Part 36: A Harebrained SchemePart 36 - A Harebrained Scheme
Our adventures in the magical realm of the Knight-King have come to an end, but our own tale of crime and intrigue is still far from over. Before we bring our bounty of flesh to Doctor Ezkibel, we have a fresh new batch of crew level ups to sample through. It'll be the last one of its kind for a while as the next and final crew advancement won't happen until we start the path to the endgame.
Still, this is where the upgrades start getting pretty juicy so let's dig in.
Sharpshooter: Eiger gains a customized "Ranger Arms SM-3" sniper rifle. DMG: 20, Capacity: 6, pierces 2 armor.
Huntress: Eiger gains the cyberware "Wired Reflexes". Adds +1 Movement (passive). When activated, user will dodge the first attack against them each round. Cost: 1 AP. Duration: 3 turns. Cooldown: 4 turns.
A choice that can roughly be divided between getting better at sniping and getting better at shotgunning. Eiger's current sniper rifle is a Walther MA-2100 (DMG: 18, Capacity: 5, pierces 1 armor) and the SM-3 is one tier above it, making it the best non-Smartlink sniper rifle available in the game. The "customized" part unique to Eiger simply means it has 2 armor piercing instead of 1. A cute little upgrade that helps Eiger do what she already does best.
Our other option is the ol' WRWRT (or Wired Reflexes With Reflex Trigger) which is one of the better pieces of cyberware in the game. Passive +1 to Movement can be considered the main upside, and the free dodge once per round allows Eiger to be more aggressive when getting up close and personal. The only reason the activated ability isn't downright amazing is because the free dodge will always activate on the first incoming attack, even if that attack would've missed anyway.
All in all Huntress is a pretty clear winner here, Eiger's already a murder machine at sniping range with her current rifle and the extra movement makes it easier for her to get up close or further away depending on the situation. Plus unlike weapons, there's no way to buy cyberware for crew members.
Conductivity: The AoE radius of Dietrich's "Electro Core" spell is increased by 1 tile in all directions.
Static: Dietrich's "Electro Core" spell now casts 1 AP to cast instead of 2.
If you've been making perk choices based on which icon looks cooler then it's all crumbling down around you now, ain't it. In case you've forgotten, Electro Core is an area spell unique to Dietrich which deals decent HP damage, minor AP damage, and removes 1 Armor from all affected targets thanks to a previous perk we picked. Picking Conductivity lets Electro Core hit targets up to 3 tiles away from the center which makes it pretty enormous:
The real boost provided by Conductivity is that rather than simply adding an extra damage zone to the outer edge of the AoE, it expands the central damage zone by 1 tile which then widens the other damage zones in the process. To make a long story short, the practical outcome is that in addition to an increased radius, the perk causes all targets barring anyone standing in the dead center (who already took full damage) take about 33% more damage than they would without it.
There's a pretty big catch though; Electro Core isn't party-friendly, and with an expanded radius it becomes downright party-hostile. Especially with Glory running around clawing people and/or Eiger taking advantage of her new super reflexes to really get in the thick of it, landing a 4-tile area spell without burning your own party members' precious AP in the process can get pretty tricky.
For that reason I generally prefer picking the much more boring Static. Electro Core is miles easier to weave in between Dietrich's support spells at 1 AP than at 2, especially while we're still confined to 2 base AP. It's not as obvious a choice as most of these though, and you can't go super wrong with either.
Enhanced Adrenals: Glory's "Adrenal Pump" lasts one additional round, for a total of 4 rounds. Cooldown: 5 turns.
Adrenal Injection: Glory can use her "Adrenal Pump" ability on a downed ally to revive them at 25% HP. Shares a cooldown with "Adrenal Pump". Cooldown: 5 rounds.
If Dietrich's perk choice was a tough one, Glory's is anything but. Not only is the extra turn of +1 AP from Enhanced Adrenals incredibly good, but the alternative is unbelievably weak. Even if we're being super generous and say you need to revive someone once per fightfights in Dragonfall can get pretty tough if you're not used to these kinds of games after allAdrenal Injection is still not worth taking. A 25% revive is equal to a ¥250 Basic Trauma Kit, except it's worse since Trauma Kits activate automatically on death!
But hell, even if it was a full 100% revive and came with a free lollipop, it sharing a cooldown with Adrenal Pump is just nonsense. Being able to cast Haste on herself for 1 AP is what makes Glory worth using in the first place, and forgoing it for the sake of an extra Trauma Kit use is like going into a boxing match without a mouth protector in exchange for a set of cheap dentures to use after your teeth get smashed in.
Just looking at this dumb perk is making me annoyed, so let's pick the excellent Enhanced Adrenals and move on.
Deck Upgrade: Blitz gains a "Fairlight Excalibur" cyberdeck, replacing his old VirtuaX deck.
Cyberware Installation: Blitz gains a hydraulic jack cyberware, increasing his Movement by 4 for one round. AP cost: 0.
So first of all, Cyberware Installation's description is completely off; Hydraulic Jack actually increases Blitz's Movement by 3 for 2 rounds and it also neglects to mention the cooldown which is 6 rounds.
This could potentially an interesting choice because the Hydraulic Jack is pretty neat. Bonus Movement isn't as good as bonus AP, but it's still a very nice thing to have in almost any situation. The main issue with it is that it's an option for a guy who spends most of his time sticking behind cover marking and finishing off targets rather than running around. On Glory or Eiger it'd be excellent, on Blitz it's just pretty dang alright.
Meanwhile the Fairlight Excalibur is, as it was back in Dead Man's Switch, the top-tier deck available in the game and a sizeable upgrade from the VirtuaX with the most noticeable improvement being a jump from 3 AP to 4 AP. Blitz is already a very solid decker and with the Excalibur he handily surpasses even a player-made one at this stage of the game where the Excalibur is not yet available from stores.
But what really seals the deal in Deck Upgrade's favor is the fact that unlike normal weapons, you can't lend a cyberdeck to a companion! If you don't pick the Excalibur here, Blitz'll be stuck with the VirtuaX until the end of the game which is a grim fate indeed. Before Director's Cut and the crew advancement system rolled around Blitz was considered a pretty weak companion, but DC made him a lot more viable and this perk is a big reason why.
TL;DR: Deck Upgrade is amongst the more important perks in the game and you should probably pick it 100% of the time if you use Blitz at all.
Samuel's done talking to us now that he no longer needs our money, but at least we can admire the plaque bearing our name every time we pass through here. Plus it's nice to know which building to haunt should we ever kick the bucket during a mission.
Now, let's go dump this bioware on someone who can make better use of it before it starts to smell.
Incidentally, Ezkibel will fire you if you take the run but fail to actually do it before paying Alice's fee. If you do the run but for some reason don't return the samples to him before paying the fee, he'll complain about you being late but will otherwise reward you normally.
Ah, you're back. Do you have my merchandise?
I do, in fact. It's right here.
[The doctor turns away, rifling through the samples and inspecting their labels. He looks like a kid in a candy store.]
I will transfer two thousand nuyen into your account for the job. And if you'll give me a moment, I will add the samples that you've recovered to my inventory.
[He looks over the samples that you've brought him, and eagerly begins punching their serial numbers into his PDA.]
I think that you'll be pleasantly surprised. And now, if you'll excuse me...
[His sentence trails off as he returns his attention to his merchandise.]
Whoa now, hold your freaky bio-engineered horses a bit.
Hang on. There are a few more details that we need to discuss.
Fine, fine. But let's make this quick, alright? I want to get this merchandise logged into inventory before it starts to thaw.
Don't you want to know what caused the lockdown?
[A flicker of irritation passes over his face. He reluctantly turns back to face you.]
Yes, yes... I suppose that I do. Go ahead, tell me. I'm all ears.
It was a stupid accident. Somebody spilled soykaf on a control console, and a bunch of test animals killed the researchers.
[He grimaces.] That's... ungh. That is frustrating. But I suppose that's all water under the bridge. I have my merchandise, after all.
In the end not a single person ended up giving the slightest of damns about all the facility staff who died gruesome deaths in that place.
Also the Shiawase Corporation had eyes on that building. I had to fight one of their retrieval teams.
I wouldn't worry about Shiawase. They may have their files on me, but they won't take any direct action against the Kreuzbasar. I have... information on several of their executives that would be quite embarrassing if it ever came to light.
Well ain't that comforting to hear, though their actions sure gave a pretty direct impression back when their goons' guns were pointed at our face.
One last thing. One of the researchers survived. He's gone insane in there over the past couple of years... he refuses to leave. Thinks that he's something called a "Knight-King."
That's uncharacteristically generous of you, Doctor.
The money is already spent, Rosa. I can't get a refund, and the cleanup costs on getting the building up and running would ruin me. So it's going to sit idle, one way or the other. Anyway. I already have what I need from the facility. If your little friend wants to play out his fantasies in there, he's more than welcome to - I wash my hands of it.
When last we saw him the guy's dreams seemed to expand beyond the borders of his little realm but well, someone else will have to deal with any future "diplomatic crises" because we sure won't be going back either.
I also found this schematic for a Bliss Auto-Injector. Can you make and install it?
Interesting. These types of implanted injectors have become popular with some of the local gangs. Yes, I can install it, though I will need payment for the materials.
Well, show me what you've got.
Completing Lockdown adds a whole host of bioware to Ezkibel's selection, each cooler-sounding than the next:
Who amongst us can say they've never dreamt of having a toxin sac above their larynx? Contrary to Ezkibel's claim from before the run however, almost none of these are usable as a dedicated Mage. Essence loss rounds down to the next full digit, meaning going down from 6 Essence to 5.7 comes with the same spell cooldown penalty as going all the way down to 5. Perhaps an acceptable deal for someone who lets physical attacks do most of the talking, but a much tougher sell for us who rely on spells to get anything done.
The only exception is the Pain Editor which has 0 Essence cost, and from a min-maxing perspective a point in Willpower is certainly worth more than one in Intelligence for a Mage. From a completionist LP perspective though, combat is a secondary concern and hitting those Intelligence checks in dialogue is obviously more important. Therefore nervous tissue clusters are not on our shopping list today either.
We've no business with anyone in town which may as well be in stasis right now, so we'll just head back to the hideout.
Even here things are largely frozen in time, the last run being a Director's Cut mission results in no progress in anyone's tragic backstories and even Shadowland shitposting has ceased for a time. We're mostly here to pick up the meager earnings from the Pharma run pay data.
I say "mostly", because there is one person in the Kreuzbasar we can have a little talk with.
Hoi, Rosa. Whatcha need?
What's going on, Blitz?
Um. Well, chief... I hate to admit it, but I might be in a little bit of trouble here.
You don't say.
[There is an awkward pause, then Blitz plows on ahead.]
Well, um. You remember those creditors I told you about? The ones who loaned me all of that money?
Blitz went into debt trying to find his girlfriend who suddenly took off without a word one day with his gear in tow, to absolutely no one else's surprise. But he did say there'd be nothing to worry about on that front.
Yeah, well... as it turns out, some of 'em are a little less forgiving than I thought they were.
Well. Um. One in particular seems to have taken things kind of personally.
How personally are we talking, here?
I, uh... I got a package in the mail. It had somebody's thumbs in it.
Yeah. Thumbs. They came in a cigar box, packed in salt. I have no idea who they belonged to. I, uh... I'm pretty sure that they're meant to convey some sort of message.
Really? You think so?
I don't wanna lose my thumbs, chief. I *like* my thumbs. I think that I need to pay this guy back. Luckily, I've got a *plan.* I know how to get myself out of hot water with Meat Grinder - I've got it all specced out.
Let me get this straight. You took a loan from somebody named "Meat Grinder"?
Hey. Chief. C'mon. I feel bad enough about this already, there's no need to rub it in. Anyway, like I was *saying,* I can make it all right again. But I'll need your help to do it.
Well, there's this group out in Drogenkippe... they call themselves "The Landenberg Ring." They're a financial crime organization, and there's a lot of bad blood between them and Meat Grinder's operation.
My god man, what kind of demonic contract did you sign to have let you survive all these years despite making the worst possible decision at every available turn?
So whaddaya think? A quick run, just you and me, with me in the Matrix and you as my woman on the ground. We hit them, satisfy my debt, and laugh about it on our way back home. Sound like a plan?
I might be interested... depending on my cut of the profits, that is.
Uh. Chief. There won't *be* any profits... at least, not for us. The money that we suck out of that place has to go to Grinder. All of it.
You're really not selling this very well at all right now.
That said, he doesn't take refusal very well either:
Well, then, you can find yourself another partner. Nothing personal, but I don't stick my neck out unless I'm getting paid.
Oh, c'mon, chief. As if I've never stuck my neck out for you! Hell, that's all I've been doing since I got here, and this is the thanks that I get?
No dice. I'm not a charity, and I don't work unless I'm paid. Frankly, it's unprofessional for you to even ask.
If you won't help me, I'm gonna have to take off, chief. I'm sayin' that for the good of the team, understand... the last thing that any of you need is one of Meat Grinder's goons comin' after me on a run. But I guess what I'm sayin' is that if you don't help me with this, I'm gone. As in, I'm packing my bags and leaving, and I'm doing it tonight.
Don't let the door hit you on the way out.
[He sighs.] All right, chief. Best of luck handling the dragon without me.You're gonna need it.
Indeed, much like you could refuse him coming along in the first place, Blitz is the one crew member who can leave permanently rather than just hating you forever like Dietrich does if you screw him over. You can still change your mind afterwards, as long as you don't start a different mission. And nothing's stopping you from picking up this mission and simply never doing it, he won't mind.
But we're not gonna do that of course, we're not in the business of skipping missions no matter how questionable the venture. And we're talking industrial-grade capital-Q Questionable right now.
All right, Blitz. But in the future, you need to be more up-front with me about things like this.
No problem, chief! Not a problem at all. You can count on me! Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got some last-minute stuff to take care of before we get started. Oh, and Rosa... thanks.
Null sweat, Blitz. Meet you at the U-Bahn?
Whoa, whoa, whoa. No way. If you want my help, you have to come with me - I'm not risking my neck for you on my own!
Oh, c'mon, chief. You won't be on your own - I'll be in the Matrix, helping out right alongside you. Besides which, you'll be better off *without* having to look after my meat body - if I came in person, I'd be a liability. Trust me on this. You want me here, safe and sound, so that you can be free to do your thing without having to worry about my body catching a stray bullet.
Oh what, now Mr. Hot Shit is suddenly all humble and helpless, huh? How many times have we been on a run together by now without this being an issue? Bah.
All right, Blitz. We'll do it your way. I'll send you a comm when I get to Drogenkippe.
[He nods appreciatively.] Thanks, chief. I knew that I could count on you. Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got some last-minute stuff to take care of before we get started.
This has to be the most ill-advised run we've ever agreed to, and with our track record that's saying something.
No crew members for this one either, presumably because hearing the words "Blitz has a run planned out" caused everyone to laugh so hard they all fell unconscious on the spot. Including the dog. All the hireable runners suddenly found themselves engaged elsewhere too.
Well, tune in next time for our first full-fledged personal mission wherein we face what just might be our greatest challenge yet...