Monday, November 5, 2012

Shadowrun: First Session Review

While the session was last Wednesday (just shy of a week back when you are reading this) it is fresh in my head at the time of this writing. It being Thursday morning, the game happened last night and I want to talk about what happened and how it went. Maybe some of you will have ideas.Maybe it will help some of you. Heck, maybe it'll only leave you with questions. Either way, let's dig in.

Forming A Party
The switch to Shadowrun was done with the idea that I wanted a game where the players formed a party. Not a group of people who maybe occasionally worked together, but an actual party of adventurers - or a Shadowrun team in this case. To this end Shadowrun works as a choice because it is an older school game and that old school nature heavily pushes toward group style play as opposed to the more individual focused narrative style some more modern games push forward.

Before we even did character creation the players and I discussed what would bring the group together. They all live on the same floor of a high-density apartment complex and, like a lot of places in Shadowrun cities, it has a gang problem. the group would come together trying to evict one of the gangs from the area after some personal entanglements. One player even put forward that they were going to lose a close relative to remove their character's safety blanket and throw them out into the world. This was all discussed before hand, but it is also the subject for the first session as getting the group together is still important.

What Went Down
the apartment complex the players live in is called Honey Grove. They specifically live on the 46th of 150 floors. The gang troubling them is about 60 members large and goes by the name of "The Wasps." From play it was decided that the wasps had been chased off the 46th floor before, but now they were back and looking to make the floor part of their territory. This started when three of the wasps tried to shake down one of the PCs late at night for his wallet. The altercation quickly turned violent - and the wasps quickly learned they were underarmed as their switch blades did next to nothing thanks to the PCs ceramic laced boned - and ended with one dead wasp and only a barely injured PC.

The group - minus one player - started talking in the aftermath of the fight. They weren't happy that the wasps were back. One player checks his knowledge of the city's gangs and reveals that the leader of the wasps is a cybered up dwarf named Bomack who is known to be an asshole and have a penchant for throwing people off of balconies to their doom. The same player has a contact within Knight Errant (local police security corp) who can get them a window but that is going to cost money. Two of the players go up several levels to a rival gangs area while another two go door to door to see if the people on the 46th floor will contribute to a "assassinate the gang leader for the good of us all" plan. The fifth player - the one not in the conversation - goes to high school.

Neither fund raising plan is particularly effective, and worse yet Bomack hears about some of the plans in the interim. While the PCs are trying to figure out what to do next Bomack and 25 of his thugs come to the 46th floor, grab the at school PC's grandfather (who contributed to the kill Bomack fund) and throws him off the balcony. I made a check, asked a player if they wanted ultra traumatic or not. They opted for trauma. the result? Their character arrives on the ground floor of Honey Grove just in time to see the man who raised them take a 46 story dive and die in front of them. things escalated from there.

The other 4 PCs calm the last one from going on a rampage then and there. They pool their money, buy a fifteen minute window from the cops, gear up, and go and find Bomack. They don't go subtle. they assault Bomack's room. Even with surprise on their side the combat looks like it might go rough until the street samurai shows just how dangerous multiple initiative passes and burst fire can be in combination.

Bomack counter-ambushes from a side room with an assault rifle and grenades, but the attack doesn't do much damage to its intended target and the girl whose grandfather was just killed ends Bomack's life with a well placed burst to the dwarf's head. Three of the other players scoop up the grenades and throw them into a small room to protect themselves form the blast. Two of the players make it. One of the players critical glitches and the grenade bounces off the door frame and rolls right back to his feet. Everyone survives the blast, but sirens and alarms are going off in the building from the detection of auto-fire weaponry, grenades, and fire. the session ended with the players in Bomack's room, the rest of the wasps incoming and Knight Errant likely on its way to investigate the use of explosives.

The Verdict
 This being the first session in a new system I went mechanics heavy. I like doing it this way because it gives everyone early exposure to the rules and, in my experience, tends to help people learn the system faster as they go through the early steps of learning together and then have character specific mechanics re-enforced over time. That said, everyone had a lot of fun with the game. The old school crunch was refreshing. The system's demand that I be a bit tougher on the players led to some fun scenarios and tense moments. There was at least one moment where I could likely have killed a PC but chose not to (first session training wheels and all) but the fact that it could have happened and didn't also carried across (Bomack did a wide spread burst instead of a narrow spread burst.)

All in all, it was a very fun time and I'm looking forward to session 2 and seeing how my players get out of their predicament.


  1. I like that you don't start off as Shadowrunners.
    And yeah, multiple initiative passes are one of the best things to have in SR. I just spend a depressingly large amount of NY on my hacker for some bioware that will give him just that.

  2. Sounds like a great session! Our own SR group tends toward the done in one type adventures. I like your use of back story to start things out. For years I've tried to get our group to expand the type of SR game we play. There is so much potential for different kinds of stories but they always go back to Shadowrunning. I've always thought a ganger type campaign would be fun, or playing Doc Wagon rescue workers, or Lonestar, the possibilities are pretty huge. The closest we got to something different was a really fun set of adventures where we played Ares Corp Security. That was a lot of fun because we weren't in the shadows for once and had protocols to follow. Lot's of role playing situations as we tried to do things by the book for a change and had less concern for remaining hidden.
    Can't wait to read about your next session!

  3. The plan is definitely for them to end up as Shadowrunners, or at least a group that does jobs for money, but I wanted to introduce the world slowly and establish them in the setting. Some of the players (at least one) is already an established runner who does courier jobs. The rest are a bit newer at it. The idea is to have the world naturally happen and kind of push the group and see how they push back.

    Currently, the idea is - after they deal with the rest of the Wasps or whatever - to have money issues become a thing. Only one of them has steady income, so I am hoping to use money to start pushing them into other jobs.

    Meanwhile, I also have to (again, slowly) introduce the Matrix and magic.