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> Flesh out those boring SR3 generic contacts!, Introducing Tracy the drunk informer
Wounded Ronin
post Jun 14 2006, 10:49 PM
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I've had an idea for a NPC contact which is a little bit messed up.

See, in my opinion, the big problem with SR3 contacts is how they force everyone to take contacts (unless you take the Hung Out To Dry flaw) and the party then has an army of faceless level 1 contacts that all behave in the same way.

It would be better, ideally, if the GM had a dossier of generic contacts so that he or she could play these characters when controlling the contacts.

So, I have an idea for an informant contact which is ripped off directly from the XBox game "Beat Down: Fists of Vengance". Beat Down is basically a cliched martial arts manga game set in t3h str33t; I was always amused when reviews critiqued the storyline and characters as being asinine because clearly the reviewer didn't appreciate the regurgitated schlock of tough guy urban martial arts manga. Myself, I've beaten the game five times and I always watch the full cutscenes.

Anyway, one major NPC in Beat Down is this woman named Tracy. Tracy wears a gaudy brown suit with white stripes that's a bit baggy on her and on her legs are fishnet stockings held up with a garter belt. She's an alcoholic who is always either drunk or suffering from a headache and she spends the entire game sitting in a seedy bar called "The Hole".

Tracy is an informant character. I guess the rationale is that because she spends all her time at the bar she overhears all the gossip, which would make a lot of sense actually in the SR world if you stuck her in a shadowrunner bar.

Tracy would be pretty bland but for one thing. After I beat the game for the fifth time I got Tracy as a playable character. Whereas all the other characters had a lot of unarmed martial arts moves most of Tracy's moves concerned using various weapons, and whereas the game is really about martial arts beatdowns Tracy has a shotgun, the most powerful weapon in the game. (In the normal game there's only 2 shotguns, and only 1 of which you get before the last battle of the game; each one has only five rounds.) Because of the way the game engine works, if you have Tracy in your party she will just keep spawning unlimited shotguns for the whole game. The best part out of all of this is that Tracy's voice always sounds drunk. If you use Tracy to defeat a boss in a one on one battle she bellows a drunken victory speech. It's extremely memorable.

So, instead of having a player take a Level 1 Bartender contact, I'd tell the player that their contact is Tracy, the drunken partygirl informant.

Tracy, drunken partygirl informant
B 4 (she looks slightly fat from all that alcohol)
S 2
I 5
W 2
Q 4
C 3
R 4
Init: 4 + 1d6

Skills:
Shotgun 4
Clubs 4
Edged Weapons (knives) 2 (4)
Ettiquette (bar) 5 (7)
Interrogation 6
Unarmed Combat 2
Taser 4

Gear:
Asashi 12. oz beer bottle
Defiance T-250 shotgun w. shortened barrel customization
20 regular shotgun rounds
12 hangover pills
Stun baton
Stun baton extra battery pack
Colt Asp Revolver
12 cartridges for Colt Asp
1-quart Gekkigan sake bottle
Defiance super shock
6 capacitor darts
Ceramic pocket knife (L damage code)
1-quart Suntory scotch bottle
Gaudy brown suit w. white stripes that is baggy to hide both flab and all these weapons (+50% to weapon concealability, +1 TN to all social rolls because of extreme tastelessness)
Fishnet stockings + garter belt

RP notes:
*Tracy's voice always sounds drunk. If the GM rolls that Tracy dosen't have the information the PCs are looking for, instead of role playing Tracy telling the party that, the GM should role play Tracy being hung over and incoherent.
*Tracy is likely to use blunt language with the PCs due to her drunken state. (From the game: "When you're up shit creek you have to pay out the ass for a paddle. Don't look at me like that.")
*Tracy gets all her information by spending all her time in a shadowrunner bar and overhearing gossip. Since many people approach her for information and trade information with her she's also something like a word-of-mouth bank.
*Tracy looks helpless but she always has a small armory bulging out from under her suit. Because she's a super regular at a shadowrunning bar (she appears to never leave) the manager lets her sit there with all her weapons. The manager figures that her presence probably draws in more customers who want to chat with her for information.
*Because of her drunk and uninhibited state Tracy won't hestitate to attack if she's being threatened.
*Lastly, Tracy is always either drunk or hungover. All of her physical actions should get TN penalties which the GM feels is appropriate for unhealthy levels of intoxication.
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Kanada Ten
post Jun 14 2006, 11:32 PM
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You may enjoy this topic. Mostly oddball generics, but a few more fleshed out contacts. Of course, I assumed pretty much everybody fleshed out contacts...

QUOTE
So, instead of having a player take a Level 1 Bartender contact, I'd tell the player that their contact is Tracy, the drunken partygirl informant.

I prefer to let the players direct who their contacts "are" for the most part - at least from character creation. Usually, a few written lines and a short discussion is enough of a fleshing to run with.

There are some other interesting contact threads around (use Search titles only: "contacts").
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Wounded Ronin
post Jun 14 2006, 11:39 PM
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Really? Most people flesh out their contacts?

In my experience, people rarely flesh out their contacts. Most of my contacts were very generic ones that I figured the character would need, like "fixer" and "street doc". I wouldn't have even thought to talk about fleshing out contacts if in my experience contacts were more than a short phrase.
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Kanada Ten
post Jun 14 2006, 11:44 PM
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Well, I assumed; didn't mean I was right. The players give them names and a short history of their interaction with the contact. I fill in the other details as needed. I guess we figured that the listed contacts were like the listed archetypes, just "ideas" and such. *shrug*

[e] Then again, contact interaction makes up a huge part of my games nowadays, so maybe it was more necessity. I think oddball contacts are actually more common for me, since it's easier to remember and act them out. Like Five Fingered Freddy (trid pirate contact), the cranky talks to himself dwarf with a soft spot for salvaged electrical equipment. He's got a cyberhand, a modified rifle that uses a used cybereye as the scope, and has a girl apprentice that he sort of adopted, One Eyed Cyndi Lou (street kid contact) Eventually he was "evicted" by Project Hope as they built the camps in the barrens and the PC had to find him a place to stay. He (the PC) actually brokered a deal between Freddy and Kim Lo (bartender contact) where Freddy could stay rent free in exchange for broadcasting bare knuckle fights hosted in the bar's basement.



This post has been edited by Kanada Ten: Jun 14 2006, 11:57 PM
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eidolon
post Jun 14 2006, 11:50 PM
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I've never allowed "generic" contacts. I do a mix of two main processes.

One, the player tells me what the contact is (bouncer, bartender, corp secretary, etc), and I provide a full NPC that fits what they gave me.

This one gets used more when doing "useful" contacts. For example, a mage wants a talismonger contact, but doesn't really have any ideas for what the person is like.

Two, the player has more of an idea of who and what the contact is, and we work together to construct an NPC that fits that idea.

This one gets used more for "story" contacts, such as the long lost brother, the uncle that works for a corp, etc.

I generally don't stat the NPC/contacts fully unless they're of a type that it might matter, such as a mercenary contact that they hint they're going to call for jobs, etc. More likely, I've got stats that matter jotted down in their individual PC contact file (such as negotiation for the fixer, etc).

Then, I maintain a file of contacts by character. This is where I keep notes on interactions and dealings the character has had with each contact, including what level the contact is at any given moment. Each PC has a file with detailed information and stories, and then I keep a file with all PCs w/ their contacts for quick reference during game.

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Wounded Ronin
post Jun 14 2006, 11:53 PM
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But that's the thing. A contact who is just an archetype, ("My street doc is a archetypal street doc and he installed my cyber") isn't really "fleshed out". It's not really a character. We don't know what the street doc looks like, talks like, or what.
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Wounded Ronin
post Jun 14 2006, 11:55 PM
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QUOTE (eidolon)
I've never allowed "generic" contacts. I do a mix of two main processes.

One, the player tells me what the contact is (bouncer, bartender, corp secretary, etc), and I provide a full NPC that fits what they gave me.

This one gets used more when doing "useful" contacts. For example, a mage wants a talismonger contact, but doesn't really have any ideas for what the person is like.

Two, the player has more of an idea of who and what the contact is, and we work together to construct an NPC that fits that idea.

This one gets used more for "story" contacts, such as the long lost brother, the uncle that works for a corp, etc.

I generally don't stat the NPC/contacts fully unless they're of a type that it might matter, such as a mercenary contact that they hint they're going to call for jobs, etc. More likely, I've got stats that matter jotted down in their individual PC contact file (such as negotiation for the fixer, etc).

Then, I maintain a file of contacts by character. This is where I keep notes on interactions and dealings the character has had with each contact, including what level the contact is at any given moment. Each PC has a file with detailed information and stories, and then I keep a file with all PCs w/ their contacts for quick reference during game.

Ah, I think that would be ideal, even though it's a lot of work.
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eidolon
post Jun 15 2006, 12:01 AM
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Eh, it's not so bad. Considering the rest of the stuff that you do in prepping and running a game, it's just one more small part of the whole.

Also, the benefit you get from characters actually giving a damn about their contacts, and from how easy it is to generate story using the contacts, it's well worth the effort.

A good half of the last game I ran was dealing with contacts, friends, loved ones, etc. And not "dealing with" meaning "I give him 50 nuyen to keep him happy", either. I mean actual, personal interaction, entire sessions driven by story, etc. Good stuff.
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Kanada Ten
post Jun 15 2006, 12:07 AM
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QUOTE (Wounded Ronin)
But that's the thing. A contact who is just an archetype, ("My street doc is a archetypal street doc and he installed my cyber") isn't really "fleshed out". It's not really a character. We don't know what the street doc looks like, talks like, or what.

What I'm saying is that when the player takes a contact, just like when they take an archetype, they flesh it out a bit. Not too much, since changing things on the fly helps arcs flow better, but they give it a name and voice, a bit of story. Plus, if the player tells me something like, "my street doc is a archetypal street doc and he installed my cyber," they know they could end up with any old ex-con-corporate hack who uses out of date knowsofts and stolen autosofts to perform surgery.
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Tiralee
post Jun 15 2006, 12:23 AM
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Fleshed-out contacts happen gradually, but it's very rewarding for the player (Wow, the old SOB came through for you - you owe him, big time.) and for the GM (Welcome to backstab city, population, you. :))

If the players ask, I'll give them a semi-fleshed out sort and their interactions will help develop their closeness/bond. But if the player actually makes an attempt, they really get to enjoy themselves.

IC, we've had parties, monster ones, to celebrate a Contact's Birthday (Daddy's little joy-girl/Corp Daughter/Ganger wannabe) with stolen cyber as the presents :) We've fought off gangers trying to standover "our" talismonger (The carnage for that one was...excessive.) and our Dwarven demo expert blew up the ammo and 'ware supply of a contact that he was trying to sweeten after the guy welshed on him.

Contacts are instant run-ideas. Have the fixer set up up on a run while looking nervous and have the players find out that they were set up and left out in the cold. Then they can hunt down their level 1 and find out that he was paid to "distract" security so his daughter could have specialised gene-treatment.
Yeah - Level 2 and 3 contacts, don't screw with them too much. The players should have time and money and KARMA invested in them.
But if your resident sammy says "But why can't I get the <insert game-breaking equipment item>? I've got an arms-dealer contact, says so right here!?"...

Yeah, explain to him that his actions have endangered his contact and he's had to get out of town...with that sweet stuff you had him customising, dumbass.

-Tir

Azzie Death Squad, Ho!
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