It’s no secret I love roleplaying games and IDGAF who knows. Dungeons and Dragons, Vampire, Coriolis, Conan, Cthulhu, fuckin’ name it. I’ve played it and love it. I don’t think there’s ever been an RPG I didn’t enjoy in one form or another. The exception to this is Shadowrun because it’s an unwieldy monster that demands a lot of patience from its participants and that’s a big ask nowadays. It’s one thing to say “Let’s play Star Wars the Role-Playing Game!” and quite another to say, “Let’s play Shadowrun!”
If I say to you come over and let’s play Star Wars, you know immediately what you’re getting yourself into. Shadowrun I have to explain. Tick tock. As a game system, independent of it’s inventive setting, it suffered from a lot of player downtime, which is just not cool once you have kids and every minute of your day counts. Player down-time should be anathema to designers. Respect your audience’s time.
Understand: Shadowrun is my favorite setting of the bunch. It’s The Matrix mixed with Lord of the Rings and some other cool shit. Setting-wise Shadowrun should already be into its second trilogy of Keanu-headlined feature films. (Luckily he’s going to be in CDProjekt Red’s Cyberpunk 2077 but we’ll get to that, my sweets.) Beautiful, immersive, introspective games about love and loss should already have BAFTAs behind them. Done right, it’s fertile territory. (Several Shadowrun computer games do exist and they’re terrific and I strongly encourage you to play them, especially Dragonfall because yes the game has dragons in it.)
My point is just read the fluff because it’s usually pretty cool. Let me know when you’re all caught up….
The Matrix is a cornerstone of the game’s system and setting. Hackers plug their heads into computers and their consciousness gets transferred into a digital world. From there they can cause all kinds of mischief like stealing other people’s cash-moneys (called nuyen), deleting files, forging documents, and so on. With me so far? These files are sometimes protected, and I don’t mean with passwords and shit, I mean with fuckin’ force. Intrusion Countermeasures, colloquially known as “ICe”, are ready to hunt down your digital self and absolutely devour you. Some ICe is so powerful it can keep you from jacking out and kill you from inside. Black ICe is not your friend.
Not every server’s going to have ICe that can kill you, but many definitely have ICe that can make you lose your connection in a hurry. That may not sound like a big deal but I assure you it is. It’s not like you and I picking up a cell phone and hitting a button to call someone. You’re willingly putting your consciousness into an artificial system and trusting your fate to circuits and their component electrons. You digitized your mind.
That change isn’t instantaneous, though. The computers do a little ba-da-beeb ba-da-boop and it changes you back and forth effortlessly when done properly. Buuuuuuuut if something interrupts your connection and you’re mind is still digitized before being dumped back into your meatbody well that’s gonna suck, chummer. You’re going to be disoriented for a little while while. Your mind’s going to have to put itself back together and that’s gonna feel awful. You’re definitely of very little use to those around you while you shake it off.
The game’s term for this is Dumpshock.
Right now I am experiencing flashbacks to an earlier time in my life when there was physical and mental violence aplenty. They come like cats but stay like tigers. Absolutely bring me to my knees.
The closest word I can think of to describe it is Dumpshock.
So. Now you know how to play Shadowrun.
See you in the Shadows, choobs.
To be continued…