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Author Topic: The definitive Shadowrun  (Read 2180 times)

Itachi

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The definitive Shadowrun
« Reply #15 on: June 26, 2020, 06:55:34 pm »
@Shrieking Banshee, if you want to have an impact in the world I don't think Shadowrun, or most other cyberpunk games, are really for you. Scraping at the foot of monoliths (and getting smashed if noticed) is part of the premise of these games. The most you usually  change is at your personal level, like the example I gave above: your rivals, allies, neighbourhood, etc.

Shrieking Banshee

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« Reply #16 on: June 26, 2020, 07:03:14 pm »
Quote from: Spinachcat;1136569
It's akin to Dark Sun or Warhammer in a way.

It's funny because I just picked up Dark Sun again.....And Dark Sun is a more interesting, lively, and player supporting setting. Because despite being Sorcerer Kings, they got nothing on Shadowruns megacorporations. Because no matter how many spells the sorcerer-kings have, they don't have their plot armor and nonsense economics.

Even in dooming and hopeless adventure modules designed to be a meatgrinder for players, outside of the literal plot armor for the Dragon, it has ideas for how the players could interact with the world and the influence they could wield.
While even in beloved Shadowrun Modules, the player's side observer bit players at most mostly there to watch events unfold and not really change in the long run by their efforts.

Both writing teams were influenced by a metaplot. But in one metaplot the world became better and with ways to make it better both large and small (Too nice even), in another metaplot, the writers just liked introducing more and more boogeymen. And Warhammer blew up to the satisfaction of absolutely nobody.
Grimdark is indeed a setting type I hate. It's not the miserable setting its the lack of player agency.

I found Shadowrun to be the best in its videogames (Which I believe are cannon) because it was about the PCs stopping calamity and not the Writers pets.

Itachi

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« Reply #17 on: June 26, 2020, 07:15:49 pm »
Actually, some SR modules are about saving the world or stopping calamities:

- in Universal Brotherhood you save some people and stop an important center of the "church", not unlike what you do in the deadman switch videogame.

- In Renraku Arcology Shutdown, your team put an end to the rogue AI Deus fortress and pets.

- In Bug Hunt your team enters contained some in Chicago to help Ares to destroy the hive.

Etc.

It's there too if you look for it. I just don't think saving the world is a popular trope here as in other genres.

Shrieking Banshee

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« Reply #18 on: June 26, 2020, 07:35:36 pm »
Quote from: Itachi;1136579
It's there too if you look for it. I just don't think saving the world is a popular trope here as in other genres.

I gotta apologize I got kinda charged needlessly. I think something about the 2e Shadowrun writing made me really irritated.

But I see those, I think I might have read one of the worse ones. I still wish then if the focus was on low-level tribal conflicts and deals with gangs: Focus on the gangs and not the megacorps.

Anybody played the game Huntdown? You're effectively a Shadowrunner there, but the focus is on the gangs you will have an impact on and not the megacorp employing you.

Spinachcat

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« Reply #19 on: June 26, 2020, 07:38:26 pm »
Quote from: Shrieking Banshee;1136577
It's funny because I just picked up Dark Sun again.....And Dark Sun is a more interesting, lively, and player supporting setting. Because despite being Sorcerer Kings, they got nothing on Shadowruns megacorporations. Because no matter how many spells the sorcerer-kings have, they don't have their plot armor and nonsense economics.


You're 100% right about metaplot armor, and I often forget about metaplot in settings because I rarely use any metaplot and just take ideas from the corebook and run my own campaign independent from whatever canon.

I don't think grimdark requires the lack of player agency.

Ravenloft is grimdark and the core concept of the campaign is escaping Ravenloft, thus ending the campaign. In Dark Sun, your PCs could overthrow a Sorcerer-King, but the likelihood is low and they exist like gods in the setting. There's plenty PCs can independently do and achieve, yet the conceits of the setting can stay intact.

In cyberpunk, the megacorps are self-perpetuating. They can be brought down, often by other megacorps, but that only leads to new corps rising and the cycle continues. That's a problem in SR somewhat because people have their favorite corps and they are a big part of the beloved IP, thus their megaplot armor. In my cyberpunk games, there's constant corporate turmoil (and a sneaking suspicion there's only one corporation behind them all).

If the PCs somehow altered society to its core, then you're now playing post-cyberpunk which would be fine, but not cyberpunk anymore.

Also in SR, there's a really weird symbiosis in the setting. The corps are both the PC's enemy and their patron. Its common for the corp your team hurts the most to be the corp who offers you top dollar for your next mission.

Shrieking Banshee

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« Reply #20 on: June 26, 2020, 07:50:37 pm »
Quote from: Spinachcat;1136584
I don't think grimdark requires the lack of player agency.

This may be a internet semantics bullshit thing but I believe that is at its core. Grim means no man can change the world. Dark means the world sucks in overwhelming ways. Grimdark means the world is fucked and you can do nothing about it.
Noblebright is the opposite. Noble means great heroes and individuals can change the world. Bright means the world is awesome (If not unsafe). Noblebright means the world is full of wonder and you can do you.
So a Nobledark setting is a world of horrors but something can be done about it. Most D&D settings fall into this, and I see Dark Sun and really even Lovecraft falling into this (The stories end with the characters driving the evil off, not all dying).

I also like Ravenloft. I'm not against a grim tone really. It's about the writing focus really.

My issue with the Cyberpunk Genre is when Corporations are somehow neither corporations nor governments. They are just balls of evil that kick puppies for no reason. I find also the existence of Shadowrunners as listed in Shadowrun implausible.
« Last Edit: June 26, 2020, 07:53:44 pm by Shrieking Banshee »

Spinachcat

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« Reply #21 on: June 26, 2020, 08:20:24 pm »
Cyberpunk 2020 is a far more plausible setting than Shadowrun. No debate there. I've never looked to SR for any logic outside its own internal concepts. But imposing logic on most settings in games and movies causes a breakdown in believablity.

I do agree there's semantics issue regarding Grimdark. It's helpful to see your definition. From where you're standing, I understand why cyberpunk doesn't work for you. I don't see where Noblebright and cyberpunk would mesh. In my mind, grimdark is where the odds are stacked against you in a major way, so you revel in minor victories. In Noblebright, its expected you'll blow up the Death Star and slay the Emperor. The evil wizard and his dragon army will be defeated and good share reign in the land once more. Both are awesome and great fun, but as with all things, it depends on your group.

BTW, there's no reason you have to follow the SR canon for your game. The corps' alleged power could be a facade worthy of the French courts and in reality, the whole deck of cards is one push from crashing down. Maybe there's really not an ounce of truth to the propaganda and the entire economic system is a sham. Then your campaign could easily be about local issues after the corps collapse, nations try to rise again, gangs rule the streets and the PCs trying to raise up a new society.

But now we're out of cyberpunk and into a post-apocalyptic genre.

Itachi

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« Reply #22 on: June 26, 2020, 08:40:58 pm »
Quote from: Shrieking Banshee;1136585
This may be a internet semantics bullshit thing but I believe that is at its core. Grim means no man can change the world. Dark means the world sucks in overwhelming ways. Grimdark means the world is fucked and you can do nothing about it.
Noblebright is the opposite. Noble means great heroes and individuals can change the world. Bright means the world is awesome (If not unsafe). Noblebright means the world is full of wonder and you can do you.
So a Nobledark setting is a world of horrors but something can be done about it. Most D&D settings fall into this, and I see Dark Sun and really even Lovecraft falling into this (The stories end with the characters driving the evil off, not all dying).

I also like Ravenloft. I'm not against a grim tone really. It's about the writing focus really.

My issue with the Cyberpunk Genre is when Corporations are somehow neither corporations nor governments. They are just balls of evil that kick puppies for no reason. I find also the existence of Shadowrunners as listed in Shadowrun implausible.
Yep, I agree. Shadowrun would be Grimdark instead of Nobledark. You're not supposed to rely dethrone the corps otherwise the whole premise of the game breaks.


Potentially interesting tangent:

Do you know the game Apocalypse World? It has a reverse correlation to Shadowrun that just came to mind: In it, there's this archetype called "The Operator", basically a "Fixer" who have a crew of operatives working for him. This crew can be the other players if they want, or they can be NPCs. Anyway, the interesting part is: here the "shadowruns" are downtime rolls, whose benefits or complications reflect on the Operator player. But the actual game sessions in Apocalypse World are about the Operator player following his personal agenda and goals while interacting and changing the world around him. So it's like Shadowrun if you rolled runs as downtime rolls and focused on your runner personal life, goals, and the world around.
« Last Edit: June 26, 2020, 08:57:30 pm by Itachi »

Shrieking Banshee

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« Reply #23 on: June 26, 2020, 08:42:10 pm »
Quote from: Spinachcat;1136592
Cyberpunk 2020 is a far more plausible setting than Shadowrun. No debate there. I've never looked to SR for any logic outside its own internal concepts. But imposing logic on most settings in games and movies causes a breakdown in believablity.

Call it a pet peeve I suppose. Something about the way Megacorps are done in so much Cyberpunk rubs me the wrong way. Because I find the true horror of a megacorp isn't its sinister agenda (That's the cherry on top) its usually just the dulldrum of it all.
I really like the Cyberpunk movie 'Repo-Men' for it. The Corporation pays mercenaries to repossess its mechanical organs...Pretty much horrific murder, and misleads customers to buy stuff they can't afford.

But they are selling a genuine lifesaving product. And outside of scummy marketing, they repo the product instead of imposing slavery and at least even TRY to make payment plans for their customers.

Quote
But now we're out of cyberpunk and into a post-apocalyptic genre.

I figured it out. Its a case of framing. The game puts so much focus on the Corporations, and their Structures, and the plans of the Dragons and the super uber spirits, and the invincible indestructible AI, but the players are not really meant to interact with it 95% of the time. It's like a D&D game where 90% of the setting supplements were about the wars between the gods and the detailing of the abysses' power structure while wanting you to play from level 5-10 max. And then maybe once in a while mentioned that Orcs are doing something unimportant somewhere. It feels like a tease.

Because as I pointed out I really liked the tone of many a cyberpunk film (Repo Men ends with a genuinely not-happy ending and I LOVED it for that ending).

I think I would be happy with just scavenging if the game spent more writing on fleshing it out, rather then the ivory towers I can't reach.

TLDR: Shadowrun makes small scale stuff feel unimportant in writing and then expects you to focus your characters on it.

Quote from: Itachi;1136596
Do you know the game Apocalypse World? It has a reverse correlation to Shadowrun that just came to mind: In it, there's this archetype called "The Operator", basically a "Fixer" who have a crew of operatives working for him. This crew can be the other players if they want, or they can be NPCs. Anyway, the interesting part is: here the "shadowruns" are downtime rolls, whose benefits or complications reflect on the Operator player. But the actual game sessions in Apocalypse World are about the Operator player following his personal agenda and goals and changing while interacting and changing the world around him. So it's like Shadowrun if you rolled runs as downtime rolls and focused on your runner personal life, goals, and the world around.

Sounds neat.
« Last Edit: June 26, 2020, 08:49:35 pm by Shrieking Banshee »

Omega

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« Reply #24 on: June 27, 2020, 08:02:52 am »
One of my players way back was one of the writers for the SNES Shadowrun video game. Still one of my favourite SNES games and I have the odd distinction of being one of the few, possibly only people to ever get the whole crew out alive at the end.

Shadowrun is one of those RPGs that has with later editions lost the spark of its original setting in some way, or several ways.

Shrieking Banshee

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« Reply #25 on: June 27, 2020, 09:25:16 am »
Quote from: Omega;1136654
Shadowrun is one of those RPGs that has with later editions lost the spark of its original setting in some way, or several ways.

Having read newer materials and now reading older materials: I don't really see it. I hear everybody mention it but the writing is about the same (MORE annoying in some places even)

lordmalachdrim

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« Reply #26 on: June 27, 2020, 11:38:57 am »
As a fan of Older Shadowrun I miss when it was linked with EarthDawn. Sadly with the change in ownership of the respective IPs they are no longer linked and the need to enforce that has caused issues with the setting, storyline, and feel of the world for those that have been longtime fans.

sureshot

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« Reply #27 on: June 27, 2020, 11:45:59 am »
Quote from: lordmalachdrim;1136680
As a fan of Older Shadowrun I miss when it was linked with EarthDawn. Sadly with the change in ownership of the respective IPs they are no longer linked and the need to enforce that has caused issues with the setting, storyline, and feel of the world for those that have been longtime fans.

What bothers me is they go through such a big set-up to link both including writing a Shadowrun novel showing that show Earthdawn NPCs are still alive in Shadowrun. Only to throw it all aside so that FASA could focus on the VOR the Maelstrom rpg in a very misguided attempt to compete with Games workshop and it worked out so well for them.

Itachi

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« Reply #28 on: June 27, 2020, 12:14:37 pm »
Quote from: Shrieking Banshee;1136664
Having read newer materials and now reading older materials: I don't really see it. I hear everybody mention it but the writing is about the same (MORE annoying in some places even)
I think what most fans of old editions miss is:

1. Shadowtalk. This was a section present in all FASA supplements where known people in the setting talked about gossip, conspiray theories or simply teased each other on chat rooms, relating to that suplement stuff. It oozed flavor and made the readers get aquainted and even cheering for some setting personas. It was lost in 4th edition.

2. Iconic adventures that set the tone for what was to come: Mercurial, Universal Brotherhood, Harlequin, Bug City, Super Tuesday, Renraku Arcology Shutdown. Even the videogames drank from them (Deadman Switch is a retelling of sorts of Queen Euphoria and UB).

3. Aesthetics. Earlier editions were more dirty and grim (probably due to Bradstreet) while also edgy and funny in a way (probably due to Laubenstein), and the focus on Seattle and the West meant an exotic mix of amerindianism (salish, aztlan) + urban collapse (barrens) + hi-tech (corps) that the artists really brought to life (just look at the cover and logo in first page). Later editions lost this "soul" when they went for a more global/international appeal.

4. Distinct Magical traditions: as an extension of the lose of focus on the American West, the lost of specific systems for each magi tradition (hermetic, shamanic, posession, blood) was seen as another step into a more flavorless state.

Overall, early Shadowrun had a very peculiar vision that was well realized by the writers and artists of the time, and which started to dilute through 3e and was lost by 4e. 5e tried to capture it again with mixed results (I liked some of it) but the spark wasn't there anymore. I think we can blame this on the times. Any product of the 80s would drink from the slightly sarcastic, and absurd, grimdarkness of the time, and Shadowrun wasn't different (see SLA Industries, CP2020 and Vampire 1e, or even Robocop, Terminator and Escape from New York). But of course all this is subjective. The most it can do is help a modern fan to understand the appeal of earlier editions in the eyes of an old fan. It's all a matter of opinion in the end. ;)
« Last Edit: June 27, 2020, 12:52:58 pm by Itachi »

Shrieking Banshee

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« Reply #29 on: June 27, 2020, 02:06:02 pm »
Quote from: Itachi;1136685
1. Shadowtalk. This was a section present in all FASA supplements where known people in the setting talked about gossip, conspiray theories or simply teased each other on chat rooms, relating to that suplement stuff. It oozed flavor and made the readers get aquainted and even cheering for some setting personas. It was lost in 4th edition.

Not that I'm going to defend the writing quality of 4th edition or the like but it was not. While I do in general remember to allot more gossip in things I can't remember in specific, there was at least gossip in the Dragon spinoff book thing. I think there was even a dedicated book just for gossip.

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2. Iconic adventures that set the tone for what was to come: Mercurial, Universal Brotherhood, Harlequin, Bug City, Super Tuesday, Renraku Arcology Shutdown. Even the videogames drank from them (Deadman Switch is a retelling of sorts of Queen Euphoria and UB).
I can see that. But they ended up as a noose on the franchise, in a way. These events and the characters within them overtook whatever impact the characters were ever supposed to have. Deadmans switch is by far the weakest of the 3 writing-wise (Cough Harlequin Cough), and I found the best by far to be Dragonfall.

It's really what turned the setting into: 'Look all these gods wandering around, and you have no influence on what they do'. It became 'THE' events that happened, and everything afterward is just duller knockoff effects.

Quote
3. Aesthetics. Earlier editions were more dirty and grim (probably due to Bradstreet) while also edgy and funny in a way (probably due to Laubenstein), and the focus on Seattle and the West meant an exotic mix of amerindianism (salish, aztlan) + urban collapse (barrens) + hi-tech (corps) that the artists really brought to life (just look at the cover and logo in first page). Later editions lost this "soul" when they went for a more global/international appeal.

I can see that. I think its focus on Black and White Artwork. Shadowrun 2e material stuff looks really goofy (not really gritty at all) when in color. I still find myself preferring TSR artwork as that generally focused on the environment as opposed to lots of pictures of people posing, so this isn't just a thing about 'Me like modern color'.

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4. Distinct Magical traditions: as an extension of the lose of focus on the American West, the lost of specific systems for each magi tradition (hermetic, shamanic, posession, blood) was seen as another step into a more flavorless state.

The American west can stuff it. Hippie dippy American Indian humping (mixed in with warped and distorted environmentalism) is one of the most annoying and egregious elements of the 2e writing I found. It's all the more egregious and frustrating with the modern contrast of what the American west actually IS. Mechanics wise may be something else.

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Overall, early Shadowrun had a very peculiar vision that was well realized by the writers and artists of the time, and which started to dilute through 3e and was lost by 4e.

I can see it. A very 80s view of cyberpunk as opposed to a 2000s view of cyberpunk. Regardless of individual writing and mechanics quality, and my own distaste for many shadowrun things I feel like there is still value in that aesthetic and direction. Id say changed is the better word than lost. I think the 80s view of cyberpunk was hot. The 2000s view of cyberpunk is cold.

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But of course all this is subjective. The most it can do is help a modern fan to understand the appeal of earlier editions in the eyes of an old fan. It's all a matter of opinion in the end. ;)
It does, and I appreciate it. The classic version of Shadowrun hasn't stuck with me like classic D&D-style materials that I learned from OSR, but its interesting to hear about it retrospectively.