So, I’ve been following the developers blogs for Shadowrun, 5th edition. I had a knee-jerk reaction when the announcement came out… I was upset about the new announcement but mostly I put it down to having a case of change/edition fatigue. I love Shadowrun 4th/Anniversary Edition and I really don’t want 5th to disappoint me.
But the more I read about it, the more I’m sure it is going to. Check out the Shadowrun tabletop blog if you want the whole story but essentially, the last two posts have been about this new concept, Limits. Essentially, limits will cap dice pools based on Gear. If you have a light pistol (to use their example) you can have a dice pool of 6 or a dice pool of 20, you can still only keep a maximum number of successes equal to the gun’s accuracy rating (in their example 3).
It really brings to mind the Roll and Keep mechanics from old L5R or 7th Sea. I wasn’t a fan of roll and keep in those games and I’m even less fond of it here. The reasoning strikes me as sound – from the point of view of what outcome they want to create – in that they posit that this will create less of a dependance on gear and generate more of what a character can do from their stats and skills. They also state that they hope it means that players will use a wider selection of the available gear in the game over the perceived behavior of 4th Ed players.
I’m reminded that I’ve heard this promise before… right, D&D 4th Edition. And instead, 4th Ed built the gear right into the base math of the game with a prescriptive power curve that ultimately left me cold – and meant that PCs were more reliant on their gear/bonuses than ever before.
And players who only used a small sliver of the available choices in 4th ed – because they wanted the best/more efficient/effective equipment in all situations, will likely do the same in 5th ed… it won’t take long for the internet to point out the most abusable items within the paradigm and then that’s what will see use by that subset of players.
The discussion of Stat Limits also gives me pause. The rationale is to encourage more general characters who don’t overemphasize one type of stat (or worse, min/max). Now, not a fan of min/maxing myself – I tend to make generalist characters anyway… But why would a game want to punish someone mechanically for making a character creation choice to lean in one direction? Which is honestly how this seems to go. I mean, the game already has a reaction to someone who spends all their points on one facet of their character… they didn’t spend any points on those other facets. What is the need for another mechanical layer that serves only to reinforce the difficulties accompanying a player’s decision?
I mean, if you want to encourage players to make more generalist characters, build that into the player and GM advice, create a wider range of challenges that require more than just a team of super-specialists, or other less, number-y solutions. Limits seem inefficient as a game element as well, requiring an addition layer of rules on top of everything else going on at the table. Plus it creates cases where Stat Limits will take precedent, sometimes gear Limits will take precedent.
I don’t really get it. That’s probably clear to all by now, but really, read my post, read the design blogs and somebody give me a reason to understand how Limits are at all a good thing?
As always, thanks for reading…
Oh – and apparently Hacking equipment is going back to the Cyberdeck terminology… ugh.