Narrative Control – Episode 69 – Hack my Shadowrun

Welcome back to Narrative Control, Season 3. This season we’re taking calls from listeners and offering up what advice we can about their gaming conundrums. This week we talked to Joe Harney about hacking settings from one game into the system of another’s. In this case we focus on Gordian Knot of Settings: Shadowrun

Hosts: Sean Nittner and Lenny Balsera

Guest Caller: Joseph Harney

Length: 45:07

Show Notes

[00:25] Intro to the show – Hacking settings to systems.
[00:55] Joe starts the call. Used to run Shadowrun, but the system doesn’t do what I want it to do.
[02:36] What isn’t the existing system doing? – Discuss.
[03:41] Are you interested in changing or emphasizing parts of the setting as well? – Discuss.
[05:11] First suggestion – Prime Time Adventures for interpersonal drama.
[06:33] Discussion – PTA will not provide the level of crunch some players are looking for.
[07:14] Tangible advice – Pick a system that allows you to identify: X is important -> assigned to Y mechanic.
[07:35] One system that does this well: PDQ – Scoped qualities.
[09:30] Tangible advice – If you know another system with a high concept similar to the game you’re converting, those might be early options.
[10:12] That’s Leverage – Same high concepts, just need race, magic, and cyberware.
[11:33] Cortex+ is very easy to represent what is important: they get a die.
[13:08] Challenge: Represent the exclusionary force between Magic and Cyberware. Discuss.
[19:05] System: Don’t Rest Your Head – Hackable so long as there is a limited number of places to gain power from.
[20:53] General advice: Find games that focus in design toward a concept that closely matches the concept of the game you want to run.
[21:50] This flies in the face of the idea of using a generic system (Gurps, FATE, d20, etc.)
[22:43] Focused games also self-identify what won’t work. Example: Dogs in the Vineyard.
[24:06] If you were doing d20 Shadowrun look to Spycraft.
[25:10] If you want to do a ton of work reskin Apocalypse World.
[27:07] Hacking Fate – Time required to develop it. Using skills vs. stunts to represent.
[30:30] How tight or how loose do you need to enforce the setting expectations? – Discuss.
[32:12] Introduced a new group to the setting. Concerned that the existing mechanics would turn off new players.
[33:09] The foundation of your hack should be relevant to what enthuses you about a setting.
[34:33] Decide what mode of play you want. Combat-centric? Investigation? Interpersonal Drama?
[35:24] You will have more success selling your own enthusiasm than anything else.
[35:40] Challenge: Present a world where the consequences of actions matter.
[36:33] Suggestion: Technoir. Tools for developing, as you play, the web of interconnections.
[37:33] Challenge: Present juxtaposition of technology and magic.
[37:51] Suggestion: Look at Mortal Coil as it helps you define what magic is (as well as what is important in the setting). Mechanizes that which is special.
[38:39] Tangible advice – Read a lot of games. Steal liberally.
[41:16] Suggestion: Making the world respond: Fronts from Apocalypse World.
[42:19] Suggestions: Aspects from Fate or Distinctions from Cortex+
[43:20] Recap of practical advice.
[44:31] Want to be on the show. Emails us at or post on the forums.

The conversation continues… Here.
Direct download: NC_Episode_069.mp3

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