SR5 development: The little things

Shadowrun 5 Logo with TextWe’ve covered some of the more significant changes Shadowrun, Fifth Edition makes in previous blog posts, things like limits (actually, we did that twice), and changes to magic and the Matrix (we did that one twice too), as well as some of the design philosophy behind the rules. Today I want to cover some of the smaller things I like—some of the tweaks we made to make the game easier and more fun to play. Here are a few of the things that make me smile when I look through the rules:

  • Reckless Spellcasting: I love that term. As soon as the rules committee came up with it, I knew the concept needed to be included in Shadowrun somehow. Those two words just seemed to fit so well together! It helped that the mechanics behind it fit the “Everything has a price” theme we developed for the game. Want to cast spells faster so you can do more in short order? Go for it! Just be ready to deal with more Drain.
  • Vehicle seats: Such a simple thing, but so useful. Vehicle stats now include a number of seats in the vehicle, so you know how many people can ride in the basic model. I’ve wanted that stat plenty of times, and I have been asked about it many times. I’m happy this number is now there!
  • Mission rewards: Speaking of things I’ve wanted and have been asked about, knowing how much to pay for a basic run is tricky. Now we have a simple formula that lets you calculate what the runners should receive in nuyen and Karma. Is it binding in every instance? Nope. Is it useful? I sure think so.
  • What’s in a SIN? What information is in a SIN? How is it checked? What do the different levels of security in a SIN mean? Fifth Edition has those answers!
  • Interrupt actions: Things going downhill fast in combat and you are willing to trade speed for some extra defense? You can! Use an Interrupt Action, take a hit to your Initiative Score, and gain some dice to keep your hoop safe.
  • Simplified firing modes: There’s a balance to strike here (as there is in everything else). The range of options in Shadowrun, Fourth Edition provided lots of possibilities, but also a lot of complexities and difficult things to track. We streamlined the modes a little, making things easier to track while also providing shooters with options for how they want to use their guns to bring the pain.
  • Names of Edge uses: There is a short label for each use of Edge. It’s a simple thing, but it makes Edge easier to refer to and easier to remember what it does. And we like things that do that!
  • Ritual spellcasting is more alluring: On reflection, I should have talked about this more in the entry on magic. One of the mandates we developed for Fifth Edition was that ritual spellcasting should have a more distinct flavor and it should be something that makes you want to use it. Without giving away too much, I believe we accomplished both goals.
  • Critters gain teeth: I haven’t given enough props to the “Helps & Hindrances” chapter of the book, but Patrick Goodman was seriously committed to making critters both workable and scary. The critter powers are a demonstration of his commitment.

And that’s just a few things. I loved the way the writers of this book applied their brainpower all over the place, making tweaks where they could to make the game smoother, faster, and more fun.

Next time, we’ll look at one of the most beefed-up chapters of the book—the tremendous “Gamemaster Advice” chapter!

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