Tough Love

Lofwyr is one of the biggest bogeymen in the Shadowrun universe. He’s got his own entry in Threats. He’s known to be extremely vindictive, harshly punishing anyone who interferes in his operations. So what better surprise can a GM add to Lofwyr than to make him a good guy?

The way to build Lofwyr as a heroic figure is to go for the “tough love” notion: encouraging growth and self-reliance by putting people through harsh situations. Killing the failures is just contributing to evolution; he doesn’t bear them any personal animosity. Lofwyr becomes a very big father-figure.

All the Great Dragons are involved in a game that they play with each other, with stakes on the scale of the planet itself and strategies that play out over centuries. None of them is playing to win— that would spoil the game. They are playing to show the power of their personal philosophies and ideas. Dunkelzahn’s strategy— relatively maternal— was to encourage the diverse strengths of metahumanity and sentient life that were not yet Name-Givers. Lofwyr takes a more conservative— almost paternal— view, seeing metahumanity as children in need of guidance. His megacorporate strategies are efficient, but they also teach efficiency for those who watch and learn.

Great Dragons can afford to think in the long term. They all know of the coming of the Enemy, though it is more than a millennium off. In the Fourth Age, populations were so small that some of the Great Dragons were able to host a few and watch as others built their shelters, and there was not a terrible loss. In the past five thousand years, metahumanity has covered the planet, and such a strategy of hiding would never work.

Some of the Great Dragons simply plan to take a selected elite with them into their own places of power, to repopulate the world after its devastation. Others have larger plans: Dunkelzahn and Lofwyr, each in their own way, believe that widespread humanity should be able to defeat the Enemy with guidance from the Great Dragons. Dunkelzahn and his legacy are building a society that would have the tools to do so; Lofwyr is building an organization that will simply reallocate its assets when the time comes.

(For reference, other Great Dragons have their strategies as well. Hestaby is a philosopher, insisting on her solitude in Mount Shasta and pursuing the inner secrets of the world with her otaku and circle of Initiated shamans. Ryumyo and Lung use their battle for control of organized crime on the Pacific Rim to pit their differing ideas for organization of society against each other.)

A Vignette

Franz Schwarzklinge attempted to compose himself as his elevator car rose above the Rhine-Ruhr megaplex. It would not do to be visibly sweating on his first personal audience with The Boss. There are worse megacorporations to work in, he mused. I’ll do fine as long as I don’t fuck up.

He shrugged as the elevator slowed in its climb to the top of the spacescraper arcology almost a mile above the bank of the Ruhr river. At least The Boss isn’t going to be prejudiced against me because I’m an Elf.

The elevator halted. After all, he’s a Great Dragon.

Franz strolled calmly into the cavernous space at the top of the huge building, dubbed the ‘corner office’ by The Boss’s subordinates. No furniture, no piles of gold and jewels, not even the immense walls of bookshelves and artwork that Dunkelzahn showed as his lair on “Wyrm Talk”. Just a marble floor, a wall covered in trideo displays, three other walls made of intricately carved granite, and a vaulted roof with a hatch big enough to admit the room’s single occupant: a huge, winged, bronze-scaled reptile, lounging with feline grace while his eyes scanned the array of trideo displays, displaying information on the stock markets and world events. President and Chairman of the Board of Saeder-Krupp Heavy Industries. Lofwyr.

“Good morning, sir,” Franz said, trying to convince his gut that it was just like talking to a normal manager. With some pleasure, he noted that his voice came out in its normal baritone, without a quaver.

The huge head turned to regard Franz. I prefer to be addressed as “Master”. The words appeared in Franz’s head without passing through his ears; the meaning arrived in his mind as if it had been delivered with a calm, almost nonchalant elocution, every nuance arriving as if he had heard it.

I heard about this from Klein and he acted like there was something broken in him... he must’ve taken one look at this guy and figured he would be a good slave for his “master”.

I could never live with myself that way.

“Very well, Master Lofwyr,” Franz said. Here goes. “Does that make me a senior apprentice or junior journeyman?”

The dragon’s pose shifted slightly, becoming a great deal more intent, and the corners of the reptilian mouth almost seemed to smile. Franz suppressed an urge to flinch; that “smile” usually meant trouble. Do you think you will be a Master yourself one day, then?

The elf shrugged, feigning nonchalance. “Perhaps. I expect that I’ll die of old age before I run out of things to learn from you—” his tone became quite dry— “so I’m not exactly planning a new furniture scheme for the ‘corner office’.” He did a double take, as if suddenly struck by a new idea. “You’re not thinking of retiring in the next few centuries, are you?”

What makes you think I will tolerate such impudence from you?

“Most of your employees are quaking in their boots when they’re anywhere near you. They’re desperately afraid that you might play ‘kill the messenger’ if they bring you bad news.

“I’ve been keeping track. You’re too shrewd a business...being to do that. You punish the people who make mistakes, not the people who discover them.

“I’ll guarantee one thing for you: you will always get a straight answer from me, at least in private. No censoring, no soft-pedalling, just because you could reduce me to ash with a single sneeze.” Well, if he’s going to kill me, this is it; if he’s not, I’m gonna feel a lot better about my job...

Very well, Apprentice Schwarzklinge, Lofwyr said, echoing Franz’s earlier phrasing. The management of Nootronic Systems in the Pueblo Corporate Council have been surreptitiously packing themselves a set of golden parachutes. You will travel to their headquarters in Flagstaff and begin an investigation that will lead to trimming some of the fat from their senior management team...

As he stepped into the elevator, Franz Schwarzklinge wondered to himself: What have I gotten myself into? Away from Lofwyr, he permitted himself a brief bout of the shakes, being careful to regain his composure before the elevator arrived at the offices below.