Friday, May 7, 2010

Shadowrun, etc.

As I mentioned before, I started a Shadowrun game with my friend Ross and a group of perverts a couple of weeks ago. I was delighted at how much they enjoyed the session, considering how lost I was with the rules. I've been playing d20 system games for the last 10 years and can almost do them in my sleep. Shadowrun is a very different system, but much more realistic for gunfights, and the use of magic in the game is similar to how sorcery is used in my books.

The only part we seemed to get hung on was the computer hacking, which is complicated. It's not really that much more complicated than any other part of the game, but if that isn't where your interest lies in playing then it really isn't that exciting. The hacking rules are ambiguous in places. For example: since everything is wireless, individuals with commlinks (sort of like an iPhone or Blackberry that can do everything) are like walking network hubs. So, in theory, you can hack their network and spoof their gear. However, the rules don't really explain how to spoof something that doesn't have a pilot score, like a program or a drone. I use the device's system or firewall? If so, then why not just hack it and take complete control of the system rather than spoof and make it do one thing? Spoofing is supposed to be easier than hacking because you aren't taking over a system, just making it think it's received a command from the master system. Whatever...I know none of that makes any sense to non-Shadowrun players, but the answer is found in a supplemental book called Unwired, which gives the pilot and firewall scores for various spoofable things...

So, I lucked out and the guy who was playing a hacker decided he was as annoyed with the hacking rules as me, so he's not going to play a hacker anymore. This means I don't have to make up hacking elements, and when I do include them they can be handled by the players phoning a non-player-character for help: "Yo, Jim? This is Al! Can you hack this security system and make the cameras go dark? Thanks!" and so on. This allows me to focus on the more exciting (for us) portions of the game: shooting things with bullets, grenades and magic. Also, one of the guys has a katana. Another guy is a cybernetic-troll with a grenade-launcher built in his arm. Then we've got a bounty-hunter who dresses like a cowboy and a voodoo-style wizard. The guy playing the hacker is changing over to a vampire-hunter priest and the katana-wielder is also an ork with a machine-gun. I made a try-out character for a new player joining this week: a dwarf infiltration/stealth specialist. For combat, this is a pretty well-rounded group of shadowrunners.

I'm getting into the Shadowrun system because I want to use it when I make a role-playing-game based on my books. Of course I'll have to contact the company that makes Shadowrun and get their permission, and make a few changes--but the Shadowrun system seems a better fit for my world than d20, especially if players are going to want to play dragons. Yes, you'd be able to play a dragon, but he'd have to be very young, like a hatchling. Note that is still pretty powerful. And there would probably be a rule where you couldn't have more than one dragon per group, otherwise you'd wind up with a group full of baby dragons. Note that even a baby dragon is as smart (or smarter) than most humans, and can assume an adult human form. So, they are more than powerful enough.

At some point I'll contact Catalyst Game Labs about this. Right now it's just in the formative stage. I'd probably want to wait until at least one of my books was picked up before I started thinking about things like role-playing games based on it. Long before that happens, I'll have play-tested it with several of the aforementioned collection of freaks. 

And finally...I am buying a laser printer. I've wanted one for a while, but have now realized I can't do without it. If I print my book on an inkjet, it takes forever and uses up half a cartridge just for one printout of the book...even on low-ink draft setting. The money I'm spending on these cartridges could go for a decent, monochrome laser printer capable of printing on both sides of the page. This will allow me to print working copies of things for my agent, editors, beta readers and my own use. I'll let everyone know which kind I bought after I get it set up and printing.

More news on publication as it develops!