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> Killing Rommel, How do you kill overcomplicated plans?
HullBreach
post Aug 10 2006, 03:16 AM
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I've been GM'ing for the better part of 12 years, and playing RPG's for about 14. As such, I have seen one recurrent theme, which is particularly bad amoung 'modern' RPGs:

Overplanning!

Now a good friend (and former GM) of mine recently graduated from USMC officer candidates school, and made a funny comment that stuck with me. He referred to a classmate who always came up with these super-complicated plans as a "Rommel". When I asked him about the term, he said one of their instructors had used it and it caught on. Apparantly, among the shiny-collared folks (I was enlisted during my time with the glorious Corps), its used as a derogatory label for folks who massively over-plan a simple operation.

Now for some reason, fantasy RPG's tend not to run into this problem as much in my experience. Partially, I think this is because theres not the same level of gadgetry involved. Pointy-end in the other guy pretty sums up the majority of battle plans, with the occaisonal mage or rouge inspired hijinks to spice things up.

But for some damn reason every simple snatch-and-grab my players get assigned turns into "Oceans 11" with these horribly convoluted plans that inevitably turn into "kick the door in and shoot the guards" in the long run.

So how do you kill Rommel?
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Fix-it
post Aug 10 2006, 03:24 AM
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I wish I had rommels to kill!

I have the "ok, we're briefed, when do we kill things?" type.
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Snow_Fox
post Aug 10 2006, 03:40 AM
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I don't know about Rommel, but it sounds more like the Japanese, insanely complicated schemes that when they went wrong went all to pieces. Like anything, the more moving parts you have, the better chance for something to screw up. I'd point this out to the players and if they keep going. let Murphy's law kick in, and if osmething is insanely over planned, let the wheels fall off.
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Prynniam
post Aug 10 2006, 04:01 AM
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I would suggest putting them on a time frame. I recall reading players will plan indefintely if you allow them, so every x amount minutes RL equals x amount of hours SR.
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ShadowDragon8685
post Aug 10 2006, 04:03 AM
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If you want to really let murphy's law kick in, roll dice to see when random factors can interfere.

So they've reviewed the guard patterns for the past 20 days and have it timed down to the second. Roll 2d6 - on a roll of 3 or below, one of the guards had an attack of the dire rear and was in the bathroom for ten minutes, thus putting the guards out of sequence.

Stuff like that. It's a pretty low probability, but the more 'moving parts' they put in their plans, the more chances for something to require plan B happen.

Plan B, of course, being "Kick in the door and shoot everything that moves until it dosen't."
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HullBreach
post Aug 10 2006, 04:04 AM
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Well I heavily encourage field improvisation, "adapt and overcome" and such, but this still seems to be a time-sink.

Lately, I just screw with them a little bit, like having their characters mom call in the middle of the planning session.
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Trax
post Aug 10 2006, 04:10 AM
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This happens a lot in my SR game. We do all this planning..and end up usually throwing it out the window and shoot stuff.

We spent 3 sessions on planning on getting close to a guy to kill him. My character actually got a good roll and acquired a SAM missile to shoot down the guys helicopter. I really wish I got the chance to use it since I ended up sitting on a rooftop for the entire duration of the mission, which lasted a spectacular FIVE MINUTES when the mage forced down the chopper with a spirit, and the rest of the team shot it, and the occupants full of holes almost right outside the compound.

At the moment we've been hired to kill a couple mob people. We do some crazy planning, me and another character. Both of us who have no social skills at all but the only ones "normal" to crash a mob wedding reception. Oh, and the other guy is Chinese. :P But a little Physical Mask spell helped change that. In the end I saw a better opportunity to get inside by a backdoor with the catering staff by going invisible. So now I was inside an estate surrounded by armed goons and drunk people. I got the information we wanted, and shot the guy. Then got chased around, but luckily I was still invisible. Only a mob sec mage saw me, but was put out of commision. Oh..and I accidently killed two innocent people by setting the bed on fire to hide some evidence of what I did to the mobster....I forgot I had tazered them... /me facepalms.

Then there was the time I wanted to steal a bike and ended up blowing the lungs of a ganger all across the bathroom wall and tossing a grenade inside the bar...at least it was just a concussion grenade...but I should've tried a less violent/noisy way to deal with the ganger.

Now in another bar brawl incident, NOT of my doing, with far more bodies on the floor (although I didn't manage to hit/kill anything), Lone Star busted down the door to my apartment. I jumped through the window to the fire escape, surprising a poor schmuck of a cop who was just about to do the same thing (he botched both his shooting roll, and athletics). He fired his shotgun but missed me, and our collision threw him over the railing. This then led to a foot chase and jumping across three rooftops as another team came up the fire escape and started shooting at me.

So here I am, covered in filth from crawling in a sewer, wearing only a secure jacket, with only an Ares predator and a shotgun grabbed from the cop I accidently killed..and in my boxer shorts. Now I need to go to California to kill the main target.



Having a plan is good, but not overly complicated. But always have a Plan B. Remember, kicking down a door and shooting everything inside is a fine, long standing tradition since the invention of the door.
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hyzmarca
post Aug 10 2006, 04:13 AM
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Send him against Rube Goldberg.


Crawling through the ventilation shaft sets off an air-pressure sensor which causes a ball to drop in a building across the street. The ball travels along an eighteen meter long track and falls into a cup. The cup is attached to the latch of a cage containing a Barghest. When released, the Barghest howls. Its howl sets off an audio sensor which activates a cleaning drone in the target building. The cleaning drone sweeps up a pile of anthrax-laced potpourri and pours it into a chemical sensor. The chemical sensor activates a fan which pulls the anthrax-laden potpourri into the ventilation system for everyone to inhale. The spinning fan blades flick a switch that causes a robotic arm to pour a pitcher of water onto the floor. The cleaning drone sucks up the water and deposits it into a jar of sulphuric acid. This causes the acid to boil over and some of it spills onto the ground. The acid then eats through a high-voltage power cord that was left plugged in. The floor is now both acidic and electrified, but that isn't all. The electricity ignites some dry insulation. The fire then spreads through the walls and eventually reaches a 20 gallon drum of jet fuel. The burning jet fuel then heats the 50 gallon container of unstable nitroglycerin above it, creating a large and deadly explosion.

Some things can't be planned for. Rube Goldberg death traps is one of those things.

Rommel, I presume, is an ironic nickname. Like the seven-meter tall 1252kg troll named 'Tiny'.
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FanGirl
post Aug 10 2006, 04:36 AM
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I bet it's a reference to Generalfeldmarschall Erwin Rommel and his role in the failed Siege of Tobruk. Just a guess. :)
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SL James
post Aug 10 2006, 04:58 AM
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Ya think?
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FanGirl
post Aug 10 2006, 05:41 AM
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Aw, is Jamey-Wamey being a gwumpus again? Sounds like somebody needs a nap! Do you want me to get Mr. Bear out of the dryer so he can keep you company? :D
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SL James
post Aug 10 2006, 05:43 AM
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His name is Rupert, dammit!
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FanGirl
post Aug 10 2006, 05:45 AM
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:rotfl:
Best comeback ever. I salute you, sir.
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Samaels Ghost
post Aug 10 2006, 05:59 AM
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It's just as annoying to have runners who never plan anything and still seem to overcome everything you've planned. If they do some planning, at least the professional feeling of the game is sustained.

Oh, and this
QUOTE
Oh, and the other guy is Chinese. nyahnyah.gif But a little Physical Mask spell helped change that.

If only all racial differences could be solved so easily... *sigh*
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SL James
post Aug 10 2006, 06:18 AM
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QUOTE (Samaels Ghost @ Aug 9 2006, 11:59 PM)
It's just as annoying to have runners who never plan anything and still seem to overcome everything you've planned. If they do some planning, at least the professional feeling of the game is sustained.

Eh. I'm conflicted about this. I was just talking to one of my players about their PC's thought processes in my primary campaign:

Target's in the Arcology. Target needs to get out of the Arcology. Let's go in the Arcology, and remove her.

The most planning that went into it so far was dropping a grenade in an elevator car full of Banded without being noticed.

Of course, now that there are several hundred Banded and Constructs inside and the Target is leading the counteroffensive, they've had to change tacks to include Plan B:

Kill Tadashi Marushige. End the Banded threat. Extract the Target.

But they also have the Target's consent now (long story). So... That's kind of why I find this whole thread so hilarious. Planning seems to be very, very overrated.
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Samaels Ghost
post Aug 10 2006, 06:25 AM
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While on-the-fly running can be fun, it usually degrades into "shoot everything that moves". Plus, I like planning a little before the run, just because it's fun. Just blasting your way through a mission makes things dull, predictable, and an endless session of dice rolling and figuring out modifiers. A mission that was planned for a little involves maginally less shooting, and therefore faster play. At least for my group. Our combats take FOREVER! and get really boring.
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The Stainless St...
post Aug 10 2006, 06:42 AM
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QUOTE (The Way of the Gun)
Longbaugh: What do you think?
Parker: I think a plan is just a list of things that don't happen.

QUOTE (Hagakure)
When one has made a decision to kill a person, even if it will be very difficult to succeed by advancing straight ahead, it will not do to think about doing it in a long, roundabout way. One's heart may slacken, he may miss his chance, and by and large there will be no success. The Way of the Samurai is one of immediacy, and it is best to dash in headlong.


And below, a quote that sums up my current character's philosophy:

QUOTE (E. F. Schumacker)
Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius—and a lot of courage—to move in the opposite direction.



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PoorHobo
post Aug 10 2006, 07:10 AM
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If you want to kill the Rommel then find away to bring down the lethality of their opponents. Most rommels, I think, are GM encouraged. The like to play into the lethality of shadowrun. In fact there are a few on this board (or maybe its just one I havent been keeping real good track) belive the run has failed if a gun has been pulled. Wich is fine to play you just have to expect players will spend 4 hours of a 6 hour session planning a run becasue a mistep is fatal.

"Oh i'm sorry you didn't figure out there were two dragons posing as human gurds masked by by force 20 spirits. Had you made the target number 18 ettiquette check with the hobo down the street who is a former security guard there you might have known what to watch out for. Roll initiave." If players have been screwed before in the past because they didn't think of the one pre-planned way out not to get killed or severely injured.

Make a failed plan less lethal, not more so and they will be more receptive to general plans. "we'll do this this and this, if it fails, we'll do that if that fails we'll blow our way out" not "if this fails the l33t corporate security will be on us in exactly 15 seconds with cyberzombies so make sure we have the exact sized allen wrench for the panel, what? Nobody has it? time for another recon job."

Do not punish players for overplanning and not tell them why. That is just dumb and will have the exact opposite effect. Something in the duct casued an acid leak that killed them? then they will spend even longer on plans, recon, interviewing, stakeouts, discussions etc... or they might just stop playing. Dead if they plan, dead if they don't. Might as well play something else.


If you havent been overpoweing the players with deadly wounds for not bringing the correct color hairspray then I would just talk to them pre-session and tell them you would like to GM a a game with less planning and more 'on the go' action feel to it. let them kow it can also get a bit boring for you when they spend 3 hours planning to rob a liquor store when a pair of stockings a colt manhunter and the phrase "Hand over the money Bitch!" Would work just as good and take 1/100th the time.
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toturi
post Aug 10 2006, 07:16 AM
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There is no such thing too much planning or overplanning. There will come a time where additional planning will not be as effective but there is no such thing as overplanning. The more you plan, the more variables you can take into account. The more variables you take into account, the simple the actual plans should get. The plan that introduces another variable/s to take care of a certain variable is the result of insufficient planning, not overplanning.
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The Stainless St...
post Aug 10 2006, 07:51 AM
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QUOTE (PoorHobo)
If players have been screwed before in the past because they didn't think of the one  pre-planned way out not to get killed or severely injured.

No amount of planning can overcome a horny GM.

If the GM wants to fuck you, you're fucked.
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hyzmarca
post Aug 10 2006, 09:19 AM
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No amount of in-game planning can stop a horney GM. Our of the game all you need is a nice claw hammer.
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Fyastarter
post Aug 10 2006, 11:33 AM
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i'm pretty much of the same opinion as toturi, extra planning time should result in a simpler plan, which still nonetheless takes into account as many variables as possible while giving more weight to those with the greatest potential to feth things up, and remaining flexible to a changing situation. But also once the plan is laid down only so much refiniment can be done before it begins to get pointless, you have to strike a balance.

I think legwork can be some of the most fun in the adventure, every team member should have something to contribute to the legwork, even if its just providing security while the rest of the team plan/build/reconnoitre/gather info. My expentiture before our last run came to nearly 12000 :nuyen: !

Slightly off topic, do you people tend to spend much on equipment and disposables that will be used during the run, then discarded to avoid connections with the run? Seems just common sense if you have a character trying to have a legit life as well.


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Kagetenshi
post Aug 10 2006, 12:40 PM
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QUOTE (Prynniam)
I would suggest putting them on a time frame. I recall reading players will plan indefintely if you allow them, so every x amount minutes RL equals x amount of hours SR.

It should be just the opposite. I have great respect for the intelligence of my players, but almost without exception every character that has crossed my screen has been dramatically more intelligent than the player running him or her (not that that's hard to do--justifying an INT below 6-7 is hard). The only way to attempt to reflect the intelligence of the character is to give the players more time than the characters have to think.

And as Toturi said, more time spent planning should mean a broader plan tree, not merely an ever-deeper single branch.

~J
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HullBreach
post Aug 10 2006, 12:46 PM
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QUOTE (PoorHobo)

let them kow it can also get a bit boring for you when they spend 3 hours planning to rob a liquor store when a pair of stockings a colt manhunter and the phrase "Hand over the money Bitch!" Would work just as good and take 1/100th the time.

Oh wonderful now theres coffe all over my screen. LOL
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Snow_Fox
post Aug 10 2006, 12:48 PM
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Guys, moving parts/ murphy's law can mean:
1)A flat tire throws off the time line.
2)LS pulls you over for a routine traffic stop "Did you know you have a tail light out ma'am?"
3)The air vent you're in can't carry your weight or is smaller than you planned. (Mythbusters did something like this recently and it was so noisy they pretty much disproved this movie gimick.)
4)Security on the site is extra heavy on the day because of a surprise visit by a high level exec.
5)Someone else is making a run in the same building- sure you're silent but what the heck is that punk doing? Crap he set off the alarm!
6)A power failure half way through the run suddenly cuts off your decker from riding overwatch. "Ok Sparks are the guards still at the front? Sparks? You there Sparks?"
7)The creamer in the sloppy soy you had for lunch had some nasty bug in it and you really need the ladies' room NOW!
8)Do you take into account weather? fog and rain hides you, but it can also hide guards.
9)do you leave guards with your cars? Maybe it gets towed by LS for illegal parking while your inside the building "Uh, We had a car waiting"

10)How many of you turn off your cell phones on a run? I mean actually tell the GM "I turn off my phone." Sneaking up to the wire. the decker cuts the circuits and you slip through,m hugging the shadows. Almost clear of the guard post's field of fire, and then RING! RING RING! "I told you not to call me at work!"

You get the idea.
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