When a dying yakuza oyuban (a patron/nemesis from our long-running CP2020 campaign) decides to upload his consciousness to the net, you're going to get some trouble. When that consciousness decides to create multiple personality forks to maximise his efficiency, and those same forks develop their own agendas, you're going to unleash chaos.
The PCs are operatives for one such fork, being agents of the shadowy Ghost Cartel. To make international movement easier, they also have cover identities as security contractors for White Circle, a financial shell company, registered in Singapore. Each has White Circle IDs, passports and Corporate Immunity documents, on a scannable sub-dermal chip implanted in their left temple. On operations, they are supported by the data-analysts and hackers of Interface, and a network of fixers, spies, satellites and well-placed informants of Surveillance. These resources are co-ordinated by the mysterious Caretaker.
Encrypted communication is achieved through the team's mind-driver implants, which can be used to access the net, host a tactical comm-net and function as a cellular phone splice. The drivers' inbuilt interface cable also allows Interface direct access to a device if the PC connects to it, for data retrieval or subversion.
With just a week of game-prep, I turned to the Augmented Reality city kit, specifically the Guns For Hire table to help create some mercenary PCs, fast. Also, I hadn't yet put together the Booster Pack, so fleshed out the backgrounds based on the campaign premise and the Guns For Hire detail.
• Rafael Washington
Indentured for life to the Ghost Cartel, after they pulled his broken body out of the ruins of the Silent Sky arcology in Night City. Rafael is a loyal soldier.
African-American, flat-top, mirrored wraparounds, black leather armoured coat, black jeans.
Rafael's Ishiteki cyberarms are porcelain white, as is his throat and lower jaw.
• Dien Bien Phu
French-Vietnamese conflicted Buddhist, former Paris streetgang member and connoisseur of classic Blues artists. Knows kung-fu.
Short and slight with a traditional shaolin buzz-cut, lithe frame beneath loose dark layers of hooded urban street-wear, and flashy sneakers. Like a hip hop ninja.
• The Pink Panzer
Austrian full body conversion cyborg, a brutal brawler infamous on the European Freak Fight circuit. Flirtatious and a bit of a biter.
Heavy Alpha-class chassis crudely spray-painted shocking pink. Leopard-print fur coat, muscle vest, gold chains, loose harem pants and white Nikes.
• Zaneta Zone
Russian veteran of the Moldovan civil war, on Protocol's war crimes list. Sold her DNA and a complete cerebral image to Haruna Biolabs in 2027 (see Anna and Yuri Zone).
Bodybuilder's frame with a short bleach-blonde undercut. Bulky black flak vest and bare arms, tight maroon leather pants and army boots.
The team are sent to a bankrupt city under a strict quarantine, as an outbreak of a strain of Wasting Plague has erupted there, mid-May. They arrive at twilight in two glass-free silver Maserati AV-7s with cartel drivers, in the deserted Plaza Santa Maria. Setting off on foot, they move quickly through the depopulated streets and alleyways towards the Dogaressa Apartments, overlooking the Grand Canal. Their target, underworld broker Matteo Salazar is holed up there. They must assassinate him and retrieve every hard drive on the property, then exfiltrate to Milan.
Matteo (DS12) is a 50 year old, balding, overweight Italian, wearing a kimono and silk boxers, his left leg a glossy black cyber-prosthesis. His skin has a faint hex-pattern, suggesting some form of skinweave, and he has a lion's head tattooed over his heart. He smells of cigar smoke and cologne. A thin scar at the base of his neck indicates he may have a cortical stack.
Matteo's protection at the Dogaressa consists of
Emilio - black armour jacket, black jeans, full respirator, black beanie, blue vinyl gloves - FN P-90 (DS10)
Leo - hooded Burberry mac, grey vented respirator, blue neon eyes, black hair, Reeboks - FN P-90 (DS10)
Armand - orange waterproof hoodie, tracksuit pants, Nikes, chromed arms, smart goggles - H&K MP2013 (DS12)
Caesar - spider-form Dojigiri cybershell, brushed-aluminium, red optics - twin Hurricane SAWs (DS16)
Gianna - leathers, corset, slick-backed black hair, onyx eyepatch shaped like a crow’s head - FN P-90 (DS10)
Omari - African migrant with ritual scars on face, fro, white suit, black shirt - H&K MPK-11 (DS12)
Deiter - skinhead, bulky grey reinforced forehead plating - Raven logo, T-shirt, jeans, boots - AKR-20 (DS12)
Travis - American, silver-grey slim suit, vest, chains, red Converse, tribal facial tattoos - 2x Glocks (DS10)
Piper - semi-transparent turquoise vinyl trouser suit, full Japanese tattoos, heels, blonde ponytail - H&K 77 (DS12)
Cyan - killdoll in a loose camo kimono and bleached shaggy bob, smokes, black eyes - Ishiteki Locust mono-blades (DS14)
Ezequiel - skinny teen savant, cutting edge Zetatech deck, hoodie, sweat pants, can control the smart apartment, can summon a speedboat loaded with an LAI (DS10)
Slide - 20-something female riding shotgun for Caesar, vest top and PJ bottoms - Arasaka WSA (DS10)
First blood came when the Panzer strode boldly down a passage leading to the Dogaressa's courtyard, triggering a pair of monofilament mines, the detonation alerting Caesar who activated the shell's thermoptic camo. Zaneta chastised him and followed cautiously, an MPK-11 in each hand.
Washington and Phu decided to climb up the balconies of a neighbouring building, using Phu's spider-silk rope. I forgot to give them an Upgrade for it, but they managed anyway. Then, weapons drawn, they made their way through the derelict apartment, heading for the other side overlooking the courtyard.
Armand and Leo were the first to be seen by the Panzer, who rushed Armand pushing him around a corner. Zaneta opened up on Leo with her SMGs, taking him down to DS3. Emilio went to cover Leo, injuring Zaneta slightly, who took cover. Washington then opened up from a balcony above with his MP-2013. Phu went looking for a door leading out to the courtyard.
Zaneta and the Panzer end up pinned down by Caesar's burst fire, but can't locate where it's coming from. Washington, having killed Emilio, follows Phu down to the courtyard door and listens, as Hurricane fire chews up the masonry.
In an unusually co-ordinated assault the team rush the annex off the courtyard, mowing down Leo and Armand. Caesar is spotted moving rapidly by Washington, the Panzer rushing in and pummelling the shell with his hydraulic rams, then throwing the badly dented remains into the canal.
The group then congregate at the front door, but hesitate while they plan. Inside Gianna, lies in wait. When they finally enter, Gianna goes full auto with her P90, injuring Zaneta, before Washington rushes and attacks her with his Ishiteki Locust mono-blades. The entrance hall floor tiles are now a sticky, slippery mess.
They move quickly now, leap frogging and covering one another as they head deeper into the building. Zaneta turned her focus to room sweeping for hard drives, while the others engaged Omari and Deiter in a protracted gun battle in the centre of the property.
At this stage, I totally forgot Matteo had hackers on-site, so they did effectively nothing. Oops.
Piper and Travis were dispatched easily through gunfire and the Panzer's 'death hugs'. The team then found the den, where Matteo was holed up with the kill-doll Cyan. Washington got into a spectacular monoblade fight with the synthetic, rolled double 6, followed by another 6, and cut the doll in two, as it leapt over the broker's desk towards him. Phu then put two rounds into Salazar, dropping him, but not killing him. Washington finished him off with his blades. The pair didn't think to look for a stack, so left the body on the floor of the den, and went looking for HDs. On Matteo's computer they discovered v-mail exchanges between Salazar and someone called The Puppeteer, so they copied it all and sent it to Surveillance.
Meanwhile, Zaneta and the Panzer made short work of Ezequiel and Slide, the former being hosed with bullets while jacked-in, Slide body slammed and crushed as she tried to bolt. Caesars man-shaped bioshell was found in a back bedroom, connected to a deck, and was subject to a coup de grace from the Panzer's Magnum.
Confident they had all the drives, and everyone was dead, they hot footed it back through the streets before they were picked up by Polizia di Stato drones. Jumping into the Maseratis, they left Venice for a rendezvous with their contact, Alexander Pope, in Milan.
As this was our first session playing Sprawl Goons, as well as contending with Skype, we had a few minor issues. As GM, I didn't utilise the Glitch and Upgrade rolls as much as I should have, I forgot about the netrunners, and failed to accurately handle the NPCs' diminishing Difficulty Scores, so a couple of Matteo's solos went down too easy. The players were also operating as if they were still playing CP2020, finding it a little bit different. But, all-in-all, it was a fun and pretty high octane session.
Next time: Operation 2: Tokyo-Chiba