Category Archives: Advice

Actual Play Report: Shadowrun Anarchy

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Yesterday I ran Shadowrun Anarchy for my friends. Six of my “Stargazer’s Irregulars” showed up at 2 pm and after chatting, making jokes, and putting way too much snacks on the table we started playing.

Since not everyone at the table has played Shadowrun before I gave them an introduction into the setting and then they chose their characters from the pool of thirty pregens included in the book. Having thirty pregenerated characters is actually a boon and a curse at the same time. It took quite some time until everyone was comfortable with his or her choice.

In the end they picked Gentry (a human combat decker), Sledge (an ork street samurai), Kix (an elf razorgirl), Razzle Dazzle (an ork illusionist), Thunder (a human vigilante), and Wagon (a human combat medic). We decided that the characters already know each other and have already worked together.

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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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Fixing XXVc

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First things first: XXVc is not necessarily a broken system. I am sure there are GMs and players who are perfectly fine with the system. But for me and my group it doesn’t really work that well.

I also have to admit that I was in a pretty bad mood in the last few days. My old friend the black dog (aka depression) came for a visit and definitely overstayed its welcome. After a good night’s sleep things look already way better and I am more open to find solutions instead of throwing everything out.

I also want to thank everyone who posted their comments, advice, and ideas on Google+, Facebook, and here on the blog. Your comments really helped to put things into a perspective and gave me a shove into the proper direction. I want to send out special thanks to Joseph Wolf who basically came up with the solution I might be using.

So, here’s what I want to do:

  • Out with the skill system
    Undoubtedly XXVc skill system has its issues. Several people have recommended replacing it by Peryton’s system for attribute checks and knacks.

    This system is actually pretty close to what D&D 4e and 5e used (when I am not mistaken). To make a successful check your roll plus an ability score modifier plus your level divided by three must be equal or higher than a difficulty number set by the GM. Knacks are skills you have some talent for. When you have a knack for something, you use your whole level as modifier, not just one third.

    You also don’t write down all possible skills, but only the ones you have a knack in. That is simple, should work well enough and is easily implemented. Instead of using XXVc’s skill list I will probably resort to more broad categories. The Rocketjock will probably get a knack for Piloting, the Medic a knack for Medicine etc.

  • Action points
    The game’s lethality is an issue. Not only does it frustrate my group, it also doesn’t fit the game’s theme. Action points could alleviate this problem. Each player character starts the game with a number of action points they can use to make re-rolls, avoid damage, max out damage, etc.

  • Faster Healing
    Healing in XXVc is a big issue. Joseph recommended borrowing a rule from Barbarians of Lemuria which let’s the characters heal half of the HP lost in the last combat when resting. I will also have to come up with new healing abilities compatible with the Peryton skill system.

    OR I could grant the Medic class a kind of “spell-like ability” which allows them to heal without making any kind of roll. On 1st level they start with Cure Light Wounds and on higher levels they get access to better healing abilities. The Medicine knack can then be used for things like First Aid, Diagnosis, Medicine-related knowledge checks, etc.

  • Adding more technological gadgets
    There are a lot of things missing from the game. As I wrote in my last post, there should be magnetic boots which help with failed “Maneuver in Zero-G” checks, some kind of “healing potion”, and other technological wonders which help to make the game more futuristic and which make things easier for everyone at the game table. I also want to implement some kind of artifact equipment (like special weapons and armor) to spice things up a bit. In the coming weeks I will then add more stuff as needed. If the players think they need it, and if I think it fits the setting, I’ll add it in.

This sounds like a lot of work, but actually it shouldn’t be that bad. I’ll present these fixes to my players tonight. I am really glad that I was able to wrestle down the dreaded black dog, come up with some possible solutions for my problems (with your help) and move things forward instead of giving up! Thanks again!