Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Shadowrun & Me

My favorite Table Top Role-Playing Game of all time is Shadowrun.  My history with it is storied.  First, I need to explain what the Shadowrun setting is.  Shadowrun mixes two genres Cyberpunk and Fantasy. For the uninitiated Cyberpunk is a genre of Science Fiction.  Cyberpunk is in the near future usually less than a hundred years.  Key elements are cybernetics/bionics, the ability to directly connect the human mind to the internet and the power of Mega-corporations usurping the power of nations.  It uses elements from Hard Boiled Detective stories, Film Noir and Nihilism.  Shadowrun is set in the 2060 to 2070’s where magic has also returned.  People are born Elves and Dwarves or suffer Goblinization, which results in becoming Orks or Trolls.  The Mega-Corporations are the true power in this world.  When magic came back cultures that had magical traditions regained power.  In North America this meant the rise of Native American Nations who break off from the US and Canada.  The game is primarily set in Seattle, which is part of the remainder of the US and Canada (they unified), however it is surrounded by the Native American Nations.  The game is Cyborgs, Elves, Dragon, Hackers (called Deckers in the game), Wizards, Shamans, and Bio-Tech.  It is a brave new old world.

The game first came out in 1989 and I was into it from the start.  My first campaign however was in the setting, but not the rules.  My roommate at the time preferred Hero System rules, same rules as those used in the Superhero RPG Champions.  He used other settings but always used those rules.  I played in that campaign from 1990 till 1991.  When I moved from Eugene and back to the Portland area, I ended up with a new gaming group.  This is when I starting using the rules that came with the setting.  Our main Gamemaster and I alternated running the game so each of us got to play.  Generally, I was the head Gamemaster for Shadowrun. My areas of expertise were Metahumans (the catch all term for non-human humanoids), Magic (specifically Shamanic Magic), and the Native American Nations.  I loved the research, which lead me to discover Neo-Paganism and Shamanism as personal spiritual paths.  I did not like dealing with the personal politics.  At one point my players decided to try to get rid of an annoying character.  When the plan failed and the Player of said character got upset, everyone turned on me.  This pointed out some of my social limitations.  I had players that wanted their character histories to be hush hush, and they became upset when I fleshed it out in scenarios.  I was with that gaming group for four years.  When I left, I was made to feel I was stabbing people in the back.  I left for the most part because going became a chore.  It was no longer fun.

I still kept my Shadowrun game books and novels.  I was still buying the newer sourcebooks.  In 1997, I started a Shadowrun website called Dreamsinger’s Circle.  The site was mostly stuff about the Shamanic Magic tradition in the game.  I included new totems, new cultural paths, new takes on Shamanism itself, and articles about various Shamanic subjects.  For the uninitiated, in Shamanic lore the totem is the spirit animal that a Shaman embodies.  I expanded the site to included rants and campaign setting materials from my own campaigns.  I gained a decent following in both the online Shadowrun community and the AOL gaming community.  I never got into the various attempts at Shadowrun video games.  At the time, I did not have a video game console or a PC that was up to specs.  I continued working on my site.  In December of 1998, I bought the newest Magic Sourcebook and found many of my ideas in the book; the concepts were universal enough that one could claim independent inspiration.  However I knew the Author was a fan of the site.  It just left a bad taste in my mouth.  It stung especially when I had failed multiple times to convince FASA, Shadowrun’s publisher to take me on as a contributor.  I should have tried to publish in various gaming magazines before trying to submit something directly to the publisher.   I was young and impetuous.  In 2000, I decided to close the site and I sold most of my Shadowrun gaming books.  I figured that I had spent enough time and effort playing in someone else’s sandbox.  I decided that I would try to concentrate on my own creations.  Life happened and I still need to work on those. Now with a new lease on life possibilities are endless.  I will tell you this; I still love that world and its concepts.  It gave me an outlet that helped me hone my writing skills.  In many ways Dreamsinger’s Circle was the prototype for this blog.  This Has Been My Not So Humble Opinion.

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