Originally posted at: http://diehardgamefan.com/2012/11/21/tabletop-review-shadowrun-missions-election-day/
So here we are with the climax of this season of Shadowrun Missions. Throughout the season we’ve seen a slow build up to the vote on Proposition 23 aka “Project Freedom.” You had a good old fashioned set up in Rally Cry, helped Bull MacCallister get revenge for her murdered daughter in On a Silver Platter, helped catch a sabatoure in Burn, and most recently, cleared your name for the murder of a District Attorney in Assassin Nation. Now it’s time for the final leg of the Orc Underground saga in this season of Shadowrun Missions. Of course some people may say, “Why play Election Day? After all, Dirty Tricks came out ten days earlier and spoiled the results of the vote for everyone!” To that I say two things. The first is that Election Day does take place on well….Election Day, but it’s not about the results directly, so knowing how the vote goes won’t spoil playing this adventure. This is parallel to the actual vote itself. Second, if you tailor your campaign completely and utterly to the metaplot and don’t allow yourself to deviate in the slightest, then you’re probably not having any fun. It’s a game. The metaplot is OPTIONAL. Hell, if you want to run a world where the Big D is still alive and kicking it as President – YOU CAN. If some of your players have read Dirty Tricks, who cares? It won’t affect this adventure unless they are completely and utterly incapable of separating player knowledge from character knowledge.
Election Day spans seven scenes and forty pages, but not all of those forty pages are the adventure itself. The first six pages are an explanation of the Shadowrun Missions setup and back story on the season so far. The final seventeen are for the person running the adventure. Tables, NPC stats, legwork rolls and more. Three maps and full color handouts. That’s pretty intense for a $3.95 adventure, eh? Did I mention it’s in full colour (Well, mostly full colour. A lot more B&W art this time around.)? You’re getting all that for less than the cost of most comic books. Also, because it’s a digital files, your pets can’t tear it up. Take that Spider-Man!
So seventeen of the forty pages are the actual adventure and it’s a pretty weird adventure. In fact, I’d probably call it a collection of short inter-connected adventures rather than one large piece of work. First, the Shadowrunners are hired to start a small riot on Election Day outside a precinct. The problem is going to be getting the runners to take the mission. With a little legwork players will figure out it’s a precinct where the population is Pro-Prop 23. This means if this area is thrown into chaos, it positively affects the Anti-Prop 23 side. Because the entire season has had the players on the side of Prop 23 instead of against it, this may cause players to balk on doing it. Sure it’s easy money, but even though is supposed to be about shades of grey, players and their characters tend to be a little more white hat wearing than black or grey. Especially when they’ve spent several sessions working for a cause (even if they were working on it sheerly for money) and they’d hate to see their work undone, or their positive relationships with Pro-Prop 23 fixers ruined. For my own running of the adventure to prevent the adventure from stalling right out the gate, I changed it to an evenly mixed district but gave hints it might leans a little Anti-Prop 23. I was right to do this as the first three questions out of the team’s mouth were about how this run would affect the vote. So you might want to do the same if you know the moral compass of your troupe.
The fun is starting the riot. My players did so with a rousing homage to the movie PCU with things ranging from a chant of “We’re Not Going To Protest.” to finally getting fisticuffs started through meat hucking (Hey! Real meat is expensive in the Sixth World!). The catch is that the riot is actually a smokescreen to distract everyone from an assassination attempt on a person in the Governor’s employ. Of course, it doesn’t go as planned and the end result is a spiral escalation of wacky and seemingly unrelated events. I swear to god, at times I felt like I should have “The Curly Shuffle” or “Yakety Sax” as background music as my players dealt with an innocuous brief case, media extortion, having multiple organizations after them for nebulous reasons and eventually playing the game of “which Mr. Johnson that we have done work for previously in this adventure should we screw over to the point where they end up dead?” Although I don’t think it’s intended to be, Election Day can come off as an existential black comedy with the backdrop of potential race issues clouding the political system of Seattle for the next decade or so. In the end, my team sided with the same people they’ve made allies of throughout all of Season Four and the rare definite black hats got their comeuppance – all without actually affecting the voting result of Prop 23 at all. At the end of the day, I think anyone playing this will have a blast with it and will also learn a valuable lesson about black market commlinks. I don’t want to spoil thing more than that, but some weird alliances can be formed and at the end of the day Brackhaven is going to want to down an entire bottle of maximum strength migraine pills.
If this is the last of this season of Shadowrun Missions, it’s a great way to send things off. I know I said in my review of Dirty Tricks that I was surprised the election results of Prop 23 weren’t a Mission themselves, and I was doubly surprised by what the actual Election Day adventure ended up being. It’s a lot of fun and best of all Dirty Tricks and Election Day complement each other instead of creating a weird paradox or scenario where any of your more anal retentive players will come back a week later and say “Our results are totally incompatible with Dirty Tricks!.
Again, I really love the Shadowrun Missions format. Full colour adventures in PDF format for under four bucks are an amazing deal no matter how you look at it. Election Day wraps up an otherwise top notch season (save for Romero & Juliette and Burn), and you should definitely pick it up if you enjoy reading and.or playing published Shadowrun adventures. I’m eager to see where the next season goes, although my own personal preferences would be DeeCee, Saint Louis, Paris or a small but busy island like Barbados. No matter where CGL takes us next, I know I’ll be on board.