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Shadowrun 4 Anniversary Edition

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Hermes

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  • Chummer
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« on: <05-29-12/1932:01> »


Genre: Science Fantasy Cyberpunk.  Basically, what happens when you mix D&D and magic with the Cyberpunk genre as first postulated by Metropolis, then Blade Runner from Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, and then William Gibson's Neuromancer.

Setting: Shadowrun 4th Edition advances the timeline from 2050 to 2070 -- with 2 Editions in there somewhere.  The biggest change is that the matrix has gone wireless with Hyper Reality and Augmented Reality ala Minority Report, rather than plugging yourself in to a computer to experience the consensual and virtual reality that is the Matrix.

Competitors: GURPS: Cyberpunk, R. Talsorian Games' Cyberpunk 2020, Ninjas and Superspies and Rifts from Palladium Books.

Of course, you have orcs and trolls, elves and dwarves, and now furries running around in the shadows.  The aforementioned furries (aka Changelings) can only find legitimate work in the Pornography and Simsense industries.  Shadowrunning is illegitimate work -- the entire act of Shadowrunning is that your player character is contracting themselves out for Corporate, National, and International Espionage.  Most Shadowrunners avoid being seen by deleting their presence online.  With RFID chips in everything except bodies now, it's harder than ever to be incognito.

Impressions: Okay, I'm reviewing for the Choir here, so I'll only review my impressions of the book.  Since I don't have to go over the story, the backstory, of the campaign.  Everyone here knows what the "drek" is about Japan, Seattle, and North America in the Mayan 6th World.  First of all, a friend of mine gifted his books to me for a campaign starting up this Thursday.  So, I set to reading.

Coming from Shadowrun 2nd Edition, I was blindsided by the new Point Buy.  The Build Point system is a good idea, but as I liked the Priority System.  The build point system allows you more control over your character as never before.  You build a 400 point character to begin with, this is 7th level to 9th level in the D&D 5th Edition level range (5th Edition characters are much more powerful than your average 3rd edition character at the same level).  The build point system is designed much like how GURPS works, but they aren't going for randomness here.

To build a character, 4th Edition says there are 13 attributes over the paltry 6 my 2nd Edition boasted for characters.  The physical attributes include: Body, Reaction, Strength.  The Mental attributes include: Charisma, Wisdom, Logic, Willpower.  Special attributes include Edge, Essence, Magic, and Resonance.  So, Intelligence is split among Logic and Wisdom; and Edge and Resonance is wholly new.

So, the best part of learning how these work out is actually building a character.  So, I'm building Ulysses.

Ulysses

Birth Name: Handeldo P. Smith (his parents were big fans of Tolkien, and so when he and his twin sister were born, they gave them Quenya names on the day of their birth).

Race: Elf (30 build points)

Qualities: Magician (15), Astral Chameleon (5), Lucky (20), Code Block (+5), Moderate Allergy to Tobacco Smoke (+11), Sensitive Neural Structure (+5), Spirit Bane (Demons) (+10)

Attributes:  Body 3 (20), Agility 5 (30), Reaction 3 (20), Strength 3 (20), Charisma 5 (20), Intuition 2 (10), Logic 5 (40), Willpower 6 (40)

Essence 6, Edge 3/7 (20), Magic 5 (40), Initiative 5 (R+I). 

Skills:

Active:
Astral Combat 3 (12), Conjuring 3 (12), Counterspelling 3 (12), Dodge 3 (12), Ettiquette (Street) 2 (+2), Perception 2 (8), Pistols 2 (8), Spellcasting 5 (20)

Knowledge (21 free points):
Corporate Security Contacts 2, Magic Background 3, Magical Theory 4, Magical Phenomenon 3, Orgonite Making 2, Wine Tasting 2

Language Skills: English N, Japanese 2, Sperethiel 4

Spells:
Armor
Clout
Fireball
Levitate
Lightning Bolt
Manabolt
Physical Barrier

GEAR:
Lined Coat, Fake SIN (Rating: 2), Magical Lodge Materials (Force 5), Magesight Goggles, 4 stim patches, Middle Lifestyle (2 months)

Weapons:
Yamaha Sakura Fubuki [w/200 rounds of regular ammo]

Matrix Gear:
Renaku Sensei [/w Magnadyne Deva OS and AR gloves]
Programs [Analyze 2, Browse 3, Command 1, Edit 2]

Contacts:
Company Man (Connection 2/Loyalty 2)
Blogger (Connection 2/Loyalty 3)

Notes:
Natural Low-light Vision
Graduated from the University of Utah with a Masters degree in Hermetic Science (Hermetic Magician)
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Whoa, took longer than I thought.  This isn't a real Player Character, and without Chummer I can't create as quickly.  But for purposes of review: it works.  Now, if a GM would go over this, he would point out where I'd screwed up.  (People asking about Orgonite will get an interesting answer to their question).

Significant Changes from 2nd Edition

Aside from Character Creation, there are some changes to 2nd Edition.  The World has a wireless internet (YAY!).  The Matrix or inter-webs are now wireless because we have wireless internet devices.  Wi-Fi, Wi-FI LANs, Apple iPhones, and Android phones can all connect to the internet as long as you have a phone connection.  However, this does not mean that our Wireless technology is in it's prime.  Ethernet cables are still more advanced.  Just in 2070, wi-fi has come into it's prime and thus the preferred medium of information exchange over the Internet.  Dumb terminals and cyberdecks have been phased out in favor of com links and body comps (implantable computers -- what? -- there's no body comps?  Well, they are implantable Comlinks then, see page 338 of your Shadowrun Anniversary Corebook).

Bioware is added to the main book, although I miss boosted reflexes.  And there is a new character archetype: the Technomancer.  In the 2050s (I have Virtual Realities 2.0), these were called Otaku.  Now, there is a significant part of the population that can navigate the 'net with just their brains.  There isn't a COMMCORE, however; as major media companies still compete with each other.  America is still the number one source of the Entertainment Industry although it's a collection of Second World and Third World nations now, and Japan is still the 1st World Nation among 1st World Nations (with China and Russia competing with them).

Similarities with Blue Planet

Blue Planet is a quasi-competitor with Shadowrun in the aspect that it does have a matrix.  Although it's focus is on exploring a new world (Poseidon), you can run Shadowrun-esque missions in Blue Planet.  The Blue Planet RPG has Cyberware and Bioware.  Here are the differences:

* Blue Planet is centered on New Frontier roleplaying, bordering on Star Trek and Cyberpunk.  Shadowrun is still Cyberpunk (no 7th World, yet).

* Blue Planet does not have a CIRS factor, Shadowrun has a CIRS factor.  A player character taking on Cyberware in Shadowrun takes an essence hit.  This is both good and bad for both games.

* Blue Planet allows you to buy Cyberware and Bioware Packages.  In Shadowrun, you get this in later books (Augmented).  One of the Bioware packages you can buy in Blue Planet is the Shock Trooper package.  This isn't available (yet) in Shadowrun.  And if it were, the typical Shadowrunner would never run into a squad of these.  A Shadowrun is (mainly) Corporate Espionage.

* There is no style over substance in Blue Planet.  In Shadowrun, this little thing still exists.  You still get teenagers who probably get the latest and greatest in cosmetic Cyberware and Bioware because it's the next best thing.  The in-thing among teenagers in Shadowrun is probably nano-tattoos, steampunk fashion, and body sculpting (if one can afford it, ie. Splicing) into different forms.  In a typical high school in the Shadowrun universe, you'll probably see Futanari, furries, people who have hair with colors not even seen yet, and other interesting things.  The 1980s retro of 2050 is dead, long live the new fashion of the 2070s!

In Blue Planet, player characters are thrust out of an Affluent society and into a pioneering society.  There isn't time to bodily modify yourself into interesting forms.  While Body Modification in Blue Planet allows you the same benefits as body modification in Shadowrun, it isn't "Style over Substance."  Although, sometimes you do get this, it isn't common among teenagers.


What is actually happening in the World compared to Shadowrun

Okay if you follow technology, we have a datajack, RFID chips, WI-FI LANs, the iPod, the iPhone, and AR goggles; tech all now existing.  But in the years since Shadowrun was written, there is something else happening.  Call it the Awakening.  This is knowledge of Universal Laws that are taught by most every religion if you are willing to look beyond (the Secret goes over this).  Also, the re-emergence of Wilhelm Riche's study on what he called Orgone Energy is something to be said.  Finally, the Electric Universe theory is gaining ground among highly Educated people.

Changes to Shadowrun in light of Dr. Wilhelm Riche's Orgone Energy studies.

* Orgone Energy is scientifically documented, and it's effects on life are also documented.  Orgone Energy is understood to be the Creative Force in nature -- in Shadowrun, mages call it Mana, in Mormonism, we call it the Holy Ghost.  Franz Anton Mesmer called it animal magnetism; Charles von Reichenbach called it odyle. To Henri Bergson it was the elan vital, the "vital force;" while to Hans Driesch it was the entelechy . Sigmund Freud observed its functioning in human emotions and termed it libido. . Among the 20th-century proponents of the concept are, for example, Doctors Charles Littlefield and his vital magnetism and George Starr White and his cosmo-electric energy . Mechanistic science in the 17th through 19th centuries embraced many of its essential qualities in the concept of the ether, while mystical human beings have embraced other essential qualities of it in the concept of god.

* Orgone energy is Mana in Shadowrun.  Mages use it when ever they cast a spell or summon something.  However, it's more than that.  Here is a paper on Orgone Energy for the scientifically minded: http://www.orgone.org/articles/ax9kelley1a.htm .  For those who want a more basic introduction to Orgone Energy, here is a video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sPV-JExUPns .

* The Electric Universe and Shadowrun

The Electric Universe is a theory that the Universe's primary force isn't Gravity, but Electricity.  This means that most everything in the Universe is governed by electro-magnetism.  From the mighty power of the Sun, to us.  According to the theory, everything in the Universe is connected electrically.  The Sun is a capacitor according to the theory.   According to the theory, comets are actually asteroids on eccentric orbits that are electrically reacting to the Sun.  And also the theory works hard to bring all of human testimony together with scientific research.  For instance, the theory explains the major mythological archetypes that is in our stories and myths.  The Good King, the Princess, the Dragon, and the Hero.

Shadowrun's version of the Awakening wouldn't be an isolated reactionary event.  It would be a connected reactionary event.  Perhaps something happened in 2011 that brought the Sixth World about.  However, as that didn't happen (Shadowrun's 6th World diverged from ours in the year 2000 with the election of George Bush Jr.), it can't be properly explained.

Everyone, educate yourself on the Electric Universe with the Thunderbolts of the Gods video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P4zixnWeE8A

*The Law of Attraction

This is a personal journey for each and everyone of you.  However, in light of my knowledge, I think Magicians in Shadowrun are crippled in light of this knowledge.  They rely on spirits, they feel anxiety when out in space, yadda-yadda. I exort all of you to start your own journey and knowledge of this law.  It might lead you to interesting revelations about yourself.