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> Introductory Information for Players, 9 Answers to Questions You Didn't Ask
knasser
post Mar 3 2007, 11:13 PM
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This is following on from the thread about describing Shadowrun to new players. I'm creating a little handout for new players to bring them up to speed on some of the fine points of Shadowrun. I'm trying to keep it fairly short and not get bogged down in lots of history and detail, but I'd like any suggestions as to what I've missed.


9 Shadowrun Questions
(for new players)


1. What can technology do in 2070?

A lot and a little. The biggest advances are in data processing and understanding of the human brain. For the computers, this (a) means countless little computers everywhere. You can message your fridge to order food in when its low, you have voice recognition on your comm (the next evolutionary step on from mobile phones), your car can find its way home when you pass out drunk behind the wheel. And (b) the real computers are able to run incredibly realistic virtual environments and interface with the human brain in real time. The latter is called SIMsense and is a way of overriding the normal sensory input of the human body. It has many wonderful uses and a few really, really nasty ones.
Other advances are in biology, materials science and power storage. The upshot? Biological and cybernetic alterations to the human body. They can give you a new arm, they can rebuild your skull, they can vat grow additional grey matter from stem cells and give your brain an upgrade. And eyes... you can get some really cool eyes, these days.
But there aren't many big revolutions in science. No teleporters or lightsabres. The things that are possible in theory 2007/9, are sometimes possible in practice in 2070. But no-one's radically changed the theory yet.

2. What can magic do in 2070?

No-one really knows for sure. At least no-one who's talking. All that's definite is that magic is dark, sinister and powerful. Mages have been able to manipulate energy to throw fire, fly, turn flesh into stone or control the very way people think. There have been constraints though – no-one has managed to teleport or raise the dead.
Spirits and Astral Projection are real, however.

3. Is everybody happy?

No. Really, no. It's bad out there. Stay here in your little corporate enclave where our nice security forces will protect our loyal employees. Seems like every year, the police lose control of another part of the city. And the VITAS plagues... who did you lose to VITAS? Me? Just my sister. I was kind of lucky. I tell you this, it's a good job the Megacorps are in charge. If it wasn't for us, you'd be left with what remains of the World's governments trying to run things. They had their chance and they failed. Now don't you think you should be getting back to work? You're productivity was down this month, and you really don't want to be blacklisted if you lose this job. Not with little Timmy needing school vouchers, eh?

4. Where did the metahumans come from?

Us. It began with UGE back in the early 2010's. Children were being born “deformed” (as it was thought back then). So many of them in so many parts of the world, the medical world was baffled as to the cause. Because they fitted the stereotypes so well, it was inevitable that the media dubbed the children Dwarves and Elves. That got about 10% of newborns in the early years. But it wasn't anything compared to what happened to seemingly normal children when they hit puberty (and some unfortunate adults). “Goblinisation” put people in prolonged, agonising states lasting from months to over a year. And they emerged grotesquely changed. With “dwarves” and “elves” setting a precedent, it was inevitable that we got “Orks” and “Trolls.” though they have scientific names. It's still settling down and even now, a human child will occasionally goblinise at puberty (every parent's nightmare). Likewise a troll or an elf will sometimes give birth to a human child. It's getting less frequent though.
And everyone falls into one of the races. There are no half-breeds. Human and orc get it on, it could go either way, but it will be one or the other.

5. Who's in charge?

There are about eight corporations that are called Megacorporations, or triple AAA's. There's barely a government in the world that isn't in their pockets. Megacorps like Renraku, Saeder-Krupp or Ares run the show. National governments remain for the most part because “the mega's don't want to deal with taking out the trash.” But there are no real rules for the big boys. The manoeuvring and struggle for dominance between them is what turns the greasy cogs of the world.
But there are other powers at work, perhaps. Less obvious. No less dangerous. If in doubt, be careful.

6. How many hit points do I get?

About 10 - 15. And you don't get more. One of the fundamental principles of Shadowrun, and you need to get used to this, is that it is easier to dish out damage than it is to take it. You can be the best shot in the UCAS, you can hurl a fireball that will scorch the armour off an Ares Citymaster, but you will never, ever get away from the fact that if someone catches you in the open with an assault rifle, you might die. Even the big players are vulnerable. That dragon might have enough magical juice to level your party in one go, but with the right planning (and a Medium Machine Gun), a single starting character could bring her down. That's why Shadowrun is so filled with plotting, treachery and stealth. It's part of the game. (And oh yes, dragons are very good at all three of these).

7. Who is Harlequin?

An urban myth. Forget about it. Just because a death goes unexplained, there's no need to go inventing nightmares. Seriously, forget it.

8. What do Shadowrunners do?

It depends how much you pay them. They range from competent professionals to gangers from the street, but are usually a cut above the common man (or else they wont last long). Mr. Johnson might hire them to steal a prototype or sabotage a rival's operation or something else entirely. As “disposable assets” they can't be traced to their employer.

9. What can I get away with?

Depends where you are. If you're in the barrens then you can probably walk down the street with an assault rifle in your hands (but keep an eye out for the local gangs who might take offence). Try the same thing in Bellevue and you'll have heavily armed police all over you in minutes. Likewise, who you piss off probably matters more than what you do. A murder in Redmond will get some paperwork filed. Punch somebody richer than you and they'll have a chip in your head faster than you can say “privatised police force.”
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fistandantilus4....
post Mar 3 2007, 11:45 PM
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QUOTE
5. Who's in charge?

There are about eight corporations that are called Megacorporations, or triple AAA's.

10: Renraku, Shiawase, Evo, S-K, Wuxing, Aztechnology , Horizon, Neonet, Ares, MTC

Nice little crash course. Think I'll save that for my next new player.
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HullBreach
post Mar 4 2007, 12:16 AM
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1. What can technology do in 2070?
Nuke-n-serve burritos are the pinnacle of mans long technological struggle.

2. What can magic do in 2070?
Not sure, I always shoot the mage first. What can mages do in 2070? Mostly talk a buch of shit then get shot.

3. Is everybody happy?
Frag off.

4. Where did the metahumans come from?
Detroit, mostly.

5. Who's in charge?
Whoever has the gun. Unless a dragons around, they they're in charge. Unless you've got a REALLY big gun, and cojones of synthetic diamond.

6. How many hit points do I get?
<strokes baseball bat>How many licks does it take to get to the center of a newb? Lets find out!

7. Who is Harlequin?
Why, do I owe him money? Even better, does he owe me money?

8. What do Shadowrunners do?
Overplan, get double crossed, and usually end up dieing in painful yet interesting ways. Oh, but all of the elf chicks are lesbian stripper ninjas, but don't tell them I told you that.

9. What can I get away with?
Not nearly as much as you think.
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Seven-7
post Mar 4 2007, 12:42 AM
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Wow, I mean this is on par with the inital writting of the now dead Captain Chaos, and (with some editing to make it look more In Character) I'd like to see it on the main SR4 page if possible, with some extra's linked in (Similar to the pages long reports we've seen in SR3 Comp concerning how to be a johnson, or the cool Chrome Accountant stuff.)
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psykotisk_overle...
post Mar 4 2007, 12:11 PM
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Nice Knasser, this just got stolen along with your excellent visulaization of WWSD, great work overall ;).
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the_dunner
post Mar 4 2007, 01:41 PM
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QUOTE (knasser)
– no-one has managed to teleport or raise the dead.

Might be worth mentioning that some mages *think* they can raise the dead. For a new player, it's probably better to save Shedim as a nice surprise later. ;)

In light of Chicago, it might also be worth mentioning bug spirits, unless you're also saving that for a future surprise.

QUOTE

As “disposable assets” they can't be traced to their employer.

While I like that as a GM, I think most folks would be more likely to play if they were described as "deniable assets." ;)

Great summary posting!
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knasser
post Mar 4 2007, 02:04 PM
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Thanks to all of you for the positive feedback. I've now done this as a PDF (link) so that it can be easily printed out and given to players. I've also decided to add a bit on what happened to the USA as most games will be set there.

@Seven-7: I could re-do some more of it in character. It was intended to be all out of character, but I tend to slip into personae the same way others make spelling mistakes. I'm not sure that's a good thing. If I do, then I'd lose some of the comments about hitpoints, etc. which I think are important for players who've come from certain other settings. Can always re-use the in character parts elsewhere, perhaps.

@the_dunner: Good catch on the "disposable assets." That's definitely betraying my GM style, there. ;) I'll go back and change it later. I'll keep the bug spirits and shedim out for the reasons you mentioned. The GM might want to surprise players. And it's already twice as long as I intended it to be.

@fistandantilus: I've corrected the number of megacorps. Thanks.

Cheers,

-K.

EDIT: It's nice to get some positive feedback. I've been trying for the past three months to get WotC or Dungeon magazine to accept a D&D module that I wrote. So far I can't even get them to reply to my query. :(
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Rotbart van Dain...
post Mar 4 2007, 02:23 PM
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Sorcery can't raise the dead.
Whether Magic can is another question... which is pretty much up to the GM, as it is ED reference and involves a quest to a deep metaplane anyway.

As for ED reference... find a better point 7 - it's irrelevant to new players and a GM call.
If it absolutely must be a singular NPC instead of a genereal theme (How's nature looking? What kind of pets are there?)... Jet Black is the new Elvis.
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Larsine
post Mar 4 2007, 03:21 PM
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QUOTE (knasser)
Thanks to all of you for the positive feedback. I've now done this as a PDF (link)

Q11 in the PDF mentions UCAS and claims the you use 'CAS for short. But CAS is usually the Confederation of American States.

No need to confuse the new players.

Lars
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knasser
post Mar 4 2007, 03:29 PM
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QUOTE (Larsine)
QUOTE (knasser)
Thanks to all of you for the positive feedback. I've now done this as a PDF (link)

Q11 in the PDF mentions UCAS and claims the you use 'CAS for short. But CAS is usually the Confederation of American States.

No need to confuse the new players.

Lars


ARGH! Thank you. When I typed that, I was thinking "Is that right? I'm not sure that's right." It is now corrected, along with the_dunner's deniable assets.

As to question 7. I like tweaking people. It stays as a bit of metagame foreshadowing. 8)
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knasser
post May 25 2007, 09:50 AM
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A friend asked for a copy of the character development questions that I used to give to new players so I thought I might as well upload it here aswell.

There are already several such questionnaires posted, so I thought I might as well just tack it on to the end of this thread.

Direct link is here.

My main site is here as usual.

The intent is to flesh out characters in a dark setting. I have some other questionnaires I might write up at some point.

-K.
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ElFenrir
post May 25 2007, 11:00 AM
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I like the questionairre alot. It's not TOO long, but it allows a player to give a good amount on the character's insight.

As much as i overall loved the old 20 questions, wow, things could get very long.
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Aaron
post May 25 2007, 11:49 AM
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Very cool. May I link it from my resources site?
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knasser
post May 25 2007, 12:19 PM
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QUOTE (Aaron)
Very cool. May I link it from my resources site?


By all means, please do. Link to anything on there that you like. I don't mind you linking to the file directly as well if you want. A little name mention is always appreciated, of course.

Thanks for liking it.

-Khadim.
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