12 Jun 2014

By the Numbers Chapter 10 - Commentary

Again, please read the chapter before continuing.

More new characters appear.  Sergeant Sam Quinn appeared back in Chapter 8.  Slamm-O is a canon Shadowrun character, appearing in almost every fourth edition sourcebook.  The rest make their first speaking appearance.  First up, the Storm Sisters, Tempest and Gale.  Tempest earned her street name from her temper; her sister's came from her real name, Abigail.  Not all street names are based on something a runner did.  The Storms are what's known in the game as aspected magicians; mages who can only cast one type of spell or summon one type of spirit.  In their elements, the Storms are tough to beat.  They don't have the versatility that Oswald has, though.  As a team, the Storms can cover their weaknesses.  Aspected mages are also known as "groggies", for not being fully Awakened in magic.

The other new character is Lieutenant Kiser, of Knight Errant.  As mentioned several times in the commentary already, Knight Errant holds the police contract for Seattle.  Kiser, named after veteran actor Terry Kiser, worked his way up through the ranks.  More details will come out in later chapters, so I'll just gloss over Kiser for now.  Suffice to say that he's in a similar position as Sgt. Quinn, trusted by his superiors to handle a delicate matter than may need a heavy hand if the situation turns sour.

Oswald, being an ex-cop himself, has a good read on both Quinn and Kiser.  The mage has seen cops, good and bad, in his past.  His experience helps Quinn and Kiser buy in.  Meanwhile, Numbers is on the "trust but validate" bandwagon.  She's making the assumption that the kidnappers are being paid, mainly because she, herself, is a shadowrunner and would demand payment for such an act.  However, money is a good way to convince someone to do something that would otherwise be distasteful.  Numbers also checked the Storm Sisters' accounts; she's nothing if not thorough.

The question now, why does Numbers trust Slamm-O?  Slamm-O is an experienced hacker and knows how to cover his tracks.  The answer is on Numbers's character sheet; she has Slamm-O as a contact, paid for in character points.  A little on the meta side and not a satisfactory argument if you look at the narrative, so, the answer becomes, Numbers has worked beside Slamm-O before, is aware of how he works and what he would and wouldn't do.  Slamm-O has the same level of trust in Numbers.  He was also the one to bring up the issue to Numbers and Skater.

I was hesitant to bring in a legacy character into the story.  By the Numbers is about my crew, Numbers, Charles, Oswald, and Treehugger; not about someone else's.  At the same time, with the number of characters appearing in the sourcebooks, it's not unusual to run across them or their work.  There really aren't that many shadowrunners; it takes a unique mindset to become an expendable deniable asset and most of the population won't have it.  Shadowrunning is also a dangerous career.  There's always a chance of being arrested or killed on a job.  A runner should have a retirement plan at some point in his or her career.  The problem, though, is that keeping up with the state of the art is expensive.  There's always a new program, a new magical technique, a new piece of cyberware that becomes critical to survival.  Those things cost.

The closing scene returns the focus to just the main crew.  Oswald is very much a ladies' man, as seen in earlier chapters.  He's not hitting on Numbers; he's reassuring, but he's a tactile person.  The warehouse where they'll meet up again is their safe house, the one they took Mr. Johnson too a few chapters back.

Tomorrow, find out if the meeting gets disrupted.
Also tomorrow, over at Psycho Drive-In, Gnomeo & Juliet.
Saturday, over at MuseHack, Super Mario Bros.
Coming soon, more Traveller fun, more Project Natasha, and more NaNoWriMo planning.

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