I need help from a GM that isn't a newbie... I have only 2 players in a
role- playing group, and they insist on having a Street Samuri and a
Combat Mage. I have just run out of ideas for them like I want them to do
for a campaign or just runs. your help would be apprieciated
Shoot them both in the skull with a shotgun.
On second thought, next time they create their characters make sure you're
there. Try to talk/trick them into taking a more diverse group of skills
and not hardening their PCs up so damn much. If you convince them to make
enough little tweaks you might end up creating a whole new kind of PC.
What archetypes are required in order to form a cohesive shadowrun
The actual archetype construction of a group isn't as important as the
jobs the archetypes will perform. Generally, you need someone to deck,
someone to toss spells, someone to fight, and someone to drive. You could
have any kind of archetype, as long as it fills one of these positions.
So, if you were to have a Reporter of some kind, he or she should have
some computer skills, or be installed with a vehicle rig, or be a
magician. During group construction, it's a good idea for the GM to be
present so they can make sure the players are generating PCs that will be
able to fill the basic requirements of an SR group.
The lead character in a book Iím writing is what I've designated a wild
mage. It's a mage who, under extreme duress (how often does that occur in
a shadowrunners life?), has a chance of losing control and flashing blasts
of pure mana that takes various random forms. I've got the rules figured
down, but I'm not sure if it should be an Archetype or a flaw(after all,
it is detrimental to the mage.)
Flaw. Wild Mage shouldn't be a general archetype because being Wild isn't
his job, it's just something that happens to him. Since it's possible for
anybody, be they dekcers, magicians, riggers, etc., to lose control, a
flaw would make more sense. The firing off of pure mana makes things a
little bit weird, but not so weird that you need an archetype class to
Although my characters have contacts, they hardly ever use them. How
can I motivate them to use their contacts?
Make sure you give them a reason to go to their contacts. You can usually
do this by looking at their contact lists, figuring out what information
the contacts would no but the runners wouldn't, and then integrating this
information into a shadowrun. They should be able to realize that it's
easier to ask a contact then to go aimlessly searching for the info
How can I gradually introduce new pieces of cyberware into my game?
The comments attached to individual pieces of cyberware generally have
dates on them. Use those as a starting point when determining when
everything becomes available.
Is a Watcher spirit smart enough to know time? Does it have a clock in
They're pretty stupid. They may have a vague perception of time, but I
doubt they have an internal clock. If you wanted them to do something at a
particular time, you'd probably have to give them some kind of cue. (i.e.
When the clock bongs twelve times, harass Mr. Jenson.) Of course, even
then it may lose count.
Years ago, I attempted to GM a D&D game, creating my own world and
throwing in my uniquely designed people, arms, armor, and miscellany to go
along with it. I finally ended up dumping the idea after it reached the
Cool Concept Event Horizon and supernovae'd beyond my ability or desire to
resume. My question is, what is a tangible "event horizon" for a Shadowrun
game? Even with the desire for accuracy, intimacy, and realism in place,
how much is too much? Or conversely, too little?
If you're remaining on Earth in 2050, it's a good idea to stick to the
general timeline and the established laws of technology and magic. If you
get too weird you'll lose the trust of your players and paranoia will be
converted into pure confusion.
In an alternate world, you're pretty much free to do whatever the hell you
want since it has no bearing on the normal SR world and the players know
that, eventually, they'll get back home.
Why the hell are there dwarfs, elves, and dragons in just about every
role-playing game on the face of creation? Doesn't anyone object to the
heavy 'yawn aspect' of those beaten-to-death character types? More to the
point: how does Blackjack feel about all them cliche'd critters?
People are comfortable with established mythological archetypes and can
usually picture them in their minds without any extra description. Also,
one of the foundations of Shadowrun's world is the concept of the
'Awakening'. In Shadowrun philosophy, all of those mythological creatures
were, at one time or another, real. The awakening is simply their
reemergence back into the real world.
In short: I like the critters.
The border between being a happy GM and an indulgent GM seems like a
tough wire to balance upon. So, what do you think? Is the GM there for the
players, the players there for the GM, or should both try to mesh in a
Symbiotic. Both the players and the GM have to give certain concessions in
order to insure the others' enjoyment of the game. This is why it's
important for all GMs to play a PC from time to time, and for all PCs to
GM. Once they get a vew of SR from the other side of the GM screen they
gain a better understanding of how the other feels.
Is your handle (Blackjack) from the Shadowboxer novel?
I've been using Blackjack since the mid 1980s. I canít for the life of me
remember how I acquired it.
Some guy posted your Renegade vehicle without giving you credit.
Thanks for the info. He gave me a flattering link comment, so I may let
him off with only a mild decapitations.
How do you draw the pictures for your guns? No offense, but the Ratt
looks like a Gameboy that got hit by a truck.
Well, hopefully I've gotten better over time. The farther back the post
date is on my Weapons and Vehicles, the worse the art tends to be. The
'Puck' looks like a box of Kleenex that somebody covered with snot and
then stomped on, but it was also my very first attempt at modeling
anything that even remotely looked like a vehicle.
How old are you? Running the shadows for 9000 years?
I'm 472 years old, but I ran a few campaigns for God before I was born,
thus making me a runner of the shadows for approximately 518 years.
I need a decent back-story as to why my PCís an Android.
How about this: The scientist who created the cyborg realized that it was
capable of much more than the mundane violent chores the corp had set out
for it. When the cyborg started to show the capacity for emotion, the corp
ordered it destroyed. The scientist escaped the corp (along with the
cyborg) but was killed when the escape vehicle exploded. The corp though
the cyborg was also killed. But, of course, it wasn't.
In your opinion, would a true Android (no human parts whatsoever) have
essence to worry about? would she be immune to mana spells, but vulnerable
to electrical shock induced shutdown? any thoughts on the matter would be
appreciated as I am very interested in playing such a character, and quite
honestly, my GM has a lot more respect for your opinions than he does
This is tricky. I've always believed that if any thinking, 'living'
creature (be it manufactured or natural) showed enough of a desire to
experience life then they might actually generate some kind of 'aura' from
scratch. You may want to determine that the cyborg actually has an organic
brain, just to keep the GM from getting pissed at never being able to
throw mental spells at it. If the brain is organic, the spells would work.
As for essence, you may want to read and incorporate some of the negative
essence rules discussed in Cybertechnology.
Whatís the strangest compliment youíve ever received?
I guess the strangest compliments I receive are from people who write a
fairly coherent message, but then insist on finishing it with a threat
issued in a tough-troll kind of voice:
I really like your page. It has tons of interesting and unique material
that has assisted me greatly in becoming a more well-rounded and creative
p.s. Youz gotta better git sum more Brumby up or da Pounder Troll Squad is
gonna put ya in a ditch!
How do I keep things secret from different players when one set of them go
into the Matrix or Astral Space and the rest remain in reality? I donít
really have the space or time to put the players in different rooms.
The players must force ignorance, and the GM has to pay close attention to
make sure they're doing so. If you've GM'd the same people for a while,
you probably have a good idea of what they are and aren't capable of
thinking of. You can usually tell if their revelations come from their own
thoughts, or outside information.
In other words, if a player suddenly comes up with a stroke of genius
regarding something they couldn't possibly have thought of themselves,
whack them in the face with a ruler and deduct some karma.
How do you run a game with only two PCs? Is it even possible?
As long as the two people playing actually bother to work together, these
pair up's can work out rather well. Just make sure you're designing your
runs for two people, and not a group of 5. This means you have to tone
down the complexity and lighten up on the NPC load. Also, you may want to
have the players design PCs with a more diverse group of skills. If the
Sammy also picks up a bit of computer skill and perhaps a low level
Vehicle Control Rig, he can act as Sammy, Decker, and Rigger. A magic user
may want to pick up Biotech, so they can be the medic as well as the magic
While this diversifying of skill makes for weaker PCs (which you should
compensate by creating weaker NPCs), it allows the players to cover some
of the skill areas lacking in two player groups.
Another thing you can do is have all players keep Walkmans handy. If you
need to hide some info from them for only five minutes or so, have them
put on their headphones.
I used to think I was a kick-ass GM until I met my current group. I
canít get them to do ANYTHING! How can I get then to stop waiting for me
to tell them what to do? How do I get them to go out and do something?
First, try asking them - out of character - why they're not doing
anything. I'm sure you've already tried this, but you have to really,
really pry sometimes.
Second, figure out what they (as people) are interested in and show them
that there are locations in the gaming world that reflect those interests.
This is a big violation of roleplaying, but sometimes you have to give the
players a jump start by relating shadowrun to their real lives.
Third, make sure they didn't create boring characters. You may have to sit
down with them and have them rewrite their whole PC. If they didn't pay
any attention to the 20 Questions then their PCs probably don't have a
personality. Without a personality, they can't act, only react.
What movies do you think are best for finding Shadowrun plots?
Actually, I've found some of the best Shadowrun plots in those cheesy
independent studio sci-fi films. Not the old ones, but the stuff that shows
up every day, with names like "Evil World Games", or something similar.
While the acting and directing in these films tends to suck, the stories
are sometimes simple, yet interesting enough to be turned into shadowruns.
Another option is to watch bad TV scifi shows like Sliders or Tekwars. I
used to get all kinds of ideas from these shows before I stopped watching
A while back you sent me an E-Mail message that didnít make a whole lot
of sense and had even more misspellings than normal. Were you drunk when
you wrote it? If you were, I think you have a problem.
I doubt I was drunk, but I may have had a few drinks before I answered
your message. You see: I view the maintenance of my Shadowrun page as a
recreational activity. When I sit down to write something for it, answer
SR E-Mail, or update the page I view the activity in the same way someone
may view the act of watching a football game or going fishing. In
addition, Iím one of the many millions of Americans that feel that a
decent alcoholic beverage can increase the enjoyment of a recreational
experience. Even though the occasional unintelligible E-Mail message or
misguided link may result from such a combination, I donít get too
frazzled about it because, after all, this is a HOBBY. Itís not like I
drink up before going to work, or answer E-Mail to my boss while
inebriated and, unless they have a personal problem or work as a roofer,
neither do most other recreational drinkers.
I have found that the campaigns only go for 5-7 sessions, due to
character death or infighting within the party/players, have you had
I can usually head off most of the more nasty personality conflicts before
the PC even enters the game, usually by making sure the character isn't
too far out of sync with the rest of the group. This doesn't earn me a lot
of new friends, but it keeps the game together.
If a player starts being a jerk during the game, or if things start to get
too out of control, I'll often stop the game cold, explain the situation
to everybody, and ask everyone why the hell they're being such jerks.
How do I start a campaign when ALL of my players are newbies?
Start out easy by only using the main Rulebook and the Shadowrun companion
in the year 2050. Make some photocopies of the history section (just the
history section) of the rulebook and make the players read it. You might
also want to make them read the first, short story in the Rulebook. This
will give them a general idea as to how things go to be the way they are
and what shadowrunning is like. When you first play, use LOTS of
descriptions. Give them a chance to bum around Seattle for a while and,
perhaps, send them on a few really, really simple runs. Also: Make sure
they ask questions and that you explain everything you mention (like
Trideos, Coffin Hotels, etc.) as much as possible.
In response to your God NPCs article: You can always just make it look
like the runners killed the bad guy when they really didnít.
Good point, but you still have to make sure you don't over use that
method. After a while the runners get so paranoid about people coming back
to kill them that the shove a lit stick of TNT up the deceased's ass just
to insure that he's truly gone.