[Shadow Patrol] Pocket Danger Patrol + Shadowrun

edited June 2014 in Actual Play
Pocket Danger Patrol by John Harper
GMless procedure and house rules

The PCs:
Kimura the Athletic Sleuth, Oro the Cybered Scout and Valentino the Bio-Enhanced Face (me). I lost the slip of paper with the other players' names on it!

The Threats:
Expert Guards (Kimura), Insectoid Bio-Experiment (Oro), Misinfo / Deception and Time Bomb (me)

We began by generating nine Threats, keeping the four most interesting ones then taking turns claiming them. Given those four details, our Mission clearly involved breaking into a heavily defended top-secret bio-laboratory in some rainy Seattle arcology, probably at midnight. We decided that the Time Bomb should have a two-turn Countdown, the Expert Guards should be Guarding the Insectoid Bio-Experiment, and the Misinfo / Deception had to be defeated first (it was Guarding everything).

We rolled d8's for random Styles and Roles then came up with a Special Ability or two, leaving the rest to be developed in play. Kimura took some sort of Martial Arts, Oro was equipped with Active Camouflage and I went with "Wingman 4.0," a heads-up display that revealed emotional states by analyzing facial expressions and heat signatures. I must have been thinking of this scene.

We talked briefly about the nature of our group and our roles within it. Kimura was both the brains and brawn of the operation, while I acted as our front-man for networking and negotiations (Schmooze, 1d8), and Oro handled reconnaissance. Clearly, we specialized in infiltrating high-security facilities just like this one.

I described Valentino as a generic rich Hollywood pretty boy type who occasionally evaded pursuit by ducking into crowds and walking away looking like someone else (Face-Shifting, 1d8). Oro was a quiet mousy type with slicked-back hair and a furtive expression, always glancing around, like a nervous tic. I suggested that his cyberware might make him twitchy and he agreed, adding that they're old first-generation military implants that have compromised his health, and that he took this mission to pay for the necessary upgrades before it's too late. Kimura was a mysterious Japanese kung-fu detective in a black suit and shades. He had no cyberware (was, in fact, spiritually opposed to it) and kept himself in peak physical and mental condition in order to stay competitive. Oro and I agreed that we'd probably have a lot of respect for him, and that we'd usually defer to his leadership and better judgment. But while we were in it for the money, Kimura was in it for the challenge, often accepting extremely dangerous missions just for the opportunity to fight, for instance, a roomful of Expert Guards all by himself.

We went over the dice mechanics then started the flashbacks. Usually, I ask everyone to take turns collaborating and briefly narrating an earlier scene in which they rescued the PC to their left. Those tend to run a little long for a two-hour game, so instead we went around and described how each of our PCs learned something about one of the current Threats.

The first flashback involved our first encounter with the Insectoid Bio-Experiment, maybe a year and a half ago. We were being employed by a corporation known as SILF who were involved in all sorts of shady dealings, mostly concerning high tech research in exotic locations. They'd flown us out to an LA arcology to sneak into a competitor's R&D department, erase all the data and wreck everything. (SILF had recently failed to acquire this company and now wanted it destroyed.) When we were caught in the act and apprehended, SILF activated their contingency plan, and their secret army of terrifying insectoid cyber-monsters suddenly overran the building. Hundreds were killed, the company was ruined, and we barely escaped with our lives.

Oro narrated a brief scene in which he evaded the creatures by using his Active Camouflage and Overclocked Reflexes. He rolled a lot of hits and little or no danger, safely hiding from the swarm in an air duct. Bonus dice were placed on the Threat card, representing the knowledge that, while the insects may be big and scary, they're actually somewhat slow and can be outrun if you just keep your cool.

We decided that we'd had to go underground to avoid SILF's cleanup crews, and that Kimura had never forgiven their betrayal. Recently, we'd contacted a rival corporation to offer them our services and inside information. Our new mission: infiltrate the SILF bio-lab in Seattle and destroy those bugs.

I targeted the Expert Guards for my flashback, describing my recent night out buying drinks for some SILF security officers. My Face-Shifting allowed me to go unrecognized even by guys I'd worked with for years, and I got them talking about their jobs and their current schedules and shift changes. I brought in Wingman to tell me when they were lying or telling incomplete truths, and to cross-reference those with the incomplete truths that other people had recently told me. I rolled a few hits, describing them as new insight into their security measures.

Finally, Kimura vs. the Misinfo / Deception. I owned this Threat and suggested that it represented all of those incomplete truths that we were contending with. Over the years, SILF had disseminated many careful lies concerning this bio-lab's operations and Kimura was having trouble separating fact from fiction. He wanted a scene that wasn't just him sitting at a computer terminal, so I suggested a montage of us gathering information over several nights. While Oro snuck around on rooftops and I ran down my network of informants at various runner dives, Kimura directed our actions and monitored our audio / video feeds from a nearby van. Someone suggested the danger that SILF might have agents specifically watching for just this sort of activity. They might slowly zero in on him over those few nights and come knocking on his windshield. He rolled a few hits and a little danger, resulting in him Being Shadowed. Someone was tailing him, and maybe someone even took a photo of him, but he figured it was nothing to worry about.

Each Threat then rolled against the Mission track, and both the Misinfo and the Expert Guards hit, bringing it down to only four boxes. We took this to mean that the Guards were much better armed than we'd been led to believe...


  • That brought us up to the present, and we decided that we were now in that Seattle arcology, sizing up the entrance of the lab's administrative section. Someone described us striding right in through the front door, confident in our bad information. I suggested something about new and unexpected security procedures, that our fabricated / stolen ID cards might be outdated, and I ended up filibustering a couple of suspicious guards. Kimura karate-chopped them before they could raise the alarm and we set off down a hallway, guided by a set of (hopefully) up-to-date blueprints.

    Turn 1, Valentino vs. Misinfo / Deception. As the only PC with any kind of headware, I decided that I also probably acted as the team decker. Now that we were inside the facility's enormous Faraday cage, I could finally tap into the SILF intranet and verify our blueprints. I described myself trying to multi-task, navigating holographic menus while amiably greeting passing scientists as we all quickly ducked around corners and eluded the raised voices behind us. Someone said that I might get caught searching through protected memory and set off an alarm. I added that I might get so distracted that I'd trip and run face-first into something. Even with the bonus dice from the flashback, I rolled only a few hits and walked right into a wall (Black Eye, 2d4). The Misinfo was still Guarding everything, so we decided this meant that we were now completely lost.

    Turn 2, Kimura vs. Misinfo / Deception. Oro suggested dragging a nearby guard into a broom closet and interrogating him. Kimura gladly obliged, slapping the man around and intimidating him with his Monosyllabic (1d8) demeanor. I added that we probably had to sneak past a security camera to get to the closet, and that someone on monitor duty might have caught a glimpse of us. Again, very few hits, plus five danger! He narrated how roughing up the guard was no problem since his Strength dice all hit, but how he'd also foolishly believed the man's misleading answers, his Intuition dice having failed him. The dice from Being Shadowed came up dangerous, and he explained that a SILF agent must have uploaded that photo of him into their cameras' facial recognition systems, resulting in the new Complication: Red Alert. He was then Shot (2d4) in the ensuing chaos and we all ended up in the wrong part of the building, pursued by blaring sirens and shouting.

    Turn 3, Oro vs. Misinfo / Deception. Kimura was limping and my head was still aching, so it was up to Oro to get us out of this mess. At incredible speed, he sprinted invisibly around the hallways, scouting them out firsthand and sending me his video feed to compare with our bogus floor plans. We had to find the lab fast and we all burned several bonus dice to get this damn Threat off the table. Almost everything hit except for the Red Alert dice, which added the Complication: Reinforcements. Oro narrated himself finally finding the right elevator but attracting a lot of attention in the process.

    End of round, the Insectoid Bio-Experiment and the Expert Guards both hit the Mission track, leaving only two boxes remaining. The facility was being locked down and the lab downstairs had received orders to unleash the bugs!

    Someone described us all diving through the closing doors of the elevator just ahead of the Reinforcements' gunfire, then descending many levels in silence. We still hadn’t established the details of our plan, so we agreed that we must be carrying some sort of kill-code virus developed by our employers, and we just needed to transmit it through the insect cyber-hive-mind to destroy them all.

    Turn 4, Valentino vs. Time Bomb. This was defined as an explosive drone launched by the Expert Guards as we exited the elevator. After a failed attempt to sweet-talk the facility AI (using my faulty new Special Ability software, PersuAIder 2.1), my only option was to run towards the drone and get close enough to remotely trigger its detonator before it killed us all. I rolled 6+ hits and 6+ danger, blowing it up and knocking myself out.

    Turn 5, Kimura vs. Expert Guards. The explosion was followed by the tramp of boots and a battalion of black-clad troops rounding the corner. They were described as wearing futuristic riot gear and green asymmetrical goggles, and I believe someone said there were about twenty of them. In spite of his gunshot wound, Kimura advanced, adding in his expert multiple-opponent fighting skills (at least 2d8) and moving in close where they couldn't bring their long-range heavy weapons to bear. He also took the "security measure insight" bonus dice from their Threat card, explaining that he'd learned all about their martial arts training and was confident that his own kung fu was superior. Their weakness was Logic and I tried to find a way for him to justify that Ability, suggesting that he might use a style similar to Gun Kata from the movie Equilibrium, where he logically determines the most probable angles of attack, etc. He enthusiastically agreed, describing it as "Matrix plus Equilibrium." He narrated himself punching and dodging and weaving so that the Guards ended up hitting each other, and rolled well enough to take them all out. As the last of them fell, someone suggested a final counter-measure and created the Complication: Neurotoxin.

    Turn 6, Oro vs. Insectoid Bio-Experiment. As nerve gas and bug monsters inexorably converged upon us, Oro sprang into action. Someone suggested that the kill-code was stored on a physical cartridge and could only be transmitted by plugging it directly into the lab's mainframe. Pushing his Overclocked Reflexes to maximum, he leapt past the fallen Guards and into the swarm of insectoid horrors. Several dangers were suggested, including that he might overheat and fry his implants, and that he might panic due to flashbacks from the last time he was nearly eaten by these things. But he knew from experience that they were too slow to stop him and he had the bonus dice to prove it. He rolled and got massive overkill plus five danger, describing himself bitten, burning, coughing, lungs shot to hell, struggling to reach the mainframe, and then just as a giant bug latches onto his face, he slams the cartridge home and they all go dead.

    That was the last Threat, so we win! We decided that the last Complication would have been Building Lockdown, but that we also must have gotten out alive since we'd just won the game. Though battered and bloodied, Kimura and Oro must have managed to drag me out through a side exit and get us all back home.

    That was the end of our two hours, but I'm sad that we didn't take a few more minutes for a proper epilogue. I'm going to insist on that from now on. We could have heard about Oro getting his upgrades and Kimura's satisfaction at getting revenge. Kimura did suggest a future scene for Valentino, though, in which it's revealed that the SILF AI has infected my Wingman software and is now whispering sinister things to me...

    Thanks again, John Harper! Such a fun game!
  • You're welcome! Thanks for posting about it. Cool stuff.
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