Shadow Runner

Nothing drives a designer to work as much as an unsatisfying product. Nothing excites and disappoints quite like Shadowrun does. This past winter I ran a Shadowrun 3e campaign that ended in a fiery car crash. So of course six months later I’m sitting here trying to hammer out a lazy cyberpunk heartbreaker hack of Torchbearer.

I should have just followed Thor’s lead and used Burning Empires. The Technology Burner is the most cyberpunk thing ever, but the life paths of BE left me cold. I felt the premise of Torchbearer matched my interest more.

Using Luke’s MG hack check list here
Shadowrunners working as a team, as they sneak into corporate facilities to find the lootz. All so they can afford to keep living in the shadows, which they all choose to do so because of their varying beliefs.


The only new conflict that I can think of would be something like, “Distraction / Ruse” conflict.


Fresh - Cool

Hungry - Jonesing

Angry - Angry

Afraid - Afraid

Exhausted - Exhausted

Injured - Injured

Sick - Malfunctioning?

Conditions aren’t perfect. There is a slight shift away from complete survival. But I don’t want to go too crazy.


This would be the boroughs of Seattle. You could probably change the table of which guild is on guard to which private security did the neighborhood hire.


Here’s the main attraction. I really loved doing the nature and circle questions. I have a new appreciation for how tight the initial 6 classes are.

Shadow Runner

Just for further inspiration:

I think you should go crazy :slight_smile:

So what do I think of when I think of Cyberpunk/Shadowrunner, I think of people going into places doing illegal stuff and trying not to be noticed. So for that instance I would not actually have conditions I would have a Job Alertness Tracker almost, Going from something like Suspicious All the way to Alert and maybe Captured as your Dead condition. So like Torchbearer every 4 times you roll the dice you go up automatically up that Alertness scale.

So what about recovery, well camping seems to be already kind of weird in a Shadowrun world, your not going to really stop dead in the middle of the mission(as a lot of people say its a lot of planning and then you do the thing) So you would still get checks but maybe instea dof a camp you just can use your checks to recover if it fits the fiction.

For example the Condition is on Alert, Cool Sunglass dude has a check so he is going to use it and his hacking skill to divert the crises away from them, say its a false alarm. Not to sure if this will totally work, but its an idea.

Could there a way to flip the turn structure (I’m thinking in terms of Mouse Guard here), so that the GM would present the mission, the players would get a turn to prepare for the job, and then the GM would take a turn handling the opposition and presenting unexpected obstacles to the runners? The players would get a default number of checks for their turn, and then any checks earned during the GM’s Turn could be used either on personal business or for additional preparations ahead of future missions. This might fit the source material better and–following that initial Players’ turn–would fall into a rhythm similar to how Mouse Guard and Torchbearer play out.

Looking at ‘Shadowguard’ you can see how much of Mouseguard is in Blade in the Dark. Downtime is basically a player turn, and the way engagements rolls work in missions really emulates the GM turn well. Truth be told I’d be hard press as to why I shouldn’t just play a cyberpunk version of BitD.

Mostly because I would miss the logistics? Both The Sprawl and Blades in the Dark have mechanics that kind of hand wave the planning stage. The sprawl has Tech and Intel placeholder objects that get revealed mid mission. Blades in the Dark has flashbacks that let you cover up any holes. Though to be honest I don’t mind the flashbacks too much. Resisting effects in BitD though feels weird.

When I play torchbearer, there’s a sense of tactile concreteness to it. You can easily see your carrying capacity. As your packs empties of resources and the turns keep mounting there is this wonderful pressure. Should we cut our losses? Is that even an option anymore, or are we already trapped but don’t know it? If I could get this hack to bring that to a shadowrun, i’d be more than happy.

I tried to keep this a simple reskin, because that was Luke’s recommendation. To only change the basics at first and then get the game to a table. Play with it for a bit, and then see where you should add new ideas…

But Luke and company are away at gencon, so let’s see what kind of heretical thought we can cook up.

Conditions v0.02

Cool: acts as fresh giving the +1D

Stealthed: lets you move through areas unseen, but not security check points. I’m not sure if this would break the principals behind “Let it Ride”,

Disguised: Lets you claim the access powers of someone else

Suspicious/alerted: +1ob to all rolls

Injured: -1D to all health based skills

Cornered: To me this is where your stuck in a broom closet with several guards outside. Unable to move without exposing yourself. Or maybe in a stand off situation with guns. The only problem i see with this condition, is I can see it being solved during the adventure phase. But if we use MG rules to allow recovery in GM turn / adventure phase might not be a problem

Panicked: -1D to all mental based skills. I feel its important to keep the possible skill tax that comes from conditions, so recovery for this would risk taxing mental/mental like skills

Captured: Like dead but we get to do a fun interrogation scene instead

Dead: Dead

Grind v0.01

I can see the grind going two ways. The first is we keep the grind clock and just add/remove conditions as fits.

“Every fourth turn during the adventure phase, all characters change their conditions. If your character has stealthed and/or Disguised, remove both. If your character is not disguised or stealthed, then you take the suspicious condition. If you’re already suspicious and not hidden, take the panicked condition. If you’re already panicked, suspicious, and not hidden, you become Cornered. If you’re already Panicked, Suspicious, not hidden and Cornered, you suffer an injury. If you’re suspicious, panicked, not hidden, cornered and injured, you’re captured. If you’re not hidden and those five conditions are checked on the fourth turn, your character dies, and we may never find the body.”

As for recovery. I think I may flipped the requirements. Instead of having to deal with the list of conditions from the top going down. You would have to deal with the conditions from the bottom going up. This would also mean if you’re condition laden it be very hard to regain stealth.

The second way I see the Grind going is, instead of doing conditions we make every fourth turn trigger a twist. But in the spirit of keeping things fair, we’ll do something a little bit different. The GM when prepping a facility for a run, will right down the list of twists and the order they will incur on some index cards. The GM will begin the adventure phase with these cards face down. And as each grind occurs, he’ll reveal a card and play out the twist. This doesn’t always have to incur a test, but it should change the environment and perhaps provide an opportunity.

This requires a little bit of prep and can’t really go infinite, so its kind of hard to set up. Perhaps the GM only has to prepare 4 twists, then after those are completed he’s allowed to take stock of the situation mid adventure and write down 4 more. Which will probably be harder moves since they’re more aware of the situation. I would also say that this type of grind coudln’t be reseted by camping, it would just keep moving forward.

Camping/Planning v0.01

This is really up in the air. I can see merits for just allowing checks being spent on conditions ala Mouseguard.

If we do conditions in the grind, then I think its important to have a camp/planning phase just so they can reset the clock.

I have a lot of thoughts for how this could go, but if I was going to bring this to the table, I think I would want to first just say planning phase can happen whenever the runners find a secluded spot. But if that’s pushing belief (i.e. why does the clock stop when we’re planning?) another option would be to say planning phase is done over flashbacks… but that doens’t really make total sense…

Though there is a part of me that loves the idea of recovering from a panicked condition, by remember a time when you went out to a bar with your friends and playing that out. Idk.

Inventory v0.01 AKA biggest worry

The kool things first. I love the idea of installing cyberware and the cost being that your max nature is taxed. This is fairly big though, a very hefty cost, so I have to wonder what kind of benefits cyberware grants for that cost.

Cyberpunk is a very gear happy kind of genre. So items will be hard and important. Though my biggest worry is how to handle the inventory system. Without torches or food I fear the inventory play will be very out of whack.

I would still want loot to take up space. And it would kind of make sense, in a 80’s all hardware and no software cyberpunk kind of way. But yeah its a headache to think about.

Here is a throw away item idea:

Concealed holster [chest 2]

Keep a weapon concealed on your person that can pass a pat down.

Okay I can’t figure out how to edit safely. Should of read over it more carefully before posting. Injury causes -1D to all tests just like torchbearer and the same goes with panicked.

After thinking about it for a day I’m pretty sure its a horrible idea to have grind remove stealth or disguise. Also I’m not really sure how I would have the grind trigger cornered. Part of the reason I wanted to play with TB system was I wanted to make the world feel concrete. Getting cornered by a turn counter doesn’t feel like that.

boy this is tough.

Maybe I should just stick with Burning Empires and 2 - 3 LPs for the grit I’m looking for. Or just be happy with gutter cyberpunk and keep the hungry/afraid/angry conditions. Maybe replace torches with batteries?