I'm looking for situation-based play in the Shadowrun setting

edited October 2009 in Play Advice
I'm looking for situations to focus an upcoming Shadowrun campaign and I want to throw out a number of ideas to my peeps.

I'll say right off the bat that I could care less about Shadowrunning in Shadowrun. The whole "go on a missions thing" is not only too rail-roady but dull as hell for me. In other words, I don't care if 'situation' leads to 'traditional' narrative and/or typical play in the SR universe.

So with the idea that situation-based play is an awesome way to focus a game, can you suggest some situations that might provide more of a story-game approach to the SR setting? Looking for stuff like: "the PCs walk out of jail for the first time looking to get their old territory back from the crime overlord who put them in there". That sort of thing. Also, something like this would be valid as well: "A group of like-minded entrepreneurs decide to start their own company and break into the lucrative field of smart-weapons manufacture."

Give me more.


  • edited October 2009
    Posted By: DenysI'll say right off the bat that I could care less about Shadowrunning in Shadowrun. The whole "go on a missions thing" is not only too rail-roady but dull as hell for me.
    To me, this is the first step in a better cyberpunk game. The old, cliche, lame prospect of "get job, overplan run, run fails or goes bad, Johnson refuses to pay or screws you over, goto 10" is the suck. Once you get done with that, most of the work is done, I think.

    Some good setups like you asked for above:

    * Group is part of a metahuman rights movement that gets encroached on by some wicked corporation that wants to take over their freehold, etc. Time to take the cause to the streets, the screamsheets, and maybe even the competetor to put this thing back on ice - for good.

    * Twenty years ago, the Numenor Corporation destroyed an Immortal Elven Mage (Dark_Lord) who used his magic and influence to corrupt and destroy their capital and forced them in receivership. One of the PC group learns he or she is the last secured creditor of Numenor Corp and is the owner of a prototype environmental renewal tech, one that could very well redefine the world.

    Dark_Lord lies lifeless and haunting the Matrix and his millions of lidless cameras peer out to the world he once tried to own and on which he now seeks to destroy. The dataflows of a certain media outlet becomes the crux-point of his restless gaze, its view becomes his and he warps the images and sounds that come from its creative talents and reporters.

    As he summons evil to his side, so too must the last heir of Numenor Corporation find allies.

    (Yes, I planed to do a Shadowrun version of LotR (set in a cyberpunk Middle Earth where people no longer heeded the stories of old).

    * Tip your hat to Max Headroom and make the group muckraker reporters who look for the truth the big players want to hide. Always a new angle or theme to be had there...
  • Good luck. I'm trying to run a Shadowrun game using Solar System, and the lack of Situation in my mission-based scenario is stinking things right up. Should have thought up a good situation first, but I'm dealing with very traditional SR players. Oh well.

    Here's a situation for you:
    Some paydata from months ago contains a hidden application that has suddenly started up, sent a signal to... somewhere, and is now counting down on a 72 hour timer. Plus, agents of various factions start hounding you, thinking that you have something that you don't.
    Hmm, that kind of sucks, but with some more detail it might work.
  • Hmm, vague campaign level situations aren't always my best thing (I do better with smaller situations), but I'll give this a shot. My first impulses are to move away from the traditional Shadowrunner model, and look more into the world of Shadowrun:

    1) The team is a Lone Star rapid response team -- sort of like SWAT, but with a larger portfolio. Sure, they get called in to shoot bad people in the face (including shit like rogue dragons), but they also get called in for hostage negotiation (what do they do when the hostage is a Renraku asshole being held at gunpoint by a man whose whole family died because of the exec's fuck up in the shutdown?), to "control" riots and large scale communal disorder (read, "shoot orcs in the face when they try to protest for their rights"), to infiltrate black market weapons and shadowrun groups (what happens when they find the shadowrunners more honorable than the people they work for?), and so on. This one can work off a hundred different cop drama tropes (I'd recommend Flashpoint for inspiration), gives a clear team mission, objective, and oversight -- but also gives the PCs considerable authority and centrality. Let em see life on the opposite end of the long arm of the law.

    2) The team represent the heavy hitters and the respected elders of a Native American band, one that happens to sit on the edge of disputed territory. (Could be around Salt Lake, Seattle, Denver, the Tir, Cali, or whatever.) Their band has rights over their own land, which gives them a lot of freedom, but also means they're always under pressure from all sides. The other bands always want them to join with them against the UCAS (or whoever), despite the fact the other bands often treat them like shit. They have problems with smugglers and shadowrunners using their lands as a staging ground -- problems that are probably increased by the involvement of the band with the smugglers (or members of the band being smugglers). The UCAS is always offering them things if they'll compromise, allow UCAS access to their lands or resources, sending in agents provocateur to cause dissent, and so forth. The PCs have to lead their band through this political mine field, charting the course they think is best for their community in a world with no friends.

    3) The team call themselves "The Tula", and they represent the last best hope that Aztecnology can be pulled back from the brink of causing a magical holocaust with their blood magic. They are all employees of Aztecnology who resent the Mexica Tenochca focus of the company, and believe the upper leadership is leading them down a dark path. They wish instead to follow the old ways of the Tula, before the Aztecs corrupted their worship, and turn away from the path of blood. Of course, if the powers that be find out about this, they'll be black bagged in a second. So the PCs work in the shadows of the corporation, using the resources of the company against itself on a silent crusade to clean the taint from halls of power.

    4) Block By Bloody Block: Its Chicago just after everything got blown to shit. The PCs band together not to work for others running missions, but with the idea that its better to reign in hell then serve in heaven. They're going to take over the Zone, rule it with an iron fist as warlords. Maybe they'll also give protection, running water, social services, or whatever to the people who've been abandoned by the world. For some of them maybe that's the point. They were born here, they're going to die here, and they're going to die on top. Of course, every other block has a group just like them wanting the same thing, and the bugs are still present, and the toxic spirits are driving everyone to murder, so it's going to be a rocky road.


    Besides that, it occurs to me that many of the old Shadowrun adventures had pretty good situations, until they went and fucked them up with an easy out. But if you take the out away, take out the "shoot your way out of it in the dungeon" solution, some of them could get pretty rad.

    Like, in DNA/DOA there is this whole plot with racist terrorists, soleless corporations, and desperate metahumans all fighting for control of a virus that could be used to wipe out whole segments of the metahuman population. The PCs, of course, end up with this virus and are supposed to chose what to do with the situation. The problem being that the way the adventure is set up, there is really only one way to go, and its to do another Shadowrun. So the adventure gets to the point of having some real chance for the players to fuck with the world, then sends in a savior who tells them to go back to the dungeon and fight it out. But if you take the basic situation, remove the out, and reduce the dungeon crawl... you've got an explosive situation.

    Or Bottled Demon, where the PCs end up with the magical dingus that gives massive power to whoever uses it, but also corrupts their soul. Everyone wants it, the PCs have it, and there is a whole Faustian angle set up. Then the magical dragon of magical dragon good comes in and saves the PCs, sets up a big fight where they go into a dungeon to kill the evil dragon of magical evilness, and then the dingus is taken off stage. In this one if you just take out the good and evil, make everyone ambiguous, don't assume that the PCs will (or even should) give up the dingus, and make their choices real choices, again... it could be a good situation. (I'd be tempted to play it with Sorcerer.)

    So some of those old adventures might be worth taking a look at. Just remove the part where the moral dilemma gets solved for the PCs, and make them actually deal with the situation on their own, and all its backlash and follow up, on their own.
  • - Due to a typical "railroady" style Shadowrun mission that targeted their company, and a boss that screwed them over to cover his own ass, the salaryman PCs are now not only out of work, but have such black marks on their resume that no other corp will touch them. How do they feed their families?

    - After the collateral damage of a high-speed shootout between Lone Start and a group of Shadowrunners kills their families, the PCs have joined support group to deal with their loss. Unfortunately, the leader of this support group is a sorcerous Wendigo, who has slowly manipulated to the group into cannibalism. The thing is, the group actually does work, helping the PCs pull their lives back together. As the game starts, they are torn between the horror of what they have become and the power that it gives them.

    - The PCs are kids in a shopping mall, housed within a big, sentient building, when the building goes nuts and locks the place down. Oh, wait, that's been done.

    - The PCs are kids that live in a self-sufficient housing project funded by Shiawase. Thanks to a Shadowrun that targeted the megacorp, the division that funded the project become unprofitable and is liquidated. The company pulls out, abandoning the project. As the systems start to fail, some residents leave the project, but most have no where else to go. Who will rise to fill the authority vacuum, and can the machines be fixed before everyone starves or chokes on waste?
  • I'm trying to restart my Shadowrun campaign right now. The PCs are UCAS military intelligence operating out of the task force based in Seattle. Their current mission is to subvert the Native American patrols of Mt. Ranier. The shaman son of a tribal elder is experimenting with drugs. The PCs job is to become his source and thus bring down his Essence; the father covers for the son while his performance declines.

    That's what I told them, at any rate.

  • I used to play a ton of Cyberpunk 2020 back in the day. My three most successful mini campaigns were:

    An investigative journalist team ripped right from Max Headroom.

    A private Emergency Rescue Service team, ala REO Meatwagon where the team had to keep their business afloat while being misused by clients looking for extractions underfire and competitors looking to client steal. We had a vaguely InSpectres set up for the business but much less elegant and over crunched.

    A rockerboy and his entourage, including Fixer Agent, Solo bodyguard, and Nomad driver/roady following them on tour with the primary conflict being "stay indie or sellout" and the crazy mixups with overzealous fans, the law, reporters, and studios looking to negotiate with firepower.
  • The PCs steal cars for banks, and do everything they can to avoid work and blame everything that goes wrong on Lazy Shit Rich.
  • JD,

    That sounds too much like my brother's life.
  • In our local Piedmont-area Shadowrun Game that we've been dallying about for like 2-3 years now or so, we made a setting change: Basically, the main thing was implementing "Snow Crash"-esque Franchise Governments, and that basically gave us a lot of fire for not only Loot and Guns, but Social Change as well.

    Anyway, in this game we basically started out with one player (mine) connected to a franchise government (the local Yakuza, incidentally the franchase was owned by a White American Ex-Militant, nifty juxtaposition). The other PCs were connected to that friend, connected to that franchise.

    The situation was that we were trying to expand the franchise. Missions we did were to get rid of threats to the franchise, or to get money in order to expand the company/government. There were other elements, like a rival "straight laced corp" company that was buying up land around us, a shady parking lot that was a neutral zone (The People's Democratic Republic of Congo), and a few other franchises and major NPCs. The franchises/governments themselves felt like characters in a way, and this made situation-starting really quick and painless.

    Honestly, I think I want to take up my own notes on this campaign and draft them up into a document so that others can play it with any Cyberpunk-ish game.

  • Thanks folks for all your help. Some excellent observations and ideas there.
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