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I need all the help I can get from you guys. I own the following, all 3rd Edition:

Shadowrun Core
Shadowrun Companion
New Seattle
Man and Machine
Magic in the Shadows
Cannon Companion
Target: Matrix
SOTA: 2063
Mr Johnson's Little Black Book
Sprawl Survival Guide
Year of the Comet

I do NOT own Rigger 3 (just haven't found it locally)

Anyway, what I need from you guys is a basic Shadowrun primer. What are the do's and don'ts of running the game? What are the hardest parts for GM's to handle? Which books are insanely broken and which are unrivalled masterpieces? How should I handle Deckers? Are Riggers feasible without their sourcebook? What are some general guidelines or rules of thumb to follow. What are some of your experiences with the Shadowrun system or setting in general?

I've read as much of the GM advice in the various books but I'm looking for an outside pespective.

Believe me, anything...ANYTHING is appreciated. After so long not playing, it's quite challenging to re-immerse myself back into the SR world, so believe me when I say thanks in advance for any help you can offer.

Oh, and uh... go easy on the newbie! smile.gif
Riggers aren't terribly interesting without their sourcebook, IMO. It's more than worth it.

Handle Deckers like you handle mages: make sure you can do something with the other players while they're ducking off in their own little space (cyberspace for the deckers, astral space for the mages), and don't make every little thing overcomplicated. Oh, and remind the player that they don't need to duke it out with every piece of IC, they can jack out and wait.

And that's about as much as you're going to get out of me right now without some more specificity in questions. A good night's sleep might give me fodder to work on a few more of the one's you've posed already, though.

biggest tip I can give: keep the game moving. this applies for every aspect, combat, legwork, buying new gear. even when every last member of the team is doing their own thing, make sure someone is interacting and moving toward a goal at all times.

One of the quickest ways to lose a groups focus is to have nothing happen for five minutes.

Learn the rules of everything an npc is going to use before the session starts. for things like spirits, gear, etc get the stats out on paper or notecard or into your laptop (if you use one) before the session starts, the last thing you want to be doing is looking these things up midgame.

If you can't remember the rules for something you want an npc to do: don't do it, or if you have to- wing it.

if you don't know the rules for something a character wants to do (and they don't remember/know them either) wing it. if it's a matter of life or death for a PC- then go ahead and look it up. if you wing it, remember to be consistent for the rest of this session. then look it up after the game ends.

Remember that NPC's have families and goals and fears and hopes and dreams too. don't get caught up in the stats, and roleplay them as much as possible.

Encourage your players to know the rules that affect their character. you'll be amazed how much this speeds up the 'slow' parts of the game.

Remember that anyone with a gun is potentially lethal to a PC, no matter how much karma that PC has. Remind your players of this (ingame preferably) periodically too.

try to work in as much setting specific detail as possible. if you run in Seattle, Make sure you mention things like the sound, the space needle, Have a run in the redmond barrens that goes through portions of the Microsoft compound. Make sure the players KNOW they are in seattle. don't let the setting become AnyCity, UCAS.

as far as general tips with respect to the game system.

Shadowrun to me is meant to be an uphill struggle. and about anti-heroes at best. Shadowrun isn't about The heroic and ultimately successful campaign to rid the world of evil. nor is the team the 'destined light warriors' of the realm. don't fudge dice to keep anyone alive. NPC, PC, Ultimate Villian. if the numbers say they got a bullet to the head and DocWagon can't respond in time. then they die. (or at least hand of god) Death is Meant to be a part of this game. it takes out the challenge if your players are convinced that the worst that can happen is a new cyberlimb and a point of magic gone.

Don't save your favorite NPC villian either. if the PC's get a lucky shot, clap them on the back and congratulate them. your plot can adapt to fill the gap made by their untimely passing.

oh and final point: you have the last word in everything. if there's a rules disagreement, your decision is final for that session. then go look it up. and bring the exact and correct rule to the start of the next session. Let the players know that any issues will only be addressed after the game is concluded (see the first point about keeping the game moving) rules arguments are only interesting for the people having them.

a bit longer than I was planning. but wink.gif I guess I had a lot to say.
I would say that if you can DM a good campaign in the a city in D&D, then you should make a good Shadowrun GM. No matter how obvious it might seem, there is a difference between the Dungeon Crawl and playing in a city. How many of you have you heard:

GM: You arrive in town
PC: OK, we heal up and get some ****, and then we'll head to *****

Shadowrun works at expanding the above 2 lines into a story.
Combat can get really bogged down if you are used to other RPG systems. Become familiar enough with the rules so that you can give suggestions to the new players. When using NPCs, remember that their first action probably will be "take cover" and draw their weapons (if it isn't already out) and/or call for backup. Remind the players to take cover and use movement modifiers to their advantage, as well as explaining how to use Combat Pool to dodge. I highly suggest that you have at least one "light" combat involving easy-to-kill paracritters or gangers so that everyone can get used to how you are going to use the combat rules.

When preparing the run, think about three approaches to completing the run: The Loud, the Quiet, and the Social. The Loud is the assault, guns ablazing, and is likely to get all the runners killed if they aren't sufficiently prepared (especially when the cops arrive). The Quiet relies on stealth and sneaking past the obstacles to get to objectives. The Social involves manipulating people and information to get what you want (a prime example: a female character seduces a tech at the facility you are infiltrating, a character fast talks his way into a building claiming to be a plumber or a journalist). By no means are these the limits of how to complete a run, but it will get you thinking for starters.

Make sure everyone has something to do. While it may be impossible at times, it will go a long way to making the experience enjoyable for everyone. One way to do this is to make at least one obstacle for each character. For a mage, this may be a ward, or a patrolling spirit. For a decker, it can be a computer search, hacking into a system, or scrutinizing data (to discover it's a forgery). For a rigger, it could be getting away, or doing recon work, or even drone vs. drone battles. For a street sam or adept, it could be a single powerful opponent that only the sammie can take down.

Encourage the players to do legwork and recon work before going on the run. Encourage the notion that the players are professionals and that they have a reputation to maintain. And remember that every action should have a reaction, even though it may not be visible to the players at first.

As far as the game world, remember that Shadowrun combines elements of fantasy and cyberpunk, but it also breaks most of the conventions and stereotypes of those two genres. The PCs aren't out to kill the dragons and orks, and the Corporations don't control EVERYthing (though it's pretty close). Treat is as historical fiction rather than science fiction in terms of scope... this isn't Rifts.

You can probably find a list of some Shadowrun-themed movies and media out there, and that can greatly help you get the "feel" of the game. My personal "short list": Mission Impossible (the part at the beginning, and the "screwover"), Heat, Ronin, Payback.
Ultimate NPCs do not require fudging. They usually don't have stats to roll and hence do not require any fudging.
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