Waypoint 101 — Shadowrun: Dragonfall


SO, Dragonfall originally released as DLC for Shadowrun Returns. Which means that you could’ve played it using the base Shadowrun Returns executable and that would’ve been recorded that way. That’s my guess with what happened here!


Ahh, this has its hooks in me so good.

Also, sounds like 50% of us are elf deckers (me, Natalie, various people itt), 40% of us are ork deckers (Cado, various people itt), and 10% of us are original (Ghost Note, daaamn.)

Austin, next time you check in here, what are your choice picks for the kind of books or media that makes you nod your head approvingly & informs your sense of the genre? Obviously this is a ridiculously huge question and an accurate answer could well be “that’s like asking me to list everything I like”, but I am just wondering if there are incredible gems I don’t know about that just hit all the notes right (even the ghost ones) for you. For example, I had no idea LOTGH existed and now I find myself raving to people about how good it is. Not that that’s cyberpunk. But you know?

What’s the Austin Walker Cyberpunk Reading List?

(surely this would work as a Waypoint article (and then it’s work (pls (tia))))


Elf mage/conjurer here, actually (mostly because the sweet lots-of-conversation options Charisma is too good to pass up, and using it for conjuring seems fine). Still dying at least once a mission, too. :slight_smile:


I am terrible at minmaxing so I dumped a pile of points into Charisma, so I could have a charismatic elf decker who is not really the best at decking (but is pretty good).

Also, I am going to claim this is not a spoiler: you know how there are some greyed out dialogue options? There are also some dialogue options that just don’t show up at all (I think) unless you have certain prerequisites. I couldn’t help but start spreading my points around to try and get more access to options.

Jack of all trades, which is why I’m going to get my ass handed to me in this late game, but here we go anyway…


I think there is a loading screen tip that literally says “remember: a jack of all trades is a master of none” or something like that.
Let us know how it goes though, that sounds like fun :slight_smile:


After all the cyberpunk talk in the last few months I “dug up” my largely unplayed steam copies of all three games. I saw advice suggesting if I didn’t start with Shadowrun Returns, it would be difficult to go back to. So, I jumped in a few weeks ago!

I think at the time the loads were very slow on my system. That has certainly improved in the last 5 years.

I’m playing an Elf Shaman/Decker/Charmer named Bright Eyes. She’s been carrying around an SMG, but as everyone seems to know, it doesn’t always get the job done. Probably time to pick up a pistol.

The atmosphere is evocative, but I understand the criticism about a very linear story. And I think I miss the chance to take other personalities out on missions with me. The hireable runners don’t seem to be more than hired muscle (or guns, or decks, or spirits, or spells).

It is exciting to see this as a Waypoint 101. Now I have to decide if I drop my Dead Man’s Switch run to start Dragonfall, or try to power through.


So I have probably put in a bit over 15 hours by now and I am having an absolute blast.

I’m playing a dark skinned Elf decker named Black Light who is pretty snappy with a pistol when he needs to be, but prefers to try and talk or hack his way out of trouble. He takes pride in his reputation in the shadows and sees himself as a professional, if he accepts a job he will see it through, even if it is morally questionable. However he is fiercely protective of the community at the Kreuzbasar and will do what ever he can to help them and honour his friend and mentor Monika’s memory.

I will say I was not expecting to find this warm sense of community in such a dystopian setting. One thing that this game does really well compared to other RPGs like KOTOR or Divinity is that it makes the choice between doing something morally questionable for tangble rewards vs doing the right thing for a characters gratitude feel like it has weight. This is mainly done through the Kreuzbasar and the email system. Helping a person doesn’t just have them say “gee whiz thanks” and then run off like in other games. They will get in touch later to update you on how their life is going and tell you how grateful they are to you a few missions after you made that choice, other characters you can check in with personally to see how they are. It’s these little touches that make the world HBS have made feel alive, as well as making your decision s feel like they have much more weight. It’s not easy to screw someone over for some cash to get a shiny new cyberlimb in Dragonfall which is pretty refreshing and engaging.

Gameplay wise things started off a bit rough, I don’t think they on-board you well at all but once I got up to speed (after my MC ate it in the first gunfight) everything was gravy. Dietrich casting haste on Glory after she has used her stim gives her 4 AP to run in and knock enemies out of cover, apply bleeds and run interference which has been a massive help. Eiger will finish off anyone who get knocked out of cover and when Black Light isn’t in the Matrix he usually tries to flank around our enemies.

The companion stories have been fairly interesting so far (minus Blitz) with Glory being the clear standout.

So far, like most of my favorite RPGs Dragonfall is no where near perfect, it UI especially is quite clunky and some systems seem poorly balanced (like the Etiquettes, some of which seem to almost never be useful while others are used constantly). However there are enough engaging concepts here that I think I’ve fallen in love. The characters and the setting are super well written and as someone who was not previously familiar with Shadowrun it seems quite original and creative in many ways. While the combat doesn’t feel as polished as something like XCOM it serves it’s purpose just fine and the more my character evolves and specialises the more fun I’m having with it.

Anyway sorry for the essay. This is the first 101 I have actively taken part in and I have loved reading about everyone’s characters. I plan to finish this and then move on to HK in the future. I will update with more thoughts once I’ve finished the game!



Have been playing as a Dwarf Decker named Stacks, because she makes stacks, she stacks the Deck, and she’s stacked.


On the topic of etiquette balance: I’m interested in how this “unbalanced” mechanical system interacts with the fiction. Like, it makes a ton of sense, in the fiction, that being well versed with gangs or security comes up more often than high sociaty socialites. At the same time it makes for a cool moment whenever these “weaker” etiquettes are used. (I love getting to use my Academic etiquette to tell Dietrich the white whale kills Ahab.)

I think the unbalanced nature of this system actually tells us something about the game world and I like it quite a bit. It’s a great intersection point of systems and fiction that really adds to the game imo.


I just started digging into this today. I picked this game up a few years back and basically chipped the surface off before disengaging. I don’t recall how I played last time, but I remember not really gelling with it. I’d played a small amount of Dead Man’s Switch (several hours more than Dragonfall) but probably didn’t get that far into it.

I’ve just gotten back from the second mission and watched some vintage DVDs. I’m gelling with it more this time and am going to make a pretty genuine effort to get through it in good time. I’m taking some guidance from the thread and playing as a Charisma-specced Decker. I’ve not loved the Decker mechanics so far, but I’ve only had one engagement in the Manor (which makes me wonder if I missed something in the club) so far and I don’t want to mar it with that experience.

If anyone’s got any Matrix tips, I am here for them. I’ve had some issues with my character not going into cover despite being told to…


I remember decking in Returns and Dragonfall was very flawed, cover being apart of it. I think you just have to behind a wall and your fine, but your ability to see is hampered.

A decker needs to invest in not only new decks when possible, but programs that give you special abilities (they function like spells and can be reused just like them, much unlike shaman fetishes). I got by fine with offense focused ones and a heal, but you also have the option to summon ESPs, little summoned helper programs that act as extra party members while inside (they too can be reused). You can find a few different kinds in shops, each with different functions, like defense or offense.

Also, be sure to explore everywhere. Chances are good that you’ll find somewhere you can deck into, and that’s where a lot of goodies are found, mainly extra information you can sell on the shadowrunner BBS.


After getting turned on to XCOM watching Tactical Tuesdays, I put about 60hrs into XCOM 1 and really enjoyed it. I had been looking for other similar games that my MBP could run, and Shadowrun: Dragonfall was one I had been eyeing for a while, so this gave me the push I needed to grab it. It’s been interesting so far, I’m about 3 hours in. It took me three tries to get past the first mission, on Normal difficulty, but by that successful third time I felt like I had a way better grasp of what to do and it went fairly smoothly. I decided to make a human decker/pistol build - her name is Dyna Shure - and I’m still getting used to what a decker…does. But its early and I just bought my first Programs, found a pistol upgrade, etc.

It definitely has an XCOM feel but a little different. I kind of wish the camera was rotatable, sometimes its hard to tell exactly where you’re putting yourself, but I like the art direction overall. Story wise, I’m still trying to find my footing in getting into my character head space. I didn’t really have an archetype in mind when I made her, just kind of built something I thought I’d want to play, and now I’m working backwards to get a grasp of how I think I should play the character. Sometimes it seems like I just want to make the choices that I feel will progress the game, but I want to be a bit more cognizant going forward. I’ll probably be dumping a bunch of hours into the game this weekend while I’m catsitting, can’t wait.


So, this attempt at Dragonfall is going much better than the previous two times: although I’m still having my PC (and only my PC) die at least once on every mission with combat, I’m far enough in that the plot is more important than that. (Like others, I do find the combat still really janky compared to XCOM, for the same reasons, but I can get past that now.)

Plotwise, I really like that you can avoid combat entirely on some missions, with suitable diplomacy (although I wish it were slightly more common than it actually is, especially with the combat not being that great, as well as just as a good roleplaying option in general).

Tonally, the missions are weirdly more diverse than I expected - the side mission for Ezkibel turns towards the most goofy end, with the whole tie-in-with-in-universe-terrible-TV-show plot; whilst the MKVI side mission is completely straight-out cyberpunk horror (obviously, I did the humane thing and let a troll control its own destiny, at the end). I’m not sure this completely works at those extremes, but it’s a testament to the writing that it works even at all.

The main mission thread is obviously played towards the serious end of this writing, as far as I can see, 2/3 or so of the way in (although I’m waiting for the twist…). And, as others have noted, the whole “keeping the Kreuzbasar working” stuff at home base works very well at promoting a sense of community - even if Lucky Strike’s critiques are pretty close to home. I don’t think this is counter to the cyberpunk setting - the looming threat of unfettered trans-governmental Corporations are still oppressing the masses; the Flux-states are just a little (completely imperfect, and probably impermanent) bubble that bucks the trend, whilst being far from utopian in their own ways, and most of your missions make it clear that the world itself is pretty awful.

(As a side note, whilst I’m not taking Decking on my PC, I do actually quite like the Decking bits with Blitz along - the music (as everywhere in the game, the music is great) gives them a sort-of-chill feeling for me, and I quite like the very on-point neon-outline visuals. It’s not very complex, Decking, but it’s quite relaxing.)


Oh, you will love Shadowrun Hong Kong.


I get odd amounts of pleasure from bribing my way through an encounter. Walking in with a wad of cash and telling everyone how this is going to work feels good when creds are still valuable to you as a player.


Just a quick thought that I had earlier – I love how the action cuts between the action in the Matrix and a firefight going on outside if you happen to be doing them alongside each other. It feels like the best scenes in Friends at the Table or other actual play podcasts, as you drop out of one engagement to deal with the contours of another (even though the two are interacting as you hack turrets and cameras to give your fight squad the upper-hand).

I do also love how they kinda hide the Matrix…

Technical Silliness


Yeah, I love this too - especially because the music etc all change as well. It’s probably the best bit of the combat sequences, for me.


To be honest, the level of similarity between the Matrix and the Meat-world is disappointing for me. I would have preferred a completely different perspective and mechanic like turn-based Rez or maybe even a match-3 game with stats like Puzzle-Quest. Even if it was a lite version of either of those it would complement the rest of the game better imo. As it is, it just feels like a different shader and an exclusive set of spells.


Hong Kong fixes all of this by turning decking into a real time stealth challenge, where combat only initiates when seen, and you can only be seen so many times before you’re booted. There’s also a pretty fun hacking game for getting past fire walls.