In article <CAMb349xoFJ8kDneGYi9rT_7e7YHTy=
>On Tue, Sep 24, 2019 at 9:47 AM M Weber < web...@polaris.net
>> what I've seen seems to be a further dilution of what makes this
>> ShadowRun, especially WRT spellcasting.
>This raises the very interesting (to me, at least) question of what MAKES
To me, the "essence" of Shadowrun is this:
- 1980s-flavored cyberpunk, or at least mid-90s post-cyberpunk. The
aesthetics are what matters here. Neon and longcoats, occasional big hair,
the looming specter of ~Virtual Reality~ with quasi-magic computer tech that
makes no sense whatsoever because William Gibson wasn't a software engineer.
When the game originally came out it was edgy and prescient, nowadays it's
charmingly retrofuturistic. The attempts of 4th edition and up to update this
in an attempt to remain current and edgy were, IMO, a mistake (even though it
turns out that the 2018-2019 Internet Of Things craze is just as dumb as the
4th ed Matrix makes it out to be -- who would have thought). The logical
conclusion of those updates are Eclipse Phase, not Shadowrun. Tellingly --
and smartly -- the HBS video games take place in the 2nd-3rd edition era.
- Magic and associated social issues. The way ancient mystical powers clash
with corporate dystopia, and sometimes even *blend* with it (hello,
Aztechnology). I would argue that Lofwyr-headed Saeder-Krupp is the most
Shadowrun thing in all of Shadowrun.
- Possibly the best idea of them all: the fact that it's *our world* that
ended up here. There's a sense of familiarity, and a wealth of existing
culture, that players can readily use to make their characters and the world
feel more real; with just enough uncanny valley where it diverges to make it
unsettling where needed. In a way, they took what was smart and obvious in
urban fantasy games (e.g. World of Darkness) and made it work in a futuristic
You'll note that I only talked about setting here. There's a certain expected
feeling to the Shadowrun *game mechanics*, but I find them to be general
principles rather than concrete implementations: deadly combat, magic cast
from hit points, non-linear probability curves. For example, the L5R game
system (at least 3rd edition, which is the last I played) feels more like
Shadowrun to me than Shadowrun 4+ does.