Campaign of the Month: November 2014
Shadowrun - The Rat's Nest
The Rat’s Nest: status update
- campaign termination
After over four years play yesterday the Rat’s Nest as I planned it and wanted it ended. It was a wonderful time of the best Shadowrun that I ever had the honor to be part of, but like all good things, they end at a point. But the Rat’s Nest isn’t just one group of players, one gamemaster or anything. It is a dream. And while this group ended yesterday, my dream will live on. Why it ended? Long story short, it was hijacked by two players of the group. But things like that happen. You know, humans.
I now have to rebuild this idea and restart this project. I thank every one of our fans and followers for their appreciation and their support.
What is the Rat’s Nest? The Rat’s Nest is not dead. It is an idea that is alive and will always be alive. And not only I am dreaming it, others are dreaming it, too. But obviously not those who took this from me. I am not bitter about this, I had seen this coming and I have to apologize to everyone at this point to cut a line here, but what I wanted to do is not the random cyberdude running and killing corpdudes. This is a dream and this dream is worth to rescue and to live on. And it will.
I always was trying to do what Mike Pondsmith, who you might also know from the new game Cyberpunk 2077, did with Cyberpunk 2020 but as he failed with 2020 I have to start over. And when he started over it was the game “Cybergeneration” from 1995, where he found the words that went directly to my heart and that made me implement his dream in my world, in the system Shadowrun. And there is not much to say more than that and so I will quote him at this point like I did when my campaign ended abruptly yesterday. Almost like the death is coming on the dark neon light streets of this world:
The View from the Street
»So you wanna know how to join the Cybergeneration? Or maybe just understand it?
Here’s the way it came down. we created a great world in Cyberpunk, a world full of film noir romance, double-crossing bad guys, stylish killers, and disaffected, cynical heroes. And Io, we looked out upon what we’d wrought and said, whoa, this is truly bitchin’.
But then a snake arose in Eden. A big one. The average Edgerunner character began to profile something like this: a mid-twenties to thirties professional (Solo, Nomad, Netrunner, Techie, whatever), armed to the teeth with high-tech cyberware, milspec weapons, aerodynes and body armor. He had a pocket full of Euro to finance his bad habits, and a web of connections wide enough to awe the Amazing Spiderman®. His main enemies were omnipotent, faceless Corporations with private armies, evil plots, and the bankrolls of medium-scale superpowers. As Cyberpunk spread out to players around the world, the emphasis began to center on guns, big vehicles, and large scale power-plays that encompassed whole nations.
Okay, it may have been the Edge. But it wasn’t the Street. It was starting to get more like James Bond Meets the Six Million Dollar Man. We wanted to get Cyberpunk back to its streetwise roots. We wanted to get back to the lone hero with a gun and an attitude, up against the brutal world around him, instead of a cyber superdude battling some megacorp with the assets of the Legion of Supervillains.
Then somebody in the office came up with this idea. With all these “Mister Studds” and sexy cyberbabes running around, sombody in the 2020 universe must be having kids, right? So what were they like?
Imagine being raised in the filthy environment where sudden death is the norm, where drugs and weapons are cheap; where your parents sell their souls to do dirty black op jobs for corrupt Corporate overlords, where people commonly cut off body parts to trade them in for metal prosthetics. Would it make you bitter? Hareened? Cynical?
Probably not. There’s an axiom that every generation rebels against its parents’ values. Why should it be any different with the Cybergeneration? If your parents are money grubbing Corporate materialists, you’ll chuck it and drop out of the rat race. If your elders trashed the environment, you’ll probably restore it — just to honk them off. You’ll hang with your peers, gobodys, gangboys, yorunnerrs; since your parents are either dead or out running the Edge, you’ve had to raise yourselves. You’ll know how to use guns, knives, and monos, but you won’t have the euro to buy them often. When you do, you may refrain simply because you’ve seen too much killing. You’ll settle your conflicts with Kung Fu, boots, fists and savage beatings instead.
Drugs? You don’t touch ‘em. You saw your parents go down in an avalanche of bad synthetics and nasty pharmaceutical “deals.” You go for “smart” vitamins: stuff that will enhance you, not make you high. Cybertech? You won’t be able to implant cyberware because your bodies will still be growing too fast; you won’t want to anyway, because that was what your parents thought was cool. To you, it’s like wearing granny glasses and bell bottoms.
You’re not a buncha “tree huggers”, but you don’t mind taking over a redwood forest from a megacorp, if it’ll really get in their faces. You don’t know politically correct; you say what you mean and are brutal about it, because the adults in your life spend most of their time lying. You have your own style, and you show it; it’s an in-your-face, take-no-prisoners, nothing-to-lose way of living, where you don’t give ground to nobody. You also have something your parents don’t: hope.
But mostly, you’re mad. Mad because your grandparents can tell you about a time when there was air you could breathe, water you could drink, cities that weren’t ruled by megacorps and hired killers, and animals that weren’t in zoos. You’re mad because you should have had all that, and some greedy Corporate Dead Guys took your fraggin’ inheritance and blew it away like lint.
Then, one day, a disaster happens: another biotech spill in a world full of toxic emergencies. It washes over the City, killing people right and left. Until it gets to you and your goboys. It washes over you too, but when it passes, you stand up, and you look around, and you know you’ve been changed. Forever.
Because now, you have the Power. Power to tackle the Corps head on. They’re not even giving you a choice; they’re rounding you up in so-called “internment camps” and shooting you down like dogs. So you draw the line in the sand and war is declared. You and your goboys. Against the Corporations. Against your parents. Against the whole fraggin’ world. Mano a mano, to the death. To reclaim what they took from you.
Now you’re Cybergeneration« – Mike Pondsmith, from Cybergeneration 1995
Thank you very much, thank all of you for participation. But my dream, the dream behind Rat’s Nest has not died yesterday. But I have to rebuild, oh and how much I have to rebuild. This destructive Borderline thing took not only this campaign, it took all players and maybe friends and years of work. I tried to save this, I tried everything I could to prevent this, but the decision was not mine. I tried up to the last second to heal, to offer compromises and all that, but some things just happen and are beyond your control. And I’m very sorry to have to shut this down at this point, but I guess everybody will see, that I have to save my dream, that I was dreaming from about even earlier than the year 2000, longer than I can remember. Where I dreamed a low life, low tech street level campaign, where I reorganized the world of Shadowrun to an almost consistent sandbox that was the Rat’s Nest.
This is something we Germans call Lebenswerk, where so much of yourself is in it, that it needs a life to build.
Those who split the group did this. They took the people, the story but I can’t give away this dream and they will understand. At least I hope. It hurts badly that it went down this way and I tried to dodge this bullet, but I was just running out of dice luck this time, my Edge was spent and so I ended up a vat job. But this idea will rise again as you can’t fight the final fight against the rats.
As long as I live. I have to rebuild now.
Many thanks, too, to the people of Obsidian Portal that helped this campaign very much with their support and their work and everybody who was a reader and a fan. But every story has an end. Every end is a beginning.
And this story ends here. Still you have all the stuff that happened to read and to learn about how to do a world like this. I hope everybody had as much fun and joy as I had with this.
The Nest is dead, long live the Rat’s Nest! The Nest will rise again, my friends.
The Rat’s Nest
The asphalt jungle of the year 2071 in Seattle, United Canadian and American States. While megacorporations dictate the life Downtown and their mighty and wealthy structures that manifest in chrome, glass and steel constructs all over the coast of the Puget Sound, life behind those shallow waters of the rich is not as glamorous.
Behind the shadows of the skyscrapers and arcologies, pressed with their back to the walls of polluting factories and corporate facilities live the people without a future in this new glamorous Matrix driven “Emerald City” – the lowlifes. The squatters, the gangs, the drug dealers and those who are hunting them – the predators of the night.
While many of those dream dreams about becoming famous rock stars or nasty drug barons some have no hope to even get to that. Deep back pressed by the booming city behind the steep hills of the Cascades, buried in the ashes and acid rain of the still smoking Mount Rainer are the infamous Barrens, worst of all maybe the Redmond Barrens. Once a blooming district but after the awakening and two matrix crashes the district is lost. The people living there, in abandoned ruins and gang-run turfs, are squatters. And even those do not dare to go deeper into the biggest slum of the continent. But a few live even there, where nobody goes – the Rat’s Nest.
Okay, pal, you’ve heard a lot of the Rat’s Nest, it’s not as bad as ya think. We live on the biggest landfill of the continent but we have work. We are recyclers and we are proud of that. We have organized ourselves, we try to be useful, we live from what the rest of the Barrens – the rest of the city is throwing away. There’s no shame in being a recycler.
And this is our world. We are the last bastion of civilization out here. We live in a container settlement on the stinking banks of the Snoqualmie River, that washes the dirt of chemical plants downstream. Waste water that nobody cares about because it’s coming down contaminated by Glow City anyways, those radiating ruins of that reactor that blew up. The people there – they’re worse than us. We – we have work. We have pride. We have even our own police force. We call them the Scrappers.
About one thousand to two thousand people work on the fields daily – which is what we call the landfill. But only about two hundred have organized themselves into our settlement. Chinese, Vietnamese, Irish, a few Latinos – a melting pot.
No Sir, we’re not thieves. Not here. Okay, things happen to turn up here that went missing elsewhere but that’s the way recycling works, isn’t it? Where do you think the wares are coming from you can buy at the Bargain Basements? Who do you think delivers goods to Touristville, the old Redmond district? Who do you think does all the work and keeps the Barrens running?
It’s us. The Scrappers. Us, the squatter community that gets called “the worst gang land and a shame for Seattle”. I’m telling ya, it’s all lies and propaganda. We have a law. And we live and we die by it.
This campaign may contain sexual content or strong language. If you feel easy offended by themes like sexuality, politics, religion or violence you are advised not to read our stuff. We do not explicitly aim for these issues but we don’t avoid them either. This is a cyberpunk campaign in the original meaning about freedom, suppression, violence, madness, sex, crime, drugs and rock ‘n roll. If you are not mature enough or too sensitive for this, please stay away. For your own sake. It’s just our style of game, we don’t want to offend anyone, we do what we think fits in our world. It’s a writer’s decision about style.
It’s not kids’ stuff. Everyone else – enjoy.