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> Introducing players (and myself) to Shadowrun, A complete newb asks the folk here....
Willowhugger
post May 28 2006, 08:21 PM
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I'll be honest in that I've never actually played a game of Shadowrun in my entire life despite being a fan of Cyberpunk for some time. It seems like a natural fit since I write fantasy influenced cyberpunk as my job (see sig). However, I only knew Shadowrun from the time I got a pack of cards with one of my comic purchases and the vague description that it was "Like Bladerunner or the Matrix only with elves, trolls, and stuff."

Well, I reached an impasse with my current game and decided to run some cyberpunk to give my players a genre that they hadn't tried. Plus, there'd been a copy of Shadowrun 4th edition on the wall of the local game shop for some time. I purchased it and decided to give it a try.

I really like what I've been reading.

From what I can tell though, there's a HUGE world and intricacy to the setting that's well beyond what's presented in the Core Book though and a lot of people have very strong takes on what the game should be about.

So I was hoping that I could turn to the folks here for some advice on what's some of the most appealing parts of the setting, some suggestions on how to seague my players into the world, and anything else I should know before I start my campaign with them. I want to get an evocative mood.
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Butterblume
post May 28 2006, 09:00 PM
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QUOTE (Willowhugger)
From what I can tell though, there's a HUGE world and intricacy to the setting that's well beyond what's presented in the Core Book though

There is. But you don't have to know it to have fun. It can add depth to your game, when your players are interested in the background ... but that's something that you can build up over a few years ;).

QUOTE
and a lot of people have very strong takes on what the game should be about.

Don't listen to us bastards :rotfl:. Play the game you like.
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emo samurai
post May 28 2006, 09:06 PM
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Hell, add power armor if you want. I know I will.
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Wounded Ronin
post May 28 2006, 09:21 PM
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Well, my method of making SR "right" is very easy to do. Just watch American Ninja 1, 2, and 3, then Blade Runner, and then Bloodsport all in a line without any breaks. Then you will be ready to run t3h real Shadowrun.
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James McMurray
post May 28 2006, 09:23 PM
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Is your group a high power, low power, or flexible one?

High Power: find a copy of Harlequin and Harlequin's Back. Cross dimensional treks to save the world. A lot of it feels non-Shadowrunny though, as it's in various metaplanes instead of the real world with all it's grit and grime. There's even a setting where cyberware turns to old technology. For example, a cyberarm will become a crank operated arm.

You could also just run them againt the major corporations with high security: Renraku, Ares, Aztechnology.

Low Power: On the Run works well for this level and has the benefit that you don't have to convert anything. I'm not sure what power level the Missions games are on the FanPro website because I haven't looked at them (someone else in our group is going to run them). You can also do things along the lines of dissuade the gang, intercept the package, etc.
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Teulisch
post May 28 2006, 09:25 PM
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it may be best to say that shadowrun is very much like GTA set in the future, with magic and new racial subtypes of human (and racism).

characters can be focused on combat, vehicles (driving and/or remote control drones), computer hacking, social skills, technology, and magic. you can get upgrades either by starting with magic, or by getting cyberware implanys (which reduce magic as a game balance mechanic).

missions focus on breaking and entering a corperate facility either to steal an object/information, kidnap a person, kill a person, or destroy an objective. you bypass both secuity devices and gaurds (people and animals), deal with spirits and drones, and try not to get killed.

theres a lot of room for character depth and backstory, and theres a lot you can do with the setting. but the majority of the game is about being hired to do illegal things. in a lot of ways its like a modern dungeon crawl- only you can find maps of the facility beforehand, check the gaurds schedule, and find out what kind of traps are set up if you just do your legwork first (which is very improtant)

Its very possible to play a game in the SR setting and rules thats not about shadowruns. theres a few books that give sugestions on how to do just that. crime for hire is just the default.
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James McMurray
post May 28 2006, 09:32 PM
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Not all shadowruns involve breaking and entering, although those are the most common. The main book gives a fairly decent list of possibilities.
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Willowhugger
post May 28 2006, 10:37 PM
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My limited understanding of the setting basically goes along these points....

* The vast majority of the players are mercenaries working for/against the AAA-Corporations.

Their motivations are fairly typical "get rich" feelings with the fear of corporate reprisal also there.

* Everyone in Shadow Run is fundamentally about themselves

It's sort of a noir environment with the personal happiness of the player characters being their primary concern. They can't trust anyone though because everyone else is out for themselves.

* Society is on the verge of collapse

General impressions is that all the changes economically, socially, and even magically has torn to shreds the current social order. Especially since the USA and other 'huge nations' have been turned into smaller groups.

* The players rarely get to enjoy the benefits of their missions

Just a typical caper feel but in the end the employers betray you, the information is often no good, or the players are back to square one because they have to pay off their creditors or spend all the money on new equipment.

* Mr. Johnson

Not a literal figure I take it but sort of a lingo archetype for the bad guy employer.
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James McMurray
post May 28 2006, 10:46 PM
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QUOTE
Everyone in Shadow Run is fundamentally about themselves


Not necessarily true. In fact, if you run printed adventures your group gets more karma (i.e. experience points) for doing good things. The campaign world pushes you towards self-centered greed but the game system challenges you to rise above that. The funnest games I've played in involved characters who tried to walk the line.

QUOTE
The players rarely get to enjoy the benefits of their missions


This also isn't necessarily a given. A lot of GMs like to have the Johnson turn on you, but it's not very realistic unless they can do it seemlessly. A Johnson that betrays his hired hands won't be a Johnson for long. All it takes is one guy to survive and post a picture on Shadowland for every runner out there to be alerted.

If you read the printed adventures most runs end without the group being turned on. Of course, outside forces are usually wanting the same thing the Johnson wants, which offers plenty of opportunities for betrayal of the Johnson by the players or by presumed friends of the players who actually work for secondary interests.
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Voran
post May 28 2006, 11:02 PM
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QUOTE (Teulisch)
/snip
it may be best to say that shadowrun is very much like GTA set in the future, with magic and new racial subtypes of human (and racism).

That's a good point. If you want a sense of the moral ambiguity in Shadowrun, play GTA for inspiration.

As for:

Everyone is out for themselves. True to a point. It's not so much like a DnD game where you've got a party full of Evil Aligned chars, which are pretty much out for themselves. Instead in SR hopefully your team (player group) takes on sort of a gang mentality, 'us against the world' kind of thinking. In SR I find it more important to have good player group cohesion, which means they more or less trust each other.

Society is on the Verge of Collapse: You can certainly play that aspect, but in the timeline, that seems mostly in the earlier stages. Even under the new SR4 setting where the matrix got nuked and there was some restructuring of society, its more of a 'it already fell, and we've made changes' kinda feel to it.

The players rarely get to enjoy the benefits of their missions: This can be handled by GM style as well. The loot mentality encouraged by other games can be hard to shake in SR unless you're careful to make the run-rewards worthwhile.

Mr Johnson: If you've played any sort of computer RPG, I think its fair to say any NPC that gives you the quest to do, in that sense is a Mr. Johnson. The difference is that Mr. Johnson is a generic pseudonym the quest giver in SR uses to protect his identity. He can be nice, he can be an ass, he can be more or less honest or he can be just waiting to screw you. I think its fair to say in general, he's trying to get the most work done for the least amout of cash he has to pay, so negotiation is almost a requirement :)
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Wounded Ronin
post May 28 2006, 11:04 PM
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Nevertheless, I feel that those elements could come together to make one hell of a good story.
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James McMurray
post May 28 2006, 11:24 PM
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QUOTE
The loot mentality encouraged by other games can be hard to shake in SR unless you're careful to make the run-rewards worthwhile.


In many ways it's encouraged by this game as well. Most printed adventures have a few spots where the party (especially a decker) can walk away with more than what their job is paying them to get. Looting corpses isn't much of a payoff unless you're in a really low cash game, but looting megacorp labs can be fun and profitable.
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Willowhugger
post May 28 2006, 11:36 PM
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The game's basis is around the concept of being a Shadowrunner I get this as well. However, do any of the stories flirt with the idea of other concepts beyond being a mercenary thief/hacker/warrior?

I know what the book said but I'm just checking if most of the fun is in being the archetypical party is what I'm saying.
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blakkie
post May 28 2006, 11:37 PM
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QUOTE (Willowhugger @ May 28 2006, 02:21 PM)
From what I can tell though, there's a HUGE world and intricacy to the setting that's well beyond what's presented in the Core Book.

Like a decade and a half of writings, now covering in decent detail just about every continent except Africa. Well Africa has some stuff covered, just not very well. Oh, and Shadows of South America which is written but still hasn't made it out to us yet. :(

Top it off with a lot of crossover information from Earthdawn that you can sort of assume is there. Earthdawn is a game that is in the same setting as Shadowrun, but occuring several thousand years before during the later parts of the last magic up-cycle.

I'm not sure how many books including novels, but a LOT. The bad news is that there only one SR4 book released so far, the introductory adventure On The Run. The good news is that the setting books (the Shadows of Xxxxx, Dragons of the 6th World, etc.) are largely version independant.

Although the magic books and the gear books on the other hand are the opposite, the SR4 magic book (Street Magic) is expected out in a month or two and the rest will eventually follow.

Basically it will support all sorts of different types of campaigns, so your group has some choices to make about what kind of characters they want to play and where in the world. They can even play anti-hero types, although you'll want to check out my sig just to give you a heads up of what the system itself seems to encourage. :)
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Wounded Ronin
post May 29 2006, 12:17 AM
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QUOTE (Willowhugger)
The game's basis is around the concept of being a Shadowrunner I get this as well. However, do any of the stories flirt with the idea of other concepts beyond being a mercenary thief/hacker/warrior?

I know what the book said but I'm just checking if most of the fun is in being the archetypical party is what I'm saying.

There's no reason to adhere to the archetypes, actually. Character generation is quite flexible. If everyone made non archetypal characters that should be just fine.
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Valentinew
post May 29 2006, 12:22 AM
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Check out the Ancient Files for more background goodness....
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James McMurray
post May 29 2006, 01:04 AM
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QUOTE (Willowhugger)
However, do any of the stories flirt with the idea of other concepts beyond being a mercenary thief/hacker/warrior?

There is a 1st or 2nd edition book called Missions with four or five different scenarios in it. I don't remember them all, but IIRC in one you work for Docwagon and in another you work for Lone Star.
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Calvin Hobbes
post May 29 2006, 06:52 AM
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Shadowrun Companion also introduces the idea of being a roving team of investigative reporters (the style that I'm taking right now), being members of a biker gang, and I believe it also covers the logistics of working for Lone Star and Doc Wagon. Two other ideas that I've seen so far were a team of Area 88 style jet jockeys fighting in the Euro Wars, and a game where the characters are vigilante counterterrorists who fight terrorism in a giant abandoned aircraft carrier that's been turned into a floating village. I've personally always wanted to try a time-travel game, which I think would work well with some serious modifications to the setting material.
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Willowhugger
post May 29 2006, 09:39 PM
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Well thanks everyone.

I've just started our first campaign of Shadowrun and we've finished our first adventure in the setting.

I'm downplaying the magical elements at this point even if I've made it clear they exist to help players get over the futureshock.
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Adam
post May 29 2006, 11:43 PM
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You might want to poke around the Sixth World Wiki, which summarizes and condenses a lot of the older sourcebook material, but generally doesn't delve off into the super-intricacies of the Ancient's Files.
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hyzmarca
post May 30 2006, 04:53 AM
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QUOTE (Willowhugger @ May 28 2006, 05:37 PM)
* Mr. Johnson

Not a literal figure I take it but sort of a lingo archetype for the bad guy employer.

Shadowrunners are basicly corporate whores with big guns. The term "Mr. Johnson" comes from the generic term for a whore's client. Like Johns who pay for sex a Mr. Johnson is just a guy who pays to have certain needs fulfilled. Like Johns Mr. Johnsons come in all flavors. Some have regular interactions with a core group of runners and become quite attached to them. Some are friendly and talk about their kids. Some beat you, cut you, sodimize you, and refuse to pay for your services in the end.

As for the Society Collapsing thing, not really. Society is degenerate in the same ways as it was before. It is a little more greedy and a little more isolated but, for the most part, everything is stable. Crash 2.0 was supposedly an Apoctolyptic event but must of the fallout was in the form of annoying buearucratic paperwork.
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Wounded Ronin
post May 31 2006, 04:50 AM
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QUOTE (hyzmarca)
Some are fireldnly and talk abou ttheir kids.

Hmm, that's what we need. La Traviata, Shadowrun edition. Every time your character says something you have to sing it in Italian and sound like Pavaratti or Karen Ott or Kiri Te Kanawa or someone.

Heh, sing this to the tune of the Queen of the Night's Aria from Zie Zaberflote:

QUOTE

Hoi, Hoi CHUMMER!
(do do dee do)
HOOOOI, HOOOOI CHUMMMMMMERRRRR~~~!
(do do dee do)
DO YOU HAVE THEEEEE DAAATAAASTEEAALLLLL!?!?!
(bum bum bum bum)
I'LL PAY YOU LOTS OF NUYEN...LOTS OF NUYEN...LET'S SAY TEEN THOOOOOUUUOUOUSAAAND!
SARASTO TODESMERCHEN! SARASTO TODESMERCHEN!

*pants, pauses*

Sorry guys, I got carried away and went back to the original lyrics.
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NightHaunter
post May 31 2006, 03:15 PM
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QUOTE (Willowhugger)
The game's basis is around the concept of being a Shadowrunner I get this as well. However, do any of the stories flirt with the idea of other concepts beyond being a mercenary thief/hacker/warrior?

I know what the book said but I'm just checking if most of the fun is in being the archetypical party is what I'm saying.

There is no reason that they couldn't play more "legal" people like a News Crew or paramedic's as a different way to play.
There is a whole world, the options are limitless.

Don't ignore magic too much or it will be a big shock just how powerful it can be when you finally introduce it.
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Wounded Ronin
post May 31 2006, 09:21 PM
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Yes. If the opposition never has very much magical cabability they will be too easily defeated by 1 or 2 PC magicians since they have nothing to counter what the characters can do in that department.
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Shadow
post May 31 2006, 10:14 PM
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I'm confused, arn't you writing Shadowrun Novels?
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