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Writing: Timothy M. Patrick Shadowrun Missions Developer: 5A-02 Steven “Bull” Ratkovich Art: Peter Dora, Damon Westenhofer Shadowrun Developer: Jason M. Hardy Editing: Philip A. Lee Layout & Design: Matt Heerdt M
  Writing: Timothy M. PatrickArt: Peter Dora, Damon WestenhoferEditing: Philip A. LeeMissions Logo: Jeff Laubenstein, Matt HeerdtShadowrun Missions Developer: Steven “Bull” RatkovichShadowrun Developer: Jason M. HardyLayout & Design: Matt HeerdtArt Director: Brent Evans, Kat Hardy 5A-02  WE BOTH REACHED FOR THE GUN   2 COVERWE BOTH REACHED FOR THE GUNINTROMISSION SYNOPSISSCENE 1SCENE 2SCENE 3SCENE 4SCENE 5SCENE 6SCENE 7SCENE 8PICKING UP THE PIECESLEGWORKCAST OF SHADOWSPLAYER HANDOUTS WE BOTH REACHEDFOR THE GUN I never gonna say I seen everything the CZ has to offer again. I mean, I seen a lot—devil rats eating desiccat-ed ghoul corpses, giant ant-like things the size of an ork, strange glowing beings crawling out of crumbled slag heaps—I seen it and I survived. But then the other day, I hit a spot of trouble like I do, and I had a pack of Horde maggots chasing me down hard, looking to slap out my brains, and I turned on the jets and got my legs moving through the streets like a rocket car over the salt flats. I pulled some of the normal tricks, in a door here, out a win-dow here, sneaking into basements that had exits only I knew about, and I got some separation between them and me, and I slowed up for a second just as one of them turned a corner about three blocks down. I started moving again, of course, but the piece of drek took a lucky shot and tore off a piece of my sock and a good chunk of skin underneath. Maybe even some bone, because the second I put weight on it, it wanted to collapse.I don’t need to tell you that’s not good, and I knew staying out in the open would make me dead. So I looked at the big building that was standing in front of me, and I went in. There was a rolling door with a bad lock, I managed to heave it up and get inside, and that’s when things got weird.First was the mist. I seen mold and smoke and other drek in buildings, but not a cascading mist. It wasn’t right. And it got even less right when a dragon—yeah, a dragon—swooped down outta nowhere, breathing fire that somehow didn’t burn me to a crisp as I ran and rolled forward.And entered a swamp. You heard me. There was a swamp in the damn building, with murky water and trees and hanging vines and everything. And I swear something swung in those vines, moving back and away from me. I yelled to them but they disappeared. Into the swamp. In the building. Well, my ankle was smarting pretty good at that point, and I didn’t know what was in that water that was seeping into the wound, and plus did I mention that I was seeing a swamp in a building? So I didn’t feel right about anything, and I decided to leave, but there was the dragon behind me, so I tried to find another way out stumbling through the swamp. I splashed some in the water as I wandered, I stumbled here and there, until I finally caught a tree root on my bad ankle and went down flat.And when I tried to get up, there was an honest-to-God barbarian standing in front of me, with the flowing hair and huge muscles and big-ass sword and everything. I’d had it by this point, so I went for my hip to grab my pistol to tell the sucker to back off. But he reached for it too, and damn was he fast, because after a second the gun was in his hand.He looked it over. It didn’t look right in the hands of a guy wearing a loincloth, but he seemed comfortable han-dling it. And he had a good eye for hardware, because he knew it was a nice piece.“This is good,” he said, in weird, stiff tones. “I will accept this as tribute for passing through my realm.”“You can’t have it,” I said. “The Horde. They’re coming. I’ll be dead without it.” The guy’s eyes narrowed. “The Horde does not interfere with my realm. They know what happens when they do.”“Yeah, sure, buddy. But I still need my gun.”He frowned. “Tribute should be freely offered. Your manners are bad.”And just like that his arm flashed and he clocked me on the head with my own pistol. When I came to I was on the street. I jumped up, my instincts telling me to look around for the Horde members coming after me. And sure enough, there they were, four of them, lying on the ground. At least most of them. Their heads were gone.I may not know everything about the city like I thought I did, but I still know this—when you’re surrounded by headless bodies, you get the hell out and don’t go back. So that’s what I did.No, I ain’t telling you where this place is. Some things, I think it’s best they stay secret.  INTRODUCTION 3 COVERWE BOTH REACHED FOR THE GUNINTROMISSION SYNOPSISSCENE 1SCENE 2SCENE 3SCENE 4SCENE 5SCENE 6SCENE 7SCENE 8PICKING UP THE PIECESLEGWORKCAST OF SHADOWSPLAYER HANDOUTS INTRODUCTION SRM 5A-02: Critic’s Choice   is a Shadowrun Missions  liv-ing campaign adventure. Full information on the Shad-owrun Missions  living campaign is available at  and includes a guide to creating Missions characters and a regularly updat-ed FAQ. All maps, player handouts, and other playing aids are found at the end of this document. PREPARING THE ADVENTURE SRM 5A-02: Critic’s Choice   is intended for use with Shad-owrun, Fifth Edition , and all character and rules informa-tion refers to the fifth edition of the Shadowrun  rules. A󰁤󰁶󰁥󰁮󰁴󰁵󰁲󰁥 S󰁴󰁲󰁵󰁣󰁴󰁵󰁲󰁥 SRM 5A-02: Critic’s Choice   consists of several scenes.  These scenes form the basis of the adventure, which should be completed in approximately four hours. If  you are running short on time, you should streamline each and be a little more generous with clues, target numbers, and other requirements to aid in guiding the players through the adventure. Each scene outlines the most likely sequence of events, as well as how to handle unexpected twists and turns that inevitably crop up. Each one contains the following subsections, providing gamemasters with all the information necessary to run it. ã Scan This  provides a quick synopsis of the scene’s action, allowing you to get a feel for the encounter at a glance. ã  Tell It to Them Straight  is written to be read aloud to the players, describing what their char-acters experience upon entering the scene. You should feel free to modify the narrative as much as desired to suit the group and the situation, since the characters may arrive at the scene by different means or under different circumstanc-es than the text assumes. ã Behind the Scenes  covers the bulk of the scene, describing what’s happening, what the non-player characters are doing, how they will react to the player characters’ actions, and so forth. It also covers the setting of the encounter, going over environmental conditions and other properties of the location as well as providing any descriptions of important items. ã Pushing the Envelope  looks at ways to make the encounter more challenging for experienced or powerful characters and other ways you can add some extra spice to the scene. This subsection should usually only be used for home games, or games where time is not a factor. At most con- vention and Open Play events, gamemasters should omit this information. It adds to the scene but does not contain important information. ã Debugging   offers solutions to potential prob-lems that may crop up during the encounter.  While it’s impossible to foresee everything that a group of player characters might do, this sec-tion tries to anticipate common problems and other suggestions for dealing with them. RUNNING THE ADVENTURE Gamemastering is more of an art than a science, and every gamemaster does things a bit differently. Use  your own style when it comes to preparing and run-ning the adventure and do whatever you feel is best to provide the best Shadowrun game you can for your players. Shadowrun Missions  adventures are designed to run in a standard four-hour convention time slot.Please keep this in mind when running the adventure.  You should leave at least 15–20 minutes at the end of the time slot to complete any necessary paperwork and pass out the players’ Debriefing Logs . (Make sure that  you have enough copies of the Debriefing Log   for this adventure to give one copy to each player after running the adventure.) This section offers some guidelines you may find useful in preparing to run SRM 5A-02: Critic’s Choice   (or any Shadowrun Missions  adventure). S󰁴󰁥󰁰 1: R󰁥󰁡󰁤 T󰁨󰁥 A󰁤󰁶󰁥󰁮󰁴󰁵󰁲󰁥 Carefully read the adventure from beginning to end. Get a feel for the overall plot and what happens in each scene.  That way, if something different happens, you won’t be caught off guard and you can adapt things smoothly. S󰁴󰁥󰁰 2: T󰁡󰁫󰁥 N󰁯󰁴󰁥󰁳  Take notes for yourself while reading through the ad- venture that you can refer to later on. Possible things to note include: major plot points (so you can see them all at a glance), the names of various non-player charac-ters, possible problems you notice, situations where you think a particular character can shine and other things  you’ll want to keep in mind while running the adventure. S󰁴󰁥󰁰 3: K󰁮󰁯󰁷 T󰁨󰁥 C󰁨󰁡󰁲󰁡󰁣󰁴󰁥󰁲󰁳 Prior to the start of the adventure, examine the PCs’ record sheets and Debriefing Logs for your reference and have basic information about their important abil-  INTRODUCTION 4 COVERWE BOTH REACHED FOR THE GUNINTROMISSION SYNOPSISSCENE 1SCENE 2SCENE 3SCENE 4SCENE 5SCENE 6SCENE 7SCENE 8PICKING UP THE PIECESLEGWORKCAST OF SHADOWSPLAYER HANDOUTS ities handy so you can refer to it during play. Also go over the characters and keep their previous events list-ed on the Debriefing Logs in mind when determining non-player character actions in various scenes if such a dynamic has been included. S󰁴󰁥󰁰 4: D󰁯󰁮’󰁴 P󰁡󰁮󰁩󰁣! Gamemastering involves juggling a lot of different things. Sometimes you drop the ball and forget some-thing or you just make a mistake. It happens, don’t  worry about it. Nobody is perfect all of the time and everybody makes mistakes. Just pick up from there and move on. Your players will understand and forget about it once you get back into the action. S󰁴󰁥󰁰 5: C󰁨󰁡󰁬󰁬󰁥󰁮󰁧󰁥 󰁴󰁨󰁥 P󰁬󰁡󰁹󰁥󰁲󰁳 Gamemasters should challenge the players but should generally not overwhelm them. This is not to say that games cannot be deadly. If the characters die through their own actions and repercussions of those actions, then so be it. But the idea is to challenge the players and their characters, not to bury them. If the enemies and challenges are too light for the characters present, then increase them. On the other hand, if the charac-ters are badly outmatched by the enemies, then tone them down. Make things difficult but not impossible. GENERAL ADVENTURE RULES Shadowrun Missions adventures use the rules present-ed in Shadowrun, Fifth Edition ( SR5 ). Standard rules such as success tests, limits, glitches, critical successes, and other common mechanics are described in SR5 and are not repeated in this adventure.Please keep in mind when preparing for the adventure, that the PCs will not necessarily comprise a balanced party. It’s entirely possible that the party will be made up entirely of technomancers or back-to-nature shamans. If the characters run into a brick wall because of such complications, show flexibility and use your best  judgment in how you lead them back to the plot. N󰁯󰁮-P󰁬󰁡󰁹󰁥󰁲 C󰁨󰁡󰁲󰁡󰁣󰁴󰁥󰁲󰁳 Non-player characters (NPCs) are essential to any ad- venture. They are the allies, antagonists, and background characters in the adventure that interact with the player characters. NPCs in this adventure have already been cre-ated and can be found throughout the adventure.Minor NPCs are found in the individual scene that they appear in, and generally have a brief write up, noting only their important skills and the gear they are carrying.Major NPCs can be found in the Cast of Shadows  at the end of the adventure. They have more detailed  write ups and include most of the skills and the gear they have access to.  The NPCs in this adventure should generally stand up to the average player character but may need some adjustment to suit a particular group of characters, especially a more experienced and powerful group. The scenes and NPC descriptions offer tips on adjusting the NPCs to suit the abilities of the characters in your group.  To adjust the power level of an NPC, refer to Helps and Hindrances  (p. 378, SR5 ). Take the player characters’ abilities into consideration when assessing the NPCs in this adventure and modify them accordingly. M󰁩󰁳󰁳󰁩󰁯󰁮 D󰁩󰁦󰁦󰁩󰁣󰁵󰁬󰁴󰁹  Gamemasters are encouraged to use their own judg-ment and to adjust the difficulty of the encounter to take into account the abilities of the players. If the players have no magical support, replace magical de-fenses with mundane ones. If the players are weak on combat, reduce the number of enemies by one or two. Conversely, if they’re steamrolling the opposition, add one or two enemies to the fight. Missions should be difficult and something of a challenge but should not be insurmountable.A simple method for adjusting difficulty is to simply increase the dice pools and Professional Ratings of the enemies. A simple +1 or +2 to all combat and defense tests gives enemies a minor boost in power, while a +3 or 4 will make them truly formidable. Adding to their Professional Rating will give them a larger group Edge pool to draw from, and gamemasters are encourage to use this Edge when logical.Often a combat scene will tell you if it’s supposed to be challenging or is simply there to serve as filler or a minor obstacle that the players should steamroll through. When possible, use this as a guide to know  when to tweak the enemies and encounters. If it doesn’t say, assume the scene should present a challenge to the power levels of the players. A N󰁯󰁴󰁥 󰁯󰁮 L󰁯󰁯󰁴 󰁡󰁮󰁤 L󰁯󰁯󰁴󰁩󰁮󰁧 Gamemasters should be careful what they allow play-ers access to, because they can and will try to steal everything not nailed down (and even then, they often have pry bars and claw hammers to deal with those nails). Shadowrun Missions  operate under the assump-tion that two players who have run the same missions  will have roughly the same amount of resources avail-able to them (give or take some negotiation and a little bit of minor loot fenced), so when players are able to steal and fence a lot of gear or are able to get their hands on high-priced vehicles, cyberdecks, or foci, it
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