Monday, March 22, 2010

Shadowrun 4E

A quick post about two things I immediately dislike about Shadowrun 4:

1. Replacement of fake Shadowrun swear words with real world swear words. I don't want to see the word "fuck" in my Shadowrun book, not because I'm a offended (which I'm not), but because part of the color and flavor of Shadowrun is the fake cuss words like frak and drek. I'm also pretty sure they ditched chummer, though I can't be certain...I might have missed that. It strikes me as an attempt to be unnecessarily "edgy," which annoys me more than Joy Division lyrics in a chapter heading.

2. The Qualities system, which was introduced in SR3 as an optional rule, is now non-optional, so I get to deal with a bunch of optimizational bullshit. Does anyone ever take Ambidextrous in a game for any reason other than using two guns? (Sure they do... some of them want to use two swords!) A character's ability to be a magician, and what type of magician he will be, are built into the Qualities system, offering no easy way to excise it.

I will continue to dissect SR4. There are some things I like, and I will post about them as well.

Oh, one right off the bat: the core game now acknowledges a future in which wireless internet exists. :P


  1. I haven't read Shadowrun (well, except some fiction anthology tied to the game,) so I'm not sure how they used "drek", but it's not a made up word; it comes from Yiddish and means "trash" or "garbage". Used to see it a lot in really old Mad Magazines... and of course, there's Bobby Pickett's "Star Drek" parody from the early '70s.

  2. Drek seemed to be the stand-in for shit... so it looks like a fitting replacement was chosen with drek. This makes me miss it all the more. I know I'm free to use it, but I will miss seeing it in the text regardless.

  3. "Replacement of fake Shadowrun swear words with real world swear words."

    Are you kidding? Geez, that's misguided.

    "We're aiming to simulate 80s punk/new wave cyberpunk orcs who are also wizards, but let's try not to be ridiculous."

    My head hurts.

  4. "Drek seemed to be the stand-in for shit..."

    Well, there's a reason for that, you know. It's called Yiddish.

  5. Hey, I'm all about the use of drek, and that's what you'll hear at my table if I ever end up running SR4. I just think it's silly to drop in-game slang now, after it has been a well known part of the game world's lexicon for, what, twenty years?

  6. The in-game slang's still there, just not as prominent.

    I like the task system a lot more than previous versions and if you want a priority chargen system back it's in the Runner's Companion or whatever it's called.

  7. @Ghoul- The rest of the slang is there, and in fact there's a helpful lexicon, but I have yet to find the old Shadowrun curse words.

    I fully admit that this is a very nitpicky thing to dislike.

    I'm not excited about buying another book to "fix" something I don't like, but thanks for the heads up about the Companion.

  8. I've run A LOT of SR4

    SR4's basic dice mechanic works great but as a system and game you'll find the problems run much deeper than the qualities system.

    1) Manabolt
    2)Ubiquitus wireless plus inevitable hacking success plus complicated hacking rules
    4)Half of all battles will take place from opposite sides of a solid wall (IR)

  9. Oh, forgot to mention astral sight on number 4 - huge factor.

  10. Oh and actually the biggest culprit - ASTRAL TRACKING.

    Gauranteed to ruin all street level runs, and possibly higher level runs.

  11. Raven-

    I assume your problem with Manabolt is that it's Magic+Spellcasting, resisted only by Willpower? I assume that means you also have a problem with all the Direct Combat Spells. It's been a long time since I played SR3, but haven't the mana spells always worked this way? (Bypass armor)

    I haven't dared to start in on the hacking rules, so I can't comment there, yet.

    As for Astral Tracking... I'm not sure what the problem is. From what I read, you can follow a link from a spell or whatever back to a magician...but it looks like it takes quite a bit of time.

    Can you elaborate?

  12. Ok, astral tracking is broken because you can follow ANY astral trail. Anything with essence OR anything that has had and essence residue imparted on it (a close personal item or item involved in an emotional incident). What really makes it aweful are spirits. Seeker spirits are the easiest to summon and they are difficult to spot by magical defenses, although they are weak and slow at searching. Beast spirits are 10 times better at tracking. Shamans can just fire and forget spirits to scout/trail almost anything.

    The problem with MANABOLT is that not only is it direct and thus nearly impossible to resist (with will, a stat almost impossible to pump), but it is almost the lowest drain spell in the game. So a magician can pump its force sky-high for an almsot instant kill and still ignore almost all chances of drain.

    My solution do direct spells was I used the (forget what it is called) astral signiture of the target (based on essence) to make targeting low essence targets more difficult. The spell was still awesome, but the pwnage was reduced just enough - I also think this fix made sense.

  13. Oh, I also think spirits can find people just based on aura - so any aura can be found if the wizard/seen has seen it. People tend to leave their aura in places they frequent and on close personal objects as well as skin, finger nail clippings, hair, etc...

    Sure, mana barriers, enemy spirits, and other astral obstacles can thwart pesky beast and seeker spirits, but what this does is ruin all low-level runs with magic poor enemies. Gritty, street-level badguys have no chance against a team with a competent mage/shaman with access to spirits. They have nowehre to hide.

  14. Hmm... perhaps I'll have to up the drain on that spell should I ever run the game. What do you think about the other Indirect spells? (Manaball, Death Touch, etc.) I do like your idea about Indirect Spells being harder to target on low-Essence creatures... fits right in with the restriction that you cannot use those spells on non-living targets at all.

    I'm still not sure about Astral Tracking... unless I'm missing something, the text on pg. 185 of SR4 only talks about astral links from a magical perspective... spirits linked to summoners, astral projections linked to their bodies, foci linked to mages, etc. I suppose it would be easy enough to house rule what you can and cannot track Astrally.

  15. Oops, you must have posted your bit about spirits and auras while I was replying to your other comment, because I missed that entirely. I'll have to read up on spirits.

    Curiously, during all the time I played SR3 with Matt and Glenn and crew, nobody ever summoned a spirit... or at least, I can't remember any of the players ever having done so. (Matt's bad guys, on the other hand, loved them some elementals.)

  16. Spirits are off the hook - read up on the spirit ability... its either called track or search or something. Its more powerful than what a mage can do. I played a wolf shaman (who wore a 3 wolf moon shirt- this was BEFORE it became so popular ^_^) and those beast spirits are frikkin awesome.

    There are actual rules for targeting devices with certain levels of technology or "unatural-ness" which I adapted for the essence based difficulty. Essentially it worked like cover or visual impairment for regular targeting but it was based on how weak a target's astral signature was.

    This was a big part of the only shadowrun novel I ever read, Never Trust an Elf - the titular elf had a very hard time targeting some crazy techno-goons in the climactic battle.