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> Starting a new game which edition, Sell me on an edition
Tyrrell
post Jan 20 2022, 09:47 PM
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I played a great deal of first edition back in the day. I collected a fair amount of third edition, and I played perhaps a dozen sessions of fourth edition several years back.

I've never had any problem with games being too complex, only games being poorly thought out. Simplicity didn't stop Eldrich Ass Kicking from being an incredibly poorly designed game and complexity didn't stop Ars Magica 5th edition from being incredibly amazing. I tell you this because I have some months of open space on my gaming Calander, and I am looking at game mastering some Shadowrun. Since I've played, there have been two new editions. I've read some poor reviews of sixth edition but many of the poor reviews say "it's too complex" which is, in my experience, rarely a criticism that turns out to be true.

Would anyone care to give me feedback on the two new editions, or if it's what you believe, feel free to make an argument for one of the three editions that I already have.

Are there strong feelings? Are there clear differences I should know about?
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pbangarth
post Jan 20 2022, 11:36 PM
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I've played editions SR1 through SR4A, and liked them all. I looked at SR5, and a bit at SR6, and didn't like some of the changes, which seemed to me to be more in line with selling more books than with 'fixing' things that somebody thought was broken. I did like one thing in SR6, the bit about being able to share Edge with other players. That made possible the creation of a character I imagined as 'Lucky Eddy', the guy everybody wanted on their team. It wasn't enough to draw me in to buy a whole new set of books.

Most of my experience has been with SR3 and SR4 (more the latter though I am back in SR3 here on DS). What matters a lot is what you want your campaign to feel like.

SR3 seems able to generate a 'grittier' feel, and carries some of the old feel from SR1 and SR2. That might be a comfortable fit for you. There is a lot of material available for it, and a lot of players who favour it.

SR4 opens up all kinds of weird and wonderful possibilities. For example, in that version I've played a Voudun magician, a girl from Québec calling herself Sept de Neuf (modeled after a certain Star Trek Voyager character) whose father pissed off the corporation which then wanted to 'repossess' the hardware that made her life livable, an archaeologist in the shadows hunting the criminal mastermind who framed him for murder and destroyed his career, a young drummer who wanted to find and play the Heartbeat of Gaia, a disgruntled shepherd (and his border collie!) who lost his farm to The Man and was out for revenge, and a fallen Valkyrie (Free Spirit) with amnesia who didn't know why she was not welcome in Valhalla.


P.S. I'd love to play in either SR3 or SR4. (IMG:style_emoticons/default/biggrin.gif) (IMG:style_emoticons/default/biggrin.gif) (IMG:style_emoticons/default/biggrin.gif)
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Nath
post Jan 21 2022, 09:54 PM
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Quoting myself from a thread two years ago:
QUOTE (Nath @ Jun 11 2020, 11:44 PM) *
From 1st to 2nd edition...
Dividing Initiative Score by 10 to get Initiative Passes. A good idea for simplification. It made high level of initiative boost less powerful, which was also a good thing IMO/YMMV.
Removing variable damage threshold. Also a good idea for simplification.
Karma Pool. To the best of my understanding, the Karma Pool was an answer to the fact that, as a skill-based, level-less rulesystem where gear matters a lot, Shadowrun did not know how to make experienced character much better than fresh new ones. That being, the implementation was terrible. The 1/10th and 1/20th felt like a tax for new players, and made human overpowered compared to metahumans as the pool grew.

From 2nd to 3rd edition...
Initiative Passes going from lower to higher number. A good change I think, my memories of not getting to do anything at all during combat were not that good.
Extra points at chargen for knowledge skills. Still undecided on that one. Special skills in 1st and 2nd editions were well understood to be a trap option. Knowledge skills manage to add flavor, but their use in game is not that convincing: range is way too subjective, and in the end it is not an efficient mechanism for the gamemaster to convey the needed information about the setting or the intrigue, all too often bordering on some semi-active skills.
Removing the skill web. Yes.
Removing Matrix Maze. The Matrix mini-game needed either overhauling, to include the rest of the team, or the kind of streamlining it got. That being said, I think it could also have been streamlined by removing cybercombat instead - going in a completely different direction to make Matrix a game of locks and traps.

From 3rd to 4th edition...
Target Numbers set at 5 & Dice Pool is Attribute plus Skill. It's divisive enough and would probably require a thread on its own (well, it got it more than once). My opinion is that it made the 4th edition easier to understand and scales difficulty better.
Splitting Quickness and Intelligence. The first was a good idea, especially given the use of Attribute to set Dice Pools. I'm a lot less sure about the second one. I understand they sought symetry between physical and mental attributes, but the divide between Intuition and Logic is dubious in places (like, Knowledge skills linked to Intuition ?)
Also, Strength and Body should have be merged and/or Strength should have been made more useful (through bigger recoil compensation for example), which could have been a way to maintain the aforementionned symetry.
Skill max rating set at 6/7. Strongly undecided. On one hand, it sets a power scale (at least until Street Legends ignored it) and established that PC were able to start with top-notch skills. On the other hand, that power scale was quite narrow (I feel that was less of a problem for me because I started playing less often at the time and thus characters got less karma to spend).
Fixed Initiative Passes. It could have been a good idea, if they also reworked the augmentation. This change made high-end augmentation much more powerful, as previously one level of augmentation that only added an average of 3.5 or 5.5 to your Iniative Score, about a third or half what you needed for an extra pass, now granted a full pass.
Numbered Damage Code. Undecided. I usually favor that sort of streamlining, but the lethality does not scale well.
Lowering augmentation and cyberdeck price. Good call. Setting-wise, runner budget in the price range of a sport car made no sense. On the other hand, a more radical change would probably be needed to get rid of the fundamental issue Shadowrun struggle with to balance different character options that can be paid in Karma, Nuyen or Essence.
The Wireless Matrix. As a CS graduate IRL, a step too far for me. I don't mind hackers working from wireless connections (I already played it that way in 3rd edition), but I let a lot of things on wired subgrids.

From 4th to 5th edition...
Limits. That one would also probably requires its own thread. In my opinion, it an extra layer of complexity during chargen and game that provides no added value. It was supposed to make it fun to comb through gear listing to get small Limit increments, when it actually felt like a tax you add to pay to get the benefits of your lucky rolls.
Skill max rating set at 12. Makes the power scale wider. Also bars PC from starting in the top league. I preferred when they could.
The forcefully Wireless Matrix. Same as above.
Return to old Initiative and price. I liked those changes, so reverting them fell on the wrong side for me.

From 5th and 6th edition...
No idea.

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Bodak
post Jan 22 2022, 03:18 AM
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Since the SR4 forum was merged into the main Shadowrun forum here, there's been at some point a mass exodus of forum members from here toward the official fora and so if you are looking for advocates of 4+, that's where you'll find them. Here remain grognards who are: content with the editions we know, and happy part-timing dreaming of SR3R.

I've played 6 years of SR3 and about 2 years of SR4a as a concession. Everyone has their favourite edition and particular bugbears about each edition (eg, mine) but I have been able to create and play fun character concepts in both editions and I can't believe that would be any different in later editions. The main consideration when picking edition has got to be familiarity. Design, editing and proofing for SR is woefully shoddy (see page XX for rules about a focus that doesn't exist in this edition!) for reasons that baffle me (Fasa cannot afford to purchase spellcheck software? Wizkids are too confident to run a draft by the stress test volunteers on Dumpshock? SR4 had so much wrong with it only a 4a edition could fix it, making 4th more like an alpha-test?) but which, sadly, give us the distinct impression that the publishers just don't know their own product and don't care (see the FAQ for official suggestions that illusions such as invisibility need to beat the object resistance of the item being hidden... not the cameras looking for you! And making a wall invisible with illusions grants spellcasters line of sight to targets on the other side!) As a result, learning a new edition is not as simple as ordering hundreds of dollars of PDFs and spending months uploading them to your wetware - that prepares you for scenarios where the rules make no sense leading to frustration, archetype imbalance and dissatisfaction until you've learnt to map out the pitfalls and erected exclusion zones or workarounds for each of them. that takes a lot of time. And lacking that time and IRL headware memory is the only reason I haven't learnt the newer editions.

If you only have mere months to put together and run a SR campaign, picking an edition where you have most of the books, understand most of the rules, are confident with the astral/rigger/decker minigames, have early hazard detection for the holes in the rules and know what to do about them in advance. I think that's what's most likely to result in a game you'll find enjoyable. Your players will be able to make a fun character no matter what edition you pick.

Sadly, with Jive and Invision subdomains currently offline, a lot of the SR3 walkthroughs and discussion threads are inaccessible. But The Shop, etc. can still be downloaded and there's nsrcg.neocities.org for the character generator (windows and WINE).
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Koekepan
post Jan 22 2022, 06:39 PM
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The summaries above are pretty good.

As far as playability goes, I think that a ruleset which binds the decision system to the setting is the winning option, otherwise I'd just recommend GURPS Cyberpunk plus trimmings.

And in my view, the best match was achieved with SR3. Not perfect, but the best on record. (Although I have a significant soft spot for SR2.)
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Kren Cooper
post Jan 23 2022, 06:12 PM
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I'm sure it would come as no surprise for me to say "3rd ed" - mainly because I never played 1/2 (too busy running Star Frontiers and WFRP, and it wasn't until I moved to Leeds that I found SR3) and I've never seriously looked at 4/5/6 - having seen enough stuff that I didn't like, understand or agree with to make the jump to later version. For me, 3rd has just the right amount of crunch - enough that you can deep dive and get into the nitty gritty and add lots of depth and detail when you want to, and enough overall sense to go "give me a roll of skill x vs target number y... you got 4 successes? Yay - you did the thing really well!) when we don't want to have to work out the exact rating for the MIJI attack on the drone, or if you can evade the pursuing spirit, or find the data on that host, and just keep the game moving along.
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Geiger
post Jan 26 2022, 11:47 PM
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QUOTE (Tyrrell @ Jan 20 2022, 05:47 PM) *
I played a great deal of first edition back in the day. I collected a fair amount of third edition, and I played perhaps a dozen sessions of fourth edition several years back.

I've never had any problem with games being too complex, only games being poorly thought out. Simplicity didn't stop Eldrich Ass Kicking from being an incredibly poorly designed game and complexity didn't stop Ars Magica 5th edition from being incredibly amazing. I tell you this because I have some months of open space on my gaming Calander, and I am looking at game mastering some Shadowrun. Since I've played, there have been two new editions. I've read some poor reviews of sixth edition but many of the poor reviews say "it's too complex" which is, in my experience, rarely a criticism that turns out to be true.

Would anyone care to give me feedback on the two new editions, or if it's what you believe, feel free to make an argument for one of the three editions that I already have.

Are there strong feelings? Are there clear differences I should know about?


Honestly, the issue with 5e and 6e isn't so much complexity as it is the rules are just outright bad. It's hard to notice that at first because they make everything pointlessly complex, but the rules are written by the lowest bidder, with little to no guidance and it shows.

QUOTE (Bodak @ Jan 21 2022, 11:18 PM) *
Since the SR4 forum was merged into the main Shadowrun forum here, there's been at some point a mass exodus of forum members from here toward the official fora and so if you are looking for advocates of 4+, that's where you'll find them. Here remain grognards who are: content with the editions we know, and happy part-timing dreaming of SR3R.


I'm not exactly a regular poster, but I'm definitely an advocate for 4th Anniversary. Admittedly, I also absolutely despise 5e and 6e.... so I'm not exactly an advocate of 4+ as I am just 4th.
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Lionesque
post Jan 27 2022, 09:27 AM
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My 2 cents: The 'punk' went out the window between 3rd and 4th, but 4A is the least cumbersome in actual play.
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Nath
post Jan 27 2022, 10:20 PM
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QUOTE (Lionesque @ Jan 27 2022, 10:27 AM) *
My 2 cents: The 'punk' went out the window between 3rd and 4th, but 4A is the least cumbersome in actual play.
IMO, the mileage may vary a lot on the moment "the punk went out of the window." My impression is that, regardless of the edition, it always happened to people around the time their gaming group gained enough knowledge of the rule system to make any sub-optimized character redundant.

For some people this happened with the fourth edition as point-based creation became the default chargen system, bioware and initiation were in the core rules, a widened gap between mundane characters and those with augmented initiative or +4 dice pool modifiers, and when it became possible to routinely suppress drain.

But other would point out playable cybermancy in SR3 Man & Machine, bioware in SR2 Shadowtech or initiation and centering in SR2 Grimoire. The obvious difference with SR4 is that those options were not available at chargen, so those were things that would happen during game.

To me, punk was dead on arrival. The premise wholly depended on how long it took you to figure out that there was no way the ¥5,000 street samurai (aka the ork street samurai from SR GM screen booklet) could compete with the ¥1M street sam, and that every remotely capable decker had one of the two or three exact same standard backstories to justify starting with a cyberdeck in the same price range than a luxury sport car (in that regard, SR4 rather stands out as the only edition that tried to bring starting running gear price back to a so-called street level). The opportunity to play it punk in any edition always relied on some level to a gentlemen's agreement between the GM and the players, in a way the rules could not enforce (and actually did not warn you about).

A different case could be made if you look only at adventures, but then again your mileage may vary a lot (from my own experience, SR1 Harlequin and SR4 Ghost Cartels can both be played in a very punk style, or totally not).
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Koekepan
post Jan 28 2022, 04:51 PM
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If I may be forgiven for having the temerity to take the abominable liberty of varying with the venerable and esteemed Nath's view ...

The punk has always been what you make of it. Punk is an attitude founded in a varying stew of fatalism, despair, and rage driving personal alienation, leading to an independence of spirit and rejection of status quo. This led to everything from drug abuse and monumental recklessness through to bootstrapping do-it-yourself culture. The basic element of elite performance requiring elite attributes has always been baked into the rules (and here Nath is quite right), but the rules don't create the narrative context.

Where the franchise as a whole tended to step away from serving the delivery of the punk ethos as a narrative element is when it moved towards a focus on the shinier parts, the higher powers, the glittering white and the stygian black rather than the greasy-handed, sweaty work around the fringes where the disenfranchised collect and strive to survive.

Where do you point your camera?
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Iduno
post Jan 29 2022, 03:50 AM
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I would add that the benefit of 4th edition's relative simplicity is that you can easily put characters together. That allows GMing to be more fluid, and makes it easier to teach new players.

Edit: It's mostly important because players only create characters once, but GMs create them every time they need them (although having saved stat blocks from earlier sessions/games also helps). Simpler stat blocks allows the GM to get by with less time on creating characters who only exist to get shot.
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Nath
post Jan 30 2022, 01:52 AM
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QUOTE (Koekepan @ Jan 28 2022, 05:51 PM) *
The punk has always been what you make of it. Punk is an attitude founded in a varying stew of fatalism, despair, and rage driving personal alienation, leading to an independence of spirit and rejection of status quo. This led to everything from drug abuse and monumental recklessness through to bootstrapping do-it-yourself culture. The basic element of elite performance requiring elite attributes has always been baked into the rules (and here Nath is quite right), but the rules don't create the narrative context.

Where the franchise as a whole tended to step away from serving the delivery of the punk ethos as a narrative element is when it moved towards a focus on the shinier parts, the higher powers, the glittering white and the stygian black rather than the greasy-handed, sweaty work around the fringes where the disenfranchised collect and strive to survive.

Where do you point your camera?
I would disagree with you about rules not creating the narrative context (especially when the topic at hand is which edition to choose!). Knowledge of the rules does give the gamemaster and the players a perspective of which results are likely and which are not, and thus of the risks taken by the characters. Fatalism, despair and rage just don't play the same when you know exactly how many dice you'll roll to resist damage from that light pistol pointed at you, or when you can casually summon Force 10 spirits to deal with problems. What I was referring to when talking about the need of a gentlemen's agreement between the GM and the players comes down to this: if you want some level of punk, you need to maintain some level of uncertainty and danger by not optimizing the dice pools and the probability curve too much, or at least maintain some pretense of it. Because of this, I'd say the rules actually matter much more than the camera angle of the sourcebooks. IMO, it does not matter that much if, say, reading the Spy Games book delivers the cyberpunk ethos or not, as long as it does not prevent gamemasters and players to play adventures in 2072 Denver that are true to the cyberpunk genre (whatever that is). It may does not help or entice them doing so, and you may consider the book as wasted dollars and paper for this reason, but that's a different debate.

What I meant in my previous post is that people who would agree that the line "moved towards a focus on the shinier parts, the higher powers, the glittering white and the stygian black" as you put it, would actually point out completely different period as for when it happened. Corporate Shadowfiles and Dragons of the Sixth World were published ten years apart, in 1993 and 2003, and you could blame one or the other, and a number of other books in between, as the moment this move took place. My theory is that most people take note of that shift only when their game start to be less and less cyberpunk because of the rules (for the reasons outlined above), and come to realize that the sourcebooks aren't of any help to get the cyberpunk back.
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Soykaf Barista
post Feb 1 2022, 11:31 AM
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QUOTE (Nath @ Jan 28 2022, 12:20 AM) *
IMO, the mileage may vary a lot on the moment "the punk went out of the window." My impression is that, regardless of the edition, it always happened to people around the time their gaming group gained enough knowledge of the rule system to make any sub-optimized character redundant.

For some people this happened with the fourth edition as point-based creation became the default chargen system, bioware and initiation were in the core rules, a widened gap between mundane characters and those with augmented initiative or +4 dice pool modifiers, and when it became possible to routinely suppress drain.

But other would point out playable cybermancy in SR3 Man & Machine, bioware in SR2 Shadowtech or initiation and centering in SR2 Grimoire. The obvious difference with SR4 is that those options were not available at chargen, so those were things that would happen during game.

To me, punk was dead on arrival. The premise wholly depended on how long it took you to figure out that there was no way the ¥5,000 street samurai (aka the ork street samurai from SR GM screen booklet) could compete with the ¥1M street sam, and that every remotely capable decker had one of the two or three exact same standard backstories to justify starting with a cyberdeck in the same price range than a luxury sport car (in that regard, SR4 rather stands out as the only edition that tried to bring starting running gear price back to a so-called street level). The opportunity to play it punk in any edition always relied on some level to a gentlemen's agreement between the GM and the players, in a way the rules could not enforce (and actually did not warn you about).


Nath’s point is depressingly true. (IMG:style_emoticons/default/frown.gif)



For the original poster I would probably recommend 4th Anniversary Edition SR4A. Any version of SR is complex - and you could say that all editions are poorly thought out. (IMG:style_emoticons/default/smile.gif)

My heart is with 2nd , but to be honest I don’t feel that 2nd is the best answer to the OP request for a “well thought out – complexity not a problem” Shadowrun.
2nd and 3rd ad fixes and ad complexity to the glorious mess that is 1st. I feel that while the solidity of the rules increases linearly, the complexity increases exponentially. I am not quite sure at what point the improvements comes with too high a price for me.

I find the 2nd edition corebook a more inspiring and fun book to read than 3rd, but at the same time some of the (cumbersome) 3rd edition rules fixes loopholes and odd situations in 2nd.

4A and 5 I only know as a player, not a GM. I felt that the 4A system was fairly clearly written and errataed some of the odd parts of the original 4th.

5th broke our group. I am not sure why – perhaps because it made a lot of changes that were small enough to be hard to remember when you knew 4A but large enough that we had to relearn the system. I know that it was meant to fix some of the very exploitable parts of 4A (min-max building for the largest dice pools for the least Karma). We hadn’t reached that point in our group meta-think, so we felt didn’t get the advantages - only the bother with a new system.

I haven’t played nor read 6th edition based on the … lackluster reception it got online.
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Stahlseele
post Feb 4 2022, 01:26 AM
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Depends.
Do you want RULES FOR EVERYTHING?
Because SR3 has you covered more than you like.
Do you want interesting character concepts?
SR4.
SR5 . . not really that different from 4, consider it SP2 or something.
SR6 . . that is a thing that exists and i did not know about appearantly.
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Bodak
post Feb 27 2022, 11:28 AM
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QUOTE (Soykaf Barista @ Feb 1 2022, 11:31 AM) *
For the original poster I would probably recommend 4th Anniversary Edition SR4A. Any version of SR is complex - and you could say that all editions are poorly thought out. (IMG:style_emoticons/default/smile.gif)

I think the description of this position I enjoyed most is:
QUOTE (kzt @ May 31 2009, 02:11 AM) *
QUOTE (Tiger Eyes @ May 30 2009, 10:56 PM) *
All products are playtested by 3 five-year olds with attention disorders.
I don't believe that. Five-year olds can't read. I will believe that it's play tested by a total of 3 people, all who have ADD and an inability to write a coherent sentence....

But yes, even though I did not play 4th Ed for more than a year, it does seem to have simpler mechanics and I expect it would be easier for newcomers to pick up than older editions, and doesn't get into the pet peeves of your-potplant-must-be-wirelessly-active that later editions had. But really I think the GM's familiarity with the system trumps all that for a short campaign.
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