NewPlayers / Orientation
So You Wanna Play Shadowrun..
First things first.
By now, you know some of what Shadowrun is. (If you need a refresher on the official Shadowrun setting, the background information of the Shadowrun setting used on the 'Hub, or the Runnerhub Story So Far, take a few minutes. We'll still be here.) You're hopped up on Bliss, got your dice, cracked a book,and ready to play. Right?
Perhaps you've already checked out some of the streams of the games. Maybe you've visited /r/HubCharGen, the character approval subreddit for Runnerhub. So you know that there's some requirements, and some preferences. If you don't know what those are, relax. That's why we're here now. Some of this information is brand new, and some is also found in the following locations. (Trust me, you'll want these pages.)
If you're ready to start tackling the requirements to play online with the rest of the inmates, then boot up your cyberdeck or plug in your 'trodes, and hop onto the Matrix. (Don't worry about an overwatch score for the time being.)
Step One: Jack In
Obviously, since you are reading this, you have some way to get online. Good. Because online is where the games happen.
While you can access the Wiki from mobile devices, to do jobs (attend a game session) you will need an internet connection and preferably a laptop. I know that the power of tablets is increasing frequently, but there's a lot of stuff that Runnerhub uses across a wide spectrum of technology. Laptops and desktops seem to be common points between them, but are not the sole locations of that technology.
We'll get to the specific programs in a moment. Be aware, though, you will be running some form of internet browser, as well as doing a conference call using a VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) service. You will also need to have some form of copy of your character sheet: either PDF, print out, or the software itself open. Lastly, you will need an internet connection to be able to let you do all this at one time.
Runnerhub is more than just a network where people gather to share In Character (IC) posts; Runnerhub is also a hub for Shadowrunners (get it?) to coordinate games. It's hard enough to find a table in your own neighborhood. We've just found a way to connect you to others across the globe with the same desire to play.
When we say that there's a lot of technology involved, it comes across like you must be very computer literate to use it. The reality is that we have people who fall anywhere on that curve. You can have programmed for high tech companies, or you could know how to read your email. What matters is that you are here to have fun.
Some of the programs accept macros, and some do not. Not everybody has macros on their gaming table or in their character file. (If you do set up macros as a player, I'd recommend keeping something like a Google Doc or Dropbox File where you can copy/paste the macros from this doc to Roll20. More later.)
Specifically, the technology that Runnerhub uses is explained in pages further along. If you are looking for platforms to contain these various programs or apps, it helps to list all the technology resources we use. Primary communication is via the RunnerHub Discord Server, but secondary communication may be handled through other programs - and that choice is up to the Game Master for that run. The virtual table top we use to play the games on is Roll20.net, which can be accessed via internet browser. Players often have PDF sheets of their characters open in secondary windows, if not the "active" or "career" version of the character sheet in the character creation software. Additionally, there will be other things that players or GMs add via links and secondary windows: maps, character artwork, concept art, music files, etc. Lastly, there may be streaming or recording software open and running. (Streaming and recording is a possibility, but not a requirement. If you have an issue with your voice or content being recorded for streaming, please inform the GM at the beginning of the run.)
One note: the majority of the interactions on the Hub are in English. Just because we all have a common language, though, does not mean we all have the same accent or same understanding of idioms. You might find you are the only one representing your country in your next game (job). Please remember that what you say in your home turf doesn't always mean the same thing elsewhere. Ya gotta show respect to get respect, neh? That's OK, chummer. It's a new age. It's the Sixth Age, after all.
Step Two: Getting it Down on Paper
Technology is a wonderful thing. While we don't have ARO displays (yet) like the 2075 Shadowrun setting, we have stepped away from traditional paper for recording characters. There are two software packages that Runnerhub uses to keep track of characters. When going through /r/HubCharGen, you will need to submit both a PDF of the character sheet, and the original save file. Once your character is approved, you can make the character permanent. Runnerhub does not dictate which software package you use, but you must use one of the two following options. As an aside, the Hub is just about evenly split between the two, so there is no wrong answer (unless it's a third option).
The first Character Sheet software Runnerhub uses is HeroLab: a simple, straight-forward sheet that is easy to read, easy to use, and licensed by Catalyst Game Labs. The catch is that it's not free. When new information or books come out for the system, there is a minor cost for access to those. However, you can very easily create a character for under $70. (Well, American dollars. Not sure what the exchange rate is right this very second.) This episode of the Arcology Podcast discusses HeroLab.
The second software package to create Character Sheets is Chummer5. One of the major benefits of Chummer is that it is free open-source software. Free to use, free to download the latest release, free to update. However, it is not officially licensed. So if you are looking for specific wording as found in the book, you aren't going to get it. You will, however, get the page number as a reference. Chummer is essentially an open-source file, and fans have kept the software going through a couple of editions now. (Check out this episode of the Arcology Podcast for more details.)
Yeah, runners will need to have their file as a PDF format. Google Drive does funky things to the Chummer save file, and not everybody has a license for HeroLab. So, a PDF copy of your character sheet is essential. (Plus, it simplifies things tremendously.) There's a couple things you can do if you don't have a full (paid) copy of Adobe Acrobat on your computer, or you can download a PDF converter.
Once you have a software package, play around with it a bit before creating a character. HeroLab's layout is a little confusing at first, but it does get simpler to work with as you continue. Both systems read left to right, but you might find yourself jumping back and forth once in a while. Once you have a concept, though, take a note of the priorities you selected, and in which order, to create your character. You'll need this when you submit your character to /r/HubCharGen.
The Sheetheads on Hubchargen will review your character (regardless of which software you use). They are primarily checking that it is legal. They might offer advice on what to set in your character, and they might not. If you want advice, though, all you have to do is ask. Their job is not to make sure you have fun; the primary job is to make sure you have made a functioning character.
When you submit a character sheet, send a copy of your character's PDF, a link to the online location of the save file, the character name (as the title of the post) and a quick archetype they fall into, and what your priority choices were. (If you are using specialized rules from the various source books, mention that as well. Currently, the 'Hub has a minimum 30 day delay on new sourcebook rules, to make sure they are compatible with gameplay already going on.)
So, I mentioned before that there would be a collection of rules resources for you. Well, here we are. Rather than type out all the rules, I'm just going to insert a quick list of all the various rules sources, what they are, and how the Hub uses them. (Only in certain instances will the House Rules override the existing rules. Due to ambiguous editing on the part of the writers, the 'Hub issues a ruling on how they interpret certain rules.)
You can find also find this at the Gameplay Resources page, off the Home Page of this Wiki, for future reference.
Step 3: Back Up Your Files
Once you've gotten your character approved, it's ready to play. Because so much of our game sessions happen online, Runnerhub recommends keeping your character sheet online. There's a variety of cloud systems out there, but two of the most common are Dropbox and the paired powerhouse of Google Drive. Both are free, and both have paid options. (Personal recommendation is to use the free option, unless you're a digital packrat; paying for storage gains you no special perks on Runnerhub.)
When you apply for a job, include a link in the IC response to the online location of your current character sheet. The easiest way to do this (in Google Drive) is to create a publicly shared folder. Save your updated sheets there, along with any other documents or photos you share with Runnerhub. (We'll cover formatting and other documents in step seven.)
Step 4: Find a Seat
When we say we play Shadowrun using Runnerhub, what we mean is that we use our subreddit to coordinate virtual table top game sessions around the globe. Most of the posts on Runnerhub will be IC (In Character), allowing you to interact and continue character development. But the actual play goes on at designated times, with a smaller group. What times, you ask?
Game sessions are set up when a Game Master (GM) has the time to put one together. Typically, these are about 4 hours in length. So a GM will post up a thread in /r/Runnerhub: a "job." These threads have the flair tag "Job," or "Looking for work." Simply reply back IC, and check back to see if your character has been selected for the run. Be careful, though. Some jobs might happen when you are supposed to be sleeping.
Because we are global, we need a common way to interact with people. It's not impossible for someone from Los Angeles to play a session with someone from Berlin, London, or Melbourne. To keep us all on the same page, jobs are posted with the time in UTC (Coordinated Universal Time). The job post will have the date and UTC time in the heading and at the top of the posting. (If it doesn't, ask for clarification in the post.) [If you are a GM, there's a template available to keep the postings uniform and functioning within the next two 'bots.]
To figure out when the job time is in your time zone, there are two tools you can use. The first is the TimeZone Simplifier bot. This can be "summoned" to any thread, and is a rollover listing of time zones and the appropriate time. The second is the Calendar of Games; this is a Google calendar page that asks for your time zone, then automatically converts the UTC listing to a day and time, listing them in a calendar view for your convenience. The Calendar is not instantaneous, but as long as the GM follows the format guidelines, every job will be picked up by it.
Because there are over 900 people playing, and not every one of them is a GM, there will be more players than seats available. Check the post to see if the session is marked Looking for Work, or if it's marked Positions Filled. If it's open, it will show as Open on the calendar and Looking for Work. You are allowed to request a seat. If it's closed, sorry omae. Better luck next time?
Step 5: Load Your Persona on the Matrix
You've been selected for a game session / job! (Now what?) Well, here's where that laptop or desktop comes back into play. Due to the difficulties in getting people across the globe to meet at the same table, Runnerhub has adopted a "Virtual Tabletop." What this means is that you can sit at your computer and play the same game session with others doing the same thing. To accomplish this, Runnerhub uses two primary software packages. (Relax; they're both free.)
To make communication possible, Runnerhub uses Discord as its primary voice communication software. Discord has the benefit of being free as in beer, and allowing chat to happen. Typically, a session might have Discord open in the background, and three other windows open during play. Very few of the sessions rely on a webcam, but a microphone is absolutely essential. And unless you want others in the background to hear what's going on (and some sessions are not PG), get a comfortable set of headphones to go with your microphone.
Not that we don't trust you, but the second set of software used on Runnerhub is the workhorse of the game session. Roll20 is a virtual tabletop system, and if you have not used it, sign up now. (Go ahead. I'll wait.) It handles maps, visual display, chat (so you can have a "teamspeak" conversation while your character interacts with an NPC), and a dice roller.
That's right, a digital dice roller. So your vast collection of dice are no longer needed to play. (Doesn't mean you have to get rid of them, though.) In the chat window, you can type in code to let the system roll dice for you. On the play window, you could see a map of a building, a photo of a bar, artwork representing the Dragon that owns the club, or more. Character interaction is possible, but the GM has final control.
Step 6: Multitasking
The last window you might have open is your character sheet. Alternatively, you could have the software you used to create that character open, as both have a "Session" setting that lets you keep track of shots fired, nuyen spent, and the various little details that happen during a game. It can be a lot for a computer to keep track of; if you have multiple devices to handle off-line stuff or a powerful computer, you should be just fine.
One common thing that some of the runners do is to keep notes. Whether it's hand written, quick notes in Notepad, or a shared document like a Google Doc, jot down some key things that happen during the game. Some of these can save your life, and some of these can create funny quotes that others can use for or against you (or your character). Remembering the name of that snitch that tipped you off that the back gate is open can be critical if turns out to be a Knight Errant undercover cop.
Step 7: Formatting Tips and Tricks
So there you have it. All the steps you need to be able to join in the games that go on through the Runnerhub. Following those steps will get your technical aspects covered. But if you want to take your game play to the next level, and provide feedback for both GMs and Leadership, there's a few more nuggets of wisdom to be passed along.
Each system online has it's own unique method of formatting. Fortunately, there are some similarities between a couple. For example, when posting for a job on Runnerhub, you will need to add a link to your character sheet. You could just insert the link into the text box, or you could look like a pro and tie that link you your character's name. To do this, simply type the following code in:
[.name](.link). The ".name" is your character's name; the ".link" is the link to your character's file. (The last dot is a period.)
When inserting your character's name as the sign-off, type an asterisk ( * ), followed by a space. This will create a bullet entry. Combine the bullet with the link, and your name stands out as the calling card link.
You would need to type:
* [Joe Fabeetz](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Joe_Fabeets). (Please note, "Joe Fabeetz" is used as an example only.)
Dice rolling in Shadowrun uses 6 sided dice, and lots of them. Rather than have bricks of dice, you can have Roll20 do the hard work. (There's also a 3d dice roller, but that gets annoying quickly.) To roll to see if you hit the broad side of a Troll with a shotgun, you would need to roll a number of dice equal to the skill plus the Attribute. If that totals 3 dice, then you would roll 3 six sided dice. The format for Roll20 is this:
However, because Shadowrun rules state that any result over a 5 is a hit, Roll20 can also calculate the numbers of hits you got. Simply type the following:
and Roll20 will count the number of dice that rolled 5 or higher.
Shadowrun also uses Edge to enable the character to add that "extra something" to a task. If the Troll wanted to stand there and take that shotgun blast, and look like a boss doing it, he would roll his defense. By adding in Edge before hand, he can do what's commonly called "exploding sixes," or a rules bonus to the dice roll. Essentially, any sixes rolled count as a hit, and you can then reroll the die to find out if it hits again. If the Troll has an Armor and Body pool of 30 dice, and an Edge of 5, he can then roll 35 dice (to start) with this:
If you want to roll so that the rest of the players don't see how many dice you have, or so you don't clutter up the chat bar, there's a different code.
Note that this looks different: this is combining three tips into one. The first is a to-GM code (/gmroll), the second is a "shortcut code" for Roll20, and the third is that there are shortcut codes. (Perhaps the fourth tip is to never shoot a Troll with only a shotgun.)
The last tip for Roll20 is to create macros, so you don't have to type all this in yourself. You will, however, need to copy your macros to a save file. This is because Roll20 does not always save your macros at the end of your game session. (Best stored with your online character sheet.)
And now, you have enough information to start playing. Start posting to the IC discussion threads with your approved character, and join the conversations. Or join the Chat channel, and do the same in realtime. Read what happened on other runs, or find out the OOC information about the rules and settings. But be aware there's still more that we can discuss.
After the Run
Sweet! You made it through you first run! After every game session ("job"), the GM will give out rewards. Some of these rewards are nuyen, some are Karma, some are intangibles, and some are specific to the game plot. (Not to be confused with the MetaPlot.) Many also offer the two categories of converting some of your rewards.
There are three options here for splitting your rewards up more into your favour. Similar to Shadowrun Missions, you have the option to be working for yourself. In this instance, what you receive is what you receive. (If you have a National or Corporate SIN, remember to factor taxes in to your nuyen rewards. The GMs do not give extra for those qualities.)
You can also work for two other options, which will let you exchange Karma for Nuyen, or vice versa. This is done only at the end of the game session, and can only be done with the rewards from that session.
These are not mandatory. So if you change your mind, you can. The exchange rate is 1 Karma point for 2000 Nuyen. It's just another way we can add to the game experience.