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hi there to you all. I recently got my hands on the shadowrun core rulebook (at last!!)
and I am having my time reading it through,
my biggest problem is that I cant really figure out how the world is, is it a big shadowy world or corruption? or is it very similar to our current world just with advanced tech and magic?

secondly, what books are just a must to acquire?
I have thought of Augmentation, since my friends and I are very used to throwing magic around and might want to be some overimplanted freaks instead:P

hope to get some answers and some good SR experiences

The short answer is that the Sixth World tries to be everything to everyone and falls flat at times. On one hand we are given fluff and rules that only really make sense in a cyberpunk world that has withered and rotted, while on the other hand other pieces of fluff seems to pull back and throw Shadowrun into happy-shiny land that is basically the modern world with tech and magic.

Personally if I were you I would just pick whatever vision of the world you prefer and run with it ignoring the parts of the world that no longer applies.

As for books, AUG and Street Magic should be on top of your list, Runner's Companion is nice for the advanced chargen rules, but I would steer clear of New Hong Kong aka Runner Havens if I were you, unless you plan on using the city of Hong Kong for your campaign, if you want to use the core setting buy New Seattle and convert the stats from Third Edition to Fourth.
Important differences between the SR setting and real life :

The Awakening is the key difference between SR and our world.
Not only because some people can do otherwise impossible and downright scary things, but because UGE, goblinization and SURGE have lead to humans making up only 68% of the worldwide population.

-Advanced technology.
Cyberware and other augmentations are everywhere, especially among the upper class in the sprawls.
Unaugmented people are at an increasing disadvantage, as everybody who has enough nuyen.gif can get 'ware to become smarter, stronger and just plain better than them.

Besides that, it is technologically not so terribly different from today.
Just imagine that everyone is online all the time and what this entails.
Not that hard to imagine.
Besides the fact that the matrix is...coming alive.
There's 250.000 AIs worldwide, then there's the whole technomancer and sprite's a wild, unsafe place full of insane possibilities and things beyond the grasp of Joe Average on the street.

-Corporations that act like sovereign states, locked constantly in low-intensity warfare against each other.
The Big 10 are the real superpowers in the world of SR.
They make their own laws, they've got their own armies (including even nuclear arsenals), they controll the economy, they are the ones who really pull the strings.

-Failing nation states and balcanization have become the norm even among first-world-countries.
This adds to the importance of corporations, who take over more and more traditional duties of nation states.
Police forces are privatized in most major sprawls, Horizon has just bought the public school systzem and so on.

As far as books are concerned, Augmentation is my favourite, even though i mostly play unaugmented mages.
It's the best of the core rulebooks IMHO, but there's also a lot of fun stuff in Street Magic.
But if you want to encourage your players to stat up some mundane characters, Augmentation might be the better choice.

Unwired is also very useful for integrating the matrix into your game.

Arsenal will be easy to incorporate into a running campaign, a lot of the gear in it is cheap anough to be picked up whenever the players want to.
Runner's Companion is interesting, but everyone will want to make new characters after you've bought it, so it may be a good purchase before you want to start a new campaign.
It also has a tendency to being the most unbalanced of all core rulebooks, containing some extremely good options as well as extremely underpowered ones.
If this is your first time running a Shadowrun game I'd say just stick with the core rulebook and setting books like New Seattle and Runner Havens at first. Add the other texts in once you're comfortable.

Street magic can be good to have for clarifying wards and background count. So maybe get it for that and wait to let players at the rest.

For setting Shadowrun is a setting of contrasts.

Take Seattle.

Redmond and Puyallup are "barrens" areas mostly abondend by proper corps and businesses full of homeless and the fairly nasty factories surrounded by cement walls and the vice trades that keep them marginally fed. Gangs everywhere, no cops.

Cross go past the camera'd border from Redmond into Bellevue and suddenly you could be walking into a mall where you need to have a comlink transmitting a SIN (probably fake in your case) to not get harassed by lone star. Afflent kids are running around a bit more like our world.

The shadows are still there. But you don't see them in Bellevue.

Hopefull you get the idea.

Daddy's Little Ninja
I think the world varies but most people think it is ok with big corporations making cities bright happy places and violent crime happening on the news to other people or ones in bad neighborhoods.

Players, shadowrunners, are the ones who get to look under the edge of this and see corporations are evil, massive entities that want control, and in the other places there are seriously bad people living in squallor who should be kept down. BUT the corps also keep down honest folks, who then provide a cheap labor force and have just as many nasty people in them but they clean up pretty.

If you are starting, keep to the main book. It gives you enough to run a game with and you can buy news books as you need them. I mean if you do not really get into magic that much, why bother with the magic rule book. If you realyl like magic, you will want to expand into that.
If you are new to the game stick with the core book. When you are comfortable with that incorporate the other books in as " new tech " that just hit the street or the new spell theory hot off the press it'll be easier on you and allows the players to really earn their new toys.
I'd agree with sticking to the core book to start with. Adding the supplemental rule books will just confuse you with the rules. I fully imagine that adding the supplemental books will actually induce your players to want to recreate their characters, so play a short campaign of 4 or 5 runs, just to get an idea of the setting and the kind of things you want to do in it.

My personal favourite supplemental core is prolly Augmentation, while I don't think Street Magic adds all that much. Arsenal is almost entirely gear, which, since it is purchasable for reasonable amounts after character creation will be the easiest one to introduce to an extant campaign. I've not even finished reading my copy of Unwired yet due to RL, but I think it might be the most important of all. It certainly changed the way I viewed the SR4 Matrix.

I quite like Runner Havens, although it's not for everyone. I think it helps develop a feel for the setting, but it might just rub you the wrong way. For the same reasons I like Corporate Enclaves, and am looking forward to Feral Cities.
As you can see from the above posts, everyone has a slightly different take on the Shadowrun world.

The basics remain the same though, regardless of how you shift the focus of the game. Its very easy, for instance, to focus on heavily augmented characters, playing down the importance of magic. Or go the opposite way, playing up magic and tech like bioware, nanites, geneware, while emphasizing the idea that cyberware is so "last decade." Heck, you could even do a game that took place almost entirely in the Matrix.

You can play corporations either as icky/bad, out to dominate the world or as more benign entities that simply replaced the old governments when they failed.

You can run coverts ops, Mission Impossible / James Bond style or "fight the man" with new school anarchists trying to bring down some oppressive entity.

In other worlds, don't think of the setting as something set in stone. Think of it as a framework.

PS You can run SR4 with just the core book. I highly recommend this until you're more familiar with the game system and what you consider its limitations. Personally, I'm a huge fan of Arsenal - it has something for everyone.
The typical Shadowrun city to me is a place where the rich - poor divide became much bigger. On the one hand you have the shining skyscrapers of the powerful in the center of the city, where corporate bosses decide over the rise and fall of districts, cities and sometimes even small countries with one delegation of labor or only a transaction. You also have suburbs with big mansions and beautiful gardens and high walls around them where private police patrols day and night, so only the chosen (or the stealthy wink.gif ) can enter.

On the other hand you have many districts that are run down, where more than 50% of the people don't have a job or even an education, where the police only enters in troop strength, or not at all because who there is important enough to be protected anyway, who'd care when someone'd die there? Those places are run by crime syndicates and policed by gangs. The grey or black market is everywhere, people tend to steal electricity and net acess.

There are few places left where it's rather normal, where people have a job, the ploice takes care of security and the streets are reasonably clean, and many of those are corporate enclaves, protected by the corps themselves. People visit corp schools, watch the corp news channel, get corp jobs, follow the corp law and hope that their children will succeed them in this oasis of normality, or even fall up the ladder into a nice mansion in the hills.

I hope that helps a bit.

Also, you don't really need the other books. Play a bit with the core book, then see which facettes of the system you or your players would like to flesh out some more.

If you really want to spend some more money and have fun reading something, I'd say, take the Runner's Havens first. On one hand it is nice to read, and for you as a GM it will give you a good idea of some settings for your players to play cops and robbers, well mainly robbers biggrin.gif There's a lot of adventure ideas, plot hooks and even campaign material hidden in there, and it will not only give you a much better feel of the world, but also take a lot of work from your GM shoulders in terms of creating a believable setting.

The Augumentation, the Unwired and the Magic book (forgot the name) are nice, but I'd recommend first coming to terms with the rules you have before your players start digging in the new feature books and implementing all the optional rules and stuff.

Wesley Street
The BBB and Runner's Companion all provide plenty of text to understand how the world of Shadowrun works. Or you could pick up one or two of the early FASA/Roc Shadowrun novels, maybe 2XS or Shadowplay. You can find those for dirt cheap at any used book store. And I would check out the Sixth World Wiki timeline. I spent a lot of time on there.

Play your games to the tone you feel fits your group the best. No one here is right or wrong when it comes to what is emphasized in the setting. I would recommend purchasing all of the core rulebooks but integrating the optional rules as needed.

Welcome and have fun!
I'd suggest avoiding hacking for a while. The rules are pretty weak and can drive people crazy. In particular don't try to apply anything about how real computers work to SR. So once you start trying to do hacking don't try to "fix" any of the obvious issues until you have played a bit and have some idea how it's all supposed to hang together.
On the Matrix rules, if you haven't seen them, allow me to briefly shill for this thread: Ryu's Matrix rules introduction. A very good read, IMO.

If you need some visual help to get your players into the mindset go rent Johnny Mnemonic. The movie isn't great, but visually it fits the setting. Little Johnny gets a call from his Fixer, he grabs the data, a big nasty corp hires the Yaks to acquire the data. Fixer screws Johnny and sells him out to the Yaks. Johnny's ganger friend helps him out and they run out to the barrens. etc. etc.

Want to get an idea to your players of what AR looks like, refer to the heads up display from the Iron Man suit. That's probably equal to a crappy operating system display in 2070.

Mix in some Blade Runner-esq scene descriptions and you can characterize the look of the world quite easily.


My biggest suggestion is the same as everyone elses; stick to the core book for a while, get those rules down first and slowly introduce new books to the game as relevant to your story. Oh and you may want to run something like <a href=""> Food Fight </a> as an introduction to the combat system. "On the Run" is an okay adventure and will give everyone in the team something to do regardless of specialization and gives some good tips for starting GMs on how to handle things. It helped me a lot when I first started out.

I would suggest the BBB, of course, and have Arsenal handy. We played with just those two books for almost six months before we got bored and wanted more. I picked up Runner Companion, Augmentation, and Street Magic a couple days ago, and we haven't played since, owing to the need to catch up. The books are solid, and I haven't really noticed any game breaking problems with any of them. I would most definitely consider getting Arsenal first, it allows much more versatility in characters, though I did notice less people played Awakened.

The Sixth World is a world of infinite possibilities and lots of danger. One day you might be getting an item for Ares, the next day you're stealing something from them to give to some random Johnson that contacted you. Shadowrun lends itself to the idea of conspiracy theories very well. Corporations hire 'Runners all the time, and make them do their dirty work. It is probably my favorite aspect of SR.
Yeah, I'm with everyone else here... The biggest thing is KISS (keep it simple stupid) to start. Only add complexity and power as you're comfortable handling it. The best supplement for KISS because it primarily adds a lot more equipment is Arsenal.

As far as the setting... it depends on where you are... Some places are a veritable wasteland (the barrens) where might makes right and the laws of the jungle rule. While others, there's a heavy security presence and yout troll walking down the street in combat armor w/ a battle axe is probably going to get pulled aside and taken into the local station. They'll find a charge even if it's spitting on the sidewalk in that case.
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