This campaign will begin as all the characters are being taken to the infamous Sub-Attica Prison Colony, located almost 1500 meters below the surface of the Atlantic, off the coast of New England. This prison is home to over 300 of the most dangerous criminals in the UCAS and CAS, each one considered such an extreme escape risk that they have been sentenced to serve here, where escape is impossible. When the campaign begins, it is late September of 2061.
Prior to the start of the campaign, the characters were members of an up-and-coming shadowrunning team, finally graduating from smash and grabs, hired muscle, and bounty hunting to their first real shadowruns against corporate targets. Unfortunately, their last job went horribly wrong. At least one of the team is dead, and the characters were captured by the police after making their escape from the corporate compound. (The details of their last job are left deliberately vague to allow the players to work them out on their own).
Things were not looking good for the characters; though they had been nabbed outside of corporate territory, the evidence was piled up against them -- it seems as if the corporation had known of their every move, luring them into a trap and then springing it. Unfortunately, the worst part was that in their escape, they had caused an accident which resulted in the death of a police officer. With the writing on the wall, the prosecutor came to the characters and offered them a deal -- in return for their cooperation, she would offer them a reduced sentence on a lesser charge, and keep them out of the hands of corporate "justice," at least for now.
There is little mercy in the heart of a giant megacorporation for those caught pilfering its secrets; the tales of runners who have been "disappeared" or worse by corporate law are many. At least with this deal, they had a chance to be out of jail before they died of old age. In return for the lesser sentence, the characters will be sent to Sub-Attica, run by the enigmatic Proteus AG corporation. The government suspects that Proteus is using the prison, which they only recently purchased, as a cover for a secret research program. The characters must discover the nature of the research program within six months of their incarceration; when that time is up, the government will have them pulled from the prison. If they do not have the information, then they will be turned over to corporate justice; if they do, they will be sent to a more hospitable facility to serve out the remainder of their sentence.
Our story begins with the characters aboard a cargo submarine, being taken from the coastal base station to the prison, shackled into their seats as armed guards watch over them.
Players should be familiar with the events of the Shadowrun timeline up to the present (late September 2061). The timeline provided at the official Shadowrun site here will bring the players up to date on everything up to 2060. The major worldwide event going on at the time the campaign begins a worldwide fever over the return of Halley's Comet coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the Awakening. During the first part of the year, most of the major megacorps and even a few second-tier corporations engaged in a furious race to be the first to have a probe rendezvous with the comet. The competition was furious -- it isn't out of the realm of possibility that the run the characters were arrested after was part of the Probe Race.
Unfortunately for the corporations involved, every single probe suffered some sort of critical failure; some were destroyed during launch, some simply disappeared, another suffered a critical guidance failure and missed the comet on its first pass. As the characters are being sent to prison, a second round of rendezvous attempts is beginning to meet with the comet on its return trip.
In May of 2061, there was some sort of major event at the shutdown Renraku Arcology in Seattle; the exact nature is not clear, but it appears that UCAS and Renraku troops were able to strike some sort of fatal blow to the machine intelligence that was in control of the complex. Since then, their efforts to retake control of the building have proceeded at an accelerated pace, and many formerly trapped residents have been liberated, although none have made it out unscathed.
With the approach of Halley's Comet and the 50th anniversary of the Awakening, there has been a rise in cult activity, both peaceful and more towards the violent end of the spectrum; many are reminiscent of the apocalyptic cults that formed both at the turn of the 21st century and in the years following the Awakening and Goblinization. So far, the problem has not gotten too far out of hand, although the media's slant is that things are likely to get worse as it gets closer to 24 December.