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Shadowrun 3e vs 4e

Shadowrun 3e vs 4e

Hi I played Shadowrun for YEARS. Since it came out in 1st edition all the way up until Fasa closed. 4e seems pretty popular so im assuming they did a good job with it. The older rules are super complex sometimes overly so but often I like that. But I'm trying to teach some new people the game and was wondering if I should go with 4th or not. I got the corw book but had a hard time getting into it. The setting somehow felt too different to me. Is there anyone that prefers 3e to 4e? I guess I'm just wondering what the pros and cons are or if there even are any for 3e besides nostalgia.

I like the way they changed magic. The biggest shift was to the wireless world. That really changed the feel of it a lot. I'm not completely convinced it was for the better, but since I got the 4e book, I haven't played 3e. The rules are...not really less complicated, not exactly, but they did do some streamlining. I can't decide if I like the new method for success tests. It seems like it makes everything too easy.

My suggestion would be to vote with your wallet. If you already have the 3e books, stick with 3e. Especially if you feel comfortable enough with the rules to actually help people with them.

A lot of people seem divided over the new wireless Matrix and I can understand where they're coming from. But I personally prefer the way it's handled in 4e, fluff-wise at least (I didn't get into Shadowrun til 4e) since it fits with the way technology is going today: commlinks are basically smartphones times ten, after all.

I love the fluff of the wireless matrix. But I also like the old and can see it easily being explained with wirless technology not being able to handle human brain interconnectivity. Reading through it thought it does change the feel a lot. I think that might have been the biggest change for me. Felt like a very different setting to me. Kinda reminds me of the old intro stories though with "Plus ca change" and me not wanting to ffels like falling behind the SOTA haha. I guess the 6th world has changed for me too much and it's time to retire. Anyway. How did magic change significantly? The way the oild magic system worked in the old rules was a favorite of mine. The only real reason I was considering changing to 4th was maybe that it was less complex but you don't really think that is the case?

I don't know how the old editions handled it, but one review of the book mentioned how hermetic mages and shamans used two different sets of rules in 3rd. Well that idea's been thrown out the window - when you make a mage character you have to pick a tradition that determines what sort of services you get from certain spirits (so if you go with the Hermetic Tradition, you'll only be summoning fire spirits for combat services, while a Shaman would summon bear spirits for combat) and how they resist Drain (Hermetics use Willpower+Logic while Shamans use Willpower+Charisma).

As for spells, it works the same regardless of your tradition - pick a spell, pick the Force you want to use for it (basically how strong it'll be, if you pick a Force higher than your Magic stat, you'll take Physical Drain instead of just Stun) and then roll Magic+Spellcasting. How many hits you need is based on the actual spell - some just need a single hit, others are an opposed test against the target's Willpower. Then the Drain hits and if you fail to resist all of the Drain, you'll take stun damage (or physical damage if the force of the spell was higher than your Magic stat, as I said above).

For adepts, most of their powers are just always-on abilities.

They did remove some of the complexity, but it's still clunky and heavy as a system. I don't think it's significantly less complex. Not enough to justify shelling out for the books if you're generally happy with 3e.

The main change to magic was that you don't learns spells at a particular force anymore, you just learn the spell and can cast it at any force you want (within the limitations). This means you have to figure out the drain during the fight instead of when you learn the spell. So, not simpler, just different.

The other big change is that it's a fixed target number now, with number of successes being the key instead of the target number being the key. This is also simpler in some respects, but there are still tons of modifiers that change the size of your dice pool, so still complicated.

Edit: and what ShadowFighter15 said.

Thanks guys this helps a ton. The way I'd heard it talked about was that 4e tried to simplify a lot. Does anyone that has played both rulesets have a preference? Has anyone tried to mix and match? Take the good from both?

I have no doubt they tried to simplify a lot. What they actually did, though, was shift the complexity around.

Although I use 4e now, I can't honestly say I prefer it. I kind of see them as two different animals, not two editions of the same thing. 4e has less grit. It feels more...over the top and cinematic, even glamorous. 3e feels like scraped knuckles and running out of ammo and gangers knifing you in a dark alley. I realize that's partly in how you play it, but that's just how they naturally seem to play.

Yes, thank you. That's kinda how it was feeling to me too without having tons of experience with 4th. I love the old system and have lots of xp with it but I didn't want to just be stubborn and unchanging if 4th was a better system of doing things. It's kinda nice to know it's not really better but different. Seems like something that would be kinda hard to gauge without playing though. Which is what I've been trying to do.

Thematically I can't really detect a difference but that just might be my group. We always have played every edition as high octane adventure and not all that gritty.

I think the new edition works at streamlining some things but yeah...its nearly as complicated as previous editions. The game was my first introduction to the augmented reality of modern sci-fi rather then the old style VR. Its a vast improvement over the old one in that anybody can be a hacker these days. Nobody gets left out so the specialist can run around in his own little world. Heh...I just wish the hacker rules were more coherent....

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