View Full Version : Shadows within Shadows [Inception in Shadowrun 4e; Brainstorming--your ideas wanted]

2011-09-03, 11:42 PM
Shadows within shadows

Your mind is the scene of the plagiarism crime

So for the five of you who haven't realized yet, this is my attempt to model Extraction a la Inception in Shadowrun Fourth Edition. You five: spoilers abound; go watch Inception first, it's a brilliant film.

And it's perfect for Shadowrun--action heist, elaborate plan, cutthroat corporate maneuvering, all the makings of a good run. Since I want very badly to play such a run with my group, I decided to take on this project. Besides, with potentially as many as three dream layers, each with a material, an astral, and a matrix, the possibilities for elaborate plans that go horribly wrong--or horribly, horribly right--are endless.

At the moment, it's all very much broad-strokes, brainstorming phase, that kind of thing. I don't have any definite rules yet. That said, I do at least have a good idea of things that need modeled:

Architecture-for obvious reasons. Currently I'm thinking a pool of points used to purchase properties (ie size, depth) and structures (ranging from simple cheap walls and roads to expensive Penrose stairs), with the size of the pool based on a combination of a skill check, a quality, and the amount of time invested in planning. I'm less sure how to handle knowledge of the layout, though--the projections would be NPCs, so the GM can't really know the layout. And not all of the players will, either. So let the players who will know the layout make plans, but actually build on the fly? Won't they then have an unfair ability to adapt? And how do we handle changing the dream?
Chemistry-a lot of people miss it the first time through, but it's confirmed that the compound used determines depth, 'clarity of connection between dreamers' (we never find out what exactly this means), stability, possible exit methods, and--importantly--the ratio of realtime to dreamtime. I'm again thinking a pool of points determined by a combination of skill check, quality, and invested resources. This is much simpler since it lacks the logistical issues of architecture.
Stats in the Dream-it's obvious that some things carry over; for example, Cobb and Arthur really are talented fighters and that talent applies in the dream, but how do you handle such things as morphing like Eames, or the ability to alter the dream on the fly? Currently I'm leaning towards having a set of qualities, 'spells', etc. that only work in the dream--so Eames has a quality that allows him to forge identities in the dream.
The mechanics of Dreamshare-specifically, kicks, effects of events on one level on the next down, and Limbo. The film isn't entirely consistent here--if they're so sedated they need to be kicked on both level N and level N+1 to kick to level N, how did they escape back to reality at the end of the job? They had most of a week to go on Level 1 before time was up--did we just timeskip over it, and if so how did they survive the sub-security? If you can just kill yourself to escape Limbo, and you know you're in Limbo at least first, why is it so hard to escape? If Cobb stayed to find Saito, how come Saito aged and Cobb didn't? I don't fault the movie for these things--it'd be the wrong move to let the exact mechanics of dreamshare interfere with telling a good story--but we have to have consistent answers.

Other stuff I'm planning--magic and cybernetics related to dreamshare (for example, a cranial implant that alters the layout of dreams in which you're the subject as a booby trap for extractors, or a spell that increases or decreases the aggressiveness of the projections), setting details (Cobol Engineering, etc), a sample adventure, types of run (extraction, inception, retrieving a forgotten idea, acting as couriers of sensitive messages, terrifying and harassing a target to the point of self-harm or permanent mental damage, delivering threats or blackmail without leaving evidence, and so much more)...

2011-09-04, 08:45 PM
The setting

By default, Shadows within Shadows is set after the events of the film, although not a whole lot has changed about extraction--after all, the team can't exactly tell people they've successfully performed inception, as making it public would raise some very awkward questions for Mr. Saito, and possibly result in Robert Fischer challenging the business decisions that dissolved Fischer Morrow on the grounds that they were in effect made under duress.


Headquarters: San Francisco, California Free State

COBOL Engineering is a relatively new player in the politics of the AAA corporations, but not to be underestimated. COBOL's connections with several world governments have allowed them to expand rapidly and stirred up vast amounts of paranoia about them--many runners refuse to work for COBOL, between the rumors and COBOL's reputation for ruthless disposal of inconvenient or incompetent shadowrunners. The company's claim to fame is its military contracts--notably, Project Somnacin in the UCAS and, if rumor is to be believed, equivalent projects with several foreign governments. COBOL manufactures the PASIV devices and Somnacin vials used by extractors, although many teams manufacture one or both themselves, whether from a desire to make specific alterations or simply fear of corporate tracking. The majority of COBOL's budget, however, goes towards dreamshare R&D--that, and solidifying their hold over the dreamshare technology market, whether through legal business maneuvers or the use of deniable assets. Despite their focus on the dreamshare market, COBOL, like most megacorps, maintains plenty of disparate interests--energy infrastructure in underdeveloped parts of the world, pharmaceuticals, construction, even entertainment. The company maintains a strong presence in numerous major cities, especially in Africa and the California Free State, allowing them to harry runners who have earned their ire, but the logistical strain of maintaining such a wide sphere of influence often leads to failures of communication within the company.

Upcoming: Proclus Global (canon), Page, Miles & Cobb Subconscious Consulting (not so much)