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New GM needing help about story

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Paehrin

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« on: <09-24-19/1641:37> »
Hey everyone !

My group and I are rather new to Shadowrun (I played a bit of second edition, and the CRPGs) and I wanted us to give the game try. We are not new at RPG though (played our share of D&D, Pathfinder and wod). We are playing 4th edition (Anniversary).

I started to draft a short scenario that would serve as a first game, and if they are willing to, open to a longer campaign. But I could use some help on a few points, especially since I'm not that familliar with the lore. So, to the point (-ish).

The story takes place in a city (still haven't chosen one yet). The runners are in dire need of a job, so when one presents itself, they take it. The Johnson is a bit shady, but money is money, especially when you need some. A gang war is about to end, and the runners are hired to escort the gang A's negociator to the peace talk. They are supposed to meet him at a location that will be disclosed to them just before the peace meeting.
When the runner show up at the appartment where the negociator is waiting, all seems normal and they enter, just to to find him dead. Worst, Before they could get out, a team of ganger A arrive. They ARE supposed to be the escort, and no one in the gang hired any runner (they learn this from the security chief of the gang, which is here). A fight breaks out as the gangers mistake the runners for the murderers. Shortly after, police forces arrive (probably KE or Lone Star), conveniently early, gun blazing against all parties. The runners make it out by the skin of their teeth.
So it's obvious the runners were set up and supposed to die. The question is then by who, and why.

The idea I had was that the 2 gangs at war are independants, refusing any help from a corp, and intent to keep the neighbourhood that way, hence the peace treaty since the war was starting to bring them low on ressources and prone to need corp help/funding. Thing is, a corp really wants possession of this domain, and financed a new low level gang in order to sabotage the peace treaty and reignite the war between the two gangs.

The problems I have are :
  • Which corp, and why ? Also what could be so valuable in a neighbourhood that a corp would go to such length to get it ?
  • I was also thinking about having the Johnson introducing himself as the chief of Security from A, to later have the realy CoS being with the team that find the runners with the corpse. But that would seem kinda weird to have a Johnson giving out o much about himself, wouldn't it ?
  • About the city, would it be better to create one relatively small town, or pick an existing one (like Seattle) and if so, which one would you suggest ?

I would also be curious to have your opinion on what's coming next. I was thinking about having the players hung out to dry, with most of their contacts (with the exception of the most loyal ones) refusing to deal with them because of some pression (from the corp through their new gang). They would have to regain their trust and try to go to the bottom of things, probably try to expose the corp and defend the neighbourhood, ossibly allying themselves to the gangs.

Sorry if this is kinda long or confused, it's my first time posting, and my first time creating a scenario / campaign, so any pointers are trully appreciated !

ZeroSum

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« Reply #1 on: <09-24-19/1705:34> »
Great setup so far!

When it comes to megacorporations, no reason is unreasonable. They also all have subsidiaries, so nearly every megacorp will have a presence, direct or indirect, in every major city on Earth.

Seattle is icon, and there are lots of resources available for it you can use. But you could literally pick any city, including your own, and make I your own. So choice of city to me boils down to how much work you want to put in vs how well you know established lore. If none of your players know Shadowrun, you can basically do whatever you want.

As far as specific reasons, there are many. In-lore examples include Knight Errant (an Ares subsidiary) and Lone Star (a smaller Corp in it's own) starting gang wars on rival territory to show how their competitors are losing control of their areas. Police in Shadowrun is basically contracted by the city, and getting the municipality to change contractors means a lot of nuyen lost by one side and gained by another.

Wuxing has their hands in a lot of magic, and especially the shaping of it on a geographical scale. A particularly important leyline could be running through the area occupied by gangers, and what better way to drive property prices down than by instigating a gang war.

Aztechnology is known to dabble in forbidden magics. Perhaps an Aztechnology blood mage is looking to summon a particularly nasty blood spirit, and needs to sacrifice a whole bunch of people to alter the aspect of magic in the area.

Horizon could simply be looking to film their latest PR creation, Street Gangers Unloaded, and they need to stir up some trouble to get good material. Anything for those ratings!

Pretty much anything you can think of you can tie to a Corp in some way, shape, or form. Heck, maybe someone lower within the gang itself is playing your PCs and NPCs both, intending to kill their superiors, the outside contractors, and even a few rival gangers all at once!

Hope this helps, and welcome!

Kirklins

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« Reply #2 on: <09-24-19/1743:28> »
For what's coming next, if you're comfortable with improv let your players choose. Your notes are what happens if the players just abandon the field, and a list of single point clues. Prioritize the clues as must know and nice to know. Then every time they do successful legwork or have an interaction where they might get a clue, drop one and check it off.

Personal opinion, don't worry about dropping red herrings. My experience is that the players will make their own. Along the same lines I'd drop each of the critical clues at least three times during play just to make sure it's noticed.

Oh. If you're daring enough, don't give a reason for the corporation interest. Let your players make their own theories and steal the one or more you like best.
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Kato

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« Reply #3 on: <09-24-19/1915:26> »
I agree with Kirklins, don't give them a corp name or reason why. Let the players speculate for a bit and you might get some good ideas from what they come up with. Some of the best ideas for game hooks have come from players (I have one player who randomly decided to secretly rescue an AI from a mission where the runners were helping to capture/destroy it. This is leading to a series of smaller runs in search of a suitable cyberdeck for it to inhabit, then a drone for a body, etc).

I think you have a solid idea of where you want to go with it already, just leave plenty of room for flexibility. A lot of times you may think that players are going to pull out a gun and start shooting and instead they take the negotiator route and wind up rolling dice well enough to broker a deal. 

Paehrin

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« Reply #4 on: <09-25-19/0847:27> »
Thanks a lot ! It's reassuring to know that I'm on the right track.

I think I'll go with my own city (like create one, not where I live, because I think Quebec is pretty special in term of setting for Shadowrun ^^), it would be a bit more work, but I feel like it would be more flexible than with say Seattle, about which a lot is known and written.

About the corp, I like the idea of letting the players speculate and pick from it, that leaves me a bit more open, but I thought I should have at least an idea of the corp in order to have an idea of the why in order to know what clues to give ?

Oh, and on another note, it seems like I won't have any decker in the group, they feel that it's a pretty complicated part of the game, and tbh, I can't blame them. We should have a Shaman though (and a Gun Adept, plus 2 street sams/ weapon guys I guess). I figured I just should take that into account when lpanning my games (not putting to much stuff to do with the Matrix), but at the same time, the lack of Matrix action in a world like Shadowrun would ffel weird, especially in 4th edition+ where everything is wireless and electronically secured. Any opinion /advice on that ?
« Last Edit: <09-25-19/0856:23> by Paehrin »

Kirklins

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« Reply #5 on: <09-25-19/1003:31> »
Re the corp. Since these are new players prime the pump. Make an index card for each corp with a basic summary, one good thing, and one bad. Deal them out equally among the players. When they hit their first legwork point make sure the feed is "it's gotta be a corp behind this."

 If they don't bite, pick one and don't give a reason.

Re the decker, depends on your comfort level. Personally, I'd poke them with a wannabe a couple of times, then offer an NPC in the van. Now I always get them integrated if I can (they work for someone else, for example. Or they keep being jumped. Or have to chase off beggars.) But you can run it to just make matrix insignificant if you want.
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Paehrin

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« Reply #6 on: <09-25-19/1124:44> »
Re the corp. Since these are new players prime the pump. Make an index card for each corp with a basic summary, one good thing, and one bad. Deal them out equally among the players. When they hit their first legwork point make sure the feed is "it's gotta be a corp behind this."
I'm not sure to understand what you mean here. You suggest I give them a set of corps to chose from thanks to those cards ? Wouldn't that ruin the fact that they have to investigate to find that it is a corp behind it all ?

For the legwork (and future missions), I was thinking more about at first discovering then investigating that new gang + regaining contacts, then finding about motives and/or things that don't seem to add up (too much money or firepower for a gang this size), which should lead to them suspecting a bigger player is behind all this (and here comes the part of investigating the corp involvment).

Kirklins

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« Reply #7 on: <09-25-19/1520:41> »
No, these are more quick info cards for new players reminding them that in shadowrun the corporations are villains. You're reminding them of all the corps.

The reason for cards instead of a list is it reduces the top of the list problem. Same deal for dealing out the cards to the players, it'll start with them each focused on a different one at first.

Your plan works. My concern with new players is simply their lack of world knowledge. If you start players focused on gangs you're going to have to nusge them to think of corporations. Usually, that is.
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Kato

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« Reply #8 on: <09-25-19/1722:54> »
You could always make a small, mystery corp that you flush out as the runs go on. For the first real run my players went on they were breaking into an office park that was guarded by Praetorian Security. Praetorian Security sort of became a reoccurring villain in the game after that. I slow built them up though, not all at once.

Off the top of my head it can be a corp that discovered plans to develop that area of the city with new projects and this mystery corp wants to purchase the real estate first. The land is the thing that they're after. They want the runners to a) either stop the gang war so the corp can move in and clean it up because they have already purchased it or b) keep the gang war going so it drives real estate prices down further because they haven't purchased it yet and want a cheaper price.

Paehrin

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« Reply #9 on: <09-25-19/1736:45> »
Again, thanks for all your insights ! I think I'll go with b, maybe they even want to set up an enclave of their own at this place...

And I'll keep the idea of the cards, maybe I'll go with that, but I'll probably advice them from the get go to read a few sections of beginning of the core book, so they'll get a vibe of the world. The cards would be a good backup plan though. I think I'll build them anyway, I think they could be handy (even for me  ;D ).

Oh, and about the Johnson... would it be out of character for a johnson to introduce himself as the chief of security of the gang emloying them (it will not be true, obviously though) ?

ZeroSum

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« Reply #10 on: <09-25-19/1807:36> »
Oh, and about the Johnson... would it be out of character for a johnson to introduce himself as the chief of security of the gang emloying them (it will not be true, obviously though) ?
Johnsons being cheats and liars are an integral part of the setting, and they will frequently pose as someone they are not to throw runners off the trail of who they are really working for.

Just give the Johnson some acting and disguise skills, and you're golden. Have the runners roll Judge Intentions (most runners will want to do this) to maybe catch on to the fact that the Johnson isn't telling the whole truth, and sow the seeds of doubt in their minds.

Then enjoy their reactions when you reveal that the real person the Johnson pretended to be is actually dead at the scene, and looks slightly and/or completely different than the Johnson.

Paehrin

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« Reply #11 on: <09-26-19/1321:56> »
Okay, good ! I was under the impression that Johnsons usually stayed anonymous and only revealed what the runners had to know about the job.
That will be perfect for my scenario then. Thanks again for all the help !