Part 4: IntroductionsPart 04 - Introductions
We start the day with the most important meal of all, karma gain, while our compatriots each walk off to their own personal corners of the safe house. This seems like a good opportunity to get to know them a little better, and maybe get their thoughts on what's gone down. Might as well start from Eiger, try and start clearing out this bad air as soon as possible. If she's willing to talk at all of course.
Wait, oh no.
Oh shit. Dante.
[Dietrich shakes his head.]
Don't worry, boy. We'll look after you.
[He closes his eyes.] That's when I realized something bad had happened.
This has just been the worst day. I'm so sorry, little guy.
I guess the dog is going with you, Rosa.
From here Dante will follow us around while we're walking around the safe house and the Kreuzbasar itself.
[He stares at the floor.] And now, I think we should all take a moment.
While we're having our somber moment, I'll mention that you can just brush Dante away and ignore him altogether. If you continue ignoring him he'll eventually become depressed and stop looking for your attention, instead just looking at you sadly whenever you pass by. You fucking monster.
On a lighter note you can apologize to him repeatedly and he'll eventually cheer up again, even if you ignored him at first. Also there are achievements tied to how you treat Dante, and the one you get for purposefully neglecting him is statistically the rarest one in the game.
The northwest living quarter section is where Eiger and Glory hang out. Not exactly a luxury hotel but at least it has a roof and a bathroom with a door. The locker in the corner acts as our item stash this time around. Whatever we pick up but don't have space for during missions or while shopping will go there automatically, and stashed items can also be lent to companions before missions. Unlike in the previous game you even get them back afterwards, making it a much more useful feature here.
We need to talk about Monika.
Not right now, we don't. Don't push me on this, Rosa. One of these days, we're gonna hash this out, and you can talk all you like about the clusterfuck that killed one of my best friends. But it won't be today.
I guess this was to be expected, the wounds are pretty raw still. Plus she seems like the type for whom a person's deeds matter more than their words, and from her point of view our only deed of note so far has been getting Monika killed.
Fair enough. But before I go, I have something else to say.
Spit it out, then. Let's hear it.
We could demand an apology for her behavior which she takes a bit poorly. But if we're to function as a team we need to avoid antagonizing each other, there are a lot more worthwhile targets for our ire out there in the world.
You're wrong about me, Eiger. I intend to prove that to you.
[She stares at you for a moment, then looks away.]
Best of luck with that, Rosa. Now, please... Leave me alone.
All right, Eiger. But this conversation isn't over.
We need to find someone more positive and talkative to converse with. Like, er, Glory?
[In the shadows, individuals such as this are anything but uncommon. But Glory's cyberware is first-generation, all of it. Bulky, invasive, practically museum pieces... this chrome was obsolete well before she was born.]
As you may or may not recall from the last update, she has fairly little Essence left due to the work she's had done. It certainly explains her emotionless demeanor, at least up to a point.
Hey, Glory. How are you holding up?
Don't worry about me. I'm solid.
One might consider that a pun if we were talking to literally anybody else.
You sure? You look like you're a million miles away.
I'll be with you when it counts. Right now it doesn't.
Right. So, any thoughts on what we should do next?
Find our missing client. Extract some answers. Beyond that? Find another decker. Monika won't be easy to replace. Best start looking now.
She's right, we're a pretty crippled bunch of runners without a decker. I guess we could always hire some randos, but having someone more permanent would definitely be preferable. And cheaper.
I also have a question for you, Glory. Of the personal kind.
Sure, I understand. But I still need to talk to you.
If personal space and privacy are high on your list of values, you've landed in the wrong group.
[She lets out a weary sigh.] Ask your questions, but do it quickly. I have things to do.
You can't have started running the shadows much more than five years ago, tops. So what's with the vintage chrome?
It was cheap. It gets the job done.
End of discussion.
"Cheap and gets the job done" might work with a computer mouse or something, but in the context of replacing most of your body with metal that looks old enough to have been forged by a medieval blacksmith?
I don't think so. I've known a lot of street sams in my time, but I've never met anyone who'd voluntarily install cyberware that old.
You're right. There's more to it than I'm letting on. But I'm not interested in talking about it.
Alright alright, let's try for a different angle.
I also can't help but notice that you seem... guarded. Withdrawn.
That's my problem, and none of your concern.
If whatever happened to you has impaired your ability to trust me, then it is my concern. C'mon, Glory. Talk to me.
Fine, maybe we've done enough incessant probing into Glory's personal matters for today. We should probably give her some space.
Just kidding, as a magically active person we can read auras in astral space and thus don't have to rely on such boring nonsense as "conversing" or "consent" to find out things about other people.
Spellcasters, no sense of right and wrong!
[As the astral plane shimmers into view, you focus on Glory.
You can still see her with your corporeal vision: her delicate frame, the bulky cyberware that breaks her silhouette, the faraway look in her eyes. But laid over the top of her physical body, there is a slight shimmer - her aura, damaged though it may be.
The chrome that Glory is sporting has really done a number on her. Whatever she may have been before she went under the knife, her aura is now reminiscent of the room she's standing in: a cold, dead thing, mockingly sculpted into a facsimile of life.
Somewhere within that mutilated aura, a shred of humanity awaits, but finding it isn't going to be easy.]
I didn't want to say anything, but yeah. Did you have a salad for lunch? I can't be sure, but it looks like kale.
You're playing with me. I don't like to be played with.
Did... did I get it?
[Glory is - or was - magically active. The shred of her essence that flitted past your vision left you sure of it. What's more, you'd wager that she had real power once... terrifying power, of a sort that you can only guess at.
All of this was surprising, but it was what you saw behind her aura that chilled you to the core.
There was something connected to Glory's essence, a metaphysical tether stitched into the fabric of her soul. It reminded you of a leash.
You can't say for sure what was holding the other end, but whatever it was, it was enormous and ancient and cruel. And you can't shake the feeling that, as you looked into it, it stared back at you.]
Well... then. That was probably a horrible mistake we just made. Maybe we should just stick to good ol' fashioned physical space, both the cyber- and astral variants are turning out to be all kinds of disturbing today.
We should talk about what I saw in your aura.
I knew that this would happen. Look. My aura is my own business, and none of yours. Understand?
Agreed. But the thing I saw that was tied to your aura is as much my business as it is yours. It saw me, Glory.
Oh alright, that makes it a lot better.
Some of us have bigger problems. For some of us, it takes a more... direct interest. But I fixed that problem years ago.
[She gestures down at the vintage chrome that riddles her small body.]
The interest is still there, but it can't do anything about it any more. Not unless I let it. So drop it, okay?
So she replaced most of her body with old junk to protect herself from... something. Something that's still very much there and awake, from the looks of it.
Alright, let's stop bothering the poor girl for real this time and move on.
So far we haven't had much luck in the art of making friends, but at least Dietrich seems to be pretty cool with us. He even stood up for us against Eiger's accusations earlier.
[Despite all this, there is still an aura of power surrounding the man. He raises his bottle, offering it to you.]
Rosa, welcome. I've got a bottle of schnaps that needs sharing, and we've got a fallen comrade to drink to.
I'll take this opportunity to mention that Dragonfall has far more robust and complex dialogue trees than Dead Man's Switch did, and it's not even remotely feasible for me to show off every interesting choice and line of discussion. For example this chat with Dietrich already has more permutations than any single conversation in DMS. So we'll inevitably miss some cool stuff here and there, but as before I'll do my best to show off the more interesting conversations and point out some alternatives we didn't go for.
Incidentally if we just refuse and leave here, Dietrich's only comment is nodding his head in salute and saying that this isn't the first nor the last evening he's drinking alone. That's real depressing, so let's share a drink with the old guy.
Lemme ask you a question, Rosa. What made you choose to come to Berlin?
The reason why this conversation is especially complex is because this is where we can establish some of Rosa's personal background and motivations.
Why do you want to know?
Monika told me that you moved here from the Rhine-Ruhr-Megaplex. Made it sound like you'd been there for a good many years - successful years, at that. Leads a man to wonder why you packed up and moved here.
I should probably very briefly explain some geographical matters here. What we know as Germany in our world is in Shadowrun the Allied German States or AGS, a collection of semi-autonomous member states with Hannover (not Berlin) serving as the capital. The Rhine-Ruhr Megaplex specifically is an urban sprawl which covers most of the state of North Rhine-Ruhr to the northwest and, like Berlin, is big enough to hold independent self-governing status.
While we're at it, the SOX or Saar-Lorraine-Luxembourg Special Administrative Zone which came up earlier as the area Firewing fell into is an enormous walled-off wasteland, stretching for roughly 9,500 square kilometres (~3,700 square miles), and located on the AGS-French border. It was heavily irradiated as a result of the Cattenom nuclear reactor disaster of 2008. Yep, no magic there, just a good ol' fashioned meltdown gone real bad in France already back in the relatively normal days.
Anyway, we'll keep Rosa's background stuff a little vague here, let everyone establish their own headcanon for the finer details.
I just had to drop out of sight for a while.
But most of the others? Yeah. Even Eiger's hiding out from something.
Really? How do you know?
A more cynical person might point out that finding damaged people in Shadowrun is the most redundant superpower, but when you're in bad shape by cyberpunk dystopian standards, you're really in a bad place.
So things got heavy back in the Ruhrplex, and you decided to bail and head to Berlin. Am I getting that right?
More or less. There wasn't much left for me in the Ruhrplex, and Monika made me a hell of an offer.
So let me ask you: just what was your relationship with Monika, anyway? I know that you two knew each other way back, but she was pretty coy about these things.
Are you always this inquisitive?
Yeah, I suppose. My life's an open book, so I guess I just sort of figure that everyone else's will be, too. So how 'bout it? Wanna fill me in?
Here we can establish whether our relationship with Monika was that of business associates, friends or lovers. Now, I kind of feel the same way about this that I did about the protagonist's relationship with Sam in Dead Man's Switch. Unless you play as a cold mercenary type whose only personal relationships are those of convenience, just being business associates feels a bit too distant considering what a central part the character's death serves in the story.
At the same time I don't feel like the emotional weight of the protagonist having just lost a lover is quite there either. Thus for me the death of a trusted friend fits the overall story the best as it gives just the right amount of personal motivation beyond the obvious wish to not be hunted down and killed by a dragon/minigun ork/mystery organization/whoever it is that's probably gunning for our lives now.
In any case these choices don't really play into anything deeper, it just comes down to roleplaying and personal preference.
We were friends.
Anyway. I've taken enough of your time, and the bottle's almost empty. Thanks for taking the time to talk. For what it's worth, I'm happy you're here with us.
Aww. Well, that makes one of you. Maybe one and a half if you count the dog. We should count the dog.
It's obvious Dietrich is carrying baggage of his own, but it's really hard to dislike the man.
There's nothing else to see here, so let's take a walk around town.
(The hub theme which we'll be hearing a lot of, for obvious reasons. It's the first track so far composed by Jon Everist, my personal favorite of the three Shadowrun composers. His tracks are always very atmospheric, and they also tend to be quite long - I recommend listening them all the way to the end.)
Out and about, just us and Dante. Paul runs his fixer business from an old import shop, which explains the shelves of junk in the room we just came through. The shop itself is located in the northwest corner of the Kreuzbasar.
Here's a more zoomed-out view, I'll be doing these as we go to try and give you a better sense of what's located where. We'll start our outdoors exploration from the lone shopkeeper to the southwest.
Looks like a tech shop, meaning we probably won't find much of use for ourselves here, but it's good to know your neighbors.
Welcome to the Data Haven. Can I help you with something?
I'm in the market for something exotic. What kinds of tech do you carry?
Once, in a past life, this would've been music to our ears. Now we'll only browse out of idle curiosity.
Let's see what you've got.
Not much has changed from DMS times as far as this selection is concerned, so I won't show it all off. Slow is a new program, the rest are pretty much the same as they ever were. She also sells cyberdecks, ESPs, drone repair kits, the works.
And drones of course. Not this time, old friends. You've earned your rest.
One thing of note is that she sells the Matrix Courier outfit which has gotten a redesign in both looks and stats, now being much cheaper but also statistically weaker.
Heading back past the safe house entrance, we can see an U-bahn entrance to the north which we can use to head into missions later. For now the conversation between two orks nearby sounds more interesting.
*Sigh* I'm not surprised. Altruism often comes with an expiration date.
Let's see what this is all about.
Ah... hello, human. As you can see, I am in the middle of a conversation with my assistant.
Some bad prior experience with humans, methinks. Sadly not an unusual phenomenon.
But we do not want to be impolite. Is there something that I can do for you?
I couldn't help overhearing your conversation. I take it that you run a charity of some sort?
[He nods.] Yes. It isn't much, but we do what we can.
Such as? Give me specifics.
A *good* start, Samuel. You mustn't be so hard on yourself. There are limits to what one man - even a *determined* man - can accomplish.
Selflessness is definitely a resource suffering from eternal scarcity in this world.
This is true.
[He nods to the ork at his side.]
Thankfully, some of the residents that I've helped over the years have come back around to help me.
Now, do you have any more questions...? If not, I will bid you good day. I don't wish to sound self-important or rude, but there are many pressing matters that demand my time.
"Fifteen assorted orks and trolls?" Does that mean that other races aren't welcome within your organization?
That's taking a rather narrow view of what we do. Yes, it is true that my assistants are all members of the Goblinoid races. It is also true that before they accepted my help, they were thieves, gangers, and deadbeats.
This is not because they were bad people. This is because those of us with Goblinoid traits are feared, mistreated, and denied gainful employment by a society that hates us.
The more things change...
As a non-ork/troll we could make a hilariously slimy comment regarding his use of 'exclusionary language' regarding our race, but we're better than that. Orks and trolls can disagree with him too, of course.
It is. I agree with what you're doing here - you're filling a vital need in the community.
[He nods slightly.] Thank you for saying so. Now, is there something else that you'd like to talk about?
Are you accepting donations by any chance?
Yes, of course! We're actually desperate for them, truth be told... people seem more intent on taking care of themselves than they are in providing for the less fortunate.
Of course, these concepts are not unrelated. As poverty rates increase, so does the crime rate. Assisting the needy increases the quality of life for all.
This is an ongoing sidequest, every time we visit Samuel we can choose to throw some money his way to help him reach his goalposts and to improve his shelter. There's no need to fork over the whole sum at once (or to give anything at all obviously), but I think we can spare 250 nuyen for a good cause. It's out of our tight spell purchasing budget, but we'll easily make that back and more even with just one run.
A successful run that is, not like that last one.
Here, just take what you need. I've got you covered.
[His eyes widen.] This is... incredibly generous. Thank you, meine Freundin.
Not a big deal, Sam. Do good with it.
With this donation, we have reached our first goal. Thank you so much for your kind assistance! I will put your contribution to work stocking the shelter with blankets and heaters.
Not a problem.
Always nice when you can do some good without having to screw over and/or murder someone else in the process.
This old troll looks like he has some stories to tell.
Haven't been here long. I'm Rosa.
New to the Kreuzbasar then, I had heard Monika had some fresh meat in her stable. Good to meet you, Rosa. Name's Aleksi Laine.
Ah, a Finntroll.
So what's your place in the Kreuzbasar?
No place, really. Just an old relic, rusting away.
I see. There's something you should know about Monika...
Something happened to her on the run.
How'd you know?
It was written all over your face. I had a feeling, besides. Monika almost always comes around after a run to check on everybody. She's long overdue, and now here you are in her place. So she's either severely wounded or outright dead. Which is it?
Monika must've really cared about this community if she went to those kinds of lengths. No doubt the feeling was mutual.
We lost her.
And a good friend.
Yeah. Anyway, I'll leave you be.
Our last stop today is the eastern portion of the Kreuzbasar, where a lone vendor is hawking wares of some sort.
Wait, did he say 'magic'?
If you've got the cash, ol' Zaak's got the flash!
Can't say I'm familiar with that particular spell, but maybe it's a local specialty. Let's check it out.
Guten Tag, meine Freundin. You here for some magic? Because Zaak Flash...
[He gestures at himself with a dramatic flourish.]
...is your magic man.
Magic? Are you a street mage?
Ah. Ah well, now that we've had the chance to take a better look at him, it's probably safer this way. For everyone involved.
Well, in that case, let's talk about the magic you've got in that bag there. What've you got?
Oh, a little bit of everything. I've got your zen and your hyper, your nitro and your novacoke. If you want it, I've got it.
[Zaak leans toward you and lowers his voice to a conspiratorial whisper.]
I've even got a special concoction of my own design, but I wouldn't recommend it unless you're serious about getting high. So. You wanna conduct a little business?
What's the deal with the special concoction?
As a rule of thumb, if your local drug dealer starts advertising his goods being cut with "spirit residue" or being mixed with his personal "secret blend" of anything whatsoever, you might want to consider getting your products from somewhere else.
[He produces a small packet filled with iridescent purple granules from the pocket of his dirty jeans.]
You wanna get high? Buy some novacoke and throw yourself a party. But if you wanna *soar,* you get yourself some Flash. Here, take a look.
Whatever's in the stuff, he's right about one thing: Flash packs a hell of a punch. 2 AP even for just one turn is a very powerful effect, and there's no harm in extra movement either. ¥700 a pop though? Where the hell does this guy think he is?
So what's up with the bandages on your hands?
[Zaak snorts out a short burst of laughter. He waggles his bandaged hands in front of you.]
Oh, these? Nothin' much, chummer, nothin' much. Tussled with a spirit back in Amsterdam. Y'know, we elves are a very spiritual people.
Elves can immediately call him out on that claim, but we'll have to assume he knows better than us.
You fought a spirit with your bare hands?
That's... that's just not right. On more than one level.
I'm calling bullshit on this one.
[His smile vanishes.] You're calling me a liar? To my face?
You'd rather I do it behind your back?
[In an instant, Zaak's disturbingly white smile returns.]
I just can't stay mad at you. All right, chummer, you get that one for free. So where was I? Oh, right, the spirits.
[Flash lowers his voice to a conspiratorial whisper.]
Between you and me, my mojo is stronger than any corp wagemage's. Take those rat-scum bastards at Aztechnology. They cast spells all day and all night, right? *Fire* this and *lightning* that, just tossin' 'em around like candy.
Well, me, I'm just doing my thing, *not* casting spells. I'm *storing up* my energy, *saving* it. Can you *imagine* how much magic I have?
I love this game.
I don't think that's how it works, Zaak.
Trust me, friend. I have secret knowledge.
[He slowly turns his head from side to side to give you a good look at his upturned ears.]
Like I said. It's in the blood.
Alright, it's pretty obvious this guy might as well have never seen an elf in his life. Could it be that...?
Y'know, cosmetic otoplasty has come a long way in recent years. You could probably stand to have those ears touched up. The surgical scars are hard to miss.
[All at once, the smile vanishes from Zaak's face. A bead of sweat traces its way down his cheek.]
Look, you can't tell anyone about this, all right? The "I'm a magic elf" schtick boosts my sales.
Uh-huh. So. What'll you give me to keep your little secret?
50 nuyen and a free sample of highly questionable substance from a highly questionable source. No way we're going to take this stuff anywhere near our or anyone else's body before someone in the know has taken a better look at it.
Now, are we done, or what?
Yeah, I don't need anything else today.
Yeah yeah, pennies and poodles.
We've still got a few more stops to make here before heading to our destination, but I'd say that's enough weirdness for one day. See you next time.