Ruinous Discovery (Premade Run)

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OOC

I've done this job before in Wanna Be Starting Something, but I've come up with a few ideas on how to make it better. Kearn from my experiences and use this job to your liking!

GM Difficulty

Not many things are happening in conjunction, with notetaking you can episodically take one sequence at a time. I presuppose that you're able to come up with stats for opposition on the fly, although I'll include recommendations for the most relevant pools of opposition in this premade run. If nothing else, the rule of 12 plus or minus some dice against most things runners do has been doing wonders for me for years.

Run Abstract

This run is going to lead player characters into gloomy Matrix meets, the notorious slums of Los Angeles and the city's large underground network Deep Lacuna, where both smugglers and shamanic tribe members reside. From there, to a newly discovered island (an alchera) full of dangers and an ominous temple. Betrayal, otherworldly danger, an escape scene, this job should encompass much of what makes Shadowrun an exciting game.

Run Theme

The atmosphere should change often and flexibly, creating a bunch of interesting moods by the end of this. The Matrix meet is high-tech, sleek, working for an ostensibly evil corporation with a reasonable but firm, calculating Johnson. The slum scene is Urban decay at its finest, pure, unadulterated cyberpunk. The caves with the two types of civilizations create an odd divide between weird anachronistic spiritualism and criminal activity. Finally, the temple island is full of strange nature and dark, otherworldly danger.

Party Composition

Required: Decker or Face, Street Sam, Awakened(magically knowledgeable)

  • You'll have plenty of opportunities for combat, so combat-capable characters are always welcome.
  • Deckers or Faces will help get characters the information they need to get through challenges without punching everything in the face, because sometimes it could go bad for them.
  • Awakened, or people with magical knowledge, will be able to interact with the magical side of this run fairly well, such as the tribesmembers in the Lacuna or the island + temple.


Optional: Decker or Face, Infiltrator

  • Always nice to have more options when it comes to facilitating things, so complementing the decker with a face is great for run structure.
  • Infiltrators will be able to steal info from gangers or smugglers!

Run Structure

In general, feel free to change as much of this job's structure as you'd like, these are just a template for you to customize your own run.

Dramatis Personae

Mr Johnson

  • I used Null on this run, an open Aztechnology J who will only meet on the Matrix.
    • Aztechnology Johnsons have historically hidden their allegiances and connections because shadowrunners like to kill them for belonging to such a reprehensible organization. Null deals with that by showing up on the Matrix and being brutally honest about everything he wants his runners to do.
  • The J is consequent and has been burned by runners with Bad Rep on his previous run, so he'll want to make sure this job is gonna go by the books.

Ivan Cox (Target Fixer)

  • Never asked for his team to betray such an important job and got burned.
  • Not actually a kill target for the runners, but his reputation got ruined.
  • Went into hiding by calling in a favor from his good friend, a gang leader by the name of Macario "Grinder" Velez.
  • Currently resides on gang turf in the lawless slum El Infierno. He'll be wherever you'd like him to be there.
  • Has information who his runners know and what resources they'd likely utilize.

Macario "Grinder" Velez

  • Leader of a gang in El Infierno. I called the gang Spicy Boiz, but you may give them any name you'd like.
  • Considers himself and his gang to be badass because they once were three gangs that unified into one powerful organisation with plenty of surprisingly powerful goons.

Mwaxinare

  • The leader of the Deep Lacuna tribe.
  • Calm, clad in traditional cloth and jewelry, powerful spirit summoner.
  • Will not allow passage through his realm unless the runners conform to tradition. No exceptions.

Voodoo Axle

  • Smuggler sometimes working for the errant runner team
  • Currently unavailable due to being stuck in a locker in the Deep Lacuna
  • Will happily help the runners to get revenge on the team that betrayed them.

Sidewinder

  • Novahot decker! He is remorseful of the choices his team's made and will die shortly after the runners meet him.

Pixie

  • Troll Street Sam, muscle replacements, beefy and powerful. We'll talk about his stats later on when he shows up in the story.
  • Convinced his party to betray the Johnson to chase some sort of "treasure" on a ghost island that the item they stole was supposedly the key of.
  • It turns out that there was no treasure, only evil powers sealed away and released thanks to Pixie, the rest of his runner team slain or succumbing to wounds.

Other Runners

  • You can name them whatever you want and imagine whatever you'd like about them, they're not particularly relevant for the run.

The Meet

Cold, professional, by the book.

Meet Location

Any Matrix Host of R8+ will work. Here's a suggestion:

  • Engineering United, an A-corporation with no obvious connection to Aztechnology, looking like a permanent construction site from the outside on the general Matrix.
  • Once invited inside by exchanging marks, and upon talking to the "foreman" (a service program to direct customers), a hidden part of the host up above the construction site becomes visible, a large pyramid.
  • Runners are transported across the gloomy, golden pyramid and end up at the flat platform top, where they'll find a modern reimagination of The Illusive Man from Mass Effect, a man sitting in a chair, watching hundreds of digital streams at once.

What's The Job?

  • Null is professional and has a somewhat eccentric nature. He doesn't get loud or angry with runners, he has a sober but consequent personality and would rather explain consequences than issue threats.
  • He'll also not divulge anything actionable aside from payment unless the runners accept the job, no matter how convincing they are.
  • The basics of the job: Runners have taken off with an item they were supposed to deliver him as part of their arrangement. Their rep already wasn't fully clean. Kill them and get the item back.
    • If there are any questions on the nature of this item, Null says that he will not divulge its details before acceptance, and that runners should expect to retrieve a most reprehensible item if that helps them manage their expectations.
      • He also notes that he will make sure their reputation suffers and he'll not hire them again should they not succeed at retrieving the item for whatever reason.
  • The item in question is a head-sized cube that had recently been discovered in a South America dig and stolen. The previous runners stole it back, but then went to ground instead of completing the job.
  • Null suggests that the runners check in on their Fixer, a man by the name of Ivan Cox. He lives in LA.

Legwork: Los Angeles

  • Going to the Fixer's (Ivan's) place reveals that it's been quickly deserted, information storages destroyed or taken. Looking around nearby the residence can reveal a broken burner phone in a dumpster that the runners could repair with Hardware or Software (Threshold 3 I'd say) or another appropriate skill. They will find the message exchange between him and a local gang boss that tells them Ivan will have gone into hiding in LA's slum El Infierno.
  • Another option is asking around in runner bars or Matrix shadowboards, where you could have runners get to this information if they are unable to succeed at any skill checks or don't have any ideas what to do.
  • If someone wants to get info on the slums: El Infierno is by all intents and purposes free real estate. It's been a giant ghetto for decades due to VITAS outbreaks. Tons of atrocities and evildoing has been committed here, but all of that's been ostensibly purged when LA was flooded in '69. Who knows what happened to El Infierno? In the pocket universe that is this job, it's returned to being a slum, and police is unable and unwilling to reclaim it.

El Infierno: Los Angeles

  • Navigation tests (Threshold 2-3) to not get lost and stumble into the wrong territory could be used here.
  • It's so hard to get through some places that you could feasibly ask for the first fatigue test of this run. There will be more!
  • Eventually the team should arrive in Grinder's turf, where gang respect matters. Arrogant runners that try to intimidate the gang will be intimidated back and unless the team is interested in peace, the gang will violently assault runners.
  • They shouldn't be an insurmountable force, but depending on the runner team the threat should be clearly there, it shouldn't be a no-brainer that they massacre the gang. They're better armored than most gangers via armor jacket and other heavy security gear, and are packing serious heat.
  • Grinder will be in the center of his turf, the inner court of a ruined low-rise full of his crew. Impress on the runners how well-armed these guys are.
  • Grinder doesn't want to rat out his friend Ivan, but he can be convinced by attempting to persuade him (scary guys are looking for him, the runners respect his powerful gang of course but fighting vicious corporations isn't good for business yadda yadda). Consult the social modifiers table. He is aware of any street cred they possess and that will be a bonus for their social tests. Grinder shouldn't be too prejudiced against the team. Give him 12 dice to resist the persuasion anyway. Intimidation will not work on Grinder, it will just make him angry, deny the option and if they try it with words, he'll flip out.
  • Paying him off should not work because he's doing his friend a favor. Promising him a favor in return, like free work for him in the future, will however.
  • Runners can also try to con him while the decker hacks his commlink to find out where in El Infierno Ivan is hiding.
  • On my 3-person run I used these forces and the team nearly wiped. You can use some or all of these guys depending on how dangerous you want this to be, and remember that you can upadjust dicepools if you're expecting crazy runners that just want to stomp. Keep in mind that even if the runners lose, the gangers would likely hold them hostage and the runners could then still socially talk to them even if they weren't willing to do so previously.
    • 16-24 soak based on how important the ganger is
    • 3-4 guys with heavy pistols and electrified baseball bats (10-12 dice, 9S -5AP(e) batons, 9P -2AP pistol shots)
    • 2-3 gangers with AK97s (10P -2, fully automatic, simple full auto fire for -5 to defenses)
    • 2-3 aspected spellcasters casting Manabolt or fireballs (8-10 dice, also they should suffer drain)
    • an aspected summoner bringing in a F5 fire spirit.
    • 1-2 guys with grenade launchers! You could have those launchers have 2 accuracy max so they'll always scatter, or you could force them to spend a full action to load the primitive thing. Grenades like frags are juicy, I'd use them sparingly. 18P +4 is a painful damage code.
  • Grinder is a muscular badass (24-26 soak) with a big fat katana (12P -3) and 12-14 dice to swing them.

Ivan's Place

When the runners arrive there, either by stealing from Grinder while talking to him or by Grinder giving Ivan up, the runners will be able to squeeze him for any and all information they desire. He caves easily and just wants to do right by the shadows. He'll give them what the runners' decker Sidewinder faithfully told him, namely that they contracted the services of one of their contacts -- a smuggler named Voodoo Axle.

  • Voodoo Axle isn't available, but Ivan knows that they are a boat smuggler here in LA and that one of the most popular smuggling spots is the Deep Lacuna.

Deep Lacuna

The underground network of cool, exotic LA-adjacent caves, a home of tribal shamans and smugglers. It's submerged with some locations that are above water, so you are going to be able to have interesting water sequences if you want with lightning paracritter combat or animal handling if you so fancy it. This is the rundown:

  • Mwaxinare the leader of the local tribe of sea people does not take kindly to strangers, and the party is going to either be assaulted repeatedly by dozens of merfolk with tridents and other simple underwater gear or they'll have to make use of what other smugglers have found out about these tribesmen in the past, namely that they are interested in specific gifts to let you pass. Two silver bars placed into a self-carved or chiseled statue - the specific design they'll get from anyone who has any relation to smuggling. If Artisan skills are missing, they can of course buy such a statue from a smuggler for a high price (2000-4000nY).
  • The way you can make them find the correct smuggler's den is by rolling navigation at a ridiculous threshold of 6, which gets reduced by 1 which each failure. However, each failure also incurs another fatigue test. If the runners wish to complete the job in time, they will not have time to rest because things will pick up in pace rather soon.
  • The smuggler cave in question bears signs of slaughter. All of the goons have been taken apart by MMG gunfire, blunt force trauma and katana swings, indicating that the runner team had been here.
    • Looking around via Perception and other means, the team should eventually locate Voodoo Axle, who will be rather panicked and require refocusing (Leadership, Intimidation, etc.). They will tell them that their boat had been stolen by the rogue runners. They have a backup rowboat, though, which should get the party to some sort of island clad in mist that had recently appeared and leads larger boats astray in the mysterious mist. You guessed it: Another fatigue test! These should be pretty harsh by now, unless runners are built to withstand them.

The Island

I didn't have much planned here, you can of course add in bonus encounters, but at this point I had been running for 9 hours and simply wanted to get to the good stuff. If you find yourself needing some time, you can of course add in wildlife, mysterious happenings, etc.

  • Basically this island seems haunted and you should describe large beasts having been taken apart by purple acidulous claws that don't seem to be dealing ongoing tissue damage, but leave behind an armor-shredding residue.
  • Whether you wish for your runner team to track the other runners via Tracking or let them come up with some other smart plan, they will eventually make it to the climax of the job, the temple.

The Temple

The art style of this location seems to indicate that it contains very basic inspiration from Aztec architecture, however there are other influences that are completely alien. People with a historical background should be able to figure out that this structure is potentially a Pre-Aztec building. There is however one pattern in the walls that continues to show up: Cubes.

  • Describe this temple as you'd like. Put in primitive traps that runners will easily be able to locate and get rid of because they are modern actors facing ancient security systems.
  • They will eventually meet Sidewinder, a dying Decker who looks like his entrails had been sliced open and are laced with the same purplish acid stuff.
    • He's interested in telling the runners that Pixie had betrayed them all, that he's possessed by some greater power and that this cube could be the catalyst for a lot of evil. They need to bring it to the Johnson at any cost etc. Basically he'll die giving the team what remains of his deck, which is going to pay them somewhat extra if the run's gone on long enough for that, or it will simply inform the Johnson of what they had gathered so far.

At the end of the temple, in a large ritual hall, the team interrupts a ritual that Pixie is in the middle of. He's been heavily mutated, his arms are more like large, monstrous claws, and they are dripping the vile acid. He has a few shadowy figures with him, however many you think the fatigue-laden runner team can stomach. Pixie either talks a lot or just assaults the team based on their disposition.

  • Pixie is a soaky troll (check how much damage your team deals, then decide on anywhere between 30-40 soak. Check how much damage your team can soak, then decide between 14-20 dice). His weapons are either a Stoner Ares MMG with which he Complex Full-Autos, or if he manages to get close to the group, he'll use those vicious claws. The damage starts at 13P -4.
    • Decide on the nature of the acid. You can toy a bit with mechanics here. Either they reduce the targets armor by net hits, they cut the target's armor in half after the soak has been resolved, or they simply reduce armor by -2 rather than -1 (regular acid). Whatever you are most comfortable with.
  • Pixie is surrounded by untyped spirits that can have whatever interesting power you'd like to give them. Fear, Confusion, some of them with Energy Aura or Elemental Attack (that purple acid goop). I used three F7 spirits as opposition but I also had a magic expert who could oneshot these guys, so your mileage may vary. You should have a pretty good idea about the combat strength of your team by now.

The Big Conclusion

When Pixie dies, his body violently rips apart as the evil spirit infesting him tries to enter the glowing cube on the pedestal again, only to find that he can't. He'll randomly start possessing temple equipment and pull it down on them, attempting to bury the team inside of the ancient structure.

  • You can have this chase scene happen however you'd like, my advice is to shy away from Initiative and discrete movement speeds and to abstract. Describe obstacles, like pools of purple acid appearing in someone's path or walls suddenly raising, entrances rapidly closing, etc. Gymnastics checks, running checks, attacks to break through barriers, etc.
  • In the end, your runners should have escaped the temple by a hair's breadth and with an ominous, glowing cube in their hand. Once they're out of the mist, they'll be able to communicate with the outside world once more. Asking others about the nature of this cube will reveal no useful info. It's basically a plot device for you to spin off of or to just ignore for now once this job's done.

End

  • Upon successful completion of the run, the cube Null want wants is gonna be picked up by a bunch of Aztech corp-runners in LA in some sleazy alleyway, where these guys will pay them the appropriate amount.
  • I paid the runners 10 Karma and 30000 nY if I recall correctly, but it was also a 9-hour-run at that point, so more pay was in order. If you can get it done in five, 14RVP should be fine.
  • Congratulations!