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Frequently Asked Questions

Part 1: The Shadowrun System


Do I need the books in order to play?

The answer to this question is 'probably'. While we don't *require* that you have the books in order to play the game, it can be very difficult to complete chargen at present without them. You'll have to ask a lot of questions of people on the channels in order to get the information you need. While we're happy to help, the entire experience is much easier and smoother if you have the books.

If you choose to play without the books, you should at least be familiar with the various aspects of the game system. It's a complicated system, which is another reason we strongly recommend that you have at least read the third edition books. If you have first or second edition books, then those can potentially work. The game uses third edition. Be familiar with the changes made in various systems, especially the new way initiative works, the changes to how magic works, and the new rules for essence and body index, etc.


Why don't you post information about 'x' on the game?

The copyright to the Shadowrun System is currently owned by Wizkids, LLC. I've checked with them and they advised me that a safe course, until a formal Internet policy is posted, is that posting and/or coding 'numerical' data is probably all right. However, quoting sections of the sourcebooks is not okay. We very much want to avoid any legal issues over this game and keep it open for everyone to play. In addition, we respect the hard work and money that FASA and Wizkids have invested into creating the system we all enjoy. In addition, we strongly want to encourage people to buy the books. That supports their efforts and helps ensure that the system will continue to be developed for and supported.


Why don't you use Shadowrun Companion?

In most cases, we found many of the optional rules in Shadowrun Companion to not be part of the game we wanted to play. Some of them, including some of the edges and flaws, are in our opinion game unbalancing. Many of the other optional rules seemed to be designed to make the game more lethal, more powerful, without really adding anything in terms of making archetypes more playable or more interesting. We decided that anything we used out of that book would be implemented as a house rule.


Do you allow the metahuman variants (Night Ones, etc)? What about Shapeshifters?

We do allow characters to play a member of these races, but statwise they are implemented exactly as any other member of the 'main' race. This is done to simplify chargen and to reflect the fact that these races are, ICly, rare. When something has bonuses with no real corresponding disadvantages, people have a tendency to want to play those simply for the bonus. You can play one if you wish, describe yourself as one, but for game and stat purposes, you are a normal elf/troll/dwarf/ork.

Shapeshifters are an intriguing concept, but once again, the disadvantages they suffer are not large enough to offset the advantages they gain. So far we have avoided having to insert any kinds of quota on what characters can play, or have 'application slots' of any kind to restrict people. No one archetype is significantly more 'powerful' than any other.


What about Year of the Comet?

Year of the Comet is a relatively new book in the Shadowrun series. It came out after we opened the game, and introduces two majorly new concepts to the game. We have no plans for either of them to be introduced at this time.

First, a rather powerful dragon descends on Denver and makes it his home, ruling the city with an iron fist and such-like. Dragons and other such uber-powerful NPC's are great for novels, but they're lousy for roleplaying. In the Shadowrun novels, grand, sweeping, earth-changing plots of that kind are the order of the day. However, PC's are usually not on the level where they can deal effectively with a dragon except in a distant sense. I think we've got a good setup as it stands, with no need to introduce dragons.

The second issue is 'SURGE'. Morganna on Detroit did a lengthy write-up on the issue of 'SURGE' and why it was frankly a fairly silly idea for a lot of reasons, and I agree with them. I might introduce it here, but if I do it will be done in a totally different way. The effects themselves will also be changed drastically.

Part 2: Getting Started


What are Archetypes?

An Archetype is a one or two word summary of your character concept. It's not intended to be a confining notion, like the AD&D notion of a character 'class'. Shadowrun does not have rigid definitions of character classes. However, due to the way the system is built, many characters end up falling into a single category.

For example, magic and cyberware are mutually exclusive. The more cyberware you have, the less magic you can have. Thus, a combination between a street samurai and a mage is relatively rare. Streetsams spend enough money on their gear and skills at chargen so as to have little to spend on purchasing a deck and enough Computer skill to be an effective Decker. The essence cost of a good Remote Control Deck is enough to make it difficult to be a good rigger and anything else at the same time.

Some example archetypes can be found on the 'About' page. In addition, the Shadowrun sourcebooks list many others. Setting an archetype doesn't really affect your character. We ask for one when you submit your background so that an admin that is well-versed with the rules for your style of character can review your application. It also shows up in +census when you get approved.


What archetypes do you need? What archetypes can I play?

Currently, there are no restrictions on archetypes. You can play anything that you can make in standard chargen. There are no special bonuses for playing any one archetype over any other. There are no application slots or restrictions on playing, say, mages or fixers. The only exceptions are characters who might have some special form of power due to their nature. You can't play a KE officer, or an Ares executive, or a high-ranking member of a major criminal organization. See some of the notes on orgs below.

Your character should have some connection to the Shadow community. We say this not to try to restrict you, but instead to help make sure that when you come onto the game, you have a good chance and shared background and environment for interacting with the other characters on the grid. If you play a corporate secretary, you may have difficulty going on runs or even getting other characters to talk to you about anything except generalities. This makes things difficult.

Also beware making your PC utterly dependent on another player's PC. Players come and go. They lose access, sometimes, or lose interest. While it's cool to come onto the game with the idea of role-playing with another person to help get yourself introduced, don't make your character in such a way that he or she becomes unplayable if that other character isn't around.


What's your policy on orgs?

Orgs are something that we've tried to get going on several occasions. An 'org' is an organization, which can range from a Shadowrunning team, to a legal organization like DocWagon, to a mini-corporation, to an organized crime faction, to a gang. In essence, an org is a collection of player characters who are all members of a certain organization, and who are working together toward a (mostly) common goal.

Right now, we have no formal support for orgs. We've tried to implement a couple of plans, and all of them have failed for various reasons. We've basically decided to hold off until the game grows in size sufficiently to support it.

This means that you can feel free to create a character who is a member of an organization, but understand that we, as admins, don't have any formal system in place to help you. You won't get anything special. You can't call out a Yakuza strike force, or get access to all sorts of cool gear, or whatever. We don't have plots that are custom-tailored to your org's needs. In short, we can't really hand-hold you at all.

Even given this warning, some players have decided to forge ahead, then become upset with us when we were unable to provide this support. For this reason, we tend to discourage org PC's at the present time. The same rule as above holds: try to make sure your character has some connection to the Shadow Community. Otherwise you may find it difficult to participate in plots.


Do you allow fixers?

Yes, we do allow fixer PC's. However, we've come up with a set of rules (see +hr general gear) that makes it possible to play this archetype successfully, and it does it without setting up an 'elite class' with special rules. At present, fixers are simply players with a lot of contacts and high negotiation and etiquette skills. Their purpose is to act as a proxy, so to speak, to get gear at a cheaper price and make a profit reselling it.

Because of the liberal playerplot policies on the game, another very viable concept for this archetype is brokering runs. You can set up a run, and run it as a playerplot for other PC's, ICly hiring them and serving as a middleman. You can legitimately get a cut of the payout for your services in doing so, as well. This is a good way to provide both income and fun for your PC.


What's this Web Interface I keep hearing about?

It's here on the web site. It offers a very user-friendly way to enter your background. You can literally cut and paste it from Word or Notepad right into the game. Doing so is a three-step process:
  1. Create a character on the game. If you have not already done so, create a character on the game, other than a Guest.
  2. Set your web password. Type the following within the game:

    +setwebpassword password

    In the above, substitute your desired password for password.
  3. Go to the Resources page and select the "Edit your background" link.

It makes editing your background fairly easy. You can simply insert blank lines in order to make blank lines -- no messy control codes to worry about. It will automatically break it up into sections for you if need be -- you can simply dump the thing into the first section if you wish. Wordwrapping and everything else will be taken care of for you. You can instead concentrate on your writing.


I need to make a change to my character, but I already finished chargen!

That's perfectly all right. At any time until your character is approved, you may still re-enter chargen. Re-entering chargen does not change any settings on your character or clear anythin from your sheet. In the 'Priority' and 'Race' rooms, you may simply type 'Next' to move past these areas. Part of the design of our chargen is that since the cross-checking is done when you leave, you can cheerfully go through chargen as many times as you want and move around pretty much at will without causing things to glitch.

If you *do* want to entirely start over, then go to one of the first rooms in chargen (either by typing "Out" or "Back" several times, or by going back into chargen from the player nexus). In that room, you will see in the description:

To completely reset your character, type......... +reset

You'll be asked to confirm this process. The command works only within that room, and will wipe all chargen settings except for your roll for starting cash (this is to prevent people from using it to reroll until they get a result they 'like'. Sorry). It will not wipe anything you have set directly on your character with an @ or & command, including sex, description, aura, name, or short description. However, all stats, skills, languages, cyberware, bioware, spells, powers, foci, and gear will be erased from your sheet.


How do I buy gear in chargen?

'Gear' is a collective term that refers to all of your character's possessions that are not 'built in'. This includes things like cyberdecks and programs for it; guns; armor; foci; magical supplies; melee weapons; radios and electronics; toolkits; cars -- anything your character owns that is not covered in some other area of chargen.

Gear may be purchased in the 'Gear' room of character generation. When you first arrive in the room, take a look at the exits available. If what you want to purchase could be purchased there, then purchase it there. Otherwise, you'll need to itemize the list.

Remember that you are limited to a maximum rating of 6 and a maximum availability rating of 8. Any gear that does not meet these requirements cannot be purchased at chargen, and must be purchased after your character is approved. Also remember that Street Index (SI) does not apply in character generation; you may use the base cost for each item.

Certain items do not need to be purchased. You do not need to purchase clips or magazines for guns, nor do you have to purchase 'reasonable' quantities of normal or gel ammo (reasonable means a number of rounds for personal use -- about 200 for a normal pistol, for example). You don't need to purchase ordinary equipment that 'everyone' could be assumed to have: a pocketknife, a portable CD player, cigarettes, lighter, credsticks. Clothing doesn't have to be purchased unless it is either incredibly expensive or provides some major stat advantage (armor, for example). You don't need to purchase personal jewelry unless it has some game effect (foci) or is incredibly valuable, or is used as a fetish.

Basically, put another way, unless it has some game effect, or is highly unusual or expensive, or is something you plan to resell, then you don't need to purchase it as gear. It's covered under lifestyle costs, and there's no need to take up database space with it. Simply place it in your description, or roleplay having it, and call it good.

Your gear is set up as a series of items, each one having a quantity, description, and unit cost. Certain items can be combined into a single item, and the cost should reflect the sum of all of those items combined. For example, a gun might have certain modifications placed upon it, or a deck might have its programs, each of which is priced separately. In this case, it's usually your choice whether or not to list them as separate items. A good guideline is to list something as a single item if its components cannot be easily removed (as in, require the use of a skill in order to do so).

You can use the '+create' command to add a new item to your gear list. You have to specify the name of the item, which should be a brief, 40-character or less description of what the item is. Include its 'overall' rating as well. A good description might be 'Microtransceiver, Rating 4, R6 Encryption' or 'Ares Predator II' or 'Camouflage Full Suit'. The item will be added with a cost of zero, and a quantity of one, and a blank description and notes field.

You can use the '+qty' and '+cost' fields to set the quantity of the item you are purchasing and the unit cost of the item. The quantity does not have to be set if you are purchasing only one of the item (as is most often the case). The quantity will be multiplied by the unit cost you specified to produce the total cost of the item.

The '+desc' and '+notes' commands are used to set the description for the item and the notes for it, respectively. An item's description is the in-character appearance of it. If the item looks normal for an item of its type, then you don't need to specify the description. However, if you have a special finish on your gun, or if you have a special ring that you're using as a fetish, these items ought to be described in more detail. The notes field is used for placing OOC information on an item, such as stats, modifications, etc.

Finally, if you wish to remove an item from your sheet, you may use the '+destroy' command to remove it entirely. All quantity, cost, description, and notes information is deleted for that item. Note that the item numbers of all items below the one deleted will change.

A partial listing of items available for purchase is available by typing '+info gear' within the game. The listing is incomplete and by no means represents everything available for purchase. The sourcebooks are the authoritative source for pricing and descriptions of items.

Part 3: Playerplots


What is a playerplot?

A playerplot (also called a 'PrP' for 'Player-Run Plot') is a scene or ongoing series of interactions that is run by one player who poses NPC's and sets up the scenes and background for what goes on. In effect, the player is taking on the role of game-master for the purposes of that particular scene. One or more other players participate in the playerplot; they share in the rewards as needed.

Playerplots provide a way for players to interact and actively be involved in Shadowruns and other activities without needing the direct attention of an admin. They are subject to some restrictions in terms of scope, payouts, and severity, but overall the field is limited only by the creativity of the player running the plot. Full details on the restrictions and policies regarding playerplots can be found in '+news policy playerplots' within the game.

Players are rewarded for running playerplots. When you complete the plot or scene, a log of the scene should be submitted to one of the admins for review. This process typically takes from 1 to 2 weeks. When it is finished, the admin will award the karma, reputation, gear, and money that was earned during the run. These awards may be adjusted due to various factors from that which was promised during the playerplot.


Why are playerplots important?

Probably eighty or ninety percent of the plots run on SR Denver are playerplots. There are a lot more players than there are admins, and the combined total creativity you folks have is far more than the admins could possibly have. Only you know the directions you want your character to progress in. Playerplots are a great way to accomplish that.

It allows us, as admins, to concentrate on the sort of plots that only we can run. The megaplots, so to speak. The long-term plots. The ones that might result in sweeping changes to the game. The ones with higher danger and higher payouts. From the start, we planned on Denver being a place where playerplots were the bread-and-butter of what happened during game play, with admin-plots being the periodic spicy dessert.


Can I run a playerplot?

Once you're approved for roleplaying, the answer is always 'yes'. Even if your PC is in jail, ICly, or laid up recuperating, you can still run a playerplot (though your PC might not be able to participate). All you need is an idea, a vague storyline, and the initiative to get people together.

A playerplot doesn't have to be a Shadowrun, per se, either. It can be just about anything. If you want a group of goody-two-shoes runners, relatively speaking, then a nasty guy could kidnap an innocent girl/boy, and the runners get to rescue him/her. There might not be any cash in it for them, but karma and reputation points galore. Shadowruns don't even have to come from Johnsons. Other groups can set them up. If you're a fixer, you have a prime way to introduce just about any plot.

Playerplots are a great way to meet other players, a good way to get things going and have some fun. The important thing is excitement. How much you plan ahead of time is up to you and your style of gaming. Some plots are meticulously planned for weeks before implementation, with maps, charts, diagrams, etc. Other plots are run on the spur of the moment to alleviate boredom. Still others are run for one PC, with others going along in support roles.

One quick idea: think of something your PC wants, and then design a plot to go after it. Get somebody else to run it, or run it yourself, using your PC and a few others. If your PC wants a program for his deck, get a couple of other deckers together and go after it as a surgical strike. Maybe the others don't get paid, but you'll owe them a favor come next time, and they can run a similar sort of plot for something they want. It's all about having fun.


But I can't run a playerplot!

Yes, you can. See? We said so just above! But I'm gonna list here the most common excuses we see, and why we disagree. The real thing is, we want to encourage you to run PrPs. Ideally, every player is both a GM and a player at different points. That's the fun of the system. When players can't run something, they're missing out on part of the fun, and depriving other players of the enjoyment they could be creating!
  • I can't think of anything. Okay. This one is at least slightly legit. Everybody gets writers block. But try these questions. What does your character want? What would get people interested? What would cause other people to sit up and take notice? Start with a premise and work from there. Maybe even an off-the-wall premise. Two guys come into the bar, guns drawn at each other. Then go from there. Who are they? Why would they be shooting at each other? Is one of them the aggressor and the other the defender? Inquiring minds want to know. Check out the SSPrP boards and see if there are any plots there available to run.
  • I don't know the rules well enough. So, run something for your particular archetype. If you don't know, then ask. Start up the PrP with your premise, then ask another player to help you out with the dice-rolling. It's a great way to learn.
  • I don't have time. Sometimes legitimate, if it's really true. But if you don't have time to run one, you don't have time to play in them, either. If you have time to play in them, then you have time to run one. It's pretty straightforward.


How can I advertise my plot and attract players?

We've added a lot of code to help you advertise your plot. There are two basic methods you can use: OOC advertising and IC advertising. IC advertising comes at the players through in-character channels, while OOC advertising uses OOC channels.

One thing to mention is that a combination of techniques works well. Let people know through a bboard post that you'll be running it, but don't expect a lot of people to commit via @mail. About an hour before you run it, announce it on the Announcements channel, and refer to your +bbpost by number so people can view it. Page anyone who expressed an interest and see if they're still up for it. Announce again just before you're about to start, if you still need players. The 'real time' nature of an announcement helps people join in who might've been uncertain whether they had time, when they saw the announcement, or who just plain forgot.

  • The Announcements Channel. Every player gets added to this by default on leaving chargen. It's set up specifically so that players can do announcements of plots, events, and things like that. Keep the channel free from extraneous clutter. If it gets 'loud', then people will stop using it. This channel is OOC, but you can make an announcement such as, "I'm looking for 3-5 players for a plot I'm running. Semi-moral characters preferred." It's best to pose information very timely information to this channel, such as plots that are about to start or will start soon.
  • BBoard 20: Playerplots. This board is for posting information about playerplots you plan to run. The board is considered OOC, and is best for posting plots you're scheduling in advance.
  • BBoard 11: The Denver Shadow Nexus. This board is an IC method for distributing information. Usually things posted here might be job-offers and the like about the plot you're running. It's okay to include an OOC section at the bottom about details such as when, where, and who to contact about it.
  • BBoard 12: Denver News Reports. This is an IC board, and is more useful for the sort of information that you want to use to provoke legwork and encourage people to ask you questions. Once again, including an OOC section at the bottom telling them that it's a plot and who to contact for more information is useful.
  • Rumors. The rumors system (+help rumor) is useful for posting information that you want primarily targeted toward people who have good social skills on their sheets. It's useful as a way of distributing IC information, though it's usually best combined with OOC information about who to contact, etc.


What are the Payout Limits on a Playerplot?

When a playerplot is run, a player is acting as the gamemaster. One problem that can be encountered by any gamemaster is a phenomenon known as 'Monty Haul', in which the payouts and rewards from an activity are far higher than would be normal. While short term, the players may really enjoy it, it makes them too powerful too quickly with too little effort -- and in many cases, actually detracts from the long-term enjoyment of the game. After all, after your character has ten million nuyen, the best guns in the game, and an army of people who will do their bidding... what do you do now?

It's very easy for the GM of a run to make things too easy, or to set up convenient circumstances for the runner team. You broke into this kindergarten to retrieve a young child's stuffed animal that had been confiscated (a cakewalk), and it just happened to be used as a mafia drop point for smuggling money. There's a briefcase full of certified credsticks on the table totalling a cool million, and the guards just happened to be taking a smoke break. Right.

As admins, we review every plot before handing out rewards for it. We look over what happened, the degree of effort necessary to accomplish the plot -- in short, how difficult the plot is, and how big of a threat it might have presented. The rewards are estimated and presented as a 'per-player' reward, and they include everything that results from the run that has a monetary or cash equivalent.

Payout Description
0 to 5K No real risk of injury for pro runners, very minimal challenges. Usually the rewards at this level are incidental.
5K to 15K Very little threat of injury, reasonably easy challenges to overcome. A cakewalk.
15K to 35K Decent chance you might take a bullet or two, especially if you don't play real smart or plan well. There's a decent risk of failing, at the very least.
35K to 50K You'd better have a solid plan, good recon, and a good set of skills and gear, or half your people will be coming back in body bags.
More than 50K You need to get the plot pre-approved, or run it as a powerplot (see '+news policy powerplots').

The above values include all payout that has a cash value. Gear received as part of the plot counts only half of its street value (base cost times street index) toward the above totals. In other words, if a run is judged to be worth 30K, then you could take that as 30K in cash, or 60K in gear, or 15K in cash and 30K in gear. Or whatever other ratio works out. Of course, IC circumstances may not permit this. This is strictly an OOC limitation. For example, let's say you steal a focus during a run and want to keep it. It's worth 220,000 =Y=, street value. This counts as 110,000 =Y= toward the group's total take from the run, for purposes of calculating whether or not the run was 'worth' it in OOC terms. If you turned around and sold it as part of the run, and got 30 percent of base value (or 66,000 =Y=), then it would count as 66,000 =Y= toward the group's total take.

As another note: gear sacrificed as part of a run can reduce the group's total payout for these calculations. If you end up sacrificing a 30K drone, then half of that drone's effective replacement cost is subtracted from the payout. Likewise, surgery costs to put you back together again and other items can subtract from the effective payout used when evaluating the plot. Gear lost and costs incurrect count at half value, just like gear gained.

The above limits are given 'per player', and are, once again, used to evaluate the plot's reward level relative to its risk. It cannot be stated enough times: There is no IC reason, justification, or counterpart for these limits. Instead, IC reality will have to warp in whatever fashion to accomodate them. Maybe the J stiffed you; maybe that item was damaged and not worth as much, or whatever.

These are not hard limits; they are variable. If you run a long, involved, two week plot that involves multiple subplots, stages, and so forth, then it could be worth a good deal more. These are guidelines that we use in evaluating plots. If you're in doubt, please feel free to ask a staff member.

Our purpose in all of this isn't to limit what you can do, per se. It's to make sure that the effort expended corresponds to the risk undertaken. We want things to be fair, so that people who put in more effort see more reward. It's not that we don't want you to have something nifty -- it's that we want you to have the enjoyment of working for it, and to make sure that nobody gets too powerful too fast in a manner that would be game unbalancing.

What if you want something that's outside these limits? Let's say you want a vehicle whose street value is a cool million yen. You could do one of the following:

  • Save Up For It. After all, if you get decent payoffs from other things, you can gradually work up to that cash amount.
  • Run a series of plots. You might have to work up to it. After all, if this is the heist of the century, then you'll have a lot of legwork to do, a lot of preparation, maybe a smaller run to get that item that you absolutely have to have to break in. Maybe you could get the company president's retinal scan, or some other item that you need.
  • Run a powerplot. Powerplots aren't limited by the above restrictions. You can theoretically run anything -- but we'll be watching to make sure the challenge is up to the potential rewards, and there's always the possibility of repercussions. These plots are run 'consent on', so it can be a lot more dangerous.
  • Build a team. Remember, the OOC payout restrictions are on a per-person basis. So if you have five people cooperating, the total payout can go as high as 250K in cash, or 500K in gear. Make arrangements with the other teammates -- no, I can't pay you, but if you need me to go with *you* on a run, I'm there. You can also pay the other team members out of your own funds as well. Offer four other people 25K apiece to help you steal something worth 500K. Net cost: 100K for an item worth 500K, with no availability restrictions.

Part 4: Administration and Policies


Who is welcome on SR Denver?

The short answer is, everyone who is interested in playing the game and in having fun with other players in a cooperative fashion. There is no player who has been sitebanned from Shadowrun Denver. We consider it a last resort. However, we do ask some things from those who plan to play there.
  1. Leave your baggage at the door. When you come to SR Denver, leave your prejudices, past grudges, and issues from other games at the door, please. I don't care if so-and-so forced TS on your character five years ago, or if her admin-alt made a ruling you hated against your cousin's stepsister's roommate. Leave it at the door. That stuff happened there; leave it there. Denver is about fresh starts, and every player logs onto our game with a clean slate.
  2. Come here to have fun. This is a game. It's an involved, complex game. But sometimes bad things will happen to your character. Overall, though, the things that happen to your character will be good ones. Take it in stride. Something bad might happen, leading the way to something even better than before. Relax, and just chill.
  3. Don't powergame. Player-versus-player conflict is restricted on Denver, so there's no need to 'ramp up' your character to get every possible advantage as a defensive measure. Focus on what's believable. There's plenty of room to advance. While we don't mind you taking the advantages that are coming to you, please don't try to fight tooth and nail if we say 'no' to something. We're not doing to hurt you, but instead to preserve game balance.
  4. Treat others with respect and courtesy. This goes for both staff and fellow players. I know arguments can get heated, but resorting to insults over a discussion is bad manners, no matter who 'started' it. Don't perpetuate attacks, or you become part of the problem, not part of the solution. Nobody wins an argument when the admins have to take punitive action against both of you. IC arguments are fine, but OOC ones, especially on channels, create a hostile environment for everyone. Nobody wants that.


Can I Play More Than One Character (Alt)?

After a lengthy debate, we made the decision to allow alternate characters (alts). The full rules are detailed in '+news policy alts'. In short, you may have a total of two active, approved player characters at any given time, subject to certain restrictions.

You may not create a second player character until your first player character has earned a total of fifty karma points (spent plus unspent). If that character dies or is retired, then you have to wait until your primary character earns another fifty karma points total before creating another one. Likewise, if your primary character dies or retires, your second must have earned a total of fifty karma points in order to generate another alt to replace the primary character.

Exceptions can be made to the above if you generate an alt, then find him/her unplayable or boring to play. The purpose is to encourage people to avoid playing alts just to get them killed off, or to play the 'alt of the month' game. In addition, we want players to get some experience on the game before generating an alt. The fifty karma rule is intended to make alts 'precious' rather than disposable, not to force people to play a concept they wind up not liking. Talk to us.

Your alt is a totally separate character. Certain rules exist that apply to alternate characters. In short, your two PC's should not interact. They should not exchange money, gear, information, or noms, directly or indirectly. At most one of them may be magically awakened. They should not participate in the same plot or scene.

Part 5: House Rules


What are House Rules? What do they do?

A House Rule is a rule that we have instituted for global use on Shadowrun Denver. It's intended to apply to everything: chargen, staff plots, playerplots, everything. Houserules are posted in ' +news houserules' ('+hr' is a shortcut to it).

Houserules differ from policies in that a houserule applies to the rules of Shadowrun. It overrides, clarifies, or extends the rules that are published in the books. It's important to know them because the posted rules are the rules in use on our game.

About half of all the rules posted are clarifications or firm rulings on issues that are not clear in the books or call for a judgement call. In other cases, new rules are added to handle situations that come up a great deal and for which we want to provide a consistent policy and guideline. In other cases, the houserules modify existing rules, remove them, simplify them, or provide exceptions. In all cases, the houserules that are listed are the result of a good deal of discussion, thought, and often debate as to the best way to handle a situation.


Why do you have houserules? Why not go with the books?

This is a question that cuts to the heart of certain gaming styles. Certainly, there is a precendent for house rules. On page 251 of SR3, GM's are advised, "If you or your players hate one of [the rules], feel free to change it." In many cases, we have. The reasons for this are many-fold.

We never change rules without a lot of thought as to the consequences. We never change rules with the idea of screwing over a player or group of players, or of making one archetype crippled. When we make a rules change mid-game, we usually also put into play a system to help work with players. For example, if we were to decide to remove a piece of cyberware from the game, we would compensate players for the loss of that 'ware, letting them replace it with other 'ware, etc. In some cases, we'll 'grandfather' them in, and only apply the rule to new characters.

One of the most common types of houserules we make are clarifications. There are points in Shadowrun where the book contradicts itself, or where it is unclear how something works. In some cases, the examples flatly contradict the stated rules in the text. Sometimes a supplement adds information whose implications aren't discussed and are open to debate. We institute a houserule in situations where this comes up frequently or is highly important. These rules are essentially clarifications of the existing rules.

Some of the house rules are there as 'reminders' of things we see forgotten a lot. We post a house rule on it to remind people of the book rule, which may seem like a contradiction in terms. However, some people aren't aware of a Third Edition change, and continue to play the game the old way.

In other cases, we institute houserules to compensate for a situation where a particular spell, a particular piece of cyberware, a technique, etc. is far too powerful, in our opinion, compared to its disadvantages or costs. In some cases, we've left it alone because it is an 'archetype benefit' to playing a certain type of character. In other cases, we've modified it to restrict the power, raise the cost, or add disadvantages to it to bring it more into balance. In general, we're opposed to 'undefeatable' abilities -- things that have no potential counter in the game.

Sometimes we make rules changes to open up possibilities. Something that was impossible, according to the rules, we feel should be possible. We want to enable a certain type of activity, or make the impregnable security pregnable again. Once again, these are issues of game balance and playability.

Some of the houserules we have instituted exist because of playability or code issues. Because of the fact that the game runs in one-to-one time for the most part, spending 'downtime' where your character can't do work or roleplay is a major problem, effectively removing you from game play. By contrast, in tabletop the GM can simply wave her hands and says, "And a month passes". That's harder to do online. In other cases, we've modified the rules because there is no real way to 'track' something, so instead we institute a rule that is more playable.

Simplification is another reason for houserules. There are sections of Shadowrun, in our view, that are needlessly complex -- and do not contribute anything to the game by being that complex. By replacing the system with a simpler one, we can help smooth over issues and gameplay.

And finally, some houserules are put into place just because that's the kind of game we want to run. Some of them are put in to be nice to the players, because we think it'll be more fun this way. All in all, though, the houserules are instituted not because we're trying to 'meddle' with the game, but instead because we want to run the best game we can.

One of the most common -- and most valid -- objections to houserules in general stems from the argument that it makes it harder to play here, because of the learning curve. I agree in many ways, which is why we keep them to a minimum. However, I'm not going to eliminate them entirely, either. It's important to establish a happy medium between 'sticking to the dogmatic book interpretation even when it's obviously flawed' and 'wiping out the game and starting over'. Both extremes are a problem. Instead, we plan to tweak the systems as we feel necessary to establish good game play and a fun environment for everyone.

Part 6: How Do I...?


How do I raise my skills/attributes?

As you play the game, various activities will gain you karma points. Everything from writing a good background, to roleplaying and receiving 'noms', to participating in plots will result in karma points. For those familiar with other game systems, karma points work like experience points. You spend them to raise your skills, attributes, and other items on your character sheet. They're the way you improve what you can do.

The first step is to acquire enough karma points to buy the skill or attribute you want. Once you have done that, you need to send a +qmail to the Roleplaying queue. For instructions on how to send a +qmail, type '+help queues' within the game.

Within your +qmail, you should include the following: The skill you are trying to raise; what type of skill it is (Active, Knowledge/Background, or Language); What its current value is; what the new value is; the expected karma cost; and what your character has been doing to increase his/her knowledge of the skill in question (reading books, visiting the shooting range, etc). Then you simply wait for the request to be processed, usually within a day or two. That's all there is to it!


How do I purchase equipment after chargen?

Equipment, in this context, means any non-service that costs money. As your character earns money over and above lifestyle expenses, you'll likely want to purchase various kinds of equipment to upgrade your character's capabilities or replace items you've used up in the process of earning the cash.

Just about every character archetype needs some kind of equipment. Deckers need programs and deck parts. Cyberdocs need to purchase bioware and cyberware to install in their patients. Samurais need guns and armor. Physical adepts need weapons and armor as well. Mages and Shamans need libraries or lodges, foci, and spells.

In general, you should request equipment by submitting a request to the Equipment queue. Requests for spells, foci, or items relating to the use of Magic should be submitted to the Magic queue. Requests for items relating to the matrix or cyberdecks should be submitted to the Matrix queue. Use the following format:

+qmail Equipment/desc=request

In the above, you should replace desc with a short, 40-character or less description of what you are trying to buy, and replace request with the text of your request. Within your request, you can use %r to insert a line break, and %t to insert a tab.

  1. The first step is to determine what you want, specifically. You'll need to know the rating if applicable. In addition, you need to know the Availability, Base Cost, Base Time, and the Street Index. Finally, you need to know the Quantity -- how many do you want to buy? Include all of this information in your queue request.

  2. In order to purchase gear illegally, you need a contact. You can view the contacts on your sheet by typing '+sheet/contact'. You need to pick a contact and list her/her name, type, and level from your sheet. In addition, there are three types of contacts and you should list to which of the following type you believe this contact belongs for this piece of gear. Include all of this in your +qmail.

    • General Contacts. These are things like fixers, talismongers, military supply sergeants, etc. These contacts can get you multiple classes of gear, usually a large number of them.
    • Specific Contacts. These contacts can get you only a single class of gear, such as 'guns', 'armor', 'deck parts', 'spells', 'foci', 'melee weapons', 'vehicles', etc.
    • Specialized Contacts. These contacts are specialized in only part of a single class of gear, such as 'pistols', 'combat spells'. Alternatively, they can be contacts who can get a broader class of items that doesn't come up often or has little game significance (books, musical instruments, etc).

  3. In some cases, the Availability of an item may be so high that it's almost impossible to acquire. For this reason, the rules permit you to lower the Availability of an item while raising the base time and the street index.

    Each time you lower the availability by one, you must raise the time by 2 days and the street index by either 0.2 or 20% of the base street index, whichever is higher.

    The number of times you may do this, though, is limited by your Etiquette skill, plus twice the level of the contact you are using. If you wish to lower the availability further, each one point reduction adds 4 days to the time and either 0.4 or 40% of the base street index to the street index, whichever is higher.

    In no event can you reduce the Availability to less than half its original value (rounded down) in this manner.

    At the end of this process, you have the adjusted availability, the adjusted base time, and the adjusted street index. You should include these in your +qmail.

  4. Next, you should prepare to make the Etiquette test. This test determines whether you'll be able to talk to contact into giving you the gear, and if so, how fast you'll be able to get it. You'll use the adjusted availability and adjusted base time from the previous section as part of this process.

    You'll use your Etiquette skill for the primary roll. If you are specialized in it, and that specialization applies either to the type of gear you're getting, or the type of contact you're using, then the specialization may be used. Otherwise, you'll use the base value. The target number of the test begins at the adjusted availability -- the base availability if you didn't choose to try to reduce it. Use the following table to calculate any bonuses or penalties. This table is also available within the game via '+hr general gear3'.

    Situation Modifier
    Using a Specific Contact +1 die
    Using a Specialized Contact +2 dice
    Using a Level 2 Contact +1 die
    Using a Level 3 Contact +2 dice
    Character's Essence Rating Below 3.5 +1 TN
    Non-Cultured Tailored Pheromones Rating 1 +1 die
    Non-Cultured Tailored Pheromones Rating 2 +2 dice
    Cultured Tailored Pheromones Rating 1 +2 dice
    Cultured Tailored Pheromones Rating 2 +4 dice

    List the modifiers above that apply to your roll, and use this to calculate the total number of dice and target number you'll be rolling against. Indicate these either in the base qmail or by using +qnote.

  5. Submit your queue request and make a note of the number assigned to it. Use '+qroll' to roll your Etiquette test, using the modifiers you calculated above and attach the roll to your queue request. If you choose to spend karma pool points to reroll, use '+qnote' to indicate this before you reroll the failed dice.

    If you achieved zero successes, after using as much karma pool as you felt you, then unfortunately you are finished with the process, with this contact at least. In a '+qnote', add the base time to today's date to indicate when you can try again with this contact. You may begin the process again with a new contact, if you have one appropriate to the item.

    If you achieved at least one success, however, then you may continue with the process. At this point, you are committed to buying the item from the contact. The question is, how much will it cost, and how soon will you get it?

  6. Using '+qnote', indicate the complementary skills you wish to use to try to obtain more effective successes on your Etiquette test. These knowledge/background skills must be clearly relevant either to the type of item it is (Pistols Background, Talismongering, etc) or the method of getting it (Military Equipment Acquisition, etc). List each skill and its effective rating in your note. If more than one skill applies, then take the highest skill at full value, then add half the value of each other applicable skill, rounded down. List the total number of dice this represents.

  7. Decide if you wish to purchase additional successes on the Etiquette test. You must have gotten at least one success in order to use this option. Additional successes lower the time to acquire the item, since the actual time to get it equals the adjusted base time divided by your total number of successes. In effect, you're offering your contact more money to get the item to you more cheaply.

    Each additional success you purchase requires you to multiple the adjusted street index by 1.3. Each iteration through the process multiples it again, so if you raise it three times, then you multiple by 1.3, then multiply the result by 1.3 again, then 1.3 again to get the final result. You may purchase a maximum number of successes at this rate equal to your Etiquette skill rating. Additional successes purchased may be purchased beyond this, but those extra successes carry a multiplier of 1.6.

  8. Use '+qroll' to roll your total complementary dice, if any, against the same target number you used for the base Etiquette test. Each two full successes on this roll translate to one additional effective success on the Etiquette test. If you spend karma pool points to re-roll these dice, indicate how many you used via '+qnote'.

  9. Use the '+qnote' command to indicate your total number of successes and the final delivery time for the item by dividing the adjusted base time by your number of successes and adding it to the current time.

  10. Use '+qnote' to indicate the modifiers that apply to your Negotiation test. You'll use your Negotiation skill for the primary roll. If you are specialized in it, and that specialization applies either to the type of gear you're getting, or the type of contact you're using, then the specialization may be used. The 'bargain' specialization also will apply in this case. Otherwise, you'll use the base value. The target number of the test begins at your contact's Intelligence -- this is 5 if not otherwise noted on your sheet -- and may be changed by any of the following bonuses or penalties. This table is also available within the game via '+hr general gear5'.

    Situation Modifier
    Using a Specific Contact -1 TN
    Using a Specialized Contact -2 TN
    Using a Level 2 Contact -1 TN
    Using a Level 3 Contact -2 TN
    Character's Essence Rating Below 3.5 +1 TN
    Non-Cultured Tailored Pheromones Rating 1 +1 die
    Non-Cultured Tailored Pheromones Rating 2 +2 dice
    Cultured Tailored Pheromones Rating 1 +2 dice
    Cultured Tailored Pheromones Rating 2 +4 dice

    List the modifiers above that apply to your roll, and use this to calculate the total number of dice and target number you'll be rolling against. Indicate these either in the base qmail or by using +qnote.

  11. Use +qroll to roll your Negotiation skill, plus any bonus dice from the table above, against the target number you calculated in the previous step. If you choose to use spend karma pool points to reroll this test, indicate how many were spent in a +qnote. Next, use +qroll
  12. to roll your contacts effective Negotiation skill against a target number of your character's Intelligence. If not GMnoted otherwise, General contacts have a Negotiation skill of 7, while specific and specialized contacts have a Negotiation skill of 5.

  13. List any complementary skill you wish to use for this test. Typically, the 'gear value' skill is used as complementary to this roll, though knowledge skills related to the type of gear may be used as well. You may not use any skill as complementary for this roll if it was used instead as a complementary skill for the etiquette test. Only one skill may be used as complementary for this test. Indicate the name and effective rating of the complementary skill you choose to use, if any.

  14. Use +qroll to roll your complementary skill against the same target number you used for the Negotiation test. Every two full successes you achieve on this test adds one effective success to your Negotiation test.

  15. Calculate and indicate via +qnote your total successes and your contact's successes. Calculate and list your Negotiation Modifier by starting at 1.00; then, add 0.05 for each net success you achieved and subtract 0.05 for each net success your contact achieved.

  16. Calculate the total cost using the following formula and indicate it via +qnote:

    qty * base cost * adjusted SI * negotiation modifier

If you are purchasing an item legally, then you don't have to go through the above process. List where you're acquiring it, and use the base cost as the cost for it. You should also indicate the SIN you are using to purchase the item, if it is in any way 'questionable' or something that might be tracked by corporations or the government.

You may make a single roll for multiple quantities of any item with an availability rating of 8 or below, and a base cost of 50,000 =Y= or below. Exceptions may be made to this rule for certain kinds of ammunition.

Unless you specify otherwise, we will take the cash for the item directly from your sheet and place the item into your inventory. If you wish the item to be delivered to another player, then please state so in your queue request. Likewise, if you wish the cash for the item to be removed from a given player, please state that as well. Include the amount; any amount taken over and above the cost of the item will be given to you. If there is any shortfall from this amount, you will be expected to pay the difference. These options are given to facilitate PC fixers.

As a reminder, any karma pool you spend on an extended test is unavailable for use until the extended test is completed. For equipment requests, the extended test is completed when you receive the item.


How do I submit a log for review?

When you run a playerplot, or simply participate in a cool scene, you'll want to log it. Logging is the process of recording everything that gets displayed to you in a given window to a file, in effect 'saving' it. The exact way it's done varies depending on which MUSH client you're using; check your client's help file for details. Pay careful attention to where on your hard disk the log will be saved; you'll need to find it again later. Because of security limitations in Java, the Java MUSH client cannot log.

The next step is to edit your log file. The purpose of this is to remove extraneous clutter from it -- things that were displayed but are not relevant to what you were trying to log. Things that you should remove include:

  • <<OOC>> Chatter that is not relevant to what you're logging and necessary to understand the flow should be removed.
  • Channel Chatter. Things said on channels, unless it is an IC channel related to the plot, generally should never be included in plot logs.
  • Pages. Unless they are directly related to the plot or situation at hand, and necessary to understand the flow of it, they should be removed.
  • Command Output. The output of any commands not relevant to the plot should be removed from the log. Typical commands to remove are: +sheet, WHO, +where, +bbread, +nom, @mail, or anything that generates output that is not strictly relevant to the plot.
  • Events and Notifications. Strip out any messages the game sends you that aren't relevant to the plot at hand, including messages showing someone you're watching for logged on; messages about receiving noms; any rumors that get displayed during the plot; messages about apartments, and so forth.
  • Connect/Disconnect Messages. The messages "Player has connected." and "Player has disconnected." and "Player has partially disconnected." are irrelevant and can be removed.
  • Arrived/Departed Messages. Messages indicating a player has arrived or departed from a location, automated triggers such as when a player joins a place, and so forth.
  • Descriptions. Strip out all room descriptions and player descriptions from when you enter a room or look at someone or something. This includes contents and exit lists as well.
  • Stuff before or after the relevant portion of the log should be removed, if any.

Things that you should leave in the log include:

  • Poses. Anything that is posed or said ICly by a character involved should be included in the log.
  • Pages/OOC Messages that are relevant to the plot and necessary to understand the flow (for example, people declaring actions and explaining where target numbers are coming from) should probably be included. Extract any that are not necessary -- usually only one declaration pose is necessary.
  • Die Rolls. Die rolls for actions being undertaken should be included.

Only one player involved in a given scene should edit a log to prepare it for submission. Normally, with a plot, it's the person running the playerplot, though they can ask someone else to do it. If you're not sure, ask the other people involved who will submit the log.

Once the log is edited, it should be submitted. This is done by a combination of E-mail and the queue system. The steps are as follows:

  1. From within the game, type

    +qmail Logs/subject=description

    In the above, put a brief (40-character) description of what the log is about in the subject field, and then type whatever description or additional information you want the log reviewer to see in the description field.
  2. The system will display back a subject line. Write this number down, or copy it to the clipboard using your client (how to do this varies depending on client software). Using your E-mail software, include the log in the body of the message if possible, and send it via E-mail to

    Your E-mail's subject line should exactly match the subject line that was displayed by the game. Upper/Lowercase is important.
  3. Type the following command to check the status of your log:

    +qcheck Logs

    Check to make sure that the 'Status' column displays 'Received'. You should also receive a reply E-mail if the submission was accepted, or if it was rejected and why.
  4. Be patient. Logs are usually reviewed within about a week, but in some circumstances it could take longer. You'll be notified when an admin claims your log for review. You don't need to do anything else unless instructed to.

Part 7: General Information


Who runs/owns Shadowrun Denver?

Shadowrun Denver is owned and operated by the player of 'Alpha' and 'Wyldfire' within the game. Yes, they're the same person. The server is a dual-Pentium 166 MHz Linux box called 'Aelfhame', which is located at a small ISP of which said admin has half-ownership. Most of the game code was, including the hardcode modifications, was written by this staff member as well.

Put another way, Shadowrun Denver has very stable leadership. The same admin is headwiz, head coder, 'God', and site-admin. The bandwidth and ISP are also under the same player's control. This makes it unlikely to have a drastic change in leadership or politics. Alpha is the final arbiter of any issues; his word is, on this game, law. There is no upward appeal to any outside party, which should help prevent some of the conflicts that various games have experienced.

This page Copyright ©2001 by Joel E. Ricketts and Craig G. Rickel. All Rights Reserved. Some information and content Copyright ©1999 by FASA Corporation and/or Wizkids, LLC, and its use or reference here is not intended as any sort of challenge to those Copyrights. Shadowrun is a Registered Trademark of FASA Corporation.