There's something about Shadowrun that can make people
a little crazy.
After all, what's the point of playing somebody with
lightning-fast reflexes, enough strength to turn cars over,
the magic power to level large numbers of innocent
bystanders, a vehicle big and tough enough to eat monster
trucks for lunch, or the decking equipment to ruin the credit
ratings of half the free world, and then not getting a chance
to cut loose now and then?
Dave Barry once said something about a group of little
boys being comparable to the destructive power of a tank
guided by the brainpower of a Golden Retriever. Personally,
I think he was talking about shadowrunners. Well, some
Everybody who's been playing or GMing Shadowrun for any
length of time is familiar with the "tank and Golden
Retriever" mentality. Almost everybody's been in the a
game where the characters are carefully sneaking into
somewhere, with the decker and rigger disabling the security,
the mage holding up the invisibility spell over the
group, the samurai carefully stealthing her way down
the corridorsuddenly, a guard comes around the corner!
The samurai levels her silenced pistol, but before she
can fire, the troll yells, "I'll get him!" and pounds
down the corridor, machine gun blazing, alerting the entire
complex to the team's presence.
Or maybe the party is conducting a tense negotiation
with a local gang leader and his group of lieutenants and
hangers-on. The situation is very touchy, with one wrong
word spelling the difference between the success of the
negotiation and failure and possible threat to the runners'
lives. The gang leader makes a snide comment, which causes
the team's mage, a hotheaded young dude with more power than
sense, to yell, "I've had enough of this crap!" and Manaball
the entire group of gang members.
If you're lucky, your GM will take pity on you and just
fry the offender. If you're not lucky (or if you play in a
game with a particularly realistic bent) you'll probably
be spending the next session making up new characters.
But hey, it's tempting, isn't it? Every once in a while,
it's just fun to go out somewhere and let loose, whether
it's a in a bar brawl, a run through the bad part of town to
take target practice at critters (if your party is relatively
"good") or homeless people (if your party is relatively
"bad"), or whatever.
But consider this: most shadowrunners didn't become
shadowrunners overnight. Most of them are adults. Most of them
have had at least a few years of experience on the streets,
in the corps, or in wherever it is they got their start.
Even if the character is new to the player, who's just dying
to go out and discover what Wired 3, or Firearms 6 and a heavy
machine gun, or Manaball 6 will do to the neighborhood, it
might be a good idea to remember the character's point of
view. Shadowruns are jobs. If you don't do the job right, you
don't get paid. Or worse yet, you die. The good runners are
the ones who know this, and who keep it at the forefront of
their minds. There are overzealous runners, and there are old
runners, but the two rarely occur in the same person.
Still, though, a little "Golden Retriever"ing can sometimes
be a good thing, especially when the group's been through a
grueling run and need to let off some steam. A wise GM will
remember this, and give the players (if they're so inclined)
the opportunity to do this in a relatively safe environment.
Let 'em go out and act like a bunch of 12-year-old boys playing
shoot-'em-up in a vacant lot somewhere. The safety valve will pay
off in the long run, and it might prevent the team's trigger-happy
merc from blowing the job next time because he "just knew he could
take 'em all out before they can get us!"