GM Musings: Shadowrun

Shadowrun is stuck in my head, and I can’t get it out. It started when I listened to the Tron: Legacy soundtrack by Daft Punk, and I thought it would be great background music for a cyberpunk game. It’s been years since the last time I played, however, and I doubt I’ll be able to get a new campaign going when so many other game systems have patiently waited their turns at my table.

I had to get my energies out somehow though, so I started reading William Gibson’s novel Neuromancer. It is my first time reading Gibson, and I’m struck by how much Shadowrun rips him off. I always knew that SR was inspired by his books, but I had no idea how literally they lifted concepts from that universe. Both settings feature phonetically identical currency (New Yen/Nuyen), the phrase “street samurai, and “the Matrix” is accessed with “decks.” FASA, the original publisher of Shadowrun, just threw some elves into the mix and called it a day.

Despite Neuromancer completely entrancing me and showing me what frauds FASA were, I still have the Shadowrun itch. I started playing some hacking themed games I found online, including a free game directly inspired by Shadowrun, but I’ll have to dig around for a copy of one of the many SR video games made in the last two decades. I’d prefer to play the Genesis or SNES games, but I did enjoy the 360 shooter a few years ago. These still aren’t the same as tabletop gaming though.

I’ve wanted to play more of Fiasco, a great crime themed game, so maybe I could find a way to work some of those ideas into a Shadowrun one shot. In fact, I think this is a great idea. Who needs a campaign if everyone knows upfront that they will die terrible yet comical deaths by game’s end?

Thanks for reading my brief rant. As a side note to this whole FASA thing, I just want to mention that I found BattleTech 2nd Edition for a DOLLAR recently, and I couldn’t help but notice that the art assets were mostly from Robotech. As much as I miss the company, I’m surprised they weren’t sunk by a string of lawsuits decades ago.

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