What to be mindful of when running 4E?

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« on: <06-16-21/0105:56> »
Hoi chummers.

Over a year ago my last shadowrun campaign fell apart due to the twin hammer blows of having a baby and the pandemic. While free time is still something I'm very short on, I'm starting to get the itch to run something again, or at least start work on campaign ideas for when I do have the time.

My last campaign was 3rd edition and this time I feel like something different. I've been considering 4th edition as I really like the more plausible future matrix it describes and I want to involve the matrix more than just using an NPC decker (my Go To method in the past.)

Fifth edition and later are right out, for all the same reasons the writer of 4th edition's section in the "Which edition of Shadowrun FAQ" talked about. Also I do plan to stick with an official edition of Shadowrun rather than using another system reskinned, since I actually like the crunch and how the rules are custom written for the setting. In short, 4th edition it is.

To get to the point of this post, I ask those who have played in or, especially, run Shadowrun 4E campaigns: What should I watch out for when planning a 4th edition campaign? What player options/builds are overpowered, what house rules would you recommend?


Stainless Steel Devil Rat

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« Reply #1 on: <06-16-21/0203:46> »
If you're used to 3e, any of 4/5/6 all would be equal shocks to the system.

I'd say 4e is the weakest of the last 3 editions when it comes to having playable matrix rules.  But Shadowrun has NEVER had easy matrix rules so if your mind's set on 4e, it's not like you're really fighting upstream there.  it is kind of ironic though that 4e is the edition where they did away with deckers as archetype (they're back in 5e...).

if you're open to fairly substantial house rules, I'd actually suggest taking a look at 5e and/or 6e matrix rules and backwards porting into your 4e game.
RPG mechanics exist to give structure and consistency to the game world, true, but at the end of the day, you’re fighting dragons with algebra and random number generators.


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« Reply #2 on: <06-16-21/1442:55> »
4e opened up its own can of worms for sure.

Off the top of my head, these are issues with 4e.

Matrix hacking is not character centered. Meaning anyone, no matter the build can hack with equal effect. (Its all equipment based). Which coupled with the changes, means people spend more time worrying about being hacked than actually hacking (see the pages on pages of forums about this very issue)

The rules do not support "long term" character growth.
By the way the mechanics work, characters come out of chargen pretty much "maxed out" in their primary roles and with little room to grow their core archtype, leading to "wide" characters instead of "tall" ones.
(Meaning, gunbunnies don't stay gunbunnies, because right out of the gate, the have maxex skills in guns, so they are forcrd to branch out to vehicle, social, or other aspects. After enough play, you end up with a group of hyper maxex Generalists, with the team all having the same skills, and ranks)

Modding of equipment has left pretty much left everything but 3 guns as pointless...
Since every weapon could be modded with just about every option, guns in 4e became just "full auto, battle hardened cyberlinked barrets" why? Because you could, and nothing beats a full auto burst for 30p -18ap....

(Other gun options are the full auto pistol, and the full auto shotgun.... for concealability, and murder-hobo room clearing).

5e fixed some if this stuff, but also broke other stuff...
Where am I going? And why am I in a hand basket ???

Remember: You can't fix Stupid. But you can beat on it with a 2x4 until it smartens up! Or dies.


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« Reply #3 on: <06-17-21/0355:32> »
I wouldn't port 5th edition Matrix rules to 4e. I'm running 5e with 4e adventures, and I keep running into situations that the 5e matrix rules simply cannot represent. Also, 5e matrix rules aren't particularly complex, but they are very confusing. Matrix rules are actually the one area where I heard good stuff about 6th edition, so if you want to tinker with the system, I'd look there.

That said, 4th edition matrix rules do make a lot of sense. They certainly feel more real than those of 5th edition. It really has only two problems:

  • It's super crunchy; doing stuff there takes a lot of time and rules.
  • It breaks with classic Shadowrun tropes like deckers and cyberdecks. You only need skill to hack. It does make sense in a way, but not everybody likes it.

But if you're set on 4th, by all means go for it. It's certainly not the worst edition of Shadowrun, and the 20th Anniversary Edition is apparently the best written/edited core rulebook of Shadowrun ever. Also, 4th edition timeline is super dense with tons of stuff going on, lots of great metaplot, great adventures, sourcebooks, etc.


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« Reply #4 on: <06-19-21/1541:33> »
My table have reverted to SR4A for the last year, from about 4 years with 5e and 6 months with 6e, and I think everyone is happiest with it. We like that the Matrix makes sense and is easy to narratively integrate into the world. The books are tighter, better laid out and things better explained than 5e or 6e.

Our table bans War!, MilSpecTech, and Gun H(e)aven for being overly powerful and thematically different. We also require additional GM oversight for Possession traditions.

4e likes 'wide' characters and so we lean into it by using 750 Karmagen. We tend to play trenchcoat-y and competent all-rounders are suited to that style. Note that Knowledge skills and Contacts cost Karma.

I'm playing the decker, and I have no problem with the skill+program tests, personally. It gives me mechanical space to be a AR decker and a good B&E character, rather than having to spend all my chargen resources on an expensive deck and sky high Logic. I still have Log 4(5) for First Aid and Hardware. I also like being able to conceptualise things that make sense in real-world computing and do them as part of run legwork (e.g. leaving a false admin account on a system for use on the run).