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GM Wrap Up: Following the Silver Angel, Part I

Running the shadows of the sixth world for the past twenty years I’ve experienced the 2050’s and their grungy unfiltered reality. I’ve gone the distance and saw the flip from Deck to Link, and the bright and oh so shiny 2070’s. When BQSCIW became BARSCILW. Taking the step back into the lands of first edition and rules, restrictions, and growth of the development cycle has been an awakening experience. My prep work for setting up Silver Angel has set much of the standard I’m going to follow in converting these adventures towards the 4th edition standard.

I’m going to start with a mini-review of the 2050’s guidebook. The fiction, descriptions, places, and character chatter in the book are great. It’s got a wonderful mix of new and old, and I’d recommend anyone to pick it up just to take a walk down memory lane. Then you hit the rules and outside of gear, things start lacking. The Matrix feels really stripped down compared to what we’re used to in 4th ed and a few tables and rules are just completely missing. While an errata exists for some of the missing program costs, these don’t feel completely in sync with the rest of the way Shadowrun handles Matrix purchases. I ended up having the group’s Decker use the program costs from the 20th Anniversary Core book and assigned common use and hacking program labels to the 2050 programs. Magic feels a little awkward explaining what a conjurer can and cannot do with spirits since Mages and Shamans are hard linked to bound or unbound spirits. Again, I’d recommend the book, but do so with caution and willingness to adapt the information between various books.

Silver Angel is a fairly straight forward module. At 32 pages, there isn’t much room for heavy betrayal, double crossing, and side plots. It’s a clean start for the players, serves as a good way to group up some new players, and provides them immediate access to a fixer. As the first Module I’m running, I have to say I’m rather happy with this setup and would recommend this for any starting game master.

Pre-game conversion required converting 19 NPC’s or NPC groups from 1st edition to 4th edition rules. I used the third to fourth edition conversion document Fanpro provided, but I found a lot of skills missing from these earlier characters. Physical/athletics skills are completely missing from these earlier characters, and skills introduced in 4th edition have to be added such as Perception and Dodge. There’s also the nature of the various pools that have to be converted or removed. The few casters were easily adjusted, but the deckers suffered a bit from the vast difference between the 4th ed 2050 rules and the 1st edition rules. A number of Target Numbers had to also be modified as older editions expect players to roll against a high target number, and not just earn a number of successes.

Adapting the game to the players was a fun task. Two of the players are new so they’re feeling out the world of Shadowrun. Even our experienced player isn’t totally in sync yet with some of the requirements of being a runner, so when this session of legwork before the major run started a little bit of GM prodding was required. Silver Angel helps cover this though, as the Johnson for this, Eve Donovan, wants everything to go smooth with this run and requires being a part of planning sessions. This gives me a hand directly in being able to point the players after the right tracks, leading towards the two major encounters of the first two episodes of Silver Angel.

The following paragraph contains spoilers for Silver Angel Episode 2, so skip it until you listen to that episode.

A Note on adapting encounters; Game designers and Game masters can only do so much, and players are great at screwing up events and encounters. Take the meeting with Whisper. The book suggests for players to meet Whisper at The Cutting Edge, but Mr. Grey and Mr. Black insisted on going to the bar in the AM. Their meeting with Winslow was far earlier than expected, so having them leave a message for Whisper was appropriate. The encounter with the grunts should have been at the club, but since they insisted I adjusted the situation to take place around Karen’s apartment. I kept a similar format with the three initial grunts being in the front of the house, and the more advanced cyber thug outback waiting for Karen to make her escape. As soon as car crashes, spells, and gunfire breaks out front, Karen bolts and Silverthorne attempts to take her down. Almost does too until Grey steps in. I wonder what’s going to happen since the players left all four grunts alive (although one barely).

The players still need to get into Caviler and steal Silver Angel from MCT. They’ve grabbed the right data they need to setup the run, now they just have to enact the plan and get out safe. They all have ¥40,000 burning in each of their pockets, and another ¥20,000 if they provide Silver Angel, and ¥17,000 more if they keep it quiet. I’m a little surprised none of them have used this money to see about getting new personal items prior to the run going down. Maybe they’ll spread a little of that around to get what they need to get into the center.

Overall the game has been a great success. I’m loving this module and reading through some of the other first edition works is drawing my attention. There’s a lot left just to fill 2050 and 2051, and I wish I had picked up these modules when I first started to game to help me learn faster how to run the world of Shadowrun.

Stay tuned to this Friday when Silver Angel Session 1 Part 2 drops.

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