[RPG] Can you bring a sword to a gun fight (and win)


My wife also wants to try out the Shadowrun game I am joining, but she really prefers using swords over guns. So she was wondering if there is any way (with either skills, items, implants?) that she can do this without being a burden on the party. I figured with all of the tech there is some way to make the range and speed of guns a non-issue.

Best Answer

In general, guns are more powerful than swords, for a couple of reasons:

  • Range
  • A gun can be fired twice in one round
  • A gun can be used to do more damage, make it impossible to dodge, or attack multiple targets, using the burst fire rules
  • Guns can't be parried using close combat skill ranks

Swords have the following advantages:

  • Give enemies a penalty firing in melee
  • Deliver toxins
  • Higher damage potential (based on strength)
  • Higher potential dice pool (using weapon foci and reach), but bonuses are more expensive
  • Much stronger defense against enemy melee combatants
  • Most enemies will have lower Impact armor then Ballistic
  • Swords which are weapon foci can kill things that guns are useless against (e.g. spirits)
  • Swords are awesome

Whether or not a sword character can be viable in Shadowrun depends a lot on the GM's style, the situation, and the strategies of the players. In a sniper battle at ranges of 500+ meters, or a car chase, a sword character is going to be relatively useless. In a close-quarters urban firefight, a sword character can potentially dominate the field.

I would recommend using one of the following play styles:

  • Be a tank. Build durability, and get good at dodging, since you're going to be out front all the time. Soak up hits that would easily kill other members of your team.
  • Be a ninja. Use stealth to get close to enemies before the shooting starts, and use weapons like poisoned throwing stars and grenades to close the gap and be useful in more spread-out fights.
  • Be a sword-mage. Use invisibility and other magic tricks to mitigate the sword's disadvantages, and use the weapon focus to lay waste to other mages, spirits, and paracritters in astral combat

All three play styles allow for some kind of ranged attack (throwing weapons, or spells) to supplement sword-play and ensure that your character gets involved even when it's hard to close the gap.

It's worth mentioning that low-tech ranged weapons, like bows, can also be very effective in Shadowrun for a character with high strength, and don't suffer from some of a sword's obvious disadvantages.

If you're a GM, you should be aware of your party composition, and throw in challenges sometimes that appeal to your party's strengths. If you have a sword character in the party, throw them a couple of sword-wielding goons now and then to beat on.

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