Friday, November 26, 2010

Shadowrun Test Session

So, given that we all had the day off today, some of my Sunday group decided to give SR4 a test run, since it will be what we are playing in a few weeks, after Deadlands concludes.

Unwilling to be bested by a rules system, I had been studying the hacking/Matrix rules in SR4. (Ridiculous... study a goddamn game? Really?) I created my scrawny goth hacker, known on the net as Count Hackula. It took me forever to build the character, with most of the time being sucked up by the purchase of gear, particularly Matrix programs. SR4 still suffers from being gear-porn, though I believe every edition of the game suffers from that flaw.

Our crew consisted of the Count, Shadow (a cat shaman), and the busty orcish Gunslinger Adept taken right out of the example characters. (Though I think the player switched the guns)

SR4 plays differently than SR3, and not just because of the changes in game mechanics. The fact that everyone and just about every damn thing is running on a wireless network makes hackers much more useful/playable, but we still found it was better to leave the hacker in the car, parked several blocks away, to wreak digital havoc on the bad guys. I felt like kind of an ass because I knew the hacking rules better than the poor GM and I feel like I kind of ran in circles around him. He wasn't sure what cyber-defenses to give the antagonists, so I found it easy to royally screw them from the safety of the gun-adept's car. Hackers are all but a necessity in SR4.

I don't like the huge fistfuls of d6's that have to be tossed around during the game. (This was a small thing that always bugged me about World of Darkness and Champions, too)

We didn't have much combat, so I can't really attest to how fast that moves. However, I have found that combat in general is now, to me, the most boring part of gaming.

I have no commentary on the magic system, since I wasn't playing the spellcaster. The player who was says she is confused by the magic system, but she seemed to do well enough with basic spellcasting and even summoned up a minor spirit. (Though it wasn't particularly helpful to us)

In all honest, I'd rather do Shadowrun with a different system, keeping the concepts/world but using a lighter system. I've heard of a Savage Worlds book, Interface Zero, but that contains an entire setting and might be a bit more complication than we need. There are supposedly some free rules on the net for cyberware in SW, and the system call already handle magic and fantasy elements.
Another contender would be the d6 System, perhaps Mini Six. I'm not sure where the cybernetics rules would be found... maybe D6 Space or something like that.

Heck, I'm not sure I can even sell the group on the need to switch systems. I know one player is definitely in favor of the original SR rules, and fair enough... but I know that I would prefer something a bit lighter and faster. I'm sure I'm not alone in my preferences, but only a few of us have tried it out... we'll have to see what the larger group wants to do. We'll likely be playing SR on Sunday again, and we'll return to Deadlands December 5th.


  1. I was only able to play SR$ four times and have mixed feelings on the system. I'd need to take another stab at it to figure out for sure how I felt. It felt very different, though, from SR2 which I played an awful lot.

  2. I think it is worth the effort, but it does sound like there are significant elements of the game design (die pools, player knowledge requirements in particular) that turn you off.

    I tend to feel that conversion is often more work than simply learning to play the game, but I am starting to feel like part of a very small minority based on what I see online about running games with different systems, and how soon I see it after a new game is released.

    How much experience do the people in your group have with earlier editions of Shadowrun?

  3. Rune- These days, I tend to give up on systems that I do not immediately love. In my teenage and college years, I loved learning new systems, particularly if they were complicated, but these days I just don't seem to have the patience.

    Conversion can be a lot of work if you intend to convert absolutely everything. When I convert, I'm willing to change and leave out things that aren't going to be a good fit. My plan to convert RIFTS to d6, for example, will involve just dumping RIFTS magic in favor of d6 Fantasy or the simple spell system in Mini-Six. There will be magic in my RIFTS rip-off, but I'm not converting each and every spell, nor even all the different types of magic. Of course, if we convert SR, it would be up to the GM. (We all take turns GMing in this group, and SR isn't my game....thank goodness)

    As for previous editions of Shadowrun: I played a ton of SR3 in college and feel like I know it pretty well. I am also marginally familiar with SR2. The GM has played SR1. The rest of the group has some experience with SR2 and 3. I actually wouldn't really call any of our current group "experts" when it comes to SR.

    In the end, I think I'm perfectly happy with just letting the GM learn the rules and I can ask him when I have questions.

  4. Both your thoughts on conversion, and about how to enjoy overly complex games, seem spot on~

    I'm closer to your opening statement of "not going to be beaten by this game!" and I will keep at it until I get it, but if in the end, I decide the effort to learn the setting and rules was not worth it, I never want to see that game again for as long as I live.