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Mission Review SRM-03-12 Elevator Ride to Hell.

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jamesfirecat

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« on: (14:00:59/11-12-12) »
Mission Review Elevator Ride to Hell

It's the last run of Season Three having done this I can now finally go and look at other people's reviews without having my opinions muddied by what they thought!


[spoiler]
Mission Quote: Dear New York NEO-A 's: screw you, you used to be  cool, but now clearly you are all about the chaos and not about reforming society.  I'm off to form my own anti-corp organization, one based around proper bylaws, organization structures and solidarity among all of metahumanity. PS: There will also be Blackjack and hookers.--- Tag found attached to an unconscious elfin combat mage/”cleaner” mailed back to the Peace Man.

Meta Quote: “No, listen, just because you're sniping them from two kilometers out with your mini-gun does not mean that you are still playing this mission black trenchcoat style!”  “Speaking of styles, I've got a great idea, lets all get betaware titanium bone lacing and use unmodified ares predators, Shadowrun Gangnam style!” 


Plot: We wake up without our armor and weapons in medical robes.  Suffice to say, those of us who have played “The Hungovered” are starting to feel like once again the time has come to swear off Laes for good. 

Next to us laying on a bed is a young girl with a gag in her mouth who is roped down to said bed, and is looking none too pleased with the situation.  A quick perception check warns us that there are sirens going off nearby and, and people making their way over to the door as well.  This is clearly not going to go well for us at the moment, but luckily whoever the hell these guys were, they did not bother to restrain us.... which makes them even more incompetent than the idiots in the last adventure that started with us waking up with no idea what was going on. 

We also notice that there are a pair of pistols on a nearby desk, not especially good pistols but pistols none the less.  I grab one and so does Gumbo our combination street sam and face.  Gumbo is the only member of the party who can actually do any good with the guns because I Longshot am only good with automatics, Bishop our mage doesn't need guns, and Mastermind our hacker is a guy who not only is not skilled with guns, but is also crippled from the waist down, so will clearly not do us any good in a fight. 

Two guys burst in and are evidently surprised to see us there, or at least see us up and about.  Then they get even more surprised when Gumbo shoots one one of them hard enough to leave him dieing on the floor of blood loss.  I attempt to subdue the other one, but sadly he just barely manages to match me hit for hit and starts shooting at Gumbo who luckily still has all his cyber limb armor (and by this point in his running career the only part of his body that isn't made of chrome is his head) and isn't harmed by the Ares Predator. 

Then Bishop stunbolts the other guy unconscious.  We don't have much time so we decide to free the girl, Gumbo convinces her not to scream and after taking whatever useful gear the two guys have on them.  Since we need to carry both the girl and Mastermind that means we've only got enough arms to go around to carry three people.  So out come the foot anchors and its neck stomping time until there are no witnesses left who we aren't carrying out of the room with us.

Ironically this is the first time in New York that Longshot has intentionally killed someone, but hey, if you take a killer cyborg away from his favorite guns, ammo and armor he winds up getting paranoid and violent (well more violent) like that. 

We make our exit and start to move along the street trying to draw as little attention as possible since it seems like riots are breaking out all over the place.  Bishop being a fomori however is not the stealthiest person imaginable and so he gets noticed by some of the rioters.  They want to know if we're with “the man” but luckily they just as soon recognize Bishop as a member of the Brotherhood of Changelings and thus quite a fan of sticking it to the man, and it also explains why he's carrying around a man in a hospital gown, or at least they're willing to believe that the guy he's carrying around is a handi-capable technomancer.  (I the much sneakier Longshot am carrying the unconscious guard)

We find out that there's a nearby police car getting hassled by some protesters and we promptly decide to go the other way.  As we head away form it we talk with the girl, learning that she's somewhat on the prissy side but being the daughter of a high up Ares executive and is willing to hire us to see to it that she gets out of the terminal and back to someplace safe. 

We're all too willing to go along with the girl's plan, though before we try to get out of terminal (which Mastermind's sprites soon find out is currently under a major lock down due to the riots) we're going to need to get our gear back. 

To do that we need to figure out who knocked us out and where they are hanging out.  Since we wound up in the same room as this girl (whose name is Isabella/Izzy) we were probably kidnapped by the same people.  She mentions that since they didn't bother to use laes on her, she could recall a few bits and pieces of her capture and being imprisoned. 

Luckily the people who captured her were beyond a shadow of a doubt not us, which is good because then it would have made for a very awkward extraction.  She mentions hearing them talking to/about someone named “Doctor Cage”.  That isn't much but we have Mastermind, and thus an endless flood of sprites he can summon. 

In this case, he summons up a sprite to search the matrix for “Doctor Cage” and see what it can find.  It turns out that there's a Doctor Cage in the Terminal who used to be a well respected doctor/surgeon, but then his head got screwed up by the big crash, his skills at doctoring went to crap and he had to settle for being a street doc in terminal. 

We successfully find out exactly where the guy bases his operation and we decide to head over there.  Bishop summon ups a spirit and has it use its search power for my Ingram Supermach and sure enough he finds out that it is inside the theater where the doctor works.  Bishop manages to disable the mag-lock and the team enters. 

Well some of the team enters, Mastermind and Izzy stay behind while Bishop's spirit also hangs back in order to make sure they stay safe.  As we try to sneak up on them Bishop fails his sneak roll (well only gets four hits at least which isn't enough) and they come out to great us. 

We manage to make sure that we do so at close range when we meet up and see that there are four of them against three of us.  The other big problem though is that they have all of our favorite guns.  Granted they're at a disadvantage to use my guns since they were modified to be used by a gnome but even with that two dice disadvantage they're still going to be rather dangerous. 

Both me, and Gumbo spend edge to go first as do they.  I tackle the one of them and let loose with a subdue attack.  This time around I succeed and get the guy in an arm lock.  Then Gumbo starts shooting the guy with his gauss rifle, and manages to at least wound him, but not enough to take him down. 

That means that Gumbo then has to deal with being shot twice and takes a fair amount of P (from a very good shot) and a smaller amount of S (from a not as good shot) though luckily he has a pain editor to ignore the penalties from the wounds. 

Then Bishop unleashes a stunballs and stunbolts, but rolls poorly.  Even after spending a point of edge he only gets two hits on the stunball which they laugh off. 

They don’t keep laughing when he successfully stunbolts one of them into the ground and manages to wound the other one.  That one then shoots him and after two hits knocks hits knocks him out. 

The guy who I have restrained manages to break free but as this takes his entire turn that's at least something.  Gumbo decides it's time to make use of his 8 point stockpile of edge as the odds are now against us and they have vastly better gear than we do.

Luckily one edged  pistol shot to each of the other two guys who are still standing with guns leaves them on the ground.  I blow another point of my slightly smaller edge pool (I have 6 he has 8. ) after only rolling 5 hits to subdue and raise it to 9. 

That means I manage to not only subdue the guy but when he tries to break free again he fails.  This means that on our third pass I can strengthen my hold even more and gumbo is free to spend his next action placing his pistol against the subdued guys head and asking him why he should not pull the trigger. 

The goon in question says that he knows the passcode to the doctor's saferoom, which we decide is a wonderful answer.

So we open up the saferoom in question and he also surrenders straight away. 

Looking in a large steamer trunk he's sitting on we find all of our gear that the four goons did not have.  Not only do we manage to find the doctor but we also have a clue just who captured us. 

Mastermind's recent matrix searches had let us know that there was a new NEO-A bigwig in town named Sid, and clearly it wasn't a coincidence.  He's left a recording of himself at some nearby post office where he talks about the time has come for revolution before he gets into a chopper with Ares markings and flies away. 

Izzy (who we had brought in once all the shooting was done to keep her close ) recognizes the chopper as belonging to her mother.  If Sid has that chopper it means he must have kidnapped her mother.  Her mother who happens to have the keys to the MDC building, without which it would be impossible for anyone to get near it. 

She wants us to try and find her mother and make sure she's safe, and promises us that her mother Dominique will reward us with even more money.  Since money is something we can't ever get enough of, we decide that we'll go pay a visit to the post office since it's nearby in Terminal. 

Luckily not only did the guys have our guns and armor, but they also happened to have our vehicle keys and our vehicles stored in their garage underneath.  So now we're armed with not just our ordinary guns but also “The Party Van” our tour buss turned battle wagon the “Gnome Pod” my own personal motorcycle with heavy armor and a mini-gun, and our favorite gun drone, Arnold T (Talos) Murderbot, which is is all we could possibly ask for. 

Well that stuff and also our rating six med packs which we use to get Bishop back on his feet so he can follow it up with a couple of heal spells.

 Then we drive over to the post office, a quick assensing spell confirms that there are a bunch guys in there  and one very worried woman.  Using the 2 KM range of our mini-guns and Line of Sight range of of magic we decide to take these guys by complete and utter surprise from a roof top a few blocks over with Gumbo adding in fire from his gauss rifle.

At the same time, there are two guys who are guarding the door to the post office.  They both go down in a hail of bullets from the Partyvan's gun.  Then Arnold kicks down the door and informs them “I'm back...” before he mini-guns down the guys inside. 

In short, all of the gangers go down before they get a single shot off and we levitate Dominique over to us. 

She is grateful but also explains that after she got captured/blackmailed into giving up by Sid's men for fear of her daughter's life, and then Sid explained to her exactly what he was going to do with the codes she had. 

He has apparently obtained a gigantic pile of this Bio-weapon known as “Doom” and even modified it so that it can go airborne instead of needing to be injected straight into people.  He's going to launch canisters of the stuff into New York's wealthiest neighborhoods from the top of the MDC building.  He feels that this is the most surefire way to instil rebellion within the city and have the old order swept away in the name of pure raw anarchy. 

We decide that unless this germ weapon he's planning on deploying somehow has the ability to only target people based on the amount of caviar in their bloodstream, a lot of innocent people are going to end up dieing if that all but literal “Doomsday weapon” goes off.  Luckily we now have the passwords with which to get close to the MDC building, and in turn we also decide to actually summon the Megazord. 

And by “Megazord, I mean the “ROFLCopter” which is the group's mini-gun armed warchopper which also has special modifications to make it possible for it to fly itself over to us in terminal.  With the NYPD tied up in riots and only us having the necessary codes we four shadowrunners are all that stand between Neo-New York City and several gigantic billowing clouds of death.  Luckily we've just rescued someone very rich who is will to provide us with a lot of money motivation to save the day.

For some weird reason Sid doesn't have his boys open fire on the ROFLcopter as soon as it turns out that there's something else entering his airspace. 

Me, Gumbo and Arnold jump out of the helicopter as it lands and we go to war. 

Mastermind taking control of the ROFL-copter's mini-gun and thanks to Arnold's sensors we've managed to locate a dual natured being that is using magic to try and hide itself from us and floating above the helicopter pad. 

An extended wide burst from the mini-gun turns that NEO-A pixie mage into a flying blood smear.  As she goes down so does the force nine spirit that they had been planning to sick on us (but hey spirits can't spend edge to go first, and we did) along with the groups counter spelling.

Bishop then leans out the ROFLcopter's window and zaps Sid and friends with the a stunball since you can't accidentally set off/open up a bio-weapon tank with magic designed only to attack the metahuman nervous system.  Sid and half a dozen of his boys go up against a force eight stunball and decide to take a nap. 

I in the Gnome Pod (with Dominique riding in the back since she insisted on coming with us and I figure there was no place safer to keep her) and I blaze away with the mini-gun though only armed with stick and shock.  I miss one shot (that kind of thing happens when you have a dice cap of 20 because your gunnery skill is only 3 and expect you'll need to save three or so edge for beyond the “end” of the mission) though my next long burst knocks the guy out cold. 

Arnold takes down another two bad guys with his gun while Gumbo takes down one, and mastermind's rotodrone knocks out yet another NEO-A goon. 

That leaves only one left with an Uzi who shoots away at Gumbo who now that he has his proper armor on and is not being attacked by anti-vehicular weaponry soaks it without a problem.  Come the start of the next pass that one remaining guy goes down quickly in the face of a just about everything that you could possibly think of in the world being aimed at him. 

With him unconscious, the MDC is free of NEO-A presence.  Backup can now safely be called in, including a hazmat team which will be able to unweaponize the doom virus canisters though we book it before too many cops show up. 

We also take Sid with us (Bishop and Gumbo knows some people who would like to have a word with him) after having Mastermind hack his wrist thingy which supposedly acts as a dead man’s switch (of course being an idiot its designed to only work if he literally dies not if he goes unconscious, granted being even more and idiot it's just a fancy wrist watch all things considered and a bluff).

 As we fly away we get a call form Peace Man, he lets us know that the NEO-A's are not happy with what we've doe and put huge bounties on our heads.  He personally thinks that he did the right thing, but the NEO-A's are such a loose organization that there's no way that he can do anything about it.  So he suggests we head on out to say... Seattle and never set foot in New York again.

Of course after camping out in New Jersey for a week or so, me, Bishop and Mastermind all get attacked by assassins while we're alone. 

Mine is a bald elf who may have been some real wizzbanger at magic, but couldn't stand up to 12 hits from a long burst of my Ingram Supermach (she ends up taking 17 S (getting six hits to dodge)) resisted with half impact (and I had another long burst with a point of edge left to re-roll all of the 24 dice I that I failed to score hits on) causing her to crumble over and go unconscious. 

Bishop is attacked by a troll who shoots him twice with a shotgun doing some damage with the first shot and Bishop being able to soak all the damage of his second.  After that Bishop lets loose with a series of multicasted stunbolts, one of which gets through to do 8 S. 

Bishop manages to hang on through through another barrage of shotgun shells and knocks the troll out with still more stunbolts. 

Mastermind is attacked by another bald elf with a katana who also goes unconscious after getting tazed down in a hail of stick and shock ammo fired by his rotodrone that he was inside at the time of being attacked (since you know his legs don't work so it's not like he spends a lot of time out of a rigger cocoon). 

So to its credit at least New York has clearly decided to break up with us in a most definitive way, as opposed to the passive aggressive bullshit that Denver Pulled on us!


[/Spoiler]

Stay tuned for part two with my thoughts on the mission itself!
« Last Edit: (22:39:47/11-12-12) by jamesfirecat »

jamesfirecat

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« Reply #1 on: (14:26:04/11-12-12) »
And now what I liked, what I did not like, and how to improve what I did not like....

[spoiler]


The Pros/Things I liked: The mission meeting (well fake mission meeting you went to before being knocked out) takes place in Terminal, which means the players are perfectly in character to bring all their heaviest gear with them even if they don't get to use it straight away.  This was a big selling point for me as I had just recently shelled out around 100,000 New Yen so that I could finally afford the Gnome Pod and provide myself with an additional 20 hardened armor not to mention an even more powerful gun than the one I was currently shooting! 

Also, if nothing else, this being the final mission the set up for the final battle is suitably climatic as you are fighting the big bad guy with a weapon that could kill off a lot of the city on top of the tallest building in the city (or at least one of the tallest buildings) and the bad guy even is capable of turning into a lizard of some sort (drake, lizard, what's the big difference?) if you give him a chance. 

Once again it is worth stating that this mission unlike Done Deal (the last one in Denver) manages to lay out a situation that does a good job of explaining why exactly the runners are changing cities no matter the outcome as opposed to doing a big favor for Ghostwalker only to have him passively aggressively break up with us during Everybody is Your Friend, as happened with our group. 

The way that corporate rewards were done in this mission where they actually just gave you outlines of what you could and could not get was probably far better than the principle of giving you some particular item as had been the case for all the other runs  we'd been on in New York.

The Cons/What I didn't like: Well it happened again, strap in people this is gonna be a while. 

To start with if I find myself playing one more mission which begins with me waking up with no idea what is going on and without my gear (and I hear that Now for Something Completely Different used to be one of those runs also!) do you know what I am going to do? 

I am going to find out who wrote it, then I am going to take that person drinking.  I am going to take them drinking and see to it that they have a huge night on the town and completely and utterly 100% plasterd. 

Then when they pass out in my car I am going to check them into a no questions asked hotel.  After that I will strip them down to just their underwear (and bra if a women wrote the adventure) before tossing their possessions in the trunk of my car and leaving them with no idea just what the hell is going on and where their stuff is.

Except that while waking up with no gear and no idea what was going on, was a playful diversion in The Hungovered (as your gear is one cakewalk of a fight and one room away from you), in here the run really insisted in rubbing it in your face, right on up to the point of having you fight bad guys who are armed with your own weapons while you have only a couple of crummy pistols at best. 

Whose bright idea was it that this run should penalize the runners by making it so that the better they've been doing and the better the gear they have, the harder this fight is going to be?  Shadowrun has enough situations that benefit mages already, (next time I see a mage forced to check his foci at the door to some fancy club it'll be the first time) did we need one that so utterly rammed home the shaftings of being a street sam?

Also in the Hungovered, the person who captured you was someone who had really and truly earned our trust, to the point that even when he pulled a gun on us, we thought he had just been mind controlled to fight against us rather than hating us.  In this mission it's a Jonson we have never worked with before who just hired us... pre-getting knocked out us should probably have been at least relatively cautious of him since it's not the first time we've been betrayed.

So once again it bears repeating, it is, and will always be a stupid, stupid, stupid idea for the villains to have just magically (and I mean magically as in “I don't have to explain it, it's magic” not even as in “force 8 stunbolt” kind of magic) managed to defeat the runners.  It is especially immersion breaking when when the villains themselves clearly don't have a chance against us given the ease with which we mopped them up once we actually had our gear back. 

This once again gives us the exact same problem we had back in TRO 2.7.3 where the mission difficulty is front loaded. 

In theory difficulty should be like climbing a mountain, you start low and build your way up.  This one was like skiing down a hill, start high and only go down from there.

Now lets talk about the next big problem I have with the mission, the villains.

Sid, you have a location that has technological Bullshit defensive measures that will annihilate anyone who comes near.  You have a woman who has access to these codes.  You want to set your super weapon up on top of this building so it will be protected by the super special defensive measures.....  WHY THE HELL DID YOU NOT BRING THE WOMAN WITH YOU?  ITS NOT THAT HARD TO THINK OF HONESTLY! 

If you have a device that generates an invincible shield, do you put the power supply for that device inside or outside of the shield it generates?  The problem with all of this is that why he did not do this is obvious, because if he had done this basic logical action, then there would be no run as there would be no way to get close to the MDC building without being blown out of the sky or into tiny chunks. 

If you find yourself in a situation where the villain has to act like a complete idiot or else there is no way to beat him, please go back to the drawing board and rethink things for a bit.

I tell a slight lie because there a couple possible ways to have stopped Sid even if he brought Dominique with him and honestly they all would have made things far more interesting. 

One idea is that you need to have a technomancer/hacker get fairly close to the Ares helicopter that Sid has stolen, if he can get in signal range of it somehow (even linking through repeater drones which may be too small for the building to care about) then he can hack it. 

Sid can't turn the anti-air guns on it to shoot it down, you have it fly over to the runners, and then the runners can get in and fly up to him for a showdown. 

Another possibility is that clearly the MDC can't have only one person who has the codes to it, it seems more likely that Dominique was just the easiest person with those codes for Sid to get leverage over. 

But who else could we possibly find who is certain to have those codes and be in New York?

How about Damien Knight? 

The runners worked with a fake Mr. Damien Knight back in Mission 7, it cold make for an interesting counter point if they could see the differences (or similarities) between Damien and his double.  Likewise, by having the PC's work with Damien Knight, you could actually create something of a major emotional moment by having Izzy get to see her parents reunited/get to see the man she has just discovered is her father when all the shooting is said and done.

The mission is full of missed opportunities like that for cool things to happen which ultimately didn't because there was no call for them to happen. 

Another thing that I was prepared to do was that after we rescued Dominique and needed to get her out of the terminal to safety was to have us (and Gumbo in particular because he's the best at facing) become impromptu rabble rousers, who would stir up an angry mob of my NEO-A brothers and then lead them on an assault against the police blockade. 

It'd be sort of like Warrior From the Lost World, except that the good guys would driving Megaweapon!  But that never happened because apparently us choppering out of terminal works just fine despite the massive crack down it is under, I guess that's another side effect of the magical bullshit codes that Dominique has. 

Speaking of my NEO-A brothers... yeah it's time to complain about that. 

Do you know what the last major NEO-A attack on the corporation was in New York that the runners heard about /witnessed?  I'm pretty sure that I do, it was in Knight at the Opera (if I am wrong please correct me). 

Do you know what is was?  A bunch of people dressed like clowns interrupt an opera and throw the 2070 version of glitter-bombs which also happen to contain tiny microphones so that they could find out what the rich people said about the 47% when they thought they were alone. 

It was an attack that was ultimately harmless and about standing up to the man by trying to interrupt something that really only rich people and their bodyguards were going to be attending.

Do you know what the lat major mission with focused on the NEO-A's was?  It was Food Poisoning.  Food Poisoning a mission where our NEO-A contact flips a shit in guilt over feeding people poisoning grain that was poisoned in a way that even corporate laboratory testing could not notice, so it's not like Peace Man had any chance at all of finding this stuff out.  But still Peace Man felt incredibly upset over it. 

So.... HOW THE FUCK DID THE NEO-AS GO FROM THROWING GLITTER BOMBS AND PLAYING ROBBINHOOD WITH TRUCKLOADS OF GRAIN TO BEING MOTHERFUCKING BIOTERRORISTS? 

I may just have rose colored glasses on because Longshot had a NEO-A affilation from Everybody is Your Friend up until the end of this mission (and not just because he was leaving New York, they ended up sending a "cleaner" after him) but if there was suppose to be some subtle darkening of the NEO-A's character between the early missions and this one, I sure as hell did not see it. 

Okay, they acted like dicks who did not trust the runners in Firestorm, but you know what, everyone acted like paranoid dicks in Firestorm, so with no “control group” of reasonable people to measure their behavior against that's not a good measuring stick one way or another in my book. 

Which conveniently brings me to the next big problem with the mission, the affiliation request that you get if you're a member of the NEO-A....

You're told that it's now your job to help Sid. 

In Shadowrun you're expected to do a lot of horrible things for various amounts of money.  If you need proof you only need to look at Burning Bridges where the entire run is based around you needing to do the horrible thing of blowing up the Brooklyn Bridge. 

But this mission, asks you to do a really REALLY REALLY REALLY horrible thing, for no money.  Okay yes there is the NEO-A reward for completing the side mission, but to get that you also have to give up on the money that Dominique would pay you, not to mention forcing all your party members to give up on all the money that Dominique would pay them, and well you can guess what happens to runners who decide that they'll decrease the entire team's take in order to line their own pockets. 

Equally importantly, if you agree with Sid then you throw away the last major fight of the run and screw over getting any kind of cathartic resolution to the run. 

Lets assume that the run is being made by a team of all NEO-A members, who don't have moral objections to working with Sid.  But if they did, then the run would just end there when they arrive on the roof with the Doomsday weapon firing. 

It should not be that easy to release a major Bio-weapon in New York City. 

If you were going to tell some runners that they should trust Sid and work with him, then you should have come up with an appropriately climatic fight where you have to defend the Doomsday weapon against a raid of NYPDINC SWAT teams either ground troops, or choppers or whatever, you know make you feel like you're one of the bad guys in the first Die Hard movie. 

Have them shut down power to the entire building/area/whatever in order to disable all the bullshit security weapons (another Die Hard reference YAY) so that they can get close enough to make you need to defend with firearms/vehicle mounted weaponry.

But all of the above bullshit does not even touch the elephant in the room of this situation believe it or not! 

Fulfilling the NEO-A side mission on this run requires you to trust Sid.

WHY THE FUCK WOULD YOU EVEN CONSIDER THAT POSSIBILITY? 

Sid already “fake hired” you for one job locked you in an elevator, somehow knocked you out, and then was going to use you and the rest of your team as the fall guys for one of the worst Bio Terrorist attacks in human history. 

If he's already shown that he's willing/planning on selling you up the river to the police/ MDC, why should they not expect him to do it again the first chance he gets? 

There is NO FUCKING SLIGHT that you can commit against a shadowrunner, not steal his gear, not shoot him, not actually capture him and send him to jail, that is worse than being their Mr. Johnson and stabbing them in the back. 

Because the other stuff I mentioned is about just doing your job as another runner or as a police officer, betrayal and breaking the bond of one's word in a society where nobody is very big on formal contracts should be a very big big taboo indeed. 

Any Mr. Johnson who does that should get his pants sued off.... and by “pants” I mean “face” and by “sued” I mean “shot” and by “off” I mean “repeatedly”. 

Why do the NEO-A's expect you to work with someone who treated you like that? 

I get that Sid is a leader of a splinter group of super violent NEO-A's that recently arrived in town.  I get that he acquired a major Bio Weapon from whereverthefuckistan.  I get that he's managed to stir up the entire Terminal and bribed some local gangs into doing his dirty work.  I get that he somehow managed to gather together a badass enough strike team to successfully capture a girl who probably should have had bodyguards like WOAH though if that team ever shows up in this mission I didn't notice them.  I can even close my eyes, clench my fists and sort of buy the fact that he somehow through some bullshit method managed to knock us all out by creating the super duper best-est ambush in the world, maybe he had a technomancer hack the elevator that we had walked into then made it speed up really fast and slam it into the ground.... oh and for some reason Mastermind was with us in person instead of just rigging Arnold from a van somewhere and thus should have been perfectly safe. 

But what I CAN NOT BUY/ACCEPT IS THAT HE HAS TOTALLY OVERTAKEN THE ENTIRE NEO-A ORGANIZATION TO THE POINT THAT HE CAN BOSS AROUND THEIR AFFILIATED FIELD AGENTS! 

[/spoiler]

 More stuff to follow soon just over did the 20,000 character limit...
« Last Edit: (15:03:57/11-12-12) by jamesfirecat »

jamesfirecat

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« Reply #2 on: (14:27:42/11-12-12) »
Last part, I promise.

[spoiler]



If Sid was going to be able to take over the entire organization like that, then it probably should have been a plot point from much earlier on in the season and be built up rather than just having it dropped on on the runner's heads at the start/midway through this one. 

You know what would an appropriate thing to do as a NEO-A member based on the NEO-As as I knew them in prior missions? 

Fire the doomsday weapon, after loading it with paint cans. 

Paint cans, some sort of skunk spray gas, you know, something to make a political statement about the rich are not as safe as they think they are, but not, NOT, I REPEAT NOT, MURDER A COUPLE HUNDRED THOUSAND PEOPLE, MOST OF WHOME ARE PROBABLY ONLY GUILTY OF BEING CORPROATE CITIZENS OR WORKING FOR THE WRONG PEOPLE/LIVING IN THE WRONG PLACE! 

Seriously, if the NEO-A organization is that indiscriminate, then why do all the other missions portray them as being so much more focused on non deadly pranks and trying to help the oppressed? 

I can haz consistency?

Also, as bad/horrible as the way that this mission treats you if you're a NEO-A member, the way that you get treated if you've been selling out to lots of corps and getting a bunch of affiliations is even worse from a gameplay perspective. 

Not during the mission of course, but during the post mission clean up when the fact that you can obviously satisfy one “give us the DNA AND NO ONE ELSE” side mission and you will be actively working against the others insures that you will only get one reward, and then most likely an entire pile of hit men with +10 to all opposed rolls between the +4 “pissed off” bonus and the +6 bonus they got because we were playing on TR 6. 

One of those such “cleaners” is survivable, getting an entire parade of them attacking you at once (or do they take turns?  Either way you still have to fight them all by yourself don't you?) is a surefire way to bring this season to a far more “final” conclusion than one might expect.

So the runners are basically going to end up with one of two possible fates where the affiliations are concerned.  Either they are going end up being given a mission that will totally derail the point of the run, or they are going to be given a pile of contradictory missions that will earn them an entire pile of pissed off hit men who could easily represent an even greater threat to the runners than any fight in the mission except possibly the one that they have to go into without all their favorite gear.

Okay, with all of that bitching said, I want to make one thing clear, I still liked this mission better than I did Food Poisoning.  Because if nothing else, shit properly happened in this mission, there was some real firefights and the threat/ticking clock somehow felt a lot more real than the fact that people had already started dieing in Food Poisoning.

This run is in my opinion, sadly where potential goes to die. 

The final fight would have been a lot more climatic if Sid and his gang didn't behave like such idiots.  Not only do they not take Dominique with them thus make it easy for us to penetrate their bullshit 10,00 P anti-air flack guns, and also for some reason they decided to just sit around with their thumbs up their asses until we actually try to get out of the helicopter instead of sicking their force 9 spirit on us as soon as it was clear that we were not going to be shot down by the MDC building's guns.

Also their Pixie Mage might have wanted to stay inside her own physical barrier with Sid instead of being flying around.   Even if she was nearly invisible (concealment seven and then five or six hits on staying hidden) she still went down like a complete pansy once we knew where she was. 

Oh and Sid and his friends made the horrible life choice of getting into a fight without an edge score, thus insuring that we would get to go first, and they would be unable to doge any shot we especially wanted to hit.

Another big way it wasted potential was deciding to portray the entire NEO-A structure from the bottom up (except for Peace Man) as a pile of bloodthirsty lunatics. 

Much better results could have been achieved by playing up the fact that Sid is a member of a splinter group and thus the NEO-A's are thoroughly divided enough that there is a significant faction of them that wants to see Sid shut down before he can make them seem like an entire army of bomb wielding crazies. 

Sadly Sid will end up “succeeding” on that front no matter what the runners do as once the dust clears the threat he and his splinter organization posed will lead to the MDC cracking down on all NEO-A activities in the city, with a side result being that shadowrunners are not going to have an easy time working in the city what with how there are going to be so many pissed off police officers on the lookout for anyone with firearms and anything less than perfect paperwork for them, which means its time to find someplace with a more live and let live policy towards certain career criminals.

Also there just has to be a better way to start this mission other than having the runners wake up after being knocked out with no idea what the hell is going on. 

Every time a mission starts with the runners having just been somehow mysteriously defeated it strains credibility given how much time energy money and effort most shadowrunners (and especially an expert team like ours) have spent making themselves as hard to beat in a fight as possible. 

If I had to make suggestions, have them just finished up an unrelated run in terminal and then have the riots start up which make it impossible to leave.  After that, while they're stuck in traffic they get sideswiped by another vehicle.  Looking out the windows they see a bunch of men with a gagged girl in the backseat. 

If they aren't enough of white knights to try and rescue the girl in the fancy Ares uniform that should just scream “I am rich and if you get me back to my parents they will shower you with money” then you can have the people in the other car notice that you have noticed and start shooting at your car/tires.  That should do more than enough to get the runners involved in rescuing the girl and have the run unfold more or less the same from that point on. 

At least if they've done that before hand the runners will no longer have such a hate on for Sid that makes it impossible to listen /trust a word that comes out of his mouth and thus makes fulfilling the NEO-A side mission an exercise in dumbassery as well as biological terrorism.

This mission needs about two or three more rewrites to really be good, but on the other hand there is some good stuff here that is buried not that far down, something that I could not say about Food Poisoning.

Also, I'm mildly disappointed that this was the final mission in New York, we were in terminal... and it had nothing at all to do with Bug Spirits!  Well I guess you can't always get what you want.


[/spoiler]


And that's the end of it.

Having finished up Season 3 my group is now going to play a bunch of CMPS before we start up season 4.   I will review those missions as well except in cases we I already have (for example the first one we'll do is probably going to be me running TRO 2.7.3 for my brother and friend who did not play it with me Gumbo and Hummer the first time through especially as Guumbo is moving on up to Prime Runner land now....

DWC

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« Reply #3 on: (14:52:45/11-12-12) »
[spoiler]Imagine how annoying this (and the Hungover and Something Completely Different) are to someone who's immune to Laes.[/spoiler]

jamesfirecat

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« Reply #4 on: (15:07:13/11-12-12) »
[spoiler]Imagine how annoying this (and the Hungover and Something Completely Different) are to someone who's immune to Laes.[/spoiler]

[spoiler]
Something completely different at least was easily fixable to do a normal mission as I pointed out this one could be as well.  But yeah, hungovered not knowing what the f&$k happened last night is the promise of the premise,

[/spoiler]

Critias

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« Reply #5 on: (15:10:48/11-12-12) »
[spoiler]Imagine how annoying this (and the Hungover and Something Completely Different) are to someone who's immune to Laes.[/spoiler]
[spoiler]It's worth pointing out that The Hungover, at least, features a not-entirely-normal version of Laes, but rather an experimental strand of the drug being weaponized.  That's what made the briefcase so valuable.  And, yes, it's also what made the adventure possible.[/spoiler]

KarmaInferno

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« Reply #6 on: (00:38:57/12-20-12) »
[spoiler]Yeah, but there are in fact Missions characters that are pretty much immune to bioweapons.

I had to just roll my eyes, shrug off the impossibility, and play along with the scenarios as given, despite my character being totally sealed off from any possible delivery vectors. It was that or go play something else.

I can emphasize with the writers though, it's hard to do reasonable 'in media res' type plotlines in a RPG, especially if you have no idea what sort of characters will be playing it.[/spoiler]



-k

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« Reply #7 on: (00:58:48/12-20-12) »
We either hand of god you into it, or after your team gets Gassed/Laesed/whatever, we kill your character and dump the body. :)

And since we're not allowed to just outright KILL characters off-screen...  Heh.

jamesfirecat

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« Reply #8 on: (14:02:28/12-21-12) »
We either hand of god you into it, or after your team gets Gassed/Laesed/whatever, we kill your character and dump the body. :)

And since we're not allowed to just outright KILL characters off-screen...  Heh.

That is why I made my previous suggestion about how you might have the runners be in terminal for reasons unrelated to the run, then bump into the guys who are holding the young girl hostage, have the think that their mission is blown and start firing at the Runners.  The PCs shoot back obviously and end up rescuing the girl which gets them started on the rest of the run, tracking down the doctor and the mother.

I did not mind it as much/at all in Hungovered since there it was the promise of the premise but here there is no reason that the run could not be set up in such a way that it does not involve the players having been betrayed unless you want to give then extra reasons to hate Sid, which is exactly what you should not be doing given the Neo-A side mission,

Some set up that did not involve giving the players a reason to hate and distrust Sid would make the Neo-A side mission easier to swallow.  It's one thing to asks he player to be a horrible person, it's another to ask them to be a horrible person who is trusting someone who had already thoroughly f@&ked them over once before not to throw you under a bus once again if given another chance.
« Last Edit: (14:05:15/12-21-12) by jamesfirecat »

Bull

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« Reply #9 on: (17:22:02/12-21-12) »
I will note that when I stepped in to Missions, 03-12 was already in the first draft stage, and there wasn't any time to change it.  Plus, I'll be honest, I love the opening to that.  It's not meant to "Screw the players", it's meant to challenge them.  What do they do in a situation like that?

We went out of our way to make certain they had access to some basic gear easily and quickly, and we made certain that they got all their gear back within a couple scenes.

At the end of the day, I can try and cater to every single player and player type out there, or I can try and make certain we're telling a good story.  It's nearly impossible to do both.

(There's also some burden on the GM to make certain he tailors the adventure to the individual players, which sometimes means swapping details around to fit their specific peculiarities)

And yes, some of the side-mission stuff in Season 3 was..  Annoying.  ANd tough to deal with,

Bull

jamesfirecat

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« Reply #10 on: (18:01:50/12-21-12) »
I will note that when I stepped in to Missions, 03-12 was already in the first draft stage, and there wasn't any time to change it.  Plus, I'll be honest, I love the opening to that.  It's not meant to "Screw the players", it's meant to challenge them.  What do they do in a situation like that?

We went out of our way to make certain they had access to some basic gear easily and quickly, and we made certain that they got all their gear back within a couple scenes.

At the end of the day, I can try and cater to every single player and player type out there, or I can try and make certain we're telling a good story.  It's nearly impossible to do both.

(There's also some burden on the GM to make certain he tailors the adventure to the individual players, which sometimes means swapping details around to fit their specific peculiarities)

And yes, some of the side-mission stuff in Season 3 was..  Annoying.  ANd tough to deal with,

Bull


Yeah, just to be clear, I am complaing less about the opening which is fine for the most part (it lead to the painful but hilarious moment of watching gangers armed with all my guns which being built for a gnome looked like toys in their hands try to shoot me and my companions) and more about how the opening really makes the Neo-A side mission make no sense because it asks you to trust someone who has already proven himself willing to sell you out to the man. 

Really, the Neo A side mission should be something you can do "on the side" rather than forcing you to straddle the railroad tracks that the rest of the party wants to ride to victory (and getting paid) and yell "halt!"  Which itself would not be so wrong if it were not for the fact that given how short season three is (at least compared to season 2) there is no reason to expect this to be the characters last run as a non prime runner, so asking him to betray his team for what is "in the box" should in theory have to bring his running career to a premature close, either because he got ganked by his team for being a turncoat or even if he won, becauae  nobody in their right mind would run with someone who was known for betraying the rest of his team.

So yeah I can live the opening the way it is, I will even admit it gave the run a unique flavor and made me really appreciate just how good my gear is by having it turned on me, but that Neo-A side mission, that really did seem like a bad idea from start to finish,

« Last Edit: (18:06:27/12-21-12) by jamesfirecat »

Bull

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« Reply #11 on: (21:38:20/12-21-12) »
Like I said, that was something that had to do with the way factions were implemented into Season 3.

At the end of the day, runners largely weren't expected to want to side with the Neo A's and work for them, unless for some reason they were really into being a Neo Anarchist.

The main storyline, and main expectation, is that the runners would work with the girl at the beginning, then work for her mother later on, and take down the Neo A baddie at the end.

jamesfirecat

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« Reply #12 on: (22:49:56/12-21-12) »
Like I said, that was something that had to do with the way factions were implemented into Season 3.

At the end of the day, runners largely weren't expected to want to side with the Neo A's and work for them, unless for some reason they were really into being a Neo Anarchist.

The main storyline, and main expectation, is that the runners would work with the girl at the beginning, then work for her mother later on, and take down the Neo A baddie at the end.


The path you mentioned is the path my team took as I decided if the Neo-A's wanted me to betray my team then I would betray them instead.

Also, just to lay all my cards on the table, after seeing how awesome a job one of my friends did playing a character who was a technomancer and put technomancer rights above just about everything (ie everything short of pissing off a dragon, and the even bigger dragon who he actually works for,

So I decided that the best way to give my new street samurai (and my first character) some real life would be to have him be viscously virulently pro-union, the kind of guy who insists that his shadow running team orangIze themselves into a union with mandatory time off (which also explains why some runner is missing every time we run as we swap around who gms) and want to have all shadowrunners enfolded into one collective unions to bargin for better pay or else go on strike, because if the corporate court is going to outlaw unions, then only outlaws will have unions!

Naturally the Neo-a's were not a perfect fit but they best served my characters more strong than the average runners anti-corp bent and so I went with them from everybody is your friend until the events of Elevator Ride to Hell. 

I would argue that if the Neo-As we're not suppose to be seen as an attractive choice by the runners you should not have had the main Neo-A contact the runners have Peace Man be a likeable fellow who helps you get paid when your original Johnson gets caught by the police (Burning Bridges) offers to buy a truckload of grain off you at a point when the runners are probably already starting to suspect that taking the grain to its original destination will get them all killed (Jacknifed) and repeatedly shows Considerable angst over the fact that something he has done could end up hurting the people he is trying to save (Food Posioning) and even clearly says that he is not in favor of the Neo-A wanting to kick you out of New York in Elevator Ride.

If the Neo-As we're suppose to be fringe lunatics, or not seen as an reasonable faction to work for, (and a way to avoid the possibility of kill squads should your various corporate side missions directly conflict with one another) then more could have been done on this front to make them seem less worthy of sympathy and support.

Anyway I make these comments more in sorrow than in anger and if nothing else my runner has a great story to tell about how the Neo-A's sent one of their very best spell slingers after him, and he shipped her back to them unconscious but alive with "Better luck next time" drawn on her face.  He also came to the conclusion that  the problem with the Neo-A's is that they have too fluid a command structure where one radical with a charismatic personality can rise though the ranks on sheer force of personality rather than having truly deep support of the organization, and so any further anti corp groups he joins should come with proper by laws, dues, and command structure (ie they need to form a union)
« Last Edit: (00:38:28/12-22-12) by jamesfirecat »