I love Shadowrun.
This is not a slight to my favorite game, Cyberpunk 2020. But, CP 2020 didn’t get played a lot. Shadowrun got run by three separate gamesmasters. Including me. It was what everyone knew in my early RPG experiences.
For those unaware of the IP on Shadowrun, it’s a game set in the late 21st century. The future is a place not only of bleeding edge technology (cybernetics, man/machine interface, space colonization) but also one of magic returned from our ancient histories (magic, spirits, dragons). It’s a world wracked by cataclysms and run by megacorporations that have all of the benefits and rights of fully formed nations. It’s a world populated by humans, but also by dwarves, elves, orks and trolls. It’s a world best described as high-tech low-life. And in the shadows of ‘civilized’ society, there are a class of people who take on jobs others don’t wish to dirty their hands with. People who will do what they’re told, no questions asked – usually. These are Shadowrunners. Part thief, part mercenary, part killer, part hacker. Players of the game take on the personas of Shadowrunners. They are bad people who do worse things to people who may or may not deserve it in exchange for money – though sometimes it gets to be personal. You can play it as grey or as black as you like it, but taking the high road more often than not got you killed.
It was an intricate setting that called for an intricate system of rules to govern it. Character creation was diverse. The old systems (versions 1 through 3) used what was called the priority system. You picked what was most important: Race, Attributes, Skills, Gear or Magic in order of A through E. You then got a certain amount of points/nuyen or race modifiers and went to town. Very simple. the only intense math was additive or subtractive as you whittled away your nuyen into a smaller and smaller stack.
Then 4th edition came out and it got horrendously fragging complicated.
SR4 has finally got the kinks worked out though with the advent of the Runners Toolkit. It features some very straight forward skill/attribute/gear packages in easy to purchase PACKS (Pre-generated Auxiliary Character Kit Systems). Want to be good with guns? Buy the sidearms, longarms or exotics PACKS. Need to be a big beefy character? Take the Tank attribute PACKS. The point values are already calced. Mix ’em and match ’em. Takes a lot less time than using the custom system.
A lot less.
Planning on putting it past the noobs on my Thursday night game. I think they’re gonna like it.