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> Shadowrun is dead
Birdy
post Nov 15 2004, 06:18 PM
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No, not as a game system or game universe. But the classic "Cyberpunk" idea of "the desperate few against the system" always worked better in novels than in role playing. Most scenarios start with "you are contacted by your fixer" instead of the classical "circumstances force you into a certain action".

While the sourcebooks, the germans even more than the US ones in my option, still stress this "struggle against the evil corporations and the corrupt political minions" (laudable even IRL) the adventures and most scenario descriptions on the boards show a different view.

So maybe it's time for a new approach to "Shadowrunning", one less inspired by "Neuromancer", "Snowcrash" and "Hardwired" and more by "Oceans Eleven", "Foolproof" and "Top Job". Let the players be professional criminals, maybe even a team. Or freelance security consultants like "Bugs" Or even agents of the "This watcher will self-destruct in 10 seconds" variety.

The question is:

+ What new rules are needed (Equipment, Money pools etc)

+ What problems come out of this?

+ How "legit" (SIN etc) can the characters get?

Any comments?


Birdy
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BitBasher
post Nov 15 2004, 06:23 PM
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Er, since Shadowrun was never really "classic cyberpunk" I don't think I see the issue here.
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Birdy
post Nov 15 2004, 06:33 PM
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QUOTE (BitBasher)
Er, since Shadowrun was never really "classic cyberpunk" I don't think I see the issue here.

It was in the sense of the "mission", that "runners against the system" that you find in the early novels and the fluff of the sourcebooks.

Cyberpunk is more than "sticking metal in ones body" - i.e "Soylent green" is Cyberpunk.

Birdy
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FlakJacket
post Nov 15 2004, 06:39 PM
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Didn't we have this conversation literally just a couple of months back or something?
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Omega Skip
post Nov 15 2004, 06:45 PM
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Heck, who cares if we discuss the same things over and over and over again! :D


As for special rules: The only thing that would be really needed would be character creation modifications, especially with regards to
  • Contacts at creation
  • Availability of some equipment
  • Starting Ressources and special loans
  • Modifications on social edges and flaws
Of course, as members of a bigger organization, the characters will have access to some important people who may or may not owe them a favor. Which of course leads to some special equipment being available (which gives you as a GM a very convenient way to influence the playing style in a subtle way - drastically lower the prices on 007 spyware and raise the penalties for excessive cyberware, for example).

But, to compensate for the wicked cool toys that the runners now have, the starting ressources should be tweaked accordingly: One possible way to do this would be to say that they don't receive one large sum of money at creation, but instead are payed a higher-than-average monthly "salary". In other words, the runners start off with less, but earn more on the average mission. Again, modify this to your own needs. You can even turn it the other way around, have them start off with more and earn less per run if you want to create an "armed to the teeth suicide squad" that has to take significantly bigger risks to earn their money.

Also, because the characters are part of an uncharacteristically well-formed social group, some modifications of social flaws and edges may be in order.

And of course, magic and awakened characters need to be considered as well: Is magic an integral part of the organisation (lower the build point cost of magical characteristics, increase the availability of decidedly mundane equipment), about average (no change), or is the organization even distrustful of magic (increase build point cost, decrease availability of mundane equipment)?

These are just my thoughts, I'm sure someone else will come up with some more interesting ideas to get you started. Anyone?
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GrinderTheTroll
post Nov 15 2004, 06:45 PM
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We've always played "us against them" by pitting runners against corps. that seem to have unlimited funds, gear and an army of loyal followers, I guess I don't feel the same way about the game changing in that respect.

I think that alot of this has to do with maturity of the player base more than anything. 14 years ago, SR was a different game to me than it is today. I never worried about the samll details like I do today. I consistantly strive to eliminate loose ends for my stories and feel compelled to keep the "fiction" as it where, to a minimum with a focus on real-life or perhaps, more "believeable" scenarios and situations.

Take a look at the archtypes in SR1 compared to SR3. The very focus (and artwork) strays away towards a more "gritty" feel and demenor. You are now "professionals" as opposed to "the minority".

I don't share you read on it, but I think there is some truth in what you are saying.
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Birdy
post Nov 15 2004, 06:56 PM
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QUOTE (GrinderTheTroll @ Nov 15 2004, 06:45 PM)
We've always played "us against them" by pitting runners against corps. that seem to have unlimited funds, gear and an army of loyal followers, I guess I don't feel the same way about the game changing in that respect.

I think that alot of this has to do with maturity of the player base more than anything.  14 years ago, SR was a different game to me than it is today.  I never worried about the samll details like I do today.  I consistantly strive to eliminate loose ends for my stories and feel compelled to keep the "fiction" as it where, to a minimum with a focus on real-life or perhaps, more "believeable" scenarios and situations.

Take a look at the archtypes in SR1 compared to SR3.  The very focus (and artwork) strays away towards a more "gritty" feel and demenor.  You are now "professionals" as opposed to "the minority".

I don't share you read on it, but I think there is some truth in what you are saying.

Actualy I don't think it is "the game changing". The "Fixer call" have been a staple back in "Queen Euphoria" and similar works. The difference between "Fluff text" and "Adventure outline" was always there, it just got smaller with 3rd Ed. Not a bad think IMHO.

And yes, the older one get's the more the story shifts. And the smaller the focus seems to get. No more "world shacking events" just plain "survive and live well".

I just would like ideas how to handle it. Omegas ideas for "big corp agents" are one angel on it. I would like to see ideas on the "Ocean's Eleven" (Professional criminals) one too


Birdy
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Demonseed Elite
post Nov 15 2004, 07:01 PM
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Cyberpunk is dead.

Which isn't to say you can't play a Cyberpunk style of Shadowrun if you want to, but the literary movement of Cyberpunk is basically over. It was a literary response to social pressures and feelings of the times when it emerged, which don't really match feelings that exist in the present today.

And while Shadowrun has evolved with literary traditions, it isn't really evolving into the "caper movie." It's been evolving more into the transhumanist genre over time.
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Birdy
post Nov 15 2004, 07:26 PM
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QUOTE (Demonseed Elite)
Cyberpunk is dead.

Which isn't to say you can't play a Cyberpunk style of Shadowrun if you want to, but the literary movement of Cyberpunk is basically over. It was a literary response to social pressures and feelings of the times when it emerged, which don't really match feelings that exist in the present today.

And while Shadowrun has evolved with literary traditions, it isn't really evolving into the "caper movie." It's been evolving more into the transhumanist genre over time.

I own Transhuman space and I'd say that SR goes down a different road. One less hopeful and far bleaker

It still is Cyberpunk in the sense of the distopian world where nature and humanity goes down the drain in service of the all-mighty euro/dollar/nuyen. It is in the tradition of Blade Runner and Soylent Green. Cyberpunk is more than Gibson and more than "Mowhawk and Attitude".

Recently used the "Co Dominion Universe" for a Cyberpunk 2020 game. Basically no Cyberware but one of the darkest and grittiest games we played in a long time. The faceless system vs. the individual and all. (Players are gangers about to move up to organised crime)

What has shifted is the role of the protagonist. Classical CP-novel characters don't work well in teams. Players are more a "small cog in the system" than a "small sabot in the gears"


Birdy
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GrinderTheTroll
post Nov 15 2004, 07:33 PM
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QUOTE (Birdy)
I just would like ideas how to handle it. Omegas ideas for "big corp agents" are one angel on it. I would like to see ideas on the "Ocean's Eleven" (Professional criminals) one too

Lots of planning on the part of the GM. Requires alot from both the players and GM and to be quite honest, I don't know if the "Ocean's 11" scenario would be possible without alot of given conditions and information. This is more of a struggle when the players want to go after something as opposed to a fixer call.

I recently considered pooling all my players skills and then crafting scenarios around their skillsets so they get to use them often. But players have ways of going around what is planned sometimes.
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bitrunner
post Nov 15 2004, 08:15 PM
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in defense of "caper" films like "Ocean's 11", they DO show how to go about a shadowrun in the proper way - legwork, lots and lots of preparation and more legwork, setting up alternate plans in case plan A goes bad, getting in and out without getting caught, or better yet, having no one know you were there until long after you're gone, not getting distracted, hiring people that are specialized for different roles, etc...

basically, when the "uninitiated" ask me what Shadowrun is all about, I start by using the common knowledge of movies like this and others films to describe the parts of the game-verse.
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GrinderTheTroll
post Nov 15 2004, 08:29 PM
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QUOTE (bitrunner)
in defense of "caper" films like "Ocean's 11", they DO show how to go about a shadowrun in the proper way - legwork, lots and lots of preparation and more legwork, setting up alternate plans in case plan A goes bad, getting in and out without getting caught, or better yet, having no one know you were there until long after you're gone, not getting distracted, hiring people that are specialized for different roles, etc...

basically, when the "uninitiated" ask me what Shadowrun is all about, I start by using the common knowledge of movies like this and others films to describe the parts of the game-verse.

Hehe, as do I. I am thinking the sheer mechanics required by runners and GM are alot considering the payout, I wouldn't want to give it away or make it too hard.

I think all that planning would bore my players to tears.
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Mercer
post Nov 15 2004, 08:38 PM
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The Ocean's Eleven style run (an impossible mission overcome by an unexpected solution) tends not to work well in tabletop games. It's harder to set up "reveals" for the audience when they are also the main characters in the story. What is a very tense Ocean's Eleven style movie is a pretty relaxed game where the players feel like the run is going pretty much according to plan throughout.

Heist movies benefit from scripting, which is something we can't do as much of in games. In the heist movie, what is possible is determined by the screenwriter or the director, based on the dramatic needs of the story. In a game, what the players do is decided by them, and their success and failure is determined by the rules and the dice. Its not hard to imagine what would have happened in the Ocean's Eleven movie if any one of the criminals had botched any of the multitude of rolls at any point during their incredibly complicated plan. It would have been a very different movie if Brad Pitt and George Clooney had to pull out assault rifles and stage a running gun battle across the casino floor to get to freedom, as Julia Roberts fires clip after clip at Andy Garcia, who iss on top of the elevator throwing grenades. (Not a better or worse movie per se, just different.)
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Ol' Scratch
post Nov 15 2004, 08:45 PM
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I don't quite get the whole "Shadowrun is dead because cyberpunk is dead" mentality. Shadowrun was never a cyberpunk game. It has elements found in cyberpunk, but the Shadowrun genre -- and especially the purpose of shadowrunners -- is not cyberpunkish in and of itself. It can incorporate characters similar to those found in cyberpunk, but again, that's not the summation of the setting or the game.

If you want to focus on another aspect found in the setting -- "caper"-type runs -- it's fully capable of handling that, too. No special rules are really required; any special gear needed for a particular caper can be acquired through a fixer or similar contact. In fact, that's the entire point of having a fixer. You don't have to start the game with every piece of equipment you will ever need.
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CircuitBoyBlue
post Nov 15 2004, 08:51 PM
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Amen to that. Of course, not getting caught would bore all the players in my group to tears as well. Part of the reason our characters are so un-slick is because the players have good ideas, they just don't want to use them, because they'd rather get into a good old-fashioned punch up with some corporate security guards. Of course, the characters don't share this point of view, but they are slaves to our will, because we brought them into this world and only our whim keeps them here.

As for the cyberpunk aspect of the game being dead, it's only dead if you want it to be. My group doesn't feel that the game's nearly gritty enough these days, and so we just ignore everything that's come out that we disagree with (in our case, nearly everything since Super Tuesday, which some may say is gritty, but there's no arguing with the fact that it's not OUR kind of grit). We never got bored with the "your fixer calls you" runs, because we never really fell into that trap. Most of our "runs" aren't so much your typical run as they are a desperate attempt to get access to heat (the type that keeps you alive in the winter, not in a firefight), water, electricity, or other essentials that they need to function. Our group doesn't even HAVE a fixer it can trust. If you want to get out of the "your fixer calls" trap, just don't have the fixer call. Sooner or later, the characters will start trying to find their own fun to get into. And that's always fun because the GM gets a really good feel for what the characters are really like, and can then create "runs" that really suit their interests, which most likely won't require contrived fixer calls to initiate.
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Dashifen
post Nov 15 2004, 08:57 PM
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I agree with the Doctor. I've been running caper type runs for three years now with now problems other than, as Mercer described above, a tendancy for players to feel complacent as they succeed with their plans. 'Course that only lasts until somone fails a necessary test or an Unexpected Event ™ happens.
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lorthazar
post Nov 15 2004, 09:04 PM
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Always had a mix bag of operations. Our group could handle everything from the 'stealth runs' to the 'expend some assets runs'. We always used the right firepower for the mission as well as doing extensive research, legwork, and planning. Sure we had more fun in combat but hey sometimes the cred takes precedence. Not that we always charged. When we played Missing Blood one of us truly fouled a roll and my runners best friend got geeked becuase of it. that night the UB headquarters found out what a ShadowWar was. Not a single bug survivor. Cost topped out at 20 times what we had been payed, but our reps were on the line. that started a long serries of our runners versus the bugs. The bugs lost every time, but it was always tense.

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DrJest
post Nov 15 2004, 09:44 PM
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Time to get controversial...

Shadowrun is not now and never was primarily a cyberpunk game. The inclusion of cyberpunk elements into the game notwithstanding.

Shadowrun was, and is, an epic manga techno-fantasy game, primary emphasis on the fantasy.

Magic and technology side by side? Ancient hidden mysteries? Immortals moving mortals like pawns on a chessboard?

Sounds like manga/anime to me.
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lorthazar
post Nov 15 2004, 09:47 PM
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Actually sounds Illuminatai to me, but hey I just play here.
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DrJest
post Nov 15 2004, 10:02 PM
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Funny you should mention that, now I've been working on this submission to FanPro... :P
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Dashifen
post Nov 15 2004, 10:35 PM
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I've always seen it as epic techno-fantasy (not necessarily manga -- for that you can enjoy BESM). The emphasis on techno or fantasy, I think, is driven primarily by what characters the players make and my choices as a GM. I make the choice to tone down magic if the players have no mage. I don't remove it from the game, but maybe I only toss around moderate stunbolts (or balls) rather than the deadly ones I use when mages should know better and have spell defense up. Flip the coin and I usually stage back techno aspects if I'm running a primarily mage game because those cybersam-5d6-in-combat types will own a mage group if they don't get it in the first phase as it will have three or four more actions than the team can hope to have without liberal use of improved reflexes which I house ruled to be less effect anyway :evil: .
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Mercer
post Nov 15 2004, 10:55 PM
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Its mainly a question of emphasis. I tend to run cyberpunk/low fantasy style games. Immortal Elves are (for all intents and purposes) a paranoid media creation, and the runners are about as likely to have dealings with Lofwyr as I am to meet Tom Hanks. (I should point out here that statistically, I have a very low probability to meet Mr. Hanks. If I lived in his building or something, I'd have picked someone else. Maybe Brian Dennehey. I've always enjoyed his work.)

But, thats just one type of game. Almost any type of game can be run, and as Doc Funk pointed out earlier, the system will support it.
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Shadow
post Nov 15 2004, 11:01 PM
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Shaowrun has always been about 'us' versus 'them'. I just think the 'them' has changed over the years. SR was spwaned in the late 80's when corprate America seemed to be taking ove rthe world. The idea that corperations could become all powerful was comman. Now days though, less so. But it is still us vs them.
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Enigma
post Nov 15 2004, 11:20 PM
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Shadowrun can be as cyberpunk as any GM wants, because one of the massive advantages of SR is the depth of the game world and the thought that has gone into it. One of the failings of CP2020 was it was so incredibly two dimensional - corporations bad, rock music good, solos cool, arasaka evil and so on. I remember in the developer's say bit of the latest corporations book someone actually discussing "we didn't want it to be as simple as SK mysterious, Aztechnology evil, Ares good and so on".

Having said that, grit is something any GM can put into a game. I work in the criminal justice system so it's easier for me, but you can make a game plain nasty very easily - incorporate a realistic brothel or two, make sure to emphasise the despair and desperation of the drug culture, put some flashy dudes on top of it making money off the addicted, the hopeless and the desperately addicted and you have a fairly gritty game.

I enjoy that the simplistic elements of the cyberpunk genre (struggling against the massive faceless conglomerate) are replaced in shadowrun with a more 'shades of grey' approach, however I have always preferred the smarter "heist" type run. Unfortunately, two of my three players are afraid of doing anything risky so I'm pretty much running a one player game with comic relief at the moment. However, I live in hope.
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hobgoblin
post Nov 16 2004, 12:41 AM
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cyberpunk is hard, very hard, to nail down. one part is about us vs them or selling out. another is about the definition of life (when have i removed so much of me that im less man then machine? and what about those "drones" that eat "big bro" propaganda raw? are they not biological machines?). its allso about the feeling that whatever you do you dont change anyones life in a meaningful way (maybe you can afford better food or clotheing but what about the nameless hordes?). the corps still makes money and dumps waste, and so on. its a future where your only thought is survival, and the only surefire way to do that is to sell your body and soul to a amoral entity.

there is a element of 1984 in there to, as either you pack your bags and move to the controled areas where every move you make is monitored and logged by your employers. or you go live in the dumps where its survival of the fittest, and the cyberenhanced (or bio or drugs or whatever) predators rule.

you have to look towards urban warzones, with shelled out ruins, bulletholes in the walls, nailed shut windows, gangs with blades and cheap automatic firearms. cops and similar security rolling around in armored vehicles, packing heavy armor and automatic firearms. this is the barrens. downtown and the high ranking areas may look safter at day, but at night the gangs roam in force. if you go outside of the relativly safe club streets and looks like you have more money then muscle your asking for a visit by some punks in gang colors. or they maybe beat up a guy and rape his girl just for the hell of it.

its a world where cops have lost control, corps protect their own assets and the rest just have to survive somehow.
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