Thursday, September 8, 2016

Moving/Judgement Day

Some time back, a friend of mine told me a story about her disastrous encounter with a moving company. I was SO mad for her! Is there ANYTHING worse on God's green earth than moving? It's hell, pure and simple, regardless of where you're going, why you're going there, or how much help you have. And so anything that makes it more aggravating or stressful is just salt in the wound. And this friend of mine, she got a whole load of salt from this moving company.

I channeled that frustration into a Shadowrun adventure. The client, Mr. Johnson, just recently moved from Seattle to Hong Kong for a new job with his megacorp. The moving company, a Triad front, had recklessly damaged and stolen several things from Mr. Johnson when they transported his stuff. Mr. Johnson had money and could easily replace most of those things, but he was so angry at the moving company for their incompetence and the blase manner in which they regarded him, he hires the shadowrunners for revenge. Their mission: raise hell at the moving company's office, any which way they could. Bonus if they could get any of the client's missing stuff back.

As I sat down to play this adventure, once the concept was made clear, my friend, who is...ahem...really into Shadowrun....he immediately points out all the problems with this setup. Something about how the megacorps should have oversaw the whole move or something. At first I was frustrated with know, suspension of disbelief, all that shit....but then I realized he wasn't the problem. I was. In my zealousness to tell this story, I ignored all the story bits that Shadowrun provides for you. It is the intent of the game to use all that stuff. Sure, you can ignore it, but why are you playing Shadowrun, then? I wasn't really interested in telling a Shadowrun story. I was interested in telling a story about a corrupt moving company getting its comeuppance. I can tell that story with Shadowrun, but if I do, then I am obligated to use Shadowrun's stuff for it. And that's perfectly fine...there's some great stuff in Shadowrun...but I don't want to read a role-playing game. I want to play one. 

If I were to try and play that mission again, I'd change it so the corp in question is small (not a megacorp) and thus the Johnson had to fend for himself for the relocation. Then I'd make the moving company have some Triad ties to that very not-mega corp, to establish why such a shitty moving company was even contacted in the first place. The moving company and the corp alike would be counting on Mr. Johnson being more worried about the new job in a new city to worry that his shit got busted going across the Pacific Ocean, and that he was getting paid enough to start anew. What they weren't counting on was Mr. Johnson being so attached to that shit that he'd hire shadowrunners to extract a little payback...and, in the process, they would (presumably) discover the link between them, and the ensuing scandal would actually destroy both the moving company and the corp. Mr. Johnson would be ruining his own future by not being able to let go of what would've been, in the grand scheme of things, a minor setback.

Now that is a story. But notice how there's nothing Shadowrun-ey about it. I could add some Shadowrun elements...maybe the corp's business is in selling magic reagents, or maybe the Mr. Johnson is an ork and part of the reason he took the job was to evade the meta-racial tension in Seattle...but the story! The story is about a man who extracts revenge on a moving company. All of that shit is not about that story. So I could add it, but in reality it would take away from, not add to, the story.

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