$Insert_Title, Episode 12

"Aired" on: 2018-06-09Cast: Hueco, Madoka, Engie

Previously On

The show opens silently to a black screen. A record scratch sounds.

Producer: Are we just out of pre-roll for this section? Tom? Tom? Where the fuck is Tom?


After a short montage of scenes from the last episode, the show opens up on an establishing shot of the Arcade. They establish that their new goal is to kidnap James Arello, Madoka's date from the gala event. Hueco comes up with a plan that utilizes everyone's skills.

Hueco: Madoka steals the information we need. We wait outside his apartment until he's alone. I shoot him with some rubber bullets and we stuff him in the van and drive away. Easy.

Madoka attempts to hack into the host, but fails. Since hosts are public and often targeted by many hackers a day, Madoka isn't worried about it. She reboots her living persona and tries again. She succeeds on the second attempt and enters the host. She realizes very quickly that her living persona stands out, and changes it to match the gaudy interior and persona of other users.

Madoka walks around the host, picking up files and examining them until she comes across Arello's file. Since she is not the file owner she has to force the copy. Her first attempt to copy the file to an external device fails, alerting the host. The Patrol IC begins making wee-woo alarm noises and telling Madoka to stop commiting crimes within the host. Madoka knows she has a few seconds before the host loads up more dangerous IC and attempts the copy again.

She succeeds on her second try and exits the host as a new IC loads in. The camera stays with the host for a second as the Patrol IC stops making wee-woo noises and resumes its patrol as the larger, armed IC looks around confused before also exits.

Back at the Arcade, Engie's commlink beeps. We get a shot of Engie checking his device and showing an ungodly number of unread notifications. Madoka snaps awake and declares that she's succeeded and tells Engie to share the files, which he does.

The group sets up outside of Arello's apartment building and follows another vehicle into its underground parking structure. They park a few spots away from Arello's assigned spot, waiting for him to return home.

It does not take long. Arello pulls up and steps out of the car and Hueco exits the van with the shotgun. He misses his first shot and Arello dives behind a car. We get a shot from behind Arello looking up at the space between two vehicles as Hueco steps into center frame, aiming his shotgun at him. Hueco drops Arello with one gel round from his Defiance T-250.

The show cuts to the interrogation room at the butcher's shop. The room is evenly lit by four white LED lamps built into the ceiling. James Arello is cuffed by both the wrists and ankles to an anchor point in the center of the cement floor, with only enough space to remain seated in the steel chair. The only other fixture in the room is another steel chair.

Outside the interrogation room Engie, Hueco, and Madoka speak briefly with Manifest. Manifest asks Madoka to stay and watch, mentioning that she feels that Madoka has some misguided ideas about how she works. The group agrees to watch part of the interrogation, and Manifest enters the interrogation room.

Manifest: Hello, James. I have some questions for you. You will answer those questions. Don't worry. Nobody is going to hurt you here, but nobody is coming to save you. We are just going to talk here, in this room, until you answer all my questions. Until I am satisfied you have no more answers to give, your entire world consists of these four walls and me. You are clearly distressed right now, so I will leave you to come to terms with your situation.

Manifest exits the interrogation room and cheerily proposes the group goes out for tacos. Hueco counters by asking Manifest where she learned her interrogation tactics. He doesn't get a response and the group goes for tacos.

Engie repeatedly asks the waitress at the taco shop for stronger hot sauce until he is confident that there is nothing hotter. He buys the whole bottle and refuses to share with anyone, especially Madoka who asks for some. During the meal the runners ask Manifest and Fearless some probing questions about their past, though Manifest continues to not answer where she learned most of her skills. Fearless is more forthcoming, explaining that she grew up in Columbia during the ongoing conflict there, and moved to Seattle after meeting Manifest and being offered a job. Fearless admits that she doesn't know why Manifest was in Columbia.

Manifest asks the group about their goal and what kind of information they are looking to extract from Arello. The group explains everything, because this is a television show and the fact they are in a public taco joint has no bearing over whether or not anyone overhears this stuff.

There was an important character-developing exchange between Madoka and Manifest, but my notes and memory fail me on the precise details. Manifest explains that people are resilient, and that people can be placed into circumstances that are extraordinarily difficult for them and if it doesn't kill them quickly, then they will adapt for better or worse. Manifest is referring to Arello after the interrogation, but the clear subtext is referring to Madoka and Shadowrunning.

The episode concludes with a montage of the interrogation, the running team following up on the information they gained, and news reports about allegations and charges related to human trafficking and corporate espionage being laid on a number of executives from multiple companies.


The scene fades in on the interrogation room, where Manifest sits across from James.

Manifest: I am confident that you have no more information. That means our time here is done, and you will be free to go. I know you are probably worried about that whole trope where the antagonist says you're free to go and then just kills the hostage. Well, as it turns out the Agency's standard operating procedure after an interview is to just execute the captive and get a cleaner.

Fearless enters the room with a syringe, and jabs it into Arello's arm.

Manifest: Now, my client does not want me to kill you. Our mutual friend, Molly, wants you dead. My boss wants me to cause some trouble between EVO and Wuxing. I have a solution that will appease everyone.

The scene cuts to an establishing shot of the front of a corporate building in the afternoon. A grey van pulls up to the curb and drives away. A man in a grungy business suit moans and begins to crawl from where he was dumped out of the van. His skin is pale and desiccated and his eyes are hollow.

Post-Session Notes

This session was very good. The party was on task and we got to wrap up this god awful run. I also got to fit in several scenes that poked at Madoka's feelings about Manifest.The runners received 9900¥ and 5 Karma for completing the run.

Cash Money: (3000¥ [Base] + 300¥ [3 net hits on negotiation test]) x ( 1 [Dice Pool] + 1 [Public Exposure Risk] ) = 9900¥
Karma: 2 [Survived] + 2 [Completed All Objectives] + 1 [Dice Pool] = 5 Karma

This run was abysmal from a design perspective. When it started I thought I'd give them something open with a lot of room to move around in and then the group didn't come up with any decisive plans. It isn't a knock against them, a bunch of them are relatively new and most are definitely new to Shadowrun so it was a mistake for me to drop them in the sandbox of the Sixth World without much direction. Investigation-style runs are difficult for the same reasons that point-and-click adventure games are hard: moon logic.

In future runs I plan on giving them a much narrower and specific set of goals in their runs, with a stricter timeline to pressure them to act. The openness of the run caused decision paralysis, it was overwhelming. Clearer, material goals should go a long way here.

I also plan on putting them in more combat situations where Engie and Hueco can shine a bit more than they have gotten a chance to so far. I think Fearless and Hueco clicked a bit with their banter so I might see if I can leverage that a little more.

Player-wise, Hueco's player spends more time in third-person at the game-level. This makes Hueco a little harder to engage narratively but that isn't really my job.  Engie's player is a mix between both game-level and narrative-level. For the most part, the person who engages the hardest at the narrative-level is Mr. Fahrenheit's player who hijacks the party with their character's charisma (this is not a complaint, everyone is okay with this).

Next session I hope that Mr. Fahrenheit is present because I have a good opening that leverages his character. This is one of those times where I don't want to use a foil to a player character, I want to line them up with a character that validates their over-the-top personality. Stella is perfect for this because she's the Taylor Swift of Synth-Pop and also hides uncertainty and depression behind faux confidence and irrational attention-seeking behavior.

Anyways, that's all for this run. Next run is going to be fun.