Welcome to the Rigger section of Shadowlands. For all you wet-behind-the-ears slotheads or those just curious to know more about what Riggers do for fun and between runs. Rigger extraordinaire Rosie Chrome has been kind enough to write a bit of a field guide.
- Captain Chaos.
For the most part, Riggers like to compete. As with any other field, there's a hierarchy sought after between Runners. But it's not an easy thing to rank in a field, where the very best shadowrunning riggers are the ones you never really hear from or see. For the rest, pecking order and prestige comes from all manner of extraneous events.
Vehicle and drone rigger tend to not mix. It's a rare breed that can handle both with equal skill. For the majority of riggers, time, money, and skill demand that they focus on one or the other.
Vehicle riggers tend to seek each other out within small gangs and low-level hang outs or within the social circles they already occupy. Their social gatherings are infrequent and typically in the form of large races such as the desert death race or the Seattle ganger urban race. I'll touch more on that later.
Drone riggers are much more likely to seek each other out, as they're less common and typically very specialized or expensive for a group to maintain out on the streets. Only fixed or pro-shadowrun groups can generally afford to field the extra expense of a drone rigger. Drone riggers thus have a much harder time getting together for contests. Not helped is that the highest rungs of anything in Shadowrun generally have done so by avoiding the competition that might take them out.
But in large urban areas, mages have journals and bookstores. Street Sam have their gangs, or common mentors. Shaman have medicine lodges. Deckers have matrix hangouts. Mercs have army surplus stores.
Har de har. Very funny.
Drone Riggers test their skills and toys in Drone Pits.
Part social event, part machine smash battle. Participation in drone wars can be expensive if new riggers are foolish enough to use their 'work' machines. Most riggers bring throw-away junk, clunkers, salvaged toys or prototypes from local mechanics who want a 'controlled' field test. This is where a good relationship with your local mechanic or drone fixer really pays. They've got interest in seeing their wares look good and be shown off. Engineers want the best riggers to push their prototypes to the limit and hopefully bring it back in one piece. And riggers want the best they can afford to give them an edge against rivals and on runs.
This creates a symbiotic relationship with the two groups that keeps the drone cage fights fueled. The locations change periodically to avoid law enforcement, but local rigger fixers typically know all the hot spots. There's no formal organization, just locals looking to show each other who is boss. I'll touch on the big hot spots of drone fights in this guide.
One of the biggest drone cage fights (complete with permanent pits) is the Vegas Drone Cages. The city of vice is considered a reservation within the Ute Nation, with full self-governance (one of two such reservations) of most laws within it's borders. Gambling is still king and betting on the illegal fights is one of the most popular activities for Shadowrunners visiting.
Vegas Drone Cages are run by “Walking Shots” Walker, a one-eyed elven rigger with a modified and highly illegal Ares Hammer pistol. In the six years since he's taken control of the drone cages, Walking Shots has expanded on the site and obtained funds from several local fixers to provide sponsorship for new riggers in the cages.
I hear that Walker is about as Native American as Christopher Columbus, and actually a bastard son of Dominic Freda, the Don of the Vegas Mafia. No clue if the ears are real either, or just a poser. Could be why the kid's on the street though.
- Verontesse Watchdog
Got any sources for that or are you just pissing in the wind drekhead?
Drekhead? Still passing oxygen?
Verontesse Watchdog aka Sri Samson was killed two weeks after this post, in a tragic accident at the drone cage fights of Vegas. Six rounds of assault rifle fire from a drone went wild and struck Ms Samson after the bulletproof plexiglass mysteriously failed to contain the fire, apparently having suffered structural damage in a prior fight that night left it significantly weakened. Walking Shots assured those present that it was an unfortunate accident and that maintenance would be taking place on all plexiglass to ensure no further accidents take place.
Protip Kiddies: Don't accuse Walking Shots of being a poser, white or a bastard.
The Free City of Los Angeles
Another big hub for drone cage fights is Los Angeles. There's actually three different drone cage scenes and none of them like each other.
The first is the biggest in El Infernio. Hells Outhouse. They don't really try to hide it much here – they have open-air cage fights for flying drones, one of the few places I know of that can pull it off. Plus a couple of big rig mechanic pits they've yanked open and turned into massive arenas. Complete with stadium seating and kids hawking corn dogs (soy, but put enough mustard on it and you can't tell) and booze. Not a bad place to score drugs or BTL's either. This is where the hardcore Shadowrun crowd functions and is one of the premiere fight rings in the world.
The second is down by the old port of L.A, Hells Backwash. Place ain't fit to inhabit with all the desalinization plants operating over capacity, but the poor sods that live in the area have a drone cage pit... under the docks.
You read that right. For water proof drones. Most of the kids in the area spend most of their time on boats or docks, so the stuff they piece together is very much suited to the terrain they got. It's probably the craziest thing I've ever seen, since the drones are put together out of boat parts too. If you've got a rebreather and all your shots, I recommend it as a once-in-a-lifetime sightseeing spot for your expert adrenaline junkies.
The third scene in Los Angeles is the UCLA university ring. Yeah, hard to picture college kids bound for wage slavitude to a corp as raging rebels in this day and age, but they like to get their kicks too. A bunch of engineering students started an underground drone cage league where they practice designs against each other to get a leg up on their master's and PhD program. If you're used to the fire, shrapnel and bullet action of Shadowrunner drone fights, this'll leave you a little bored. Bullets and full drone destruction aren't allowed, knock out by disable only. However this is the place to see some real cutting edge and innovative design from up and comers. Current head organizer goes under the name Steel Metroid.
Rumor has it that word of the secret drone fights has reached the corps, and some of them have started slipping their recruiters into the audiences to spot talent that doesn't necessarily do so well on tests.
You heard it right. Corp 'recruiter team' snapped up two young engineering students right off the UCLA campus. Of course there's no proof they were kidnapped and UCLA received all the right paperwork and signatures for them to get transferred into a corporate apprenticeship contract. Both of them were top champs of the college drone fight ring and I'm damned pissed. As such our league has barred both guests and new members without sponsorship from an existing member while we look into improved security. Sorry guys. We are not going to allow any of our people to be risked.
- Steel Metroid
Here, it's not just friendly competition between the Shadowrunners, but a strong factional-patriotic fight has broken out. The drone cage fights have formed teams along regional-patriotic lines - and while not 'officially' sanctioned under the rules, new Runners are 'encouraged' to align with one of the regional teams in order to compete.
Which, is dumb in my opinion. We're criminals, we shouldn't be getting involved in stupid gov politics. Who cares about the laws of UCAS versus CAS? They're all tyrannical racists.
- Anarchist Prickly Pear
Drek-sucking freak, of course you don't care about representing your nation of tree hugging pointy eared fruits, you wouldn't know loyalty if it bit you. After you damned savages stabbed us in the back, despite everything we did to build you. The god-fearing people of the CAS will show you who your boss is!
- Neo Patriot Kami
I didn't delete this comment because I couldn't tell if he was being serious or sarcastic. However for future reference – this is not the Jingoistic Chest-beating board. Stay on topic or Else.
- Captain Chaos
Due to the intense security of the six-country treaty city, the location of the Denver drone fights has to change weekly to avoid a shut down. However it has a huge draw from the local shadowrunner groups for the sheer entertainment value.
The Denver crew frequents abandoned or condemned industrial buildings, quickly erecting cages around the fight area to protect audiences. However helmets and chest armor are recommended because accidents are high. Current point-of-contact and organizer of the hour is myself, Rosie Chrome.
The Seattle drone pits have been in a bit of flux recently. Clockwork Giant was a local troll runner and the Seattle drone pit organizer for ten years until her unexpected death last year. The sudden gap in the power structure and mysterious circumstances around her death flared up long-standing bad feelings between the two biggest groups of local riggers – Seoulpa and Yakuza. It hasn't come to straight-out fighting yet, but neither group was willing to accept the other in a leadership role over the pits.
Laurel Swifteye, a local Salish Mechanic, has recently taken up the reigns and has been getting a new pit going out of the industrial district in Puyallup.
Other locales I'll be including in the future are New Orleans, Miami, New York and Detroit.