Thursday, September 10, 2015

Shadowrun Fate Accelerated: Some First Notes

We’re doing some quick Shadowrun via Fate Accelerated. I’m not sure exactly how we ended up there, but I’m pretty happy with that. My experience with Cyberpunk 2020 wasn’t great, so I’d always been  cool on the genre. OOH I’d recently run Neo-Shinobi Vendetta, which has a strong cp vibe. But Shadowrun’s also another beast entirely. I never played it in “back in the day,” though we sold a ton of it at the shop. Other groups run with it, but those never intersected with any of mine. So it’s been super fun to actually work through the material. I had some 1e resources from a Chain of Generosity, plus the Sixth World Almanac, and some pdfs. There’s massive amounts of cool stuff, though hard to synthesize at times because of the shifts in editions and generations. Someone really needs to do a "New Gamers Guide to Shadowrun" and maybe a series on which earlier products are most useful for the current edition (like I did with L5R).

That’s a digression.

We came up with the basics for FAE on the fly. Players chose classic roles and picked out a few stunts to fit with that. We kept the basic structures of FAE intact. The game has a secondary goal of familiarizing everyone with FAE’s general play, so I don’t want to spin too far out. Having been reading through SR, I have some scattered thoughts about handling things. I should note the Community Fate Extensions has some articles on this, in particular Rob Wieland has done some cool work.

*High Concept defines role or class. So in SR we have some archetypes which defining starting skills and ability access. Roughly Street Samurai, Decker, Rigger, Mage, Detective and Fixer. My CP reading may influence my breakdown. The last two essentially cover archetypes with particular connections and social/knowledge skills. Mage includes a broad swath from Technomancer to Street Mage to Shaman. Stunts tune that in a particular direction. For play, High Concept defines broadly the fiction of what they can attempt and sets some niches.

So players can all equally attempt “Meta: Create Advantage” action, but they’ll come at it from different directions. And their role gives them, I guess, “fiction permission” to manage that area. So by virtue of having a Decker high concept in some form, they have access to all the cool high-end Matrix-y stuff. I want to be liberal about this so a player’s definition of their role doesn’t hobble them compared to others. If hacking or magic has a broad range of effects, then the Street Samurai should also be able to reach far, albeit through distinct channels (favors, demolitions).

So Role as High Concept’s a key support in players making statements that they can do X or Y. I’m probably stating the obvious, but I’m clarifying that a little for myself. A good deal of what might be discrete buys and powers elsewhere get rolled up in this.

*Stunts are cool. On the one hand we have the standard FAE formulation:
Because I [describe some way that you are exceptional, have a cool bit of gear, or are otherwise awesome], I get a +2 when I [pick one: Carefully, Cleverly, Flashily, Forcefully, Quickly, Sneakily][pick one: attack, defend, create advantages, overcome] when [describe a circumstance].

Those allow players to define specialties with their approaches. They offer a narrow skill bump effectively. I can imagine using this to define a Shaman's totem. 

The other formulation is:
Because I [describe some way that you are exceptional, have a cool bit of gear, or are otherwise awesome], once per game session I can [describe something cool you can do].

So these are limited use powers or cool stuff. We’ll assume that “Once per Session” and “When I spend a Fate Point” are equivalent for purposes of building these. In some cases we might replace once per session with “When this very narrow circumstance occurs.”

The first set are pretty easy to create, but the second are a little more open. Going through my lists of Stunts from various sources here are a few of the second type that fit well.
  • Fast Friend. When the character enters a new social situation (company, party, neighborhood) they may spend a Fate point to immediately make a good friend or contact there.
  • Breaker. Once per session when fighting a mechanical (robot, vehicle, armored suit) I can do +1 shift damage and add a free tag to a target.
  • One Person, Many Faces. When you meet someone new, you can spend a fate point to declare you’ve met that person under a different name and identity.
  • Back Channels. Once per session you can cut through red tape and get a near-immediate response from bureaucracy and administration.
  • Ready Steady. You always have the proper tools for basic tasks and repairs.
  • Bend Bars/Lift Gates. You may spend a fate point to perform an absurd lift, pull, or other feat of strength.
  • Scoundrel’s Reflexes. You may make a check to hide yourself even when completely surprised.
  • Second Identity. You have an alternate persona or identity you can use when gathering information.
  • Contacts (X). I have a strong and close contact at (a particular company, gang, organization) who can get me info and favors. This is stronger than the usual ally and has access to inside info and is willing to assist. After I use them for something big, I have to pay a fate point to refresh them from all the heat I brought down. 

And a few first type that occurs to me:
  • Because I’m Hardcore about Parkour, I get a +2 when I Flashily overcome obstacles running across rooftops and other precarious environments.
  • Because of my Cryptokey I have a +2 when I Sneakily create advantages via Hidden Communications and Dead Drops.
  • Because I’m an Expert Tracer, I gain a +2 when I Cleverly attempt to overcome in tracking down a target in the city.
  • Because I have a Custom Ride I gain a +2 when Quickly operating in Chase contests.
  • Because I’m a Rumormonger, I gain a +2 when I Sneakily create advantages through gossip.
  • Because I Read Up on Things, I gain a +2 when I Carefully overcome to figure out some strange or alien device or machine.
  • Because I have a Street Network, I gain a +2 when I Quickly overcome in gathering “word on the street” about someone from my contacts.
  • Because I’m a Trained Cleaner, I gain a +2 when I Carefully overcome in stripping all my evidence from a scene.

*So stunts in this reading of FAE include what might otherwise be Extras. Bionics, cyberimplants, magical spells, computer programs, drones. If so, should stunts have categories? Mechanical, Magical, Bionic, etc. Or should I not even bother with breaking things into categories? Are they more vulnerable to disruption? Or is that just something with the fiction? My original thought was that characters with cyber-implants could have those taken out by EMP or something. If so and this were a regular threat in the setting, then maybe there ought to be some kind of discount. But looking at that now, I don’t think I need to be that granular.

*I think I’ll probably tweak the Stunt economy. They’re cool and fun. So players should have access to more of them in play. Decoupling them entirely from Refresh means I can do a more point to buy set of mechanics? Maybe? Or I might not need to do that. I have to think about that.

Anyway that’s the sketchiest of first thoughts on this. I’m sure I’ll come up with more as we play. I’m looking forward to mixing the grittiness of Shadowrun with the looseness of FAE. We’ll see how it works. If you have suggestions about what are “Must Read” sourcebooks for Shadowrun or if you’ve had experience with Magic or Cyberpunk with Fate Accelerated, I’d appreciate suggestions.