1) Glad to hear it
2) I apologize for the incoming wall of words.
I suppose immersion will mean different things to different people. For me a few well written ‘in world’ lines probably do more than fifty pages of description. Maybe you could say that what I need is the initial shove to get my imagination started in a particular direction, then I’ll start spinning out all sorts of ideas on my own. I thought that SR1/2 did a fantastic job on that front.
In fact, that is how I ended up coming back to Shadowrun after almost twenty-five years away (cue wavy ‘sitcom flash-back’ lines around the edge of the screen). I was pretty immersed in the Hero Wars / HeroQuest rpg (not the same at the old Heroquest board game) and the fantasy world of Glorantha, --with no expectation of changing my gaming focus. I loved the character generation and the rules, was running a game for my son, playing in some play-by-mailing list games, was very involved in discussion groups, and had contributed to a few things that had seen print for that game.
There were some changes in editorial direction going on in HeroQuest that I wasn’t a huge fan of, and I was trying to think of how show what I thought was being lost, without using material that people in the discussion were personally involved in. That got me thinking about how well Shadowrun had grabbed my interest back in the day. I knew I didn’t have the wording quite right, but I still remembered things along the lines of “Streets, where life is. You know, life, the source of magic.” “When I pull the trigger, I’m not going to be the one knocked on my ass.” “Tell me, have you had much success in breeding your car?” “Life stinks, and most of the time so do you.” “It’s not all bad, you have a full suite of flavor faucets to add taste to your soy.” And the adds in the Seattle sourcebook. Single lines (and some images) that evoked so much about conditions, attitudes, the underlying nature of the SR world.
After over twenty years and ten moves I’d still held onto the SR2 rule book (bought after I’d stopped playing, in hopes of using it some day), Sprawl Sites, and the Seattle sourcebook, and I dug them out to look up some of those lines and look at what else I thought those books had done right. My son came across them, flipped through, and got hooked just as quickly as I had back in the day, and asked if we could ditch our Heroquest game for a Shadowrun one. I agreed, did a little bit of looking and discovered that the game was on the fifth edition, picked that core rule book up … and found that HeroQuest was not the only game to have decided that bludgeoning its players over the head with words was cool.
Despite which I started running SR for my son and by necessity had to get involved in forums to get help with some of the rules. The play-by-mailing list heroquest games I was in died off and HQ changed forums, so I really lost touch with it and got more involved in learning what all had happened to the SR universe while I wasn’t paying attention, and eventually I took the opportunity to get involved with some play-by-forums games. So my involvement entirely swapped over to SR, all due to recalling some of those evocative lines from first edition.
(As an aside, I almost feel like part of the contract for gaming books should be based not so much on word count, as on ‘this is core information – the fewer words you can present it clearly and evocatively in, the bigger the bonus’ I’m sure that would be almost impossible to make work, but if someone could take the 5th edition CRB and cover the same material in half the word count, replace half of the lost words with more examples of various sorts, and just leave it at three quarters of the word count -- I for one would buy the new book in a heartbeat.)