Shadowrun 5E “Splintered State” Session 3 Report

All hell breaks loose when the runners meet-up with an important contact at the zoo.

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

Working off an official published adventure has been an interesting experience. It’s incredibly handy in a lot of ways, with lots of pre-made stat blocks for all the NPCs, hefty amounts of colorful descriptions, and even suggestions for how to tweak the challenge level of various encounters. Even then I can’t help but modify and change things to suit my needs. I can’t get into spoiler-y stuff just yet, but the recap episode should be especially fascinating.

In last night’s session the players had a clear objective in front of them – meet FBI Agent Seth Dietrich at the zoo. He offered to buy back his commlink for a cool 100,000 nuyen. While the pay was certainly nice, my players were much more interested in getting some answers to this confusing mystery.

Having a clear focus of where to go and what to do greatly motivates my players into tackling the objective in some fun ways. In this case they wanted to scope out the zoo location the day before the meet, and check to see if they’d be able to smuggle weapons in. I may have made them a tad paranoid – not only is the world of Shadowrun generally violent, but this adventure has been especially action-packed as the players have been attacked left and right.

In fact on their way to the zoo they noticed a car following them, and opted to pull over and ready their weapons. It proved to be a solid move as they made short work of the crazy cyborg Night Hunters that poured out of the car to attack them. A combination of Ursev’s ball lightning centered on the car and a barrage of bullets put most of the them down. I did the rest by rolling a 0 on a leaping charge attack from a very wounded attacker. I had him sail past his target and splatter on the sidewalk. Hey, as long as it’s fun I don’t mind failing miserably with my NPCs, and I’ll always play it up.

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At the zoo it was fun describing the various para-animals that inhabited the enclosures. Falkirk did a great job scouting out the areas and finding a hiding spot for their weapons that they tossed over the wall.

They next day they waltzed in through the entrance. Well, all but Saran the decker who really wanted to hack into the extensive security in order to bring his gun inside. He had failed at this task the previous day, also for no reason other than wanting to walk in with all his gear. His team mates balked at this and finally talked him down, where he went back to the car. I don’t think the decker role suits the player very well, but that’s also on me as someone who’s still not totally on board with how decking (or rigging) work in the obtuse Shadowrun rules.

Inside, the other three retrieved their weapons and met Dietrich in the reptile tunnel, next to the basilisk exhibit. Unfortunately while Dietrich’s body was there, his mind was not. It was currently occupied by someone named Jake Armitage (whom you may recognize from the old 16-bit Shadowrun game or the recent Shadowrun Returns).

Armitage was just as confused as the players as to his situation, alluding to the title of the adventure as well as the confusion surrounding the missing commlink. Like any good mystery it led to more questions than answers – especially when an unseen sniper tore a hole through Armitage/Dietrich’s throat at the height of their confusion.

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All hell broke loose in the zoo – what you thought this was going to be easy? A pair of highly skilled assassins opened fire on both sides of the players as the basilisks burst through the glass. Falkirk and Ursev were sitting ducks, but Mauta actually got the jump on one of the assassins by being nonchalant at one end of the tunnel.

There were only two assassins but they were both more powerful than any of the PCs (skill and armor wise, at least). The players were also slightly under-equipped since they couldn’t smuggle in Ursev’s battle axe or Mauta’s sniper rifle. Thankfully for them the assassins didn’t want to stick around with UCAS Military Police converging on the location. They left the runners after a single round (though not before doing some significant damage) to deal with the basilisks.

My players have proven heroic in the past so I played up the screaming and crying of the crowd during the chaos, and had one basilisk attack a group of huddled school children in a corner. My players responded immediately with charging melee attacks and Mauta’s deadly shots, making fairly short work of the overgrown lizards – though not without a briefly enjoyable scare as one of them partially petrified Falkirk.

Saran was able to watch the video feeds and then shut down one of the assassins’ cyberware and weapons, further hastening their retreat. Unfortunately he really didn’t have anything to do for the round or two where only the basilisks remained – a bad design on my part. It speaks to our ineptitude at thinking of things a decker/hacker can do, most of which isn’t written in the adventure.

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The players were able to blend in with the chaotic, surging crowd leaving the zoo, and escaped with relative ease. Mauta managed to grab the pouch of credsticks and a 2nd commlink that Dietrich had on him – something I specifically mentioned to the players during the conversation and hoped they’d remembered about. Maybe they’ll find some answers in this commlink.

They also have several pending messages from some contacts and unknown parties, no doubt pertaining to this hot potato of a commlink they have in their possession that everyone wants to get their hands on. This was one of our more enjoyable sessions with lots of laughter, jokes, and fun heroic moments in combat. Tune in next week!

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

Shadowrun 5E “Splintered State” Session 2 Report

The runners reach a safe house to investigate the mysterious commlink, and survive a surprise attack.

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

I spent a lot of work this last week preparing for last night’s session. It payed off, as my players made it much farther than I anticipated, though not so far that I ran out of material.

The session opened at the semi-cliffhanger from last week. The PCs were just exiting the motel room where they found a mysterious commlink among a group of bodies, only to run into some old foes. Sam’s gang wasn’t about to start talking, remembering how the PCs had killed one of their own in an earlier altercation. The players could’ve sneaked out, but Falkirk opted to say howdy, and we rolled for initiative!

Crazy enough, Sam’s group of street thugs are not particularly strong, but I was rolling the best I’d ever rolled in my game master career. I was getting 4 and 5 hits on like 6 or 7 dice (in Shadowrun a hit is rolling a 5 or 6 on a d6, so a 33% chance). Suddenly this easy-looking fight turned painful as everyone was taking some damage.

It didn’t help the PCs that they were stuck between wanting to flee and wanting to fight. They had an easy escape route that their foes couldn’t follow, but they hesitated for a few rounds as everyone took shots at each other. Finally they ducked outside (after killing another gang member) and escaped with the commlink and their lives.

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The runners licked their wounds at a safehouse I gave them courtesy of Jeremiah Redd. I’d anticipated that we’d need another grid-map so I had a back-up generic apartment I could throw in in case the runners just wanted to get somewhere.

It worked out well and the PCs were given some down time to heal and analyze the commlink. For the first time in our shadowrunning career the PCs were given a fairly obtuse puzzle involving the commlink, and had to use investigations and their contacts to gain as much information as they could. I thought I helped as much as I could, offering up more information than what the published adventure suggested, and fudging a few thresholds to help speed things along.

Like the stealth mansion moments in the last mission, the investigation didn’t go over as well as I’d hoped. Most of the players felt dissatisfied at the confusing revelations they received involving the Ork Undeground, Governor Brackhaven, Operation Daybreak, and the commlink’s owner, FBI Agent Seth Dietrich.

Interestingly, instead of wanting to quickly offload the commlink or sell it to the highest bidder, the runners wanted to find out more information about the commlink’s evidence. There was one avenue they didn’t go down that might’ve helped give them some more information, and I probably should’ve found a way to just give it to them to help ease the frustration. As much as I like doling out tantalizing clues and mysteries, above all the experience should be fun and enjoyable, never frustrating.

At the end of their investigation I threw them a bone slightly earlier than the adventure suggested, moving them directly into Scene 4. Agent Dietrich himself called the commlink and set up a meet between he and the PCs at the Fort Lewis Zoo, with a promise of 100,000 nuyen. The PCs wanted to go scope out the zoo immediately, so I unleashed the scripted (but variable) attack on their safehouse.

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This time the tables were turned. The Knight Errant forces that attacked were low in number (only four) but each was very strong, and supposedly a match for the PCs. Ha! Mauta took one turn to completely destroy the mage, while the rest all got in hits on Black Knights, while my rolls struggled to connect at all.

Seeing as how they were cops and not mindless thugs, I had them retreat after taking heavy wounds and losses. The PCs wanted to pursue but I shut that down immediately with suppressing fire as they retreated. The PCs were left with yet more questions about what they’ve gotten into, but it was time for our session to come to a close.

Hopefully utilizing this oddly dense yet simplistic published mission as our finale won’t backfire terribly, but I’m somewhat worried based on the dialogue between the players during the investigation. They’re basically overthinking and worrying about everything, which is not at all how I thought their normally gruff and violent reactions would go. We’ll see what the future holds; hopefully it stays fun. It also might be a lot shorter than I was thinking given how far they made it this week.

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

 

Shadowrun 5E “Splintered State” Session 1 Report

We tackle our first officially published Shadowrun adventure for our campaign finale.

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

Note: For some reason OBS only recorded audio and no video. Argh.

Our final Shadowrun mission begins! For the first time in my Game Master Shadowrun career, I’m using a pre-written adventure. Published by Catalyst Game Studios, the creators of Shadowrun Fifth Edition, “Splintered State” is a story about a mysterious commlink that gets the runners into a lot of trouble. It’s designed as a springboard for new runners, but I’m using it as a finale for our street-level campaign with a bit of tweaking and modifying. Continue reading “Shadowrun 5E “Splintered State” Session 1 Report”

Shadowrun 5E “The Bodyguards” Epilogue & Recap

I recap our third Shadowrun adventure, “The Bodyguards,” from rock concert chaos to stealth infiltration at a 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
Read “The Bodyguards” Session 5 Report
Read “The Bodyguards” Session 6 Report

When my friends and I first became interested in rekindling our online role-playing sessions from last year, I immediately suggested Shadowrun. The decidedly 80stastic cyberpunk-meets-fantasy world is just incredibly cool, and I was really digging the tactical RPGs being released from Harebrained Schemes.

Instead of diving into some pre-generated adventures to help us get started and familiarized with the world, I opted to jump write in with writing our own missions. My initial idea was the players working security at a magical rock concert, and having to prevent a chaotic kidnapping. I thought it might’ve been a bit too much to pull of originally, so I shelved it until our third mission.

“The Bodyguards” ended up lasting us six total sessions, with two shorter 1 hr weeks and one final, very lengthy 3.5 hour session. It consisted of four tactical maps in Roll20, three of which were quite large. I was incredibly excited to grow this adventure seed into a full-blown mission, though it ultimately ended up with mixed results.

BentonI encourage my players to create at least a bare-bones backstory for their characters, and I enjoy incorporating elements from their past into current adventures. In our previous mission, for example, Mauta nearly ran in to an old co-worker and boss she worked for at Ares before she went off the grid, which could’ve led to some interesting role-playing opportunities or combat (Mauta decided to avoid him entirely).

This time around I used an estranged brother of Ursev, our benevolent troll shaman as the quest-giver. This gave some personal motivation for one of our players and opened up some more meaningful dialogue.

The brother, Benton, offered the players the job as temp security guards for a One Night Only show for indie rock singer Lana Grace. He needed to double security, but wouldn’t divulge why. The players accepted the legitimate job and were given a chance to buy supplies as well as scout the gigantic converted warehouse location I’d built in Roll20 [Session 1 Report].

The night of the concert proved to be one of the single most enjoyable sessions I’ve had doing these online role-playing sessions. I had the major event planned with a strike team of kidnappers attacking and trying to abduct the singer. But first I wanted to explore the random events and situations that can crop up at a concert that the players would have to deal with.

There was very little actual combat, other than a surprise vampire that had a backstage pass. Players had to screen the backstage passers, confront a ticket scalper, deal with a drug dealer, help an unconscious fan and deal with the inevitable streaker on stage. It was a ton of fun, from Ursev crushing both tickets and drugs in his hands and scaring people off to Mauta spotting all the trouble from up in the catwalks. It still came down to me doing things and players reacting to them, but everyone enjoyed the structure and format [Session 2 Report].

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Finally Lana Grace took the stage, and I played my hand. The singer had some magical talents which helped distract everyone. Further complications arose when one of the magically-gifted attackers cast an illusion, causing a dragon to appear on stage and attack everyone. My players annoyingly resisted most of the illusions, and were able to handily defeat the kidnappers [Session 3 Report].

Shadowrun doesn’t operate with traditional levels, so when crafting my own adventures from scratch I find it difficult to balance encounters. I’d rather err on the side of easy to make things go faster and make the players feel more heroic, but by now my players have pretty much cleaved through everything I’ve thrown at them. During our epilogue session, I revealed that the story could’ve branched depending on if Lana had been captured or not, and the players admitted that losing that fight and having to rescue Lana would’ve been the far more compelling outcome.

This was not the end of the adventure – I had a whole follow-up planned. The kidnappers were sent by Lana Grace’s parents, who were involved with the Yakuza and wanted her returned. She just wanted to be free of them, and hired the runners to infiltrate their mansion and steal some blackmail-able evidence. This was our first real chance for a big stealth mission, and I was inspired by games like Deus Ex and Dishonored in creating a giant area filled with guards and opportunities. Unfortunately it kinda fell apart at the end.

First my players had to get inside, and I was quite impressed with their plan to mind control (a way too easy and borderline broken spell) one of the more agreeable kidnappers, using him to set up a return trip to the mansion. Falkirk dressed up as one of the strike team assassins while Mauta pretended to be the captured and unconscious Lana. This lead to an interesting splitting up of the party when they got through the gates. Saren stayed in the guardhouse downloading the floor plans, Mauta was taken to an upstairs bedroom, while the rest were able to just drive into the garage – after a little nudging from myself.

I also used this opportunity to introduce a new player – a law enforcement officer that was staked outside the villa. Referring to herself as Ms. Johnson, she offered to pay the runners if they brought the evidence to her – giving my players a dilemma they would face later on [Session 4 Report].

Inside the split-party situation proved tense and fun at first as everyone scrambled to poke around. Unfortunately they didn’t really have a game plan, nor even really worked together other than stumbling around the house spotting guards [Session 5 Report].

We discussed the issues at length during this Epilogue & Recap episode. A major problem is our reliance on Roll20 – I build everything on the tactical grid, so my players naturally just respond to whatever they see. Instead of asking me more questions or trying to think outside the box, for example, they see the main set of stairs and focus on that. After becoming frustrated with their options, they decided to sneak attack the guard in the foyer. It did not go well, and we rolled for initiative.

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I honestly wasn’t sure my players would be able to survive a full-on assault, and that’s quickly what this turned into as more guards responded to the alarm. The guards were quite strong for random minion NPCs, rolling 10 dice on their assault rifles and 8 for defense. I also had a souped-up augmented boss that leapt down from the 2nd story and nearly killed Ursev with two blows. Two edge points later and my boss lie dead instead – another Shadowrun system that feels super cheap to me.

At least this time the players wouldn’t get through unscathed. Both Mauta and Falkirk took heavy amounts of damage, and Ursev definitely would’ve died had he not used an Edge point. Saren did have a funny and tense moment as she was outside the mansion by a car, only to be attacked by a patrolling guard dog. She tried to hack the car but the powerful, custom-engineered dog broke through the windows, and she had her hands full.

After a very long but tense combat sequence the players turned the foyer of the mansion into a bloodbath. They went upstairs and confronted the parents, and their exhaustion and bloodied appearance led them to get exactly what they came for. They decided to blow of Ms. Johnson and head straight for Lana – but not before some delicious deliberating that I enjoyed hearing. These actions could definitely have consequences for them in the next adventure [Session 6 Report].

We definitely learned that the team prefers shock and awe tactics to stealth, though they also enjoyed the larger focus on fun role-playing moments versus heavy combat. In fact the whole mission was extremely light on combat having only two real encounters, though the last one was a doozy.

I thought “The Bodyguards” went pretty well but I also hit peak reliance on Roll20’s visual aides by using these giant custom-built maps. Ultimately I think it was detrimental as we relied on them far too much. Basically I’ve turned tabletop role-playing into a tactical wargame, and that’s not at all what I was going for. Future maps will be used sparingly. I’m also going to be using a pre-generated mission for our next adventure, “Splintered State.” That will be our final Shadowrun mission for the time being, as we plan on trying out a new RPG system in Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition – Coming Soon!

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

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.

shadowrun

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.

shadowrun

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.