I first ran into Shadowrun at a Waldenbooks in Layton, UT. It was brand new, so all that was on the shelves was the 1st printing rulebook, the GM screen, and the first novel. (“Never Deal with a Dragon”, IIRC.)
I loved the setting: orks, elves, and other fantasy races in a cyberpunk world, along with a Matrix, cyberware, drones, and other really cool stuff, most of which I hadn’t encountered before. (I got into cyberpunk because of Shadowrun.) It set off bright lights in my skull.
I couldn’t afford it, so when I went back to my high school, I made my own little setting, complete with cyber-minotaurs and CHUDS. (Hey, I was in high school.) We only played once — a dungeon crawl, no less, a courier making a run through tunnels under the city.
(The mechanics I came up with used 4d6, roll under. (All I could remember of Shadowrun’s system when I got home was that you rolled several d6’s.) I was amused to find out, a couple of years later, that it was pretty similar to GURPS.)
After graduation, a year and a bit later, I found it again in a store. I had enough money to actually buy it, and me and my D&D friends began playing (me as DM). I got “DNA/DOA” and ran it. It was hella fun. I bought everything for first edition and a lot for second. We played the hell out of it, that summer before I went off to college.
What sold me on the system was the setting. (Which, in retrospect, is how all my games went — I love settings first, and learn systems later.) The adventure template was well described and easy to endlessly iterate: get job, legwork, cool run, get paid. Even sessions that weren’t actual runs were easy to imagine: you’re crooks, the cops and the corps are your enemies. Don’t get caught.
It was effortless and exciting. We didn’t have to agonize over mechanics or setting details. We just played it.
I still love fantasy+cyberpunk. Dragons owning corps, city shamans, bug spirits, all the weird idiosyncrasies of an organic magic system lying alongside cyberware and high tech. It speaks to me.
But I haven’t played Shadowrun in years. And when I contributed to the “Shadowrun Returns” Kickstarter, sudden financial problems forced me to withdraw my pledge. Just this month, a few days before pre-orders were closed, I spent $75 of my last $120 to pre-order the collector’s edition.
See, Jordan Weisman, the original designer, is making the game, and it looks really cool. It looks like it could be a throwback to the days when just flipping through the rulebook at a chain bookstore could inspire a high school kid to make his own (crappy) setting and (crappy) system just to play something like it.