A question was asked. What are some good (maybe lesser known) Shadowrun 5e tips and tricks. I thought about it, and only had a few answers immediately ready. Now, that I have a chance to sit and think about the question, I figure I will take down the answers here.
I’ve already written a few write-ups that you can find on this site about different ways you can use Reagents and some methods to speed up the Matrix.
These are going to be other tips and tricks that I’ve either discovered on my own or learned from others.
Stat Blocks – Some make the mistake of trying to stat up their NPCs. Instead of wasting time coming up with stat blocks for NPCs that may not even survive, just grab some dice. If you figure that the “average” human is going to have attributes of 3s, and skills in the 3 range as well, that means “average” dice pools of 6. Well, your Average nobody will probably have a specialization or augmented bonus of some sort, so grab 8 dice instead. 8 dice is good for low-life grunts who aren’t there really to pose a significant threat, but to merely delay your PCs, or be a nuisance. If you want your NPCs to pose a significant threat, grab 12 dice instead. 12 dice is enough to score 4 hits on average, or to buy 3 hits. If several gangers with 12 dice shoot at someone, they are likely to hit. Serious threats, on the other hand, warrant 16 dice. This allows for 4 purchased hits, or 5 if you roll average. NPCs might cause some actual damage with this amount of dice.
Now, with everything, you need to know your players, and your PCs. If they are all of the optimized variety, you can add 2-4 dice to the numbers I’ve listed above.
For Major NPCs, if they survive, you can stat them later. No one is really going to notice if they were firing with 16 dice in one encounter, and later (after you’ve had a chance to think about some of their gear and augmentations) they suddenly have 19 dice. But even if you give them a stat block later, keep it short. Attack, defense, armor values maybe. A few key skills that will matter; Negotiations, Con, Small Unit Tactics, Composure, Judge Intentions.
This works outside of combat as well. Street chase between PCs and a group of semi-skilled gangers, 8 dice should work.
Gear – In the same vein as stat blocks, it is okay to leave gear mostly ambiguous until it matters. No one is going to realize that you were capping yourself at X dice during the fight, but when they scoop up the guns, the accuracy is Y. Its not that important, since guns rarely fetch a fencing value worth anything, so they are likely to just be left behind.
Say Yes – Some refer to this as “Yes, and” or “yes, but.” When your player asks to do something, say yes. Let them be the hero of the story. Of course, you may get some players that want to do the absurd that really doesn’t make sense or fit the game/world/story. So use a little common sense, and ask your players to use a little common sense. But if a Player asks if there’s a window on that wall over there, and it really doesn’t matter one way or the other, say yes. Now, if you’ve mapped the place out, and that wall leads into a lab, or another room, instead of outside, then you say no. Is there a fire extinguisher in the hallway? Yes, and it happens to be mounted on the wall right by those NPCs.
Now, saying Yes goes both ways. If you are a player, and the GM presents some information, or what may be some plot info, and he asks if you are going to interact with it, say yes. Unless you have a really valid reason not to, you should usually take whatever bait the GM lays for you.
Metagaming – Usually, metagaming is something you should avoid. If you’ve read some novels, and you know what certain people go on to do in the lore, don’t just assume that the lore in the game you are playing is identical. If you’ve played through a certain module before, then let some of the other players come up with some of the important decisions. Metagaming isn’t always bad though. As a friend points out, you sometimes need to engineer a situation to further the story. Example. Take a modern horror story perhaps, where the PCs come across a classic Vampire. They know nothing about it, nothing about its strengths and weakneses. It is up to the Player to discover the ineffectiveness of their current weapon, and then to improvise. The player knows he needs a wooden stake, but the PC should try a golf club, then maybe a gun.. and then out of desperation because nothing works, he grabs the chair and breaks it over the vampire’s back, only to have the vampire recoil in fear at the broken, wooden chair leg.
Don’t be afraid to fail – Failure doesn’t mean game over. Failure doesn’t even always mean death of a PC. Failure in certain tasks can mean that now more interesting things are about to happen. You should trust that your GM is not going to immediately kill everyone because they were all knocked out. If the players are fighting, say feral ghouls, where being knocked out will likely lead to the PCs being eaten, then the GM should say something to the players.
Trust – This goes both ways, and is partially addressed in the “say yes” portion above. If you are a GM, trust your players not to go out of their way to ruin the game (unless this is actually an issue, then there might be other problems). Trust that your players are there to have fun as well as you, and will actually play the game.
On the player side, trust that your GM is not just looking for new and interesting ways to ruin your PC. Dramatic things happen, bad things happen, but these are often catalysts to the story. When it looks like the story is leading into a place of no return, trust that your GM is going to leave you an out of some sort. Maybe the opposition is way overpowered, you might be able to run. You might be able to sneak. You might be able to talk your way past a stronger opponent, The point is, have some trust in your GM.
Play the game – This come into play with trusting your GM, but there’s more than that. Pull levers. If you notice that the plot is to the left, don’t be a dick and go right just out of spite. Play the game. If the game allows your stuff to be hacked so that a certain archetype (Deckers) have something to do, then don’t go out of your way to minimize that aspect. Play the game. If there’s a McGuffin presented to you, and you know it’s probably a trap. Interact with it anyway. Play the game.
Playing in Character – As a GM, most of us like when our players remain in-character, and don’t drift OOC all that much. We like the immersion, the interactions, etc. Just remember that roleplaying your character is not license to be a dick to the other players. If your sole response to something bad is “But that’s what my character would do” you might want to rethink your character. Rogues shouldn’t be stealing from party members. “Loners” shouldn’t be making the game harder for everyone else, because they want to be the whiny, broody type that never wants to play along with the rest. Characters can be dicks, but ultimately, it is you, the player, who chose to play that dick of a character. Remember that.
I might have more for later. I will either update this, or start a new page. If you have ideas that I might have missed, feel free to leave a comment below.