I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving, or at the very least, a great weekend. As I mentioned in an earlier post I ran my first Shadowrun 5th Edition game this past Friday. I had planned to run a four player street-level game. I had developed a run that should have been a challenge, while highlighting a number of the mechanics in the game.
Once I arrived and got the session started I ran into the first of a number of hurdles. My forth player was a no-show. He'd been called into work, and wouldn't be able to make it to the game. This meant that my group was going to be down either their mage, or their primary combat character. Figuring it would be easier to work around the lack of the gun fighter I handed out the three pre-generated characters, explained the basics of the game including skill tests, limits, and opposed tests, as well as covering some of the language I would be using in game, and we got started.
As this was both a one-shot, and a new group, I kept things informal, allowing table chat, and questions as they came up. If this was a more serious group I'd have kept the cross chat to a minimum but I found that in this case it helped move things along as the one experienced player could field questions as they arose, freeing me to ad-lib a less dangerous version of the run.
We began with the meet. I went with my usual method when I have a new group, each player gets a call from their fixer, or other main contact. On the call they were told that a job was in the works, but the timeline was short and they needed to get to the '12 Stone Steps' I cut out a lot of the pre-meet work that I had planned. I let the players wander around the Tacoma waterfront, described the environment, and the police presence. I had made it clear to the players that they would need to play nice with police, and all three of my players took it to heart and showed up to the meet with small arms, under jackets, in concealable holsters. In the end, it worked well, and the descriptions of the police provided enough dramatic tension to keep the players involved. As my players staggered into the bar over the course of an hour and a half of in-game time I played up the bouncer, worked in a few concealed weapons rolls, and was lucky enough to have the bouncer spot one of my players guns, and give him a bit of trouble. As none of the characters knew each other I was able to work the meet in such a way that the group formed organically, with each player coming to the table when I needed them to.
This is one of the things I love about Shadowrun. You can effortlessly side-step the problem you run into in every D&D game, that is, why would a bunch of strangers meet up at a tavern, and go treasure hunting together. It makes no sense. At least in Shadowrun each player arrives at the meet with the idea that they are there to do a job, and get paid. Much simpler.
Once the introductions were completed, the players, and Mr. Johnson squared off for some negotiation, and then the players went their separate way to work their contacts for information on the new gang pushing BTLs in Tacoma. This wasn't part of my original plan, but I found that having the players decide their own next steps generally works well. I had planned a table of extra information, but as I was running a player short, I ad-libed and after some money changed hands, each of the players had a piece of information. Some of the information was duplicated by multiple players, but when the group got back together they were able to plan their next few steps.
I had deliberately designed the run to have a few safety features. One of these was the fact that several of the characters had Lone Star ties, and Lone Star was actively surveying the gang that the runners were targeting. This allowed me to bring in reinforcements if the run went south. This also made the players reconsider a direct confrontation, as the police are nearby, and would get involved. While this wasn't my objective, I found the fact that the players themselves took the time to talk about the pros and cons of a direct confrontation as a good sign. In the end the team mage used an improved invisibility spell, and went out to do some direct reconnaissance.
Unfortunately due to time constraints that's as far as we got, and I'll have to save the rest of the run for another day. All in all I thought it went incredibly well, and I'm looking forward to another game in the near future.