Campaign of the Month: November 2014

Shadowrun - The Rat's Nest

Summary
a short-ish summary

December 2070

The Rat’s Nest is raided by Knight Errant / Hard Corps and partly destroyed, most of the Scrappers are arrested. After a sniper shoots five Hard Corps men the next morning, the Nest is evacuated. While it’s almost empty, the Picas move in.

During the time out of the Nest, the Scrappers are let go again by the police who had nothing much to charge them with. Neil finds out that he is Awakened when he summons a spirit by accident and meets Glitzy, who agrees to teach him. They begin a relationship.

The Nest is retaken from the Picas who no longer exist as a gang after that. A short while later, people get stuck in a UV host modelled after the Warsaw Ghetto and only just manage to escape.

January 2071
Glitzy and Maggie run a con on a businessman. Because Glitzy is too honest for her own good, she afterwards arranges for the man to work as a Johnson. 10k go missing from the Nest’s finances and it seems that someone has managed to program people to give the money away and not remember it afterwards. So far, it’s not known how or who. Rusty starts working as a runner for Glitzy.

February 2071
Roger Kowalski and Babsie open up a detective agency and immediately get in trouble with, presumably, the Yakuza.

March 2071
Babsie works her own first case and meets Fog, Zach, Jet and Stanley. Tempo slowly grows into a problem for the Nest and Neil loses Whistler when he tries to find a way to get rid of the addiction. After a run on the Maria Magdalene Sanatorium, fifty girls take refuge in the Nest. Fog, Zach, Jet, Stanley and Rusty have really pissed off a lot of important people and have a runner team searching for them. One of the girls, Fairy Fay, is a drake and hides out at Glitzy’s for now.

April 2071
The Rat’s Nest find out who stole all that money: Gen Wong, a rat shaman. Cornered, he fights and is killed by Neil. Lao Jia, his rat spirit, frees herself and moves in at the Nest. Zach is brought onto the UV Host and barely survives it. Fog hooks up with a witch, Kiki, and is currently wanted for killing a cop.

May 2071
Fog, Jet, Stanley, Zach and the Working Girls make a successful run on a chocolate factory and steal a ton of chocolate, but find out that it’s fake, grown from engineered algae. While hiding out at an abandoned chemical plant, they survive an attack by the Rusted Stilettos.

June 2071
Glitzy brokers a deal for the chocolate with the Stone family in Boston. A million for the ton, delivered to Boston. Fog, Stanley, Zoé, Jet and Nebraska go on a roadtrip and against all odds actually deliver the chocolate. Tyrell Agency investigates a series of arsons at talismonger shops.

July 2071
The group starts cleaning up a fertilizer plant near Glow City and goes on a metaquest to get rid of two toxic spirits. They succeed, but everyone pays a price for it. After that, they spend time preparing for the raid on the Rusted Stilettos headquarter in Glow City to free Rook.

August 2071
Frettchen gets a job at the clinic. The Stilettos raid goes ahead and Rook is successfully brought back from Glow City. At the Nest, the Celavies raid the hackers, destroy the Nest’s matrix and arrest Cobble. Ningbo, the reason for the raid, has already left, taking the Nest’s server with him and warning no-one.

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Masterpost
all adventure logs

Adventure Log Timeline – use this to read it all in order

August 2071

July 2071

June 2071

May 2071

April 2071

March 2071

February 2071

January 2071

December 2070

November 2070

April 2054

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Insurance

Slicer’s busy chopping vegetables in the kitchen
So that was kinda weird. I’m still trying to find out what happened back in Afghanistan and Chuck told me that the widow of Lieutenant Baker was living in Boston. Doing pretty well for the wife of a soldier who’s only MIA. The benefits are not all that generous even when you’re KIA and since she’s not some heiress or shit, this is suspicious.

Rusty was flying over to Boston anyway with Líng, so Frettchen and I tagged along. I don’t know what Rusty’s doing, but he needed to get Firefox into a hospital. So Frettchen waltzes in, demanding that they do an artificial insemination for her. On her. Whatever. With that guy he points at himself she just picked up on the street because, damn, he’s strong and stuff and what more does a woman need? While everyone is staring at her in complete shock and people are trying to explain that no, she doesn’t get to do a handjob on me even if things WERE so easy, I hook up with one of their copy machines and get Firefox into the system. No-one thinks about building a firewall for a copy machine, right?

I don’t know if this worked out, none of my fucking business. Frettchen and I had called Baker’s wife and she was really happy to meet one of the boys. Talked a lot about her husband and she had tons of photos and shit. She told me that her money comes from a sort of insurance deal her husband had. Like fuck. If she knows anything, she’s a world-class actress. I mean, she kinda knows that deals like that don’t exist, but she doesn’t want to think about it. I get the feeling that she’s happier with the money and her husband’s memory that she’d be with the actual man. Can’t say I blame her, he was a cold bastard.

We went out of there with a bottle of scotch and the name of some general. Next trip will be to Washington, if I can figure out a way to reach the man. Can’t call him up to just chat. And I don’t give a flying fuck for my chances if anyone finds out that I got nosy. Anyway, we shared the bottle with a couple of homeless vets we met on the way back to the hotel and that was a pretty good end to the day.

He reaches out to turn off the recording and the last thing heard is Frettchen yelling from the next room if Slicer knows where they can buy a grand piano and some rocket fuel for cheap.

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A Grave Matter
Father Phil's diary

Today, a rather strange man came by the church. He introduced himself as Dr. Munroe, apparently he works at the clinic in Snohomish, the one with the soup kitchen. He also told me that he is a shaman, but for that I have to take his word, of course.

He wished to tell me that a friend of his sent a spirit to our cemetery. If his story is to be believed, the spirit was banished from the Arcology, has lost most of its powers and now has to spend seven weeks at the cemetery before the banishment loses its power. The spirit is not exactly friendly, but as Dr. Munroe assured me, too weak to be more than a nuisance at worst. And there is a chance that it will learn to behave itself while it’s here, that the positive atmosphere of the cemetery will have an effect on it. If the spirit proves to be too much trouble, Dr. Munroe promised that another solution could be found.

I am not sure whether I believe any of this. I still haven’t ruled out the possibility that this is some kind of con or that the good doctor simply is a few sandwiches short of a picknick. He seemed to honestly believe every word he said. Maybe we could ask Mr. Ryder to take a look around the cemetery? I would like to know for sure. If this all really is true and the spirit does not harm anyone, I am inclined to let it stay.

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Ninja for hire
Masayuki's Log

I knew this day would come, sooner or later. Maybe I should have left on my own terms, but loyalty is a hard habit to break. I do have much to be grateful for and it always counted more than the snide remarks or outright contempt.

I’m not completely sure that this was a setup, but even if it wasn’t, I do know that my career, if not my life, would be over if I went back. It wasn’t an easy job in any case: bring back a sleeper assassin who had gone rogue. Without knowing she is an assassin. I don’t know the details – and that was the first warning sign – but it seems she had been arrested by a federal Marshall, had escaped custody, had been picked up by a priest and a ghoul and all three of them were not working with the Marshall again.

It took me ages to get a trace, our mages are all busy with the Tempo war and here was the next warning sign – if this was so important, why did we not get magical support even though the priest is a mage, too? My people are excellent at what they do, but magic is always a problem.

What I did get were the codewords to activate the sleeper and to make her defend herself against anyone who is not Yakuza. That should have worked in our favour. Finding our targets was not much of a problem with the magical trace and we got to them just when they were trying to get into their cars.

I activated the sleeper and gave orders to kill or at least knock out the priest. Our orders were to bring the sleeper back, the others were not important. Two minutes later, two of my people were dead, two unconscious and the rest of us broke off the attack. There was no way we could win that fight. Not with the sleeper working against us. I don’t know if those people managed to break her programming or if this was deliberate on the part of my principals, but I suspect the latter.

Ran, Seiji, Yugo and I got away. Yugo went back to fulfill his code of honour, but the rest of us decided that we would like to live a bit longer, if possible. Which remains to be seen.

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The Halls Without Lights

And so, the smugglers led the company into the prison. A place with bright candles that shed no warmth and walls that forbid any sun and daylight from the prisoners who lived here.
Unnerving mirages and eerie music dulled their senses, clawing into ears, eyes and minds.
Still, countless souls tried to hold on to a semblance of life and thus the first thing the company saw was another marketplace.
Time was not their ally, so they made haste, but with haste came commotion, when the Sage and the Girl of Too Many Words picked fights with the bandits ruling various floors of the massive prison.
Some were bribed, some were decisively pummeled and it was easy to see that the company’s journey upwards would be a long one.
At least, they had a clear direction, since theSpirit followedCobble’s tracks with a keen nose and by reading the prison’s memories.
She also found the home of an Unseen Man, who was part of their reforged deal. He expected a package, and they would deliver it. An underling of this reclusive wizard told the Spirit they’d even meet up with them several stories below their own, to spare them some trouble.
This was good news, however, the Girl of Too Many Words became sadder with every floor the company ventured through:
She couldn’t bear the injustice brought upon the common folk by bandit lords and their brutish enforcers.
The Girl of Too Many Words wanted to give them a taste of their own medicine, balance things out through violence, if necessary.
A sentiment the Spirit understood all too well.
Oh, how she tried to leave the avenger behind, but the memories of violence and cruelties unpunished seeping through the thick stone made it a difficult endeavor for the fallen guardian.
This place yearned for a vengeful spirit like her, someone who settled the scores for those who could not.
The Spirit promised her friend The Dog, however. She promised to find balance.
She heeded the call of the Girl of Too Many Words, but there was no blood spilled.
At night, she visited the Bandit Lord with promises of pain and suffering, should he choose to keep bleeding out his subordinates.
Promises he took very serious, for spirits are known to keep their word.
And so, the next morning started with smiles.

This didn’t last, however.
The stairs lead them to a dark place, halls without light, where outcasts, even among the criminals, were sent on their last journey.
With one of those outcasts, a Crestfallen Man accused of murder, the company braved the gloom resonating with atrocities of the past.
The Spirit objected, but the others did not want to leave a fellow man behind.
It didn’t take long until the sinister whispers of these lightless halls clawed into the company’s mind.
They hissed of treachery and distrust, fleeting phantoms feeding dark thoughts.
To the Spirit, however, they offered temptations of might and former glory, the solace of embracing the sweet poison that made her so much more powerful than in her chosen place caught between the things she was and wanted to be again.
For now, she could resist.
They were whispers, nothing more. Lures laid out by ravenous shadows skulking the corridors.
The company made it through the day, but they needed rest.
Weighed down by sorrow and carefully planted fear, they found some respite under the barrier the Spirit summoned for shelter.
The shadows of past atrocities grew impatient, angry, banged at the protective magic until it collapsed.
But the company was already on its way again.
Whatever hope the Spirit had, it fell apart with the will of her companions. She stretched herself too thin by trying to protect them, and thus she, too started to believe the hall’s lies.
She lead them astray, disappeared and decided it was time to let the halls have their prey.
She was better off alone, anyway, right?
These people were holding her back.
Paranoia among the Girl of Too Many Words, the Troubled Sage and the Disgraced Bandit had been sown and now it was time to reap violence.
The Sage lay in ambush, the Girl tried to escape, ready and eager to shoot her way out of this.
The Bandit, used to a life of combat and hardship, did not take chances when the Crestfallen Man crossed his path in desperate fury.
The flailing murderer was no match for him and with a gnashing crack and the spray of crimson blood, his cursed iron arm ended the Crestfallen Man’s life.
The Halls Without Light got what they craved.
But their hunger was not yet satiated.
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The City Beneath the City

Our fellowship ventured forth from the troubled bubble kingdom in a carriage, driven by alocal lawman. He was the beloved of the Girl of Too Many Words. His features were deformed and the curse of the corpse-eaters coursed through his veins, but she loved him nonetheless.
Though, for all her words, she didn’t have many for him, when they parted as they reached their destination. Perhaps, where too many words flow, more important thoughts wander astray.
The Walls of the underground city stood for centuries, forsaken, almost forgotten. First they became a sanctuary for those hunted and shunned, then, the city beneath the city became their home.
The tunnels and passageways of the orks and trolls ran wide and the people of the underground knew them. Some lead to dangerous places, like the temple of the dead god where the company needed to go.
But first they had to strike a deal with crafty scoundrels who would bring them safely inside the prison.
The Sage would take care of the bargain itself, meeting with those who’d crave the unlikely company’s coin in exchange for their shadowy expertise.
Meanwhile, the rest of them would find entertainment and relieve in this wondrous place. The Disgraced Bandit and the Girl of Too Many Words set out for drinks and dancing and the Spirit enjoyed the bountiful supply of food the street market had to offer.
She was careless, as riches had little value to her, and sticky hands took whatever money she brought with her.
Unable to pay the owner of a fine mushroom parlor, she offered to repay him in service in his kitchen and he agreed. Little did he know that the trivial task of chopping and slicing vegetables brought great joy to a sad spirit like her and was rewarding to in its own right. Then again, how would he know, if a spirit looked as human as she did? Some of the residents able to look behind the veil recognized what creature happily helped the fortunate cook and people were as spooked as they were intrigued.
And the mushroom kitchen had a peculiarly busy day.

The Girl and the Bandit, after an exhausting evening of dancing, were ready to meet up with the Sage and picked up the spirit after she finished working and a small incident involving too bold urchins and a pocket full of roaches. This stirred up some unwanted attention, but is was nothing bothersome.
The Sage informed them, that the smugglers would agree to guide the company, but a price had yet to be negotiated.
The good news turned into troubles, when the Girl of Too Many Words decided to play a game of mirages with the locals.
Without their consent and without considering it impolite.
The answer to her transgression followed swiftly and with force. The Bandit and the Spirit got between her and the angry pair of orks soon enough.
But the now Slightly Troubled Sage had to explain to their smuggling kinsmen, why she found it funny to insult the orks in their very home and why they shouldn’t double their initial price.
With wisdom and dwindling patience, he reforged the deal so the journey and our story would not come to an abrupt end.
The smugglers of the Underground City would guide the Unlikely Company through the maze and into the Prison.

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Ghost Story
Neil's Journal

I promised you a story about Lao. She’s been living at the Nest for some months now and it goes surprisingly well. She made friends with a little girl, Dandan, and found her family – Dandan had been living on her own since her parents had been killed in the Barrens not far from the Nest. Her grandparents were overjoyed to get her back and only slightly disturbed by the fact that she now has a rat spirit as her special guardian.

I think this chance meeting gave Lao the push she needed onto the road back to the spirit she used to be. There’s still much that can go wrong, she has been a toxic spirit for a very long time. But even though she could easily get her power from suffering and hate, she tries not to. She told me she had been a protector once and she wants to be one again.

I invited her over for dinner because I wanted to talk and see if there was anything I could do. Food is definitely a way to get her attention, she really enjoys this particular perk of having an actual body. She worries about the copy of her true name we have squirrelled away as insurance. And she offered me a pact: the copy will be bound to me, no-one else will be able to use it and no new copies can be made from this particular one. In exchange, I will not age any more.

I did not think that I’d be offered something close to eternal life when I got up that morning. I also would not have thought that Lao would trust me that much. If I die, the copy can be used by anyone again, so I’m not painting a target on my back, too. I decided to accept her offer, for the next seven years. To seal it, we will go on a metaquest. Not strictly necessary, but I think it’s a good way to strengthen the bond we seem to have developed.

She also told me that the Nest has a rat king, a former ally of Gen Wong. We need to get rid of him and I probably won’t be open to negotiations this time. He’s already controlling some people, although to a much lesser extent that Gen did, and of course the rats and the devil rats. Lao can help with that particular problem.

I couldn’t take her word for this, though, not when I need to decide whether to kill someone or not. So she allowed me access to her psychometry and to her memories. I got what I wanted and I also got a very good look at her past. Hundred of years of hate and pains and despair, all delivered right into my brain in the space of a couple of minutes.

And then I did it again because I thought I had gotten a very quick look at Lao’s death or at least at a time when she wasn’t toxic. In a way, it really was her death, although it seems she has always been a spirit. But I got to see the aftermath of the death of the shaman who was her, I don’t know, master or partner, who was kind to her in any case. He died fighting insect spirits and that should tell you just how old Lao really is. After that, she was called upon by another shaman and he was the one who asked her to kill, to avenge the deaths of the villagers she had protected for so long.

I dream about her memories and when things get quiet, I can still feel the pain that is part of her existence now. It will pass, at least for me.

I have selfish reasons to help her, of course. As a toxic spirit, she is a danger to the Nest. But I also have come to like her. I’d call her a friend, even, as strange as that sounds. And if I can do anything to help her, I will. The metaquest will be a trip into her past as well, we will try to recover the aura of the focus her shaman carried and use it to seal our pact. Maybe we can uncover some more memories of her life before she became toxic as well.

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The Unlikely Company

Some stories are harder to believe than others.
This part of a certain story is most likely going to be one of those.
Our tale begins in the far western region of a vast country. There, at the shores of the ocean, a city stood and it was a city of contrast: bright and shining, yet dirty and dangerous; diverse, yet isolated, a playground for greed and villainy, strewn with small beacons of compassion and redemption, gleaming through the struggle of so many.
Within its limits was a small community of people. They didn’t have much, but they were, for the most part, content. Life here was tough, so they became tough as well. Their home was a place of rust and abandoned things. Things discarded and forgotten, but brought back to light and purpose by the Junk People and their Queen.
And among them lived aspirit.
She was a guardian once, but her story is one of rage and sadness. Now, the poison ran deep within her, for the protector had fallen and became an avenger.
However, in a twist of fate, she shattered her shackles and with her new found freedom and the trust of a new friend, the spirit saw that there was yet hope.
With his help, she tried to remember what is was like to be a protector of the living again, instead of a vengeful voice of the dead.
She found solace in her new home, a glimpse of the happiness she once knew, even.
But one day, something threatened the peace of the people’s delicate bubble kingdom.
Balance, ever so fragile in this place had been upset, first by men without true faces, who took away the most precious thing from the Queen of the Junk People: a little stone, more precious than any jewel, for it was her son, Cobble.
Bound by fear for the life of her son, she could do nothing against the greedy vultures, swooping in to drive her people from the Fields of Abandoned Things.
There was unrest, turmoil.
The spirit couldn’t bear to see her home descent into chaos and suffering, she had seen too much of that. She had tied her fate to this soil and so, free as she was, she offered her help to retrieve the Queen’s son.
And she was not alone in her will to restore balance to her home.
The task ahead was dangerous, something a light heart surely could not bear, yet still, an unlikely company had gathered:
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A Girl of too Many Words from the uncivilised lands of the Midwest, clad in a cloak of mirrors.
A Disgraced Bandit, cursed with a jaw and an arm of iron who sought to regain glory and respect after his clan banished him.
And the leader of this band of brave souls, a Troubled Sage of the Junk People, honorbound by a deep friendship to the Queen.
Well, actually, he wasn’t that troubled yet, but given the company he was in and the way that was ahead this was soon to change…
These four had to go to the temple of a dead machine god, a temple that became a prison. First for the god, then for people.
This is where they would find the Queen’s son.
First, though, they had to find a way in.
And this way, led through a city, underneath a city

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Spam and Trash

Two weeks. I’m terrified, to be honest. Not so much of actually being a father, but of everything that may happen to the twins. Probably normal, but it doesn’t help when you’re living a barely legal life.

Case in point: the Celavies raided the hackers. They were after Ningbo who didn’t bother to tell anyone even though he knew. Knew early enough to take the server and run. Fuck him. Instead, they got Cobble and they took down the Nest’s matrix. We need to come up with a way to get it back and quick, peoples’ lives depend on this. Right now, we’re getting swamped by spammers and malware, everything the sleazy side of the Matrix can throw at us. Firefox and the pixies help to keep a minimum of order. The hackers and Zach are working hard to solve the problem.

We’ve decided to go legal-ish this time. And that includes a visit to the Draco Foundation because someone needs to set up a legit business for us so we can get business rates from NeoNet – that way, the Nest can actually pay for its Matrix. The clinic’s been earning more money lately, we can go down with our rates a bit, so the people won’t need to pay that much more rent. The Draco Foundation agreed to the deal and the price is one run from Fog, to be specified at a later time, and a month of my time, spent in Boston at their labs.

I cannot say that I feel terribly comfortable knowing that they have their eye on me. But they were civil enough and they get what they want without twisting my arm, so I hope I won’t get blackmailed into something more. I didn’t plan on becoming an authority on ghouls, but it seems I am. The Foundation is welcome to my data and the little research I did.

Ningbo won’t show his face at the Nest again if he’s smart and he’s out of the committee, too. Faye will speak for the hackers in future and I think it will serve them much better than being represented by Ningbo. Zach will probably become much more involved with them now. And the Recyclers got their second vote on the committee even though they need to vote amongst themselves to decide who it’ll be. If it weren’t for Cobble, I’d say everybody won.

Cobble is being kept in the ACHE and I think the Celavies would have tried to disappear him. I had a slightly unpleasant talk with the Celavie who was leading the raid and who did his best to convince me that he knows everything worth knowing about us. I doubt it, but I won’t underestimate them either. Anyway, the lieutenant who represented the Knights didn’t like the Celavie much and gave me everything we needed to keep track of Cobble. We need to get him out as soon as possible, for his own good and for that of the Nest.

Another corp, Green Earth Solutions, is trying to shoulder into the recycling business and if they do, they will put most of the recyclers out of work. It would mean the death of the Nest, we couldn’t make a living any longer. So there will be war, in a way. We need to get the dirt on that company. The Recyclers will probably go on strike to draw attention to the whole situation and to fight for better wages, that has been long coming and it’s been organized for quite some time now. But the first battle will be to get Cobbles out of the ACHE – otherwise Aislyn will be open to blackmail.

It sounds like a joke: a union man, a cyberork, a street girl and a toxic spirit walk into a bar. But this is our team for the job. At least no-one in their right mind would suspect them of anything like this. Pablo is a solid choice, Ruckus seems like one, Nebraska is, well, Nebraska and Lao … Lao has come a long way since she freed herself, but that’s a another story.

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