How to Run - Gameplay Advice and House Rules
- Don’t obsess over ammo. As mentioned on the Character Creation page, counting bullets sucks. Regular ammo is unlimited until I say otherwise. If you find yourself short on specialty ammo, you don’t run out – just buy up the difference later. You only need to get it roughly correct, so round to the nearest 10 or something. I don’t really care that much.
- I won’t harass you about reloading unless you’re really laying it on thick with full auto or your weapon is known to have a tiny clip – I trust you keep rough track yourself and be reasonable about it. Say it with me now: “Counting bullets sucks.”
- Micromanaging device settings is boring. I assume your devices are always in the correct “mode” for whatever you’re trying to do without spending all the extra actions flipping switches. Unless you tell me otherwise, I’ll assume everything is wireless on and gets its full bonuses. There aren’t many reasons you’d want to turn the wireless off, anyhow, unless the decker who’s supposed to be protecting your stuff gets geeked or similar dramatic matrix trouble.
- The addiction rules are terrible and nonsensical. The math on them comes out to an average character going into burnout caffeine addiction and losing statpoints after 9 months of drinking one cup of coffee a week, so I’m throwing them out. Shove as many combat stims into your system as you like. If you abuse them or get into the really heavy stuff like Nitro or Kamikaze, I’ll come up with some thematic roll on the spot.
- You can always take Defensive Interrupts, even if your initiative score is 0. Otherwise, you end up with weird issues where characters wait to attack until the arbitrary game moment where someone runs out of initiative between 3 second intervals, and that doesn’t make any sense. The “negative” initiative may come out of your next initiative pass, though, if you take the interrupt while at 0.
- You can take interrupts not officially listed in the book if they make sense. “Run the hell away from a grenade”, for example, is one I’d let you have with a test even if you’re at 0 initiative. It’s not like you’re just going to sit there because some game mechanic hasn’t been printed.
- Same story for called shots. If you want to do something with a called shot not that’s explicitly covered in the rulebook, you can try it, though the dice penalty may increase. Shooting someone in the eye to blind them, for example, might come at -6 or -8.
- On the subject of grenades, no, I’m not going to do the math on the “chunky salsa effect.” Calculating whether the barrier breaks and how much impact the recoil blast has left… ugh, too much math. I’m going to do whatever is dramatic and awesome at that moment. This may or may not involve more explosions.
- You don’t need to make the test on the Dead Man’s Trigger edge action. You’re spending edge – why should you have to make a test on top of that?
- You can always burn edge to not die, even if the situation isn’t dramatic like the ones explained in the rulebook. I don’t like killing characters, since I’m going to be investing time writing sub-plots for them. They’re only dead if you want them to be.
- I may award Karma instead of restoring Edge for truly awesome gameplay and/or roleplaying elements. You can have the Edge if you want… but Karma!
Commonly Missed Rules
- You can only take one attack action per initiative pass. If it’s a simple action, that leaves you one more action to take cover or aim your next shot, but you can’t shoot that gun again until your next pass.
- The limit on attacks is not your physical limit, it’s the accuracy on your weapon (which is frequently much higher).
- Astral Perception doesn’t let you see through walls. An astral projecting magician can pass through a wall, but physical objects show up as solid, grey forms in Astral. Stealth against astral forms works the same way it does against physical ones, since line of sight is obstructed similarly for both.
- Do your major Cash and Karma expenditures off-table. I’m not going to sit around and roleplay shopping and training montages with 7 people. Email me with any big ticket purchases you intend to make, as high availability items may require a license or come at a premium depending on who you know.
- I like to run character driven campaigns, not combat driven campaigns. Gunfights are a very important part of Shadowrun, but they’re only one tool in your kit for completing runs. An exciting, bloody tool, but a tool nonetheless. Legwork, research, bluffing, manipulation, scouting, intimidation… there are lots of things available to you other than “blow it up,” or that at least will make the “blow it up” step go more smoothly. If you blow everything up all the time, you’re going to get a reputation for that, and the more lucrative jobs that require some discretion might dry up.
- Not every run has to come from me. If there’s a certain mission or run type the party’s really eager to go on, set them up with your contacts and fixers and I’ll design the run for the next session. If someone has an amazing run concept planned out from start-to-finish in their head, you’re also welcome to GM a session for the group, if you’re into that kind of thing.
- Know your ruleset… or don’t. I don’t know the details on each individual spell, how many marks every hacking action requires, or the intricacies on how handling affects drone control. If you and I both don’t know it, I’ll make something up and we can look up the correct answer later. The details aren’t that important, anyway.
- You don’t have to be at every session. As I’m already a player in another Shadowrun campaign, I’m going to need to keep a relatively tight schedule. You might not get the same Karma and Cash as a player who’s there for the run, but you do get the downtime to increase your stats. Feel free to provide a thematic reason for why your character has to sit this one out. Just let me know in advance if you think you can’t make it so I can plan and adjust the run difficulty for the number of players.
- While roleplaying the interactions between PC’s and their contacts can be fun, I won’t have a lot of time to spend on individualized interactions with each player on days when there are 7 players at the table. If there’s a spot of roleplaying or contact interaction you’d like to do that I can’t fit into the session, I’m more than willing to play it out over email or quickly in person the next time I see you for general gameness.
- I’m somewhat new to this “GameMastering” thing, so bear with me. I’ve done some digital stuff, but this is my first time running Pen&Paper in person. It’ll be a bit of a learning process.
- Along similar lines, give me feedback! If something doesn’t feel right, let me know. Likewise, if something awesome happened that you want to see more of, fill me in on that, too. It’s your campaign as much, if not more, than it is mine, after all.