A Look Inside the Madness
A Day In the Life of Sticks (Bounty Hunter) was part of a series of one-shots aimed to expand on the Jackpointers in a product that you've never heard of and will never see the light of day because it sort of missed its sell-by date.
After his third Kirin, Sticks reckoned he could just about begin to tolerate St. Louis. The bar was called Murder Bull and was running a gothic western theme—wall to wall black leather chaps and cowboy hats with death metal renditions of Merle Haggard—but Ghost smiled on him and the place had pool tables. Sixteen games of nine ball later and Sticks was fifteen hundred nuyen in the black and had a new pair of black leather cowboy boots with silver-plated spurs to show for his trouble. Mr. Johnson still hadn’t showed.
A troll waitress with cleavage you could get lost in brought his next round just as the band started its second set, and the crowd hushed as a troll began a low, gravelly version of In the Pines. Sitcks flashed her a smile and sank three off the break. If Mr. Johnson didn’t get here soon, he might see what she was doing later. As he drained his fourth 8-ounce, Sticks was out of takers and was setting up to practice some trick shots when he heard somebody call his name and he looked up. “Yo!”
Someone else answered, too. Sticks looked over, and up.
The other guy looked like a refugee from the set of a particularly ambitious metrosexual action flick. Male, human. Southeast Asian or something like it, just over of two meters tall, bare skin under a leather vest with Vietnamese gang marking to show off a weightlifter’s build, hair gathered into a black ponytail that fell to his ass—which was hanging out of leather chaps that clung to him like a second skin, and a three-section-staff stowed in a case off his left hip.
“Who the fuck are you supposed to be?” Sticks asked, moving in close enough to poke the imposter in the chest. His head came up to the guy’s collarbone.
“They call me Sticks,” the giant said.
“That’s my handle.”
The Mr. Johnson—a particularly confused mixed-race ork in whiteface and running mascara—looked from one Sticks to the other in sudden confusion.
“You need to back down, slitchy bitch. I don’t know what your game is but this job’s mine. No poachers allowed,” the giant said, rest his hand on his staff.
In reply, Sticks grabbed the imposter’s crotch with his right hand and squeezed for all he was worth. At first the giant was too shocked to do much more than bug out his eyes, but after a couple seconds he started using elbow strikes, which Sticks fended off with his left arm. Then the giant popped a couple blades out of elbows. Sticks gave the imposter’s genitals a good-bye twist and backed away as the blades came down, left hand flicking to his nunchuku.
To his credit, the imposter wasn’t cradling his mangled testicles, but had his three-section-staff out and ready to block or strike, elbow-blades still extended. By this point the rest of the bar was on its feet and forming a circle, and Mr. Johnson was watching the fight with some interest. Sticks set his ‘chucks to spinning with his right hand, left empty, watching his opponent’s shoulders, where the attack would come from.
Sticks caught the twitch of the imposter’s muscles and fell forward as the giant whipped the three-section-staff at his head, the chain-linked segments clipping a gothic cowgirl that thought she was out of harm’s way. Sticks brought his ‘chuck around in a low sweeping attack against the imposter’s ankle as he cushioned his fall with his left hand. The blow didn’t bring his opponent down, but it hurt him—Sticks could see him favoring his other leg as he struggled. As Sticks got back to his feet and the imposter got his weapon back under control, the crowd gave them a little more room—except for the girl the giant had clipped, who was on the floor next to him, holding her face and crying. Sticks set his ‘chuck spinning again and moved in.
The giant held the far ends of the staff in either hand, blocking as Sticks feinted with his ‘chucks—opening enough room for Sticks to reach out and grab the middle section and brought his ‘chucks down on the giant’s hands, then gave a wrench: Sticks almost fell backwards when the imposter just let go of his weapon.
Then he saw why.
With his right thumb and forefinger, the giant pulled on his left thumb, the unspooling monomolecular filament nearly invisible in the dark bar. The imposter swung his left hand over his head and sent the weighted digit and its deadly trailing line into a downward arc; Sticks impulsively tossed his ‘chucks at the flying thumb. The monofilament swept right through the metal nunchuku but knocked the monowhip into a new and erratic arc that brought it back toward the imposter, who waggled his arm comically in an attempt to evade the nearly-invisible line.
Grabbing the middle section of the three-part-staff, Sticks set both sides to spinning, moving his right arm in front of him in a back-and-forth motion to avoid getting hit. The imposter was so busy avoiding the monofilament he didn’t even seen Sticks coming until the flail caught him across the face. Sticks took his time bringing the whirring sections back and forth across the giant again and again. At one point the imposter brought up his left arm to fend off the blows, and the filament—dangling from the broken stub of a thumb—sliced off part of the staff sections, so that now each flail would cut instead of bruise. By the time Stick’s arm was finally getting tired and he stopped hitting him, the imposter was nearly unconscious, both arms broken or badly bruised.
“What’s your name?” Sticks asked.
“Stghs,” the giant said through broken teeth.
“Wrong,” Sticks said, kicking the beaten giant in the stomach. “What’s your name?”
“Dunnugh,” the imposter mumbled.
“And what’s my name?” Sticks asked.
Going back to the bar, Sticks ordered a shot of single malt. The Mr. Johnson came up beside him.
“That was mighty impressive Mr. Sticks, mighty impressive.”
“Just one thing though—you know he spells his name S-T-Y-X, don’t you?”
“Not my fault if the stupider breeder can’t spell.”
Last, but most bizarre, we have a piece of rejected intro fiction. I love writing intro fiction, but sometimes when you're asked for something on short notice, the results can be...not quite what the developer had hoped for. Bugger that with a long stick, I still think it's fine.
Mr. Bonds saw the finest financial minds of his generation destroyed by a sickness, the smart drug-driven greed of dead economists whose bullshit predictions lay waste a hundred million futures (and other negotiable instruments). Black pills rain down from the clouds onto a field of sticky gray matter, brains growing from the ashen soil like ghastly cauliflower, and triggered a memory of Japan: stark men and women in grey suits, a silk pocket snagged and the spill of dead black tablets, each one engraved with a spreadsheet…
“Ghost, how long has he been like this?” Nephrine asked.
“About half an hour.” Glitch told her over the speaker. “He was ninja’d by some weird IC.”
“Psychotropics, probably.” The anarchist chemist said, rummaging around in his kit. “I’ll give him some anti-psychotics, maybe that’ll help him ride it out.”
Bare hands and feet gooey with bits of brain, Mr. Bonds stumbled into the StufferShack from hell, naked save for his Armani suit. A young Hispanic boy with a nuyen-shaped hole for a mouth was behind the counter, squawking a high-pitched squeal of binary data, the ancient death-scream of a modem processing a credit card number, the circle of life. He let out a scream of rage when he saw a cardboard stand with ceremonial gold nuyen/neoeuro “coins” minted to celebrate the anniversary of Lofwyr’s ascension as Chief Executive Dragon of Saeder-Krupp, and began savaging the display.
“He’s going ballistic.” Glitch observed. “Maybe you better give him something to knock him out.”
“No fraggin’ drek!” Nephrine yelled, as he fended Mr. Bonds’ hands away from his eye sockets again. The baby-blue slap patch with the anti-psychotics was firmly attached to the side of his attacker’s neck, but it was clear that everyone’s favorite accountant was still off in his own little world. Nephrine kicked him in the face and crawled off to his bag to prepare a sedative. He got about two steps when the former accountant caught him in the groin with an uppercut that brought the chemist down on his knees.
“Fark…Glitch, do something…” Nephrine managed through gritted teeth.
“Okay, okay…I got it!” The speaker popped suddenly and went dead. The trideo set nearest Mr. Bonds popped to life, a flickering stream of numbers caught the shadowrunners eye, and he stopped pounding on his friend’s genitalia. Around him, other screens popped to life: London, New York, Brokerage X. Millimeter by millimeter, the crazed shadowrunner began to relax, basking in the pale, cold glow.
Nephrine caught him in the base of the skull with a narcoject dart, one hand still clutching his manhood. As he slipped off into oblivion, the chemist could have sworn he heard the accountant say “Buy Renraku at 24.” Bewildered, he looked at the screen to see Renraku at 36 nuyen a share and dropping.
“Hey Glitch?” Nephrine said.
“Yep?” The hacker replied over the speaker.
“Five hundred worth in Renraku if it hits 24 and we’ll call it even for this.”
“You got it good buddy. Over and out.”
Oh, one last little bit; these are some notes towards a mostly financial plot that never developed:
Historically, certain currencies have been backed by a precious metal, either by mass or by bearing a note guaranteed to be equal to a certain mass of said precious metal. Further, in modern times a digital currency backed by a store of precious metal (such as eGold) has come into use. In Shadowrun, an electronic currency backed by orichalcum is feasible, and may be useful.
The instituition that wishes to start such a currency would first need a stockpile of orichalcum - currently, that would be Wuxing-DeBeers or Snowdonia.
For example, let's assume Wuxing is circulating this new currency, Wuxbux. Each Wuxbuck is equal to one decagram of orichalcum:
0.001 grams = 1 milligram = 5 nuyen
0.01 grams = 1 centigram = 50 nuyen
0.1 grams = 1 decigram = 500 nuyen
1 gram = 5,000 nuyen
10 grams = 1 decagram (1 unit of orichalcum) = 50,000 nuyen
100 grams = 1 hectogram = 500,000 nuyen
1,000 grams = 1 kilogram = 5,000,000 nuyen
The advantage of this currency, besides various economic shenanigans that can embroil shadowrunners, corporations, and governments, is that it represents an asset of value for shadowrunners; an investment of sorts.
For example, say Wuxing offered Wuxbux before the Orichalcum Rush at 88,000 nuyen per decigram (with a 5% transaction fee), and a runner paid out the cash for three decigrams worth of Wuxbux. After the Orichalcum Rush, the price of orichalcum is lowered to 50,000 nuyen per decigram, so the runner's Wuxbux are worse less if they sell them - but at any time the runner could go to the Wuxing central depository and cash in his Wuxbux for 3 decigrams of orichalcum!
Which is a lot safer than keeping that stuff at home.
Plots are many: forged Wuxbux, paying runners in Wuxbux, stealing a load of Wuxbux, hijacking a shipment to or from the depository, etc.
Anyway, I thought of a few variations on things:
Space-based astral photography works great because of the mana ebb, and has many potential uses - such as pinpointing possible inhabited worlds. However, a satellite that takes pictures of the earth can map leylines (and possibly uncover otherwise hidden stuff, including large deposits of orichalcum (or potential sites to excavate for same).
"Blood orichalcum" was cut from my early Magical Goods drafts, but the basic idea is similiar to today's "blood diamonds" -> African wars fueled by the illegal sale of orichalcum obtained by essentially slave labor.
* The CC decides to fix the nuyen to the orichalcum standard, possibly to counteract a currency devaluation or fluxuation - such as the Crash 2.0
* To enact the OS, a physical reserve is created, the majority of which is purchased from Wuxing-DeBeers and/or the Duchess of Snowdonia in exchange for certain concessions (like an amendment in the charter for a permanent seat on the CC). The CC needs at least enough orichalcum to cover a given percentage of outsanding nuyen - say 25%.
* A survey discovers a lode of orichalcum (whether on the moon or not is a detail, but it has to be somewhere difficult to get to) - a significant amount that would allow the Z-OGB to establish the orichalcum standard.
* At this point, a new form of investment comes: the orichalcum futures. If orichalcum is the basis of the nuyen, and most other major currencies are pegged to the nuyen, then orichalcum becomes the basis of the world economy. The rumor of a major lode would cause a wave of speculation, and orichalcum futures would skyrocket.
* Some corporations and brokerage houses would take advantage of this trend by creating certificates backed by their own stores of orichalcum. Unethical brokers would release more certificates than they possess physical assets to back, because the trading in certificates would inflate their price. Criminal syndicates would forge certificates and falsify stores to cash in on the craze.
* Meanwhile, a mining expedition sets out to see the original lode and complete a thorough survey (and/or start operations). The results of that survey determine whether or not the orichalcum boom turns into an orichalcum bust...
* To the man on the street, this doesn't mean much. Magicians will note during stockpiling that the availability and/or price of orichalcum increases, a few runners will be paid in orichalcum certificates (Wuxbux, essentially) or trade in false orichalcum futures, some corporate shenanigans will probably cause a few runs - and of course, they could be assigned to protect/ambush/sabotage the mining expedition.
* In the long run, the OS will be implemented, whether the lode turns out to be real or vaporock. The CC has too much invested in it, and it can buy enough orichalcum to establish the reserve. At worst, the OS is delayed a year or two.
Last one for a while. This is just an example of an old (old old old) proposal for a book that never happened.
PROPOSAL FOR AWAKENED HAUNTS
This is a proposal for the major cities of Awakened Haunts. I don’t expect to get both, or even one all to myself, but it might provide some ideas for others.
The port of New Orleans has long had a reputation for magic: rootwork, hoodoo, voodoo, haunted houses, and black magic. The Awakening proved this right: New Orleans is an Awakened city…and not one you want to wander around at dark. I’ve included a brief outline for the chapter below.
This chapter will be based heavily on the New Orleans entry from Target: Smuggler Havens, but the Year of the Comet and the events surrounding the Voice of Ogoun and the Voice of Agwe have left their marks on the city, and it’s become a much darker, much more dangerous place. As always, I’m willing to work with other people—Lars said he was proposing.
Primary voices for this section are a trio of local runners introduced in Street Magic: Abrecadavre, Papa Dimanche, and Johnny Vendredi (The Voudoun Krewe), with additional information on the local scene by Kane and some Crescent City Mafia details provided by 2XL.
Black Magic and the Big Easy
An Awakened overview of New Orleans, focusing on the local variations on Voodoo and the infringement of foreign magical traditions that make NOLA an Awakened melting pot, with many traditions borrowing or copping thematic elements off of others. Simple charms and fetishes are common (and increasingly fashionable) in every walk of life.
Estimated length: 2k
A look at New Orleans culture in the 2070s, particularly focusing on the tourism industry, flooding, corporate influence as the largest port on the Caribbean Sea, Blues, Jazz, Zydeco, ordinances on burial, Cajun and Creole culture as distinct from the CAS, etc.
Estimated length: 4k
Crescent City, CAS
There’s only one kind of politics in New Orleans: dirty. Corporations not used to the details of graft in the Crescent City find themselves unpleasantly surprised when their “bought” politicians vote against them, and every underworld syndicate knows the NOPD cops on their payroll are going to try and sell them out at some point. A number of Louisiana’s political anomalies—like the Parish system—were grandfathered in when it joined the CAS, and they’ve been heavily defended since then, making Louisiana something of an outsider state compared to others. This section explores this a little and explains the ramifications for shadowrunners.
Estimated length: 4k
La Riviere du Mort
New Orleans has always been associated with hauntings, but the Year of the Comet saw a serious and massive explosion of specter activity in combination with a large shedim infestation. Many magicians lent their services to combat these unquiet dead, but the Mississippi has taken on an almost sinister aspect in the astral, at least where it flows through New Orleans. Many of the local areas are converting once more into bayous (despite the frantic efforts of the city to prevent this loss of real estate) and becoming home to dangerous paracritters; will-o’-the-wisps are commonly seen floating over the river at night, and some claim that people the drown in the river come back as shedim-infested walking corpses. The local voodoo krewes hold a reverence for the river, claiming that “the Door to Guinee” has opened somewhere beneath its waters.
Estimated length: 6k
Bullets and Bodies: the New Orleans Underworld
The two main players in the New Orleans underworld are the Mafia, led by Dona Miriam Kozlowski and her heir apparent Pamela, and the Zobop (see proposal for Vice), a Carib League syndicate that is absorbing all of the disparate voodoo krewes and gangs in New Orleans, led by Carrefour. The situation is complicated by the fact the Dona Kozlowski is pregnant, and Pamela, seeing her future slip away, might be setting up to make a grab for the throne.
Estimated length: 8k
Districts and Wards
New Orleans has a modern district system and an older ward system; this section will detail each of the thirteen districts (addressing which wards they cover in-text). The districts are roughly broken up into East Bank, West Bank, and “New Orleans East,” or away from the river.
Estimated length: 8k
Nawlins’ Hot Spots
Tourist destinations and more modern spots, like the new bayous, a massive new cemetery (actually a multilevel internment facility designed to avoid shedim problems), a variety of bars and other nightlife hangouts, etc. of interest to shadowrunners. Historic New Orleans gets a brief section to itself, since it’s such a mecca for tourists.
Estimated length: 11k
The Metropole de Amazonia, the urban center of the Awakened nation of Amazonia, is a conurban sprawl between the cities of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, and houses at least two hundred million sapient beings, a culturally diverse mix of metahumans (including a large population of changelings), free sprits, naga, dragons, jaguar shapeshifters, and other sapient critters. Given the relative lack of information so far on Amazonia, making Metropole a major city would be a good chance for players and gamemasters to get a glimpse of that mysterious nation. I’ve included a brief outline for the chapter below.
This chapter will be based heavily on the Amazonia chapter from SoLA. The primary voice will be Jungle Cat, who is vouched for by Fianchetto—her past association with the government will be hinted at but not stated explicitly. Other voices will be Marcos and Ghostwalker. As always, more than willing to work with someone else on this.
Views From the Street
A brief overview of Metropole as it is today: how it feels to walk around, the weight of the people, the smells of a hundred different cuisines (not all of them metahuman), the shadow of dragons in flight over head, restrictions on traveling beyond the city limits or damaging the rampant rainforest growth, etc.
Estimated length: 2k
The city council, brief overview of DISA (Departamento de Inteligencia e Seguranca Amazonica), DMAIC (Departamento do Meio Ambiente, Interior e Comercio), and FUNAI (Fundacao Nacional do Indio), the burgeoning corporate influence of KondOrchid and Sol Media, the PMM (Policia Metropolitana de Metropole) and the new mayor, Pedrinho de Metropole, a feathered serpent. Local political movements generally focus on expanding the city’s ability to accommodate its teeming millions; national politics focus on perceived militant threats by Aztlan and the unexplained magical occurrences in the depths of the Amazonian Rainforest.
Estimated length: 5k
Cidade de Milagres
Metropole is a city of many faiths. Along with being the last and greatest bastion of Catholicism in Latin America, it is home to a number of new, ancient, and revamped syncrestic religions, many of which are practiced alongside Catholicism and nearly all of which incorporate some Awakened element. Your average metra’s (resident of Metropole) view of magic is heavily shaped by religion, both what is possible and what is permissible, what is a sin and what is evil. Urban umbandistas, Macumba practitioners, and capoeira adepts on the streets of Metropole are often true believers who observe local custom and superstition to a degree—foreign runners ignorant or disrespectful of such practices are often ostracized, refused business by locals and sometimes hunted. On the other hand, it also makes them valuable as people willing and able to break the rules.
Estimated length: 4k
Basic rundown on the gangs and Ghost Cartels that call Metropole home, as well as the Japanese Connection (Amazonian Yakuza). This should pick up some of the pieces after Ghost Cartels and focus on the diverse, violent, gang-driven nature of the Metropole underworld. Unique aspects are the emphasis on syncrestic religions (some of whom sell BAD “sacraments”), the abnormally high number of sapient critters and free spirits (some of whom are using the gangs for their own ends), and the political connections of some of the gangs—imagine if everyone in a certain favela for the last two generations had belonged to a single gang, and one of their members was on the city council, that type of thing.
Estimated length: 6k
Paulistanos and Cariocas are residents of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, respectively, but Metras are native to Metropole, and include not just metahumans but large numbers of sapient critters, who form their own communities in the urban forests of Rio and their own ethnic favelas. Not all of these communities are insular—the idea of Meta-Tropicalismo is very strong in Metropole, and there is a degree of interaction not normally seen in the Sixth World.
This section generally gives an overview of the “locals,” including a rundown of sapient critter types and enclaves that may be encountered.
Estimated length: 4k
The sprawl is broken into four aposentos (quarters), two in Sao Paulo and two in Rio de Janeiro, each with its own mayor. These quarters are (from west to east) Hermelinda, Acrata, Extrano, and Salomao. This section addresses each quarter as a “district,” with an emphasis on the scale—each quarter itself could be broken into distinct districts.
A fifth “quarter” is a proto-Mayan undercity, the Covil dos Morcegos, an unmapped collection of AmerInd ruins discovered during an excavation to build sewer lines and an underground shopping center. No traces of these ruins were evident before the Awakening, and it assumed they appeared there later. FUNAI claimed the ruins, and established the site as a preserve of native culture; parts of it have been let and developed to metahumans and sapient critters with an allergy to sunlight, as well as certain sects based in native beliefs. The Olaya Cartel has a particular interest in the city and is said to have dug its own tunnels connecting with it.
Estimate length: 10k
Places of note, places to do businesses, etc. Areas with powerful or unusually extensive domains—I like the idea of the Amazonian government trying to aspect, say, SP-060 for police/government magic—rooms of the Covil dos Morcegos, exampled of large-scale manatech architecture (Ares’ infamous FABubble dome), street shrines, the Amazonian Exchange (moved from Rio and renamed), a new street clinic offering genetic infusions, etc.
Estamated length: 10k