Stock Shadowrun is a very crunchy game full of dice pools and endless tweaks for optimization. In 2016, they even released an alternate ruleset called Anarchy as a less-crunchy version of the game, but it’s still grounded in a skills-and-attributes. Moving even further into the territory of narrative roleplaying games gets into the territory of Evil Hat’s Fate games.
To get away from crunchy optimization and into storytelling means changing all the cyberware and adept powers from bonuses to rolls to narrative permissions. This makes Fate Accelerated an ideal system for it, as FAE is already a game where the numbers represent how you do something, rather than what you do. I’m taking particular inspiration from Pathfinder Fate Accelerated, where you add Archetypes to your Approaches.
This game has some variations on the standard Fate Accelerated Approaches. These Approaches are all related to Mind, Body, or Soul:
- Careful: A Careful action is when you pay close attention to detail and take your time to do the job right. Lining up a shot with a sniper rifle. Attentively standing watch. Disarming a bank’s alarm system. It is also used to represent preparation ahead of time, so if someone attempts to steal your property when you aren’t there, roll Careful to defend.
- Clever: A Clever action requires that you think fast, solve problems, or account for complex variables. Finding the weakness in an enemy swordsman’s style. Finding the weak point in a fortress wall. Fixing a computer. Disarming a bomb.
- Bod: A Bod action isn’t subtle—it’s brute strength and stamina. Wrestling a bear. Shouldering a load. Attacking with a weapon that’s all about power, like a club or greatsword or chainsaw.
- Deft: An Deft action requires that you move quickly and with dexterity. Shooting a gun in combat. Dodging an arrow. Getting in the first punch. Walking silently. Picking a pocket.
- Face: A Face action is rooted in an understanding of people. If you’re playing to the crowd, it draws attention to you; it’s full of style and panache. Delivering an inspiring speech to your army. Embarrassing your opponent in a duel. Producing a magical fireworks display. If you’re being subtle, it makes an impression— or carefully doesn’t leave one at all. Giving that security guard just the right bribe. Timing your movements so you pass unseen.
- Focus: A Focus action is rooted in being true to yourself; it often means integrity, self-consistency, self-understanding, faith. Staring down a thug. Casting a spell. Controlling cyberware. Resisting someone getting a read on you with Face.
In addition, there are also six cyberpunk Edges. For each Edge, a +1 represents basic competence, +2 professional competence, +3 exceptional competence, and +4 and higher true expertise.
- Chrome: how you use your body’s technological upgrades. If your Chrome exceeds your Face, you may involuntarily creep out mundane people. This is the important Edge for street samurai and riggers.
- Magic: how you use your magical gifts. If your Magic exceeds your Face, you may involuntarily creep out mundane people.
- Scrounge: ability to obtain goods and services; currency may or may not be involved. For a Rigger, this means a talent for cannibalizing other vehicles and raiding junkyards, for a Squatter knowing where to find food and shelter, for a Professor a talent for applying for research grants, recruiting grad students, and sweet-talking the dean for resources.
- Street: knowledge of the city and its people— or the university, or the countryside, with the right aspects.
- Style: your ability to influence others through aesthetics; your aspects determine whether this is through words, art, music, and so on.
- Tech: how you operate technology and perform technical procedures; within the scope of your aspects, the quality of your gear.
Getting into a nightclub:
- Careful + Scrounge: you asked about their faves ahead of time, and present the bouncer with a mint condition t-shirt from Jetblack’s final tour that you tracked down
- Face + Scrounge: fistbump the bouncer and certified nuyen transfers to her over the data connection created when your electrical auras merge.
- Face + Style: you look so good, the bouncer lets you in; you blend in with a group of other clubgoers who are arriving together.
- Deft + Tech: you evade the security sensors... and the cover charge.
- Clever + Tech: (for a decker) you hack into the Link of one of the band’s roadies and add yourself as a gofer with side door access.
- Careful + Street: having done your research, you quietly name-drop the right people to the bouncer.
- Face + Street: you dress to show that you’re in the know.
The applicability of Chrome and Magic depend on your Qualities.
Qualities are an application of the Bronze Rule, aka the Fate Fractal, to the Edges. Qualities are clarifications of detail, such as Cybereyes for someone with Chrome, Astral Perception for someone with Magic, or Tribal Immersion for Street. Some Qualities are prerequisites to certain stunts.
Qualities never provide a bonus to any roll. They provide permission to use Approaches and Edges in a particular way.
The standard FAE stunt types are:
- +2 to an Approach in a particular situation, following this template: Because I [describe some way that you are exceptional, have a cool bit of gear, or are otherwise awesome], I get a +2 when I [pick one: Carefully, Cleverly, Powerfully, Nimbly, Savvily, Focally] [pick one: attack, defend, create advantages, overcome] when [describe a circumstance]. (This can also be a +1 if you pick two approaches.)
- Make something true, once per session, following this template: Because I [describe some way that you are exceptional, have a cool bit of gear, or are otherwise awesome], once per game session I can [describe something cool you can do].
and add a broader category, suitable for such things as wearing body armor:
- +1 to a particular activity, following this template: Because I [describe some way that you are exceptional, have a cool bit of gear, or are otherwise awesome], I get a +1 when I [pick one: attack, defend, create advantages, overcome] when [describe a circumstance].
- Make something true, once per session, following this template: Because I [describe some way that you are exceptional, have a cool bit of gear, or are otherwise awesome], when I spend a fate point I can [describe something cool you can do].
We also bring in Fate Core’s Creating a Rules Exception.
From Fate Core, we also bring in Extras. Extras that are represented as aspects or simple stunts are treated as above. More involved items are like Gadgets in the Fate System Toolkit p154: they have a Function and Flaw aspect, and your choice of:
- 2 points of bonus, comparable to standard stunts above;
- 4 points of bonus to spread around (no more than +2 at a time) and 4 points of penalties;
- 2 additional points of stress track that can absorb stress for you in a particular circumstance (such as spellcasting or decking).
You can get additional picks from the above list by paying more refresh, or adding more Flaws. Need to read up more on the Fate System Toolkit and various worlds of adventure.
Vehicles are also Extras (Fate System Toolkit p170). In general, they modify how your character expresses their Approaches while driving.
Most of the time, the game doesn’t worry about money. If it’s plausible for you to have a piece of gear, you can spend a Fate point to declare that you have it with you, make a roll to see if you remembered to pack it, or roll an appropriate Approach + Scrounge to obtain or fabricate one. Anything worth statting out (chrome, foci, vehicles, cyberdecks) comes with milestones. Still, there will be occasions where spending money becomes worthwhile to do on camera.
Your character is expected to have a day job of some sort, which will have a particular Approach + Edge combination associated with its performance; this may not be the character’s best adventuring combination. For instance, a Street Samurai may be best at Chrome + Powerful, but their day job as a bodyguard is Chrome + Careful. This sum is your Day Job rank. (Or maybe you don’t need one, if your Careful + Scrounge is high enough.)
Any time you need to spend money, you can roll your Day Job to have the relevant cash on hand. If you miss your target, you take financial stress, which occurs on a separate stress track that clears roughly every two weeks. No Liquid Assets and On Austerity Measures is a Mild consequence that clears after two weeks or burning a piece of Loot equal in rank to your Day Job, Paying Off Some Loans is a Moderate consequence that clears through a story event or using up a piece of Loot that is one step larger than your Day Job.
There is occasional Loot that has an aspect and a rank, such as Certified ¥ (+4). You can use up a piece of Loot to make a roll with that rank instead of Approach + Edge, or use it as a Fate point for any other roll at the same or lesser rank.
Advancement occurs through milestones:
- Minor milestones occur at the end of each adventure and are as standard Fate Accelerated.
- Significant milestones happen after an entire plot. While you may raise an Approach by +1, you may not raise a Edge.
- Karma milestones happen when characters have accumulated sufficient wherewithal for cyberware upgrades, initiation, and so on. If you are working on an Edge improvement that adds qualities, such as Chrome or Magic, you gain one quality. These exist to spread out the multiple qualities that come from raising certain Edges at major milestones.
- Major milestones happen at the end of a major story arc. You can raise an Edge or Approach by +1, and gain a point of refresh.