Trigger warning: some mildly gory descriptions, some violence, mentions of drug abuse, Sombra being a jerk.
At least, the weather is nice.
[Neither the rain nor the icy wind let up as you make your way down the street.]
[You ignore the man huddled under the bus stop, rolling your eyes when he tries to stop you to ask you about the bus timetable. Either he’s some idiotic tourist trying to sprawl and rub elbows with “real street thugs”, or he’s bait and six of his friends are waiting patiently in some dark corner to mug you.]
[Either way, you don’t have time for that drek.]
[The safe is almost invisible under all the garbage that’s been piled up around it. You probably wouldn’t have even noticed it if Armitage hadn’t told you were to look. You kick trash bags away until you dig out the MagCard reader on the front.]
[Armitage hands you his MagCard. With a hiss, the safe opens to reveal a collection of gear that is a perfect match for your skills.]
Help yourself, it’s on the house.
Ah! Don’t mind if I do.
Seriously. Frag Seattle.
[The fight is both short and brutal. You don’t know what these two gutterpunks expected when they tried to jump you while you had an SMG nestled comfortably between your hands. Apparently not to be turned into minced meat. That’s what they got anyway.]
[You’re generous like that.]
So, welcome to the Barrens. Guess I’ll need to find a new spot to hide my gear.
So I shouldn’t invest in real estate around here?
Only by the hour. Hey, you’ve seen where I stay the night.
Now that you’ve got some gear… Let’s go deal with those Halloweeners.
You can handle yourself in a fight, are you sure you even need my help?
No matter how good your aim is, better have someone watch your back.
Fair enough. Smashing Pumpkins time, then?
[As you try to cross the streets, a man taps you on the shoulder. He appears well-mannered, but nervous.]
Excuse me ma’am. I don’t know you… but you look like you can handle yourself in a fight, and we need some help.
If it’s on my way, I’ll consider it. Maybe.
Oh… thank you! It’s just down the street, ma’am. Please, our livelihoods depend on this market.
[He chuckles.] That is definitely not on our way.
I have a bad sense of orientation. Shut up, Armitage. And stop smirking.
But we barely have anything left!
Not my problem. Pay up by morning or else.
[ I’m guessing there’s no chance we can take care of this quietly, is there?
Eh? Who the hell are you?
None of your business. Why don’t you go frag yourself and spare me the bother to dust you?
I knew you were just lookin’ to cause static.
How wonderful, genius in action!
Dash, ice this lady!
[His bat connects with your gut and he runs. You try to shake the nausea off. Armitage aims and doesn’t miss: “Dash” hits the ground with a gross squelching noise. You manage to catch your breath long enough to shoot the runaway in the back.]
Don’t move. [Magic tingles along your skin as he heals the damage. He crosses his arms and watch you get up on your feet.]
Are you always this… friendly?
Eh. I might have deserved that one.
[The old lady walks up to you, trying not to step on the blood as she does so.]
I cannot thank you enough. I hate to see such bloodshed… but those men would not take no for an answer. We simply want to make our way in the world.
The shopkeeper holds out a few nuyen.] Please… it’s the least we can do.
Gracias, abuelita, but keep it. I don’t think you can afford me.
Just some Halloweeners, stirrin’ up trouble again. [She points to the south.] They rode in this morning on those fancy bikes. Setup camp in the old street market. They’ve been marching up and down the street all day, shaking down anyone that wanders past.
Typical. Well… odds are, those are the guys we’re after.
Anything else you can tell us?
Hmm. Well… their leader’s a big ol’ troll named John Paul. Real piece of work, even for a ‘weener.
Sounds like it’s time for me to get friendly again. You might want to clear out before we get the party started.
[She looks you over, then nods.] Don’t need to worry about me, I know how to lay low. They’re a tough bunch, though… don’t say I didn’t warn ya.
Thanks for the heads up, chummer.
[Just as you pass the woman, Jake freeze on his tracks and cocks his head to the side. Kinda reminds you of a dog that heard a suspicious sound.]
I need to check on something real quick.
Alright, alright. I thought you were in a hurry?
What’s your story?
Nothing. No story. Nothing, just le-leave me alone. I didn’t see anything, I swear.
What didn’t you see?
Nothing. I didn’t see anything. I… I… I just need my fix. But I can’t get it because of the big pumpkin heads!
You’re seeing giant pumpkin heads, eh?
Yes! The pumpkins down the street… They kill everyone who looks at them funny.
Calm down. I’m Jake. What’s your name?
My name… is… my name is Vlad.
Vlad, those are some nice tattoos. Are you a shaman?
[The word ‘shaman’ strikes a cord. He seems to shake off some of the mental cobwebs.] Yes… yes, I am a shaman.
I though so. Vlad, what did you see?
See. Yes. I saw something. The other night I saw a spirit so dark, so ALIEN, that… [Vlad trails off, and shudders.]
Where did you see this spirit?
Just across the stree from the Seamstresses Union.
I’m done here. Good luck with that sanity thing.
It’s gone now Vlad. It’s not going to kill you. You’re safe.
Th-thank you. I think you’re right. I feel better now. More whole. Now… I think I need some sleep.
I have no idea what you’re talking about. And stop smirking.
We’re just gonna be friendly, chummer.
This is one of the two that got away. If I hadn’t missed my shot, these idiots would have given up and moved on by now.
We all make mistakes.
Wait a minute… you’re rolling with Jake? Bad idea, chummer. The Halloweeners are collecting that bounty. And killing you? Well, that’ll be a nice bonus.
You talk too much, pendejo.
[A blast of magic explodes a centimeter away from your face: they have a mage. You take cover behind a barrel and start shooting. Armitage runs, scraps of wood flying as crates explode around him, and rolls to safety behind a stall. Bullets whistle through the air, making your ears ring. You shuffle through your bag. A manic smile spreads your lips when your fingers finally close around exactly the thing you were looking for.]
Hey, cara de pejo, catch!
[The mage blinks as the grenade falls right next to her feet. It only takes a heartbeat for the information to reach her brain, but still too slow: one down, two to go. Now deprived from any magical support, the two sentries are no match for Armitage. He gets up, reloads, and brushes the dust from his pants. He seems pretty unfazed. Hard to tell, with those shades.]
Watch it with the explosive, chummer, I think you blew my left eardrum.
Yeah well, it’s not a real party without some fireworks.I should introduce you to an acquaintance of mine, someday. He has a knack for it.
[He chuckles.] No, thank you, I’m good.
You’re dead, Jake! Dead!
[The troll barrels through the market, face twisted in a furious snarl.]
This ends now, asshole.
[As impressive as John Paul looks, all hulking muscle and tusks, he’s… actually not that tough. One of your bullets catch him in the thigh and he collapses.]
What do you think, Armitage? I don’t care either way, your call.
[He smirks.] Hey, I’m already at “shoot on sight” status with these guys. Killing John Paul means one less ‘weener to shoot me in the back while I’m buying smokes. Hell - they’ll be doing the same to you as soon as there’s profit in it.
Sorry, chummer, you heard the boss.
[John Paul doesn’t seem to have a lot of fight left in him. Even if you didn’t shoot him any more, the blood loss would have done the job. It’s a mercy kill, really. He hits the ground again, this time for good.]
Well, that was a fun friendly workout.
Time for me to hold my end of the bargain. Follow me.
Sorry friend… I think this is where our paths diverge. Thanks again for your help with those Halloweeners. Here’s your payment - they don’t take nuyen where I’m going, and you look like you could use the funds.
You didn’t really need my help, did you? Was Dresden this worried that he got me a nanny?
[He smirks, neither confirming or denying your theory.] You seem like you can take care of yourself.
[He takes a step, then tilts his head back.] Hey, one more thing. When you’re done checking out your pal’s crime scene, pop in to the Seamstresses Union. It’s just down the street. You need gear, information, or just a damned stiff drink, that’s the place to be. Best dive this side of Chicago. I used that place as a base of operation for years, back in the day. Make the right friends there and I’m sure you’ll get to the bottom of this Ripper business.
Well - nice knowin’ ya.
Likewise, Jake. Give me a call when you’re in the clear.
[Jake nods, turns, and disappears into shadowy depths of the Redmond Barrens.]
[Time to get to work.]
The Fun Fact Corner is back! Sorta.
So here’s the thing: Jake Armitage, being the protagonist of the previous video game, has a bit of a “legendary character” thing going on. At the end of the game, he can pretty much endure machine guns shooting at him with no damage, got his skin metal plated, and can use some fairly powerful magic (in Shadowrun, magic and technology don’t mix well: to upgrade yourself with cyberware, you have to sacrifice part of your magic and there’s not take back). So as a Shaman, and a decker and one hell of a gunslinger, Jake is supposedly very unusual and incredibly powerful. He kinda singlehandedly killed a dragon?
But here, in game, these are his stats:
Which are good, but not really legend worthy. Especially since he’s supposed to be a shaman, but only has regular spellcasting abilities. If your DM introduced him in a campaign, as mine did, it was probably as a background character living his own adventures away from your eyes and sometimes crossing your path. But it was never as a sidekick or a companion.
My guess is that the video game developpers wanted to include him but the only way for that to happen without breaking the story (why would he need YOU, a beginner, to help him with some gutterpunks?) was to diminish his abilities a whole lot. So to concile both his original legendary status AND the events in Shadowrun Returns, I decided to ignore his stat and consider that he’s basically babysitting us through the Barrens as a favour to Dresden and that he’s only using the Halloweeners excuse so the playing character won’t feel insulted and refuse his help.
Another theory I read was that Jake got so many cyberware implanted (you kinda get a lot, in the SNES game) that Dog, his Mentor Spirit, got fed up and abandoned him, leaving him with his abilities way reduced. Kinda like a candle burning at both ends will light stronger but burn out really fast. It’s interesting but considering how loyal Dog is, I don’t really buy it? And there’s no real hint at that ingame either so… Jake the Babysitter it is, at least in that LP.
So that’s the end of the Fun Fact Corner which I should probably rename “Sugar rants about lore stuff despite not being an expert at all”.