A Romantic Evening

((This was something I did to explain what my character was doing in her downtime on Valentine’s Day in the Cyberpunk 2020 RPG campaign I am currently a part of. I play a very corporate mother of two))

I step out into the medical district, new waterproof cybernetics ready and raring to go. The air is thick with smog, even here in the medical district, the pollution filling my lungs as soon as I dare to draw breath in this city. It’s early afternoon, nearing two o’clock, and I haven’t eaten since I took the twins to school this morning. I hop on the next bus to the New Harbour Area and grab myself a quick bite to eat, a ready to eat meal; I’ve given up kibble since the graduation and have started buying better for the family too. Since EBM sent us over here, life has been really shitty. Compared to France, America is a real shit hole. No style, no sophistication and no appreciation of talent.

That being said, that gutter-punk who keeps my baby girl awake and jacked in to the Net has the wrong kind of appreciation for talent. H4lf_J4ck, I think his handle is; some cowboy from Northside. He has no idea what he’s fucking with, and I bet he didn’t even notice the trace I put on his connection or the tap on his messages between my daughter and himself. If I have to give the kid a scare, I will. Infect his deck with some mad virus; no black ICE, I don’t want to flatline the little shit, but enough to keep him away from my daughter. Amandine needs to be kept in check too, come to think about it; constantly out late at night with the punks of Upper Eastside. Both of my girls have pistols and have been trained in the proper and safe methods of using them, I made sure of that personally, but it’s a mother’s job to worry about her children. Night City is not safe at night, there are occurrences that even I would not walk away from in the streets and I wish that my two girls wouldn’t court with disaster so much.

I finish my lunch and take a quick detour through the Mallplex. I recently got paid and waterproofing my sockets was cheaper than I originally thought, so I have some disposable income to treat myself with. I still need to buy a wetsuit, some extra bullets and a few other bits and pieces, but that shouldn’t come to much either. I reckon I’ve earned myself some new clothing. As I make my first circuit through the Mallplex I take out my phone, dialling Julien. He’ll still be at work, but considering he’s an office drone and not some covert corporate operative like me he should be able to answer at work. I call him on his personal number.

“Salut, ma chérie?” Julien answers, though I can hear in his voice that he’s keeping the tone quiet. Perhaps his manager is close. A shame, but I will be brief.

“Salut Julien! Are you free this evening? I’d like to go somewhere nice with you before my next job pops up,” I reply, lips curling into a smile as I pass by a really nice coat. I make a mental note to try it on later.

“Ah, yes. That would be great, but I cannot speak right now. Manager is doing performance reviews so I need to be on point!” Julien responds hurriedly, causing me to chuckle quietly.

“Okay. I’ll speak with you later. Kisses.”

“I love you too,” he responds before I put the phone down. Time for some serious shopping.

I eventually make it out at 6pm, another message from Amandine to say that she won’t be home until late, as usual, and one from Isabelle saying the same sort of thing, on my phone as I wait at the bus stop. I keep the bullets hidden, along with the other ‘abnormal’ items, out of sight, only my various bags of high fashion and business clothing on show as I make my way onto the bus back to Upper Eastside, the area where my small, grimy little apartment is situated. Hopefully by the end of the month I won’t have to put up with this crap any more and I can relocate the family to the Corporate Zone. That’s why I do what I do. That’s why I put myself in danger.

I step off the bus and start to make my way home. I cut through an alleyway to get home quicker, as I would like a good amount of time to make myself look my best for the night. As if right on cue, a pair of street punks step out from behind a dumpster. One is armed with a jagged looking switchblade, the other with some sort of heavy pistol.

“Okay lady, we’re going to need to relieve you of your money and all your belongings,” one of them says, a faint sense of giddiness in his tone as he aims his pistol in my direction.

“We caught a good one this time. She looks like she’s got a lot of money,” the other whispered, thinking that I couldn’t hear him. Amateurs.

“Okay, okay. Please don’t hurt me,” I beg in heavily accented English, dropping my shopping to the ground.

“And your purse. Come on, we don’t have all day!”

“Alright, alright. Let me get it for you,” I answer, still with the same panicked expression and tone. I momentarily glance at them. They’re buying the act. Not just amateurs, but morons too. I reach inside my jacket and my combat senses flair to life. Before the two punks can react, I’ve brought my pistol out and around, aiming along the barrel to the pistol wielding one’s chest. Two shots from my silenced HK P9S sends the gin-totting one to the ground as the second one jabs his switchblade towards my gut. I sidestep the thrust, grabbing his wrist and disarming him of his weapon in a brief second. He tries to grab my gun, but I force him to the ground before he can get anywhere near, placing one shot clean through his head as I hold him pinned against the floor. I quickly holster my pistol, scoop up my shopping and make my way out of the alley before anyone can come looking.

“Bon soir,” I say with a smile as I push my way through the front door. Julien is doing some cleaning up, having taken off his suit jacket and tie.

“Bon soir. I see someone has been busy,” Julien replies, turning to me with a wide smile on his face.

“Last job paid fairly well. Saving most of it, but I figured I deserved a little treat.”

“Little?” Julien asks, eyeing my shopping bags.

“It’s all relative,” I answer playfully as he moves closer, planting a gentle kiss on my lips. I trace a finger down his chest. “Miss me?”

“Always. You’re away way more often than I’d like. What’s so important to keep you away from me and our children?”

“You know I can’t tell you. Just trust me, we’ll be better for it in the long run,” I answer, pulling him into a hug.

“I do… Anyway, you should start getting ready. We have a table booked, remember? Even if you refuse to tell me where.”

I grin, quickly plant a kiss on his cheek and weave my way past him. “I know. I’m the one who booked it,” I respond, sending a quick wink his way before getting myself ready for the evening. I sometimes wonder if there are any other netrunners like myself; not from a covert corporate operative standpoint, but from a ‘I am one hell of a charismatic son of a bitch, about to spend the night with my husband, having a romantic meal, worrying about my daughters getting involved with street trash’ angle.

We leave the apartment at about 7:30pm. I drive, as Julien has no idea where we are headed, and I wanted to keep the surprise for as long as possible. On the car journey he asks where we’re heading, but I refuse to tell him. He’s persistent, but I’m an expert on leading people on; for better or worse it’s a talent that I have. I can be a terrible wife sometimes.

We arrive at the restaurant, a fancy place in Charter Hill. We’re far from the only couple and I recognise two others from EBM with their respective partners. We chat, he asks about my next job, I tell him that it’s better that he doesn’t know, as usual. The food is great, especially considering we have been living off of kibble for the past year or so and neither EBM worker comes over to say hello; a blessing in disguise, really. We take a walk around Charter Hill after the meal.

“You say you’re going to be away for a while?” Julien asks me as we round the corner.

“Yes. It’s due to work. You know how it is,” I answer, semi-honestly at least. He turns to me.

“I’m worried. About you and our two girls,” he says suddenly, the worry evident in his features.

“Why?”

“Your work is obviously dangerous, and the girls are always up late.”

I raise an eyebrow. “They’re fifteen, coming up sixteen, Julien. The fact that they’re still in school is a miracle over here in America.”

“It shouldn’t be. Why are we even here? You seem to know more about the situation than me, despite my position in the company.” Of course, Julien out-ranks me within EBM’s corporate structure, but it’s my job to know things.

“The company wants us here. That’s why. I don’t know either, but it’s clear that they don’t want us to know. We don’t need to know, we’re disposable assets to them.”

“I’m sorry,” Julien starts, “but what of the girls? This is a crucial time for them and they need their mother around.”

“This is only temporary, trust me.” I lean in and pull him into a hug. “I hate being away from you and the girls as much as you do. Every time I leave, it hurts more than anything else, but I do it for our future. I don’t want my family to live in some crappy place in a crappy part of town eating crappy food, where every day brings danger in the form of muggers.”

A scratching sound. Speak of the devil. I turn towards the origin of the sound.

“Huh?” Julien looks at me, his worry turning into a look of perplexity, before one of horror as a group of gangers emerge from the alley to our left. My eyes are immediately scanning the environment, looking for the best cover, the best position for me to pull out my pistol and fill these guys with holes.

“All right lovebirds, you’re going to give us your valuables and we’re going to walk away,” the lead gangster almost snarls. A large scar runs down his face, a ravine amongst a desolate wasteland, his skin is cracked and his face malformed. It looks like a really bad attempt at cosmetic surgery. He turns his attention to me and grins. “Well, we might take her with us too.”

Julien steps in front of me. “I don’t think so. You’re going to walk away before I’m forced to do something we’ll both regret.”

The gangsters burst out laughing and I roll my eyes. He’s a corporate worker, so he has to deal with danger and be ready to defend himself but this is not his battlefield. “You against us five? You really think you’re capable of that?”

“You have no idea,” he replies, his voice a rehearsed, smooth tone that seems to unnerve some of the other gangsters in the wings.

“You’ve got balls, drone, I’ll give you that. Maybe I’ll remove them,” he threatens, brandishing a jagged machete. He turns his attention back to me. “Come on sweetheart, I’ll show you what a real man’s balls are like.”

His friends laugh again. I’ve had enough of this shit. I can see that my husband is about to start shooting, having a concealed pistol inside his suit jacket. I can see the gangsters preparing their weapons; one has a chain, the leader has a machete and what looks like a machine pistol at his hip, two have pistols and one has a pair of switchblades.

Once again, my combat instincts kick in. I reach into my suit jacket and pull out my HK P9S, picking out the rifle wielding ganger and firing at him as I dive behind cover. Gunfire erupts from the gangsters, but I can see that Julien has done the same as me, hunkering down behind a wall. I hear the leader shout something at the remaining three, the rifleman now a bloody mess on the floor of the alley. They appear to open fire on Julien, keeping his head down as the gang leader and the one with the switchblades advance on me, the leader firing his machine pistol into the dumpster that I’m hiding behind, keeping me suppressed as well. I wait for the two to emerge and, surely enough, the switchblade wielding gangster emerging first. I grab him and flip him over, throwing him to the ground with a hard thump.

“You’re going to pay, bitch!” the leader yells as he comes as me from behind, grabbing one of my arms and forcing me against the dumpster. I look over to see Julien dispatching one of the two with guns, but the other keeps him busy for the moment. The gangster pushes on my arm again, threatening to dislocate it at the elbow and sending my pistol to the floor. The switchblade wielding gangster makes a grab for my gun, but I hook it with my foot, dragging it away from him before he can pick it up. The gang leader pulls me around and hits me in the face, but my skinweave absorbs most of the blow. I recoil from the hit as he pulls around his machine pistol. I hear the click as he readies the weapon, shortly before unloading a full clip into my stomach, knocking the wind out of me. I fall to the ground to see Julien dispatching the other gang member, turning his attention to me at the sound of the gunfire. A grin, almost proud as he calmly reloads his pistol, drops to one knee and fires through, killing both gang members that were attacking me; he didn’t allow himself to get all emotional until after the fight was over. What a champ.

“Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God…” he mumbles as he sprints over to me. I can see that his suit took some bullets, but he doesn’t appear to be bleeding. I give him a thumbs up as he kneels beside me; I’m not bleeding either.

“You’re not the only one who dresses practically,” I say through deep breathing, filling my lungs with air once again. Julien stares at me, puzzled once again before drawing me into a tight hug, so tight that he threatens to wind me once again.

“I thought that was it. I thought you were dead. I heard the gunfire and…”

“Settle down, you’re going to suffocate me,” I mutter, catching my breath once more as he releases me from his grip. “And don’t worry about the girls. Who do you think taught them about fashion, and the importance of spending a bit extra for protective, but good looking clothing.”

Julien picked up my pistol and handed it to me. “You’re security, aren’t you?” he asks as he hands my silenced HK P9S back, laser sight still blinking. I turn off the laser sight and re-holster it beneath my suit jacket.

“Yeah,” I reply. A half truth.

“You could’ve just told me.”

“I didn’t want you to worry.” I look around, getting up to my feet with Julien’s help. “We can have this discussion another time. Cops will be here any minute, and I’d rather spend the rest of Valentine’s Day with you, rather than some angry police officer.

He nods and we leave the scene, getting back to the car. He drives this time, taking us home as soon as possible. Fortunately, police response times tonight are not exactly jaw-dropping and we get away from the scene with no repercussions. When we get home, the girls are absent, as usual. I slip out of my suit jacket, kick off my shoes and walk over to the bed, collapsing on it.

“Nothing like a brush with death to get the blood pumping,” I say with a smile. The adrenaline rush has ended and I find myself rather exhausted. “But also exhausting.”

Julien sits on the other side, before suddenly rolling over, his arms either side of me with a wide grin on his face. “I hope not too exhausting.” He leans in to kiss me, his hand running up the side of my body to the buttons on my shirt. A wave of heat rises through me, flushing my cheeks with red.

“Not too exhausting,” I reply with a grin.

I don’t get much sleep that night. The girls don’t even wake us when they sneak in during the early hours of the morning.

Running Away

I was asked by the GM of the Cyberpunk 2020 game I’m a part of to write a “what has Alessandra done since last session,” thing for some closure. Essentially, Alessandra Moretti was my Netrunner that I’ve been playing, but she’s decided that being a low life scum isn’t for her and has (re)joined the glorious corporate master race. I thought I’d put it up here.

My next character is also a member of the glorious corporate master race, but she’s better suited to working with criminal scum. She’s the driver/pilot for a very professional corporate security team 😉


Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit. Fuck. Shit.

Expletives are all that seem to rush through my mind as I leave the hospital. Seeing Vibora in the hospital, all hooked up and totally incapacitated was just too much; I thought he was joking, trying to raise my spirits as he always tried. I thought I’d turn up to see him fine, maybe with just a scratch. He always seemed to shrug off the worst the Combat Zone threw at us.

Then there was me. Always hiding. Always with my tail between my legs. I tried so hard to help. I tried so hard to be useful, to not be a burden. Maybe I’m right. Maybe I am not cut out for this world. This world, this line of work, will eat me up and spit me out. I don’t want to die in a ditch, bleeding because some punk decides that they feel like attacking me. Then there’s Calm Boi. Now there is a person who isn’t likely to win any awards for being a good employer. The pay for the jobs was trash, I was expected to do jobs way, way out of my area of expertise; I mean, come on, professional make up and hair? Managing a spoiled little brat and her spoiled little brat friends? How many netrunners have to deal with that shit? My sister said I was free, but she’s wrong. I am just bound by different shackles. Shackles made of some shitty, jagged metal. Calm Boi promises the world, but ends up trying to kill us.

Fuck. That. I want my shackles to be comfortable, maybe with fur lining. All these “free” people, preaching their anti-corporate bullshit are just immature. This is the way the world works, the way the game is played. You play by the rules, you play well; trying to bend or break the rules will just get you disqualified, fatally, but playing well nets you vast gains.

I reach my apartment building and make my way upstairs. It’s late, I’m tired, I’ll think more tomorrow. I get undressed, glancing over at the clothing that I was going to throw in the trash. I had almost forgotten about that whole episode. Having to dive into a pile of garbage to get away from a seriously fucked up situation, and Douma didn’t even give a shit to see if I was okay. Asshole. I eventually fall asleep, windows open, in nothing but my underwear. Night City is perpetually hot at this time of year.

The following morning, I catch up on the news and get dressed. I call the number that my sister provided and somehow manage to get an interview; maybe the tech team was already recruiting, or maybe my family name carries more weight than it perhaps should. I don’t really give a crap about the reasoning, I just want in to the corporate world. I was a complete fool to try and run from it, my life has been nothing but misery and fucked up situations since I left the comfortable life. Anyway, I have things to do today. I head to the mall. It’s time to go suit shopping.

I spend most of the morning walking around the shops, eventually picking out a smart, black suit, some shirts, blouses, smart shoes, the whole ensemble. Running around as a low life, I never really needed such clothing, but in the corporate world, the real world, I understand the importance of appearances better than anyone. It fits snug, keeping my curves noticeable but definitely rocking the “smart, businesslike” appearance. I grab lunch and my mind wanders. I wonder how the guys are doing. I wonder if I’m even missed. Not likely, with how useless I was. I don’t know, I’d hope to be missed by Vibora, but I don’t reckon Douma will give a shit. From this point on, Null_Point goes back to how she always used to be: a ghost who exists solely in the matrix.

A few days later, the interview goes well. They want to know of my skills and I show them what I’ve done. The cityscape I programmed seems to interest them, so perhaps a future in VR production is going to find me. I spend what feels like hours gliding through cyberspace, showing off a little bit here and there, a grim determination driving me to some of the best acts of computer manipulation I’ve ever done. In meatspace, I maintain a professional appearance, bringing back memories of my mother and father; how they raised me and my siblings to be the perfect corporate workers.

Such lessons prove incredibly useful as it takes a monumental effort to not baulk at how shitty a human being I’ve been. We were a happy family, strict but happy. My parents forged us into individuals with all the skills needed to not only survive, but excel in the corporate world and I ran away like a spoiled child. I gave such a bad example to my younger siblings, an irresponsible child squandering her future on notions of freedom. Yeah, if that’s freedom, I don’t want any part of it. I’d rather be comfortable and shackled in the corporate world than… well, uncomfortable, at risk of being mugged when I step out of my door and still shackled, but “free.”

A few days later I get a call to say that I got the job. Cybersecurity and programming are going to be my life from here on out. Null_Point becomes a ghost, Alessandra Moretti starts her journey up the corporate ladder. Not only that, but I burned a lot of bridges in my immaturity; bridges that are going to need to be rebuilt between myself and my family. I hope Vibora’s doing okay. I hope he doesn’t hate me for running away what seems like again, but it’s time to stop running; I’m just not built for that world.

Yeah, I’m going to wipe the floor with the competition with the variety of skills I’ve been expected to have as part of my previous job. I start next week, but in the meantime I have another move to organise. At least I don’t have that much stuff…

Shadowrun: Hong Kong – Final Thoughts

So, having finished Shadowrun: Hong Kong, I feel as though I should shed some new observations on the game. Now that I have completed the game once, though I will be doing another play through straight away, I must say that my opinions are not as high as they were walking into it for the first time. Please note: there will probably be minor spoilers, though I will stay away from specifics where I can! I’ll start with the good.

The music throughout was very good. Is it better than the Dragonfall or Returns soundtrack? That’s down to individual preference and it fitted the theme and locale very well. That being said, I loved the soundtrack of both the original Shadowrun Returns and Dragonfall, so it’s hard to say which is better, if any. In my opinion, the music in this game is very, very good, but the previous games set a rather high bar to meet. It has at least done that.

Animations and effects also stayed better across the board. Full-auto and burst fire now feel like they really are spraying bullets everywhere with the occasional hit, as it should be. Magic effects are greatly improved from the previous games too, spells like powerbolt and manabolt feel far more magical and less… sparky. The bouncing spell mechanic is good fun as well and makes standing on dragon lines far, far more useful. I had instances where I cast aim on a character and it bounced to the whole crew.

Cybernetics have been greatly improved. Now, you need to take the cybernetics skill in order to take a lot of the more powerful cybernetic options rather than everyone being able to take whatever they want. I like this as it means that you actually need to invest in body and the cybernetics skill if you want to build a chromed up cyber-warrior rather than just every non-mage character taking all the best options. Added to that is the much larger selection of both cyberware and positions to put them, as well as extra essence given from the skill in cybernetics and you can really chrome up to the max!

There are... a lot of extra cybernetic options...

There are… a lot of extra cybernetic options…

Last but most certainly not least, possibly the best change in fact: decking. I just want to scream to the high heavens about how awesome this is. Before it was very simple, you jacked in, did some combat, activated some nodes and then jacked out. Now, when you jack in you are not automatically in combat. Combat-based IC aren’t always present, though there are usually trackers that patrol specific routes that you need to avoid.

Matrix combat is still unavoidable in the later parts of the game and trace can build quickly!

Matrix combat is still unavoidable in the latter parts of the game and trace can build quickly!

There’s a new trace mechanic which will start to increase if any IC detect your presence; while in combat with IC your trace will generally increase by 5 each turn (per IC that sees you), though if a tracker IC sees you it will increase by 20 each turn.

Avoiding tracker IC patrols is the new way to glide through the matrix without any issues

Avoiding tracker IC patrols is the new way to glide through the matrix without any issues

You get to most nodes by hacking blocker IC, which you can either force through at the cost of a large amount of trace, usually around 50+, or you can do a small minigame where you have to remember number patterns to increase your hacking time, then deduce a symbolic password as characters are periodically and very briefly revealed to you.

Sometimes there's a password option too, though most of the time it's either hack or force!

Sometimes there’s a password option too, though most of the time it’s either hack or force!

Because of this, you can largely get by in the matrix on the starting cyberdeck, though I will say now that later in the game the decking parts have actual IC and some brutally difficult tracker IC patrol webs, so don’t expect to be able to hack systems late game with a shoddy cyberdeck. I really, really love what they’ve done with the matrix portions myself; also, the music track for when you’re in the matrix is much better than the previous one. Definitely part of the soundtrack that improves upon the previous.

2015-08-25_00005

You don’t have to do all of the number sequence memorisations. Each successful one gives you more time to work out the password in the next part though.

However, this game definitely has some drawbacks that I would like to visit. Firstly, I’ll go with the temporary one: bugs! As the game is a new release, there are a decent number of bugs which can be really frustrating on a play through of an RPG. There were some that were merely conversational, with NPCs saying silly things, but there were others that hampered my progress through the game. Also, there are typos aplenty. I think I counted at least a dozen on my first play through.

Where's my cyberdeck? Uh... It's right on my back. Are we both blind here?

Where’s my cyberdeck? Uh… It’s right on my back. Are we both blind here?

I also did not like the crew quite as much as the crew from Dragonfall. I got a really good idea of where Dietrich, Eiger and Glory came from and really enjoyed their story arcs and Blitz was comical enough that his otherwise insufferable bravado turned into a bit of comic relief for me. However, I don’t get that same feeling with the current crew. Duncan is your non-blood related brother and comes across fairly hollow. He’s an Ork who grew up with you and had anger management problems, eventually joining Lone Star with your foster-father’s help keeping him on task and under control. I don’t feel that there is a huge amount of depth to his character. Gobbet is one of the more interesting characters, a rat shaman with a special connection to Rat, or so she says, who grew up on a cobbled together raft with a bunch of friends. She’s probably the deepest character and her character arc is certainly the most enjoyable and simultaneously dark one to play through, her voice lines are generally the most enjoyable to read and post-run conversations with her were among my favourite. Is she on par with the Dragonfall crew? Debatable, but at least it’s up there! Is0bel is insufferable for me. It’s fortunate that I often play a decker and didn’t need her that much in this play through because I do not like her character. Anti-social deckers who claim to be the best just aren’t my cup of tea, especially when their background is sort of hollow and you have to ask a different crew member to fill in the details. During her mission you find out what an over-sensitive little brat she really is, though I won’t go into the details as it would most certainly be a spoiler. I do not like Is0bel and I dread my next playthrough when I’ll be running a mage character and will need her on my team. Racter is the other interesting member of the crew, though he falls short when compared to Gobbet and the Dragonfall characters as his personal run is just an optional objective to a run you do anyway. His conversations are interesting and he definitely has mental issues, but that’s part of what makes him interesting. His dialogue is well-written, portraying what he is quite well and he manages to narrowly avoid crossing the line where he becomes insufferable. Finally, there’s Gaichu. He’s interesting to a point and his character is good, but I feel that he might just infringe upon special-snowflake territory. His character mission is short and also brings up some fairly dark themes, but I didn’t find myself as emotionally invested as I did in Gobbet’s. Definitely not the best, but certainly not the worst.

I would also like to highlight the player character and the conversational choices that you are given throughout the game, as this drawback is related to the previous one about your crew. The character you play in this one felt as if I was being shoehorned into a type of character that I do not necessarily wish to be. In Dragonfall any lines of dialogue related to your character’s background were left wide open and there were definitely some varied inferences drawn from the various lines of dialogue, allowing you to role-play as a wide range of characters. In Hong Kong, it’s very black and white; you were a street kid who got taken in by a guy and then left for a job that, three days later, put you in a corporate prison for the rest of your life up until the present. From that point onwards, it always tries to push you into that role of a shady, either gang, thug or shadowrunner criminal type, shunning the megacorporations and the type of life working for one would entail. For example, my character was a very corporate, very businesslike decker who I played through Dragonfall with no issues, however in Hong Kong the same character feels contradictory; there are so many instances where I don’t feel like that type of character is even considered. To me, this was a real disappointment, especially given that there was a very corporate looking elf portrait in the character creator, and was only reinforced throughout the game.

Mega spoilers for Dragonfall and Hong Kong in the paragraph below, as I will now be talking about the ending. Highlight the paragraph to reveal the text and do so knowing that there will be major, major spoilers here. You have been warned!

Suffice to say, I am disappointed. In Dragonfall, you find Vauclair and he talks about his plans and why he’s doing what he’s doing; he sees the dragons as manipulative and controlling and wishes to get rid of them through a biological weapon that only hurts dragons. You can, through dialogue options, talk him out of it, fight against him or even join up with him! It was a really well done sequence of dialogue and Vauclair was a great antagonist for the game; he honestly believed that what he was doing was right and for the good of the planet. Siding with him doesn’t seem like an utterly moronic idea and I did do a game where I ended up siding with him, bringing about the near extinction of metahumanity due to the dragons being responsible for keeping some eldritch horrors at bay. All through the game, however, there are hints as to this consequence, especially if you play a mage or shaman and frequently speak to Absynthe and Aljernon, and you can use this as ammunition to talk Vauclair out of it, where he realises what a blind fool he has been. In Hong Kong, however, the choice felt really stupid. You track down Qian Ya and fight her twice before she offers you a deal where you can leave and let her have the Walled City in exchange for fourteen years of good fortune, or you keep fighting and eventually shut her out. There was no real reason to accept her deal, there was no feeling of “this is a good idea” when contemplating it, unlike Vauclair who put up a very good argument for his cause. If I missed something, it must have been due to a bug because I frequently spoke to Crafty and had enough points in conjuring to cast simple buffs and perceive things on the astral plane. I read through all of her notes and made sure to pay attention to everything about the Yama Kings, but nothing seemed that relevant. I’ve heard that you can avoid some fights through conversation options, but I did not see them. However, that is not the point I wish to make. The point is that the end of the game falls flat. There is no real reason to make a deal with the demon-goddess unless your character has large amounts of selfishness and stupidity and this disappointed me after the build up was very good and Dragonfall’s ending being so solid.

Overall, would I recommend Shadowrun: Hong Kong? Yes. It’s still a solid game with a good story and decent enough characters. However, I am a little disappointed overall. I enjoy the game and have already started playing through it a second time, though looking at it as a whole I would say that it simultaneously took steps forwards and backwards.

Character Genning Mood

So, I’m in a Cyberpunk 2020 game every week and, whilst the slightly over-the-top 80s style of it isn’t my exact cup of tea, I’m enjoying it thoroughly and I love my flirty Italian Netrunner so much (she got her first kill -ever- last session. It was a learning experience).

But in case she is hospitalised or killed (hopefully not!), I will need a back up character. So I thought to myself, what sort of character am I going to play…

Inspired from one of my own characters in my own cyberpunk setting, though with modifications to fit the Cyberpunk 2020 setting and rules, I decided that a possibility is that I may go for a burned corporate operative.

Note: I haven’t proof read this. It’s coming up 3am. I need to go to bed. Badly. It’s going to get light soon and I’m a light sleeper. This is bad on so many levels, but I had to at least finish!


Nobody is safe. A message comes through to my mobile phone, a contract. Corporate worker, supposedly leaked company secrets to a rival. I don’t fucking care, they tell me to ice this guy, I ice this guy. There are no questions, no arguments; this is just how the corporate world works.

Nobody is safe.

I pocket my phone inside my jacket pocket, I wear business attire, though my clothing is threaded with kevlar. My line of work is dangerous, though I must also keep a professional appearance in the office. Corporate security is no different in that regard. We all abide by the same dress code. Inside my jacket I feel the grooves of my heavy pistol. Colt. AMT Model 2000 with armour piercing bullets. There’s enough firepower tucked under my arm to dent even the heaviest personal armour; whoever this guy is, I could probably ice this guy through a solid wall.

I trawl through our databases and find this poor bastard’s address. He lives in an apartment in the corporate zone, the building is owned by us so getting into the block shouldn’t be a problem. There will be a maglock on his door, though it’s nothing I can’t crack. This is all routine by now; if all fails, I can probably blast my way in with this hand cannon I’m sporting.

I grab my motorcycle keys and make my way to the parking garage. It’s night by now, but my work often comes in after hours, so I am no stranger to it. I put on my helmet, start her up and drive towards the block where the target lives. I park up, take off my helmet and walk through the front door. The building security are expecting me and let me in. If this keeps up, I should get home in time to see my fiancé. With a grin on my face I make my way up to the target’s apartment and get to work on the keypad.

It doesn’t take long for me to crack it and I’m in. I open the door…

WHAM!

Something hits me in the face. Felt like a rifle butt. My training kicks in and I pull my pistol, firing two shots directly in front of me. Apparently whoever ambushed me wasn’t expecting that. I see the figure, heavily armoured, stagger backwards, one hole in his stomach and one in the middle of his chest. He looks at me through his helmet’s visor and collapses to the floor, blood staining the carpet. There’s a rather effeminate scream that emanates from the target, a wiry man in a business suit. He runs into the bathroom and a second armoured figure raises a sub-machine gun and fires on full auto. I manage to avoid most of the bullets, but a sharp pain digs into my side as one wings me. Fuckers are using armour piercing ammo too.

I place a hand over the wound, blood seeping into my suit and staining my white shirt. I swing around the corner as his shooting ceases; full auto fire isn’t sustainable and I catch him reloading. I raise my pistol and fire. One bullet, straight through the visor and out the back of his head, the contents of his skull spraying against the far wall. I’m about to finish the job when I hear footsteps behind me.

“Security! Drop your weapon!” I hear from behind me. I calmly turn, hold my hands out with a friendly smile.

“I’m with the corp. They want this guy iced.”

The bastards don’t ask again. I see fingers moving for the triggers so I dart to the side, running down the corridor.

“Don’t let her escape!” I hear from behind me, a hail of gunshots forcing me to turn another corner. Fortunately, the stairs are not far and I start a rapid descent. Fortunately, these security are a different wing to our own. These guys are the amateur league by comparison.

I shoot my way through the lobby and get back to my bike. It doesn’t take long to start her up and get out of there. Someone’s after my position, or doesn’t want me taking theirs. The whole thing stinks of set-up. I need to get home. I need to tell my fiancé. We need to get the fuck out of here.

I get home and bust through the door, gun out and ready. I walk into the living room to a scene of horror. My fiancé. His corpse lies face down in a pool of blood, a gaping whole in the side of his head. I am transfixed by the scene, horror etched into my features. I notice a hand in the corner of my eye. I swing around, gun towards this new threat. Too late. My gun flies from my grip and a powerful blow connects with my arm as I block the attack. Crude. Clubs. I grab my attacker’s leading arm and pull him in closer, my knee slamming into his nose with a squelching sound. I flip him over and turn to the next threat. This one has a sword, a freakin’ monokatana. I dodge out of the way of the woman’s swings. She’s fast, but not fast enough. I am about to counter attack when my left arm is grabbed. I swing my fist into the man’s face, sending him reeling backwards, but it’s too late.

The monokatana slices clean through my left arm, severing it just below the shoulder. I scream in pain and stagger backwards. A signal goes out over the net. Trauma Team. Like it will make a difference. I feel another sharp pain as the woman shoves the monokatana through my abdomen. Everything seems to fade. The pain of the solid impacts from the clubs fade to nothing. The woman removes her monokatana from my stomach and I fall to the floor.

Nobody is safe.

I wake up to a faint beeping. My vision is blurry, but I’m in a white room. There is no pain. Am I dead? No. Hospital. The smell of medical drugs is thick in the air. I try to move. I feel groggy. A nurse walks in.

“What happened?” I manage to ask her.

“We pulled you from your house. The left arm is a replacement job; woman around your size came in for cybernetics about a week ago and sold us her original arm to help cover the costs. You’ll have to train it a little, but we think your body should adapt and accept it within a few days.

She pauses. “We managed to save you, but we couldn’t save the other.”

“My fiancé?”

She shook her head. “He was dead long before we got there. No, I mean…”

She looks me in the eyes. The situation doesn’t need words. Not any more. I had a feeling, but… Fuck it. Fuck it all…

I need to get out of here.

I wait for the nurse to leave before I stumble from my hospital bed and manage to sneak my way to the elevator. I almost fall on top of an older man in the elevator as I slam the garage button. He looks at me, though his features are all a blur to me. He gets out at the ground floor. I descend further. The parking garage is largely empty, but I look around for a cheap looking car. With my current condition I don’t think I could break into or hotwire a more expensive model. I settle on a slightly rusting sedan. I get in. I start to drive as the blurriness subsides, albeit only partially. I drive back to my house to find it taped off. Corporate investigation. I avoid driving too close. My bike is parked around the corner. I crack the locking mechanism, a subtle trick I installed for situations like this. I grab my belongings, my phone, a couple thousand in cash, some basic cosmetics, a small holdout pistol. An emergency stash I kept under my bike seat.

I hop back in the car and make my way towards a small medical clinic on the outskirts of the city. Outside of major corporate influence. I walk in and go to the receptionist.

“I need you to set me up with some cyberware and I want it off the record. I’ve got the money. Cash.”

“Please, take a seat and someone will be with you,” the receptionist replies. I nod and take a seat.

A few days of living in the shadows, surviving in the streets of the outskirts of Paris later and I’m on a smuggler ship. I’m headed to America. My former employers do not have as much pull over there as they do in Europe. Then again…

Nobody is safe.