I got talking with a friend the other night, and he was complaining that in Shadowrun, as opposed to D&D, there wasn't a sense of continuity between runs. As we talked, I realized that his issue was not a mechanical one, it was an emotional one. We're asked as players, and GMs to invest in out characters, and in our players but as a GM we're not often well prepared to run a story arc.
I wanted to try and sit down, and over the coming few posts set out a sample series of runs that work as an arc, without turning the game into a railroad. To that end I'm going to follow the X-Files story line formula. Where, I have a series of interrelated runs, interspersed with "Monster of the Week" runs. The advantage, if they are done properly, then my players shouldn't know if the run of the day is a story arc, or a MotW.
Let me set the scene. Mid-tier runners, my usual group sits at four players, good gear, a little money in the bank, my team has run together before. A fixer extends a run, good money, some danger, a chance for a little showboating on the side. In short, it's another day in the business. The hook is simple. There's a shipment coming out of the Tacoma docks, four armored 18-wheelers, the team simply needs to delay them. Trucks are on Grid Guide, and can be tracked easily via the Matrix. The longer the team delays the trucks, the better the pay. However, the truck cargo cannot be destroyed, or damaged.
The advantage here is that the team is left with enough information to do the run, and there's ample opportunities for misdirection. If the team digs deep enough they encounter a shell company, and then another, on both the shipper, and receiver end of the transaction. If the team follows the trucks to their destination they find that, after a drive up I-5, the trucks board a heavy-lift hovercraft in north Everett. If the team is watching from the Astral plane, they see that the trucks cargo is inanimate.
The shipment's Matrix trail is a rats nest of shell companies, fronts, accounts, and dead-ends. This relatively simple run allows for a number of follow-up directions.
In the coming posts I'll explore possible follow-up hooks, how I build a story-arc, and a few of my favorite MotW runs.