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This thread is sort of cross-posted on I asked something similar some months ago, but I didin't get an overwhelming reply, so I thought I'd go to the source.

I'm planning to run a Shadowrun campaign in a few months, when my group's D&D game winds down. Of my players, a couple have played Shadowrun before, but only a couple of games and only one has played the current edition.

My previous experience with the game is there is a lot of discrepency between how people play it. I played in a game in Toronto that fell apart after one session - we were to meet at a downtown nightclub. My character had arrived and entered, and then the two other PCs showed up. Both were armed (I distinctly recall one had both a katana and an assault rifle) and had an altercation with the bouncers about this, during which bouncers ended up being shot or cut down and the SWAT team was called. The game, and the campaign, ended with my character assassinating the survivor of this debacle out in the Barrens, because my guy (a Spide shaman) judged he couldn't afford to have such an idiot knowing what he looked like.

Anyway, I want to avoid this sort of thing. I'd also like to give my players a handout with some basic information about the game - how to roll initiative, what their Combat Pool is, some background on the world so they know what's appropriate and what isn't, that kind of thing.

Since I've got time to prepare, I'm planning to create something like a 32 page handout, which will include that information, a character sheet, some extra looseleaf for notes and such, all contained in a duotang.

So my question to you is - what should be in it?
This is the stuff that gives RPGers a bad name, but tell them to visualize themelves trying to walk into a tough biker bar.

Now, ask them to describe how the hell they're going to conceal an assault rifle and(?!?) katanna on the same body.

You might include a two line sentence about how "Concealment" works -- that should bring things into perspective.

I still remember my 1st edition merc -- and how many sessions went by until we realized the Vindicator was basically an M-60. grinbig.gif

Well, god knows I'll get flamed for this, but....

My way of dealing with such players is negative karma. I reduce the karma reward by 1 for every person they kill. Never getting Karma means much slower advancement (total dependancy on cash for equipment/body enhancements) tends to make thinkers out of do-ers, and reduces the urge to cut people down for being in the way.

If that doesn't work by itself, start making them roll on skills they don't have (or have low scores in) with TN 5+, this gives them a reason to want to improve in areas they need karma to improve in.

As for handouts, best handout is a simple combat sheet that details combat with places to put the # of dice they'll use. For very beginners, I make them assign Combat Pool before the game starts, and it sticks there for the entirety of the game; so all they have to do is look at their sheet, see they can roll 8 dice on their first shot per round with their pistol. Once they get the hang of it, and understand Pools well enough, I forgo that hassle.

Thanks for the input so far.

I think perhaps I shouldn't have told the

I'm not concerned with my players doing these sorts of things out of sheer bloodymindedness. I've gamed with these guys in D&D, and they aren't doing comparable stuff.

The thing is that the Shadowrun setting is pretty complex, and cyberpunk is a fairly big genre. Heck, SR itself hasn't been completely internally consistent in that regard. What I want to do is provide the information necessary for the players to be able to make informed choices - what is appropriate to take Downtown, what should be left in the Barrens. What's an appropriate response to a ganger that hassles you, and what isn't. That kind of thing. smile.gif
Well, next to the list of their gear, put the legality code number. Ie:

1,2 = Immediately noticed.
3,4 = Probably noticed.
5 = less than 50% chance to be noticed
6+ = easy to get by with.

Item 1 (legal)
Item 2 (legal with permit - 6)
Item 3 (legal with permit - 4)
Item 4 (illegal - 2)

It's not that we're flaming you or your players, but I find that quite often people don't actually _realize_ the difficulty involved in hiding weapons.

If one of your players has a katanna or something about that sized like a bokken, have them describe or show you how they plan on hiding it.

How many players have handled assault rifles? Handguns tend to fall in the same category -- it's one thing to intellectually know what a handgun is, but it's another to handle one and realize how big that sucker is and the difficulty of concealing one on your body.

Cheat sheets and highlighters are good. Put down a breif description of the roll, highlight it in a specific color and have the char highlight in the same color the correct thing on their sheet. the ones I would include.

Perception, Reaction, Initiative, combat pool, and then perhaps another color for skills in general.

for getting them used to the world. I would recommend including a rundown of area security codes and what they can get away with in your world.

security D: Barrons and slum, don't start an open riot and you should be ok.
securty B: concealed weapons and armor will prolly be ok
securty AAA: anything the least bit suspicious at all will bring at least one police car.

etc.. etc...

If you are going to have a few runs focus on a particular corp, give a little rundown on what they make, and just how big they are. I have found that people often don't visualize this correctly, they think Microsoft big, when it is really more like US governent big with the armies to go with it.

just a couple of ideas. back to being a corporate cog.
Hmmm, Yup had that kind of oopsie before. And it isn't necessarily down to hack'n'slash players. Indeed, a new player (or group) to the Sixth World won't know what the basics of their environment are unless they're told by the GM. (Note that I didn't say something like "familiar with the established SR background", because as we all know the GM is the Sixth World and might have some diferent ideas about how things are there.) If there's any doubt ask the GM first - they're the one with the info.

To resolve the basics you either have to have a good chat with your prospective players and do a basic Q & A session, or alternatively give them a basic "This is what the game's about & how things go in this world" handout. And that doesn't necessarily mean rule either. It more important to give the players some background knowledge as to what a shadowrunner is, what they do and the everyday environment / basics of living in the Sixth World than bombarding them with detailed rules. Anyhow here's my suggestions.

1. You are a Shadowrunner. Shadowrunners are criminals. You are hired for money (nuyen) to do quasi-legal or downright illegal things for people who don't want any traces leading back to them.

2. This is the time/date/year. This is the world of Shadowrun. It is called the Sixth World because of the Mayan calendar and magical cycles. (Brief explanation here. Include a brief history of major world events or timeline)

3. Magic has returned and thus so have many "fantastic" creatures - paranormal animals (including Dragons) and metahumans. (Explain breifly what metahumans are and how they emerged. IE: UGE & Goblinisation. Describe Mages & Shamans & Spirits).

4. Technology. This is what has been done since today. Matrix, Rigged vehicles, Cyberware, Weapons, etc. (Just give a brief overview on what they are and how they affect society.)

5. Setting & Society. Megacorporations, new nations, Law enforcement (Lone Star), anything like SURGE or events that had a dramatic impact upon the world your players will be playing in. (Most of this depends on what sort of campaign you'll be running for your players. Give them the information they need to play in there corner of the world. Describe the home ground - IE: Seattle Metroplex, its Barrens and why it is so important.)

6. Contacts & Maps. (Detail a few important NPC's and contacts of the characters so they can start somewhere familiar. Provide a city map so they can get their bearings when you give them jobs in different locations around the plex. You can always develop these later as your game grows.)

7. Finally, some basic rule advice. IE: You roll this number of dice and ay that score above a Target Number are successes. The more Successes you get the better you do. You can re-roll 6's and add the new score to the previous. This is Karma - it allows you to do...

*. Coat them in contact poison and give them to your players. Grin evilly and tell them that the only antidote is available if they do a certain job for you. vegm.gif
Dr Vital
I think the biggest hurdle is not just getting the players to understand just how deadly combat can be in SRun, but exactly <i>how</i> it's deadly. My Troll PhysAd treats pistol shots like insect bites, but not everything is a pistol.

This is a far more tactical game than most I've encountered before. The learning curve fore me has been mostly centered around the discovery that the more planning, both in and out of battle, the more likely you are to survive.
On dice pools, one thing I've found helpful is Chessex's dice cubes.

First, define a color code. Red for combat, blue for magic, whatever.

Have each player bring a differnet colored one to the table, if possible. You bring a couple, too, probably doubling up on a color you'll need extra of.

Then, everyone dumps all the dice in the center of the table and pulls the number of dice in their pools. All the excess are pulled for GM use or stored for improvements to dice pools. Now, each player has a visual reference for exactly how big his pools are, how many are left until refreshing, etc.

Everyone has an empty dice cube and packs their dice pools with them. Excess are kept by whoever provides the gaming space.

Crimson Jack
I don't know if I would penalize Shadowrunners with negative karma. They are criminals after all. You could eliminate this problem by telling everyone how a typical run goes down. Teams are put together to accomplish a certain goal. Shadowrunners know that if they start fighting amongst each other, nothing is going to get done. It's amazing to me how this central theme can be so easily forgotten when it comes to characters "staying in character." Just tell them, or write, that Shadowrunners have enough enemies without making each other enemies. Penalizing people for killing in the game brings up morality issues that will probably create more headaches than their worth.

I'm sure you know this already from running a D&D game, but players like to feel like its their actions that are driving the story and not yours. As long as they don't feel wrangled and helplessly herded down a path, they should have a good time. And that's the reason why we all play/gm. smile.gif

I would stress that this is a ROLEplaying game and not a ROLLplaying game. That's a big difference that I've noticed between D&Ders and SRers. IMHO.
I did consider a form of negative karma for a while, after the Ares incident I mentioned in the Most Botched Runs thread.

At the time, my team had an attitude along these lines:
Mage: "I'm bored."
Troll: "Yeah."
Street Sam: *Pulls out a gun and shoots the nearest person, chaos ensues*
Troll: "YEAH, COMBAT!" *grabs a stack of dice and suddenly isn't tired any more*

But my negative karma was actually called Bad Karma, and it was used for buying flaws. After they built up so much bad karma and I saw an opportunity, I chose a flaw for them, using the normal rules of an edge costing it's value x5 in karma, but with flaws and Bad karma instead. Also, I gave bad karma for generally antsocial behavior (shooting random people for no reason), unessecary violence, being jerks in ways I didn't like (stealing 2,000 nuyen worth of stuff from a drunk guy), or upsetting the game (hitting on the other characters, maybe).

I dropped it after the street sam was at 23 after a single game.
I have GM'ed exactly one run. The game involved two players new to the genre and the rules and two old hands. At the end of the run, one of the new players got mad because the Johnson was somewhat rude - he ignored all of the party members except the original negotiator. The new player wanted his character to shoot the Johnson over this . . .

Flavor information goes a long ways. On the other hand, the best way to learn is to do, not to read. 32 pages of information is going to probably be about 31 and a half pages wasted (depending on whether or not your players have ADHD).

I would recommend using archetypes or creating throwaway characters and playing a game with the understand that it's a learn-the-system game only. When the players do something contrary to the flavor of the setting, explain why (with support from a sourcebook, if you can manage it). By the time you're all comfortable, the players will have their "real" character ideas ready.

Despite your best efforts and the most awesomely customized GM screen you can make, I think you'll still forget rules constantly. So long as everyone is having fun, and the bad guys are suffering as much as the good guys for the group's memory lapses, it just shouldn't matter.

The colored dice pools idea is the way to go, IMNVHO.
Trying to find different colors for each skills and highlighters to start highlighting character sheets.

This stuff is simply brilliant. It will help me GM so much. I can get so annoyed with some of these players and not knowing the rules. How hard can it be to remember that you roll your skill not the force, and the power of a gun. (Starts gripping) don't get me started on the guy who has yet to learn that you don't add two separate skills together to see how well you fire a gun.
One thing you REALLY need to impress upon your players is the feel of the setting. You said these guys play D&D, so they probably have either played or at least read the rules for other games as well. Therefore, the rules themselves shouldn't be too much of a problem. Shadowrun's rules aren't incredibly complex as a lot on here seem to make them out to be, and it's a fairly quick game to catch hold of, esp. compared to things like the old wargames or even the earlier editions of D&D. If they're experienced players, the rules will come very fast. If you really want a rules accessory for the players, the Character Dossier available now for like $5 is a really good, full of spots for all your info and several useful tables.

Again though, I would SERIOUSLY try to impress upon the players the setting. Crime is everywhere, body armor is perfect legal to buy and most people wear it, there's a huge class discrepency...the rich are richer and the poor are poorer than now...computers have totally infultrated everyday life like some twisted Orwellian version of the House of the Future...corporations run everything and keep the government around at their own convenience. No one trusts anyone, esp. in the shadows, because someone's ALWAYS out to get you and you can't be entirely sure who. Also make sure to impress on the players that the NPCs have the same paranoia they do, and they will be as quick to act on it as the PCs will (that will eliminate the "I pull out my assault rifle because no one talks to me like that" syndrome)...give them a short story or two to read, or maybe loan them one of the novels. And be sure to send them to to read the fiction and timelines on there.

The Abstruse One
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