Who Are You, Really?
At long last, after much waiting, the fifth edition of Shadowrun is here. If it isn’t clear by now to those of you who read this regularly, I am incredibly excited. Thus far, I am loving the game. I have already talked some about it here, in terms of using digital media at the game table along with/opposed to physical copies, and I plan on doing a Look at the Crunch/Fluff… set on the game later this week. However, before that, there is another interesting issue which has cropped up due to the game; character rebuilding. One of my game groups has been playing Shadowrun (fourth edition) for some time now, and with the release of the fifth edition, we are playing to transfer our characters over to the new rules set. Unfortunately, doing so has revealed some unexpected complications.
Much earlier, I discussed how one of my players told me that he built his Anima: Beyond Fantasy character for story over mechanics, and that is a part of the issue the Shadowrun players are having. In short, there are a lot of mechanics that were released for fourth edition that have yet to translate over into fifth, and thus characters are not getting a seamless transition. While this may seem like a small issue, remember that gamers can grow very attached to their characters. To loose something that may not seem like much can seem like a very big deal when you have invested months of game-time into the character. Change does not always come easy. Losing something as simple as a positive quality that reduces Essence loss due to cybernetic implants can cascade into a major character overhaul, especially when you have to go through all the implants you want your character to have and double-check the math to see if they can still have them all.
There is also the “in-game” continuity issue to consider. Why are our characters loosing some things while they are gaining others? What caused the change? Where did their old abilities/gear go? How did they acquire these new ones? Unfortunately, there is no straightforward answer to this matter. It comes down to communication with the players and the Gamemaster. For our specific game, our Gamemaster has done a wonderful job of implementing the changes from fourth to fifth edition into the story, showing us the world going through the many changes that have taken place. As for our characters, we are currently in desperate straits and have been forced to go on the run, which has led to some of us losing a great many of our possessions. We have either been forced to leave some of them behind or have had to pawn them off for quick cash. Is that a cheap way of making the character update work in the story? No, I wouldn’t call it cheap. It’s realistic. In desperate times, people do desperate things. And shadowrunners are people, after all. Desperate people. Desperate people who have been made even more desperate.
That tends to happen when there are people hunting you down, or so I would imagine.
My advice to you if you ever find yourself in such a situation (edition transition, not being hunted), is to remember who your character really is. What makes your character a person in your eyes. If the answer is just some piece of gear or a specific ability, then your character is little more than a Crunch build anyway, and you can make use of the Crunch of the new system just as easily. If they are something more than that, and I hope they are, then you will have to really sit down and think about what is happening to them. What has led to them changing? How have they reacted to the change? What have they lost? What have they gained? Most importantly, how have they grown?
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