View Full Version : Shadowrun, how does it compare to Cyberpunk

Lord Tataraus
2007-04-18, 08:30 PM
I have Cyberpunk 2020 (kinda old, but fun). My group has played it and loved it, even though we had to update some things (laser discs). And I have heard some about Shadowrun and I think I get the basic idea and it seems to be close to Cyberpunk, but with magic and fantasy creatures. Is this pretty much true? I'm interested in looking into it if its as cool as Cyberpunk. If anyone knows what Cyberpunk is, do you think its close enough to stick to Cyberpunk or look more into Shadowrun?

2007-04-18, 08:39 PM
Pretty much. Shadowrun is a fun albeit schizo conflation of standard fantasy and cyberpunk genre tropes. Its cool but its also crazy and somewhat nonsensical- which can add to the appeal! I like the game a lot although Cyberpunk still definitely has its adherents. If you want to check it out I'd recommend looking into 4th edition which does a great job streamlining the previous editions, unifying mechanics and updating the setting to a cyberpunk that is more credible given advances in technology (i.e. wireless technology). You can cut out the fantasy elements pretty easily but if you were doing that and are already happy with CP2020 then the system switch wouldn't make much sense. For a bit of fantasy flavor in your cyberpunk its awesome though and I'd certainly recommend Shadowrun 4e over the new Cyberpunk. SR4 is well worth a browse if you can find someone who has a copy.

2007-04-18, 08:57 PM
I'm a huge fan of Shadowrun, though I'm a little shaky on the rules for a lot of things (driving, hacking/decking ect), I really really like the setting and tone of it all.

Essentially, at a certain point in the future, magic is reborn. One side effect of this is the mutation of the human race into Orcs, Elves, Trolls, and Dwarves (as well as normal humans, which remain). Also, several Native American tribes band together and take over a large portion of the North American southwest. In and amongst these events, corporations continue to advance their control and develop monopolies so strong and of such diverse goods and services that they become practically their own totalitarian governments.

There's a lot more to the setting, but I can't really do it justice here. What the stories usually focus on are the "runners" (hence the name Shadowrun) who perform deeds of varying legality and danger for frequently anonymous factions. Corporations and politicians hire them to keep their own hands clean, performing assassinations or corporate espionage. Average people or gang leaders would hire them to transport illegal merchandice, or to carve out territory. Nations and governments could even hire them as mercenaries in border skirmishes or outright war. Whatever the story/GM/Mr. Johnson demands.

I unfortunately can't compare it to Cyberpunk 2020 very easily, because my only experiences in Cyberpunk 2020 was in a single very short lived game (one or two sessions) where we had an enormously simple drug running mission, followed by blowing up a Tank for who knows what reason, so I don't know much about the setting. However, I can't recommend Shadowrun enough, as I really like it.

2007-04-19, 04:49 AM
I don't know for the latest edition, but SR had serious lacks in the rules area. And I never felt that magic and meta-humanity were well mixed with the cyberpunk stuff, in particular in regard of balance.
So : stick with Cyberpunk. In addition to being more fun, you'll save cash and time !

Lord Tataraus
2007-04-19, 06:05 AM
It seems that the setting, as I thought is the same (save for magic reborn). I do have a couple of books for Cyberpunk 2020, so it would save money to stick with it. How close are combat mechanics (the weaponry side, not magic)?

2007-04-19, 08:14 AM
As others have mentioned Shadowrun is cyberpunk with the addition of fantasy races and magic. The fantasy elements fit the story as long as you stick reasonably close to the meta-theme of cyclical eras FASA started in their games. (Technically Earthdawn was the same universe as Shadowrun even though it was entirely fantasy. It was just an earlier era.) The fantasy elements don't fit very well if you take the cyclical nature of magic out of the setting.

Mechanically Shadowrun has improved since the early editions. When I GMed SR2 I refused to let PCs play deckers, it distracted too much from the other players. It's been years since I've played Cyberpunk 2020, so I don't remember it's mechanics well enough for a direct comparison. I do seem to remember being able to make extremely tough tanks though.

SR4's mechanic is based on rolling a d6 per attribute / skill / modifier point and counting the number of successes (5s & 6s). You need to reach a threshold to succeed at the task you were attempting. There, an entire chapter boiled down to two sentences! :)