Waypoint 101 — Shadowrun: Dragonfall


if you hire a rigger for a run and a person shows up with a drone, you should find a different rigger. i want to play a crazy paranoid shut-in that people think might not exist not some doofus with an rc-car with a machinegun on it


If you hire a rigger and they don’t show up with at least 1 drone, you’ve just been scammed.

(Deckers and riggers are not the same thing. A runner can be both, but they’re two different roles.)


So I started this Dragonfall yesterday and I am probably gonna get back to it right after I finish this post.
so far if I have a complaint it’s that I don’t exactly know what I’m doing partly that is just the game doesn’t exactly tutorialize and partly that is just, I don’t know the game or the setting which I realized midway through character creation. I picked up Hong Kong at the same time, because I already had returns for free from humble bundle a few weeks earlier so I could get them both for fairly cheap in a bundle. so perversely I am already kind of dreaming about who I will build for that game as I begin to understand the game and the setting, Like any role player I suffer plenty from that thing where they character you want to play in the next game consumes your thoughts and distracts from the one you are currently playing, but this is an extreme version.
Anyway, I ended up creating a Rigger dwarf named Cranky so it ended up working out great so far. I might have screwed up my point buys on my first level, (I reloaded and did it differently once but now reading this thread I wonder if I was closer to it the first time) but I think I will probably be fine, the stats I took were all purpose I can spec better next go around.
well I’m off to bungle a burgle.


If you want a game that knows its theory, play The Sea will claim everything on steam. It’s a point and click game with a lot of text. the beginning can be overwhelming, the first area, your home, has as many rooms as the first town. The hand drawn graphics can be off-putting. BUT the characters, themes, situations and dialogue are all great. Don’t be afraid of using a guide, it’s worth the effort.

It’s got a european fantasy setting, but then you go into town and people are complaining about the austerity policies the new governor has installed. Most don’t know what that means exactly and some are waiting for it to produce results. But the game creator knows what he’s talking about.

I also think Dragonfall fell short in some places, but it seems to be willing to try talking about capitalism through a political lens. Maybe it does say something about anarchism willingly/unwillingly. Worth the though…

I like how there’s a whole community in those BBS. If you pay attention to the names there’s regular commenters, sh*ttalking and inside jokes, these people know each other (as much as you can in an internet forum). I read someone comment how, despite the futuristic technology in SR, internet community got stuck in the 90’s. That’s perfect.

Close to the end of the game, it’s mentioned there’s other deckers who died in a similar way to Monika, one of them is Clockworks who you can frequently see in those BBS. His catchphrase is something about how he’s always on the run from the authorities. It’s cute. Felt bad to hear he’s dead.


I finished it on Saturday. (This post is incredibly long, sorry.)

I was too addicted to leave it alone. Then I went back to get a few different endings (I don’t want to spoil that there are multiple endings) and even ended up digging through some game data files to see conversations I didn’t get. There’s an amazing number of ways some conversations can go. Often they end up at the same point … but some critical conversations definitely do not all end up the same.

Oh and, since this is going to come up on the podcast, and I thought it was cool, I looked it up: Feuerschwinge is basically pronounced fi-ah-schving-uh. Like it looks, I guess. Fire (light on the r), schwing but with a v, light uh noise (or schwa, I think, if you know what that is). It just means Firewing. But it is super fun to say.

EXTREME spoilers ahead. Spoiler 1 is about a special ending. Spoiler 2 is about standard endings.

Spoiler Block #1

I watched a youtube of the entirety of “The Horrors” ending, where you side with Vauclair and kill your whole team to do so. I tried this out in the game actually, before I knew it was an ending path, but there was no way I could survive that battle. I figured there was probably some way to do win, someone must have tried, but I didn’t expect there to be an entire long sequence of events afterward. Pretty fascinating ending.
– end spoiler block –

Spoiler Block #2

It’s a little disappointing how similar all the other endings are, but you know in your heart what you did with the dragon, which is probably the most important thing…

I was very, very happy that actually you had to make a deal with a dragon. It was so tense. I feel a bit terrible that the first ending was me transferring control of Feuerschwinge to APEX, but … after all the 1% rhetoric about the dragons … and APEX apparently being woken up to anarchist ideals … I believed it, and it seemed like “the right thing to do”. Of course only after getting that ending did I rewind to see what happened when I lowered the containment tube down to the dragon chamber. I just assumed that as soon as you did that, they would merge from being in such close proximity to each other, there would be a big flash and the dragon would kill everyone. Little did I know.
– end spoiler block –

In case anyone didn’t see it (I think a lot of people probably haven’t), colin spacetwinks on twitter, who is great, wrote this years ago and linked it to Austin the other day. It’s very good. MASSIVE SPOILERS, WARNING: http://unlockablekangaroo.tumblr.com/post/97859975291/shadowrun-dragonfall-the-directors-cut-came

Some big final thoughts of mine (yet more spoilers, long, and somewhat media-analytical)

I absolutely think Colin’s piece hits on why the writing is so solid in this game. It’s definitely one of the top pieces of game writing I’ve come across. (Side note: I fired up Shadowrun Hong Kong the day after finishing Dragonfall and it was like nails on a chalkboard in comparison. Wow.)

I find it really interesting, though, how it undermines its own message.

In the content of the game: of course this is about freedom, liberty, anarchism, control, etc. You’re in an anarchist collective in a deliberately-unorganized non-state. You need to fix the sewers, you need to make sure shipments of medicine (and arms) are flowing, you kill nazis, etc. The right ending (imo) is allowing Feuerschwinge to be free despite being deadly.

But some of the specific details don’t necessarily jive with that.

First something relatively minor, but noticeable. For many of the NPCs in the Kreuzbasar, your primary interactions with them are purely capitalist – purely transactional. When massive shit hits the fan there, unless I missed something, you are still basically only able to go up to them and hit the Hey Whaddya Got button. When the decker merchant (see, I don’t even remember her name, just what she sells) helps you out with Winters’ DVDs, you can’t go over to her and have a micro-conversation about her help, you still just have the two different ways of asking to see the merchandise. Part of this might be due to resource constraints – there’s only so much time to do writing, and I understand that – but this was still a choice made.

I can imagine the game written so that you just have access to common equipment, you don’t have to pay for it, and you have access to more and more higher-level equipment as you gain more and more trust with the community members, not because you have more and more money. When dealing with outsiders, of course, money needs to be involved, but it seems like the choice was just to default to this sort of anarcho-capitalist organization because it’s difficult to imagine other ways of acquiring inventory. But I don’t think it would have been any more work to do that instead of standard RPG shops.

Secondly, the less-emphasized but recurring theme of there being always someone actually behind the scenes being benevolent. (Colin mentions this a bit.) There are a few examples, and it’s even mentioned by Lucky Strike in the bar when she meets you and makes it clear she didn’t like Monika. She claims that Monika helped people so much they forgot how to do things for themselves, that everything fell apart when she died because she made herself too important. “I’ve got a news flash for you, friend. Here in Berlin, teams don’t have leaders. […] Stacking too much power on any one person is dangerous. Not just for that person, but everybody.”

There are other Monikas. There’s the dragon’s messenger in the subway car, who says Lofwyr set you up the whole time. There’s APEX, who when given the opportunity really does say that it’ll steward the Flux State, that it had an epiphany about it, that it believes in the cause – and it’s telling the truth, as far as I can see. And there are the dragons themselves, which you find out in the special ending are keeping the whole world in balance.

Vauclair – ok, I have to mention this here, his name can be read as vaut clair, “clear worth” in French, as in … it’s clearly worth it. That’s so good.

Vauclair is another Lucky Strike. He wants power to be distributed. He argues, obsessively but clearly, that the dragons are eternal hoarders, that they will eventually own and control everything, that it’s impossible for mortal humans to ever compete. It’s obviously applicable to corporations just as well, and he’s blind to that, but let’s just say for a moment that we agree with the premise here. Corporations, dragons, whoever – accumulation without end is universally bad. Submitting to the control of accumulation is wrong. People must be free.

Importantly, in the canon of Shadowrun, the things Vauclair says about dragons are true. These are immortal beings, who work both in plain sight and in shadows to control massive swaths of the globe for various ends, some potentially good, though as a mortal you’ll never know. APEX becomes, functionally, another dragon as well, if freed.

The text of the game, though, violently shows you in the unique Vauclair ending that – on top of the means being genocidally horrific – this goal of emancipation itself leads, literally, to hell.

So, is the message of Dragonfall really about freedom? Or is it, perhaps unwittingly, saying that despite whatever pretenses we have to the contrary, we reproduce capitalism, we reproduce the structures of our own oppression, and we dare not escape them?

It seems like this could be another example of the tough pill to swallow that Cameron Kunzelman wrote on cyberpunk a few weeks ago: “there is no hope for large, structural change” in the heart of cyberpunk. You can make it better for yourself and your friends, or maybe your little community, but you are absolutely excluded from really changing the system.


Just as a tentative non-spoilery heads-up to folks: there’s a strong incentive to bring a decker to the first big mission after the Act 3 gutpunch, probably bigger than in most runs. I didn’t bring one at first and ended up loading a save from two missions back because I really wanted to do things the other way around.


I just finished doing the first mission where it felt like there was a properly long & difficult encounter (breaking into AG Europa to find Project Atlas/MKVI and I’m not sure I’m ready for what the game is going to be throwing at me. I feel like I’ve just scratched the surface & that set of encounters definitely took more away from me than I got from the mission. Woof.


I am so impressed by how authentic Dietrich feels. The way he is friendly and well-adjusted reminds me of many people I have met in the German punk scene. I’ve had discussions with very peaceful people who were considering whether it is right to punch Nazis, and Dietrich would have felt right at home in these conversations.

Mild and vague spoilers.

I find characters without a “dark past/secret” refreshing in video games, so for that reason too I prefer Dietrich over the others. Bioware and others grew way too fond of that narrative device.


Unfortunately there are too few situations like these which call for special tactics. I love the encounters on this run, but yes, they are hard!


Definitely, I always bring a decker (well, I always bring Blitz, because he’s free and he’s not that annoying), and I’m glad I did for that specific mission. (Spoiler for final mission re that choice: Although, I think making that choice, and then taking APEX’s “donated” drone along to the final mission seems to possibly prevent you from convincing Vauclaire to stop his plans via conversation. Or maybe I just didn’t choose the right options.)


One thing I found really fascinating in the conversation script code (endgame & conversation mechanics & deleted scenes spoilers) is that the Vauclair conversation code tracks every point you successfully argue and what you’ve revealed to Vauclair in detail. The code is structured so that if you have solid arguments to all of his points (and this requires a ton of things: a knowledge of biotech, academic etiquette, etc, etc, and obviously making the right choices) — you could convince him to stop. BUT.

Audran walks in, puts a bullet in him, and takes control and does it anyway. He says, as he’s doing it, that he just wants to have an impact on a world that never gave a shit about him. He doesn’t care about the consequences. He knows everyone will burn. (This is also revealed in the bad, go along with Vauclair, ending.) So things progress the same way after that, it’s just Audran behind the controls. BUT.

(Edit: this is wrong:) That all seems to have been removed at the last minute. I think there is no way to convince Vauclair to actually drop the plan in the game as released. But I’m not sure…!


Audran always takes over if you talk him down, its unavoidable. It’s also my favorite scenario because he gets real definition as a character. His dying line is probably one of the strongest lines in this entire series of games, completely reframing who he was and what he was doing with one of the most darkly relatable thoughts I’ve ever read in an RPG.


Right, but it is possible to talk Vauclair down, then? I think I was starting on the right lines to do so (my character has Academic etiquette, high Intelligence and Biotech - high enough to completely understand the research notes earlier on in the mission), but it seemed like as soon as I revealed I had unleashed APEX, he would tend to circle back to that.


It’s absolutely possible - the key is watching all of the DVDs, and after you make all the logical arguments, spike the ball by reminding him his brother died for this.


Sure, I did that - maybe I leant a bit too much on “what would Hermie do” early on, rather than starting with the logic. (And also, APEX butting in with “I WILL DESTROY YOU, PUNY HUMAN” probably didn’t help.)


Rough day at the office. I had to let Blitz go. I’m pretty sure he was a spy sent by the FireWing. He was trying to set me up with some sad story about spending too much money chasing his lost love and then wanted me to go on a mission alone while he stayed back. Then when I confronted him about how suspicious this all was he was like “If you don’t do this then I’m leaving.” and I was like “Then don’t let the door hit you on your ass on your way out.”
I knew better than to pick up some sponger with a laptop that I found in a closet. Not sure if he was a worm or a trojan, but I don’t need either on my team, good riddance.


Finding out Laine (the troll war veteran) is Finnish made me very happy. I think that’s the first time I’ve seen a Finnish person in a video game outside sports stuff.


He’s on the up and up. He’s just a huge moron dumbass who causes the vast majority of his own problems. His character mission is one of my favorite in the game because it has you and him working in parallel with him decking and you in meat space.


I didn’t even see Blitz on my playthrough. Seems fine. I can handle a deck, null sweat.


So, I think I’m going to start the game over and play as a decker instead of a street samurai. But is there a way I can do that and like… hybridize my build? I mean I know that there is but if anyone has an ideal stat distribution for a decker/samurai and they’d be willing to share I’d appreciate it!