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Well, I have played for a little while (a few months) and I am about ot start GMing so I can get a more regular fix, and so I can create wild conspiracies.

I am going to be introducing a fresh team of shadowrunners who have never played anything but D&D... Now, I was wondering, what rules issues come up the most frequently and thus deserve the most in-depth explanation. I plan to explain the rules and make characters today, then start a run this weekend. I do not expect them to learn EVERY rule and know about EVERY eventuallity, but I want them to have a working knowledge of enough things that they can play effectively.

I am thinking combat, and decking will be the hardest things. Magic might need a little extra explanation but my players are going to be smart enough to understand the magic system fiarly quickly I think. What do you think? (I am only using the MAIN RULEBOOK for these guys at first, I do not want them to spend hours pouring over M&M to find the coolest cyberware, I want them to focus on RULES).
Hardest part of making the D&D -> SR transition is to realize that the game mechanics are completely different.

Some of my struggles:
1) You will roll many dice at once instead of 1 or 2.
2) There are no "hit points", everyone has the same number of boxes.
3) Weapon damage looks weird.
4) Starting players are powerful, so are your enemies.
5) There are no "magic items" that mundanes can really "use".
6) You are who you know. Makes some friends, and kill less often.
7) No exprience points, but Karma, karma, karma!
8) Spells per day means nothing in SR.
9) No "Classes" and no "Levels" per say.

The list goes on...

Be patient! Be open to questions! Oh, and kill one of them to let them know you are boss.

Remind them that SR is nothing like D&D, they can't just go to someone and start hitting them. While explaining the rules, try using a couple made up scenario's to show why it's a good idea to wear armour and why it's even better to be behind something else for cover in combat. That way they get some idea of how things work and some things they shouldn't do before they go out into the "real world" and make those mistakes.
QUOTE (GrinderTheTroll)
and kill one of them to let them know you are boss.

The temptation is there...

Hitpoints/Experience are more theological rather than rules related, weapon damage ratings will definately freak them out so I have been working on a way to explain how weapons and damage work.
Most important in my opinion is to make sure that the players have a grasp on the Sixth World (as you picture it), and how it differs from their usual fantasy environment.
Yes, background would appear to be the most importent part. AND THE REASON SHADOWRUN > ALL.

Enough background for several systems.
The background and the fluff really is the most important thing. If they can grasp, accept and like the background and the sixth world the rules are ancilliary really.
The setting is all...

A good way to approach it is to compare the SR universe to today. Right now you can't walk into an office building and expect to get away with shooting some security guards and the CEO, so why in a world of high tech surveillance do they think they can get away with it. Shadowrun is a world of consequences, and the players need to stay in the shadows.
The most important difference to stress is that Shadowrun is not a class based level system. If all they have ever played is D&D then they may have a hard time with this. the best way to get over this is to say that a classless system for characters is sort of like making Multi-class characters in D&D. funny enough this is how a D&D player once explained the difference to me when I went from playing SR --> D&D.

The other problem is character advancement.

Oh yeah! A few tips that will help distance you'all from D&D and bring you closer to SR. Do not call your game an 'Adventure'. In Shadowrun characters do not go on adventures, but rather they go on 'Runs'. Also there is no such thing as a 'Party'. PCs are members of a 'Team' which may be longterm, or temporary.

Make these distinctions clear to them, and when one of them says "Let's go on a Shadowrun adventure," just laugh at him and tell him how he is wrong. wink.gif

Wounded Ronin
You know what I'd do? Just start out by explaining how SR is more realistic than d20. Point out how in d20 someone like John Mullins would have so many hitpoints that he'd practically be immune to .45 ACP just by virtue of being cool. Point out how in Shadowrun he'd still die just like in real life from a bunch of .45 ACP rounds.

Then I'd use the example of Rainbow Six. In the game Rainbow Six, all your characters are supposed to be these super Tom Clancy military badasses, but they still die pretty easily when they're hit. On the other hand, they can drop everyone with a headshot. Explain how shadowrun is more like Rainbow Six and less like Rambo. Rambo and his presence as a character carrying the day is to Rainbow Six and semirealistic strategy is as d20 is to Shadowrun.

Yeah, that's how I'd explain it.
QUOTE (Supercilious)
I am about to start GMing

Tutorial for introducing new players to Shadowrun. Just my suggestions.

New players don't have to read ANYTHING before their first Run. Spend the first 15-20 minutes of play time describing the world. These are things from pages 21-36 that you think are important. Vitas plague (2010, one quarter of worlds population dies to disease). The awakening (2011, elves and dwarves and dragons). Magic. NAN. UCAS. Trolls and Orks. Corporations. What Corporations do to each other. How Shadowrunners exist to do Corporate dirty work. How other people occasionally hire Shadowrunners too.

Describe the city of Seattle, or wherever it is that your campaign is set in. Corporate skyscrapers. Residential enclaves. Hired police (Lone Star). Wage Slaves. Archologies. Extraterritorality. Redmond Barrens. Class 'B' and 'C' neighborhoods. SINs and SINless. Explain Contacts and what they are good for.

The players should pick Archetypes from the book for their first few Runs. Don't run Riggers or Deckers for now. Don't introduce magicians until you're solid on their rules yourself. A good way to introduce magic is for the GM to run an NPC magician, as part of the team, before any player tries to run a magician. Spend 15 or 20 minutes going over their characters with the players. Make all of them listen when you describe a character, because they need to learn it all.

The GM should run an NPC who is an experienced Shadowrunner, who can give good advice, but who is not a leader in either talking or in combat. For example, an old guy who tells them "My old team would do legwork now. They would do it by going out and talking with their contacts, finding out what they know about xxx, yyy, and zzz. Can we all get back here by 11 PM so we can decide what to do next?" Or perhaps a young guy that is just a medic and magical healer, useless during battle but great at putting people back together afterwards. (For example, an Aspected Bear Shaman -- See 'Shamanist' on SR3 p. 160.)

Emphasize that all characters are just a dozen or so boxes away from death all the time. Getting killed by gunfire can ruin your whole day, and any punk can buy a gun.

Introduce the notion of 'professional' shadowrunner. A reputation for discretion, a reputation for getting the job done, a reputation for using no more power or force than what the job calls for. (Using too much force will attract retribution AND make other Mr. Johnson's hesitant to hire you.)

Play Food Fight. This is an 8 page adventure from the Shadowrun book "First Run", and gives the players an introduction to Shadowrun Combat. Food fight is not about "roleplaying". It's about introducing the combat system.

Play the Shadowrun Missions adventure "Mission Briefing". (find it on This allows roleplaying their characters in a daylight setting (no big guns, no big armor) where they have to keep a low profile but still get the job done.

Play the Shadowrun Missions adventure "Demolition Run". They get to do Combat and Blow Things Up. Both are fun. But they don't have to do much legwork.

At this point, the players have ONLY used two chapters of the book. Combat (p. 100) and Street Gear (p. 270). Next teach them Sorcery and Astral Space.

Now you find out if you've hooked them. If you have, they'll want to read the rules and learn how to make their own characters. Don't force them. If, at this point, they are not willing to read the rules then you've not hooked them.

Introduce Matrix and Rigging at your leisure.

Anyway, that's my 2 nuyen. Use it for what it's worth.
Wounded Ronin
In my first experiences playing SR I got railed from not deeply unerstanding the rules. Like, I'd just suddenly die out of the blue from taking an SMG burst, or I'd go ahead and give myself S stun from drain whenever I tried to cast a spell. This was because I didn't really understand TN injury modifiers, how magic worked, how combat worked, etc.

So I dunno...I kind of think the rules are important for newbies.
Kanada Ten
So I dunno...I kind of think the rules are important for newbies.

I'm not sure explaining them outside of the game works well though. Running Food fight and letting each player learn about their characters and the mechanics seems to work really well. Obviously the enemies need to be softcore to do this, and the players mature enough to know an example encounter doesn't predicate the entire game. In the 13 some years I've played, only one character has died while I GM'ed - and only becasue I decided to kill it.

Then again, I also think that allowing them to build their first character works wonders for getting players interested in the game.
Sandoval Smith
Don't drop them into SR cold. Have each of your players read the SR3 rulebook (at least the important parts, combat, skills, and history of the world). Make sure they understand the setting. I've had a couple friends who tried to introduce me to a system by giving a brief summary of the rules, and then get the game started, not bothering to cut me any slack for not actually having read any of the rulebooks. It's a really frustrating way to learn a game.

Getting the hang of the damage system was what took me the longest for SR, and understanding how power and armor related to eachother, and all that good stuff. Hence why actually reading the rules is so important.

Have the players use the archtypes, and do a few rounds of combat, just to get the hang of things without too much pressure. Do the same for trying out skills. The best way to learn is by doing, but losing characters in game because you didn't understand how all the rules worked is pretty discouraging.
Crusher Bob
The most important thing is to decide what kind of SR game you want to play:

Robin hoods of the underworld?
Grimy street criminals living from hand to mouth?
Professional criminals for hire?

Once you have decided what kind of game you want to run (best done in conjuction with your players, they are going to be playing in it, after all). They have a 'bull session' with the players, telling them what kind of consequences (in the game world) they can expect for certain actions (stuff like killing people/cops, blowing stuff up, leaving evidence, etc). Ideally come up with a list of books/movies/anime/whatever that describe the setting and feel of the game you planon running (Sneakers, Hardboiled, Star Wars??)

SR can be run as a beer an pretzels gams just like D&D can, or not...
I completely agree. Before anything else happens, make absolutely sure you have a clear idea of what game you want to play and where you want it to go, and be damn certain your players understand that and want to play in that game. If you and your players don't all understand eachother and aren't all playing the same game, I guarantee you will have a gigantic mess on your hands.

Secondarily, be careful of your players' neuroses. If you're playing a group of cool people that are at least reasonably sane, lucky you. I get the feeling most groups are like that. But if you're not, and I've run into it far too much personally to not bring it up here just in case, be very wary of how and if you play with these people, as things can get very fucked up very fucking fast.
Wounded Ronin
So you're saying not to play with neurotic people because they're neurotic?
No, I'm saying I have played with people for whom neurotic would be unreasonably generous and have acquired a wealth of knowledge in how to recognize and deal with them.
Sandoval Smith
Don't get pissed at the players and do petty things to the characters, just because you can.

That's actually a much harder rule to follow than most people would think, since it's a temptation, especially with people you've gamed with for a while (because there was that one game your friend GMed, and boy would you like to pay him back...).

Or when they're doing everything BUT following the leads in the adventure you went to so much trouble to make, and you just want to smack them.
Well, I think I have trapped my god complex in the closet after playing years of D&D.

I am currently writing my first "run." (God I want to call them adventures). I am a total conspiracy addict, so Shadowrun helps me... I am going to be having some elaborate plot trees.
Getting used to the "Magic YOU cast, can possibly knock you out or kill you when you cast it." may be something a 'pure' D&D player may have difficulty getting used to. In D&D you can cast spells to your heart's content, as long as you have the slots for it. In SR, theoretically you can cast any spell you have any number of times, but you have to check for burnout (of sorts) every time you do.

It is more difficult in SR to determine the difficulty of a foe just by looking at them. Unlike D&D. To a degree, certain foe types only pop up at certain Challenge Ratings. In SR, you can't tell if Joe Security guard is newbie, uncybered, walking-target or Joe supercyberdude until you try to pop him.

D&D you sorta get used to the Lord of the Rings effect, where high level characters raze through hordes of mobs all by themselves. In SR, for the mostpart, numbers make a difference.

In D&D, its not so bad to rack up the fame and become a legendary figure. In SR, (my opinion) leaving less of a trail and instead having the quiet satisfaction (and big bank account) of a job well done, is preferable. You're going to gather enemies, taht's pretty much a given. But why give them a big neon target when you don't have to?
Sandoval Smith
QUOTE (Voran)
In D&D, its not so bad to rack up the fame and become a legendary figure. In SR, (my opinion) leaving less of a trail and instead having the quiet satisfaction (and big bank account) of a job well done, is preferable. You're going to gather enemies, taht's pretty much a given. But why give them a big neon target when you don't have to?

It's seemed to have worked pretty well for the Gingerbread Man.

It isn't that hard to switch over from D20 magic to SR. I like the fact that can cast as many spells as you want, as many times as you want. You just had better be able to soak all that drain.

The challange rating system is also a pretty decent GM tool. It can help you realize if you've made an encounter to weak, or strong, before the PCs take a run at it, and either blow through everything in front of them, or get summarily reduced to greasy smears on the floor.
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