Shadowrun Campaigns Revisited #2 – 1st Gen – Year 1 – Origin Story

Sessions 1 to 19 (including a playtest) from the 29th of January 2009 to the 7th of December 2009.

Shadowrun is a science fantasy tabletop role-playing game set in a near-future fictional universe in which cybernetics, magic and fantasy creatures co-exist. It combines genres of cyberpunk, urban fantasy and crime, with occasional elements of conspiracy, horror and detective fiction.

Characters are created in 4th Edition as street level.

It is the year 2069 – Season Overview

This is the story of a Famorian and his loyal butler who set up shop in Seattle after moving away from Britten after a falling out with family. Trained in magic with an inheritance due to a tragic backstory Doyle chose to dedicate his nights to making the world a better place (just like in the comics he loves) and heads out into the night as Nightwing; the caped crusader and righter of wrongs. He befriended a strange spirit called Mr Stabby who became a free spirit with the death of a companion while learning to run the streets. Their pet Isis (who loves salmon but not tuna) is an emergence technomancer cat. Doyle’s main form of transportation is a cart/carriage pulled by a robotic horse. Doyle forms a group of heroes to help him make the city a better place to live… though they are more in it for the money.

The season plot lines are:

  • Mages and Adepts have started to go missing in Seattle,
  • People are warned away from a public pool that is never open,
  • A crazy death bike race,
  • Vampires that don’t sparkle but you can see right through,
  • A new drink hitting town called Pixie Dust that allows people to see strange things and gain magic abilities for a short time.

People really should read the label and the warnings before trying new things…

The Origin Story

This really was an origin for the campaign as it was set in Seattle as the main focus of the storyline with all the characters starting as Street Level runners (ie. weak characters) who were just starting their first shadowrun. They had to be friends with at least one other runner in the team and needed two aliases (alternate identities) and contacts.

They had been gathered by a Johnson (basic employer) and hired to do a simple mission of find a location for an illegal bike race called Death Track where contestants were encouraged to kill their opponents to win the race. This introduced a few plot hooks like an abandoned Olympic swimming pool complex in a nice part of town and a NPC called the Announcer. They’d also learn that it can be hard to keep a low profile if you participate in a illegal blood sport televised over the matrix (future internet).

Next I introduced the ability to effect mundane people with magical abilities plus from drinks and powders not realising that this would also be a major storyline for the Ghost Cartels storyline that’s an early campaign plot point. Here they learn that many people want the same package and it’s not always in their best interests to go for the person who pays the highest price. This also introduced the concept of the world having many magical artefacts that are starting to awaken which was another lucky guess to future storylines released with the Artifacts series.

Early on there is a complex in the barrens with Vampires and Spirits working together for an unknown cause. Being paid to do milk runs (easy job and no complications) is something that can actually happen here so I designed one of the runs they received as a corporate sponsored penetration test of one of their own facilities. This was a good way for characters to be noticed by a corporation for future work as well as test the team. Bonuses were chances of actually scoring pay data and finding out more of the underworld activities the corporation was involved in.

During this timeline I also gave my group a chance to playtest advanced lifestyles using one of the adventures from Catalyst games and we had a good go at “Parliament of Thieves” set in Denver with a group of one-off characters. After the playtest we advanced their character backstories and brought in more stories; one relating to a rich troll who dresses as a super hero to fight crime in his neighbourhood and another about the artifacts they have uncovered starting to show the ability to either remove magic or technology from an area and they are worried about what other possible effects these artifacts could manifest.

At this point AI’s are introduced as being part of mainstream society and are also able to interact and be considered part of a Shadowrunning team. A free spirit makes itself known to the group as the remnants of one player characters who figured out at the last moment that supercharging the speed of a car with magic but being unable to control it was a bad idea.

Another introduced plot line was a magical based sea cruise for the awakened to attend as part of an ordeal where they travel the ocean and use their combined powers to heal the sickness in the waters and rejuvenate the oceans. This is introduced with a storyline that the awakened and technomancers (people who use magic to use computers) are starting to go missing all over Seattle and the region around it.

We ended that first season of this campaign running a set adventure called “On the Run” which lasted five sessions and lead the characters into the start of the second season. This made a good end of year cliffhanger as they ended the season three sessions in.

The adventure was well laid out with a lot of good information in the back about the cast of characters and information you find through your contacts and 4 nice location maps that were nice to run and set the scene.

Rules Notes – Lifestyles

I really liked the rules on making the lifestyles meaningful instead of leaving a pile of spent credits. Having a home help define the characters so including additional features like a garage, toolshop, armoury or traits like being haunted, hard to find, or gremlins infested helps. Basically I started making Shadowrun style housing ads that advertised different locations that characters could take. This gave a good blend of what the players wanted but came with some repercussions as well. No place was perfect and they could make of it what they wanted.

From this I had an ongoing setup for characters finding a matching “home” to their purchased lifestyle. I do prefer an interaction instead of the player going away and returning with fully fleshed character they expect the GM to accept.

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Categories: Gaming, Opinion, RPGs Revisited

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