I have a pretty long backlog of write ups for a Deadlands campaign I've been running for nearly two years. Back in 2012, I was running a superhero game and the write ups for that are still floating around. Anyway, rather than keep them a secret, I've decided to share the love.
Also, this Actual Play is a little different. Standard for an RPG Actual Play is the GM writes up the events of the game as an objective play-by-play and gives some behind the scenes perspective. I'm not running this game, I'm playing in it, and so I'm trying to come at the Actual Play a little differently by writing it up in character.
No Fate is a dwarven physical adept (magically enhanced, rather than spell casting magic) in the year 2075, living in Hong Kong as a shadow runner. She's only been a criminal for about six months, after quitting her Knight Errant job because an eagle spirit told her to. Actually, Eagle just said she is destined to do greater things than work for Knight Errant, and she took that to mean being a shadowrunner because her favourite thing in the world is a TV series called 'Gunhaver and the Shadow Commandos.' But enough set up.
I give you, The Diary of No Fate, Episode 1: Better To Give
All I wanted was to catch a glimpse of Crack Stuntman as he came through Hong Kong International airport. Maybe get him to sign my replica Gunhaver armoured duster. I’d been loitering in arrivals about an hour when the Aleph icon flashed in my AR. My first thought was that it must be some kind of spam in the Ares Trode-band firmware. My second thought was that while this icon, whatever it was, obscured my view, I’d never see the well-polished combat boots of Crack Stuntman and his entourage (does he still have the sponsorship deal with Aztech’s synth-leather line?) go by amongst the see of legs in front of me. It wasn’t until my third thought that I decided to see what Aleph was and why it had decided now was a good time to get all up in my augmented field of view. Tap tap, digital tap.
A job offer. Go to the business class lounge to meet a contact. It wasn’t why I’d come star gazing at the airport, but I had a hunch the Crack Stuntman rumour wasn’t going to pan out and if I turned down work, I’d face not just the chance of coming up short for this month’s rent, but I’d fail Gunhaver. After all, when Gunhaver takes the job, Gunhaver gets the job done. And Gunhaver always takes the job. So, slot the rumours, it’s business time.
When I reached the business lounge, a queue had started to form and it was four chummers long (an eccentric crew of outcasts if ever I’d seen them. Runners all, for sure) before security let us in to meet Mr Wu. Or rather, to meet Eric, since he preferred to keep it casual. I can respect that.
Eric had a problem. He was a gwailo and he’d made a rookie gwailo move. Here in the FEZ, there’s no distinctions between gifts and bribes, and no business (business or “business” if you believe there’s a difference) gets done without appropriate gift exchanges. He had that right, but he’d made the mistake of giving four gifts to one Mr Xiao. If there’s one thing I remember from the Cultural Awareness Seminars Knight Errant ran for us back in Canton, it’s that four is bad juju in Chinese. Now, Eric had a flight to catch, but needed to top up his gifts, too. He’d put a call out to couriers and Aleph had tapped the five of us. Apparently. I still didn’t know where Aleph had come from or who my new associates were, but I knew we had a job to do and that’s good enough for this girl.
Of course, getting five runners and an important package around in a hurry presents an immediate logistical issue. Right here is where I should mention the troll in the room: Sailor Van. He’s a rigger. He’d come to the airport by van (not just a clever name) and could fit us all in together for a drive out to Kowloon. That’s right. Eric’s gift needed delivery to the Shichuan building in Kowloon; branch office of Eastern Tiger Corp. Null sweat. Why should I be worried about a visit to Eastern Tiger? Surely if they were coming gunning for me, they’d have done it in the last month. Yeah. Definitely that.
Gunhaver give me strength.
So, we had a job, and we had transport. What we didn’t have was a price and enough intel. Like Gunhaver says, running with only half the info is running blind, and the shadows are deep enough. I asked Eric what was in the box (What’s in the box!? No heads, far as I can tell. Wow, I haven’t watched that in an elf’s age. Due for another flatvid night) and he qualified it was a gift. Sounds simple enough. I could have pressed for more, but it’d have been poor form and the pretty breeder girl was giving me scowling side-eyes. Scowling side-eyes here being a clever euphemism for straight telling me not to ask what’s in the box. Sensing my cred was on the line with the woman and her exceptionally well contoured cheek bones, I let it go. The silence I made, she filled with a request for half the job’s pay up front. She called it standard. I like those standards. Eric didn’t know enough to argue (still not sure he knew we were runners) and authorised a transfer. A transfer to what? Did this cunning graduate of the Shadow Commando Cadettes (still got the badge around somewhere, and the trophy. Those kids had no hope of beating me on the obstacle course) with the pinkest hair in town just hand over her legit numbers to a Mr Johnson without a second thought? Omae of little faith, of course I didn’t.
I didn’t have to. Aleph had us covered with a shared escrow all set up and ready for the transfer. Sailor Van handed over those details and Eric made the down payment.
With our services paid for, we left Eric and hit the streets. Streets here being an unnecessary euphemism for the car park. I made a stop by the bike to grab my kit, then we loaded in and hit the road. Road here meaning the thing you drive on. No euphemisms this time.
While Sailor Van navigated (old school, no rigging, no pilot programs, just his hands on the wheel. Guess that officially makes him the… Wheelman) I suggested we introduce ourselves formal like. I’d barely said the words before Aleph dropped four names and comm IDs in my AR and filed them away into my contact list. Now, I didn’t spend much time around the Ares software development department, but I was pretty sure, at this point, that Aleph wasn’t standard issue for the Trode-band and it definitely wasn’t installed on my commlink when I woke up this morning. We’ve all heard stories about Technomancers, and it has long been my professional opinion that most of the stories are drek. Still, it’s enough to make a girl nervous.
But I couldn’t sweat that when I had a job to do. Mind on the run, commandos. Distractions are a Predator V to the head.
I’ve already mentioned Sailor Van and the impeccably dressed human woman, whose name is Stardust, as it happens. Don’t know why that sounds familiar. Also along for the ride was a vatjob in a suit going by Spook, and a decker named Panda. She’s an oni and I know as much about oni as I do about spam, which is to say a lot less than Panda. But her skin’s as pink as the hair on my head, and that’s got to count for something.
Just five runners running milk from one side of the FEZ to the other. Would have been null sweat had the traffic not stopped. Would have been very little sweat had the drivers not ditched their cars to bug out. Would have been manageable amounts of sweat had the reason for all this static not been a pack of peaceful protestors (peaceful protestors here being a cunning euphemism for anti-corp drekheads tearing up a noodle house and the local node with it.) While we could all agree that this wasn’t strictly our business, we could also agree that: A) if we didn’t get traffic moving, we’d have to cross Kowloon on foot and nobody wants that; B) Getting traffic moving meant moving along the protestors; C) Screwing with the node was a good way to ruin everybody’s day. You don’t need to be an eight-year veteran of urban tactical security to know that our best bet was hitting the protestors hard, fast and then corralling the locals back into their vehicles with a promise of situation normal. But since I am an eight-year veteran of urban tactical security… I forgot where I was going with that. Guess I just wanted to brag.
Anyway. We hit them hard, we hit them fast. Firebert and Reynald sung with such eloquence that before the protestors could figure out how hosed they were, three of them decided to lay down, share a cup of blood with the road, and rethink their rapidly ending lives. After Sailor Van caved in a skull with his fist, and the rest rushed back to the noodle bar to bunker down, calmly moved along with some arcane whispers courtesy of Stardust. We closed in, using the abandoned cars for cover, and lit them up. Firebert and Reynald kept singing their sweet song, but if anybody gets kudos for literally lighting the place up, it was Stardust and her balled lightning. Turns out she’s not so wiz with first impressions, but chummer knows how to make an impact.
All said and done, we’d fragged a gaggle of gangers and any we hadn’t fragged, bugged out, decker included. Old habits die hard, and I had my KE voice on and dished out orders without thinking. I sent Spook and Sailor Van back to grab our wheels, had Stardust do the sitch-norm announcement, and Panda and I checked out the node. We didn’t find a node, but we found a pile of drek resembling bricked node pieces. Nothing we could do, so we regrouped in the van just as a KE T-Bird came in to clean up. Sailor Van kept us under the radar and we moved on.
With a clean 15 minutes to spare (we got a bonus if we delivered by close of business), we arrived at the Shichuan building. I’d hoped the noodle incident would be enough trouble for one milk run, but a triad scuffle threatening to boil over into major static right by the Shichuan doors had the building in lockdown. Some kind of argument over which triad had rights on a young ork girl. We had no choice but to park and intervene.
So, we parked, and we intervened. Stardust began by enquiring as to the origin of the heated discourse the gangers were having. The gangers posited that she, “Fuck off, bitch.” Sailor Van suggested that they temporarily adjourn all squabbles and resume them some distance from the present location. The gangers countered with the notion, “Fuck off, trog.” Spook pulled his Roomsweeper (wonder if it has a name) and told them to make like a tree (wait for it…) and get out of there (definitely due for a flatvid night). The gangers seemed to like this idea most of all, and split. A quick call to the secretary later, and Stardust had the doors open. A quick chat with the secretary later, and a donation to the Secretaries Retirement Foundation, and we had our weapons checked, our package scanned and the elevator open. Mr Xiao welcomed us into his office with no shortage of confusion, but happily accepted the gift, and we were on our way.
Downstairs, back in the van, Stardust shot a message to Eric to tell him the job was done, and Eric shot the remaining creds to our escrow. It would have all been arctic had it not been for the gangers down the road pointing fingers and making general unhappy motions in our direction. None of us wanted to get caught in more triad biz, though, so we buckled in, Sailor Van jumped in, and we fed them heaping helpings of our dust. I wouldn’t have guessed it, but it turns out Sailor Van is also a Gunhaver and the Shadow Commandos fan. The stunt he pulled with the van, the alley wall and that broom handle under his seat, all while jumped in, is straight out of S08E11 (Drive Hangry, the one with Foxface’s funeral after she fakes her death because she thinks Admiral Flashfight might be a double agent working for Blue Laser Inc.) Uncanny.
It was exactly what we needed by way of an exit plan and the gangers never even made it within shooting range.
Sailor Van dropped us off back at the airport and we made our way home. I had my bike to grab, obviously, and Panda had left some cargo in a locker (I heard spam. I think the cargo was spam.) Back home, I stopped to see Rok and ask if he’d given my name to any other fixers, just in case Aleph was a friend of his. Nothing had come up, so I guess that’s a dead end. Still, a job’s a job and as long as the pay is good and there’s still honour among runners, Aleph can stay.
Oh, and I picked up some dodgy browning knock-offs and a faux HK 277 from the protestors. Mr Choi was only too happy to take them off my hands. Gentleman and a scholar, as always.