What is a Role-Playing Game?
A role-playing game (RPG; often roleplaying game) is a game in which the participants assume the roles of fictional characters. Participants determine the actions of their characters based on their characterization, and the actions succeed or fail according to a formal system of rules and guidelines. Within the rules, players have the freedom to improvise; their choices shape the direction and outcome of the game.
Most role-playing games are conducted like radio drama: only the spoken component is acted. One player, the game master (GM), creates a setting in which the other players play the role of a single character. The GM describes the game world and its inhabitants; the other players describe the intended actions of their characters, and the GM describes the outcomes. Some outcomes are determined by the game system, and some are chosen by the GM. There is a variety of role-playing game in which players do perform their characters' physical actions, known as live action role-playing games (LARP).
What is Shadowrun?
The Year is 2070.
The world is not only Awakened—it’s wired. Cyber and bioware implants make your meat body better-than-flesh, while the wireless Matrix enhances your perceptions with hyper-real senses. Deals are made in steel and lead more often than gold or nuyen; success and failure live only a razor’s edge apart. Creatures of myth and legend walk the streets, while the arcane skills of spellslingers are in high demand. Above it all, monolithic megacorps bleed the world dry, sabotaging each other in covert cutthroat competition as they go to war over the bottom line.
You’re a shadowrunner, a street operative, scratching out a living on the mean sprawl streets. You may be human, elf, dwarf, ork, or troll. From lethal street samurai to well-connected info brokers, spell-slinging mages to code-cracking hackers. No matter what, you’re a professional-corporate pawn or “deniable asset,” you get the job done.
What Do Runners Do?
So... what do we do in Shadowrun?
Shadowrunners commit crimes, usually for money. When a corporation or other sponsor needs someone to do dirty work, they look to the shadows. As "deniable assets," runner make advantageous - and expendable - tools.
Runners usually operate in teams. A team can be any combination of character types, depending on what the players want to do. The team should have a plausibel reason for working together, such as being old friends or cellmates, having the same interests, or being forced together by circumstance. Different teams will have different capabilities. For example, one team may excel at breaking and entering, while another might be a squad of bruisers who work best as hired muscle.
Runners have contacts, who represent other potentially useful people they know. Some of these will be other underworld-types, such as gang members or hitmen. Others may be ordinary people, useful for information and "special arrangements" - for example, the corporate secretary who lets you know when the corporate scientist you're supposed to kidnap will be leaving the building. The more you rely on any particular contact's skills, information and resources, the more you'll owe the in the end - even between long-standing contactgs and even friends, money and favors are usually neccessary to grease the wheels. The relationship need not even be friendly. Sometimes the people who can help you the most are those you least like.
The most important contact for the shadowrunner is the fixer. A fixer acts as a middleman and can usually help the runners find gear, other contacts and work - all for a fee, of course. A corporation or other employer that needs shadowrunners sends someone to a fixer to ask for reccommendations. If a team of runners has a good reputation and meets the job requirements, a meeting is arranged to discuss details and haggle over payment. Because such matters are highly sensitive, anonymity is par for the course, and employers of this type are known simply as Mr. Johnson.
Mr. Johnson may not always be a corporate representative. Many people and groups may need to hire runner to accomplish certain goals. A syndicate may hire runners to strike at rivals, a mage may hire them to acquire rare components for spell use, or Joe Neighbor may need to find the terrorists who kidnapped his wife. Regardless of the sponsor, if a job involves doing something dangerous and potentially illegal, it's a shadowrun. Just like Mr. Johnson is anonymous, so may be the sponsor - if the price is right, most running teams don't care who is paying. Misdirection is common, and Johnsons will often try to drop false clues, leading 'runners to think they're actually employed by someone else entirely.
Shadowrunner teams may even take the initiative, doing jobs of their own accord. For example, a player character may hold a grudge against a certain megacorp, or dislike how a particular gang treats people in his neighborhood. Maybe he decides it's time to get his criminal reccord erased. Other jobs may be politically or socially motivated; the character or runner team may be members of or regularly work with far left or far right political groups. In the Sixth World, everyone has dirty work that needs doing.
Runners accomplish their tasks by working the streets for information, calling in favors and markers from friends and contacts in the shadows. They take whatever action is required for the job: surveillance, theft, breaking and entering, even murder.
Runners do these things because they are survivors. Many of them grew up committing crimes to get by, or perhaps they obtained special training somewhere and want to put it to use. Some may have extended families to feed and no other source of income. Many of them prefer the freedom of the shadowlife, controlling their own destinies as opposed to being a wage slave in some drab business park kissing corporate ass all day. Others enjoy the thrill of running, thriving on it's risks. Finally, some are inspired to run by a sense of social justice; they want to damage the powers-that-be however they can while providing for the underclass. These runners are known as 'hooders for their Robin Hood outlook.
How Do The Rules Work?
Since this is a fairly complex game and, historically, most of my players do not feel as... passionate about the game as I do, I tend to handle most of the rules where you don't see them. Tell me what you want to do and I throw the dice and let you know quickly how it turns out.
For those who are looking for more detail, the rule system is reminiscent of the classic White Wolf mechanic, if a bit more complex. At it's simplest, your character has attribues (the basic elements of your being: how smart you are, how charming, how strong, etc), and skills (things you've learned, like how to shoot a gun, drive a car, dance the lambada and do your taxes). Any time you want to do something that has an element of chance and excitement (Bad example: putting on your pants. Good example: hitting your enemy in the face. Funny example: putting on your pants while your enemy is trying to hit you in the face), you roll dice. You combine the appropriate attribute with the appropriate skill and roll that many dice (Your Strength is 3, your Unarmed Combat is 2, so you roll 5 dice). Anything a five or better is a "hit". Make enough hits and you succeed. Make extra hits and you'll succeed much more spectacularly (those documents you forged are that much better, you hit the corporate security guard in the head instead of the chest, etc). Any ones are subtracted from the total hits. No hits means no success. More ones than hits indicates a "botch". A botch is REALLY BAD LUCK (those documents look amazing to you... but get you arrested the first time you use them. The gun jams... or explodes in your hands).
After that, it's all details.
The average human has a minimum of 1, a maximum of 6, with an average of 3. It is possible to get above this maximum via magic, cyber or bioware, or being a metahuman (Elves are more charming, Trolls stronger and tougher, etc)
Body is how tough you are. Stamina, endurance, bodily health, toughness, this is Body.
Agility is your coordination. Dexterity, detail.
Reaction is your reflexes. Quick draws and crack drivers.
Strength is raw muscle power. Hard punches, strong backs, lifting cars and winning all the arm wrestling competitions.
Charisma is charm. Looks, show of confidence, lovability, you name it, so long as it's appealing.
Intuition is your instincts and alertness. Gut feeling, noticing things, hunches and your tingly Spidey Sense are all Intuitive.
Logic is raw computation. All A's in Math and Computer Sciences, retention of knowledge.
Willpower is conviction. Keeping your mouth shut when interrogated, overpowering the mind control of a mage.
Special Attributes are on a case by case basis
Edge is luck. Everybody gets this. It refreshes after every scene. Use it to counter botches and achieve greater successes.
Essence is the holistic wellness of the metahuman body. Everybody starts with six, representing wholeness. It decreases with the installation of body modifications, the draining of life essence by supernatural being like vampires and insect spirits, and the abuse of the body (losing a limb, doing hard drugs for extended periods). It does NOT regenerate. Getting it fixed is EXPENSIVE. When Essence hits zero, you die. Your body says, "I'm dead," and your soul says, "Bye."
Initiative is how fast you are in a fight. It's derived from your Reaction + Intuition, plus whatever other enchancements you've got (cyber, magic, etc). Roll your Initiative dice at the start of combat. The number of hits determines what order you go in, from highest to lowest.
Initiative Passes determines how many action you get to take per turn. You get more by enhancements. The most you can have is four. Most people only get one, so don't feel bad.
Magic is your magic power. This is only available to Awakened characters.
Resonance is just like Magic, but for Technomancers. And no, you can't be an Awakened Technomancer.
These fall into two groups
These are the skills that require some degree of practice and application, such as shoting a gun, driving a car, or picking up that hot young thing at the bar. You can buy in bulk with Group Skills (Influence will cover most social skills, Firearms will cover guns of all kinds, etc), or specific ones (Negotiation will get you a better price for that novacoke from the dealer, Pistols will let you shoot a Colt L36 or a Remington Roomsweeper). You can also get a specialization with one specific function of that skill (Negotiation Diplomacy will let you broker a deal between the neighborhood ghouls and the Tamanous representative, Pistols Revolver will make you a crack shot with your Ruger Redhawk). The specialization will give you two more dice for that one instance.
These are things you know, like local bars, botany, electronica, literature, gang indentification, you name it. It also includes languages. You can specialize in these, as well. My games always require you to take at least one knowledge skill with no "practical" use. Examples players have chosen in the past have included 20th Century Role-Playing Games, Pottery, Kama Sutra and Horror Films. I consider it a personal challenge to find a way to make them save your life. The Kama Sutra one is everybody's favorite :)
Spells, Matrix Programs, Technomancer Complex Forms, and so on are all similar in nature, and require the combination of the appropriate skill to the appropriate attribute. If there is more demand for this kind of thing, I'll post more by topic.
How Do I Use This Page?
Some games like to include a webpage. Sometimes it's a resource for out of game, others it's integrated into the game as a living prop.
This page is both.
The OOC (Out Of Character) tabs are this FAQ, Feedback, Photogallery, Events Calendar and Our Team. Those are pages that help you to understand the game and coordinate in real life. Beyond that, all other tabs are to be treated as character pages. When you look at those, you're looking at it through your character's eyes. When you want to respond to potential ads or articles, or you want to try to use the site to do some data searching (like trying to find info on an NPC, a location, or whatever), send a message via the Contact Us option on the page. In that way, the site is a real resource for you between games. Wanna know more about the rival crew who tried to steal your job? Ever wondered what's at the bottom of the Dante's Inferno Club? Curious as to why the Johnson was trying to screw you over, or who he was working for? These are things you can network out to find. There may even be leads to fresh jobs, potential contacts, or chances to buy new gear, or fence the swag from your last run.
Beyond that, this page is whatever you need it to be. Let me know how it can help you.