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> Gaining Contacts, A solution for a lack of downtime and RP
GM on the Thresh...
post Sep 18 2006, 09:48 PM
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Its been my experience that there are quite a few Shadowrun groups who's play style tends to go from one run right into the next without much in the way of downtime and roleplaying between them. Theres nothing wrong with this approach to the game, but I see the missing downtime as an important step in acquiring and maintaining who the runners know and how well they know them.

To solve this dilema (which happens on occasion in my own group), I found an easy method to compensate for this in 4th edition by using some threshold tests. Heres what I have planned. I'd like to know if others have come up with similiar house rules or found another method that works for them.

Oftentimes during adventures, PCs interact with characters they'd like to establish as future contacts. The methods that works for me is to have the PC make a Chrisma + Etiquette test against a threshold of the NPC's Connection + Loyalty (always starting at one for the latter) after a successful social encounter with the NPC in question. Modifiers from the Social Skills table work well for adjusting the test (in particular the NPCs attitude, desired result and Street Cred modifiers).

If the test is successful, the player can now count that character among his PCs contacts. If the PC later wishes to increase the loyalty rating of the contact, I determine if there has been beneficial interactions between them and them have the player make another threshold test (one month interval) using just Street Cred plus modifiers vs Connection + Desired Loyalty*.

*A glitch on this usually results in the contact making a request of some sort to the PC to accomplish before another test can be attempted. A critical glitch and the contact's Loyalty slips a point (or more).

For me, this creates an easy way to have players gain and increase their influence with their contacts without changing the play style they're accustomed to.
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dog_xinu
post Sep 19 2006, 12:48 AM
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For characters to get contacts in my game, they must do it via roleplaying. The contact (or potential contact) might want a favor done for them. Or job. or something. I might make them take a test (char + ettiquette) to see if the potential contact is favorable to PC or not.
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Eryk the Red
post Sep 19 2006, 01:26 AM
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I let players know if there is an opportunity to make an npc their contact. If they agree, I charge them karma equal to the contact's Connections + Loyalty. I prefer to give it value in that way, because contacts are a valuable tool in the same way as a gun or an extra skill point. This way, no one gets freebies, and there's no concern over GM favoritism. It still requires role-playing, I won't let them just say "I'm gonna make that gang boss we met a contact". There needs to be a reason for the npc to want to build a relationship. I;m pretty satisfied with this method so far.
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Rentiger1
post Sep 19 2006, 07:56 PM
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Just to make sure I am clear, because I could not find it in the book, contacts are made via role play? Where is this stated in the book, or is this just inffered?
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eidolon
post Sep 19 2006, 08:02 PM
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Realism. When you meet a person in a bar that turns out to have a similar interest, say, paintball, do you whip out your dice to see if you can get them to meet you at the local field sometime?

I don't charge karma (or money usually, unless bribes are involved or something) for new contacts either. If it makes sense in game that they would be able to call that dude up later and ask for a favor (or vice versa), I let the player add the contact at level 1. I'm not going to penalize a player (character) for roleplaying and meeting people in game.
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Eryk the Red
post Sep 20 2006, 04:50 AM
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When I charge karma for contacts, it's never a penalty. It's a choice. Do you want a new contact? If the answer is no, they don't get it, and no karma lost. If the answer is yes, huzzah! For a nominal fee, they have a commcode they can call for the weird favors these freaks ask for.
I understand why some people wouldn't charge for contacts. I take a somewhat gamist approach to contacts, where they provide certain solid advantages. For example, contacts are how you find restricted and forbidden goods. To me, knowing someone's commcode doesn't make them your contact. I merely like being able to give this a value, because contacts are the "gear and 'ware" of social activity. And I charge them money for that stuff.
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neoweasel
post Sep 20 2006, 02:05 PM
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QUOTE (eidolon)
Realism. When you meet a person in a bar that turns out to have a similar interest, say, paintball, do you whip out your dice to see if you can get them to meet you at the local field sometime?

Strawman. When you shoot a gun, do you whip out your dice to see if you hit?

Gaining contacts is a form of social interaction. I used to be against the idea of dealing with social interaction in any way than pure RP. I am changing my position on that because I don't see that the guy who can charm his way out of a murder 1 rap should be able to gain all the benefits of playing a high CHA character without paying the opportunity costs associated with it.

YMMV yadda yadda.
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eidolon
post Sep 20 2006, 02:15 PM
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Hardly. I was merely giving my take on it. I'm all for slinging logical fallacy error messages, but in this case, it's not a debate, and I give a shit if you find it logical. He wanted to know where someone could get the notion that you could get a contact through role playing. I gave him my thoughts.

I see that you have yet to give yours.

And also, you're making the assumption that I never involve any die rolls or other form of mechanics at all. That's silly, because I never said that. What I said was that I find it realistic that you could gain a contact strictly through role playing. I still do.
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lorechaser
post Sep 20 2006, 02:26 PM
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I have more of the gamist's view as well.

If you can simply RP yourself in to a new contact whenever you want, why wouldn't the Face simply spend an adventure walking around and charming everyone he meets?

I think that there's a different value in "contact" to some people. If I have your commlink, and I can call you up, and have to negotiate for everything, you aren't a contact (the paintball guy). You're a person I know.

If I can call you up and make a request that's fairly out there (Hey, paintball guy, we're gonna sabotage a corp game to make the Azzies lose. Can you help us out?) and have a reasonable chance of getting it, it's a contact.

I see it as a feedback loop - if you allow the acquisition of contacts at any time via RP, your charismatic characters are basically getting free resources. I understand that it's not 100% realistic, but it's balanced.

In our games, our GM lets us know after the session who we can buy as contacts, and we spend minimal karma (1, iirc) to add them if we'd like. They have to be people that we had a significant influence on. Last session, the Troll nurse that we saved from being tortured was an option, as was the Ork assigned to guide us around the underground. If we didn't buy the Troll as a contact, we could likely still get favors, but we couldn't just call her up for an emergency middle of the night patch up....
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eidolon
post Sep 20 2006, 02:33 PM
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My method isn't without it's balancing factors. Generally, in my games "contact" goes both ways. Something I don't typically hear a lot about in general. I've sent the characters on countless side runs and favors that were generated by contacts.

Also, I'm big on contact upkeep (not just the "pay em 5k a month" to keep them). If they don't make their rounds, talking, interacting, even just calling up a contact to see how they're doing and if they need anything (and in the process seeing if they have anything to offer), they lose the contact (in game terms, the guy "forgets" them, or decides that "the jerk isn't worth my time", etc.).

So it's not free, I just don't front load contacts by making players spend karma (or money usually) to gain them.

Actually, given the way I handle it, I guess you could say that it's easy to get a "level 1" contact, but in reality it's more like I'm giving them level .5 contacts, with the good chance that they'll end up at level 1 if they play it right.
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neoweasel
post Sep 20 2006, 03:08 PM
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QUOTE (eidolon)
I see that you have yet to give yours.

And also, you're making the assumption that I never involve any die rolls or other form of mechanics at all. That's silly, because I never said that. What I said was that I find it realistic that you could gain a contact strictly through role playing. I still do.

Fair enough. My initial response was a reaction of annoyance more than an explanation of what I like.

Personally, the way I deal with things like this (and this comes as someone who almost exclusively plays) is to interact with a character more often. Make a couple rolls under appropriate skills (assuming the system supports it - probably a Cha+Ettiquette roll in SR4, but there isn't a good match). After the process spend a couple of Karma on the contact.

Obviously a character shouldn't just spend a couple of Karma and suddenly have the head of Knight Errant as a contact.

Obviously, high social skill characters should be better at making new contacts.

(IMO) Obviously people should have to pay for the benefit of a new contact.

But then, that's me. There is no badwrongfun.
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2bit
post Sep 20 2006, 03:24 PM
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I like your approach, GMotT.... seems pretty easy though.
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eidolon
post Sep 20 2006, 03:25 PM
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Cha+Etiquette is pretty appropriate, I think, for SR4 (given my limited knowledge of it, mind you). After all, there is a certain etiquette involved in meeting a person for the first time.

If a character had some kind of negotionation (I'm not recalling if "Negotiation" is a skill still in 4 at the moment, I assume it is), that should work well too. After all, friendship (acquaintanceship?) is about give and take, and a "business" relationship is even more so (as there's less desire to forgive missteps to preserve the relationship).

QUOTE (neoweasel)
Obviously people should have to pay for the benefit of a new contact.


Oh, so do I. Just not up front. :D

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