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Shadowrun Universes: a leaner and faster ruleset for SR

 
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Blade
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Joined: 14 Sep 2011
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 02, 2016 9:00 am    Post subject: Shadowrun Universes: a leaner and faster ruleset for SR Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I wasn't originally going to post that here, since I didn't think many people would be interested (except maybe to rant heavily about some of its weaknesses) and it's something I made mostly according to my playstyle, but it came up a few times, so here it is.

Why "Shadowrun Universes"?
It's called Shadowrun Universe because I think that Shadowrun needs to acknowledge the fact that it is used for technothriller, 80s cyberpunk, postcyberpunk and other nuances. While all can share similar rules, I think it's important to know which game you're playing otherwise you end up with a bland game that doesn't really please anyone.

In my vision, Shadowrun Universes would have a basic ruleset, with a few optional rules and tweaks to adapt different ambiances, but then all fluff would be divided according to their universe.

Why an alternate ruleset?

I wasn't pleased with everything in SR4, but besides that I realized that most of the time, I just threw the rules out the window regularly. From the "don't bother rolling for this, we'll assume it works" to the "let's skip some dice rolls so that we can wrap this up".
On top of that, there were also stuff I missed from the rules, like a mechanism similar to Leverage's plot points. All in all, the rules weren't adapted to the playstyle I wanted, so it was time to move to another system.

Design goals
Fit my playstyle.

To make it simple, let's check the anatomy of a standard run, and the departures I want from SR4:
1. Legwork: I want the legwork to matter. I don't want to have to gloss over it because playing the small B&E or the small Matrix intrusion would take too long playing, but I don't want either of them to bog down the game and require us to spend an entire session.
2. Planning: I don't want players to have to be expert criminal themselves. I don't want them to spend the whole session discussing points that might be completely irrelevant, thinking at length about questions their characters actually know the answer to while forgetting about stuff their characters wouldn't. I just want them to come up with a basic plan, and let the system handle all the details we can't possibly know all about.
3. Execution: I want player choices that matter, I want them to choose whether to take risks or not without relying too much on the RNG to decide if things will go smoothly or not. I want the increase of pressure as the run progresses. I want the PC to feel challenged, but not by the RNG or the GM's whims. In that line of thought, I like having the exhaustion, the wounds, etc. matter, but I don't want to end up with a group of useless PC after the first fight.
4. Climax: I don't want the narration of the climax to be bogged down by endless dice rolls. I want to focus on the story and actions, not on the dice rolls.
5. Wrap-up: I don't want a rigger to suddenly lose a part of its value because he lost his drones, I don't want the players who spend their money on RP stuff to get left behind those who spend them on boosting their characters.

Besides that there are a few things I wanted to fix like extended rolls being stupid, spirits being too powerful, vehicle and matrix rules being complex and not working well and many other minor stuff.
And finally, I wanted to be able to add some flavor, depending on the universe: for 80s cyberpunk I wanted to have style matter and loss of humanity (either through ware or magic) to be a theme.

Resolution mechanism

The basic idea is that you use your skill score as a base, and have your attributes (and preparation/legwork) provide a limited amount of expandable bonus points.

In more details:

- Skills (mostly those from SR4 with a few adjustments) go from -1 to 6 (up to 8 with augmentation/specialization, but getting 7 or 8 is very costly). All skills belong to a "pool" (combat pool, technical pool, spellcasting pool, matrix pool, social pool, etc.).
- Task difficulty go from -1 to 9+.

If (adjusted) difficulty is lower than (adjusted) skill, it's an automatic success.
If difficulty is higher or equals to skill, there are three solutions:
1. Limited failure: Fail, but without any complication other than not doing the task: if you wanted to jump from one roof to another, you don't fall between the roofs, you just don't do the jump. If you wanted to catch something to break your fall, you will fail to catch it and keep falling though.

2. Modifiers: there are three base modifiers that are available to most (but not necessarily all) actions, all giving +1 to the skill score:
- Take your time
- Botch the job (loud lockpicking, car goes through but has no doors anymore, get hit by your opponent to be able to hit him as well, etc.)
- Take a risk. In that case there's a 1/2 chance of failure. You can roll a dice or toss a coin, but since playing cards are used for some aspects of the system, they can be used as well here. You just flip a card and check: one color is failure, the other is success. In that case, failure is real failure: you fall down the roof, you destroy the lock you wanted to pick (or your pick-locking tool), you open yourself to the attacker without getting any advantage, etc.

3. Pools: Spend up to two points from the pool linked to the skill, each point spent raises the score by one. As written above, all skills are linked to a pool. This pool has a score, based most of the time on two attributes, and a current value, which goes down with use.

Each pools have two ways to recharge: the slow charge and the fast charge. Each is linked to a condition. For example, the physical pool will slow charge after a night's sleep, and fast charge after a meal. The spellcasting pool will slow charge by meditating/praying/dancing/studying during an hour or so and fast charge by spending a complex action to synchronize with local mana, etc.
Slow charge recharges half the score of the pool, fast charge allows the player to roll a number of dice equal to the score of the pool. Each hit (5+) adds one point to the pool. A charge clears the points from the previous charge (except for the Matrix, where the fast charges are cumulative, but raise the awareness level of the authorities).

Opposed rolls work similarly, and the resulting scores are compared (I'm still on the fence on whether or not to allow spending more than two points from the pool for these. On one hand, it would allow a less skilled opponent to "give it all" to best a higher-skilled opponent, on the other hand it might lead to early pool exhaustion for those who engage in opposed rolls).
Extended rolls have a base duration and a minimal duration. Each point above the difficulty halves the base duration, down to the minimal duration.

This mechanism has many advantages:
1. It moves dice rolling to the "downtime" and avoids blocking the action with dice rolls.
2. It considers that runners are professional and that the hacker won't crash the run by being unable to hack the door of an old apartment building.
3. It's aligned with the concept of runners preparing a run (especially since the legwork can boost the pools) and possibly losing grip on the situation as problems that challenges their abilities and/or preparation pile up and their pools reduce.
4. It has the possibility to scale failure, from critical failure (when botching the job and taking risks and failing) to failure (when taking a risk and failing) to limited failure (when just failing the action) to limited success (when succeeding an action by botching the job), with the players choosing the risk level.

This is just the basic resolution mechanism, there's much more to the system. I'll reserve the post below for these details, in case anyone's interested.
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Blade
Knight


Joined: 14 Sep 2011
Posts: 496
Location: France

PostPosted: Fri Sep 02, 2016 9:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

The rules are currently in French, but I have a short version I've made for Dumpshock. It's not the full rules, but it outlines the main concepts. If there's any interest, I can translate the full rules.

Additional details about the resolution mechanism and basic rules
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Character creation
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Combat rules
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Magic
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Matrix
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Social rules
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Vehicle rules
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Drones and rigging
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Legwork and infiltration
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Gear, powers and stuff

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Last edited by Blade on Fri Sep 02, 2016 3:52 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Stahlseele
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 02, 2016 12:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

So, with the inclusion of pools, this sounds like a mix between SR4 and 3 to me somehow.

2 questions.
a.) You mentioned there being 3 resolutions if difficulty is higher than skill, but you only mention 2 in the jumping and only 1 in the falling example. care to expand on that a bit?

b.) I think adding a second resolution mechanic to the game is not helping. Rolling dice has always been good enough for SR. Where do you get the cards from all of a sudden? Just roll 1d6, even success, uneven fail. Or 1-3 fail 4-6 Success. Done.

Also, why does the mage get to use a complex action on going to quick charge and the mundane has to eat a meal?
How do you define a meal. When is it worth the quick charge?
On the run, open mouth, insert Soy-Energy-Bar, chew. Enough?
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OgreBattle
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 02, 2016 12:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

"like a mechanism similar to Leverage's plot points"

I'm interested in how you do this part
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Blade
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 02, 2016 1:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Stahlseele wrote:
So, with the inclusion of pools, this sounds like a mix between SR4 and 3 to me somehow.

The pools are very different from the SR3 pools, but the concept of combat pool/rigging pool/spellcasting pool does recall SR3.

Quote:

a.) You mentioned there being 3 resolutions if difficulty is higher than skill, but you only mention 2 in the jumping and only 1 in the falling example. care to expand on that a bit?


Looks like my explanation is not good.
The three possibilities are:
1. Accepting to fail/not attempt the action
2. Applying a modifier
3. Spending points from the pool

Let's take the jumping example:
Player: "I jump to the next roof"
GM: "Difficulty is 4, your skill is 4, you're not sure you'll be able to make it"

1. Accepting: "Ok, I'll find another way"
2. Modifier:
2.1 "I take my time to make sure I do it correctly" => Spend more time to do it, but succeeds
2.2 "What if I aim for the window of the top floor instead of the roof?" => Won't land on the roof, but will be able to jump to the next building (the landing might be more painful)
2.3 "I'll take my chance" => Reveal a card, if it's a success, jumps successfully, if it's a failure, falls between the buildings
3. Spending a point from the pool : "I spend one point from my Physical pool"

Quote:

b.) I think adding a second resolution mechanic to the game is not helping. Rolling dice has always been good enough for SR. Where do you get the cards from all of a sudden? Just roll 1d6, even success, uneven fail. Or 1-3 fail 4-6 Success. Done.

The value of the card is used in some cases: when shooting the value of the card is used as a bonus to the damage, when spending tokens to cast a spell, the value of the highest card is used for the drain DV, etc.

I guess you could use dice even for this (using D10). Originally, it was for my Hong-Kong campaign, so I was using mahjong tiles for flavor. Another advantages of cards over dice is that it's fast and easy to stack them and revealing them is faster than rolling the die. But if you prefer dice, you can use dice.

Quote:

Also, why does the mage get to use a complex action on going to quick charge and the mundane has to eat a meal?
How do you define a meal. When is it worth the quick charge?
On the run, open mouth, insert Soy-Energy-Bar, chew. Enough?


It's not for the same pool.
Eating (in the rules it's "a hot meal" and I guess that if I were to publish it I'd reword that to avoid the video-gamey "I'm eating 10 steaks to replenish my HP") or taking a nap is for the quick charge of the Physical pool, which is used for physical skills like Running, Gymnastics, etc. Both Mundanes and Awakened will quick charge this pool the same way.

Spending a complex action for the mage is for the quick charge of the Spellcasting pool, which is used for Spellcasting, Counterspelling and Ritual Spellcasting.

Likewise, each pool has its own charging methods.


Last edited by Blade on Fri Sep 02, 2016 1:33 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Stahlseele
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PostPosted: Fri Sep 02, 2016 1:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Ah, i see.
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Blade
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 05, 2016 9:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Forgot to mention : I updated the second post with a summary of the rules. It's not the full ruleset but it explains the main concepts.
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OgreBattle
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 06, 2016 4:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Just to be clear, I can do stuff without spending points right? Like I can do a combat or bypassing security action without spending combat points, so the idea of having X amount of points is to auto-clear some tasks because my modified skill is higher than the difficulty, until U run out and start taking the risk of rolling a lower skill vs higher difficulty.

Last edited by OgreBattle on Tue Sep 06, 2016 4:28 am; edited 1 time in total
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Blade
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 06, 2016 8:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

If the difficulty of the task is lower than your skill, you auto-succeed without spending points.
The points are there for when your skill alone is not enough.

Let's take an example:
Alice and Bob are driving manual cars on a narrow mountainous road, Alice has a Driving skill of 3, Bob has a Driving skill of 1.

They realize they have been going the wrong way and need to do a U-turn. The difficulty of the task is 1. Alice auto-succeeds, and can even decide to do it without slowing down too much (difficulty of 2) and still auto-succeed. Bob will need either to spend a point from his Driving pool, take his time to do the U-turn, take the risk to go off the road or accept to damage his car on the mountain cliff/barriers while doing his U-turn.

It starts snowing and they need to make for lost time, so they have to drive fast down the narrow mountain road. The difficulty is 3. Alice will need either to spend a point or take a risk (to fall off the road or crash the car) or accept to damage her car. She obviously can't "take her time" since the point is driving fast.

Bob can spend up to two points of his Driving pool, but the rules don't allow to spend more than two without spending Edge. This leaves him with a score of 3, which is still not higher than the difficulty. Unless he is willing to spend Edge he will need either to take a risk or to accept to damage his car on top of spending his two points in order to get to a score of 4.


Last edited by Blade on Tue Sep 06, 2016 8:17 am; edited 1 time in total
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