My Thoughts on Shadowrun: Anarchy

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Shadowrun: Anarchy is the game I have been waiting for since I first played Shadowrun 1st Edition back in the 1990s. Anarchy is an alternate ruleset for 5th Edition Shadowrun which allows a more streamlined, narrativist approach to the fantasy cyberpunk game. By the way, this is not supposed to be a review. It’s just me sharing my thoughts with a bit of praise and some ranting thrown in for good measure. You have been warned!

Even though the rules have a certain Shadowrun feel to them, Anarchy uses a totally different ruleset based on Catalyst Game Labs’ Cue System. You still roll buckets of six-sided dice and all the Shadowrun tropes are still around, but things have been simplified a lot.

194759-thumb140Everything which makes your character special like spells, cyberware, cyberdecks, etc. are now called Shadow Amps. Characters have only a few skills and just a handful of weapons. Gone are the days where you tracked dozens of various implants, or when you had to keep track of multiple kinds of ammunition. Even money is gone. Mr. Johnson pays you in Karma. Yes, that’s no joke. Armor now works like additional hitpoints. If you are a hardcore Shadowrun nerd who thrives on all the teeny tiny details, you might not enjoy Anarchy. But if you prefer rules-light games, you should give Anarchy a chance.

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Some Ramblings on the OSR, RIFTS, and more

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A couple of years back the OSR was a mystery to me. For me it was strange that people put so much work and effort into reviving such an old game as the original editions of D&D. Back then I was burned out on all things d20 System, and the only old edition of D&D I knew was AD&D 2nd Edition, which I didn’t really like.

Then I started looking into what the OSR actually stands for. I checked out games like Swords & Wizardry, White Box, Lamentations of the Flame Princess and I started to realize that the original D&D was a very different beast from a game like AD&D. Over the years I learned to appreciate the simple elegance of such games. Nowadays a lot of the games I am excited about are actually part of the OSR.

I also admire the creativity in the old-school scene. I am regularly amazed what awesome things you can create using a mechanical base about as old as myself. White Box (especially the version by Seattle Hill Games) has become my go-to game. Whenever I need to run a game without any prep, I can just pull the digest-sized book out of my bag and start running. I am really glad I eventually overcame my reservations for all things OSR.

Recently I had another look at RIFTS, a game which I had a weird love-hate relationship to. On the one hand I love the setting and I have very fond memories of the time when I played in a RIFTS campaign. On the other hand I always hated the rules. I found them confusing, I felt the system had way too many fiddly bits. For years I was looking for alternative rulesets to replace the dreaded Palladium System.

While I was pondering the idea of using one of the OSR games I learned to love over the past few years to run a RIFTS game, people actually reminded me that RIFTS was actually a D&D-based itself. The Palladium System was probably the first successful “heartbreaker”. It’s basically a set of house rules for D&D (or AD&D if I am not mistaken) that were turned into a new game.

So I gave RIFTS another read. While rereading the Ultimate Edition of the core rules I realized that RIFTS doesn’t actually have that many rules as I remembered. Basically it’s a pretty simple game and the fiddly bits (like thousands of small modifiers during combat etc.) can easily be handled by good book keeping. And in the heat of the moment hand waving a few things might work as well.

The rules in RIFTS are also meant as guidelines, you don’t need to follow slavishly. Use what you need and disregard the rest. Make up rulings if needed, and keep the game flowing. I guess this might actually be quite playable if you approach it like the OSR games I mentioned before. My mistake in the past was that I approached it like a more modern game, which it definitely isn’t.

The layout is still pretty pedestrian, the organization of most books is still confusing, but the mechanics aren’t actually that bad if you take the right approach. You just need to play it fast and loose, instead of worrying about the rules too much. But I guess I’ll know more after actually running it again.

Last but not least I want to talk about my ongoing quest to run a SF campaign. For basically forever I tried to come up with an awesome SF campaign which I could run for my friends. I think I already found the perfect system which I can use, but the hard part is making up my mind what kind of setting I actually want. Should it be near future, or rather far future? Is there FTL or is humanity restricted to just one solar system? Should I use our own stellar backyard or come up with stars of my own design? Hard science or space opera. The problem is that I love all the options and I have a hard time deciding what to use and what to throw out. Since a lot of options are mutually exclusive I can’t have both…

Normally I would ask my friends first, to find out what they would like best, BUT this time I decided to take a different approach. I want a setting I am happy with first and foremost and then find players interested in playing in this universe. Over the last years I too often tried to please everyone, which lead to campaigns I was not fully invested in. I don’t want to repeat this with my SF game. Do you guys have any advice how to solve that issue?

So, that were my ramblings for today. We’ll get back to our regular programme next week. Stay tuned. Zwinkerndes Smiley

My Gamer ADD is again in Full Swing

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At the moment thousands of ideas are rushing through my head. I am looking at various roleplaying games at the same time, think about converting others, look into what’s coming up in the next few months, while not doing anything productive. Every time I start to work on a project, I see something new which grabs my attention.

With so many options available to us nowadays it’s often hard to concentrate on one thing. I own countless roleplaying games, settings, adventures, and other gaming material. Every day I have new ideas what Story/setting from another media I would love to turn into a roleplaying game. On the one thing, this constant stream of ideas and cool things to look at is great, but sometimes it keeps me from actually making decisions and/or stick to a campaign once I actually started running it.

Currently I am looking for what to run in the next months. My weekly group had some problems recently. One player left, while there was some kind of row between two others. At the time we had just talked about the changes I wanted to implement into our Buck Rogers game. Since then we haven’t actually picked the campaign up again, and I am not sure if I really want to. The last session where we actually played was not a lot of fun, and I have the feeling I ran things into ground. So I am looking for something new and exciting for 2017.

RIFTS is – as you may have noticed – high up on my list of contenders. It’s over-the-top, wacky, weird and can be tremendous fun – a perfect fit, for my friends. I am also pretty sure my wife will love the fact that RIFTS allows you to play dragons. Zwinkerndes Smiley

The Unexplained is another very interesting game, although I am not sure if it is suited for a long-term campaign. But I am sure it would work great for a smaller campaign or just one-shots. Running a haunted house scenario for example is always a blast.

I recently had a second look at Sine Nomine Publishing’s Godbound and it’s an awesome read. It sound a bit like like an OSR Exalted, which is brilliant. Currently I am waiting for the hardcover version I ordered to arrive.

My game on New Year’s Eve inspired by Darkest Dungeons was a great success and for a while I was tempted to make some plans for a more long-term Darkest Dungeon game. For my New Year’s Eve game I used pregenerated characters based on White Box with some house-rules. For a more long-term campaign I would probably switch to Fantastic Heroes & Witchery, since this is one of the more generic OSR games I am currently enamoured with.

And then there’s my project to create a Fallout pen & paper roleplaying game based on a heavily simplified SPECIAL system, which are the mechanics used in the computer games. I actually even created a pretty badass character sheet, but most of the rules haven’t been written down yet. After reading The Unexplained I am also tempted to work on Fallout Fudged again. Unfortunately I lost a lot of the material I created for it due to a HDD crash, but some of it is still on my Obsidian Portal site.

And don’t get me started on my on-going quest to run a Traveller-style game using either Mongoose Traveller 1st Edition or the Cepheus Engine. Unfortunately I can’t decide whether I want to use the Third Imperium setting, something of my own design, or one of the third party settings available.

As you can see, I my plans and ideas are all over the place again. In a way it feels good, since I’ve had long periods during which my excitement for roleplaying games was definitely dampened. On the other hand I have a hard time making up my mind, and just as I find something interesting, the next shiny thing comes along. Smiley mit geöffnetem Mund

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