7 Aug 2014

By the Numbers Chapter 18 - Commentary

Welcome back.  As always, please read the chapter first.

Chapter 18 covered even more legwork.  Investigation should be a part of any shadowrun; the more the crew knows, the less likely there will be a nasty surprise waiting for them.  Numbers leads off.  Her paranoia is still strong, but is it really paranoia when someone is out to get her?  Being the hacker of the crew, Numbers covers the Matrix for her research, using Jackpoint as her starting point.  Jackpoint is also from the setting, this time from the fourth edition.  The site is invite only, in-universe, and Fastjack gets particular about who gets in.  Slamm-O, Numbers' contact, is one of the invited, and, for the sake of the story, vouched for Numbers.  He also does have a love life, revealed over the fourth edition's supplement.

The discussion of Seattle's future is a plot point in the game.  When there's uncertainty over the future of the city's relationship with the rest of the United Canadian and American States (UCAS), there's room for enterprising outsiders to make a bit of cash.  Joey D was one of the candidates for Governor of the Metroplex of Seattle and was in favour of turning the region into an independant city state.  Brackhaven won, though, with the strength of several corporations backing his warchest.  Seattle remains as the lone UCAS outpost surrounded by a potentially hostile nation, which makes residents who pay attention nervous.  There's not many of that type of resident, though.

The choice of music Numbers has is Europop, something sort of exists today.  The big question, in a future where there is no America, is there still an American culture to export?  Even today, it's possible for a non-American to reach the top of American music charts.  PSY did it with "Gangnam Style", and Canadians have slipped in many times.  The Beatles and the Rolling Stones were part of the British Invasion in the 60s.  So, Numbers listening to a Czech pop band isn't unusual.  Prompting that sort of choice was my listening habits.  The bulk of my music collection falls under three categories: "Weird Al" Yankovic, The Arrogant Worms, or instrumentals.  The rest is an eclectic mix that includes French Canadian performers like Mylene Farmer and Marc Drouin and other foreign language singers, with a few English-language CDs tossed in.  The reason may stem back to high school English.  I already wrote about some of the issues I had with the class, but along with learning to hate writing, I learned to hate poetry, and songs are poetry with music.  Instrumentals and foreign language songs let me listen to music without having to deal with the words.

Moving on, Charles meets with Mr. Macro again.  Macro has ties with the Mafia, and the Mafia isn't happy about people shooting up one of their front businesses.  Charles doesn't have physical evidence about the hitters getting what was coming to them, but passing along the info to Macro will get him brownie points for future considerations.  The new job offer is life as a shadowrunner; you're only as good as your last job.  More work, more money for expenses, and a better rep on the street.

Oswald, once again, is dealing with the ladies.  This was deliberate and set up in previous chapters.  If anyone is surprised that Oz and Nabi are having dinner together, it's not my fault.  The dinner is less a date as it is a chance for Oz to get info from Nabi and Nabi repaying him for rescuing her daughter.  Sometimes, the best payment isn't in money.  I also wanted to show a runner off duty, as it were.  Characters aren't always on a job.

Treehugger starts her scene in an argument.  Two-Tone does have a point - his garage was shot up and the door broken.  This time, the negotiations are to get Treehugger back on her contact's good side.  Contacts do need to be kept happy; a happy contact will be more willing to go out of his or her way to do something for a character.  Works in real life, too.  Be nice to the staff of your favourite place.

After the dinner, Oswald pays a visit to Numbers.  He's well aware of the hacker's problems at this point.  The scene is meant to show off both characters and their relationship.  Numbers finally reaches her break point.  All through the story, she maintained a professional demeanor, remaining calm even when Nabi threatened to shoot herself.  The possibility that she has to return to Saeder-Krupp HQ for further interrogation and who knows what happens afterward was enough to break through Numbers' resolve.  Oswald being there let her give herself permission to have the breakdown.

The scene with Charles introduces the other long-time character idea I've had for the game.  While Skater was tied to a specific event in the game's history, Jade was based on an idea, a hermetic mage with healing magic, using the Former Company Mage archetype from the first edition core book.  Normally, it's shamans who are more attuned to healing magic.  Right away, Jade was different.  Her goal was to open up her own street clinic and, thanks to time passing and me needing some info on Doc Wagon, I get to let her obtain the goal.  By pulling her into the story, I have yet another supporting character with backstory.  Makes the setting feel a little more vibrant.

I realized at some point that I still had too many suspects.  The remainder of the chapter works to eliminate as many as possible.  I removed Doc Wagon, then had to put them back, so Sun Jung's finger pointing was needed.  I don't like using something that blatant, but without her, there'd be several more chapters of investigation when it was time to evolve the job into the involuntary extraction.  However, the added bit with Numbers turning her charms on the Doc Wagon representative added to the word count, so it wasn't a loss.

Tomorrow, the involuntary extraction.
Also tomorrow, over at Psycho Drive-In, The Dukes of Hazzard.
Saturday, over at MuseHack, The Beverly Hillbillies.
Also Saturday, check out Comics Bulletin for comics-related reposts of Lost in Translation.

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