So, what do we LIKE about Shadowrun

Raleel

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there are thousands of threads on the internets about the flaws of Shadowrun. What do we like about it?

I'll start - I like that it transplants a bunch of D&D tropes (elf casters, troll fighters, etc) and puts them into a near future place. It has some very good art in several of the editions. To a point, I do like the gear porn, and I do love the commentaries in the sidebars in the supplements. It helps bring the world alive a bunch.
 

Gabriel

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What do I like? Well, that's a good question. I've never known exactly what it is that I liked about it, just that I do.

Shadowrun and I parted ways when 2e hit. I'm firmly a 1e SR guy.

I guess one thing I liked was the goofiness of it. Shadowrun never struck me as serious as other Cyberpunk style settings. When I saw the Clowns gang or the Gilligans in Cyberpunk 2020, it would break my suspension of disbelief. If I had seen the same thing in Shadowrun, I would have just accepted it. One of the people I know who ran Shadowrun invented SSONG (Secret Society of Ninja Grandmothers), a group of elderly ninja women who were cybered death machines. That kind of thing would have made me roll my eyes anywhere else, but in Shadowrun, it was just Tuesday.

I don't really want to use the word "gonzo" to describe Shadowrun. I've seen that term used elsewhere, and it largely is used to describe things I think are just nonsensical, ridiculous, and stupid. But I guess I'd have to say that Shadowrun was my version of gonzo.

I guess another thing I liked was that Shadowrun was it's own thing but simultaneously wasn't. The art that was heavily inspired by Blade Runner or scenes in other movies really set the mood. Then you had all this Native American stuff which just seemed random and out of left field, but gave the whole thing a distinct flavor.

I even dug the rules to a certain extent. I remember really digging those dice pools and counting successes and exploding dice.

Maybe more later.
 

Picaroon Jack

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On top of a new way of spinning cyberpunk, my favorite was Riggers. It was the first game that I encountered that really put a lot of detail into drones/vehicles. I am also a fan of street mages, and the spirit/totem mechanics. On a side note, I like how Aztechnology rolls off the tongue.

My experience is only 1E, though.
 

Silverlion

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I like the combination of futuristic tech with fantasy elements---where spellcasters, riggers, hackers, and gun bunnies can all take it to the MAN! (and yes, the MAN is a big part of my current SR game.) Evil corporate person, trying to oust people from their homes and using everything from the Corporate Housing Authority, INC. to out and out hired thugs to do it. (Of course 'why' was an ancient Shedim buried under one building she wanted to give her power, among just delighting in being a Corporate abuser of power.)

We've had twists and turns--an oriental man turned vampire with his engineered T-rex (purple and green with slight feathers) because of Barney's Matrix resurgence when he was a child. Gen-crafted Fox girl assassin/servants and him trying to lure a young teen to feed upon, and worse. Things going wrong even before the PC's got far cause the teen's mother was a former BTL addict/prostitute. The criminals trying to sell the girl but she'd been raised by the better off sister (middle corporate management) turns out her father was actually one of the Ork bodyguards of the said bad guy and when he found out they were selling his daughter offed both his twin brother and boss. But not before the vampire managed to escape with his daughter. PC's live in the same building and have been watching out for the teen's mom, and evil corp lady sent faked DNA test to show Bratva boss was her dad (not the Ork.) PC's arrive to rescue her and rescue the cortex bomb implanted fox girls.

They robbed the vampire blind in his Corp accounts, his house blew, and his high tech yacht--all rigged to, because he was paranoid. Now they've got rogue Skeleboys, and a Tong moving in--though currently held off by the Witchlords (Elf mage/shaman heavy gang.) Who actually kinda respect the PCs because our Adept went bare knuckles against a toxic spirit.



Nevermind the PC's are living in a building in "rough shape" they've taken to fixing up since the owner Petra (human) and her husband Vasily (old old troll.) gave them a place to live. (Except one of them who was already there.) They've helped feed the local ghoul populace and the well dressed and cultured ghoul leader Mr. Grin. Fight the Skeleboys gang (thus ghoul food) and are working on a low-income school plus bringing the building up to CHA code. It's been a wild ride so far.

PCs: Adept (Martial Artist, also fights spirits hand to hand.), Street Shaman (Bear) his new-minted during play Apprentice, Straight up living gun/infiltration sort, a mage who barely wakes up to do anything (and is likely to have bad things happen if he doesn't START acting in the groups interest), former Pro-cyber boxer on the run, turned Maintenance man, and also heavy gunner troll with additional mechanic skills (added recently.)


They keep working for a fixer/Mr. Johnson combo named the Grey Man, who usually finds jobs to help the community. (Like robbing a delivery of real Texas beef for a wedding BBQ, at a Corp-man's mansion since his daughter loved horses and old west matrix programs.) Which he split among local resident (besides his own cut he sold for a tidy sum, also gave the PC's some real meat.) PC's have been taking jobs to pay for building upgrades, and its been a blast so far.
 

finarvyn

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The setting as a whole is pretty cool. I remember reading the first Shadowrun novel and thinking, "yeah -- I could play in that campaign!"
 

Bashere

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For me it was the setting. I loved Cyberpunk and liked D&D and the two mixed was something I just could not pass up. I enjoy kitchen-sink settings (just ab out anything with superheroes, RIFTS, or even Torg for example) so this fit in quite nicely. And I really enjoyed running the world.

Our game ran for eight years, of which about twelve passed in game (if I remember right). It was awesome to see the characters change and advance, and even fall in love and in one case have kids. It was a hell of a thing and I am proud to have run it.
 

Picaroon Jack

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When I first started 1E and played the published adventures, we got tired of ALWAYS being double crossed by Mr. Johnson. So we wised up and started playing corporate characters. We sold out and started working for the man (or dragon). Years later we tried a happy medium and centered the game around a private detective/fixer. But my point is that once we broke out of the double cross trope the game REALLY picked up for us.
 
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Apparition

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I really like cyberpunk, but dislike medieval fantasy. On the other hand, many people prefer fantasy. The Shadowrun setting is a happy medium. I get to have my decker and guns, and they get to have their pointy ears and magic. I like that, it's a win-win for most. I poked fun at it earlier, but I like the D6 pool system.
 

Chris Brady

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I don't use the double cross all that often. Only if the plan was to send the team into a no win situation, but that's rare. Most Johnson's LOVE the idea of a skilled, deniable asset(s) on personal call. It's a matter of trust, and both parties have to show it. They trust the team to do the job as requested, and the team trusts the Johnson to pay them and be honest. Cuz if they double cross the team and they survive? Word will get around to not trust that corp, which means they start to have to do it in house, because no one else will work for them, which limits their plays and plans.
 

Picaroon Jack

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They trust the team to do the job as requested, and the team trusts the Johnson to pay them and be honest. Cuz if they double cross the team and they survive? Word will get around to not trust that corp, which means they start to have to do it in house, because no one else will work for them, which limits their plays and plans.
I'm sure they got past the double cross later on, but it was just the way it was in pre-made adventures at the time. Maybe they were designed as one-shots? But you're right, for a long running campaign, it does not make sense for corporations routinely enraging experts in moving in the shadows
 

Séadna

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A couple of things. I really like cyberpunk and despite the fantasy elements Shadowrun does feel very cyberpunk in terms of there being "The Man" has the right visuals in terms of what the skylines look like etc. The fantasy element has also allowed older Civilizations back through the reactivation of mythology so you have a futuristic Aztec society. Finally the focus on the heist and the potential of being betrayed by your contractors, heists are cool and the betrayal element is again one of the things that make it cyberpunk.

In short: Focused contract heist into an Aztec cyberpyramid ruled by a Lovecraftian dragon, escaping the activated fire spell while a dwarf hacks the obsidian doors.

Everything except the rules. :cry:
 

Gabriel

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Thanks to never playing any of the published adventures, I never had to suffer the omnipresent doublecross.

One guy did try to run Harlequin. I don't know if it was a bad adventure or just the way the guy was running it, but none of us liked it and we never got very far in it.

Someone had The Universal Brotherhood. I read that transcript insert, and thought it was an awesome story. No one ever ran the adventure, though.

We did nothing but homemade adventures. We didn't even have much other than the corebook. One guy had Grimoire. One guy had the animals book. A couple of us had Street Samurai's Guide. One guy had Virtual Realities, and we never used that as we never had deckers due to not understanding the decking rules at the time.

Most of the time our adventures started in a bar on the scummy side of town we liked. If we didn't like the pitch for the run, we'd decide if we wanted to go gang fighting or see about luring some Lone Star into an ambush.
 

Winterblight

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I don’t LIKE anything about Shadowrun, I LOVE it. It was sooo good that it wasn’t until I discovered a forum full of nerds discussing its many flaws that I gave pause and thought, ohh, I never noticed that before (Dumpshock, I’m looking at you). Seriously if you had asked we what was broken about 1st or 2nd edition Shadowrun, I couldn’t have told you. I would have stared blankly at you and thought you a madman.

The setting at the time was a stroke of genius. Near future cyberpunk, mixed with an extrapolated real Earth history that asked the question, what if magic had returned to the world? Not what if the world had magic, but what happened if it returned?

It’s not just that magic had returned, but that magic was slowly building, allowing all manner of fantastic surprises to be introduced such as the bug sprit infestation. The fact that magic was a great equalizer and the corps, didn’t have control of it the way they did with every other aspect of life. I loved how Shadowrunners where pitted against the corps yet were held in check as the corps had extraterritoriality and could deal out what reprisal they deemed necessary. Later I also enjoyed the connection to Earthdawn. I loved the metaplot and how things were tore down and reshaped making it feel like a dynamic living world.

Dice pools were new to me, so I loved throwing handfuls of dice, I still do. The adventures were good, some of the source books were just so good that I still look at them today. The Street Samurai Catalogue is still one of the best sourcebooks I’ve ever owned and it was never off the table. Some of the novels I’ve read many times, and 2XS is still one of my all-time favourite books. I like some of the really darker aspects of Shadowrun.
 

FeralToaster

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For me it was a setting that wasn't afraid to go big with the ideas. cyberpunk plus manapocalypse plus four or five distinct zombie outbreaks plus ancient immortals working hidden agendas made be very forgiving for less than elegant mechanics. I just finished the Book of the Lost, a few weeks ago and it was impressive the number of good story ideas that the book layed out. All of them as far as I'm aware, are dealing with a whole new magical macguffin in the metaplot.
 

Justin Alexander

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I'm sure they got past the double cross later on, but it was just the way it was in pre-made adventures at the time.
The double-cross cliche is actually a classic example of a development team not understanding what made their game work.

The primary difference between Shadowrun and other cyberpunk games at the time it came out was not the addition of fantasy elements (although those were cool). It was the default scenario structure of "shadowrunners get job from Mr. Johnson." The constant double-crosses directly undermine the default scenario structure by making players distrust the Johnsons and reject their jobs.

It would be as if TSR published a never-ending stream of modules featuring dungeons that automatically collapsed and killed all the PCs as soon as they got four or five rooms into them. Wadda twist! Now the players don't want to go in the dungeon any more!
 

Simlasa

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I bought a few Shadowrun books for modern-ish maps or if the adventure looked interesting enough to borrow for another system. I didn't totally mind the concept of there being fantasy/magic in the setting... the 'standard fantasy races' stuff did put me off, but I did like the insect spirits (Invae in Earthdawn, IIRC). I think I wanted the fantasy to be stranger and darker... but then, I always gravitate toward horror elements in games.
 

Raleel

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You all think the heist is the main thing for Shadowrun? The Shadowrun itself?
 

Trippy

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You have to respect Shadowrun for it's longevity and it certainly created a well developed, original setting.
 

FeralToaster

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You all think the heist is the main thing for Shadowrun? The Shadowrun itself?
Well it is hard to deny that the heist is to shadowrun as the dungeon delve is to DND but the game is varied enough in setting and mechanics to support alternate campaign styles. Most of my experiences with Shadowrun were in set in the wilderness hunting critters for bounties and collecting rare reagents or once playing tower defense in setting up a matrix security layout as a freelance IT team. So yeah while heist might be a default, with minimal prep you can do other stuff that fits the main setting.
 

Simlasa

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You all think the heist is the main thing for Shadowrun? The Shadowrun itself?
Probably the thing I liked least... about Shadowrun or any other cyberpunk game I've played. It seemed to just lead to a continuing cycle of 'gear up - run mission - get paid - gear up - run mission... etc.' Throw in the occasional double-cross/complication, but that's pretty much all I've seen happen in cyberpunk games.
I wanted more character driven stories, less gun/gear porn, more stuff about conspiracies and taking down the oppressive system... or being nomads out on the roads... existing as a 'blank' outside the grid.
 

Toadmaster

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I liked the setting, but that is about it. If I played Shadowrun I'd have to move it to another system. Have I mentioned I hate almost every dice pool system I've ever met?
 

Faylar

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The Nostalgia it invokes.
Also, it's my favorite system because even with all of it's flaws, it still works.
 

TristramEvans

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I was introduced to Shadowrun with 2nd edition, and haven't followed any edition since, but it remains one of my favourite RPGs of all time.

The art was amazing, starting with one of the most iconic covers in gaming history.



It sums up the essence of the game perfectly.

The setting was great, I absolutely loved the approach to magic with the divide between Shamanic and Hermetic magic. The Cyberware rules were great. The Prioritization approach to chargen works a charm. It's a very slick, ambitious without being pretentious system.

And how can you not love the live action commercial?

 

Chris Brady

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You all think the heist is the main thing for Shadowrun? The Shadowrun itself?
I've run fugitive retrieval, rescues, extractions, straight up sabotage with high explosives, assassinations, counter assassinations... I think I've done straight heists the least.
 

Toadmaster

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Not trying to derail, but ever heard of the Tricode System?
No, never heard of it. I'll never write a game off simply over a mechanic I don't like, but as soon as I see dice pool the setting has to grab me or it goes back on the shelf. Too many disappointments.
 

Winterblight

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I dont have an issue with the double cross if its used correctly. It can advance the plot, lead to intetesting scenarios and it doesnt have to be something pre planned but is the result of something gone wrong. Its still used in movies to this day. I havent used the double cross on my group for many years, i may never use it again, but they are constantly looking for it.. They drive their own parinoia.. At the end of the day they know they are deniable assets...
 

Picaroon Jack

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We started off planning the big data heists, but the last one I ran was the team trying to rescue a journalist caught been two corporations who did not want her to release some damaging evidence. They ended up escaping to space to hide out on a large orbital station.
 

Bashere

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I think part of it is the timing when it came out. Cyberpunk and D&D were two of the major hitters at the time and looking back, it seems to me at least it would be a natural thing to combine the two in some form.

Of course D&D had been around over a decade, and Cyberpunk 2013 dropped in 1988, and then Shadowrun was on its heels in 1989. I don't know the development times so I could be completely wrong on that account.
 

Gabriel

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My perception was that Shadowrun started a sort of change in RPGs in general.

Before Shadowrun it was normal to have single genre settings. You had your D&D style fantasy, Traveller style sci-fi, and comic superheroes. Shadowrun comes along and tosses D&D fantasy into sci-fi cyberpunk. Shadowrun almost certainly wasn't the first to do this, but it certainly made an impression on me and the people around me.

At the time I called this phenomenon "X plus Magic" because so many examples of it just seemed to take some style and then toss D&Disms into the mix.

One of the things I recall was how many players saw Cyberpunk 2020 as inferior to Shadowrun. It wasn't the rules or anything. Their argument was the Shadowrun had trolls and magic, so it was the better game. Cyberpunk was "just boring normal people."

Also, Shadowrun matched the stereotypical D&D template. Your group of warriors, spellcasters, and elves met in a bar. They got their mission from a wizard/Mr Johnson. They went off to some dungeon/corp building. They killed trolls and other critters. Cyberpunk 2020 and other non-"X plus magic" games didn't really have that setup mapped as parallel as Shadowrun did. I mean, what the hell do you do with a Rocker?? So much simpler to know what to do with a Street Samurai, Wage Mage, or a troll gang leader.

At the time, I liked Cyberpunk 2020 more. I was quite fond of "boring normal people." But I liked Shadowrun for other reasons.
 

Picaroon Jack

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At the time, I liked Cyberpunk 2020 more. I was quite fond of "boring normal people." But I liked Shadowrun for other reasons.
I did, too. Partly because I had so many supplements and a love for William Gibson's Neuromancer but also because it was much more lethal than Shadowrun. That being said, Cyberpunk did not have anything close to a Raccoon Street Shaman burglar. :smile:
 

Picaroon Jack

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@Raleel He was a character one of my brothers ran, his name was Dode and he used the Street Shaman archetype.
8915
He picked the urban totem, Raccoon, which gave bonuses to manipulation spells (telekinetics, mind control, and alteration type spells) and amped up his stealth. Made the perfect thief!
 

Raleel

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Fantastic. Thanks! Just thinking about my own attempts at things and how I would go about it. I think he just made it into my new methodology - make some characters and find the holes.
 

Picaroon Jack

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There were lots of memorable characters from Shadowrun! I remember when the Grimoire came out and summoning spirits went to a whole other level. Someone in our group made a manifestation of a city spirit and it was so original, we allowed it. He was named Cooper-Young after a neighborhood, and looked more like a vampire. He was detached and spoke in sound bites. I wish I had his stats.
 

Raleel

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I will have to go look that up. I don’t want to derail this too much with my own talking, but having some ideas for spirits will be useful. The flavor is really excellent.
 
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