Ken Tokugawa was born in a middle class neighborhood.
His mother, Kichiko, was a skilled Hermetic Mage and his father,
Hiro, a Physical Adept. They were kind, considerate parents
that lovingly cared for their son. They provided a nurturing,
warm background for him. Mother explained that she was
well paid as a "magical researcher" at Mitsuhama Corporate Technologies
(MCT), and Father also was well paid as a "bodyguard" there.
Ken wanted for little, and his childhood was a pleasant one.
His parents seemed to have so many Japanese friends that visited
often. Life was good.
Their branch of the Tokugawa family had an ancient history
of magical use. Of the stories his grandfather told,
those of his ancient ancestors interested him most.
Awakened Tokugawa often had a special relationship with magic
related to air, and at least one ancestor he knew of was also
a Sky Father shaman. The stories ended when his grandparents
died, but they had lived full, happy lives. Ken soon
got over it, never having really felt the full impact of their
deaths in his simple child's world.
There was only one subtlety about his family that Ken was
missing; his parents were actually Yakuza. They worked
as a team tracking down loose ends and "resolving" them.
They were ruthlessly efficient and immaculately professional.
The future looked bright for them. Fate had other plans;
the two of them died suddenly when they were at ground zero
for the start of a war between the Yakuza and the combined
forces of a Seoulpa ring and a Mafia family. In spite
of their skill, passion, and dedication, their lights were
snuffed out with casual brutality as the Yakuza restaurant
they were eating in exploded in flames.
Ken was still a boy at the time, and the tragedy never really
sunk in. His maternal Uncle, Saito Kobane, took over
raising him. It was an act of love, but Uncle Saito
lived in a bad neighborhood. Luckily for Ken, he had
a natural talent for charming people and quickly picked up
on the local habits. He was soon calling the shots for
his local cluster of punk kids. Things were different,
but they were good once again.
Something strange happened when Ken went through puberty,
he Awakened. He had always been able to pick up things
quickly, and had done well in school, but know he was able
to tap the remarkable energies of magic. This combination
earned him a scholarship from the Draco Foundation for underprivileged
Awakened children and catapulted him into a private
school where he entered a very different social climate.
As usual, he adapted quickly and found a circle of friends.
He was finally being challenged by his classes and looked
forward to attending college some day.
Taishiko, Saito's only son, was jealous of the favor Ken
received. Saito was always quick to hold up Ken as an
exemplar for Taishiko to aspire to. He was not happy
with having gone from an only child to being a black sheep.
He pursued his new role with a vengeance. He fell in
with a bad crowd and, in an alcoholic daze, led a group of
punks to beat some respect into Ken. Things did not
go as planned. Ken's old friends heard about Taishiko's
plans, and they stood up to be counted. Taishiko and
his punks were let off easy, with only a few broken bones,
but Taishiko's rage did not diminish. He was resolved
to see Ken "get his" someday . . .
As part of a class project, Ken was allowed to ride along
with some Lonestar detectives. He was enthralled with
their lifestyle. The thrill of the hunt, the gratification
of discovery, and the justice of punishing criminals.
It was as if his ideal life had fallen in his lap. Ken
worked diligently and investigated Lonestar further, eager
to learn more about this exciting career.
Reality punched Ken square in the nose. He began to
find report after report of questionable procedures, metahuman
harassment, unjust imprisonment, a myriad of wrongs.
It was the first of many cracks in his rose-tinted glasses.
Higher education still seemed like the best way to launch
a career, and Ken was finishing up high school two years early,
so he headed off to the Seattle University, impressed with
the reputation of their Magical Studies program. The
world of magic opened wide before him. It was wondrous.
He also became intrigued in why people did the things they
did, and voraciously consumed information on psychology.
Ken was well on his way to graduating early again.
Ken was quite studious, taking out little time for other
activities. He pursued forensics with a vengeance believing
it would give him a decided edge as an investigator.
He decided to push the envelop farther and had a data jack
with a knowsoft link installed and his retinas modified with
an image link. Being able to carry his library around
in electronic form was a great boon, not to mention being
able to check out and chip complementary subjects of study.
He was one optimized research machine now.
Being a student, Ken needed to save money without endangering
his life. He managed to track down a Street Doc that
other students had gone to for "headware" implants.
The name he used was Patches, and not only did he offer a
good deal for students, he did not ask questions. One
thing that was a big selling point for Ken was that Patches
was a Sorcerer, which gave him more confidence, justified
or not, that he would get the proper skilled care an
Awakened person needed. The operation went without a
hitch, Ken recovered without difficulty, and the cyberware
functioned well. It was even better than he had imagined,
but his magical ability seemed to falter slightly.
The one legacy his parents had left him was their magical
nature. Among their belongings was a heavy, broad silver
torc-style necklace with various magical symbols carved into
it and inlaid with jade stone accents. He had learned
from his Uncle Saito that she had used this necklace to enhance
her magic after she was almost fatally wounded. Reputedly,
the combination of symbols and materials was a family secret.
The legend was that it enlisted the aid of the Tokugawa ancestors
in performing magic.
Whatever the reason, it worked. He was able to use
magic with the same ability after his surgery, once he ritually
bound it to himself. Being no fool, he rendered computer
designs of it into a data crystal and studied its symbols.
This task was almost trivial with his new cyber enhancements,
but he was not able to reverse engineer the knowledge that
made it work, at least not yet. Ken's mother had been
quite petite however, and he found he had to wear the talisman
as an arm brace.
The closest thing to exercise he saw outside of his Advanced
Conjuring Lab was his participation on the Club Pistol team.
He became a crack shot, winning a number of competitions,
but it was not a physically taxing sport and he continued
to fall further and further out of shape. Exercise had
become a luxury he could not afford time for. He did
manage to make it to a couple of hunting trips to the wilderness
with his pistol team, but otherwise he was the prodigal student,
hungry only for knowledge.
Academia was great, but Ken knew he needed some "grittier"
knowledge to get by. He made a point of studying up
on the workings of underworld figures and the police alike.
Both were powerful players in the arena he was hoping to enter.
He tried to stay abreast of the culture of the streets as
well. Magic and psychology remained his first loves,
however, and he excelled at them.
Some occasional internships with investigative agencies helped
him develop professionally and setup some networking possibilities
for when he graduated. A few months with Hammer &
Forbes was interesting, but mostly dry; he spent his time
watching for medical insurance fraud. The next internship,
with Knight Errant was a little more interesting. He
was assigned to what seemed a genuinely honest pair of cops,
dedicated to justice. Sadly, they were "killed in a
firefight with unknown assailants" months after his time with
them ended. A short stint with Blakeley & Son was
a good career move, as they routinely subcontracted work for
Ares and a number of other corporations. It was the
most boring of the three, but he learned a lot more about
corporate infrastructure and how to work within it.
Ken got along well with a fellow classmate, a Hermetic Mage
named Malcolm MacDougal. Malcolm taught Ken how to drink,
and Ken taught Malcolm how to control his drinking.
They were fast friends, but Malcolm graduated that year.
Malcolm was dead set on a corporate job. He often joked
about wanting to be a "wage mage." He groomed himself
for corporate life and hanging out with him helped Ken refine
his corporate savvy.
Things got a little rocky in his academic utopia when he
began dating a classmate, Jessica Tokane. Her boyfriend,
Thomas Kines, a basketball player, did not take rejection
well, and made no end of trouble for Ken for a semester or
so. It was a distraction, but Ken had grown up in the
streets, and no lanky suburban kid with an attitude was about
to stop him from reaching his goals.
Ultimately, Ken 's relationship with Jessica came to an end,
but Thomas would not let go of his spite. Ken saw less
of Thomas after Jessica left, but the enmity between them
did not fade. Thomas's preoccupation with Jessica distracted
him and he failed to make it to the professional arena.
This made him an even more bitter man and he quietly finished
up a token degree and left. The last word on Thomas
was that he had relocated to Atlanta to coach a college team
When Ken came of age, his Uncle Saito told him of his parents
and their links to the Yakuza. It was a heavy blow to
him. Deception from his own parents, who turn out to
be professional criminals? It was too much to deal with,
so he shut it off and forgot about it until he graduated.
As for Saito, he ran a fish shop. While he confessed
to looking the other way sometimes, he insisted that he was
a simple fishmonger and nothing else. Ken had his doubts;
but he was prejudiced by his parents' deception.
Uncle Saito still visited often and spoke at length of the
politics of the underworld, hoping that in understanding,
Ken could find enough forgiveness. Ken's interest in
the topic helped him forget his misplaced resentment.
Ken tried to fight the urge to push away Saito, self aware
that he was displacing his anger and frustration from his
dead parents onto his caring uncle, but he failed. He
saw progressively less of his Uncle. Taishiko seized
the moment and helped drive a wedge between his father and
his all too lucky cousin by trying to be the prodigal son,
if only long enough to reclaim his father's affections from
Saito was no fool, but it heartened him to see his son cleaning
up his act and he felt compelled as a good father to encourage
it. Saito still saw Ken occasionally, but he resigned
himself to let Ken come to him, and Ken was too busy and/or
still too resentful to make a solid effort to rebuild that
Ken and Taishiko saw even less of each other, and that suited
them both fine. Taishiko went to work as a dealer in
a local Yakuza gambling house. It wasn't much, but Taishiko
was ill suited for much else, having squandered most of his
life. The change saddened Saito, but at least it was
better than roaming the streets in a drunken, self-destructive
Ken's social life brightened up a little as well. He
met Nicole Bennett, an attractive Elf woman that he shared
many interests and a few nights with. She was a Hermetic
Mage and the dichotomy in their magical philosophies just
made their brief encounters all the more exciting. They
found in each other little more than a release for sexual
energy, but both were engrossed in their studies and satisfied
with such a relationship. Unlike Ken, Nicole was bound
for the academic life. It was about the only thing in
her life she was certain of. They continued to Ken left
Graduation saw Ken earning honors as he received his B.S.
in Magical Studies, with a minor in Psychology. A tantalizing
offer as a Research Assistant in a magic forensics lab kept
Ken in academia for four more years, as he earned a Ph.D.
in Magical Studies. It was a difficult stretch at the end,
as Ken began to yearn to hit the streets and do some "real
investigative work." The thrill of the hunt just wasn't
enough in the lab. The hunt was often long and it required
more time than skill. He was a 24 year old with a Ph.D.
and enough cred to start up a small business. He left
academia behind forever, bent on being a private detective.
Ken's resources did not match his ambitions, though, so he
sought out work as a subcontractor. He signed up with
Blakeley and Son; they had been impressed with his work during
his internship, and took him on with little hassle, even paying
for his licensing. He ended up working with Steve Hunter,
an Ork that was more concerned with looking like a detective
than being good at it. Fortunately, Ken did not have
to deal with him very much; Steve was more of a case coordinator
than a detective.
Ken was routinely given the grimy and dull jobs at Blakeley
and Son, or "BS," as he came to call it. Although he
pictured the company as handling primarily corporate cases
during his internship, the reality was that most boardroom
affairs had their roots in the files of simple clerks and
touched streets at some point and BS needed people there.
It was an important lesson that Ken learned. He quickly
became re-acquainted with the legions of wage slaves that
kept the corporate machine running as well as the streets
Ken dealt with a vast array of street people. He learned
when to use stealth instead of direct questioning, bribes
instead of brains, and a gun instead of a smile. Ken
still had an elitist mindset, so when his work took him to
the streets, it was usually only after he had exhausted all
corporate leads. He had always been quite savvy with
people, but his corporate mannerisms sometimes betrayed him.
Fortunately, bribes were on an expense account.
Ken had a few dozen encounters which tested his coolness
under fire and his award-winning pistol skill. A few
of them were inside the corporate environment. He killed
a couple of people and wounded a dozen more. Everyone
time it was one or more criminals on the other end, with at
least as much firepower. Generally open and shut cases.
He did get shot once.
"I was tracking down a BTL dealer that was
suspected of knowing the whereabouts of a corporate executive's
missing daughter. Things went smoothly, and soon I was
walking into an alley to meet 'Mr. Fixx'. Why can't
they just call themselves 'Bob' or 'Joe'? Regardless,
he had been warned about my arrival, and when I walked up
to talk to him, he turned on me with a gun and shot me before
I could down him. Luckily, he wasn't as good with a
gun as he was in buying drugs; the bullet barely missed my
liver. As for Mr. Fixx, he was too far gone. I
managed to get the information I needed from him to finish
the case, but he died shortly after. In the end, the
exec's daughter made it back home in one piece."
Ken was more infuriated than scared after being shot.
He had not been in any danger he acknowledged as mortal before.
It tapped into something primal in him, something dark and ruthless.
The gunshots had scared off the junkies, leaving him alone with
Mr. Fixx. Ken, like many people hated what BTL did to
people, but he was somewhat surprised at his own lack of sympathy
for the man as he lay at Ken's feet, coughing up blood spasmodically.
Ken beat the information out of the dealer then let him die
from the wound.
Ken learned valuable lessons in the halls of corporations.
He learned how to handle executives and mail clerks with equal
ease. Most of his adult life had been spent with people
related to the corporate life in one way or another, and doing
the grunt work of BS often meant delivering a lot of reports
and updates. Occasionally, it meant delivering bad news,
and Ken got pretty good at that too, able to find the right
spin to make the news not sound so bad to an executive's ear.
Steve continued to spend more time looking for lint to pick
off his slightly too expensive suit than he did clues for
cases, and his gun had seen more cleaning than firing.
After a year of intense work, Ken was still pounding ground
working under Steve. Ken yearned for a greater challenge,
but it was obvious that he was expected to continue to "pay
his dues" working under this poser, and he was tired of it.
Ken was doing three times the work of his peers, but BS did
not care; they had a system and woe to any that tried to buck
it. Ken was accustomed to swifter results from harder
work, but that was not the case here. He was literally
going nowhere fast. He knew how to talk the talk of
corporations, so he tried to make things happen on his own.
He left the office of Steve's superior feeling like he was
lucky to be working for BS. He shook off the effects
and decided he was done with BS. Shortly after his license
was renewed, Ken left the company. He left on good terms,
with a decent amount of cash in savings and investments.
Ken quickly set up a tiny, one man business, working from
his wristphone. There was a lot of work that fell through
the cracks in a sprawl "protected" by corporate police, and
he was there to pick it up. Having worked off and on
with corporate interests, Ken tried to set himself up as a
freelance corporate detective. He got very little corporate
work and was usually selected for simple, almost insultingly
simple, cases that required little more than a pulse and an
impartial perspective. Not much better than the corporate
work he had done with BS, but at least it was on his own terms.
In spite of the "grunt work" nature of the jobs, he did them
well. He may not have shared his parents professions,
but he shared their professionalism.
Ken tracked down his old classmate Malcolm. Malcolm
had landed a great job working at Ares, administering a magical
R&D department. He and Ken occasionally took lunches
together and swapped stories about their very different jobs.
Malcolm was doing well, climbing steadily up the corporate
ladder and securing his position.
Ken had learned how to use computers reasonably well during
his studies, but he knew he was no Decker, and his job was
one of information gathering. He would post messages
on various bulletin boards when he needed some skilled computer
work done. Over the course of a few dozen cases, Ken
settled on a Decker with the handle "Miner," or simply "M."
She seemed like a straight up professional that had some irrefutable
Although M was not any more forthcoming than most deckers
on her personal information, the topics she was familiar with
and her whole manner spoke volumes to someone like Ken.
He was pretty sure M had strayed from an academic path into
freelance decking and some shadier exploits. Ken was
able to call on her for some questionable work at reasonable
Ken continued to work hard to get a "real" corporate case,
and with luck and skill finally landed one only a few months
after starting his business. He was asked to discretely
investigate rumors of an Ares executive's BTL addiction.
They had been referred to him by BS. At the time, his
arrogance blinded him to the fact that a case like this had
come his way too easily. The fact was that Ares needed
to get rid of "damaged equipment" and sidestep the fallout,
but Ken was so hot for a "solid" case, that he didn't dream
of looking this gift horse in the mouth.
The executive's name was Howard Walsh. The case went
smoothly, by the numbers. Ken was back on the streets,
hot on the trail of clues. He took advantage of his
research and his long talks with Saito about the underworld
and soon narrowed down which dealers to talk to.
In his investigations, he met a bouncer named Pete at a club
called Armageddon, which he later learned was a "Shadowrunner"
haunt of sorts. Pete was a massive, dangerous looking,
troll physical adept with a philosopher's heart. They
frequently had some drinks together while the case progressed.
One night in particular, Ken came upon a band of hooded thugs
that had encircled Pete. Ken knew Pete was pretty capable
of removing threats that were in arm's reach, but there were
a lot of them. He was content to see the drama play
out until he spotted a sniper in a fire escape.
Ken unleashed his magical fury on the would be assassin in
a lightning bolt. A little taken by the emotion of the
moment, Ken killed the man, and his crispy body fell down
to the ground with a sickening thud. All hell broke
loose as some of the thugs fled and others tried their luck
with Pete. One charged Ken, but fell quickly to his
magic. Pete was a blur of destruction and crippled bleeding
thugs fell to the ground faster than Ken could take in the
situation. When the dust settled, Pete unmasked his
assailants. He explained to Ken that they were Humanis
Policlub members led by Pete's human father, Bill Miller.
The next day, Ken received a threatening anonymous call that
warned him that "Trog-lovers were worse than Trogs, they have
betrayed their own race!" From his talks with Pete,
he guessed it was Bill, but the voice was masked. It
seemed that Ken was collecting enemies faster than friends.
He knew little about Bill, except that he was a local Humanis
Policlub member with a small amount of clout. Pete knew
where Bill lived, but was unwilling to offer up the information,
for the moment.
A few days later, Ken composed a final report to Ares on
Howard. The evidence was conclusive and Howard Walsh,
aka Twitchy on the streets of Seattle, was summarily fired
and stripped of his benefits. Ken was suspicious at
the time Ares did not in fact do a very good job of keeping
his identity secret from Howard. He could only hope
that Howard lacked the motivation and/or resources to do anything
Howard did in fact exact some revenge. Ken's suspicions
were correct, Howard had little difficulty getting Ken's information.
Ares needed someone to take the heat of Howard's vengeance
and Ken was an obvious choice. Killing the messenger
was a time honored tradition.
Howard managed to scrape up the cred to hire a decker and
trash Ken's finances. Ken had wrecked Howard's corporate
future and in return, Howard had temporarily crippled
Ken's business. Last Ken knew, Howard had relocated
to the midwest to start fresh with a small company that needed
his corporate skills badly enough to overlook his past.
Ken looked up Miner, and she did a little investigation pro
bono to confirm that he had in fact been shafted by another
Decker. Ken wanted blood, but M talked him down and
explained that it was all just part of the territory.
If he ever got the cred and wanted vengeance, Miner could
hook him up. Ken ultimately decided to let it go, not
wanting to raise the stakes of what seemed to be a temporary
ceasefire between him and Walsh. Besides, he could not
afford the luxury of digital revenge just yet.
However, Ken felt he had entered a new arena of danger.
He already had someone come close to shattering his liver
with a lucky gunshot. For all of their failings, guns
were still excellent tools for killing things. He was
a good shot, but he needed to push the envelope to help insure
he was the last man standing when the gunsmoke settled.
He needed a Smartlink.
Through studies and consultations with former colleagues,
he determined that he could get some more cyberware without
further endangering his Magical ability. With the quality
of cyberware he could afford, he calculated a 98% chance success
rate without factoring in the skill Patches had. Ken
knew Patches was good, so he took the risk and it paid off.
His magical abilities did not diminish and the smartlink worked
like a charm.
Ken had not planned well for financial difficulties, having
purchased permits and supplies ahead of his cash flow, and
it was a serious blow. Ken was not down yet, but he
needed to get some money quickly, before he was forced to
start selling his gear. He had lost his place and been
forced to pawn some stuff to pay the bills so he could get
his PI gear from his apartment. He talked to the people
that hired him at Ares, but they acted almost as if they had
never seen him before.
It finally dawned on him that he was chosen for the case
because he was a freelancer, to redirect Howard's animosity
at someone other than Ares. He wasn't certain who to
criticize, Ares for doing it, or himself for being so gullible.
He would not be such a willing patsy in the future.
Ken knew better than to get Malcolm involved. He felt
that it would only hurt him and Malcolm and he couldn't do
that to him. At least he was on track with his career.
Ken's view of corporations dimmed significantly that day.
People were people, but the corporate entity was a real bitch.
Ken longed for some people he could trust to back him up.
Ken had known some people at SU that he was sure were members
of magical groups, and such mysterious organizations were
always a popular discussion topic at the local greasy spoon,
Mama Rizi's Pancake Place. Stories varied, but one thing
was constant; magical groups watched out for their members.
It was high time that he found such a group. He was
tired of his uncertain future, and he was willing to sacrifice
a little of his independence to be part of a team, provided
they were people he could respect and trust.
First things first. There were bills to be paid.
Less than six months and his career was almost torpedoed.
He still had some local grunt work on the back burner, but
he wanted more. He wanted real challenges. Some
more nuyen would not hurt either, cause he'd soon be spending
the night in a sleep coffin if something did not come together
fast. It seemed he needed to look elsewhere for both.
He met Pete for drinks and explained in excruciating detail
his dire straits. Luckily Pete was buying, because Ken
had begun to liquidate his meager investments just to have
the cred to keep his phone activated. After some guarded
questions, Pete offered to help introduce Ken to some people
that might have some work for him. Big dollars to use
his skills in a "different corporate arena." Ken wasn't
stupid, he knew Pete was talking about "Shadowrunning" and
he didn't care. Corporations continued to live up to
their negative reputations, and he needed money and a challenge.
Shadowrunning promised both. Maybe he could even do
a little good in the process.