Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Teasers Cont'd - Shadowrun

Yesterday I talked about my technique of using scripted scenes called Teasers and Codas to begin and end an episode. Here's an example of a teaser I wrote for the first session of SHADOWRUN: DISAVOWED.



The camera frames the Space Needle, its distinctive outline establishing the place as the camera begins to pull back, revealing the skyline of 2050. We see a crowded mixture of old, decaying skyscrapers and neon-lit, futuristic corporate towers. The Aztechnology pyramid looms in the background, its ziggurat terraces surrounded by small flying vehicles, and as we pull further back, we see the shape of the RENRAKU ARCOLOGY appear in the foreground, a massive green glass shape towering nearly 300 stories to dominate the Seattle skyscape.

The camera pulls back more quickly – back, back, across miles of increasingly-decaying SUBURBS, with the Renraku Arcology still a huge, recognizable shape in the distance – to a ROOFTOP in the Barrens. The camera settles just behind the shoulder of MUIRIN CONNELLY, a short, slim dark-haired woman in her twenties.


She holds up a bottle of pills. The bottle is three-quarters empty. We can see that her hand is partially bandaged, and there are patches of blackened, burned skin on the back of her knuckles.


Muirin pops a pill in her mouth and dry-swallows. She turns as we hear a voice behind her.

KARYAN (off-screen, initially)
Keegan’s looking for you again. I never saw you, but you better make yourself scarce if you don’t want to get dragged into another three-hour meditation session.

We see KARYAN ARONYAN step into the frame from a door that opens on the roof. She is an athletic, muscular young woman with dark hair and olive skin.

MUIRIN (quietly)
Thanks Karyan.

…How many more days you got?

Not enough.

We’ll get more. Somehow. We’ll go back to Shanghai—

We burned up all our nuyen getting here. We either work it out here, or… that’s it.

Muirin begins to clamber down the ladder of a rusty fire escape, disappearing from the roof. Karyan steps up to the edge of the roof, where Muirin was a moment ago. She gazes for a moment at the shape of the Renraku Arcology in the distance, her body going suddenly tense. We ZOOM IN CLOSE on her left hand, hanging by her side.

Karyan makes a fist, and we hear her KNUCKLES POP. Suddenly, we hear the sound of ALARM CLAXONS in the distance.



Now Karyan is standing near the door of a well-appointed corporate executive office. She is wearing skin-tight black battle gear, with a pair of short Japanese swords strapped to her back, and many small throwing blades strapped to her arms and legs. MUIRIN is standing by her side, with an assault rifle in her hands…


The camera continues to pull back, then turns to reveal CAT COTE, a dark haired woman in her late teens, sitting at a sleek computer terminal, and KEEGAN CONNELLY, a thin, intense dark-haired man, standing at her side. We see GREEN PHOSPOR NUMBERS scrolling on Cat’s eyes.

CAT (a little distant)
Tac team, south corridor. Twenty seconds.

Right on schedule. They’re all yours, ladies.

KARYAN (stretching to limber up)
About time we got some action.

Shock and awe, baby. Me first.

Karyan and Muirin bump fists as Muirin pops the pin on a grenade with her other hand. She palms the door controls and it cycles open. She tosses the grenade and the CAMERA FOLLOWS IT DOWN THE HALL, and everything begins to shift into SLOW MOTION.


THE GRENADE BURSTS into a cloud of smoke, filling the corridor. We see a group of corporate security guards wearing Knight Errant uniforms rounding a corner. They slow to a stop when they meet the thickening grey cloud, and as they do the camera dips back through the cloud to show the door – just as it opens again and MUIRIN pivots around the corner with her rifle blazing. She fires a series of tight bursts down the corridor, cutting into the group of guards. She pivots back as Karyan runs though the door and down the corridor toward the guards. We see that many of the guards have been hit by Muirin’s burst, but others are bringing up their guns to shoot. Karyan is moving incredibly quickly (without the slow-mo we’d barely be able to follow her) and she runs UP THE LEFT WALL as the guards begin to shoot, kicking off near the roof to perform an acrobatic twist in midair and land right in the middle of the guards. CUT BACK TO REGULAR SPEED as she unloads a series of machine-gun punches and kicks all around her. Pow, pow, guards cry out and drop. SWITCH BACK TO SLOW-MO as she turns and launches a glowing fist at the last standing guard, lifting him off his feet with the force of the blow and sending him sliding back down the corridor on the polished tile floor.

REGULAR SPEED. Karyan stretches her neck as we see the rest of the team emerge from the smoke cloud behind her.

Got it. Dust-off in four minutes.

The group begins moving quickly down the corridor toward a bank of elevators.

Security team on the roof?

Twenty men, hardened positions. Good cover.

Looks like we have to earn our pay after all.

I’m already there.

The group steps onto an open elevator. As the doors begin to cycle closed, the CAMERA zooms in and we can see CAT’S EYES continue to flash with green numbers and symbols…


We see a tactical team on the roof facing the elevator. They are heavily armed, and training their rifles and grenade launchers on the elevators from positions of heavy cover. We see them tense up, taking careful aim as the elevator gets closer, when we see a DARK SHAPE appear in the air behind them. The camera shifts focus, and we can see an AERIAL DRONE behind the security guys, hovering and taking aim with a machinegun. One of the guards turns slightly, but an instant too late – the drone opens up, and the guards begin to scream and return fire, turning from the elevator. The camera turns from the firefight and ZOOMS IN on the elevator door just as it cycles open, stopping just in front of KEEGAN’S FACE. We see Keegan let out a long breath, and a streak of FIRE erupts from his mouth. The camera whips around and we see an EXPLOSION OF FLAMES in the midst of the guards, engulfing the center of their group. Muirin charges out and lays down cover fire.

Go go go!

The group breaks from the elevator and runs across the rooftop toward a large asphalt landing pad. As they arrive, we see a THUNDERBIRD rise up beyond the edge of the roof – a hovering vehicle much like a military helicopter without the rotors or the tail. Muirin and Keegan turn to lay down cover fire as Karyan and Cat leap aboard the ship. Keegan drops back and jumps aboard, and the CAMERA ZOOMS IN AND FOLLOWS as Muirin turns to run. We shift into SLO-MO as she runs, bullets from the remaining guards hitting the asphalt all around her. As she jumps for the Thunderbird, everything freezes for a moment and the camera points down – showing us the SHEER CLIFF FACE below, dropping hundreds of feet to the pounding surf. The action unfreezes as Muirin jumps aboard and the Thunderbird lurches forward.


We see the Thunderbird dive from the roof edge, dropping down the cliff face at hair-curling speed before pulling up and kicking in powerful thrusters only a dozen feet from the surface of the water. We see the cliffside corporate complex disappearing behind the ‘bird. There is a sudden EXPLOSION that splits the cliff in several places, and we see the structure begin crumbling into the sea.


In the body of the Thunderbird, the team is strapping in. Karyan and Muirin bump fists. Cat folds up her combat ‘deck into a black nylon case and passes Keegan a DATA WAFER the size of a fingernail.

KARYAN (still wired)
This is bullshit. I hardly even worked up a sweat.

We’re done. Clean sweep. What more do you want?

More of a challenge, grandma.

I’m glad to get back to San Francisco. I still got time for a nap before my date tonight.

MUIRIN (laughing)
Tonight? Cocky bitch!

What? It was a milk run. You all said so.

As they talk, the camera drifts forward into the COCKPIT, where we see the pilot opening the throttle and angling the Thunderbird out over the Pacific. The camera moves in closer, and the CONSOLE BECOMES TRANSPARENT for a moment. We can see a small brick of PLASTIC EXPLOSIVE wired in there, with a digital counter quickly winding down…

CAT (cont’d, off-screen)
Nothing to worry about…

There is a FLASH AND AN EXPLOSION from the cockpit, and the scene changes to confusion. The cabin is full of smoke. The cockpit is a smoldering ruin, and we can see the pilot’s slumped remains. We see brief glimpses of the team, torn up by shrapnel: Muirin is unconscious, her face bloody. Keegan struggles to free himself from his restraints, but finds them jammed, and reaches for a combat knife. Karyan is bloodied and disoriented.

…Where’s Cat? WHERE’S CAT? She was thrown out..!

Karyan dives from the side of the Thunderbird just as it begins to auger in toward the water. Keegan cuts himself free and throws his arm around Muirin’s shoulders, dragging her toward the open side door. He hurls the two of them out just as the Thunderbird hits with an almighty CRASH and we


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