Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Jogging Through The Shadows At A Decent Clip

SR: Dragonfall
So after playing through Shadowrun: Dragonfall last year, I started to get the hankering to get some tabletop Shadowrun in. This year, I've begun running a campaign for a "home group" over G+, using the Sixth World ruleset. I'm not particularly thrilled with Sixth World, but a) the group likes playing Dungeon World, b) I'm not going to try teaching a new system over Hangouts, and c) I'd rather get some play in now, instead of taking the time to do a home conversion from another system I like better. Also d) no way I'm trying to learn any edition of Shadowrun on my own, much less teach it to others.

(To Do: check out SWN's Polychrome and figure out some way of quickly converting existing Shadowrun gear and magic into the SWN system. Running in SWN or Traveller would be ideal, but in a world where I've got limited time to do campaign prep and have other projects to work on)

Elmore's cover, the image that started it all
Why Shadowrun?

There's always been something about Shadowrun's ridiculous alternative future that's intrigued me. The combination of ridiculously high technology combined with absurd limitations as holdovers from the '80s (floppy disks, megabytes, and no wi-fi...but riggers and the Matrix) is just delightful. I suppose that's part of my enjoyment of Traveller's starships with multi-ton computers, to draw on another example.

There's also the bonus of it having elves with guns. It's no secret that I'm a fan of those pointy-eared gits; having a setting where they mix with technology and sidestepping the "elves are CHILDREN OF NATURE" vibe definitely appeals to my interests. (You have the ridiculously obnoxious elven nations, but they're not the only elves around - you've got your regular folks just trying to get by included in the mix as well.)

Tim Bradstreet, for Shadowrun
I think Shadowrun hits the conceptual spot for me that White Wolf did for many other players of my generation - a setting that grabbed onto us with big claims about a punk/outsider nature, a game dynamic placing strong emphasis on interpersonal relationships and connections, and a bunch of cool Bradstreet art. Where it diverges from White Wolf is in the very defined heist nature that a shadowrun takes on, in contrast to the open-ended/nebulous campaign structure of a White Wolf game.

Campaign Setup

 My current setup is a hook-driven sandbox campaign. Each session, the PCs will generally be given three or more opportunities for runs that their fixer has lined up, or requests for aid from contacts, or what have you. As these runs go by, changes in the world will be taking place - from the runs the PCs take, the runs they don't take, and outside events.

This presentation is of course very inspired by the campaign setup of the Hill Cantons, where I've been playing for several years now (thanks Chris!).

Current Major Campaign Resources:
  • Shadowrun: Dragonfall and Hong Kong (in my top 5 CRPGs - convey the setting, engaging squad members, and the right mix of open-ended and fast-moving)
  • Diego Gambetta's Codes of the Underworld (examining communication methods and strategies between criminals, fascinating reading with a ton of anecdotes and examples)
  • The Arcology Podcast (GM and player tips, plus Actual Play that's actually fun to listen to)
  • The Neo-Anarchist Podcast (IC summaries of the Shadowrun setting)
  • Our Thing Podcast (organized crime - check out the Quebec Biker War episodes)
  • Vornheim (y'all know this one)
  • Mike Evans's Shadowrun City Kit (builds off of Vornheim in specifically SR related directions)
  • Fever-Dreaming Marlinko (urban Chaos Index implementation, providing characterization to specific districts)
  • Norbert Matausch's Pink Mohawk (just found this, looks to be a plausible alternative to Sixth World that might be more my speed while still palatable to my players)
I still need to go through Roberto Saviano's Gomorrah (examining the Camorra's corrosive influence  on the Campania region of Italy), and yes, watch The Wire.

SR: Hong Kong

Finally, and back in D&D-land - get hyped for Misty Isles! We're almost done and it's looking great. Not to mention all the other cool products the Hydra Cooperative has lined up for this year...
Bureaucracy, biomancy...
...and Bowie.