Tales of the River City Wrecking Crew
The Rule of Rules (Rule Zero): Every piece of tech, spell, metavariant, variant rule, etc. is subject to change or removal at the discretion of the GM. Even if a game element is initially permitted, if it is later deemed incompatible with the campaign, it will be modified or removed. Any characters (PC or NPC) that use that element will be required to adjust to the change (in other words, no grandfathering). The GM will attempt to keep this sort of thing to a minimum (if at all), but sometimes this may happen in the process of keeping the rules appropriate to the campaign setting. Rationale: Some things that may seem like a good idea at one time may turn out to be a bad idea in use. No grandfathering also maintains a consistency with the game setting and prevents people from abusing the letter of the rules if they choose not to respect the spirit.
The Pilot Episode: The first adventure will essentially be the “Pilot”. That way if something goes sideways or needs to be altered or “rewound” so to speak, it won’t ruin the rest of the campaign. Essentially, this is a variation on Rule Zero (see above) but applies in tandem with Rule Zero. As a side note, the pilot episode may be a multi-session adventure depending on how things go.
Episodes and Arcs: Like “Buffy” and “Angel”, “Tales” will be mostly episodic but those episodes will get the heroes involved in wider arcs. As a result there will be “villains of the week” as well as the big bad evil guys.
Tone: The influences and inspirations of this campaign include Leverage, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Angel, along with a variety of cyberpunk authors and movies.
Campaign Theme(s): “Tales” isn’t your average Shadowrun campaign. A lot of times the stereotypical campaign can be described as “mercenary” or “organized mayhem”. “Tales” is intended to be a little more heroic and cinematic. Below are a number of themes and concepts to explore and investigate in the campaign:
Black Ops, Hearts of Gold: Although the characters are antiheroes or perhaps even criminals, they still know right from wrong and act for the better of others and the community – even if it means they have to give up the big payoff. Overall, they run the shadows in order to get the big payoff and get out or otherwise improve their situation or the life of someone close to them.
Starting Out Small: Rather than starting in media res, the heroes start out small and grow in power; as they grow in strength, the scope of their world grows as does the heroes’ influence.
Balance: There are many forces in Shadowrun that are purported to be the “ultimate”. Magic. Faith. Technology. Money. While they can impart great power to those wield them expertly, those who do not exercise the proper amount of responsibility and respect can find themselves off-balance. That imbalance can easily lead a person to be blinded and corrupted. Only by achieving balance can one maintain harmony.
Strength in Diversity/”United We Stand”: In Shadowrun diversity has grown beyond just skin color and beliefs. Trolls, orks, elves, dwarves – and others – have given some cause to rethink their approach toward and philosophy about life. Those same changes have given others all the more reason to cling fearfully to their outdated notions and prejudices. Only by overcoming those prejudices and fears and by embracing diversity can we find strength.
The Bond of Family/Power of Love/To Thine Ownself Be True: The turmoil found in Shadowrun’s future history has no doubt torn families asunder as well as reinforced the bonds of kinship. Does a hero come from a family torn by strife? Will they find their own dreams at odds with that of a patriarch, a matriarch or sibling? Will they mend the torn bonds or break with tradition?
These themes are by no means the end all and be all of ideas to be explored, but they’re a good start.
Layers and Revelations: Rather than dive in with both feet and founder around, we’re going to start at the shallow end and walk/swim toward the deep end. This is to allow me – a neophyte Shadowrun GM – and any players new to the system and setting to adjust to the complexities and idiosyncracies. To start with, we’ll be going with the core book, Shadowrun 2050, Street Magic, and the Runner’s Companion. As the campaign progresses, the complexities and interactions of society, magic, technology and other factors of the setting will be revealed in layers.
An Ensemble Cast: Because scheduling seems to be a bane for all of us when we get older, there should be overlap in roles between characters. This ensures that unless something serious happens, the campaign can go on despite one or more group members not being present. Additionally, I will try to keep adventures to one per session unless we know for certain that people are going to be available for longer adventures over a stretch.
Cinematic Rules: The rules for cinematic gameplay found on p.75 of the 20th anniversary core rules are in use.