Sickle
Sickle.jpg
Name Irina Sidorov
AKA Sickle, Ilya Vostinov
Nationality Russian
Metatype Human
Archetype Face
rating: +2+x

"You must use the right tool for the right job, da? "

Appearance

In a word, severe.

In more than one word, she is surprisingly tall for a woman. Standing at around six feet, with deep brown, almost black, hair and a serious set to her features. Dark, intense eyes look out at the world. A sharp contrast to pale skin.

She's quite well built, obviously a woman who keeps herself in good shape. Whipcord tight muscles give the impression of someone who is constantly ready for danger. Long legs and powerful arms only add to the impression that she is a woman whom it would be a very bad idea to cross.

And it is really that force of personality which hangs around the woman. An undeniable and potent aura that can be just as off putting as her height, a casual confidence and ease which betrays her experience.

Distinguishing Features

Sickle has a thick russian accent. Except, of course, when she doesn't.

Mannerisms and Habits

Tends to smoke menthol cigarettes, and drink a variety of spirits. Though she generally complains bitterly about the quality of vodka outside of Russia.

Associations

Rumoured to have links to the communist terrorist organization the Red Hammers.

Capabilities

-Information Extraction
-Social Infiltration
-Electronic Warfare
-Wetworks
-Investigation

Background

Little is known for certain about Sickle's true history.

She is likely somewhere around thirty years old, and she probably was a member of the Soviet army at some point in her past.

Roughly six years ago, however, she ceased working with the Soviets and turned up in America, or so it is rumoured, and there are some images which place her in various parts of the United States from that time on. However there are also images which place her across Europe.

So far, however, there has been no real link between her and any crime. Although she has been seen in the company of various watched individuals- usually those of a Communist leaning- there is no evidence to link her to their activities beyond the circumstantial. She does seem to have an uncanny habit of disappearing from place to place.

Having only recently arrived in Denver, what, if any agenda she is actually pursuing remains uncertain.

A Marxist Analysis of Corporate Capitalism

(This section is posted, IC'ly, on Shadowland, and is meant to be freely available for comment and perusal by people who would find such things interesting. I'm posting it here, because it is 4 pages long and therefore a little spammy to post on the MUSH.)

History, like anything else, is open to interpretation.

Do not get me wrong, I believe that Captain Chaos's work was invaluable. It provided a generation of people a far greater idea of their history than most bother to learn for themselves. However, I wouldn't be much of a subversive radical terrorist (or Shadowrunner) if I didn't think for myself occasionally. Therefore, I have decided to post my own spin on our recent past (1999-present).

But first, to lay my cards on the table. Yes, I subscribe to a Marxist view of history. That is, I am one of the dirty commies. What does this mean? Largely, it means that I see history as a series of class struggles. The bourgeois ruling class dominated us through much of the 20th century, and they have evolved, rather than being overthrown, into the Corporate Class in the modern day.

It is trite to say 'Corporations run everything' though, as this is simply not the case, although a surprising number of people take it as read. Government exists to prop up the status quo, and sometimes that means smacking the Corporations into line. It is rare, but it happens. Far less often now that Corporations have bought out the monopoly on legitimate violence that was once held by the Government, but that is another matter.

Where I differ from the man on the street is on where I believe we should be heading. There is an old saying, that money is the root of all evil. In broad terms, I believe this to be the case. Humanity cannot progress unless we destroy this corrupt and broken Capitalist system. Now, you tell the man in the street that we can live in a world without money, and he will laugh in your face. Who can blame him? At the moment, a world without money seems patently ridiculous.

As ridiculous as a world saturated in magic seemed in 1999.

But I digress. This is not a tract on my beliefs about money, corporations or class struggle. This is an analysis of the history we all know and love, through the lens of Marxism. So let us begin with a date that is familiar, but is of vital importance to us now.

Until 1999, private security firms were largely illigitimate in the western world. That is, you could employ a private company to watch your stuff, but you couldn't hire a private army, and they better be prepared to answer to the government if they wanted to use lethal force. The government held much of its power in being the only source of legitimate force, you see. The monopolization of violence was essentially what made government useful to its people, especially in America, where they did laughably little to help the working masses in other ways.

In 1999, however, the people were starving. Pushed to the brink by oppressive and rampant Capitalism, the working masses struck against the corporations by demanding fair recompense for their work. Unwilling to sacrifice their profits, the demands of the truckers were ignored for a full three months, and people suffered. However, we were already moving out of what I have termed Global Capitalism, and towards Corporate Capitalism. The Seretech Corporation didn't particularly care about the riots, and chose to continue business as usual. When they were attacked by desperate citizens, their armed forces opened up on the crowd, and slaughtered hundreds in cold blood.

This was upheld because of the dubious claim that the people would not have realized that they were dealing with dangerous chemical waste, and not, say, bread. This ruling laid the groundwork for Corporations to gain the legitimate use of force, and take away the monopoly the government had held on that force for centuries. Power began to concentrate even more heavily in the Corporations, culminating in a staged attack on a Corporation owned nuclear power plant.

Extraterritoriality marked the birth of the Corporate Class as something other than a mere hypothetical construct. Enshrining the rights of Corporations above the rights of citizens, or even governments, they became countries in their own right. Popular dissatisfaction with this new state of affairs would have possibly lead to popular uprising, but for a series of unfortunately timed events, which I believe have cost society dearly.

The nuclear meltdown in Dungeness, 2004, legitimized the complaints of the Corporations in America, to some extent. Founded on a fear of nuclear catastrophe, people were stunned into silence and did not see the true importance of the events happening around them. Coupled with actual nuclear war the following year (though admittedly in the Middle East, which seemed very far away to most Americans), and a horrifying earthquake which shattered the east coast of North America, there was too much death and pain in the world for any coherent mass uprising to occur.

It should also be noted that I agree wholeheartedly with Captain Chaos. 2001, the actions undertaken by Shiawase to create the Corporate Class, also saw the birth of the Shadowrunning Community. Although we were in our infant stages, our history is inextricably linked with that of the Corporations. And why not? Although the Corporations continue to operate on an explicit and lauded Capitalist model, their personal armed forces are too obvious to utilize on a regular basis against competitors and are a deniable asset. If, for the sake of argument, that early Shadowrunner had been caught… he would have been just another terrorist, no? Heh, amusing, really, that the greatest authority in the world is predicated on the existence of the most feared anti-authoritarian community. But history is not without a sense of irony.

The rest of the decade we see Global Capitalism trying desperately to legitimize itself and retain power in the face of a dawning new world order. Japan establishes an Imperial State after its megacorps provoke a war that could very possibly have annihilated the entire region, but they also obtain Korea in the traditional way. Bloody conquest and atrocity. So they are quite happy. Resource scarcity common in industrialized society results in America sacrificing much of its natural beauty, and desperate people try to fight back against the burgeoning age ahead. Most notably, a terrorist organization almost nukes Russia, an act which will color that nation for many decades to come.

Global Capitalism's biggest display of its death throws comes in the treatment of the Native Americans. Most are incredibly angry that their land is being torn up for oil, and for their trouble, they are herded into reeducation centers. Essentially becoming an institutionalized underclass on which the entrenched elites attempt to vent their frustration at their growing powerlessness. Ironically, this act will solidify the Native Americans as one of the major power blocs in years to come.

In 2010, VITAS strikes for the first time, and one in four individuals worldwide is killed. This horrific disease brings Global Capitalism to its knees, and Corporate Capitalism takes full advantage of this fact, the megacorps beginning to treat their employees more as citizens than a traditional workforce- though they are still, obviously, an exploited and ultimately expendable resource. With the death of so many people, any hope for a unified uprising of the masses is completely and utterly destroyed.

The following year, 2011, there are even more distractions. Unexplained Genetic Expression begins to foreshadow the world we know today, and religion, also suffering in the death throws of Global Capitalism, denounces them as abominations, resulting in mass hate crimes and another scapegoat for the masses to vent their anger upon.

And of course, there was the Awakening.

Sheltered from VITAS, the Native Americans begin to rebel, and they have some of the first shamans on their side. By the end of 2012, the world is confronted with a burgeoning explosion of magical awareness, and the existence of dragons. Lofwyr also begins to play with the Corporations. A metaphorical coincidence I find quite delightful; the rise of magic plays an important role in distracting the public from the power of their new Corporate overlords, whilst one of the greatest evidences of magic in the world himself decides he immediately sees where the real power in society is. Delightful.

2014 saw the formation of the Native American Nations, but more interestingly is the 2015 creation of Aztlan. The first genuine synthesis of corporation and government, the Aztlan government will eventually become recognized as a simple extension of Aztechnology. I find it astounding that so many people simply accept this as natural these days. But, I'll try to avoid ranting too much.

War and death continue to plague us through 2016, as the hold of nations over their populations fade. Four world leaders are assassinated this year, the death of President Garrety having particularly nasty consequences as his successor decided to try and simply commit genocide on the Native Americans again. The governments of the world squeeze tighter, trying to maintain a fading grip on a world that is rapidly spiralling beyond their grasp, as the megacorps we know and love today come into existence.

Magic's power to shake nations is demonstrated most powerfully with the Great Ghost Dance, which decimated America yet again, and forced the wars to come to a close. The Treaty of Denver settles it, with Denver itself being split between various nations. Who doesn't love Denver? Soon, it is the very symbol of our new age. Technically governed by governments, in reality, the Corporations use it to run so many different games at once it is a miracle the entire place didn't implode from the sheer amount of capital and deceit accumulated in one place.

2021 saw the phenomena of Goblinization. Aside from being quite fearful that this may be a similar 'disease' to VITAS, it also provided a new set of whipping boys for the ruling classes now that they couldn't use the Native Americans any more. We see a worldwide outpouring of hate and atrocity as these poor unfortunates are rounded up and shipped off, or simply killed by angry mobs. One in ten of the worlds population become a vent for the hatred and fear of the other ninety per cent.

But we aren't done yet, because VITAS 2 emerges, and another ten per cent of the worlds population is purged by the disease. Perhaps because of the reduced population levels, and needing a boost to the workforce to continue functioning, this can be argued to force equal rights to begin to emerge for the newly dubbed 'metahumans'. After just over a decade, we begin to see the world finally adapt to the changes which have been wrought over it.

Worthy of note, particularly, is the invention of simsense. Quite possibly the most amazing 'circus' for the 'bread and circuses' which are used to pacify the general population. But aside from noting it, I am not going to derail this paper with a long discussion on the cultural impact.

2025 sees the first undergraduate degree in occult studies, and heralds the general acceptance of magic as another part of life. Signified by the increasingly irrelevant opiate of the masses, the Catholic Church, declaring that metahumans have souls and magic, really, isn't all that bad. A shameless attempt to twist the teachings of their incoherent doctrine to obtain more followers in a frightening new age.

Technological advances aside, the next big occurance is in 2029, when the worlds first true supervirus causes catastrophic damage, spurring on the creation of the first cyberterminals and the elite 'deckers'. The vulnerability of the Corporations to information warfare is made painfully obvious, and trillions in damage are soaked. The virus is finally brought to heel two years later, having the dubious honor of also being the first computer program to claim lives.

2030 sees the birth of UCAS, driven largely by economic instability between both nations, and Damien Knight's fantastic manoeuvrings in 2033 sees the undeniable birth of Super-Elite within the Corporate Class. Those individuals whose natural talent, luck, or position affords them a vastly privileged position within the world. Knight's genius allows him to take dominant control over Ares, and begin to utilize the corporation towards his own ends.

The following year, Villiers soon follows suit, though his rise to the Super-Elite is done on the back of violence and ruthless efficiency, rather than technical genius and skill. The same year sees the succession of the CAS from UCAS, on the back of a belief that they would be better off on their own. Violence, amusingly, becomes the tool of the Corporations more than the governments themselves, as the following year sees Aztlan invade Texas, and press towards San Diego after California is cut off from the UCAS.

Of course, the governments of the region don't remain quiet. Instead they seize the opportunity to claim more territory. Tir Tairngire takes the south, and in desperation, San Francisco sells itself out to the Japanese.

Alamos 20K also becomes active this year, firebombing a small town and killing metahumans. Although Humanis Policlub have been active for several years, this institutionalized violence is the first act which really demonstrates the public hatred of the unfortunate metahuman community. This will simmer for three more years.

In 2037, however, Lofwyr, whose actions have been quietly bubbling away, seizes control of BMW and renames it Saeder-Krupp. Becoming the third member of the Super-Elite, and the first non-human. The draconic predilection for manipulation and vast sums of money ensures that he is, by far, the most successful member of the Super-Elite. Being such a powerful creature, it is hypothesized that he could not have been better suited to the simultaneously violent, and ruthlessly competitive nature of Corporate Capitalism. I suggest you check the gross earnings of Saeder-Krupp against the other members of the Corporate Class for all the evidence you need for my personal leanings in this debate.

The 'Night of Rage' in 2039 heralds the start of a year of unbridled backlash against metahumanity in modern society, killing thousands of people and solidifying the opinion amongst the working classes that metahumanity is a blight or abomination. The rhetoric largely focuses around how they are 'stealing our jobs and women'. This particular fear highlights the preoccupation of the underclasses in society with money and wealth. Distracted from the possibility of emancipating themselves from these bonds, it is easier to simply lash out at the world around them. And why not? The past three decades have seen a horrific amount of death and destruction, as well as change, in a stunningly short period of time.

Politicking abounds, but much of it is simply background noise as the Corporate Class solidifies its holdings. 2048 sees the next step in the ongoing Corporate Class struggle, as Aztechnology completes its unofficial takeover of Aztlan by seizing all foreign businesses within the nation. The Corporate Court is soon established as the only authority to which the Corporate Class must answer, though it is an imperfect authority, as no side really gets what they want from the struggle, which, naturally, costs many more lives during the debate.

The 2050s are, at first, relatively quiet. Cyberdecks become available, as do more advanced electronic drugs to pacify the masses. More interesting is the discovery of Anchoring, which allows the mass commercialization of magic to become a possibility, though one which has yet to really take off. Perhaps because of the increasing paranoia surrounding magic, which comes to a head in 2055.

The horror of 'Bug City' solidifies, in many peoples minds, that magic is a dangerous and scary thing. Amusingly, 2056 also sees the celebrity dragon Dunkelzahn become a naturalized UCAS citizen, and although magic is feared, Dunkelzahn is incredibly popular. Perhaps because he was so charismatic, and didn't have mandibles, who can say?

Political corruption opens the door to Dunkelzahn, and he capitalizes on the opportunity to run for President. One could speculate as to his motivations, but I believe that this symbolized the only opportunity in the past hundred years for genuine progress to be made by human society. Dunkelzahn is a kind of 'anti-Lofwyr', a figure who sought to help people, rather than dominate and control them. Unfortunately, although he succeeded, and may well have been ready to set out the plans that would have brought the UCAS towards greater freedom… he was killed. Assassinated, no doubt by agents of the Corporations who feared the reforms he may have instituted to the way the nation was run.

Ares Macrotechnology steps in alongside the UCAS military to squash the righteous anger of the people at the death of their beloved President. Riots are heavy, and it looks, for one brief moment, like Dunkelzahn's death might yet have been the start of the reforms he so believed in. But Haeffner betrays that possibility by placating the riots with the nomination of Nadja Daviar as Vice President. The Draco Foundation comes into existence, and begins the work that Dunkelzahn had laid out needed to be completed upon his death. The execution of the will of this great figure will take decades to complete, and necessitates a Corporate entity of not inconsiderable power to carry out.

Daviar, it should be noted, gives Damien Knight control over the Ares portfolio for another two years. Dunkelzahn's death, always a popular venue for conspiracy theories, does seem to profit Ares quite greatly now, does it not? Heh.

2059 sees the manoeuvrings of the Corporate Court reach new levels, as they solidify themselves as the true elite power of the globe. I will not detail each and every move, but suffice to say that many of the norms that now govern that elite are formed within this year long period, as each jostles for position against the other, whilst trying to maintain at least a veneer of respectability. Some are more successful in this regard than others.

For ease, I will stop there. This is, after all, meant to simply be an update of the original article. The past ten years… I myself have been rather, busy. I have not had my finger on the UCAS pulse, to say the least, and any analysis I could give would be incomplete at best, and misleading at worst.

I hope this has been useful, nevertheless.

»»> [Good, reliable help. Political bulldrek aside, she has proved herself able to handle delicate situations for me and my friends. Rapidly becoming one of my favorite problem solvers.]««<
-The Pulse (No Time/02-12-70)


>>>>> [ I've worked with her a few times. I'd trust her to watch my back. Has a good head on her shoulders. Just don't get her going on about politics. ] <<<<<
-The-Girl-Who-Laughs (Ha:Ha:Ha/03-1-70)

Rules I use

I run a lot of plots! In them, I use some rules as standard that are not the official rules on Denver, these rules are laid out below.

Bio Index and Healing: 1/2 your Bio Index rating is added to healing times as normal for physical damage, but I will not add it to stun damage that is taken. This is because "technically, overcoming Stun damage is more a process of recovery than healing". It was recently pointed out to me that BI should be affecting stun damage recovery times by the letter of the rules. This is true, I think. But, I've never had a problem with Bioware massively unbalancing the game when this fact is overlooked. Physical damage, yes, you have more trouble healing that when your body is mostly unnatural. But not stun damage.

Cyber-Implant Weapons: As written, this has turned out to be something of a niggle in a few plots I've run. Suddenly being able to whip out a damage code well above a Victory Rotary Assault Cannon can be somewhat difficult for any combat based challenge to roll with. Rather than doing 1.5x strength damage, then, two cyber implant weapons will count as allowing a complementary Cyber-Implant Weapons test following the first attack. This attack does not suffer the usual penalty for using an off-hand weapon, so does not require ambidexterity to offset the usual penalty. Normal penalties (or lack thereof) if you try to attack multiple people apply.

Confusion: As written, this power is a great way to take almost any target down. I do not believe from the description, however, that it was intended to be used as a primary combat power. Therefore, after the first time a target is attacked, not only do they get another save to remember what they are doing, if they succeed on an opposed willpower vs essence test, they cancel the ongoing target number penalty of Confusion. Targets get +1 to the test for every other attack they have previously suffered, and when the power has been saved against, they cannot be effected by Confusion from that spirit again. Still a very handy power, still very nasty in the opening round or two of combat, no longer a game-ender.

Rifles and Shotguns in melee: As near as I can tell there is currently no clear advantage to using a gun designed for close quarters fighting other than common sense. To standardize it, if you are using a long-barrelled weapon and are engaged in melee, in my runs, your opponent will count as having a 'superior position' (-1 TN on hitting you). As well as this, you will suffer a +1 TN modifier to any unarmed rolls to defend yourself. However, this second modifier does not apply if you are trained in using your weapon (Clubs for the butt of the weapon, polearms if you have a bayonet). Using the butt of the weapon also means that the gun does not count as being readied for your next action immediately after attacking (or defending) yourself using it. None of this applies if you are using a rifle or a shotgun which has been modified so as to be less unwieldy. (Bullpup configuration or sawn-off). None of these modifiers apply for using weapons that are not noted for their long length.

Shotgun Choke: Each time the shot spreads, the target gets +2 die to the body resistance test. Shot cannot gain any benefit in any way from Smartlink systems (not just smart goggles as in the book). All other rules are unchanged.

Gel Rounds: Work against Ballistic armour not Impact. I'm using the ruling from my PDF copy of the book. I'm aware there are other version of the SR3rd core which states gel rounds work against impact; in my runs, this is not the case, because I dislike an easy way to get around the generally higher ballistic armour ratings of professionals.

Explosions In a Confined Space: I am unlikely to bother to work out the exact way a grenade works in a building, because I am lazy. Unless someone does something like throw themselves over a grenade, this rule is unlikely to come up.

Decking: I've learned the basics of decking. My opinion is still unchanged: I have no interest in runs which focus on decking. I dislike decking, and decker characters are likely to bore me. Although I will not explicitly say that I will never allow decking in my runs, please be aware that I will almost certainly be using the quick resolution rules. Or otherwise highly abstracting it. It is not something I enjoy dwelling on. If your character relies heavily upon the inclusion of decking in order for you to feel like you've had a good time in a scene, you will want to avoid my runs.

Rigging: To a slightly lesser extent than decking, I know the basics of rigging, but I don't know every detail and I don't expect to. Although there is always the chance that I might make a ruling for ease in any area of the game rules, riggers should be aware that it is far more likely to occur in their case than others.

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