Shadowrun Campaigns Revisited #3 – 1st Gen – Year 2 – Emergence

Covering 21 Sessions that ran from the 19th of January 2010 to the 7th of December 2010.

Shadowrun is a science fantasy tabletop role-playing game set in a near-future fictional universe where 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.

Note two editions of the game were covered in this period:

  • 4th Edition – 18 Sessions from the 19th of January 2010 to the 26th of October 2010.
  • Anniversary Edition – 3 Sessions from the 9th of November 2010 to the 7th of December 2010.

It is the year 2070 – Season Overview

This season introduces new characters:

  • micro dot – a pixie who communes with the machines,
  • The Blade – a human muscle for hire,
  • The Rabbit – a human conspiracy theory nut with a love for combat and enhancement,
  • Raja – a weretiger who likes to break things,
  • Sweets – an ork who loves to crash at everyone else pad,
  • Tatiana – an elf assassin with no background… at least not one she remembers. 

The season plot revolves around Technomancers who are in peril; everyone wants to either find out where their powers come from, get them off the streets or just remove them from the world. The death bike race continues with more vampire shenanigans and more of the magic community keep disappearing with few to no leads. Pixie dust gains sway in the city in both drink and powder form and the party witness a battle between two great dragons near New Zealand. A security firm known as MS Security makes an appearance and this is where the party learns that the spirit Mr Stabby has taken an interest in protecting Doyle and his assets.

The season ends with an upgrade to the 20th Anniversary Edition of Shadowrun 4th Edition and any new characters from here are created at runner level.

Season 2 – Emergence

This year introduced a bunch of new characters and players who would then become the core of the Shadowrun sessions for the next nine years. One one character came over from the first year of play and two who joined this year became core to the group having most of the storylines tied to their characters. I had chosen to make the main plot lines relate to players/characters who attended the most sessions as this is a core to most of the campaigns that I run and makes it easier to know where to take the story. This is usually in the range of 75% attendance in sessions as this is a good gauge of if they will be there long enough to justify the effort put into writing and introducing season arcing plot points. I also encouraged these players to have alternate characters who could be brought into the game when the group was short players or for providing alternate storyline ideas.

Plot lines created for this season are:

  • the continuation of the magical drinks and powders which link in to Ghost Cartels,
  • they started to receive assassination jobs (known as wet work) after complaints of not seeing enough of the “dark side”,
  • I reintroduced the death track event and new players found the concept fun and decided the race was worth doing so it ran for two years in a row,
  • for a change of pace I introduced test piloting a turbine powered car through the streets of Seattle,
  • due to the Emergence storyline being set in this game year there are quite a few sessions about the Technomancers and how they are hated more than awakened (magic using) people as they can mess with machines and the way of life without being traceable.

The player characters shadowrun team are hired for a run (a illegal job) into the Aztechnology archology (a building bigger than a city block) to deal with blood mages, reintroduced plot with jetBlack (from the start of the season), vampires and music connections integrated with the emergence and experimentation on awaken with blood magic leading to one of the characters gaining the technomancer quality (allowing him to use his mind to access technology) even though he was already awakened (meaning magically active)… this was a story plot that was available to any player in the group, it was more suited to other members of the group, but they were not interested in exploring the scene as laid out and the complication of becoming a technomancer was giving to the character that did.

We also get introduced to a character with amnesia (because the player didn’t want to write background) and every session from the point a bit of her character’s backstory was brought into the game. The trouble for the player was though whether any of it was true or someone (or thing) in the setting messing with her head. Everything introduced was put in place as if it was a true part of her story even if it was inconsistent with other “true” elements she had encountered in the past. I loved this drawback though the player wanted to end it and I said they could once they produce a written background that tied into the game and represented the fact that she can now remember what happened before a certain date. This never happened.

This was a good point to switch over to the Anniversary edition of the game where I introduced magitech: a pair of magically enhanced guns and ammunition belonging to a mysterious figure in the game who went by the name “Unicorn”. I ended out this year of gameplay with more twists and turns in the abduction, disappearances and murder of awakened characters in Seattle. This one had a dragon flavour to it too.

Looking at the Rules – Technomancers

Technomancers are a brand of magic that only works with machines, it is supposed to be an opposing force that is incompatible with awakened creatures (magician’s, shaman’s and adepts) and had options of the access to the technology being the same as a non-technomancer using tools, or being far more insidious where only another technomancer can see or affect a technomancer, which is how it was themed in the lore.

The base rules of the technomancer has the feel of the rules around the magician’s of the previous edition’s. This add’s an extra complexity to the game giving separate rules around:

  • Mundane Skills – Including combat, social skills, vehicles and knowledge
  • Magic Use – using spells, physical enhancements, seeing into the astral world (overlayed over the normal world)
  • Matrix Use – using machines to connect and work with the matrix (online community)
  • Technomancy – using the matrix without machines, seeing into the resonance world (overlayed over the normal world)

I would have preferred the game to share the rules around magic with technomancy to simplify the amount of rules that a games master is required to know.

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