Goals and notes
Why not Shadowrun?
The Shadowrun system is a huge, sprawling, bloated beast of a thing. For any given edition, the CRB plus splatbooks contain thousands of pages of rules; it’s just too much. Inconsistencies and unbalanced elements abound. Pages are devoted to irrelevant rules like SCUBA diving. On-the-fly rules clarifications are required of GMs constantly.
Like many GMs, I hacked away at it, trying to cut it down to something manageable (see my efforts on the rest of this site) – but I tired of the fight. I’d much rather be devoting my energies to running my games than rewriting rules.
Furthermore, these issues are getting worse over time, not better. Shadowrun 6e did little to address the issues of 5e, while having significantly worse editing and organisation. I no longer have any trust in SR’s publishers to assemble a high-quality product that I want to play.
Why Savage Worlds?
There’s lots of fan hacks around that aim to use other RPG systems to run Shadowrun games with. But for my table’s style of game, I think Savage Worlds is a good choice. Why?
- Savage Worlds is a classless system, like Shadowrun. We prefer this to the class-based approach adopted by PbtA and FitD games.
- Savage Worlds excels at pulpy high-action play styles. Our Shadowrun campaign leans pink mohawk, so that’s a good fit.
- Savage Worlds is a mainstream system with good support from digital tools, in particular for character generation and for virtual tabletops like Roll20 and Foundry. Both are important to us.
- Savage Worlds, as a generic RPG engine, has lots of content out there that spans other genres like horror, high sci-fi, and fantasy. Content from these can be pulled in as needed for Shadowrun’s more outré elements such as metaplane adventures or ultraviolet VR hosts.
Simply put, Sprawlrunners is by far the most polished and well-considered of the various hacks that attempt to blend Shadowrun’s setting with Savage World’s ruleset.
It is also probably the adaptation that sticks most closely to the vanilla Savage World rules. For example, the use of (mostly) existing Edges and Racial Trait rules and costs to model cyberware means the game is more easily balanced.
Why change Sprawlrunners?
Sprawlrunners is perfectly playable as-is, so why have I written all these houserules for it? It’s mostly a question of game era. Sprawlrunners has a very classic FASA-era SR feel — the first to third editions. This means:
- Only two magic traditions (hermetic mages and shamans), with a lot of differences between them. Nature spirits and elementals are very different.
- Wired-only, VR-only cyberspace.
- No technomancers.
There’s nothing wrong with those decisions. But they don’t work for our table because we already have a pre-existing campaign and pre-existing characters set in the 2070s using the Shadowrun 5e rules. One character is a chaos mage, and doesn’t fit into the hermetic mage or shaman traditions. One character is a rigger/decker, optimised for in-combat AR hacking.
I do not want to start with fresh characters, I want to convert my ongoing campaign. Hence: I wrote the rules you find on this site. They attempt to extend the Sprawlrunners base to cover wireless hacking and unified magic theory, plus a few extra houserules of my own divising just to suit my own tastes and biases.