Friday, April 30, 2010


Remember when I said the cyberpunk genre struck me as a gritty, high-tech version of the heist film or a spy story? Wouldn't you know there's some inspiration to be had from a spy game then. I refer specifically to Wilderness of Mirrors, a superspy game by, yes, John Wick.

In discussing this game's development, Wick notes that if you reproduced any of the most popular spies from fiction in a game system, they'd all have high scores across the board. No one would have anything in the normal range, let alone sub-par. So he didn't bother with attributes. Instead, he created areas of expertise, ways in which the spies acted to get what they wanted.

This is such a cool idea. As far as Shadowrun is concerned, the only times I can think that my players have rolled their attributes have been in concert with skills, i.e. their attributes served the role of determining how they were using their skills (Charisma + Interrogation to lie the information out of someone, Strength + Interrogation to physically rough up the target and get him to talk). Well, if that's the case, why not ditch the attributes entirely and replace them with methods that determine how you're applying a skill?

The next bit of inspiration comes from a very brief blurb I read describing the game Cyberspace. The description of the classes available screamed cyberpunk to me, and they fell into neat categories almost without work.

So, after tinkering with the language just a little bit, here is Shadowitz's method list:
  • Razor - when using violence or direct, forceful confrontation of any sort, this is your method. This used to be called Killer, but in the first instance of reader suggested edits, someone dropped this name instead, and it fit the bill exactly.
  • Fixer - if you're working through contacts, this is your method. I really like this particular method because it makes a character's contacts part of the character himself. Instead of spending precious build points on buying access to other people, your web of connections is now one of your attributes (method, really, but you know what I mean).
  • Data Rat - this method covers knowledge of all sorts. If you want to work the information angle (scholarly information, not cluemongering), this is where you're going.
  • Face - charm, guile, and charisma. If you're doing anything socially, you're going to use face as your method.
  • Sleaze - if you want to do it undetected, this is your method.
I realize that these could easily be attributes with exotic names, so here's how I imagine them working. You can combine any skill with any method; your action's description determines how they come together. Thus, you can combine your gun skill with the methods in the following ways:
  • Razor - shoot someone
  • Fixer - get some of your contacts to shoot someone
  • Data Rat - learn something about a particular firearm
  • Face - shmooze someone about guns
  • Sleaze - fire your weapon undetected, such as assassinating someone with a silenced gun
UPDATE: Much thanks to reader Lyle for the suggestion of Razor in place of Killer. Perfect! After all Molly Millions, the original street samurai, was known as Steppin' Razor in the Zion Cluster, and was also called a razorgirl at times. So much more genre appropriate than "Killer."

1 comment:

  1. Some themed alternatives for Killer: