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For starters, my friends and I want to get into the SR universe, we've all played the SNES and Genesis games, we all have a heavy interest in the backround story, and the gameplay style seems to be fun.

I've been nominated to GM for the group, but I'm not sure how to get started on that task, the group doesn't want to start with Shadowrun until we finish our current AD&D campaign. this is leaving me with no ability to really learn Shadowrun from a playability standpoint. Canon, yes, I have been reading the PCG, Runner Havens, Sprawl Survival Guide, Mr Johnson's little black book, and Street Magic over and over again, but some things I feel like I won't quite understand until it comes time to play the game.

Anyone else had these problems in the past, or have a solution? I don't spend much time online so it would be hard to join an online session, but I'd like to have a firm understanding on Character creation, as well as tests and modifiers before I jump into play.

I've been considering setting up mock battles with the sample characters, so I understand how they work, would that be a good solution?
If you want to run a "kick in the door" series, then you just need to get used to the combat system.

If you want a series of stories set in a bleak, chaotic future world, then check out the thread on this forum about movies with themes, characters and imagery that fit the Shadowrun setting. You can skim the shadowtalk forum - less time commitment than actually playing in one, but informative.

Some people here see SR as a sandbox/toolkit for the stories *you* want to tell, and others will tell you the One True Way to Play.
I've never really understood a game system until I saw it in action. I'm just not the kind of guy that can sit down and read a rule book and know how it works from just reading it.

The GM quick start guide available at the SR4 site has a great starting adventure. It's called food fight and it's essentially a plotless gunfight in a mini-mart. I haven't read the new version but I think they've suped it up to include some possible story points and fluff content. Since the game handles most challenge resolution in very similar manners (determine number of dice rolled; roll dice; count up 5s and 6s; determine outcome) even a simple combat should give a small glimpse into how just about ever mechanical situation in the game can be resolved.

Now there are two major philosophies when it comes to new groups w/ Shadowrun

1. Limit what players can access until everyone is more comfortable w/ the rules (this typically means no mages, no hackers, probably to adepts either)

2. Let people play what they want. The first few sessions may move slower when the mage or hacker or whatever doesn't know what they're doing but everyone will learn the rules pretty quickly and then things will move smoothly for the rest of the game. (I subscribe to this philosophy).

It's up to you for what you think will work best for your group.

Beyond that I have only one piece of advice: There Is No Right or Wrong Way To Play Shadowrun. You'll find on these boards endless debates of which is better twink or fluff, pro v. punk, alternative campaign ideas galore, and so much more.
Just remember: if you're having fun- you're doing something right.

Welcome to the Shadows chummer
Welcome to Shadowrun. The game is a blast. Somehow I always come back to this game from every other that I play - Alternity to DnD... It just doesn't matter.

If you are looking for a bit of guidance I would suggest the following. Get some practical experience with character creation by making a folder of NPCs. About 10-15 should do. Just make a Fixer, an Arms Dealer, a few BTL Runners, a Smuggler, Street Doc etc. Fill in the major roles and add a few that might become villains. This will give you an opportunity to feel out what is possible at various BP levels. Also, this sort of practical experience will come in very handy when your players come to you with questions about their characters during creation.

Another suggestion is to get some dice time however possible. If you have to take two of your NPCs and make them duke it out, do so. Get mitfuls of dice and start to hash out how combat works, how the skills and attributes interact, when you can spend edge etc. The less time you spend looking this stuff up when you have a Live Game, the better.

The Matrix is huge in SR, especially in SR4. Any group worth their salt has some codeslinger. The matrix is, however, extremely complex at first glance. If you are looking for a primer for hackers or technomancers, take a look around the boards for matrix and hacking explanations. A lot of questions have come up and have been answered. I would suggest The Matrix Explained and Example Matrix Sites by Knasser as good resources. Lastly, Serbitar's Guide to Paranoia. An excellent resource for getting your head in the right place for the dystopian techno-future.

If you intend to run Matrix scenarios, dry run them by yourself. Same goes for vehicle engagements and the like. Enough can not be said for knowing the game system when a fresh group come to play.

Finally, as the others have said, SR4 is a highly adaptive game. Theres not really a "right" way to do things - per se. The Right Way is to enjoy yourself as much as possible. Luckily, Shadowrun being so amorphous, you are likely to do just that.

- der menkey

"Certainly there is no hunting like the hunting of man and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never really care for anything else thereafter."
~ Ernest Hemingway
I'd second the idea of making a few characters yourself. Depending on how your group is, the first session (or two) could be just doing character generation. There will be a ton of questions asked and whatnot, so, having gone through the chargen process yourself, will certainly help your players!
Also, check out the Welcome to the Shadows forum here on dumpshock. It's a forum dedicated to games being played online. You can read the IC (in character) and OOC (out of character) threads for a game and get a pretty good sense of the mechanics and style of some GMs here from the comfort of your own home.

I'll repeat what others have said to: SR4 is a game that is very flexible, and I'm sure you've noticed in the rules that a lot is left up to the GM in order to create a game that is fun for that GM and his or her players.

Oh and watch out for the matrix flamewars debates here on the site.


Welcome aboard, chummer.
I have to say that for a first time GM in Shadowrun, On The Run does a hell of a good job introducing the basics of the game. Sure there are myriad way ot playing, and that's not even particularly my favorite, but if such a book had existed when I first started playing, it would have been a godsend.

And like they're saying, the important thing is to have fun. Don't try to be, and don't expect to be, perfect the first time you play. One thing you can do to get started is split up responsibility a little bit by having some or all of your players each learn a part of the game and then teach it to the others during play. Over the course of a few games, most of the generic parts of the system will become second nature.

Good luck. cyber.gif
Welcome here!

This is a terrific game, but only if you play it the way I do (which is the only good and real way to do it, if you're a real roleplayer that is). Just be sure that you strictly follow the rules and stick to my vision of the universe.

If you do that right you'll see that fun is overrated, this is a serious game.

(just kidding, of course. Have fun!)
While I have run SR before, there was a long gap before I started up again. For mine I did as others have suggested. I read the module (missions stuff), copied the sample characters from the core book (so folks who may not already have a character would have someone to play), filled out some gang paperwork and ran a few scenarios at home.

A big help were the cheat sheets:

I had to modify them to make them easier to find stuff. I didn't always understand what was being asked for so I found them in the core book, expanded acronyms and added page numbers. Mainly it was in the spell sheets but notes were made in other places. They are a great help, just in making me look things up to understand the step smile.gif

I also have the PDF's. The tables in the back of Street Magic have good spell info, book and page numbers so I printed them out. Same with Augmentation. I printed out the tables in the back of that book. My poor three-ring binder is full smile.gif

I also glossed over some of the encounters ("roll your x + y" and logically play the outcome) rather than stop the flow of the game and look things up. Then the week afterwards I'd check the books for the right answers, then build a personal FAQ or highlight stuff on the GM's screen to make it easier to find.

QUOTE (TheMadDutchman)
Beyond that I have only one piece of advice: There Is No Right or Wrong Way To Play Shadowrun. You'll find on these boards endless debates of which is better twink or fluff, pro v. punk, alternative campaign ideas galore, and so much more.
Just remember: if you're having fun- you're doing something right.

Welcome to the Shadows chummer

Amen to that. If you / your players can't wait until the next session, you are doing something right.

Too often that little detail is lost in the shouting matches.
On the run is good as are the quick start rules you can get a the website for free.

You may want to look into the offical campain as well Shadowrun Missions also on the website for free.

I'd say about 80% of what you need to know is included in each adventure so check them out.

As others have said make characters I have something like 20 characters and it really helps to learn what can be done with in the rules.

Also remember watch your back, conserve ammo, and never deal with a dragon.

Welcome to the shadows chummer.
Good idea on recommending some Shadowrun Missions. I'm actually running one of those in an existing campaign right now, and while the group is totally off track from the actual adventure, minus the main goal, we are all having a lot of fun.

They certainly give you about everything you need to know in the mission, so that is a bonus for a first-time run.
2 things,
QUOTE (Casazil)
Also remember watch your back, conserve ammo, and never deal with a dragon.

You forgot "Geek the Mage First!".

2. In the SR Missions run "The Grab", pray your players know enough to hurry up and kill the person manning the HMG and/or not get out of the vehicle. I had two people die in 2 initiative passes in that mission because they did not plan out how to deal with the HMG on the Ares Dragon chopper. I mean, they planned, I let them discuss it for like an hour, but they didn't plan it well... the SS and the rigger got shot to death then the technomancer and the shaman both surrendered and gave back the girl.

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