Non-storylined Open Events are a go!

Hoi chummers,

Starting monday 9 october I will once again host open events at Moenen & Mariken. These events will take place every second monday of the month from October to May. After that I will be busy with marriage-stuff so won’t be hosting for a few months.

Pages have been made and added to the sidebar menu, Open Sessies (NL) / Open Events (EN). You can look for more info and the exact dates there. If you want more info and e-mail warnings, feel free to comment here or give me a poke at Moenen & Mariken.

See you in the shadows, chummers

And we’re back

Our game location, Moenen & Mariken, moved about 70m eight months ago and needed some time getting its new basement ready. The basement now has its own entrance, allowing for us to play there again.

I intend to switch over to more regular open events in the future, rather than two short campaigns per year, but we’ll see how it goes. There also will be miniature-games in the future, which are basically fight-scenes fought out in detail. Unfortunately the miniatures need to be painted first.

For now there will be Ticket To Ride, three sessions working for GridGuide. These sessions will have a lower power level, using Sample Characters from the books rather than more optimized ones. To keep the power level balanced, no custom characters will be allowed. For more info, see here:

https://shadowlandblog.wordpress.com/open-play-events-en/ticket-to-ride-nl/
https://shadowlandblog.wordpress.com/open-play-events-en/ticket-to-ride-en/

Words of a Feather – Fafnir: We know our traitors

Nimue, also known as Brigid Wayland, president of Gram, walked past Jacobson’s secretary and opened the doors to his office. There her three main subordinates were already waiting for her. Alicia Corson, head clerk, frowning at her entrance with her right leg in a cast. Curator Samuel Jenkins nervously standing next to Corson’s chair, nervously clenching the seat tightly. And Corey Jacobson, her vice-president, working on paperwork without even noticing he wasn’t the only person in the world, never mind the room. Nimue smiled at the comforting sight then cleared her throat. “Corey dear, could you pay attention for a while please? It’s time to discuss the events from yesterday.”

“Hm?” Jacobson blinked before looking and having a moment of realization. “Ah, miss Wayland. As you wish. Uhm, yesterday… Oh right, we were attacked by Fafnir. Would you like to go first or should I?”

“How about I go first and start with what I know, that should be better as treatment for the impatience of these two. So, what I gathered from the reports is that some of our people noticed they had picked up tails and called them in, allowing us to find out the expected attack had finally arrived. They also quickly took care of losing said tails, allowing us to enter a lockdown without getting our assets trapped as well. Alicia dear, go ahead and interrupt, I can tell you’re dying to,” Nimue said with a simple smile on her face displaying no clear emotion.

After a stunned two seconds, Alicia went off at her boss. “Expected?! You knew this was coming?! Why did you not inform us? We could have pulled people back and prepared better!”

Nimue tipped her head and gave a bright smile to Alicia. “But then they would have expected us to and would have come with far less care. We wanted to lure them out properly, so we could take care of them in one big swoop. That required luring them into our domain without scaring them off. Besides, we had plenty of preparations did we not? The lockdown to prevent our employees from getting harmed, having access to all cameras in Kansas City whenever we desired which allowed us to locate both the tailing detectives and the hidden mercenaries, even a secret entrance for me to enter the Library. What else would we need?”

Alicia glared but remained silent in response, allowing Nimue to continue. “Oh Jenkins, a question. Blumberg is not a magician, correct? But when he was chased he drove his scooter up and down several buildings to make his getaway. How did he do that exactly?” Jenkins blinked for a bit before gathering his words. “Uhm, ah, the scooter has gecko-tips. Allows it to stick to solid surfaces.” “Ooooh, interesting. Did we do that?” “Ah, no, he installed them himself.” “I see, I see.”

As Nimue pondered the opportunities for a second, Alicia quickly spoke up. “What happened in the Vault, miss President? All I know is that Jenkins and I held off our enemies to delay them as long as we could, then chased after them when we had recovered. But what happened in that vault? And what IS that thing anyway?”

Oh, Camelot? Camelot is an alchera that cannot decide whether it’s real or a mirage. As a result its shape changes as needed and its guardians resurrect from time to time. Quite useful actually.”

Alicia was stunned to silence while Jenkins barely managed to croak a response. “An alchera? A magical disruption crossing over into this world? And you can summon that?”

Nimue looked him straight in the eyes with a faint smile on her face. “Of course. Where else could I keep magical artefacts too dangerous for this world?” Without giving either a chance to response she continued. “Corey, could you do the honours and tell them about our plan?”

Hm? Plan? Oh, you mean to lure in Fafnir? Ah, yes.” Jacobson straightened himself and put on a regal expression before continuing. “As you know, it is our goal to protect mankind from magical threats by keeping magical artefacts out of the hands of those against its best interests. This means we have competition as well as enemies. Several years back, we caught word of an entity naming itself Fafnir digging around for our namesake. Since anyone knowing of its existence could not be up to any good, we designed a plan to lure them in and eliminate the threat. All we needed for that is for the items of the seal to start rearing their heads.”

Nimue stepped in and cut off the questions the others were about to ask. “The armour and shield are meant for the owner to Gram, designed to only function when the owner is considered worthy and unsealing Gram as well. The scrolls contain the formula to unseal the blade’s full potential and require a constantly-changing sequence to use. This sequence is hidden in several paintings, some of which we had relocated to the local museum.”

Ah! That is why you sent them to the museum! But couldn’t you have done so yourself?” Alicia nodded along with Jenkins’s question.

Alas, the sequence is guarded so that I myself cannot read it. As such I had to depend on our people instead. But thanks to that, and them gathering the items despite Camelot’s resistance, I managed to perform the ritual in time. And that helped us lure Fafnir into the trap. See, you may recall that a spirit proved itself worthy of the Armour when we first retrieved it. This was Fafnir’s goal as well, and the reason they brought so many men with them: To draw out the Armour and prove themselves worthy of wearing it.”

Jacobson grinned. “What a fool he was. We never meant for ourselves to prove worthy. All we meant to do was combine the items to a functioning set. The blade itself is worthy of wielding itself, so by performing the ritual with the right tweaks the items will join into a Golem which can fight on its own. All Fafnir did was sacrifice themselves, which your efforts combined bought us enough time to arrange. And of course Camelot’s support to my abilities, allowing me to hold Fafnir off long enough for Gram to take their life.

After a stunned silence in which Nimue flashed a grin as cruel and vicious as Jacobson’s, it was Alicia who first found her words. “What does Gram do exactly? What makes it this special?”

Nimue had an evil glance in her eyes as she spoke: “It absorbs. By feeding on the magic of those it slays, it grows stronger and stronger so that one day there will be nothing capable of withstanding it… So that when the day comes, it can defeat all that would dare to stand against this world.”

 

After the others left, Nimue stayed, seating herself on Jacobson’s desk while he continued his paperwork. After a lengthy silence Jacobson spoke up. “You made them believe the Alchera supplied you with countermeasures. But sooner or later some will realize that was all you and there may be consequences.”

Ah who cares. If some of my secrets get exposed I’ll still have plenty left. Just like you, Corey. We’re quite alike after all, secrets peeled like onions. Same cruel nature too. Even our fathers both died for the sake of this world. The difference is that yours sacrified himself, while mine needed some, ahem, ‘convincing’…”

Jacobson shook his head while the Lady of the Lake, slayer of her progenitor Fafnir, looked at him with sparkling eyes.

Words of a Feather – Balmung: Chasing of the wind

In his office, Corey Jacobson muttered to himself while going through actual paperwork. The vice-president of the bookshop Library of Progress and the secret organization Gram always did prefer the old ways, trusting pen and paper far more than unreliable hardware. In front of his desk his head clerk, Alicia Corson, cleared her throat. As he looked up he noticed her and curator Samuel Jenkins, who shyly had seated himself in one of the chairs in front of his desk. “Oh, can I help you two?”

Alicia rolled her eyes. “Not again! Sir, we can only enter your office when you explicitly gave us one-time access. Thus our presence here means you called for us. So what did you want to discuss with us, and does it have to do with our goons going on a covert operation for you?”

Jacobson blinked slowly then smiled. “Ah yes, you’re completely right! Thank you Alicia, you know how I can get lost in my head sometimes. So, yes, the job. I sent our people to investigate rumors of a hidden library said to have belonged to a departed dragon. Figured it was a good place to search for the third item, since the rumors rather smelled.”

Jenkins grew pale as Jacobson chattered on with a big smile on his face. “So I sent them to Helena, with one of our recent gains as gift to the local museum as an in. You know how the Siouans are with Anglos, so this was the best way to get past their prejudice. Now I hear our people had some trouble with a gang trying to rob them, but they managed to survive long enough for the army to rescue them and blow things to smithereens. That is the term kids use these days, right?”

“Breadcrumbs, sir?” Jenkins uttered in a quiet voice, earning him a probing glare from Alicia. Jacobson shook his head in response. “No, blow things to breadcrumbs sounds wrong Jenkins. What in heavens makes you think that’s the term they’d use? If so I wouldn’t want to live on this planet anymore.”

Jenkins coughed before daring to respond again. “Smelling rumors sir? I was contacted by Blumberg during this job, sir. He was wondering who was laying the breadcrumbs. And they already voiced their concerns before. It appears they have realized we’re being led around just like our competitors.”

“Ah, interesting. I guess they’ll get a good performance review in the future. But we’re not being led around like our competitors, because we’re the ones leading them around. After all, wouldn’t want to be too far ahead of them, that’d make them unpredictable! Speaking of which, let’s continue my recap shall we? By digging for information at the museum our men scored information suggesting where they wanted to go, so they got in touch with a team of guides I had arranged for them. Which of course they figured was already infiltrated by our enemies.”

The cheerful smile on Jacobson’s face compared rather poorly to the ghastly look on Jenkins’ and the frown on Alicia’s. “And that is a good thing why, sir? That means our competition knew we were coming so they wanted to follow us to the destination.”

“Uhm, miss Corson,” spoke a shy Jenkins. “Perhaps it is a good thing because it means they know we outclass them and this way they would tag along and let us prepare for them, rather than following us and catching us by surprise?”

“Precisely, dear Jenkins! Precisely! It means they recognize us as their betters! Oh, wait, I’m getting lost again. Did I explain what the find was? No? Ah, apologies. Okay so the guides helped sneak our people into the forest, where they searched for the terrain they thought likely to be the site they sought. I forget the details, it’s somewhere in these papers. Something about stories involving a hidden cave and an Ecclesiastes quote in ancient languages? I have to say I’m impressed, it only took them a day to find the real thing, booby-trapped and all.”

Alicia gulped, which was rather out-of-character for her. “Booby-trapped, sir? What kind of traps were there in a dragon’s cave exactly?”

“Oh you know, tripwires connected to arrow systems, anchored spells ready to kill anyone making the wrong step and a door only a dragon could open or close. Oh, you’ll love this! Not only did they find evidence that elves had served the dragon in the Fourth World, they also discovered a massive library with protective spells that prevented decay! Now mind you there was a ward around it, which apparently lasted decades if not more, but the protective spells were immune to the ward so we got them all out intact. Such a marvelous find!”

While Jacobson started on a long story about the various scrolls in the library, and how much he was looking forward to studying them all, Alicia and Jenkins looked at each other as if to ask which of them would interrupt their boss. And more importantly, with what question. Eventually Alicia’s impatience triumphed over her reluctance. “Sir, what about the treacherous guides?”

“-magine wh-! Hm? Traitors? Ah, right. They all were actually! When our people sent a few outside to call for assistance from a smuggler the guides knew, the guides all insisted to come with in case traps would go off and lock everyone inside. Of course it was partially a ruse as one of them then commanded the others to attack. Apparently he had approached them anonymously so that they would never suspect their boss was one of them. Now mind you it was rather foolish of them to attack our people, so the guy died rather soon and the rest surrendered. It’s a real shame though, but at the very least they blew his head off later at my request. Now, back to the scrolls! Can you believe that they contain information on the Horrors? It’s a true wonder! An-“

“Sir! Please. So our people won, took prisoners and called. What happened then?”

“Oh, I asked our lady to take care of it. She sent our people away and made arrangements, bringing all of the scrolls here. Mind you I did get intel on the traps first so there was no real danger. She got out all the scrolls, and of course the third item of our precious set of fo-. I forgot to tell you that they discovered that as well. Apologies. Yes, the breadcrumbs led us to the third item and only one remains. We’ll reach our goal before long.”

While Alicia and Jenkins again looked at each other, wondering about exactly how their president had so easily brought hundreds of scrolls in metal casings to Kansas City, Jacobson continued his enthusiastic description of various subjects covered in the scrolls he had read so far. It was clear to them that they would no longer be able to interrupt him so proper answers would have to wait. And perhaps he never intended to give them those to begin with…


“I really don’t get it,” sighed a fence of stolen art at a dive bar, “this Blumberg guy pays me a grand to protect a dead drop of his, comes over to review the data he sent me, then within a few seconds he grows pale and deletes it all before taking off as if he’s seen a ghost. What’s up with that, did a dragon eat his mother or something?”

Words of a Feather – Nothung: To give and take

In the best vault of the secret organization Gram, hidden in the deep basement of the Library of Progress, three people gathered in front of a new exhibit. Curator Samuel Jenkins gleefully studied the shield as he polished it very carefully, Alicia Corson oversaw this activity with an annoyed look on her face, while Corey Jacobson altered between checking out random items and checking his notes. These actions were interrupted when a shimmering figure appeared in between them, a watcher spirit sent by the president with her eternal smile.

“Of course she had to send a watcher,” Alicia grumbled. “Still, could we not have held a meeting elsewhere? No reason why she could not study the shield after the meeting.”

“Uhm, but miss Corson,” Jenkins timidly interrupted, “that’d cost more time and she has a busy sched-” then quickly shut up as he received a death glare. Meanwhile the watcher spirit studied the shield for a few seconds, then motioned for them to start. With a grunt Alicia began the debriefing.

“I sent those unmannered thugs, who rudely insisted on a lunch break first, to New Orleans to visit a party at The Rising Sun. As I reported last week, one of our sources had informed us there was something strange going on there in the art collection. Since the president gave her okay at last, I quickly sent the group there to infiltrate the party and find out what was going on. Oh, and get this, those idiots got searched at the border to the Confederation of American States, because one of them had Psyche on them and it got picked up by the drug hounds! A good thing nobody brought anything problematic with them, otherwise this mission would have failed even before it started!”

“Hm, ah, easy Alicia,” spoke a distracted Jacobson. “We’ll discuss it in the annual performance reviews. That’s what they’re for, right?” His innocent smile managed to lessen the frown on her face. “Uhm, this was a party at the former-brothel-former-speakeasy owned by that horrible Anderson, correct?”She nodded and continued.

“I hear they broke illegally hidden cameras at their hotel rooms, which at the least helped their covers since who would stand out that much then commit theft… Anyway, we got them into the party easily since I had prepared even before the final okay, and they even wore some mediocre clothes instead of street clothes. At the party they studied the horrid art collection, if you can call that abomination such a thing. He even hung paintings in front of other paintings! Really, who does that?!”

“Ah, a barbarian I would say.” Jenkins coughed shyly. “He gathered these things and exposed them purely to shock and entertain, not to actually appreciate them. At least that is what we thought.”

“Indeed,” Alicia agreed. “So it was a bit of a shock what happened. But let me rewind a short bit for the full summary to this -” she gestured towards the president’s watcher spirit “- messenger here. So at the party Blumberg discovered a book he had stolen three years ago had been replaced with a forgery, which got him kicked out after he exposed it with quite a bit of dramatic flair. The only upside to that is that it left him free to run Matrix searches on several suspicious party guests, who turned out to be Private Eyes, most likely hired by our faceless competition. Meanwhile Henri and Ogalesha spent time seducing and ended up with peculiar information regarding Anderson’s conquests at his parties. They didn’t really remember their one-night stands but he didn’t really impress them.

“Meanwhile Grod got bored,” she snorted in disdain, “and ended up hiding in one of the secret rooms upstairs. This led to him witnessing Anderson stab a woman with an Aztec dagger, then use a strange shield to heal her. He promptly fed her some wine, causing her to go unconscious, and cast some magic on her. Combined with the information the women downstairs had told our people, they figured out this was a case of ritual sacrifice combined with a healing shield and a combination of memory-erasing drugs and implanting false memories in his victims. Those false memories disappearing after a few months resulted in the peculiar broken recollections. At least now they knew what they were after, the shield, so they made a plan to come back the next day.

“Their plan was smart, disguise as workers for the broken elevator and then sneak through the shaft into a hidden room they had discovered during the party, which they did through levitation. Unfortunately Anderson and a possible conquest of his, who the group didn’t trust because she proved immune to their charms, arrived early and they were forced to hide. When through sneaking and magic they observed the woman distract then kill Anderson, ironically using his own ritual dagger against him, they quickly attacked her. Grod burst through a wall for that, can you believe that?! How inane is that!”

“Hm, yes, rather inane,” Jacobson mumbled. “But it did get them the element of surprise, which let them take out a rather dangerous blood mage. Initiation grade eight at the least? She had quite the rap sheet. Then killed her before running away from all the king’s men responding to the fire alarm. Ah, that reminds me, I should really have a word with Grod for bashing her to death with his chains, though he did have a valid excuse so could be forgiven.”

Alicia and Jenkins blinked and looked at each other for a few seconds before Jenkins spoke up. “Ah, forgiven for uhm what, sir? Killing her so brutally?”

Now it was Jacobson’s turn to blink. “Huh? No, of course not.” A smile came upon his face as he continued: “For not slowly torturing her to death first, of course! After all, that’s what should happen to all enemies of metahumanity, make them suffer before they die a slow, antagonizing death!”

The shocked silence was interrupted when from the watcher spirit came brilliant laughter in the voice of the president. “Oh Corey, wonderful, wonderful. This, this kind of attitude is why I made you my second-in-command. You always are so eager to do what’s needed. Thank you for that. And thank you all, I have confirmed this is the item we were looking for. Shield and armor taking care of, just two more things to go…”

Words of a Feather – Gram: Worthy Of A King

In a room in the depths of the Library of Progress, three people sat down at a table. The nervous curator, Samuel Jenkins. Grumpy head clerk, Alicia Corson. Distracted vice-president, Corey Jacobson. And lastly, visible on a trid-screen on the wall was the president with her eternal smile. “Hello everyone, glad you’re all here. Now then, shall we start with the mission report? So I understand you sent a team to West-Fargo to deal with mysterious Suits of Armor that did not show up on recordings. Jenkins?”

“Uhm, yes, ah… So, uhm, I gave our members their instructions, and uh… Garlic cloves…” Jenkins flushed a bit of embarassment as the president chuckled. “It’s okay Jenkins, there’s no shame in preparations against vampires and such. Just try to leave out the mythology and stick to the real thing from now on, alright? Now, who did you send?”

“Ah, yes,” Jenkins continued. “Bloomberg, our retriever. Galdof the intellectual, Henri the deceiver. Also Grod the knocker and Ogalesha the finisher.” Alicia snorted in response. “He’s a finisher all right, showed up late for that briefing. I swear, seriously.” A chuckle came from the screen. “Alright, easy Alicia, I’m sure he had a valid reason. Continue, Jenkins.”

“Ah, yes. So, they went to Fargo by car and checked into two different hotels, one coffin and one decent.” Again Alicia snorted. “Of course they went for a more expensive option. At least this time they brought receipts back. But seriously, a handwritten signature from the coffin motel?! Who does that!”

“Huh, what?” Corey shook his head and his eyes back to attention. “Handwritten receipts? Did our printer run out of ink? Should I let tech su-. Oh, right. Fargo. Coffin motel. No printer of their own. Uhm, go on Jenkins.”

“Ah, yes. Our staff members checked up on the news and message boards, finding out a woman had been attacked and was staying in the hospital, as well as video from a frat house about a ghost armor that wasn’t actually visible on the recording. In the morning they went out and ran into a group of SCAers getting out of a Greyhound bus, who were all excited about the ghost armors and shared a few incidents. The team also spotted a few suspicious individuals carrying concealed weaponry, one of which was identified as a bounty hunter.

“Next the team split up to explore three of the locations where armors had been spotted. Henri and Grod, ironic as that combo may be, went to check out a bar where an armor had stepped in during a barfight. Bloomberg stayed behind to analyze the frathouse visit and then go there for reconnaissance. And Galdof and Ogalesha went to visit the local musem, where apparently a ghost had looked at some paintings. I, uh, asked mister Jacobson to handle the debriefings so he would know better how this went.”

“Huh, wha?” “Debriefings!” barked Alicia. “Debriefings, Corey, get with it. They split up, then what?”

“Ah, right. Okay, let me check my notes…” After finding his glasses and ruffling through his notes, the vice-president continued. “So, at the museum they witnessed some of the, and I quote, ‘renaifreaks’ being kicked out. They smoothtalked some old visitors and discovered the armor had been observing a triptych. They studied the paintings, discovering Nordic runes regarding being ‘worthy of a king’ on stones on them. Then they obtained security footage through deception, which later revealed the bounty hunters had also studied the triptych. Oh, and outside they spotted a spydrone so they had a local policeman gun it down cowboy-style. Plus Grod discovered the triptych was a 360-degree panorama, which seemed to be from the top of a hill.”

Jenkins coughed. “If I may interrupt, Bloomberg called me to check, wondering if there was a Nordic equivalent of Excalibur.” A brilliant laugh ran out of the speakers. “Oh dear,” the president chuckled, “he sure failed at his history lessons there. Well to be fair, it’s not Excalibur that made Arthur king, it was Caliburn and of that we are the Nordic equivalent. Carry on, Corey.”

“Ah, yes, thank you. Bloomberg reviewed the frathouse recordings and noticed movement in the bushes. At the frathouse he talked with the ‘friendly inebriated locals’, which helped him figure out the armor had most likely blocked the path of what a search revealed to most likely be a hellhound. Meanwhile Grod picked a fight with a bartender, though ‘the bartender picked a fight with me!’ or so Grod says. And Henri found out from a drunk that when a knife was drawn in a fistfight, the armor jumped inbetween before leaving towards a hill.

“On that hill, which seemed to rather match the triptych, was a building site where construction had been halted due to a water leak which had caused a sinkhole. Our unmannered employees bullied and intimidated their way onto the grounds, except for Bloomberg who was still on his way from the frathouse. In the sinkhole, caused by an exposed well, they spotted a tunnel and roped down into it. While they explored the spiraling tunnel, Bloomberg arrived and tried to climb down, only to get jumped by a hellhound which fortunately missed him and was swallowed by the sinkhole. He then engaged in a fight with a group of hellhounds while an armor appeared and momentarily distracted them. Shortly after both the police and a few dozen hellhounds arrived, so they entered a long fight which a spirit from Galdof helped finish. Oh and by then two bountyhunters had also entered the tunnel but had been disabled by the rest.”

Alicia snarled. “Tell that part first!”

“Apologies, my notes were in disarray. Okay, so this says that at the end of the tunnel was a room with an open door, in which was the real armor and a lot more Nordic runes. The group didn’t dare touch it, but Galdof’s spirit ended up awakening the armor and ending up having to wear the armor as the group left, leaving behind a ‘hot mess’. We had to deal with some coverups, blaming the bountyhunters for the chaos while covertly obtaining footage of the burial chamber. We also bought the triptych to help with our research. So far it seems that while the Norse indeed intended it for the rightful owner of Gram, the armor itself is much older than that and may very well predate the Vikings.”

Alicia frowned at this unproven conclusion but chose to remain silent. Meanwhile the president nodded, “Thank you Corey, that will be all. Dismissed everyone.” All got up but while Alicia and Corey moved to leave, Jenkins stood at his chair with a burrowed frown. “Something wrong, Jenkins?” asked the president while the others turned around at the door.

“Ah, sorry ma’am, it’s just… I was wondering, there is something strange about the hellhounds. So far we assumed that the armor’s power had involuntarily leaked out due to the construction work exposing the tunnel, which in turn lured the hellhounds towards the town. But what if it wasn’t involuntary? What if the armor deliberately lured them in? First the hellhounds were kept at bay, only attacking a single person, but within mere minutes of our people arriving at the hilltop dozens went on the offensive. What if the armor caused the fight so someone could prove themselves worthy of wearing it?”

All three looked at the trid-screen, where the president displayed a viciously cruel smile. “Then we’re definitely dealing with the real thing.”

Busy times, quiet times

It’s been quiet here for a while, as a result of me being rather busy. The job schedule is okay, but as a result of social activities, plus spending more evenings with my gf whenever we can, I barely spend any evenings at home nowadays. And on those I’m generally too tired to feel like shadowrun posts.

However I did put together a list of Easily Missed Rules during my commute and will put some up soon. Until then I’m enjoying playing my new character, Samuel Jones. He’s a wicked socialite without physical abilities but with a very sharp tongue and some dark secrets as to how he stays alive…

Rigger Judgement Calls

I did a search and found a list of seven judgement calls I noted in the past as needed to help make Riggers playable. Some of those I already covered with houserules, others are no longer needed since Rigger 5.0. However some are still needed because official clarification is still missing. Below I’ll go into these. (Note that I call them judgement calls. This because the rules are simply unclear as to how these work, and they’re simply interpretations of the rules, not explicit overrules.)

First let’s cover Rigger 5.0 rules though. Unfortunately Rigger 5.0 does not include a lot of rule upgrades, though there’s three worthy of noting here:

First of all: Rigger 5.0 has 2 types of Modification rules: Normal Vehicle ones, and optional ones for Drones. For Drones they’re cheaper than the normal vehicle ones, but also more limited (though they can get more bonus armor than a vehicle) in what they can get. One recommendation: Use these optional rules. 🙂 Much fairer for Riggers.

Second, it has advanced Vehicle Chase rules, and here you can actually break past the Extreme Category. This means high Acceleration rates actually have value: Originally if you drop to Extreme but the other goes back 1 range, you’ll never manage to break loose. Under the new detailed rules, you could break e.g. 3 categories past Extreme, and unless they manage to immediately bring that back to Extreme you’re free. There are air-vehicles with Acceleration past 5 so a good Rigger will really be able to push that vehicle chase!

Third, Autosoft rules have changed! Your Autosoft Rating IS limited by your Pilot Rating now, unless you employ an RCC! This means that you can’t just grab a Rating 6 Autosoft on a Rating 3 (or 1!) Pilot, you’ll have to use a lower-rating normally. So if you want your Drones to have 8 dice, you need to upgrade their Pilot to 4 (3.5k) and get Rating 4 Autosofts of 2k each. 10 dice? 10k for the pilot and 2.5k per Autosoft… Better get an army! Or an RCC and stream rating 6 Autosofts, which you can only afford to do for 1 or 2 dronetypes at any given time… Really buffs RCC-users there.

An extra nice upside (in my opinion that is) here is that you no longer only need 3k to have 7 dice on any vehicle. Instead there’s actual value to taking 1 rank of Pilot Groundcraft on a character with anywhere-near decent Reaction.


Oh, remember my houserule for teamwork tests for Drones? There’s now a program for that, which is run by the RCC and run on the drones slaved to it! It’s a 600¥ program which adds as a single Drone instead of individual drones, using the highest Pilot/DR for Pilot (including the RCC’s!), highest Autosoft rating, highest Sensor Rating, lowest vehicle attributes, and +(#-1)[+(#-1)] on tests.

This makes swarms more effective against competent enemies (albeit only counting as 1 attack so making it harder for others to follow-up on your drones) , because you have both better dice and a better limit. No more silly “I roll six drones but none can score more than 3 hits”, instead it’d be “RCC DR5, 6 drones with Sensor 3, Rating 6 Autosoft = 16[8] Perception”. This makes Surveillance a VERY good job for Riggers!

Another houserule that no longer is necessary is my Acceleration rule: It now actually applies to how fast you can get to your Top Speed (but only decelerate 1 ‘category’ per turn).


 

Anyway! Back to my seven judgement calls (of which some could be split up). Let’s start with the ones that are no longer needed:

  • “Yes, if a Drone has a Smartlink in its Camera both it and a jumped-in Rigger can get the +1 die from a Smartgun’s wireless bonus.”

There’s now a Smartsoft Autosoft in Rigger 5.0, which lets you access Smartlink benefits as alternative. Not sure if it’d grant a +2 or +1 though? Since you need an Autosoft for it and it’s integrated, plus it says “full use”, I’d go with the full +2. It’s a Rating 3 Autosoft so needs a Rating 3+ Pilot (which not all new Drones have)

  • “Sensor replacements cost normal sensor costs, they don’t require a full new array. So adding a new Sensor (or replacing an existing one if no space exists) to your default drone costs 300, not 3.000.”

In the Drone-Upgrade rules, these are pretty much the official rules: Entire Array or Single Sensor. However, the following judgement calls are still needed because no rules are listed still for this:

  • “Sensor upgrades (eg adding Thermographic Vision to a Drone’s camera) do not require replacing the entire sensor, but simply cost the normal price and can be done by any Mechanic.”
  • “Default Sensors are 2 Cameras and one Omni-Directional Microphone. Larger Drones/Vehicles come with extra Sensors by default, namely <…>.”

If you want something for those, just check the houserules I wrote on those in the past.


Next up, the three Judgement Calls that are still unfortunately needed and are VERY important!

  • “No, Targeting penalties only apply to Active Targeting, and Passive Targeting against concealed targets. In a normal gunfight a drone does not take a -3 against a metahuman.”

Needless to say that Drones NOT taking a -3 on every attack in a gunfight, especially given their weaker dicepools from the getgo, is very important! And it makes little sense that a penalty for someone hiding would apply when nobody is hiding but straight-up fighting instead.

  • “Agility+Gunnery only for AR Remote Control, Logic+Gunnery allowed for AR Remote Control as well, Logic+Gunnery as only options for VR Remote Control as well as only option for jumped in.”

The Core-rules describe Gunnery to be Logic+Gunnery. Then Control Device goes and notes you can use Agility+Gunnery, explaining how you’d make AR-gestures to command it. Sorry but that excuse won’t fly if you’re unconscious from being in VR… So rather than going ‘one is wrong’, I unified them here. AR and manual remains Agility, AR can also employ Logic, but in VR/jumped-in Logic is your only option.

  • “Yes, Drones and jumped-in Riggers count as normal combatants. We interpret ‘use the normal combat rules’ as ‘they can use normal movement rules’ and ‘they can fire with Simple Actions’.”

This one is the BIGGEST of my judgement calls, and actually exists of basically 2+ judgement calls unified in one.

Normal combatants plan movement per Action Phase. Vehicles move per Combat Turn. Manual Gunnery always is a complex action, which sucks with the recoil errata even more than before them. But there is a line in Core about how drones use the normal combat rules… And yes, I am perfectly willing to read that as ‘they use the NORMAL combatant rules, so no movement and gunnery screwovers’.

Result: If your Drone moves 21 meters in a combat turn (running Speed 3), it won’t suddenly only be able to move 10+ meters in the next Combat Turn (walking Speed 2). It also can actually fire AND take cover, and under the recoil errata that I personally despise it won’t suck balls after just a single round of gunfire.


Lastly, there are elements I disagree with. Vehicle Sensor Enhancements are EXPENSIVE AS HELL, which I consider rather overkill given how a normal Array was originally 7k for Rating 7. Now, Rating 7 isn’t even available (even though under Core they are…) for vehicles, and a Rating 6 costs 30k…

I can sort of live with the high cost, given how powerful expensive vehicles can be when fully buffed, but I disagree with no Rating 7. I’d go with Rating 1-4 and Rating 5-8 instead of 1-3 and 4-6, using the same costs for Vehicles and Buildings. (In other words, if you want to outfit a building with a Rating 8 Sensor Array it costs 40k, not a mere 8k while a car would cost more for a mere Rating 4 Array.)

This way the original cost remains standing for Drones and sensor packages carried in limbs or sticks, but vehicles and buildings are more expensive.


By the way, Rigger 5.0 is awesome. 🙂 Unfortunately there’s some gaps in Core they haven’t filled in yet, but the book does update some rules and add some awesome modification options, as well as AWESOME vehicles and drones! Hello one-lining Horatio drone! XD

 

One final houserule post coming next week

With Rigger 5.0 out, some of my temporary houserules can be scrapped. However, I likely still will need to post the judgement calls that I feel are needed to make Rigger playable. I’ll need more time to read through Rigger 5.0, then put those together. After that I’m pretty much at the end of the houserules I got, so starting 2016 I’ll be going into Easily Missed Rules posts instead. 🙂

Houserules: Noise

We’re getting close to the end of my houserules-list, all I got left after this is some rigger-stuff.

These noise-rules are copy-pasted from when I first made them so they might be outdated since Data Trails. Feel free to make your own stuff of course, here’s the things I think a Noise houserule should address:

  • Too much Noise should cut off wireless functionality in some circumstances
  • Spamzones shouldn’t cut off wireless, because then what’s the point, but simply supply a penalty
  • Devices close to each other should be able to communicate even in static, assuming nothing gets in the way inbetween

And don’t forget: Line-of-sight is always an option for commlinks.


Rule: Noise shuts down all wireless communication

Under Aaron’s clarification, Noise only shuts down Wireless Bonuses, not Functionality. In other words, any functionality using the Matrix that isn’t actively described as a Wireless bonus, still works. Smartguns still transmit, commlinks can still make phone calls, and so on. To describe an over-the-top scenario, someone with a DR1 commlink, a rating 6 jammer next to them, buried in a container on the bottom of the ocean, would still have a signal. More realistically, Headjammers would not be able to do exactly what they are meant to do: “neutralize implanted commlinks.”

This houserule basically follows the RAW of p421, rather than the RAI that Aaron told us about: “If there is a Noise Rating from a situation that is greater than the item’s Device Rating, not including distance, the item temporarily loses its wireless functionality (see Noise, p. 230).”

As a consequence wireless bonuses are easily lost since standard personal electronics would likely have a device rating of 2 (page 234, table partially contradicted by page 356 and the Rigger chapter). So if you walk into the Barrens or CCZ you’d normally be fine, but every increase would shut you down, and so would walking within 10m of a rating 4 (and 20m for rating 6) Area Jammer. An enemy could shut down a lot of your stuff with a directional jammer at up to 80m distance. This tactic goes both ways, of course.

Jammers will become a viable strategy this way, shutting down communication of any sucker with a bad commlink. They can now be used to prevent security from calling backup, or to block the wireless signal meant to blow up that grenade in front of someone’s feet. A Street Samurai taking trips into bad areas of town will have to live with the consequences of not always having his wireless boni at hand, or invest into datajacks.

Of course this rule comes with its own consequences, so next we have these three:


Rule: Noise is split between Spam and Static effects

There are two kinds of Noise Zones. Static Zones are places where signals are either blocked or far away, whereas Spam Zones are so filled with signals that processing info becomes hard since signals are drowned out.

The downside of communication shutting down at Noise >= Device Rating, is the Spam Zones. An Advertising Blitz comes with a Rating 3 Spamzone. While some RFID tags (used for AROs) are Device Rating 3, simple glasses with an image link aren’t. This means that people would not be able to see the same AROs that the blitz is trying to show them. And even though a GM could say “commercial area noise only applies during peek hours and the Noise is less inside shops”, this still means that nobody would ever be able to see the AROs from outside or likely even make a phone call while visiting a mall.

As a solution for that, Noise can be separated into two factors. There’s the actual blocks that damage the signal, such as distance, all kinds of situational modifiers and the general environment (Static zones). Then there’s the Spam zones, where the only real problem is the massive amount of data flying around.

Noise has 2 effects. A penalty on Matrix actions, and disabling your wireless. It makes sense for Spam zones to do the first, but it doesn’t make sense for them to do the second. So Noise is split into two factors, Spam and Other. Spam+Other decides the dice penalty, whereas Other decides whether or not the wireless signal is powerful enough to get through whatever circumstances are in your way. This means all the offensive functionality of Noise remains, and trying to hack while you’re in the frickin’ Mall will be tough due to the signals around you

The question would be which kind of Noise is first reduced by Noise Reduction. It makes sense that the software would prioritize the signal loss, so the Other Noise, but a GM could easily decide differently, such as splitting it in two or making it reduce the Spam first.


Rule: Noise blocks communication but not one-way signals.

A different solution to the Advertising blitz is ruling that one-way signals still work. Think of it like streamed real-time video, even if you lose some data you probably can still make something out of it. Those RFID tags are simply broadcasting intel, and while your AR Goggles may not be capable of communicating with their environment, they may still be able to make sense out of the signals they receive. Since talking kinda requires a two-way street, while file transfers involve double-checking to compensate for packet loss, the Noise would still make this impossible. Meaning you wouldn’t be able to get a call out, but you’d be capable to receive a text message.

So basically the total Noise would have to exceed the sender’s Device Rating in order to block it from sending a message. If one side is fine and the other isn’t, only one-way messages are possible. If the Noise exceeds both, they cannot communicate at all. In that advertising blitz RFID tags of DR3 would be able to send out AROs and the DR2 Goggles would be able to read them. In the Mall the local Hosts would send out the AROs and your commlink would be able to receive texts, but you’d need a good one to be able to send texts. And when faced with a Jammer, you’d still be in trouble.


Rule: Datajacks can only provide Noise Reduction for a single plugged-in device, and don’t stack

Datajacks provide 1 point of Noise Reduction as wireless bonus. Leaving aside RCCs, this is the ONLY non-magical form of Noise Reduction that can boost any piece of equipment. So if you are in a really bad part of the Barrens and stuck without a wireless Smartgun due to Noise 3 instead of 2, plugging your gun into the datajack can save your ass. It likely has DR2 as well, so past Noise 3 it’s out of luck itself (unless your GM decides better-grades have a better device rating), but it basically lets you run a piece of electronics at 1 Noise higher.

Now Noise is a GM tool, so while running into Noise 3 rather than 2 may happen, it’s quite unlike you suddenly run into Noise 4 unless you are getting hit by a perfect storm. This means that very likely this one point of Noise Reduction can be the difference between life and death! Nah, just kidding chummer, it’s a difference of a dice or two. Or 6 in case of a First Aid kit… And that’s a rather decent case where it IS a matter of life and death, so I’ll grant you that.

Which brings us to Aaron’s official clarification: He stated that a wireless datajack boosts all of a runner’s equipment. In other words, that wireless datajack would cover your commlink, smartgun, vision enhancement, chemical seal, medkit and more at the same time. Heck it’d cover your grenades. Furthermore they stack, so a decker could spend 0.4 essence and 6 grand for 5 Alphaware Datajacks in chargen, and bam, any plausible Noise their GM throws at them will be easily nullified. This takes a GM weapon that should be used sparingly, and makes it completely irrelevant unless used in ridiculous excess.

The problem here is that Noise Reduction is really hard to get. Yet in the form of a Datajack it suddenly would become harmless at a cheap price, where only awakened characters and some street sams would have a hard time with the essence loss. To solve that problem the datajacks would be tuned back: They only provide Noise Reduction for themselves and whatever single item is plugged into them, and cannot stack with each other.

Consequences are that Noise can still be real dangerous this way. If a Street Sam wants their smartgun to still run in rating 3 Noise, they’d need a datajack. If they also want their Thermal Dampening to work, that requires a second datajack. It makes datajacks an important strategic decision, and in Noise 3 environments a tactical decision is required on which wireless bonuses you want to keep and which you drop.


These Noise rules all have 1 thing in common: They keep Noise a dangerous thing. This means that excessive use by a GM can spell trouble for players, so the GM should keep in mind that Noise is a GM tool that should be used sparingly, just like Background Count, and not as a weapon of choice for every run. The official rulings ripped out the sting, while these houserules keep it sharp and dangerous.