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Drunken Review: Shadowrun 5
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2014 9:30 am    Post subject: Drunken Review: Shadowrun 5 Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Drunk and Angry Review: Shadowrun 5
Everything Has a Price

That's not me making a scabs or embezzlement joke, that's literally the tagline of this edition.



Wat.

I make no secret of the fact that I don't like 5th edition Shadowrun. I don't like the people who made it, and I don't like the product they produced. But this is not sour grapes on my part, I had already accepted that Shadowrun was going in a direction that I had no control over years before the financial shenanigans at Catalyst were brought to my attention. I am not saying this book is terrible because my bridges there are burnt, I'm saying that this book is terrible because I genuinely believe it is terrible. And I am giving fair warning that in addition to hating this fucking book I also hate the people who made it.

Shadowrun 5 is a slick book. And I don't mean that it's snazzy or that it gets away with things, but that it's actually slick. Like, to the touch. I don't know what that's about. The insides are the kind of thing that looks high budget and snazzy on an initial flip through, but on closer inspection is actually just really busy. Interior layout is by a guy who calls himself “Wrath” unironically, and it shows. There are... doohickeys... all over the page. The opening fiction is white text over a gray text crawl on black background background. Yes, really. They put text on a pseudo-text background, and it is fucking painful to read. An ordinary page might have white text, black text, yellow text, three different fonts, magenta backgrounds, picture backgrounds, and gray and white “futuristic” backgrounds. Not as like a choose your own adventure of a page, that's seriously all on the same page. Someone went to the zen typesetter and asked to make him one with everything. This makes it look really professional on a flip through, I mean, there are so many fonts, it must be really well organized, right? Wrong. This visual clutter serves no purpose other than to clutter the visuals.

Another Night, Another Run

One problem that 21st century gaming came to in the latter half of the oughts was that printing and typesetting had become really easy and cheap. That probably doesn't sound like a problem, but it certainly made for some very terrible books. See, back in the bad old days it was expensive and difficult to write things up or edit them together or print them. You didn't have a page of text unless you really wanted that page of text. This had its own drawbacks of course, in the days of paste-up, if you did up a page and then noticed that you had a page XX error or had misspelled “rogue” you weren't likely to redo the whole page, you just went to print as-is. But while the old RPG books tend to be full of typographical errors and have shitty art, they do at least get to the fucking point. Especially in the post-3.5 world, pagecount bloat has gotten completely out of control.

So it is with Shadowrun 5. Most sections are prefaced by a story. And these aren't half-pagers either. Each one is four pages long, except the first one which is six pages long. Ultimately, these little stories take up thirty pages of the book, bloating the book to a ridonkulous 477 pages. But starting out in the book, it actually feels worse than that, because it's front loaded. The first six pages are a story, then you have a half page introduction, then you have a page and a half of slang terms, and then you have another 4 page story. 12 pages in, and more than 80% of the book has been storybook theater filler.

These stories aren't good, and what's more they are exhausting to read because as previously mentioned, it's white text printed over something that looks kind of like this:


The goggles! They do nothing!

Also, the Ws and Vs are kind of out of alignment, getting pushed up to be almost superscript by whatever font they are using. I don't know why this happens, but it's hideous. I'm not going to go into a lot of detail on these stories. Fuck, I didn't read all of them through, and I'm not going to. They are clumsy, hackish fanfiction, and have no particular reason to be in the book at all. Stuff like this is easy to produce shovel-ware, the writers probably have some fanfiction just lying around and it doesn't require a lot of development oversight or rules meetings or anything. You just shit it out and there it is. The thing is, while that kind of content is easy to make, its primary purpose is to increase page count. In a book that is a bloated meandering 447 pages before the shitty fanfiction, why is this necessary?

I know that I've been mostly critiquing the format rather than the substance. That is because there isn't a lot of substance here. It really is just random shadowrun fanfiction written by people you don't care about. Lots of name dropping to make the reader know they are reading fanfiction, and lots of attitude to let the reader know they are reading something written at a 7th grade level.

Introduction: FUTURE DISTOPIA

The first part of the book that is actually about the game is the introduction, which is written sloppily in-character and and out-of-character like it was written in 1991. It's just half a page, but it doesn't cover any of that fucking “what is roleplaying” or “what is this book” or “why is this a fifth fucking edition” or really any questions you might have. This is an introduction geared towards psyching you up to have the right attitude to play this game. Which apparently is to be a giant, giant poseur.

First Three Sentences of the Introduction wrote:
Welcome to Shadowrun, Fifth Edition. Welcome to the streets. If you’re here, it’s because you think you have what it takes to be a shadowrunner.


As far as I can tell, this is here to signal that the authors of this edition are so retro-inspired that things like “in character voice” and “out of character voice” that people really started keeping track of in the mid nineties are things they can't be fucked to give a fuck about. The thing which makes this doubly weird is that Shadowrun was actually a pioneer in the in-character/out-of-character divide. For all the justifiable ragging we did on Tir na nOg, it did do a reasonable job of keeping in-character and out-of-character sections separate in 1993. It took like 7 years for that to work its way from Shadowrun to Dungeons & Dragons. To get this kind of blend of in-and-out, you really need to go back to earlier Shadowrun products like the Grimoire. So I guess this is sort of a “we're so retro that even advances made by Shadowrun in the early nineties that demonstrably improved the gaming community just piss us off!” Which is impressively retro, but not particularly good.

Anyway, almost three quarters of the two page introduction is spent on a lexicon of slang. Don't worry, this isn't the only lexicon of slang in this book. There's a two page box of “Matrix Jargon” that's not in the table of contents hidden on page 215. That's a lot of space given over to specialist nomenclature. And their choice of what to include here is frankly puzzling. They think it's really important that you remember to call Knight Errant security guards “pawns” but by putting that as the only definition of the word “pawn” you might think that is the only way the word is used in Shadowrun, which is not true. More puzzling still, they decide to define “Clip” as “a box magazine for a firearm.” That one probably takes a bit of explaining.

The original writers of Shadowrun wrote in the pre-wikipedia days and honestly didn't care all that much about military terminology in any case. And they wrote things that were wrong. They got offensive and defensive grenades backwards, they made a complete hash of submachine guns versus machine pistols, they made nonsense declarations about firearm cycling rates and recoil, and crucially for this explanation they referred to interchangeable box magazines as “clips.” Now I know you might be asking yourself at this point “Who gives a shit?” Well, it turns out that a lot of Shadowrun fans have an unhealthy obsession with guns, and they send a lot of hatemail when people get gun trivia wrong (or at least, say things that are inconsistent with what they believe about gun trivia, which is not always the same thing). So there are lots of things you could do about this: you could just not give a shit because obviously the gun nuts don't actually stop buying Shadowrun products over these sorts of nomenclatural differences; you could quietly change the nomenclature between editions; you could alter the rules so that you don't actually have to mention what the spring-loaded ammunition carriers that slide into automatic weapons are called at all. Or any of a number of other things. But instead, they chose to draw a line in the sand and fight about this piece of meaningless trivia. So here you are, on the first page of actually describing the game, and the authors are stamping their feet and saying “Is too! It's our game and we'll call things whatever we want!” – throwing a temper tantrum about shit no one cares about instead of actually telling you what the game is about. And the really weird thing is that while I'm sure that this silenced exactly zero self righteous gun nuts, it's not even a fight that needed to be had. Box magazines legitimately are called “clips” in some circumstances, so you didn't need to make it futuru slang or whatever the fuck in any case.


It's not called a “banana magazine.”

I'm going to try to do this in five sections:
  • History and Chargen
  • Combat
  • Matrix
  • Magic
  • NPCs and Gear


Yeah, that averages nearly a hundred pages per section, but we'll be skimming most of this shit. There are a couple of good ideas in here, and I'll try to highlight them when possible out of a misplaced sense of fairness.


Last edited by FrankTrollman on Fri Mar 14, 2014 9:52 am; edited 1 time in total
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talozin
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2014 11:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I used to get irritated by the "clip" versus "magazine" distinction, I think maybe because it was like someone referencing Ludwig Plutonium in a hard sci-fi game -- a signal that the person writing simply didn't know enough about the subject to be taken seriously. But I just can't get exercised about it at all these days, because who fucking cares? No one gives a shit that the British used to call a "charger" what we call a "clip" today. If the already fuzzy distinction between a "clip" and a "magazine" is totally erased by 2070 or whenever this game is set, that should really not surprise anyone who has been paying the slightest bit of attention to linguistic evolution.
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Koumei
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2014 2:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I like to use the term just to annoy Americans gun-nuts Americans. It's great fun.

Interesting to see the review of this. There was plenty that didn't really impress me when I played it, given "a million words all scrambled up in sidebars and tables, and nowhere does it even tell me what ___ is. Unless it's hidden away in a different chapter somewhere because you need a fucking team of explorers to find anything."
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2014 2:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Are there any Black people in the book?
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Ancient History
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2014 3:11 pm    Post subject: Re: Drunken Review: Shadowrun 5 Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

FrankTrollman wrote:
They are clumsy, hackish fanfiction, and have no particular reason to be in the book at all. Stuff like this is easy to produce shovel-ware, the writers probably have some fanfiction just lying around and it doesn't require a lot of development oversight or rules meetings or anything. You just shit it out and there it is. The thing is, while that kind of content is easy to make, its primary purpose is to increase page count. In a book that is a bloated meandering 447 pages before the shitty fanfiction, why is this necessary?

I know that I've been mostly critiquing the format rather than the substance. That is because there isn't a lot of substance here. It really is just random shadowrun fanfiction written by people you don't care about. Lots of name dropping to make the reader know they are reading fanfiction, and lots of attitude to let the reader know they are reading something written at a 7th grade level.

...I can't throw stones. This was basically how some of the fiction in SR4A came about. Literally, one of the editors of the project literally asked to use some of my fanfiction for it and I was like "Yeah, sure, whatever." - and the whole fiction-leading-every-chapter bit was definitely taken from SR4A.

Which is kind of sad, because SR1 and SR2 were generally known for the quality of their opening fiction.
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John Magnum
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2014 3:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

This is extremely interesting to me. It's been fascinating reading takedowns of the hit cap system or the Matrix system in isolation, I can't wait to see a review of the entirety of SR5.
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Ed
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2014 6:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Jesus, I wasn't expecting you to start in on it.

Should I mail you some liquor?
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Rawbeard
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2014 9:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Since I will be playing in a SR5 game apparantly this is very much interests me.

Why will I be playing SR5 instead of doing something better with my life, like hammering nails into my eyesockets? Well, fuck me if I know, but part of it is that around here (and here is German Online community) it is hard to find a Shadowrun group that is not "Low-play" aka "we do not know if our characters will get a meal this week" which is real fun! just not for me when I want to play Shadowrun instead. Yeah. Fuck everything, I guess.

I am starting to read this behemoth and really... holy fuck. Editing is not a thing in this book. At all. My favorite at the moment is the Advancement table. Here are things like the total cost of advancing an attribute from 1 to 7. Of course you only can advance it by 2 at a time apparantly, so this thing just eats up space and helps you plan out your Karma costs for the next 1000 points you accumulate. Or something. The fuck is that about?
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2014 10:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Life in the Sixth World

Everything Has A Price

Yes, that's the tagline for this chapter, not just for the book. I'm not really sure who this chapter is supposed to be aimed at, maybe time travelers? It's written kindof “in-world” but to a target audience who has only recently been exposed to the Sixth World. The Sixth World is actually several generations of time in the setting, so it's not a new development for anyone in-world that it might be talking to. The whole thing is really “in your face” and “edgy” in the way that Poochie was in The Simpsons. Basically, the reader is supposed to be a Shadowrunner, but also be “getting acquainted” with the last sixty years of political reality. It would be like giving an edgy street primer for modern day people where you wanted to ease them in to the idea that Russia and the United States don't always get along.


I've been designed by committee to be edgy!

The framing device is supposed to be that “Everything Has a Price.” They really try to hammer that home, like it was in any way interesting or novel or different about this setting than any other setting you happened to pick up.

Anyway, Shadowrun has always technically been an alternate reality. The original timeline included events that had already failed to occur in 1989 and ran a timeline of things that never happened all the way through the end of the 20th century and halfway through the 21st. Now, when it first came out, the alternate history shit was subtle. Indeed, ten year old Frank sure as fuck didn't know the names of federal judges, so I didn't even notice that judge retirements hadn't gone the same way in Shadowrun's alternate history. I doubt many readers picked up on that, and to this day I don't know if it was because the authors were throwing in subtle clues that it was a different world than our own or if they were just working from older lists of federal judiciaries. And it really was a pretty minor point, because the realy big divergence of our world and theirs is the magical appearance of a fucking dragon in 2011 flying over Japan. Which for all previous editions of Shadowrun wasn't a big problem – 2011 was the near future for each edition of Shadowrun, and so all the previous editions were sort of a “What if?” But fifth edition doesn't have that luxury. 2011 is the god damned past.

This leaves Shadowrun in kind of a bind. The big event where magic comes back in the near future has already had its chance: and it didn't happen. This leaves the game in an awkward position, it's now the near future of a recently altered past. There are a number of ways they could play that. They could downplay the events in the past that have already failed to occur, concentrating on the near future events that won't. They could play up the alternate universe angle. Lots of stuff. What they end up doing is threading the needle of uselessness. First they tell you not to sweat the dates and details, then they repeat and emphasize the big change point with magic of December 24th, 2011. But then it almost immediately wanders off to talk about how only a small minority of people can use magic and how dragons are super hard core. Yeah, it's kind of like having Shadowrun explained to you by an excited meth head, but fundamentally the book has raised the question of “what the hell are we doing here?” but then elected to not answer it.

From a high level standpoint, explaining Shadowrun is not terribly difficult. It goes something like this:
Explain Shadowrun in thirty seconds wrote:
Fantasy and Cyberpunk in the near future. Some people are elves, orks, or wizards. America has fragmented. Giant corporations run everything. You play cyberpunk mercenaries who do industrial espionage.

So you'd really expect the introduction to hit those high notes pretty quick. Instead, they're so busy bringing the “in your face attitude” that they sort of miss some of those. We get told that Ghostwalker is a dragon who rules the divided city of Denver before it gets around to mentioning that America has fragmented into squabbling factions that Denver could be divided between. A reader who didn't already know what was up would be left scratching their heads. “Divided between who?” they might ask. Or perhaps “If there is only one leader, in what way is the city meaningfully divided?” And actually... that second one is a pretty good question, and not one that has ever been adequately answered in the Ghostwalker plotline, so maybe that wasn't a really great Shadowrun history tidbit to lead with.

So basically, we get a whole series of essays on magic, corporations, cyberware, and shadowrunning all loosely tied into the hyper edgy metanarrative that things have costs, and nowhere does it give you the skinny that this is a game where man meets magic and machine, America is divided, corporations run everything, and you play mercenaries who perform industrial espionage for money. When it finally gets to talking about the America is divided part, that's in the next subsection entirely, and then it gives only a brief rundown of the nations in “North America” where the UCAS and the CAS get short descriptions, most of the Native American Nations get only name dropped, and some nations simply don't get mentioned at all. San Diego and Miami are apparently not in North America, which is somewhat surprising to me.

Brief rundowns are given on other continents, and they are even briefer. It really makes me wonder what the point of this section actually is. If all you're going to do is mention the name “Algonkian-Manitou Council,” why mention it at all? Especially if you aren't going to give even that courtesy to the Aleut or Caribbean League? If the only countries in all of Asia that you deign to mention are going to be Japan, Russia, and the free city of Hong Kong, don't you think it might be helpful to at least mention that fucking China broke up? It might seem like it's implied by the fact that Japan is powerful and Hong Kong is independent, but it's really not. I'm coming at this from the standpoint of having read a lot of Shadowrun books and knowing a ridiculous amount of Shadowrun future history, and I'm confused by this shit. I genuinely don't know if they are implying major shakeups of the map or just being weirdly imprecise. People coming at this book without a masters in Shadowrunology would be lost in the howling wilderness where there are bears.

This whole essay about the state of the world is completely on its ass. It needs to present high level information, then break things down into bite sized chunks. If it wants to focus in on something, it needs to do so in a way that doesn't imply that other things don't exist. Just reading this piece, you would assume Seoul and Beijing were imperial possessions of the emperor in Tokyo.

A Day in Your Life

Technically, this is actually still part of the “Life in the Sixth World” section, but it took me a moment to realize this because of how busy the fucking pages are. Each subsection gets its own page subtitle, so I momentarily thought I was in a new section, and I'm passing on my confusion to you by putting up a new heading. Anyhow, the whole “Day in your Life” subsection is about actually being a Shadowrunner. This is much less useless than the previous bits, because it actually runs you through the process of being hooked up with Johnsons and going on missions.

It's clumsy and weird, because it frankly isn't written very well. For some reason, essentially random words like contacts and Mr. Johnson are bolded. Contacts is game terminology, Mr. Johnson is in-character slang. Why are they both bolded? I don't fucking know. No one knows. But despite a weird and unhealthy interest in whether you're meeting your Johnson at an abandoned warehouse or a private room in a nightclub, it does give you the general idea of how you get hooked up with a Johnson, you research your target, you do the mission, and you try to get paid. I give this section a C. Which is a fucking gold star for this book. They then go through some possible jobs for a freelance mercenary hooligan. This list is poorly put together grammatically. Some of the entries are for what you are doing and some of the entries are for why you are doing it, and it's written in the second fucking person to a shadowrunner, but some of the ideas are Johnson focused. Kind of a mess, really.


This is...This is like a...a non-criminal's idea of a drug meet. How about Taco Cabeza? Half the deals I've ever done went down at Taco Cabeza. Nice and public. Open 24 hours. Nobody ever gets shot at Taco Cabeza. Hell, why not the mall? You know, wait at the Gap. "Hey! It's time for the meet!" You know, I'll put down the flat-front khakis, head on over, grab an Orange Julius.

Then they do writeups on “the opposition” but it's actually not the opposition at all, really. It's the big ten megacorps, five essentially random criminal syndicates, and some essays about: Gangs, Universities (wat?), Archaeologists (yes, really), Law Enforcement, and “other groups we forgot to mention earlier.” This is an irredeemable fucking mess. Some of it is copy pasta from earlier editions, and none of it hangs together. Like, at all. This is obviously the result of a rather radical redesign of how the opening of the book is supposed to read and a wholly incompetent attempt to edit a series of essays into the new format. It doesn't help that most of the pieces probably weren't that well written to begin with.

Then there are a few mini essays about actual daily living in the future, and then we punch out. So we haven't really covered the high level basics, there's no timeline, there's no map, there's no discussion of what the book is or who it's for. And I really couldn't tell you. If you don't already know pretty much what Shadowrun is about, this section won't tell you that information. And if you do know, this section doesn't tell you anything you don't know.

Section.02: Shadowrun Concepts

So here we are on page 44 of the book, and they finally tell the gentle reader that “Shadowrun uses six sided dice,” which is admittedly not as bad as how Scion fails to mention that you might need dice to play the game until page 171, but is still rather suboptimal I think. Something has simply been lost since the days when games would put their basic mechanics on page 2. It's not the ancient past, for fuck's sake, that was 2002!

The mechanics as laid out here are pretty similar to SR4. And while I certainly take issue with the tone in which they are presented, it mostly covers the basics. So we'll get right down into the nitty gritty of the changes.

First of all, the difficulty thresholds have been kind of fucked. Thresholds for “hard” tasks are now 4, “Very Hard” are 6, and “Extreme” are eight to ten. These are very high numbers. Now it's true that late period Shadowrun 4 saw some very high dicepools in the hands of minmaxxers. And it's also true that Shadowrun 5 posits slightly higher dicepools in the hands of bystanders and mooks. But for fuck's sake, it takes an average dicepool of 30 dice to succeed at a threshold 10 test. The elite cyborg special forces ultimate badass in this book throws 19 dice in their best pool. If the Sioux Wildcats can't pull off something at the low end of “extreme,” you've severely fucked your difficulty chart by going that high. Note also that at no time have they yet given an aside to players of 4th edition to warn them that dicepools are slightly bigger, which means that players of the previous edition who open the rules section and start reading are just going to look at those numbers and do a spit take. Only much later after crunching a lot of numbers will they come to fully realize that that spit take was wholly justified.

SR4 glitches are a little bit wonky. They are less common the bigger your dicepool is, which means that tasks that are hard because they give dicepool penalties increase glitches while tasks that are hard because they have higher thresholds don't. Also, odd numbered dicepools glitch slightly more than than the even numbered dicepools immediately smaller than themselves, which is weird and counter intuitive. These problems were extremely well known pretty much as soon as SR4 came out – in 2005. Over the last nine years, various people have proposed various fixes that range from simple to complex, and you could pretty much take your pick. SR5 doesn't use any of them, and glitches are simply wonky in exactly the same ways. That's not actually a change, but it's so weird that there isn't a change here that I have to call it out anyway.

But here's the big fat stinky elephant in the room: Limits. The idea is that there are various things that act as a hard cap to the number of hits you are allowed to count from your roll. Now this actually has a quite complicated effect on average numbers of hits, and there is no evidence at all of the authors having actually considered them. When they described these fucking things in the runup to printing this monstrosity, they got pretty much every major effect wrong. For one thing, hit caps have literally no effect whatsoever on your chances to succeed on an unopposed test. Literally none. They eliminate your chances of getting critical successes, but there is no effect on your chance of succeeding at all. For opposed tests, they heavily influence your chances of success. Also, when you need a higher threshold to succeed or an opposed test is against someone rolling more dice, the limit bites harder, while if you have penalties to your dicepool the limit bites less hard.

Let's do something concrete: holdout pistols have a Limit of 4, while sniper rifles have a limit of 7. Now, both of those are under the threshold of “extreme” actions, so it's literally impossible for anyone to do anything extreme under any circumstances because go fuck yourself. But also I feel compelled to point out that firing in close combat is an opposed test while sniping an unaware target in the back of the head in unopposed. That's just how the combat system happens to model it being more difficult to hit people who are in a thrashing melee than it is to hit people who are waiting in line. But here's where it gets really brain breaking: that means you want a sniper rifle in close combat. Meanwhile, the holdout pistol is actually pretty much fine for sniping unaware people from across the street.

This basic failure of the Limits to function correctly in the actual example situation they were written up in reference to might seem like a pretty good reason to scrap the idea. But instead, the authors of this edition decided to work these fucking things into every part of the game from top to bottom. Every test has a limit, and none of it works correctly. To get really good at sneaking, you need to be big and strong. Extraordinary success on even basic tasks is only possible with extraordinary tools or no tools at all, because having tools that were merely pretty good would make extraordinary success impossible. It's turtles all the way down. Limits put a cap on what thresholds you can overcome, and make it more likely that circumstantial bonuses will be useless to you – but they have no effect at all on circumstantial penalties. Every part of this is just as fucking terrible as the whole part. There is no way to salvage this rule.

SR4 extended tests work, but they are kind of shitty. Like extended tests in nWoD or Scion, they are a die rolling exercise where the outcome is not much in doubt. There are fixes for this, and heck I included one in After Sundown. You'd think that SR5 would attempt to implement one of those fixes, but they don't. Instead they fiddle at some of the edges and generally inflate the numbers. It makes more problems. If you attempt a “hard” test, you'll succeed after rolling about 54 dice, which is about what you get from having a base dicepool of 10. So that's not really a hard test at all. Indeed, even “extreme” extended tests only require about 90 dice to be rolled, which you can pull out of your ass with a base dicepool of thirteen. Yeah, not thirty, fucking thirteen. Your actual number of hits in an extended test is based on the square of your dicepool, so the fact that the required number of hits for more difficult extended tests only goes up linearly means that people with medium-high dicepools can shit all over the subsystem.

Teamwork works great in Shadowrun 4. The assistants make tests, and the main actor gets a bonus die for each hit the assistants got. This lets multiple players feel like they are contributing while still keeping dicepools to a manageable size. Teamwork in SR5 now also interacts with the limits – where assistants getting hits makes your limit go up. This makes all kinds of stupid things happen. Remember that the difference between shitty tools and awesome tools is like 3 points of Limit. But that's also the difference between having an associate with a 9 die pool and not. So... yeah. Every part of Limits is terrible, and even the extent to which it interacts with subsystems that work OK makes them terrible too. Fuck this book.

Ugh. I know I said that I'd try to get character generation in this post, but I can't. It'll go in the next bit where I'll also talk about skills and dicepools.
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Longes
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 14, 2014 10:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Rawbeard wrote:
Since I will be playing in a SR5 game apparantly this is very much interests me.

Why will I be playing SR5 instead of doing something better with my life, like hammering nails into my eyesockets? Well, fuck me if I know, but part of it is that around here (and here is German Online community) it is hard to find a Shadowrun group that is not "Low-play" aka "we do not know if our characters will get a meal this week" which is real fun! just not for me when I want to play Shadowrun instead. Yeah. Fuck everything, I guess.

I am starting to read this behemoth and really... holy fuck. Editing is not a thing in this book. At all. My favorite at the moment is the Advancement table. Here are things like the total cost of advancing an attribute from 1 to 7. Of course you only can advance it by 2 at a time apparantly, so this thing just eats up space and helps you plan out your Karma costs for the next 1000 points you accumulate. Or something. The fuck is that about?


It's not just German community. "300BP is a great idea!" crowd is surprisingly big.
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Silent Wayfarer
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 2:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Longes wrote:
Rawbeard wrote:
Since I will be playing in a SR5 game apparantly this is very much interests me.

Why will I be playing SR5 instead of doing something better with my life, like hammering nails into my eyesockets? Well, fuck me if I know, but part of it is that around here (and here is German Online community) it is hard to find a Shadowrun group that is not "Low-play" aka "we do not know if our characters will get a meal this week" which is real fun! just not for me when I want to play Shadowrun instead. Yeah. Fuck everything, I guess.

I am starting to read this behemoth and really... holy fuck. Editing is not a thing in this book. At all. My favorite at the moment is the Advancement table. Here are things like the total cost of advancing an attribute from 1 to 7. Of course you only can advance it by 2 at a time apparantly, so this thing just eats up space and helps you plan out your Karma costs for the next 1000 points you accumulate. Or something. The fuck is that about?


It's not just German community. "300BP is a great idea!" crowd is surprisingly big.


I honestly don't understand this. Why do people want to play average joes who happen to be using illegal gear?

Same reason why nWoD's so popular, I guess. "I want to be awesome... but not too awesome."
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Surgo
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 2:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I think I'm going to sum up the feelings of this entire message board:

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fectin
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 2:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

I imagine it as roughly similar to people who love fighters in D&D, only without quite so much of a yawning power gap.
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Here's a fun target for Major Creation: hydrazine. One casting every six seconds at CL9 gives you a bit more than 40 liters per second, which is comparable to the flow rates of some small, but serious, rocket engines. Six items running at full blast through a well-engineered engine will put you, and something like 50 tons of cargo, into space. Alternatively, if you thrust sideways, you will briefly be a fireball screaming across the sky at mach 14 before you melt from atmospheric friction.
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Ancient History
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 2:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

It always bugs me in new editions when the identical chapter from a previous edition is actually better than whatever new shit they write.
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Seerow
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 2:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Silent Wayfarer wrote:
Longes wrote:
Rawbeard wrote:
Since I will be playing in a SR5 game apparantly this is very much interests me.

Why will I be playing SR5 instead of doing something better with my life, like hammering nails into my eyesockets? Well, fuck me if I know, but part of it is that around here (and here is German Online community) it is hard to find a Shadowrun group that is not "Low-play" aka "we do not know if our characters will get a meal this week" which is real fun! just not for me when I want to play Shadowrun instead. Yeah. Fuck everything, I guess.

I am starting to read this behemoth and really... holy fuck. Editing is not a thing in this book. At all. My favorite at the moment is the Advancement table. Here are things like the total cost of advancing an attribute from 1 to 7. Of course you only can advance it by 2 at a time apparantly, so this thing just eats up space and helps you plan out your Karma costs for the next 1000 points you accumulate. Or something. The fuck is that about?


It's not just German community. "300BP is a great idea!" crowd is surprisingly big.


I honestly don't understand this. Why do people want to play average joes who happen to be using illegal gear?

Same reason why nWoD's so popular, I guess. "I want to be awesome... but not too awesome."


My old Shadowrun GM was one of them. I think it's the novels/fiction of the universe that make people think that's the way it should be. It didn't quite click for me until I played Shadowrun Returns, but in that game you start out dirt poor, make chump change for missions the entire time, save the world, and get screwed out of payment and are still dirt poor. When this is how people present the setting outside of the game, that's just what people expect when playing the game.
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Ed
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 2:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Seerow wrote:
My old Shadowrun GM was one of them. I think it's the novels/fiction of the universe that make people think that's the way it should be. It didn't quite click for me until I played Shadowrun Returns, but in that game you start out dirt poor, make chump change for missions the entire time, save the world, and get screwed out of payment and are still dirt poor. When this is how people present the setting outside of the game, that's just what people expect when playing the game.


I'd agree with this. Shadowrun was my first tabletop game, but I ended up getting into Shadowrun through an indirect route--I found the Genesis game first, then the novels, which was a really fucking neat world to play in when you're seven years old. I didn't even know it was a licensed thing, at the time I thought they'd come up with the whole thing for the Genesis game. Eventually, thank you local library, I lucked into reading 2XS (pretty good, not just "for licensed stuff") and Burning Bright first (maybe better), otherwise I might never have gotten into Shadowrun--maybe not tabletop gaming in general, either. So my mental model of Shadowrun, something like 17 years later, still involves playing dirt-poor malcontents who are trying to make enough money to pay their rent, while occasionally sticking it to The Man when their conscience pokes them hard enough.

I don't exclusively play low-level campaigns, but I do like to start there. The most fun campaign I ever played lasted about three years. Players new to Shadowrun but familiar with the fluff, going from gutter trash to professionals, though always low enough on the totem pole that there was Always A Bigger Fish. (Fortunately, the mage's player was cool with keeping initiations fairly slow and making them more important to her as a character, which helped deal with the quadratic-wizard problem.)


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TheFlatline
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 3:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

It's a longevity thing, related to insistence on starting D&D at level 1. In SR you can bake a character that nearly has exhausted his/her schtick as a starting character. That leads to bored players and bored players leads to games falling apart.

So the idea is that if you start low, you have room to improve, you will improve faster, and you will be able to game longer before you hit the top of the power curve.

The problem with this, is that probably 95% of games *don't* last as long as people think they will. How many level 1-20 games of D&D do people *really* play through? I'll be honest and say I've played in a grand total of 2 in 20 years. I've maybe played a dozen that made it to the teens, and everything else ended before level 10, most of the "serious" games ending around 7-8.

So part of this dirt merchant power level thing is the fallacy of game longevity: The longer a player/GM expects or wants the campaign to continue, the lower the starting power level, and the shorter the game actually tends to last, because player fatigue sets in after a certain amount of sessions and playing dirt merchants get boring fast.
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Whipstitch
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 4:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

It's definitely a longevity issue, since ultimately the reason writers or GMs restore the status quo by the end of an arc is so that the intrepid runners have a reason to keep taking the Fixer's phone calls in the first place. Beyond that corebooks do just as much to present the setting as entrenched as the novels do, if not moreso. Rare is the player who comes away from skimming the BBB thinking that they can reasonably expect to topple Aztechnology for good or knock Zurich Orbital right out of the sky. Scoring Muscle Replacements or becoming too hardcore for gangers to mess with isn't particularly glamorous, but it is a victory for a certain type of character, and a relatively achievable one.
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kzt
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 6:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

The difference between gutter trash and runners who "don't get out of bed for less then 25,000 nuyen" is far, far less then between a D&D 1st level and 15th level character. Very experienced runners (and players) don't break the game system like they can casually do with D&D. So I really don't get that whole style of GMing/play.
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Seerow
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 6:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

kzt wrote:
The difference between gutter trash and runners who "don't get out of bed for less then 25,000 nuyen" is far, far less then between a D&D 1st level and 15th level character. Very experienced runners (and players) don't break the game system like they can casually do with D&D. So I really don't get that whole style of GMing/play.


I'd honestly be inclined to say the power curve of E6 is higher than the power curve of either edition of Shadowrun I've played.
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Ikeren
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 6:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Despite never playing a game of Shadowrun, and never reading a Shadowrun book, I am enjoying this review so much I feel like it justifies why I'm on TGD.
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Longes
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 8:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

kzt wrote:
The difference between gutter trash and runners who "don't get out of bed for less then 25,000 nuyen" is far, far less then between a D&D 1st level and 15th level character. Very experienced runners (and players) don't break the game system like they can casually do with D&D. So I really don't get that whole style of GMing/play.


I think a lot of people imagine 400BP Shadowrun as Ocean's Eleven, and 300BP Shadowrun as GTA 3 or something, and want to have the gangsta street level game. Now, I personally can't imagine why any magician would be a gangsta homie, instead of getting a job in some corporation, but hey.
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Smirnoffico
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 3:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Limits vs Thresholds is probably my biggest beef with the whole concept. And that and orc with a sword is inferior in combat to the very same orc without a sword. Or that natural Limits have an insane calculating formula that can change during the course of a game session forcing the player to redo all the math.... Yeah, hard to name 'biggest' issue. It stinks all around.

But having a rule that gives an effect contrary to the intended is the hallmark of the edition. I tried to argue that making some implants cheaper while raising their Essence cost makes implants more expensive and actually gives players less options, because money is infinite game resource, while Essence is not. Need I to say that I got some funny looks and nothing more?
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Longes
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 3:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Smirnoffico wrote:
Limits vs Thresholds is probably my biggest beef with the whole concept. And that and orc with a sword is inferior in combat to the very same orc without a sword. Or that natural Limits have an insane calculating formula that can change during the course of a game session forcing the player to redo all the math.... Yeah, hard to name 'biggest' issue. It stinks all around.

But having a rule that gives an effect contrary to the intended is the hallmark of the edition. I tried to argue that making some implants cheaper while raising their Essence cost makes implants more expensive and actually gives players less options, because money is infinite game resource, while Essence is not. Need I to say that I got some funny looks and nothing more?


How about lower force spirits/sprites being harder to summon than higher force, because limit = force? And justification given by the devs is that "Lower Force spirits have more trouble staying in the physical world"
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Smirnoffico
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2014 4:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Longes wrote:
How about lower force spirits/sprites being harder to summon than higher force, because limit = force? And justification given by the devs is that "Lower Force spirits have more trouble staying in the physical world"

I never even got to reading magic chapter, so Frank's eventual review will be my maiden look at the rules. As far as I know, magic took some strange nerfs and buffs, the bottom line making this edition magic (namely mystic adept) run.

But yeah, if lower force spirits are indeed harder to summon, that makes no sense at all.
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