31 Jul 2014

By the Numbers Chapter 17 - Commentary

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

Mood whiplash is in effect between chapters 16 and 17.  Fraulein Johnson defused a tense situation, at least temporarily, because she needed deniable expendable assets.  The good fraulein has her own sources about the infiltration, and wants the person responsible.  From the narrative point of view, this gives the crew the motive to investigate.  It's a good motive, too - cash.  Should the crew trust Fraulein Johnson?  Hell no.

The negotiation starts from a position of anger.  Payment has always been a touchy subject in Shadowrun campaigns.  How much is too much?  In the fourth edition, the recommended amount was about 5000 nuyen per runner for a run.  However, that amount didn't take into account difficulty of accessing the target, whatever the target.  This is where the GM needs to make the tough decisions.  The GM needs to accommodate his players, make sure that their characters can pay the bills and save up for wanted upgrades while still not letting the PCs get so powerful that nothing is a challenge.  Adding to the payoff challenge, magical types - mages and adepts - use experience points, called Karma, to pay for improvements.  The mundanes can only keep up through improving skills, also through Karma, or installing implants, which costs nuyen.  An ideal game will have the mundanes and the awakened keeping pace with each other, at least over the long run.

A story, though, has other considerations.  Treehugger is, justifiably, angry with Fraulein Johnson and Saeder-Krupp.  Twenty-five thousand for each person on the crew goes some distance in mollifying the elf wanna-be.  Oswald has a good point; as far as he knows, there's nothing stopping Johnson from telling her Loyalty Enforment Officer friend to clean up loose ends.  The suggestion from Numbers does get Johnson's attention.  Her response shows exactly how much control she has over Wulfe.

The rest of the chapter is just narrowing down suspects.  Mitsuhama's Research Unit 12 first appeared in the first edition of The Grimoire, the magic supplement, as an example of a magical group.  "Betray the corp, and the entire circle will know right away," is putting it simply; magical groups can fall apart if a member breaks a stricture.  The group will also know who was responsible.  Mitsuhama has a reputation for strictness amongst employees; where Saeder-Krupp sends Loyalty Enforcement Officers, Mitsuhama sends hitmen.  And S-K themselves are out; Loyalty Enforcement tend to be loyal, and Wulfe is far more loyal than his peers.

Shadowrun focuses mainly on player characters being used for corporate espionage.  The government seldom gets mentioned.  In part, the lack of mention comes from the relative power the AAA megacorporations have over national governments.  Buying a politician is a cheap investment in 2071*, and if the politician starts having delusions of grandeur, funding an opponent is just as cheap.  That isn't to say governments don't have an effect.  Someone has to pay to maintain the infrastructure, even if a corporation winds up picking up the contract.  Like today, various national governments are better or worse at governing.  In Aztlan, the former Mexico plus a bit more, there's almost no distinction between the national government and Aztechnology.  The Pueblo Corporate Council, however, is its own entity.  Sure, the PCC will contract out services, but the PCC is set up along a corporate line, where the number of votes a citizen has is proportional to the number of shares owned.  The reasoning is, the more someone has invested, the more that person has to lose on a bad decision.  The public service in the PCC has to maintain that infrastructure, so being caught in corruption means not just losing a job but also losing citizenship.  Few people are willing to give up a home for a paltry bribe.

The other issue, jobs in the government are harder to get.  In the past, it was considered normal for public servants to be fired after a change of government.  Supporting the wrong candidate led to job loss.  The replacements worked for the new party in power, with hiring based on family ties, contributions to the political machine, or being a friend of an influential friend.  At some point, and this is in history texts somewhere, it was decided that a professional public service had to not be beholden to any one party but to the best interests of the nation; plus, professional public servants deserved a steady job.  Thus the public service position exams were born!  To be considered for a job, candidates needed to write an exam that was based on the position being sought.  The system is still gamable, but usually at higher levels where there aren't many people with specific qualifications.  At the entry level, the exam helps find the best and brightest of the batch while filtering out others.  In contrast, in many companies, it's still a matter of knowing the right person at the right time.

For those wondering, yes, I have written a number of public servant exams.  Numbers speaks from my experience.  Most of my personal work experience at government sites has been through temporary contracts meant to shore up numbers** when no new public service positions could be created.  Getting on the contracts?  I showed up to interviews with the agencies and showed my experience.  Interviews and resumes count for more in the private sector.

Tomorrow, more legwork, eliminating the last suspects, and Oswald has a date.
Also tomorrow, over at Psycho Drive-In, the July news round up of all movies adaptational.
Saturday, over at MuseHack, The Dukes of Hazzard.
And peek at Comics Bulletin for comics-related reposts of Lost in Translation, also on Saturdays.

* Not going to speculate on how cheap it is today.
** No relation.

25 Jul 2014

By the Numbers - Chapter 17

The New Offer
Shadowrun © 2013 The Topps Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Shadowrun and Matrix are registered trademarks and/or trademarks of The Topps Company, Inc., in the United States and/or other countries. Catalyst Game Labs and the Catalyst Game Labs logo are trademarks of InMediaRes Productions, LLC.
Monday, April 20, 2071
2117 hours

    The back alley behind the Gravity Bar stood in contrast to the brightly lit front.  Rats scurried away as the white Nightsky limousine rolled through the alley.  Behind it, Treehugger's black Westwind 3000 and Charles on his red and chrome Scorpion followed.  The Nightsky stopped at the back door to the Gravity Bar.  Fraulein Johnson got out of the limo and carefully walked to the door, picking her way over the garbage.  Treehugger parked her sports car with mere centimetres between the Westwind's bumper and the Nightsky's.  As she got out of the car, Charles wheeled his motorcycle around to face the way he came in.  He killed the engine and dismounted.

    Inside, a waiter showed the group to a private room.  Fraulein Johnson set out a white noise generator.  She waited for everyone to settle in.  "Again, my thanks for coming here.  I noticed your group at the meeting over the weekend and was surprised to hear that you weren't Federated-Boeing employees.  Your professionalism is to be commended."

    Numbers made eye contact with the woman.  "You'll have to excuse my bluntness, but why are we here?"

24 Jul 2014

By the Numbers Chapter 16 - Commentary

As always, please read the chapter first.  Thanks!

Last commentary, I mentioned Raymond Chandler's advice, "In writing a novel, when in doubt, have two guys come through the door with guns."  Last chapter, two gunmen burst into a bar, shot it up, and got shot up.  Now, with the surviving gunmen tased and stunned, the crew can try to get information out of him.  Thus, the chapter title, a reference to the interrogation technique of Good Cop/Bad Cop.*

Oswald's off-colour suggestion to Numbers may have been out of place, but it got a reaction from her, something he wanted.  At this point, I should write a prequel, to show Numbers in her normal state of working.  Sure, the first chapter was a good example - show what's normal before completely destroying normalcy - but Numbers has been breaking down for a few chapters.  Fortunately, this is the chapter that explains why.

Back to Good Cop/Bad Cop.  Numbers is ideal for the Good Cop; her implants allow her to appear sympathetic.  However, she's distracting herself with hacking the gunman's commlink.  Treehugger's busy with keeping an eye out for trouble coming.  That leaves Oswald, a former cop, and Charles to interrogate.  Oswald leads off with the three options available, and Charles beating the info out is not the worst of the three.  Numbers has a fourth option.  She's off her game, and pointing a light pistol, the Cavalier Scout, at the gunman's knee means she's willing to get the information no matter what.

The gunman got a brief reprieve with German team bursting in.  Very brief.  When taking a hostage, always take one that has value, not one that's expendable.  The gunman's death was meant to show that Wulfe meant business.  He hates incompetence.

As mentioned before, shadowrunners use aliases, nicknames so that they can't be trace.  There is no offical birth record for a Treehugger or an Oswald.  There is one for Christa Page, even if Numbers wiped her past existance as much as possible.  Wulfe is yet another supporting character who has a background, this time, being the investigator of a corporate loss in an office Numbers worked in.  Saeder-Krupp is the number one AAA megacorporation and the only one where a dragon is the owner and CEO.  Megacorps are not forgiving, though they have time to plan retaliation.  Meanwhile, the likes of Wulfe can focus on a case and investigate, even if the investigator makes Inspecteur Javert say, "You've gone too far, mon ami."

There is gratuitous German.  I used Google Translate to get the translations, then translated the phrase back to make sure there wasn't any loss of info.  Even then, I can't say for sure if the German is correct.  Google Translate seems to have problems with the imperative, and Wulfe loves that tense.  So, for those who don't speak German, and those who do and want to know what I was aiming for, a translation.

"Sie zielen" - "Take aim"
"Legen Sie Ihre Waffen" - "Set down your weapons"
"Sagte ich, setzen Sie Ihre Waffen!" - "I said, set down your weapons!"**
"Was ist das?" - "What is this?"***
"Vielen Dank für das Finden der Federated-Boeing-Team. Ihre Dienste sind heute Abend nicht mehr benötigt" - "Thank you for finding the Federated-Boeing team.  Your services tonight are no longer needed."

Treehugger asked for a translation because I was pushing it with just that above.  Having Numbers translate also let me paraphrase what was going on between Wulfe and Fraulein Krupp, now Fraulein Johnson.  For Fraulein Johnson, picture a blonde woman wearing a well-tailored business suit comprising of a red blouse, grey blazer with matching mini-skirt, and high-heeled shoes that match the outfit.  Add confidence.

Tomorrow, negotiations with Fraulein Johnson and eliminating suspects.
Also tomorrow, over at Psycho Drive-In, why I review bad movies along with the good.
Saturday, over at MuseHack, Lost in Translation has the July news round up about remakes, reboots, and adaptations.
And peek at Comics Bulletin for comics-related reposts of Lost in Translation, also on Saturdays.  Comes with illustrations!

* Not this guy.
** This was meant to be longer: "I said, set down your weapons!    Stand down!"  Google Translate couldn't get the right connotation of "stand", so I dropped the line for the post.
*** This, I knew, through high school French class.  The French window over a doorway is known as a vasitas in French because a German asked, "Was ist das?"

20 Jul 2014

By the Numbers Chapter 15 - Commentary

Welcome back to the commentary!  As always, please read the chapter first.  Thanks!

Some setting notes off the mark.  DeClerry's is from the first edition Seattle Sourcebook.  I've gotten more mileage out of that one book than any other Shadowrun release.  Canonically, DeClerry's is tied to the Mafia, who won't like anyone else shooting the place up.  The sport of combat biking comes from the first edition Shadowbeat and is a violent motorized version of capture the flag.  The name of the arena in Cleveland is based on the current trend of selling the naming rights; Ares Global Entertainment is a division of Ares Macrotechnology, one of the AAA megacorporations of the setting.  If it helps, think of Ares as OCP but with competent management.

The chapter title riffs off the popular perception of Mondays.  The crew doesn't necessarily have problem with Mondays, except when things go south.  At the bar, the crew is asking the questions I hope the readers are already wondering.  Now it's time to eliminate suspects.  This caused some problems during writing because I removed everyone as a suspect at one point.  Chapter 17's commentary will show the problem in greater detail.  Such is the risk of having a large number of suspects.  Fortunately, I knew right away who wasn't involved.  Telestrian was never involved.  With Treehugger, I had a way to shunt them aside.  The elf poser is elf-obsessed; Treehugger knows possibly more about Tir Tairngire, the elf nation that used to be Oregon, then most residents of the country.  Sometimes, a drawback can be an asset.

Raymond Chandler gets a nod in this chapter.  "In writing a novel, when in doubt, have two guys come through the door with guns."  Great advice.  It adds a burst of action, keeping the reader's attention.  It forces the writer to figure out who the gunmen are, who sent them, and why.  Instant clues!  The outline for this fight included what everyone was carrying.  The crew wasn't looking for a fight that night, so the heavier hardware was left behind.  I also worked things out round by round to account for what everyone is doing.  Suffice to say, translating game mechanics to prose was the challenge.  Short paragraphs, short sentences to emphasize the action, with few details because everything's chaotic.

As mentioned above, the crew wasn't armed for a protracted fight.  The gunmen were also hoping for a short fight, but came equipped.  The AK-97s are descendants of the Russian AK-47, an assault rifle designed to be easily manufactured under primitive conditions.  Popular with criminal and terrorist elements because it's easy to build, though hard to build well.  Weapons on full auto should trump tasers, though the crew does have Oswald.

Chapter 15 is short, but action-packed after the investigations.  A nice change of pace, at least for me.

Thursday, the commentary returns to the regular schedule with notes about Chapter 16.
Friday, negotiations with Fraulein Johnson and eliminating suspects.
Also Friday, over at Psycho Drive-In, comparing the 1987 and 2014 models of Robocop.
Saturday, over at MuseHack, Lost in Translation has the July news round up about remakes, reboots, and adaptations.
And peek at Comics Bulletin for comics-related reports of Lost in Translation, also on Saturdays.  Comes with illustrations!

18 Jul 2014

By the Numbers - Chapter 16

Whatever Happened to the Good Cop?

(Language warning in effect)
Shadowrun © 2013 The Topps Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Shadowrun and Matrix are registered trademarks and/or trademarks of The Topps Company, Inc., in the United States and/or other countries. Catalyst Game Labs and the Catalyst Game Labs logo are trademarks of InMediaRes Productions, LLC.
Monday, April 20, 2071
2043 hours

    Charles threw the unconscious gunman into a chair in the warehouse.  "I'll need something to tie him down."

    "Two-Tone's probably got something in his office."  Treehugger dashed to the office door.  "I'll go look."

    Oswald paced along the walls, his eyes unfocused.  Numbers kept up with him, clearing his path of obstructions.  Treehugger returned with a length of coarse rope.  She helped Charles restrain their prisoner.  Oswald completed his walk.  "Nothing in the astral."

    "Good."  Charles stepped away from the gunman.  "Chummer here is still out."

17 Jul 2014

By the Numbers - Commentary Delayed...

Apologies again.  Today's commentary will appear Sunday.  Tomorrow's part will appear as usual.

In the meantime, have a cat photo.

The Internet likes cats, right?

16 Jul 2014

Fun With Traveller - Cybernetic Soldier

Time to give Supplement 8: Cybernetics a spin.  The book covers how various aspects of cybernetics can affect a Traveller campaign in a way that keeps things playable and still lets GMs adjust the various elements.  There are also new careers that take into account cybernetic augmentation, either because of injury or of fashion*.  While the supplement isn't tied to the Third Imperium, I'll create a character from the Spinward Marches to see what comes up.

14 Jul 2014

Project Natasha - D&D 5th Edition

Hey, Project Natasha's back!  It's been a while.  Life got busy, then to me.  However, with Wizards of the Coast releasing D&D 5th Edition, it's time for Project Natasha to return.

Short version of Project Natasha: I take Nasty from Subject 13 and create her as close as possible in a variety of game systems.  With a fantasy game like D&D, I need to take a few liberties.  Instead of being a student in the big city, Natasha is old enough to be working on her own.  Not a problem, really, as we shall soon see.  I'm using the basic rules as posted to WotC's website, since that's what I have available to me right now.  That is also not a problem; while I am looking forward to the Player's Handbook for more character options, the basic rules gives me what I need for Natasha.

First step, choose a race.  Natasha is human.  As such, she gets a +1 to all of her ability scores, is Medium sized, has a base walking speed of 30 feet per round, and speaks Common and one other language, which will be the equivalent of Italian in the setting.  I am assuming a generic setting for now; Natasha could just as easily be from the Forgotten Realms as she could be from Krynn or Greyhawk or from a DM's home brew setting.

Second step, choose a class.  The core four in the basic rules are Cleric, Fighter, Rogue, and Wizard.  In Subject 13, Nasty is quick to hit people, so that would make Natasha a Fighter.  She starts with at least ten hit points, and is proficient with all armour and weapons.  Natasha also gets two skills; she takes Athletics and Intimidation.  She also gets the Second Wind feature, letting her heal up during a fight by drawing on her reserves, and a Fighting Style.  There's no style that gives her a bonus when fighting bare-handed, but there is a Protection style which does suit her.

Next step is to determine ability scores.  I'll use the array given, 15, 14, 13, 12, 10, and 8, and set them as follows: Strength 15, Dexterity 12, Constitution 14, Intelligence 10, Wisdom 8, and Charisma 13.  Natasha is strong and tough, but tends to not think things through.  As a human, she now increases each ability by 1.

Following is the description step.  Natasha needs to choose an alignment, a background, her ideals, what she holds dear, and her flaws.  The best fitting alignment for her is Chaotic Good.  Natasha has her own personal standards and doesn't care much for having restrictions imposed on her.  At the same time, she is willing to fight for the underdogs, making sure that they aren't abused.  Of the backgrounds, Criminal is tempting, but Natasha isn't a crook, even if the city guard believes otherwise.  Soldier also doesn't work; Natasha isn't one to take orders.  Folk Hero, though. suits her.  Natasha picks up proficiency in Animal Handling, Survival, one type of artisan's tools, and land vehicles.  She also gets Rustic Hospitality; commoners are willing to hide her when needed.  Her defining event was to stand up against a tyrant's agents.  Her ideal is freedom, everyone must be free.  Natasha's bond is to protect those who cannot protect themselves.  Her flaw, though, is her short temper.  It's not on the list, but it fits her best.

The last step covered here is equipment.  Instead of purchasing, I'll use the suggested equipment for class and background.  As being a Fighter, she has several choices to make.  The first is armour; Natasha takes chain mail.  Next, it's a choice of weapon and shield or two weapons; since her fighting style requires a shield, she takes that choice, with the weapon being a long sword.  The next choice is between handaxes or a light crossbow.  Nasty was always a brawler, preferring to smack people around up close and personal instead of sitting back.  But, in a D&D campaign, a Fighter with no ranged weapons could be at a disadvantage.  Still, Natasha's from a city where axes are tools, not weapons.  She gets the handaxes.  The last choice is between packs; Natasha grabs the explorer's pack.

Natasha also gets equipment from her background.  The first item is a set of artisan's tools of some sort.  There are no motorcycles in the setting, but Natasha could still work with her hands as a smith, so she takes the Smith's Tools and declares her tool proficiency in that.  She also gets a shovel, an iron pot, a set of common clothes, and a belt pouch with ten gold coins.

The last step in character creation is to connect with the other player characters, which don't exist, thus this step is skipped.

Even with the change of setting, Natasha comes out close to her original concept.  At seventeen, she's considered an adult in the fantasy setting, but that doesn't create any problems.  Natasha is still a capable brawler who is protective of the innocent, just as in Subject 13.

Natasha's full sheet is below.  Please let me know if you use her in a game.
Level 1 Fighter
Strength 16/+3
Dexterity 13/+1
Constitution 15/+2
Intelligence 11/+0
Wisdom 9/-1
Charisma 14/+2

Hit Points: 12
AC: 18

Armour: Light, Medium, and Heavy
Weapons: Simple and Martial
Tools: Artisan's tools (smith's), Vehicles (land)
Saving Throws: Strength, Constitution
Skills: Athletics, Intimidation, Animal Handling, Survival

Background: Folk Hero
  Feature: Rustic Hospitality

  Gold Pieces: 10
  Chain mail
  Long sword
  Handaxes, 2
  Smith's tools
  Iron Pot
  Belt Pouch

11 Jul 2014

By the Numbers - Chapter 15

Monday's Suck

(Language warning in effect)
Shadowrun © 2013 The Topps Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Shadowrun and Matrix are registered trademarks and/or trademarks of The Topps Company, Inc., in the United States and/or other countries. Catalyst Game Labs and the Catalyst Game Labs logo are trademarks of InMediaRes Productions, LLC.
Monday, April 20, 2071
2010 hours

    The main draw for the crowd at DeClerry's was the combat bike match between the Tacoma Timberwolves against the Cleveland Commandos, live from Cleveland's Ares Global Entertainment Arena.  Charles settled in the booth to keep an eye on the game while listening to his teammates.  The crowd in the bar roared as Tacoma scored.

    Once the uproar died down, Numbers continued, "So, that narrowed down to several dozen calls and messages.  I still can't count out coded messages through social networks on top of all that.  Unless I find something blatant, I've exhausted everything I can think of."

10 Jul 2014

By The Numbers Chapter 14 - Commentary

To avoid spoilers, please go read the chapter first.  The commentary will make sense that way, too.

Chapter 14 starts with a title drop.  A bit of a cheat, especially since that's three more words to the word count, but /By the Numbers/ was always a working title.  The implication of the chapter title was that the crew was going back to basics, doing legwork.  Investigation needs to happen.

If you've read along with the Lethal Ladies commentaries, I mentioned a few times that I had started that story's climax long before I hit the needed 50 000 words for NaNoWriMo.  With By the Numbers, the end of the bodyguard job was never the planned end of the story.  That job was just the start, introducing the mystery.  The crew is on the periphery right now; they know something's up but not the extent.  Fortunately, I do know.

Numbers is off her game and has been since the start of the inter-corporate meeting.  Treehugger has noticed; between the hacker getting drunk last chapter then crashing at the rigger's apartment, there's enough to get TH to worry.  Numbers does get caught up in work; she forgot about Treehugger's allergy.  The hacker's backstory is still coming.

The cereal Treehugger's eating comes from "Food Fight", the sample adventure from first edition.  Sugar Bombs is a shoutout to the Chocolate-Coated Sugar Bombs from Calvin and Hobbes, but, in game, come in three popular flavours: Red, Green, and Purple.  Weclome to the future of breakfast cereals!  Treehugger gets to be the font of knowledge for all things elf.  Since she really wants to be one, she has made it a goal to learn all about what elves do, including the status of Tir Tairngire.  But, Numbers has a huge task in front of her to figure out who was responsible for the kidnapping.

Charles is off working his own contacts.  Some activities, though, work best in the late afternoon and in the evening, which is why Mr. Macro is still asleep.  Crime slows down at seven in the morning; it's just too early to be up.  Skater, though, is up and about.  As I've commented before, most of the supporting characters have a background.  Skater's gets meta; she was the first character concept I had back in Shadowrun's first edition.  Originally an elf decker, I've adjusted her as the timeline progressed.  As for why she's at the Big Rhino in the Ork Underground, it begins with the Night of Rage.  The Night of Rage started after Humanis Policlub, who make the KKK look like a gentleman's club, tried to round up metahumans for removal from society.  Rioting broke out; families were torn asunder; streets were covered in blood.  Skater, in the middle of all this, was a young girl and separated from her parents.  She found herself in the Ork Underground, and hung around even after schisms occurred.  Skater has been a shadowrunner for at least twenty years as of By the Numbers.  Thus, Charles could ask her about the names Oswald found.

While Charles is working on his end, Oswald is checking with some of his own contacts.  Sergeant Tina Miles was named well after it was obvious that Oz was a ladies' man.  Oz's background comes out fully; the only thing not named was his previous employer, NYPD Incorporated.  More of Lt. Kiser's background comes out, too, and is a clue to how serious the meeting was for Knight Errant.  The call from Nabi, though, was to wrap up that plotline and to show that there's more to a runner's life than just being expendable deniable assets.

Tomorrow, brainstorming and Dashiell Hammett's fall back position in Chapter 15.
Also tomorrow, over at Psycho Drive-In, the animated Dilbert.
Saturday, over at MuseHack, Robocop.
Coming soon, the return of Project Natasha.
And a reminder that By the Numbers now has its own page.

7 Jul 2014

Fun With Traveller - Cuddy's Sister Sonya

It's been a while since the last Traveller character was created here.  This time around, to add a bit of depth to the potential serial, I'll create Cuddy's little sister, Sonya.  While Cuddy joined the Imperial Army, Sonya joined (or wanted to join, too early to really determine that right now) the corporation that owns their homeworld, Shirene.  A bit of research into the Spinward Marches leads to The Spinward Marches Campaign release for Classic Traveller, where Al Morai is named as the corporate owner.  Al Morai operates within the Spinward Marches, starting as a transport firm and expanding.  Shirene is the home of one of Al Morai's ship maintenance facilities, the other being at Mora.

6 Jul 2014

Administrivia - By The Numbers

By the Numbers now has its own subpage here at The Chaos Beast.  All the chapters and commentary released so far has been added.  Perfect if you need to catch up on a missing part!

4 Jul 2014

By the Numbers - Chapter 14

By the Numbers

(Language warning in effect)
Shadowrun © 2013 The Topps Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Shadowrun and Matrix are registered trademarks and/or trademarks of The Topps Company, Inc., in the United States and/or other countries. Catalyst Game Labs and the Catalyst Game Labs logo are trademarks of InMediaRes Productions, LLC.

Monday, April 20, 2071
1022 hours

    Treehugger shuffled out of her dark bedroom.  She ran her fingers through her disheveled hair.  Sunlight reflected off dust particles in her living room.  The rigger stopped.  "Numbers?"

3 Jul 2014

By The Numbers Chapter 13 - Commentary

As always, please read the chapter first.

The contract wraps up nicely.  Mr. Johnson wasn't hurt, which is the prime means of determining if a bodyguard job was successful.  Creative interpretation of the terms of the contract allowed for the rescue of Sun Jung, and what Tarkov doesn't know won't get him killed.  Tarkov, being the type to not hire shadowrunners in the first place, doesn't have the knowledge of how things should go.  For all he knew, he could have hired a crew of runners that engage in performance Dadaism* on the job.  However, Tarkov's happy, and what happens to him afterwards is off the crew's radar.

The crew does have a tradition of celebrating payment.  Contract's done, everyone's off the clock, so a drink or two before heading off to hole up a few days and cleaning off evidence is a good way to wind down after a run.  The Alabaster Maiden is another bar that comes from the sourcebooks; it originally appeared in the first edition's Seattle Sourcebook and is known as a popular bar amongst magical types.  Oswald's choice.  Numbers started celebrating early for reasons that will appear in later chapters.  Her approach to beer is similar to mine, except she will drink it.  Charles, though, is a beer connoisseur.  It's even on his character sheet**.

Oswald pulled information from his magical oppenent's head last chapter.  He managed to do this in the time between stunning him and tackling Sun Jung while invisible.  Oswald's going to need sleep just to recover from the number of spells he cast, but Mind Probe allowed him to get some info on the apparent brains of the operation.  He also spent some time with Nabi after returning the woman's daughter to her.  There's no denying that Oz gets along with women, so Numbers got a small jab in on him.  That's more the hacker being drunk than anything else; this is the first time her professional demeanor has dropped.

Nabi's description is deliberately vague.  If I were to write Nabi's character sheet up, she'd have the quality Bland, which leads to witnesses being able to only give a vague description.  Thus, Numbers only remembering the augmented reflexes Nabi has.  Even Oz saw that and he spent the most time in a relaxed atmosphere with her; Numbers was more focused on Nabi's machine pistol.

Treehugger brought up a good point.  The crew isn't getting paid to solve the mystery.  While some thought needs to be put into what happened, it's to make sure that no one will be gunning for them over the next few days.  Oz is concerned for Nabi and Sun Jung, but that's coming from his background, not because they're paying him.  There was a balance I was aiming for.  Shadowrunners are freelance corporate spies, but they are people, too.  As people, each runner has his or her own personality, goals, wants, fears, and motives that drive them in the career.  At the same time, runners are contractors, and any time not spent working is time where money isn't coming in.  Each runner needs to figure out a balance between paid work and unpaid personal projects that works for them.  Treehugger likes getting paid, the money lets her buy new toys.  However, she also likes playing with her toys*** and getting killed interferes with her fun.

Tomorrow, legwork as the story continues.
Also tomorrow, over at Psycho Drive-In, the June wrap up of adaptation and remake news
Saturday, over at MuseHack, Dilbert.
Coming soon, more Traveller and the return of /Project Natasha/.

* Extracting a scientist through the use of a Godzilla flash mob film festival is a viable method that leaves both security and GM scratching their heads.
** I'll add the character sheets after the last chapter is posted.  There are some details on them that act as spoilers to the story.
*** Her favourite game is "See How Long Knight Errant Will Pursue Me" in her shiny Westwind 3000.