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Monday, October 20, 2014

Shadowrun 5th Edition - Queen Euphoria

We have just finished our tenth session of Shadowrun 5th edition. I ran my own home-brewed scenarios for a while, focusing on the stuff that I thought was fun in the game: Motorcycles, gangs and of course shootouts.

Once I got that out of my system, I scoured the internet to find out what the best published adventures for the game were. I ultimately decided to run these four: Queen Euphoria, Dreamchipper, Mercurial and Elven Fire. All of them are for earlier editions of the game. But I have never been shy about converting stuff for my own use. The conversion proved to be a bit harder in Shadowrun than I expected. We are heading into spoiler territory, here, people...

Queen Euphoria

We finished Queen Euphoria last night. From what I could tell, it is regarded as one of the very best Shadowrun adventures ever made. Now that I have run it, I will say that it is indeed very fun. You can buy the pdf here for $4.

The Plot

It's broken up into two parts. In the first, our heroes the shadowrunners are hired to abduct/kidnap a movie star named Euphoria for 3 days. She's supposed to be promoting a new snack food, and a rival company doesn't want it to happen. The runners presumably succeed and let her go at the end of part one.

In part two, someone else abducts Euphoria, and this time our heroes are hired to track her down. It turns out she's been taken by a shaman who is obsessed with her. The shaman has all of these insect monsters at his beck and call. He has put Euphoria in a cocoon to transform her into his ant queen.

The pdf
This adventure is available for $4! Four bucks! That is an awesome deal. The downside here is that the art didn't scan well.. it's sort of greyed-out in spots. Also, whoever did the pdf chapters went a little overboard, basically listing anything that was bold in the text as a clickable option. If you look at the image I have here, you will see that "debugging" appears over and over. Kind of useless.

At four bucks, though, who cares? It is a great deal.

90's Charm

One thing I love about this adventure is that it is an early 90's vision of the future. People in this adventure don't read the newspaper when they wake up - they read the morning fax. When it's time to make a phone call, you activate your wristphone.

Another thing that cracks me up is the flavor text. It tells the 
players what they feel and say. Boy does that not go over well, and it didn't back then, either. I read it to the players but I made sure that they understood I was reading it just to amuse them, and allowed them to veto any actions the flavor text had them taking.

I mean, there's a part where the flavor text has them get so drunk that they pass out in a bar and wake up the next day in the bar's stockroom!

The Structure

This is what I love the most about this adventure. It's not like a D&D adventure. It's more of an investigation. The characters find clues, and then decide which clue to follow up on. I flip to that section, and go from there.

There's a big section in the back on NPCs and places the heroes might try to find information on. I am glad I remembered to read up on social skills in 5th edition, as the "etiquette" skill is used a lot in this.

Converting the stats

Boy was this hard. In retrospect, I should have just re-skinned a ganger npc stat block. One thing that was confusing was that the true form ant spirits have immunity to normal weapons. At first glance this is quite alarming. My players are street samurai, they don't have magic! How can they kill this thing if it is immune to normal weapons?
 
It turns out that immunity to normal weapons applies only to ranged weapons (why, I don't know). And even then, if the player rolls high enough, they can penetrate it. For some reason, from what I understand, a katana can hurt them as normal.

One thing I love is how the ant spirits are vulnerable to insecticide. My players actually figured this out on their own! It was great - they ended up firing gas grenades full of insecticide from grenade launchers at the bad guys.

They Paid Attention The Whole Time

I knew this was a good adventure because the players were focused the whole time. A lot of times when you run a D&D adventure, the players are "on the rails" and don't really engage with the scenario too much. But because this adventure plops clues in your lap and makes you do the rest, the wheels were turning the whole time.

My Players Still Don't Know the Rules

My group is like me - they aren't too worried about rules. But wow, 10 sessions in and they literally don't know how many dice they roll to attack or defend! Their character sheets are like hieroglyphics to them. Thankfully I did a lot of studying before I started this campaign and I have handy sheets of rules notes so I can guide them through each session.

The Best Part of This Adventure

The whole scenario builds up to where the heroes need to go raid this warehouse where the crazy shaman has Euphoria trapped in a cocoon. The corporation that hired them decides to give the heroes any equipment they want, including:

- Grenade launchers

- Security Armor and Helmets

- Thermographics and electronic tracking devices

- Motorcycles

The lower level of the warehouse is basically like the movie Aliens with Ant-monsters in their place. My players fired off insecticide grenades all over the place and thoroughly enjoyed the slaughter.

There Was a Wrinkle

Before they went on the raid, my players decided to take care of some other business. They have this friend who does computer work for them. He is 40 years old and lives with his mom (she looks like Barbara Bush). In previous sessions, the heroes had promised to give the guy a truck worth 50,000 nuyen (dollars) as payment for all the times he'd helped them, but they just forgot all about it.
 
Delicious Shadowrun flavor text
The mom didn't forget. The next time the runners came over to have the guy do some hacking for them, the mom pulled a gun on them and demanded the money. There was an intense exchange, where my player Jessie was ready to blow the old lady away. She was talked out of it, and basically was dragged out of the house. The old lady got her money, but Jessie swore revenge.
 
So there Jessie is gearing up for this raid on the ant spirits grabbing any kind of weapon she wants. She asks the equipment guy (an elf armorer named Warden) for a Panther XXL missile launcher. He gives her one. Then she laughs, tosses it in a duffle bag and.. well... she drove to the old lady's house, blew it up, and drove away laughing.

I know next session we'll have to deal with the fallout of this. Her character is addicted to novacoke (basically future-cocaine) and becoming more of a loose cannon. I have cooked up a little scenario involving a dead man's switch (when the 40 year old guy dies, an automatic message is sent to his imprisoned girlfriend offering her all his money in exchange for revenge).

Upbeat Ending

Now that I am in my late 30's, I just don't like downers in my entertainment any more. This adventure says that Euphoria cannot be saved - the cocoon has altered her irrevocably. I decided I didn't like that. In my game, Euphoria hadn't changed yet. She was comatose, but would recover. So our heroes were in fact able to save her.

Cool twist

One other great thing is that the corporation hid recording gear in the heroes' security armor. 6 weeks after this mission, a simsense movie is released called "Against the Hive Masters" starring our heroes. They loved that so much.

Overall

This is a great adventure. It really "feels" like Shadowrun. Not only that, but it is a very easy read. If you ever run a Shadowrun game, this is definitely one to run. It might even make a great introductory adventure. Part one is very simple and straightforward. Part two is a bit more complex and really shines all the way through.

5 comments:

seaofstarsrpg said...

I have always wanted to run some of the published adventures but my SR of late has not been stable enough to guarantee that I would have the same players for multiple session. Sound like a lot of fun though.

Jessie is really likely to regret that act of violence. The police pretty much have to pay attention to anything that blatant (and they are going to have trouble with their other contacts if they find out that the team offed a contact just because they wanted to be paid what the team promised to pay them).

CoriolanusAtrox said...

The in-game reason insect spirits are immune to normal weapons is that they're spirits, and thus not fully corporeal. Random chunks of metal do not harm spirits, period.

A melee weapon, OTOH, is driven by aperson's will, rather than a mere chemical reaction / kinetic energy. It is this that enables a person to "harm" the spirit. Think of it as banishment by degrees.

And Queen Euphoria was fun. I've run it twice. For a follow-up, several adventures later, I recommend Missing Blood from the Universal Bbrotherhood Boxed Set.

Moose said...

Man oh man, Queen Euphoria. That was one of my favorites. Very tempted to run that one for my group. Did you run it in one large session, or over a couple of sessions?

Looking forward to reading about the other adventures you mentioned.

Sean said...

Seaofstars: Good point about the contacts not being happy! I am trying to work out the logical repercussions, that will definitely be a part of it.

CoriolanusAtrox: I ran Missing Blood back in 2000 and I did a pretty poor job. Thanks for the info... I was really thrown by the "immunity" until I read up a bit.

Moose: It took two sessions. The first part is very straightforward. Part two is more open. As a whole it is a great adventure! You can have a lot of fun putting your own spin on the Euphoria character. We begin Dreamchipper this Sunday!

Anonymous said...

I'm confused by your note on Immunity to Normal Weapons. I am not familiar with older edition's mechanics, but both in SR4 and SR5 no difference is made between melee and ranged weapons, and you say you play SR5. However, Weapon Foci and Spells pierce it, and you can only get weapon foci in melee flavor.

Basically, a Spirit will have twice its Force in Hardened Armor against all non-magical non-allergent attacks. If your modified damage versus the modified hardened armor (AP applies) isn't big enough, you don't break through. It's treated as normal armor if you do enough damage. SR5 adds to that autohits, which is explained in more detail in SR5 core on p397.