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Wannabie Shadowrun GM

   
Wannabie Shadowrun GM

I've had a 5e book for about 2 years now since I got it one fateful Christmas. I enjoy the setting, have played the video games(barring I think the xbox title) and read a bit of the side material.
When I tried running the system itself a few times I fell into a few issues. Biggest one being the layout.
But overall how do I get started? I've read the running the shadows chapter a few times and have had a few jaunts into food fight.
Yet I always fall flat trying to do anything beyond that.
How should I set up runs or streamline them?
What should I consider when planning missions?
Are there any noob traps or pitfalls in the system I should avoid in the system altogether?
Are there ways I can improvise rules for things like unconventional applications of abilities?

Example of the above is I had someone playing as the elf mage in the 5e runners toolkit release of the food fight scenario.
At one point the player wanted to disassemble a pistol in one of the ganger's hands using the (I think that was what it was called)telekinetic hand spell the pregen character had.

What I'm wondering about for the moment feel free to add anything you think might help.

*cracks knuckles* Okay, this is something I'm fairly good with.

Be warned - Shadowrun 5e suffers from some of the worst editing in the RPG industry, which is why you are struggling to get the hang of it. Furthermore, SR is one of the crunchiest systems out there and is daunting if that's not your jam. There's nothing to be ashamed of, as this is pretty common. For those wanting to play/run a SR game but not with the system, take a look into hacks of rules-lite systems, such as Blades in the Dark or the Sprawl. There's also SR:Anarchy, but since it has the same quality editing as SR 5e, I recommend avoiding that dumpster fire.

However, for the determined, there's help.

Step 1) get to know the key rules quite well. There's a boat load of corner-case rules that just are not worth worrying about, such as bouncing explosions, vehicle crashes, and the entirety of
Nobody should ever touch this until you guys really know this stuff, and even then, this is magic made super hard mode for no good reason
alchemy. Some GMs like to divide and conquer, by divvying up the learning amongst their group - one guy is your matrix guru, another magic, and a third handles vehicles, etc. But since I'm crazy and can't trust my own players to do that sort of homework, I learned the important stuff.

This is what I consider Important Rules in SR 5e:
- Combat and how initiative works. Don't be too worried about modifiers, as they're only as common as you make them show up. If called shots come up, it's a simple -4 modifier for most normal ones and -10 for the crazy stunts.
- MARKs and bricking in Matrix. The former is important for any hacker, as more MARKs means more control (representing how much action economy they get out of the hacked item). The later is semi-important when a hacker just wants to break things, and works pretty much the same as normal combat.
-For magic, understand how drain works and the difference between direct and indirect spells. Astral space is something you can hand-wave most of the time unless you get a mage in the team who uses it a lot.

For further help, take a look at this link: common reddit links for newbie SR GMs. There's even a Youtube channel dedicated to this stuff!

Step 2) find tools and tricks to make the job easier. For character creation, there's Chummer5, which is a free, open source project that's nothing short of a godsend for SR players and GMs alike. Meanwhile, I also recommend finding an Initiative Tracker, since it gets messy sometimes. There's one on Android that I used called Shadowrun Initiative Tracker, but there's one built into Roll20 as well.

And then there's the biggest piece of advice I ever found for GMing SR: don't stat out your NPCs.

This may sound like heresy, especially for such a crunchy system, but hear me out. You don't need those stats, because everything boils down to dice pools. Therefore, you can easily estimate those based on levels of competency. So, for firing a pistol (which tends to be my general benchmark), a civilian would have 4 dice, a rent-a-cop or ganger punk would have 8 dice, fairly threatening corp-sec would have 12, HTR would be rocking 16, and Firewatch or other top-level spec-op teams would have 20 (and should strike fear into the hearts of runners). You don't even have to come up with dice pools for every skill, nor should you. A few key skill groups should be enough, if you even go that far.

As for Health Tracks and damage soak, I generalize as such - Health is only a single track (both physical and stun) and is roughly 10 boxes (15 if they're tough). Damage soak is in sets of 5, most averaging at 10 dice to soak. Don't worry about equipment much, as looting bodies is actually counter-productive in SR (everything is tracked and hacking ownership is such a laborious task that no runner team should ever do it) - damage can estimated by weapon categories. Eventually, you'll be able to just wing this on the fly, as it shouldn't require too much effort.

Step 3) Keep your runs somewhat episodic. They can link together, but really most runs will stand alone without really trying. There's a few examples out there of longer arcs, such as the module Shattered State (which is overall kinda crummy) or the awesome Shadowrun Storytime.

Step 4) this is a common GMing trick - if you don't know a rule, let the group know and wing it. This keeps the game moving, and you can figure out the actual rules (or make your own, because there's a lot of weird stuff that might come up, such as your
IMO, I would rule this that the spell cannot disassemble a pistol quickly, but it can be done as an extended test (measured in combat rounds), using pistols + agility? It really won't be useful in a fight kinda deal, just like taking a gun apart in real life.
TK disassemble one.

Step 5) have fun with it.


Anyhow, if you have any questions, lemme know. I'm not a proper expert in SR, but I know enough to run it for a bunch of casual players who will never actually read the rulebooks.

One big thing to know up front when playing Shadowrun is the game style: are you going for a Pink Mohawk or Black Trench Coat style of game?

To summarize (you can probably find more in-depth discussion by googling "Pink mohawk and black trench coat"), the Pink Mohawk style is the loud guns blazing action, while Black Trench Coat is the more subtle, espionage style game. Knowing what everyone prefers and adjusting expectations accordingly will save everyone a lot of trouble.

If you're wondering about the styles of missions or things to do, I do highly recommend getting a copy and reading The Sprawl. It's another kind of cyberpunk game, but has some excellent framing devices and narrative tools you can use to spice the game up outside of mechanics, and is generally pretty good at informing what kinds of things you can do with cyberpunk to make it more interesting.

Ok I assume I should Generally have limits to go with those average dice pools for winging npcs? Or should I just let dice land where they land and keep limits to players?

I have actually run a few test games aside FF but both of them were with my test group which consist of me and two guys I know from wayback. I found that having to juggle all the rules for just 2 runners was a massive pain. And some things about magic and force kind of still confuse me. Like for the opening gig for these guys they hired a hacker ( I tried to make it a technomancer because since I had read the magic rules more thoroughly. So I thought it would be easier to understand than a normal decker.) The job was to kidnap the kid of some water treatment official in Richmond Virginia. At one point the two guys take a buncha fire and the one guy that picked decided to try and summon a Force 14(or 16) Fire Spirit and... I guess succeeded? He took half his physical damage track as it was above his magic stat??? And he managed to succeed in controlling it???

These are fresh outta vanilla character creation toons (We did use Chummer to make it less of a pain). And I'm just confused as to what the implications are of this kind of thing. The Spirit melted everything and I don't know by what yard-stick I'm supposed to judge it by.

What would NPC's do in that situation? What would the local Law enforcement do? What would even the spirit do?
I guess one of the things I'm asking for is what is an appropriate response to situations like these?
In systems like 3.5 or pathfinder I usually have player stats or levels to go by. And in systems like FATE or the Cypher system I can just Ad-Lib it.

Another thing is how do you handle scanners and other surveillance? I can't seem to find quick and dirty rules for those. As far as it appears to me for them to be even remotely relevant I have to plan for a 3d structure for every building the PCs may encounter.

I think that is it for whatever rambling questions I have.
Forgive my lack of knowledge into formatting this response I'm new at this. Also apologies for the long wait on a reply, started a new job and it's been killing me.
I have seen Shadowrun Storytime btw, Mr. American San greatest of truckers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Actana View Post
One big thing to know up front when playing Shadowrun is the game style: are you going for a Pink Mohawk or Black Trench Coat style of game?

To summarize (you can probably find more in-depth discussion by googling "Pink mohawk and black trench coat"), the Pink Mohawk style is the loud guns blazing action, while Black Trench Coat is the more subtle, espionage style game. Knowing what everyone prefers and adjusting expectations accordingly will save everyone a lot of trouble.

If you're wondering about the styles of missions or things to do, I do highly recommend getting a copy and reading The Sprawl. It's another kind of cyberpunk game, but has some excellent framing devices and narrative tools you can use to spice the game up outside of mechanics, and is generally pretty good at informing what kinds of things you can do with cyberpunk to make it more interesting.
Knowing my groups it will be a mixture of both, probably leaning on the Mohawk side. As for tone I think the majority of my players don't tend to enjoy grimdarkness as much as I do ( I will run rouge trader one day dammnit).
So I think they will sit grey leaning to white-hat.

As for the sprawl, I'll add it to my list of books to get.

Let's break this down, bit by bit.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ammogromin View Post
Ok I assume I should Generally have limits to go with those average dice pools for winging npcs? Or should I just let dice land where they land and keep limits to players?
In my short time playing 5e, limits rarely come up unless it's something the character really sucks at. AKA the street sam trying to be a face when he's not spec'd out to be one. So for the most part, limits are not something for you to worry about.

Quote:
I have actually run a few test games aside FF but both of them were with my test group which consist of me and two guys I know from wayback. I found that having to juggle all the rules for just 2 runners was a massive pain. And some things about magic and force kind of still confuse me. Like for the opening gig for these guys they hired a hacker ( I tried to make it a technomancer because since I had read the magic rules more thoroughly. So I thought it would be easier to understand than a normal decker.) The job was to kidnap the kid of some water treatment official in Richmond Virginia. At one point the two guys take a buncha fire and the one guy that picked decided to try and summon a Force 14(or 16) Fire Spirit and... I guess succeeded? He took half his physical damage track as it was above his magic stat??? And he managed to succeed in controlling it???
I had to double check it, but the limit for summoning a spirit is double their magic score. So a force 14 fire spirit would be a no go. Plus, the drain should've been twice the number of hits that the spirit got (not net hits, FYI), which should've really hurt to try to soak.

FYI, techno's are one of the toughest archetypes to learn, because you gotta understand both matrix and their quasi magic system. Most newbies should shy away from them.

Quote:
What would NPC's do in that situation? What would the local Law enforcement do? What would even the spirit do?
I guess one of the things I'm asking for is what is an appropriate response to situations like these?
In systems like 3.5 or pathfinder I usually have player stats or levels to go by. And in systems like FATE or the Cypher system I can just Ad-Lib it.
It's going to vary based on where this happened. In the Redmond Barrens, you might attract some of the local gangers, loaded up for heavy assault, to put down the spirit and/or mage that summoned it. It's bad for business, after all. In anywhere with actual cop/security presence, a spirit of that force would certainly demand some High Threat Response asskickers to show up. Again, a spirit of that nature is bad for those around it. And it's hard to hide something of that power, either. It should be screaming its presence in the astral, which means every mage within a few miles has a decent chance of going 'holy crap, that's some serious mojo going on' followed by a quick call to the cops.

In other words, it should be the equivalent of someone firing a rocket launcher in the middle of town.

Quote:
Another thing is how do you handle scanners and other surveillance? I can't seem to find quick and dirty rules for those. As far as it appears to me for them to be even remotely relevant I have to plan for a 3d structure for every building the PCs may encounter.
Use some common sense - in our modern world, where do people put scanners/sensors/etc? There'll be cameras everywhere, but anything of real note would likely be put at key points of entry and the like. Otherwise, my advice is to not over think it.


The reality is that Shadowrun does not play like D&D in the least. It is, at its core, a puzzle game. Where the puzzle is 'how to pull off the job', with the added difficulty of 'not getting shot at'. Because combat in SR is highly lethal - it only takes one well placed (or really unlucky) shot to the head end a runner's career in the shadows. Combat should generally take a back seat to the rest of the game.

Since your game leans on the pink side, you don't have to be too harsh in the consequences (unless they're being stupid), as it tends to be more style over substance. But even so, they shouldn't be charging into a place, gun's a blazing, and if they do, HTR should come stomping along very shortly (we're talking minutes, depending on location).

If you haven't taken a look at that link to a bunch of links I gave you earlier, I highly suggest it. There is a literal stack of helpful advice that I've barely touched upon there, including newbie adventure ideas, how to handle how extreme runners can get, etc. Adjust to suit your group's needs.

FYI, if you haven't discovered this yet, the Shadowrun 5e Superbook Project is really handy.








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