Recon! Spirits! Mission Impossible! Indiana Jones! Death puppies! Chases! Certain doom!
Welcome back to the session recaps from our Shadowrun campaign! We’re playing 5E, a bit house-ruled, as our campaign is set in 2053 (in Chicago, for better or worse), and some of the things, like Matrix rules, had to be reworked. Our GM is the amazing Jakub from Project Aphelion whom you can follow in his GM glory on Twitter.
In the last episode, our intrepid band of criminals, described properly here, got themselves into the Amazonian jungle. We traveled, fought, and sneaked through the forest, finally arriving at the hidden plantation where our objective was waiting to be stolen.
Ravael, the ice-slinging spell turret;
Vector, the fire-slinging summoner;
Topper, the bullet-slinging ex-stage illusionist;
Phase, the B&E phys adept, slinging… hmm… neurostun grenades and herself from the rope? (yours truly)
Our quest? To seek the black rose.
What is the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow? Whatever it is, it’s definitely slower than a freaking. great. storm. spirit.
Hidden safely between the dense shrubbery, the plantation belonging to Ehran the Scribe awaited. We’ve spent about a day observing it, as, without proper legwork, we might have as well just shoot ourselves in the head.
What we’ve learned:
The whole complex was surrounded by a three-meter-high high voltage fence. Within its confines, four guards in jungle gear patrolled the place with flamethrowers in their hands, every now and then burning out the plants of the Awakened forest as it grew closer and closer to the plantation. They talked between themselves in Spanish and Portuguese, seemed to know each other well and be standard protection of the complex. None of them were Awakened.
The main building was three stories high, with a small greenhouse glued to the eastern wall. Mirror windowpanes of the greenhouse didn’t allow us to see inside, but we’ve noticed that twice a day one of the workers goes in there with a heavy bag marked “100% organic meat”, so we figured out the greenhouse is guarded by some dogs, crocodiles, or – based on previous jobs against Ehran the Scribe – barghests. So, we assumed the worst and prepared for it.
The plantation workers, all six of them, were working in the gardens all day and retired for the night to the main building, using the back entrance. There weren’t carrying any weapons or armor, just regular working clothes.
The last group of living beings on the plantation was a group of mercs, at least five of them, taking up their quarters in a bunker – clearly, a new addition to the complex. Armed to the teeth, armored and deadly, they mostly hung around their bunker and their milspec helicopter and annoyed everybody around them – harassing the women working on the plantation, having a pissing contest with the regular security and such. It was evident that Ehran put extra protection on everything he found dear.
As far as technological security went, they had cameras everywhere, but they seemed inert, with the lights out and cameras not moving at all. Several high-power searchlights were also placed around the complex but weren’t in use as far as we’ve seen. Scanning the place with x-ray, we noticed that all wires, from the electric fence, cameras, lights, and other buildings went straight to the small cottage in the middle of the complex.
There was also a watcher spirit guarding the complex, flying rather close to the ground and roaming around the place in a complicated pattern. We didn’t see any connection between the spirit and anybody in the plantation, so it was probably Ehran’s personal watcher. Vector’s clairvoyance spell made it to the greenhouse and confirmed for us that, indeed, there are two barghests there.
So, in short:
Knowing that our target is supposed to be kept in the greenhouse, we took no chances. We waited until nighttime, discussing tactics. As a reminder, our job actually had three layers, each of them paid separately:
- Steal the flower and put a chip from the previous job in its place
- Don’t kill anybody
- Don’t get noticed at all, by no guard, sensor, or spirit
As we were also promised that if we do the job perfectly, we’ll be put on the Anson Helm’s list of high-skill shadowrunners, Phase made it abundantly clear to the rest of the party, that stealth is not optional in this mission. Unless the SHTF, in which case all bets are off, we take the loot and run away with it.
As soon as it was dark, we waited until the guards were in a perfect position: the four plantation’s security guards were walking the perimeter in pairs, a single merc was stationed by their helicopter, and the watcher spirit was flying around in the other corner of the complex.
Then we employed The Plan, as simple as possible. Rav, our mage, made The Bubble: a sphere of sculpted magical ice, big enough to fit all four of us, with applied invisibility and levitation spells – perfectly quiet and stealthy mode of transportation over electric fences; that is, as long as no guard can see the astral plane. Vector made us even more hidden, asking a spirit of concealment. We jumped the fence in The Bubble and landed on the roof of the main building, deciding to approach the greenhouse from above.
Phase did her part – got everyone high on drugs (you don’t get negative qualities for free karma!). Well, forced everyone to take Guts – a nice little fear inhibitor, making you immune to fear, whether natural or magical; an essential thing if you’re about to pet the barghests. Even though the rules don’t force us, we like to roleplay guts in a logical way – so, if it makes us fearless, it also makes us less aware of risks taken and of social norms. In other words: we’re more fun.
There was one more magical ability of barghests: their paralyzing howl; a terribly loud howl that sees no friends and foes, forcing everybody to pass the test (ain’t easy) or fall to the ground paralyzed. And also, well, waking everybody up, so we really needed something to counter that.
Enter Phase and Rav. In full camo and with her traceless walk adept power, making all footsteps silent, Phase got on the greenhouse roof and under Rav’s sound barrier spell cut out a piece of glass, big enough for Rav to see inside the greenhouse and for her to go inside. As soon as the glass panel was out, Rav cast the prepared sound barrier spell inside – the barghests who were sleeping so far, started already growling but we only saw their open mouths, no sound escaping the barrier. We finished off the threat with some neurostun grenades, the knock-out gas working perfectly well and not hurting the doggos in the long run.
Walking down with a mix of wall running and gecko gloves, Phase went inside, a gas mask in her helmet making her invulnerable to the neurostun filling the greenhouse. Meanwhile, the three guys on the roof kept watch, making sure that no guard has a line of sight to us. Even though our mix of spells and stealth skills made it almost impossible for them to notice us, the stakes were too high just to put the trust in the dice pools. We had distraction plans in place, Topper on sniper duty (if somebody could have taken out an armored guard in one shot, it’s him), and escape routes prepared in advance.
And they came in handy.
Inside the greenhouse, Phase was looking around in astral and getting hit in the eyes with a powerful aura of a magical ward surrounding a meter-high pillar on which a black rose encased in crystal stood. The ward, according to Vector (looking down the hole in the roof) was way stronger than the combined skills of two mages could disable without bringing any attention to us. However, it looked like it only stopped magic and living beings…
Vector’s brilliant idea of using a rope and a piece sticky tape (we used it before to place cameras and lights on the excavation) to remove the rose from behind the ward gave us a possible easy way out. Too easy, decided Phase.
It was around that time that the guards were turning the corner and had a theoretical chance of noticing the three guys on the roof, so we decided to remove the threat. Rav took himself, Vector and Topper back to safety in a Bubble-train, and left Phase alone to do what she does best: steal stuff and escape unnoticed.
But still, too easy. A powerful magical ward, waaaaaaaaay above our skill level? No, this can’t be all. And it wasn’t. In fact, the top part of the pedestal looked a bit differently than the rest of it… With a wide grin, Phase thought back to all of the trids she’s seen in her life and looked around for something of a similar weight…
And then took our her x-ray scanner, found where the wires went, got her lockpicks out and dismantled the alarm, used a sticky rope to take the rose out and climbed up to the roof, the achievement unlocked, the McGuffin stolen, all obstacles behind us.
Hey, weren’t we supposed to leave something behind? Asked Topper.
The sound of a facepalm was heard in the whole plantation.
Well, no, but you get the idea. Phase went back there, dropped the chip on the pedestal, climbed back up, replaced the glass panel and glued it in place, and then got herself levitated off the roof, no guard any wiser.
We ran away through the jungle, deciding to put some distance between us and the plantation without using magic, as to not bring any unwanted attention to ourselves. Alas, the attention was brought to us on the wings of the storm.
As soon as we left Fonte du Sul behind us, we heard a thunderstorm in the distance. And it was growing in force quickly, and closing in on us. The smell of ozone filled the air, as one and the one more lightning hit the ground nearby, burning off the vegetation. We looked up and wished we hadn’t.
A giant storm spirit, his bird wings stretching over the whole horizon was shooting lightning bolts at us, and his aim was getting better. So much better, he hit Phase next, sending her upwards and back several meters, and hitting the ground, hard.
We decided to hit the road, magic or not. Vector’s summoned spirit got a task of taking us with movement speed in the direction of Lima where we were heading anyway. Then Topper got hit with lightning – and got angry. Taking out his custom-made weapon, with ridiculous armor-piercing qualities, double-tap bull’s eye action, he put some holes in the spirit as an answer. The spirit retaliated, hitting Rav, who was focused on masking the faint magical aura of the stolen flower, and whose milspec armor made little of that lightning bolt, Vector threw some fire spells at the spirits, and Topper ended it off with a couple more bullets. Phase, being a runner and a close-combat specialist, looked at the giant spirit hovering about 20 meters above the ground while she was being carried away by a spirit and shrugged her shoulders (also known as panicking), leaving the ass-saving to her teammates.
And so, our asses were saved, the spirit sent away, and we got to Lima in time to call our Johnson and hop on a plane, cash in, and get back to Chicago. Mission accomplished perfectly, no alarms raised, no dead bodies left behind us, 200k Y, please and thank you.
So, as soon as we got back to Chicago, Phase got to BBS.
PM @The Laughing Man “Ha, fraggin’ Ha!”
[Yo! Where to next? Phase]
And that’s where the next part of the Harlequin story begins.