Waypoint 101 — Shadowrun: Dragonfall


I think that while Dragonfall is full of characters who only look out for you and yours, the game is ultimately critical of that. The player character is frequently given the opportunity to destabilize evil or uphold order - all of the loyalty missions instigate some positive change for extra-Kruezbasar people, and many of the ending decisions are “out of scope” for your personal Kiez. It’s not the default option, and I don’t love the available options for every mission, but there’s a place for people who want to make Berlin/the world as a whole better.


I’m playing a decker/pistol elf named Kazkade. Also, I didn’t like any of the portraits that were in the game, so I modded in a portrait that is just actually just some fan art of Sombra’s Tulum skin by @AnisaSherzai.

I’m typically more into tactics games, but I’m really starting to appreciate the role playing in SDF. I just did a side mission and was able to accomplish all my objectives without ever going loud because I happened to have all the right stats and etiquettes.

Also, I don’t want to spoil anything, but PLEASE everyone do the side mission that Dr. Xabier gives you to go into the locked-down biotech facility. The conclusion of that mission, provided that you don’t kill Philip Rex and also that you disengage the building’s security lockdown is just absolutely glorious.


I picked this back up because of Waypoint 101 and I’m glad I have. I just finished one side run given by Xabier (Sutterlin facility with Philip Rex) and I think this is about where I bounced off the game the first time (I don’t remember entirely why, but I remember I was frustrated with the combat years ago). Even though I later bought, finished and really liked SRHK, for some reason I’d never made it back to Dragonfall. It seems like I’m near where the main plot starts to really get going, so looking forward to the rest of the game.


There’s actually an in-story explanation for this, one of those little details that makes this game so good: if you read Monika’s dossiers on the team and talk to other people about her, you learn that she had a particular fault as a leader: an inability (or lack of desire) to help people with emotional or psychological trauma. She never got through to Glory or Eiger, and she got Kim hooked on BTL so Kim could basically sidestep her own trauma rather than see it through. If you want to do better, you should be pushing their boundaries harder than Monika did.


I’m really excited about this! I’m new to Waypoint 101s and have been dying for some Cyberpunk so this is perfect.

I’ve struggled a bit in the past with RPGs that have a big focus on tactical combat. I tend to play RPGs on Easy because I’m not particularly interested in combat as a gameplay mechanic and want to blow through it for the story, but if they’ve put a heavy focus on the combat that can tend to make the game boring because I’m basically skipping a large part of the “fun”. Interested to see how this goes.


If it helps, as I commented a bit above, there are some situations where you can definitely avoid combat (or reduce it), with suitable dialogue.

The opening mission seems to be where people bounce off, if they’re not into combat, though [I know it was an issue for me], so just power past that.


Thank you for asking this question because I was also wondering this. I often RP too much and feel like I’ve missed dialogue because I’m someone who HATES being pushed and don’t want to do it to others.


Thanks, that’s encouraging. I tend to give games 5-10 hours before I bounce off so I made it through the first mission and I think I’m at some more interesting meat now. We’ll see how it goes!


The first mission feels important insofar that some encounters in the game, I’d say about half a dozen, require some strategizing beyond making health bars disappear. They are a bit more puzzle like, and while the strategies are not difficult (the first mission requires an organized retreat), you do need to do something that’s different.


I mean, I died repeatedly in the first mission before the escape door even opened, so I also think it’s a big difficulty hit, even if you’re intending to follow strategy.


Thanks to this I’m finally installing the game and jumping in. What a great idea.


Quick question on the Lodge for a first (and potentially only) playthrough:

So obviously there’s a point in the first mission where you realize these guys are the worst. I strongly leaned towards siding with the big elf guy here but I also don’t want to miss out on a big, intricate questline or anything if I end up never having the time to play back through this. How much will I actually be giving up on by doing the right thing here?


You don’t, I think, get any extra missions - but you do get asked to do favours for Lodge Guy on missions you already have. And you miss out on the content associated with that.

I don’t know first hand - because I totally sided with big elf guy - but I checked out a walkthrough later, and that seems to be it.


This is definitely a game where you have to do some pushing.

With that said (and I got through a major discussion with Glory in my session last night), I do think it’s interesting. I think there’s a fine balance in the way the dialogue is written. I think there’s a way in which respecting boundaries or avoiding pushing people turns into a way of avoiding the conversation because of the world these characters are in, where reticence is easy and papering over people’s backgrounds comes across as an effort to keep yourself distant from people. There’s an early conversation with Glory that heavily implies that you’ll need to push her to get her to talk (even if she isn’t ready to talk right now).

The game also doesn’t really frame it as ‘pressing people’ versus ‘respecting boundaries’, it is more that you are actively giving them your time and attention rather than minimising your time to talk with them. It’s interesting and I’m not clear-cut on how I feel about it.

It’s some of that real have the conversation, fix the situation deals.

e: Also! There is some scope for RP in the conversations you initiate with people; I don’t know how much it affects things, but you get choices while you’re talking that certainly affect a few lines if nothing else.


One thing I found interesting about those conversations with Glory is that the game gives you the option to say something along the lines of “Hey, clearly talking about this is helping you work through it, so let’s keep doing that.” It’s almost like the game is working against the expectations we’ve built up in the genre that we’re only going to get so much out of a person before the next major story beat. (Of course, that’s still largely true here, but they’re at least trying to subvert those expectations to some extent.) And while helping a friend or colleague work through a difficult past event is obviously a complicated situation, I do think it’s pretty neat that the way you get through to Glory is by sort of actively giving a shit about her.


I think it’s a little bit of both, and I definitely have mixed feelings about it. It’s clear that there’s definitely two paths to push down, one that’s “Hey I just care” and one that’s “I’m your leader talk to me or else” which I think is great. Even if they lead you to the same place those kind of roleplay options make me feel a lot less gross about pushing. On the other hand, I’m not sitting in front of it right now but if I remember correctly your “respectful” option for leaving an early conversation with Glory without pushing her is something like “Alright I understand you don’t want to talk right now but I’ll be here if you ever do” which I think is a very fair and respectful thing to say and it’s unfortunate that you won’t get anywhere with it.

I’m sure my feelings will solidify more as I play through it but regardless it’s really cool that the conversation system feels in-depth enough to warrant these conversations. Even just the sheer number of options is great - I’ve never seen a game that presented you with 7 different ways to respond to someone, all with different nuance.


I haven’t gotten to this part yet, but that’s really cool and I’ll pay a little closer attention to the way that dialogue plays out. I agree that it’s rare for you to roleplay giving a shit and have that…work


This being Shadowrun, there’s always going to be more profit in setting your personal morals aside and doing the job - in this case, though, the Lodge is there to tack on additional bonus objectives during existing story content. Saying no means you don’t get a clearer idea of what they might be up to, but it won’t substantially change the way the narrative unfolds.


Austin said we could talk about the other games here too, right? I finished Dragonfall and started playing Hong Kong and am about to finish it up… as someone who was born in HK but was raised in an anglophone city on the west coast, the Seattle-born MC (playing a troll again, because I’m gay, except she’s a street samurai this time instead of an Adept because I wanted to deck myself out in cyberware) having terrible Cantonese because she hasn’t practiced in years is Relatable. Especially with Duncan as the more filial sibling who is much more fluent than you.

I don’t know how I feel about it compared to Dragonfall yet, but between the two of them, my favourite hub NPC storyline is definitely the Ka Fais in HK. Talking to every family member after every mission and listening to each of their issues about each other has been really enriching. It’s really good at showing how dysfunctional and disconnected this family is despite living in the same house, venting to the same stranger but never frankly talking about their conflicts and anxieties with each other… I think the gradual storytelling Dragonfall and HK have in their hub areas is used really well here because it’s interwoven in a way you can see the rifts forming between each family member slowly over time without ever actually seeing them interact.

Also, I’m curious how much outside consulting they did for these games. Because Ermine’s desperation to keep her oldest son Callum at home while he angsts about his parents trying to choose his future is… painfully Chinese. At one point, she says something like, “I’d rather he hate me forever than be taken away.”

I know Fantasy Racism tends to walk on a thin line, but this bit from Ermine about being a model minority under capitalist hell fuckin’ rips:


Also, I brought the ghoul party member to the party mission and it was very good.







Finished the game again last night and had some new thoughts since I first played it a few years ago.

The Story:
While I still really enjoyed the writing and the way it thoughtfully tackled topics with more depth than you normally find in games that clock south of 40 hours, I become aware of how difficult it is to have a meaningful political discussion in a universe where essentialism (think intelligence stat caps on Trolls) is magically baked into the narrative. While this is a common criticism of lots of fantasy stuff, I had never considered the slippery ethics that crop up when you insert that stuff into a cyberpunk setting where the laws of reality ostensibly tend to mirror our own. This especially struck me during the last mission when I called Vauclair out for acting like a dragon, and his response was, “sure, but dragons are immortal and magical and stuff, so I’m definitely not being a dragon right now.” You’re a megalomaniac CEO forcefully imposing your will onto the world because you have the resources to do so! But also: he’s right, he’s not a dragon, and in this universe that’s a meaningful distinction! I read the alternate ending where you go along with his plan, and it turns out if you kill all the dragons some greater threat appears and destroys humanity. So, dragons are cool then, or at least a necessary evil? In the game this makes for some juicy ethical dilemmas, but the structure of the SR universe means that these conversations have little to say about the world we actually live in.

How should we view the actions of a billionaire capitalist CEO if they’re one of a species of immortal and higher-functioning beings who protect us from otherworldly horrors? Is this a question I should even care about in 2018? While the game certainly presents dialogues more reflective of the real world in some of its smaller stories, it’s unfortunate that a game with such a visibly political backdrop ends on a series of choices with little meaning outside of the context of the SR universe.

The Gamey bits:
Everything is as slow as I remembered, from the walking to the fireballs and the AI floatily pathing from node to node. The walls not being cover is the icing on this goofy x-com-lite cake. I loved reading auras as a mage this time around, but the game clearly loves deckers a lot more.

Glory, Eiger, Dietrich:

Character: No. Loyalty mission: Yes.

The Shadowrun FPS:
Severely underrated. Severely underdeveloped.

Elon Musk:
I kept thinking about this clown every time Vauclair showed up. I don’t think the subconscious comparison holds up under scrutiny.