All posts by Jeremy

A Stop at the Local Dennys — Behind the Curtain

Duane Sharpman was eating lunch at the Dennys in downtown San Francisco. It was a mild afternoon out and the Dog Shaman decided to stop in for a soyburger and fries. He was sitting there enjoying his meal and skimming through local news and social feeds, when a pair of teenage girls came in. They caught his attention because one was dressed like she was straight out of one of those cosplay conventions and the other one … are those … cat ears? Shaking his head, he went back to eating his meal. “What the frag is wrong with the youth today …” he says to himself. The pair of girls were sitting at a table on the other side of the diner with middle aged man in an armored coat. “Hmph … must be one of their dads …

A few minutes later, just after the waitress brings him more coffee, he got an alert from the Bounty Hunters Network. He glanced at the alert to see the new bounty for him to track down and nearly spit out his coffee. Keeping his composure he reads over the bounty notice. He brushes his blonde hair mullet away from his face and settled the trinkets that adorned his chest. The description matches, right down to the cat ears. “Acorn? … well isn’t that cute …” he says as he reads over the post. Wuxing is paying a huge sum of nuyen for this little girl. He takes a few images with his commlink of the individuals with her and shoots out an email to the rest of his team to meet him at the diner for a pickup. He takes a peek into the Astral and is surprised to see that the other girl is a mage as well, but not as powerful as he is. He continues to eat his lunch and keeping an eye on his mark as he waits for his team to arrive.

Before the team could arrive, the feed on his commlink freezes and a message shows up. “You’re late on this bounty. If you want any tips, I’m sure I could teach you a thing or two.

What the frag?” He says to himself. Looking back over to the other table, the young mage threw a pretty powerful spell on the mark, knocking her unconcious. The man goes to bind her up. “Drek!” he says as he realizes that he is losing a pretty good payday.

HEY! That bitch is my bounty!” He screams at them. Now the entire diner is starting to know whats going on. He pulls out his Ares Predator, but once he gets it clear of the holster, it starts to spark and smoke. “Fraggin deckers …” he mumbles.

Out of nowhere, a table flings into him, knocking him prone. He could only watch as the trio left the diner, but just before they cleared, a large Raccoon beast spirit manifests on the table that is laying on top of him. He is pinned beneath the spirit and table. “Fraggin mages …” he mumbles, just as they leave the diner. He musters up a spell and easily send the spirit back to his plane and tosses the table off him. He rushes to the door and goes to fling it open, but its stuck. A quick peak in Astral reveals why. The bitch mage threw up a barrier to keep him in.

He catches a glimpse of the car as it speeds away and tries to get a few images with his commlink before he does. Before long the barrier drops and his team shows up. Sharpman passes the images he captured over to his decker for analysis. The decker on his team finds that the sensors in the diner have been looped. “Frag, this guys good” he says. “But I am better!” The decker brings up a fairly clear image of the man and young girl. “Just let me run this through my deck and I will find out who these fraggers are.

Excellent” the bounty hunter says to his friend. “That fragger is dead when I get my hands on him … he bricked my Predator …” he says as he lets out a howl.

Session 26 — Lets Play Cops! (part 3) …

Cast of Characters

  • Glynn as Detective Johnson AKA “Hardline”
  • Matt as Detective Shepard
  • Naomi as Detective Smith
  • Kopf as Detective Kravec
  • Josh as Detective Rivera
  • James as Detective Combs

In today’s episode of “Lets Play Cops”, the task force is fresh off a scene on MCT property and headed for a laundromat in Oakland, which was determined to be the scene of the murder. But what will be waiting for the team when they get there?

With a couple of uniformed squad cars parked outside of the laundromat, the task force arrives to start investigating. Both Astral and Matrix are devoid any indication or presence within the building. Drones were sent in and also no reports of anyone around. The team heads in and starts to scour through the abandoned building. Although it once was a laundromat, it is now an illegal gambling den. It appears that someone has ransacked the place and there were scorch marks everywhere. Hardline was able to find a cyberdeck that was buried in the rubble and found some quite useful information. There was a commlink video stored on it that showed the last moments of what had happened here. A woman walked in and started shooting gouts of flame from her fingertips.

Now that they have found the identity of the attacker within the warehouse, they sent out an APB for this person. They found, through facial recognition, that she was 40 year old Melonie Stanton that lived in Los Angeles, PCC. Notification was also sent to PCC as well and the team ends it for the night.

A full day passes without any word and the morning of the next day, they get the call on another body that was found. When they reported to the scene, they also got word on the blue Mercury Comet that was registered to Melonie Stanton. Uniforms currently have her pulled over and awaiting HTR to join. The team was picked up by an SFPD VTOL and flown to the location. As they approached the vehicle, the woman stepped out of the car and taken into custody without incident.

In the interrogation of the suspect, it was found that she had a brother that was killed by shadowrunners. She started interrogating and killing fixers to find out who ordered the hit on her brother and why. She was not able to find any further information. When pressing further, Combs sensed that the Astral presence attempted to cast a spell, which faile. It then separated into two separate entities and tore itself from the suspect, knocking her unconsciuos and barely clinging to life. The almost demonic form seemed to reach out and strike fear into Combs. He screamed in terror and fled the room. Hardline called for threat response with magical support, along with medics.

When the response team arrived, there was only the Astral signature of the entity left in Astral space. The suspect was tended to and will face charges for the serial killings.

So the Crossword Killer was caught! However, was her actions her own or this mysterious Astral entity that seemed to possess her? What havoc could this spirit wreak on the streets of San Francisco, now that its loose? We return now to the regularly scheduled programming, but may return with an all new season of “Lets Play … Something” soon!

Session 25 — Lets Play Cops! (part 2) …

Cast of Characters

  • Glynn as Detective Johnson AKA “Hardline”
  • Matt as Detective Shepard
  • Naomi as Detective Smith
  • Kopf as Detective Kravec
  • Josh as Detective Rivera
  • James as Detective Combs

In today’s episode of “Lets Play Cops”, the task force starts the day off with another body that was found. However, one thing is not like the other in this game and there seems to be another player involved.

Answering the call from Capt Rivers, the team assembles at the site of the most recent victim of the serial killer. However, from the start, something is off about this one. This victim was carved up with the words just as the others were, but the arrangement was off. A new word “PINCH” was also carved into the body and it was missing the weird hand-carved tattoo that the others had as well.

The team goes to investigate the scene and identified the victim as Baylee Rowe, a 28 year old chemist from Los Angeles, PCC. Detective Combs was able to determine that there was an argument that led to the strangulation of this victim. Forensic analysis shows that the killer was much taller than the other victims and the words were carved post mortem. The words on the other victims were carved prior to their deaths.

The team spotted a sketchy individual that was pacing around the perimeter of the scene. Combs sent a couple of uniforms to question the troll, but the shadowrunner had other plans. Hardline was watching his Matrix presence as his weapon systems and wired reflexes came online. He pulled out an Ares Alpha and opened fire on the two uniformed officers, along with innocent bystanders that were in front of him. He then turned the machine gun onto the detectives, Shepard and Kravec, as they were following the uniforms. Shepard is able to dodge out of the way, but Kravec took a full burst and went down.

Panic ensued … The bystanders that were around the scene fled for their lives and the other officers dove behind vehicles and other obstacles. Hardline and Combs fell in line and took cover behind one of the cars. The shadowrunner and the cops exchanged shots, but it was Smith, jumped into her Bumblebee drone that unleashed a full burst on him. It seemed as thought the runner almost opened himself up to the hail of bullets as nearly every round slammed into him. The stick n shock ammo left the assailant unconscious and twitching as the others secured the scene.

After interrogating the shadowrunner, it was found that his name was Caleb Rowe and he was listed as the spouse of the latest victim. However, the team did not believe that he was the Crossword Killer and only a copycat. It seems that he was having an affair with the reporter on the last few scenes and learned of the killer. He wanted to kill his wife and blame it on the serial killer.

The next day, there was another victim found. This time is was found on MCT property. When the team, an some uniform squads, went to the scene, they were met with MCT corporate security response and denied access to the scene. After a warrant was issued to gain access to the scene, MCT allowed the SFPD to investigate the crime, but with MCT investigators as well and limited access to anything else.

The investigation revealed that the victim was actually killed in a laundromat in Oakland that was named Smith and Eastern. Cursory checks show that the location is owned by Richard Smith, Ricky Smith and Smith Rick, which was this latest victim. The team plans on going to investigate the laundromat, now that they are done with this scene. However, Hardline is able to convince one of the MCT investigators to get access to the MCT grid. He hops into VR to try and get some camera footage, which MCT previously denied access to. Unfortunately, the white hat hacker was met with tough host security and he had to abandon the search before he could gain anything … and before the dreaded IC was launched.

So with an increasing bodycount, and now copycats, will the team be able to find the killer before there are more victims? What is the connection with the words that are carved on the bodies? How is the laundromat connected? Stay tuned for the next episode of “Lets Play Cops!” to find out.

Session 24 — Lets Play Cops! (part 1) …

Cast of Characters

  • Glynn as Detective Johnson AKA “Hardline”
  • Matt as Detective Shepard
  • Naomi as Detective Smith
  • Kopf as Detective Kravec
  • Josh as Detective Rivera
  • James as Detective Combs

In today’s episode of “Lets Play Cops”, we follow the San Francisco Police Department’s Task Force that is assigned to the brutal serial killer that is terrorizing the citizens of the Bay Area. Dubbed “The Crossword Killer”, the task force sets out under the leadership of Capt Frank Rivers. There are already 4 victims of that have been found bruised, beaten and strapped naked to area telephone poles. Each one with a strange, hand-carved symbol and words carved into their backs. The words were carved in the fashion of a crossword puzzle, one building on the other.

The task force was assembled in the conference room that is serving as the war room. An AR display shows the 4 victims and details on their cases. The team reviewed the various details and started to formulate theories on patterns. A quick search of the strange symbol revealed that it is an ancient Japanese symbol of POWER, but was not related to any gangs or organized crime syndicates. There also did not seem to be any theme or pattern determined with the words that were carved into each victim. The the 4th victim, which happened earlier that morning, Detective Combs, Johnson and Smith go to the crime scene while Kravec and Shepard head to the spouse of the first victim. The first victim was the only one that had a spouse.

During the investigation at the crime scene, Detective Johnson received permission to access the nearby traffic cameras and found when the body was dropped. All but one of the cameras only show the body rising out of nowhere and floating up to be strapped to the pole. The one camera was able to pierce the spell and shows the blurry image of a blue sedan. Detective Combs used his ability to see the history of items to see that the body was already dead when it was bound up. Then being put into a truck and floating to the pole. Peeking into the Astral realm, he was able to determine the Astral signature of the spellcaster. So based on this information, it was determined that the killer is Awakened and had multiple spells active.

The team met back up at the war room and more investigation into the previous victims were done. They noted on the board the time of death and the time they were strung up, based on camera feeds in each of the areas, and found that Victim 3 was killed and kept for a week before being strung up. This was far different than the other victims. Furthermore, they did some investigation of the victims vehicles and their last known locations. All were able to be determined with the exception of the first and last victims vehicles. They then decided to get a search warrant and investigate the residence of the last victim.

When they got to the one story ranch style house, they started to look around when Detective Johnson received an alert on his cyberdeck that he was under attack through the Matrix. He hopped in VR and easily handled the threat. Agent Smith’s bumblebee drone surveyed the outside of the house and using a variety of sensors, was able to find what looked like a cat on the counter. They team entered, per the terms of the search warrant, and found a dead cat on the counter. The drones went on high overwatch, but was not able to find anything suspicious. Further search of the house determined that the victim was last active there in the last 16ish hours and his GMC Phoenix was found in the garage. Detective Smith and the forensics team went into gather mode and the rest of the team called it a night. However, early the next morning they received a call that there was another victim found.

So after the first day of investigations, the detectives were able to make some headway in determining who the killer is. Now with another body and increasing terror in the city, will they find the killer in time to stop anymore murders? Stay tuned for the next episode of “Lets Play Cops!” to find out.

Session 23 — Escaping the Heart of Darkness …

Cast of Characters

  • Eternal
  • Walker
  • Acorn
  • Ace
  • Duchess
  • Sledge

After a second night’s rest in the woods, the team wakes up with confidence of the general area that the TerraFirst! group is likely making camp based on the pattern of attacks and the tracks Walker has been able to find at each site. As they debate their approach, Duchess decides to try something and throws a mana barrier around her before going into the astral.

Able to cover distance at the speed of thought, and well familiar with the corrupted mana at each of the attack sites, she’s quickly able to spot a few spots of corrupted mana, one that seems to line up with the Johnson’s research station and one closer to the team’s current location. The closer one is also the strongest background count seen yet, as she moves into investigate further, she spots a powerful toxic spirit coming towards and immediately races to her body in the mana barrier.

At the TerraFirst! camp, Melvin Cohen, a former PhD candidate at Berkeley, is alerted by his toxic abomination spirit of the intrusion. And he begins rousing the camp, yelling, “Interlopers come! They wish to stop our great transformation but nothing can stop our work! We will create a Terra that can be free of the poisonous megacorporations and treacherous governments.”

He orders all eight of his cell to lay an ambush on the direct approach from where the spirit saw Duchess retreat and then heads back into his tent to continue planning subsequent attacks while two spirits look over him and the camp.

Duchess readies two spirits, and Ace gets a serious headache failing to summon a spirit, and the team heads in the direction of the suspected camp. As they get close, the woods get very quiet and a couple of the runners hear some faint rustling ahead. Duchess orders one of the raccoon spirits to conceal the party, and without realizing it the team slips right by the ambush.

The team comes up on the campsite and as Eternal takes up a sniper position, Duchess’ manifested raccoon spirit suddenly begins screaming and thrashing next to her, as it is ambushed in the astral by one of the two abomination spirits in the form of a grotesque mockery of a wolf. The other manifests ahead of the team.

The raccoon spirits engage the astral abomination, and the team unleashes a volley of manabolts and the ineffectual swings of a sledgehammer on the manifested toxic spirit. The toxic shaman comes screaming out of his tent as the commotion, calling for his cell to come back while taking up a place in cover.

As Eternal plugs away with his rifle trying to take out the mage, the team continues to fight the spirits, with Duchess’ first raccoon spirit ultimately falling under the savaging. Duchess also feels the other raccoon spirit, still Astral, be ripped away from her as a horrible corrupting feeling comes across her mental link with the spirit. Soon after the other wolf abomination manifests, accompanied by a mutated and distended raccoon spirit, now corrupted by the toxic shaman.

Eternal is able to land a kill shot on the toxic shaman after flushing him out with a flashbang and then turn and blow a huge chunk out of the first wolf abomination mauling Sledge. Despite Walker’s rush to help, Duchess falls from the spirits attacking her but the team is able to ultimately put down the remaining spirits.

The team quickly moves into secure the camp, doing a quick search, before hearing signs that the rest of the cell is returning. The team quickly sets up an ambush position, and with a combination of a high ex courtesy of Eternal and a physical barrier to ricochet the blast around, a third of the returning group is wiped out instantly. Half of the remaining break and run, the other dropping prone, and those that remain are quickly taken out by the runners.

Between notes found at the site and a call with the Johnson, the team ultimately is able to put together that the researcher was doing work for Wuxing to test how various pollutants affect the mana of a natural area. Melvin was in the area planning some environmental protests against the logging operations but the increased toxicity in the astral opened the door for a toxic spirit to reach out to the frustrated environmentalist and corrupt him to a toxic path, which he was ultimately able to convince his group to fall in line with as they saw “results”.

Pay secured, along with the bonus of a jeep thanks to the team grilling the Johnson on what really went down, the team made their way back to the city. However shortly after crossing over the city line, the first vehicle with Duchess, Ace, Walker, and Acorn is pulled over. Eternal and Sledge drive on without incident.

The SFPD takes Walker and Ace in, although not under arrest, to speak with a Lt. Trish Rueben and allows Acorn and Duchess to go on their way.

~Calypso

Session 22 — Deep Within the Heart of Darkness …

Cast of Characters

  • Eternal
  • Walker
  • Acorn
  • Ace
  • Duchess

The team gets a peaceful rest under the overwatch of Duchess’ raccoon spirit who parts ways at sunrise. The team opts to head back to the campground and pick up the trail again. Under Walker’s lead they follow the trail leading to the burnt remains of a CFS Ranger station.

While checking the area and remains of the building, a twisted and corrupted Spirit of Man arises from the building remains. The spirit, covered in boils and oozing sores, appears humanoid but the limbs are unnatural proportions and twisted in a grotesque mockery of metahumanity.

Eternal is undeterred and immediately draws his monoblade, charges in, and in short order the team quickly dispatches the stray spirit.

Afterwards, Walker again picks up a bit of the trail to get a relative direction of where the attack came from. From here, the team decides to check the most recent known attack, and make their way up to a hiker’s aid station in the northeast of the area.

Taking the jeeps as far as they can off-road, the team then heads on foot, with Sledge to look after the jeeps. On the way, Walker takes a call from the Johnson. The Johnson is interested to hear their progress and continues to prod into what the team has encountered and found so far. He also, several times, reinforces that there’s no need to worry about his research stations. Suspicious from the call, the team sends off a message to Tatters to see if he can do some investigation into the Johnson (based on the information that he’s a researcher at Stanford).

The team reaches the aid station, and finds similar graffiti and damage to the area. There is some anti-Wuxing graffiti and Eternal notices that the map of the area posted for hikers has marks made at each of the locations that have been attacked. Two marks also appear at the known locations of the research stations in the north.

Once again, Walker follows the trail, this time a long distance until they get to the main road. Losing track of where the trail is picked up on the other side of the road, the team heads to regroup with the jeeps. On the way back to the jeeps, Raccoon and a few team members end up snickering at Duchess, who has strangely had a portion of the back of her dress turn brown.

Upon reaching the jeeps, Tatters has turned up some information that the Johnson is indeed a researcher at Stanford with a large grant from Wuxing, and his CV predominantly shows research into how environmental factors can affect mana & the astral.

Heading back to the road, Walker makes another attempt at finding the trail, and finally picks up where they re-entered the woods. They follow the trail a short bit to get an idea of direction again.

Before it gets dark, Eternal opts to climb a tree and see if he can spot any signs of recent activity, and does see some faint plumes of smoke to the southwest, likely near the logging camps. The team again takes the jeeps as far as they safely can, before moving the rest of the way on foot.

Eternal scouts ahead of the group, moving quietly through the forest. The first camp is quiet, although destroyed. Several large drones are busted, chemicals leaking out, some drums of chemicals damaged and leaking. Seeing no movement, he moves to get a view of the second recent attack and spots a mutated or diseased mountain lion gorging on a corpse. As the team starts to catch up, he fires a shot from his sniper rifle, causing the big cat’s head to explode instantly. At Ace’s request, Eternal provides him with the paw from the beast.

The team finds and helps a survivor who relates some of the attack and the team once again gets an idea of the angle of attack and retreat the TerraFirst! group used. Given the time, everyone retreats to the jeeps and settles down to rest for the night.

~Calypso

Session 21 — Enter the Heart of Darkness …

Cast of Characters

  • Eternal
  • Walker
  • Sledge
  • Acorn
  • Ace
  • Duchess

Coming off the showdown with the doctor and the subjects of Project Titan, the team took a few days to recover from their injuries – physical and interpersonal – before dealing with the art dealer. Tatters does light matrix work to track down the gallery in question and switch in an appointment to meet him.

Walker presses the team’s case with the dwarf owner. Art dealer opens with a hostile attitude, purposefully insulting the team with his initial offer. After considerable back and forth, Walker is able to reach a token agreement where the painting is returned, the matter closed, and a small payment for the team.

Calypso opts to give the team considerable time off as their pace has been rough with jobs and the intertwining matters with the doctor. After a shorter than intended period, she gets a line on a fairly urgent job. University researching needing a job out in the woods to deal with some trouble. Havoc squad is, unfortunately, the only available team available, but she reasons they should be rested enough, pending the details, to take a little road trip.

Dialing the Johnson on her commlink, a squirrelly, unkempt human with glasses appears on video. As he makes a halfhearted attempt to straighten himself out, he breaks into a hurried talk, “Hi. Uh, hello. You must be the – what was the term – oh uhh – Mr – erm – Mrs – Ms? – Johnson then. I would like to hire a squad of shadowrunners… Fixer! I believe I’m the Johnson. Yes, right, or wait no, am I the face? Let me check some-

Her avatar interjected with a playful smirk (while she actually rolled her eyes and took a slow breath), “Dear, let’s not get so hung up on formalities. As you know, I’m Calypso, why don’t you take me through the job.” Adding with a purr, “…Mr. Johnson.” Johnsons like this were easy to pry extra details from.

Hearing her voice and accent, the Johnson appears momentarily flustered. With a nod, “So you see, I’m researching…” For the next twenty minutes Calypso listens to a mix of jargon about researching California Condors, explanations about the job, and one sided debates about life in academia. She takes her time to let him go when appropriate and steer the conversation where she can.

She agrees to connect him with the team after some quick follow up research. Stanford has records of research grants that match up and there seems to have been a series of incidents in the area – although details are light.

Likely a bunch of kids vandalizing whatever they can, pretending to care about mother earth,” she reasons as crafts her message out to the team and to Duchess, who is on the way back to the bay area. She smirks as she imagines Duchess’ reaction to Eternal.

Hope you have all rested up my dears. I have a nice scenic job for you, thought you could use a bit of a working vacation and would enjoy seeing the sights of Big Sur. The Johnson is in the field and would like for to discuss the job over a comm call.

The usual, agreeing team responses trickle in with the exception of Tatters who replies, “Doesn’t look like it’ll need matrix support? If so, going to run down some stuff on my own.” Calypso responds back confirming that there is likely no matrix work.

The team holds a call with the Johnson, managing to talk up their pay and arranging to get the university owned Jeep Trailblazers from outside the club they originally met Duchess at in Oakland. Soon after gathering they set out, with most of the team in the front vehicle driven by Duchess. Sledge and Eternal in the rear vehicle.

They met with one issue on their road trip, a brief encounter with a go-gang on the 101 called the Asphalt Dogs. The go-gang typically looks for vehicles to hassle for a small toll and light robbery, but seeing Duchess driving the first jeep, they get the idea that this will be some easy pickings and rip out full force.

Unfortunately for the gang, the vehicles actually contain shadowrunners who make quick work in disrupting the attack between Eternal’s use of a flashpack, a fireball from Walker on the second wave of gangers, and a well placed ice sheet from Duchess causing all but the gang leader to wipe out on the highway. Acorn chewed some gum and focused on bothering Walker. Rott, the go-gang leader, is enraged by his gang’s performance but sees no option but to race away from the runners.

The rest of the trip passes without note and the team enters the area of the job. Duchess exchanges a bit of conversation with a guard in a group fortifying an unattacked, active farm in the area who advises them that everything is closed here due to some “eco-nuts” causing problems, but he lacks much more detail on anything, so they continue down the road.

After some debate, the team agrees to check one of the more recently attacked sites, choosing a public campground. Although AR messages inform the team that they campground is closed, the gate is unlocked and the team is treated to a scene of some chaos. Tents and such are strewn about and a small facilities building for restrooms and showers is partially demolished and heavily vandalized. Ace makes his way through the remains of the building but stops, seeing the next room partially flooded.

Sledge comes into inspect using his professional experience and is attacked by some oversized flatworms (later identified by Ace’s contact as Bipalium Viperidae, commonly called Flatworm Viper due to its single fang it uses to attack). Posing little threat to the orc, Ace and Sledge quickly dispose of them. Checking through the rest of the site, the team finds a breach in the security fence around the campground to the northwest, seemingly caused by some explosives on the fence. The camp otherwise looks to have been hit fast, with signs that some had potentially fled although there are spots that make it seem some were not so lucky.

With dusk coming, the team decides to sleep in/near their jeeps a bit down the road from the campground thanks to a particularly nasty feel to the mana in the campground itself.

~Calypso