Today I will take a bit of a sidestep from my normal computer game rants. A friend of mine dropped some of her stuff at my place for safekeeping, while she lives with her parents untill her apartment goes through some mold repairs. Along that stuff was her old Shadowrun books, so we decided to play again after all this time.
Damn that was fun!
If you don't know what pen and paper RPG's are you have missed a lot. The idea is that the game books give you a new world and gaming rules, and rest is up to the players and the gamemaster. First you make a character. In this case you could pick pretty much any of the basic fantasy races, but the world is set to a cyberpunk future (go watch Blade Runner, Johnny Mnemonic or even Robocop if you don't know what cyberpunk is). After that it's pretty much same as any computer RPG, but there are no limits to what you can try to do and you throw dice when you try to do something. Compared to computer games it requires you to memorize at least some rules and know some basic math, but usually the gamemaster handles most of the heavy lifting. There are no nice graphics. You'r character is just a piece of paper with stats on it (and picture if you can draw). So why is this better than computer RPG's? Imagination! Stories! Freedom!
So what we needed for our little gaming gettogether?
First was tons of dices. Shadowrun uses a metric shit ton of regular six sided dice. After ransacking all my boardgames I decided to actually go and buy some, because same size and weight dice just feel better than random wood and plastic assortment.
Next thing is some players. These games could, in theory, be played with just two people (heck some games have a single player tutorial campaign), but if you really want a good game you need a gamemaster and 3-4 players minium. I know a guy who has been running a lot of p&p games, including Shadowrun, so I called him. He was happy to join us as gamemaster even though I warned him that few players might be newbies. Hell I think he prefered the newbies as they don't know how to abuse the rules. Rest of the players were bit of a problem. Pop culture has painted Dungeons and Dragons players (along with pen 'n paper players in general) as lonely, pathetic nerds. This fact hit me hard when I tried to convince few of my friends to try it out. After a ton of calls and IM's we now have a gamemaster and five players (some of which are a bit reluctant).
For a third part of this checklist we needed some snacks and drinks. This is a crucial part! You don't want to wait for people to go pick up some food while you are trying to play. Usually alcohol isn't too good idea in a game where you need to keep track of you'r stats and tons of dice rolls, but as I knew some of the players were a bit shy/introvert we decided that some beers and wine might be ok to help them relax and keep the ol' imagination running. This whole snacks thing was a bit new to me as our old group was used to twice a month gaming sessions, and brought their own snacks.
Now we are all here, and ready to play. Next step is making the characters. Remember that this is not a computer game with limited choices in character creation. You could just as well be a troll magic user or elf with dexterity of an infant. This will take time. Luckily our gamemaster had this nifty program that made the character creation a bit easier (NSRCG). While we are figuring out the classes and stats, everyone needs to make up a personality and backround to their characters. No amnesia shortcuts here. You need to figure out who you'r character really is. We ended up with one magic user who specialized in healing and one decker (Read: futuristic hacker. That was me by the way). Rest of the group were more conventional street samurai (fighters) and one rigger, which means he can use bots and such as his minions.
Fourth step is the actual game. Let's just say that we took an allnighter and scheduled a time for the next session, including the newbies. I took some notes during the game, so I might post a transcript of the game sometime, but I won't promise anything.
You'r imagination beats any graphics card or physics engine.
P.s. You need the books and at least a gamemaster who has actually read them. The games can easily turn into a still if you need to flip through the books at every action.
P.p.s. If you want to see what Shadowrun is like, but didn't get interested in the p&p you should pick up this nifty little game called Shadowrun Returns. I mentioned it in earlier post, so go check that out if you want more info.