Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Most of my current crew likes playing humans, which I like only in that it's actually representative of the population breakdown of Shadowrun. Even by 2072, humans are the overwhelming majority of the world's population. So to have a nearly all human group means my team of shadowrunners accurately represents that distribution.

That said, there's also a player who is, well, let's call him an elven enthusiast. "I'm an elf. That makes me better. Check it out, it's right there in the name. Homo nobilis. Nobilis. I'm nobilis, bitch!" Yes, that's a real quote.

So, obviously, I'm going to have to create some metahuman rules. Besides, if I don't, someone's going to want to switch characters to a meta just because Murphy's Law applies to gaming as much as it does to the rest of life.

The thing is, when you look over what being a metahuman gives you in Shadowrun, it's all about attributes. Okay, being a troll also gives you some armor and natural reach, but even so, good and bad, it's all about attributes.

I dropped attributes from this game forever ago.

There are other aspects to being a metahuman. Not many, but they're there. Dwarves and trolls suffer from being a different size than the rest of the world, and thus face increased equipment costs as well as general inconveniences.

Now I have rolled some attribute-like qualities into the knack list, but I don't like the idea of giving out free knack points for being a metahuman. Thus far my incomplete character creation rules don't have much use for build points. You buy ranks in your methods, but everyone starts with the same number of empty slots for knacks. Mucking with that complicates things more than I care to do.

So what about making metahumanity an aspect? Every metahuman species has negatives as well as positives (except for elves, who take no penalties and only gain attribute bonuses, probably because they're so nobilis). Still, every single metahuman is going to face racial prejudice at some point, and that's a viable negative quality. For the other metahumans, there are other negative qualities that can be inferred from their attribute penalties. Likewise, the invokable bonuses can be applied to situations based on the bonus attribute points they gain.

Under this system, a dwarf could invoke his racial aspect to gain a bonus for any resilience task (physical or mental), and anything that extra strength could assist. That same racial aspect can be compelled to make someone the dwarf needs to deal with a racist, or in situations to make his shortness or slow running speed a more pronounced problem.

Orks and trolls present a little bit of an extra complication in that they gain increased damage capacity by way of hefty body bonuses, and natural armor in the case of a troll. Aspects won't help here, since there's no damage resistance roll, so there's be nothing aspect dice can enhance. Since damage capacity no longer has anything to do with attributes, I'm going to give them extra damage boxes instead, and since trolls are sort of more ork than ork, gaining the same kinds of bonuses, just more of them, trolls will either gain more bonus boxes or bonus boxes of a higher level. I'm leaning toward the latter, but honestly I'm not sure it's an issue I'm going to need to deal with anytime soon. In all my time playing Shadowrun I've seen ork characters, but I can't think of a single troll.

I see metahumanity as an aspect to have a number of things going for it. I can give bonuses to the players when appropriate without having to muck with the numbers on their sheet at all. They invoke their racial aspect like any other and get 2 bonus dice. All I have to do is define what those dice can apply to, and the attribute bonuses they used to gain are a great guide for that. And by making it an aspect, I work in the cost of being a metahuman without throwing any other aspect of character design out of whack. Methods and knacks can remain exactly as they are.

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