And with this post so ends what I’ve nicknamed fluff month. I have an easier time writing with guidelines to work with. Often I come up with theme months for myself, this time was just easy to parse content off the top of my head. December takes quite the toll on me. At first it was supposed to only be a week off, but then there was catch up and adjustment.
As for the piece itself, I like Shadowrun Returns. I like the system and the campaign it comes with. It’s the right balance of simplified character managing elements, both in equipment and stats. Hell, I even ended up enjoying the retrograde save system the game shipped with and am now a little disappointed that they are fixing it in the next patch, launching alongside the new expansion.
I think it’s because the game manages the right balance between depth and simplicity. I can lean back with Shadowrun Return and still get a challenge. The battles are tough, but not punishing. The story is engaging enough and enjoyable enough to lean back and take in the adventure. If I knew more about the setting and genre as a whole I probably could have written something to the effect of the main corpocracy and general class warfare themes coming about in the 80s and making a return to public consciousness now.
Ian Miles Chong often says, usually in relation to some new item, that we are now living in a cyberpunk novel. I agree with the sentiment if not the semantics. Things aren’t that bad, but are certainly heading in that direction. There is something to be said about playing in a fantasy of the worst outcome of such a system to recognize the complex tenants that such a future arises from. People nowadays like to make succinct and pithy analogies comparing such and such to a bad person from the past, usually Hitler, but the reality is nothing like that.
Fiction has the opportunity to illuminate what the complexity of the world obfuscates. There is something in the ‘Dead Man’s Switch’ campaign about that, because that campaign is about a walking tour through the major pillars the Shadowrun universe and RPG are built upon. There’s a piece in there about how and why the universe was constructed the way it was and what it has to say reflecting back on society as a whole. There is something to say and I wish I was a better writer to say it. I wish my brain had come back to me in time so I could have said it.
You can read the basic fumblings of a post about the denouement of the Shadowrun Returns campaign at PopMatters. I promise to be back to full form next month.