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Shadowrun Tabletop RPG

Shadowrun is probably the premier tabletop RPG for the cyber-punk genre, so it seems natural to include a topic on it here on the boards.

I started playing Shadowrun in 4th edition, and have played a bit of the newer, somewhat simpler 5th edition, but the current campaign I was running for my friends was 4th edition, because we have many of the relevant books. It’s only a two-PC game, but the intimate feel was nice, and I felt like we had something good going. I still have all my notes, so we can pick up anytime, fortunately.

The style of Shadowrun I favor - a quieter, smarter type of team - clashes with all my friends who all prefer “pink mohawk” style - shoot first, second, and third, and then shoot again to make sure everything is dead, especially civilians. Setting up machine-gun turrets to all the exits of a bar and then throwing in a bunch of incendiary grenades was one way the team elected to kill one guy.

The current game includes a basic human decker (hacker)/face, played by my good friend Mark. His characters are all pretty similar to one another - jack of all trades, little patience for bullshit, and a refusal to remember everyone’s name, instead referring to everyone as “Bubba” or “Asshole” or just their race. Luke, on the other hand, refuses to play anything that could possibly be considered conventional, and so is a shapeshifter who can take tiger form and is also an adept (someone with magic turned inward to improve themselves, as opposed to magicians who can case spells). I don’t fully understand all his rules, except I know that silver will basically kill him, and he’s completely oblivious to the world at large, because he was in captivity until just before the campaign started.

Although I gripe about their character choices, being excellent friends with both makes every session a blast, so I really can’t complain. I planned to play up the rivalries between our decker and sysops, so you can recognize patterns in certain defenses and the like, to make hacking feel a bit more personal. Likewise, the better sysops will take note of this and probably prepare some traps too. :wink:

Anyway, I was interested to see if anyone else in the community has played or enjoyed Shadowrun, and was thinking we could swap some stories.

ive enjoyed all the shadowrun video games except maybe that weird FPS a few years back on xbox and i like the shadowrun deck building game but ive never played the tabletop RPG. its just too hard to coordinate adult schedules for RPGs these days. invariably someone will have to miss a session because or “insert adult responsibility” and the games fall apart.

I know - I run “episodic” campaigns for that reason since my Pathfinder game fell apart - anyone can miss a given session and not really miss anything important or plot relevant. If you want a big plot, save big important sessions for when you know everyone will be around.

It’s totally do-able, just have to be flexible.

Played a crapton of second edition (out of a really buggy Czech translation, mind you - literally whole rules paragraphs missing when compared to the original text), then played a lot of third edition. When fourth came out, played some of that, but neither the transition to wireless… everything nor the in-universe jump 10 years ahead really resonated with me.

Then, to introduce some of my buddies from [Allegiance][1] to roleplaying, I ran a third edition campaign over [OpenRPG][2], an online tabletop sort of thing. That ended up being a truly global and rather epic happening, spanning several years and featuring players from Slovakia, Wales, Finland, Sweden, US, Russia and India - needless to say, scheduling across all the timezones involved was a goddamn nightmare. In that campaign, we played through most of the published first-edition runs (well, the good ones anyway - think DNA/DOA and Dreamchipper) and select third-edition stuff as well, with much epicness involved. It was a crew that was intimately familiar with the principle “If the bullets start flying, you’ve messed the job up.”

Some of the highlights included a “vacation” to Hawaii (having to do a high-risk job with none of their usual gear was an interesting challenge), an escort job to the Awakened Amazon (HALO drops, slithering through the jungle, tropical fevers, parasites, mutated magical diseases… the works) and a job involving some… rather antique weapons of mass destruction.

Oh, and there should still be logs somewhere - OpenRPG logs stuff in html, so at the end of a session you end up with a fully readable transcript that’s even color-coded by player.

p.s. the new computer games are pretty good, mostly because Jordan Weissman, one of the original authors of 1st ed, is intimately involved. If you’re unfamiliar with the universe, Dragonfall (the expansion) provides a better introduction to it than the original game does, amusingly enough.
[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allegiance_(video_game)
[2]: http://www.rpgobjects.com/index.php?c=orpg


I have no experience with that “fully wired world” pre-4th edition, and it does sound interesting, but I absolutely fell in love with Technomancers from 4th (so much so that I can’t help but associate Kit with Technomancy, from her art, to her cryptic quote, to her way of interacting with ICE), so I appreciate the change to wireless. It also seems to make sense in the context of the current day.

I was always kinda iffy on the magic - I wouldn’t mind running a pure cyber-punk game with no magic/other races involved, focusing instead on the tech.

That’s hyper-cool. What an awesome feature!

Very nice. I wasn’t sure if I should take a close look at them or not, so I’ve been on the fence. I’ll look a bit more into them now. Thanks for the advice.

“Don’t use 4 hours to plan the run, you will ram the target anyway”.
I think this is the main problem of this game :slight_smile:

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I remember a group of shadowrunners that were supposed to steal a shipment of an experimental microchip. They used their normal approach: A shot from the Panther Assault Cannon to kill the engine of the truck. Then they stunned the driver and guards and finally they noticed that a shipment is not necessarily just a few chips but a few tons of them. :smiley:

Another time the same group was supposed to rescue a corp exec from a chateau in the alps. They parked their get away vehicle about 2 km out so it would draw any attention and finished the final approach with snow shoes. When the alarms started ringing and what a surprise people started shooting they realized that 2 km in snow shoes under gun fire with an unconscious hostage they were supposed to rescue is a really long way. :smiley:


I think I played Shadowrun like 2 times. I may be wrong here, but I think Shadowrun was pretty big in the US while in EU the big cyberpunk game was Cyberpunk 2020 which in fact is the setting the original netrunner was based on. We played a lot of Cyberpunk 2020 back in the day and we loved the dystopian setting, we had lots of good moments playing that game.
The reason SR was never a thing here was maybe that the fantasy layer of the setting was somehow hard to digest for some ppl, but probably the real reason was the rule system. I may be wrong here, and I do not want to diss Shadowrun which I respect a lot, but I remember the system was a bit clunky for many people including me. Not that CP 2020 was perfect of course.
I do not remember how SR decking system was, but I think I remember deckers (runners) were far more playable in SR than in CP2020. Most GM in CP2020 used deckers as NPCs as having one decker PC in a group meant that while the spotlight was on the decker all the other ppl were just twiddling thumbs and viceversa. But I still remeber the data fortress rulings in CP2020 and it was quite flavorful.

Man I miss those times.

Deckers (SR) and Netrunners (Cyberpunk) were both only playable if you had a group of those and some npcs to do the physical stuff. At least that is my experience. Up until a few months ago I was actually playing Cyberpunk 2020 again. It was good fun, but scheduling a weekly or biweekly rounds proved to be almost impossible. We switched to Shadowrun but we still have the same issues. So I guess, I’ll just continue to play Netrunner and Shadowrun Returns / Dragonfall / Antumbra / Hong Kong (once its out) for my Cyberpunk kicks. :smile:

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I may be remembering this wrong, but did they not change deckers in SR when they went the Wifi route so they could hack “instantly” with a dice roll?. I mean, things like hacking opponents implants like cybereyes and smart guns so they were kinda like “tech wizards” and they could be useful in the field so the netrunning aspect could be neglected most of the time whithout making the deckers useless.

This is effectively true. Simply put, everything technological has several ratings that apply to it - it’s signal strength, processing power, firewall, etc. This includes things like Cyberarms and smartguns, which typically operate on wireless signals to the brain. Hackers could, in the midst of battle, hack into these systems, causing them to malfunction for their owner - the smartgun suddenly ejects its’ clip, the cyberarm stops working altogether, cyber eyes shut down, etc. So even if they don’t regularly hack into servers for info, they can still be a force in battle.

Talking about this has made me think that the best way to handle a group with a decker is to have a “Co-GM” who could take the decker off to the side when he goes into cyberspace to steal the Corp’s information or whatever, and when the bad guys come to murder you all (as will inevitably happen, it’s cyberpunk), the rest of the party has the main GM to run that for them so no-one is sitting on their hands.

I saw that in CP2020 once. The problem was that time in the net is different from time in real life, so I remember it created some discrepancies and it did not worked as the Gm expected. After that experiment the GM tried something different after getting some inspiration from Ars Magica. Basically everyone had a netrunner as the main character, as they were a group of netrunners with a common objetive. Then every player made like 2 or 3 more characters that went to a pool of “people we usually trust and hire”. So the sessions usually were the netrunners hacking and exposing things or deciding moves. From time to time the players usually needed to get something done like stealing something, or kidnapping or whatever and they hired characters from that pool and played the game as those characters. Was pretty fun,

When they went wireless they turned anything technological in another kind of magic. Including Technomancer and other weird stuff. Was not really my kind of game anymore after that point. :frowning:

Like Shadowrun? I love it! I did a 3 part podcast discussing a classic Shadowrun adventure. Check it out here!


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love love love the system, not so sharp on the setting.

In my games, Tolkien “races” are out - I love the magic/cyberpunk mashup (it actually makes cyberpunk a bit more believable to me, now that we live in an era of technology that has far surpassed classical cyberpunk in so many way, that technology might become weird and stunted in the presence of a viable alternative).

Even besides the races, the game’s setting material tends to drift into uncomfortable “exoticising” of non-white cultures… I don’t want to get into it all here, just suffice to say that our shadowrun world is pretty much totally rebuilt from the ground up.

That said, man! I like this system because I think it strikes the perfect notes between feeling real (enough) and also having the ability to be very cinematic when you want it to be. All the systems, magic and tech, fit together quite well for a pretty seamless experience.

I’d also like to note that the system holds up pretty well for even more drastic departures from the setting; a friend of mine ran an excellent Dunwall (dishonored) adventure a while back and Shadowrun was the perfect fit, even after adjusting to victorian-era steampunk style tech.

TLDR never play DnD again shadowrun is the shit

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I never played Shadowrun, although I always wanted to. I heard that a lot of players were upset with the wireless crap because it basically defeated the point of having a team - whose purpose was to protect and aid the hacker in infiltrating corporate sites. You don’t really need a Street Samurai if you can do the job remotely from a secure location…

As an aside, another good cyberpunk RPG I’ve seen lately is Interface Zero 2.0, which is based on the Savage Worlds system. I think that one might actually make for a better Netrunner game than Shadowrun, mostly because the magic elements can be toned down or replaced with Psionics.

Yo Stimhack!!

My group is just starting Shadowrun. Most of us have very little RPG experience, so I just wanted to see if there are any good online resources or tutorials we should know about. It kind of seems like you just have to read the rule book, but it’s a little daunting :frowning:

The game looks great though. We all play Netrunner so we would rather do something like this than D&D.



Team UK to the rescue.

You’ve done no RPG’s before? Right, well the Shadowrun stuff, while cool, is a massive book and super-intimidating.

If you want a game of something, then Google+ has lots of great Hangouts communities. You could probably get someone to give you an online game to get an idea of how things work, not sure about the Shadowrun community in general (haven’t played that game properly for 20 years) but there are tons of G+ communities you could sniff around on:

If you can do GMT-friendly time zones I could arguably do something for you as an intro, but it probably wouldn’t be Shadowrun, soz.

I’ve not listened to them so can’t vouch for relevance or accuracy, but there are some actual play podcasts here:

This site has been touted as decent for beginners to the hobby - it’s so long since I’ve been a beginner I can’t view it objectively, but worth a look probably:

I really don’t get on with Will Wheaton’s approach, but he’s got some stuff you could google. There’s also a 30 minute game with Vin Diesel of D&D you can track down.

There are tons of cons and meet ups, so you might get to something like that? Unlike Netrunner, which is fairly consistent, RPGs can depend much more on the people round the table.

Have a bit of a look at the links and hit me back with any specifics. Its much more of a participation thing than a spectator sport, so unfortunately its more learn-by-doing than something I can direct you to a perfect resource for.

I found some actual play youtube clips, but they made me die inside.

Let me know if I can assist further.




Thanks so much.

We did the Beginner Box game today and it was awesome. I like the system and some of the PC’s had really impressive abilities. I ended up GM’ing, which I think I’ll stick with.

Turn 2 the PC’s figured out they could just turn off the lights because they had eye implants and none of my guys did! It was fairly one-sided, as a beginner game should be, but I’d like to think I put up a fight :stuck_out_tongue:

I’m designing a campaign with a few key Netrunner characters featured in it, but it will probably take at least a month to flesh out. Until then we’ll probably go through character creation and do a few box campaigns.

Sick game so far!


Shadowrun is a great system, but it can for sure be a bit daunting for beginners. Here’s my 2c of tips for the first few sessions:

  • if you’re coming from elsewhere in the gaming community, it’s likely that some of your players will tend to want to min/max their stats, etc., and just generally kind of play-to-win rather than aiming to have a good time roleplaying. While some amount of this can be a lot of fun, remember that it’s not “cheating” if you purposefully design your scenarios to undermine these types of characters from time to time - the game is not a contest between the players and the GM, and if you make your PCs face challenges they didn’t “build” for your story will be all the better for it.
  • I like shadowrun a lot but there are plenty of background elements that rub me the wrong way/just don’t interest me/aren’t worth the effort. Remember that you don’t"have to" include anything. Hacking can be tedious and boring for non-hacker players (it doesn’t have to be, but it can be a lot of work for the GM to balance the two worlds),so If you want to get rid of it, simplify it,or just work it into the rigging system, go for it. The magic and meta-human elements of the story can range from mildly off-color to outright racist - cut out whatever you and your players aren’t going to have a good time with. The important thing is to remember that none of the material in the book is written in stone.
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