Expectations of ShadowHaven GMs
Have Fun and Put Real Life First
This should go without saying, but we've seen our fair share of Living Community GMs burn themselves out. Never feel like anyone's fun is solely your responsibility. Never feel compelled to GM a game by a certain date. You will make mistakes, but laugh them off and learn from them. When you are relaxed, the players sense your relaxation. If you are really interested in a run's story and a metaplot's topic, your passion comes through the run. It is ShadowHaven's leadership's job to teach you this complex game system. Focus on having fun.
Be a Fan of the PCs
To quote Blades in the Dark's GM section on page 193, "Present the world honestly—things really are stacked against them—but don’t make yourself the enemy of the PCs. They have enemies enough. Be interested in the characters and excited about their victories."
If the players come up with a clever plan that completely negates your security plans, congratulate them on their cleverness. Play with the players, not against them. Challenge and risk can make for a great and memorable experience -- but don’t make the game you vs. the players. Assume competence, and don’t try to catch players in “gotchas” -- competent runners might make a mistake or forget something if they’re pressured for time or under fire, but it’s good practice to give them the benefit of the doubt when they aren’t.
We’re fundamentally here to play games together and have fun, and as the GM you have a lot of control over how the game goes; with that great power comes great responsibility, and the responsibility is to try to make sure people have a good time.
Ask for Help
Don't feel shy to call for a break and ask for help in our GM chat if you encounter a situation you don't know how to handle.
Hold on Lightly
To once again quote Blades in the Dark's GM section on page 193, "Always feel free to rewind, revise, and reconsider events as needed. This is not a “no take backs” kind of game. You can always say, “Actually, no... let’s say it was only two guys, instead. I don’t know why they’d have any more than that here.” This can be a tricky principle to internalize. It can be so tempting to put your foot down (often for no good reason) or to treat elements of the game as too sacred. Resist that impulse!"
We want organic storylines that have an impact that is felt, those are exciting and cool runs. We want to be able to write about an awesome pink mohawk exalted style sword fight on top of the Space Needle that sent its radio antenna crashing to the ground. We want to cheer on our players as their trenchcoat-wearing PCs send stock prices into freefall. As long as the core elements of the setting remain intact and major buildings can be repairable, go for it.
Tell a story together with other GMs. It really sucks if another GM blows up the homebrew gang that you created. This is a shared sandbox, don't kick down other people's castles. Try to build your castle around their creations. Share the setting with respect towards the other GMs.
Understand the Setting is Vast
Players (and GMs) can play the kind of Shadowrun they want to play. If you have a specific view of how Shadowrun should be, you’re entirely free to pick people who conform to that philosophy, but it’s not okay to tell other people how to have fun, or their kind of fun is wrong. As the GM, it's your responsibility to communicate your particular style to your players - through a Style Guide as well as pre-game discussion.
The setting is vast enough that we can have VTOL battles above the skies of Seattle while runners creep through a high-security facility.
Stay within reasonable expectations. It may be fun for a character to get milspec armor from a ganger in the barrens on a low-threat run, but it really cheapens the experience of the player who slogged through the amazon to pry that same armor off a super-soldier during a prime run.
Know the Major Rules for Key Aspects of your Run
If you have a major obstacle, know the rules related to that obstacle. If a big part of the run involves a car chase or a host dive, you should have a good grasp of the rules related to car chases or host dives (or whatever the obstacle is). Ask ShadowHaven leadership and team members for training on mechanics you want to learn.
Modulate the Number of Players at your games
It is tempting to take 5 or more players on a run, and it is possible to do with an experienced game master leading a group of experienced players. However, the Haven caters towards new players and the nature of online play limits some of the communication bandwidth found in real life. Consider limiting yourself to 3 or 4 players. If you seek to push beyond that number, have each player's role on the team be well defined and ask for their cooperation.
There are a lot of trivial decisions -- that is, decisions with a clear best choice and no downside -- that shadowrunners routinely make. These are things like wiping an astral signature, infiltrating in disguise, wearing a mask in a firefight, setting up a DNI before the meet, running silent while hacking, and turning off SINs before committing crimes. In general it’s best to assume that players do these things unless they say otherwise (or some kind of constraint -- like time -- prevents them). Exactly what assumed competence covers is a matter for debate and should be discussed with the players at your table in the event it comes up. When in doubt, rule in the player’s favour; try to avoid “gotcha” moments. Generally for the sake of tidiness and expedient gameplay most GMs choose to assume competence, but each GM table is unique. The standard is to assume competence. The onus is on the GM to explain what they mean when they say they won’t assume competence, and it something they need to ensure players are aware of before a game begins, whether through the application thread, their style guide, or before the game begins.
Keep in mind that a lack of assumed competence doesn’t mean assumed incompetence. The nature of a community means that players will need to adjust to different GMing styles. Consider giving your players the benefit of the doubt in case they forget something obvious, or making use of the Common Sense quality to prevent potentially derailing situations.
Required Pre-Game X-Card Briefing
In order to ensure player safety, all ShadowHaven Game Masters are mandated to explain the Haven's global x-card policy. (Remember, you as GM can use an x-card if a player is making you uncomfortable)
Some example scripts:
- This run will utilize the 'X-Card' system. If, at any point, you are uncomfortable with the current scene or the topics, themes, and subjects starring within the scene, you may say or type the phrase 'X-Card' and I will immediately stop the scene and move on.
- We on the Shadowhaven use the X-card system, simply say or type x-card and the game will stop immediately. You do not have to give a reason, you do not have to explain why.
Becoming a GM
Simply use the
!join Level 0 GM command after reading the GM expectations above.
GMs are either Level 0 GM, Level 1 GM, Level 2 GM, or Level 3 GM.
Level 0 GM
Anyone who wants to GM can appoint themselves to level 0. These GMs are limited to running lower threat runs or higher degrees of guidance, to reduce the chance of mishaps. The intent of this level is to create a safe place for new GMs to fail and learn. Greenhorn GMs should consider taking experienced players on their runs to learn from them when possible.
Level 0 GMs advance to level 1 by completing 3 runs with an overall game rating over 7. If a run has no feedback submitted, it counts as a passed run. They also need to make a Style Guide. When you advance from a Level 0 to a Level 1 GM, you gain 10 GMP.
Level 1 GM
Level 1 GMs advance to level 2 by completing a high threat run, demonstrating competency in all the three big aspects of the game, meat, matrix and magic. Ping @Thematics with your high threat run AAR to advance.
Level 2 GM
Level 2 GMs advance to level 3 to signify the trust that the thematics department places in them. This trust is earned by completed a semi-prime run and weaving it into the shared story by writing an AAR signifying its metaplot impact. Ping @Thematics with your AAR to advance.
Level 3 GM
Level 3 GMs are trusted to freeform any run, save a Prime Run. They are actual wizards forging the shared story of ShadowHaven. They can lead teams of GMs to tell an intense story across multiple runs and are the Haven’s flagship GMs.
GM Ranking Up
Ping thematics once you complete the requirements for a new level.
|Coached Run||Approved Run||Freeform Run||May Not Run|
|Run Threat Level||Milk||Level 0||Level 0||Level 0||N/A|
|Low||Level 0||Level 0||Level 1||N/A|
|Medium||Level 0||Level 0||Level 1||N/A|
|High||Level 1||Level 1||Level 2||Level 0|
|Semi-Prime||Level 2||Level 2||Level 3||Level 1|
|Prime||N/A||Level 3||N/A||Level 2|
- Coached Runs - Coached Runs have a GM of a higher level sit in as a non-player to provide real-time support. The GM or the coach can call for a break and discuss matters at hand. PMing during the game is discouraged, outside of asking for a break, because it can be distracting. Because they don't play and are on standby to support a low leveled GM, they earn 10 GMP.
- Approved Runs - These runs have a run proposal form filled out and approved by Thematics. All other members of the Haven can also comment to help the GM develop their run.
- Freeform Run - These runs are completely freeform and have no support.
A run is __ if ___.
- Private: the majority of players were pre-selected. Private runs are not eligible for additional GM rewards.
- Public: not private
- Scheduled: post and picks were made at least a full day in advance of the run, the post accurately informed players when picks will be decided, and the game started within an hour of the scheduled time
- Impromptu: post and picks were made within just a few hours of the run
- Overflow: an Impromptu that was made within two hours of another run's game start in response to high player demand
- Replacement: an Impromptu that is hosted within two hours of another run's game start in response to a postponed game or missing GM.
- Normal: otherwise
The following are rough guidelines on threat level in game. For a more detailed description of each level, see Run Threat Descriptions.
Each run post should state the designed threat level, but threat levels can be increased based on conditions on the table. However, these adjustments should be consented to by the players, either in advance or by signaling that an unexpected course of action may result in escalation of threat. Note that the GM still needs to have a sufficent GM level to run at the new threat level, which may require converting the run into a different type (i.e., getting a coach or employing pregenerated grunts, and so becoming a Coached or Structured Run).
|Milk||Milk Runs are extremely low threat games, a way to introduce a player or GM to a new mechanic they may not be familiar with at minimal risk. Rewards rarely go beyond bragging rights.|
|Low||Low threat runs have fairly light opposition in meat, matrix and magic, usually disorganized and unlikely to do much other than point and shoot, or surrender if they know what’s good for them.|
|Medium||Medium threat runs are designed around more secured sites and people which still are considering the economics of their security. More skilled staff and better equipment is deployed, but they are still typical skilled levels and mass produced equipment. Powerful ‘landmine’ effects come up easily in the now mandatory legwork, and can be circumvented or defended against by a prepared team.|
|High||High threat is when things start to get intense. Opposition will routinely use clever tactics like focused fire, hacking unsecured ‘ware, illusion and manipulation spells, and attempts to lure PCs into traps. Static factors and obstacles, such as mana barriers, might be prohibitively difficult to overcome directly.|
|Semiprime||Semi-prime runs pit the runners against highly competent forces, often outnumbering them, and dangerous pitfalls hidden behind difficult legwork. Rewards typically come in the form of rare equipment or powerful contacts, in addition to money and karma. The objective is often located is large facilities such as Skyrakers or Proving grounds limiting the runner's ability to escape before HTR can engage them.|
|Prime||Prime runs are the height of a Shadowrunner’s career, offering grave danger and outrageous rewards that can make runners consider retirement, or going off the deep end. They must always be approved by Thematics.|
Player Characters And "Not Dead Yet"
Sometimes, even on a run where you think nothing could possibly go wrong, characters die. The opposing force will get off a lucky gutshot that drops their physical condition monitor through the floor, the character will crit-glitch tossing a grenade bouquet, or something equally terrible will befall the poor saps on your table. When that happens, the players have the option to burn a point of edge and use Not Dead Yet to avoid losing a character they've invested tons of time in - but it doesn't mean that the character will come out unscathed.
Due to the traumatic nature of a close brush with death, getting captured by a megacorp, and the like, ShadowHaven has a system in place to dole out negative RVP to represent coming back from the brink. Depending on the threat level of the run, the amount of negative RVP varies according to the following guidelines. The only exception is in cases where a Semi-Prime or Prime level run explicitly states that it won't be playing by these limits.
||Negative RVP Limit|
|Prime Run or Semi-Prime run with clearly, publicly mentioned disregard for edge burning mechanics in the run post.
1 Negative RVP is defined as the following:
- 2,000 nuyen in bribes
- 2,000 nuyen in ware needed to purchase to recover (missing limbs)
- 2,000 in lost ware or gear
- 0.5 karma worth of a negative quality. That is to say, the buy off cost of negative qualities.
If a character burns edge to avoid death on your table, that opens a dialogue with the player to figure out the best allocation of these negative RVP. As the GM, you do have authority over the exact mechanical effects, but in the interest of player agency, they should at least get a say in how things play out. The only caveat is that you should avoid forcing characters to lose Magic or Resonance.
- Multi-Session: a run that takes place across multiple play sessions
- Mock: a run with zero rewards (for both players and GMs), consequences, or effect on the canon that can be run by anyone, (GM or not) at any difficulty, with no requirements whatsoever, for zero pressure practice or just to have fun, so long as it clearly noted as such by tagging the run post title with [MOCK]. It doesn't even need to use ShadowHaven characters.
Rewards are primarily based on run threat, as it (usually) represents player risk and GM preparation. However, high duration and multi-session runs may require an adjustment. You can use the following formula to adjust runner rewards and GMP at the high end:
(Total Duration In Hours Across All Sessions) / 6
In general, even if you expect the run to go long, it's best to have the Johnson pay the runners normally and consider any extra allowance from duration to help handle "extra" pay the runners might happen into (like paydata, going out of their way to "get paid twice", fencing loot, etc).
Also, feel free to ask the Thematics Department and fellow GMs for advice on run rewards.
Player run rewards are measured in RVP (Reward Value Points). They can be converted to
- 2,000 nuyen
- 4,000 nuyen worth of gear, if an NPC has the ability to obtain it at severe discount
- Giving out gear above Availability 19 requires approval from Thematics
- Players may use GMP at a rate of 1 GMP to 2000 nuyen to supplement this, which is not subject to the RVP cap. Note that Thematics must still approve items above availability 19.
- 4000 nuyen in cost of lifestyle modification
- 1 karma
- 1 karma of positive qualities adequately roleplayed for (i.e. at chargen cost if it's a run reward)
- 1 Street Cred (max of 1 per run)
- 1 Connection or 1 Loyalty for a new contact gained that run minus 1 (i.e. 6 rvp for a 4/3 contact)
- Contacts rewarded can be public or private, but they must be shared (if connection changes or it dies for one character, it does for all the others who have it)
- Contacts above Connection 6 require approval of the Thematics Department
For Mundane Ascensions, the player converts 1 RVP each into up to 5 of the following (Each can be taken multiple times):
- 5 karma towards a skill or martial art
- 20k nuyen towards non-ware. You may bank this across multiple ascensions.
- 6 karma towards qualities at post-gen price
- 4 karma towards Edge
- 10k nuyen towards 'ware. You may bank this across multiple ascensions.
- +20 Faction Rep
Additionally, runs may award faction rep as per RAW rules (generally 1-2 per run) and this doesn't count against RVP. The chance for an awakened or emerged character to purchase deltaware may be used as a Run Reward for Semi-Prime or Prime runs. This takes up 15 RVP, and must be approved by a member of the Thematics Team. For awakened or emerged PCs with the Regeneration critter power, this takes up 30 RVP and must be approved by a member of the Thematics Team.
Standard reward ranges for Normal runs based on threat:
|Prime||up to 100 RVP|
|Semiprime||up to 40 RVP|
Note: A Full After Action Report (AAR) must be added to the run's wiki page for any run that rewards more than 19 RVP if the run is not a Semiprime or above.
These are merely guidelines and exceptions can occur, but chronic overpaying is frown upon and may result in consequences.
Additionally, players may write a Full/Narrative AAR and add it to the Full AAR to earn 1 GMP. This is the PC's version of events, compared to the more unbiased version of events, and should be in character. These are placed in the run's wiki page.
Characters also earn 2 CDP per run. This can be used to buy knowledge skills or contacts. A GM may also choose to award contacts as a part of the run rewards using CDP. See Contact Rules for more information.
Better Than Bad's Intangible Rewards
In reference to the Intangible Rewards listed on page 45 of Better Than Bad;
- GMs may issue lifestyle cost reductions for 1 RVP per 4000 in cost of lifestyle modification. That is, if an anarchist commune offers a low lifestyle for a year, it will be the total cost of that lifestyle in RVP.
- GMs may freely issue intelligence and have the player write a description of the intel on the wikipage. At GM description, intel earned this way may make future runs easier. The wikipage should have a link to the Run's AAR, a description of what the intel is and who gave it to them. GMs are encouraged to discussed other intangible rewards with thematics.
Base reward for hosting a run is determined by the threat level as follows:
After the run is concluded, creating an AAR will reward 4 GMP. Note, this need not be the GM. The GM may choose to allow a player to write the AAR instead, allowing the player to claim the 4 GMP.
Additional rewards, all of which are worth 1 GMP, which are not affected by the Reward Multiplier:
- Run was recorded and uploaded to ShadowHaven youtube
- Run was metaplot linked
- Each player taken who has not had a run in over a month. (Including a players first run)
- Each character taken that has had less than 3 runs total. (This stacks with the above reward.)
- You can redeem 1 GMP for 2000 nuyen or 1 karma on a character for your choosing
- You can redeem 1 GMP to add 2000 nuyen worth of gear to the rewards of a run, including being in excess of the RVP cap. Thematics must still approve items above 19 availability.
- You can redeem 1 GMP for 1 faction rep on a character of your choosing. This includes NPCs, so GMs can use it to upgrade faction contacts and the like with the standard reputation powers, as per cutting aces
- You can buy certain features with GMP at varying prices. Prime slots, extra character slots, discord emojis, etc.
- Discord Emoji = 3 GMP
- You can redeem 1 GMP for 2 CDP on a character of your choosing
Note on GMP - Street Cred
GMP does not count towards a character's street cred when applied.
GMP will be explicitly lost if the PC that GMP has been applied to dies or otherwise ceases to be playable. During resubmits, GMP is handled in special ways depending on the type of resubmit. Please see the player rules for more details.
GMs should maintain a document covering their personal GMing style, linked on their run post
- For now, use whatever structure and information you feel best, but the following questions must be covered
- Whether you're okay with players applying to jobs their character has a high chance of declining at the meet
- Whether you're okay with players applying to jobs their character will actively attempt to thwart or derail
- Views on realism and seriousness of the setting
- Views on consequences and failure
- Runs that notably differ from your normal style as described in your document must be noted as such
Re-using run concepts and ideas is allowed, but GMs are encouraged to make their games as unique as possible for the benefit of the players.
You need a run proposal and approval to have a GM-controlled PC in the game. It is strongly discouraged to have GM PCs in game without good reason.
PVP is always at the GM’s discretion, and should only occur if both players are ok with it. If PVP does happen, don’t let players burn edge to smackdown in PVP, and if edge is burnt for Not Dead Yet, the player who burnt the edge gets to live. Players are not allowed to circumvent Not Dead Yet (“I shoot him in the head just to be sure”, for example) in PVP.
The ShadowHaven operates in real-time. A day in the real world is a day on the Haven. However, some games take place over the course of a couple days, a week, maybe even longer. These games are considered to be part of their “pocket universe.”
Character adjustments, purchases, and other time-sensitive cooldowns are unaffected by pocket universe time. As an example, a character who initiates before a run that spans a month in-game will not be able to initiate at the run’s conclusion as though a month has passed in real-time. Similarly, a character who learns a skill or spell, or increases an attribute during a long run only has that skill in the pocket universe of that run: they must pay for the change in downtime as normal before they can use it on other runs.
Note, characters in the middle of Multi-Session runs are assumed to be free to go on other runs unless either of the GMs in question elect to not let them. This should be clearly communicated in advance to avoid any issues.
Run Content Limitations
Some content GMs cannot use or must change due to their incapability with the lore and lack of consistency with the Haven's rule set. They are also considered non-canon on the Haven
- Growth (Page 49, Forbidden Arcana)
- Multiply Food (Page 50, Forbidden Arcana)
- The Ares Firewatch "Bug Stomper" Custom Armor (Street Lethal, Page 130)
- The Stoner-Ares M-22A1 Vehicle Mounted Heavy Machine Gun (Street Lethal, Page 130) shall be banned from all use, including by GMs.
- The MCT/Winchester-Howe Hornet Direct-Fire Mini-Grenades (Street Lethal, Page 132) shall be banned from all use, including by GMs.
- The Shiawase/Nemesis Arms Man-Catcher (Street Lethal, Page 132) shall be banned from all use, including by GMs.
- Zapper Rounds (KC 48) shall not be permitted on the ShadowHaven in any capacity.
- Fuzzy rounds (KC 50) shall not be permitted on the ShadowHaven in any capacity.
- E0-E0 rounds (KC 51) shall not be permitted on the ShadowHaven in any capacity.
- COS Grenades (KC 54) shall not be permitted on the ShadowHaven in any capacity.
- Douser grenades (KC 55) shall not be permitted on the ShadowHaven in any capacity.
- DumDum grenades (KC 56) shall not be permitted on the ShadowHaven in any capacity.
- Flicker IC (KC 67) shall not be permitted on the ShadowHaven in any capacity.
- Blue Goo IC (KC 68) shall not be permitted on the ShadowHaven in any capacity.
- Turn to Goo
- Sleuther IC (KC 67) shall be permitted. Rather than the normal listed effects, a successful strike places a single mark on you. This mark provides the Host that struck you with the name and location of any Grids or Hosts you may visit, stored in an automatically created file within that Host. This IC may place multiple marks, and the marks it places may be erased normally. If all such placed marks are erased through any means, the Host ceases to receive data about your travels.
- Offline Hosts (KC 46) shall be permitted. GMs should be careful to not overuse these, as they are rare.
- The rules text for Blight described on page 157 and 158 of Better than Bad shall not be used on Shadowhaven. Instead, Blight shall be a Contact, Injection Vector toxin which, upon hitting a spirit, shall remove its Immunity to Normal Weapons for [12 - Spirit's Force hours, minimum 1 hour]. The speed, penetration, and power are unchanged. Blight has no effect on non-spirit entities.
GMs should generally also follow modifications listed in the player rules.
- Fader IC (Page 89, Street Lethal) shall be permitted, but only with explicit Thematics Team approval.
- Bug Queens
- Master Shedim
- Crystalline Entity
- Yama Kings
- Elder Gods
- Great Dragons that are not named in canon
- (unnamed by Catalyst) Immortal Elves
- Plots that could potentially bring about the deaths of the majority of people within a city block.
- Plots that (do or stand a chance to) alter/kill/remove Public Contacts .
- Plots that involve raids on RP areas (just to confirm handling) such as The Daze.
- Canon: (established by Catalyst) runners, immortal elves, great dragons, or other important characters being directly involved in a run. (they hire the PCs/go on a mission with the PCs/oppose the PCs/tell the PCs critical information in exchange for something etc).
- Canon (established by Catalyst) runners, immortal elves, great dragons, or other important characters in a run being damaged or changed from their canon lore (canon character is killed/injured/has mental damage/gains a new enemy/loses something they canonically have/or in any other way has their canon meaningfully changed by the interaction)
- WMDs being detonated.
- Street Lethal Future Tech (due to it technically not being invented yet).
- Enemies with Tech/Magic/Skill far beyond their means (Low rank/wealth enemies geared with Deltaware, milspec gear, magic 12 or other odd things without a proper explanation as to why but simply rather to boost their stats (or perceived threat)).
- New Tech (futuretech+, or things that have never been published or are completely homebrew.)
- New creatures/spirits (unpublished, homebrewed adversaries).
In order to establish consistency for our often brand new Shadowrun players, GMs are not allowed to have table rules and must follow the rules listed in the Player Rules. If a GM disagrees with how the ShadowHaven rules on an issue and it truly impedes their ability to GM, they are welcome to contact a council member or post their objections in the Topics for Discussion thread.
We ask that all GMs ask their players to fill in the GM feedback form after their runs. This is to help you improve as a GM and for us to detect gross misconduct, we will not judge you for a few lackluster runs.
Any moderator or thematics can stop a game in progress for gross misconduct that goes against our community expectations. The thematics team can choose to ban a community member from GMing for gross misconduct and behavior that disrupts the shared sandbox and storyline that other GMs use.
The intent of these rules is to create a safe place for new GMs to fail and learn. If you are failing and learning in good faith, no action will be taken against you. Lower level GMs should consider taking experienced players on their runs to learn from them when possible. Every experienced Shadowhaven GM has ran a lackluster game before, but we learned from our mistakes.
However, we have a duty to ensure our players have a good time as well. Therefore, the run may be modified or fully retconned depending on the outcome.
GM bans may be appealed to the sysop by sending Reddit moderator mail.