5 Jun 2014

By the Numbers Chapter 9 - Commentary

Don't forget to read the chapter before continuing.

The opening scene emphasizes that Tarkov isn't an experienced Mr. Johnson.  At the same time, he knows his own position well enough to get advice when he's outside his usual experience.  Numbers's suggestion is, in short, the attacks don't have a profit/loss motive.  Whatever the reason, the attacks and intrusions have a motive that's outside the corporate mindset.

The next scene skips over the fallout of Numbers's suggestion.  One chapter of inter-corporate bickering was enough, for both you readers and for me.  Skipping the dull parts is allowed when writing.  The quick virtual meeting let me reuse the camera; I didn't want to create yet another virtual node.  Skater misquotes MacBeth, Slamm-O presents the new problem, and I borrow a concept from ReBoot, the vidwindow.  The hackers in the room are the first to deal with the problem.  Note that they haven't brought in any of the corporate or government security hackers; while shadowrunners might not trust each other, they know the problem having the corporate people involved.  Numbers brings up the point of professionalism; the difference between paying a gang to break and enter a corporate facility and a group of shadowrunners is professionalism.  Gangers, especially ones paid in drugs and alcohol, won't have any subtlety.  Perfect when creating a distraction, not so great when trying to keep the intrusion unnoticed.  Shadowrunners, on the other hand, know their pay is based on not being seen, unless the job is to be seen.  Professional runners will hit just what they're hired for; any extra removed leads to the runners being treated as expendable.  Good shadowrunners are hard to find.

The discussion on what to do about the problem let me delve into the team's dynamics and what sort of work the team will and won't do.  In a Shadowrun campaign, it's a good idea for the players to agree on what sort of runs they won't do; if one or more players don't like the idea of murder-for-hire, it'd be best if the team avoided those jobs.  At the same time, if the most of the players want play mercenaries in the Sixth World, the other players will have to decided whether to join or skip.  Usually, there's give and take, and the more interesting runs usually involve breaking into a facility.

In the crew's case, there are at least two sorts of jobs they won't take.  Charles states outright that they're not hitmen; they just don't take murder-for-hire jobs and their contacts are aware of the matter.  The other sort of job, a much broader category, is anything where a child might get hurt.  Oswald is the voice of conscience in this case, but Charles agrees.  The troll also rebuilt himself through cybernetics to be a better bodyguard.

The meeting between Numbers and Nabi let me get a few more clues out.  Numbers is the ideal person to talk to Nabi; I've already established that the hacker is a social engineer, with implants that help her be convincing.  Nabi's neutral, wanting help but not necessarily trusting anyone.  The implants let Numbers get past Nabi's barriers.  Sun Jung herself is a hacker in the making.  Her Nerps t-shirt is part of a editions-long Shadowrun running gag; at no point has Nerps ever been defined, either in game mechanics or in setting description beyond ads.

Tomorrow, putting together the search team.
Also tomorrow, over at Psycho Drive-In, the role history has in remaking a work.
Saturday, over at MuseHack, Gnomeo and Juliet.

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