I was asked why I was picking up the new edition of Shadowrun when I’ve already invested heavily into 4th edition. While I do believe there isn’t a compelling reason to move from 4th edition to 5th edition for many existing players (is there ever?). I do have my reasons for moving to the new edition, some based on the previews and some based on internet rumours.
The tagline for the new edition of Shadowrun is “Everything has a price” which resonates with the way I run the game. It also sums up what I feel 4th editions biggest problem was – characters didn’t need to struggle because they were often guaranteed at least a single success on any task. This caused 4E Shadowrun to feel heroic in its implementation which doesn’t jive with many cyberpunk tropes.
The Priority System
The priority character creation system is making a return as a core rule in the next edition. From everything I’ve seen so far this has me the most excited and confident that Shadowrun is returning to its roots – hard choices over the soft choices prevalent in 4E. It also addresses one issue new players have when creating a character – an overwhelming amount of choice. In 5E Players just have to rank Race, Skills, Magical/Technomancy, Attributes and nuyen. I also like the way that the priority system builds in some of the Shadowrun tropes – you will never see a rich, full magician troll under the priority system.
New Matrix Rules
The Shadowrun quick start rules are up but are unfortunately in German. Luckily apple from the Dumpshock forums has pieced together some of the highlights and from what I can tell the matrix rules have changed. 4th edition was the first edition where hackers as player characters became viable in my group and I didn’t struggle with rules but my players still found the Skill + Program pool mechanic jarring and we still struggled at matrix combat. I like what I’ve read about the matrix system in the quick start rules (albeit translated) and I’m hoping the new rules are more consistent than they currently are.
New Chase Rules
During a recent game of Sleeping Dogs I was tasked by the triads to make an example of a woman with some gambling debts. The mission revolves around a car chase that saw my character shooting gun men out of support vehicles, ramping off their dead bodies, then shooting out the tires of the support cars before flinging myself on to the women’s car to hijack it. My first thought was I had to find a way to replicate this in Shadowrun, my second thought as that the current chase rules are a nightmare to run and don’t support this cinematic type of chase. It’s rumoured the 5th edition of Shadowrun contains improved chase rules and I’m hoping thats true because two of the set pieces for my new campaign involves chases between a suspended monorail and a yellow jacket plus the sleeping dogs chase above. It would be great to have rules that support this type of action.
My anniversary edition rulebook is badly water damaged and while its not desperate to get a new one, a new edition is a good excuse. There is also a large gap in my Shadowrun print collection when it comes to 4th edition as I only purchased the PDFs outside of the core rulebook. I’m going back to buying the print edition for 5th edition as I miss having the print books on hand.
Support for the brand
I’ve supported Shadowrun brand since 1996 and enjoyed many hours of gaming in the setting. I know I would be sadden if Shadowrun were no longer to be actively developed and purchasing the new edition is my way of showing my appreciation for the people who have worked on the brand.