Shadowrun 5e: opening salvo
I’m looking at GMing some Shadowrun games in the future.
Now, it’s been several years since I played 3d or 4th edition either one. So I decided I’d jump to 5th. I’m aware there are people who love and people who despise it, but since I saw the same thing with 3 & 4 I’ll just ignore that for now. In other words if you’re going to comment and say I should go to one of those because 5e sucks, I’ll just ignore you.
So anyway, I’ve got a concept in place, and I’m learning the rules in preparation.
The concept is simple. I’ve got some players who only want to play it once in a while because we’ve got a great GM in another game. And some of those players aren’t sure they will like it, and certainly balk at the thick and potentially complex rules. So… I’m setting up a set of one shots, and I’m building a stable.
Think of it as setting up a set of demos that tolerate and even reward repeat players and you’ve got the idea. These will form the basis of some later posts. This one is, however, devoted to the introduction.
While learning the ins and outs of the rules before we play well enough I’m not stumbling as a GM is a trick, I at least have the advantage of the world and concept. Which means I’ve already decided on a couple of house rules.
House rule one: Everyone’s a sinner. The book mentions several times that every nation, every corporation, pretty much every collective organization identifies its members, with the former two being from birth. So in my world you have to pay to be sinless. It’s “only” 5 karma, but it’s what you have to spend to have either lucked out or made an effort to never get tied into someone’s tax base and ID system. AT THE SAME TIME, it is possible to have more than one sin, or for your sin to be a greater sin. For negative quality purposes in character generation you cannot have more than one of any type, but you can have one of each type at the listed cost (with a second ‘national’ being the allowed exception). Of course, the more you have the better chance of being ID’d after a job. And every SIN carries a tax burden — and nobody gives you a break on that.
House rule two is more perceptual. The world’s stories as written are written by a particular group of people, and the tone and focus reflect their viewpoint. Think if the history books we read today were all written by, oh, pick group distasteful to you. But in this case the group is anti-social and paranoid, and in quite a few cases amoral at best. It is my opinion that the world isn’t quite as dystopic as painted. This isn’t to say it’s all flowers and lollipops, but rather the aim of pretty much everyone is to make things better for more than just themselves. For some the ‘others’ are just them and theirs, but there are plenty who think the whole world can be made a better place.
Exhibit a on that is the corporations. Without nations and laws and cooperation, the whole concept of how corporations work falls down in chaos. Frankly, it’s worth recalling that the AAAs only own and employ a (large) fraction of the world. Some of the larger nations could finish off a single corporation as an entity; though it would cost, it is doable.
With this in mind, a personal element. I know that shadow runners are, by definition, criminals. And I’m aware that this, along with the stories told, tends to encourage some shadowrun players to make amoral – no, immoral psychopathic sociopaths. Torture and murder ‘just because’. I find this attitude distasteful. House rule two means that the further down that road you go the more likely you are to appear on a wanted poster and the target of a bounty team. And when you get down to it, Johnson is hiring a disposable asset, not a wild card. All together this means I will enforce notoriety.
So, a world where law and order and social structure are given more than a wink and a nod, if for no other reason that the benefit to the bottom line. There are still shadows, it is an awakened world. It’s just not quite the near-lawless dystopia the rule book presents. And in this world, players will engage in a set of apparently unrelated adventures, choosing their character of the event from a stable mostly created by me.
mostly. apparently. Don’t you love sneaky qualifiers? You’d think I was Mr. Johnson. Or worse, the GM.