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Elven Blood: Ancient Pawns (spoilers)

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Teknodragon

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« on: <09-10-12/0107:13> »
Whew, just got done running this one. First time I ever GM'd for Shadowrun, and a very long time since I ran a game in any system.

The players had a pistols adept, a face, a rat shaman (all human), and a troll former prizefighter, now investigator. The time it took was roughly 3.5 hours, maybe a little less, from when I started the introduction, to the last of the player rewards. The karma levels were somewhat unbalanced; the shaman and the adept were nigh prime runners, while the face had only a couple missions to the character's name. The prizefighter had a few more.

The meet went smoothly. Well, aside from one of the Ancients doing bike stunts falling off his ride when he saw the prizefighter troll pull up in his Dodge Scoot.
The setup for the mission felt pretty long-winded. Not as bad as a telephone book, but player attention did wander a touch there.

When Belial got the Ancients to lend the runners their colors, three of the players immediately picked them up, while the face needed some convincing from the rest of the team. They found 2 flashpacks (used later), a hit of betameth, and a trauma patch. They all managed to fit (the troll, barely) into a single Rover, and they were off!

I had the driver (their face) roll reaction + pilot groundcraft for speed, and the navigator (the troll) roll their Seattle area knowledge; each hit took a minute off the base 15 minutes between each location. They did surprisingly well, hitting four places. In retrospect, this is likely because I really laid the time-pressure on thick.

The first scene they went to was the pimp. Rough-and-ready, they got the jump on the brothers; the gun adept put the Chin down with an edged short burst of heavy pistol fire. The Face put two bullets in Knuckles, who started to get up before the troll demonstrated that retired or not, he's still a helluva prizefighter. Feeling time is more important than kindness, the shaman had a spirit ferry the elf girl to the Ancients, the others tossed the pimp's body in the back of the rover as evidence, then peeled on out to the next place.

The Skraacha got conned by the Face, big-time. Conned them with admiration and fast-talk into giving their biggest fans badges... after having a group picture taken. Great dice rolls, and even better roleplay, and the funniest part of the mission.

The third scene the players hit, with half an hour to go in-game, was the Humanis group. Again feeling the pressure of time, they stacked up at the front door and did a bloody snatch-and-grab. Through the front door, kicked it open, tossed in the flash-packs, the troll charged in, headed toward the side-room when all he saw was t-shirts and wifebeaters on the humanis pukes. The pistols adept laid down suppressive fire (with hideous consequences on the surprised group). The troll was then able to grab the hoods from the side room and get out. There were three shocked, badly-wounded individuals left alive when the runners put the pedal to the metal.

The Face had his car then come to the 'runners as they headed to the truck for hijacking, to help carry potential loot. When the truck came along, the adept demonstrated why one needs the occasional heavy weapon-- hard to damage a semi even with a single APDS round, when it comes out of a (heavily modified) predator. The driver then sideswiped the thing with their rover and lucked out-- the SUV soaked all but 2 of the 13 damage. The semi took more, but what took it out was the drone AI didn't succeed on its Piloting test and jackknifed. The PCs lacked the knowledge to crack a maglock, but did have a monofilament sword with which to carve off the door hinges. The looting that followed rather resembled a Kong-Wal-Mart fire sale. What they couldn't load up, they alerted the local SINless about the freebies.

The runners hit the finish line in time, and their was much rejoicing by Belial's crew. They got to brag a bit and finally catch their breaths. The crew were well-paid (7500 nuyen each, only 1 hit on negotiation) and earned much karma-- 5 for achievements, +2 for excellent RP and much good humor. Also +1 street cred for sharing the wealth.

Good things:
A pretty good mission for a beginner GM. Simple, direct, and short. Most scenes are well laid out, the options are fairly clear. The in-game clock motivates the players, so little nudging is needed to move things along.

Bad things:
The time pressure reduces player creativity in some ways. My group felt constrained to be as direct as possible, when if they felt they had more time a more interesting route would have been chosen. I was also surprised that the scene with the autotruck had no Matrix protection for said autotruck other than the device-rating firewall. This would have been an excellent time for a hacker or techno to shine; as it was, the truck was too easy to hack. Incidentally, that was the group's Plan C; Plan A was destroy the engine, Plan B was run it off the road.
The last issue was a lack of a Contact printout for Belial. Recalling a few things from other books, I figured his connection at 5, gave him loyalty 1.

Self-assessment:
I should have pushed the envelope a few times, mainly with the Humanis group and the scene with the truck. Having some of the thugs in the side room of the chapterhouse would have made more of a challenge, giving them a chance to at least blood one or two of the PCs. The scene with the truck would have been much more challenging and interesting if the runners had bumped into the Laesea there and had to fend them off while trying to pry their way into the truck. I may have been a little too easy on the time increments, though on the other hand the combo of navigator plus driver helped keep more of the players involved, and allowed them to feel they'd contributed more to their success.

In the end, everyone said they had a lot of fun, and the players didn't have any real critiques.
Life is short, the night is long, and we still have ammo.

Critias

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« Reply #1 on: <09-10-12/0129:47> »
Thanks for the review, and I'm glad your players had a good time.  A few (almost random) thoughts in response to some of your comments:

1)  The time constraint (in-game) exists because I wanted to help out with the time constraint (in real life) that most Missions adventures face:  as convention games, they're designed to be able to run through in just a four hour time slot.  It sounds like you and your group hit it just about right, with three and a half hours of playing time, in fact (which actually makes me smile a little, because the IRL time limit was a big concern of mine as I wrote the adventure).  Running it for a home game, you probably could have handwaved away some of the in-game time limit stuff.  I'm sorry if you felt like it meant the session was rushed or that you missed out on some fun -- but since you didn't have to keep it to four hours (n a crowded convention hall, collecting tickets and paperwork and all that), you probably could have relaxed about it a little.  :)  I put in the in-game time limit so folks wouldn't do that "Shadowrun seizure" thing, where the action grinds to a halt and everyone brainstorms some absurdly detailed and overcomplicated "perfect plan" for a scene that can be handled more quickly and brutally.  I wanted to encourage folks to go a little nuts and just have fun being more direct (and more punk and Ancients-y) than they might normally.  Hopefully it was still fun for everyone!

2)  Likewise, on the "pushing the envelope," one thing to keep in mind is that by default the adventure was aimed at low-end characters.  Again, this is mostly due to the adventure's pedigree, primarily being a product that was designed to be run at conventions (where often folks will roll up and need a GM to give them one of the core rulebook's archetypes, or something like that).  It's aimed at, really, a very low difficulty value.  I wanted to make sure eight strangers, who might barely know the game, who might be running the sub-par archetype characters, could still struggle through it and do okay.  For a group that's got any significant karma, or even just for a group that knows the rules real real well, you should feel free to crank up the challenge rating a little bit.  The same is true for most of the rest of Elven Blood, since they're also all initially written for Missions play.  Not every scene of all of the rest of them, mind (some are quite tough!), but it's something you'll want to keep in mind as you get ready to run the rest of 'em.  Don't be scared to make it a little tougher, if your group's having too easy a time of it.

3)  Just FWIW, I left the truck very exposed to matrix attack on purpose.  Like you said, it would've been a chance for a hacker to shine, and they didn't get many of those elsewhere in the adventure -- so when I got the chance to, I wanted to let them be all badass and solve a team's major problem (and also do so rather quickly IRL, to keep game session time available for the rest of the group to also shine).  Yours might be the first group I've heard of, in fact, that wrecked the truck instead of trying to board it and drive the whole truck somewhere!  It's awful fun to me to read these sort of reviews, so I get to see how different groups try different scenes. 

4)  I always cry a single tear when I hear about the dwarven pimps getting rolled over too easily.  *sniffle*   :'(  Every time I've run this adventure, one of the dwarves has gotten to KAPOW someone in close-combat, and each time they've been able to one-shot a PC up to eight or nine damage in a single badass punch.  That hapless dwarven bruiser has always died terribly about a half second later, sure...but it's just been great to see the look on a player's face, when they remember how nasty dwarves can be (and get reminded it's not just orks and trolls that are terrifying in close combat). 

Kudos again for the review, and I'm glad to hear it went pretty smoothly for you.  I also hope that -- at least some of the time! -- the whole book full of adventures is fun for you, too, as a GM.  I get a little silly and funny with the text here and there, just trying to keep it interesting and light-hearted so that the GM can have a good time, too.  I hope it works!   ;D
« Last Edit: <09-10-12/0132:16> by Critias »

Teknodragon

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« Reply #2 on: <09-10-12/0207:08> »
1) When talking it over with my players, one of them quite agreed with you-- she'd run Hung Overed at GenCon a few weeks ago. I'm actually contemplating running games at GenCon next year, so I'll be using these missions as a benchmark too.

2) Good point, especially in a close-range gunfight, given the crew that I know.

3) Not a bug, a feature. Got it! :)

4) It didn't help that the dwarves rolled low on their initiative, and I'd had it in mind that they were thinking, 'goodie, more customers!' If Knuckles hadn't glitched on his Reaction roll, he'd have had a chance to get a good blow in.

I had fun with the 'a little silly and funny with the text' bits. GMing was a blast, and I plan to go through the full set of Elven Blood missions as long as my group will let me. It is quite fun to set a challenge before the players, and see if they will rise to it, or fold the plot into abstract origami. Next week is going to be a blast for one of the players... his gunslinger adept has had Pilot Aircraft(Helicopters) at a decent level since chargen...
Life is short, the night is long, and we still have ammo.

wylie

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« Reply #3 on: <09-10-12/2244:21> »
Ancients Pawns I have finally played in, and the other 4 parts of Elven Blood I have ran.

I know the text versions each had some minor problems, hopefully cleaned up in the full PDF version.
My players enjoyed the Tir series.
Without giving much away, I can say each time you play through each mission, it can be a different mission because the GM gets to dcide certain parts of the mission.
if you want more details, IM or email me & I'll give you my thoughts and another GM's who has also ran aleast one Tir mission.

Critias

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« Reply #4 on: <09-10-12/2308:14> »
My players enjoyed the Tir series.
Awesome!  You too, I hope (especially now that you got to play one)?

Crimsondude

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« Reply #5 on: <09-11-12/0000:44> »

The Wyrm Ouroboros

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« Reply #6 on: <09-15-12/0629:41> »
He's got a lot deeper voice than I expected.
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