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Shadowrun - All Aboard The Ban-Wagon

After researching through the forums and talking to players, I’ve compiled a list of the items in Shadowrun that are most commonly modified or banned. Initially, I wanted to develop a “Top 10?, or “Top 25?, but after reviewing the information I simply decided to post whatever items seemed to be hot-topic issues. One or two groups banning an item were not enough to get it to make the list. In a simple alphabetical order, here are the most commonly banned items from game masters and players that I discussed this with.

Emotitoys – Seems like the bonus these little critters give to social tests is a bit too much for the cost. Some players complained that they destroyed the feel of the game. Others stated that they were just flat out too powerful. This item was by far the most banned item when I polled players.

Mana Static – The point of Mana Static was to create a magical background count where there was none. Whether it overrides or is cumulative with the current background count of the area is a point of contention between some players. So, a bunch of game masters apparently just took the #$!@ing spell out.

Mind Control Spells – Apparently being able to control and/or alter the minds of everyone near you is a bit overpowering. Mob Mind and Mind Probe were often stated as overpowering, as well as every other Mind (insert word here) spell.

Pornomancers – While not an ‘official’ Shadowrun archetype, this refers to any character that is an extremely maxed-out Social Adept, typically specializing in Seduction. These characters weren’t banned, per se. More often powers and items were either modified or taken out to make them less powerful or less desirable for players.

The Matrix – Surprisingly, one of Shadowrun’s biggest components is also one of its most reviled parts. Many groups reported banning the Matrix, primarily because they said, “It just made the game not fun.? Go figure.

Technomancers – If you’re not going to ban the Matrix, apparently banning Technomancers is the next best thing. Some claimed that they took away from the fun of the game, others simply did not want to deal with them.

Unwired – Some game masters banned one or two items from Unwired, some banned a section or two, and some just flat out banned the entire book. After banning the Matrix, Technomancers, and the Unwired book, technology apparently is getting no love from some Shadowrun groups.

For the most part, banning something or modifying it typically revolved around three things: the Matrix, social tests, and character control. Detractors of the above banned items claimed a variety of issues with them. Most notable was that social tests were too inflated with all the additional item and power modifiers. Also, the Matrix was often considered too much for players or game masters to deal with.

It seemed like for most groups, they wanted to focus on combat, magic, and the corporate espionage and manipulation aspects of the game. Technological manipulation was sometimes deemed too complicated or powerful to deal with.

The best thing I learned from compiling this list was what other groups thought was too powerful or problematic. I can honestly say the items that came up were not necessarily the top on my own group’s list. It definitely helped me understand what stuff in Shadowrun has potential for the most abuse and helped keep me, as a Shadowrun game master, on top of things.

Here is a link to the original discussion thread: BAN STICK: What SR4 items or rules does your GM ban?
We (as players) thought the mind control spells were all good fun until we had NPCs use them on us. frown.gif
The problem with social skills is too many things that stack, combined with vague guidelines on what, exactly social skills can do. It's not as much of a problem when you limit social skills to a realistic scope. But if you attempt the traditional route of imposing penalties, then you're in trouble, because a well-crafted social adept can soak all of those penalties and still roll a lot of dice, leading to some of the more extreme examples that other people have presented as a valid use of social skills.
My group and I love the Matrix, but we think VR is flawed by design. One or two players take the full attention of the GM for a while which naturally frustrates the other players - it's very, very cool when all players can participate in Matrix adventures, but otherwise it's just not. That's why we embraced AR: it's not only stylish, useful, and very realistic, but also great in terms of game design. Our hackers thus only use AR and never VR.
We don't use Unwired, because we already have trouble memorizing all basic Matrix rules with its quirks and features. Some of our players are, sadly, very old school and not into the high tech stuff.
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