Waypoint 101 — Shadowrun: Dragonfall


I don’t really know what the Matrix was like in the tabletop RPG but I’d wager it was similar.

As I recall, Cyberpunk 2020 was designed to allow you to use crossword puzzles for their cyber/internet decking runs. So it was also a grid based board, where you moved your avatar around doing stuff.

At the very least, this method means you don’t have to learn two different rulesets in one. But I can appreciate the desire for it to be more fantastic or sci-fi like.


I remember one of the big differences (of which there were many) between the Genesis version and the SNES version of Shadowrun were the different ways they handled the Matrix.

In the SNES version, everything was abstracted into a Minesweeper-esqe grid mini-game where you would detect IC and work your way through to the data caches. It wasn’t terribly interesting, but it was different from the original.

In the Genesis version, you basically went full Lawnmower Man. The camera shifted to a third-person perspective and you’re avatar sped through a virtual landscape, getting into Phantasy Star style battles with IC. It was actually my favourite part of that game.

The contrast between them was interesting, but I appreciated both because they changed up the gameplay in interesting ways. It kind of sucks that Shadowrun Returns didn’t do that (though I still haven’t played Hong Kong).


Oh no :frowning: Real time, not turn based? I was feeling so good about Hong Kong until now.

(I’ve not played the Shadowrun TTRPG, but given the ubiquity of the “Matrix” metaphor in cyberpunk fiction, I think it looking like wandering around a neon approximation of the real world isn’t too bad as a metaphor. It’s not like “hacking in real life” - although perhaps a more 3d or otherwise different geometry to the Real World sections would work to differentiate it more.)


Don’t worry, the battle parts are turn based. The stealth parts are just gliding through the area after finding vulnerabilities in enemy paths, it’s no Metal Gear Solid by any means.


Thanks a lot for this. I usually have to do a burner run through the first quarter or so of games like this before I start the “real” one, hopefully your advice will let me start out with the real one.


So I started this game up the other day after reading posts in this forum and made a human shaman with the bear totem because I kind of wanted to do a druid type thing? Is there a viable way to essentially be a supporty tank character is this game as a shaman? Is that more of a mage skillset? I was gonna put some points into willpower and charisma with maybe some body. Just not sure how viable this is.


Shamans and mages are both good at support; it’s just that shamans are support + summoning while mages are support + damage. Shamans’ big support arsenal tends to revolve around creating barriers (walls of fire, etc) that grant cover and damage enemies who pass through them, although shamans get some other random utilities as well.

If you wanted to be pure support I’d recommend dipping into both the Conjuring and the Spellcasting trees, but since you’re interested in doing a hybrid tank I would suggest forgoing the Spellcasting tree and instead use the karma to buy up your Body and the Dodge skill. To save additional karma, use an SMG; the SMG is the unskilled weapon par excellence, as it has very few weapon-specific powers. With an SMG you can get by just leveling up your Quickness, which you’ll already be doing to get Dodge, and the Ranged Combat skill.

Finally, to amp your tanking further, consider that the main casualty of Essence loss from cyberware is your spell recharge times; every point of lost Essence is one more round that a spell stays on cooldown. But if your character has a big suite of long-duration spells (like walls!) that problem doesn’t matter so much. So consider completing the ensemble with some kevlar bone lacing or dermal plates. Between that and a high Body and Dodge, you’ll be almost as durable as any Street Samurai and you can stand up front and tank some fire while creating walls for your team to hide behind.

I dunno. Take this with a grain of salt as it’s not something I’ve ever done, but I feel like it could work in theory.


Just a quick question on the above – is there a particular point where cyberware gets good enough to be worth buying? Are there good rules of thumb for “oh, X stats for Y essence is a good deal” or is it just a case of needing to know how you’re speccing and moving accordingly?

I ask because I’ve given TRIAGE two different specs from missions (including the Encephalon NEXT) and, while I can’t afford them in full yet, these being items that I had to seek out implies that they might be useful, right?


It depends what type of character you’re building whether those will be good choices. The Encephalon NEXT is I think the best intelligence boost implant available so good for riggers/deckers…but do note that it takes up a head slot (so it must replace the freebie datajack you got if you picked rigger/decker to start), so you’ll need to budget for an induction datajack in your hand on top of the encephalon since having a datajack is necessary for rigging/decking. The general idea with the non quest acquired stuff is that for most items there will be a base level implant and then another one that shows up later that does the same thing but is strictly better (either because it is labelled ‘alpha’ and has lower essence cost, or just improved stat bonuses, sometimes both).


I don’t have anything to add to what juv3nal has said; they’ve got you covered!


After a successful Adept run last year, I’m hopping in as a Decker in the hopes of pushing further into the side content than I got last time.
I was initially going to be less “perfect” than last time - there’s a very good Lucky Strike conversation that has stuck with me for a long time, and I have no idea what actions trigger it - but accidentally did everything better than last time and now I have a building named after me.
Going along with this, I’m surprised how challenging the game remains, even on easy. I’ve been forced to reevaluate shotguns (maybe they’re good at murder), forgo being a hacker in favor of covering my teammates, and really prioritize key targets. The game is just very good at the specific things its good at.


I bought a grenade launcher. I didn’t have to take a class or nothing. Would recommend.


For real tho.

I was itching to kill off that prick the moment he started talking. Relatedly: Fuck The Lodge.


I am using this as an excuse to replay Dragonfall. My first game was as an Elf mage named Marinette, which was an absolute blast. This go around I am a Dwarf Decker rocking a pistol and grenade launcher named Lady Arachne. I feel very similar about the Kreuzbasar as many people did about the Citadel, returning there felt like coming home. I am deeply invested in the well being of everyone living there, and find myself running around the place grabbing every single bit of new dialogue after every mission. Pro-tip: Always Tip the Dancer it doesn’t change anything, but she is working hard, and deserves some appreciation.


I tried playing Dragonfall a few months ago and I think it’s the only game I’ve put down purely because of the content. Everything was going swimmingly and then I took a mission from The Lodge. The handler seemed kinda sketchy but I figured that’s par the course for cyberpunk. Then halfway through that mission I realized I was supposed to bomb an apartment building and just ALT-F4’d out of the game and never opened it up again.

I usually don’t mind roleplaying evil - I definitely went back through KOTOR and KOTOR2 a second time to choose the dark side options and see what alternately petty and cartoonish shit you can get up to - but that was a little too dark.


Definitely one of the sections I’m interested to hear the crew’s discussion of.

Mild spoilers for potential ways that can unfold: While the Lodge can recruit you there and give you optional objectives in future missions, you do have the choice of how you’re going to play out the scenario and ultimately can reject the Lodge’s recruitment test during the mission, siding with the two other recruits who are less happy with being forced there. At the point just beyond where you got to, one of the team rejects the mission as you’re discovered and would have to kill a civilian to continue it. Ultimately you can help them escape (by turning on the gung-ho team member).


I bought the grenade launcher as well. It’s pretty useful for a character like Blitz who is good to bring along for his decking ability but his ability with the SMG isn’t too damaging. So when he has a turn where he’s not decking, I just let him try to blow some enemies up and make good use of his AP.


Hokay so this is my first Waypoint 101 and my first post on the forums! I came into this with very little knowledge of the Shadowrun tabletop game and the HBS titles, so it’s been interesting and fun to get my head around. Apologies if this is a little long, but I really wanted to try and roleplay and get into the fiction as I played. Here’s where I’m at so far:


So I started up my Dragonfall character as a Black, female Elf. Her callsign is Flowtaro. I wanted to at least engage with the sorta fantasy racism stuff they’re probably gonna hit on as Elves being privilegec, but it was important to me that Flowtaro was also a Black woman and so navigates marginalized spaces as well. I’m playing her as a sex worker who led a militant SWer revolt in her home city. They fought first against gangs trying to take advantage of their autonomy, and then against the police who threatened their safety in the power vacuum. Since the police had even more institutional resources and were even more murderous than the gangs, Flowtaro decided to get out of town once the target on her head just got too big to ignore. Monika’s call for help came at the perfect time.

I specced her out as a Street Samurai specializing in Charisma and the Quickness. She knows the streets and how to get what she wants through collective action. The image of her walking down the street with a big honkin shotgun slung over her shoulder, decked out in her leather jacket became a symbol of the movement, and she certainly knows how to not be subtle. Think Omar Little vibes.

Her and Monika were definitely involved at one point, despite having some major disagreements over policy. Flowtaro totally has some strong opinions towards the F-State and Anarchism (hey maybe things would be a little less vulnerable to upheaval with some Democratic Centralism), but she absolutely practices mutual aid in her day to day with the community. It’s nice that you’re constantly able to give time and money to the various folks around the Kreuzbasar (always tip the dancer!!!), even if sometimes the dialogue options feel stuck between completely disinterested in wildly intrusive.

Game & World

So even though I hate the UI, I’ve mostly had a good time with the gameplay. Fights continue to be built around having a bunch of new/unknown shit thrown at you which is totally fine by me. It’s like, even though I enjoy the Firaxis XCOM games and other modern TRPGs, I hate how strong you are and how things rarely surprise you past a certain point. It’s kinda refreshing that this game’s battles are really based around a lot of sloppy back and forth action, with both sides really slugging each other and you having to manage health all while running away and a lot of times staying out of cover. I’m really annoyed by the whole can’t shoot around walls thing though!

So far I’ve had a decent time getting to know the team; Dietrich’s mission with his nephew was especially good and creepy, although it was totally unclear to me (maybe this is my reading comprehension) whether Maxim and the smugglers were in on the job to turn on the Humanis front? Or if they were just literal metahuman traffickers. I thought the latter and cursed my failure to turn on them also at the truck stop section but then you get the email from him after about basically telling off a ton of Humanis locations so I guess he was alright? I just am playing the character as someone who has no qualms killing the shit out of traffickers, even if they don’t know what they’re really doing.

I really liked that Samuel totally pushes back on you if you try and say that his organization is being prejudiced for only having Orcs and Trolls in leadership, as people should really support and get used to marginalized people being in charge of their own liberatory groups. It sucks though that you’re not able to call Paul out when he says Samuel’s xenophobic for doing that; like! that’s! not! what! xenophobia! is! Not trusting privileged people since they have historically subjugated marginalized people is just survival bud!!

Stray thoughts:

  • I’m annoyed the Socialite etiquette has basically is basically used to have me take advantage of lower-class folks, for more money. It’s like the game doesn’t conceive of code-switching despite how it is with the other etiquettes where you knowing a specific piece of info or cultural reference to show you’re in the know to other members of that ingroup. So far that hasn’t happened at all with Socialite. I picked it as one of my first ones for Flowtaro since she would know that culture from being a sex worker, despite someone who gladly kills the rich. :stuck_out_tongue:
  • Speaking of, the Black Lodge audition mission was intriguing but also bugged me a little. I was already suspicious because we didn’t know details going in, and as far as I know, you don’t ever get to know that it was a bomb you were planting in the apartment unless you actually go through with the mission. Like I had to look at other people’s playthroughs to get details on that. TBH, it felt like a missed opportunity for some communist political discussion; like if the mission turn was that we’re bombing the apartments of some rich ass fucks with a specific political goal, I think Flowtaro would absolutely sign onto that as someone with ML tendencies. That’s something that’s felt a little missing from this game. it’s definitely down on the corps and how they manipulate and control the world and people, but (so far) doesn’t have any salient criticism for rich people, as if their wealth isn’t an inherently violent/exploitative thing. As if just being a civilian makes you “innocent.” I scuffed the mission and managed to get Jana and the Elf out and I’m happy about that. Even if they’re on the run now, their lives were basically forfeit working for the Lodge.
  • Also jumping off of that, the game doesn’t really seem to understand Anarchism/Syndicalism or the like that well?? Even if the character I’m playing as is definitely on the authoritarian side of the left, I think she fucks with Anarchists as their goals often align. I’m happy that there are smatterings of engagement with leftist ideas, it just has made me want something like this game that’s a little more knowledgeable haha.
  • Lastly, woof, that soundtrack. The loops are so frequent! I’ve been listening to tracks the first time I’m in an area to get a better sense of the space and then going and turning it off and just putting Ed Harrison’s NEOTOKYO° soundtrack on shuffle and that has immensely improved my experience.


I didn’t touch that “audition” mission. It sounded a lot like some pretentious agent trying to get me to work for exposure. I’d rather fix the sewer-system.


(posted this over on Wappy discord, but I’m adding some images of text from the tabletop rpg sourcebooks)

Something I’m realizing as I replay Dragonfall and think back on Shadowrun going back to the tabletop games I used to run - the game has always done a good job of presenting the idea that there’s a plurality of points of view on any matter in the setting, be it trivia or vital facts.
The chief way this comes across - and this has been the case all the way back to the first few sourcebooks - is the fake BBS stuff. Here you have discussions in text between NPC Shadowrunners about what ammo they use, the corps they’ve worked with, and what they think about different bands. And, almost always, there’s debate and contradictions.
I’m sure there have been other games that embraced the internet and its ability to introduce you to complexity (and the maddening things that come with it) in any topic - but Shadowrun seems to have really stuck with that all the way to its current incarnation(s).
It even has believable dumbass trolls arguing for “both sides” takes on things like toxic shamans and Aztechnology.

Trolls trollin’ trolls in Shadowrun: Threats

There’s a lot of this in Threats - posters arguing about conspiracy theories, most of which (spoiler!) turn out to be true or weirder than hinted at


This is from a more recent book, Run and Gun, from their post-Crash revision of Shadowland BBS, Jackpoint. Its my fave bit of fake posts - Shadowrunners with beef confronting each other online