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BlackRabite
post Oct 19 2007, 03:38 PM
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I'm going to be starting a new Shadowrun campaign with my D&D group soon. The group has been playing D&D for an extremely long time and recently they have been looking for other avenues for role playing. One of the side effects of this has been very munchkiny D&D games where they attempt to exploit the rules and hyperspecialize characters in an attempt make the game fun in new ways.

My general idea here is to make Shadowrun more skill-centric and take some of the specialization out of it. I'm not sure if that makes any sense but I was wondering if any of you had any experience with alternate rules for skills. I'm thinking of giving all non-magical rolls a hit cap of skill +1. I'm hoping this will keep things a bit more fun and gritty. In my mind it will give you more of a reason to crank your pistol skills up to 4 or 5. Right now it seems fairly easy to roll a ton of dice with low skills by falling back on your base stats and cyber/bio ware to crank up the dice pool. I like to think this is a good way to bring the skill rating descriptions back into play, I want my gun adept with 6 skill in pistols to actually feel like a legendary pistol shooter and not just slightly better at it than the guy with skillwires, muscle toner, a smartlink and a 3 pistol skill. I don't think that the cap will take much importance away from the bio/cyber and gear dicepool additions, hitting the cap will be much more likely with all the extra dice but it makes skill much more important.

I'm not sure if I'm explaining my reasoning well enough but the last time I played SR4 I played a gun adept and I had to overspecialize myself by quite a bit to make it feel like I truly was better at shooting than other players. I like the idea with the skill cap but I need some feedback to make sure that it won't ruin the game on some unforseen way for my players. This system also seems like it will help keep the skill checks reasonable. If you are supposed to be a legend at 6 skill it seems absurd to require 3 or 4 hits for something when someone with 3 skill is rolling 14+ dice because of stat/gear dicepool additions. Using Edge will break the hit cap of course and I would rather see people use edge to make up for lack of skill than blowing it to roll 3 buckets of dice in a combat check.

On somewhat the same note, how does it work when you change the hacking rolls to be Skill + Program with Logic adding to the dicepool? (hits capped at skill still) I planned on letting agents have a skill equal to their rating but no logic dicepool. A rating 6 agent with a rating 6 program could get 7 hits with the skill cap like a hacker but would be much less likely without the added dice from the logic pool + specializations.

I think thats about it, I'll appreciate any feedback you give me and thanks in advance.
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Eryk the Red
post Oct 19 2007, 04:41 PM
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Personally, I don't care for capping hits like that. It can be very frustrating to get lucky, get a very good roll, then have it not count. I don't really have a different solution, but I would warn you that some players may feel cheated at times by this rule. (Even if you have a high skill, you might have a spectacular roll, and then feel screwed because you hit the cap.)
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mfb
post Oct 19 2007, 05:20 PM
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hm. that's actually not a bad idea.
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deek
post Oct 19 2007, 05:28 PM
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This is exactly how we have been playing for over a year. Skill + 1 cap works very well and none of my players have complained or thought differently. I did add a new positive quality, called Advanced Specialization (10 BP) that allows a character to bump up to a Skill x 2 cap, with the prerequisite of having a specialization on said skill. No one has taken it yet, but it is there to allow even higher caps on skills if they choose.

We also do the Logic + Skill hacking rules, limited by the lower of Skill + 1 or Program Rating. This too has worked very well for us, for over a year.

Magic is also capped, obviously by Force, but also the Skill + 1, again, whichever is lower.

Overall, this works very well and gives my players a really good feel that there is a difference between a Pistols 2 PC and a Pistols 7. I also allow Edge to bypass all caps, so if you want to take your chances getting lucky with Edge, you don't have to worry about caps at all.

Coming from the same setting (long time D&D players that got munchkiny), I can attest to the large amount of options in SR4. Its taken my players a lot longer than I anticipated to start finding ways to munchkin. With there being magic, ranged combat, melee combat, social skills, hacking skills, not to mention many support skills like stealth, first aid, etc, there is just so much to work with that any single PC, having never played SR before, will not build a munchkin right off the bat.

Plus, with the caps in place, there is really not as much reason to get 16+ dice pools in many skillsets...
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Buster
post Oct 19 2007, 05:46 PM
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Obsessing over the arbitrary level descriptions of the skill ratings isn't going to do you any good, they're a mistake at best. The authors should have listed dice pools for their level descriptions, not raw skill rating. It's an artifact of the older games when skill was the only thing that mattered.

Now the rules are much more realistic, taking into account the character's talents and aptitudes (a.k.a. Attributes and positive Qualities) along with the skill-specific training and specialization.

For example, Arnold Schwarzenegger or a multiple Olympic gold winning weight lifter is not just Athletics 6. He doesn't even have a Strength of 5 or even 6, he has Exception Attribute (Strength), Aptitude (Athletics), Strength 7, and Athletics 7 with a specialization in Weight Lifting. If he's Arnold Schwarzenegger he's also twinked out with steroids and other augmentations.
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BlackRabite
post Oct 19 2007, 07:20 PM
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QUOTE (Buster)
Obsessing over the arbitrary level descriptions of the skill ratings isn't going to do you any good, they're a mistake at best.  The authors should have listed dice pools for their level descriptions, not raw skill rating.  It's an artifact of the older games when skill was the only thing that mattered. 

Now the rules are much more realistic, taking into account the character's talents and aptitudes (a.k.a. Attributes and positive Qualities) along with the skill-specific training and specialization. 

For example, Arnold Schwarzenegger or a multiple Olympic gold winning weight lifter is not just Athletics 6.  He doesn't even have a Strength of 5 or even 6, he has Exception Attribute (Strength), Aptitude (Athletics), Strength 7, and Athletics 7 with a specialization in Weight Lifting.  If he's Arnold Schwarzenegger he's also twinked out with steroids and other augmentations.

I suppose I shouldn't have thrown in that bit about the description on the skill levels. What I'm really looking at here is a way to make the numbers a bit more realistic. I'll throw out an example and hope it clarifies what I'm trying to do.

Currently you get more of a dice pool advantage from things that, in my mind, should be ways to augment skill.

Examples. Your threshold if I remember correctly is something like this, I don't have my book with me and I'm not certain if these are correct but i'm pretty sure I remember it saying that your success threshold should be around 4 at the max.

1 success = something anyone should be able to do unless they bork it up hardcore.
2 successes = something that a naturally talented or a practiced individual should be able to perform easily enough
3 successes = Something you should be able to do as a professional in that field with out a lot of trouble.
4 successes = something a professional could do with focus or something an expert could do with minimal chance of failure.

In my mind if you put a threshold of 3 or 4 on a test then its something that should only be done by a specialist or by a novice burning edge.

Right now there are so many ways of bumping your dice pool that someone with 1 point in a skill can pull off a 4 threshold test on a regular basis.

I understand and agree with you on the Arnold metaphor but at what point does the threshold for a success get way too high? Even rolling that many dice Arnold has a chance to fail on a threshold 6 or 7 test but a novice weight lifter with a high strength and the appropriate drugs can make that threshold 6 with a lucky roll. This doesn't fit right with me. If you keep the thresholds low and cap the hits by skill then a skill 5 weightlifter with 6 strength can regularly make a threshold 3 test and if he is augmented and on steroids it makes it that much more likely that he will hit the threshold. Someone with 1 skill in weightlifting would have no chance making the threshold unless he burned edge to get lucky because he has absolutely no idea what he's doing.

I know that sounds a bit silly with Weightlifting in question but I lift myself and even if you were exceptionally strong you would just injure yourself if you tried to lift a threshold 3 weight (Probably 150+ pounds, depending on the type of lift?) and you didn't know what you were doing.

It just feels like there should be a point at which skill matters more than your augmentations. They have skillwires for a reason, if you want to be skilled at something you either learn how to do it or you fake it with a wire. I can't imagine how someone who has never used a pistol can make a threshold 3 pistol test just because he has 5 agility and a smartgun system.
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Tarantula
post Oct 19 2007, 07:27 PM
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Honestly, he really can't. He defaulting agi -1, 4 dice +2 smargun. 6 Dice. He'd be lucky to get a threshold 2 test, much less a threshold 3.
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BlackRabite
post Oct 19 2007, 07:57 PM
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QUOTE (Tarantula)
Honestly, he really can't. He defaulting agi -1, 4 dice +2 smargun. 6 Dice. He'd be lucky to get a threshold 2 test, much less a threshold 3.

Thats exactly what I mean. He has 6 dice so he can potentially do it with luck. I always thought that edge was meant to be used when you needed luck. From my occasional surfing here it doesn't sound like people use edge to get "lucky" they use edge when they want to completely destroy something with an over-the-top number of hits. I might just be way off base with it but the only other time I've played Shadowrun my GM was very very stingy about refreshing Edge so we always hung on to it to save our asses or to use it when circumstances forced one of us to make a crucial test in an area that we had an extremely low dice pool and failure meant that we fubared the mission.

Do you think it should be fine that someone with no pistol skill at all can whip out a gun and possibly make a threshold 3 shot without burning a point of 'luck'? That sounds like making a longshot to me.
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kzt
post Oct 19 2007, 08:07 PM
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People get lucky all the time. Lots of really competent, hard charging, extremely skilled guys with the best equipment and the best training get killed by some drunk idiot with a rusty pistol he stole.

The fact that's it's IMPOSSIBLE in SR4 for a grandmother with pistol 1 agility 1 to kill someone with a single shot from a heavy pistol is a much bigger issue to me.
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Fortune
post Oct 19 2007, 08:15 PM
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QUOTE (BlackRabite)
Do you think it should be fine that someone with no pistol skill at all can whip out a gun and possibly make a threshold 3 shot without burning a point of 'luck'?

Yes I do. I have no problem with that whatsever.

I think it's bullshit when a GM rules that, even though your character has the Skill required, you don't get to try something because he thinks it would be too hard for your character to do.
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Mr. Unpronouncea...
post Oct 19 2007, 08:21 PM
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Well, anectodally - IRL, my very first shot with a bow was a bullseye.
My next hundred or so were lucky to get within 30 degrees of the target.

Luck happens - if you want it to be a non-issue, you should get rid of dice altogether. (heh...if you think munchkining is bad now...)

Edge is for when your character is actively pushing that luck...this is a system where Karma counts, after all.

Not to mention that you'd need to rewrite most of the example thresholds as well:
    Climbing a 6 foot wall with a rope? Not if you're untrained: threshold 2.
    Hope you're not driving anywhere unless you've been trained in perception...threshold for noticing a streetsign or pedestrian is 2.
    No gluing that vase together. A simple repair is threshold 2.
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DireRadiant
post Oct 19 2007, 08:22 PM
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Don't roll any dice, just buy hits.

That takes all this messy probability stuff away.
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Apathy
post Oct 19 2007, 09:02 PM
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Let's be fair. While I don't take it to the same level as BR, I agree at least in spirit with some of what he says. I suspect that at least part of the problem is that a 1-6 curve is not adequately granular to deal with the differences between the best and worst that humanity has to offer. I accept these simplified, dumbed-down scales (more or less) because at this point I think it might be necessary in order to keep SR from becoming hopelessly complicated and bogging down gameplay. But it's not unreasonable for Rabite to suggest that it sometimes doesn't seem to work.
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DireRadiant
post Oct 19 2007, 09:18 PM
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The 1 to 6 skill "Level" descriptions are pointless and don't actually match the mechanics.

You should really look at the total dice pool and thresholds.

Thresholds range from 1 to 4 where 4 is the most excellent result

12 dice pool means a good chance of getting 4 hits if you roll, and getting 3 hits if you buy them. 12 Dice is good.

16 dice pool can buy 4 hits, so good you are tops and can do awesome stuff without strain just buying hits.

On opposed tests it's the relative difference in pools that count. 12 dice against a standard 6 dice just means a couple hits, you'll do better, but the opponent can win against you occasionally. 16 dice versus 6, that still ten more dice, typically 3 hits more if you roll, two if you buy. You almost always defeat a "normal" opponent.

Then we get into the whole attribute versus skill issue. While SR4 may not give each side the weight some people would like, I don't really see any problem with admitting there are some people with natural attribute and a little skill who can accomplish the same results as someone with little attributes and great skills.
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Whipstitch
post Oct 19 2007, 09:57 PM
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QUOTE (Buster @ Oct 19 2007, 12:46 PM)
Obsessing over the arbitrary level descriptions of the skill ratings isn't going to do you any good, they're a mistake at best.  The authors should have listed dice pools for their level descriptions, not raw skill rating.  It's an artifact of the older games when skill was the only thing that mattered.

That's exactly how I see it. I really have no idea why people see a page of bland legacy fluff that not only blatantly contradicts the realities of the RAW but also adds nothing to the setting and then decide to rewrite the RAW rather than ignore the fluff. I mean really, I love fluff, I really do, but this particular chart everyone brings up appears to be quite the liability, and I really don't understand why people continue to defend it.
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ElFenrir
post Oct 20 2007, 12:47 PM
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Im really mixed on hit-capping.

On one hand, i like the idea because it sort of makes you put stuff into skills; of course Edge making it so you can break the hit cap. Being skill-centric is nice and it does prevent the folks from, say, tweaking a stat(Agility and Logic come to mind, due to the large amount of skills tied to them), and then taking a boatload of 2's. IMO, that's the players taking advantage of the rules...so perhaps the houserule might be good in those situations. I can see GMs starting to get a bit short of patience after the fifth Agility 8(12) elf with every Agility skill at 1 or 2.

On the other hand, it makes low skills not quite viable anymore. They can work-but you're alot more limited. I like the idea of making someone with a smattering of skills able to hang around. Thing is, most of the folks that ive played with(my close friends), don't go twinking out a stat and then loading a ton of low skills around it. Most of them do it very reasonably...making it so that this rule really has no place. Most folks put reasonable numbers into stats(sure, some have high stats on some characters when it makes since), and then put numbers into skills...some high, some medium, and a few roundout skills. The character with logic 3 and armorer 2 is probably not going to be getting more than 2 successes a roll anyway. For those times they get lucky and actually bring home the successes(4 out of 5 is daaamned good), i just don't want to take that away from them.

Hmm...i guess how i am with it...if im playing with the ''crew'', we have alot of leeway. We don't bother with availability, we never capped hits, we're not too strict on which edges/flaws people take(we make them come up, of course, but we aren't heavy handed in banning them or anything), and we have a blast.

However...if i was playing with a new group whom i didnt know...or a group whom i knew had a reputation for playing a party of Twinky McNinjas all the time, i would indeed keep a closer eye on edges/flaws, and use Availability, and i would probably use some sort of hit capping system(skill +1 or +2, Edge allowing unlimited hits.)
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blood_kite
post Oct 20 2007, 01:25 PM
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QUOTE (ElFenrir)
Im really mixed on hit-capping.

<snip>

I could have sworn I remember reading somewhere, either in an SR4 book or in Dumpshock, about another variant for skill caps. A ratio change once you get Skill+1 hits. Hits up to your Skill+1 count normally; hits past that are pooled separately, halved (rounded down), and then added to your total hits.

It doesn't eliminate the power of large pools, just reduces their effectiveness if you aren't skilled. Whether the ratio would change if using Edge is something else to consider.
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ElFenrir
post Oct 20 2007, 02:42 PM
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QUOTE (blood_kite)
QUOTE (ElFenrir @ Oct 20 2007, 04:47 AM)
Im really mixed on hit-capping.

<snip>

I could have sworn I remember reading somewhere, either in an SR4 book or in Dumpshock, about another variant for skill caps. A ratio change once you get Skill+1 hits. Hits up to your Skill+1 count normally; hits past that are pooled separately, halved (rounded down), and then added to your total hits.

It doesn't eliminate the power of large pools, just reduces their effectiveness if you aren't skilled. Whether the ratio would change if using Edge is something else to consider.

You know, thinking about it(been awhile since ive posted, few months, classes, etc.), i do remember that. i THINK it was another houserule; but tonight ill flip through my SR4 and see if it's in there.

That's not so bad, now. Personally i'd let Edge do it's thing; if someone popped some Edge on the roll, i think it's worth letting it count. Yeah, gives people with high Edge an advantage, but high Edge does cost BP just like any other stat.

But this rule, if i ever decided to hit cap(like in the aformentioned example of running for a newer group i was unfamiliar with), this might be the one i'd run with. It limits, it makes putting some higher scores in skills mean something, but it also allows you to pull off some nice stuff if you're lucky.

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Larsine
post Oct 21 2007, 06:27 AM
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QUOTE (ElFenrir)
You know, thinking about it(been awhile since ive posted, few months, classes, etc.), i do remember that. i THINK it was another houserule; but tonight ill flip through my SR4 and see if it's in there.


The only rule in SR4 like that is the following:

QUOTE (SR4 page 69)
The total hits scored on any test are limited to no more than the character’s skill rating x 2. This increases the relevance of skills over attributes, but it also means that low-skilled characters will have a more challenging time. Defaulting tests would be limited to 1 hit. Edge, however, would allow you to bypass these limits.


Lars
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