Never trust a dragon, or whatever

Replying to the above post, no one else look

I’ve played Shadowrun off and on for 30 years, largely with the same core group.  So take this with a grain of salt because it might be more about that game group than the game itself.

I like Shadowrun, it would be weird if I played it for 30 if I didn’t like it, but that like is largely in spite of the game itself. 

Such as, 6th edition is clunky just like every edition has been clunky.  It’s not a system I like.  The people I know that do like it are the same people who like Magic the Gathering because it’s a dressed-up math fight.  For my tastes the rules get in the way of the game.  Whatever you want to do it’s a minor slog to do it mechanically.

If you’re not aware there’s also Shadowrun Anarchy which is a rules lite stripped down version.  For me it’s TOO stripped down (irony) but if you like rules lite games I bet it’s great. 

Combat is always kind of a drag but Shadowrun, every edition as far as I can remember, works off the attack rolls, defender rolls, if a hit attacker rolls damage, defender rolls to soak, additional rolls happen based off other things.  And if you’re a mage before all that there’s also the rolls to do magic shit.  It’s too much for me. 

Vehicle rules, matrix rules, magic rules, everything else is all “meh”.  One good point is there are a ton of actions you can take in combat, a lot of choices I mean, no one ever does 90% of the but they’re there.  That’s a common failing in many games I think, there’s all these other things you could do but just a straight attack is almost always better. 

What about the lore?  Kind of a failure in concept.  The big thing about Shadowrun is theoretically the 3 Worlds – physical, magical, and matrixal.  In reality it always ends up being the 1.5 worlds to me, because magic is half of a thing and the matrix stuff is always kind of blah. 

But on the other hand the people I know who really like, I mean REALLY like it, I think it’s because they’re really into the metanarrative.  Because Shadowrun has a ton of material behind it and it’s all pretty good.  Some of it is a little silly, like the magic comet that made it so people that like anime would be weird anime monsters, and the backflips they did in-story to explain why cellphones and wireless technology didn’t exist in their world of the future are funny, but overall it’s a lot to draw on. 

And the people I know that like it draw on it hard.  A campaign pitch will be “We’re going to play in 2063 right after (insert long string of Shadowrunbabble here about stuff I don’t know) only instead of (insert long string of Shadowrunbabble here about stuff I don’t know) and (insert long string of Shadowrunbabble here about stuff I don’t know), etc. 

But in my experience, even outside of my game group, SR people are not gatekeepers.  If you don’t know what happened in 2057 with (word you don’t know) and (word you don’t know) and word you don’t know) they’re happy to tell you all about it, why it happened, what the impact was to a bunch of other stuff, and what it means emotionally.  Overjoyed they’d be. 

So crappy system and not great theme why do I like it?  I don’t know for sure.  A lot of the lore is pretty cool if you like dystopian cyber-crunk.  And there’s a lot of it. 

I probably like it because most of my games are either pretty casual and/or story focused where realistically nothing bad is ever going to happen because we all want the game to continue, but my SR game is generally more like roleplaying without pity where if you go down the wrong street you character could be shot in the head for his shoes and that’s fine.

Sometimes it’s nice to have that kind of game. 

1 Comment

  1. Thanks for the insider perspective. I know there must be good reasons a game like this sticks around for so long.

    I think I would really have no issue if I ended up playing with a group and GM who already knew what they were doing and could show me the ropes. Instead, I bought the book on a whim, tried my best to get into it, and bounced off hard.

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