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Dragonrun

ParanoydStyle

Villager
Dragonrun 800.png
Dragonrun is a free fan project I am working on to convert Shadowrun, my favorite RPG, to D&D 5th Edition, the world's most popular RPG.

If this project is completed and actually garners popularity (a long shot at best, but as I explain below I think I'm mainly doing this for the challenge), it will bring lots of new fans to Shadowrun (which is awesome) and in a roundabout way will make Catalyst Game Labs money (which I'm okay with; maybe they'll even unfire me! long story, don't ask here). Anyway I think the first thing I should announce up front is that THIS IS NOT COMPLETE. So, I'm sorry to disappoint anyone who thought they could just download this and play Shadowrun using the D&D 5E rules. But I'm working on it and should be releasing installments over time.

I'm not gonna lie--a lot of the appeal of this project was the shear CHALLENGE of it. Shadowrun does not have classes, does not have levels, characters are created by Point Buy and/or with priorities, character advancement is by karma, magic works COMPLETELY different (in D&D astral projection is a 9th level Wizard spell, whereas in Shadowrun it's something every mage can just DO by being a mage; in D&D raise dead is a 5th level Cleric spell and something NO ONE IN THE SHADOWRUN UNIVERSE CAN EVER DO EVER BECAUSE EVEN MAGIC HAS LIMITS). So yeah, this was going to be a project, the exact kind of project that my mind craves. I haven't even gotten to the classes that I KNOW IN ADVANCE will be nightmares to design (the Decker and especially the Rigger) and I already find myself hard pressed. I love it. This is going to be an EPIC hack/conversion (hackversion).

Anyway, the plan was to release this in bite sized installments, and that still is the plan going forward. It's just that as I was working I found that I needed some kind of foundation to work with, so I built one. I've been working on this for more or less the past 24 hours straight with a single brief break to sleep. Always keep in mind that it's a first draft (not that I won't remind you fifteen times below). The result is this 35 page, exactly 10,001 word PDF. Download and enjoy. This PDF contains Downloads (Chapters) 0.1 through 3.2. The idea is, the next release will contain only Download 3.3, and so on.

INSIDE THE FIRST DOWNLOAD:

  • Typographical lookalikes of the official D&D and Shadowrun fonts because ain't I a stinker.
  • No art whatsoever because I don't own the rights and this has no budget.
  • As mentioned, 35 pages, 10,001 words of content.
  • The first draft of a Foreword in which I talk about how much I love Shadowrun, how popular D&D 5th is, how I want to use D&D 5th to introduce more people to Shadowrun, how I wish Shadowrun had more of a PUNK/CRIMINAL feel to its fantasy cyberpunk and why I'm qualified to bring that feel because I'm a punk-ass criminal who's read the writings of the world's greatest cross-class criminal/author and also LOOK AT THESE LYRICS FROM THESE BANDS I REALLY LIKE. Actually the whole document has a lot of that last one, the one in all caps. You've been warned.
  • The first draft of Download 1.0, in which I spell out the steps involved in character creation and also include an optional Priority System as a Step 0 that can be used. Shadowrun fans will know exactly what I'm talking about.
  • The first draft of Download 2.0: Races of Shadowrun which contains EXACTLY WHAT IT SOUNDS LIKE IT DOES. Well, I mean, it contains Dwarf, Elf, Human, Ork, and Troll. It doesn't contain any of the tons of weird sub-races introduced in various Shadowrun splats.
  • The first draft of Download 3.1: the Shadowrun FIGHTER (you heard me right, I said fighter), a variant D&D5E Fighter with some slight tweaks to its core features, and three whole new martial archetypes available: Street Samurai, Alley Brawler, and Weapons Expert. All of those are available at 1st Level, while the Champion archetype is unaltered and comes online at 3rd Level as usual.
  • The first draft of Download 3.2: the Shaman. This is an ENTIRELY new class created almost entirely from scratch using some of the new core concepts that I'm getting to. Shamans have totems. The available totem animals are Bear, Cat, Coyote, Dog, Eagle, Gator, Horse, Lion, Owl, Rat, Raccoon, Raven, and Wolf. Note that totems are NOT full-fledged Sub-Classes (like Warlock Pacts or Sorcerer Bloodlines) although they function a little like them, albeit with more breadth of choice and less depth of benefit. Technically, the Shaman does not have any Sub-Classes, just a totem.
  • The first draft of rules for the following new core concepts: Critical Initiative, Dice Pools (multi-advantage!), Bloodied (wound penalties), Drain (concentrate on multiple spells...at a cost), Astral Perception/Projection, Spirit Summoning and Spirit Binding (but no stats for spirits yet!). Whew!

WADDAYAHEAR, WADDAYASAY, CHUMMER? (THE LATEST)
DOWNLOAD 3.4: THE PHYSICAL ADEPT
DOWNLOAD 3.3: THE MAGE UPDATE

OPEN BOUNTIES (HALP WANTED)

I'm soliciting suggestions for replacements for the following Arcane Tradition features--replacements that don't involve cantrips, creating stuff out of nothing, raising the dead, or teleporting, none of which are a thing in Shadowrun/Dragonrun.

  • Potent Cantrip (Evocation Level 6)
  • Overchannel (Evocation Level 14)
  • Improved Minor Illusion (Illusion Level 2, unless this feature is good enough with just the second paragraph)
  • Illusory Reality (Illusion Level 14)

Your feedback is appreciated of course, but your simply reading and disseminating this is doubly welcome. This post has been a Dragons In Dungeons production. THANK YOU AND GOODNIGHT!
 
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Draegn

Explorer
Shadowrun 4e and The Dark Eye 4e use the same chargen system. This may be a place to use as an example.
 

77IM

The Grand Druid (level 22)
I like this a lot. I haven't read the whole thing very carefully but here is some initial feedback.

Some things seem way off balance. For example:
- I really like the effect of Wired Reflexes, but it seems a little bit weak for the cost. I'd have gone with something more like the rogue's Cunning Action.
- Holy crap, the troll is overpowered. I know that trolls are overpowered in the official RPG, but I don't think that's something you need to carry over into D&D. The scale of the abilities is much different. You could feasibly reduce their Str to +4 and Con to +2, and reduce their Natural Armor bonus to +1, and they'd still be an amazing race, even with the ability penalties.
- Likewise, with all the other stuff they get, I don't think orcs need a +1 to AC that stacks with armor.
- The elf's +1 to spell attacks and save DCs is probably overpowered, especially since it's going to stack with their +2 Cha. I might reduce that to +1 Cha, or find some other way to represent their magical aptitude. The +1 bonus on spell attacks is probably OK since attack-roll spells tend not to be very impressive. But the +1 to save DCs is huge because very few things can increase save DC.
- The humans get to pick proficiency in a skill or tool -- but most skills are VASTLY more useful than most tools. Now maybe you might do things like decking, rigging, vehicles, surgical equipment, etc. as tools, making certain tool proficiencies comparable to skills. But if you stick with the 5E model of "tons of mostly-useless tools, instruments, and kits, plus super-useful thieves' tools," having to pick between a skill and tool is an obvious choice to some and a trap option to others.

Other things that jumped out at me:
- I like the Drain mechanic using dice. But I don't like that you take drain from casting a normal spell. I think spell slots can represent the normal sort of "drain" (which is stun damage in SR). Otherwise, you make spellcasting much slower, because you have to make a Wis save for every spell cast. WORSE, the magicians don't really have enough hit points to absorb this cost routinely. Maybe if Shaman had a d10 hit die it would make sense to use hit points as a resource this way. Or, maybe the Drain damage, which can't be healed by magic, completely goes away on a short rest, before you spend hit dice -- so it's kind of a "reverse temporary hit points." Speaking of which, I think the 5-minute short rest would fit better into Shadowrun game play, because there are times during a run when you might have a 5-minute breather, but maybe not an hour.
- I don't like that the fighter's Runner Archetypes are available at level 1, but you can still take Champion at level 3. Just eliminate Champion; it's unnecessary. Or, move the other archetypes up to level 3. A huge advantage of NOT picking your archetype at level 1 is that you have a couple of levels to play your character before deciding your archetype. I do really like the three archetypes you picked; in particular, making Street Samurai and Weapons Master two different subclasses of the same fighter chassis solves a really tricky conceptual problem with Shadowrun character archetypes. (Specifically, things like Mage, Shaman, Decker, Rigger, Adept, etc. tend to have very clear and discrete niches, but chromed-up Street Samurai vs. gun-lugging orc Mercenary kind of exist on a continuum.)
- I think shaman works better as a Wis-based class. That messes up several other design elements (for example, the use of Wis save for avoiding Drain would make shamans less Drain-prone, and the Troll's ability score penalties no longer discourage shamanism), but, from the novel's I've read and the video games, it seems that there are a lot of shamans who are really not very charismatic.
- I'm not too keen on adding Essence as a seventh ability score. That seems like another thing carried over from the SR game mechanics, rather than the setting lore. I'd rather see Essence as its own weird thing and just stick to the "rule of 6," or else just rely on ability score penalties. (Actually making cyberware just cost Charisma directly is a simple and thematically appropriate approach.)
- I find it weird that any character can buy cyberware, but it's listed under the Street Samurai archetype. I guess that's easy enough to reorganize once you've got more of your ideas down. But it's also weird that the Street Samurai gets so much subclass power from spending cash. That's fine I guess UNLESS you use the priority system to get a mountain of nuyen. Then it could really introduce a large discrepancy between Street Samurais. I think what I would do, is move the fighter archetypes up to 3rd level, and when you pick Street Samurai, you get a bunch of ¥ that can only be spent on cyberware (somebody owes you a favor, and some dermal plating "fell off the back of a truck...").
 

ParanoydStyle

Villager
77IM, I really appreciate the in-depth feedback. Also, this is a placeholder for Download 3.3: the mage. Let me try to respond REALLY BRIEFLY to some of your points:

* Multiple full TURNS are a HUGE deal in the D&D action economy which is a very simple, straightforward one turn per combatant per round. I do agree with you that Cunning Action would fit more neatly into the D&D5E framework. But Wired Reflexes progressively gives you a 5% chance, then a 10% chance, then a 15% chance of getting an extra turn which is again huge in D&D, so I definitely don't think they're weak. However, they SHOULD increase your initiative BONUS also, and I feel dumb that I didn't think of that until now but thanks for mentioning it.
* The troll is indeed OP. I was more interested in "translating" the Shadowrun troll into D&D than "balancing" the Shadowrun troll into D&D. That said, Shadowrun's setting operates under different assumptions than D&D land. In D&D Strength is a very important attribute because running up to things and hitting them is a very important part of many D&D classes. In Shadowrun though, melee itself is inherently sub-optimal, because someone or someones with an assault rifle or sniper rifle is gonna knock you on your ass or kill you before you can get within melee range of them. So in terms of balance, my reasoning is that Strength is just not as important in Dragonrun as it is in D&D5E.
* "Orks are the master race" was a Shadowrun meme for a good long while and technically still is. I don't think a +1 natural armor bonus is that big of a deal when the average person who will be shooting at you can be counted on having advantage when doing so because of Smartlink. On the other hand, unlike the troll's natural armor bonus, it's not an INTEGRAL part of the ork conceptually the way a troll's dermal deposits are.
* "The elf's +1 to spell attacks and save DCs is probably overpowered, especially since it's going to stack with their +2 Cha."
Yeah, I'm probably going to get rid of it. It doesn't have any basis in the mechanics of any edition of Shadowrun, it's just one of those things frequently touted in the fluff. I'm not sure how overpowered it is...but it's not very well grounded in Shadowrun rules and I like to take away nice things from elves (fraggin' dandelion eaters).
* Yeah, I was planning on having tools like "Cyberdeck, Vehicle Control Rig, Ground Vehicles, Water Vehicles, Air Vehicles".

- I like the Drain mechanic using dice. But I don't like that you take drain from casting a normal spell. I think spell slots can represent the normal sort of "drain" (which is stun damage in SR). Otherwise, you make spellcasting much slower, because you have to make a Wis save for every spell cast. WORSE, the magicians don't really have enough hit points to absorb this cost routinely.
You're...absolutely right. Slows things down and just to determine if the I'll get rid of the drain for spells you actually have slots for. Since there are few spell slots to begin with and I eliminated cantrips and anything like Arcane Recovery, that should still force magicians to deal with drain on most runs/adventures.

Final Thought: instead of Wisdom, Shadowrun has Willpower. Up through Fourth Edition it was THE drain resistance stat, then in 4E IIRC (it's BEEN a while man) it changed to Willpower + Logic for mages and Willpower + Charisma for shamans and for some weird traditions Willpower + Intuition. Choosing Charisma as the spellcasting ability for Shamans, I was thinking of the "force of will/force of personality" aspect of Charisma, not the "charm/likability/prettiness" aspect of Charisma.

(I've read most of the Shadowrun novels, lots of them more than once (and I used to own nearly all of them before they were destroyed in a flood when my pipes froze :.-( ) so I'm curious what un-charismatic shamans you're thinking of. The Shaman who stands out in my mind the most obviously is Sam Verner, since he is the protagonist of an entire trilogy, and he was a pretty likable dude.)

That said, one thing I did very deliberately is make sure that Shamans have something they need Int for and that Mages have something they need Cha for, and both of them need Wis for resisting drain. This is a deliberate break from the D&D5 design philosophy where as far as I can tell any caster could use the two mental stats that AREN'T their spellcasting abiltiy as dump stats. Again, this is reflecting Shadowrun where generally more often than not multiple attributes have been involved in spellcasting in different ways.

Wow, I just saw Overchannel (14th level Evoker tradition feature). Looks like D&D5 already has drain after a fashion lol.
 
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ParanoydStyle

Villager
png_16c5c066-61ba-452e-aac2-04ee8eef2997.png

Hey y'all, you can find Download 3.3: The Mage here.

I could use some help, actually. I'm soliciting suggestions for replacements for the following Arcane Tradition features--replacements that don't involve cantrips, creating stuff out of nothing, raising the dead, or teleporting, none of which are a thing in Shadowrun/Dragonrun.

  • Potent Cantrip (Evocation Level 6)
  • Overchannel (Evocation Level 14)
  • Improved Minor Illusion (Illusion Level 2, unless this feature is good enough with just the second paragraph)
  • Illusory Reality (Illusion Level 14)

If you're enjoying watching this project unfold, please consider buying me a coffee beer (or twelve) on my Ko-fi.
 
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ParanoydStyle

Villager
d20 Modern is one of the worst RPGs I have ever seen (by a substantial margin, the only worse ones I can think of off the top of my head being Apocalypse World--and anything PbtA--and RIFTS, but even RIFTS while technically unplayable has a lot of charm and a great setting), and my understanding is that Urban Arcana was a sourcebook for it and d20 Future shared a lot of its DNA?

I am assuming you are referring to the 3.5 Urban Arcana and d20 Future, as I was not aware there is any such thing for 5E. Correct me if I'm wrong about any of these facts.

As for the opinion I expressed, let me throw in an obligatory "Your Mileage May Vary" caveat--when I say that d20 Modern is a terrible game that's just my opinion. An opinion informed by a couple of decades of game design experience and almost a decade of being a bona fide professional game designer, but just my opinion nonetheless.
 

Saelorn

Explorer
d20 Modern is one of the worst RPGs I have ever seen (by a substantial margin, the only worse ones I can think of off the top of my head being Apocalypse World--and anything PbtA--and RIFTS, but even RIFTS while technically unplayable has a lot of charm and a great setting), and my understanding is that Urban Arcana was a sourcebook for it and d20 Future shared a lot of its DNA?

I am assuming you are referring to the 3.5 Urban Arcana and d20 Future, as I was not aware there is any such thing for 5E. Correct me if I'm wrong about any of these facts.

As for the opinion I expressed, let me throw in an obligatory "Your Mileage May Vary" caveat--when I say that d20 Modern is a terrible game that's just my opinion. An opinion informed by a couple of decades of game design experience and almost a decade of being a bona fide professional game designer, but just my opinion nonetheless.
That's a bold assertion. (I'll assume you haven't read Synnibarr, Xro Dinn, Skyrealms of Jorune, or Immortal: The Invisible War). Do you just not like the 3E engine at its core? Or do you find particular fault with d20 Modern, specifically? If it's just a dislike of 3E, then you could still see the way that d20 Modern translates the game to a modern setting, and then apply a similar translation to 5E.

Based on a quick overview of your project, it seems like you really want to tie this setting into the traditional D&D classes, which is unfortunate given the free-form and class-breaking structure which is fundamental to Shadowrun. If you'd gone with more of a d20 Modern base, it would be much easier to build characters like Samuel Verner called Twist, or the classic archetype of the burned-out mage.
 

ParanoydStyle

Villager
Dragonrun 800.png
DOWNLOAD 3.4: THE PHYSICAL ADEPT

DOWNLOAD 3.3: THE MAGE UPDATE


On d20 Modern:


First off, when I say something is "one of the worst RPGs I have ever seen" I probably mean to imply the qualifier "amongst reasonably mainstream RPGs with budgets of some kind". I am not comparing anything put out by WotC with, well, FATAL and friends.

Secondly, I am actually kind of still in love with the 3E engine, specifically 3.5.

Thirdly: I did not like d20 Modern's implied setting. There are so many cool and valid ways to combine modern urban action with magic and monsters to make a cool urban fantasy setting, and d20 Modern goes with none of them. Instead we got dumb crap like idk, rhino men playing hockey? That's the one piece of art I can specifically remember cringing at back in the 00s. The setting-or-lack-thereof implied in the art was just so infuriatingly stupid. The implication seemed to be that everything that could possibly be a thing in D&D into the modern world and then change the implicit assumptions about our modern world not at all. Next to no effort was made to explain how magic and monsters co-existed had altered our history. Compared to the amount of thought and detail put into the future/alternate history of Shadowrun, I think it's outright embarassing. Later on (I don't know if it was later on in the core rulebook or later on in a supplement) I saw they introduced three different quasi-settings (call them campaign ideas, maybe) and one or two of those were actually pretty cool (naturally, I liked the darker, vaguely Lovecraftian one). If they had picked one of those campaign ideas and developed the game (including, yes, the presentation and art) around its assumptions

Fourth: I was not a fan of the BS non-classes that served as base classes. "Strong Hero" or "Smart Hero" is not a class concept. It just tells you what your best stat is, which you already knew, and builds a very lame class framework around one. The fact that you couldn't have a class name that told people either what your character did for a living OR told people what your character contributed to the party until reaching 6th level and taking a Prestige Class was a serious flaw with the game. I can't recall anyone ever expressing any enthusiasm for playing a "Fast Hero" or a "Wise Hero" or whatever, before, during, or after. Say what you will for having lots of freedom with these character archetypes/pseudo-classes, but I think if that's what they were going for then they simply should have every single character start as the same "class", "Action Hero" or whatever. Thus class features would not define low level characters at all.

Finally: the firearm rules (the one sourcebook I had was the big books of guns in d20 modern). As a firearm afficionado, I appreciated their attention to detail and realism, but as a game designer, nothing excuses giving the player the choice of like 50-something semi-auto handguns that all do the exact same damage. I don't think that the 3E engine lacks the detail to have appropriate granularity for firearm calibers, either, differentiating more than difference. But d20 modern just didn't.

Based on a quick overview of your project, it seems like you really want to tie this setting into the traditional D&D classes, which is unfortunate given the free-form and class-breaking structure which is fundamental to Shadowrun. If you'd gone with more of a d20 Modern base, it would be much easier to build characters like Samuel Verner called Twist, or the classic archetype of the burned-out mage.
As mentioned, d20 Modern had classes. They were just lame ones (Charismatic Hero, Strong Hero, Fast Hero). But they were still technically "classes". It's very difficult to sever D&D from classes. I've decided not to attempt to swim up that waterfall (also, every class I make is still a class I can made that could theoretically be inserted into someone's D&D game, even if Dragonrun doesn't take off and become a thing). But there are aspects of Dragonrun that allow for greater character customization (loadout matters more, everyone gets to pick some skill proficiencies irrespective of their class) and there will be even more (things like burnt out mage or aspected mage seem perfect for feats) so stay tuned!

@Pregily: Thanks, welcome aboard!

Shadowrun 4e and The Dark Eye 4e use the same chargen system. This may be a place to use as an example.

I'm not sure why I didn't reply to this post when it was first made...I'm embarrassed to admit I might not have seen it at all. Anyway I know I could probably Google answers to all the following but half of the point of having a community is learning things direct from other people, right?


* Well first off, what the heck is The Dark Eye? How did it get to four editions without my having ever heard of it?
* Is the Dark Eye a CGL (Catalyst Game Labs, makes Shadowrun)/In Media Res (owns CGL, largely the same people as CGL also) property? If so, licensed or original? If not, who does make it, and what is CGL's position on it using mechanics from an obsolete edition of their (Topps') IP? (You can't trademark/copyright/whatever game mechanics so I doubt there was any real drama but I am curious how this came to be if The Dark Eye is not proprietary to CGL.
* You say it uses the same "chargen" system as SR4. That would seem to imply it is also the same 'game engine'? Because the one really must line up with the other.
 
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Draegn

Explorer
[MENTION=6984451]ParanoydStyle[/MENTION] The Dark Eye is a German fantasy game. Both The Dark Eye and Shadowrun were produced by FanPro when wizkids ran the show. Both use the point buy system.

In my own game I have expanded the backgrounds. Backgrounds now are an improved life path system.
 

ParanoydStyle

Villager
It is with no real regret and only mild sadness that I announce the cancellation of Project Dragonrun.

Between the announcement of Shadowrun 6th Edition (which I am going to give all possible benefit of the doubt because I WANT it to be good) and my discovery of other 5th Edition Cyberpunk offerings like Dragon Turtle Games' Carbon 2185 I think that Dragonrun would almost certainly be a redundant duplication of effort.

Also, my various other projects--Deals With Dragons, Weird Times, Konvikt: Inch Towards Daylight, plus a super-secret super-important project I haven't really announced yet--are already probably more than I can handle, and that's just within the RPG sphere. I also write fiction and make indie computer games.

Thank you for your interest, everyone and on the off chance the cancellation of this disappoints anyone, I'm sorry.
 
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