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> Slight problem with my players, not bothering to learn the rules
fourstring_samur...
post Dec 6 2007, 04:30 PM
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I'm a fairly veteran Shadowrun game master, having run it since 2nd edition with various groups. with my current group (in our first 4th edition game) i'm having trouble getting my players to memorize some basic rules. they're all experienced players from various game systems, though two are completely new to SR. all of them own or have access to the BBB.

let it be known that they are very good players who like to contribute, roleplay very well, rarely metagame or powergame, and are interested in the game world. but...

first, most of them have no idea how to use their commlinks (or how their commlinks work). i've explained it a number of times. luckily the team's hacker is an npc. usually all they use their comms for is text messaging each other, which they treat pretty much as a magic function with no regards to needing trodes, datajack, skinlink, etc. this also has been explained a few times.

second, a few of them haven't really delved into the basic rules for their character concepts, though i forgive the mage because she doesn't own the BBB. However, last night the rigger asked what a control rig was. and mostly her vehicle use plans involve not using her vehicles to do anythng but taxi around the team. i honestly think she'd do more if she'd learn her true capabilities. each time i explain to her that she can do A,B, or C, she's surprised. that's the worst example, but it exists in each player to some degree. like the ork shitkicker who is surprised he has X,Y, and Z penalty to his current action even though he just preformed several distracting (or damaging) things to get to where he currently is, or the mage asking about how her spells and drain work. (again, forgiven for lack of the BBB)

to reiterate, they're a great group. but in some respects they are a bit lazy.

does anyone else have problems like this? any suggestions?

I was thinking of putting them on a homework program, making them all study a certain rule point at home during the week between games. i tried this once before, and it didn't work. maybe if i give them karmic incentive? i.e. if you learn the gameworld wireless rules and demonstrate your knowledge, you get a one time 1 karma bonus?

any thoughts out there in trid land?
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Karaden
post Dec 6 2007, 04:50 PM
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Mmm, I'd advise against karama insentives for them learning things they should really already know.

For someone like the rigger it is really one of those things that it is in the player's intrest to learn these things. I mean if the rigger is nothing but a shuttle service, he's really missing out on what he can do, and if he wants to do better he needs to learn it.

Similar things with the sami, needs to learn what is and isn't good for being able to hit things so that he can plan better.

Of course the rigger one is a good deal eaiser, make an NPC rigger to go up against the group, show your groups rigger what can really be accomplished. Should get him more interested in learning what all he can actually do.

The mage should be fairly easy to deal with as well. Simply let her borrow your book for a week or so and ask her to read the magic section. Only takes a few pages a day to get through it between sessions.

Hope this helps you out some.
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DireRadiant
post Dec 6 2007, 04:54 PM
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Have NPC do cool stuff and demo what can be done in a non team killing way. Try to go for that "Hey, can I do that ?" response from the players.
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Eurotroll
post Dec 6 2007, 05:07 PM
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Regarding commlinks: of course they can "magically" textmessage other people. Cellphones today can, why shouldn't they? Also, commlinks are fitted with non-DNI input options (touchscreen, real or AR keyboard, etc), I don't think your players are misrepresenting them. They're clearly underestimating them, though.
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Kyoto Kid
post Dec 6 2007, 05:15 PM
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...been the opposite side of this coin as well.

A couple years ago I had a GM who said he really needed a decker for this campaign (3rd ed) he was starting as it involved a a lot of matrix stuff. So me, (who actually had a good grasp on matrix actions, Cyberdecks, & the such) volunteered to fill the role. He even allowed me to have the character enter play with a custom deck using the design/construction rules in Matrix. Well after several days' worth of my free time I finally had the character ready & looked forward to stompin' some sculpted digital butt.

She was not only a hotshot in the matrix, but fairly capable in combat and other support operations like B&E & EW (No this was not Violet (#66 - get your kicks on Route 66...)). So the campaign begins and soon, much to my dismay, I find almost all of the matrix actions are relegated to a simple hit/miss roll or even literal handwaves. Few of the programmes ever came into play and most of the deck's attributes seemed meaningless.

I could have just as well had a Sammy with a stock Sony CT360.
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Karaden
post Dec 6 2007, 05:16 PM
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QUOTE (Eurotroll)
Regarding commlinks: of course they can "magically" textmessage other people. Cellphones today can, why shouldn't they? Also, commlinks are fitted with non-DNI input options (touchscreen, real or AR keyboard, etc), I don't think your players are misrepresenting them. They're clearly underestimating them, though.

Oh ya, forgot to mention that.

He is quite right, commlinks don't require trodes or anything like that, especially if your not using them for anything more complex then text messages or cell phone funcitons.

I mean, not every person walking down the street has a trode/datajack/nanopaste or anything else, yet you can be assured that every single one of them has at least some kind of a commlink. Heck, even the basic ICish description of one describes a girl using it to check on a mall, buy tickets, and send a text message with no special attachments other then imagelink glasses and some earphones. Oh, and she is playing music with it at the same time.
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Stahlseele
post Dec 6 2007, 05:45 PM
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QUOTE
...been the opposite side of this coin as well.

wanna hear something simmilar?
neither players NOR masters really know their way around matrix/vehicles with my group . . and magic is not half as fluent as combat somehow *g*
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mfb
post Dec 6 2007, 05:59 PM
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are you sure they actually want to play SR4?
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Stahlseele
post Dec 6 2007, 06:02 PM
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never said anything about 4 .. we're firmly based in 3 *g*
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deek
post Dec 6 2007, 06:07 PM
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I have a little bit of the commlink in my games, but I have recently been giving everyone a +2 to +4 bonus when they are using skills if they are in AR. That seems to get the mage and sammy wanting to use their commlinks more as well as actually train up some computer skills...

And I did have a rigger a while back that didn't know what all she could do. But little by little, she started using some drones and getting a little more out of her character.

I would just say that some of this takes time for players, regardless of their experience level. And honestly, if everyone wants to just run around stealthy and fire guns...I'm gonna let them!
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mfb
post Dec 6 2007, 06:13 PM
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i meant the original poster. it doesn't sound like his players like the rules all that much. if they did, i'd think they'd show more interest in them.
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Stahlseele
post Dec 6 2007, 06:19 PM
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ah, thought you were talking to me . . but WE really don't want to play SR4 *g*
we use the SR4 corebook as a STR-1 Club so the SR3 books live longer ^^
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deek
post Dec 6 2007, 06:19 PM
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QUOTE (mfb)
i meant the original poster. it doesn't sound like his players like the rules all that much. if they did, i'd think they'd show more interest in them.

I don't know, technically, the OP is not talking about knowing rules, per se. He feels that they are not playing their characters to their potential, or at the very least, doing things that he feels they were built to do.

From a GM perspective, I don't make anyone "memorize" the rules...core rules, specifically. I feel its my job to know (or quickly find) the rules for anything a player wants to do. And like most players, over time, doing the same thing over and over, they will learn the rules.

I'd give the group some more time, and if you don't see them playing their characters the way there were intended to be played, I'd either let them re-tool their characters to better align with what they have been doing, or perhaps, open up you mind a bit and not be so strict on what the players should or shouldn't be doing with their characters. If they are having fun playing a rigger that is not rigging or a hacker that is not hacking or a sammy that is not...well...samming it up...then let them and adjust to their playstyles.
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Kyoto Kid
post Dec 6 2007, 06:33 PM
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QUOTE (Stahlseele @ Dec 6 2007, 01:19 PM)
ah, thought you were talking to me . . but WE really don't want to play SR4 *g*
we use the SR4 corebook as a STR-1 Club so the SR3 books live longer ^^

...:rotfl:
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Moon-Hawk
post Dec 6 2007, 06:56 PM
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Don't be afraid to lay out their options for them, occasionally. If you think they're neglecting a better strategy because they don't know about it, tell them about it. It's not cheating, it's not telling them what to do, it's simply teaching them about the game world and about how you, as a GM, view the game world. And you'll never have to point that tactic out to them again. Lay out their options for a few runs until they're aware of all the better approaches they could be using, and the problem will fix itself.

I recently did this with a whole group that was new to SR4, and most of the group was new to SR. After the first half-dozen sessions I rarely had to fill in options and we all have a good understanding of how we all think the game should be played.

Also, cheat sheets help. edit: like these
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HappyDaze
post Dec 6 2007, 07:11 PM
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I can relate to underutilized commlinks - I saw this in my game too. However, IRL, my phone can browse the internet (never used), take still pictures (never used) record audio & video (never used), play music (never used), has a calendar/day planner (never used), play games (never used), change ring tones/display including purchasing some (never used), send text messages (rarely used), and make phone calls (commonly used). I don't think it's hard to imagine that many people in 2070 are underutilizing their commlinks.

QUOTE
you can be assured that every single one of them has at least some kind of a commlink.

I disagree. There will always be some people that simply don't for whatever reason.
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nezumi
post Dec 6 2007, 07:32 PM
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Sometimes people don't enjoy doing numbers. My wife is like that. She's a great player, she does neat stuff in combat. She was great at exalted because she always stunted a ton (although she didn't mind using less effective methods - like a string of sausages - as appropriate for her character and the setting). She loves the setting of Shadowrun, but can't stand the rules and doesn't like numbers. Since I run SR3, she says what she wants to do, I divvy up her pools appropriately and she just rolls the dice (if she wants). She has fun, I don't stress out.

Maybe it's the same with your group. If they don't want to know if they should use edge here or not, don't make them learn it. Apply it when you think it's appropriate. If they don't want to know the list of canon maneuvers, don't foist it on them. Let them say what they're doing. If there's a maneuver if the book to match it, use it. If not, make it up. In regards to the commlink, since that's a roleplaying thing, just write out what all it can do as a note they can refer to and stop worrying about it. They don't expect you to memorize each of their characters' edges and flaws, they write it down for you, so don't be surprised when the reverse is true now and again.

That they don't care about the mechanics is only a problem if you as the GM enjoy playing with players who number crunch. If you don't want that, let it go. Just roll the dice yourself as appropriate and most of all, keep the story rolling.
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fourstring_samur...
post Dec 7 2007, 12:27 AM
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good responses all. let me clear a few things up.

@Karaden and DireRadiant.

good ideas. the npc route may be the best way to go.

@ Eurotroll and Karaden
QUOTE

Regarding commlinks: of course they can "magically" textmessage other people. Cellphones today can, why shouldn't they? Also, commlinks are fitted with non-DNI input options (touchscreen, real or AR keyboard, etc), I don't think your players are misrepresenting them. They're clearly underestimating them, though.

QUOTE

He is quite right, commlinks don't require trodes or anything like that, especially if your not using them for anything more complex then text messages or cell phone funcitons.

i'm not talking normal daily cell phone functions, i'm talking mid-combat/sneaking/conversations with others (including the badguys) where they use texting to a real advantage. i'm not into limiting my players on day to day stuff.

@ mfb
QUOTE

are you sure they actually want to play SR4?
...
it doesn't sound like his players like the rules all that much. if they did, i'd think they'd show more interest in them.


oh yeah. we all love the setting. and the rules mechanics have never been an issue. and to toot my own horn, i feel i run a good game. it's learning the rules that seems to be the issue.

@ deek
QUOTE
From a GM perspective, I don't make anyone "memorize" the rules...core rules, specifically. I feel its my job to know (or quickly find) the rules for anything a player wants to do. And like most players, over time, doing the same thing over and over, they will learn the rules.

...If they are having fun playing a rigger that is not rigging or a hacker that is not hacking or a sammy that is not...well...samming it up...then let them and adjust to their playstyles.


i agree completely. this is how i run my game. i make it my responsibility to know the rules, or quickly find them. however, it wears a bit thin when my (very intelligent) players start to completely rely on me for how to do things.

as for play styles, i don't restrict my players. our mage loves to get into fist fights. we have a medic that loves to start firefights despite being mundane and nearly unmodded. our sam likes to talk it out as much as duke it out. it's not about them not playing correctly, because there is no correct way to play a character. it's more of a getting them to remember the rules or their abilities issue.

@ moon hawk:
you've described pretty much my take on GMing. i love the SR gameworld, and teach them more about the setting each adventure. the thing is, and the whole reason for me coming to dumpshock for advice, is that we're on session 25 or so. i love these people. they're great gamers. they're all very smart. but my jaw mentally drops when a player forgets their capabilites or (non basic) recurring rules on a weekly basis.
also, i've got those cheat sheets. they do help a lot. they effing rock. :D


let me say that this game, our game, is fun. we all have a great time. i'm not so frustrated that i want to quit, or even take a break, or even tell them i'm frustrated. we keep the story rolling, and the story is more important than the dice.


i think the NPC route will jack it into their heads best. if i can consistently show them how to do things instead of informing them, i think it will work.


and lastly, sorry for this big ass reply.
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Karaden
post Dec 7 2007, 04:27 AM
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Hmm, well if they are using their commlinks to send stuff in combat without appropriate equipment then that is a problem. But really all they need to do that sort of stuff is a subvocal microphone and some earplug style headphones and they have a communication device, null sweat.

If they are spesificly sending text messages, then they're going to need some form of display link, unless they want to be holding their commlink and looking at the screen the entier battle. As for sending a text message, I'm sure you could use a subvocal mic for a speech to text sort of thing.

If they don't have these things, I'd force them to use simple actions each combat turn or possably each IP to keep the information moving, along with the danger of an enemy targeting their precious commlink with Machine Gun fire.

So, the NPCs can help them learn to do things they don't know how, and giving them insentives in the form of no penelties will make them learn to use their equipment (commlinks) properly. Also, make sure that they actually understand the rules, because some of them (The matrix and commlinks in particular) can be absurdly confusing, and often leave things up to the GMs interpritation.

Oh, and if you really want to hit them hard, give them a blatently wrong and overdifficult test, like having to resist 20 points of drain, or taking a 15 dice pool penelty to one of their shots. If they call you on it, good, they at least know something, if not, explain it to them, tell them you just lied and point out how if they knew the rules, they'd be assured of getting the correct modifiers and such.
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Abbandon
post Dec 7 2007, 04:59 AM
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I think the rules are just very complex to just pick up and run with. If you see them doing things wrong just stop and demo how it should work.

Being able to think, write, speak and needing different equipment to do each one is confusing and stupid. Trodes are freaking stupid and cumbersome, if you would get to implant them then you would not have to mess with stupid ass AR gloves and shit or actual keyboards/holo keyboards, or subvocal mics which have to be stuck on.
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kzt
post Dec 7 2007, 05:04 AM
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Imlpants are fine, great even, if you are NOT a runner. It's kind of hard to throw away your implanted commlink after a mission gone bad.
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HappyDaze
post Dec 7 2007, 05:15 AM
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QUOTE
Imlpants are fine, great even, if you are NOT a runner. It's kind of hard to throw away your implanted commlink after a mission gone bad.


That's the beauty of nanites. They 'wash-out' after a week or two. My players have taken to injected nanotech trodes. Just a nice injection into your CSF and give them a few hours to form the internal trode net and your set. A week later it's pretty well broken down and eliminated.

Sure, there's not an entry for such a piece of tech, but considering that some of what's in Augmentation requires this process as the first step, there's no reason you couldn't stop at first base.
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Ryu
post Dec 7 2007, 01:46 PM
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I second the notion of cheat sheets. You know which rules you expect them to know. You also can suggest solutions they keep ignoring, although I´d avoid the apperance of railroading like the plague.

So write it up, it will take less time than making them learn by the book if they don´t care.

Section 1: Comlink use
Bits on comlink modes, bits on essential programs (In your opinion). Teach proper behaviour by exploiting weaknesses they show. All my players own encryption now... :D

Section 2: Rigging
A list of drone/rigger dicepools for certain actions will help. Have her acquire drones by chance. Tell her of marketing blimps or LS patrol drones when describing.

Section 3: Magic
Maybe you could copy a few pages from the book? Spellcasting process, assensing table, conjuration process, spirits from the critter section? Directly ask her if she wants to assense someone if it is appropiate. Ask her if she wants to do astral recon.
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Rotbart van Dain...
post Dec 7 2007, 01:53 PM
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QUOTE (kzt)
Imlpants are fine, great even, if you are NOT a runner.  It's kind of hard to throw away your implanted commlink after a mission gone bad.

And there is no game-reason to do so, either... in-game it's only identified by the Access ID which can be changed spoofed instantly and changed quickly.

Made-up ultra-realism reasons like hardware characteristics 'fingerprinting' are quite meaningless for 'soft' hardware like headware implants made up by nanites - those can actually change layout, and thus, will have completly new characteristics within minutes.

Such reconfiguration can be easily justified as being part of the Access ID spoof / hardware change test - IRL honeyd has fake clock-skews for it's virtual machines now.
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Eleazar
post Dec 7 2007, 02:03 PM
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I would suggest getting Veggiesama's and Aaron Pavao's aids. These will really help as far as rule mechanics go. The other thing you might want to do, if you have enough books for everyone to read, is use the next session as a reading session. Having everyone understand the rules and the gaming world ensures everyone can contribute to the game and means more enjoyment for everyone involved. If they refuse, that is why the make the BBB hardcover. If you have it on PDF, I am hoping you have a Panasonic Toughbox laptop.
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