GenCon 1990


I also entered two other events; one a Shadowrun event (Shadowrun is a roleplaying system with a mixture of cyberpunk and magic. Believe me, the combination works.) and a Call of Cthulhu event (based on the Cthulhu stories by Lovecraft et. al.) Both were a lot of fun themselves, and a nice counterpoint to the doom and gloom of the two Champions events.

The Shadowrun event involved six “shadowrunners” or free-lance operatives, hired by an unknown corporate exec (a ‘Mr. Johnson’) to make a “relatively easy” corporate extraction. This object of the extraction proved to be a new computer chip that seemed to allow magic to be used inside the cyberspace network, a feat thought impossible. (We weren’t told about this ability; this was supposed to be a simple extraction mission.)

Since I wasn’t really familiar with the game system, I asked for a character that could be pointed in a direction and told “kill” and wound up with a goblinized human (which are called ‘Orcs’: most of the Awakened (non-humans) hate Tolkien) Street Samurai nicknamed Slice, for the retractable knifeblades he has implanted in his fingertips. The other shadowrunners were a free-lance ‘fixer’, a decker, two magicians (one a shaman, the other a Hermetic mage), and a rigger (a decker who interfaces with vehicles, in this case small drone helicopters.) In other words, a standard shadowrunner grouping.

By using all of our contacts, we determined that the chip we were supposed to recover was in Argentina, so we flew down and checked out the area, then the decker went into the local cyberspace and started searching. He found the research facility in a rural part of Argentina, a good distance from where we were staying in Buenos Aires. We made arrangements with a local air service (run by a troll (another goblinized human) named “Tiny”) to fly us to the research facility.

While we were settling in at the hotel and checking out the area, the rigger uncrates one of her drones and sends it around the outside of the hotel, peeking in windows. The Hermetic mage, sitting in his bedroom, writing haiku and not knowing what was going on, sees what looks like a giant bug-eyed dragonfly hovering outside his window and fires a magical energy bolt at it and misses. The noise brings everyone running into this room, weapons drawn, except for the rigger, who was bringing the drone back in via another window. As everyone is looking out the broken window and asking what happened, the rigger runs in, cradling her drone and screaming at the mage “You tried to hurt my baby!” A tense moment for the characters was defused, while we had a a good laugh at the excellent role-playing by the two players.

Later when we flying into to the town outside the research facility, we couldn’t raise the airport. We landed and found a deserted terminal. Our rigger sent her observation drone into the town, finding cars with bodies in them. When we followed and checked out a car, we could only see a body (not enough light and no IR for anyone with thermographic vision) until the fixer reached in and took the body’s arm. It came off in his hand, calcified. The body had been turned into (mostly) stone, and was disintegrating. (Gross.) I found out later from the GM that a pack of wild basilisks had went through the town, turning everyone into stone. We appropriated a large car and drove out to the facility.

The rigger sent her drone ahead to the research complex, and was monitoring it, when suddenly it stopped transmitting. We followed on foot through a forest, with Slice (me) taking point. Suddenly the GM pointed at me and told me to make an observation roll on four (six-sided) dice. Under the game rules, if you roll a six, you re-roll until you don’t. I rolled two sixes on four dice, then rolled two more sixes. What it translated to is that I found a bird on the ground, neatly sliced in half. The facility was using monofilament wire (Stuff that’s so thin that it can cut almost between molecular bonds? Nasty slice and dice stuff.) as a passive defense. Lucky I made the roll by so much or else I would have wound up looking like my name!

This was a two-round tournament, and our round ended with the team standing just outside the research facility trying to figure out a way past the monofiliment wire that surrounded the base. I stopped by the final round later the next day, and the players were well into the scenario, so I couldn’t tell really what was happening, but it sounded like the ‘Mr. Johnson’ who had hired the team had disavowed us and was predicting a considerable penalty if they persisted in interfering with his affairs, which they almost had to do to stay alive.

The event had a lot of neat things going for it; the game master was one of the most well prepared I had played under, and his descriptions were very colorful and very evocative. (He emphasized the darker aspects of magic, like the basilisks, in order to maintain the dark feel for the cyberpunk universe.) If this guy runs another event next year, I’m going to try to get into it. (The convention program and game schedule lists the game master’s names, a nice touch.)

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