The campaign has been run into a corner; now what?

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« Reply #15 on: <07-14-14/1134:59> »
I have removed the previous post; I apologize for my comments.

Perhaps I wasn't communicating the idea well.

Here's what happened: I'm running a Shadowrun campaign with a lot of story elements unique to the campaign.  My players were doing well within the campaign until they ran into a do-or-die mission -- and died instead of doing, largely due to bad die rolls (I've been accused of cheating in the past, so all dice are rolled in the open).  Because the failure wasn't their fault, I gave them another chance -- and this time, the failure was their fault.

So, with the party either all dead, 'mysteriously disappeared' or having gone over to the enemy, I ponder what to do next with the campaign.  I do not want to just start over; I want to change the game world based on the players' actions.  This way I show them that they can, indeed, change the world by their actions -- failures as well as success.  I don't want to punish my players, I want to show them that their actions have consequences -- both bad and good.

Now, I've shared with you all the idea of the Leviathan, the ecoterrorists (the Nights' Eyes), their toxic shaman leader and the fact that they're all basically nuts.  I want to change my world, I don't want to just return to the status quo.  So, I've decided on the plan I've said before.

What I was looking for, were other consequences of this chain of events.  More or less, viewpoints from other people.  Some of you gave me input and I thank you for that.  Some of you... well, as I said, perhaps I was unclear.

I feel confident in my GMing and worldbuilding skills that I can handle the changed setting, and my players are looking forward to the changed setting.  I did mention that they're not all dead, didn't I?  One died outright -- two used Hand of God.  One went over to the Nights' Eyes side, and while he didn't take the last one with him, she did decide to withdraw from the action based on his decision.  So with four out of five alive, they're now looking forward to a brand new world.
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« Reply #16 on: <07-14-14/1203:49> »
Good luck.

Emperors Grace

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« Reply #17 on: <07-14-14/1231:17> »
Why not make the next missions the quest for the "Ultimate Nullifier"?  I mean, it stopped Galactus...

Seriously, I don't see why another shot couldn't be arranged but with a magical equivalent of the "Ultimate Nullifier".  A few mission in fast craft or smuggling in suborbitals to get certain pieces for the corp uberwizard (or Dragon, or IE) to assemble.  Then comes the mission to bait the creature and deliver the "magical item of undoing doom".

Or, have the new "simple" mission to steal some ecotech end up with them finding a secret (only works once) time travel experiment and pulling a terminator to warn the first team.

Or,  simsense run as Wyrm said.

While an odd level of campaign, I don't think you're stuck at all.  If you've read enough comics, they shatter the world all the time and come back every time.

If you want to change the world a bit, that could be done without the radical step of keeping the Leviathan around.  The political/corp fallout even on removal of the threat will change your world.  Personally I can't see the powers that be (IE, Dragon, Most Major Corp, Most Govts) not dedicating everything to eliminating the Leviathan.  The leviathan itself also may have a tenous hold on "life" unless your world's mana level is way above the usual.
« Last Edit: <07-14-14/1239:54> by Emperors Grace »


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« Reply #18 on: <07-14-14/1351:56> »
The change in candor is much appreciated.

Depends on how far you really want to take it. Are we talking Aladdin - "A Whole New World" stuff (really just opening it up to a new side to the same world) or are we talking like apocalyptic-level stuff? Because with the "Aladdin" level change, is it really a world changing consequence, or is it just a road bump in normalcy? The corporations are the status quo, so to change the status quo you have to change the corporations. Either they become fragmented and/or dissolved nearly completely or all combine into one NWO, or the like (I'd go for NWO). That said, as others have indicated, if it's as "simple" as you've laid it out to be I couldn't imagine the dragons, et al not coming together to sort out the sea creature once it starts impacting their bottom line (and let's be honest, they'd be able to do it pretty quickly). You said these guys were scorched-earth types. Their plan succeeded - scorch the earth.

Summoning of Leviathan (unbeknownst to Night's Eye) also awakened an earth titan and flying titan and space titan (and matrix/AI titan? ... maybe space titan is a technomancer...). All the major infrastructure the corporations need to support their massive bodies is being weakened or destroyed. People turn on their corporations and nations and either shatter them or force the powers that be to combine into one - or two or three - (highly unstable) super-conglomerates. Do a significant time lapse. Once Night's Eye sees what they've really done, they want to try and put the genie back in the bottle. Those players that defected or wiped their hands? Back in the game. Consequences wrought, game moves on in epic fashion.

The Wyrm Ouroboros

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« Reply #19 on: <07-14-14/1353:03> »
... all right, well.  Since you intend on having this happen, here's what does happen:

Total Planetary Meltdown.

Congratulations, the ecoterrorists get what they were after, cleaner oceans - in part because there's nothing that's going to be large enough to move sufficient foodstuffs, etc. from Where They Are Grown to Where They Are Consumed.  Every city over 10,000 dies.  Most cities and towns over 5,000 die, because it's SR canon that there's a crapton of used-to-be-good-growing-territory that's gotten nuked, melted, ashed, or whatever.  Food is moved, not grown down the road.

Every corporation collapses.
Every government falls.
Every city dies.

World population goes from 7 billion to 70 million (tops) in a matter of a couple of years.  Cannibalism becomes almost de rigueur for survival; very, very few manage to avoid it.  Ghouls become the dominant species.  Go read 'Dies the Fire' for ideas - because even though you aren't cutting off electricity and the rest, the vast majority of your everything is moved at one point or another by sea.  Oil? Gone.  Aquaculture, which feeds a huge number of people in the Sixth World, and at least requires oceanic movement? Gone.  Moving raw materials, finished products from anywhere to anywhere?  Gone.

The world, especially the Sixth World, is no longer an 'everywhere is generalized' place; locations get very, very specific in what they produce.  Iron here, coal there, steel here, and cars there.  The majority of food gets shipped in - wheat / rice / beef / mycoprotein grown and bought here, shipped there for processing, then shipped there for consumption.

Melt the place down.  Six months - a year at most - is your 'total collapse' target.  Make it happen; see if they survive.
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« Reply #20 on: <07-15-14/0002:37> »
I'm going to go public here and comment on this because it's come up a couple of times.

If you're reporting on a person simply because you don't like what they are saying, it's NOT an offense. It's an offense if they are personally attacking you, being rude, or, in general, being a dick.

Please note, I'm NOT saying who was reported on in this situation, just to keep the anonymity of the poster intact. So, please respect that decision and don't reveal it.

Deacon, you've GM'd yourself into a corner where the game is, in your own terms "FUBAR". Now, you want to keep playing in this world, but there's no easy solution to the problem and it sounds like you and your players are starting to bang your heads against the wall in frustration. You want an easy out, but don't want it to seem to be an easy out. There have been some suggestions here, but you're shooting them all down because you don't like them and they point out the fact that it's not just the player's fault that the campaign ended up like it did.

Here's where you're going to have to swallow the medicine of truth: You could've prevented it, but you were so caught up in "playing by the rules" that you never stopped to think about making the game fun. It's happened to everyone on occassion. Hell, my first time running a Shadowrun event at a 'con, I had a great Seven Samurai/Aliens mash-up going where a bunch of Shadowrunners get to go into a bug's nest to earn their freedom. A player's character had some ... interesting cyberware, and wound up literally blowing up the adventure within the first half-hour. Here's where you gotta make the choice: do you a) rail against the unfair dice and bad luck, forcing players to go through something that they don't want to and can't succeed at? Or do you b) smile at the fate of the adventure, look at the players and say "Well, we can either call this as done and start something entirely new, or we can try again and I'll try to make it better this time"?

One of my favorite horror stories I tell my gaming buddies is the group I was a part of over a decade ago. We have found them online and joined up, being new to the area and looking for a regular group. When we showed up at their place, they seemed like a great bunch of guys and we felt comfortable. Until the GM started on how character creation worked for him. This was old 3.0 D&D and he handed me and my ex a 10 page packet form to be filled out. He wanted every detail of our character's background, he wanted to know what feats were were planning on taking on through to level 20, if we were going to go through any prestige classes, etc. We were nonplussed, but shrugged it off, figuring that he just wanted to be prepared for what came down the road.

We then sat down to game. He was running The Sunless Citadel, a first-level introductory adventure that was 32 pages long. Talking to the other players, they mentioned that they were having some problems getting through the citadel and hoped we could help. Warning bells started going off when they mentioned that the GM had been running this book weekly for about 5 weeks already, and that they had lost some other gamers as they dropped out of the group. The reason? The very first encounter in the book is a room that has a Shade in it. Now, if the shade kills a character, that character becomes an NPC Shade in 1d4 rounds. Turns out, the very first time they went in, a character died, then the party was facing two shades. Then three shades, then four, until it was a TPK.

Instead of saying, "well that could've gone better" and letting the players hit the "reset" and try again, the GM determined the newly rolled characters would come in with NO meta-game knowledge of the fate of the previous party and no way to prepare for it. So, and encounter that was supposed to be one shade against a party became five shades against a party. And another TPK. This kept going on until we joined the game. He wouldn't even let us bring holy water with us, because "your character has no idea they may need it." We walked into the room of 40 shades, promptly died, and my ex and I promptly said goodbye to the group. As far as I know, they are still trying to get through that adventure.

The point of this? Swallow your pride, suck up the loss, and move on. And, (this is for everyone, not just you), stop reporting on people just because you don't like what they have to say. If they are saying it politely, and trying to help, that is called Constructive Criticism.


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« Reply #21 on: <07-29-14/1021:02> »
Hrmm... Okay, let me think...

Assuming The Wyrm Ouroboros' time frame is correct, that still leaves the corps with a small but significant window in which to try and deal with the Levithan, and adjust before the world collapses.  I think a lot of people forget exactly how quickly humanity can adapt their technology to deal with new things when they are sufficiently motivated (and total planetary meltdown would probably be sufficient motivation).

So, the first thing the Corps are going to do is try and determine the actual capacities of the creature.  Knowing it's abilities is going to be key to living with it if they have to, and destroying it if they can. 

First Thought:  It probably isn't capable of moving on land at all at the size we're talking about... doing so would likely kill it due to it being crushed under it's own weight, and even if not, the speed of movement we're discussing in the water would imply a method of propulsion that was extremely well suited to it's environment (probably akin to the jet propulsion that squid use), and therefore not at all well suited to movement on dry land (which is to say the bearing of weight and navigating of difficult terrain).  Corps are probably going to assume that the Godzilla scenario is out of the question because of this, and at least try the coastal shipping... and as Wyrm pointed out, most of the cities in the sixth world are going to be desperate.  SOMEONE is going to try coastal shipping (or be used by someone else to try it) despite the risks, because the eventual result of not having tried it is, bluntly, far worse than the destruction of a single city.

Corollary:  The creature probably also has a given set of physical characteristics that will limit its activities even in it's natural environment.  Shallow water, for instance, may prevent it coming close because it would lack sufficient space to move.  Similarly so with narrow but deep water (canals and the like).  These possibilities will be vigorously tested, because the loss of ships and crews in testing them frankly would mean nothing to the human race (or the corps), in the face of total extinction.

Second Thought:  How is the creature killing these ships and airplanes?  Ships, okay, that's easy, it sinks them.  Pulls them under the water and crushes them or breaks them apart as you choose.  Conveniently this answers submarines as a question as well (it pulls them down below the crush depth or breaks their hull and they flood).  It is the planes question that is really important, because the means by which they are destroyed suggests possible counter measures to the creature.  Does the crew simply die and the plane crash?  Okay, you're going to see unmanned planes pioneered in record times.  Are they physically knocked out of the sky (seems unlikely, due to size concerns.  Remember that most planes fly at an excess of 15,000 feet in the air, which is slightly more than four kilometers up).  No, it seems likely that the only way those planes are being knocked out of the upper atmosphere is via magic or misdirection.  Also, don't discount the stratospheric zeppelins.  They're faster  than boats are, even while having slightly longer routes, and while they can't carry as much as a supertanker or supercargo ship, they can still carry quite a lot of weight (comparison:  most modern cargo ships travel at about 23 knots -about 26 mph- while zeppelins and other airships historically averaged out at somewhere between 60 and 80 mph).

Third Thought:  You mentioned that Leviathan was asleep, and the ritual specifically woke him up.  Does the ritual need to remain active for him to remain awake?  If so, you can imagine that the corps might just be willing to glass an entire city if they had reason to suspect some of the Ecoterroists who were maintaining it happened to be there... just to be sure.  Because when you can tell the rest of metahumanity that you had to do it or they and their children would have starved to death in the near future, you can get forgiven for quite a lot.  In Shadowrun history, see Chicago and the reaction to the bug threat for an excellent example.  Even runners who typically get all contrary about corporate actions on general principle, don't usually disagree with what was done to contain and destroy the insect spirits there.
If the ritual doesn't need to remain active for it to remain awake, you need to consider what actually made it sleep before, and what it needs to remain awake now.  You called it a proto-horror, so presuming it functions on the same rules as the other horrors in the setting, it needs a certain amount of ambient mana to remain active.  Are we at that stage in the world yet?  Will we remain there if vast swathes of metahumanity starve to death?  Is there a counter ritual that might force it to sleep again?  Heck, what about a Great Ghost Dance to deal with it?  Or can the Great Dragons and Immortal Elves (who might very well remember this thing from the past) put together a ritual to stop or slow it?  All of these things are going to occur to various people in world.

Fourth Thought:  Nanotechnology and biotech weapons.  Sure, the thing may have shrugged off a nuke, but you're not just going to give up and stop there.  In the world of Shadowrun, nukes are not the be all and end all of all weapons tech.  Someone out there is going to try deploying weaponized nanites into the 'god' to track or destroy it.  Someone else is going to consider trying a counter hostage attempt on the Ecoterrorists, releasing a bioweapon that will eradicate all sea life if they don't let at least some shipping get through (or tailoring one to try and attack the leviathan if they're a bit more reasonable).  Remember, you've made the people of the world desperate, and any one can tell you that desperate people are dangerous.

Fifth Thought:  Most cargo is transported by sea because it is efficient.  A relatively small investment to create the ship, combined with minimal maintenance and crew requirements, can transport a lot of goods in each voyage for a lot of voyages (generally expected to have a lifespan of 25 years).  In Shadowrun this is made worse by mana wastes and radiation on land complicating travel, but there's no reason other means of transit couldn't be used to at least keep people alive (Europe, Africa, and Asia, for instance, could be connected by rail and road networks for transportation, as could North, Central, and South America).  Previous experiments with magical and mechanical teleportation may have failed, but was it because the theory is absolutely impossible, or simply because people weren't motivated enough to take risks?  People being desperate, both theories are going to be revisited and reattempted.

Ultimately, looking at those thoughts, I don't know that Wyrm was right.  Six months to a year before complete collapse might be right, if nothing changed.  But this is Shadowrun, where there are computers capable of producing those numbers and being trusted, and also seeing potential solutions.  Some corp is going to guess at that time frame and set up a computer program to run through potential variations and solutions at high speed.  There are options available that could, with sufficient prioritizing and allowing places to become more self-sufficient, keep things limping along for years.  Which gives everyone years to come up with solutions and try them.

And if you aren't willing to go with any or that, or the players screw the world even more?  There's always the reseeding adventure, where the players are deployed from one of the orbitals or  the Mars base, trying to get back in touch with Earth, and they come back to a world with very few still surviving meta-human settlements.

The Wyrm Ouroboros

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« Reply #22 on: <07-29-14/1347:49> »
Two years is the timeframe on the population reduction.  Collapse?  That's a matter of a couple/three months, for all the bad example given with the Seretech Decision of a months-long trucker's strike resulting in food riots; if they really aren't doing ANY shipping, try 'week-long'.  Maybe two weeks, if they had lots put by inside the city.  (I presumed the union allowed for truckers to work 'in the public good', moving food up until very late in the strike.)

A few information examples; New York Times article and a pdf article by the Natural Resources Defense Council.  Trucks move food locally, trains move them across continents, but generally no further than a few states' worth, because it's more cost-effective to move by container ship to distribution points that are closer.

"But Wyrm, what about food banks, strategic food reserves, all that stuff?"

That's what keeps you going for three weeks, maybe a month.  Food gets shipped constantly.  You no longer have Southern-Hemisphere harvests moving into the North; Africa no longer supports Europe, and that continent becomes a wasteland.  That's what would happen if that was just our comparatively-clean world.  Wipe out what they've wiped out in SR, and remember that aquaculture represents a hugely increased proportion of the food in the world, and you have cities collapsing in weeks due to lack of food, governments and corporations lasting ... maybe months.

Unless, yes, something is done.  Your best bet would be for the dragons to pull a Great Ghost Dance on the thing and whack it where-ever it swims.    But that's just about your only real chance, and from the sound of it, the OP intends for the Leviathan to stick around, essentially immune to all strikes.  This isn't a question of putting the genie back in the box, it's a question of 'what happens after'.  And the answer to that question is a total collapse of society within 3 months, and probably within 3 weeks.

Afterwards, it's nothing but continual meltdown and hunting each other for food.
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« Reply #23 on: <08-05-14/1402:18> »
A total collapse of society within three months because there is no transoceanic shipping?  That seems a bit...extreme.  Especially in a setting that has near instantaneous transatlantic flight.

Will things be tougher?  Sure.  And it will be better for places that grow food than those that have to import it.  But if the corporations can do anything, they can make a buck off a crisis.  I can see the Aztechnology Freight Zepplins filling the skies now, ready to save humanity from the evils of the horror at sea...

Of course when the Leviathan starts destroying Seattle and every other coastal port city worldwide, that is a beast of a different color.  I can't help but think the Powers that Be would have something they could do to stop it, or at least keep it from destroying their interests.  Especially a AAA megacorporation like Wuxing, which would basically be annihilated by this development, and possesses a Coin of Fortune and the rumored direct backing of a great dragon to help it fight back...


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« Reply #24 on: <08-05-14/1915:16> »
So they wanted to burn the world to remake it.

Well, congratulations! They did. Now, of course, is when they should be realizing that even fantatic eco-terrorists with the controlling leash of a god-like entity capable of shrugging of Thor Shots need to eat. "They're nutters" doesn't really work there, because, well,  even sanitariums feed their inmates.

Instead of having this be an awesome thing where the actions and consequences of your players and yourself play off against each other, you put down a blanket-line that sort of makes the entire thing annoying and frustrating by assuming that the Night's Eyes will keep destroying all shipping. Why would they? Even radical anarcho-primitivists are less prone to being suicidal about their utopian visions than one might think. If the current leadership of this cult demands that everyone die through starvation and collapse, how long till there's a coup and other, differently barking mad people take over? They've amply demonstrated their power. They're fine just happily smashing apart the occasional ocean-liner. Besides, what does this Leviathan eat? How long does it sleep? Even sharks have restful periods where they just drift, and I imagine a Leviathan Horror that subsists of massively inflated mana-levels would experience tremendous lulls lasting days if not weeks. Sure it's a superweapon to end all superweapons on a planet that's 70 % water, but if using it isn't a constant thing?

I guess suddenly one very, very high paying shadow op job becomes getting hackers, mages and people good with guns into any location that might offer information on the Leviathan Schedule (That's a nice title for a book, just by the way).

So just assume they don't. They've said what they wanted to say, they arbitrarily destroy shipping when they feel like it, and send dummies to meetings to go on about ocean carbonification levels, qoutas and how they're three parts plastic per million off of destroying Seattle just to get people to listen. There you go, new wonderful world where there's now a Big 11th, which isn't actually even a corporation (Although I'm going to place ten NuYen on the newest sprawl fads this season to be Eco-Terror Chic), plenty of intrigue and lots of great chances for people to mess about.

"Hey, runners, we're doing really well on this ocean cleaning thing and our aquacultural divisons are actually increasing output by a good percentage this quarter. How nice for us. But you know what would be nicer? If these files implicating this other corporation in dreadful, dreadful chemical leaks somehow wound up on the server of the oceanside facility down near the beach. Yeah, I'd sure hate for there to be some kind of giant entity related destruction rampage just happen to happen to our main competitors..."

It also bears repeating that even if this awesome creature can sense easy lunchboxes (Sorry, I mean bulk transportation vessels) from miles away and swim really fast, the ocean is really, really big. And there are a lot of ships in it. And circumnavigating the globe at hypersonic speeds while stopping to destroy ships, finding them, going again? That'll take some of that energy again which leads to sleeping again which leads to less overall terror.

It's a cool concept, and I like it as an idea. It's the same thing I've done a couple of times. But things needn't be this drastic. Move the timeline forward three years, have people make new characters or use old ones, mix and match experiences in this new world of yours.

Or grab the nuclear option, and have the various corporations really roll out the big guns, vessels and just plain dreadful mystic juice, then have them close saturate an area of the ocean with nuclear fire after baiting in ships. No, I don't mean "Have a couple of guys with tanks and some big weapons shot at it and pray to their gods". I mean, this thing is hard to kill and terrifying and powerful. That's great. And it can shrug off nukes! Great. Can it shrug off all the nukes? Congratulations, there's now bits of minced proto-horror juice all over the worlds oceans, megalodon swarms are up 37 % and transatlantic shipping resembles 9 parts bulk transportation, 1 part Sharknado.

In a world where both the Winternight Cult and The Great Ghost Dance are movements that happened and caused great, terrible impacts on the world, magic rituals reshaping things aren't exactly uncommon. But even the large scale global crash of the entire information infrastructure of the world and the simultanous eruption of multiple volcanoes didn't destroy the entire world. There's almost a kind of precedence for these things just making everything shake up, roll over and tumble along.

I sense a hydroponics boom coming up, for one.

Also, as a final economic note, trains become cost inefficient when compared to the savings you get from bulk transportation via sea routes. The price per moved cargo unit is neatly divisible by the larger carrying capacity of ocean vessels, which also tend to have to travel less and take less circuitous routes.
Trains become very, very cost efficient when the price you pay for bulk transport via ocean is death by divine murderbeast. Then "bumps across Europe, some radiation shielding needed near these downfall zones" is practically cheap in comparison. Because death is not and have never been a very viable long term business strategy.