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Forums » RP Discussion » Only Flesh and Steel: Shadowrun without magic

This discussion might annoy people a lot, but hopefully in a fun, productive way! Also I hope it belongs here? If not, staff, lemme know and I'll make it wherever is better.

So, first, to deal with the obvious answer of "Play Cyberpunk 2020/Red," thank you, I'm glad other people wanna support those games! I do too! I bought all the books for 2020 on DrivethruRPG!

Problem and reasoning for making this: I just... feel like it doesn't do some stuff as well as, or is missing some things I really liked from, SR5: Rigging is fantastic and drones are way more valuable without spirits; edge (5e, not 6e) is a cool tool for cinematic moments; qualities, the priority table, not needing classes, and the implementation of skills feel nice; and the scientist/stats nerd in me really likes that dice pools give a normal distribution, meaning that more skill doesn't just mean better, but more consistent

The nice thing about this strategy is that we're taking stuff out rather than adding stuff in. No creating rules and balancing, just ignoring some stuff and working around it.

Okay, next question I'm expecting: "So... what do you need help with?"

Or if you know you're probably just saying "So you need help figuring out how to tweak the priority table, don't you?" and you would be 100% right.

First though, for people who aren't Shadowrun players and don't know about the priority table, a quick summary:

The priority table is the second step of character creation after you come up with a concept at 3am. It has five columns: Atributes (stats), Skills (everything from sneaking to bluffing to combat stuff), Magic (and technomancy), Metatype (subspecies, human, elf, dwarf, orc, troll), and resources (Money). It also has five rows, A, B, C, D, E. You take the stuff from row A in one column, row B in a second column, row C in a third, row D in a fourth, and row E in the last one. It lets you make diverse builds without needing a giant roster of classes and keeps things mostly balanced.

So, we have two things to deal with: Magic, which we explicitly don't wanna use here, and Metatype.

For those who don't know, Metatype priority also gives "special attribute points" which are used for edge (your luck stat) and magic. I have a thought on using that but we'll get there. For now let's assume we're keeping Metatype and I'll explain the first problem.

So, dropping magic: suddenly we have more rows than comumns, which isn't great. If you can go A B C D, nobody will ever put something in E. So what do we drop? This is where the discussion part comes in.

I have three thoughts: Do drop E and just say "everyone take magic E," which is probably simplest; Drop A, since we don't need as much power without magic and can balance encounters fine accordingly; Drop C, making more of a divide in what you're good at and not, keeping those high points and dump stats. Feedback and other options welcome! I know rebuilding the priority table is an option but the point of this odea is avoiding that kind of heavy surgery and homebrewing.

If we were to drop Metatype it might be easier because we could use a happy "BCD" medium and say "Prime Runner builds are ABC, street level is CDE," but edge is a stat and I think it's a good storytelling tool for the players, so I wanma keep it.

So what if, since we don't have magic, Essence were a special attribute?

For those who don't know, Essence is your general life force, it dictates your magic (partially) and with 0 essence you die. Cyberware decreases your essence (and by extension magic), controlling how hard you can chrome up and not making everyone need to be a robot wizard. Normally it starts at 6 for everyone.

Here we don't have magic, but maybe some people have more cybercompatibility than others, and so have a higher functional essence. I think it would be interesting, especially since it's controlled at creation by how much tech you can afford, and would love feedback! Also, Shadowrunners, lemme know if initiating for more open essence seems sane, and non Shadowrunners I can explain that later but this post is already stupidly big

That's most of the thoughts! If anyone has other ideas to add or questions to ask, feel free!

And I wanna hear from you hardcore Cyberpunk TTRPG players, too, you guys probably have some real smart ideas I haven't come up with. Also I'm sorry, I wish I liked your game system more, but you're still massively better than SR6.
Avitrathephoenix Topic Starter

This is.... Longer than I thought. Sorry about the enormous text wall! If you read it, though you deserve a cookie. <3 u!
Claine Moderator

To be honest, I don't think it really matters which route you take, and it probably is highly reliant on what kind of experiance you want to give your players. ABCD would probably allow for the group to sweep through most combat situations, and you'd need to throw more robots or larger groups at them. This would allow for the party to feel powerful and highly specialised. Whereas BCDE would probably be better suited for similliary sized groups or force the party to take a more strategic approach (force them to scope out situations, get the jump, rather than go in guns -a-blazing).

I think that by removing magic, I would not be surprised if riggers became the dominant powerhouse of the game. Even in the core game, they're crazy good and now they couldn't be countered with a well-placed physical wall, or electric magic. If you have party members thinking of going rigger, by going BCDE would greatly limit their ability to buy robots. Which again may/may not be the experiance you're going for.
Avitrathephoenix Topic Starter

Admittedly I'm less planning on running a game and more playing with concepts, so I don't have specific plans or players in mind, but these are solid general points! Also, sorry for being slow to respond, have been a very busy bird. @v@

I think what you're basically saying is "BCDE" for standard-ish play and "ABCD" for Prime Runner, which makes a tonne of sense to me!

Riggers are strong, but I... think it will put more value on combat deckers? Could be wrong, or some numbers might need tweaking, but like you said BCDE probably helps the balance.

I like your thinking and appreciate your feedback!

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