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Planning ahead

For quite a long time I started new campaign on a whim with an extremely short prep period. This works out well enough if you’re at the top of your game, creative, able to think on your toes. But if you are stressed from work and other things, perhaps even feeling a bit under the weather, this just doesn’t work out anymore. My friend Roberto has a different approach to GMing. He usually plans his campaigns way ahead. I think he’s already planning the campaign he wants to run in 2015. I don’t think I’ll ever plan ahead that early, but I’ve decided to change the way I prepare for my games.

At the moment I am running two games: a mini-campaign freely based on the XCOM series of computer games and a campaign based on the Fallout 1 computer game. Both games use Fudge rules, for the Fallout one I even wrote a pretty extensive conversion document. The XCOM game will probably be over two weeks time, so I am already planning for the game that will follow.

My players have asked me to run Shadowrun, so I started reading 5th Edition. Alas reading 5th Edition felt like gnawing off my own foot, so I decided to look for alternatives. At first I thought just tossing the Shadowrun rules would be best, but in the end I settled on Shadowrun 4th Edition. For some reason I find the game much more approachable. I’ll still think the same after I’ve finished reading the book.

But I will not stop there. As soon as we start playing Shadowrun I’ll think about what I could prepare next. Currently I am very interested in the Hero System. I picked up the current Bundle of Holding, and already started leafing through the various PDFs. I always wanted to run a superhero game, and Champions Complete may be the perfect game for this. If the Hero System turns out too much of a hassle after all, I still have a couple of alternatives up my sleeves. BASH Ultimate Edition looks like a more rules-lite approach to super hero gaming for example.

Do you usually plan way ahead for your games? Do you have several projects brewing at the same time, or do you prefer to focus on only one game at a time? Please share your thoughts below.

My short struggle with Shadowrun 5th Edition

SR5A while ago my players asked me if I could run Shadowrun for them. They love the Shadowrun world and the gameplay should be right up their alley. So we decided that after we finished the XCOM mini-campaign that I’ll run Shadowrun. Recently the 5th Edition was released and what I’ve seen so far looked pretty cool, so I ordered a copy of the game.

Oh boy, what have I done? While I totally love the look and production values of the book, the rules are just not my cup of tea. Reading the background sections was a joy, but as soon as they started talking about the rules my head started to spin. I have run Shadowrun 1st and 2nd Edition back in the day, and somehow I managed to cope with the game’s crunch back then, but the latest edition of this game seems to be even crunchier and more convoluted than earlier editions (at least the ones I know).

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that Shadowrun 5th Edition is a bad game. It just proved to me again, that there are some rule systems I just can’t handle. I have always been a player and GM who enjoys trying out new systems. But this also means that I just can’t put too much time and effort into a single system. And from what I’ve seen so far, a game like Shadowrun 5th Edition needs a lot of time and effort to be run properly.

So what I am going to do now? At first I’ll have another look at the 2nd Edition. Perhaps the fact that I’ll run the game in the 1990s will make the task of getting into the game again a bit easier. On the other hand I could just use a different system to run a Shadowrun game. Fudge comes to mind and I’ve already found a Shadowrun conversion for Savage Worlds. Alas HexNoir, the magic supplement for TechNoir hasn’t been released yet, since TechNoir looks like the perfect ruleset for the job, but Shadowrun is not Shadowrun without a healthy dose of fantasy.

My players already told me that they don’t mind what system I’ll use. They are more interested in the setting than the rules. So not all is lost!