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Chrysalis
Recently I have been thinking about Shadowrun and some of the conversations on dumpshock. Most of the conversations seem to involve and often also devolve into rules and their application and often enough which is more right the rules or the person who is interpreting them. Another aspect often brought up sometimes as the forefront but often driven into the periphery in these conversations is the game world.

According to the GNS theory developed by Ron Edwards. Games can be divided up into three categories: gamist, narrativist, and and simulationist. While GNS theory is concerned with the social interactions of players, it has also been extrapolated to direct RPG design. Accordingly, a game can be classified according to how strongly it encourages or facilitates players reinforcing behaviours matching each category. Game designers also find the theory useful in explaining why players play certain games. Ron Edwards also argues that successful games can be delineated according to one of the three categories.

In many ways Shadowrun has evolved during its 20 year life cycle into a very different game of today. While there is much talk among the game designers of Shadowrun of the metaplot, in many ways the foibles of the Shadowrun gaming world when compared to common sense understandings of how the world operates clearly indicate that the purpose of the world is to create a stage in which the PCs who are Shadowrunners can operate.

For the stage to be large enough for PCs as shadowrunners the game designers have to take, if viewed from the GNS theory, a gamist stance on world construction. The depth of the world and common sense often have to be sacrificed to create multiphasic encounter areas in which the PCs can be inserted without too much friction. This also means that many of the environments have to reach for certain markers that allow for the stage to be set correctly.

The backdrop of Shadowrun is that of authoritarian police states, where the legal rights of individuals have been curbed and where legal entities, such as corporations and city states, have a more dominant role in the structure of society. Similar backdrops can be found in 1920s-1940s dystopian science fiction films. The stage itself is set in areas of anarchy, where the pervasiveness of the police state is not allowed to approach. Similar markers for the stage can be found in movies such as Casablanca.

This leads to one of the problems I perceive to be in Shadowrun and that the backdrop has become far too small for the sizes of the stages being set. One cannot talk about free cities anymore or of pockets of anarchy, but regions. This means that because there is an insistence of creating many stages to play Shadowrun the backdrop of the world suffers because of it. Looking through the newest edition of Shadowrun the backdrop is quite scarce, instead of background books talking about backdrop they instead are focused on setting the stage. It also means that those reading the books have very little idea of the backdrop of the world in which the planned events or adventures will be set. It also indicates a flaw in the game designers who wish to carry on metaplots which have larger impacts, because as the backdrops gain less focus the metaplots equally gain very little purchase for them to gain a more permanent hold on the stage.

Finally, I wished to say as it is 8AM and I still feel exceptionally tired that Shadowrun is a good game from a gamist perspective, but as the stage has grown so large the backdrop of the world has become increasingly thin and flimsy. There is also an increased possibility that interest will wane by roleplayers over the next two years as the Shadowrun backdrop world continues devolve.





RedeemerofOgar
I'm afraid I must agree (though I must say that your point devolved a bit towards the end of your post, a natural result of posting at 8am). One of the largest flaws i've seen in SR4 is that it seems to have been written as an expansion of SR3 rather than as a full and complete world-building system. More and more I find myself encountering unexplained and unexplored areas of both rules and descriptions which were fully or at least partially addressed in the previous edition of the rules. The only way I've been able to explain it is that SR4 was written, edited and proofed solely by people familiar with the SR3 world, thereby removing the perspective necessary for them to realize that they often did not explain the backdrop at all, but rather merely highlighted the updates. This is thankfully not a comprehensive syndrome, but it certainly happens more often than it should have, and I think it is directly responsible for much of the prominence of the stage-setting and paleness of the backdrop that you address.

...So, is there anything to be done about it at this point?
HentaiZonga
QUOTE (RedeemerofOgar @ Jan 11 2009, 11:20 PM) *
I'm afraid I must agree (though I must say that your point devolved a bit towards the end of your post, a natural result of posting at 8am). One of the largest flaws i've seen in SR4 is that it seems to have been written as an expansion of SR3 rather than as a full and complete world-building system. More and more I find myself encountering unexplained and unexplored areas of both rules and descriptions which were fully or at least partially addressed in the previous edition of the rules. The only way I've been able to explain it is that SR4 was written, edited and proofed solely by people familiar with the SR3 world, thereby removing the perspective necessary for them to realize that they often did not explain the backdrop at all, but rather merely highlighted the updates. This is thankfully not a comprehensive syndrome, but it certainly happens more often than it should have, and I think it is directly responsible for much of the prominence of the stage-setting and paleness of the backdrop that you address.

...So, is there anything to be done about it at this point?


Other than creating a Fifth Edition? I'm not sure.

The thing is, a Fifth Edition would be an awesome thing, because the 3rd->4th was a good move (there, I said it) - it was just executed imperfectly. A fifth edition could either "refine" the 4th into something the original SRers could get behind, or help break completely from them and be fully self-sustaining.

I'm not sure if either of those are likely, primarily because there's a bit of subconscious bad-blood between the developers of 4th Ed and people who are critical of 4th Ed - and I think that animosity is going to keep anyone on either side from objectively looking at what 4th got "right" and what it got "wrong" in order to refine it into a superior 5th edition.
KCKitsune
The game mechanics are some of the best I've seen and the cyberware/bioware is my favorite interpretation ever.

I also love the chatting between the shadowtalkers.

I will agree with you that the mega corps are something that we in the real world will never see. Let's face it... armies are EXPENSIVE! Corps are not going to shell out the cash for one unless that is their business (Blackwater for instance).

Also Shadowrun's reliance on sterotypes (Mexico and the Aztec religion... 'nuff said) is getting so dated that it's not funny. Also with the way the world today is going the idea of the nuyen... ohplease.gif More like the nuyuan more than anything. The reason I say that is because Japan is a walking corpse that just will not lie down. Check their demographics... you will see Japan's place in the world diminish unless they start having a LOT of babies.
BlueMax
QUOTE (KCKitsune @ Jan 11 2009, 10:43 PM) *
I will agree with you that the mega corps are something that we in the real world will never see. Let's face it... armies are EXPENSIVE! Corps are not going to shell out the cash for one unless that is their business (Blackwater for instance).

Also Shadowrun's reliance on sterotypes (Mexico and the Aztec religion... 'nuff said) is getting so dated that it's not funny. Also with the way the world today is going the idea of the nuyen... ohplease.gif More like the nuyuan more than anything. The reason I say that is because Japan is a walking corpse that just will not lie down. Check their demographics... you will see Japan's place in the world diminish unless they start having a LOT of babies.


I don't know where it happened. Suddenly, everyone started to think Shadowrun had to make some sort of real world sense. And that it had to be updated to keep up with the worlds changes.

I don't think Shadowrun was supposed to make logical sense to you and I, at least not as applied to our world. Shadowrun was a D&D of the future. Corporations were the new close bordered countries. Countries founded on the ideas of rights, equality, and to some extent, law and order, had failed. There were also elements of parody in the story. Ridiculous parody too. The Shiawase decision is a flipside parody to Atlas Shrugged, instead of a world that failed due to too much government the world of Shadowrun suffered from almost no government. As to Shadowrun being "thin and flimsy", sure. But lets not say thin and flimsy, let us say that the premise was a framework and malleable. It was not until sometime after 1989 that the metaplot was a driving factor in the game. Or at least this is how I remember it being everywhere I played in 1989 to somewhere about 1995-6. Then things changed from the approach above. Suddenly, instead of KE's drek hot hit squad, people would talk about the FBI's units.

Marketing. I suspect that the change was brought on by marketing who knew, wisely, that the next generation of kidlets could not possible be expected to grasp the unique point of view those of us who were aware during the Reagan years had. Honestly, there are no shows like "Sledge Hammer" anymore, which leads me to ask

"Why so serious?"
Synner667
QUOTE (HentaiZonga @ Jan 12 2009, 06:26 AM) *
Other than creating a Fifth Edition? I'm not sure.

The thing is, a Fifth Edition would be an awesome thing, because the 3rd->4th was a good move (there, I said it) - it was just executed imperfectly. A fifth edition could either "refine" the 4th into something the original SRers could get behind, or help break completely from them and be fully self-sustaining.

I'm not sure if either of those are likely, primarily because there's a bit of subconscious bad-blood between the developers of 4th Ed and people who are critical of 4th Ed - and I think that animosity is going to keep anyone on either side from objectively looking at what 4th got "right" and what it got "wrong" in order to refine it into a superior 5th edition.

I somewhat agree...
...But that 4->5 thing is what happened with 3->4 - the developers did the common "move it on a bit, and treat it like a new game".

I think SR 4 would have been better as a more "stand alone" game, with less reference to to SR 1-3...
...But now it's floundering as a cyberpunk game that's trying to get in with the Transhuman genre [see GURPS Transhuman for how closely SR is following that genre].

CP2020 did the same thing because they realised that you can't move the game on and keep it the same as well - moving the world on a few years and changing the tech/society/etc changes the game...
...So they did the Corporate War that devastated the world and changed the game in radical ways - and many people didn't like it [in fact, there's talk of a fan maintained "classic CP2020" movement].

QUOTE (KCKitsune @ Jan 12 2009, 06:43 AM) *
The game mechanics are some of the best I've seen and the cyberware/bioware is my favorite interpretation ever.

But they're just World of Darkness game mechanics, with a bit of extra stuff and have been around since Aeon Trinity [late 80's/early 90's, I think]
[not surprising since the WoD developers are the same people who put together the original SR game mechanics, and I don't think the current developers credit the WoD developers].
Fuchs
The problem with a game focusing on metaplots is that it often leads to railroading, and can stifle creativity. I haven't used the canon backdrop for anything other than some cherry-picking of stuff I wanted to use in about 10 years because it just did not make sense to me, or was not something I wanted to play in, once I got comfortable as a GM in Shadowrun. Most of the "world changing" metaplots just felt stupid to me.

I did use and still use the Shadowrun rules (SR2, SR3 and now SR4) for just about every Science Fiction/Modern game I run. For me, the appeal is mostly the rules, and what parts of the setting I like - which is mostly the original setting of SR1, updated with wireless and some choice bits.
hyzmarca
QUOTE (KCKitsune @ Jan 12 2009, 01:43 AM) *
I will agree with you that the mega corps are something that we in the real world will never see. Let's face it... armies are EXPENSIVE! Corps are not going to shell out the cash for one unless that is their business (Blackwater for instance).


Dude, we've already seen Megacorps. The British East India company, for example.
And there are corporations out there now with their own private armies, not particularly large ones, but effective enough. We just don't see them very often because they are generally used in third world countries where political instability is high and police presence is low.

To get a better understanding of how powerful a single corporation can become with a partial horizontal monopoly, just take a look at Gazprom, which very recently cut off the heat in a good chunk of Europe. This can happen when you have one company supplying most of the natural gas used by an entire continent through one set of pipes.
sk8bcn
IMO, SR's background is now so deep (and IMO it's a good thing) that if there was a 5th edition, a GM book + Player book would be the best model (look for exemple EarthDawn Classic books). IMO, there's plenty of material to make a GM book dense, perhaps not easily approched by newbees (but they could as well restrain themselves to Seattle for a start) + a rulebook with refined rules and material.
sk8bcn
Oh by the way, I didn't understand the first post.

Don't know if I am the only one
Fuchs
I think the game fares better if it's not overloaded with canon background - or at least the backdrop is presented in a way that makes it easy to ignore and change what you do not like. Too much backdrop can turn off new players, especially new GMs who might feel overwhelmed.
raggedhalo
You make some good points, but you're missing a crucial one -- according to the guys behind GNS theory, Shadowrun is simulationist.

I get that the way a lot of posts on the forums here turn out, you could be forgiven for thinking that it's gamist, but I don't think it is. The reason I love Shadowrun so much is the setting and world background, not the rules (although SR4's rules are the best SR rules I've seen). I figure I'm advantaged in that I've been playing/GMing Shadowrun since the early 90s and have thus amassed a fair collection of books, but nevertheless the game itself is more simulationist than gamist.
Fuchs
From what I can gather, the GNS Theory as writen is garbage anyway.
Browncoatone
Shadowrun is interesting because it allows you to play the immoral and violent thug that steals, kidnaps and murders for a living while at the same time gives you the opportunity to literally save the world from forces so dark that they make torture at the hands of the yakuza look like a fine Saturday at the beach.

My problems with Shadowrun stem from unrealistic elements in the setting, for example:

Stating that the middle class has all but been eliminated under the corporatocracy and then stating that the majority of housing and neighborhoods in the Seattle Metroplex are middle class.

The entire idea of 'soykaf' where soybeans would be grown to replace not meat but coffee.

That any government would prevent a large group of people who want government identification documents from having them.

That toxic spills, nuclear meltdowns, and other ecological disasters are accepted without any effort to counter them or repair the damage.

Its things like this that force me to adjust the setting so that it makes more sense.
raggedhalo
Nowadays I figure that soykaf is regular coffee with soymilk rather than moo-juice...
Iota
As background information: I played second edition for a while, two or three times third edition (though not spending a lot of time reading any of the books) and just started over again with fourth which I am now absolutley into.

The first thing I want to mention is what others already recognized, too, 4th edition is not a stand alone game! You have to read a lot of third edition books, if you really want to get into the world. I personally enjoyed this, was a kind of history research and I am still gathering old books to supply my recent game, but it possibly scares off a lot of people, because no one wants to buy an additional roleplaying game to understand the one he wants to play.

And yes, the 4th edition has some flaws, like the option to play drakes, totally outdated cyberware and so forth, BUT: compared to other roleplaying games these are only the typical mistakes resulting from "higher, faster, more".

Nevertheless SR4th is one of the greatest games I ever played/GMed. On the one hand it is an fantasy game (regarding magic, races and that kinda stuff) on the other the whole Mega-corp/Shadowrunner theme is sooo real!
Watched the news about those Somalian pirates hijacking oil tankers and other ships? Oh my god, my first thought was: this is so Shadowrun! And if they keep going like this the oil companys will quite quickly get their own armed troops to secure their business. Of course, I would not say that we are just one step ahead from a rise of mega-corps, but it is at least possible.



Synner
As lead developer on Shadowrun let me just make something clear and possibly give a little perspective, because I believe the OP has mistaken our intent.

It was a design (and commercial) decision made early on not to burden the first couple of years of SR4 with metaplot (either old or new) or an expansive revisiting of the world. The huge role of Shadowrun's metaplot and the overall depth of its 20-year history and world setting was/is a huge hurdle for new players. Too many people picked up a book in SR3 and were led to believe that to "get" the game you had to buy 10+ books just for backstory and then just to play catchup. Not fun.

Consequently Rob, and now I, opted to push metaplot into the background and tone down the history heavy elements of the setting until such time as the core rulebooks were all out. Even Emergence was intended to complement and expand new concepts in the game rather than push ahead the metaplot. (Though it ended up adding considerably to it, and in roundabout ways addressed many hanging threads from SR3, hopefully in such a manner that it isn't either obvious or grating to new players who don't know these are hanging threads). Our approach was to create an entry point for new players who can then, if they want, delve into a greater universe. That means leaving the luggage at the door, at least for a little while.

That said, we have no intention of reducing metaplot or world depth, but we consciously decided to put it on the backburner while we drew up the fundamentals to get people playing the game - unfortunately with the shift to Catalyst and other issues that have arisen we've only (almost) completed the core set last year. However, as soon as we could, we dived back into metaplot and world development... see Ghost Cartels and the upcoming Dawn of the Artifacts adventures. Even the core location books are designed with metaplot in mind now (as should be obvious with both the aforementioned story arcs or will be once Dawn starts coming out).

All that said the issue here is one of perspective. Using the previous editions for a moment, I believe the OP is missing the obvious. Things take time and there's only so much youy can cram into a book. Stop for a second and consider SR3 (though any edition). Consider the first three years of releases and look at them in isolation (don't figure in SR2 releases or the other 8 years of SR3 releases). Now compare. I think it does wonders if you actually isolate and compare the first three years and compare that with SR4's releases to date in terms of setting development and metaplot - even taking into account that we've consciously opted to veer away from metaplot and history heavy books to make for a more newbie-friendly schedule.

What SR3 and previous editions did was simply to front-load setting books that gave a lot more depth to certain key elements of the universe (ie. Corporate Guide, Underworld sb, etc), but otherwise book by book SR4 releases contain more setting information than their SR3 counterparts. SR3 had ten years of metaplot and world development, which built directly on SR2. Add in the fact that we were consciously keeping the metaplot to a minimum to avoid dissuading new players... and I'm pretty pleased with what we've managed to sneak in.

Please feel free to compare. SR3 core did indeed have a very light treatment of the Pacific Northwest and Seattle. In SR4, we replaced that with Life on the Edge that provides insight on life in 2070 in pretty much any first world country. Take a look at Man and Machine and feel free to tell us how prevalent personal augmentation is in Seattle or any first world country or which corporations are doing what. Compare with Augmentation. Can you tell me how common or regionally widespread all the metavariants are based on the Shadowrun Companion? You can with Runner's Companion. Read through the material referencing everyday Matrix use and its relevance to everyday life in the Matrix sb. Compare with what's in Unwired. In SR3 you had to wait for Shadows of Asia for your first passing look at what it means to be a citizen in an Awakened country, in SR4 its offered up (albeit briefly) in Street Magic and Runner's Companion. Is all this metaplot development? Clearly, no. Is it relevant setting material that ties into the Sixth World's own unique history? Yes, and more importantly it creates a reference framework that is useful for anyone running in most Sixth World settings - which makes sense since we've been publishing core books.

But let's get back to the concern expressed by the OP and look at the schedule that we've announced for this year (and which has been mapped out two years in advance and doesn't cover a few Anniversary surprises):
Vice - Underworld/Crime sourcebook
Corporate Guide - Corporations sourcebook.
Sixth World Almanac - History and Sixth World overview book.
Seattle 2072 - Revisiting Seattle in depth 20 years on.
Dawn of the Artifacts - Metaplot campaign set of 4 adventures.
Running Wild - the paracritter sb.

As anyone who has read to the end of Ghost Cartels will tell you, it lays the seeds (pun intended) for a long term metaplot with huge ramifications. I'll let you make up your own minds about whether wider-setting development devolving is actually a trend, or whether we've been setting the table so that when we do it we do it right.
DV8
QUOTE (KCKitsune @ Jan 12 2009, 07:43 AM) *
Also Shadowrun's reliance on sterotypes (Mexico and the Aztec religion... 'nuff said) is getting so dated that it's not funny. Also with the way the world today is going the idea of the nuyen... ohplease.gif More like the nuyuan more than anything. The reason I say that is because Japan is a walking corpse that just will not lie down. Check their demographics... you will see Japan's place in the world diminish unless they start having a LOT of babies.

As an aside; why do a lot of people feel the need to rewrite Shadowrun history to more accurately mirror our own since Shadowrun took off? Isn't it an alternate timeline?
Fuchs
QUOTE (DV8 @ Jan 12 2009, 04:21 PM) *
As an aside; why do a lot of people feel the need to rewrite Shadowrun history to more accurately mirror our own since Shadowrun took off? Isn't it an alternate timeline?


I don't rewrite the Shadowrun history to reflect our own time, I rewrite it so it makes more sense to me - and mostly I rewrite the metaplot-influenced timeline, from 2050 on onward.
pbangarth
Thank you, various posters for introducing me to the existence of gaming theories such as GNS, and competing ones to which a search of GNS has led me. I haven't read deeply enough to know whether the various 'theories' are testable in any way, which seems to an academic like me a basic requirement for the use of the word.

Also, a big thank you to Synner for giving us some insight into the planning framework for Shadowrun. It's a bit like Columbus and the egg. Now that Synner made the big picture more explicit, it seems obvious.

I started playing/GMing Shadowrun in 1st edition. What drew me to the game from others like AD&D was the level to which I could relate my own life experience and world view to the game. There were issues and problems in the game that matched what I saw going on in the world around me. I could immerse myself into the play in a way that allowed me to think I was combatting some of the big evils of the real world. It also allowed me to explore alternate versions of myself. "There, but for the grace of God and the love of a good woman, go I."

High fantasy role playing still allowed me to explore issue such as "Would I die for a friend?". What it didn't allow, and Shadowrun did, was exploring things like, "How would I fare if I had chosen a different path?" For all the make-believe of any RPG, Shadowrun was easier to believe, even with the magic. And more fun for me because It was so easy to imagine it happening right here, right now. So, how important is it to me that Shadowrun is not keeping pace with the events of the real world?

As it turns out, not very. First of all, I recognize that no game system, no set of developers, have any hope of keeping up with the changes of modern society. One of the most prevalent tropes in the literature of well-being and social adaptation is that we as a species cannot cope with the rate of change in society. So how are a bunch of RPG writers supposed to do so? Twenty-five years ago Japan and glam rock were on our minds. Today it's China/India and rap. What will it be in another twenty years? Should the game try to reflect that rapid change?

Only in so far as it can do so without overburdening the game and the players with detail and rewrites of history. Shadowrun cannot be anything but an alternate history. Keeping pace with the changes of the real world is impossible.

Second, the alternate world of Shadowrun serves my needs very well. I can still very easily create a version of me that did choose to do to that bully in high school what I fantasized about. And follow through the effects of that life choice in a way that still relates to my life now.

The broad sweep of corporate greed/environmental degradation/social disintegration that pervades the game parallels the headlines and the exposés in today's newspaper just fine. A couple of hundred kilometers north of where I live, someone is bombing natural gas wells, and the local community that doesn't want its environment destroyed isn't talking. Somali pirates are making runs on oil tankers, and (coincidentally?) striking back at a first world that royally fucked over their little corner of Africa. Private mercenary companies are getting rich while ignoring the rules regular soldiers have to follow.

And yet for all the real-world connections, I can still immerse myself in as much fantasy as I want. I can create a magician who flies under his own power to the edge of the Gaiasphere, dressed in a spacesuit, and watch meteor showers from the edge of space. I can be a rebellious punk who lets the mana flow through him into the drums. I can be the Ghost in the Machine. I can empower myself enough to tilt, not just at windmills but at the whole damn electric company. I can even fight to save the world, yet one more time.

Finally, I can write stories that have all that fantasy and reality thrown in together, in a system that mostly makes gaming and physical sense, and with a background that is rich and varied enough that any story line I might wish to follow can be accomodated. I am able to write stories that reward my girls' desires and fantasies, rather than stifling them with games that pander to the self-important 'professional' gamers who think they know the One True Way to approach a run. I can in fact create a world which no longer follows the canon world of Shadowrun, and get along just fine, thanks. I appreciate the efforts of the writers, and profit from their efforts to reduce the amount of work I have to do (keep up the good work, gang), so I tend to follow the 'official history'. But I can turn left if I want to.

I don't think another game out there comes even close to providing the opportunities that Shadowrun does. Yes, I've played and enjoyed Paranoia, Changeling, Traveller, Mechwarrior, Call of Cthulhu, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Biker Nuns with Guns, others I can't recall right now, and many, many incarnations of D&D.

I keep coming back to Shadowrun.

Peter
Pendaric
I will concur. Though detail is certainly required, so is scope. The combine flexibility of the core concepts combined with scope and detail of the game world allows a wide and evokative spectrum of stories and personas. It has created an iconic and lasting creation. Though I still play SR3 the work by the Dev's on SR4 is inspiring and leads me to continue to buy and intergrate these new concepts on the every evolving but quintisential Sixth World.

The best RPG's are an alloy, a compromise, between the elements identified GNS. The strength of the orginality of SR is evidenced by the strong work that continues to be produced by the Dev's and the fan base, all the way to where it counts. Each time you play.
JFixer
QUOTE (KCKitsune @ Jan 12 2009, 06:43 AM) *
I will agree with you that the mega corps are something that we in the real world will never see. Let's face it... armies are EXPENSIVE! Corps are not going to shell out the cash for one unless that is their business (Blackwater for instance).


I read in an article somewhere a few years back that Microsoft was getting like two thirds of it's new personnel straight out of the military sector as they finished their tours, which meant that every designer, programmer, graphic artist, and basement monkey had full on combat training, and sometimes combat experience out the gate. They have APC vehicles (humvees) and armed security on site, and there are already 'special laws' that apply to corporate properties. We're not far away from the legally autonomous, army-toting MegaCorp /now/.
tete
QUOTE (Synner @ Jan 12 2009, 01:28 PM) *
we've consciously opted to veer away from metaplot...


Why? I think the scaring away new players is a slight misnomer. My wife getting into VtM about 2 years before the release of nWOD is at leased one example of someone enjoying lots of metaplot. I understand keeping it out of the core to some extent but really ghost cartels could have been released right after the core book. The book that got me into shadowrun was the orginal seattle source book (well actually the shadowtalk in the street samurai catalog but i owned that for a couple years before buying anything else). Without the fluff I wouldn't have picked up the core book. Honestly if the fluff was good enough I would be using 4e rather than still using 2e. So far although I want to support shadowrun I'm only buying occasional books and not even opening some of them. Fluff always beats rules IMHO YMMV
BlueMax
QUOTE (tete @ Jan 12 2009, 10:35 AM) *
Without the fluff I wouldn't have picked up the core book. Honestly if the fluff was good enough I would be using 4e rather than still using 2e. So far although I want to support shadowrun I'm only buying occasional books and not even opening some of them. Fluff always beats rules IMHO YMMV

Fluff and Metaplot are two different things, so I am confused by this post and would like to hear more. Fluff to me is the color, and darn tooting right some of us enjoy the color from second. Metaplot is a timeline that happens no matter what your characters do. A world outside their control. Which in my opinion changes it from a game to a move, or perhaps a novel. A third category here could be fiction, some of it plot and some of it fluff.


I find it interesting that Ghost Cartels is listed as a counter example to a meta plot. Though I have only read through GC once, it seems to be just like a metaplot. Your characters cannot alter the timeline, there are no trees and you watch as the events unfold. Sometimes, you get to do the dirtywork. There are lots of adventure ideas related to the tertiary needs of the plot included, making GC a metaplot campaign book of extraordinary scale.

Don't get me wrong, the player characters at my table cannot effect global change. They do however take particular interest in what happens in their hood. Sometimes, when a ganger in the barrens shows his sign, it can change the weather on the other side of the world.
Stormdrake
Synner,
Are the metaplots coming up going to tie into some of the older ones that where not wrapped up in Emergence? I know I am in the minority on this but I would love a return in some form of the "Horrors" from 1st/2nd edition.
Ancient History
I know I'm probably the only one that's going to say this, but...Ron Edward's GNS theory is so full of shit that if GNS was a person it would be dying of sepsis. Aside from being about the silliest piece of pseudo-intellectual trash until the "Crunch, Fluff, and Chew" theory came along, the whole theory can be better applied to board games than RPGs. Even if you could shoehorn games into one horrible, artificial category or another - good luck with that, because there's no objective measurement or grounds for consensus - it doesn't mean anything. GNS theory isn't useful for anything and has no application - it was a bad couple of ideas that steamrolled. It has zero application in game design, period.
Malachi
I don't agree with the OP opinion that SR4 is light on backdrop. The core book has two fairly significant chapters, A History Lesson... and Life on the Edge, which do nothing but provide backdrop for the world. I've been playing & GM'ing Shadowrun for over 10 years now, since the SR2 days, and I still feel like I'm missing out on some backstory. I was excited to see that old Sourcebooks were available on Battlecorps because I still see references to information which I'm sure must be in Aztlan, Tir Tairngire, Tir Na Nog or another one of those old books that's never had its material completely reprinted. How many of the "villains" from the original Threats book had an influence or continue to have an influence on the world much later in the SR timeline (Winternight, Bug Spirits, Alamos 20k, Human Nation)?

If anything I think Shadowrun is overwhelming to new players because of an over-abundance of "history." I do completely agree that the SR4 book appears to have been written by people who have a deep knowledge of SR3 and previous editions (which, of course they do), but forgot that many new players don't have that benefit. However, I think that's the kind of thing that can be cleaned up in editing/errata/layout, and not necessarily needing a completely new edition.
Synner
Fluff does not equate to metaplot. I can honestly say that the 6 core Shadowrun, Fourth Edition rulebooks currently available have more fluff and setting information than any previous editions (and if you look hard enough a little metaplot too). The setting material in the core location books similarly adds plenty of fluff with a minimum of metaplot.

Shadowrun turns 20 this year. It has an evolving metaplot that is as complex or more so than anything VtM offered plus it has 20 years of twists and developments. We had reached a point where a newbie who joined a forum and innocently asked about the Bugs to recieve a well-meaning recommendation of 8 books to read some of which had been out of print for 10 years. This fostered the impression that you had to buy those books to "get it" and this was a significant deterrent to new players buying in.

Take it as you like but Shadowrun is so intricate and detailed a setting that it is overwhelming to new gamers and casual gamers. Taking the approach we've done which focuses on the background rather than the (his)story makes the core books and hence the game more approachable. If people then get hooked, fine, we've got 20 years of material to draw from and more to come, but the initial contact point with a system (typically the core books) should not overwhelm potential players with intricacies and details that do not directly affect play.

While I look back fondly on Emergence it is very much a follow through on the changes to the setting introduced in the SR4 core book, Ghost Cartels is our first offering in terms of an entirely new metaplot development and all I can say is that it would be alot less fun to implement and run through if Street Magic, Arsenal, Augmentation, Runner Havens and Corporate Enclaves weren't available. Its also deceptive in that its mystery/backstory is actually the seed for a metaplot rather than the overt big action story that makes up most of the narrative (though that has more obvious setting implications).

For the record, I share Ancient's views on GNS theory (okay, maybe not so radical) and despite what the OP seems to think most people in the game industry proper seem to consider it as such an oversimplified model and full of such obvious contradictions and loopholes when applied to RPGs that it is largely a waste of time for it to factor in any significant way into game design.
Adarael
QUOTE (Ancient History @ Jan 12 2009, 11:26 AM) *
I know I'm probably the only one that's going to say this, but...Ron Edward's GNS theory is so full of shit that if GNS was a person it would be dying of sepsis. Aside from being about the silliest piece of pseudo-intellectual trash until the "Crunch, Fluff, and Chew" theory came along, the whole theory can be better applied to board games than RPGs. Even if you could shoehorn games into one horrible, artificial category or another - good luck with that, because there's no objective measurement or grounds for consensus - it doesn't mean anything. GNS theory isn't useful for anything and has no application - it was a bad couple of ideas that steamrolled. It has zero application in game design, period.


No, AH, you're not the only person to say it. I've said it, and I'll say it here: GNS theory, while a nice idea, has holes large enough to drive a truck through.

Now, before I go further, let me say that I really appreciate Edwards attempting to bring some deeper thought into what we do, and I appreciate that it seems to have let a lot of folks think about how they play in a new way. I appreciate it in the same way I appreciate anything that tries but fails.
But there are vast tracks of how I and my friends game that cannot be covered by any aspect of GNS theory, nor can it be covered by Edwards revised 'big theory' or whatever he called it. Any attempt to do so would be a round-peg-in-square-hole kind of attempt.
tete
QUOTE (BlueMax @ Jan 12 2009, 07:08 PM) *
Fluff and Metaplot are two different things


My take on it is Metaplot is always fluff. Fluff doesn't have to be metaplot.
I have to use vampire as examples of metaplot I like because honestly I think they were far more direct. If you look at the major npc writeups for dark ages they told not only when they were born and how they were turned but when they died and how. You got a solid look at an npc and everything you needed to add them to your campaign in one page included how their death came about. For me this gets the GM juices flowing especially because they were vague on most of the deaths. Things like he died in 1608 when vampire X found out about the plot against him. What were the details of the plot? who else was involved?

I do feel for new players the history book parts should be trimmed down but metaplot can help breath life into the world and I've always felt metaplot was option. I did not like YOTC so the metaplot never entered my game. I loved the Horror metaplot and chicago so of course we played through all that.

4e does offer more fluff per book than before (most likely) but I would not say it is more complex or more of it than VtM. I mean Salubri is Tremere controlled by the Tzimiche is enough to make ones head spin.

QUOTE (Synner @ Jan 12 2009, 07:50 PM) *
Take it as you like but Shadowrun is so intricate and detailed a setting that it is overwhelming to new gamers and casual gamers. Taking the approach we've done which focuses on the background rather than the (his)story makes the core books and hence the game more approachable. If people then get hooked, fine, we've got 20 years of material to draw from and more to come, but the initial contact point with a system (typically the core books) should not overwhelm potential players with intricacies and details that do not directly affect play.


I can see where your coming from on this and sure keep it out of the core. I've found "and so it came to pass" the most dry read (and thats saying a lot cus i have to read boring technobable for work) since 1e. I think however you could take the metaplot you find interesting and launch it out the gate right behind the core book. Your comment on ghost cartels being more fun with the extra books may be valid but I would certainly hope you guys never take the WOTC approach of needing more than core book to play a published adventure.
BlueMax
QUOTE (tete @ Jan 12 2009, 12:33 PM) *
My take on it is Metaplot is always fluff. Fluff doesn't have to be metaplot.
I have to use vampire as examples of metaplot I like because honestly I think they were far more direct. If you look at the major npc writeups for dark ages they told not only when they were born and how they were turned but when they died and how. You got a solid look at an npc and everything you needed to add them to your campaign in one page included how their death came about. For me this gets the GM juices flowing especially because they were vague on most of the deaths. Things like he died in 1608 when vampire X found out about the plot against him. What were the details of the plot? who else was involved?

I do feel for new players the history book parts should be trimmed down but metaplot can help breath life into the world and I've always felt metaplot was option. I did not like YOTC so the metaplot never entered my game. I loved the Horror metaplot and chicago so of course we played through all that.

4e does offer more fluff per book than before (most likely) but I would not say it is more complex or more of it than VtM. I mean Salubri is Tremere controlled by the Tzimiche is enough to make ones head spin.

Tete,
Thank you for replying and I now better understand what you had to say. As I note, I too enjoyed using aspects of both the Horrors and Bug City. I am no master of Shadowrun trivia but I believe you have hit upon two very open plot threads. That is to say they had not pre-set path when introduced, and even when covered Bug City was a resource for making your own adventures and not a timeline or other set of restrictive rails.
The new books have had more space dedicated to non rules sections, that is to say fiction, background and plot suggestions. It would be foolish to deny a measurable fact. How useful the space has been, is nearly impossible to measure. Wheres as I favor, "This is a new chip from <MegaCorp> which does FOO", some favor a writing style which attempts to explain the inner workings and backgrounds. To each his own.
What I would like is more of the light fluff. Corny lines for each contact. Art layout so the picture is right next to the item being discussed (Though no Wizkid mage/terrorist flips please). More Shadowtalk beneath each item. (feel free to hide things like the Neon Samurai's story in the comments, but make them).

BlueMax
Chrysalis
Hi,

Thanks to Synner and Peter for your excellent posts, both I read several times. I really enjoy reading about the reasons in both design of the game and how it is played. Both posts nicely complement each other.

As the OP, my job to take the flak. I will not apologize for it, but I will stand behind it, even if afterwards I would wish to disassociate myself from it.

I think my problem is that I really started playing SR 4th edition last spring. My only other encounters have been through rec.games.frp.cyber where I was firmly entrenched in the Cyberpunk 2020 camp. I was so enthusiastic about cyberpunk 2020, I did my first proofreading for a website, started up a fanzine and I became a bit of a fixture there. Behind it all is still that antagonistic feeling towards Shadowrun which winds its way midway through the 90s, so carefully cultivated by the posters on the newsgroup.

My antagonism aside (which now that I have said out loud is a bit like hating elves – humorous over something imaginary), I still think that Shadowrun 4th edition as a whole is very well written and in terms of quality is one of the better RPGs in print, in terms of design, structure and cohesion. Shadowrun is the only reason why I have yet to hand over my RPGs to the local gaming club – most of which I have not opened in over ten years.

I have really been active on the forums since this summer and I think I might be logged in too much as well. It’s a symptom of our family: addictive personality behavior. I think part of my negative feeling is that each poster starts blurring into the other I do not see much of creating anything new by the fans, or positive reinforcement to the designers, just the complaints.

I think part of my perception is that I have been on the periphery of Shadowrun for ten years, but only played it for one. I am also secretly disappointed that Shadowrun is not Cyberpunk 2020 – I miss the nihilism. I think it comes down to is that maybe Shadowrun is not for me.

I guess there are still players of SLA Industries around.

P.S. Ancient History, agreed about the “theory?. I believe pseudo-science bullshit is a more apt term. Oh well I shall reserve this argument to beer with a friend of mine who works as a game designer consultant, but that is another story.
Malachi
QUOTE (BlueMax @ Jan 12 2009, 04:51 PM) *
That is to say they had not pre-set path when introduced, and even when covered Bug City was a resource for making your own adventures and not a timeline or other set of restrictive rails.

I think I've caught wind of this opinion a few times from a few different people. Is it a general feeling that people do not like the "plot books?" I'm thinking of the books that lay out a series of events in the SR world, when they happen, and how they affect the world. These have included: Mob War, Blood in the Boardroom, Year of the Comet, System Failure, Emergence, and (for the most part) Ghost Cartels? I believe the quote I read from someone was "Blood in the Boardroom was useless." Perhaps I'm in the minority, but I got a lot of mileage out of those books. The vast bulk of my SR3 days were spent running adventures that came from the timeline presented in Blood in the Boardroom. Granted, Ghost Cartels has full NPC stats, maps, and tighter continuity. But, in my mind, it still bears more similarity to Blood in the Boardroom than differences. Do other people really view those "event" or "plot" books as "useless?"
Pendaric
I would agree with Chrysalis second point that a little more creativity and little less rules bitchin would be nice.

However this is the internet and one man's creative stroke of genius is another man's irresistable urge to flame.

But we can keep the dream alive of collabrative story telling as well as just RAW arguements and character assassination through the urge to just shoot someone in the face for fun and profit. smile.gif
The Jake
QUOTE (Synner @ Jan 12 2009, 01:28 PM) *
As lead developer on Shadowrun let me just make something clear and possibly give a little perspective, because I believe the OP has mistaken our intent.

It was a design (and commercial) decision made early on not to burden the first couple of years of SR4 with metaplot (either old or new) or an expansive revisiting of the world. The huge role of Shadowrun's metaplot and the overall depth of its 20-year history and world setting was/is a huge hurdle for new players. Too many people picked up a book in SR3 and were led to believe that to "get" the game you had to buy 10+ books just for backstory and then just to play catchup. Not fun.

Consequently Rob, and now I, opted to push metaplot into the background and tone down the history heavy elements of the setting until such time as the core rulebooks were all out. Even Emergence was intended to complement and expand new concepts in the game rather than push ahead the metaplot. (Though it ended up adding considerably to it, and in roundabout ways addressed many hanging threads from SR3, hopefully in such a manner that it isn't either obvious or grating to new players who don't know these are hanging threads). Our approach was to create an entry point for new players who can then, if they want, delve into a greater universe. That means leaving the luggage at the door, at least for a little while.

That said, we have no intention of reducing metaplot or world depth, but we consciously decided to put it on the backburner while we drew up the fundamentals to get people playing the game - unfortunately with the shift to Catalyst and other issues that have arisen we've only (almost) completed the core set last year. However, as soon as we could, we dived back into metaplot and world development... see Ghost Cartels and the upcoming Dawn of the Artifacts adventures. Even the core location books are designed with metaplot in mind now (as should be obvious with both the aforementioned story arcs or will be once Dawn starts coming out).

All that said the issue here is one of perspective. Using the previous editions for a moment, I believe the OP is missing the obvious. Things take time and there's only so much youy can cram into a book. Stop for a second and consider SR3 (though any edition). Consider the first three years of releases and look at them in isolation (don't figure in SR2 releases or the other 8 years of SR3 releases). Now compare. I think it does wonders if you actually isolate and compare the first three years and compare that with SR4's releases to date in terms of setting development and metaplot - even taking into account that we've consciously opted to veer away from metaplot and history heavy books to make for a more newbie-friendly schedule.

What SR3 and previous editions did was simply to front-load setting books that gave a lot more depth to certain key elements of the universe (ie. Corporate Guide, Underworld sb, etc), but otherwise book by book SR4 releases contain more setting information than their SR3 counterparts. SR3 had ten years of metaplot and world development, which built directly on SR2. Add in the fact that we were consciously keeping the metaplot to a minimum to avoid dissuading new players... and I'm pretty pleased with what we've managed to sneak in.

Please feel free to compare. SR3 core did indeed have a very light treatment of the Pacific Northwest and Seattle. In SR4, we replaced that with Life on the Edge that provides insight on life in 2070 in pretty much any first world country. Take a look at Man and Machine and feel free to tell us how prevalent personal augmentation is in Seattle or any first world country or which corporations are doing what. Compare with Augmentation. Can you tell me how common or regionally widespread all the metavariants are based on the Shadowrun Companion? You can with Runner's Companion. Read through the material referencing everyday Matrix use and its relevance to everyday life in the Matrix sb. Compare with what's in Unwired. In SR3 you had to wait for Shadows of Asia for your first passing look at what it means to be a citizen in an Awakened country, in SR4 its offered up (albeit briefly) in Street Magic and Runner's Companion. Is all this metaplot development? Clearly, no. Is it relevant setting material that ties into the Sixth World's own unique history? Yes, and more importantly it creates a reference framework that is useful for anyone running in most Sixth World settings - which makes sense since we've been publishing core books.

But let's get back to the concern expressed by the OP and look at the schedule that we've announced for this year (and which has been mapped out two years in advance and doesn't cover a few Anniversary surprises):
Vice - Underworld/Crime sourcebook
Corporate Guide - Corporations sourcebook.
Sixth World Almanac - History and Sixth World overview book.
Seattle 2072 - Revisiting Seattle in depth 20 years on.
Dawn of the Artifacts - Metaplot campaign set of 4 adventures.
Running Wild - the paracritter sb.

As anyone who has read to the end of Ghost Cartels will tell you, it lays the seeds (pun intended) for a long term metaplot with huge ramifications. I'll let you make up your own minds about whether wider-setting development devolving is actually a trend, or whether we've been setting the table so that when we do it we do it right.


I actually like this approach. As much as I love the metaplot it does get in the way of things for new players and can easily overwhelm them.

- J.
Synner
QUOTE (Chrysalis @ Jan 12 2009, 09:50 PM) *
Thanks to Synner and Peter for your excellent posts, both I read several times. I really enjoy reading about the reasons in both design of the game and how it is played. Both posts nicely complement each other.

No thanks needed, and I while I am passionate about this game I do appreciate constructive criticism about both content and development direction. I can't guarantee I'll agree with it but I will take it on board.

QUOTE
As the OP, my job to take the flak. I will not apologize for it, but I will stand behind it, even if afterwards I would wish to disassociate myself from it.

I don't think you need to apologize in any way. You made an observation based on your experience with the game, it's a perfectly valid criticism. You'll not that I sought only to provide an explanatory response not only for your benefit but for the benefit of everyone else.

QUOTE
I think my problem is that I really started playing SR 4th edition last spring. My only other encounters have been through rec.games.frp.cyber where I was firmly entrenched in the Cyberpunk 2020 camp. I was so enthusiastic about cyberpunk 2020, I did my first proofreading for a website, started up a fanzine and I became a bit of a fixture there. Behind it all is still that antagonistic feeling towards Shadowrun which winds its way midway through the 90s, so carefully cultivated by the posters on the newsgroup. My antagonism aside (which now that I have said out loud is a bit like hating elves — humorous over something imaginary), I still think that Shadowrun 4th edition as a whole is very well written and in terms of quality is one of the better RPGs in print, in terms of design, structure and cohesion. Shadowrun is the only reason why I have yet to hand over my RPGs to the local gaming club —most of which I have not opened in over ten years.

As a long time elf-hater I understand where you're coming from, and I also understand that often the people who are most vocal about this game are the ones who both love it and have greatest doubts about it. It's good to know that Shadowrun has kept you playing though.

QUOTE
I think part of my negative feeling is that each poster starts blurring into the other I do not see much of creating anything new by the fans, or positive reinforcement to the designers, just the complaints.

Both of the items you cite are trends I dislike and have led me to reduce my time on DSF in particular.

Regarding the first, having started my professional career working on fan projects on Dumpshock (the New Seattle Intelligencer newsfax, Adam Jury's Shadowrun Supplemental, and the EuroSB project which became Shadows of Europe), I'm disappointed at not seeing as much fan produced content as we used to have for Shadowrun, but I understand the market has changed as has the availability of the typical roleplayer.

On the second point, unfortunately, IMHO too many people indulge in criticism without offering any productive and constructive feedback that we as developer and authors can take on board. Some people do and it's almost worth wading through the discontented bashing to the pearls of solid and well-thought out feedback.

While I would not qualify the opening post of this thread as bashing in any way or form, it lacks any reference to what you specifically thought is missing—not just what you feel should be added to the current line, but why you think its important (as opposed to stuff that we're currently doing). Our last fan chat was dedicated to reviewing the past year of releases and during the chat we asked fans present to voice their opinions on the format and type of content we're using. We asked for solid and constructive feedback, because we want to know what our fans like and dislike.

If you'd like to voice a wishlist along with your critique, I'm all ears (or in this case eyes).

QUOTE
I think part of my perception is that I have been on the periphery of Shadowrun for ten years, but only played it for one. I am also secretly disappointed that Shadowrun is not Cyberpunk 2020 – I miss the nihilism. I think it comes down to is that maybe Shadowrun is not for me.

It really depends on how you play it. I honestly believe Ghost Cartels, for instance, is as dark, gritty, and nihilist as this game has been in 10 years. Plus it's street-level, even though global in scope (another cyberpunk trope). The cyberpunk aspect of Shadowrun is not going anywhere, and it's certainly not going to be smothered by transhumanist and slipstream trends. However, Shadowrun has never been a purely cyberpunk game, just as its never been a fantasy game. Cyberpunk is one of its biggest influences and an integral part of the setting, but Shadowrun has always been about taking the best out of all the various flavors of sci-fi, horror, and fantasy of the day and putting them into a blender. Shadowrun is about fusion. The great thing about this game, as another poster noted, is that the exact mix varies from table to table, and the game allows for it. Some people want hard-boiled street-level cyberpunk testing the limits of humanity and morality with magic suitably rare, while others play for the epic swashbuckling drake superspies facing off against cyberzombies.

QUOTE
I guess there are still players of SLA Industries around.

I'm one of them.
kzt
QUOTE (JFixer @ Jan 12 2009, 11:17 AM) *
I read in an article somewhere a few years back that Microsoft was getting like two thirds of it's new personnel straight out of the military sector as they finished their tours, which meant that every designer, programmer, graphic artist, and basement monkey had full on combat training, and sometimes combat experience out the gate. They have APC vehicles (humvees) and armed security on site, and there are already 'special laws' that apply to corporate properties. We're not far away from the legally autonomous, army-toting MegaCorp /now/.

I think whoever told you that was on drugs.

Not many military people have a BA/BS in computer science and 5+ years in development of the sort of software MS does, which seems to be what they require for most jobs. (I'm told they used to recruit very heavility for new grads too - not sure if they still do). Raytheon might well do that, but if you are writing ABM control software clearances are important and you can hire people who have been working on the same codebase you are.
Fix-it
er, kzt, I think he meant security personnel. not software engineers.
Whipstitch
Uh, read what kzt quoted again and say that. It says "designers, programmers, graphic artist and basement monkeys." To be sure, the post could use some clarification, but that's on the OP's head, not kzt's.

Anyway, yeah, security companies like hiring former military and police personnel, but that has as much to do with attitude and people skills as it does combat skills. Quite simply, a huge part of a security guard's job is to act like a reasonable professional even when the people the people they are dealing with have their heads firmly up their nether regions. An applicant who can present himself professionally and looks at home in a uniform is an intriguing candidate whether he picked those skills up as an engineer, police officer or as a front line combatant. It's the discipline and attention to detail that are the real selling points, not the combat ability. It's easier to teach a guy how to subdue someone than it is to teach them to check their attitude at the door.
kzt
MS also has a very aggressive "no guns" policy. They insist on their employees being unarmed on the way to and from work as well as at work. MS is an example of a fascist nanny state, not a militarized corp. Baa Baa.
KCKitsune
QUOTE (JFixer @ Jan 12 2009, 01:17 PM) *
I read in an article somewhere a few years back that Microsoft was getting like two thirds of it's new personnel straight out of the military sector as they finished their tours, which meant that every designer, programmer, graphic artist, and basement monkey had full on combat training, and sometimes combat experience out the gate. They have APC vehicles (humvees) and armed security on site, and there are already 'special laws' that apply to corporate properties. We're not far away from the legally autonomous, army-toting MegaCorp /now/.


The government would never allow them to have anything heavier than submachine guns. Hell the Navy at their Nuke Power school training reactors (live nuke power plants used to train Navy nuke power plant operators), the private security goons there only had MP5s. They didn't have ANY vehicles, and they didn't have any heavier weapons.
Fuchs
QUOTE (Synner @ Jan 13 2009, 01:12 AM) *
Regarding the first, having started my professional career working on fan projects on Dumpshock (the New Seattle Intelligencer newsfax, Adam Jury's Shadowrun Supplemental, and the EuroSB project which became Shadows of Europe), I'm disappointed at not seeing as much fan produced content as we used to have for Shadowrun, but I understand the market has changed as has the availability of the typical roleplayer.


I make my own content for my campaign (locations, NPCs, plots), but it's for my campaign's Shadowrun world, which split from canon Shadowrun Metaplot like 10 years or more ago, with major retconning taking place ("Wireless was always there."). So, it's rather incompatible fluff-wise (and usually in German).
pbangarth
QUOTE (Fuchs @ Jan 13 2009, 01:01 AM) *
I make my own content for my campaign (locations, NPCs, plots), but it's for my campaign's Shadowrun world, which split from canon Shadowrun Metaplot like 10 years or more ago, with major retconning taking place ("Wireless was always there."). So, it's rather incompatible fluff-wise (and usually in German).


So? You read English. Make us read German!

Peter
BlueMax
QUOTE (Fuchs @ Jan 13 2009, 12:01 AM) *
I make my own content for my campaign (locations, NPCs, plots), but it's for my campaign's Shadowrun world, which split from canon Shadowrun Metaplot like 10 years or more ago, with major retconning taking place ("Wireless was always there."). So, it's rather incompatible fluff-wise (and usually in German).


I do the same. Partially so that the adventures fit my group. The color and contacts from one campaign would hardly be useful for the next. Also because there hasn't been many "Ready to run" adventures offered. Thinking about it, there hasn't been much in the way of published ready to run adventures in the last 10 years.

And the ready to run bit is a fault of mine. Sometimes I just don't have time to develop and want to spend <10 hours preparing. (reading, adding all kinds of stickies notes to correlate, making NPC sheets when not provided, making clear maps to throw over the battle map, and so on).

I could not write for the general Shadowrun audience as it is today and admire those who can. At best I could write for crotchety old guys who have played Shadowrun for 13-19 years, and a score exceptionally open minded new players. Thanks guys for your support, I know your reading Dumpshock too! No free hints as to what happens in "Gee, that would be Swell" Saturday.
raggedhalo
QUOTE (Ancient History @ Jan 12 2009, 03:26 PM) *
GNS theory isn't useful for anything and has no application - it was a bad couple of ideas that steamrolled. It has zero application in game design, period.


I actually disagree with you on this. I mean, sure, it's not particularly earth-shattering or anything like that, and as my degree's in science it certainly makes my skin crawl to call it a theory (but nevertheless, that's its name!). My friend and I run a relatively successful small LRP system here in the UK (www.insurrectionlrp.co.uk) and when we were designing it, I found it really useful to think in terms of GNS theory, as well as that hearts, clubs, spades, diamonds MUD thingy.

In other news, I really like metaplot. I tend to customise it a bit to fit my group* but I really like involving players in the important stuff that happens in the world. It keeps it a bit more interesting for me than just coming up with datasteal after datasteal.


*: e.g. in my campaign, the players were the runner team who helped Jane McCrory uncover the Mitsuhama lab in Denver
ravensmuse
I've been reading Shadowrun since about the time Lone Star sourcebook / Bug City came out, but never got to play until 4th edition. I've said it here before - the 2e and 3e rules just make my eyes glaze over trying to understand them.

On the other hand, reading the books was a joy. My favorite books are the ones I have in my house right now: Bug City, Year of the Comet, Dragons of the Sixth World...there's some other supplements as well, but those are the ones that come to me right away. And what got me about them is that they're so in-character - I love how everything feels like I'm lurking on a shadowrunning message board, watching small fights erupt, people theorizing, urban legends, "true" facts, random uploads...if you've spent any amount of time on a message board, you can pick up the feel pretty quickly.

I do miss how 3e presented information as a series of infodumps. I like that the Jackpoint community is smaller, more close knit; it reminds me of the groups I've followed that have spun off of major message boards to make their own communities with a stronger focus on a particular interest. I just miss the big message board feel of Shadownet, y'know? Watching Orange Queen bicker with Harlequin and that sort of thing.

Irregardless. Shadowrun has a great history, and I'm hoping that Sixth World Almanac will include run downs on most of the SR metaplot. I'm not expecting it, but something. The Bug Saga alone would be worth a complete review - getting my hands on a copy of Universal Brotherhood, which I *think* is the start of the whole thing, was a joy (though parts of it are pretty goofy; have we had any "fly-children" since? And how many innocent women need to be almost turned into bugs before it gets old? I ask these things. biggrin.gif). But how about more obscure things, like the NERPS question that gets asked here all the time, or Jet Black?

What would be useful would be a wiki with all of this information in it - good summaries of the larger plots like the Bugs, the Tirs, Crater Lake, Harlequin, the Mob War, Rise of the AIs / Techno's (which have to be connected somehow), Winternight, the Crash 2.0, the Draconic Ascension (the dragons alone deserve a huge write-up, but I'm an admitted squealing fanboy of the Greats in general), Year of the Comet / SURGE and the smaller stuff like Mister Darke, Halberstrom and Remy and Halb's babies, Orxploitation, Smiling Bandit and KAM (and KAMs project - what was that called again?), Netcat and Clockwork...

All of this stuff ties together in this wonderful knot that makes lorenerds like me happy, but newbies need some sort of resource to make heads or tails of it all. That's just stuff I pulled off of the top of my head - I know I must be missing at least one major plot and a bunch of minor ones out of all of that. A wiki, maybe Catalyst created / approved, would be a big help towards that. The timeline we used to have was good, but it was enigmatic at the same time; I kept catching references to the speed limits in Florida and asking myself, "where was this written, and what does it have to do with..?"

I do wish that Dumpshock wasn't as focused on the mechanics and what's "broken" and more focused on creative ventures. I drift in and out of here because so much of the front page is the same repeat of "X is broken! Y option sucks! Book Z should really be Book A! Where's SoLA! (kidding)". There doesn't seem to be as much tinkering outside of mechanics - do we have space for Actual Plays on this board? Or people working on personal, non-mechanical projects? I am still working on my Boston project (sorry BRodda! I say this every time I post in one of these threads!) and am punting around a Hawai'ian project, but right now I'm devoting most of my headspace to writing my novels and haven't really had the time to post around here.

We also need to stop and think about not giving each other such negative feedback all the time. Does so much bad blood have to be spilled because we each play or look at things differently? There are some whose ideas I don't agree with or viewpoints I don't share, but they're still interesting because of that - like Hermit. I don't think that him and I will ever agree about things like elves and Horizon, but I do like to grill him about the German version of SR and his thoughts on European shadowruns because he's intelligent, passionate, and willing to make fun of the goofy in there too (thanks for the fluffy dragon - that's just killer).

I love Shadowrun and I love Dumpshock and doing the SR Bootcamp last year at Gencon was one of the best experiences I've had with the game. I also got to pick up one of my SR holy grails - Bug City - there, which totally made the whole convention for me. Shadowrun is just a game and a shared experience, and we should all be sharing the positive and forgiving more of the negative.

Long winded rant, but it was worth it smile.gif Thanks Synner, AH, and the rest of the Catalyst crew for doing what you do, writing wise and DS wise.
Daddy's Little Ninja
I think there are enough 'fluff' books from SR3, SoNA, SoE etc that it can fill in the history of the world if you need it. If not the core 4th Ed books gives you enough to get started.

I qwas not playing when bug city came out but Snow Fox tells me how po'ed they all got because they were doing a bunch of runs in the Chicago sim industry and the meta plot screwed up their whole plan. then the Arcology shutdown was another major earth shaking change to their plans, it being a favorite place for them to meet.

I think the world view really depends on how your GM sets up the world. The world we run in is not so dark. The barrens are as horrible as we think, and the corps are big and manipulative but there is a middle class and they do not know how the world is controlled. For the most part they walk around in a cheerful world where terrible things happen to other people who stupidly got to dangerous places and 'evil corps' make great villains in trids but we all know that is fiction right?

The average house wife shopping in the sub-urbs has no idea about blood mages and dark spirits. Shadowrunners in our world are the people who climb under the veneer of society and everyone has it in their best interest to keep the rest of the world ignorant.
RedeemerofOgar
Warning: Rant Ahead.

While I acknowledge and agree with Synner's points about the plot needing to be thinned down for the main book, I still note that there are MECHANICS which are poorly explained in SR4. Some basic mechanics are spread out over 3 sections of a book, and only easily comprehensible if you are familiar with the original rule from SR3.

On another mechanics-explaining issue, I'd like to request that the writers (or at least editors) try to put all the rules pertinent to a particular item BEFORE the example and for-instance. I completely missed the "Edge can allow your hits to exceed your spells force" on the first several trips through the section because it follows a "So if you..." and a "In other words," not to mention being separated from the original paragraph by a page turn and a Big Black Side Note.

Note to Layout: The Big Black Side Notes often are poorly placed within the text, reducing the text's effectiveness rather than enhancing it. The Costs Tables are vastly more poorly placed, the cost of an item or augment should not be three pages away from its description.

Final complaint to the Ideas Guys: Hackable Cyber Limbs is so far beyond Not Fun that the mere concept kept my group away from SR4 until 2009. I understand wanting to make the Hacker's useful, and we LOVE the Augmented Reality concept.. but seriously, making your hardware implants wireless so they can run Windows Update? Not brilliant.

Thanks, just had to get that off my chest because it was inherent in my first post in the thread.
Malachi
QUOTE (Daddy's Little Ninja @ Jan 13 2009, 10:53 AM) *
I think the world view really depends on how your GM sets up the world. The world we run in is not so dark. The barrens are as horrible as we think, and the corps are big and manipulative but there is a middle class and they do not know how the world is controlled. for the most part the walk around in a cheerful world where terrible things happen to other people who stupidly got to dangerous places and 'evil corps' make great villains in trids but we all know that is fiction right?

The average house wife shopping in the sub-urbs has no idea about blood mages and dark spirits. Shadowrunners in our world are the people who climb under the veneer of society and everyone has it in their best interest to keep the rest of the world ignorant.

That's how I run/view my SR world and I thought it was pretty "canon." There are lots of dark, evil, nasty, crawly things on the "fringes" of the world where Shadowrunners live and work. However, the vast bulk of the "working middle-class world" goes about their normal lives oblivious to all the things around them.
Chrysalis
QUOTE (Synner @ Jan 13 2009, 02:12 AM) *
While I would not qualify the opening post of this thread as bashing in any way or form, it lacks any reference to what you specifically thought is missing—not just what you feel should be added to the current line, but why you think its important (as opposed to stuff that we're currently doing). Our last fan chat was dedicated to reviewing the past year of releases and during the chat we asked fans present to voice their opinions on the format and type of content we're using. We asked for solid and constructive feedback, because we want to know what our fans like and dislike.

If you'd like to voice a wishlist along with your critique, I'm all ears (or in this case eyes).


I think my problem is that I have trouble gaining a good grasp of the gaming world. If we are playing SLA Industries - the concept: a group of people in the world's most screwed up reality TV show, sponsored by the only company on the world. Cyberpunk - the concept: playing people with attitude who have decided to step out of the mainstream and shock society. Or my version: Having an IQ of 200, a doctorate in sociology that was never finished, studs, a mohawk, working off the grid on gonzo news reporting on the dirty little secrets of corporations and their figureheads.

I think the thing is that the Shadowrun background being so malleable allows for great variation in playing styles. However I actually prefer less diversity and less malleability. A little anarchy is always good, but too much and then it becomes common and mediocre. That is also the cyberpunk in me, I like totalitarian states who think that dressing their goons in pink make them human friendly. I like that the PCs have to fear "the man".

Any further analysis would really mean re-reading all of last years releases to gain a better understanding of format. However a few quick observations of Feral Cities as it is the most fresh in my memory: I would feel more comfortable if each city was a bit more balanced with each other allowing for relatively equal page counts. With longer page amounts of material an internal indexing system would be most helpful with each chapter - preferably a not so obvious one, but making page location easier after the book has been read. I love indexes and would like to see more of them.


-Chrysalis
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