Part 2: The Vault HuntersPart 02 - The Vault Hunters
The thread has voted, and our protagonist will be Rosa, the Female Human Mage!
She's very determined to get whatever nonsense is going down this time sorted out.
Here are her stats. A few choices here might seem a little odd, but that's mostly because we're going to try and hit as many skill/stat checks (of which there are noticeably more than in the previous game) as possible. We'll also be starting with the Corporate etiquette, and will grab at least Security and probably a third one later down the line. Etiquettes likewise see a fair bit more use than they did in The Dead Man's Switch (from this point on simply referred to as "DMS"), and while some are still more useful than others, none of them are complete trap choices like Street used to be.
Now without further ado, let's get this show on the autobahn.
We're once again taking the role of a shadowrunner, albeit one with actual work and non-deceased acquaintances this time. Progress!
Also while it's mentioned in the OP, I'm going to repeat it here: Be especially careful about spoilers in the thread if you know your Shadowrun lore but haven't played this game. I'm going to tell you right now that just like the Brotherhood and insect spirits in DMS, there are going to be plot points in this game which might be common knowledge to Shadowrun veterans but are still considered spoilers for this game. Stuff related to dragons and Berlin are obviously the main things to watch out for.
(While there's some overlap with the soundtrack from Returns which was mostly the handiwork of the SNES Shadowrun composer Marshall Parker and his son, most new tracks such as this one were composed by either Sam Powell, the composer for the Sega Shadowrun game, or Jon Everist who later went on to compose the entire soundtrack for Hong Kong. All tracks added in Director's Cut are Everist's.
I personally really like the soundtrack of this game, so I encourage everyone to give the music links a listen. Even the ambient tracks! They're good!)
We have a snazzy van this time around too. Driving it all the way to the courtyard of the place we're going to break into was a pretty bold approach though.
[You know it wont last. You know it for what it is: a pleasant illusion that will shatter at the sound of the first gunshot.]
There's a lot more [descriptive text] in this game than the last, so get used to seeing much more text-only images.
It's convenient to have a decker as the team leader, means you'll never have to hire one. Let's just hope Monika here isn't into poetry...
Were on a tight timetable. I want to enter the estate, find the basement, open the data vault, extract the files, and bolt. 10 minutes, top-to-bottom.
Not many people could pull off tattoos like that, but I think Dietrich here ranks amongst them.
[Monika's eyes twinkle with mischief.] Maybe.
How many times have I told you? You cant trust anything that comes out of a dragons mouth. That trid-trash will rot your brain.
As we'll find out later Dietrich is a shaman of the Dragonslayer totem, so dragon-hosted talk shows like Wyrm Talk are pretty much destined to get scathing 1-star reviews from the man.
[She grins.] It's educational. Besides, this should be a milk run. Security is supposed to be light. A few automatic weapons, no armor. With a little luck, they'll never know we were here.
In my experience, theres no such thing as a milk run.
In Glory's case, "razor-clawed" isn't an euphenism for unclipped fingernails.
They may only be private security, but their bullets dont know that. I can patch you up if I have to... but I'd rather not have to.
I imagine the person with giant hand razors also being your medic is a great motivator for avoiding getting hurt in the first place.
Our outside help isn't wearing a top hat or talking like an idiot, another promising sign.
Excellent. Thank you, Eiger.
Just doing my job. Eiger out.
You said "quick" twice.
[She grins again.] "Wyrm Talk" is on tonight.
[Glory raises an eyebrow. Slightly.]
It cannot be overstated how much life crew members with actual personalities breath into this game. Of all the improvements from The Dead Man's Switch, and there are many, it is by far the most significant one for me.
This is where we take control, and we start by following Monika's advice. The van serves the same purpose Jake and his stash did in DMS: We get to pick one weapon and after that the rest of our gear which depends on our skill choices.
As before our weapon pick is the rifle, purely because it's worth the most money. Being a fancy spellcaster, we also get the basic Mage weapon, Powerbolt I.
Our magical selection is incredibly dire as we only get Manabolt I, a single-target low damage spell with a two-turn cooldown. It'll get better though, oh yes.
We also get 1250 nuyen and some basic supplies. The medkit and frag grenade are unchanged from before, but our Trauma Kit provider has changed from DocWagon to 'Bund für Mobilen Notfall-Arzteinsatz' (Mobile Medical Emergency Service), or BuMoNa for short. Aside from the name, there's been a significant addition to their functionality - they now auto-revive the person holding one if they go down. This makes Trauma Kits about a thousand times more reliable than they were across the pond.
With our gear sorted, it's time to get started.
Gotta say, hitting a place like this as our first mission feels a hell of a lot cooler than beating up some gangers in a slum. We can head right on in, no lockpicking minigame or anything required.
Cool bike. We now have control over the entire group, so let's a look-see at who we're working with here.
Somewhat contrary to expectations, the hype for Monika's Matrix skills isn't entirely unfounded and she's downright great at decking. Outside cyberspace she's much less impressive, but can handle a rifle with some proficiency.
The boss must get the best picks as her rifle is a tier above ours. She also comes with a pair of medkits, a frag grenade and an Assassin ESP for to assist in her cyberadventures.
Glory is primarily a melee fighter and a medic, and also the tankiest member of our group. She has impressive Strength but fairly low skill values, not going above 2 points in anything.
The Savalette Guardian is a pistol that didn't exist in DMS, and it's actually a fairly high-tier one despite its low damage. As per the description it comes with a burst fire ability, though it only hits the enemy twice despite using three bullets which is kind of bull.
Unsurprisingly she has more medical supplies than the rest of the team combined, with 2 Basic Medkits, 2 Advanced Medkits, a Basic Trauma Kit and a basic concussion grenade for some offensive supporting.
Aside from Monika's datajack, she's also the only member of the team with cyberware. It's real heavy essence-eating old-school stuff too. Her semi-unique trick is the Adrenaline Pump which gives her a temporary AP boost, a real nice thing to have since AP is still by far the most valuable resources in the game. 6 turn cooldown though.
Dietrich is a shaman with some ability in Mage spells as well, and he acts primarily as the group's support character.
His weapon of choice are throwing knives which, while not particuarly destructive at least with his stats, flush enemies out of cover on hit which can be incredibly useful as cover is more important than ever in Director's Cut. More on that once we get into a fight.
His spell selection is actually pretty impressive, packing three evergreen support spells joined by an AP-draining AoE for offense. Not shown here is his Dragonslayer Idol Shaman power, which provides him with a temporary aura that reduces the damage taken by anyone inside of it by 3.
He's also packing our third Trauma Kit, and in true shamanistic fashion, a pair of level 2 Air Elemental fetishes. For all your on-the-go spirit summoning needs.
That about covers it, so let's look around.
No joke, I'm not sure if even Telestrian had a private museum in his place. There's a variety of things we can look at here.
We can take a closer look at this vase here.
Since we've come all this way, we should definitely bring a souvenir.
Okay, vase, you're coming with me.
Not a smart move, Kleiner. We have a job to do, and hauling a great big vase around isn't part of it.
I was thinking we could use it to smuggle Monika into the data vault.
[Dietrich stifles a chuckle.] An excellent plan, Rosa. I support it fully. We should get moving, though. We mustn't keep the others waiting.
Pff. If we look at it again:
Rosa 0, Pottery 1. For now...
Three doors here, one locked.
The intel says the elevator should be to the north.
There are two kinds of RPG players in the world, those who would now immediately go north and those would avoid north like a highly infectious plague until they've been to everywhere else first.
This LP will be strictly adhering to the latter philosophy. To the south!
Oh, uh, hello. Is this er, where we can buy tickets for the museum?
Guess not. This lone guy isn't much of a threat, but he'll be a great target dummy while I quickly go over the changes to combat in Director's Cut. First of all, armor now serves as flat damage reduction rather than being the nebulous stat which sometimes led to taking less damage from hits, maybe. Now 1 Armor = 1 Damage Reduction up to the maximum of 10, simple as that. Armor is represented by the white pips above characters' health bars, so in the above picture the guard has 0 and Rosa has 1. As a result low-damage weapons have a real hard time doing anything to heavily armored characters, but there are also armor-reducing effects to get around that.
The second big change is in the cover system. Previously increasingly heavy cover simply made you harder to hit, now it also effects damage like so:
No cover = Always take either full (100%) or critical (150%/200%) damage - never reduced damage.
Light cover = Always take full (100%) damage - never critical OR reduced damage.
Medium/Heavy cover = Always take either full (100%) or reduced (50%) damage - never critical damage.
Cover bonuses now also apply only to characters directly next to the cover in question. Overall these changes make cover far more important than before, and also make DMS-style critfests much more rare since even light cover eliminates crits from direct attacks entirely. Another result is that melee combat is both more high-risk and high-reward as cover never applies to melee attacks but the attacking character is also left exposed.
Some attacks like Dietrich's throwing knives and Glory's claws flush enemies out of cover, making them more valuable than their damage makes it seem. With the guard now out of his Medium cover, you can see our hit chance has gone from 71% to 86% and our crit chance from 0% to 42%.
As a sidenote, Director's Cut added all kinds of cool visual and effect enhancements and the visible bleeding effect is one of them.
The exposed guard is now easy pickings for Monika's rifle.
The terminal next to him can be operated to open the locked door in the previous room, but it requires a Decking check of 2. Rosa can't do it but Monika can, so we can simply use her to do it. This sort of wizardry would've been out of the question back in the DMS dark ages.
And speaking of the previous room, it seems like there was more than one security guard watching this place.
Hunkering down in this office seems like a better idea than running out in the open. Dietrich shows off his totem power while Glory gets all jacked up on adrenaline.
In DMS this guard would've probably been considered to be behind cover because of the desk inbetween her and Monika, but she has no such luck here.
More visual improvements, even basic Powerbolt looks all flashy now. Also while it won't be apparent in screenshot format, all spellcasting animations have been sped up a lot in Director's Cut which I assure you is a very welcome change. All in all everything is a lot snappier and quicker than before.
There are even various new death animations! In DMS everyone just fell down backwards the exact same way, now it depends on the direction they're killed from amongst other things.
Glory shows off more added effects as she literally tears apart the remaining guard, chunks of her flesh flying all over the place. Gnarly.
With all that murder business finished, we head through the newly opened eastern door. A familiar jackpoint icon awaits us inside, and Monika gets to work with it. There's also a vent on the wall, but sadly our droning days are behind us and we can't make use of it. It simply leads to the northern room we haven't been to yet, in case you were wondering.
Unfortunately for all the DC improvements, the Matrix sections are the same as ever - fancy-looking but kinda dull. It's the same ol' IC and largely the same ol' cyberskills.
As you may have surmised from the 99% hit chances, these things don't put much of a fight against Monika and her Assassin ESP.
At least this Matrix section is extremely short, only one room and three enemies total between her and the data store.
Data stores are fun, it's like opening digital and illegally procured Christmas presents. Let's see what we got.
Paydata, just like the old days. Should be able to make some extra dough out of this.
With that out of the way, Monika jacks out and we head onwards, opening the door to the north.
Man, they got some serious on-site security in this place. You can see a sparkly spirit summoning point on top of the glass cases which as before can be used by shamans to summon spirits, but I think we're again better off holding down the fort where we're at.
Especially since we have a combination of heavy cover and a Heavy Leyline right here. Leylines work the same as before, empowering spellcasters standing on them with bigger leylines providing bigger bonuses. Since we're playing a Mage this time, we'll definitely be taking advantage of these whenever possible.
Here are the exact bonuses provided by leylines, for those of you who like to know precise numbers. As you can see Heavy leylines are hilariously powerful, and getting to make use of one is always a treat.
We waste no time zapping down the first guard with our awesome magical might. As awesome as it can get with just Powerbolt I and Manabolt I, in any case.
Even more guards show up, a mage and a grenadier this time. While DMS took forever to take off the kid gloves, DF skips straight to brass knuckles.
Luckily they're still bad at actually hitting things, especially on Normal. Our Heavy Cover helps of course. We might up the difficulty at some point if it looks like it won't bug out again.
Softened by the rest of the team, the grenadier gets a scratch he will never recover from.
More leyline-boosted zappage takes care of the enemy mage.
The last guy goes down a more traditional way, with rifle bullets.
Floor clear, and the way downstairs is open!
We could cut this update here, but let's keep going for a little while longer.
Our group finds themselves in front a pair of large double doors. Locked ones.
Bigger than on the schematic.
The schematic didn't have a date, our client may have old intel. Still, our instructions were clear. The data we're looking for should be just on the other side of this door.
Wonder what kind of data we're actually here to steal. But we probably weren't paid to ask questions like that.
Hold on, Monika who's in charge while you're jacked in?
We've been through this before, Eiger. You're not in the KSK anymore. And that "chain of command" nonsense doesn't fly in the shadows. We dont *need* rules and regulations to guide us. The same principles that apply to the Flux State...
It's probably mentioned later, but KSK stands for 'Kommando Spezialkräfte' (Special Forces Command) which is one of the three Allied German States' elite military force groups.
Please. Spare me the lecture. Your politics have nothing to do with this.
Best get used to it, Eiger love.
[She sighs.] Look, its a simple question. Years of experience tell me that it needs an answer.
It's not like we did anything like this while Monika was getting the paydata upstairs, but I guess it never hurts to be safe.
Eiger's right, Monika. We should have a second in command... just in case.
Very well. We'll do this one Eigers way. While Im jacked in, Rosa is in charge.
[There is a pause, then Eiger's voice crackles out of the commlink again.]
Rosa? Did I hear you right? Youre putting the *rookie* in command?
Rude. As if a rookie would start with 63 Karma like we did.
I'm no rookie, Eiger, and you know it.
[Monika cuts in, still smiling.] You heard what I said, Eiger.
...This is ridiculous. I know that this is a joke to you, Monika. But I'm telling you...
[Without another word, Eiger's image flickers and fades from Monika's communicator.]
Sorry about that. Eiger can be... inflexible. The legacy of a long military career. But she knows what she's doing, and she means well.
It's a legitimate concern. She hardly knows me.
No sense in needlessly antagonizing the people we need to work with.
[Monika's eyes narrow.] There's a thin line between concern and insubordination. You let me know if she crosses it. Anyway, enough chatter. Let's get this done.
Bring back some more paydata if you find any!
Uh, I don't think that's supposed to happen
Okay, that is definitely not supposed to happen!
Oh shit oh fuck what do we do, uh
[The commingled scents of charred meat and ozone fill the air. You've seen the effects of biofeedback before, but nothing like this.]
We need a medical expert!
Wait we are a medical expert
[To your trained eye, what has happened to Monika is plain as day. That doesn't make it any easier to accept. Your friend has suffered a massive stroke.]
[From her symptoms, it appears that Monika has suffered a cerebral hemorrhage on a massive scale. It's a miracle that she's even alive, and your stomach sinks with the realization that there's nothing you can do to help her.]
Damn it! What the hell happened to her in there?
[With an effort, Monika opens her eyes again and meets yours. You see pain and fear in her gaze... and something else. Hope?]
[A look of resignation washes over Monika's face, and she stops fighting. Her gore-slick jaw goes slack, and she dies.]
Fucking hell, what a way to go. Suddenly our spellcasting career feels all kinds of safe compared to being a decker.
Guess we really will see you on the other side, Monika.
These guys rushing in from the other side of the killer door seem intent on hastening our reunion.
I think this is a good place to stop for now. A cliffhanger on the very first update, that's Germany for you.