View Full Version : Renraku Arcology: Shutdown [Shadowrun 3e/4e]

2009-10-24, 02:32 PM
I recently happened across a copy of Renraku Arcology: Shutdown, a module for Shadowrun 3rd Edition. (Note to anyone anywhere near Portland: check out Powell's Books. They rock! One of the best game books collections I've ever seen.) The story of the Seattle arcology have passed into Shadowrun legend (there's a paragraph in "A History Lesson For The Reality Impaired", and of course Deus played a role in the Crash 2.0.) and so I had to know what, exactly, happened inside.

The module itself did not disappoint - it's dark and gritty, a techno-horror story that made me shudder more than once. By the time I made it through the first couple of pages, I started thinking to myself, "I have to run this!".

Of course, it's not quite as simple as that. The module is for 3rd edition, and my group has only ever played 4th edition. I've heard a lot of good things about 3rd edition, but I think it would be a lot easier for me to convert the module to 4th edition rather than try to teach myself and everyone else 3rd edition rules. Even if we wanted to, we don't own the books, so... yeah.

Converting the module is easier said than done, however. The good news is that the module is not really an "adventure" per se - it's really a sourcebook, written as a compilation of documents obtained by a 'runner regarding the shutdown. Simply put, it's mostly fluff, and fluff is mutable.

The hard parts are detailed below.

Discussions of specifics should probably be spoilered - the big picture is public knowledge by now (see, again, the "history lesson" in the 4th edition book) but the devil is in the details.

The basic plot, as you know, is that the arcology was taken over by the AI known as Deus, who has taken control of half the residents and is using them to perform grotesque experiments on the other half - nobody really knows why.

The biggest problem is, of course, in how the Matrix has changed since 2059. Simply lifting the 4th edition Matrix rules whole cloth just won't cut it - making everything wireless would change too much. The whole arcology would have to be shielded from the outside, for one - that's not impossible, but it strains disbelief. My initial thought here is to use the 4th edition Matrix rules, but restrict them in certain ways - you can only connect through actual wires, only certain cyberware is allowed, etc. (I also wouldn't allow anyone to play technomancers, since they don't really exist yet, and "otaku" are an important part of the module - they're Deus' willing servants, believing him to be the Deep Resonance itself.) Does this sound reasonable? Would this be too crippling to hackers and the like? What should I specifically allow and disallow?

The second problem is simpler - there's a bunch of stats that need to be converted. There's three types of Deus' slaves - blues (security), greens (scientists), and whites (otaku). Each one has a few "levels", and so I'd need to figure out what they would look like in 4th edition. Deus also has many different types of dangerous drones, and I'd need to convert those too. Finally, there's a bunch of stats about the arcology itself (barrier ratings for walls, etc.) that I'd need to convert. I remember seeing some information about how to convert 3rd edition characters to 4th edition, which might be useful - can anyone tell me where it is?

The last problem is that when this module was published, nobody really knew what was going on in the arcology, but as I mentioned before, some parts have passed into common knowledge. I feel like a lot of the appeal of the module lay in figuring out what, exactly, was going on - will it still be fun for the players if "the big reveal" has been spoiled?

Finally, on top of all of this, I'll need to come up with an actual adventure hook - the book has a few suggestions, but I'm not crazy about them.

So, I'll be detailing the changes I plan to make as I come up with them. Any suggestions, especially from anyone who's actually experienced the module, would be appreciated.

2009-10-24, 02:36 PM
I remember seeing some information about how to convert 3rd edition characters to 4th edition, which might be useful - can anyone tell me where it is?
From the top of my head, there's something in Contacts and Adventures about this. Don't know if it's for PC's only, though.

2010-06-08, 06:06 PM
Does anyone know how i would go about converting the Harliquinn adventures from their original format to fourth edition?

2010-06-09, 12:25 AM
Sorry I have not found any conversions online, but if you liked shutdown you have to get Brainscan-it's an adventure module, I'm not being snide.

2010-06-09, 09:37 AM
Does anyone know how i would go about converting the Harliquinn adventures from their original format to fourth edition?

Well both Harlequin campaigns could work in SR4, I think, the most important difference would be including wireless matrix into the Harlequin 1 adventures, which might change some of the dynamics of the adventure, but nothing a solid amount of preparation couldn't handle. For Harlequin's Back, it's even less of a problem, just convert the stats into SR4 format and you're done.

Considering the shutdown, I think the most important part would be indeed to change the matrix back into its wired format, I don't think you need to change that much rules-wise for it to work, although Signal rating would become quite obsolete, I guess.

2010-06-09, 09:47 AM
You could say that Renraku only has access to antique technology.

As for the whole name thing giving it away, maybe those in the know (the NPCs of the campaign) refer to it by another name that'll keep the PCs surprised.

2010-06-09, 09:53 AM
Posted by Maerok

You could say that Renraku only has access to antique technolog

Or Deus has control of modern technology and only the old-fashioned stuff is safe to use

Zellic Solis
2010-06-09, 10:26 AM
The wireless thing is not a problem. Government buildings can and do shield their buildings from outside communications with Faraday cages. Wireless signals can also be jammed today. So I could easily see Deus being able to hack wireless. Infact you can use that to play up the freak out factor. Does the technomancer feel the AI scratching around in their brain?

Personally, what's most critical to me is how much do your players know about the lore? Have they read the novels and sourcebooks and know all about deus or did they mearly skim them and won't recognize that there's an AI in charge of the arcology?

Two ways to fix this: different name, same module. Instead of making it the Renraku arcology make it the Ares space colony. Same scenario but different setting. Or set it to a remote moon colony if you REALLY want to cut people off. Or just make it a different corp.

Second fix: the sequel. Renraku's been sealed off since the Deus' incident. Renraku wouldn't attempt to create a new AI... right? There wouldn't be a budding AI trying to smuggle itself out again... right? This lets players keep their knowledge and you can set up a new situation with 4e elements. Maybe the matrix is FUBAR inside the arcology... a stuff of matrix legend. Your rigger has to deal with levels of interference... green it works okay, yellow he has penalties, red he's lucky if his drones work at all, and every now and then something... or somethings... takes over his drones! Throw in a very nasty astral space and the abandoned arcology becomes a science fantasy horror zone! A carnival of terror!

2010-06-09, 10:39 AM
Posted by Maerok

Or Deus has control of modern technology and only the old-fashioned stuff is safe to use

Third generation iPod of the damned!!!

2010-06-09, 10:54 AM
For the wireless, wouldn't the AI be able to control which wireless points are active or not? I haven't read much Shadowrun, but I would suspect that it could do that. So, when your intrepid band of runners goes in, all the points are active. After all, it has no reason not to, and I'm sure there are employees who are wired that it can control directly.

Of course, once it notices the runners, it would try a variety of tricks. Hacking the decker's eyes so he sees his friends as security, maybe random spasms of cyberlimbs. So now there is a twofold fight. The AI can directly attack via wireless, but can also be attacked itself. Likewise, the AI can shut down wireless nodes to prevent hacking open doors, and the runners have the same choice to prevent the AI from attacking. Is it REALLY worth it to turn on that wireless node to open the blast door, knowing the AI is waiting in ambush?

Depending on how the nodes work, it may be a requirement to invent something like physical wireless routers that are used in the arcology. Also I second the use of a faraday cage around the arcology. Makes sense to prevent hackers outside the building from getting access.