Let's talk game design instead!
Cry Dark Future (CDF) sets up chargen much the same as Shadowrun 3E: assign a number of priorities (abilities, skills, resources, metatype, and magic) and build your character. It does use random dice roll for abilities, but these get adjusted depending on A) priority assigned to abilities, and B) metatype (character race). Very standard Shadowrun-y though skills are quite different (and far more limited in number), seeing as how we're using a B/X chassis and not SR's "dice pool" system.
Yes, player characters earn "levels" through the accumulation of experience points, just as in D&D; these influence things like hit points, attack ability, saving throws, and skill use. No, there are no "character classes" as CDF attempts to adhere to the "open build" format of chargen found in all editions of SR (a list of pre-built "archetypes" are included in an appendix).
Magicians in CDF are a bit of a divergence from standard SR: although spell-casting ("theurgy") uses a SR-style "pain for play" format, instead of D&D's Vancian "fire and forget" system, the Hermetic/Shamanic dichotomy has been junked in favor of a Sorcerer/Witch system heavily inspired by David Chandler's Ancient Blades trilogy. However, since the spells are still of a Build-Your-Own variety these (mostly) comes down to setting color: a sorcerer might throw a fireball while a witch causes someone's explosive ammo to have a disastrous "malfunction." Sample spells are provided (in yet another appendix), but it's still more "open" than the kinds of spell lists found in D&D and its ilk (Palladium, DCC, etc.).
Other than some simplification (and B/X system-appropriate modification), cyberware is, more-or-less, similar in nature and use to SR. No, there is no essence loss; characters instead lose charisma as they become more inhuman monster and less flesh-n-blood (shout out to Cyberpunk 2020 and cyber-psychosis!). Works great in practice, but for chargen it's still the arduous math exercise, balancing resource expenditure with CHA limits with character effectiveness and "theme." That is to say, it takes a while if you're wanting to "build your own 'borg" (as opposed to using a pre-gen). Of course, the equipment section itself isn't much lighter than a standard SR manual, so just selecting gear for a character with high priority resources is going to take a while regardless of how "cybered" she is.
SO, just continuing where I left off, here's some of the changes I was thinking about making:
- Drop the Shadowrun "priority system" completely.
- Institute a class system...probably something closer to X-Plorers or Holmes then B/X, but I could do "metatype as class" similar to B/X (in which case all trolls and dwarves, etc. would look...roughly...the same). Random rolled abilities would lead players to consider a particular class over another.
- Roll skills into classes (similar to X-Plorers).
- Adopt either a Vancian or "pseudo-Vancian" magic system, advancing spell power with level of experience. Different magician types would have different spell lists (true Vancian), or might keep a slightly more open approach (or incorporate parts of SR's "open" design...such as with regard to conjuration and astral projection). Might still keep "pain for play" because I like the whole concept of "everything costs something."
- Reduce available gear/weapons/cyberware that can be purchased at the beginning of the game; probably based on a random roll (similar to "starting gold" in D&D) though modified based on class selected. This probably means no helicopter gunships for starting characters, unfortunately, but it will give them something to work for.
- Possibly change cyberware to increase in effectiveness depending on level...though as I write this I intensely dislike the idea. Cyberware (especially the potent stuff) should be equivalent to a magic item in D&D. A low level character with a +3 sword gets a lot more benefit from the item than a high level character, even though the effect remains the same...but the low level character probably isn't going to be able to access the type of adventure where such an item would be found. I prefer simply limiting starting cyberware to off-the-shelf basic models rather than SOTA (state of the art) stuff.
Doing these things wouldn't alter much of the game, or require substantial re-writing (well, except in the Character Creation and Magic chapters), and I think it would give me a game a much more D&D-flavored spin: characters would start more gritty and have a reason to "adventure" (to improve), while providing an easier method of generating new characters to replace the casualties of the setting.
What do folks think (especially people who are interested in the game)? Would this be straying too far from what folks hope for or want out of such a game? Should I be snorting less effective cold medicine? Let me know!