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> What is it about 3rd Edition?
JonathanC
post Sep 15 2014, 04:02 PM
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Now, maybe it's just me, and I'm crazy. Maybe it's because Third edition is the first exposure I had to Shadowrun, but there's something about that core rulebook that just *oozes* Shadowrun to me. It feels more shadowrunny. I haven't played third edition in years, but I have to admit I'm tempted to, even though I'm actually rather fond of a lot of the mechanical changes in 5th and I think the art direction is better than it has been in years. Does anyone else feel this way? If so, what is it about Third edition that feels more in-sync with the setting? Is it the cover? Is it something about the ruleset or mechanics that subtly pulls you into the setting more?
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Stahlseele
post Sep 15 2014, 04:03 PM
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It's more Pink Mohawk.
It was what it said on the tin.
No wifi nonsense and sticking cables into your body is basically what cyberpunk is all about . .
It's glorious 80s/90s fearmongering and silly and odd predictions about what the future could bring.
SR3 is what we more or less WANTED/FEARED the future to bring.

The best and worst thing about SR3 was that it had RULES FOR EVERYTHING..
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Beta
post Sep 15 2014, 04:10 PM
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I never had third, but first played first edition, and bought the rules for second. When I recently got back into the game and picked up 5th edition I really wondered "If I wasn't already a fan, if I leafed through this book in a store, would I have picked it up?" The answer was 'probably not'

I spent a bunch of time wondering why that was, aside from the fact that 5th must have at least twice as many words in the core book as 2nd. The best I can figure it, the early editions favored showing over telling. Archetypes were summed up in a few one-line quotes more than in detailed descriptions of them.....and that same tendency was carried into other parts of the rules. I feel that in 5th they made a very earnest attempt to reduce ambiguity in the rules, but at the cost of spelling a lot things out in more detail. Makes for more consistent and broadly applicable rules, but you don't get that same visceral response.

Of course, as someone who is way better at writing a lot of words than in being brief and pithy, I can't complain too much about the approach, but..... yah, from the rule book, I just don't feel you get the same sense of the world.
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JonathanC
post Sep 15 2014, 05:29 PM
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QUOTE (Stahlseele @ Sep 15 2014, 09:03 AM) *
It's more Pink Mohawk.
It was what it said on the tin.
No wifi nonsense and sticking cables into your body is basically what cyberpunk is all about . .
It's glorious 80s/90s fearmongering and silly and odd predictions about what the future could bring.
SR3 is what we more or less WANTED/FEARED the future to bring.

The best and worst thing about SR3 was that it had RULES FOR EVERYTHING..

I wish there was some way to keep the flavor of SR3 with the relative simplicity and consistency of SR5. Kind of like what WoTC did with D&D5e
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Tecumseh
post Sep 15 2014, 06:42 PM
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I would generally agree that earlier editions felt more shadowrunny than current editions. I use 2nd Edition in my head because that's where I started. I had this post on another forum addressing a similar question (whether earlier editions were "cyberpunk" and current editions are "post-cyberpunk"), and I think it's relevant here:

How much of the cyberpunk feel of the early editions came from the fact that they were greyscale books printed on uncoated paper? For me, the black-and-white artwork really lent itself to a grim cyberpunk setting, as did the monochrome nature of the books themselves. For the 4th and 5th Editions we've had sourcebooks printed in full color on glossy paper stock. I think the color goes along way to change the tone of the books. SR4A has the blue background on every page while SR5 has the tan-and-red background, and the pages are shiny. Now, the artwork and books are so bright and colorful and reflective that sometimes it feels harder to find the shadows.

Does anyone else feel this way or am I off on my own here? Maybe JonathanC is with me.
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Tymeaus Jalynsfe...
post Sep 15 2014, 07:46 PM
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QUOTE (JonathanC @ Sep 15 2014, 10:29 AM) *
I wish there was some way to keep the flavor of SR3 with the relative simplicity and consistency of SR5. Kind of like what WoTC did with D&D5e


D&D-5E is absolutely horrible, so not a rousing, ringing recommendation there... *shrug*
And yes, I played it (Play-Tester)... I absolutely hated it.
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SpellBinder
post Sep 15 2014, 08:36 PM
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I'm with you on that, Tecumseh. It's like SR5's falling into the trap the first Star Trek movie and the reboot Star Trek movie fell into (relying on flash and pretty, shiny stuff to distract from the lack of a story).

In my SR3 rule book, the color artwork had a rather different flare to it. That dark, grungy feel of a dystopian world that should be there. It was kinda there in the SR4 books, but doesn't feel like with SR5. It's like SR5's a Star Wars universe, polished and shiny compared to the dirt and grit we're used to.
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Koekepan
post Sep 15 2014, 08:49 PM
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I sit somewhere between 2nd and 3rd Ed in my preferences - I'll allow for 4th because it's a workable system, even though it lost a lot of the greatness.

But what really works best for me in third edition is that it feels mature in the sense that the coherence of the setting feels good. It feels as if someone sat down and thought very hard about the implications of the developments in technology and magic. A lot of that coherence was watered down or lost in 4th edition.

It's milieu coherence versus rules coherence.
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Koekepan
post Sep 15 2014, 08:51 PM
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QUOTE (Tymeaus Jalynsfein @ Sep 15 2014, 09:46 PM) *
D&D-5E is absolutely horrible, so not a rousing, ringing recommendation there... *shrug*
And yes, I played it (Play-Tester)... I absolutely hated it.


I just finished running a short experimental campaign in DnD5.

It's lousy. Sure, the rules work. Play balance is incredibly, hideously, massively miserable. It actively makes me nostalgic for the DnD basic set, where a missed save vs poison meant immediate death (which is itself a questionable mechanic).
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JonathanC
post Sep 15 2014, 08:59 PM
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QUOTE (SpellBinder @ Sep 15 2014, 01:36 PM) *
I'm with you on that, Tecumseh. It's like SR5's falling into the trap the first Star Trek movie and the reboot Star Trek movie fell into (relying on flash and pretty, shiny stuff to distract from the lack of a story).

In my SR3 rule book, the color artwork had a rather different flare to it. That dark, grungy feel of a dystopian world that should be there. It was kinda there in the SR4 books, but doesn't feel like with SR5. It's like SR5's a Star Wars universe, polished and shiny compared to the dirt and grit we're used to.

I actually prefer SR5 to SR4; they undid a lot of the damage they'd done to deckers/hackers and scaled back the ridiculous advantage that mages had (though it's still there...)

Art-wise, I think the issue is that everyone in the newer books, both 4th and 5th editions, is too pretty. They were more willing to have ugly elves, dwarves, etc. in previous editions. Colors are important too...the newer editions have a color scheme that reminds me more of the later Matrix films: all shiny and neon and very nightclub-like. The older editions had more color, in a way, but they also made use of muted colors; you had the sense that Shadowrunners were the last remaining color in a greying, corporate world. Newer editions have less of a perceived space between "us" and "them". One of the problems with going straight black trenchcoat is that there isn't much difference between a runner team and a corporate cleanup crew.
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JonathanC
post Sep 15 2014, 09:00 PM
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QUOTE (Koekepan @ Sep 15 2014, 01:49 PM) *
I sit somewhere between 2nd and 3rd Ed in my preferences - I'll allow for 4th because it's a workable system, even though it lost a lot of the greatness.

But what really works best for me in third edition is that it feels mature in the sense that the coherence of the setting feels good. It feels as if someone sat down and thought very hard about the implications of the developments in technology and magic. A lot of that coherence was watered down or lost in 4th edition.

It's milieu coherence versus rules coherence.

I think destroying the mechanical separation between Hermetics and Shamans was a serious blow. I mean mechanically, yes, giving your Adept a Shark totem is awesome, because you get free Killing Hands, and being a crazy shark dude who bathes in the blood of his enemies is awesome.


But is it really Shadowrun?
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Prime Mover
post Sep 15 2014, 09:03 PM
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I ran almost daily 1st and 2nd edition games and for me they set the stage and flavor for the universe. Good cyberpunk feel, style over substance, because honestly SR has never had the cleanest most comprehensive rules. 3rd Edition felt more like a textbook to me, maybe thats due to the rules "chunk". I agree with the above statement SR suffers from lack of story. I think its a fault of all long lived games. Its hard to maintain the fire any game starts with in a first edition.

One of the things I keep seeing is people arguing flavor and feel of newer editions. Now I'm the definition of Grognard when it comes to SR but sometimes I think we overlook how much time has passed. Shadowrun feels different, yes and it should. Runners, how they run and the world they operate in have had two and half decades to mature. I have the luxury to make callbacks on npc's that have been interacting with players for 20 years. I tend to play some of these npcs as pink mohawk dinosaurs that go on about the good days and how different things were "back in their day."
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Beta
post Sep 15 2014, 09:17 PM
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QUOTE (Prime Mover @ Sep 15 2014, 09:03 PM) *
I have the luxury to make callbacks on npc's that have been interacting with players for 20 years. I tend to play some of these npcs as pink mohawk dinosaurs that go on about the good days and how different things were "back in their day."


Hah, thanks for that idea--I'm totally going to have some NPC do this, even without the long running campaign. Should help heighten the feel of how little space is left for runners.
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Tecumseh
post Sep 15 2014, 09:28 PM
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I've had the same thoughts as Prime Mover. To me, the evolution of the setting mirrors some of what I imagine the game designers have gone through through over the course of the years. Originally, it was "we've got this crazy world, what do we do with it", which was true for both the original developers and the people of 2050. In-game, magic, cyber, goblinization, the disintegration of nations, and all the other details of the Awakening had all emerged during the previous 40 years and it was easy to envision the confusion and unsettled feelings of a world that had flipped upside-down within a generation or two. Now, with another 25 years of game design and world evolution, the setting has its feet under it. It's less Wild West than it was at the beginning, both because the players and designers have adopted (and adapted) the setting but also because the game world itself has had that much more time to come to grips with the realities of the Sixth World.

I prefer the vibe of the earlier settings but, hey, I'm still playing.
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Tymeaus Jalynsfe...
post Sep 15 2014, 09:36 PM
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QUOTE (JonathanC @ Sep 15 2014, 02:00 PM) *
I think destroying the mechanical separation between Hermetics and Shamans was a serious blow. I mean mechanically, yes, giving your Adept a Shark totem is awesome, because you get free Killing Hands, and being a crazy shark dude who bathes in the blood of his enemies is awesome.


But is it really Shadowrun?


As Shadowrun as it used to be, in my opinion. *shrug*
I am a HUGE proponent of Unified Magical Theory.
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Stahlseele
post Sep 16 2014, 12:07 AM
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You could give adepts totems in SR3 already if i am not misremembering or getting things mixed up again.
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Curator
post Sep 16 2014, 12:15 AM
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QUOTE (SpellBinder @ Sep 15 2014, 09:36 PM) *
It's like SR5's a Star Wars universe, polished and shiny compared to the dirt and grit we're used to.


amen
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binarywraith
post Sep 16 2014, 12:51 AM
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QUOTE (JonathanC @ Sep 15 2014, 12:29 PM) *
I wish there was some way to keep the flavor of SR3 with the relative simplicity and consistency of SR5. Kind of like what WoTC did with D&D5e


Consistency? SR5?

Not sure what you're smoking, chummer, but puff puff pass.
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JonathanC
post Sep 16 2014, 01:07 AM
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QUOTE (binarywraith @ Sep 15 2014, 05:51 PM) *
Consistency? SR5?

Not sure what you're smoking, chummer, but puff puff pass.

Compared to SR3, which had different mechanics for everything, SR4/SR5 are more consistent.
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Glyph
post Sep 16 2014, 02:16 AM
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SR3 had the advantage of being the refinement of two previous editions - SR4 took off in a new direction. It had a lot of supplements, and FAQ's/errata combined with a zillion house rules on the forums to fix various problematic areas. It was at the point where some of the more idiotic parts of the setting were downplayed more, but there were not any major adjustments to things to account for current technology (smartphones, etc.).

I like SR3, but I don't over-romanticize it. The variable TN system was good for some things, such as social skills (where situational penalties were vitally important, rather than something you could use a high dice pool to bulldoze over), but for other things, such as combat, TNs could get to the point where combats would just be people whiffing. The matrix rules were far too complicated, and there were far too many other sub-rulesets you had to deal with. I am a magic fan myself, but SR3 is definitely what I would consider the pinnacle of power, for mages.
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binarywraith
post Sep 16 2014, 07:51 AM
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QUOTE (JonathanC @ Sep 15 2014, 07:07 PM) *
Compared to SR3, which had different mechanics for everything, SR4/SR5 are more consistent.


Ah, so your consistent is 'we couldn't be arsed to come up with mechanics, just crib them from elsewhere'. I see.

Honestly, the thing that really sets SR3 apart has little to do with the mechanics, and everything to do with the flavor. It was the last gasp of the setting being honestly cyberpunk, before 4e faffed off into The iFuture on the Transhumanist Express. 5e is less blatantly into transhumanism, but is still suffering from the attempts to adjust a setting that was already bordering on anachro-futuristic when it was published to try and add in 25 years of technological development in the real world.

At some point the writing team failed to realize that the charm of the Shadowrun timeline doesn't lie in trying to be an accurate prediction of the future, but in being a projection of a possible future from a very specific era's viewpoint.
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Cain
post Sep 16 2014, 07:59 AM
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Here's my take on all the editions.

SR1 was the first non-D&D game I really got hooked on. It was clever, and for its time, highly innovative. Some of the playtesters would take some concepts from it, and make their own system: Storyteller. They were also inspired by the setting, and used it to help make the World of Darkness. However, the system had a lot of warts, and was difficult to use. (Variable staging is one example: weapons that had a high staging were supposed to be more deadly, but in practice, they couldn't actually kill. They could wound fairly well, but not kill.) It really ran more like a beta test. Luckily, they quickly learned, and released SR2.

SR2 is considered to be the height of the setting. Some really great setting books came out during this era, and they managed to fix some of the worst problems with SR1's rules. It still had problems, though: vehicle rules didn't exist until later (and the Maneuver Score sucked balls-- I rank it as one of the worst RPG systems I've ever seen) and mages were all-powerful if they used cheap tricks with Grounding. Also, Initiation was disgustingly powerful: initiate once, and you learned every metamagic.

SR3 was the fix SR2 needed. The system finally hit its stride, with a perfect mix of simplicity and simulation. There were still some problems-- they kept the @!#%!! Maneuver Score-- but mages weren't all-powerful, thanks to the Initiation fix. Decking was powerful, but easy: this was the era of the hybrid decker. Becoming a good decker was so easy, you could combine it with other archetypes with ease. The combat decker in the main book looked suspiciously like a light sam, and decker/riggers and decker/sams were very common. The setting books were great, if not quite up to the SR2 standard-- but since the systems were closely related, it was easy to use SR2 material. This was the best, most stable system Shadowrun has ever had.

SR4 went in a totally different direction. The old system was completely scrapped, in favor of a new one derived from the new World of Darkness. Steve Kenson even said as much-- he felt that since they had modeled their stuff off Shadowrun initially, copying them was fair play. On the plus side, they managed to fix the layout problems that had plagued every FASA product, and the writing quality was much better. Rules were presented in a clearer, easier to follow format. On the down side, character creation was an absolute mess, and it was disturbingly easy to break. Dice pool inflation became the name of the game. Vehicle combat, while better than SR3, was still unplayable. SR4 was the most lethal of the systems: actually wounding people was rare, it tended to be full miss or instant death. There was very little in between, hence the "eggshells with hammers" description of combat. Like SR1, it worked more like a beta test than an actual game.

Some of the worst problems were fixed in SR4.5. Thanks in part to Dumpshockers causing a ruckus, problems like Teamwork Tests were fixed, and a couple loopholes in Vehicle Combat were addressed. They also fixed attribute costs, which were just too good for the price. Unfortunately, they never succeeded in fixing character creation, nor did they ever rein in dice pool inflation. It actually got worse as the system progressed: power creep got out of control.

SR5 tried to keep what was good with SR4.5, but fix its problems. Going back to the Priority system has made character creation much easier. Limits were designed to stop dice pool inflation, but largely they don't work. My experience is that the game is less lethal than before: one-shotting people is a very rare occurrence. While this is good against bosses, it's really annoying versus mooks. Edge, which was really powerful before, is now a game breaker under the right circumstances.

Anyway, that's my experience. I'm sure others have their own experiences, but that's how I see it.

QUOTE
At some point the writing team failed to realize that the charm of the Shadowrun timeline doesn't lie in trying to be an accurate prediction of the future, but in being a projection of a possible future from a very specific era's viewpoint.

I can't stress this enough: Shadowrun has never been a projection of the real future. It's an iconic setting, like Star Wars. Nobody complains about wifi service in Star Wars or Star Trek. The setting is the strong point of the game, and you need to accept it for what it is: an icon, an ideal.
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Blade
post Sep 16 2014, 08:44 AM
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Most players I know always feel that the edition they started with was the one with most/better atmosphere. I think that's due to discovering the whole deal at that point. When you discover the setting, you fill in the blanks with what you'd like to see. And then you discover what's really there, and it turns out not everything is to your liking.

So I think that "x edition was the most shadowrunny" is just some kind of nostalgia.
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sk8bcn
post Sep 16 2014, 08:46 AM
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In so far, I find that 2nd/3rd edition had the most story plots available compared to 4th/5th. But well, wait and see how 5th will evolve.
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Cain
post Sep 16 2014, 12:33 PM
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QUOTE (Blade @ Sep 16 2014, 01:44 AM) *
Most players I know always feel that the edition they started with was the one with most/better atmosphere. I think that's due to discovering the whole deal at that point. When you discover the setting, you fill in the blanks with what you'd like to see. And then you discover what's really there, and it turns out not everything is to your liking.

So I think that "x edition was the most shadowrunny" is just some kind of nostalgia.

I'm going to claim an exception to that. I started with SR1, and I still think SR2-3 had better atmosphere books.

SR1 did produce my favorite campaign of all time, Harlequin. Harlequin was literally the book that taught me to be a good GM. It was the only book I had ever seen that embraced flexibility, and even said it was all right if the players blew off the adventure hooks. Everything else just discussed ways to force the players onto the plot railroad. To this day, I sometimes refer to it for refreshers on good GM technique.
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