Help - Search - Members - Calendar
Full Version: A faster style to play shadowrun
Dumpshock Forums > Discussion > Shadowrun

Me and my group are thinking about our style to play shadowrun and the problems with it... First of all, I started playing sr again maybe a year ago with a mixed group of people, some of them new to SR, some of them I have been playing with since like 1996... but we don't manage to play very often, maybe once a month or even less. The main reason are time constraints, everyone has work, studies, parties and so on... There are five players and almost every time we want to play there is one person who is too busy, often even more then one. I think the last time we played is three months ago, but since it's summer thats okay... Too much other good things to do...

Anyway, even if we manage to play now and then, we don't get anything done. We started to play the first adventure from shadow of the comet and after like four sessions we still aren't through... a session lasts between 4 or maybe 6 ours... I'm not sure why this is the case, ok, fights are a bit slow and stuff, but I can't say the players are particularly bad players or are thinking too long about their stuff... After all, they have to plan what to do.

It's not that it is not fun for us this way, just... I don't know... It would be nice for them to get some karma here and there I think... so here is what we came up with so far:

- A smaller group of only the three players that are the most reliable. I think the others aren't interesterd in playing at the moment anyways... The cahracters would be a group of people that specialize on particular runs...
- No more big "adventure style" runs that take us two or three years to complete. I want to come up with small, but interesting runs, that can be done in one session.
- Only rules from the BBB and there only the most basic. No deckers, riggers, maybe even no magic chars or only adepts and aspected sorcerers, to get rid of the sprit summoning and stuff... If there is a car chase, not using the standard rules as the are too complicated, I can handle a chase in a more freeform way (I think). Gear and ware from other books is okay...

So why am I posting this here? First, I would like to hear any comments wether you experienced similar problems like those I described. Second, do you have any good ideas for three-character-teams? I will let the players decide, of course, but a bit of inspiration would be nice... Third, what are good quick runs, especially for such a group? How can I spice up a standard run a bit without elaborating a complex storyline spanning the whole world? Fourth and last, any comments on the rules issue? How can I speedup common tasks such as car chases, legwork and so on? I know legwork and Mr. Johnsons are integral parts of a shadowrun but maybe I could try to do somthing like "you got this run with a fixed sum of payment and a pile of information from shadowland".
Don't know about 3 character teams, but I'm going to find out, hopefully soon. The group I'm currently trying to hold together is only three players. I'm planning on using some of my characters as NPC's to round out the team if need be, but only one at any given time for simplicity purposes. I'm figuring on running them through Food Fight with a NPC team member and seeing how they hold under combat situations, and a short variable-tailored run after that to use as a judge of what only 3 can handle.
As the group currently consistes of a bio-cyber sammy, full shaman, and a totally mundane skill-jocky/wheelman/face. I won't be using decking except as a NPC contact hired as needed. Plus three of my own characters to be used as-needed to boost the team, a weapons expert archatype char (my first SR3 char), a hermetic sorcerer, and a toughnes/melee oriented adept.
Well, I can only speak to one aspect of your question but here goes. I GM a three-character group and their combination is tremendously effective:

Primary Role (Secondary Role)

Muscle (tactician, squad leader, face-to-face legwork)
Magic (astral overwatch, reconnaissance, fire support)
Matrix (surveillance/countersurveillance, muscle)

N.B.: the decker provides back-up firepower / combat ability.
Just wait till August and, if some divine force likes us and it turns out a faster game to play, play 4th edition. smile.gif

Capping all non-streetsam characters from SR means taking a LOT from the world, more than I think an increase in gaming speed is worth. Besides, I have found the most time-consuming affauir to be complicated firefights - so maybe there you need to cap things a bit. To avoid a firefight every session, you could for instance run an investigative campaign that relies more on roleplay and short dice action (conjuring watchers, making opposed tests for all kinds of situations, you name it). That way, you'd keep the variety among characters that to a large part makes Shadowrun interesting, and not be crushed beneath the rules bureaucracy of combat.

However, if you want to keep playing 3rd edition, shut out the decker. It's unfortunate, but deckers are nigh unplayable.
I GM 2-3 evenings a month for 4 players who live a long drive away, and I've started using e-mail "pre-op" work with some success. As much as legwork and shopping can be fun to role-play, they often cause runners to go their separate ways and can eat up a lot of game time. I now set aside the last 30-45 minutes at the end of an evening to role-play the meet with the next Johnson. Then we call it a night, and over the next week or two I exchange e-mails with the entire group as well as individual players to answer questions and work out what each runner is investigating or buying. I start the next gaming session with a quick recap and then we go directly to the run.

For variety, I also allow each player to maintain two characters, but only use one during play. This means that the team configuration changes with every job and they can customize their team skills to some extent. They can also switch to their second runner when one if off getting patched up or initiated.

As far as small teams are concerned, several tried and true methods have been discussed here. Make the decking and rigging strictly-NPC jobs, maybe even farm out magical support if your core players aren't as interested in magic. Then look at ideal types of jobs for smaller groups, for example:
- work that relies on stealth (recon for a larger run by another team, industrial espionnage, courier duty, etc..)
- scaled-down jobs for patrons who can't afford large teams (from Eco-groups to splinter churches to impoverished suburban mall corporations !)
- other jobs like bodyguard duty, scavenging components, teaching "special skills", etc..

You can sometimes spice up a run by dropping nebulous hints of something bigger involved without having prepared anything to that effect. Drop various exotic clues, quotes and props in a vanilla run then sit back and watch. Listen to the paranoid discussions of your players, who can often come up with a more twisted and interesting plot that you would, and then take that and twist it just enough to still be able to surprise them later on. Or don't, and just adjust the clues to drive them crazy and keep them on edge without them ever seeing the giant white shark under the boat...

And if you're into a lot of combat, consider options to speed it up. My players love gunfights (big surprise), enough so that I've converted all dice rolls from 4 to 15 dice (on targets of 2 to 15) into a set of percentile tables using a d000 (they take up two sheets of paper). That is saving us a lot of time compared to throwing a small bucket of dice onto the table for each bulet fired and sorting them out visually.
3 player teams?

Ours has:

1 metalhead, cyberware/bioware, doubles as face now.
1 drake adept, warrior's way.
1 magician's way adept, shaman.

We've had NPC help for most runs, usually magical -- full shaman, full mage/decker, magician's way adept, and occassionally muscle (cyber and bio'd orc/elf). Sometimes none, sometimes all of them. With some redshirts as well. (non-standard setting, a little like Assets Inc)

We started playing with just BBB and magic in the shadows, with just the PC adept (pre-drake) and metalhead. We expanded in other books over time, Companion, Canon Companion, allowing changes to characters for it (like buying edges/flaws), using the martial arts rules.

That being said, we still take probably 5-6 hours to do a session, and many of our games run over 2 sessions. It's never really bothered us. The summoning hasn't really slowed anything down -- but it has saved us before.
QUOTE (hermit)

However, if you want to keep playing 3rd edition, shut out the decker. It's unfortunate, but deckers are nigh unplayable.

Not always, the fast decking rules in MJLBB are workable. Though I haven't completely culled PC deckers, I am waiting to see if SR4 does anything improvable with decking that I can retro-convert, if not I'll just work on the rules in MJLBB to make something.
QUOTE (hermit)
However, if you want to keep playing 3rd edition, shut out the decker. It's unfortunate, but deckers are nigh unplayable.

I must respectfully disagree. The decking rules are far more elegant than the combat rules, or the astral quest rules (although astral quests don't hapen often enough to be cumbersome.)
I've never had problems with the Third Ed decking rules. Much quicker then previous editions. Riggers on the other hand... still haven't bothered to figure out those rules.
Chopping out deckers and riggers will save you a lot of time. Conjuring isn't usually that bad, though. Perhaps you'd make a strong suggestion that your players take a shaman rather than a hermetic - that way they probably only get one spirit at a time and don't have to bother with materials.

But take heart - a three person group that didn't use decking or vehicles is exactly how I used to play Shadowrun in my favorite campaign of all time! And one of those players had to do double duty as a GM, which we rotated around. You aren't likely to lose much flavor from the world - but it's important that you squeeze everything you can out of what you have left. Make sure your players are excited about their characters and motivated to learn all of the little rules that apply to them. What you propose will be faster and it will be a whole lot of fun!
I've converted all dice rolls from 4 to 15 dice (on targets of 2 to 15) into a set of percentile tables using a d000 (they take up two sheets of paper).

Pinel, can I have a copy of this. I've considered doing the same with some d6 probabilities I found on the net. Do your players roll d6 tests or d%?
Thanks for your comments so far! At the moment I am thinking about possibilities for the group, and for skillsets that would be needed in the kind of runs I envision:

- social skills (a face)
- stealth and athletics guy
- electronics stuff for locks etc.
- a bit of magic
- someone who can drive a car
- Someone who can do first aid or heal with magic
- a bit of muscle and weapons proficiency

Some ideas for this would be

- A shaman with illusion and control manipulation spells and social skills (as the "face"). If they ever need to fight a spirit he could conjure one himself so he 's also good for that.
- Alternatively the shaman could be stealth and athletics specialist with fitting illusion spells. He would then have enogh room for a heal spell.
- One guy with the skillsets stealth, athletics and electronics stuff... This would be interesting for runs with hard-to-reach doors that are locked from the inside or control panels for some mechanism
- stealth / athletics / martial arts combination
- the "driver" could be contracted out if there is noone who can afford a good skill...
- A weapons specialist with focus on small and easily concealable stuff, maybe he could be the driver also
- and some other ideas

The difficult thing to do is to come up with a group that really fits together so thet there is not one of them who feels like "he can do all the rest the others can't do"...
At the risk of echoing what's been said already, SR can be a somewhat "slow" game because of its "core story." The basic run set-up is: runners recieve a job from the J, runners work contacts to learn who is screwing who (leg-work), runners illegally conduct their mission, runners triumph over resistance, runners prepare for fallout/double-cross, runners cash in.

When it comes down to it, only a small part of a shadowrun is actually "doing" the job. The rest is prep-work, contingencies, etc.

Especially with new players, what I always have wanted to do as a GM, is start a campaign/series of adventures with a run that I wrote. That is, bring the players to the table as a team, with a plan already written up. The plan should have everything a shadowrun requires, including a back-up plan, a get-away, who is selling what to whom, and what everyone's jobs are along the way. E.g., X is on the park bench, conducting astral overwatch, Y will cut the power at 23:17, Z will enter the bank vault, open the deposit box with a C12 charge, and acquire the chips. Doing this as the first run teaches new players how to conduct a run (which is not immediately obvious to many law abiding citizens) and sets up your mode of play. If there's no double-cross in the training run, players won't spend hours agonizing over contingencies. If there's no matrix or rigging in the trainer, odds are your players won't spend hours on those facets, etc.

Now, prion, you could use a trainer type run to introduce your pared down SR world (see, team, you don't need a full mage-- it's not the kind of game we're playing), but I think that if you introduce the game as a fast-paced on (A, B, C happen, bang-bang-bang) your players will catch on and start playing it that way. No need to pare down the game.
QUOTE (Link)
Pinel, can I have a copy of this. I've considered doing the same with some d6 probabilities I found on the net. Do your players roll d6 tests or d%?

Of course. The probabilities are laid out from 1 to 1 million (with the lowest and highest results getting slightly more generous odds), but players only roll the first three d10 and don't need to bother with the last three for 99% of tests. It's actually all tests of 4 to 15 dice for target numbers of 2 to 19; if you need to differentiate between dice groups (i.e. pool dice vs. skill dice) then you make a separate roll for each group. Otherwise it can substitute for just about any d6 test with a set TN.

E-mail me through my profile (or include an e-mail in your own profile and let me know) so that I can send it to you. It's an Excel spreadsheet from which you can print the tables, 350 KB or so.
This is a "lo-fi" version of our main content. To view the full version with more information, formatting and images, please click here.
Dumpshock Forums © 2001-2012