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Kren Cooper
Hi all! So, a friend has asked me to run a game for him and 3 of his friends. I'm just organising a session 0 talk so we can work out what we're doing. The message below is what I've sent out to them - but I thought it might be useful to throw this out to the community here to get some thoughts and input. The message below has some specific references to *my* game rather than a generic game, but on the whole I figure it's probably fairly universal.

Are there things you would add to this? Things you like to cover off with your players, or have your GM discuss with you before the game? Are there things that you think are unique to Shadowrun that might not appear on a D&D session zero document (or some other system). Do you have positive / negative experience with a session zero, or with the lack of one?

Interested to hear your thoughts...

Session 0

When do we play
My understanding is that we're looking at Friday nights, maybe on alternate weeks, starting at 20:00 (or as soon as kids can be persuaded to go to bed) and probably playing until 23:00-24:00

Who is playing
AFAIK we're looking at a game for FOUR players, each playing one character.

What are we playing
Shadowrun, version 3 - though it might be best to see this as version 3.5. *Most* of Shadowrun 3 is valid, and there are some tweaks
a) to make the game run more smoothly or as a result of issues we've run into in the past (e.g. making magic items is easier and less risky, otherwise it doesn't make sense to encounter them in the world),
b) to expand potential options and add more campaign depth (e.g. I have expanded meta-magic abilities to allow mages to specialise or physical adepts to learn new abilities),
c) to fix things that were quite badly broken in the main rules (looking at you Decking rules - where the rest of the team would go for pizza while you worked out the hacking run with the single player with the cyberdeck), and
d) to make gameplay more 'heroic' (e.g. making re-rolls for the heroes more common and flexible to allow them to pull off awesome feats of daring do)

How are we playing
Via Discord, using voice-comms on a channel that I will set up on my Discord server. Ideally web-cams as well, as they help convey body-language and see when a player is bursting at the seams to get a word in edgewise. Discord also supports a dice-rolling bot that makes handling the RNG side of things very easy. I tend to use Discord screen shares to handle strategic and battle maps, handouts and quick sketches (fear my PowerPoint skills...)

Why are we playing
Definitely one to throw out to you as players - what is it that you want to get from the campaign. What kind of game do you want? Pink Mohawk - over the top, less serious, shallower gameplay with more booms
Black Trenchcoat - a more serious and gritty, dark view of a dystopian cyber-hellscape, with lots more tactical planning and plotting?
Do you want to be the A-Team or the Leverage crew, going from place to place and righting wrongs, fighting against 'the man' and being 'goodies'?
Do you want to be the team from Hustle or Ocean's 11 - fighting the man, but to enrich yourself and to feed your own desires - even if it's just to 'win' rather than earn a massive paycheck?
Do you want to be a crew of heartless, cold-blooded killers that would not bat an eyelid at murdering a creche full of children to get at the single target that will net you a payment of One Million Nuyen from Vladimir the Butcher of Kharkov?
Do you want an action adventure film where the stunt sequences from Bond, Transporter or the like are your bread and butter? Or do you want a more technical run like Ocean's 11 or Now you See Me, where if it comes to violence, the plan has failed? Do you want to be a team of ninjas that nobody realised was there, or the team that smash through the side door of the warehouse in your stolen HGV before you set fire to the entire building to cover your retreat?
* Do you want to be able to blaze away like the A-Team and leave forensic evidence all over the place, knowing that you're just too quick for the law and can stay one step ahead - or are you wanting a game where you have drop-bags of spare "forensically clean" clothing and IDs stashed at Bus station lockers ready to help you on your getaway from a job?

What are your limits or considerations
Are there aspects of the game you want to stay away from, for OOC reasons? If your team decides that torture is against their group code or ethos, are you prepared to be subject to it? Or come across people using it on others? If you're happy for torture to be in game, is that only if it's at an abstract level (you enter the room and see signs of torture...what do you do?) or are you happy with a more visceral representation to help put you in the scene?

How deep do you want the rabbit hole to go
I'm happy to do an intro mission to make sure this is the game people want to play, and then allow tweaking / re-jigging of characters to suit, and move on to a small series of linked missions to get things rolling - but are people generally after the idea of a full campaign set over an extended period of in-game time, with some kind of ultimate goal or focus? How deep and detailed do you want things to get? I'm certainly willing to do a fairly detailed campaign and setting, with some in-depth backstory and personal advancement - as long as you're not looking to go to the same depths as my Tuesday night team - life's not got enough spare hours in it for that!

Do you want to play a particular concept
Are you wanting to be a group of disparate individuals thrown together by fate, making things work - or do you want a theme or background? Are you all ex-soldiers, retired from some army or security force? A bunch of armed para-medics working for one of the big mega-corps. A team of magical investigators, looking for pananormal events? A small private detective agency fishing for jobs in the local slums? A gang focussed game looking to take over their first city block? A clan of undead trying to avoid exposure and revulsion by society and having to stay one step ahead of bounty hunters? Bounty hunters, looking to find some ghouls and turn them in for a quick buck... *grin*. Depending on what type of characters you want to play will potenially make some types of shared background easier or harder to justify or work into a thread, but we can work on something, I'm sure.
* What level do you want to play at - a more street level, simple, gritty survival based game where you're on the streets or living out of a fridge in the barrens? Or are you jet-setting secret agents with a series of safe-hours in London, Monaco, New York and Tokyo, with a technical division to supply you with secret gadgets?

What do we do if
If one person is away from the game, do we play on, or put the game on hold?
If someone has to drop out for a few months, do we find a replacement, or pause the campaign. Do we play on without them?
If we end up with some horrible gunfight against horrific odds and all the characters die - do we call the campaign there, or pick up with new characters? Do we play on with a new team and a new goal?

Anything else?
You did sort of touch on it, but I think it would be useful to ask specifically what power level the players expect in the campaign. Do they want to fight dirty against the gang from the neighboring street over the rights to sell homegrown weed in the local playgrounds, or would they rather broker deals between Dunkelzahn and Lofwyr?

And again, you also kind of touched on this, but: how diligent do they want Lone Star to be? Do they need to burn their clothes and relocate to another city for a few weeks if they accidentally walk past a hobo who's been killed for his shoes by another hobo, ? Can you openly carry a gun, a bow, a katana - or that Panther Assault Rifle (#drool) in Area X?

And (just because this has just popped up in our group): What's their stance on ghouls? Vampires? Insect shaman?
Kren Cooper
Good points - thanks Lionesque. Yeah, setting the expectation of power level and scope will be good - hopefully at least somewhat related to the campaign settings - kinda hard to justify those street level gangers hustling the local McRonalds inbetween jobs for Lofwyr.... but the point about consequences and fallout is very well made.
Nice one - will add those to my list.
Kren Cooper
Just in case anyone was curious, or it proved helpful - we ended up with the following agreed as a result of the session 0.

All the characters are "financially motivated" - with each one building into their backstory some crisis or issue that requires them to make a *lot* of Nuyen - perhaps a sick relative that needs rare gene-treatment, a massive gambling debt to the Mafia, or some other reason that requires a level of income that can't be achieved as a wageslave - and something they're prepared to engage in "moral flexibility" to realise.

The characters are already in a team - they had been running for a few months in some undisclosed European country, making a name for themselves and starting to work towards the bigger jobs when there was "the incident". One of the team died, and when something goes sideways in the future it will be compared to how badly this missing teammember screwed up. But, as a result the team had to leave Europe and relocated to Seattle, to start over and work on building up a rep here instead.

They're all happy for a full on gritty grimdark experience, with no triggers stated and all activities on the table.

So far we have
Player 1 - Going for an Elven Mage with style inspired by the Bright movie, a good range of combat and utility spells and plenty of lore / background skills dealing with the astral realm and paranormal activity.

Player 2 - Going for a decker/face, with a splash of street sam. Decent enough weapon skills to hold her own, but good social stuff and computer gear, a decent starting deck and a knowsoft link to allow customisation for skills later.

Player 3 - A rigger/tech monkey, with a single-skill set of skillwires that will handle a R5 chip and expert drivers, a good range of vehicle skills to back up the VCR1 and the Edge "Vehicle Empathy", and built as a strong physical character capable of wearing reasonable armour and dismounting an LMG from the vehicle to bring with them on foot.

Player 4 - The only player with experience of SR3, he's going for a phys-ad combat character, with movement skills (great leap / wall running) and some of the more interesting combat stuff - nerve strike, elemental strike, distance strike kinda things. Going with a pole-weapon build backed up by Hwarang-do martial art for some of the special moves.

We've started work on the characters, building to 135 build points as they're supposed to be somewhat experienced already, but with the standard max rating 6 / availability 8 limits as they had to leave their previous life in a hurry. Hopefully due to start playing in October time.
GM extraordinaire, Kren! Good for you.

I'm looking forward to seeing this story develop.
It does sound awesome - I'm definitely looking forward to the recaps!
Kren Cooper
Just to be clear - and so nobody is confused / disappointed / expecting anything - I'm *not* planning on doing a story / narrative / writeup of this game, or posting the results of the sessions - there just isn't enough time in the week to do a 2nd game like the smugglers. A 2 hour game on Tuesday night, normally takes between 4-6 hours of Saturday to write up, proof, post and do the "behind the scenes" of. Unless I can somehow manage to convince my employer that writing up Shadowrun games counts as network administration, I don't think I'll manage it during the week!

If people do want to see the occasional update and find out how things are going, I can do something much less regular - or if I can persuade one of the players to write up their notes, then I can post those - if people want to see?
Absolutely! Sharing is caring, as we say at the Universal Brotherhood.
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