Sunday, April 14, 2013

Shadow Dolts

Before we get into the system this site was created with a view to reviewing, I thought I'd start things off with a story of me as an awful DM and a bunch of players who would probably do quite well in another system.

The problem was, really, a difference of opinion between how I thought Shadowrun ought to work and how they thought Shadowrun was most fun to play. I was trying in vain to run a very mirrorshades Shadowrun game, with lots of legwork and careful planning and rich, detailed NPCs. Of course, I was in high school at the time, so it didn't quit e come off as planned, but that was the intent.

My players played mostly trolls, and cybered to 0.01 Essence to a man. They went everywhere fully armed, both with integral cyberweapons and a host of every type of gun in the setting strapped to them somewhere, and expected Mr. Johnson to meet with them like this unquestioningly. If he didn't, or if the job wasn't to their liking, they'd immediately assume it was a trap, then turn everyone in the area into a fine mist, followed shortly by the area itself.  They'd scour sourcebooks for the biggest guns they could get, loaded with the noisiest, least subtle ammunition possible, then modify them to do more damage. If War! had been released by then, I'm convinced they'd have tried to mod a kinetic strike satellite for fully automatic fire. Everywhere they went, they destroyed, and happily lived at Street lifestyle after learning they'd inadvertently reduced their flats to rubble. I believe the landlord surprised them, and rather than deal with more of that 'roleplaying stuff' they happily lived by terrorizing random hobos.

I tried to explain the dangers inherent to playing Shadowrun like Toon. I warned them first, which they laughed off. Then 'runs dried up as their Notoriety climbed, and their contacts were less and less willing to meet with them. They responded by going on runs of their own, robbing black-market storehouses and the like for more weapons. Eventually I hit upon the brilliant idea that would spawn this story. They had, for quite a while by then, refused outright to meet with Johnsons. They preferred to select runs from a list, then go do them, then get paid electronically. This resulted in mostly crap jobs, but they were fine with that.

I added a run to the spreadsheet of runs they could choose at the beginning of the session. One hundred thousand nuyen were offered for the assassination of three trolls and an orc, heavily cybered, guilty of a huge number of crimes and generally a menace to the Seattle shadows. I had hoped they would read the detailed description of the victims, down to their commlink numbers, and decide that perhaps they were in hot water and should lie low. Perhaps even talk to another character in the setting for once.

I did NOT expect them to take the list, sort in descending order of payout, and immediately select the top job.

Now they were jumping for joy at finally being promised 'enough' cash and busily, if unknowingly, plotting a run on themselves. One of them, in the most legwork I've ever seen them do, recognized they didn't know where their targets were, and decided to call them while pretending to be a pizza guy. Naturally, the number listed was for his teammate's commlink. This makes him freak out, because now he understands why the job paid so much: clearly these guys are master hackers. New tactics are obviously needed, and as I understand it they planned a great deal between sessions before coming back with The Plan. One of the few contacts they still had was a hacker of their own, bought after they recognized they needed someone to sift through scavenged hard drives for paydata. They approached her and said precisely this: "We need an absolutely hacker bullcrap-proof way to pinpoint someone's location in the real world from their commlink code without them knowing they've been traced, and we want it to tell us if it's been hacked." She comes up with an agent to do just that.  They then purchase as many Heimdall drone missiles as they can get their hands on; I think they got eight of them together.

These, like all their gear, get modified out the wazoo. Additional fuel tanks to get themselves twelve rounds of flight time, a self-destruct Termination System, and a GPS 'wired into' their drone electronics instead of a radio. They repeat to me several times how they're removing the radios, destroying the radios, plugging into the missiles directly. They are very vehemently against the idea of radios; radios might be used to hack their missiles like they were used to hack their commlinks.

Then they ask me where they might be able to 'get their hands on' a helicopter. Thinking it over, I start listing off how they're still used for firefighting, rescue, et cetera, but these all are apparently unsuitable for their purposes until I mention that they're also used for air tours. This will do. They go out in their vans to the first place listed in the future version of the Yellow Pages. "Hello, is this Seattle Sky Tours?"

As it's late at night, the guy at the front desk goes "Yeah, buddy, but we're closed-"

Thirty seconds later everyone within a hundred meters of them is dead, the building is levelled, and they're loading down a tour helicopter  with their arsenal. All of their arsenal; they have left literally nothing behind. They pile in, and at this point I bring up that none of them knows how to fly. Apparently one of them has Pilot Aircraft 1, so he is now "the pilot", and anyway they don't want to do anything too difficult. They just  fly up to the Dragon's service cieling and point themselves at Seattle at full speed, doors open and odd rounds of ammo rolling off the floor out into the night wind. I ask what they intend now.

All four of them: "I fire my [heaviest weapon] out the nearest window." Okay. A round later, the air is soaked in flak, flashpak grenades, and similar noise. Naturally, air traffic control is...alarmed, to say nothing of the military. Apparently it's not a concern. "We won't be up here long." Damn right you won't, omae. I tell them they have maybe a round or two before UCAS Air Force starts wrecking their shit, and they respond with this:

"Okay. We take the smart MRLs loaded with the Heimdalls and set them up pointing out the door. Then we load the Heimdalls with a mapsoft of Seattle. Now, I run the trace program with the commcode from the mission brief. Does it give me a good result?" Sure it does, in fact it says- "Okay I send the coordinates to the missiles and fire! They can't be hacked, and they probably can't be seen in the cloud of flares and chaff we just made!"

I would have asked if they were sure. I tried to tell them. But the die was cast--or in this case, the octet of unhackable, unreachable smart missiles was fired. They watched them go, flying level and turning...turning...turning...until they were right outside their front window, 270 degrees and nine turns later.

"Holy crap! They're behind us!"


So they jump. I ask what they're taking with them, and I get a list of weapons a mile long that are 'carried on them by the straps'. Nowhere on that list, or on the helicopter, is a parachute, but okay. They make their Reaction rolls to dive out before the warheads detonate, doing 224 dice of damage to a helicopter still loaded with an arsenal of weapons and ammo.

The party wakes up, heavily damaged, about a kilometer up. I ask what they do, as they have nothing but guns and the rapidly approaching ground. "uhh...uhh...we shoot at the ground to slow ourselves down with the recoil! yeah!" That doesn't work, but burning Edge does, and also avoids the oncoming surface-to-air missiles. They land hard, but their bones break their fall, so they live to face the justice system. More importantly to them, they did not get paid, even after the identity of their target was made clear.

This was apparently a major ripoff.


  1. Hahahahahahahahahahahaha...

    Oh man, that whole story made me laugh so much!
    "They're behind us!"




  2. This is something my GM would pull on us, although we're not usually quite as trigger happy as your crew.

  3. love it i just freaking love it, how daft can a group be xD

  4. I don't think the 'players' you just described had the intellectual caliber to play tic-tac-toe, let alone any sort of RPG, if everything you said transpired wasn't the product of trolling or drugs. As a matter of fact, I'd be legitimately concerned about the possibility of them choking on the d6 or sticking pencils up their noses.

    Seriously, I had to read this story between my fingers from start to finish. I have taught special needs kids, and they are theoretical physicists compared to this sad bunch, to say nothing of their sweeter manners.

  5. If they'd been roleplaying this ON PURPOSE, it would have been brilliant. The ultimate Shadowrun team.... the A-Tards.
    What's enough to make the hosts of heaven throw down their spears and water heaven with their tears is that they, according to you, were REALLY THIS DUMB IN REAL LIFE.

    1. Got sent here from Reddit and have to give you kudos for your Tyger reference. Nice one!

  6. I'm picturing a bunch of orks playing Shadowrun. "Our Kopter's goin' down! Quick, more Dakka!"