Stuffed Crocodile

Mazes, Martians, Mead

Tag Archives: Shadowrun

[Shadowrun] A Night’s Work (1990 Shadowrun Promo)

Action! Magic! Matrix! Cheesy CGI! Improbable 80s hairstyles! This one has it all!

[Shadowrun] Run 1.1: Speakeasies, Devil Rats, and lots of Pizza

So, we had our first session of Shadowrun 5th edition today. It was a bit of a surprise for me. I had the rules beforehand (only as a pdf though, which was hard to read from), but I did not actually plan to do anything with it. Then my players actually asked if we could play some. It seems they didn’t play the pen and paper game yet, but they did play Shadowrun Returns.
It went ok, I guess.

We did not actually get far, despite the fact that I consciously had my players choose archetypes from the books instead of creating characters by the priority system. But then it turned out that one of us had to go on a spontaneous business trip in the morning, and another had to be home earlier. So, we managed to get the meeting with the fixer, the meeting with the Johnson, a single fight, and some legwork in.
On the other hand we want to meet next week again, which would be a record for our group.
The group consisted of a Chinese Ork gunslinger with triad ties (the archetype from 4th edition), a covert ops specialist (also from 4th), a black dwarfish decker with an online persona modeled on the Ms. Marple novel (the archetype from 5th ed.), and an occult investigator with an alcohol problem (also from 5th). I considered properly converting the archetypes from 4th edition to 5th, and then realized that the ones from 5th edition are wrong anyway, so I just did some basic conversion stuff to be able to get going and left it at that (well, I calculated the limits for the characters). If they get hooked on the game I might be able to create proper characters with them, so far those were mostly just so I could show them what was possible.
I also made pizza and salad, and one of my players brought tiramisu brownies, so that should have helped keeping the mood up.
I should have studied the combat rules more intently. I wanted to do some test fights against some opponents, but in the end I did not have the time for that. And that was after I had a week more to grok everything. Basically I only grokked most of the rules on Thursday. We were supposed to play last Saturday but had to reschedule, so that was not possible. So, after another week I now felt able to do it properly. It was a partial success. The Shadowrun 5 rulebook is slightly obtuse.
The characters met up (the decker only as an icon) in a dingy pizza place in Seattle Downtown, some dive that mostly was kept alive as a front for the owner’s fixer business. In a sort of emergent gameplay the characters all ordered a pizza and demanded to see the manager, which we established was the way to get an audience with the fixer. We soon came to the conclusion that that this also was the only reason why this place made any money to begin with.
The owner, a huge ogre called Mario, told them about a job. They were to meet their Johnson in The Speakeasy, a 1920s styled bar with some period-appropriate backrooms, and some less period-appropriate jukeboxes in the entrance hall. Hey, its all 20th century, ain’t it?
The Johnson was a mousy type who clearly was nervous. The job was simple: a datasteal from a small soda factory in Tacoma. The runners even managed to fret out the guys motivation, which either means I was playing the role really well, or just way too transparent.
After a few initial investigations the runners met at some dive bar in Redmond (The Crash) the occult investigator knew. She knew the bartender and asked if they could use the attic. Sure, the bartender said, if you don’t mind the rats. They did, but they agreed to take care of the rat problem, found out that the Ms. Marple-like icon they met at their fixer was actually a tough black dwarf, and then tried to take care of the rat problem.
And here I encountered the problem that I A) underestimated how tough devil rats are and B) did not completely figure out the combat system until 3 rounds in.
The combat took longer than expected, especially because I had to revise the rules constantly.
It took me nearly the first round before I noticed that yes, devil rats have a physical limit of 3, so they actually can’t have more than three successes in unarmed combat and defense rolls, even though I nearly burned a hole into the table with my successes.
The players on the other hand rolled mud. Most rolls they had did not even hit enough to start hurting the rats, and the ones that did glitched out at the same time. In the end it took 3 rounds until the decker finally managed to hit one of them by sheer luck. Two of the rats were finally killed by a spirit the occult investigator summoned, and that more because I couldn’t find the rules for spirits and did not want to bog down the game too much. Also I wanted to get on with things and at least I did roll successes for the spirit.
So then they had some planning and some legwork. After a short planning session one of them went out again to investigate further, he broke into an nearly abandoned property next to the factory and did some reconnaissance.
And then we had to stop.

Lets see what next week brings.

I remembered again what I liked about the game back when I played it more often, around 2000. The adventures are easy to do, the system is maybe not intuitive but easy to understand, and the background allows people to do a lot with their character. The world is just close enough for them to get into their roles properly, but far enough to have some really great worldbuilding in the game.

The Sweet Spot

Over time I found out something about roleplaying groups: There is a certain sweet spot in the size of a group. It’s roughly around 4 to 5 players. Less and the work of the DM becomes more tedious because players will have the constant need to bounce of from the GM in order to find their place in the gameworld, more and all the calculating and numbercrunching for all the characters bogs down everything. I don’t know how that latter thing goes with the rules-light systems I now espouse (Traveller and OD&D), but in Shadowrun and D&D 3rd it was a horror playing with more players. And I played with a lot of players sometimes.

My prime venue back then was the local youth club, of which I had been voted the leader through charisma and sheer awesomeness (the awesomeness partly being that I was the first in the group to have a car). But a lot of the guys there were geeks and so a lot of time went into playing RPGs, mostly D&D 3rd edition (which just had come out) and trying to edge in a few plays of other systems. I think the largest group I had back then was in Shadowrun though, with about 10 people sitting around the table, some of them newbies. It was horror. And I decided to never try that again. I now now that older games used to be played with much larger groups, I still don’t think I ever will cross the 7 or so again.

The sweet spot, it turned out over time, was with four players. And so far I haven’t had a really bad game with four players, if they were more or less in the game.

Of course that sometimes was a challenge, considering that some of the games were interrupted by lengthy discussions on the best pizza to order, bets on wether anyone would try the snails from the restaurant’s menu, and then later getting the pizza and stuffing us with it. Not with snils though, those for some reason were always sold out. Which leads to two different questions: 1. why were they on the menu if they never were available -and- 2. If they were available and really just always out, who in town ate so many snails to deplete the restaurant’s freezer?

I wonder about gaming food sometimes. Some people seem to have taken up the philosophy to not eat and drink anything on the table, while others (me included) like to drink some wine, beer, or mead on the side. And have a nice filling meal before or during the game.

This weekend there will be another session, and I should prepare something. Or at least think about what I should prepare. But the summer has arrived, it’s swelteringly hot outside and stuffy inside, and thoughts come only in drops, or they pour on the page just like that, but without much connection to actual gaming. The setting to play in I think would be Dark Sun, because I feel like that. But I don’t think my players would like yet another change of direction there. On the other hand the area we play in right now is the Wilderlands, so why not do something about that. I think I read the idea once before, and the Wilderlands of High Fantasy actually have a population lower than the Sahara. Lower than Athas even. And considering I am using the larger measures for the game (one hex = 1 league) that would make a lot of sense. A lot of terrible hidden stuff there in the wild lands I guess. Let’s make something out of that. I think I haven’t played up the danger of the whole area enough lately…