Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Shadowrun 4th, Session 1

Well, we did SR4 with three players...the Cat Shaman, Count Hackula, and Tonka, a big-ass amnesiac troll.

The short version: Neither the shaman's player (who is our RIFTS GM) nor I really enjoyed it that much. The scenario was fine and I liked the NPCs, so, in other words, it was nothing to do with the GM.

I have been through the hacker/Matrix rules for SR4 three goddamn times now. The chapter is 30 pages or so if memory serves. The rules, oddly, are simultaneously vague and complicated. We get the feeling that we are somehow doing it wrong. The options available to the hacker are vast and potent, and I felt like I was constantly putting the GM on the spot with my requests and queries. (Are there security cameras I can hack? Can I hack a passing taxi? Are the doors electronic? What's the difficulty to hack the local power grid? Etc, etc.)

I found that playing a guy who can basically do anything from the safety of the car, parked in an alley half a kilometer away was useful but not necessarily satisfying, much the way we were warned against wanting to play sages or alchemists back in old D&D.

Now, in SR3, it seemed more feasible to get by without a decker. In SR4, with Augmented Reality and the ubiquitous nature of wireless devices (not to mention that nearly anything you buy, according to the book, has a wireless computer of some kind in it), it becomes almost mandatory to have a hacker in your crew. (It seem like they are just too damn useful not to have around)

I like my character, and the other players seem to like him, so it was suggested that Count Hackula be relegated to NPC, with me providing bits of personality for him when needed. (In addition to running my new character) I'm not sure if this is the route I want to go; I don't like the idea of being outfoxed by a game. If I do make a new character, it will likely be a skill specialist, something like an infiltrator or a "face." (We already have a spellcaster, I don't want to be a combat jock, and the other tech types- riggers and technomancers- are essentially hackers with different specializations)

The player who graciously offered to run SR4 has 16 sessions planned, which, for us, is roughly four months. He's standing by to run AD&D 1st edition if this doesn't pan out. The cat shaman and I are willing to give it a shot, because he put forth the effort and time to put this together. (Also, some of us dropped cash on used copies of the book)

I'll be honest: I'd rather play AD&D 1st edition, and this is no secret, but I'm not going to be "that guy." I might try to play the Count one more time (and this means another read through of the hacking rules) and then if that doesn't work, I'll make an infiltrator or a face.

Incidentally, I borrowed Shadowrun 2nd edition from the cat shaman's player. Man, I freaking love that cover, plus I really dig on the artwork that's inside. I also like all the character archetypes a lot better. It's also kind of amusing to look at the way the late 80's/early 90's envisioned the future of the internet and computer tech... no wireless anywhere in sight, and you have to love those old-school spiral phone cords that connect the decker's datajack to his big, clunky-ass cyberdeck. I might order my own copy of SR2 for laughs, especially since it can be found dirt cheap on the internet.

We'll see what happens next Sunday.

In the meantime, I've got four days left until Winter Break, at which time I hope to amp my posting up from this dismal once-a-week-crap.

And finally, my apologies to Akrasia, whose recent comment I left waiting in moderation hell. I really need to switch off this auto-moderation crap, since I never seem to remember to check my damn comments...


  1. SR2 is the only copy of the game I've ever owned. Wait, I did buy SR4 with a gift card soon after it came out, but I paged through it once and ended up selling it a few months later. So let's say that SR2 was the only copy of the game that I read--I loved the look of it too. I can still remember all the Bradstreet illos.

    The old-school cyberpunk take on technology is much more gameable, which to me is more important than what we could "realistically" expect to see in 50 years' time. I mean, you've got elves and trolls running around, who cares if they never invented wireless?

  2. Maybe you should just retcon wireless out of the campaign.

    After all it causes cyber-cancer or somesuch...