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Live action promo video for Shadowrun from 1990
July 1, 2011 12:38 PM   Subscribe

The cyberpunk/magic roleplaying game Shadowrun was launched in 1990 with the help of this live-action promo video. Previously.
posted by bq (92 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
For such a beefy guy he has a remarkable ability to suggest the word "prancing".
posted by Wolfdog at 12:41 PM on July 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


Blasting through William "Big Daddy" Gibson's blog entries a few years back (oh god by the date it was apparently nearly a decadeback) I ran across this entry which I will cherish in my heart forever:
SHADOWRUN: GAG ME WITH A SPOON

No relationship. No permission. Nothing. Nary a word exchanged, ever.

Except that the admixture of cyberspace and, spare me, *elves*, has always been more than I could bear to think about.

I've just been ignoring it for years, and hope to continue to.
posted by griphus at 12:45 PM on July 1, 2011 [11 favorites]


(NB: In case there is some confusion, I don't have anything against Shadowrun and I will so be watching this video when I get home.)
posted by griphus at 12:48 PM on July 1, 2011


So, does she get that jack replaced or just pick up a PS/2 to AT adapter when that keyboard finally dies?
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 12:53 PM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Shadowrun is the dumbest RPG that people around me have ever thought wasn't dumb.
posted by Legomancer at 12:53 PM on July 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


why the fuck isn't browsing the internet exactly like that computer animation section. I WANT TO PLUG MY BRAIN INTO A GIANT 486 PC KEYBOARD DAMMIT!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:54 PM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I kept expecting it to turn into pr0n. Maybe that's why I never really got into Shadowrun...I was playing it wrong!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:54 PM on July 1, 2011


Hmm. Shadowrun for the SNES was pretty great, that's all I know.
posted by naju at 12:55 PM on July 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


Shadowrun is the dumbest RPG

Wait, role-playing games are supposed to be smart? I thought they were just supposed to be fun. Shadowrun's system is way more awesome than many other cyberpunk knockoffs. Now they all just seem so...cute!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 12:56 PM on July 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


I never played the tabletop game but the Shadowrun game that came out on the Genesis was so good.
posted by Evstar at 12:58 PM on July 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


the Shadowrun game that came out on the Genesis was so good.

Yep. And the xbox on was so, so bad.
posted by lumpenprole at 1:00 PM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Why do I feel like this should have Rae Dawn Chong in it?
posted by RogerB at 1:02 PM on July 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Shadowrun's system is way more awesome than many other cyberpunk knockoffs.

Unless you wanted to play an actual Cyberpunk RPG and not somewhere that the head of the looming zaibatsu is a fucking dragon for some reason.
posted by griphus at 1:02 PM on July 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Why don't I have a Shadowrun MMO yet, damnit?
posted by Shutter at 1:04 PM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Anyone got a job for an ageing street adept?
posted by clvrmnky at 1:05 PM on July 1, 2011


Shadowrun was always a mixed bag for me. Plus: A gunfight in a corner store! Mayhem! Minus: Lots of D6's for lots of whiff factor. Plus: Native folks! Seattle! Minus: Stereotypes of Native folks! Etc.

I generally liked Cyberpunk 2020 better for my cyberpunk gaming - a quicker and cleaner system overall. Plus, once the Mekton book for building mechs came out, you could just scale down the mech rules to "man-sized" and build cybernetics using that.

And then all the cracky Battle Angel Alita cyborg fighting with chainsaw fingers and plasma jets made it a heavenly cyberpunk experience indeed.
posted by yeloson at 1:05 PM on July 1, 2011 [5 favorites]


I still remember that terrible day after Christmas I spent reading Universal Brotherhood. I must have been 12 or 13, and the idea of insect spirits inhabiting and devouring people was just amazingly terrifying and new. I have to imagine that the journalist as hero style wouldn't have been as effective if I had been more familiar with Lovecraft, but like I said, 12. I miss the idea of Shadowrun before it had 20 years of metaplot.
posted by khaibit at 1:08 PM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Please tell me TSR shot back by making a live action Spelljammer promo.
posted by GameDesignerBen at 1:08 PM on July 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


Except that the admixture of cyberspace and, spare me, *elves*, has always been more than I could bear to think about.

Would dressing the elves in unbelievably obscure, ultra-expensive minimalist European brands help any?
posted by Dr Dracator at 1:09 PM on July 1, 2011 [21 favorites]


Was it a law of computing back then that you had to fly into a pyramid?
posted by Jofus at 1:15 PM on July 1, 2011


I'm not gonna lie, I never played Shadowrun officially, but I liked reading some of the source books. In fact, one of the big decisions for me to even start looking at school in Chicago for college, was because I'd read Bug City when I was 13. Don't laugh, when you suddenly find yourself faced with having to choose an American college to go to when you haven't lived in that country since you were like 3 and you don't even know where to begin when the only schools you know by name are Ivy League schools, you look for inspiration anywhere to help narrow shit down. Obviously it wasn't the ONLY reason, but my brain was more like "Oh yea, Chicago. That's kind of a big city, and I'm looking for a place where I don't need to drive, and if I remember correctly, Bug City said it had an extensive elevated train system and they did mention colleges in the city like U of Chicago. I should look into schools in Chicago." I did eventually end up going to school in Chicago (not because of Bug City), and I was way too giddy when I finally rode the L and heard names of places and landmarks I recognized from reading that damn thing cover to cover.

Years later when I was trying to figure out where to go for my first solo "I planned this myself!" adult vacation abroad, Ireland was in the running (again, gotta narrow this shit down somehow) thanks Tir na Nog.
posted by kkokkodalk at 1:17 PM on July 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


You can snark all you like, but Shadowrun was *fun*. I still think the magic/cyberpunk crossover setting has some potential.

I've played quite a few different cyberpunkish RPGs, and they all seemed to devolve into extended firefights, bank heists and contests to see who could augment their characters the most.
posted by Harald74 at 1:18 PM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also: "Wow, Prince's backup band really fell on hard times after the UGE!"
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:20 PM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


So I have been researching this and apparently William Gibson is weird about elves?
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 1:24 PM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


...extended firefights, bank heists and contests to see who could augment their characters the most.

They had other great aspects, too!

I once, uh, "watched" a character drive a motorcycle off a skyscraper's roof and, after turning 90 degrees, directly into the open side door of a helicopter. The bike ended up sweeping out the numerous goons inside via the open door on the other side. Except then the drive botched the brake roll and ended up tumbling right out with the guys. A airborne firefight ensued as everyone plummeted toward the streets of Night City. I forget how he survived that one.

I only play D&D now because no one has the time or the energy to learn a new system, but I'll never forget the days playing C2020.
posted by griphus at 1:25 PM on July 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


I will always love Shadowrun because Chris Kubasik wrote a short story at the end of the first Virtual Realities sourcebook that blew my mind when I read it (I think I was 15 or 16 at the time). It was about a little kid named Renny who was born and raised in the matrix, trained by a man named Lucifer to be the best hacker in the world. He had never lived a moment of his life in the real world, had been jacked into the matrix from the moment he was born.

It was my introduction to the concept of 'brain in a vat' and forced me to confront a lot of assumptions about the nature of reality, the possibility of living in a simulation, what a mind was, whether my soul existed, etc, and so on. I've never been able to find it online and the book has been out of print for over 10 years, so I have no idea if it holds up, but goddamn, at the time, it was breathtaking.
posted by empath at 1:29 PM on July 1, 2011 [9 favorites]


Holy Moly, Sally Tsung stunning the corpsec guard, Beefcake Samurai going shirtless. I actually expected it to be a little more Pink Mohawk but this was definitely dripping with 80s action sensibility.

Considering that Cyberpunk 2020 is completely dated and Cyberpunk v3 is total garbage, Shadowrun is probably the best of the bunch. 4.0 and 20th Anniversary Edition have broken with some of the older dicepool mechanics and solved a bunch of the playability issues of previous editions. Integrating Deckers/Hackers isn't an exercise in frustration and boredom anymore and while there is still a balance issue between awakened and non-awakened characters it's mainly noticeable at higher karma levels. It's certainly better than the quadratic wizard vs linear warrior design in D&D 1.0 through 3.5.

It's definitely not perfect and it definitely can get crappy around the margins (30 dicepool pornomancers and trollbow adepts can ruin games) but it's pretty solid. They've even toned down a lot of the mary sue Immortal Elves and Great Dragons are teh awesome issues with the metaplot.

Honestly the core problem with game currently is the current publishers are basically crooks who have chased off a good deal of the best freelancers.
posted by vuron at 1:29 PM on July 1, 2011 [4 favorites]


I once, uh, "watched" a character drive a motorcycle off a skyscraper's roof and, after turning 90 degrees, directly into the open side door of a helicopter. The bike ended up sweeping out the numerous goons inside via the open door on the other side. Except then the drive botched the brake roll and ended up tumbling right out with the guys. A airborne firefight ensued as everyone plummeted toward the streets of Night City. I forget how he survived that one.

Slowfall Potion
Saving Throw
Pneumatic Suspenson.
posted by Smart Dalek at 1:35 PM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Anybody else remember Iron Crown's Cyberspace?
posted by infinitywaltz at 1:35 PM on July 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


Why don't I have a Shadowrun MMO yet, damnit?

Just pretend Assange is an elf and go to town.
posted by hattifattener at 1:42 PM on July 1, 2011 [14 favorites]


Also fun: having your magic users be insanely powerful but completely useless because anything they did would level an entire city block or so. Good times.
posted by Dr.Enormous at 1:43 PM on July 1, 2011


Pneumatic Suspenson.

Actually, I think it was a combination between the incredibly fast and efficient ambulance service our benefactor kept on his payroll and landing on a dude.
posted by griphus at 1:48 PM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I used to love this game. How can I catch up with the plot over the last fifteen years?
posted by anotherpanacea at 1:53 PM on July 1, 2011


Unless you wanted to play an actual Cyberpunk RPG and not somewhere that the head of the looming zaibatsu is a fucking dragon for some reason.

I'm failing to see the problem with this.
posted by empath at 1:57 PM on July 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


So I have been researching this and apparently William Gibson is weird about elves?

Everyone who has had a run in with Harlan Ellison is.
posted by drezdn at 2:12 PM on July 1, 2011 [15 favorites]


I used to play Shadowrun more years ago than I care to remember. My main character was a street samurai who was so wired that he could literally draw his pistol, load it, fire it twice, unload it, and return it to its holster...before anyone else could do anything. It was absurdly cool, which is everything the teenage me wanted to be.

I may have fudged things a bit during the character creation process.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 2:18 PM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


The acting in the video is on a part with the voice acting in early video games, you have to admit.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:19 PM on July 1, 2011


So I have been researching this and apparently William Gibson is weird about elves?

Everyone who has had a run in with Harlan Ellison is.


He's a dwarf.
posted by thirtyeightdown at 2:30 PM on July 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wow. The main thing I kept thinking, watching that, was how they really didn't know how to, like, walk like soldiers, or in Rambo McSteroids's case, to hold a gun like one, either. You'd think their characters'd have software for that kind of thing. How is skipping sideways like a little ghostcrab schoolgirl quiet or efficient?
posted by Mister Moofoo at 2:32 PM on July 1, 2011


No relationship. No permission. Nothing. Nary a word exchanged, ever.

I wonder why Gibson thinks they should have asked him for permission. I never read any Shadowrun books but did they actually plagiarise his books rather than just borrow a whole lot of his ideas?
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 2:33 PM on July 1, 2011


did they actually plagiarize his books rather than just borrow a whole lot of his ideas?

Legally, I have no idea whether they crossed the line at all, but a lot of stuff was pretty much blatant theft. Not that I necessarily have a problem with that.
posted by Dr.Enormous at 2:36 PM on July 1, 2011


Potomac Avenue: "I WANT TO PLUG MY BRAIN INTO A GIANT 486 PC KEYBOARD DAMMIT!"

DIN OR MINIDIN? THE MINIDIN IS GONNA COST YOU MORE ESSENCE.
posted by boo_radley at 2:41 PM on July 1, 2011 [5 favorites]


Anybody else remember Iron Crown's Cyberspace?
posted by infinitywaltz

Oh, fuck yes ... but, then again, at the same time, oh, Christ, not that pile of shit.

ICE's Cyberspace was basically nothing but an endless series of tables, requiring D6's, D10's, and D20's. For every action (dodging, driving, hacking, criticals, taking a leak, shaking off afterwards) you needed to look up and roll against a table; I even think some tables referred you to other tables. I ended up getting into programming because I wanted to create a program that would do all of that goddamn rolling for you, instead. Loading external files via DATA commands in BASIC blew my mind almost as much as the game, itself.

It was a truly terrible system ... but that didn't stop me from getting totally sucked in and (successfully) trying to get all of my neighborhood friends to play. Even after I found GURPS, I still ended up using sourcebooks from Cyberspace (plus some Shadowrun stuff) for flavor.

A failure of a game system, but the atmosphere totally hooked me. To this day (20 years later) I still count hardcore Gibsonian cyberpunk and its ilk as my favorite genre.
posted by jpolchlopek at 2:45 PM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wow. The main thing I kept thinking, watching that, was how they really didn't know how to, like, walk like soldiers,

Huh. I kept thinking "HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA *ooh, real PC/AT keyboard!* HAHAHAHAHAHA"
posted by lumpenprole at 2:47 PM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


All I know is that I've waited 20 years to get magic on Dec 24 of this year.
posted by khaibit at 3:03 PM on July 1, 2011 [9 favorites]


Gotta confess, I loved playing Shadowrun.

did they actually plagiarize his books rather than just borrow a whole lot of his ideas?

IIRC they borrowed some things pretty freely. I seem to remember they had the fake-thumb-with-nanofilament-wire weapon that what was featured prominently in Johnny Mnemonic (The short story, the film does not exist for me).
posted by Ad hominem at 3:57 PM on July 1, 2011


I actually liked the GURPS Cyberpunk sourcebook. Played that pretty extensively back in the 90s, and I think they mention Gibson also.
posted by wuwei at 4:00 PM on July 1, 2011


Actually Shadowrun launched in 1989 (I snagged a review copy at Gen Con that year--I remember it because it was my first Gen Con and I had to ship two boxes of review games back to the UK after the show), and the film has a copyright date of 1991 on it.

I'm actually a minor character in the Shadowrun universe. I run a disreputable flophouse in the London Sourcebook, written by Marc Gascoigne and Carl Sargent, with whom I'd just written a bunch of Sonic the Hedgehog novels. UK RPG authors used to routinely write each other into whatever books they were working on--sometimes as a tribute or tip of the hat, but more usually because it was easier than thinking up a fictional name in a hurry.
posted by Hogshead at 4:04 PM on July 1, 2011 [9 favorites]


They were running this video on a loop at the FASA booth the year Shadowrun was released. I only know this because that year, when they opened the doors to the exhibit hall, I, along with about 4 other people ran at full speed to the booth to pick up a signed copy of the rule book. I managed to pick up a numbered copy hardback of the first book sold, and got it signed. That same convention, it was stolen out of my backpack.

A few years later, when they released Earthdawn (the not-completely-awful fantasy RPG) I tried to repeat my performance, but a security guard stopped me about halfway through with a warning that if I got caught running, I'd be ejected. I only managed to get book #24 that time around. No one stole that one, unfortunately. I ended up eBaying it, years later, for...cover price.
posted by thanotopsis at 4:12 PM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


The last time I drunkenly peed my pants was playing the Shadowrun Xbox game.

All previous times were while playing the tabletop version, natch.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:15 PM on July 1, 2011 [1 favorite]


I played the R. Talsorian Cyberpunk 2020 a few times, read chunks of the GURPS sourcebook, and was fairly big on cyberpunk lit in general back in the '90s, but never really understood the draw of Shadowrun. I always assumed that the FASA designers had originally intended it to be a totally genre-faithful cyberpunk game, but the suits forced them to shoehorn in the typical fantasy RPG elves 'n' orcs 'n' wizards that go POOF! because they didn't think D&D people would want to play it otherwise.
posted by Strange Interlude at 4:45 PM on July 1, 2011


What's nice about the video is how closely it resembles the post-apocalypse scenes from Dollhouse. Minus the steroids.
posted by meehawl at 5:00 PM on July 1, 2011


re: a few things that Shadowrun CLEARLY lifted more-or-less wholesale (versus lots of things that they took the look of but the innards were years old at that point):

* slap patches
* riggers (extrapolated a little, but they took Turner's flight in Count Zero as the template)
* microsofts (slotting info-chips into a socket for e.g. instant Spanish knowledge)
* the matrix
* cyberdecks (with the addition of cranial datajacks to replace the "tiaras" of Gibson's Sprawl)
* general atmosphere (exception for not-Seattle)

Mostly aesthetic stuff, and bits of tech, but it is pretty stunningly obvious an attempt to marry Gritty D&D with "Neuromancer: the Matrixing".

Also, arguably, the "shadowrun" concept. Not thieves in and of themselves, because Neuromancer is a straight-up caper/heist story, but certainly the "cyberpunk" trappings. You could try and make an argument that the "Japan Ascendant" thing is also a lift, but it was the late 80s/early 90s, and that was a general cultural thing going on.

The hilarious bit is that Shadowrun is kind of a terrible game system in general*, and is specifically terrible at the caper-ness it is trying to emulate. There are very few rules and little guidance for the setup of an actual run, which is a HUGE part of a good caper or heist narrative.


*Has anyone made a Forge/game theory FPP before? I'm tempted, but I'm a) years out of the loop and b) think it would be either ignored or GRARRRRR'D within about five minutes.
posted by curious nu at 5:06 PM on July 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Shadowrun's system is way more awesome than many other cyberpunk knockoffs."

The system? Seriously? The SYSTEM was what you liked about Shadowrun?

ME: OK, I shoot my gun at him.

GM: All right. Roll seventy-two six-sided dice. Count up all the sixes, and then reroll them. Then count up all the sixes you get on that roll, and so on.

ME: All right ... one sec, still rolling ... wait a moment ... wait, that one went on the floor, hold up ... OK, found it, it was under the chair, it was a three ... all right ... um ... eight.

GM: You miss.

///////REPEAT INDEFINITELY AS SIX HOURS OF TIME PASSES IN REAL LIFE/////////////

GM: Well, that last shot finally did the job! You take down the security guard.

ME: Whew. So, how long did that combat take? I mean, how much time has passed in the game since we started?

GM: Exactly 0.8 seconds.

ME: Oh. Well, I turn to the receptionist we've got tied up and ask --

GM: I'm sorry, we've got to stop here. We don't have enough time for you to have an actual conversation with someone.

ME: We just spent all night rolling dice for a battle that took less than a second.

GM: Well, priorities are important.
posted by kyrademon at 5:19 PM on July 1, 2011 [6 favorites]


I was never very good at Shadowrun because I always played the XKCD wrencher. As in:

'He says he won't give you the code.'
'I'll jack in and bypass his security systems to find the secret code! Hand me a cubic meter of dice! It should only take three or four hours!'
'I have a different, faster idea.'
posted by obiwanwasabi at 5:31 PM on July 1, 2011


I loved the Shadowrun Universe. Back in 1994, there was an awesome Shadowrun MUSE/MUSH based on Seattle. I had a rigger that I got in pretty good with the Yakuza. I had a pretty decent troll contact in the wards... And really I just remember bits and pieces of it still...

Christ... that was almost twenty years ago and I still remember.

Was
posted by Nanukthedog at 5:53 PM on July 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


You can snark all you like, but Shadowrun was *fun*. I still think the magic/cyberpunk crossover setting has some potential.

Try playing Mage: The Ascension and focus on the Sons of Ether vs The Technocracy.
Doctor Who jacked his brain into a computer Matrix in The Deadly Asassin in the 70s.

I liked the cyberspace bit of the video.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:25 PM on July 1, 2011


is specifically terrible at the caper-ness it is trying to emulate

This reminds me of another 80s RPG that I loved, Top Secret. Heist movies are an awesome genre, so the idea of actually getting to play a part in one is just brilliant.
posted by formless at 6:30 PM on July 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


I really liked the idea of the cyberpunk / magic crossover, though I never wound up playing the game all that much. There was a Wild Cards style multiple-authors-in-a-shared-world anthology around the same time that also featured a world where magic worked in some zones and technology worked in some other zones, anyone remember what that was called?
posted by whir at 6:32 PM on July 1, 2011


whir, are you thinking of Nexus: The Infinite City? One of my favorite RPGs.
posted by drezdn at 8:00 PM on July 1, 2011


A better explanation of Nexus.
posted by drezdn at 8:02 PM on July 1, 2011


Was Shadowrun silly? Yes. Camp? Oh yeah. It was gloriously, wonderously camp and silly.

I think that one of the things that Gibson and other detractors of Shadowrun miss is that the game wasn't supposed to be grimly serious- the presence of elves and magic was supposed to be something of a pisstake on the cyberpunk genre. There was a lot of black humor in the game, and the sourcebooks and adventures were practically at the level of Judge Dredd in overt satire of the genre. The weird thing is the humorous elements made the horror and social commentary elements more intense than regular cyberpunk ever could.

I had a lot of fun with the game, playing a cat street shaman based off of Cat from Red Dwarf. I was amused when selling the luxury car we stole during our run netted us several times more money than the actual run paid. None of us took the game seriously at all.

Maybe the real problem is that dedicated cyberpunks don't have senses of humor?
posted by happyroach at 9:49 PM on July 1, 2011


I still have a notebook with about 50 pages dedicated to Juan Nepomuceno Bicicleta, an Okupa (squatter? homeless? I played with a sourcebook translated by Spaniards) bicycle shaman living in the Aztec underworld that literally exists below real life Mexico City. I had so much fun with that game. The dice issue was solved when someone sourced hundreds and hundreds of these mini dice that were like 3mm cubed, trivial to roll a hundred dice and count the sixes.

The idea for the Juan Nepomuceno Bicicleta, the Bicycle Shaman, came from a story by some Mexican doctor and ethnologist that I read a long time ago. Since first reading the story when I was about 7 years old I always wondered what would have happened if it was situated in a world where shamanism and magic worked. Shadowrun gave me the answer.

The author of the story was doing community service in the sierras among the Wixáritari, a very interesting people with a deep animistic life, when he got notified of a woman in difficult labor. He went to the house as fast as he could and saved both the mother and the newborn child.

After the birth of a child, the father would wander looking for animal tracks. The animal whose track he found first would become the child's protector, and be used as a last name. The first thing the father saw were the doctor's bicycle's tracks in the dirt.

The doctor became the kids godfather, and left him his bicycle when he moved back to the city. As far as I know, this is the only kid ever who has been able to literally ride on his spirit animal, up and down the hills, faster than the wind. All the other kids had to eat peyote (which we had very specific rules for in our Shadowrun group) .
posted by Ayn Rand and God at 11:01 PM on July 1, 2011 [3 favorites]


I played Shadowrun, in Seattle, in 1990-mumble, before everything happened, more or less. no grunge, or at least no top ten Nirvana. No Microsoft, or only hints thereof; no Magic the Gathering or laptops or a jillion Starbucks. Shadowrun was, and is, awesome, specifically because it forecast the gathering storm.

Of course, of those I played with, a couple died of heroin overdoses and a couple made out big time with WOTC options. You pays your money and you throws the dice.
posted by mwhybark at 11:45 PM on July 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


I loved Shadowrun. Such a neat, fun setting.

Amongst the many things to love about Shadowrun was the idea that magic would let the natives kick arse, and that so empowered they wouldn't really be interesting in cuddling up to the arseholes who'd genocided them onto reserves. I'm surprised it gets so much snide on MeFi, given how much snide more orthodox fantasy/steampunk/sci-fi gets for being so white, white uber alles.
posted by rodgerd at 12:46 AM on July 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


That is right rodgerd. For a bunch of outcast Mexican kids Shadowrun had the best setting of all: Native shamans blowing up the man's ICBMs mid flight with their chants, in a country were people still make sacrifices to ancient rain gods.

Some memorable members of my group looked nothing like the characters they played in D&D, Star Wars, Vampire, etc... but they would have been perfect in the Shadowrun universe. Some of them were: a mostly native mestizo with a mohawk who worked as a messeger and could kick ass; a Mexican-Japanese woman who did prehispanic herbalism and read tarot and i-ching; a blond descendant of pre-revolutionary hacendados who had british last names and was ambivalent about the loss of his family's thousand hectare ranch and sugar mill to Zapata's forces; a 400 pound philosophy professor who kept an "ethnobotanic" garden full of hallucinogens in his tiny balcony; the son of a Mexican Army lieutenant, a kid who hated his father because he had tortured some Zapatistas in Chiapas, and who dreamed of all the mestizos and indians in the army reveling against the white elites. I was into computers and chemistry, I could mix incendiaries and improvise ammunitions, and got good enough at coding that now I work at one of the companies that is turning science fiction into reality every day.

Shadowrun was inspiring, in that the heroes looked just like us.
posted by Ayn Rand and God at 1:40 AM on July 2, 2011 [9 favorites]


I always loved the Shadowrun setting and like other I think in the right hands it could make a pretty good mmorpg. I know a few years ago one of the original game designers licensed the the video game rights back from Microsoft (along with a few other old FASA IPs) but no news yet on any forthcoming games.
posted by the_artificer at 3:02 AM on July 2, 2011


Weird. over at MLG, Shadowrun on the XBox is considered the pinnacle of competitive gaming by many people and I understand that Shadowrun tournaments were common and very well-attended for a while (many old-school Halo pros used to compete). Also, Bungie hired the Shadowrun multiplayer lead developer (Serge?) to work on the Halo: Reach multiplayer.
posted by NeonSurge at 4:13 AM on July 2, 2011


And, for what it's worth, I think 2XS is one of the very best game tie-in books of any game system.
posted by cerulgalactus at 5:17 AM on July 2, 2011


This reminds me of another 80s RPG that I loved, Top Secret.

Oh, man. Speaking of not taking things seriously...I had a Top Secret character who was an assassin. His favorite weapon was a collapsible chainsaw that could fit in a briefcase. In the only adventure where I really got to use him, he was running down the length of a train, brandishing his chainsaw, wearing a hockey mask...and full-on lederhosen.

He apparently thought "tradecraft" meant people exchanging hand-knitted socks.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 6:38 AM on July 2, 2011


There was a Wild Cards style multiple-authors-in-a-shared-world anthology around the same time that also featured a world where magic worked in some zones and technology worked in some other zones, anyone remember what that was called?

It's not an anthology, but Weis and Hickman did that unfinished Starshield thing.
posted by adamdschneider at 8:17 AM on July 2, 2011


Ok, the props weren't great, but they were there, and they were let down. I think it kind of bothers me that someone put more time into making those props than the actors bothered to spend rehearsing for their roles.
But hey, maybe the prop maker was paid. Who knows.
posted by anonymisc at 9:22 AM on July 2, 2011


Finally got around to watching this and man, the nostalgia that evokes. I never played Shadowrun myself, but it was on my list of "games to try" for a long time. At the time, I thought the elves and stuff would be too cheesy, but in my old age I don't care so much about the cheese factor if it looks fun. After playing Amber for years, I think it wouldn't be that hard to juggle the groups on divergent timelines (hackers in cyberspace vs everybody else), and that plus some dice stuff, apparently now fixed, was what I always heard was broken in terms of mechanics.
posted by immlass at 10:33 AM on July 2, 2011


This anthology thing I'm thinking of is definitely not Infinite City (though the setting sounds very much the same), and wasn't Starshield either. I seem to recall a little mini-wave of sort of genre-bending magic / technology stories around that time (probably the early - mid 1990s, as cyperpunk tropes began to invade every other for of genre fiction), such as the comic series Grimjack and (probably later) the Torg RPG. But I still can't for the life of me remember the name of this series...
posted by whir at 11:52 AM on July 2, 2011


Aha! Tvtropes to the rescue - I was thinking of Borderlands.
posted by whir at 11:56 AM on July 2, 2011


i played 1st ed for many years, and had never seen this video. if i had, i would have never played it. this is awesomely terrible.
posted by radiosilents at 1:12 PM on July 2, 2011


All these mentions of Gen Con, Metafilter needs a Gen Con post someday.
posted by drezdn at 1:52 PM on July 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Aww man, I fucking loved Shadowrun. I could never get into the DnD "Ye Olde Ages of Yore" crap. But Shadowrun… it was like Blade Runner with another decade of work under the covers.

The biggest problem with Shadowrun was the same as with all RPGs… the awesomeness was directly proportional to the story-telling ability of your Game Master (/Dungeon Master). If it weren't for Shadowrun I probably wouldn't be writing software right now. I also have it to thank for my first threesome.

Shadowrun was, and is, awesome, specifically because it forecast the gathering storm.

YES! Precisely! Shadowrun was for kids of the BBS age.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:01 PM on July 2, 2011


Shadowrun was awesome awesome awesome. We had so much fun playing that game!
posted by Vindaloo at 6:40 PM on July 2, 2011


Civil_Disobedient with the headsplody comment of the thread!
posted by mephron at 1:22 AM on July 3, 2011


Top Secret was the first RPG my brother and I played after D&D (mostly because our parents suddenly decided that D&D was going to convert us to Satanism, but that shooting Russians was fine). There was a module in the rulebook that was filled with random loot you'd never come across as a player, like old paintings in a random attic or gold bullion in a yacht.

So I GMd my brother through it, making sure he found all the stuff. Then he GMd me through it, making sure I found all the stuff. (It was totally legit. Totally.)

So there we were with our characters sitting on a pile of loot.

'What are you going to do with yours?'
'Buy a Street Hawk.'
'Yeah, me too.'

Top Secret was much more awesome after that.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 3:13 AM on July 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


And dragons as CEOs? When you're working from the Western Nordic tradition of dragons as the embodiment of greed, it's kind of impossible not to have them end up there.
posted by rodgerd at 12:12 PM on July 3, 2011 [3 favorites]


I also remember this video from their GenCon booth in Milwaukee. I thought FASA did a great job with the setting and mood in Shadowrun, and liked how they set the character creation around archetypical characters that you'd expect from a movie about the same subject. It's been a while, so I can't recall now the "beefcake" specialty, but the shaman/mage aspect, rigger/hacker aspect, and just the scenes for the adventure were great for the imagination. From the wikipedia link above:

It combines genres of cyberpunk, urban fantasy and crime, with occasional elements of conspiracy fiction, horror, and detective fiction.

I also think they did a good job with the modules they published - quite a bit of variety. I just have to add my voice to the frustration about the actual d6 game design. It became such a tedious thing to attempt a super act of heroism, though if you thought of your character as an action movie star, deep down you always wanted to try.

I'd always thought the background was rich enough that we'd see a real feature film in that setting. But maybe the well had run dry after the promo was released.
posted by Metro Gnome at 3:18 PM on July 3, 2011


Oh I loved Shadowrun as a kid. I loved the idea that at some point many in the world just turned in to some other random magical race. Of all the post-apocalyptic scenarios, that was my favourite.
posted by Theta States at 9:47 AM on July 4, 2011


I never really thought Shadowrun was ever as good as CP2020 which in turn was never as good as the initial promise shown by CP2013. Friday Night Firefight was lethal and everyone had either an FN FAL or IMI Galil for that delicious 11d6+3 PB & Close damage (never mind that by the time of the game those weapons were 59 and 41 years old respectively in the setting). I still remember the misprinted WA and Reliability stats for the M16 as well. Ah! R Talsorian Games, was there nothing you couldn't ruin with piss poor copy editing?

GURPS Cyberpunk was OK if very light on actual cyberwear, GURPS Cyberworld had a terrible background but GURPS Cthulhupunk had stats for Azathoth and co which automatically made it hilarious.

ICE's Cyberspace was worth it only for the sheer amount of tables. Anyone who played that game will probably remember "You trip over an imaginary dead turtle" and other gems from the "Moving Manouevre" Table.

Of the lot of them I'd say I played more 2020 than anything (which is sad). My Solo "Yutani" and his Techie colleague "Weyland" (sue me) were infiltration specialists and to my knowledge I was the only Solo in any game I ever saw or played in to have absolutely no cyberwear at all. Instead I relied on tactics and combat drugs. Great fun.
posted by longbaugh at 11:01 AM on July 4, 2011


Also, fuck elves. Seriously. Stay in the trees you flouncy little shits. Elf snipers? Jog on.
posted by longbaugh at 11:22 AM on July 4, 2011


As an aside, Gibson may not have liked the concept of Shadowrun, but it's not like CP2020 was enthusiastic about him; from my distant memories of Usenet, the 2020 guys were hostile to Gibson and regarded him as Sterling's effete bastard sibling.
posted by rodgerd at 12:04 PM on July 4, 2011


Even if they weren't fans of him or his style, RTG did steal virtually everything from Gibson. One look at the Chromebooks shows that quite clearly. Since I got into the whole genre through Neuromancer that was my guide as to how it should be played. I can understand that my opinion and my reading of the genre was clearly coloured by the adventures of Henry Dorsett Case et al.

Perhaps the RTG guys started with Shockwave Rider or something similar and that was the grounding from which they approached the game world. I dunno. Either way - I've got every 2013 and 2020 book ever printed including the Interface magazines and even When Gravity Fails so they did alright out of me.

In retrospect the system and the gameworld is of course entirely terrible but 12 year old me didn't quite have developed taste and though that big guns were where it was at.
It was still better than Shadowrun.
posted by longbaugh at 12:27 PM on July 4, 2011


Ah yes, the Chromeguides. I remember the exact moment when RTG discovered Bubblegum Crisis and the rest of mid-80s anime, and the entire setting went to hell with full-body cyborg conversions, powet armor, and anything else that would make a munchkin come in his pants.

It amuses me that C2020 fans mock Shadowrun and it's elves when they were putting anime-style catgirls in their game.
posted by happyroach at 3:31 PM on July 4, 2011


Luckily we didn't adopt the gunbunny full-cyborg conversion guff or any of the catgirl rubbish (I have literally never understood how that fetish started). When I started GMing about 14-15 years old I was using Neuromancer and the Sprawl Trilogy as my guide and kept it close to the street, hard, unforgiving and realistic. No 20' tall ACPA mounting railguns and electrothermal gatlings thank you very much.

Incidentally - whilst I am in a random RPG thread I though I'd mention that SJ Games have just let the cat out of the bag on a new project - GURPS 4e Discworld. Based on the 3e books by Phil Masters and Terry Pratchett himself - coming sometime soon I hope. As a group, Metafilter is a big fan of Sir Pterry so I thought I'd mention it in passing ;)
posted by longbaugh at 6:27 AM on July 5, 2011


Please tell me TSR shot back by making a live action Spelljammer promo.

I give you... Wildspace. Trailer for a television pilot based on a never-published Spelljammer boardgame.

This video was looping on monitors at the TSR Castle all through Gen Con '94. (I think it was 1994, anyway.) I hear the pilot actually aired once around the holidays that year.
posted by faster than a speeding bulette at 10:35 PM on July 5, 2011 [5 favorites]


Nice find!
posted by whir at 3:38 PM on July 7, 2011


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