Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Shadowrun: Anarchy (Characters Drive Stories)

Shadowrun Anarchy is loose on the streets and it is a completely new way of looking at how the Shadowrun Universe can be interacted with.  Stories are the driving force behind this new way of looking at Shadowrun, and i’ve long maintained that Characters drive stories.  Let’s take a look at some of the character ideas for Shadowrun, (we’ll compare them to Shadowrun 5th edition and yes, i’ll cover Shadowrun’s character creation system at some point)

For the longest time (and i started playing Shadowrun in 1989, as a wee lad with kool-aid and cheetos) i have thought that Shadowrun has one of the coolest universes to play in.  You’ve got loads of options and ideas on how to build your character, and each edition has changed some things up, but a feeling i kept getting was “I could make this character this way, but he’s not as good as building him using this other method.”  I had a ton of interesting concepts and ideas, but ended up shelving them because the mechanics of character creation didn’t mesh with my vision of what i wanted to play.  So i ended up playing something else instead.  We still ended up having a good time and played Shadowrun, but i felt like i missed something.  

From the other side of that perspective, as a GM i’ve had a lot of cool thoughts and ideas that ran through my head, but i looked at the mechanics of the game, and i decided that i couldn’t make it work.  Either the premise was way too loud for a Shadowrun (Pink Mohawks blended in by comparison), or the challenge was serious enough that even the minimum application was lethal (You know what else starts with L? Lowfyr).  There were tons of stories that felt like they could be in the Shadowrun Universe, but i couldn’t get the mechanics to fit.  

Anarchy takes a hard look at reshaping and restructuring the way the rules work to make the story the focus, and the mechanics are intended to support that story structure.  It’s novel enough that i am curious to play it, and see how it feels. From a broad concept, Shadowrun has two mishmashing story elements that have to be addressed.  The first of these is Cyberpunk, and the second is Magic.  

Cyberpunk is an interesting juxtaposition of science fiction.  Take interesting levels of science fiction technology, like cybernetics, advanced artificial intelligences, and Frickin’ Lasers and mash them up with a social order that is built on a pyramid where 99.9% of the population is at the bad end of the pyramid.  High Tech mixes with extremely deplorable conditions and the resulting dystopia creates crime, squalor, and a dog eat dog struggle to survive for nearly every possible person in the universe.  

Add Magic to this dynamic, and now it’s a party.  In the Shadowrun Universe, Magic is a result of a realignment of the world that has seen magic surge back into our world from wherever it was hiding before now.  Dragons roam the skies (and board rooms) while mythical creatures roam about a modern world.  Elves, Dwarves, Orcs and Trolls have all risen out of the human genetic code, and magic is a real, tangible force that can summon spirits, spy on your neighbors, or put holes in those kids down the block that won’t turn their stereo down.

Into this wild, we can unleash characters that fulfill a myriad of social, technical, magical, and brutal operational needs.  Anarchy basically gives you the keys to the castle and says go play, have fun.  We’ll take a closer look at actually building a character for Anarchy next time, but i have to admit for the first time in a while, i’m looking forward to building a character and not needing a workpad for money, cyberwear, and the other subsystems for Shadowrun 5th Edition.  
I like SR5, don’t get me wrong, but i want to try this out and see how it works.

Game on, Game Fans, we’ll see you tomorrow :)

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