Shadowrun: Characters & Combat

The Job

For most of the team, it was a milkrun really, it was just a simple smash-and-grab. Loki, Data & Jason all saw this as an easy job for good pay, Wasp though? Wasp could feel the pressure of his superiors watching over him, the Vory didn’t like mistakes. Wasp knew this well, after all, he grew up among a family of Vory henchmen. The boss had called Wasp a ‘good man’, but really, what did it mean to be a ‘good man’ anymore? All Wasp knew was looking down the scope of his Ares Desert Strike rifle and pulling the trigger on his target. The weight was hanging heavy on the Albino Elfs shoulders as he sat in the truck Loki’s fixer had acquired – off the books, ofcourse – for their job.

After all, it was a milk run, get in, grab the Mr. Johnson’s daughter, get out. The location? A Yakuza Benraku parlor, a place where people were brought to be lobotomized before having a personality chip stuck inside of them and ‘hired’ as prostitutes.  Ofcourse, there was an additional payment for each puppet prostitute they stole from the Yakuza for use by the Vory.

The group parked the truck upfront of the Benraku parlor, getting out and walking up to the front door as someone (presumably a Yakuza member) called out “またトラブル到来! グラブのガンです!

The front doors were kicked open, glass shattering from the impact as Jason and Wasp stepped inside, the Oni opening fire with his Ares Alpha on the left most guard whilst Wasp raised his Ares Desert, took aim and a loud crrack echoed throughout the building. The loud noise clearly brought the Runners some extra attention as more Yakuza members burst into the lobby, Ceska Black Scorpion machine pistols in their hands. Data and Loki dived for cover, Data motioning towards two Yakuza guards who had taken position infront of a large statue in the lobby, their guns locking up before a woman’s voice could be heard across the lobby.

Technomancer! Plug yourselves in!” was what she shouted, the Yakuza guards looking at one another, grabbing the smartlink’s wired connection and plugging it into the datajacks on the side of their heads.  Shots were exchanged between Runners and Yakuza, Jason collapsing from the shock of taking two full rounds of automatic fire from the Yakuza woman, whom narrowly avoided being shot by Data from across the lobby, her attention turning to Wasp as she leaned around from the leg of the statue, opening fire and grazing his arm.

Data ducked behind the cover he had found, the sprites he had invoked jumping from the now protected Yakuza firearms to his fellow Runners, enhancing the performance of their Smartlink and electronic components as shots were exchanged between groups.

Wasp had been preoccupied, having switched from using his Ares Desert Strike to the Franchi SPAS-24 which he kept on a sling to his side for ease of access. The Elf felt the bullets graze past his arm and stopped his assault on the Yakuza guard. Wasp, now wreathed in a vindictive rage, slung the Franchi back on his shoulder and pulled up his rifle (which was also on a sling), firing a shot at the statue, the bullet tearing through the porcelain figure and into the side of the Yakuza woman’s head, blood painting the wall beside her.

Loki starts throwing lightning, pulling the attention of the woman’s henchmen, who are now in a flurry after witnessing the death of their boss, one Yakuza guard suddenly comes out of cover and fires his Ceska at Wasp, the bullets interrupted by the blue Gelpacks underneath Wasps’ coat, who spun around and levelled the barrel of his rifle with the Yakuza’s face.

Should have brought a bigger gun.” was the last thing the Yakuza heard as a flash of bright light appeared in his vision, which immediately went dark. Wasp turned his attention to the final guard in the room, taking aim and pulling the trigger.

Crrrack! 

The Yakuza fell to the ground with a heavy thud as Loki and Data approached the passed-out Jason, stabilizing him and allowing the Oni to wake up, luckily his armour had blocked most of the damage, though he refused any further help. Wasp slung his rifle over his shoulder and readied his shotgun, kicking the door to a side corridor open and sweeping every room he found, commanding each prostitute he found to wait in the lobby.

It was the final room he found the young woman cuffed to a radiator, crying hysterically as he kicked in the door. Wasp watched her as he reached up to touch his commlink, signalling for Loki to come and handle the diplomacy, something Wasp had never handled very well. Loki, however, didn’t speak very fluent Russian and so Wasp acted as a translator, eventually calming the woman down before removing her restraints and guiding the target and puppets to the van.  The shadowrunners also brought the Yakuza woman’s corpse andintended to sell the woman’s cyberware to a Streetdoc for some extra money.

What you just read wasn’t some random story based in the universe of Shadowrun, it was a series of events that actually happened last week during a weekly campaign I’m a player in.  My character in this instance is Wasp, who from the above story may seem like your typical gun-toting ‘bad-ass’ and looking at his character qualities (for more about qualities, see my previous Shadowrun-related article ) this is indeed the case, however the price for this sharp-shooting augmented character is an interesting one which has a heavy impact on how Wasp plays.

Wasp Qualities

Wasp is an albino alcoholic, which means not only does he stand out in a crowd and easier to find through the Matrix (the in-game version of the internet) but he also heals slower due to his albinism. Wasp also has to manage his alcoholism as failing to regularly indulge in his vice will mean he suffers from either a -4 to all Physical or Mental rolls (the determining factor is reliant on what the addiction affects), a -4 would be utterly devastating to a character so reliant on physical stats and so low on mental stats such as Wasp.

Then there are the qualities of Impassive and Poor Self Control, Impassive is more of a social negative quality as it lowers the total social capabilities of the character by 1 (although the Intimidation limit is left untouched), this is thanks to the fact that instead of the character being driven mad with the amount of death and violence in their lifetime, they have instead adjusted to it and learned to shrug it off.

As a Vindictive (Poor Self Control) character, everytime someone does something which Wasp percieves as a wrongdoing against him, Wasp must make a Willpower roll, the lower his Willpower the lower of his chance of success. Wasp has a Willpower of 2, meaning he’s incredibly vindictive and has almost no chance of preventing himself from taking action against the perpetrator. In Shadowrun, during a social situation being Vindictive might mean Wasp will resort to escalation, making threats, throwing insults or even resorting to physical violence, however, during combat if Wasp fails a Willpower roll, his attention will shift from his current target to the aggressor to trigger his Vindictive quality. If Wasp rolls a ‘Critical Glitch’ (worst possible roll), he will become fixated on killing his agitator.

The mechanisation of these personality traits helps make characters in Shadowrun more interesting because they throw more variables into the mix. If the team has been assigned to assassinate a political figure and Wasp (as the long-ranged specialist) could become fixated on killing a low-level guard. This fixation could allow the target to escape the scene, making the job harder to complete or possibly even failing the mission entirely, at the cost of three other people and the teams’ reputation as reliable Shadowrunners. Another potential scenario is that Wasp percieves something said by a Mr Johnson (Shadowrun terminology for an employer), Wasp might end up getting a job/contract cancelled because he initiates a fight with Mr Johnson, once again hurting him and his teams’ reputation as reputable Shadowrunners.

Wasps heavy reliance on Agility and Reaction means that his Willpower and Intuition also suffer, which means that Wasp is heavily susceptible to magic that requires a Willpower roll to resist, this means that if Wasp doesn’t quickly eliminate magical opponents quick enough (or if he simply doesn’t know they are there) then he is at a great risk.

The way these traits enhance the experience of playing this character is a huge part of what makes the Shadowrun system so special to me, as it allows me to create interesting characters and build a story around their mechanics in what feels like an organic, interconnected manner. Wasps alcoholism was his method of using escapism to remove himself from the human element of being a hired killer, a way for him to move past the horrible things he has done to people before simply accepting this was his life, at which point he was far too reliant on the bottle to really quit; Though it is thanks to this life of alcoholism and crime that has given Wasp his reliability with long-range weaponry.

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