Actual Play – Cuts You Up (5/30/2010)

GM: Rich Taylor
Players: Mike, Sean, Paul, Martin, Josiah, et al.
System: Shadowrun 4th Ed

The game had a killer premise. You’re not runners. Your people, normal (or at least semi-normal) people. Most of you work for Renraku, the other two are tourists in the Renraku Archology. Today is the ribbon cutting announcing the opening of the Archology. Today something very bad is going to happen.

Our characters started the game together, on an elevator, stuck somewhere around the 170th floor of the Archology. Something was wrong and it just got worse as we went. I’ll leave out all the details in case Rich opts to run it again, which I highly recommend. It was a great game.

What Rocked

It was very cool not to be a runner. In fact, I’ve heard of and/or been in a few games where we weren’t runners and they’ve been a lot more rewarding than “You’ve got a job from a John”. We, for the most part were highly trained Renraku employee. That not only gave us a sense of purpose and place in the game but also gave us a lot of investment in the Archology as a whole.

Secrets in the game we well crafted. Some of them came out immediately (like mine) and others only under stress. Some were just hinted at, but all came to the surface in one way or another. In my case my secret was tiny, nothing that would really have hurt me if I revealed it (and I did, several times) but it totally drove my character forward.

The players, pretty much awesome all around. I really wanted to have a personal relationship with my boss (played by Josiah) and I got it, even if it was a somewhat antagonistic. I also kept trying to convince the orc I wasn’t racist against meta-humans but then kept having to call on him because he was strong or tough or some other orc stereotype. It was good stuff.

The game had a good amount of creep to it. Who do you trust? What does it mean to be human? When standing on the edge of oblivion and a voice calls out to you offering aid, how do you know it’s not just another trap? Not horror really, just very unsettling.

I was a little bit… just a tiny bit… Bill Paxton from Aliens. It was that Creepy.

Bears. Freaking Armadillo Bears. Awesome.

What could have been improved

We had some pacing issues at first; the story seemed to take a while to get rolling. It can certainly be argued that a slow start gives role-playing opportunities but I really prefer that relationships develop under tension, where something is at stake.

Combat (this is true of most systems) usually bugs me because it is too slow. And my character got to shoot 4 times, as opposed to other people just going once. So even when I had the advantage, I was still a little annoyed by the system. But, to Rich’s credit he streamlined it pretty well. Things were MUCH faster than they could have been. Wushu has all its own set of issues but I think it would do better than Shadowrun core mechanics for combat only. Sadly it wouldn’t cover a lot of other stuff that Shadowrun does do well.