with working security at a rock concert.

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

A new adventure begins! One of the aspects I like to incorporate into my game writing and structure are my players’ back stories. In our previous adventure I teased Mauta’s back story, eventually causing her to reveal her darker past to her fellow runners in a fun, tense moment, and giving her a crisis of conscious with a choice at the end.

For our new adventure I used an NPC from our troll shaman Ursev – his estranged brother Benton. I got with the player and had him detail a bunch of information so I could role-play the character effectively. The idea was to have the brother track down the runners after their recent exploits and offer them their next job – joining his private security team in protecting a famous singer during her show at a concert hall.

BentonThere was a lot of role-playing and dialogue during these set-up prologue events. I feel like it went over smoother than previous set-ups as it was more back and forth rather than having me just dump a bunch of information at the players’ feet. The players asked questions and I answered, and it all felt much more natural and interactive.

The players were also given time to shop around for any new equipment they wanted, as well as explain any character advancement thanks to the rather substantial karma and nuyen rewards they received at the end of the previous adventure.

As a GM I’m not too terribly concerned with role-playing and nit-picking the downtime stuff. I use some slightly modified house rules for buying equipment that seems to work for us, and everyone pretty much relies on the team’s Face/Adept for his superior Negotiation skills.

The bulk of this first session was actually just the prologue – buying equipment, gathering information, and talking with the quest-giver. In a twist from previous adventures, I offered the runners a chance to visit the venue they’d be guarding.

Benton escorted them through the building which gave me a chance to give detailed descriptions without the added chaos of the upcoming event. It also gave the players a chance to explore the building and plan on how they wanted to handle their protective duties.

For once there was actually no combat in the whole session. The players had a ton of prep time to get the proper equipment, learn about the mission, and even scout the venue they would be pulling guard duty at.

The Bodyguards Scene 1

I’m excited about this mission as it was the initial story idea I had when I first got into Shadowrun role-playing. I’m hoping I didn’t overextend myself too much with events surrounding a full-fledged rock concert, and it should provide a ton of opportunities for multiple exciting events and incidents.

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

Shadowrun 5E “Road Rage” Epilogue & Recap

We break down our second Shadowrun mission, “Road Rage,” in our Epilogue & Recap episode.

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

Read “Road Rage” Session 1 Report
Read “Road Rage” Session 2 Report
Read “Road Rage” Session 3 Report
Read “Road Rage” Session 4 Report
Read “Road Rage” Session 5 Report

For every mission we run in my Shadowrun role-playing group, I like to end with an Epilogue & Recap session. This gives us a chance to go over the events of the mission and pull back the curtain a bit on how I run the adventure. I welcome and encourage any and all feedback and criticism to the adventure itself (written completely by me) as well as how I run everything. It also gives me a chance to talk directly to the players about how they approached certain situations, and perhaps point out alternate paths or answer questions about other methods that were available to them.

It went over really well. We’re all old friends and family so everyone is comfortable talking frankly about what all worked and what didn’t. In general everyone was super positive over the “Road Rage” adventure, enjoying it more than the first mission. We all agreed it was a very combat heavy mission, but all the battles and scenarios were different and varied enough that they all remained fun and unique.

“Road Rage” was composed of five total scenes, using four custom built tactical maps in Roll20. It took us five total 2-3 hour sessions, not including this final recap session, making it much longer than our previous three-session adventure. I wrote it as a direct follow-up to the events of our inaugural adventure, “Not With a Whimper.” The players were contacted by their new fixer and contact, gang leader Jeremiah Redd, to escort an armored truck full of goods to an Ares MegaCorp buyer at the downtown Seattle docks.

The shipment came from Jay-T’s Automotive, the location of the final scene in the previous adventure. Reusing a previously built map was a huge time-saver for me, and I used the opportunity to create an entirely different scenario than the drone infiltration of the the last adventure. The players stumbled upon a hostage situation, and opted to go in guns-blazing, violently but effectively ending the hostilities with the gangers [Read Session 1 Report].

Shadowrun Road Rage Lapis LuzilThey also met their new NPC allies I saddled them with: freelance runner and sword-wielding Adept Lapis Luzil, and ex-ganger professional driver Crank. Crank was a fun callback to the last adventure as a previous minor adversary that the players specifically captured alive (as the driver of the DocWagon Ambulance) and turned over to Redd. I had him flip sides and embrace Redd’s gang. The players gathered the rest of the shipment into the truck, decided on how to split the party and what vehicles to take, and got started on their highway to hell, err Seattle [Read Session 2 Report].

What followed was a series of two unavoidable combat encounters. My initial plan was to offer a branching path depending on how the players handled the first encounter with the troll biker gang. After I started writing and building the tunnel map, however, I decided to simply force the issue so as to give the players another path and different encounter. It did feel a bit ‘railroad-y,’ a problem that crops up when using pre-defined visual aids like Roll20 in for a role-playing game, but ultimately all the players said they were fun and enjoyable encounters.

The highway chase scene with the troll bikers was a lengthy combat encounter, and our first use of vehicles in combat. Since starting Shadowrun I definitely wanted to jump into vehicular usage as it’s not exactly something that comes up during fantasy RPGs like Dungeons & Dragons. The players took right to it, using a few special chase combat attacks like Cutting Off and Ramming, as well as unleashing spells and guns at the trolls.

My trolls got some good hits in on the truck as well, including setting off a demolitions charge, adding a dire sense of urgency to the situation. Ultimately the players were able to defeat most of the trolls, but more appeared on the horizon, prompting Crank to suggest the tunnels as an alternate route [Read Session 3 Report].

While the highway was a typical action movie set-piece, the tunnels were dripping with horror and the unknown. I used Roll20’s fog of war system to limit the players’ vision, and once they were forced to move an obstacle I unleashed my ghouls upon them. We’d never fought feral, monster-type creatures before (most Shadowrun opponents are fellow metahumans) and I was unsure how many the players could take.

Turns out I had my worst rolls ever that night, as my ghouls continually tied on their attacks (which is basically a miss) while the runners wiped the floor with them. Ghouls have little defense so their danger comes in their numbers and their relatively high attack, which didn’t end up amounting to much. Still my players said they enjoyed the encounter, and the dread of not knowing how many of them were out there.road rage scene 2 highway

The last 20-30 minutes of our fourth session was the highlight of the adventure for me, as our players reached the guarded entrance to the docks and began panicking over how to approach it. Mauta began confessing her previous relationship to the buyer which might cause interesting problems, while Saran simply leapt over the barbed wire fence using the nearby shipping containers I’d placed. It was a fun and zany moment of player drama that as GM I can’t write for, but always hope for [Read Session 4 Report].

The players made it inside using Ursev’s powerful Jedi Mind Trick, err, Control Thoughts spell. The actual exchange and deal went off relatively problem free, with Falkirk the charismatic leader using a point of Edge to extract an impressive additional payout from the buyer (I totally didn’t consider Edge when writing my Net Hits to Money ratio on that Negotiation test).

At the end, right before being paid, the players were suddenly attacked by an unseen mage via a two-pronged attack – casting Mob Control on everyone in the immediate vicinity of the exchange site, and summoning a water spirit to attack everyone else. To make things even more climactic, the water spirit summoned a powerful thunderstorm localized right over the docks.

My players completely panicked and it was glorious. I only ensnared one of them in the mind spell (Falkirk) as Ursev was adamant about staying the truck the whole time, and I definitely wanted to follow the line of sight rules for the spell. Saran had to deal with the surprise attack of the water spirit, while Muata had a good elevated position to discover the spell’s source – a mysterious figure on a boat in the harbor. The players were burning Edge points left and right to both avoid attacks and disable the spell on Falkirk.

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I was pretty lenient and merciful with the players at the end, mostly in the interest of time and not to completely screw them over with this unavoidable surprise attack (had they killed the buyer, they wouldn’t get paid). When Mauta took a shot at the boat, I had them immediately drive off, dissipating the spell. I originally planned on having the water spirit stick around as a pseudo final boss fight, but the climactic relief from the players after the mind control wore off motivated me to actually just have the water spirit retreat. The players got thanks from the buyer (they kept both his guard alive, though they were heavily injured), and received their substantial monetary award [Read Session 5 Report].

The players received a bunch of karma and money from the mission, quite a bit more than the first adventure, and everyone gave it an enthusiastic thumbs up. The finale was their first real look at the overarching villain of this campaign. The players have had a few opportunities to discover their identity but so far have come up short, leading to more mystery and questions. Will we find out more of the overall plot beginning in next week’s session? Well we dive into some of our runners’ backstories? Will Saran continue to act like a hilarious psychopath? Stay tuned to Sunday evenings for more of our Shadowrun live-streaming adventures!

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

Shadowrun 5E “Road Rage” Session 5 Report

The runners finally make it to the exchange at the docks where they contend with a magical onslaught of thunderstorms and mind control that threatens to tear it all down.

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

Read “Road Rage” Session 1 Report
Read “Road Rage” Session 2 Report
Read “Road Rage” Session 3 Report
Read “Road Rage” Session 4 Report

I was super excited going into our fifth and final session of this adventure. The last twenty or so minutes from last week’s session gave us a lot of delicious inter-team drama and deliberation – the kind I can’t plan or produce but can only hope evolves naturally (and enjoyably) during the adventure.

Last night’s session picked up just as a tense plan was coming together. Our runners needed to get inside the docks to complete their exchange of the goods they’d worked so hard to escort and protect. I was expecting some fun social tests to crop up; instead Ursev the troll shaman cast his ‘Jedi Mind Trick’ Control Thoughts spell (a malicious but effective form of temporary mind control) and basically forced the guard to wave them through.

Most of them clamored into the truck but Saran the decker and Mauta the weapons specialist both opted to leap across the chain link fence and sneak around the shipping containers. Mauta stuck to the high ground while Saran sneaked around the side. This was our first real use of a giant map and set piece in Roll20, and I was pleased that my players were impressed, and somewhat apprehensive with it. There was a funny bit where Saran wasn’t sure how to sneak around a simple dock worker taking a cigarette break. He was seriously thinking of killing the poor guy just because he was in his way, which the other players immediately balked at.

Things seemed to go pretty smoothly at the actual exchange. Mauta and Saran took up defensive overwatch positions while Falkirk, Ursev, and their NPC buddies Lapis and Crank showed up with the truck and the goods.

I made the buyer, Ares mid-level manager Ricardo Martin, an affable and outgoing guy. Falkirk made the surprisingly but brilliant call to use Edge on the Negotiation roll to try and squeeze more money out of the deal, pushing his total hits to 6 (and net hits over Ricardo’s roll to 3). From my notes that equaled another $6,000 nuyen in reward money per player, on top of the original $2,000 they were getting. Working for mega crops does have its advantages!

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Of course I wasn’t about to let things go down that easy. I unleashed my secret weapon – a two-step mage attack from an unseen enemy. The skies darkened and a massive rainstorm erupted on the shipyards. At the same time a large group of people where suddenly mind controlled, and told to ‘Kill The Others.’ Ricardo and his Knight Errant guards pulled weapons and began engaging the runners. Falkirk was the only player in the area that was also mind controlled, and he was forced to attack (though I let the player decide whom he would attack and with what weapon).

Finally I added a Water Spirit into the mix as the storm-summoning culprit. This was an interesting combat scenario as our players didn’t want to actually kill their opponents, but instead attempt to subdue them, knock them unconscious, or disrupt or dispel the spell. Poor Falkirk didn’t have enough Logic and Willpower to be able to resist the spell on his own, but Ursev used all of his turns and Edge points to dispel the enchantment on his friend.

Speaking of natural spell resistance, that’s definitely the one bit of book keeping I totally dropped the ball on. I remembered it for Lapis and Crank but almost not at all for the Ares people until right at the end. Granted they only had 2 dice to roll and needed 4 hits (taking a minimum 2 turns if they rolled fantastically) but still, oops! As a GM there’s often a lot going on, especially in combat, so it’s very helpful when players and/or twitch chat can point out the things I forget.

Road Rage Scene 5 docks

There were two major ways the players could get themselves out of this situation without having to murder or knock out their opponents: block the Line of Sight to the harbor (either physically blocking it or moving the affected people out of the way) or attacking the source of the magical attacks. Mauta had the best vision and position, and a Perception test revealed one of the boats in the harbor and a figure with a magical aura around them, transfixed on the docks using mounted telescope-type device.

Mauta’s first turn was to unsuccessfully shoot at the water spirit. For her second she fired at the boat. In this case I wasn’t even interested in normal attack/defense tests as the boat was protected by a mana barrier. The impact on the barrier was enough to disrupt the spellcaster, and the Mob Mind spell was shattered. I’d originally planned on having the water spirit fight to the death but the mood of the players was of relief and ready for the epilogue at this point (we were also right up against our usual stopping time) so instead I had the creature slink back into the water. The storm subsided, Ricardo was greatful no one was killed (save a single dock worker but pffttt) and everyone went their separate ways. Mission completed!

For their troubles (and their great Negotiation rolls) the players received a total of $10,000 nueyn for the mission, as well as 10 Karma points. They also got Ricardo and Lapis as Contacts they can call upon. Campaign-wise the plot certainly thickened with the attack during the finale with this obviously powerful and magically-gifted assailant. My goal with the overall campaign is to loosely stitch together a bunch of missions with an overarching villain and frequent appearances by familiar NPCs, both good and bad. Basically creating my own comic book style story arc.

I was satisfied with the end result, though hopefully it didn’t feel too rushed or anti-climatic. I was definitely hoping we’d finish the adventure this week and be able to do the full recap and epilogue episode next week, and frankly the adventure was already very combat-heavy without having me draw out this final battle. Look for that recap and feedback session next week as we cap off this second adventure of our Shadowrun campaign!

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

Shadowrun 5E “Road Rage” Session 4 Report

Our runners fight off a pack of ghouls in some dark tunnels and finally make it to the docks where drama on how to get in ensues.

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

Read “Road Rage” Session 1 Report
Read “Road Rage” Session 2 Report
Read “Road Rage” Session 3 Report

Thus far in our sophomore adventure combat has been a major focus. Each scene has revolved around a big encounter as my runners make their perilous journey to the docks in downtown Seattle. I’ve attempted to give each battle a very different feel and situation, from a hostage crisis to a chase scene on a highway to a creepy ghoul infestation in some darkened tunnels.

This session began just as the ghouls began attacking my players after they’d cleared the blockage for their vehicles. I rolled Initiative for both the few ghouls that the players had discovered as well that ones still to come, hidden via the GM layer. I rolled sneak checks for each hidden ghoul and gave the players a chance to spot them. The idea was to give a sense of dread and foreboding as more and more of the creatures approached from the darkness. Unfortunately once combat began I couldn’t roll worth shit!

Road Rage Scene 3 tunnel combat

Seriously, I probably had my worst rolls ever as a GM during this lengthy combat encounter that lasted a good two hours (nearly the entire length of our session). Ghouls were my players’ first real encounter with a feral monster-type enemy. As a GM they’re pretty easy to control even with nearly a dozen of them, simply charging at the nearest foe with their claws. I’ve never seen so many ties in my life. So many Ghouls connected with the runners’ armor only to bounce off. It was becoming an ongoing joke!

The ghouls’ main strengths lie in their surprisingly high attack roll and their numbers, neither of which did much good with my rolling. My runners, meanwhile were able to almost completely slaughter them using teamwork and coordination, especially the Falkirk- Saran pair that was on the South (left) side of the tunnel. The players did have an edge with having their two NPC allies that I controlled, one of whom was completely worthless while the other got two one-hit-kills by herself – wow. Ironic that my best rolls were for the players’ ally.

The one nasty outcome was that Ursev, the troll shaman, was rendered unconscious thanks to continued spellcasting drain and the few hits I was able to get with the pack of ghouls on the North side. Mauta the street samurai was able to use her First Aid (and a point of Edge) to revive him back to consciousness, and I let the players heal a bit of stun damage as they continued their journey out of the tunnels and into the docks.

Road Rage Scene 4 docks entrance

I was pleased to see that the tunnel combat didn’t take up the entirety of the session, though it came close. Combat can be fun in its own way, but as a GM I very much enjoyed the sudden drama that cropped up at the end as my players frantically deliberated on how to approach the heavily guarded entrance to the dockyard.

Mauta chose this opportunity to reveal more of her dangerous past with Ares, whom the players were attempting to sell the shipment to. At the same time Saran the decker impulsively leapt across the shipping containers, over the barbed wire fence and landing on the other side. That one is probably going to be saddled with some kind of ‘loose cannon’ Negative Quality very soon!

We ended it just as a plan was seemingly being put together, even though team leader Falkirk was wholly unaware of it! I absolutely love these unexpected moments of panic, drama, and deliberation – the kind of fantastic questioning and role-playing that can only be born from a live game in the middle of the action. Next week’s session should be very interesting, and should mark the end of our runners’ action-packed escort mission.

Shadowrun 5E “Road Rage” Session 3 Report

Our adventures continue as our players fend off a troll biker gang in a high-speed chase, then flee to some abandoned tunnels and run into even more danger.

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

Read “Road Rage” Session 1 Report
Read “Road Rage” Session 2 Report

A lot can go wrong with video capturing and live streaming. I suppose I’ve been lucky thus far to run into a minimum of issues. Unfortunately fate reared its ugly head during last night’s session: my streaming program Open Broadcaster Software crashed multiple times and ended up corrupting over half the recorded video. Ironically I was disconnected at one point, which forced a reconnect and seemed to fix my issue, leaving us with at least some video – a good 45 minutes worth in fact. Thus the above video represents the second half of our adventure last night, with the first half (most of the highway battle) lost to to the ether.

But you can always read about it here! Our third session in the “Road Rage” adventure picked up right in the middle of the exciting highway chase combat scene that had unfolded at the end of last week’s session. My players had to fend off half a dozen troll bikers with mounted AK’s and zero interest in talking.

I had our missing player from last week roll Initiative along with the rest, and a forced Pilot Ground Craft test put him right in the thick of the battle on a stolen motorcycle. The combat reached some much more interesting outcomes as one of the troll bikers leapt from his bike onto the armored truck to set a demolition charge, while another succeeded in a Cut-Off chase maneuver, forcing my NPC truck driver, Crank, to make an emergency test. He failed and slammed into a car in front of him, spinning that poor car into the guardrail, doing further damage to the truck and losing speed.

The players continued to take shots at the trolls and were slowly gaining some ground. After all the heavy attacks on the truck, a panicked Crank suggested they need to get off the highway and flee to the abandoned tunnels to escape the gang. At that point the gang was reduced to only two trolls, and as I anticipated the players were reticent to suddenly change course. That’s when more troll gangers appeared on the opposite side of the highway, read to cross over at the next median break and join the fray.

shadowrun troll biker

I definitely wanted to create a tense action-packed atmosphere, and make the situation dangerous and dire enough to warrant the players essentially fleeing the battlefield despite their steady progress. The players themselves had taken hardly any damage but both vehicles had taken a toll, and I emphasized the danger of the damaged truck continuing at these speeds.

The players agreed, and fled to the nearby tunnels using a GM-directed ‘cutscene’. The tunnels were almost the antithesis of the highway – slow and spooky. Light and visibility suddenly became a big factor, and I quickly found that my players grew frustrated with the overbearing Fog of War. Considering I can use the GM layer to hide creatures and objects, it was probably a bit much.

The way forward was blocked by a broken down truck, and it was a fun opportunity for the players to divvy up what they wanted to do – some kept watch, some helped move the truck, and others explored the dark corners of the tunnel. I made sure to constantly ask what everyone was doing, as an attack was imminent.

Road Rage Scene 3 tunnel

The session ended just as a lone ghoul approached from the edge of the tunnel, while another pair of players stumbled upon a pair of them in a dark hole. Going straight from one non-negotiable combat scenario to another may prove a bit too much, but I’m hoping they provide such varying experiences as to remain enjoyable as our players continue their hard-fought journey.

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