Storylines and A Little Advice (3)

Dateline: 07/09/97

Hi there. Welcome back to part three of me pushing Shadowrun material on beginning gamers.

Well that's not true. I'm not going to recommend Corporate Shadowfiles. Or DMZ. Or Sprawl Maps.

Now let's look at something Mike Mulvihill's been doing -- the storyline aspect. Mr. Mulvihill's first major storyline was the UCAS Election of 2057. When President Steele's election in 2056 was revealed to be rigged, five candidates begin their bid for the Presidency of the United and Canadian States.

The Election 2057 storyline goes through the adventure packs Super Tuesday, Shadows of the Underworld, and Portfolio of a Dragon: Dunkelzahn's Secrets. The first two are adventure packs; the last, a sourcebook about one of the Sixth World's most powerful beings. The GM should be the one purchasing these three books.

Other storyline books that a GM could base a campaign on include the rather famous Harlequin adventure book. Harlequin has about eight adventures that can be inserted into an ongoing campaign. Following that adventure series is Harlequin's Back, a massive undertaking that can suddenly make the characters really powerful. I don't own either one of these.

Now for a few tips for new GM and player alike.

1. If you're GMing a module, buy a thick, dark-colored folder. Put the module in the folder and don't tell the players the name of the adventure or let them see how many pages are left in the adventure. FASA has a few adventures where the players perceive the run to be over, but it's really still going on. Or they call one adventure "Double-Cross", tipping the players off that they're going to be double crossed. I mean, duh.

2. The hell with the dice. You can't remember how something is done by the rules? Wing it. Role-play it out, determine what happens by what the player or the character does. "If you're interesting, fate will smile on you. If you're boring, you're dead."

3. Be prepared to improvise. Sixteen years of gaming and all I know is that the players will always do something you haven't planned on.

4. Don't be confined to a linear plotline. When designing adventures, write down the story that happened up to where the PCs intersect the NPCs lives. Know your NPCs. Have a good idea on how things would proceed if the PCs weren't around to mess things up. Then let the PCs mess things up.

5. Offer to help out the GM. If the GM is looking up a rule that's needed right away and you know where it is, grab a book and show the GM.

6. Keep track of your character's stuff. That is, know how your character's things work -- spells, cyberware, weapons. Write down the base modifiers you'll have all the time when using your rifle (Smartlink plus Gas Vent 2 equals how much? And for the second burst fire?) , the ranges for your gun, and the base target number at each range. Write down your spell drain codes.

7. Know how to do what your character can do. You have a rigger? You should know how to conduct vehicular combat. You should know the stats on your drones and vehicles.

8. Have a copy of the visibility modifiers handy and know which modifier to use. This way, the GM just has to say "There's minimal light in the warehouse", and you'll know to adjust your target numbers by +4 if you've got artificial low-light vision or +2 if you have natural thermographic vision.

Combat goes much faster if everyone knows their base modifiers. If you know you get a -1 modifier to your TN on the first shot and a +1 modifier to your TN on the second, and you're in a minimal light room with artificial low-light vision, the GM only has to tell you that you're 15 meters away and because of movement and the partial cover, you have a +6 to hit, you're set. You look at your gun's ranges, know that 15m is a TN of 5, plus 6 from the GM, minus 1 from your base modifiers for a first shot, and plus 4 for the lighting, you can come up with the TN of 14 (second shot is 16) instead of making the GM do all the calculations. Your GM will thank you.

9. It's not the GM versus the players. Don't kill the player's characters. Rather, don't kill the player's characters just out of spite. If the characters were dumb enough to have stand in the middle of the street during a gunfight when the NPCs are all behind cover, kill the characters. That's just dumb.

10. Take notes. The GM might have a plotline going through the campaign that you didn't realize until something odd happened -- the same thing that happened about four runs ago. Wait a minute, are they connected? Isn't that guy supposed to be dead? And what's with all these people coming in from Quebec?

11. Get DocWagon, at least DocWagon Gold.

12. Be prepared to make mistakes. You rule one way during a game session and find out you messed up. It's just a game.

13. No orphaned misanthropic loner that has a long-standing grudge against all corporations who only collects guns and knives would ever be invited to join a shadowrunning team.

14. Act like a professional and you'll be treated like a professional.

15. Your Mr. Johnson probably doesn't care if you live or die.

16. Just do what the Johnson wants done. If he wanted you to loot the place on your way out, he would have said so.

17. Don't double-cross the PCs as often as you're tempted.

18. But occasionally double-cross them for paranoia's sake.

19. Develop a background for your character.

20. It's just a game.

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