One of the things I really liked about Risk: Legacy that we didn't get in this game is that players could lose and still have some lasting effect on the game. I'm thinking that if we had the same for Crossfire, it's difficulty (and randomness) would be easier to swallow.
I'm camping at the moment (thanks cellphones), but I've been brainstorming a bit, and have a few ideas.
1.) Edge Points
When the runners fail or successfully abort a run, they gain Edge Points.
Failed Run: 1 Edge
Aborted Run: 0 Edge
Crossfire Level: 1 Edge per 5 Crossfire Levels at the end of the run
Edge points are single-use - when they are spent they're gone forever. They should have a few different effects, like...
1 Edge: Return a Basic card from your discard to your hand.
2 Edge: Place a drawn Obstacle or Crossfire card at the bottom of it's deck and draw a new one.
3 Edge: Put a Crossfire card at the bottom of its deck, but do not draw a replacement.
(Just quick thoughts, they'd need actual balancing.)
When players successfully complete a run, all remaining Edge Points are automatically "cashed in" for extra Karma.
For every 5 Edge a player has at the end of a successful mission, that player earns +1 Karma. His Edge total is then reset to 0.
Whenever players successfully Abort a mission, they get a chance to start a "Grudge" with one of the remaining undefeated obstacles.
Each character can only ever have ONE Grudge - once it's set, it's set forever (in effect it's a permanent "sticker").
A player puts his grudge mark on a chosen obstacle. For every run after that, whenever that obstacle is flipped it is placed in front of the begrudged character, regardless of its normal placement. The player then draws one card if it is a normal obstacle, or two if it is a hard obstacle. In addition, whenever the obstacle is defeated by any player, the begrudged character draws one card.
When a character goes Critical, he has a chance to pick one of these up. They're really just circumstantial abilities that one doesn't pay Karma for. They would shape your character and make it a little more unique. They might be limited like the other stickers - maybe even only one chance to get some of them.
(Have 10+ Nuyen) "You Can't Take it With You": When you are Staggered, you do not gain nuyen from defeated obstacles, but you may still buy cards.
(Take 5+ Damage) "Cyberware Prosthetics": When you take 4 or more damage in a single turn, reduce that damage by 1.
I dunno. Just some ideas. I feel like I need some kind of "consolation prize" mechanic in play, or most of the folks I game with won't come back after being completely, randomly, ruthlessly, brutalized.
These ideas have probably been abandoned, but I like general premise of all 3. Would love to help work them out further.