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> Master Shake For Shadowrun Product Line Developer, The Future Of Shadowrun
What Is The Truth?
What Is The Truth?
Master Shake is the One True God [ 9 ] ** [6.04%]
or [ 137 ] ** [91.95%]
I hope Shadowrun fades away [ 3 ] ** [2.01%]
Total Votes: 198
  
Master Shake
post Jan 7 2005, 10:26 PM
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Some of us see Shadowrun as a public trust while others see it as merely a job. Ancient History and I can attest that it is often the passive observers of Shadowrun who know and care more about it than the so-called professionals whose job it is to keep this thing going. The best way to satisfy both groups is to make Shadowrun stronger by appealing to new players. This will improve finances and paychecks and insure that the Shadowrun world will continue to be developed. Everybody wins.

The most important point to recognize is that there are better ways to spend your time and money. Video games are making books obsolete, so only the best ideas and products can survive in rectangular analog form. To compete with video games, Shadowrun has to be big and bad ass and as spectacular as possible. Why should someone pay $20 a book for this stuff? Conflict, action, drama, personalities and atmosphere are fundamental. Shadowrun is a cool concept, itís cyberpunk with magic. If done right, it can appeal to more people than it reaches now, but only by staying true to what makes it unique. Here are my unique and Copyrighted ideas on how to make Shadowrun competitive and appealing to new players.

Shadowrun is about atmosphere, itís about a dystopian future. Too much of the focus in Shadowrun has been on game type instead of the game world. Street level neo-anarchy appeals to some, but thereís no reason to limit the scope of the game, especially when the goal is to expand the Shadowrun base. The focus needs to be developing a rich atmospheric world with a strong and dramatic narrative and letting people play whatever kind of game they want to, not railroading them into dumpster-diving poverty. The master narrative is the story of all the great personalities in the game, from Dragons to Runners to Corporations. There have been too many plot hooks and not enough plot lines recently. Big events have to happen all the time to keep players interests. Even if it doesnít directly involve them, the world has to by dynamic and interesting as a background while players do what they want to.

Shadowrun has done a poor job of defining its dystopian nature. The political-economics are half-assed bourgeois. A nations strength is its tax base, with extra territoriality, corps owning politicians and the total collapse of national tax base, nations cease to exist in any meaningful way. I like the Shadows Of... concept, but the focus of SoNA and SoE is on nations. Nations donít exist in Shadowrun unless they have a spiritual (magical) foundation to them like the Elven Nations, the NAN, Aztlan, Amazonia, Great Britain, Tibet or Japan. That is the dystopian cyberpunk reality that Shadowrun hints at but never got around to fully embracing. The political and economic situation in Shadowrun should be more like the video game Syndicate Wars with ruthless corporations openly fighting while everyone else watches helplessly. With machines and drones, human beings are increasingly obsolete. People arenít needed so there is absurdly high unemployment and crime with no government social support or even public schools. This is contrasted by the elite lives of the corporate slaves who live in comfortable isolation and confinement. That is cyberpunk, that is dystopian, that is the source of the action and conflict and violence and desperation that is the soul of Shadowrun. The point is to define the atmosphere of Shadowrun, and to use its personalities to create drama. Corps, Dragons, IEís, monsters and the desperate masses all thrown in a blender. Push the conflict, push the cyber-robotics-nanotech development, push the magical adepts and magical threats angle. Shadowrun needs to define itself, and then constantly blow itself up.

Shadowrun needs to appeal to D20 players. Thatís where the new players will come from. In order to fix some of the problems with the Shadowrun rules, and to appeal to D20 players, Shadowrun needs a 4th edition. The rules focus is on Shadowrun rules, but every product should be compatible with D20. The goal is to get D20 players into Shadowrun and then have them drop the D20 rules for Shadowrun rules. So keep the D20 conversions to the bare minimum (feats, basic rules for rigging, decking and magic), but this will allow old and new players to buy and play the same books. What good is it to have just a Shadowrun D20 Rulebook, but not have D20 for the sourcebooks and adventures? To appeal to new players, it all has to be compatible, so they will buy the other products. This is a simple and elegant way to fix the old rules and make it easy for new players to get involved. Because Shadowrun is futuristic and atmospheric, the new art should be predominantly computer generated and focused on the dystopian landscape. Visuals should give an idea of the game environment, focus not on individuals, but the relationship of individuals to the urban sprawl or the rural wilderness and highlight magic which is the unique spin to cyberpunk.

After the general rulebook to introduce Shadowrun, there have to be books that give more background and atmosphere to players and GMís. A Runners Guide which is part Players Companion, part Sprawl Survival guide will give more character options in both rules formats, give them ideas on the kinds of characters and games they want to play- from gutter-trash, to mercenary, to racist elf supremacists, to all magical, to Lupin the 3rd style capers- and develop the game world from the players perspective. A Fixerís Guide will be part MJLBB and part Shadowrun textbook. Give GMís NPCís for contacts or targets, help them to plan different sorts of games and styles to meet what their players want, but to really focus on the themes of Shadowrun. The conflict between urban sprawl and the wild wilderness inhabited by awakened creatures that make the rural areas no-mans-lands, the desperate poverty of freedom and the soul destroying corporate slavery, the active policlubs fighting for a cause and the neo-anarchists, corporations fighting each other for minds and souls, the magical world vs the mechanical world, organized crime preying on the poor while they protect them against the worst abuses of the corps and magical threats, the hope of humanity and the threat of the Horrors. Focus on what Shadowrun is and its atmosphere and give players and GMís as much freedom to play any way they like.

Rules Expansions have always added rules (now in D20 as well) and options to the game, but the focus needs to be on adding atmosphere first, then rules, then connecting it to game play. These books shouldnít be sterile, but filled with plot hooks and all should have one short adventure focusing on using the new rules. So RE: Matrix needs to develop the matrix as a cultural phenomenon, how everyone uses it and has a datajack, why it matters to non-deckers. Then add the decker rules and give ideas for decker characters and plot hooks, and have a short adventure that features decking prominently and in an appealing way. RE: Equipment would be part CC but with more useful items like electronics and how runners would use them, sneak suits, et al. RE: Magic would clean up some of the magical rules (like F1 Improved Invisibility) but still focus on atmosphere, rules, and connecting it to your own game. RE: Cyberware would be similar to MM but with more atmosphere and game ideas. RE: Rigging would be very visual like Equipment, but showing futuristic cars and jets will really help people visualize what Shadowrun looks like. SOTA is a good way to trickle in new toys and to update news and atmosphere of the game world.

Those books establish the atmosphere and boundaries of the game, but everything else needs to focus on blowing shit up. The biggest problem is the disconnect between cyberpunk dystopia and lingering bourgeois notions about nations and economics. The first major narrative needs to be the collapse of the nation state as it exists in Shadowrun now, with how it would be in the context of dystopian Shadowrun. Two interesting and underdeveloped Shadworun concepts are the policlubs and organized crime. Policlubs represent where the nationalistic energy will go, into small, highly motivated groups of thugs- political anarchy is the spirit of Shadowrun. Organized crime is too tied to the ethnic concepts of current passed OC. Shadowrun OC should be more like the Zaibatsuís. It makes sense that OC would follow the patterns of the mega-corps by focusing on profits, not ethnicity. We should see the rise of a vast Shadow Corporation, not a syndicate, but The Syndicate that operates outside the bounds of the Corporate Court and exists as almost like a franchise from sprawl to sprawl.

Sourcebooks on Policlubs and The Syndicate that is part atmosphere, part rules and ideas for players and GM and part adventures that introduce these concepts and connect to the larger narrative conflict lead to a campaign adventure. Policlubs and Syndicate start off the Narrative which leads to an adventure book that puts the characters into the conflict between rising patriotism that threatens the Corporate Court which issues an Omega Order on weakling nations (without some spiritual foundation). Poltical groups like New Revolution rise up to take back power from the corps combined with help from urban socialists guerillas, social justice groups and similar Policlubs looking for their chance with organized crime which leads to massive violence, political assassinations and the Corporate Council abolishing the UN, EU and all such political organizations and setting itself up as the world gov. GOD takes charge of the Matrix, they form other corporate policing bodies to monitor magical threats and The Syndicate becomes a shadow member of the Big Ten(11) for joining the Corps in fighting off and putting down the popular uprising. Let players decide how it ends, give them a chance to blow up the Zurich Orbital in petty retaliation and once itís been played, they send in response cards and the majority opinion becomes official Shadowrun in the next SOTA. Itís important to reach out to players and let them determine outcomes to get them more involved in Shadowrun. Every major campaign should end with the players deciding the final outcome and having it become canon. Once this campaign is over, Shadowrun will be realigned to its true dystopian nature and will allow for clearly defined conflict between corps, runners, policlubs, The Syndicate, Dragons and other Immortals. This is all about defining and refining what Shadowrun is. Thereís plenty of stuff similar to the now, Shadowrunís appeal is that itís a new world, with new problems and menaces, so the Shadowrun world needs to be new and distinct.

Itís important to tie Sourcebooks to the games. So include plot hooks and adventures and even connect them to a larger game narrative. Here are some other ideas for Sourcebooks and narratives. Lofwyr vs Alamaise - players decide which one lives and which one dies- can introduce more IEís and some deep background plus involves corps and policlubs. The Immortals- give actual stats for Harlequin and other immortals, including info on vampires and playing vampires. Connect this to a campaign featuring Harelquin (Harlequin Returns) which involves the Books of Harrow from Dunkís will, Horrors, Darke and the establishment of a new Shadow School, in a space station orbiting earth (why not?). Could use the Atlantean Foundation to introduce Laura Croft-style relic raiding characters and adventures. Deep Space- Develop space travel, space stations, colonies on the moon and mars. Push the tech envelope, and open up space travel and space adventure. Robotechnology- Androids as player characters, advanced drones and machines, cyberzombies and typical Ghost in the Shell stuff. Deus Ex Machina- campaign connected to Robotechnology, Deusí split personaís are united in android bodies, some of which gain their own personalities, players decide how it all ends. Iniatiates Sourcebook- focusing on advanced magical concepts like the Earthdawn adepts. Shadowrun archetypes, even for some non magical types, like the otaku. Introduce the Lightbearers and the Horrors as initiatory groups, some advanced metamagic and could connect it with a larger campaign, perhaps Harlequin Returns or something specific to Aztechnology who is now evil again. The point is to make it as big as possible. If players donít want to play big adventures, they donít have to, but you attract new players and define the game atmosphere by being dramatic. All the best stuff in Shadowrun was big and dramatic.

The strength of Shadowrun is the atmosphere, the unique magical angle and the personalities. Aztechnology had a personality when they were evil, once the morons tried to water down the Big A, what was the point? Who cares about just another corp? You have to develop personality or nobody will care. Aztec was defined, Ares, SK, Renraku, Novatech, Yamatetsu are defined. Cross, Mitsuhama, Wuxung and Shiawase are poorly defined and need more personality. What ever happened to Mercurial? Bring back all those characters you let slip away. Lofwyr is the spirit of Shadowrun, Dragon magic and Corporate dystopian, Harlequin is the spirit of shadowrunners. Use characters that are clearly the strengths of the game, make this stuff interesting and worth spending $20 on the next book to see what happens.

The Shadowrun website needs to be redesigned to reflect the new dystopian focus and visuals and to offer more player and GM support. More NPCís, free adventures, downloadable floor plans, more game atmosphere that gives new players a real sense of what Shadowrun is all about. Make Shadowrun as easy for beginners as possible. Translate all the old adventures and books to 4th Edition, and offer them free or cheap downloads. Especially for a game like Shadowrun, the website and the internet content has to be interesting and impressive.

Atmosphere and the conflict that defined personalities can create made Shadowrun great, but those two factors are exactly what Shadowrun has been shrinking away from for years. If Shadowrun has a future, it has to get back to what made it interesting in the first place, and reach out to new players. Simply, there has to be a new focus on players- new players and the game world they play in.

For information on where to send my six figure consulting fee, contact mastershake@fastmail.fm
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Kagetenshi
post Jan 7 2005, 10:32 PM
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Well, if you were line developer we'd never lack for volume of new releases.

~J
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Ancient History
post Jan 7 2005, 10:33 PM
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Or...you can admit that Rob has been doing a damn fine job as it is.

Master Shake, I'll only ever ask you for one favor, and this is it: never use my name to lend credence to anything unless I'm said as much already.
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Solstice
post Jan 7 2005, 10:37 PM
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I'm confused as to how this makes you God....
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Supercilious
post Jan 7 2005, 10:41 PM
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Pen and Paper RPGing will not die for years and years, until books themselves are replaced by a new medium.

The allure of the imagination and a "build your own story do whatever you want" world ensure the survival. As soon as videogames have a system that can be made up as you go along, simply by voice communication and players never get stuck on geometry, THEN they will be made obsolete. But only then.

EDIT: I have $4,000 worth of D&D D20 splat books, none of them were really worth the money. I like SR because each book is worth it, and the world is insanely good. I like how vague it is, I love have a vague world that i can fill in the blanks. I could never invent a world this detailed, but I could certainly insinuate that Renraku made Deus on purpose, hoping he could be as farsighted as Lofwyr so they could compete more effectively, but then Lofwyr found out and sabotauged the arc.... If the books TOLD ME how everything ended and left nothing to the imagination THAT is what would kill this game, turning SR into a LINEAR world would be the death of it.

Long live a vague drawn out political system where I get to make the answers, not an author.
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RedmondLarry
post Jan 7 2005, 10:48 PM
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Amazing. I have a new appreciation for Rob.
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mfb
post Jan 7 2005, 11:13 PM
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it'd take hours and hours for me to post everything i disagree with, in the post. suffice to say, the only vote option i can see myself clicking is "or".
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Austere Emancipa...
post Jan 7 2005, 11:17 PM
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mfb took the words out of my, uhh, keyboard.
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Synner
post Jan 7 2005, 11:30 PM
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I was going to post something witty but I just thought, why bother? This thread is just so wrong on so many levels.
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BitBasher
post Jan 7 2005, 11:31 PM
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QUOTE (mfb)
it'd take hours and hours for me to post everything i disagree with, in the post. suffice to say, the only vote option i can see myself clicking is "or".

I concur.
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Method
post Jan 7 2005, 11:35 PM
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First of all, SR already has most (if not all) the stuff you are talking about.

Second the day SR goes D20 is the day it dies....
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Nath
post Jan 7 2005, 11:49 PM
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Oh, it's not like we never saw such rants about D20, street-level and big events, the choice between 1980ies' cyberpunk, post-cyberpunk, cyber-corporate, and the balance between corporations and states, the outcomes of adventure... I can remember discussing each of those in several occasions on DSF. They just were rolled into one single post. No really unique idea here, except maybe the Syndicate thing.
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Guest_Crimsondude 2.0_*
post Jan 7 2005, 11:58 PM
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I agree with mfb (shocking, I know), and everyone who said (essentially), "I have a new appreciation for Rob." I have a certain appreciation for Rob after reading this. Jebus. From the very beginning there is an incorrect assumption that the fanboys actually know more than the developers. It doesn't apply to something as broad as politics, so why the hell would it apply to something as specific as one of the few viable tabletop RPGs? Your views on governments are also short-sighted and predicated on the false premise that corps want them gone.

The only sentences I do agree with are, "Some of us see Shadowrun as a public trust while others see it as merely a job," and "SOTA is a good way to trickle in new toys and to update news and atmosphere of the game world." Maybe it's the fact that I've been playing this game for over a decade to realize that for all the things in SR that twist my nipple, the game is going in the right direction and this would kill SR completely.

Let me repeat that.

This would kill SR completely.

I am dumber for having read that post. I am retarded for writing a response.
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GunnerJ
post Jan 7 2005, 11:59 PM
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Well, if we wade through the shit a bit, there is a good kernal of an idea. I'd like to see the Shadowrun world develop a bit more focus, and I would like to see a generalized set of rules that can adapt to more play styles and possibilities in this world than the standard shadowrunning.

But yeah, I was wading through the shit for that, and I did vote "or."
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Guest_Crimsondude 2.0_*
post Jan 8 2005, 12:01 AM
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Guests






How do you focus and generalize simultaneously?
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GrinderTheTroll
post Jan 8 2005, 12:27 AM
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Bah, just read the first sentences of each paragraph.

QUOTE (Master Shake)
1) Some of us see Shadowrun as a public trust while others see it as merely a job.

2) The most important point to recognize is that there are better ways to spend your time and money.

3) Shadowrun is about atmosphere, itís about a dystopian future.

4) Shadowrun has done a poor job of defining its dystopian nature.

5) Shadowrun needs to appeal to D20 players.

6) After the general rulebook to introduce Shadowrun, there have to be books that give more background and atmosphere to players and GMís.

7) Rules Expansions have always added rules (now in D20 as well) and options to the game, but the focus needs to be on adding atmosphere first, then rules, then connecting it to game play.

8) Those books establish the atmosphere and boundaries of the game, but everything else needs to focus on blowing shit up.

9) Sourcebooks on Policlubs and The Syndicate that is part atmosphere, part rules and ideas for players and GM and part adventures that introduce these concepts and connect to the larger narrative conflict lead to a campaign adventure.

10) Itís important to tie Sourcebooks to the games.

11) The strength of Shadowrun is the atmosphere, the unique magical angle and the personalities.

12) The Shadowrun website needs to be redesigned to reflect the new dystopian focus and visuals and to offer more player and GM support.

13) Atmosphere and the conflict that defined personalities can create made Shadowrun great, but those two factors are exactly what Shadowrun has been shrinking away from for years.


6 of 13 mention "atmosphere", guess he's outta ideas.

3 of 13 use the word "dystopian", mmm dystopian.

PS - You can forfeit your vote just choose to "view results". ;)
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Necro Tech
post Jan 8 2005, 12:43 AM
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I'll say it because no one else has mentioned it. Six figures? In what universe?

Maybe he might mention who he is. Nah, that would mean taking a little responsibility.
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Moirdryd
post Jan 8 2005, 01:06 AM
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*blink, blink, blink*
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GunnerJ
post Jan 8 2005, 01:18 AM
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QUOTE (Crimsondude 2.0)
How do you focus and generalize simultaneously?

By doing them to different things. Focus the world, generalize the rules.
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BitBasher
post Jan 8 2005, 01:25 AM
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I think I'd like to mention that SR really isn't dystopian. For the average citizen of the world it's not all that much different in day to day life that today. The power shifted, but it's not really dystopian. It's actually pretty decent for most of the people.
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Kanada Ten
post Jan 8 2005, 01:29 AM
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Wow, I thought [dystopian] meant something totally different. I tend to think the Shadowrun world has oppressive elements, but the real darkness is the apathy and life's loss of value.
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GunnerJ
post Jan 8 2005, 01:41 AM
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I agree. There is a great deal of oppression and disparity between "haves" and "have-nots" in SR, but it's not dystopian in any meaningful sense of the word (i.e., in line with the dysdopian literary tradition). The main thing I get when I compare the SR world to today is how much weirder, faster, and more dangerous it is.
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mfb
post Jan 8 2005, 01:48 AM
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QUOTE (BitBasher)
It's actually pretty decent for most of the people.


i'd have to disagree; for most of the world's population, life pretty much sucks. Joe and Jane Corporate Citizen are the super-rich Haves of the world. that's pretty much the same situation we have today, though, so it depends on whether or not you define the modern world as 'dystopian' (as an increasing number of sci-fi and other fiction authors do).
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Kanada Ten
post Jan 8 2005, 02:00 AM
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I don't see any evidence that the modern world is any more oppressed or more terrorized than previous times... So unless we state that human life is always under the dystopian (* as bad as can be; characterized by human misery) rule... Seroiusly, things seem better than durning the Cold War.
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Fortune
post Jan 8 2005, 02:09 AM
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I do think the move towards more 'Street-Oriented' things at the expense of Metaplot-type material isn't necessarily a Good Thingô. As I've said many times before, I have no problem doing the street thing on my own. I want a nice mixture of both over-reaching plot lines and gritty world details.

I totally disagree with the need to produce Shadowrun D20. One of the attractions of Shadowrun is that it isn't D20.
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