I used to play high octane SR and used to write up runs that mostly
involved fighting. Now I want to change but am having trouble switching my
players over to the new style (many of them are pretty stupid and don’t
know how to do anything but shoot).
It's tough to teach old players new tricks, especially if you've trained
them to shoot without thinking. But, if the players are as stupid as you
make them out to be, they probably would have done that anyway.
I suggest writing better runs but catering them to a few of the things you
know your players know something about. Think about their interests and
education, and write something that will allow them to use this inherent
knowledge in the game. It will require some sacrifice on your part, but
you'll probably be happier quelling some of your ideas as opposed to
having them shot apart by idiot players.
I was wondering if you could create some simple pistols for your page.
I like the Blackjack Weapons, but most of them are just too damn powerful.
To tell you the absolute truth, I don't really have any choice when it
comes to which weapons I create. Honest. For some reason, I have the
inability to create a simple pistol or SMG; I always end up with these
gargantuan assault weapons from hell. It's weird. I'll give the pistols a
try though, but they probably won't end up as simple pistols. Regardless
of what I create, it's gotta have something nifty built into it.
What kind of stats would Harlequinn have? I’m planning on using him in
a game and I KNOW the players are going to ask.
You really can't create stats for somebody like Harlequin. I wouldn't even
know where to begin. He's one of those NPCs you just don't let the PCs get
close to. The PCs should be smart enough to know that they don't have a
chance of defeating him and there's not much use in trying. Sure, the PCs
can play with some of his minions but, in the end, Harlequin will get out
alive. Just remind them that Harlequin could have them all killed anytime
he wants to; the only reason the runners are alive is because Harlequin,
and NPCs like him, allow the runners to stay alive. It's all a game to the
How much would you pay/compute for pay for a run? We kind of disagree
with our GM regarding the costs of living in the SR world. For our first
campagin, he had us retrieve and escort a pair of defecting deckers
currently stationed in a Gang infested area for 2,000 Nuyen each. For our
second session, he wants us to do Wetwork jobs against 3 people for 3,000
Nuyen (for each PC, for killing all three). After explaining that a few of
our PCs don't do wetwork while others attempted a Negotiation skill (and
got 2 successes), he would only go 200 bucks higher! (This was the only
campaign he prepared for so we had to accept). Is his estimation of the
costs of living correct?
Not even close, especially not for wetwork. 3 grand hardly even covers
expenses. Then again, it depends on how complicated the run was. If all
you had to do was walk in a bar or something and shoot three people, the
price was pretty close to right. But a GM shouldn't have you straight out
executing people anyway. If the run involved tracking these people down,
negotiating with contacts, decking a corp or two, and doing a bunch of
other things in order to waste three people who were part of some larger,
unseen plan then you should get around 8 to 10 grand each, plus some
medical coverage if the run was dangerous. Normally you shouldn't get paid
per kill, either. You should get paid for the run as a whole. I think your
GM needs to sit down and put more thought into his adventures.
You suggest always having a mage on the opposing team to counter act
any magic on the runners side. But magic is supposed to be pretty rare
(something like 1%) and I want to keep some of the mystery and awe of
magic. What do you suggest?
Magic is rare to everyday people, but it is a fact of life in the shadows.
Nobody survives in the shadowrun world without magical support. While your
everyday pedestrian won't see it all that often, your everyday shadowrun
will see it around every corner.
You can keep magic mysterious by giving the NPC magic user odd abilities,
or derive them from an odd discipline. Many are simply sorcery adepts who
specialize in one area of spells, shamans who cater their skills to the
street, etc. Variety is the key if you want to keep magic frightening and
A shaman in my game wants to make a spell were he can summon a certain
object. What do you think?
Usually it's a good idea to require that the spell turn something into
something else, as opposed to simply making it appear out of thin air.
Unless it involves an elemental effect, you'll rarely find a spell that
makes something out of nothing. Usually you need some kind of base object
to start with.
Did you know that in "ShadowBoxer" by Nicholas Pollotta, there is a
Shadowrunner named BlackJack who gets brutally murdered at the start of
the story. Spookey, huh?
Perhaps it's time for me to stop bashing FASA, eh?
How much a "yen" is worth?
It depends on what you're comparing it to. If you're trying to equate it
to the 1997 American dollar, the exchange rate is about 1 ny per 1 dollar.
(This is based on a comparison in which I looked at various firearms in
some shadowrun books and then went to an actual gun store. The prices were
My SR team has no magician, but in our next run we are certain to meet
magical resistance. Any suggestions?
Fighting magic without magic is a bitch and a half. First off, make sure
you have some smoke/thermo grenades to toss around for the purpose of
messing with the magicians' line of sight. If you get them to rack up
enough modifiers, they'll have a hard time flooring you with a stun bolt.
Of course, this also creates problems for you, so make sure you have a set
of Ultrasound goggles with you to cut through the fog.
Second, see if the GM will let you hire an NPC magic user for support.
Odds are he won't, but it's worth a shot.
Third, get creative with your skills and create enough confusion that the
magicians won't have a chance to get their thoughts together enough to
throw anything too nasty at you. You might also try to get hold of some
Fat-1 bacteria gas to hose around in order to keep any astral presences
Fourth, be prepared to run like hell if things get too bad. Once you start
to lose to magic, everything goes to shit in a hurry.
What kind of gaming aids do you suggest using? I have been GMing for a
while and I usually have a few sketch pads, some descriptive notes, and
occasionally an overhead map. I'm looking for ways to set the mood more
and create less confusion as to character position, etc. Any ideas?
When describing places and distances, use terms everybody in the game can
understand. There's nothing wrong with describing the inside of a bar as
consisting of the same square footagage of a Mc. Donalds or saying a
building's as tall as one of those metal structures that holds up high
tension powerlines. For trickier situations, like the actual layout of a
bar, you can give some general information, describe the lighting, music,
and population, and then let everybody else fill in the blanks.
If you haven't read it already, take a look at Gamemasting 101 1/2 and
Perception Problems on Blackjack's Corner. They may help you out.
My players refuse to get creative during downtime. How can I motivate
You may want to give them some down time and remind the players that
during down time they're pretty much free to go to any location they can
imagine (although, for some of them, they may have to leave their guns at
home). They can go to a whore house, an amusement park, charter a boat and
spend the weekend drunk, take a day trip into the mountains to go bungee
jumping, etc. This recreational freedom of thought sometimes carries over
into more important aspects of the game, such as actual Shadowruns.
Also, make sure your NPCs are acting in the manner that you'd like your
PCs to act. Make sure they're being creative in how they fight, act, etc.
Sooner or later the players may realize that the NPCs are making them look
like a bunch of dorks.
Hello.I was wondering what type of character would be best for a new
player.I know I dont want to be a street samurai, but that would be the
best one for a newbie.What do you think, what should I be?
Try to create an archetype that doesn't have to rely solely on violence to
get things done. If you use a Street Sammy right off the bat, you might
have problems dealing with less physically powerful characters in the
Try the Former Company Man archetype and switch some of the skills around.
This archetype is powerful enough to survive, but not so powerful that
there isn't any challenge.
My GM never gives us downtime. How can I convince him to give us some?
Perhaps the GM needs to be reminded that downtime can be as much fun for
him as it is for the players. Downtime is a perfect opportunity for a GM
to roleplay weird ass NPCs, create odd locations, and just generally screw
around along with the PCs. It's also an excellent time for the GM to
reintroduce NPCs the PCs might have screwed over, develop some kind of
subplot, etc. Your GM seems to think that, during downtime, he doesn't
need to GM. If he realizes that actual runs are not the be all and end all
of the shadowrun world he may actually find some enjoyment in weaving
together a more complex web of events.
How do you get females to roleplay? It seems to be a difficult process.
Since I don't know your age and current educational (i.e. high school,
college, graduate, etc.) situation it's kinda difficult to give advice on
the subject. Virtually all of the female roleplayers that got involved in
my games were in some way connected with acting and theater and were also
friends of mine. Just start out by thinking about any female friends you
might have and go from there. It's usually a good idea to try to have
whatever female you invite to bring along another female friend. And, for
god sakes, make sure you and your friends try to be at least a little bit
civilized during her first game. Even if she's an extremely outgoing,
intelligent, and aggressive individual, a collection of five males playing
around with imaginary guns and shouting out testosterone heavy words of
violence may seem a little bit imposing.
No farting, either. They HATE that.
My players seem to have a tough time grasping the fact that the
smallest of mistakes or events may be sufficient enough to kill them off.
Unless I point a Panther Cannon at them, the idea of dying never even
enters their minds.
You may be able to solve the problem simply by creating a roleplayed
conversation involving the idea of mortality and the fragile nature of
life. If you created a deep thinking and admirable NPC - somebody the
players would look up to - and show how this individual fears the
consequences a single bullet wound can bring about, you may be able to
affect the players on an emotional level. Perhaps this NPC's spouse and
child were killed, or a close friend, or somebody else he cared about.
Then - after the PCs get to know this NPC and are exposed to his ideas -
kill him off with a stray bullet or have him get hit by a car. The
psychological impact of seeing somebody who is so aware of life and death
getting wasted in a freak accident may be enough to tune the players into
the implications of possessing a mortal body and mind.
Another trick you can try is to locate the most introspective person in
the group and then getting them on your side. Talk to them - in private -
before or after the game and see if you can convince him or her to act
like a normal, mortal (meta)human being. If the act is convincing enough
and holds enough impact the rest of the players may fall into line.
One player in my group, a guy with an AD&D attitude towards gaming
(another day, another monster to kill) doesn't seem to get the finer
points of storytelling nor roleplaying, as opposed to roleplaying. He
destroyed a couple neat storylines by blurting out, ah, it's HMHVV, ah
it's a ghoul, ah, it's a hellhound, ah that's a toxic spirit (while his
character has no way of knowing). While the rest of the players, for whom
all this is a novelty may feel very inadequate by those guesses. Not to
mention the ruined plotlines.
Try to talk to the person outside of the game. Explain to them the
difference between player knowledge and PC knowledge and how crossing the
line is a violation of what roleplaying is all about. Players must
sometimes role-play ignorance in order to keep the events within the game
realistic. If the player persists in his actions you have the right to nix
any roleplaying karma he might receive. Even if he roleplayed well in
other situations, he generated 'negative karma' by not role-playing so
badly in those individual instances.
I just started a go-gang campaign, this semester, and am running it
with 11 players.
Damn, that's a lot of players. You should start a player rental agency.
In your trid time file you have a mistake...it read 306 "Breakdanceing
Channel"...you spelled breakdancing wrong. Soon you'll be getting a letter
from me, much like this one...except longer. Be afraid, be vary afraid.
You mean “very” afraid, not "vary".
(Two can play at this game.)
I had a runner add a skill without my knowledge, I look at his
character sheet a couple of days later an can tell that he cheated to get
it just because of a certain situation. I do not want him to know that I
know yet I want to punish him. I was thinking of making him use the skill
and have it fail miserably - the skill is demolition. Or maybe just killing
his character off.
Man, I can't stand cheaters. I probably wouldn't blow him up entirely, but
I would consider his skill flawed. You could even create some story that
whomever taught him how to use the skill was a closet psycho and purposely
taught him the skill entirely WRONG. So he'll probably blow off an arm, at
I also suggest humiliating the player. If everybody else in the group has
been playing fairly, they probably won't be too pleased to learn that one
of their fellow players has tried to take a shortcut while the rest of the
group was busting their butts to build up karma.
Also, give him a whack across the head and say: "This is from Blackjack,
A while back in Riposte you commented that people would attempt to
destroy an ‘indestructable vehicle’ with an armor of 21 just because it’s
supposedly indestructible. My question is: How would anybody know how
tough the vehicle actually was?
A good rigger would be able to tell how tough a vehicle is simply by
drawing on his knowledge of how different vehicles of differing size and
strength operate normally. Some possible signs of a tough or modified
1. The way it travels across gravel or broken asphalt will reveal how
heavy it is.
2. The signature of the vehicle's engine may reveal that it seems
unnecessarily large an engine for the size of the vehicle. (i.e. the
vehicle's real heavy and needs a massive engine to pull/push it.)
3. You can tell the weight distribution of a vehicle by the way it handles.
4. Even if the owner screws with the signature, aural signature, handling,
etc. an experienced rigger would be able to tell how he screwed with it,
similar to the way any normal person can tell whether a vehicle is
equipped with a muffler or not.
5. Pop up turrets usually leave some sign revealing where they are. An
experienced rigger would be able to pick out extraneous molding or seals
on a vehicle that may conceal a turret.
I like 'The Arsenal.' from one of your Places posts. I think I like it
a lot because I use a bar like it in my own campaign (call it 'The Range'
and made it a little more yuppie.)
A yuppie shooting range? I can just picture it:
"Thad, would you mind passing me your handkerchief? I want to make sure I
don't get any gun grease on my briefcase. Bartender, another Martini,
I read part your NPC compilation and I think it’s great! I just have
one question: You say you steal most of your ideas from Newsweek - so
where in the hell did you get the idea for the Super evil, essence
draining lesbian supermage? (in the "Thinkers" section)?
Aaaam...... what issue would that be?
The Super Evil Essence Draining Lesbian Supermage issue, of course. (They
also did a special on the conflict in the Gulf.)
How many of the people/places in your writings were actual
places/people in your games?
Sometimes the people in my writings were former NPCs and sometimes NPCs
were people I wrote about in various stories. I've used Razor and Brumby
and, I think, Piano Man, but only after I wrote about them. The story
about Midnight came directly from the game; it was written when I first
moved to Maryland (I've since moved again) and could only find one person
who played Shadowrun. So it's basically a play by play account of his
adventures. I had initially planned on writing about the solo adventures
of his 2 future companions, and eventually about their adventures together,
but I waited too long and lost my memory of what happened.
My players are running out of excuses for backstory that relates to how
they got their large amount of cyberware. Any new ideas?
I'll give you some reasons but, in traditional Blackjack style, they all
have a downside:
1. Disease. The runner had some kind in illness that resulted in damage to
his nervous system, brain, limb, etc. The runner managed to get into an
experimental program that replaced the damaged parts, but the disease is
2. He sold the original arms, limbs, lungs, etc. to a bodybank that
catered in organs that possess rare or unusual blood types. These banks pay
much more than those who take in the normal type O stuff. Of course, this
also means that if he needs replacement parts, they're gonna be tough to
3. Lawsuit. Perhaps when the runner was younger (under the care of his
parents) he was injured and the family actually sued and won. The losing
party, however, wasn't especially pleased with the decision and is certain
to be a thorn in the runner's side.