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Yoan
post Oct 16 2007, 06:48 PM
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Far too often, combat in my games resembles WW1 trench warfare with static positions, especially on behalf of my players... what variables can I use to make it more dynamic?

I'm talking environmental stuff (the layout/cover available, flanking, etc...) as well as things like smoke grenades, etc...

This might be a bit vague, but I am certain some of you know exactly what I'm talking about. :P
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Dashifen
post Oct 16 2007, 07:00 PM
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Try spicing things up with different tactics by the bad guys. Have a second group of guards come to assist the first one and put the PCs between both groups. This has the added benefit of cutting off the viable retreat opportunities for the PCs which should ramp up the tension a bit.

Or, have the bad guys sneak up on the good guys to ambush them. I had two people creep into the bedroom of two PCs last weekend which meant that the PCs were unarmed and asleep. 'Course, so as not to be too evil as a GM, the bad guys woke the PCs up to do the necessary interrogation/monologuing which gives the PCs a chance to fight back.

Battles in vehicles tend to keep the trench warfare concepts low, too.

And, at the end of the day, if the players won't move ...... throw grenades or shoot rockets at them. They'll move ;)
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eidolon
post Oct 16 2007, 07:04 PM
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QUOTE (Yoan)
I'm talking environmental stuff (the layout/cover available, flanking, etc...) as well as things like smoke grenades, etc...


It sounds to me like you know how to do it. Toss thermo smoke and use it to block the NPC's movement to better cover, or a better firing position, and stuff like that. It really depends on making sure that the environment is useful.

And that doesn't mean you have to draw a big, all-encompassing map of every warehouse. Just keep in mind that it's a warehouse. When a PC asks "can I move up to another crate to get a better angle on the baddie but still have at least partial cover", say "yup, there's a stack of some kind of stuff in boxes a few meters to your front left that would probably get you what you're looking for".

They want to get in a position to flank a couple of security guards? Cool, then on their next action, tell them "where" to go. The actual setting matters less than the desired outcome. "You can get behind a line of shelves stacked high with heavy rolls of paper stock and move up on their right, while the other guy runs for another stack of crates on the left." End result? They flank the security guards.

They're on a street in the barrens? Awesome. There's burned out cars, chunks of concrete, and whatever else strewn all over the place.

Wash, rinse, repeat. Just always keep in mind that PCs and NPCs should be able to expect generally the same treatment in this regard, and don't screw anyone.

/not a big fan of having to generate a bunch of static maps when simple description can serve the purpose and still allow for tactical play

edit:
QUOTE (Dashifen)
And, at the end of the day, if the players won't move ...... throw grenades or shoot rockets at them. They'll move

:rollin:
Exactly.
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Dashifen
post Oct 16 2007, 07:07 PM
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Hell, going on 10+ years of GMing and I've never made a map. I tried using a map for the first time this year, the one of the mansion in On the Run, and didn't like it. Maybe try creating the combat zone on the fly, as eidolon suggests above, and see if that changes things up. Assuming, of course, that you use maps.
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DireRadiant
post Oct 16 2007, 07:16 PM
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Have NPCs demonstrate effective tactics through movement and using the environment to good effect.

Once the team get victimized a few times by the opponents using basic effective tactics, they'll learn or die.
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Yoan
post Oct 16 2007, 07:22 PM
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Well, I know -how- to go about it, but 3 of the 4 players (they are new, to their credit) don't think 'dynamically'-- I want to encourage them to use their environment, the crates, even the god damned fire hydrant if necessary. I started by having their opposition use basic tactics (no grenades yet, though) etc... as a kind of hint, but I don't want to go too far without offing them!

I do use maps, but mostly on the fly. We also have maps of the players apartments/their immediate neighborhood just to avoid argument.

Their lack of tactical sense (minus one player, the weapons specialist) led to the fact that the hacker, of all people, ran in the middle of the street without cover after seeing his ork comrade try to do the same and get knocked down (5 boxes of damage): the hacker received a total of... a lot of damage boxes, only surviving due to generous use of trauma patches, edge and a large hospital bill. ;)

Anyway, the above isn't entirely relevant to the post, just blowing off some steam.

In tonight's game, I must admit the opposition is particularly deadly (they are at ~30 karma or so, I figure I can up the odds) if they are stupid. The problem is, though, I know the 3 players (thank Dunkelzahn the 4th one is smart!) think binary:

1. Go out blasting without too much regards for cover or,
2. Hide, hide, hide, barely take any shots.

Oh well. I'll try to put more fluidity in my descriptions, see if they pick up the cues... again. :D

Edit: Too many darned smileys.
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eidolon
post Oct 16 2007, 07:24 PM
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To add a bit to my other post, it can also be a great way to involve your players in the combat. If you let them create bits of the world, they feel like they're more of a part of it.

So let a player say "Okay, after BillSam tosses that smoke grenade, I'm going to move up to the burned out Americar that's upside down on the sidewalk about 20 meters ahead of me so I can have a better shot at GoonTed." As long as they don't abuse this it can really make combats fun.

All that matters mechanically in this example is that the PC is 20 meters closer to the target and will have, and be firing from, cover. (And the smoke, but we're already counting that. ;))

edit: Yoan posted while I was typing.

Yoan, it almost sounds like it's time for an OOC chat with the players. Talk to them before the game starts, and explain how they could be using their environment and some tactical movement to their advantage. Show them on paper and with a few mechanical examples.

I know that it's tempting to think that they'll learn it in play, but chances are that they're just not catching on that you think it's important/valuable. Also, keep in mind that some people just aren't used to thinking in terms of tactics, and especially in the case of newer players, might have a harder time visualizing the game world even with a decent bit of description.


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Tarantula
post Oct 16 2007, 07:25 PM
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Remind them that firing from behind cover is only a -1 penalty?
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Yoan
post Oct 16 2007, 07:30 PM
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QUOTE (eidolon @ Oct 16 2007, 02:24 PM)
To add a bit to my other post, it can also be a great way to involve your players in the combat.  If you let them create bits of the world, they feel like they're more of a part of it. 

So let a player say "Okay, after BillSam tosses that smoke grenade, I'm going to move up to the burned out Americar that's upside down on the sidewalk about 20 meters ahead of me so I can have a better shot at GoonTed."  As long as they don't abuse this it can really make combats fun. 

All that matters mechanically in this example is that the PC is 20 meters closer to the target and will have, and be firing from, cover.  (And the smoke, but we're already counting that. ;))

edit: Yoan posted while I was typing.

Yoan, it almost sounds like it's time for an OOC chat with the players.  Talk to them before the game starts, and explain how they could be using their environment and some tactical movement to their advantage.  Show them on paper and with a few mechanical examples. 

I know that it's tempting to think that they'll learn it in play, but chances are that they're just not catching on that you think it's important/valuable.

I like that idea, but most of the time: if I don't explicitly say it, they assume it's not there. Video game syndrome? Again, only one of my players takes liberties or regularly asks questions, which I encourage. Anyway, if they don't get their scheisse together they'll be mince meat tonight I suspect. :D

Edit in response to eidolon's edit:

That's what I am thinking. I will especially talk to the "1 good guy in the batch" OOC, tell him to try to use last game's debacle to talk some sense into them. In truth, it's only two of them acting in weird ways (ie: the hacker), one of them simply acting too 'static', and the weapons specialist constantly diving behind cover or moving when possible.
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Yoan
post Oct 16 2007, 07:31 PM
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QUOTE (Tarantula)
Remind them that firing from behind cover is only a -1 penalty?

I'm even more generous, if the cover is fairly static ie: doesn't require 'popping' up from cover or around the cover/wall/whatever, I don't even penalize them.
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eidolon
post Oct 16 2007, 07:34 PM
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Also, try to remember that from the perspective a new player that isn't as familiar with the system or gameplay, "in game" examples can come across as being picked on if you aren't careful, and can turn a potential long-time player against a game.

For example, rather than blowing them up with grenades if they stay in a group to prove a point, you could explain to them that if they keep sitting behind that one pile of debris together, then an enemy could just kill all of them with a grenade or a rocket. This gets them thinking about how to correct that situation, and thus how to better use tactics to their advantage, but without having to lose and re-roll characters for the lesson. End result is the same, but with less irritation all around.
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Yoan
post Oct 16 2007, 07:38 PM
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Right, I'll make one of them roll a Logic check in the middle of a firefight if they are all just sitting there... "Well, you're not a battle-hardened veteran, but you have the funny feeling that... [xxx]", or bring it up OOC, etc... maybe I'm exagerating a little, the situation isn't THAT bad, and they are a fairly creative bunch: it's just 'video game' syndrome for the most part. I'm confident I'll be able to correct the situation tonight... I was also just looking for suggestions; I think smoke grenades will become a staple of both my players and CorpSec soon... ;)
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eidolon
post Oct 16 2007, 07:40 PM
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Right on dude. I hope it works out.

And yes, video game syndrome is a bitch. ;)
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mfb
post Oct 16 2007, 07:49 PM
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the thing is, in most situations, you really don't want to move around much in combat. you want to sit in a nice spot with good cover and concealment, aim carefully, and let the bad guys do all the running around and panicking. if you have to move, you're at a disadvantage to a guy who's got a good spot picked out.

one way you can adjust your combats to encourage more movement is to Hollywood up a bit. let your players know that you're willing to hand out a few bonuses for gutsy and smart moves--eg, a security guard is hiding behind a crate; rather than just plinking at him from behind their own cover, one of the players gets up, runs across the room, hops on the crate, and shoots at the guard. you, as the GM, can help the player do this by a) not bothering to check if the player has enough movement to reach the crate; b) not forcing the character to take an action to jump on the crate; c) giving the character a bonus to the attack for superior position; d) maybe even forcing the guard to make a surprise check.

QUOTE (eidolon)
For example, rather than blowing them up with grenades if they stay in a group to prove a point, you could explain to them that if they keep sitting behind that one pile of debris together, then an enemy could just kill all of them with a grenade or a rocket.

a one-shot option you could use to get the point across is to have some goon throw a grenade smack-dab in the middle of the group, where it will kill them all. make sure the situation is nice and messy--lots of modifiers, like darkness and rain and whatnot. have the players all roll to try and get the grenade and throw it back, and fail because of the mods. announce how much damage the grenade will do when it explodes, watch the players sweat and fidget as they carefully count up their soak dice--and then announce that, aw dang, the goon forgot to pull the pin.
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kzt
post Oct 16 2007, 07:59 PM
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The problem is that in SR4 cover isn't really useful if you are running skilled characters. If they have 14 dice it really doesn't matter if they are only getting 13 or 12, particularly if you are taking minuses shooting back just for using cover. So there isn't really any good reason to not stand in the middle of the street if it's otherwise convenient.

Overall the minus for shooting from cover is silly. The mods for being in cover are odd, and too low for skilled characters. The mods for shooting while moving are too low. There are no mods for shooting at a moving target.

It's particularly odd how cover works in SR4 because it should logically be wrapped up in the abstract armor system.
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hyzmarca
post Oct 16 2007, 08:07 PM
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Also, stretch what you can do with 2 bought Gymnastics hits. Put up plenty of obstacles, things for them to jump over and slide under and climb on and and push down and overturn.

Put them in situations where they don't have any weapons and have to improvise, and give them plenty to improvise with. Halogen Lamp = Electrical Polearm. Put them in positions where stuffing a halogen lamp in someone's mouth via called shot is a reasonable action.

Have cinematic baddassery refresh Edge.


Also, make NPCs smart.
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Kyoto Kid
post Oct 16 2007, 08:11 PM
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QUOTE (MFB)
a one-shot option you could use to get the point across is to have some goon throw a grenade smack-dab in the middle of the group, where it will kill them all.

,...or an indirect combat spell like stunball.
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Magus
post Oct 16 2007, 08:14 PM
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QUOTE (Kyoto Kid)
QUOTE (MFB)
a one-shot option you could use to get the point across is to have some goon throw a grenade smack-dab in the middle of the group, where it will kill them all.

,...or an indirect combat spell like stunball.

How is Stunball an indirect combat spell? You must see the target(s) in the affected area. Those you cannot see are not affected. Same as powerball/manaball. This is a direct combat spell.
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rythymhack
post Oct 16 2007, 08:23 PM
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also, might i point out that it's a bit difficult to convincingly 'forget to pull the pin' on a stunball
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Kyoto Kid
post Oct 16 2007, 08:25 PM
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...don't have my PDFs with me to verify the terminology.

However if several of them are standing or moving around together in plain view then the Stunball would work.

OK so then let's change that to a Fireball just for grins. :grinbig:
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Orient
post Oct 16 2007, 08:28 PM
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I've gotten a lot of mileage out of watching action movies and thinking "How would this work for my players? What parts wouldn't work?"

Pay attention to what elements of the surroundings give a tactical advantages. Make sure that the runners face a strong enough opposition that they NEED to use their surroundings. While a low wall or a car might provide good cover on round one, it might not on round two when that drone rigger gets his gun-toting rotodrones up in the air. What happens when they need to defend against multiple things at once? Maybe that narrow stone stairway along the side of the road provides terrible cover from gunfire, but good cover from an oncoming car (say, if a hacker tries to remote-ram them with a taxi, or an enemy gunbunny shoots it in an attempt to make it crash into the players).

Occasionally, make sure there are things in the environment that everyone - runners and opponents alike - would prefer to avoid. Favorites include flammable objects, sewage, long drops, Starbucks, ...the list goes on and on.

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Magus
post Oct 16 2007, 08:31 PM
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QUOTE (Kyoto Kid)
...don't have my PDFs with me to verify the terminology.

However if several of them are standing or moving around together in plain view then the Stunball would work.

OK so then let's change that to a Fireball just for grins. :grinbig:

That'll work! :eek: :D
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Eryk the Red
post Oct 16 2007, 08:52 PM
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The grenade thing comes up a lot in these discussions, I know, but seriously, throwing a grenade at them gets everyone real creative, real fast. Especially if you give it a longer fuse than expected, making sure that everyone can react. They might run away, or try to grab the thing, or who knows what. But they won't stand still with a grenade at their feet.
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Tarantula
post Oct 16 2007, 08:54 PM
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Its what creative uses of the clubs skill is for. HOME RUN!
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Dashifen
post Oct 16 2007, 08:56 PM
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QUOTE (mfb)
a one-shot option you could use to get the point across is to have some goon throw a grenade smack-dab in the middle of the group, where it will kill them all. make sure the situation is nice and messy--lots of modifiers, like darkness and rain and whatnot. have the players all roll to try and get the grenade and throw it back, and fail because of the mods. announce how much damage the grenade will do when it explodes, watch the players sweat and fidget as they carefully count up their soak dice--and then announce that, aw dang, the goon forgot to pull the pin.


I, frankly, love doing that to people. Duds are good, too, and don't have to make the bad guys look too stupid.

@Orient:
I thought I was the only person that constantly watched movies and "translated" them into shadowrun actions.

@Original Poster (I've forgotten who started this one)
With respect to the concept of making them defend against drones, spirits, mages, hackers, and the normal bad guy opposition, it can (and usually does) become too much for any one person to handle, or at least it does for me at times. One thing I've done is get some graph paper and put the names of all the mooks, drones, spirits, etc. that are acting in combat down the left hand side. Then, every four boxes of the graph moving to the right represent a combat turn. I'll just tick off each person's action in the appropriate box as I take them. Anyone that I miss just goes at the end of the round.

Finally, another way to mix things up is to recall the spend edge to go first rule. Pull that one out a few times in a combat when they think they've got the situation in hand and watch their faces fall when, suddenly, the whole deal is altered. They'll pray you don't alter it any further.

Sorry, couldn't resist.
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