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Help me be as prepared as possible

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PingGuy

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« on: (14:53:09/08-08-18) »
This is going to be long, but please bear with me.  I feel like giving an accurate background will lead to receiving better advice.

This is my first post here, but I've been reading threads for a few weeks now.  I've gone through the entire errata thread, the entire rules clarification thread, and several other threads related to running a campaign and some of the history threads.  I've spent some time on /r/Shadowrun, and I've read the history of the 6th world on the Shadowrun Tabletop website.  Aside from that I've also been listening to The Arcology Podcast, starting from the very beginning.  This has all been very helpful and is definitely contributing to the future success of the campaign I plan to run.  Still I feel like no matter how prepared I am, there will be things I'm not even aware I need to be prepared for.  So that's why I'm here, hoping that others can help check my blind spots.

First, some background info.  I originally got into Shadowrun in high school, over 25 years ago.  I read the original novels, the one named "Never Deal with a Dragon" and the others in that series (trilogy? I forget, they are buried in a box somewhere).  A friend with some RPG experience and lots of sourcebooks offered to run some stuff for another friend and I.  We played a few sessions of first edition, and I even tried to come up with my own "missions" to run.  Mostly though, we pored over the sourcebooks and soaked up the material, falling in love with the Shadowrun world.  Before we could move on to 2nd edition, we graduated and life took us in separate directions.

Over the years my friend and I (the other player, not the DM) dabbled in some other games, like Battletech, Robotech, Middle Earth Role Playing, with of course some 2nd edition AD&D.  But always as players, until D&D 3.5 where I took a stab at DM'ing something in the Eberron campaign setting.  Our group wasn't close knit, and I'm sure my DM'ing attempt was a bit flat, so it fell apart after a session or two.

Fast forward to a couple years ago and that same friend invites me to join a D&D 5e campaign with some other friends of his.  I took over an NPC Cleric, and played him until the end.  This began my re-education as a RPG player.  Having gotten into this in my teenage years, as a heavy PC gamer, I never fully understood the importance of the story or a character's depth to making the game fun.  But the start of our next campaign changed all that.

One player left, the DM became a player, and another player tried his hand at DM'ing for the first time.  We, the players, ended up with an odd combo of a Monk (me), and two Bards.  Almost immediately we formed a band, a travelling band at that, and whatever story the DM had intended became secondary to the goofy whims of our band.  We would obsess over things like finding a cool mask on a villian and then wanting to get more, only pursuing leads that could result in us getting more masks.  We would roll into hostile territory and play completely stupid like we were just there to do a show, because we really just wanted to be the most popular travelling band in all the lands.  Villagers would tell us about problems and we would help since there seemed to be nobody else that could help, but we weren't seeking the problems by default.  The DM made it all work, he did really well for a first timer.

This experience changed me from caring about a min/max character and being pivotal in combat, to caring about what my character was, and how he/she would act based on their background.  It's sad that it took this long to reach that epiphany, but I'm here now and much happier.  That lead to my character in our next campaign being designed in a much more entertaining way.  A Gnome Sorcerer who was basically the chosen one (like Harry Potter) but who finds out after magic school that saving the world is really hard and being the chosen one isn't all it's cracked up to be when you are a wussy little squish.  Needless to say, he drinks A LOT while simultaneously complaining that "nobody ever lets him save the world" and that "saving the world is actually really hard."  And he's not even the most interesting character in the group, but I digress.

Recently I got the itch to try running something again.  D&D doesn't make sense though, I just don't know the world like I know Shadowrun.  Not that I'm that up to date since 1st edition, but I've played Shadowrun Returns and Darkfall in recent years.  Also, I own Johnny Mnemonic on Laserdisc, and that has to count for something... ;)

Initially I started with an idea for NPC that would be a primary contact for the players.  A sort of quasi-NPC because with smaller groups we find having the GM run a character can be helpful at times.  That initial NPC's story ended up leading me down a road to a much larger campaign idea, which I'm still developing.  The NPC wouldn't be run as a player by default, but could be utilized by the players if they include her in their plans.  I'd simply be executing what they want to the best of her ability, if that is needed.  She's a Face/Rigger, and also kind of a Johnson, so it's possible she could just end up being a chauffeur, but who knows.

Luckily I started reading threads around here before I got too far in planning.  I've scrapped the entire idea of having a planned campaign with a specific end goal.  Now I'm focusing on planning who is in conflict with who, how others could be involved, and what kind of runs could be needed to advance the conflict.  Because of that, my method of preparation has shifted from determining what to plan and write up, to learning as much about the elements involved as possible.  My goal is to be able to make things up on the fly that support the direction the players want to go in, without constantly contradicting myself or the canon of the game.  Simple things, like knowing where you should expect to see ash from Mt. Rainier, and where you should not.  Obviously I'm shooting for more important details than that, but the idea is to know the content without having to look every little thing up to keep a story flowing.

Initially I was more worried about having to look up rules, but those will get memorized over time as they are used.  There is a lot more to "know" about the world of Shadowrun than there is to know about the rules.  Seattle alone is a lot to learn in detail, as I found out yesterday when I picked up a used copy of Seattle 2072.  For this campaign, the most recent printing of the SR5 CRB and Seattle 2072 will be my primary references.  As much of that as I can cram into my head for quick reference the better.

At this point, I've read most of the CRB, except for the Magic section, which will be next.  I think I have a pretty good understanding of how the world functions in the 2070's.  The new Matrix seems much easier to grasp, no more designing something for the Decker to run on paper.  Now it's just hosts and devices, AR and VR, and of course Technomancers, but they don't seem too bad conceptually.  My next major challenge is memorizing the districts of Seattle and their general compositions, mainly for maintaining consistency when going off the cuff.

I could probably go on for a while, I'm pretty good at tangents.  But this is the point where I come to the original request in the subject.  How can I be as prepared as possible to "know" the world well at a glance?  Like I know that 2011 was the year metahuman babies started showing up, and 2021 is when people started changing outright, but I know almost nothing about Crash 2.0 (I assume there's a 1.0 I don't know about) or the Ghost Walker Dance stuff (probably not the right name for that).

Realistically I'm not going to be buying any more books in the near future, and I only have so much time to consume them and retain the content.  So more books isn't necessarily an immediate solution anyway.  What do I need to know as a GM to avoid being caught off-guard as often as possible?  Are there other major events that even the lowest Barrens resident would know about, that I should certainly know about before going down this rabbit hole?

Please help me fill in the holes in my knowledge, especially the ones I don't know I have.  Thanks

Reaver

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« Reply #1 on: (15:20:47/08-08-18) »
Well...

Here's your problem.... the info your looking for is spread over literally dozens of books, so much so that there is not a single repostory for all the lore.

Throw in that some of this Lore is covered in over 30 novels on top of the dozens of game sourcebooks 😐

I've been playing SR since 1e, and even I don't know ALL the lore for SR!

However the Shadowrun wiki page does a fair job of covering the major Lore points, if only briefly.... and its free....

And maybe our resident Lore Master could help you if you gave specific items you wanted to know more about... but I doubt Wyrm is going to type out a 1000 pages oc text to cover everything that has happened :D
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.

PingGuy

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« Reply #2 on: (15:52:03/08-08-18) »
Well...

Here's your problem.... the info your looking for is spread over literally dozens of books, so much so that there is not a single repostory for all the lore.

Throw in that some of this Lore is covered in over 30 novels on top of the dozens of game sourcebooks 😐

I've been playing SR since 1e, and even I don't know ALL the lore for SR!

However the Shadowrun wiki page does a fair job of covering the major Lore points, if only briefly.... and its free....

And maybe our resident Lore Master could help you if you gave specific items you wanted to know more about... but I doubt Wyrm is going to type out a 1000 pages oc text to cover everything that has happened :D

That's fair, and to be honest it's hard to ask people to fill me in on things I don't know, when I don't know what it is that I don't know.  I mean, I know that corps run the world, and racism against meta's is prevalent, but I don't know many major world-level events.  Things like the Dunk "assassination," everybody knows about that.  Are there other major events that would be obvious common knowledge to the average person?

If I wanted to know about Crash 2.0 (1.0?) where would I look?
Or that Ghost Walker thing? (still not sure I'm using the right name)

I read the history section on Shadowrun Tabletop and it covers the awakening and the changing of nations and so forth.  I guess what I'm looking for is anything that would be important enough to need to be included in that kind of a write-up, but that maybe isn't in that one.  And I don't want to trouble anyone to do detailed write-ups, just mostly to say "hey you should know that this happened and that it was an important event in the world."  That plus the year it happened would be totally sufficient.

Beta

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« Reply #3 on: (16:22:20/08-08-18) »
this primer https://web.archive.org/web/20150416060521/http://harebrained-schemes.com/shadowrun/primer/doesn't make it up to 'current' times, but should help you out some.

Another trick is to run a lower-level campaign, where most people are more worried about surviving today than something that happened to their grandparents.  As the players move out of their starting niche and learn more about the world, you'll have time to stay in front of them (maybe!)

Jawsey  --
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Reaver

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« Reply #4 on: (16:33:45/08-08-18) »
Well...

Here's your problem.... the info your looking for is spread over literally dozens of books, so much so that there is not a single repostory for all the lore.

Throw in that some of this Lore is covered in over 30 novels on top of the dozens of game sourcebooks 😐

I've been playing SR since 1e, and even I don't know ALL the lore for SR!

However the Shadowrun wiki page does a fair job of covering the major Lore points, if only briefly.... and its free....

And maybe our resident Lore Master could help you if you gave specific items you wanted to know more about... but I doubt Wyrm is going to type out a 1000 pages oc text to cover everything that has happened :D

That's fair, and to be honest it's hard to ask people to fill me in on things I don't know, when I don't know what it is that I don't know.  I mean, I know that corps run the world, and racism against meta's is prevalent, but I don't know many major world-level events.  Things like the Dunk "assassination," everybody knows about that.  Are there other major events that would be obvious common knowledge to the average person?

If I wanted to know about Crash 2.0 (1.0?) where would I look?
Or that Ghost Walker thing? (still not sure I'm using the right name)

I read the history section on Shadowrun Tabletop and it covers the awakening and the changing of nations and so forth.  I guess what I'm looking for is anything that would be important enough to need to be included in that kind of a write-up, but that maybe isn't in that one.  And I don't want to trouble anyone to do detailed write-ups, just mostly to say "hey you should know that this happened and that it was an important event in the world."  That plus the year it happened would be totally sufficient.


OK, I see what you are saying. I can give you a couple of things in point form, and I am sure other will weigh in on things that they think are important too, and alo correct anything I get wrong here as well (Because, hey, I'm human too)

The first Crash happened well before the Shadowrun game actually got started as is a history piece to explain what was the "current" Matrix of the first edition of SR. While there is a literal metric ton of shadow history here (Who did what, why, how. What they hoped to gain, and how it all went wrong). The Public history of it is this:

  A virus was released on what was the internet that made everything connected to the internet go haywire and cause massive problems and deaths as important pieces of infrastructure succumbed to infection. The Virus was so powerful and adaptive that coding solutions were just to slow. By the time a coder had written code to stop the virus, the virus itself had mutated and the antiviral code was useless. A new strategy had to be used. Enter ASSIST and The Echo Mirage team.  ASSIST was the precursor tech of the Matrix Deck, and allowed Echo Mirage to actually enter the internet to fight the virus in real time with their minds... They won the fight, but lost members. In fact every person involved with Echo Mirage was dead inside of a year*
  From ASSIST tech, we got the Matrix Decks and the Matrix as was introduced in SR 1e.

Crash 2.0 is covered in the closing books of 3e and the CRB 4e.... And is also know as the "Winternight conspiracy". Again, there is a lot of shadow lore and plot points. (this plot point is a central plot in the closing of 3e and thus spanned several sourcebooks!).

What The Public knows is that during the Novatech IPO, a virus was released into the matrix that caused massive feedback damage in the minds of every on at the IPO and spread out from there. Many people that were connected to the Matrix at the time went into a vegetative state - in some cases for months!.

The Matrix in Europe was mostly spared damage, thanks to a Matrix killcode that  SK and Lofwyr has secretly installed into the matrix infrastructure. (and no one was too pleased to find out that he could shut down the matrix any time he wanted... but couldn't argue that he had saved tens of thousands  of lives and billions in infrastructure.

Eventually the Virus was defeated, but the matrix was pretty much trashed. So the Corps got together and designed a new matrix and new protocols. (the matrix we had in 4e).

Also note, the Matrix was again reworked at the end of 4e/beginning of 5e to "Close many of the security gaps the wireless matrix opened up" and as an explaination for the matrix rules changes in 5e. (covered in Storm Front).



 
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.

Spooky

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« Reply #5 on: (17:08:36/08-08-18) »
If you want one book to do the most timeline/state of the world nowish work, then get the Sixth World Almanac. Best bet for a broad overview.
Spooky, what do you do this pass? Shoot him with my thunderstruck gauss rifle. (Rolls)  8 hits. Does that blow his head off?

Rosa

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« Reply #6 on: (09:21:37/08-09-18) »
http://shadowrun.wikia.com/wiki/Shadowrun_timeline

The link above is a timeline from 1989 to 2077, it has dates and important events, quite a few of them actually, so there's definitely a bit of reading there.

Great Ghost dance in 2017 where the native Americans use ritual magic on a large scale to simultaneously erupt several volcanoes effectively showing a power that the USA had no counter for, this leads to the treaty of Denver the following year with the formation of the NAN nations in the western US and Canada, the city of Denver split into different sectors and Seattle's special status as a piece of US  ( later UCAS ) inside NAN territory. .......

2029 crash 1.0 as Reaver talked about. .......

2064 crash 2.0........... and much much more, I heartily recommend the read for any would be SR GM.

Also racism against metas is not as cut and dried as you make it sound. Firstly there's a big big difference between the different metas in how integrated into society they are, also geographical location matters a lot and thirdly a lot has changed over time in the 6th world in regards to anti-meta sentiments simply because almost 70 years into the awakening, there's no longer anything odd about seeing metas, of course it's still there but not nearly to the same degree as earlier in the 6th world.

Reaver

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« Reply #7 on: (09:44:04/08-09-18) »
yea, the mass riots and burning of anything not human has come to an almost stand still...

but there are still racist policlubs and  terror groups out there causing hate where they can.
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.

PingGuy

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« Reply #8 on: (10:49:09/08-09-18) »
This is exactly what I was looking for, thanks so much.

PingGuy

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« Reply #9 on: (13:30:24/08-22-18) »
Ok, let me switch gears here.  I expected that this campaign wouldn't start for a while, but things have changed and we will likely start in the next month or so.  I'm trying to pull everything together so I'm ready, but I need some suggestions from experienced GM's.  It looks like my group will be a Face, a Rigger, and a Technomancer.  Being light on combat doesn't worry me, I can tailor the sessions towards their archetypes, but I do see a lot of active management required for those last two players.  Riggers and TM's can have a lot going on, and that will only increase once I get my hands on Kill Code and Rigger 5.

Does anybody have suggestions for managing this complexity at the table.  For example, the rigger will likely need to compile a sheet of his drones, indicating how they are grouped, what software is running on what, and probably more I'm not thinking of.  Active Complex forms could probably just be a simple list, but sprites might be more like drones and need more dedicated documenting.

Other things, like keeping track of cyberware and device wifi status, are these worth worrying about?  I was thinking some kind of two-sided indicators could be used and then flipped to show on and off.  Are there other things that are often an issue at the table that are better handled with some visual aids?

I am using Franks Shadowrun Dice app, and I found a Cyberdeck Aid app that is an amazing tool and reference.  I looked at an initiative tool but I didn't like the interface.  I think I can just do initiative on paper to keep it clearer at a glance.  I've also downloaded a lot of the PDF's I found on these boards and other places.  Things like condensed lists of tests, and common modifiers.  Also some gear lists and things like that.

Finally, I wasn't planning to do this, but I ended up downloading a 3d design app and started using it to create locations for the situations the runners will be in.  It turned out to be really easy to do and even helps me keep things straight when planning.  For the actual sessions these will be like blueprints, and if we need to track any player locations or movement I've got some whiteboards we can use for that.

Any suggestions or helpful resources would be appreciated.

Beta

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« Reply #10 on: (13:49:51/08-22-18) »
You have two pet classes (rigger, TM) in there, so for sure they will need all the information on their pets at their fingertips.  You may find that init extends to quite a few columns (only three players, but throw in a sprite or two, a few drones, and you may have seven columns before getting to the opposition).  On the other hand, they look like a team that will try to avoid having to roll initiative dice much.  (I could really see them doing investigations or bounty-hunter types of work.  Not that they can't break into places -- they could, in multiple different ways -- but they have so much information gathering ability!
Jawsey  --
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PingGuy

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« Reply #11 on: (15:12:29/08-22-18) »
I'm really hoping they embrace that aspect.  There are reasons to think they will, once they realize how painful the alternatives could be.  The character mix is even funnier than it sounds at first.  The face is a pre-gen the guy found online.  A former actor who faked his death after killing his wife in a drug fueled rage.  But post plastic surgery, he's still working as an actor.  There's so many layers I can work with there.  He also has a Control Rig from being heavily into racing.

Then I have a straight up Rigger, and he's playing as an older character, so he should have some wisdom to apply before just kicking off any old firefight.  The TM is a squish, but this team would be seriously handicapped without him, still he won't be the first to kick off a gun fight either.

Oddly enough, the core NPC of the campaign, who is a friendly Fixer/Johnson type, is also a Face/Rigger with a little unarmed combat ability.  She was built purely to fit the story I had in mind, before anybody started character creation.  So we have a ton of overlap, and plenty of reasons to keep our heads down.

And then the campaign actually starts off with a fight, because the plot needs it to, but oh boy it's like I'm trying to put sticks in my bicycle spokes as a GM here.  Luckily I have already come up with some ideas of how the team would be able to use the skills they have to succeed in their goals during the fight.  Winning was never the point, which leaves some flexibility for them to operate.  I'm actually kind of excited to see how it develops.

Since most of them are new to Shadowrun, the first session is mostly on rails.  They want more of an intro to the game to see how it takes.  In this case rails means "lots of narration and setup, with few decisions early on."  By the time they are en-route to the fight it will open up to their own planning and ideas.  But a few events will happen no matter what they do.  Rather than do the classic "ok you all know each other already, what do you want to do?" method, I'm using the plot to bring them together.

Honestly it could end up being a disaster or completely amazing.  If I can get them to picture the world the way I see it in my head, I think it will be a success.

The Wyrm Ouroboros

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« Reply #12 on: (18:42:04/08-22-18) »
Dear me.  I'm the resident Lore Master?  Boy are you all in trouble.  (Muahahaha.)  My best knowledges are, admittedly, from pre-4th, but I've tried to keep my hand in; a 10-year span of not having a group to play with, blended with not keeping up, has put a crimp on the totality of my knowledge ... but I'm working on it, bit by bit.

Anyhow.  That sounds like a fairly good party makeup, but as GM, you need to be aware that the team is missing critical key components -- magic (by which I mean spellcasting, spell defense, and spirit management) for one, a true mayhem mavin (whether that's adept or cyber) for another.  I know that drones can fill in for that, but when it comes to needing to prove toughness and not massive slaughter/overkill, the wired-up guy who can handle a knife is a necessary component.

Anyhow.  Go to, and have fun!!  And if there are specific questions, well -- I'll do the best I can.
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Reaver

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« Reply #13 on: (23:10:06/08-22-18) »
Dear me.  I'm the resident Lore Master?  Boy are you all in trouble.  (Muahahaha.) 

You take "all of SR to be your Province".....


That makes you the Lore master :D




I'm the drunk asshat of the Forums :P
« Last Edit: (23:13:57/08-22-18) by Reaver »
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.

PingGuy

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« Reply #14 on: (23:58:50/08-22-18) »
Dear me.  I'm the resident Lore Master?  Boy are you all in trouble.  (Muahahaha.)  My best knowledges are, admittedly, from pre-4th, but I've tried to keep my hand in; a 10-year span of not having a group to play with, blended with not keeping up, has put a crimp on the totality of my knowledge ... but I'm working on it, bit by bit.

Anyhow.  That sounds like a fairly good party makeup, but as GM, you need to be aware that the team is missing critical key components -- magic (by which I mean spellcasting, spell defense, and spirit management) for one, a true mayhem mavin (whether that's adept or cyber) for another.  I know that drones can fill in for that, but when it comes to needing to prove toughness and not massive slaughter/overkill, the wired-up guy who can handle a knife is a necessary component.

Anyhow.  Go to, and have fun!!  And if there are specific questions, well -- I'll do the best I can.

That is very true, and I've thought a little bit about it, but this is likely to come up more often than I realized.  Due to how the plot is setup, I figured there were points where the Yakuza could be doing the combat the PC's would normally do, but that can't happen on every run.  So I'll have to get creative with both the runs they go on, and the consequences of not being discreet on those runs.  The initial fight features a friendly Rat Shaman (or my interpretation of what one is anyway) and I plan for him to survive, so he could be utilized later also.

I guess the trick is really, how do I keep them feeling like they are the stars of the story if NPC's are doing the majority of the fighting?  My gut feeling is that the combat needs to seem less important, even if it's a real risk to the runners.  I've already included phrases that should at least clue them in on the concept.  Such as:

"I need a team that can handle sensitive jobs, one that can think beyond solving problems with force."

and

"One of my clients has a growing problem in the area, and it needs to be handled with special care.  They could just throw a pile of muscle at it, but that would be messy, and they want this kept quiet.  What they need is a team that can handle this in ways that the target won’t see coming, or even know is happening."

So we'll see how it goes.