Shadowrun dumbness

February 2, 2007 at 1:11 pm (Shadowrun)

Shadowrun’s medical technology seems easily capable of providing birth control implants for men and women; a common implant for women would place their bodies into a state like a trained athlete’s, suppressing menstruation in addition to fertility. (This would even be done for health reasons, as studies in the modern era suggest that women are living much longer than ever before and their bodies don’t seem to be designed to go through the stress of menstruation as many times as they are; women in the Shadowrun era might only menstruate once or twice a year.)

The fact is, that this is not healthy and a bit weird that its brought up. It would be a bit nicer to just let the player decide themselves what they want to do, how it works and the fact that it shouldn’t come up in an rpg game.  

This may make for interesting shadowrunning possibilities: a man who sires only daughters may have one turned into a son to inherit or make an alliance with another family, or an investigation could reveal that a man’s wife and mother of his children didn’t start out as a female…)

Gender shouldn’t matter in cyberpunk for inheritance. And the other example leads to a lot of trans issues that probally shouldn’t come up in a fun shadowrun game.

It is possible to run a fun shadowrun game, without needing to bring in racism, sexism or homophobia.

Or for that matter abortion 

 Assensing also has other uses: it should be possible for a good assensor to detect pregnancy in a woman’s aura as early as one month of gestation, if not sooner. Depending on campaign flavor, a fetus’ aura may show independently (either through the mother or using a fiber optic scope) at some point— probably by the third trimester— and could provide additional fuel for debates about abortion.

Again why go there? Why bring this into a game. And if you do for the gods sake, check it with your players first, so nobodies dark secrets gets brought up in the middle of a session.



  1. phrixuscoyote said,

    Even in a Shadowrun sourcebook (namely Sprawl Survival Guide) we have a chapter discussing sex and gender. We have even more information (in nearly every sourcebook) on racism, homophobia and sexism – there are more than enough tips for GMs to bring all that into their game responsibly. All that simply IS a large part of Shadowrun. I’d say, it’s no fun without conflict. Checking with players first is always the Golden Rule – but Shadowrun is a really dark world.


  2. mary gilmartin said,

    A dark world is often used as an excuse by poor gms, you can run a dark world without upsetting your players.

    There is also a different between running a theme and showing it to be not on, and running a theme and showing ‘ooh look how dark it all is, look how evil they are.

    Sexism to be honest is not a fun theme for most female players.

    Sexism and racism, as a theme is done best when it puts under pressure a group that doesnt normally feel its pressure. If you run sexism have it against men.

    If you run racism, have it against what the most common race of your country is. Don’t run it against those who have to feel it daily anyway and cant do anything about it.

  3. phrixuscoyote said,

    I am a female player and a female GM and I think I am indeed able to run a dark world without upsetting my players. Nearly eight years of running Vampire and Shadowrun with very happy female and male players are proof enough for me.

    And in Shadowrun (and I am talking about Shadowrun here), you have racism against elves, dwarfs, orcs, trolls – and normal humans, depending on were you are. You have racism against females, against males, against native americans, “anglos” and everything you want. Why should I restrict myself to males or whatever?

    The fun about cyberpunk games is (in my opinion) that you play people from the bottom of society. Those people are confronted with prejudice of all kind. Period.

    There is a difference between racism and sexism in reality and in a game – in reality it is a bad thing. I feel it, too (though I think it is possible to do something about it). In a game like Shadowrun it is part of the genre, like aliens or advanced technology are a part of science fiction, or crimes are a part of crime fiction.
    I do not approve murder only because I like to read whodunnits, or do I? But a whodunnit without a crime would be really boring. That’s what we have fiction for: to confront ourselves with all parts of human life and human nature, be it love, hate, tension, sadness, happyness. That is why we like to read or watch comedies as well as tragedies, and everything in between.

    “All art is immoral.” – Oscar Wilde

  4. Worüber ich mich aufrege!!! « Orestias - Tales from the Mountains said,

    […] ich mich aufrege!!! Hier ist eine Seite aus einem anderen Weblog. Die Shadowrunspieler und -liebhaber unter meinen Lesern mögen sie sich bitte zu Gemüte führen. […]

  5. doodlez said,

    So there should be no racism, sexism, chauvinism, nationalism whatsoever in Shadowrun…

    Have you ever heard of “Alamos 20k”, “Humanis Polyclub”, “White Lightning” oder Kenneth Brackhaven, you twerps?

    Be serious. Shadowrun is a multicultural world, just like ours. Do you think racism would vanish from the face of the earth because we live in a multicultural world? If that was the fact, racism would have vanished about 10.000 years ago.

    Of course you can play without any of it, i do not doubt that! But all that will always – and i do not approve of it – be part of this world, sad as it is. Why should the world of Shadowrun be any different?

    Now a simple question for you, Mary. If the fun for female players is spoiled, if they are the target of sexism, do you really think the fun wouldn’t be spoiled for male players if they were the only target for sexism?
    I play an orc myself and i get to feel the racism, just because my character is an orc. I don’t go home crying!

    And why should there only be racism against the “common race”??? Come on! Do you REALLY think that only WHITE people can be racists and only MEN can be sexists?

  6. doodlez said,

    What my last paragraph wants to say: Not only Minorities are target to racism today. It is sad, that the majorities carry out that racism like over the government (look at South Africa – and the coloured people weren’t even the minority), but everybody is subject to racism or sexism. Why should the game be limited to one of these aspects.

  7. mary gilmartin said,

    doodlez, I let you have your say, but your line of arguement is in a recognised flawed type. Read around the anti-racist, anti-sexist blogs and you’ll get what I mean. If you dont want too, I wont care but I wont let any more posts through either. Banging on about the same point would be trolling.

  8. mary gilmartin said,

    Phrixuscoyote I get your point. I don’t want to do it myself but you seem to take a sensible line with it. If your players are happy, thats cool.

    It is possible to run a fun dark shadowrun game without any of this though. The crime, violence and the fact the players will always (standard player disclaimer) be outlaws is plenty of material. The fact they wont ever (standard player disclaimer) be respected by normal members of society is plenty of material.

    I just dont think you need to hit on every bad thing about this world just to have it *dark*. I do recognise there is plenty of games with happy players where the themes include racism and sexism. Just some players do get turned off by this stuff too.

    If yours dont, thats great, and I’d like hearing about the games. If you dont mind I’ll probally read your blog from now on.

    *standard player disclaim, allowing for the impossibilitys a good group of players can achieve logically, so the gm accepts this new possibility.

  9. phrixuscoyote said,

    If you include those things – called “Themes That Demand Courage” by Vampire: TM-Designers, I believe – you always have to stay respectful towards your players. That includes finding out how far you can go with any of them and ensuring that nobody’s fun is spoiled in any way.

    The really cool and interesting thing about Shadowrun is, I think, that you do not have plenty of “normal” racism – the designers would have to be really careful about that. Instead you have racism against fantasy creatures – elves, dwarfs etc. in a kind of Science Fiction Setting. That mixture is very strange and adds to the special Shadowrun flavour.

    It is perhaps not necessary to include – well – delicate and perhaps displeasing things like sex, possibilities of gender, possibilities of cosmetical surgery or even biotechnology, though I still say it’s part of Shadowrun and widely discussed in the Shadowrun forum provided by Fanpro (and not too tastelessly). But to leave out racism is perhaps a bit critical, because without it a lot of the Shadowrun history and setting doesn’t make much sense any more (that’s what doodlez want to say, too, I believe). At least that’s what I think – though I have to admit I tend to be a bit strict about the Shadowrun background because I love it so much. I’m also one of the (last?) defenders of the Shadowrun – Earthdawn – Crossover. 🙂
    (And Earthdawn is a hard horror RPG – no matter what others say! 😉 )

    I’d be happy to have one more reader of my blog… though I don’t post much in English. It’s a German blog, so I’m afraid many of my readers (including most of my Shadowrun group) wouldn’t have too much fun reading it if it was in English. But if you are interested in anything particular, I can try to write it in English for you.

  10. doodlez said,

    I didn’t mean any offence with my post. If my reply was too emotional, i apologise. If you think i missed the point, i’m sorry, too.
    Although i would like to say that ‘trolling’ is something different because i really did not want to insult you.

    What i wanted to say is that discrimination in whatever kind is part of the game Shadowrun. The authors spent a lot of time bringing it into the game. In the real world i do not approve with any kind of racism or sexism.
    But being part of a Shadowrun group we enjoy dealing with it – not because it’s just a game or we enjoy it but because we can deal with the subject without the risk of anyone being really offended or attacked. Should my character insult anyone in-game, i’ll point out that i do not think that way off-game.
    We would, of course, pull all brakes if any of us would feel offended. And i would be fine with putting a theme aside if anyone would not like it being part of our game.
    Of course it is possible to have fun without it (i actually do so every day in my off-game life), but that would not be Shadowrun the way i think the authors intended it.

  11. mary gilmartin said,

    I picked up earthdawn a while ago. Its a lovely setting actually. I really like it and am looking forward to running it. I see it as a post-apocalpse game, but there is a lot of possibility for a great horror or exploration game too.

    I read a couple of foreign blogs via babelfish so the german isn’t too much a problem. German is one of those languages I just couldnt pick up anything of, I have enough french to make my way along, but after 1 year of secondary school german I learned nothing 🙂

    I think its possible to have a theme in the world without having it in the game. As its going on in the world, but it doesnt appear in the game. I don’t think dropping it as theme damages the rather interesting background and history of shadowrun. Or at least i havent noticed players be bothered by its absence as a theme.

  12. mary gilmartin said,

    doodlez, i didnt think you did, which is why I didnt mind letting the posts through. I also don’t take out-of-character the same as in-character thought, so I dont think your sexist or racist or anything like that.

    I personally dont think you have to run a game the way the authors intend. You can, and a straight-up version of a game can be great fun. I think its also ok to run in different directions with it, as long as everyone is having fun.

    The strongest theme of shadowrun I think is the fact its so near-modern that the players can understand it and picture it really well. (regards the day to day life). And the whole magick theme makes for some great storys. They can see their characters doing the day job and then heading to the pub, paying their rent or buying food and its all nearly modern. Because all that can be the same or almost the same, the odd bits stick out all the more.

    I think shadowrun is quite a strong game and system so without or without a racism/sexism/zenoism theme it will still run well.

    As long as your own group of players are happy your running it this way, I’m not really saying you have to change.

  13. phrixuscoyote said,

    Hi Mary! Just a short note: I used babelfish on my own text… I had quite a laugh. 😆 I really hope you understand enough via that horrible thing. If you need a more accurate translation from time to time, just contact me via my blog. 🙂

  14. mary gilmartin said,

    Phrixuscoyote, could you translate this post for me?
    I would like to follow the discussion.

  15. Worüber ich mich aufrege!!! in English (Things I get upset about) « Orestias - Tales from the Mountains said,

    […] an article from another weblog. All the shadowrun players and enthusiasts amongst my readers should read it and the following […]

  16. phrixuscoyote said,

    Hi Mary, I did my best to translate it. It’s on my page, you should find it in the sidebar under “Neueste Beiträge” (recent posts).

  17. KIP said,

    “The strongest theme of shadowrun I think is the fact its so near-modern that the players can understand it and picture it really well. (regards the day to day life). And the whole magick theme makes for some great storys. They can see their characters doing the day job and then heading to the pub, paying their rent or buying food and its all nearly modern. Because all that can be the same or almost the same, the odd bits stick out all the more.

    I think shadowrun is quite a strong game and system so without or without a racism/sexism/zenoism theme it will still run well.”

    Ow. Okay, that might be the daily life for most of the people in the Shadowrun world, but they’re supposed to be the people on the very, very fringe. Their jobs usually consist of raiding, robbing and killing. Unless they’ve been doing very well, food is crappy. The pub is more likely to be a hellish bar, or, if they are indeed quite good, a stylish one. Either way showing weakness could get them killed quickly.

    Or not. But you’d have to do a major rewrite… which isn’t that bad an idea, if you don’t like racisms, sexism, and overall xenophobia. Shadowrun is one of the darkest games out there, after all.

    I’m not going to get onto a soapbox and claim you’re not playing Shadowrun at all, although some people might do that and not without at least some justification. However, I will say that you’re not entitled, per se, to call’s material stupid (as you very much implied with the topic of your post). It’s more in theme with canon Shadowrun than a version without bigotry based on race, gender or sexuality.

    Perhaps it’s just a matter of what you and your players enjoy, in the end, and you did have one very valid point: A GM should ALWAYS check if her (or his) players have any major issues, and handle them carefully. That doesn’t always mean it’s necessary to avoid it entirely (what would you do if someone had a friend that was shot? Hard to avoid things like that in a cyberpunk game), but always show some respect.

    And keep an open mind. Just like your version of Shadowrun (valid and possibly fun, but not canon) works, so does what you’ve labelled “Shadowrun dumbness.”

  18. Jade Reporting » February 17, 2007 said,

    […] Shadowrun dumbness […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: