…and it was so good!
Last week, we started a new Shadowrun campaign. And with campaign, I mean campaign, a long-term series of adventures. Modern Shadowrun is an abomination to me; what makes me grin with enthusiasm is the setting of the first edition. I’m taking one step further and cassettepunk it. Shadowrun used to be a game about underdogs, not about high-tech super runners doing their jobs. That’s excruciatingly boring. Our Cassettepunk Shadowrun is old school in every aspect: underdogs running in the shadows.
The game is set in Hamburg, Allianz Deutscher Länder (Allied German States), in the year 2050.
We’re using my FKR Shadowrun rules – basically diceless, with a few meaningful rolls mixed in for good measure.
Andreas Thomas, middle-aged orc decker. Just started decking with his brand new, off-the-shelf Radio Shack Boston X5.
Richard Moosbichler, an expat from Munich. Middle-aged. Moved to Hamburg for a job and got stuck there. Orc wolf shaman, Runenthing member.
Tiberius, former Troll bounty hunter who lost everything that was dear to him. Homeless.
Blaubub, a rigger and friend with Tiberius.
The runners are meeting a connection at a night club. Richard is scanning the area astrally and notices five persons hiding, two at the main entrance, three at the emergency exit in the back. Using high-proof whiskey, paper towels and empty beer bottles, they assemble a handful of Molotov cocktails. Richard then “calls his pack” (evocates two wolf spirits), while Andreas and the connection hide behind the counter. Blaubub is also seeking cover.
Then, Blaubub throws a few Molotov cocktails, Richard sends the wolf spirits out the emergency exit. Suddenly, an infernal burst of autofire: One of the opponents has a frigging gatling gun. And he is razing the entire back alley with it. The runners: fuckfuckfuck we’re dead, frantically diving behind tables, while the gatling is buzzsawing the interior of the nightclub to pieces. Fiery hornets of death. My players: enthusiastic, yelling over each other like kids in the playground. This is fun!
Now gatling guy is reloading his gun.
Driven by the courage of fear… Blaubub leaps towards him, unarmed, with the intention to prevent gatling guy from shooting again. Almost at the same moment, Richard also leaps. Both guys manage to knock the gatling gun to the side, against the wall. Gatling guy tries to recalibrate, and Richard… everything in slow motion now… shoves his gun in gatling guy’s face and pulls the trigger. Blood spraying, the sound of a heavy body hitting the asphalt. Then, silence. My players erupt in laughter. That’s our Shadowrun. And that’s why I love it so much.
No dice were rolled. With dice, it would have been impossible to keep up the pace and the sheer craziness of that fight.
It was all a natural conversation. I gauged how competent or incompetent the player characters were and deducted the consequences of their actions. This is how we played almost all our games since 1991. Then, a couple of years ago, we started rolling dice again. Very simple stuff. But this session tonight… has reminded us, vividly so, why we are diceless freeform roleplayers.
We’re back, and it’s the best thing that could happen to us.