Ok my first attempt of my Shadowrun Hack has failed (I call it Shadow*World a mix of 4 different Hacks that I found…

Ok my first attempt of my Shadowrun Hack has failed (I call it Shadow*World a mix of 4 different Hacks that I found…

Ok my first attempt of my Shadowrun Hack has failed (I call it Shadow*World a mix of 4 different Hacks that I found out there and were incomplete or not correct for me, like to my working document at bottom)

It failed because of some elemental issues dealing with the players.

Player 1: He had a huge prejudice to the setting and the style of DW.  More of a tactical type system gammer rather than a narrative type.  He hates being “The Bad Guy” or playing a game where there are some gritty realities.  More of the 4 color Super Hero or Silver Age Supers games is what he likes.  “I just hate having a character bathed in the blood of innocents before being able to make a difference in the world.”  He has had many bad experiences of Shadowrun and the backstabbing and PvP nature that SR can divulge into.  It was impossible to get past that prejudice.  He also hates (as a game designer even) any game where the GM doesn’t have a turn and doesn’t roll.  So AW or DW types of games were not for him.  He also rolled a snake eyes on a contact roll, rolling Presence (his worst stat) and because the contact wouldn’t talk to him he decided then and there that he would never do legwork and deal with contacts.  He hated the Complication point system for legwork.  I tried to explain that it allows for interesting twists to happen but he seemed adamant that any time he rolled he was invited to “Screw Himself” when he got anything less than a 10.  Again, difficult to get past his iron wall of dislike of the system and setting.

Player 2: had problems with the XP system, if you failed a lot you would advance greater than others and quicker.  Also, he had problems with his concept of viewing the game, “If I fail, you automatically hit.” definitely not getting the narrative nature.  He also had roleplayed well so didn’t need to roll as often.  This was seen as being given less opportunity to fail and less xp for him.  Again, failed.

Player 3: Had bad luck, got lots of 6 and belows (racked up 6 xp in one session).  He also had problems with the narrative nature of the system.  Big SR fan but with poor dice luck and not role playing much, it was a combo for failure. 

All Players didn’t get the resolving Bonds situation for more XP.

Player 4: Was Passive and tried and was willing to give it a further go but didn’t want to rock the boat. Could have continued but was destracted by work (has a at the computer job that pulled her away from full concentration of the game. Very new to the SR setting.

Player 5: new character that game, was not very enthused on playing but went with it.  Could have continued.

All in All, a failure.  This in part is my fault on not portraying stuff enough, relying too much on the system for rolls and not describing the system enough, accidentally allowing the players to see a lot of stuff that I was working with.  A failure on the Players part in inflexibility for the system or setting or combinations.

So over all failure.  I try again with a different group on Thursday 7/7.  Hope that they get it.  Any recommendations on portraying the nature of AW/DW systems?  I am tempted to not explain Moves to them after an example and just let them role play, figuring out the rules mostly myself.



Character Sheets:



19 thoughts on “Ok my first attempt of my Shadowrun Hack has failed (I call it Shadow*World a mix of 4 different Hacks that I found…”

  1. Matrix Forby As disheartening as the experience was, I wouldn’t frame it as a failure. You’ve gained crucial experience in game design generally and in the project specifically.

    You can skip explaining moves explicitly, if you think that would be useful, as they aren’t that hard a concept to get in play but I wouldn’t avoid it as how moves are used is one of the key mechanics of how PbtA games work. More importantly, though, I would make sure that everyone you’re going to play with is interested in playing a PbtA-style game. I’ve had your experiences exactly with my own RP group with DW, still ongoing, because of their mindset. With another group that I met through the Gauntlet Community, I’ve had an entirely opposite experience.

    What I feel it comes down to is a difference of opinion on one particular aspect of PbtA games, namely that failure is interesting. If you’re devoted to the characters and the story, 6-, 7-9, and 10+ are all equivalent, because they all expand the story and make the character’s lives interesting. Yes, even the most narrative-driven player would like their character to be awesome more often than not, but if a player is rejecting the “failure is interesting” ideology from the outset, they won’t have fun with the PbtA playworld.

    I think it would be good to start with a discussion of that with your group before anything else because everything else stems from that idea. I don’t know how you run the games at the table, but you might want to give the players more agency in narrating their failures (if they want to) so that they can make their characters shine in both up and down moments.

  2. Ari Black Yes, I have heard that allowing the player to define and narrate the 7-9 or even the 6- results.  I may try it.  The new group is a group of old school gamers.  D&D, but mostly Storyteller systems such as Aberrant, Trinity, and other games of the White Wolf Flavor have been played. Beings that it is a storyteller system that many are comfortable with should be good.  I am thinking that the first few times asking them: Ok, so 7-9 result, you succeeded but with some complications or twists, what are they, what happened?  And giving them a bit of a head in telling ME what when wrong.  I don’t know if I should do a few the normal way to give some examples or not.  But you are right, I did learn from the other group.  Perhaps, I should not explain the concept of the Move and just jump into playing once they have their characters.  I have the first session blocked out as character creation and intro to the rules through the first scenario in the Shadowrun 1st ed book: Food Fight.  The plot is simple.  They go into a Stuffer Shack (think Wal-mart meets 7-11) and some gangers decide to rob it and the people.  They can’t get money because of the concept that everyone has credit, no physical, un-tagged money is exchanged.  But I added some to the scenario by having a little proto-decker turn off the cameras at the start, then it’s violent mayhem with the gangers killing and taking hostilities and robing, almost in a “Natural Born Killers” style.  That’s it.  High Combat, a possibility of decking, a possibility of rescue of a different gang member to get as a contact later.  Possibility to escape with out cop intervention, and possibility for a chase scene if their is a Rigger.  Don’t have much Magic but I do have an “Angel” watching that I could set up as a “Charlie’s Angels” type of watcher to help later.  So, lots of room in the scene, if they want it.  That as a jump start before an actual run.  It should be a good quick scene that would last about 1 hour at most.

  3. Sounds like Player #1 wants a different game system and a different game setting. Maybe you should not include him in this game. I have a friend that dislikes board games. He doesn’t play on board game nights, but does play on other nights.

  4. Matrix Forby I’d put it in their hands and see what they do with it. If they seem to be hesitating, ask them if they want some options or for you to do it this time so they can see what it’s like. Some will get it out of the gate, others will need some scaffolding, others won’t want to do it at all or only sometimes. I’ve had players who couldn’t come up with a result on a 12+, so I asked them if they wanted me to spin it up for them. The point is for everyone to be having fun and feeling like their character’s story is interesting, whether they’re on the up or down.

  5. Steven Warble Yup, in the future if I run for him, it will be the super good guys is the stuff that he likes.  Sort of like the 80s superhero cartoons or Silver Age Supers, or even Pulp Good Guys.  He can’t stand being a bad guy or not being the really good guy and having things like “Reality” crash in his face.  A bit two dimensional but I know how to approach him now.  Even Aberrant would be a terrible world for him.  His theory is “I use Rpgs as an escape from mundane-ity and harsh reality, why would I want to put up with it in a game”, While I see his point, The Challenges are much lower and there is less room for a more in depth roleplaying experience.

  6. Also, keep in mind that a 6- isn’t a failure. It just means that you as the GM get to make a move. I will often let the player successfully do what they intended on a 6- (especially if I feel that the table morale is low) but at a cost (depends on the move I take)

  7. Ari Black Yes, I was thinking that this is a great approach.  I will have newbies to the system, kid gloves and getting them with the concepts is good.

    Paul Sheppard Hmm, interesting Idea.  I like it.  I may just narrate the 6- a time or two as a success but then make a Move that could be really bad. Such as a Firefight: Yes you shot him, he shot you and… then ask the player on what is the worst or what else bad could happen.  Or ask some of the other players what could happen.  Now that I touch on it, For those players that need a scaffold (as Ari Black suggested) have the other players come up with the options if the origional player can’t.  The more you can get ALL the players involved the better.  Less work for me, get’s them all thinking about the fiction.  I have some great plans now.  Thanks.

  8. Matrix Forby Please do come back and let us know how it goes. I’m a big fan of the SR setting, so I’m eager for this hack to live.

  9. Sure, It will be Friday at earliest that I can report on it.  I like the concept of a Narrative Shadowrun.  Please feel free to look over my document and let me know if I went over complicated or if it is incomplete.  I tried to be complete in it.  Many of the other SR Hacks couldn’t answer all my questions and didn’t have the right feel.  Most of it is from The Sixth World Hack. (Simple Edition, 2.0, Accelerated, and version 26).  I did make 6 stats and more along the lines of the origonal ones from SR using Karma as XP, I did put Edge in but may take it out.  I am also considering on not having Mages/Shamans spend Essence to cast but if it is a Sustained spell to Hold the Essence instead in the manor of a Spirit for a Shaman.  Get it back when spell is complete.  The Foci stuff kind of confuses me.

  10. Matrix Forby Look at the DW book again, it never says a 6- is a failure. From the DW SRD “Most moves won’t say what happens on a 6-, that’s up to the GM but you also always mark XP.” I almost never say a 6- fails completely (maybe in combat I might if the group is steam rolling the opponents). Just make an appropriate GM move that fits the fiction

  11. Paul Sheppard That’s a nuance I hadn’t noticed. Not sure where I picked up the 6- = failure idea. Thanks for bringing it up.

  12. Paul Sheppard Yes, now that I think on it, I agree.  It is not a Failure but a chance for me to make things very interesting and do more.  Thanks for the advice.

  13. I understand that Chris Shorb but I do have a better chance with this crew.  Compared to other games at the time it encouraged improvisation of the story-line and encouraged a coherent story beyond running modules (pre-written adventures) and encouraged a greater level of creativity.  It was the closest thing to a Narrative game of it’s era.  It also encouraged role playing for the sake of role playing and story.  It was a game that transcended XP and was about more that the murder-hobo scene of D&D.

  14. Matrix Forby Fair enough. Sounds like you are going in with eyes open. That said, before you go hog-wild with the editing pen to what you’ve already created, my hope for you is you take your game and run it for a group of folks who love PbtA games. Just like Ari Black said in their first response.

    If I ever get some time, I’ll review your docs – I love the SR setting. And love the PbtA rules. So I would be your ideal playtester 🙂

    I wonder, it sounds like you are using the DW experience rules (failure = XP). Have you thought about other advancement possibilities, like AW’s original advancement rules (highlighting stats)? This might also scratch your superhero-loving player’s itch around “being awesome”.

  15. Chris Shorb Well, it was the Player#1’s desire for the Super Hero stuff.  Horror is my least favorite genre and then Superhero.  I like it well enough but I am more of a Sci-Fi/Fantasy person.  Hence, Shadowrun.  Now if I could get a game built around some of the other books that I like it would be great: Firefly (I know a setting already there but it would be interesting to have the PbtA treatment to it), Ann McCaferee’s Crystal Singer series (Big Sci-Fi world there with the B&B ships), the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs for modern fantasy, I also liked the Dresdin Files and have the RPG on that, based on Fate system, and a few others.

    I would like to see the Shadow*World playtested a bit.  If you want to GM it, go for it and let me know how it goes.  As I said, plan on trying it as it, it is cobbled together from other works, first by running some of the old adventures.  A bunch of modification to those adventures would be needed but the basic structure should be good.  They don’t make adventures like that anymore, so good with content and a great plot line.

  16. Ok, I have characters now.  Unfortunately we did not get into playing, we ran out of time.  I thought that character creation would be quicker but the players had a lot of questions, even though I didn’t go over the Moves or rules.  I touched on some stuff but emphasized that it is the Role Play that matters most.  My next game is in 2 weeks.

  17. Oh, the Shadowrun characters that I have are: The characters that I have: A Human Street Samurai, A pair of twins, One Goblinized into an Ork, the other is an Elf.  The Ork is a Scholarly Mage, the Elf is an Owl Shaman.  I have also a Human Decker and an Ork Adept.  The Ork Adept was globalized as a baby and abandoned in the woods (Salish-Shide) and then raised among the Native Americans as a Native American. 

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