Remember when the Scenario Consequences have told me that ALOHA is about to blow up Cutters’ operations in Hawai’i? Let’s deal with this, because Tomorrow is not going to so easily resign from her most convenient way of getting her sister back – as Wheeler pointed out, using Cutters’ smuggling network is exactly why she got involved with them in the first place. And she really is hopeless when it comes to sunk cost fallacy.
As far the the Project Aphelion playtest goes: welcome to the Faction Interference rules!
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As I’ve mentioned, ALOHA is a R2 Warfare/Scientific Faction. The Scenario Consequences said about them attacking Wheeler, but they have no way of even knowing about him and no reason to target a Cutter lieutenant in Denver, so we’ll treat that as an intermediary of ‘Wheeler’s Plan’. By which I mean, they’ll about to attack Cutters base in Hawai’i.
Do they have one there? Not yet. But an international weapon-smuggling cartel definitely has its outpost there, and we’re just about to generate it through normal faction generation rules. This story takes place after the events of “The House of the Sun” novel by Nigel Findley, so ALOHA is in shambles after their failed coup against King Kamehameha V, and there is no chance that Cutters did not sell weapons to both sides during the ‘revolution’.
Rating: 9v6=2. Surprisingly low – which makes it more fun, because it equalizes their forces with ALOHA.
Behaviors: Warfare: Exclusive Defense. Social: Wild Card (Exclusive Defense). Other: Exclusive Growth.
Assets: R2 Facility (Staging Area)
Relationships: 2. Cutters-Denver, Fam 9. ALOHA, Fam 5.
Current project: the prime exclusive/defense on the list, Maneuvers (yes, there is a project list in the game, I just never used b/c The Narrative). Maneuvers provide Resistance for the target Asset against all Warfare Projects targeting it for the duration. Exclusive, Defense. Req. Staging Area.
Okay, so the Hawai’ian outpost of Cutters is a tiny lil’ thing – a small base that focuses on keeping itself safe, providing its single Asset with 2 points of Resistance against Warfare projects. Which is rather fortuitous, as it raises ALOHA’s project difficulty by 2.
The fact that they’re best friends with Cutters from Denver works beautifully – either Wheeler has a friend there or he’s been already working on the plan of getting Chloe out the moment he learnt about her being in Hawai’i. After all, he did figure out why Tomorrow was currying all those favors with the cartel for the last year, and he really likes her.
Now, this Familiarity gives me a perfect reason to use Cutters-Denver’s R2 Crew (military wing) to bolster Cutters-Hawaii outpost with protection. To hire a R2 Asset to help in a Payout 2 project (protecting a R2 Facility), I need to pay 4 points of Resources. I can use cash or pull some strings… And sure, why not, let’s split the difference, and spend 2 points of cash and 2 points of general influence to call in favors with Cutters, and get the crew of gangers, Tomorrow, and Wheeler to Hawai’i.
The gangers will run the project to protect the Hawai’ian outpost, and Tomorrow, Tonight, and Wheeler are going to hit ALOHA Facility with this freebie Scenario to interrupt the project and get Chloe out.
Because why wouldn’t I just use that Scenario as a quick hit of a Warfare scenario against ALOHA to get Chloe back? We haven’t played a Warfare scenario yet, and it will be fun. We might die. But honestly, at Payout 5, we shouldn’t. Unless scenario complications decide otherwise.
February 7th, 2056
What Tomorrow expected after her trip to Shoalwater, was dropping piles of intel on Tonight and Wheeler, and wowing them with the vastness of data she managed to get out of Marti Vann. What she did not expect, was Tonight joining her on the airport before her flight back to Denver.
Chloe says you’re late. The spirit laughs in her brain, the telepathic bond letting them talk without the need for secrecy. Tonight stays on the astral plane, not wanting to bring any attention to them. I like her. She’s nicer than you.
You sure as hell are not the first person to tell me that. Is she okay, though? Didn’t she seem weird? Didn’t she talk shit about hives and the love of a queen or anything? Tomorrow pushes her credstick into the reader and moves through the gate. The bored border patrol officer waves her through the MAD scanners and makes an off-handed comment about her lack of luggage, but she just smiles in their general direction without an answer. Does she want to leave?
She could use a sandwich and a shower, that’s for sure. I don’t think her friends are doing too great in the world these days. They had more explosives than food. And by the level of scrambling and scatter, I don’t think there’s any kind of hive mind behind it all. Chloe seemed reasonably weirded out but happy to see you. Well, me.
Sucks to be them. Awesome on all other fronts. Clean-cut then? Can we start on the operation extraction?
Yeah, about that… There have been a couple of hiccups.
Explain. Tomorrow forces the message into a single word, but the telepathic link carries the wealth of emotions behind it, making Tonight wince.
Chill, twin. I said hiccups, not disasters. The golden eyes roll in the night-sky face. First, yakuza wanted to headhunt your pretty lil’ sister in the middle of our chat. I helped her out, and now they probably still gonna want to headhunt her, but they’re waiting for her to call them. I told them to go to hell, and they left excited for the upcoming trip.
Thanks. She’s too good to be mixed up with some criminal scum. She needs a better life. She doesn’t explain ‘better than whose’ but the meaning carries over anyway. What’s the second?
Her ALOHA friends are just about to blow up the Cutters’ base in Hawaii.
‘Fuck.’ The word slips out aloud, earning Tomorrow a couple of curious looks from the people in the boarding queue. She smiles apologetically, pointing to her commlink as an easy excuse. When? Do we have enough time? I need to talk to Wheeler, maybe we can stop it…
Already did, don’t sweat it. And get some control over this face of yours. You’re blowing up the whole inconspicuous thing we have going on. The spirit sighs with disappointment. Listen. I talked to Wheeler. As soon as you get back to Denver, you’re getting on a VTOL with him and some troops of his, and you’re flying to Hawaii. ETA 8 am local time. The troops gonna go protect the Cutters’ base, just in case. Wheeler, you, and I are going to get Chloe back. If we pull it off smartly, we’ll stop them before the attack – Chloe said they’re just waiting for a good opportunity, and bolstering the ranks in the base will hopefully cut down on that.
I… Thanks, Tonight. Well done. A pure, unadulterated gratitude pours through the telepathic link and Tonight’s stars glow brighter for a second. Do you need me to do anything?
I already packed your gear, it will be waiting for you in VTOL. Wheeler made all calls he needed. You agreed to pay for employing Cutters for your personal quest – don’t worry, you can afford it. I’m pretty sure you got a ‘valued asset’ discount. Tonight stops for a moment, when they pass the final checkup before boarding, and winks at the watcher spirit observing her. The tiny spirit doesn’t react at all, but Tonight doesn’t seem to care. Keep your head cool and be ready to throw magic around. There were three more people in that house with Chloe and a giant pile of explosives. We need to get her out AND we need to… dissuade her friends from making a mess out of our plans. Chloe didn’t seem to think she can talk them out of it. She didn’t seem too keen on telling them she’s leaving either. But I doubt she’ll be happy if we kill them.
Tomorrow shrugs lightly, pretending to fix her jacket. We’ll do what needs to be done. If they stand between me and my sister…
Yes, yes. You’re so badass and committed. Whatever. I’m saying: she doesn’t want them dead. I’m saying: Wheeler doesn’t want anybody from ALOHA interfering with Cutters business ever again. He’s no altar boy, babe, and he will kill them without a second of hesitation. I’m saying: sort out your priorities before we get inside.
Loud and clear, Tonight. I’ll talk to him. Thanks for organizing everything. I just can’t… Tomorrow takes a deep breath and takes her place in the plane’s cabin. I can’t believe it’s finally happening. Something is going to go terribly wrong soon, isn’t it?
The spirit doesn’t answer, just disappears with a grin.
Faction Play and Interference!
Remember Project Aphelion being a strategy game? The Faction Layer is where it happens. Just look:
It’s February 8th, 2056.
ALOHA, a R2 Faction, are starting their Warfare project (Raid) against Hawai’ian outpost of Cutters. (They are technically attacking Wheeler who is a R2 contact, but the Cutters in Hawai’i are a R2 Faction, so it works exactly the same and we’ll cut the middle man.) They are rolling their 2 Faction dice against the standard difficulty of 6, reduced by their Warfare focus (2), rolling 2v4 towards the Challenge of 2 (Rating of their target.)
Meanwhile, the R2 Facility they want to attack (the only Asset Cutters have in Hawai’i) is running its own project, like any other Faction. As they’re a Warfare Faction and their behavior is an Exclusive Defense, the project they’re running is Maneuvers – an exclusive/defense project, providing the chosen Asset with 2 points of Resistance against Warfare projects.
This changes ALOHA’s Raid into 2v6 due to added Resistance for as long as the project is sustained (indefinitely).
Now, the active interference part.
Tomorrow has hired a R2 Crew (military wing) of Denver Cutters to bolster the forces of Hawai’ian Cutters to protect her sister’s escape route. This Crew is starting a beneficial/defense project of Protective Duty over the Hawai’ian Facility, adding their Rating to Warfare focus of the Facility, practically adding +2 Resistance for the Maneuvers project, changing ALOHA’s Raid into 2v8 for as long as it is sustained. The Crew, however, is only starting their project on Feb 8th, and for it to work and provide Resistance, they need to finish it before ALOHA finishes theirs. However, as the Crew is rolling Cutters Faction dice to run this project (5) against difficulty reduced by Cutters’ Warfare focus (5), that means they’re rolling 5v1, so I’m positive they’ll collect 2 marks in one day.
Of course, ALOHA might collect their 2 marks on 8th, and then instead of attacking ALOHA HQ, the free Scenario is going to be protecting Cutters Facility, I suppose.
As you probably noticed, what we did so far is mounting the Resistance against ALOHA’s project, but this can, at best, slow them down.
Time for more active interference.
The plan is to run a Scenario (the freebie provided by Wheeler as a consequence of the previous Scenario) against ALOHA, with a Payout of interrupting and dismantling their project of attacking the Cutters. A pre-emptive strike, if you will. The free Scenario has Payout of 5 – 2 of that need to cover breaking up the ALOHA’s Raid project, the rest can be whatever. I’ll figure it out later, if this Scenario happens.
Let’s see if it does, why don’t we?
ALOHA to you too!
Here it goes! The one roll that decides what’s going to happen in the next days. It’s bright new morning of 8th of February, and ALOHA gets to roll their 2v6.
And they roll a 5 and a 7! Scoring only one mark on Feb 8th and giving Cutters the time to prepare and strike pre-emptively! Note that they would succeed if not for the 2 points of Resistance from Maneuvers… While I normally don’t track the projects of other Factions closely, it’s very easy to zoom in when you need it.
On the same day, R2 Crew of Cutters joins the Hawai’ian base, rolling 5v1=5, and by the end of the day being 100% prepared and ready for any incoming attack, raising ALOHA’s project roll to 2v8 for the next day.
Meanwhile, Tomorrow, Tonight, and Wheeler are working on preparations for the pre-emptive strike against ALOHA – if they manage to interrupt the project, it automatically fails. Yes, ALOHA might try again later – but they will not have a free R9 Crew to pull it off (they got it through Scenario Consequences, remember?), so they won’t be that much of a threat.
And when I’m done with them… I think they won’t be a threat at all.
Scenario 10: The Best Kind of Defense
February 8th, 2056
‘I missed that.’ Wheeler finishes the check of his guns and puts them back into the locker. ‘It’s so weird that my last time in the field was an airsoft match.’
‘And you lost it.’ Tomorrow grins teasingly. She’s sitting next to her boyfriend in the VTOL, nothing but the Pacific Ocean around them.
The hum of the engine makes the conversation hard – but still easier than sitting for hours on the metal benches. Tomorrow admires the steely buttocks of Cutter soldiers, who bear the inconveniences with good humor and an almost professional attitude. She, instead, spent most of the travel time in a form of a tabby cat, curled up on much comfier surface of Wheeler’s knees, only changing back to her natural form from time to time to stretch her muscles without showing the world a cat butt.
Stella, a bulky troll with a platinum-blonde strip of hair running between her curled horns, chuckles without a shade of respect for her boss. ‘Your father-in-law kicked your ass, Wheeler?’
‘No, she brought a catfight to a gun fight. Like a certified weirdo she is.’ Wheeler doesn’t seem bothered at all. ‘Can’t get prepared for that amount of chaos.’
The elf just shrugs and rolls her shoulders. Her voice drops to a sweet purr. ‘Daddy taught me how to deal with bad, bad boys trying to shoot me.’
‘Ah, young people in love.’ Georgie Leone, the older troll of the two and Cutters’ head gun specialist, wipes a fake tear from his eye. ‘Off to kill people.’
Tomorrow nods, not about to discuss the matter in front of Wheeler’s soldiers. She’s not particularly willing to mow down her sister’s allies, but she’d rather go along with it than undermine Wheeler’s position. In the long run, ALOHA goons don’t matter. Wheeler does. She’ll still try to get Chloe out without murdering everybody standing on the path – but it’s ultimately their decision. If they choose to commit suicide via magic lightning, that’s on them.
‘Gotta take care of the biz, right?’ she answers with a ferocious smile. ‘Can’t have some randos messing up with y’all. Especially if they mess with my plans at the same time.’
Stella laughs. ‘Oh, for sure. Hope your plan still leaves some fun for the rest of us.’
‘I don’t know.’ Georgie yawns, presenting a full array of sharp tusks. ‘I’m happy to take a holiday in Hawai’i on company time. If you two manage to resolve the issue before it becomes my problem, I don’t intend to complain. I’d call it a prime example of proper leadership, if anything.’
‘We’ll see how it goes.’ Wheeler continues the check of his weaponry, but the twin monoswords require little attention. ‘The plan is in place. Might get out from that something more than dead bodies. Better for the bottom line.’
‘Ah, there’s our boss. Georgie wanted to place a bet on that, but first, what were the chances of you not having a plan, and second, you’re the bookie anyway,’ complains Stella. ‘Betting against you is just a thing we don’t do these days.’
‘Oh, I’m sure you will be, once you get Tomorrow’s sister back. The sheer gratitude…’
Tomorrow giggles, enjoying the exchange. ‘That’s between him and me, and my sister, Stella. Sorry to disappoint.’
With a wink, Tomorrow turns back into a cat and jumps onto Wheeler’s lap, placing herself between the two scabbards. She yawns and nudges Wheeler’s hand with her paw. The man shakes his head and pets the grey tabby.
‘You better catch some sleep. I’m going need all the deadly magic you can pull off later,’ he says barely loud enough for others to hear. ‘I have a plan.’
Wheeler doesn’t do ‘just kill them all’ missions. Dead bodies are worthless (unless you sell them to organ-leggers or ghoul kitchens), and straight-up killing people is rarely the most profitable idea (unless you’re enforcing a VITAS quarantine and somebody tries to leave). Not that he cares – he is one of the Cutters, after all. But he’s not a soldier, he’s the gang’s bookie, raised to the command position through the events of our SR campaign. Wheeler always has a plan, hedged bets, complex intrigues, webs of favors and connections, and more or less obvious politics.
With 5 points of Payout to gain in this Scenario, there’s enough space for a better option for the Cutters than just disrupting a Raid project. Also, paying 200c to use Wheeler as a contact in this Scenario. I don’t need him, but a) Tomorrow would like to have him close for this mission, b) it is the type of date nights they both most enjoy, c) the guy needs to stretch his legs sometimes.
Payout: 5 (2 points to interrupt the project, 1 point to destroy ALOHA’s R1 Crew, 2 points worth of gear and explosives)
Legwork: I’m ignoring Wheeler for this one. Tomorrow and Tonight are together good enough for the job. Tomorrow: Sorcery, 5v4=2. Tonight: Impersonation, 5v5=2. And – oh my hubris – they fail to gather 5 marks in one interval, and I’m on the clock for this mission. But I’ll add the 2 points of ALOHA-connected intel into the mix and buy two marks, bringing the total to 6, 1 net mark.
Threat Rating: Scenario rolls 5v4=2. I’m rolling like a chump today. That’s TR1 +1 for R1 Crew inside -1 for net marks = 1.
Scenario Rating: 6. Default Actor Rating: 3
Build Points: 6
Free Modules: 5 + 5 passages
Free Scenes: 5
The basic modules are already set up, the same way as previously. Four of them: the Gateway (1) with a passage leading to the Social Space (2) and two passages leading to Chloe’s Room (3) and Modifier Module (4). I’ll put the last free module as a Treasury (with 3 Points of Payout), giving me 3 BPs – one to add a Hardpoint (5) (1/9 BP) in front of the Treasury (6), as per rules.
Narratively, the point of this Scenario is to get Chloe out. This doesn’t have to be a Warfare Scenario. I can totally see Tomorrow, Tonight, and Wheeler just walking inside, talking over the ALOHA goons, collecting Chloe, and leaving. But this is what the dice tell me. As far as narrative goes?
Wheeler: We go in and shoot everybody who’s not your sister, then take over all of their stuff that has any value.
Tomorrow: I don’t really want to kill them all. Let’s just demand they give Chloe to us and we let them live.
Wheeler: What if they decide to shoot her for abandoning their cause?
Tomorrow: *pulls out a grenade*
Yeah, so it is, after all, a Warfare Scenario. Possibly with a Covert Ops opening. The Scenario will happen at night, when most of the people will be sleeping.
Module 1: Gateway. Not much here, I’ll keep the Scenes for other modules. It’s just the door to the house.
A passage connects it to Module 2.
Module 2: Social Space. A free Scene (1/5) of Guard Duty with free R3 Actor (Camera) and a paid-for R3 Guard (Investigative/Warfare) (2/9 BP). The Guard and the Camera are there to raise an alarm, and it will be their first order of business. If so, the Actors from Module 4 will wake up and join the fray.
Passages to modules 3 and 4 + Hardpoint leading to 6.
Module 3: Chloe’s Room. A simple, free Offense Scene (2/5) to convince a free R3 Actor Chloe (Technical/Scientific) to pack up and go, right now, and not worry about her allies. Actually, let me reduce Chloe to R2 and net myself a Build Point there (2/10 BP).
Module 4: Modifier Module. A bigger room with two bunk beds and four people sleeping / watching shows / enjoying themselves in it. They have a free Passive Scene going on (3/5), but any sign of struggle, argument, or fight will lure them all out. One of them is a free R3 Actor (Investigative/Scientific), and I’ll pay 3 BP for 3 more: A R3 (Warfare/Creative), R3 (Scientific/Technical), and R3 (Warfare/Investigative) (5/10 BP). I’ll throw 2 BP (7/10 BP) to add 2 points of Stress modifier in the Scenario, due to the sheer amount of explosives lying around.
Module 5: Hardpoint. A free Checkpoint Scene (4/5) with 1 point of Resistance against a free R3 Actor of a maglock – because why wouldn’t they have a safe in their fortified base?
Module 6: Treasury. The last free Scene (5/5) supported by a free R3 Actor of a Sensor that needs to be disabled before the Payout can be taken – home-baked explosives set to blow up into the face of whoever opens the safe, because again, why not? The Treasury holds the ALOHA resources – 3 points of cash Payout.
I have 3 Build Points left – and I need to put Finale Scene in there. For 1 point: the Finale Scene (8/10 BP) in the Gateway to convince Chloe that dispatching of her allies was the only logical option and she should just go and not look back. A free R3 Actor of Chloe is going to be helped by 2 points of Resistance (10/10 BP, on top of already existing 5 points of Resistance. Unlike Tomorrow, Chloe is a good person, and this isn’t going to be an easy job, setting the difficulty at 13, if they don’t disable the global modifier, and 11 if they do.)
It gotta hurt a bit, you know.
Wheeler as a R2 Social/Warfare contact, paid for.
Tomorrow: stealth suit, Wits’ End, non-lethal pistol, lockpick set, chem grenade, pheromone emitter
Tonight: business clothes, street bling
February 9th, 2056
‘Does your plan cover getting in there, shooting them all, stealing everything they own, and taking my sister by force?’ asks Tomorrow in a hushed whisper as they observe the building from a nearby roof. ‘I expected something more… crafty, to be honest.’
‘You overestimate the value of ALOHA to the Cutters.’ Wheeler puts down the binoculars. ‘No matter how they talk about the revolution, they’re just terrorists. And while we don’t particularly care about the terror part, their main goal is to kill or expel all non-Polynesians from the islands. Islands that currently have about 10% of Polynesians on them. I thought you’re against ethnic cleansings and genocide?’
‘Don’t play this card with me. You don’t give a damn about their goals and the lives they take. If they weren’t trying to oust Cutters from Oahu, you wouldn’t be here at all.’
‘I would be,’ he corrects lightly. ‘The rest – no, probably not. But you and I are here for Chloe and there’s no point crying over some mooks your sister doesn’t even like. We need to dissuade them from ever again messing with our business. Otherwise, we’re showing other fraggers that things like that are acceptable, and then we suddenly have every group of punks rearing their heads and trying to pull this shit. Then a bunch of skirmishes and turf wars, and even more people are dying. You know how this world works. We’re not running a soup kitchen here, babe. That’s what you chose, and this is not the best time for moral objections.’
‘I know.’ Tomorrow doesn’t break eye-contact with the building on the other side of the road. ‘I get it. I just don’t like it. Can we just… Not walk into there with guns blazing?’
‘Do you have a better idea?’
‘I think I do.’
‘Tonight, go to Chloe and make sure she doesn’t leave her room until it’s safe. Convince her to turn off the cameras. Adam, stay at the entrance and cover me. Steven, concealment. I’ll sneak in, dispatch the guard quietly, then plant the grenade in the common bedroom, have Steven and the elemental make sure they don’t leave, and as soon as the gas dissipates, we’re leaving with Chloe.’
‘This gas will kill them, you know that,’ points out Wheeler.
‘Possibly. Probably.’ Tomorrow shrugs. ‘But it will stop them from responding with fire, and every bullet that’s not going our way is a bullet we don’t have to dodge. And who knows, maybe they’ll live.’
‘They’ll notice you opening the doors to the bedroom.’
‘Fair point. Maybe they have a window open. Steven, with me. Let’s find a better approach.’
The way the Scenario is built, Tonight, Tomorrow, Wheeler, and Steven are now at the Gateway, before interacting with the door. There is no passage connecting Gateway to the Modifier Module of a bedroom, but a Scene on the Fly can create a passage, which is exactly what I need – an open window, a vent, or some other opening allowing me to plant the chem grenade directly in Module 4, without going through the guard in Module 2.
Let’s make that passage and the new scene!
Tomorrow’s Sorcery+1, 5v2=3, 5v2=5, total 8, 3 net.
Scenario, 5v5=3, 5v5=5, total 8.TR: 4-2 = 2
The new Scene is the just-created Passage is a Covert Ops Scene (1/2 BP), in which Tomorrow (and Steven) get around the house to arrive at the window to the bedroom while not spotted by the R3 Actor (Camera) outside.
Creating this Scene took 2 intervals, so I’m behind on rolling for scenario complications!
Scenario Complications: 5v3 (3 Actors) = 4, 5v3=4, total 8, 3 net.
Complications roll: 5-3 = 2, a negative complication with magnitude +1 = 6
The Defense Crew became preoccupied with a non-optional Social Task fitting the Scenario, in the module directly blocking your way. All Defense Actors commit all their Actions to it unless directly required not to by the situation. They must reach a Challenge equal to magnitude times 10 in order to be free to work on other Tasks.
Oh. Oh. Oh.
‘Shit. Frag. Damn it to hell.’ Tomorrow’s annoyance carries through the comms.
‘Confirmed,’ replies Tonight much calmer. ‘They’re all sitting in the kitchen, discussing the current development on the Cutters front. Chloe included.’
‘Can you lure her out of there?’
‘Not without materializing, no. And that blows your covert ops thing.’
‘You’re overcomplicating this thing,’ states Wheeler. ‘Throw the grenade in, have the spirit drag Chloe out, close the door. Convince your sister they’ll be fine on our way back.’
‘And then how are we gonna get your precious loot from there?’
‘Ha! You are here for me, not for the Cutters!’ says Tomorrow triumphantly. ‘You softie. I love you.’
‘Right back at you. Not the time, though.’
‘Well, I’m already at their window, I might as well do what I wanted. I’ll plant the grenade in their room and it will be ready for them when they return. And I think I’ll take away their detonators. All that plastic makes me uneasy.’
The Defense has a Social Task with Challenge equal 60. There’s a total of 5 R3 Actor + R2 Actor (Chloe). None of them is a Social Actor (not even as a secondary focus), which means their highest dice pool for this Task is 1, increased by 5 for 5 additional Actors. Each interval, they’re rolling 6 dice against the difficulty of standard 6 – 6 (total of their Social focus, 6 times minimum 1) +2 global Stress modifier: 6v3 until they roll 60 marks. Because I cannot be arsed to roll, I’ll just assume they score 6 marks in each interval and will be done with their Social Task after 10 intervals.
‘Tonight, go to Chloe’s room and turn off the cameras, please. I’ll deal with the gas.’
‘Sure. How do I do that? I’ve never used a computer before and Chloe has all kinds of shit on her desk.’
‘I don’t know! Adam, go with her.’
‘Roger that. Stay safe.’
T1: Defense’s Task: 6/60.
Tonight, creating a Passage to Chloe’s room for herself and Wheeler: Investigation+1, 5v8=3/5
Tomorrow, in Covert Ops scene in a Passage: MA Shapechange (Sorcery+1), 5v4=5, lizard form with max +5 to physical stats. PA Stealth+1, 8v3=7 points of Concealment. Move (6 Conc). PA Stealth, 8v4=4 towards MT (5 Conc). SP 6/8 MP 7/8. MT 4/5.
Steven, with Tomorrow in the passage: MA Concealment for Tomorrow, 3v3=2 (total 7 Conc.). PA dematerialize.
R3 Camera: 2 PA (comb) Lookout, 3v4=2, soaked by Tomorrow’s stealth suit.
Wheeler, with Tonight, standing watch.
T2: Defense’s Task: 12/60.
Tonight: Investigation, 5v8=0; 3/5
Tomorrow: MA sus Shapechange. PA Stealth, 8v4=4, 8/5 towards MT (6 Conc.) SP 5/8 MP 7/8. MT 6/5.
Steven: sus Concealment.
R3 Camera: 2 PA (comb) Lookout, 3v4=3, 2 soaked, Conc reduced to 5.
Wheeler: standing watch.
Interval ended, Tomorrow gets unnoticed to Module 4.
T3: Defense’s Task: 18/60.
Tonight: Investigation, 5v8=2; 5/5
Scenario rolls 3x 5v5=5. New Scene with TR 3, built with 3 BP. Tonight and Wheeler can get to Module 3: Chloe’s Room, but to turn off the cameras, they need to win a Checkpoint Scene (1/3 BP) with a free R3 Actor (Chloe’s computer), a general mess restricting their movement (+1 modifier to all physical actions) and 1 extra point of Resistance.
Tomorrow: No Scene to win here, so just dropping the lizard form. PA Interact to collect the detonators, removing the 2 points of Stress modifier from the Scenario. Then, MA Conjuring+1 to summon an extra elemental, 5v3=4 actions for the elemental, who is staying in this module until told to unleash the lightning. PA Palming+1, 5v5=4 to hide (with 4 points of Concealment) the chem grenade under one of the bunk beds, ready to be discharged with a remote order. SP 3/8 MP 6/8.
Wheeler: standing watch.
T4: Defense’s Task: 24/60.
Tonight and Wheeler: Spending an interval to move through the Passage around the house to Chloe’s Room.
Tomorrow: MA Job Well Done. MA Sorcery+1, Shapechange into a lizard, 5v2=5, + to physical stats, Toughness 5, Fitness 8, Awareness 6 => 3 PA. Regained SP and MP equal to Resolve. SP 6/13 MP 8/8. 2 PA (comb) TaB, 5v5=4. PA Stealth+1, 8v3=6 points of Concealment. Move out of the module (Conc 5). SP 9/13 MP 8/8
Steven: Concealment on Tomorrow, 3v3=2 more points (Conc 8)
T5: Defense’s Task: 30/60.
Wheeler: MA Instructing Tonight on using the computers, Leadership 2v4=2, giving her 2 points of Clout. PA Perception, looking for the switch. 1v9=1 towards MT.
Tonight: MA Investigation+1, 5v7=1 towards MT. MA Hacking+1, 5v7=4 against R3 Actor’s Stamina. MA Software+1, 5v7=4 against R3 Actor’s Stamina.
R3 Computer: Out of Stamina, reboots through TaB, 3v6=1 Stamina Regained.
Tomorrow: Building Scene on the Fly through Stealth, to get to Chloe’s Room. 8v4=7, 2 net
Scenario: 5v5=1; TR 1 -1 = 0, so just a Passage without an extra Scene.
T6: Defense’s Task: 36/60.
Tomorrow: Spends the interval moving from the Bedroom to Chloe’s Room through a new Passage.
Wheeler: MA sus Leadership.
Tonight: 2 MA (comb) Investigation, 5v6=2 towards MT. MA Software, 5v7=1 against R3 Actor’s Stamina.
R3 Computer: Forced to TaB.
End of interval. Tonight finds the switch for the cameras, turning them all off without triggering the alarm.
T7: Defense’s Task: 42/60.
Tomorrow: Joins Wheeler and Tonight in Chloe’s Room to regroup and chat.
‘They’re still at it?’
Tomorrow’s question is born more of a taste for a conversation than from real need – the voices from the kitchen are clearly audible in the whole house. Extra security at Cutters’ base is not something ALOHA operatives accounted for in their attack plan and they found themselves faced with the need to reconsider their position. There’s a lot of shouting and pointing fingers – they clearly had the base under observation for quite some time and are now figuring out who might have been spotted and when. Chloe’s voice is rarely heard in that noise and her arguments for abandoning the plan are mostly disregarded.
‘Yeah. Grenade planted, elemental set up, shit’s ready to blow. Wanna hit them from the front, babe?’
Wheeler nods. ‘Just in case any of them comes here with Chloe and mess up the plan.’
‘You two scooch, I’ll stay here and keep an eye out. I’ll let you know if the situation changes.’ Tonight dematerializes, disappearing from the view.
T8: Defense’s Task: 48/60.
Tomorrow and Wheeler use the passage created earlier to move from Chloe’s Room back to the Gateway. Tonight stays on watch in Chloe’s room, invisible.
T9: Defense’s Task: 54/60.
Tomorrow: Interact with the Gateway, move into the Passage with Wheeler and Steven. PA Stealth+1 5v3=5 points of Concealment.
Wheeler: Prepare a weapon, MA Leadership 2v4=0 Clout for Tomorrow.
T10: Defense’s Task: 60/60, completed.
Tomorrow: PA Stealth 5v3=4 more points of Concealment. PA TaB. (Conc 8) SP 7/8 MP 8/8.
Steven: Invisibly moves to Module 2.Wheeler: PA TaB. SP 4/4 MP 4/4
The interval ends, the Defense finishes their Task and moves back to their originally assigned Scenes.
R3 Guard stays in Module 2. Chloe moves to a passage towards her room. Four R3 Actors move to a passage towards their bedroom.
Tomorrow: 2 MA (comb) Take Aim (Tactics+1) at the guard, 4v5=4 difficulty of shooting reduced by 2 (Conc 6). SP 7/8 MP 7/8
Wheeler: MA Take Aim, 2v4=1 difficulty lowered by 1. SP 4/4 MP 3/4
Steven: Invisibly moves to the passage to Module 4.
R3 Guard starts his Guard Duty Scene. Chloe gets back to her room and starts her Idle Scene. Four R3 Actors get to their room and start their Passive Scene of getting some rest.
Tomorrow: PA Stealth 5v3=4 points of Concealment for Wheeler. MA sus Take Aim. (Conc 5) SP 6/8 MP 7/8
Wheeler: Lets himself be advised on how to hide. MA sus Take Aim. (Conc 4) SP 4/4 MP 3/4
Steven: Invisibly moves to Module 4, joins the elemental waiting there.
Tonight: Starting a Social Offense Scene with Chloe, to be quiet and wait. 2 marks pre-scored. MA Diplomacy+1, 5v3=2 towards MT. MA Stalling Tactics (Con+1), 5v3=5, Chloe’s MA is forfeited. MA Investigation+1, 5v7=2 towards MT. SP 5/5 MP 5/7. MT 6/5
Chloe: Listens to Tonight and becomes convinced, as the end of the interval spells the end of the Scene.
Tonight and Chloe stay put in her room, out of this interval. R3 Actors in the bedroom are all basically taking a breath until forced to do otherwise.
Tomorrow: MA Interact – activate the grenade (Conc 4). PA TaB (Conc 3). PA Stealth 5v3=5 (Conc 9). SP 6/8 MP 7/8
Wheeler: sus actions (Conc 3). SP 4/4 MP 3/4
Steven and Summon delaying their initiative after R3 Actors: MA Concealment on himself and summon, 3v3=3 points. Both PA: Materialize
Tomorrow: selling her initiative to go last in the turn for an extra Physical Action.
Chloe’s Room: Tonight and Chloe: chilling.
Bedroom: Grenade goes off (1/4), dealing 4 points of Stamina damage to all four R3 Actors in the Module. Closed doors keep it from spreading any further. Gas does not affect the elementals, because they’re mana constructs and do not breathe.
Steven: PA Lightning Bolt 3v3=2 SP dmg to Actor 1. PA LB 3v3=3 SP dmg to Actor 2. SP 4/6 MP 6/6
Summon: PA LB 3v3=2 SP dmg to Actor 3. PA LB 3v3=3 SP dmg to Actor 4. SP 4/6 MP 6/6. 2 Actions left.
Actor 1: SP 0, forced to TaB, 3v6=1. SP 1/6
Actor 2: SP 0, 1 Drain, forced to TaB, 3v6=1. SP 1/5
Actor 3: SP 0, forced to TaB, 3v6=1. SP 1/6
Actor 4: SP 0, 1 Drain, forced to TaB, 3v6=1. SP 1/5
R3 Guard: nobody in his module, passive Lookout Task, 3v3=3 marks. SP 6/6 MP 6/6
Wheeler: Move into module (Conc 3). PA Fire, 1v4=0 against guard (Conc gone). MA Intimidation, 2v4=2 MP dmg to the guard. MP SP 3/4 MP 2/4
Tomorrow: Move into module (Conc 8). PA Marksmanship+1, 4v3=3 SP dmg, electrical +3 Res to actions next interval. MA Sorcery+1, 5v2=5 MP dmg to the guard, 4+1 Drain. PA Melee+1, 3v5=1 SP dmg. PA TaB. SP 5/8 MP 7/8.
Chloe’s Room: staying put.
Grenade (2/4): Deals 4 SP to all living Actor in the module. Actor 1: SP 0/3. Actor 2: 0/2. Actor 3: SP 0/3. Actor 4: SP 0/2
Steven and Summon: keeping an eye on the Defense
Actor 1: forced to TaB, 3v6=2. SP 2/3
Actor 2: forced to TaB, 3v6=2. SP 2/2
Actor 3: forced to TaB, 3v6=3. SP 3/3
Actor 4: forced to TaB, 3v6=2. SP 2/2
Tomorrow: MA Job Well Done. MA Sorcery, 5v2=5 MP dmg = 5 Drain. 3 SP and 3 MP regained. Move to Hardpoint. PA TaB. SP 8/8 MP 8/8
R3 Guard: at 0 MP and with 6 points of Mental Drain, knocked unconscious by the spell and out of the commission for (10-Toughness = 7) minutes minimum.
Wheeler: PA shrug. Move to Hardpoint.
Chloe’s Room: staying put.
Grenade (3/4): Deals 4 SP to all living Actor in the module. Actor 1: SP 0/1. Actor 2: 0/0, unconscious. Actor 3: SP 0/1. Actor 4: SP 0/0, unconscious.
Steven and Summon: chilling
Actors 1-4: unconscious or will be unconscious in the next interval.
Tomorrow: MA Breaking and Entering (Electronic Warfare+1) 5v5=3. MA Engineering+1, 5v6=1 SP to Maglock. PA TaB. SP 8/8 MP 7/8. MT 3/3
Maglock: Oppose, 3v3=3 marks removed.
Wheeler: PA Melee, 1v5=1 SP to Maglock. SP 2/4 MP 2/4
Chloe’s Room: staying put.
Grenade (4/4): Deals 4 SP to all living Actors. Thanks to them all rolling nicely on TaB tasks, they’ll all end up unconscious and with 3-4 points of Injuries, but none of them dies.
Steven and Summon: move to the passage to the Kitchen.
Tomorrow: MA Sorcery+1, 5v2=4 SP to Maglock. MA Electronic Warfare, 5v5=5 towards MT. PA TaB. SP 8/8 MP 6/8. MT 5/3
Maglock: SP 0, resets. Interval ends with Offense winning.
Wheeler: TaB. SP 3/4 MP 3/4
Chloe’s Room: staying put.
Steven and Summon: now in Kitchen.
Treasury: 3 points of Resistance towards MT 5. R3 Bomb Actor
Tomorrow: MA Sorcery+1, 5v2=5 SP to the Bomb. PA Palming+1, 5v5=4 SP (1+3 Drain) to the Bomb. MA Sorcery, 5v2=5 towards MT. PA TaB. SP 8/8 MP 5/8.
Wheeler: Kicks the unconscious guard out of relative boredom, adding 1 point of Injuries to 6 points of Drain and making sure the guy will not wake up anytime soon.
Offense wins with MT 5/5, extra 3 points of Payout collected.
Chloe’s Room: Tonight and Chloe move to the passage leading to kitchen.
Tomorrow: MA activate Wits’ End, 5v7=4, Wit 6 for 5 next intervals. MA activate Pheromone Emitter, +2 Familiarity for the next 2 intervals. PA (comb) TaB. SP 8/8 MP 4/8.
Steven, Summon: chilling
Wheeler: TaB. SP 4/4 MP 4/4
T20: The Finale!
Emitter works, so we’re all starting with Fam 9. There are 5 points of Resistance from Payout and extra 2 points bought for BPs, plus 1 for each Actor attempting the Finale Main Task (just 1, Tomorrow). The difficulty is 9. For Tomorrow: -2 for First Impression (after 6 years of not seeing one another, it counts as a new start), -2 for Driven, -1 potentially from the Career. Due to Hight Fam, skill level doesn’t matter.
Chloe is a R3 Actor in this Scene. MT equals 5. Chloe… has zero chances, but I need my net mark count from the Finale.
Tomorrow: PA Give Chloe a Hug. MA Investigation+1, 6v4=5. MA Diplomacy+1, 6v5=3. MA Sorcery+1, 5v4=4. PA TaB. MT 12/5.
Tonight: 2 MA Stalling Tactics (Con+1), 5v1=5, taking away Chloe’s MAs.
Chloe: PA Get Hugged. PA TaB.
Wheeler: PA Take a Photo.
The Finale Scene is over with 7 net marks.
I gotta write the narrative now, y’all.
It is such a weird feeling. Six years. Over six years. I will not comment on how much she grew up. But damn, she did.
‘Sarah!’ Chloe’s pale face carries such a mix of happiness, hope, exhaustion, fear, and suspicion that Tomorrow’s heart almost breaks. ‘God, I missed you so much.’
Tomorrow rushes through the dirty, awful, stinking kitchen and envelops her sister in a hug. She has her sister back. Nothing else matters right now. She can feel Chloe relaxing in her embrace, second by second. She breathes in deeply, the familiar scent hidden under the sharp covering of sweat and tiredness cementing the feeling of relief. She can see her sister. She can hear her. She can touch her and smell her. Short of taste, but Tomorrow decides it is real enough.
‘I missed you too, Chloe. Let’s get out of here.’
‘Yeah,’ murmurs Chloe, her face buried in Tomorrow’s long hair. Then her muscles tense and she asks the question she clearly doesn’t want to ask: ‘The folks here… Are they…?’
‘They’re okay, don’t worry. Just some knock-out gas and a small sleepy-timey spell on this guy over here. They’ll be back to normal in a couple of days. And we’ll be far away from here. Come on. You need fresh air. Wheeler?’
The man nods. ‘I already called the guys. They’ll be here with a car soon. We’ll pack up the loot and go. Nice to meet you, Chloe.’
‘Uhm, hi.’ Chloe untangles herself from her sister and finally takes notice of the other person in the room. She pushes the hair away from her face, failing to make her messy bun any more organized, and pulls her shirt together, hiding herself from the view. ‘And you are?’
‘At this point?’ laughs Tomorrow. ‘Practically family. Chloe, this handsome man with is Adam, my beloved boyfriend. Adam, this pretty lady is Chloe, my beloved sister. You’ll soon have the time to become friends.’
Wheeler smiles and holsters his gun. ‘I bet. The flight back home is long enough. Do you have all you need from here, Chloe?’
‘I do. Tonight has helped me pack when you were… securing the area?’ The tiniest tinge of insecurity mars the otherwise collected sentence. Chloe reaches for her sister’s hand and squeezes it as if to make sure she’s really there. ‘You said something about looting. What else do we need to take from here?’
‘Everything that’s not bolted to the floor.’ Wheeler looks around and a shadow of disgust passes through his face. ‘Well, maybe not. Just anything they could use to attack our base. That should be enough to send a message.’
‘Your…? Oh.’ The realization dawns on Chloe and she casts a quick glance at her sister, then straightens up and looks Wheeler in the eyes. ‘Thanks… Thanks for not killing them. The universe wasn’t too kind to them lately, and they’re just scrambling, desperate for any win. Let me show you where they keep the good stuff.’
When Chloe leads them to the storage closet they previously missed, and they get busy moving the explosives, guns, and ammo to an armored jeep with a smiling Georgie behind the wheel, Tomorrow is still not done processing. She expects it will take her some time. And of course, there’s more work to be done, need to find Fayette, need to dispatch of d’Venescu, need to make sure they can all just live safely…
But not in the next couple of hours. Until they get back to Denver, it’s just Chloe and her, at last.
It all feels a bit like a dream, when they get into the armored jeep. Chloe casts the last glance at the dilapidated ruin of a house that was her home for the last couple of months. She hopes that the people inside are really still breathing, but she neither wants to doubt her sister, nor go back and check. They’re fine, she tells herself, just disarmed and knocked out.
She’s aware of the brain damage a prolonged unconsciousness can cause – but now, stuffed onto the back seat of a jeep by a kind and smiling old troll, holding her sister’s hand, with all her worldly possessions fitted into a single bag lying on her lap, Chloe decides to let it go. ALOHA has helped her to hide. A year ago. Her friends in the group died, when the counterrevolution came. There is nothing for her there – and she’s positive they wouldn’t even let her stay if they weren’t so much in need of people on their side.
The trip to the Cutters’ base is short and quiet – nobody seems particularly inclined to talk, not even Sarah. Her older sister keeps looking in her direction and smiling every time their eyes meet, but she doesn’t start any conversation. Tonight is nowhere to be seen, neither are the two elementals she saw earlier. Wheeler gave the sisters one look and took the front seat, providing them with privacy they needed but haven’t yet used.
Just a couple minutes later, they drive through a heavy automated gate of the old military base. Georgie waves at the guard on watch duty – another troll, a white-haired one, who shouts something in response. Chloe misses what, because the jeep just runs into an open garage, and from now on it’s a blur of people taking the gear off the the car, moving around, laughing, and congratulating Wheeler and Sarah on their success. Chloe gets to shake a several pairs of hands and exchanges names, but she can feel herself slinking off into the background. Observing.
Her sister sure seems very friendly with the members of the gun-running syndicate, exchanging jokes and jabs. Tomorrow, they call her – and in the context of Tonight, it makes perfect sense. Street names, stealth suits, organized crime, casual talk about geeking and looting – at that moment, Chloe would bet all her fourteen nuyen on her sister being a shadowrunner. Which, admittedly, was a path she chose so many years ago.
And just when Chloe tries to figure out whether it’s a comforting or a scary thing, Sarah tells all those professional killers and smugglers to piss off and make her sister a sandwich. They laugh it off but make themselves scarce soon after. Adam casts Sarah a questioning glance, but she waves him away too. And a moment later, they are alone, just the two of them in a fortified garage, next to a jeep, crates of ammunition, and all of ALOHA’s explosives.
Sarah reaches inside the car and picks up Chloe’s bag. She smiles apologetically.
‘Sorry about them. They’re a bunch of assholes, but make good allies. I couldn’t have pulled it off without them.’
‘I get it.’ Chloe swallows, her throat dry and aching. ‘Sarah, I… With ALOHA…’
‘You don’t have to tell me,’ responds Sarah calmly. ‘You did what you had to in order to survive. We all did. You’re alive, you’re here. We’ll regroup, find your girlfriend, get rid of her father, and then you’ll be free to live your life with nothing but standard life annoyances. Deal?’
It’s suddenly as if a giant weight has been lifted. Chloe can feel the tears gathering in her eyes and she wipes at them, smearing the makeup completely. Sarah chuckles and hugs her again.
‘Girl, you’re a mess. I love you. Come on, let’s throw you under a shower and then put some proper food into you. Then we can talk. If you want to. Or go to sleep, your choice.’ She pets her sister’s matted hair. ‘You’re safe. I’m here. It’s all going to be alright.’
Oh my. This was the longest scenario I’ve played so far. 20 intervals! The complication of mid-night meeting in the kitchen did throw a spanner into my plan, but that’s the point – you can only plan so much ahead of time, and you never control all circumstances.
Also, hey – Tomorrow got her sister back.
Let’s wrap up the Scenario and move on.
Payout: 8 (2 points of disrupting the project, 1 point to remove ALOHA’s R1 Crew, 2 points worth of gear collected by the Cutters, 3 points worth of cash collected by Tomorrow)
Campaign progress: +8, total 55/100.
Tomorrow’s and Tonight’s Rep: +8, +1 point of general Influence for the Faction.
Scenario for the benefit of Chloe and Hawai’ian Cutters, raising Familiarity with both by 1. Chloe 8, Cutters Hawai’i 5.
Scenario hostile towards ALOHA, reducing Familiarity by 1. ALOHA 4. This also means we have the lowest Familiarity with ALOHA from all the Factions, and they are an abrasive Faction, with added priority to “hostile Projects against Factions with lowest Familiarity other than 1.” Which means they will be targeting us directly in retaliation. Oops. Also: ah well, still worth it.
Tomorrow: Sorcery +7, Stealth +3, Conjuring +1, Palming +2, Tactics +1, Marksmanship +1, Melee +1, Electronic Warfare +1, Engineering +1, Investigation +1, Diplomacy +1
Tonight: Investigation +3, Hacking +1, Software +1, Diplomacy +1, Con +2
Here comes the bounty! I’ve finished the Finale with whooping 7 net marks. I rolled a 4, which brings me all the way up to 10 (and some wasted change), resulting in magnitude 10 positive consequences.
The target Faction appreciated your efforts and gifted a beneficial Project with Payout equal magnitude. If caused by hostile move, the target Faction’s most hostile competitor appreciated it.
Well. Let me look. As far as ALOHA goes, their lowest Familiarity is with Tomorrow, after that it’s Hawai’ian Cutters and Yakuza. I can’t reward myself, so it’s a toss-up between Cutters and Yakuza. Odds or evens, folks?
5, so yakuza/MCT it is. Well. I suppose they were infiltrating ALOHA to destroy it, not to find Chloe for Aztech. Which, SR-lore-wise, works out perfectly – yakuza in Hawai’i was trying to keep peace on the islands, and as 50% of the population is Japanese, they were very much at odds with ALOHA’s ‘get rid of all corporations and non-Polynesians’ spiel. I guess by destroying ALOHA’s Crew, we did yakuza a favor. And they want to pay it back. As for the sake of organization I’m keeping yakuza together with Mitsuhama corporation, they’re a scientific Faction, and most of their assets are research facilities (a magical research facility in Denver, and the tech one in Hawai’i – that’s the one they were trying to recruit Chloe for)…
I don’t have yet any Familiarity with yakuza/MCT, so let’s me roll… And laugh at this brand new friendship of Familiarity 9. That’s… interesting.
I don’t want their project to directly affect the main campaign, because at this point, it’d have to come with data about Fayette or her father, and that just doesn’t follow with anything they’ve done so far.
Let me quote: Yakuza/Mitsuhama is focusing on their research in the two facilities they’ve recently built: one in Denver, one in Hawaii. On the grapevine, there’s enough stories of MCT scientists being on the brink of a massive discovery – whether all of that data is discovered through research or espionage, remains to be seen.
I think… I think I know what’s going to happen. But they first need to run this project, and it’s going to take them (5v2=5, 5v2=4, 5v2=5) three days to collect 10 marks, so I’ll leave it for Jan 12th.
For now… I think it’s all for now. It’s been a trip and a half, and Tomorrow has achieved what she set out to do. Now she just needs to not lose it again.