Running Shadowrun Missions Events
Shadowrun Missions (SRM) allows players from all over the world to participate and mold the world around them. As such, running SRM events provides some unique challenges for the gamemaster.
Normally, adventures are designed to run during a four-hour time slot, the standard for most gaming conventions. SRM events can be run at conventions, special game days, in-store demos, or even at home. There may be times that you can run your event longer than four hours, but since this is the standard for gaming conventions, this is the targeted play length for the adventures.
If you are able to run the event in a longer time slot, please take the opportunity to expand the role playing aspects of the game, including interacting with contacts, performing legwork, and of course allowing the players to more deeply investigate what is going on, and more properly plan their shadowrun against the target. Many SRM adventures include special Pushing the Envelope sections in each Scene, which are optional extra events and roleplaying opportunities that can be ignored for time and don’t hurt the adventure, but can be added in for extra flavor and fun if you’re free of that restriction. The extra time should not be used for allowing the characters to garner more loot or cause random trouble and hijinx throughout the sprawl!
For those that have the normal time allotted, please keep the following tips in mind:
Convention Play and the Dreaded Clock
Gamemasters should be familiar with the adventure, have all handouts, NPC tracking sheets, and especially Debriefing Logs ready and be available at least 10 minutes before their slot, or as the gaming coordinator requires. When you have 4 hours (or less) it is critical to be organized.
Use of your time should break down more or less as follows:
1. When you’re all together at your assigned gaming area, have the players get out their characters and log sheets and make up a name card while you’re setting up. If the adventure relies on previous character actions, collect the log sheets for the previous adventures as required by the current adventure – make a note of the results and determine the outcome(s) for this adventure. All of this should take no more than fifteen minutes. If it can be done before the start of the actual event, so much the better.
2. Play the adventure. Because of the necessity of bookkeeping: awarding Karma, fencing/awarding equipment and handling downtime purchases, you MUST end the adventure with at least 20 minutes to spare. The only alternative is to assume that no-one buys anything or upgrades any cyberware between scenarios, to save that time block. Players won’t generally want to do that.
3. Fill out the debriefing logs and award Karma, Reputation, Money, Equipment and Faction (see below) as per scenario guidelines. Players will have to decide how much to spend on their character improvements (skills, attributes, etc.) and how much to save. This is done on the honor system so don’t feel obligated to babysit them.
4. Some players may request that you witness dice rolls for getting gear, improving skills, etc. If you have the time, you are encouraged to allow this. However, if pressed for time, gamemasters are not obligated to allow this. It is an option that is left in the gamemasters hands.
5. Sign each player’s debriefing log at the bottom after witnessing any necessary metagaming activities.
6. Some Missions may request that you file an after action report with the Shadowrun Missions Coordinator; or use the web feedback form appropriate to the adventure you’ve run.
The Mythical Game Balance
The spirit of Shadowrun Missions is that player characters should be able to survive the adventures by dint of clever play and cooperation. The opportunity to roleplay and have fun is more important than firefight victories or adventure completion. If the players only complete half the adventure but have, in your estimation, done a great job and kept well to the shadows, feel free to award them the lion’s share of the Karma. (Even if the adventure requires the completion of a major task which has been left unfinished.) At the same time, don’t shovel Karma out for no reason.
On the other hand, if the group is a bunch of unrepentant, kamikaze dough heads, feel free to nuke them, maybe letting any better individuals have a chance to run for it.
The point is that the team should have to genuinely strive, but should not be fried just because of a few lousy dice rolls.
Scenarios have a habit of growing in the telling and players can be quite ingenious at garnering extra loot, contacts and so forth. Let the quality of role-playing and ingenuity be your guide if sallying forth past scenario guidelines. Absolutely keep “extras” to a sane minimum. For example, one extra contact apiece, beyond the scenario specs.
Try to keep a consistent sense of “pseudo reality” about things like NPC reactions and law level. Heavily (and obviously) cybered people are rare; magicians/shamans are rarer still. Law enforcement will take them down, quickly and cleanly if possible. Team members are supposed to be shadowrunners, not Public Enemies numbers One through Six. Contacts can be lost as well as gained, as can any equipment.
A special feature, in Shadowrun Missions, is Faction Reputation. As PCs proceed through the adventures in Seattle, they may develop good or bad standing with several groups and organizations. These standings will affect their ability to interact with those groups, and can offer other more tangible rewards as well.
Gamemasters should award positive or negative Faction Rep changes to each character as laid out in the Mission. Runners start off with a Faction Rep of 0 with each Faction. As they perform missions for and against these Factions, they can gain positive or even negative Rep. Rep never goes above 5, and never falls below -5.
At the end of each adventure, runners will check their Rep with each Faction against the chart below. If their rep is high enough, they may obtain a favor useable one time (and one time only!) from any one contact from that Faction. Each favor can only be earned once per Faction Rep, even if the player loses Rep and then later gains enough Rep to qualify for the reward a second time. If you dip into negative Rep, there are penalties associated with that Faction as well.
In addition to the listed rewards and penalties, your current Rep acts as a dice pool modifier (positive or negative) to all social tests involving members of that Faction (In addition to the individual Loyalty of a Contact).
|Faction Rep.||Favor Gained|
|2||Item Favor – 10% discount on any single item obtained from this Faction.|
|4||Item Favor – 20% Discount on any single item obtained from this Faction.|
|5||Item Favor – 30% Discount on any single item obtained from this Faction.|
|-2||Contacts from this Faction will always charge the runner for information.|
|-3||Contacts from this Faction will no longer obtain gear for the runner, and will charge double for any information they provide.|
|-5||Contacts from this Faction will no longer provide the runner with any information.|
The campaign follows the published timeline. Therefore, it is always 65 years in the future. While the actual time of year may vary, the current game year will be the same as published material. Events that have taken place in the sourcebooks have also occurred in the campaign setting. This does not necessarily mean that the character knows everything that has gone on – as normal, one must be able to separate player knowledge from character knowledge!
Sorry if the following seems obvious, but based on some experiences we’ve had, these need (re)stating:
1. Know your basic rules and please read the adventure thoroughly. If you have questions, ask your event coordinator(at large cons) or e-mail the Shadowrun Missions Coordinator, if you have advance notice. If you are lucky enough to be at an event that has a Catalyst Demo Team Agent, then ask them.
2. Adventure hosed or took a left turn at Albuquerque? There are many alternatives to simply annihilating a team, even if they’ve had bad luck or made a couple of stupid moves. We also must remember that, due to the nature of SRM scenarios, the make-up of teams will be very different from table to table. A situation that would be an absolute cake-walk for a team with, say, 2 mages with Foci, might be much more difficult for a group without magic. Use your best judgment.
3. If you feel that you must alter something like loot or Karma awards guidelines for that adventure, to reflect excellent roleplaying or local tournament conditions (time short, etc.), please make sure that you keep to a reasonable amount. A few extra nuyen for a bonus from the Johnson is one thing – having everyone get a kilo of orichalcum is another! See Extra Cookies, above, for more information.
Where you do have a lot of flexibility is when it comes time to evaluate player plans with respect to the run. They may come up with clever ideas that simply haven’t been covered in the scenario. If so, great! If they work, they win! (Just try to keep it interesting by ad-libbing or adapting a few scenario encounters to use the slot time if it looks like you’ll end an hour early – but, if they’ve done a legitimate end-run around the danger spot, these ad-libs should not be lethal!) Never make up new ways to kill them! Try not to “wuss out” either. Be the impartial arbiter.
4. Thanks for all your efforts!
Going the “Extra Step”
If you are fortunate enough to live in an area where there are a lot of gaming conventions or gaming stores, and you find that you enjoy being a gamemaster for Shadowrun Missions, you may be interested in becoming a Catalyst Demo Team Agent. The CDT program is a chance for people that are committed to ensuring the popularity of the game system by promoting it to other gamers. Agents run events at conventions and other gaming events, in-store demos, and anywhere that they can pull new people into the game. Being an Agent comes with rewards as well. New Missions are available for free to active agents, and you can earn credit to get other Catalyst game PDFs. There are even more rewards for the most active Agents. If this sounds interesting, check out the Catalyst Demo Team program at http://www.catalaystdemos.com.
Interested in writing for the Shadowrun Missions program? Contact the a Shadowrun Missions Coordinator and he can provide you with the current Missions writers guidelines and help guide you through a submission process!