An Unwelcome House Guest

I wrote this quick story to help me conceptualize how the rules and setting work together in Shadowrun 5e.  I might have gotten some of this wrong and will try to correct if I can.

An Unwelcome House Guest

7:47PM, 2072

Krazy Kat sips at her Digital Sunrise, then sighs and puts the glass down, “Drek, this synthohol is for dataslaves, I need the real stuff!”

She looks at the human bartender and pouts, “Are you sure you can’t slip in a little real orange juice?”  Kat leans over, her Armante dress changing colors in such a way as to suggest it being more revealing, though the reality is that the fancy silver dress didn’t move a smidgen out of place.

Game Rules
Krazy Kat rolls a negotiation 5 + Charisma 8- Annoying -1 for (12) [11]  vs the bartender's  Charisma 3 + negotiation 3 [6]. 
Kat gets 3 hits, the bartender gets 2 hits.  Not enough for the bartender to be fully convinced, he gives her extra garnish.

The bartender smiles but shakes his head, “Even if I wanted to, they monitor every transaction, every drop, gotta pay for the real stuff or its no good for me.  Here you go though”, and with that, he reaches something out of the garnish tray and puts it on the edge of her glass, it looks vaguely similar to an orange slice.

“Hey, that’s not even a real orange slice!”, she pouts, even as her commlink begins buzzing. She glances at her display before tapping the screen and taking a few steps away from the bartender.  “Grung! You got something for me? I’m bored as hell!”  She subconsciously brings up her cred balance as she says this, visions of her upcoming rent and future synthohols on her mind.

“Chill”, a gravely voice comes through her earbuds.  On screen, a pock-marked tusked brown face squints at her, “I’ve got work, nothing big, meet me at the Dancing Ronin?”

“Sure, tomorrow? I just got my drink”

“Tonight, if Mr Johnson wanted to wait, he’d have hired someone more officially”, Grung snaps, “Unless you want me to call someone else?”

“Fine fine”, Kat snaps, “Be there in thirty.”  The screen goes black, Grung doesn’t even bother to say bye.

“Bartender!”, Kat calls, “another one, this one real, but make it fast, I’ve got business to tend to”

8:50PM, 2072

“I said thirty minutes”, Grung grumps at her as she sweeps in to the Dancing Ronin, her glimmering dress catching the eye of every guy in the room.

She sweeps an errant silver lock of hair behind her pointed ear, “Oh come on Grung, it was close enough.  You have my job lined up?”

“Your Mr Johnson is in the back room, but hes not expecting you for another 20 minutes”

“Another 20…? Why did I rush here then?”, Kat complains as she takes the glass from Frank’s chrome articulated hand.

“I know how your rushing works”, Grung gives a big tusk-filled smile, “So this way you’re actually early”

Kat huffs and takes a long swallow of her drink before giving Grung her attention again, “Anything I should know about the job?”

“Spirit problem”, Grung says, getting serious, the way he always does when he talks about a Run. “Something arcane, requiring a mage, and also discrete or he’d use corp resources.  Not enough pay to justify a whole crew.  I don’t know much more.”

“Ok”, Kat nods.

Raven, I have a chore for you.  Scan the man in the backroom.  Tell me anything you can about his mood, any magical protection he might have, any illusions, or any obvious threats.

The whirling mass of raven-like forms momentarily appears in front of Kat, somehow nods as one, then vanishes.  Moments later, the mass appears again, only to Kat.  Grung blissfully unaware of the mass of bird-like shapes overlying his point of reality.

The Raven spirit assenses the room nearby, then returns.  Assensing 6 + Intuition 6 [6] getting 4hits letting it know the man's implants, general health, and what caused the target's state of being.

The raven spirit sends back in her thoughts, An afraid human sits in that room, a hole in his spirit where his eyes and around his head are.  There are other spirits interested in him, and he sits alone.  He didn’t seem able to see us.  He has recently been near something powerful.

Kat is both happy and frustrated with the response.  Happy, because this exec shouldn’t be a threat with his lack of magic, disappointed because she wasted one of her three services the spirit owed her on something she could have learned herself.

Straightening out her clothing, queuing a soft strobing effect in her Armante’ dress, Kat twirled twice in place.  As she spun, Kat uttered a few small melodic phrases in sperethiel.  Her form wavered momentarily, her hair growing longer, her body sleeker, her clothes somehow even more exceptional.  Beyond her physical appearance, she somehow glowed in a way that was beyond simply magical or physical.

She was.

Game Rules
Casting Increase Charisma
Force: She chooses 6
Roll: Spellcasting 5 + magic 6 [6] for 6 hits.
Determine Effect: She increases her Charisma from 8 to 12 (the max, the extra 2 is wasted) but taking -2 on die rolls due to having to maintain the spell
Drain: DV is 3, she rolls Willpower + Magic -2 to resist, 2 hits, taking 1 stun.

Every man in the room turns towards Kat, their pupils dilating for a moment as they fixated on her.

Even Grung had an appreciative look, “Uh….Kat, it isn’t that I don’t appreciate you like this…”, he wipes some drool from his mouth with a forearm, “… but I think you should go in and see that Mr. Johnson, before this crowd gets even more rowdy.”

Twirling again, this time for the pleasure of it, the magic was already in place, Kat giggled and went towards the back meeting room.

9:00pm, 2072

Entering the room, Kat appreciated the mixed look of fear and desire on the chubby man in nice (but not brand name) man sitting at the lone table.  Parts of his face were red from obviously resting his head in his hands.  What there wasn’t so obvious a source of, was the black eye he had.

“Mr Johnson”, Kat purred, “How sir, may I help you tonight?”

The man gulped, “Who? Oh yeah, er right, Mr joh…”, he flushes as he stops talking.

Obviously not a man familiar with dealing with ShadowRunners, he could be easy to deal with, or difficult, depending on his previous assumptions.

“Everything is going to be ok, just lay it out, we’ll work out a fair amount of compensation, and sooner than you can imagine”, she snaps her fingers loudly, “done!”

“Yes well…er my home, it well, I opened a box, it something happened, a Thing appeared, blasted me out of my own home. I thought I was safe.”

“Safe?”, Kat was intrigued, this wasn’t a typical job.

“Safe from the traps.  Its my job, I’m on the list.  “

“Oh, you activated a guardian spirit, because you thought you could open the container”

“But I handle the containers all the time! I’ve never had a problem”, the man splutters.

“You were probably told not to open the containers, right?”, Kat smiled, trying to avoid giggling.

“…yes”, the man pouted, “Can you put the thing back, or get rid of it or something?”

Kat was enjoying this man’s unhappiness a bit too much, “Of course, Grung told you I was the best right?”

“He said you were chea…er affordable.  That you’d be understanding”

Kat saw red for a moment.  CHEAP!  That bastard.  Lights started to flicker as Kat’s stress threatened to release a ball lightning to fry this cheap bar’s electronics.  Getting herself under control, Kat nodded, “Oh of course I’ll be understanding.  Normally I’d charge 7k for a job like this, but you didn’t ask for this, did you? Of course not, I’ll charge you only 5k, discreet creds of course”

Game Rules
Kat buys hits (pg 45) for her the negotiation successes with her Charisma (12) + Negotiation (5) -2 for 3 successes, the GM says the man's state is so unsteady he completely yields to her demands if he has them to give.

The man’s eyes nearly bugged out of his head. “Fi…Fi…Five thousand!  I I I don’t have that kind of money. “  The man started to get up, mumbling to himself “Maybe I can move?  I don’t need that stuff. For 5k I can buy all new clothing, rent a hotel room tonight”

Sighing, Kat knew this was a lost deal, “2k and I get whatever was in the box.  How did you think you could take the box anyways?”

“It wasn’t on the manifest. I was curious, there isn’t any record of it.  So many boxes, I don’t get to see in any of them!”, the flustered battered man says, a bit of pride in his voice.  “It has to be worth way more than 7k!”

“What do you think your bosses will do once they track their spirit down to your home?”, Kat asked, feeling a little bad about turning the screw on her client.  Only a little bad.

The man paled, apparently having forgotten the consequences of his misdeed.  “Can you make the spirit go away? So they don’t know where it went?”

“Of course!” Kat lied.

“Ok, 2k it is, and whats in the box”

“Excellent, prepare the funds and I’ll get this taken care of”, Kat smiled, reaching out to shake hands with the Mr Johnson.

11:30pm PST

Kat took the long way out to the target’s house so she could nap off the multiple drinks as well as the minor wear of the charisma enhancing spell.

Game Rules
She makes a Body 2 + Willpower 5-2[1 hour minimum] to heal 1 stun (she got 2 successes but only had the one stun damage to heal).

Kat was being dropped off by a XeroFast smartCar outside a tiny suburban house just outside of Auburn.  A small copse of trees at the end of the block pretends to be a forest, and several neighbors glance out their windows at the glamorous elf.  The amount of attention her appearance was making seemed excessive, then she looked down at her still pulsing Armenté dress.

“They probably think I’m a joy girl come to visit the suburban Mr Johnson”, Kat jokes to herself, sending a signal to her dress to tone it down to pleasing autumn colors as she walked up to a small white picket gate.

“Lets see what we have here”, Kat said, as she opened herself up to assense the house and nearby environment.  Her eyes open wide as she perceives the amount of magical energy bubbling out of an angry cloud within the house.

Game Rules
Kat assenses the house using assensing 3+ intuition 4 [9] for 2 successes. 
She can see the class of the aura from inside the house, a guardian spirit, a type of spirit above and beyond your typical fire elemental or beast spirit.

“Hope that item is worth it, the spirits know that that 2k isn’t”.

Her charisma-enhancing spell released earlier, Kat prepares her next spell.  Closing her eyes, she starts a soft quiet clapping, steady, like a beating heart; Kat’s heart, in fact. Steadily she increases the beat, her own breathing increasing in tempo to match.  Ending with a sudden clap, her movements become accelerated, supernaturally so, though she staggers a bit as she fails to channel the magical energy as well as she hoped.

Game Rules
Kat cast Increase Reflexes 
Decide Force 6
Roll: Spellcasting 5 + Magic 6 [Force] for 11 dice and gets 7 hits. Thats over her limit of 6, so only 6 successes.  
Determine Effect: She gets +6 initiative, + 3 dice.  Sustaining this spell gives a -2 dice penalty.
Drain: Drain Value 6, 13 dice 4 hits, 2 stun damage, she has no would penalties yet.

She also keeps herself open to seeing into the astral, allowing herself to be attacked from astral beings but also being able to attack them, in case the guardian spirit chooses to remain in the astral.

“Lets see whats inside”, she continues to mumble to herself as she accelerates towards the front door.

The door opens in response to Kat’s commlink’s request; the recognition key the Johnson gave her proving to be valid.  Starting to step into the doorway, Kat suddenly realizes how ridiculous this is.

“Drek this!” she curses, as she starts to turn around, “a couple k isn’t worth dying over.”

She makes it a few steps away before she realizes she was affected by a glamour.  Uttering a soft growl, Kat calls out mentally. <Raven, I’m asking another of my owed services.>

Game Rules
The guardian spirit uses Fear on her, working momentarily, but then Kat overcomes it.
Willpower 9 + Magic 9 vs Kat's Willpower 5 + Logic 2 .  The guardian spirit gets 5 hits, Kat gets 3 hits, making Kat afraid for 2 rounds.  Kat then has to make a willpower + logic vs target 2 to come back into the house. She gets exactly 2 successes, just barely enough.

The amorphous cloud of vaguely bird-shapes appears within her vision.  Are we really going to fight That? it sends to her telepathically.

Yes, are you up for it?, she mentally asks

If you’re so inclined, the raven spirit acquieses.

Lets do this!, Kat thinks to her spirit, excited by going in, and if she were honest with herself, with the danger.

Turning once again, Kat and the cloud behind her, enter the house, her senses screaming for indications of danger, either physically or astrally.

Almost too fast to see, a shadowy form lunges at her with some sort of spear.

Kat’s enhanced reflexes allow her to whirl with the spear, its blade glancing off of the armored plates inserted in her fluttering dress.

Looking closer at the creature, a vaguely shadowy muscular man with a jaguar head is already preparing to attack.

Calculating the distance mentally, Kat launches a ball of lightning behind the jaguar spirit, it crackles and spits as it lobs over the spirit.  The spirit reaches out, pulling some of the energy from the orb, but not enough.  The orb passes crackling beyond the spirit’s reach then explodes!  Electronics sputter and spark, the house gets dimmer as lightning is burned out.  The spirit roars silently as lightning arcs through its body.

Kat gestures at the raven spirit with a GO action, which lunges towards the jaguar warrior spirit, scratching holes in the guardian spirit’s substance.  The roar of the guardian spirit sounds something between a man and a wounded great cat.

The jaguar warrior spirit shakes his head, nearly dispersed by the attack, but lunges again at Kat.

For a moment, Kat thinks shes dead, a shadowy spear penetrating completely through her left torso, then she gasps and slides off and back, out of the shadowy creature’s reach.

She clutches at her side, knowing the next blow could be her last.  Not knowing what else to do, her thrill seeker nature not letting her run, she channels the mana necessary to power another ball of lightning.  Her vision darkens for a moment, her spirit roars like a screeching eagle, and she forces the magical energy to channel into the desired effect.  A spark flies past the guardian spirit, then BOOM  A thundrous blast of electricity arcs everywhere, vaporizing what was rest of the electrical grid and whiting out the scene in front of her.

When her vision is restored, the spirit is gone, no trace of it.  She knows the spirit is not permanently dead, and hopes she hasn’t made a permanent enemy of it, but that it won’t be able to reform for weeks.

“Whew”, Kat limps deeper into the house, “this job was definitely worth more than 2k.”

In the living room of the house, Kat found what she was looking for, a box covered with carvings of jaguars and feathered snakes.  The lid was partially open, a turquoise turtle visible within.

Hello, are you the source of all of these troubles?”, Kat smiled, despite her wounds, “Whats this?  A magical turtle artifact? I’ll take that.”

Game Rules for Combat
Surprise Check
Shes ready for trouble, though not “what” is going to happen, so gets +3 to her Intuition + Reaction for 9 dice .  4 hits.  The Guardian spirit rolls 15 dice also for 4 hits.  Neither are surprised as they both get at least 3 hits.
Initiative
Guardian Spirit: 19 + 2d6 for 21 (rolled two 1s, the software wants to screw the monster).
Kat: 6 + 1d6 + 6 and 3d6 from her spell is 12+4d6 for 36  (I seriously rolled 4 6s!).
Raven: 12+2d6  for 19
First Initiative Round.
Kat's First pass
Kat unleashes Ball Lightning against the creature.
Determine Force 6.
Roll: Spellcasting + Magic [Force] -2 (3) for  10 dice[6](3), 6 hits becomes 5, for 11 damage.
Interrupt Action: Guardian Spirit desperately counterspells as an interrupt action, -5 initiatve (16).  9 dice.  2 hits, reducing her roll from 3 to 2, taking the damage from 11 to 9.
Determine Effect: Damage Soak: Guardian Spirit Body (10) for 7 hits.  The guardian Spirit takes 2 damage  with Electrical doing -1 dice pools and -5 initiative.
 Drain: 5 DV resisted by 12 dice -2 dice for 10 dice, 4 successes.  She takes 1 more point of stun damage, for a total of 4 stun.
The remaining initiative is
Kat 36(36)
Guardian Spirit: 21(11)
Raven: 19(19)
Raven's First Pass
Raven lashes out in the astral plane.
Astral Combat + Willpower [astral] vs Intuition + Logic. Charisma Damage.
Raven rolls 6 + 6 [6] vs 9+9-2 for 6 hits vs 4 hits, for 6 (Charisma) + 2 extra hit for 8 damage soaked by Willpower (9 dice) for 8 - 4 hits equaling 4 damage.  Raven can choose physical or stun damage and chooses physical to match Kat.
Damage Recap
Guardian Spirit is 7 physical damage.  dice modifiers-2 condition monitor, -1 from electricity.
Kat has 4 stun damage, -1 condition monitor.

Jaguar Warrior Guardian Spirit's First Pass
The jaguar warrior spirit stabs at Kat.
8 Agility + 9 -3 Combat skill 14 dice for 3 hits.
Kat dodges for Reaction 2 + Intuition 4 for 6 dice, 1 hit, leaving 3-1 for  2 hits.
Jaguar Warrior’s damage is 11+2 for 13.
Kat rolls Body + armor for 10 dice and gets 5 hits.  She takes 8 damage.
Damage Recap
Guardian Spirit is at 7 physical, dice modifiers include -2 condition and still -1 from electricity
Kat has 4 stun damage, 8 physical, for -3 dice pool
End of first passes
Subtract 10 from each initiative, whoever has more than 0, gets another pass.
 Kat  36 -  36 -10 = 26
 Raven:  19 - 19-10 = 9
 Guardian Spirit: 21 - 11 - 10 = 1
Kat knows one more hit will end her, so she strikes again with another ball lightning.
Determine Force: 6
Roll: Spellcasting + Magic + Focus –wounds - 2 equals 7 dice, 3 hits.
Getting at least 3 with an area spell, she doesn’t miss, but came perilously close to possibly killing herself.
Jaguar warrior is out of counterspelling dice.
Determine Effect: Damage is Force + 3 hits for  8 damage.
Jaguar Warrior rolls Body (10) for 4 hits, taking 4 damage.  The Jaguar spirit is at negative 1, enough to disperse it but not destroy it.
Drain:  5 DV resisted by 12 – 3 for 9 dice, 6 hits, no damage.

Post battle
Kat releases her reaction spell and casts heal on herself.
Determine Force: 7 (over her magic rating means any drain is physical damage, but her roll is high enough, she thinks she can pull it off)
Roll: Spellcasting + Magic– wounds equals 8 dice for 3  hits.
Determine Effect: She goes from 7 physical damage to 4, she now only has -2 condition monitor but must maintain the spell for 7 rounds for it to become permanent.  Her remaining 4 is unhealable and must be healed.
Drain: 7  -4 for 3  DV, physical damage because its over her magic.
She rolls 12 -5  for 5 dice and 3 soak, not taking any drain damage.

1:30AM 2072

Again resting an hour in a XeroFast SmartXcar she summons with her commlink.

Game Rules
Body 2+Willpower  5 -3[1 hour minimum] to heal 1 stun (its going to take much longer to heal as wounded as she is)

Later, back at the club, Kat walks into the club, feeling sore, but happy.  “Yo, Grung, hope your man got the funds.”

Grung only grunted, not even looking in her direction, which she ignored. Typical Grung, bastard can never appreciate when I do my thing.

Stepping into the back room, she yells out, “Everything is done, you can go home now…whats going on here?”

Inside the room, instead of a skittish white collar worker, is a human in a VERY expensive suit.  The man has a golden hued skin from long hours in the sun or time in a tropical climate, and his glossy black hair is slicked perfectly back.

Next to the man, almost invisible in the shadows, are two in similarly expensive suits, but very different demeanors.  The man to the left has a solid chrome eyes, and a large bulge where a heavy weapon must be.  The woman to the right also has black hair and golden skin, is expensively clothed but showing off a lot more skin.  Golden serpents encircle each wrist and a golden jaguar head with ruby eyes is chained around her neck as a choker necklace.  Everything about the woman screams “magic”, even without assensing her.

“I am Viktor Ortega.  You did us a service tonight.  I understand you recovered one of our artifacts for us?”, the man speaks with a thick accent but perfect English.

“Uh, I’m here to meet someone else, maybe this is the wrong room.”, Kat says as she starts to scramble backwards out of the room.

The cybered bodyguard starts to move forward, his hand holding the hilt of his gun almost too quick to see.

“Hold Sanchez”, the man says, putting up a hand, “We can’t have any misunderstandings.  I believe you recovered an item of ours tonight, a turtle?  I know you had nothing to do with the unfortunate release of our property, and we will compensate you for your time.”

Kat realized shes too hurt to survive another battle tonight, too tired, and simply doesn’t give a drek about this enough to argue.

Putting on her best beauty pageant smile, Kat smiles and bows slightly.  “Of course, I only want whats best.  What about the man who hired me?”

Ortega smiles at this, a cold smile full of malice, “You don’t need to worry about him, he’s receiving company retraining.  Now, for your services.  5k should suffice, and a promise that you’ll be available if we should need your services again?”

“5k?  Surely”, Kat started to bargain, but paused for a moment when the woman smiled, and she knew they were waiting for her to make a misstep, “…a reasonable offer, more than reasonable.”

Pulling out the tortoise, Kat slid it onto the table as Ortega slid over a credstick.

“I’m sure we’ll be doing business together soon”, Ortega smiles as he takes the tortoise.

With that, the three leave the room, making it obvious they’d walk through Kat if she didn’t move, which she quickly did; backing out into the hallway.

***

Walking out into the main room, Kat tried to keep from shaking as she limped out to Grung’s table and wearily sat down.  No special pattern on her dress, other than some suspiciously dark brown stains near the rip above her hip.

Grung looked at her timidly, a strange thing for such a big ork, “You ok?”

“Sometimes your name makes total sense”, Krazy Kat spat, “They took what I earned.”Grung narrowed his small eyes at the reference to how similar his name was to a grunge, the slanderous term for orks, but then resigned himself with a sigh, “They said they’d pay you and wouldn’t hurt you.  What do you care?”

Grung narrowed his small eyes at the reference to how similar his name was to a grunge, the slanderous term for orks, but then resigned himself with a sigh, “They said they’d pay you and wouldn’t hurt you.  What do you care?”

Kat smiles, “Frank, two tequila sunrises, the real stuff, Grung’s paying”

Grung raises an eyebrow, “Why two? I can’t stand that dandelion drek”

Kat laughs off the friendly slur, “One for me to drink, the other for me to throw in your face to even us up.”

Grung, “Frank, Make one of those synthohol, no need to be wasteful”

Game Rules
Karma Rewards
Survived for 2 karma. Completed all objectives for 2 karma.  Highest opposed dice pool 16 /6 equals 2 karma.  6 karma.

 

Richard Mathis

Author

Richard Mathis

Richard Mathis is a software architect and CTO of CHSI Technologies. When he isn't imagining new ways to help insurance companies run their business, he's writing, gaming, or performing. You can follow his meanderings on twitter.

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