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Comrade Ogilvy
Err, I'm somewhat wet behind the ears with Shadowrun, and that is to say that I am completely sopping wet. I'm trying to get used to the physics of the game and such, but I'm finding it a little difficult to come up with a game plan. So, I figure that the easiest course of action would be to consult this community with a couple of questions.

1) I realize that Fourth edition is somewhat new to the series, and that leaves me open to a lot of the aftershock caused by the changes between the two. As a new player, should I stick to the 4E book I purchased, or should I go ahead and seek out Third?

2) I know that, apparently Night Ones, Fomori, and the like are present in the Sixth World, but the 4E book doesn't really provide any information on them at all, and certainly doesn't seem to entertain the idea of playing them. I fancy the idea of playing a Dryad; under current 4E rules, is that possible, and what to I have to do to accomplish this? Furthermore, if ppossible, is this recommended?

3) When I start my very first campaign, how many people is the ideal to be playing with, what materials should I need, and how much preparation should I make ahead of time? Are there any funny stories about starting out that somebody could share to further educate me in this regard?

Any help that you guys could give me on these subjects would be much appreciated. I haven't had much experience with a full-blown RPG, much less a complex one like Shadowrun, and the only supplementary experience I have with the storyline is what I learned from the Genesis game (which, in fact, I have enjoyed thoroughly for over a decade now, though the cart is getting old.)

Once again, thanks in advance.
Herald of Verjigorm
1) Location and SOTA books should be nearly fine, just ignore the new rules tossed in to explain local or recently analyzed reality.
2) Either wait for the SR4 Companion, or get one of the previous edition versions and apply the stat alterations there accepting that new rules may arrive eventually.
3) Everyone who wants to play and can meet enough to sate your addiction. (yes, you will be addicted, unless SR4 is even less like previous versions than I have been lead to believe)
1. I'm not someone to ask about 4th edition.

2. Yup, until the new books come out, you're best bet is to make stuff up.

3. For an inexperienced GM, I wouldn't recommend any more than 5 people to start with (one GM, four players). Especially in SR, it gets exponentially more difficult to keep everyone involved, interested, and entertained beyond 5.

IMO, SR is also one of the fiew systems that lends itself really well to a small group. I've GM'd for groups of two, and because of the nature of the game, it worked out awesome.
The Stainless Steel Rat
QUOTE (eidolon)
I've GM'd for groups of two, and because of the nature of the game, it worked out awesome.

I agree. One of my favorite campaigns had one GM and two players, but we (the players) had a good grasp of the rules, and were each able to fill multiple roles. I would say that five PCs is starting to get too big... 3-4 is optimum.
Indeed. I have five players right now. It gets...interesting.
It still amazes me how my first SR GM successfully handled 8 players in our group.
Wounded Ronin
Well, it would seem to me that if you want to play SR3 specific stuff, like the special metahuman classes, it would make sense to get SR3.

In terms of players, I'll concur that 5 or less would be good. I'd say at least 2, at most 5. Yeah.
You can generally get by with just 2-3 players, as long as either (1) your bases are all covered, or (2) you, as GM, make sure you keep in mind bases aren't covered, and tailor the job appropriately.

What bases, you ask? Well, there's three things, broadly speaking, that SR covers. Meat, magic, and matrix. If you've got a big asskicker, an astrally-capable mojo slinger, and a decker, you can handle most jobs. You've got someone to work on keeping mundane security off your back, you've got someone for astral scouting, handling wards, fighting spirits, etc, etc, and you've got someone to handle security, datasteals, and that sort of thing.

With those three bases covered, everything else is just gravy.

If you don't have those bases covered -- you've got to either trust your players to be able to fake it (which is very hard for new players), or you've, as GM, got to remember they're gonna have some trouble. You can maybe use an NPC Decker (someone's contact) and just handle that sort of thing "off stage." You can tailor jobs where there's less physical security (or trust in the mage to handle drain well enough to fight people, but that's iffy in the long term, due to init. problems). Etc, etc. Things can be tailored if one of those three bases is missing.

And, of course, you can always try and have someone pull double duty. If you've only got two players, maybe one can be a mage with some combat skills and a bit of bioware for initiative enhancements, or one can be a hardcore street sammie that also has a datajack and some decking skills... etc, etc.

But any group that can handle meat combat, magic, and the matrix -- you're golden.
IMO, the big bases that need to be covered are Mage, Decker, Rigger, Face/"the sucker who actually goes in in person". A team with those covered can usually do without a big asskicker (though the Rigger will usually double as one, if necessary), while substituting an asskicker for one of those will leave the team with a pretty big hole in terms of what it can deal with. Then again, that's my playstyle/GMstyle/etc. that the list is tailored for, so Critias and I might both be right for our respective campaigns.

That said, optimum playerbase is probably 3-5. More than 5 gets unwieldy, fewer than 3 means role overload (even at 3 you're either going to be spread thin or missing something, but it's more manageable).

As for the metavariants, your choices are:

1) Switch to 3rd edition
2) Make your own rules
3) Wait and hope they're reintroduced.

As for prep, my advice is that you make a dead simple scenario to start out with, preferably something not even in continuity with the campaign you want to runójust get a feel for the mechanics. Do that a few times until you feel you've got a good handle on how things work, then do lots of planning for every run. Do it until you no longer reach a point where your plans combined with your experience just don't cut it. Once you don't have that happen anymore, you probably don't need to do much planning for anything but complex runs/storylines.

1) Despite what many of the old-timers write, since you're new, not only to SR, but to roleplaying in general, stick with SR4 for your rules. You can look at many of the SR3 books for history & flavor, but nothing else. While not as comprehensive as SR3 rules, SR4 is much more streamlined, & easier to use quickly, IMO.

2) I'd shy away from making a specific variant (like Dryad) until you're more familiar with the game. Play an elf for the time being. (IIRC, Dryads are elven variants.) And who knows? Maybe the Companion will be out by that point with official rules for the variants....

3) Are you GM'ing or playing? I have to agree that one GM & 4-5 players is ideal. If you're playing, I would say that the SR4 is all you really need, because most characters aren't very well educated & wouldn't know much more than is in the SR4 book, if that. If you're GM'ing, You might want to pick up Shadows of North America, Seattle Sourcebook, Mr Johnson's Little Black Book, Loose Alliances, Sprawl Survival Guide, & at least one of the State of the Art books. Depending on where you're playing, one or all of those will give your game a little more flavor, IMO.

Good luck! Let us know how it goes!
Valentinew is right. If you do not have forknowledge of the better of the two systems (SR3), you will not know what you are missing and will be fine with where fanpro is taking this line. If you have prior knowledge then it will feel like you have been booted from the garden of eden, and have to settle for (sr4) silly.gif

Silliness aside, if you have no knowledge, go with sr4. Everything is contained, and compatible with future releases. You need a few runs under your belt before you get the hang of the system and can extrapolate things. If you have no knowledge of sr3 then creating a conversion would be twice as difficult. I would do as suggested and stick with an elf, that has a natural affinity and druidic flavour to his magic.

I would try and read some stories for flavour rather than picking up some source books. Everything you need is in rulebook. Worry about exotic locations and advanced gear later. a month of two of playing will give you a comfortable feel for the game, and a sense of direction.
You can find the paperbacks on Ebay. You'll see them in lots for very good prices on occasion. I think I've got around 90% of them (well, had at one time or another), and I don't think I spent more than $35.
1) If you are very curious about the meta-plot, go get all the books you can get your hands on. You wont need it to play, but you might find yourself caught up in the drama. I just couldn't stop researching the old stories I'd missed once I'd started. This is just if you're the type who reads much and who figures rpg's is such a cheap hobby anyways that you might as well throw away some money on books that you'll only read once and might never actively use.

2) Either make something up yourself, and then disregard the new rules when they come, or adapt your own rules to the new ones. Or just ignore metavariants. The old SR3 metavariants (and the SR2 ones as well) were very poorly done. In my opinion they were nothing more than superficial variants to be either implemented or ignored depending on how keen you were on having a lot of different races in your game. The fact that a lot of important NPCs in the gameworld are some kind of metavariant makes me want them to be integral part of the gameworld, but they really were not. If you want them there, you'd better make a place for them yourself, because in the SRComp they were nothing more than a patch-on flavour.

I wonder why they didn't have a section on minotaurs and satyrs in Shadows of Europe for instance?

3) No more than 5. Possibly better with 4.
QUOTE (Valentinew)
3)  Are you GM'ing or playing?  I have to agree that one GM & 4-5 players is ideal.  If you're playing, I would say that the SR4 is all you really need, because most characters aren't very well educated & wouldn't know much more than is in the SR4 book, if that.  If you're GM'ing, You might want to pick up Shadows of North America, Seattle Sourcebook, Mr Johnson's Little Black Book, Loose Alliances, Sprawl Survival Guide, & at least one of the State of the Art books.  Depending on where you're playing, one or all of those will give your game a little more flavor, IMO.

Ack. Crazy talk for a new SR4 GM. Here's some commentary about how useful I think the books listed are under SR4 -- honestly, I think the only "You should buy this before you get in too deep" book is Mr Johnson's Little Black Book. The rest you probably can do without.

Mr Johnson's Little Black Book -- a whole bunch of advice on how to build and structure a shadowrun, plus a bunch of contacts [stats won't be useful, most of the ideas will] and a whole bunch of locations and plot hooks.

Seattle Sourcebook -- Runner Havens will be coming out in the first half of this year and will cover Seattle and Hong Kong. Until then, Seattle Sourcebook or New Seattle could both be useful. Pick New Seattle if you want more background detail about the corporations and crime in Seattle, pick Seattle Sourcebook if you want some details about corps and crime, but also a lot more random bars, eateries, hotels, and other locations within Seattle.

Sprawl Survival Guide -- A lot of the "finally they wrote this!" material in SSG ended up in SR4. It's still a good read and will shed some insight onto the world, but it's not as necessary as it was under SR3, IMO.

Shadows of North America -- a lot of info abou the history of North America. Useful for a campaign that's going to span the continent, but if you're just sticking to a certain area the information isn't as detailed as Seattle Sourcebook, Runner Havens, London Sourcebook, etc.

State of the Art 2063 and 2064: If you're playing strict SR4, don't worry about either of these two books.

Loose Alliances: Could be useful, but not necessary for a "starter" campaign.
'Course, you could just play SR3 and have TONS of useful books to pull from. This works best if you plan on ignoring the meta-plot starting with System Failure (or after it, if you need a premade reason for your tech to advance a bit). biggrin.gif
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