The runners are hired by a Cabal of vampires to track down a psychotic hit-mage who is killing them off one at a time. Unknown to the characters, the mage is himself the catspaw of one of the Cabal who wants to eliminate rivals of her rise to power over the group. The player characters must stop the magician from killing any more of the Cabal members and expose the conspiracy within it.
This adventure is nominally set in Seattle, but can be placed in any city in which the campaign takes place with a few minor adjustments to the names and locations.
Tell It to Them Straight
You’ve gotten a lot of interesting invitations for biz, but you don’t think you’ve ever gotten one through the actual mail. I mean, who bothers with paper mail these days? Why ship dead tree when you can send email around the world in the space of an eyeblink? Whoever bothered with the nuyen to send you a cream-colored envelope UCASMail must have wanted to impress you or something. Which they have, considering it must have taken them no small amount of effort to find out where to send something where you would get it. Your address isn’t exactly in the book.
Inside the envelope is a card, a cream-colored stock matching the envelope, a fragging engraved invitation to a meet! It reads “You are invited to a business meeting at the Cathedral. This card shall grant you entrance. Midnight.” There is no signature or other indication of who the sender is. Whoever they may be, you sure hope that their expensive taste runs towards shadowrunners as well as stationary.
When the runners arrive at the Cathedral read the following:
The club is starting to get busy by the time you arrive. There is a line of hopeful clubbers out front all decked out in their finest neoGothic wear for the evening, each hoping to catch the eye of one of the Cathedral’s exclusive members who might be willing to bring them in as a guest. It seems like several of the regulars who make their way along the line carefully survey it for promising new “talent” on their way into the club and several of them stop to offer some cute young thing a chance to get inside.
You play it cool and make your way up to the front of the line to the massive troll in modified eighteenth century dress: coat and tails, waistcoat and shirt with lace collar. That whole combo should make even a troll look like some kind of pansy, but somehow it just makes this guy look meaner. He looks you over and you flash him the card you received. A glint of recognition flickers in his eye as a couple of synapses manage to get together for a brief conference long enough to understand what your invitation means. He admits you into the club with a deep bow, sweeping back some of the hopefuls in line with a wave of his masssive arm.
The inside of the club is done-up in heavy neoGothic style, full of back-lit stained glass panels and gargoyles leering out at your from high perches up along the walls. The central floor of the club is divided off from the rest of it by little canals about a meter wide filled with running water that form a square border around the area. Small footbridges arc over the canals to allow access. The second floor is open in the center so that the patrons can look down from there onto the floor below. There’s a lot of cred that goes into a place like this and just as much in affording to be a regular. You hope this means things are looking up for this job.
This scene introduces the runners to the Cabal on their own turf. Give the players the feel for the nightclub abd its patrons and give them a chance to interact with several of the members of the Cabal before they get down to business with the runners.
Behind the Scenes
The characters know the Cathedral to be an exclusive nightclub downtown, access to members and their guests only. Membership is by invitation only and is considered something of a social coup. The nightclub is crowded when the characters enter. They draw some attention from the regulars, but not for long before they go back about their business. The characters will see plenty of action going on, but no sign of the party who sent them the message right away.
Once the characters have had a chance to mingle and look around, their hosts will take the opportunity to feel them out, and toy with them a bit. They will approach the characters, either singly or collectively, and attempt to strike up conversations, flirt or even issue veiled threats. Use the descriptions of the Cabal members from Cast of Shadows as a guide to the sorts of things they will say and do to intrigue the runners. Such interaction can also be intermixed with other more (or less) innocent encounters with the other patrons of the Cathedral, just to keep the players in the dark about what is really going on. Keep in mind that the vampires will use this opportunity to size up the characters, and will use that knowledge in their negotiations with them later.
This scene can be played out for as long as it proves interesting. Once it looks like the players have had enough, move on to the meeting with their would-be employers. An attendant gathers than player characters together and escorts them to a private dining room in the club where an elaborate meal has been laid out. Their hosts await them, and the characters will recognize them from the encounters in the main club. The vampires will wine and dine the characters, eating nothing themselves, before discussing business. Eventually they will disclose their true nature to the characters and describe their problem.
Two weeks ago, a mage named Karl Stanislaw, who goes by the street name “Stalker” came to the club and demanded to meet with the Cabal. Stanislaw wanted the Cabal to make him into a vampire but they refused because the mage seemed too unstable to be allowed into the group. Stalker was infuriated and stormed out of the Cathedral. A few days later, a member of the Cabal was murdered in her penthouse, decapitated and her body burned. Five days after that another member died in a similar fashion. Both attacks happened during the day, when the vampires were most vulnerable. The Cabal suspects that Stanislaw is behind the killings out of revenge for their refusal. The Cabal will offer up to 8,000 nuyen to each character for the successful elimination of this threat, plus any reasonable expenses. Use the standard Negotiation rules if the players want to up the ante.
Unbeknownst to the PCs or the other members of the Cabal, Stanislaw is working for Andrea, a member of the Cabal. Andrea went to see Stalker after the encounter at the Cathedral and offered to turn him into a vampire if he would help her increase her power in the Cabal by killing off her rivals. She does not want Stanislaw stopped before he has finished the job, although she doesn’t care what happens to the mage after that. Andrea will offer fairly little information during the meeting at the Cathedral, but she will keep a close eye on the characters, sizing them up as potential enemies, or allies if she thinks she can persuade them to her side.
If the characters refuse the job because they don’t want to work for a group of vampires, remind them that turning down the Cabal could be a very bad idea and that having them in their debt would definitely have it’s advantages. Feel free to remind belligerent characters that starting a fire fight in an exclusive club like the Cathedral would not be a good idea.
Look Both Ways
Tell It to Them Straight
You leave the Cathedral with a nod to the Troll doorman and studied indifference to the crowd of clubbing hopefuls. You make your way around the side of the nightclub past the end of the line to get started on this latest run, which is already shaping up to be a weird one. The sound of a roaring engine catches your attention as tires squeal against the damp pavement. You turn to see a dark sedan, it’s headlights off roaring down the street in your direction. As you turn the car’s light flash on and pin you in their glare, almost blinding you. You don’t like the metaphor that’s developing here.
This scene should give the runners a hint that not all is as it appears with this shadowrun and that someone is very interested in making sure they are not successful. It is intended to arouse the runners’ suspicions, not put them all in the hospital, so give them an even chance.
Behind the Scenes
When the characters leave the Cathedral a car comes roaring down the street and attempts to run them down. Characters get one Simple Action before the car hits them and can make a Reaction (6) Test to get out of the way in time. Have each character that fails to dodge the car make a damage resistance test against 8S damage (Impact armor helps reduce damage). If a character reduces the damage to nothing through Combat Pool dice alone, the car misses him cleanly. For those who successfully dodge, a Perception (5) Test will allow them to read the licence plate (Seattle, 732-ALT) as the car roars off. A Perception (9) Test will gain a good look at the driver, a fairly nondescript Amerind street thug.
If the PCs catch the driver in front of the club or use the licence and description to track him down later (the car is a rental), he will tell them that he was hired through his fixer by a woman, given their descriptions and told to geek them. He has no idea who his employer is or why he wanted the characters killed. The man was actually hired by Andrea to test the characters’ abilities, and possibly dissuade them from taking the job. If the characters get a hold of the thug’s fixer, they may be able to get a description that loosely matches Andrea’s.
This scene is mainly intended to make the players worry and to give them a chance to catch on the Andrea’s plan early. If the damage from the collision test is too high, the gamemaster should adjust it so that the runners have a fair chance of walking away from it. If the characters kill the driver, they may still be able to find out who he was via the licence plate and track down his fixer for the information. Even if the runners don’t follow up on this clue, it doesn’t affect the outcome of the adventure.
Home Sweet Home
Tell It to Them Straight
The address you got for Stanislaw’s apartment in the Redmond Barrens is on the third story of a run-down building on a corner. The interior of the place is dark and the whole building smells of several unpleasant and unidentifiable odors. You approach the apartment carefully, but none of the building’s scattered other residents seems to take any notice of you, or much else for that matter.
Another encounter to make the characters paranoid and make them aware that Stanislaw is a dangerous and cunning opponent. Allow the characters opportunities to detect both of the booby traps before socking it to them.
Behind the Scenes
The apartment consists of a single large room with a kitchenette, a bathroom and a bedroom. There is no physical evidence in the apartment to link it to Stanislaw. In fact, everything indicates that no one has been here for at least a week or two. Stanislaw abandoned the apartment when he began his vendetta, but has booby-trapped the place in case someone came looking for him.
The bare light-bulb hanging in the living room is filled with napalm and will explode as soon as the light is turned on. Characters in the room will have to resist 6S Damage (impact armor counts). The apartment will quickly catch fire, forcing the characters (and everyone else in the building) to flee.
Stalker has also placed a claymore anti-personnel mine under one corner of his matress and tripwired it to the bed frame. If a character sits down on the bed or lifts the matress, the mine goes off, doing 6D damage, -1 Power per meter away from the explosion (again, impact armor resists the damage).
No matter what fashion or condition the characters leave Stanislaw’s apartment building in, they will run into a gang of Halloweeners that Stalker is paying to keep an eye on his place and tell him who shows up there There will be one and a half times as many gang members as the runners. The Halloweeners are just looking for an excuse to start a fight and will threaten the characters and demand to know what they were doing in the apartment building with a very “in your face” sort of attitude. Treat them as standard Gang Member Archetypes (SRII p.57) armed with Ares Predators. The gangers will attempt to run if it becomes obvious that they are overmatched (if the runners pull out the heavy ordinance or start tossing massive combat spells in their direction).
If the PCs capture and interrogate one of the Halloweeners, they can find out that Stalker hired them to keep watch on his doss. He arranges payment through a fixer named Geistmann, who has a lore store called “Ghost of a Chance” on the north side of the metroplex, in Bellevue. The gang members do not know where their employer is or what he is doing.
Don’t slaughter the runners with the booby-traps in Stanislaw’s doss, but if they’re careless in their searching, let them know it. If the characters annihilate the Halloweeners without having a chance to question any of them, have them find a business card from Geistmann’s lore store on one of the gangers with the name “Stalker” written on the back.
Ghost of a Chance
Tell It to Them Straight
The holo-lux sign in the window of the shop says “Ghost of a Chance” in watery, glowing letters that appear almost insubstantial when viewed through the glass. The interior of the small shop is filled with shelves and display cases presenting the lore store’s wares: fetishes, ritual tools, conjuring materials and rows upon rows of hardcopy books and reference materials. From the goods and the trappings, it’s obvious to even a mundane that the store caters to a mostly Hermetic clientel.
This scene gives the runners the clues they need to get to Stalker before he strikes again and puts a quick end to their employment with the Cabal. The pace of the investigation should start picking up, leading the runners quickly into the next scene.
Behind the Scenes
Herman Geistmann works out of a lore store that he owns and operates as a legitimate business. His main profession is as a fixer, mostly for magicians and other Awakened shadowrunners. Use the Small Store Archetype for the shop, which is surrounded by a Force 5 Astral Ward.
Geistmann is a tall albino human (treat him as having a nuisance allergy to sunlight). He dresses in pale suits with some magical-looking jewelry. Use the Talismonger archetype for Geistmann (SRII p.212) and give him fifteen force points worth of spells (whatever the gamemaster feels would suit the situation). He has a bound Force 4 Air Elemental that can be called upon if there is a need.
In order to maintain his reputation, Geistmann will be reluctant to discuss the business of any of his other clients, including Stalker. The characters will need to either bribe the fixer (with a base of about ¥1,000 and standard Negotiation rules) or convince him that Stalker’s current activities would be bad for his reputation if it became known that he worked with Geistmann.
In fact, Geistmann no longer has dealing with Stalker. He thinks that the mage has become too unstable to risk anything on. The last time Geistmann saw Stalker was two days ago. The magician wanted him to get plans to an exclusive penthouse downtown. Geistmann refused to become involved in such a risky venture with a high-security building. He can tell the characters that the place Stanislaw was interested in was the Northrup Building, a high security apartment complex.
Runners who threaten Geistmann to get information out of him will not endear themselves to the fixer and might have trouble from him in the future (Geistmann has some influence in magical circles in the metroplex). If the characters cannot get the information on the Northrup Building from Geistmann or refuse to act upon it, go to “Cabal Shuffle.”
Tell It to Them Straight
The Northrup Building is a huge modern tower of chrome and glass, rising high above the neatly patrolled streets of the downtown area. Private security keeps watch in the lobby of the building and guests look to be carefully screened for the security of the residents. The security looks good, but you doubt that it’s good enough to keep a crazy mage assassin away from his prey.
This is the big final scene against the hitmage. The fight in the penthouse should be dramatic and exciting, with Stanislaw using all of his resources to achieve his goal and escape to kill again.
Behind the Scenes
The penthouse of the Northrup Building is the home of Alexander, the leader of the Cabal. If the characters go there directly after talking with Geistmann, they may be just in time to catch Stalker about to finish off the vampire patriarch. If the runners go during the day, Stanislaw will have entered the penthouse to destroy Alexander while he sleeps. If it is nighttime, the hitmage may have decided to alter his pattern to surprise the vampires or simply wishes to gloat over his victim before he finishes the job.
The characters may have some difficulty getting into the building, which is AA security rated and has its own force of guards (use the Corporate Security Guard, SR p.165). Stalker used magic to enter the penthouse. Smart characters might be able to convince the guards that one of their tenants is in danger and gain their aid. However they are not aware that Alexander is a vampire and doing so will destroy his anonymity.
If the characters are fairly quick and decisive, the gamemaster should allow them to enter the penthouse just as Stanislaw is about to strike the blow with his axe that will decapitate the unconscious Alexander. Stalker will fight fiercely against the PCs. He will not fight to the death, however, and will try to flee if he is seriously overmatched or badly injured. If captured alive, Stanislaw will reveal that Andrea offered to make him a vampire in exchange for the elimination of her rivals.
If the gamemaster feels that the fight is going too easy on the PCs, have Stalker summon a couple of Force 6 bound elementals for aid. If the hitmage is cutting the characters down, have some security guards or even other members of the Cabal show up to help them, or have Alexander revive and jump Stalker from behind.
If the characters blow Alexander’ cover to help him, the vampire-lord will not be happy, but he will still pay the characters according to their agreement, then take measures to set up a new identity elsewhere in the city.
Picking Up the Pieces
If the PCs have saved Alexander and captured or killed Stanislaw, they will receive the agreed upon payment as well as the vampire’s gratitude (good for a future favor).
If Andrea’s involvement in the killings is revealed, the Cabal will “deal” with her and offer the shadowrunners a reward of a lifetime membership at the Cathedral, which can prove a useful contact point and have for them in the future, as long as they don’t mind the vampires.
If Alexander is killed, Andrea becomes the new head of the Cabal. She will send a messenger to pay the characters the agreed upon fee and thank them for “a job well done.” Stalker (if he’s still alive) becomes a vampire and joins the Cabal. Both may appear in future adventures as allies, enemies or potential employers.
Stalker stopped: 1
Andrea’s plot revealed: 1
Alexander survives: 1
Award individual karma for good role-playing, skill use, etc. normally.
Scene of the Crime
If the characters investigate the previous two murder sites or attempt to gain access to the police reports via contacts or the Matrix, they can get the following information:
One Success: The victims were both affluent and somewhat reclusive. They were killed by someone who was very skilled, a professional assassin.
Two Successes: Initial checks show that the victim had no known enemies and that there is no apparent motive for the crimes. The killer had magical abilities and was most likely a magician.
Three Successes: Autopsies showed that the victims had HMHVV and were vampires. Lone Star has unofficially decided to do nothing about the murders (except to hope that the killer manages to geek every other vamp in the city)
Characters looking for information on Karl Stanislaw can try asking around, checking with street contacts or looking for data on him in the Matrix (such as a police record).
One Success: Stalker is a skilled professional assassin, but on the edge. He has a vampire motif. He has been working out of Seattle for about three years now.
Two Successes: Stanislaw is obsessed with vampires and has had cosmetic surgery to make himself look like one. He also has cybernetic fangs.
Three Successes: Stalker is a very skilled Hermetic mage and an Initiate to boot. He specializes in unusual and difficult targets, especially other magicians. Last anyone heard, he had staked out a doss in the Barrens in Halloweener turf.
Four Successes: Stanislaw is crazy, probably psychotic. No one wants to work with him anymore and employers are shying away from him. His vampire obsession is taking over Stalker’s whole life. The character also learns that Stalker has an apartment in the Barrens and it’s address.
Cast of Shadows
Karl Stanislaw “Stalker”
Reaction: 4 (+3D6)
Armed Combat (Axe): 5
Etiquette (Street): 3
Latin (Centering): 5
Magic Theory: 4
Sorcery (Spellcasting): 8
Unarmed Combat: 4
Vampire Lore: 6
Threat/Professional Rating: 6/3
Initiate Grade: 4
Fang implants (.3 Essence Loss. The fangs do only 4L damage, but inject one dose of a powerful toxin that does 4D damage. Stalker will use this as a weapon of last resort).
Combat Axe (Weapon Focus 5, damage 6S)
Armor Jacket (5/3)
Silver Amulet (Power Focus 2)
AK-97 assault rifle w/ laser sight and recoil 2
Ares Predator w/ silencer and laser sight
Spells: (* Quickened at the listed Force)
Detect Enemies: 3
Detect Life: 3
Increase Reflexes +2: 4*
Bat Form: 3
Control Thoughts: 4
Gecko Crawl: 3*
Wolf Form: 3
Karl “Stalker” Stanislaw is a skilled hitmage. He specializes in unusual and difficult targets, including fellow magicians and awakened creatures. Several years ago, he became obsessed with vampires and the promise of immortal life, life as the ultimate predator, the ultimate hunter. He has researched and learned all he could about the vampiric condition, until his research finally led him to the Cabal and his demand for them to transform him into one of them.
Stanislaw cares as little for Andrea as she does for him, he is only using her to get what he wants. He will gladly turn on her if it is to his advantage to do so. Stanislaw is also a professional, he does everything carefully and cooly. He never fights to the death and always has backup plans for various contingencies in place. The player characters should find Stalker a dangerous foe to be respected.
Stalker looks like a character out of a vampire movie. He has bleached white skin, black hair that is slicked back and wears red contact lenses. His canine teeth have been replaced with cybernetic fangs. He dresses completely in black both for practicality and out of preference.
The Red Cabal
The Red Cabal is a group of vampires who have banded together out of self-interest and a mutual need for protection from the elements of the Sixth World that would see them destroyed. It is unknown how many years the group has existed or how many members it has had in the past, but rumors suggest that it may have formed even before the Awakening.
The rules of the group are simple: obey the edicts of the Cabal leader, protect the secrecy of the group and avoid direct conflict with other members of the Cabal. In return, the Cabal provides a safe haven, a ready “food supply,” and a network of contacts. The Cabal is also a magical initiatory group for the vampires in the group with magical abilities.
Strictures: Attendence, Exclusive Membership (vampires only), Exclusive Ritual, Fraternity, Oath, Obedience, Secrecy
Group Resources: Luxury
The current members of the Cabal are described below. The gamemaster should feel free to add to or alter this roster as needed. The vampires should be tough enough so the characters will think twice about starting anything stupid with them. All of the members of the Cabal have the standard vampiric powers and weaknesses (SRII p.231). The gamemaster should feel free to adjust their skills, spells and equipment as necessary for the scenario.
Alexander is the Cabal’s founder and leader and the oldest of the vampires in the group. He hints at having become a vampire around to time of the Awakening or even shortly before then and since that time has used his power and influence to amass for himself a considerable fortune. Alexander decided many years ago that he and his kind required a safe place within so-called normal society in which to operate and find means to feed their hunger without arousing suspicion against them. He used a portion of his fortune to set up the Cathedral and gather a circle of his fellow vampires to form the Cabal. The group has since used the nightclub as a convinient means of finding victims as well as a cover for them to disguise their presence among all of the other neoGothic spooks and club kids. Alexander rules the Cabal with a fair but iron hand. His word is law and woe betide the vampire who forgets that.
In addition to his vampiric abilities, Alexander is an initiate mage of some skill, at least Grade 3 or 4. Most of his spells are illusions and control manipulations that he uses to fascinated and entrap his victims and confuse his enemies.
Andrea Harker is the current threat to Alexander’s reign over the Cabal. She has offered to make Karl Stanislaw a vampire in exchange for Alexander’s death and the destruction of his closest supporters, which will allow Andrea to take control of the Cabal for her own purposes. She plans to eventually dispose of Stanislaw once he has served her needs.
Andrea is a hauntingly beautiful woman with long black hair and pale complexion. She usually wears gowns and dresses in the latest style and fashion. She is a cold, deadly manipulator whom those seeking long lives would be well advised to steer clear of. Andrea is also a skilled Hermetic magician and a Grade 2 Initiate.
Leggin, who currently goes by the street name “Blood,” was a shadowrunner of some skill who caught Andrea’s eye several years ago. She entranced him totally and eventually became enamored of him enough to bring him into the Cabal with Alexander’s permission. After a year or so of vampiric unlife, Mickey lost interest in his affair with Andrea, although he still supports her in the group. Blood went back to working the shadows, using his vampiric abilities to his advantage. This has been of growing concern to Alexander, who believes Blood’s “games” might endanger the secrecy of the Cabal. Leggin has grown to dislike his new “life” and regrets his decision to become a vampire, but has accepted and learned to deal with his fate.
Blood looks to be in his late twenties, with long, wavy dark hair that he often wears in a pony-tail. His complexion is pale and he is usually unshaven unless he is preparing for a formal occasion. He likes to wear street leathers when he can, but will “dress up” in the latest fashion for formal events at the Cathedral.
Eric was an up-and-coming MBA gratuate when a single night of slumming in a bad part of town took all of his plans apart. Drained and infected with the vampire virus. Eric was forced to set aside his plans of corporate glory. Initially bitter, he eventually came to regard his new condition as both a challenge and an advantage.
The reclusive Rourke eventually took his dual reputation for eccentricity and financial wizardry and parlayed them into a career as a successful investor and financial consultant who deals almost exclusively through the Matrix. He cares little for Cabal politics unless they directly affect him and prefers not to take sides.
Eric looks to be in his late twenties, with neatly cut and combed blond hair, wearing an immaculate suit in the latest power style for the season.
Ho Tien is known on the streets as “Great-Uncle,” and is director of a small network of Seoulpa rings that he manages from the shadows, providing them with information and leadership while they supply money and the secrecy he needs. Tien became a vampire in his native Korea and moved to Seattle to establish a new life for himself after eliminating all traces of his former self. He used his powers to quickly gain control of several small-time gangs and develop them into a useful enterprise. His work caught the attention of the Cabal and he was invited to join them. Ho Tien is a survivalist who know when the winds of fortune are shifting. If Andrea comes into a position of power in the Cabal. He will back her in his own best interest.
Ho Tien is a small Korea man with a slight build that belies his superhuman strength. He has learned some magic in an oriental Hermetic tradition since becoming a vampire, mainly detection spells that he uses to keep himself informed of various activities.
Jennifer Running-Cloud is much more even-tempered than the rest of the Cabal. She went from being a corporate receptionist for Geaetronics in Seattle to a vampire quite by accident when she became attracted to a man who turned out to be a member of the Cabal, who eventually brought her “into the fold” with Alexander’s permission. Her mentor was killed by Stanislaw and Jennifer will be furious if she discovers Andrea’s involvement in the assassination.
Jennifer is a Native American woman in her late twenties, with long, straight black hair that is usually elaborately braided. She favors pantsuits or skirt and sweater outfits and appears fairly casual.